Wednesday, December 24, 2008

One step forward and...... FIRED!

My partner and I were conditionally fired from couples therapy last night. Well, actually, SHE was conditionally fired, but since it's pretty difficult to do couple's therapy alone, the effect is the same.

I know she's confused. She has been stepping up lately. She took care of me when I was sick, and she got her step 1 homework completed.

But, she was agonizingly passive aggressive in therapy yesterday throughout the entire session, and the therapist had had enough. He asked how many meetings she's been going to. She had committed to her sponsor to go to 5 a week after the last time she picked up a white chip in the beginning of November. I don't think she has yet to honor that commitment, and she hasn't told her sponsor that she's not doing it. The therapist told her AGAIN that she does her best work in therapy when she's taking good care of herself by going to lots of meetings. He said that he felt like he was in a session with a 6 year old, and he just can't do couples therapy that way. He said that he sees me getting healthier and healthier, and if she doesn't make some changes, he thinks I'll leave her. He said that he won't continue with us unless she goes to 5 meetings a week. She said she'd discuss it with her sponsor. It was hard hearing her not be willing to do whatever it takes for our relationship. It's interesting timing, because she's also been conditionally fired by her individual therapist for a couple of weeks now, because she's been choosing not to submit insurance papers for YEARS!!! She agreed during our 3 hour session with HER therapist not to go back until she'd submitted the paperwork. That was the beginning of December, and she just hasn't gone back.

I'm trying to stay in the moment and take care of me. Last night, our meeting topic was Live and Let Live. After the meeting, I went out with my sponsor and sponsee. I can't make my partner's choices for her. I can only make my OWN choices. Just for today, I'm going to work really hard on keeping the focus on ME!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Partner Stepping Up

My partner seems to be starting her step-work in earnest today. She got herself a new sponsor a few months ago, and then at our therapist's urging, she asked for a deadline. A couple of days ago, she started making comments, INDEPENDENTLY, that she needed to get started, because her deadline was coming up. Today, she pulled out her book, and disappeared.

As most of my experiences in recovery, this is not on my timeline. I, like many of us, used to fantasize about my partner reaching step 9 and making amends to me. I felt I was owed amends. I know today that that expectation meant I wasn't ready.

She'll get there or she won't. She's not doing it in my time or in my way, and today I get that she's not supposed to. I have hope today, because I see her stepping up in new ways,both in recovery and in our relationship. She's doing it on her own and not as a reaction to me. I see how transformative the steps are in the lives of all of the people I see working them, and I want that for her. Ok, I admit, I want it for ME, too. I hope that the changes in her life will transform not only her, but our relationship as well. But today, it's a hope rather than a demand or an expectation. I'm ok with where we are today. I have tools and choices that I can use and make, when I'm not ok with where we are. I think it's not such a coincidence that I'm getting ready to start step 12, and that I really have had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps. I wish the same spiritual awakening for her. And, if you're reading and recovery is something you want in your life, I wish the same for you. Peace!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Conversations with God- Kidney Stone Edition

My stone was blasted to bits on Monday. I'm still peeing the bits out through a strainer. Fun times. I was doctor ordered to bedrest for 24 hours and then work as pain permits till December 31.

So, God and I had a conversation on Tuesday night. I asked for God's will for me and asked for a clear message, because I often get confused. God answered with throbbing pain at 4:30am requiring narcotics. That meant I couldn't drive myself to work on Wednesday. After I took the pill, it throbbed just a bit harder for a bit so God could let me know that I got the message right. Thanks, God!

So, last night, I told God that I'm listening now. You can be a bit more subtle if you want to, and I'll try to pay attention. Last night, no pain, and I've had no narcotics since yesterday afternoon. This morning, I got ready for work, listening to my body and to God. No pain. Off I went. I realized when I got out of the neighborhood that I'd left my nausia meds at home. As I pulled into work, I was nauseous and sweaty. So, I started talking to God. Ok, God, I'm listening. Can I just go in and get a few things done first, though? Hmmm, is this my will or yours. Oh yeah, the power to carry that out. God, will you give me the power to carry out your will please? After about an hour, I went home.

