Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What I know, what I want

My Dearest Love,

I love you to the depths of my being. I see you hurting, and I hurt too. Sometimes, we get stuck in this pattern, where you want to avoid the hurt, and I want to absorb your hurt for you. I know that's not healthy for either of us. I'm trying to get to a healthier place, and I know that you want that too.

I know that you've been through terrible experiences that nobody should have ever had to experience. I know that you're doing the best you can right now, and that it's not your intention to hurt me. My head knows that when you engage in self injurious behavior, it's not about me. I know that that doesn't mean that you don't love me, but that you can't see past your pain.

I know that I will love you forever. I want to be with you forever. I know that when I struggle with your acting out behavior, it's not that I don't love you enough, but that I love you too much. Sometimes, you know that too.

I know that I have tools to take good care of myself. I know that if I'm using these tools to the best of my ability, I can be ok, whether or not you are. I know that right now, I don't seem to be using my tools to the best of my ability.

I know that you have the right to be exactly where you are, even if where you are hurts me. I know that as much as I want to protect you from yourself, I really can't. I know that in the end, the only person I can truly protect is me.

I know that I came into this relationship with my own buttons, and one of my biggest buttons is being around someone engaging in self-harm. I know that you did NOT install that particular button.

I know that I want intimacy with you so desperately, that I am often willing to put myself in harms way in order to try to maintain a connection with you. I know that desperation is never a good place for me to be.

I know that we have family therapy scheduled for a week from now.

I want to try an experiment. For the next week until our family therapy appointment, if you choose to engage in ANY behavior that is harmful to you, I want you to find someone else to share it with. I want to hear your successes, if you're willing to share them with me. I'm willing to hear your struggles, as long as we can both remember that my job is not to fix it for you, but to love you while you work through it yourself. If you find that you need somebody other than yourself to keep you safe, I want you to find someone else or somewhere else to get that need met.

More than anything, I want to get to the other side of this together, and to be with you forever. I know that I will love you forever, no matter what.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My OWN Eternal Internal War

Yesterday, a recovery friend told me that the one thing that she knows about me is that I'm always clear about not being able to protect my partner from herself. My friend frequently reminds me about how I told my partner on the day she revealed her addiction to me that I can't be responsible for holding her pills for her. Part of that is true. I did use those words. But I had to fight with myself and lose over and over and over again until I convinced myself that it was true. It's not quite as often today, but sometimes, I still need to fight me over that one.

Today, I'm remembering that on the very first day that I had a real conversation with my partner, I started that same pattern. I told her that day that I can't be her therapist and her friend. I then proceeded to spend the next decade trying to fix her so that I could feel safe and secure in our relationship.

Now, I've got another battle to face on the same front. My partner is engaging in significant self injurious behavior. And again, I used the right words. I told her that I can't be the one to keep her safe. My head knows that the words are true. Hell, she's continuing to show me. Right now she's with people whose job really IS to keep her safe, and twice, now, she's managed to engage in that same unsafe behavior.

The problem is that while I always use the right words regarding who owns her behavior, MY behavior doesn't match. I continue and continue and continue to try to say just the right thing or do just the right thing so that her behavior will change and I can feel safe.

It's funny. It's sooo easy to see the internal wars that the people in my life are fighting. It's not so easy to see my own, even though I continue to fight it again and again and again. I am powerless over others. When I try to change their behaviors so that I can feel safe, MY life becomes unmanageable. It's basic, step 1 shit. Guess I better go ask God to help me with that.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

All my big scaries

In the last couple of weeks, I've had to confront all of my big scaries. I started to name them, but to protect anonymity, I won't be too specific. You can insert your own big scary here. Mostly it's involved someone I love trying desperately not to deal with feelings and using maladaptive coping mechanisms to do so. Because of that, I had to deal with my biggest scary of all scaries- abandonment, and in two permutations. And you know what? I'm ok. I have an amazing support system, people who will call out of the blue when I'm not ok, people who will listen for hours and hours, and people who on a moments notice will say "of course you can show up for the holiday." And I'm getting the opportunity to remember something. I will NEVER abandon me. My higher power will never abandon me. I can use my adaptive coping skills, whether or not the people in my life choose to. On this Thanksgiving eve, I have things to be truly grateful for. Thanks, God!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

OK, God.

