Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Therapy, pulling our own weight

I love our couples therapist!

He usually starts sessions asking us what our desire is for the session. Usually, my partner looks to me to bring something (a desire for the session) and usually I have plenty of desires. I'll often ask her for one first, and if she doesn't have one, I'll share. Today, I said that I have something to talk about, but that what my greatest desire for the day was to hear what my partner's desire was first. She didn't come up with anything.

He did an exercize to demonstrate why it's important for each of us to carry our own weight. He had each of us take turns trying to physically hold the other one up, with one person in the relationship going limp in the other's arms. Then he had us stand up on our own, facing each other with our hands touching. He'd have one of us push or withdraw or just touch lovingly, and showed how when we were standing on our own, we naturally matched each other's energy. It was a really good visual and kinesthetic way of demonstrating how important it is.

Geesh, I started this post last Wednesday, and haven't written anything since. It's been a really hard, hard week, professionally, personally, and relationship"y". I thought last week's session went so well, but my partner sure didn't. Today's seemed bad to me. It's sooooo hard when we're both in a bad place.

I'm exhausted. I'm a mess. She's a mess. BLEH!!!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

In Honor of Grandma, on her unveiling. Here's the eulogy I shared.

I wrote this piece to share at the funeral. I'm not at her unveiling today with my fmaily of origin. So I decided to share my eulogy with my family of choice. My grandmother was transitioning from life to death during early, early recovery in my world. While I didn't share the addiction with most of my family, I did share the lessons grandma taught me. My grandmother lived many of her later years with a husband in active addiction. While we never had the chance to talk about the struggles I had with my addict, I know that she of all people knows and that she truly loves me unconditionally.

Here goes.....

I don’t need to tell you how special my grandmother was. If you are here, you loved her and she loved you, and you KNOW how special she was. My mom recently said “everyone thinks that their mother is the best, but we KNOW that ours was.” I know that everyone here has special stories to share, because she made each one of us feel like we were the most important and the most special. I know that we will all share those stories over the coming days. So today, I would like to share some of the lessons that grandma taught me.

Grandma taught me about limits. She loved to tell a story that I don’t remember of when I was about 3, and was riding in the car with her. I was sticking my hand out the window and grandma told me that if I stuck it out again, she would slap it. I tested the limit. She enforced it. She told me that I got a shocked look on my face and said, “you hit me.” And I didn’t stick my hand out the window again.

Grandma taught me about independence. Years ago, after she had her stroke, I had the honor of being her “night nurse” over the summer while I was out of school. When I was preparing to go back to my town, she decided that she wanted to have time to herself in her house. She knew that the family would not want to let her be alone at night, so she told everyone that she was hiring someone from midnight to 6am and someone else to come in at 8 am, so that she could have 2 hours to herself. She never actually hired anyone to come in at night. Her plan was brilliant. Nobody ever wanted to bother her in the middle of the night, so nobody ever learned that she was doing as she chose, and being independent at night.

Grandma taught me about perseverance. This also happened in the period right after her stroke, when she decided that she wanted to drive again. Again, she knew that nobody in the family would agree with her plan, since she was a rather adventurous driver even before the stroke. She went out to the parking lot every day, and practiced turning the key. When she had trouble with her upper arm strength, she learned a trick from her friends in an arthritis swimming class at the JCC. She turned her wrist before grabbing the key so that she’d have more power to turn the key. Once she got to the point of being able to turn the ignition on, she’d practice going around the block, again in secret. Finally, after months of this, mom was late picking her up for a doctor’s appointment, and grandma just drove herself over to mom’s house. That’s how mom learned that she’d been secretly driving for so long.

I’m not sure how thrilled my mom was at the time with grandma’s independence or perseverance, but that was part of the spirit and energy that kept her with us for so long.

Grandma taught me how to handle whatever life brings with humor, grace, and gratitude. I remember the night that she had her pace maker put in. I’d called her in the hospital to see how she was doing, and was taken aback by her response. She told me “I am soooo mad at the doctors.” Since I had never in my life heard her complain about anything, I was alarmed, and asked her what had happened. “Well,” she said, “when they put in my pacemaker, they forgot to do my tummy tuck!!”

A few years ago, when I was going through some difficulties at work, Grandma taught me her own version of the serenity prayer, made up just for me. She told me, in a very practical and real way, to accept the things I cannot change, and change the things I can. What she said to me, whenever I was complaining about work was, “R, don’t worry about the tsoris, worry about the eye pencil.” I still struggle with the serenity prayer, but there’s hope for me, because Grandma sure got it right.