Hmm. Wonder how our conversation will go tonight and tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Knowledge of God's Will for me and the Power to Carry it Out

Our step group is on Step 11. Meanwhile, there's a situation brewing that's not about me but surely is affecting me. I have done absolutely everything I can do to help a kid in my life. But, she doesn't appear to be ready for help. The situation is aligning itself so that it's out of my hands. Usually, I'd be warring, warring, warring. I would KNOW what's best for this kid. The truth is I think I DO know what's best. But I can't make her choices for her. And if she continues on the path she's on, it will be out of my hands, and she'll be out of my life. Today, I'm more at peace with that possibility than I ever thought possible. I know today that I'll be ok no matter what. And when she's ready, the kid will be ok too. I may not be her particular instrument of change. But she's got a Higher Power too. And I can trust that she'll get what she needs, regardless of whether it's what she, or I, want.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I essentially have 3 lives. A work life, a home life, and a recovery life. I haven't been to my work life in a week because of my kidney stone. I won't talk about the home life outside of the parts involving adults. But let me just say, there are major issues. A professional associated with my home life told me to turn off my phone. Essentially, she's telling me to HALT. It's good that my recovery life gives me tools that I can recognize and apply in my work life. I may not always choose to use the tools, but I know I have them.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Please see me, revisited

Here I go again with that feeling like I'm screaming out exactly what I need and I'm not being heard.

After calling the doc in hysterics this morning saying that I can't take another week of this pain, they agreed to fit me in today. I told them what meds I'd taken, and they said that it was ok, but that I'd have to stop taking the motrin immediately.

Today was a miseable day. The meds I'm on make me dehydrated, and I wasn't allowed to eat or drink all day.

At one point, I called my partner and begged her to bring me to the ER for the day until I could be seen. But the docs told me not to go, b/c they'd give me meds that would prevent me from having the procedure. So I stuck it out at home.

When I'm sick, what I need more than anything is petting. When I'm emotionally needy, my partner withdraws from me. Fun times. I felt like I was being really clear in telling her what I needed, but I just wasn't getting it. She needed her hand to smoke a cigarette while she was driving, so she couldn't touch me. I sat there trying to pet myself. It just doesn't have the same effect.

Once I'd gone through all my preop procedures including an IV and sedation meds, I was ON THE TABLE when they asked (for the third time today) when was the last time I'd taken a motrin. I answered the same thing I'd been saying, yesterday. They told me they couldn't do the procedure. AAAAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!

We got home, and my partner went downstairs. She went and did a few errands, coming back into the house 3 different times, but not coming upstairs to check on me. I know she's overwhelmed, but I really needed her. I thought about ways I could get my petting and food needs met without my partner. I called a friend who's a great nurturer for me, only to find that she's in the hospital too. And my wonderful recovery friend offered to drive across town to bring me some broth.

I guess my secret message was in humility. I had to really humble myself to my partner and lay out what I needed from her. I told her I need lots of extra petting right now and I need her to check on me more often. I think I got through. I hate that it's such an effort.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Kidney Stone

Apparently, I've been jealous of the collection of hospital bracelets everyone in my household has been getting in the last month, so last night I decided to get one of my own. During my Naranon meeting, I was having a weird pain in my lower back that was so intense at times that it was making me vomit. I ended up having a friend bring me to the hospital, where I was diagnosed with a 6 mm kidney stone. They say that that is really large, and it's unlikely that I'll be able to pass it on my own. To make things even more fun, I'm allergic to sulfa drugs, which means I can't take the medicine that would help my urinary tract. Sigh.

I'm proud of myself for speaking up and not suffering in silence, and for going straight to the hospital. (Of course, my original plan was to wait out the meeting and then go home if I was feeling ok.) But I did ask for and accept help.

I'm grateful that my partner is in a good place. She was really present and supportive. I'm a bit nervous about having narcotics in my house, but I'm trying to turn that over. As my sponsor says, if she ends up relapsing, I can trust that God has plans for more research for her.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Relationship Growth Spurt

We had a 3 hour session with her therapist on Friday, and my partner has been fully present since then. It was really hard and really good. She told me later that her intention in inviting me was to have her therapist fix me by telling me to go on an antidepressant. What happened instead was that the therapist really helped us explore core issues and to really hear each other.

We talked alot about her dissociation and how it affects each of us. She was really able to own how much she goes away. She even told me that when I cry, she dissociates. It makes sense to me that emotionally charged situations would be really hard for her and that she would protect herself by going inside of herself. It also makes sense to me (and finally to her, too!) that I don't feel seen because of it.

We talked about her unwillingness to use intentional dialogues. She said that they're really hard for her because she can't remember what I said and then it's hard when she has to give it back to me. We both got that this, too, has to do with her dissociation. When she goes inside herself, it must be incredibly hard for her to validate and empathise with my experience. It's also incredibly hard for me when I'm pouring out empathy and validation and getting little back. I end up feeling frustrated and unimportant and out of balance. She ends up feeling frustrated and worthless and hopeless. I think maybe my sender responsibility is to pay attention to when she goes away and stop talking until she can resource herself and come back. Another sender responsibility that I have is to try to speak my truth, but in a way that she can hear, either by giving less information at a time, by containing my emotions to the best of my ability(by resourcing myself) and sharing with her honestly, but in ways that she's more likely to hear. I want to say what her receiver responsibility is, but that would be taking her inventory. My therapist tells me that I've been overcompensating, though. It makes sense to me that when I feel like I'm working harder and harder and harder and not getting much back, I end up with big resentments that are NOT healthy for the relationship.