OK, God,

Apparently you really want me to speak at a 12 step recovery program. The last time I was asked, my character defects got in the way. I said that I had already committed to another recovery program. What I didn't say was that I hadn't committed to actually do any service at that program, just to attend.

So, I got asked again. I'm supposed to speak about the principles behind the first three steps: honesty, hope, and faith.

Well, to be honest, God, my character defects of low self esteem and perfectionism almost got in the way again. But this time, I had hope that I could actually do this. And as I'm continuing on my 12 step journey, that hope has blossomed into faith. Today, I have faith that if I follow your will and do this thing rather than my will and avoid it, you'll help me choose my words so that I might be an instrument of attraction.

So, Help me, God. Remind me that it's ok to do this thing perfectly imperfectly. Help me to turn fear to faith. Help the words that we choose together to reach somebody who hasn't yet found the courage to start on this journey to start taking that first step. Help me to share at least some of the wonderful gifts that you've given me as I've journeyed through these steps again and again and again.

Thanks, God!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Heard from my therapist

"Try not to take it personally. Remember that she isn't doing this on purpose. Ideally, it should be the two of you against the problem, not her and the problem against you." I did hear these words from my therapist today. But it wasn't my individual or couples therapist talking to me. It was my physical therapist talking to my partner! I have adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder) and he was teaching my partner how to help me with my therapy.

He also had words of wisdom for me. Let Go. Don't try to force change. Let me take control, don't try to be in control of the movement. Trust me."

Frozen Shoulder. Thanks, God!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Let Go, Let God

I apparently have some God lessons to learn yet again about trusting the process, letting go, keeping my head where my feet are, and all that fun stuff. God keeps telling me to let go. When I don't, I get gentle, and then not so gentle reminders. There's some major ambiguity in my work situation. I think things are going to turn out the way I want them to. I KNOW (even if my body doesn't) that I'll be ok no matter what and that things will work out the way they're supposed to. I've done the footwork I can do. I'm having a really hard time turning off my brain and going to bed. Guess God and I need to have another conversation. Gnite.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Money Money Money Money!

I've been struggling with how to set boundaries around finances for years. My partner is always wanting something, and I'm always feeling like I have to guard the gates. Fear of economic insecurity has clearly not left me and I have huge anxiety around having what I need in my old age. My tendency is to NOT buy a soda because I'd rather save the money. My partner, meanwhile, would buy starbucks 3 times a day, so my denying myself is not helping me reach a place of financial security. She's constantly wanting something and I'm constantly in the parent role. It's not healthy for either of us.

I was provided with a substantially higher level of education than she was, so I have the ability to make a substantially higher income. She's not very intrinsically motivated to make money, and why should she be. There's been no response cost if she chooses to take a day off of work without pay because she's used up all her time, or if she doesn't seek employment at all, other than my nagging. Again, not healthy for either of us.

I've really struggled with the ideaa of separating finances. First of all, it's scary to see it as a way of moving towards separation, which is NOT what I want. Secondly, I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to do it fairly.

All of a sudden,last week, a solution came to me. I would LOVE feedback before we implement it. We can leave our savings exactly as they are, as ours. Since neither of us is looking to break up, there's no reason to mess with that. We can also keep our joint checking account for bills and shared expenses. From here on out, my idea is that we each contribute to the joint accounts proportionally, based on our income of the time. We also each open individual accounts, also with proportional income. I can save to my heart's content with that account, or plan big trips, which is what I'd love to do. She can do Starbucks every day or buy herself a pony or fulfill whatever whim she has at any moment, IF she has the money to pay for it. I can stop being the parent and deciding what she can and cannot buy. She can make her own choices about working and spending without having to get approval from me.

I'm really loving this plan. I think it's generous, since I'm paying about 3/4 of expenses, but reasonable. She's not too excited. She keeps saying that she's going to be so poor.

I'd love to hear experience, strength and hope on finances. Any practical suggestions about how to make the plan work would be most appreciated.