There are countless of other examples of grandma’s humor, grace, and gratitude under difficult circumstances, but the most recent one I remember was when Hospice first got involved with her. She told me, “R, I’m so busy. I have a nurse who comes in to do one thing, and a nurse’s assistant who comes in to do something else. I even have a social worker whose job is to make me happy. So, the social worker comes, and when she leaves, I’m happy!!”

Grandma taught me unconditional love. Whenever we greeted each other, we would always sing to each other the beginning of “You light up my life” only she never had the words or the tune right. Her version was “You light up my life; you bring me joy, forever!” Grandma accepted me, exactly as I am. She loved me fiercely, no matter what. I know that she had unique traditions with each of us. And she really did have a talent of making each one of us feel like we were the most important person in her life.

This week, grandma taught me about what’s most important and about letting go. When I first got to town last Friday, I think we both had our feet in two different worlds. I was struggling between commitments to work and my family in another town and my need to be here. Grandma, too, struggled at first, between being here and letting go. My brother in law said that the same energy that kept her with us for all of these years, kept her with us this week, way past anyone’s, including the hospice nurse’s expectations. But, as always, grandma did things on her own terms, and in her own time. And I was so blessed to be a part of this last journey. I went back to my former role as the “night nurse.” It was so peaceful sitting with her at night, and during those nights, I think we were both able to let go.

I love you Grandma, and you will always, always, always light up my life.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

not going

We were supposed to be travelling this weekend to be at the unveiling of my grandmother's tombstone. Meanwhile, my stepdaughter's wedding is this week, and we have lots to do to get ready. And I'm still in the middle of the "am I being displaced at work" crisis of 07. I've been agonizing back and forth about whether to travel for the unveiling. My partner has been really supportive about it overall, and has been committed to going, in spite of all that's going on in both of our worlds. I know that she really didn't want to go, especially this weekend, and that she was suiting up and showing up for me in a major and significant way. We were finally packed and ready to go at 10pm last night for a 5 hour trip. I was carrying suitcases to the car, and decided that it really wasn't a good idea for us to go. We just have way too much going on in both of our lives right now. I know it was the right decision. We're both relieved. I know my grandmother will understand. Honestly, I'm glad it was me who decided not to go. I'm grateful that my partner was willing, even though it was putting a lot of pressure on her. It was a huge gift that she was willing to give me. Tomorrow, I'll say a prayer for my grandmother. Today, in the midst of all that's going on in our lives, I will express my gratitude.

Cognitive Dissonance- Therapy vs. 12 Steps

One thing I'm struggling with is what I'm learning in Naranon and how it differs with what I'm being told by our therapist. Naranon is really big on detachment, staying on your own side of the street, or not taking someone else's inventory. A few times in the last few months, my partner has invited me into her business. Not too long ago, she was working on Step 2, and couldn't think of an example in her life for one of the questions, so she asked me. I gave her an example from my own life instead. Last week, she was struggling with the effects of her avoidance behavior on a relationship that is important to her. She asked me for input. Meanwhile, I was having all kinds of feelings of my own, because her avoidance has bled into my relationship with the same individual. I was also afraid to tell my partner what I really thought, because she was feeling all injured and seemed to be looking to me for reassurance. I told her that I loved her and trusted her to work through it. I reminded her of support people who could help her- her sponsor, her own therapist, and our therapist. All my codie stuff was triggered, and I wanted to fix it, for her and for me. But I was proud of myself for using the tools I'd learned in naranon.

Then, a few days later, the issue came up in couples therapy. The therapist told my partner that she needed to clean up her mess by making an amends. He said that I SHOULD give my partner honest feedback, especially when she asks for it directly. He said that I have a sacred trust with her, and that I know her best and should be giving her feedback, gently, with love, and only when she's willing to receive it. We talked about the abandonment stuff that gets triggered in me. My partner said that she wants to hear the truth from me. She said that she wants me to be honest with her, just like I've asked her to be honest with me. She said she's not going anywhere.

I still don't know what to do with this stuff. I want the kind of openness in our relationship that the therapist (and my partner) talk about. But the therapist talks about my relationship with my partner being separate from relationships I'm learning about in naranon, when my partner is the addict that brought me to naranon to find relief.