We also talked about her experience that I can't hear her no. She says that when she tells me no, I harass her until she gives in. She gave some examples, and I validated her experience. It's true that in each of the instances she shared, I suggested more and more alternatives until she agreed to one of them. I can see how she's feeling like she doesn't have a vote, because in each of the instances, we eventually did one of the things I suggested. Given all that, I imagine she feels trapped and powerless. I even get that boundaries are really new for her, and she needs to build fortresses right now in order to protect herself. It's just how I operate with my mother. It bothers me that the person that she's protecting herself from is me, but even that makes sense. It's that Imago thing we're learning about, where we recreate trauma experiences until we work through them. I am NOT any of the people in her life who traumatized her and did not respect her boundaries, but she's projecting that shit on me because she hasn't worked through it yet and I'm the person she's closest to today. I am understanding all of this stuff to the best of my ability without being her.

But I really need her to be able to see my side. It's really lonely to be a partner to someone who's busy building fortresses to keep me out. It triggers the hell out of my abandonment issues. Those issues weren't installed by her, any more than her victimization issues were installed by me. But her behavior affects me. As much as I can understand it, it doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt! What she sees as me not hearing no, I see as her not being able, yet, to enforce her own boundaries. That makes sense to me, too, because I have a hard time enforcing mine. I'm learning, through watching her struggle with this, that it's my job to enforce my boundaries and it's her job to enforce hers. It feels to me like she's blaming me for her failure to enforce her own boundaries. And, while she's busy building fortresses, she's not very negotiable. I see the same thing that she sees as me badgering her as her unwillingness to negotiate. Again, I get it. Boundaries and negotiation are new and hard for her. But it leaves me in a no-win place. She's not throwing out any alternatives. And then she's blaming me when I continue to come up with alternatives and then SHE finally agrees to one. Maybe this is my part here, and what I can try to do differently in negotiation. Again, I can slow down. I can pay attention to whether she's with me. I can ask her to come up with another alternative instead of continuing to put more and more options on the table.

Here's the good news. After our 3 hour therapy session, she's being fully present with me. She understood what I need in terms of validation and empathy, and she's really working on giving it to me. I'm not feeling abandoned right now, because she's not going away inside of herself right now. She's taking more risks and telling me her truth. As she's sharing her truth with me, I can be more compassionate and I can own my part and figure out what I need to change. We're being able to process things all the way through until we both feel heard and validated and we're being able to come to resolution together. For now, it feels like we're BOTH really working on the relationship. I don't feel so out of balance. And that feels really good.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Secret Message Decoder Ring

My step group is starting Step 11, where we pray for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out. I'm finding that I'm receiving a new gift of clarity. I've taken to calling it my secret message decoder ring. I'm asking for God's will for me, and I seem to be getting better at using my decoder ring to understand the answers.

I love the Promises from the AA Big Book, and I'm finding that with my new secret message decoder ring, this one's coming true:

-We will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us.

It's a really cool gift! And speaking of that cool gift, this is my 100'th post. According to my secret message decoder ring, God wants me to keep speaking my truth here. And to know that this gift is a bigun. Thanks, God!!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

PLEASE SEE ME!!!!!!!!!!!

I had a huge blow-out tantrum last week. I felt like I'd been asking and asking and asking and asking to be seen, validated, and empathized with. But my partner was too absorbed in her own stuff, and she couldn't see me. Finally, last Wednesday, I had a complete melt-down where I was a sobbing mess, begging her to see me.

I get that her stuff really isn't about me. But it does affect me. And I was completely done being invisible.

The scary hard thing is how effective tantrumming is. I don't like it. It feels way out of control and scary. But I have to admit that it is the one thing that gets attention when I'm feeling invisible. I see why 2 year olds use it.

Tonight, I did some work in therapy around it. We identified some of my really old family of origin wounds that created this overwhelming need in me to be seen. My therapist told me about some work she'd done around the same issue where she took pictures of herself as a kid and really saw that little girl and nurtured her. She reminded me that the only person who can really abandon me today is me. She helped me to really see my own little person and to nurture her.

I came home and told my partner about the work I did. I told her that I was working through feelings around last Wednesday. Her response: "Refresh my memory." ARGH!!!