Monday, July 27, 2009


It's weird how calm I am in a real emergency when I can be so crazy emotional over small stuff. I was involved in a real emergency last night, designated so by the police. I made the calls I needed to make, got the person who needed to get to a safe place to said safe place, shared information that needed sharing, and calmly went home without that person at 2am. Meanwhile, it was just a couple of days ago that I was batshit insane because a piece of paper had yet to be put in the mail. Now granted, there are serious financial consequences to that piece of paper not being mailed. It's still not mailed, and I'm still relatively batshit. But, in a real crisis, when I need to be calm, I've still got it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fired! Redux

Interesting times. This spring I was terminated and then unfired. I'd just gotten my legs back under me again. We even bought an expensive new (to us) vehicle on Tuesday. Then yesterday, my partner was fired. Not laid off. Actually fired.

It seems that while she had a part, it really was a series of unfortunate circumstances that led to her termination. Even her boss appeared to be sorry that she had no other option. My partner has grown a lot in this position and seems to have learned what she needed to learn there. It really was time for her to move on, and now that will have to happen. I'm really proud of how she handled herself yesterday. And I'm proud of how we handled it together. I called a program friend before talking to my partner, and she gave me my talking orders- I could only say things that were "loving, necessary, and true." I think I did that. And I'm amazed at how we got through what could have been an even tougher day together.

I'm also really scared. It's not the best time to try to be searching for employment, especially with a recent firing. And there's the matter of the expensive new-ish car we just bought. Fear of economic insecurity has clearly not left me. But, I guess God has some new lessons in store for both of us.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Let's talk about sex, baby!

Physical intimacy is a struggle in our relationship. Well, no, that's not exactly right. We can be awesome cuddlers. And my partner would be willing to provide me with sexual pleasure any time and then jump up and go off and mow the lawn or clean the house or do her nails in another room or whatever. But mutual sexual intimacy is a struggle in our relationship.

It makes sense. She's got all kinds of baggage that makes it really hard for her. It doesn't make it easy.

Last week, we tried addressing it in couple's therapy. She came up with a plan- date night, which was to be Friday night. She's expressed excitement about it for days. We got started and then she told me she had a headache. She sobbed about disappointing me, and let me in on some of the baggage that gets in the way. She said that the longer it is between times, the harder it gets. Again, that makes sense, but doesn't make it easy.

Here's what's going on for me. I'm learning to shut myself off again physically. Before my partner came along, I thought I was asexual. What sucks is that I've discovered that I really am a sexual being. I learned that from my partner. There was a time in our relationshp where we had a mutually satisfying intimate relationship. I really don't understand what's changed. It's hard not to take it personally. My head knows it's not about me. My body has hard time catching up.

And speaking of my body having a hard time catching up, it's had quite the roller coaster ride Friday evening. I HAVE learned to shut down. So Friday, I'm busy telling me that it's ok to let myself get excited. Tonight's gonna be the night. Well, maybe. Follow through is not always my addict's best subject. No, R, stay in the moment. She's been talking about it for days, and she's been touching me earlier with hints of what's to come. She asked me to draw her a bath. It's ok. I can relax and go with it. We get started and I think it's really a go. But then. BAM! Not tonight dear, I've got a headache.

The good news is that I was really able to process my feelings about it with her last night. I was able not to blame her or shame her but to let her in about how it affects me. And she was able to comfort me. We're working through it. We're not there yet, but communicating about it is a huge step forward.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

New Meds, New Behaviors for Both of Us

My partner has a new psychiatrist and was prescribed new meds this week. Her behavior has been really triggering me, and today, I asked for an intentional dialogue to discuss it.

I told her that I wasn't accusing her of anything, but wanted to point out some behaviors that looked a lot like relapse to me. I said that it could well be my own codie sensors misfiring or there could be another reason, possibly the new meds that were prescribed.

Then I described the behaviors. She's been even more distractible than usual lately. Her internal censor is off and she seems less inhibited than usual. For example, she shared some really explicit information in front of a 14 year old. She seems to have been keeping secrets. She told me that she's emailed and texted her sponsor to ask a question and her sponsor hasn't responded. In my imagining, she was asking her sponsor if she "had to" tell me about a recent slip, since that's often how she's phrased it in the past. She's had some substantial itching that doesn't have a known cause to the point where she needed a colleage to go out and buy her benedryl and took 2 to get through the workday. I told her that the biggest signal for me is the way I've been reacting to her. I've been all antsy around her like I tend to get when something's up and I can't quite put my finger on it.