It's just all a confusing mess.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Magic in the Rooms

Last night, I went to a meeting and started out kinda resenting the fact that the room was full of so many newcomers who just didn't get it. I had a burning desire, but didn't want to share it, because I figured the people in the room just wouldn't get it. (And no, visitor from out of state, I am NOT referring to you.) Somebody shared her own burning desire and opened it up to anyone to start. The person who started was somebody with very little time in the room, giving advice. The next person, was there for the second time. Last week, she had refused to go to the newcomers meeting b/c she's "a teacher and she knows this stuff." She went into the WWJD routine, and I was cringing. But then, all of a sudden, in the last go round, I saw this beautiful journey in the room. The brand new, very raw newcomer, the person with a couple months in the program just coming to terms with addiction as a disease, the woman who came back after her first week last week, and is struggling with everyone throwing around the word, addict, so comfortably. Everybody's on their own journey, and there really is magic in the room, when I'm willing to see it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

triggered, and growth

So I was sharing with my partner this morning about some of my most recent insecurities and confusions in this virtual world and she got triggered. We were snuggling, talking, and she got quiet and then bolted out of bed. The topic was just too much for her. My head knew it wasn't about me, but my feelings got hurt anyway. Both of us are making progress though. I was able to ask for reassurance. She was able to tell me that it's not about me. (Yeah, I know this, but I still need to hear it.) I was able to tell her that it would really help me if/when she can share with me in an intentional dialogue, but if she can't, I'll understand. GROWTH.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Too much space in my head

So, this job situation is taking up waaaay too much space in my head. I'm trying to use my tools, but as many of us seem to be saying lately, the tools themselves can be contradictory and confusing. Feel your feelings. Detach. Accept. Just for today. Well, for today, I'm not going anywhere, except to the Renaissance Festival. I know that other than what I've said already, I have no say in whether I stay where I am or am transferred again. There are good things about staying, and good things about ending up in the new place. I can trust that in the end, whatever happens will be good. The suckiest part is not knowing, and if I try to process, accept, and let go of the feelings associated with that, I'll be ok. (And if I choose to obsess my way through it, eventually I'll end up in the same place. I'll just make the journey more difficult.) If I do have to go, I can know that I just got through a similar transition, and that actually, I'd be moving to a place more in my comfort zone. (My comfort zone, crazy codependent that I am, is inner-city high needs, crisis-full rather than my current upper-middle suburbia position.) So, me, relax and go to the Renaissance Festival. What will happen, will happen. The process may suck, but I'll be ok either way. Let's try to enjoy the day and see what happens. Yep, it's yet Another Fucking Growth Opportunity!!

Friday, October 5, 2007

displaced again

I got displaced from a job that I LOVED last spring. I'd been doing it for 20 years and it was the perfect job for me. I started my new position in August. The day before I was supposed to start, I got a phone call from the secretary and just KNEW that I was being displaced again. Nope, she just wanted information about my computer. Then, there was a typo in a list of employees that listed me as half instead of full-time. Again, I knew the handwriting was on the wall. Then about 3 weeks ago, there was a meeting where they told us that more displacements were coming. They said they'd be looking to move people in positions like my new one, so of course, that meant me. I finally let my guard down this week. I'm finally starting to feel competent in the new position, I feel like I'm getting to know and like my colleagues, I feel like I'm starting to make a difference, and I'm getting positive feedback from many stakeholders. So, of course, today, BAM, I get the phone call. Looks like I'm being moved. Damn!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Guilt, Shame, and my brain's weird signals

I was in an online meeting about Step 4 the other night, and this was the question:

9. How has my behavior contributed to my guilt and

Here's what I had to say: My head gets the difference between guilt and shame;
my heart, not so much! Guilt is a healthy emotion for me. It lets me know when
I've got something to take care of, kinda like when i put my hand on a hot stove and
know immediately that I need to move it away. But shame gets me stuck and sends false messages to my brain. Sometimes it tells me that the stove isn't really hot and I leave my hand there and get burned. Sometimes it tells me that a cold stove is hot, and I'm constantly jerking my hand away when I don't need to. Even though my head knows this stuff, I confuse myself ALL the time. I take responsibility for what's not mine. I think that's my way of fooling myself into thinking that I've got control when I don't. And sometimes I don't take responsibility for what IS

You know, I'm looking back on this now and it's not making anywhere near as much sense as it did to me when I first said it. I'm not sure it addresses the prompt. And I'm not sure where it came from. But there it is.