Here's what was different on my part. I was loving and very specific about NOT accusing her of using. I owned my own shit, particularly my reactions and acknowledged that it might well be in my head or be something other than using.

Here's what was different on her part. She listened. She owned every example I gave and even gave more examples. She acknowledged my examples of lack of censoring herself and gave another example I didn't know about. She said that she'd also noticed how distractible she's been lately and how childlike she's appearing to herself. In addition to what I'd shared, she acknowledged that she's had a lot more energy lately (which is how she gets when she's using) and that she has been staying up extremely late. She asked me to write down the symptoms I saw so that she could share them with the psychiatrist and asked when I could go with her to see the psychiatrist. She said that she'd been waiting for me to mention it and that it was validating to her, because she wasn't sure if she was reading into herself the symptoms she was seeing in herself. She acknowledged that she liked some of the effects of the medication, but that they also scared her. I left the conversation feeling relieved and much closer to her, which is unusual when I broach such a hard subject. Shew!

Friday, April 24, 2009


I got unfired today. Shew. I still have some choices to make, and whatever happens is going to involve some major changes, but my biggest crazy is behind me.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I'm doing that thing where I don't post and there gets to be more and more to post so I get overwhelmed and post nothing.

Work is crazy. Home is crazy. (Yep, I'm home. I left her and she didn't notice.) Mostly, I'm CRAZY!!

God's apparently trying to teach me something, and I'm not learning the lesson yet.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

could one pill do us in???

Since my partner's relapse, I've been in regular communication with my friends in recovery, my sponsor, and even her sponsor. Her sponsor has been awesome. She's providing validation and empathy for me, but maintaining boundaries between her relationship with me and her relationship with my partner.

Here's the first of her responses to me:

"I feel your pain and anger about your partner's relapse. I have been in your shoes many, many times with my first husband. Remember the relapse isn't about what you did or didn't do or where you were or were not. It was not a personal afront to you, it was about the disease of addicton. It's about your dumb ass partner not doing what she was told, disregarding the tools she has today and her disease of addiction. I too, tolerate only so many relapses before I let a sponsee go. At some point you need to decide for yourself when enough is enough and I mentioned to your partner that you may ask her to leave the house as a result of her actions. Just know that on my end we had a very straightforward conversation and will be having another soon.

I just wanted to clarify this statement:

She said that her sponsor thinks that I should keep all of the medicine that's not hers in a separate lockbox. We've had many experiences of this game, and it just doesn't work in our house. I hide shit or lock it up at her request. She finds it or breaks into it.

I suggested that she keep her own meds in her own lock box separate from yours and the left overs from other people who have been in your house. Not that you lock away her meds from her. You're right. You are not powerful enough to prevent a relapse. But I also feel, as a newcomer, she doesn't need to have her nose in other peoples stuff. She needs to have meds for her own mental health otherwise I'd tell her to flush everything.

Another option is to tell her she has to go through a treatment program in order to stay in the house. I don't know you're history of this or if she's ever been but ____ had some good outpatient programs and ____ hospital also has a detox wing. Again, I don't know the history here but it's an option. She may have already burned her bridges with you and so be it.

Wherever you are I'm glad are not alone and that YOU have the tools of recovery and use them!! :) Please know I am here for you as a friend and supporter. My relationship with your partner is a different entity and I'm old enough to know the difference."

After a few more emails back and forth between me and my sponsor and between me and hers, I sent this to my partner AND her sponsor.

"A, I tried calling a couple of times today, but you didn't pick up. I would love it if you would make some kind of attempt to initiate contact with me. I'm working through my feelings with other people, but I'd really like to try to work through them with YOU!! Meanwhile, here's part of my conversation with my sponsor today.

Here's what she asked/ said:

"What about this whole scenario bothers you the most? What is it about her actions that make you feel as though it's being done TO you? THe conversation with her sponsor which involves a change in behavior on your part? If that's it, you don't have to accept. We have choices!!

Be kind to yourself and take your time getting home. Hang in there!"

And my response:

"There was alot that bothered me. The whole convolutedness of the conversation. She started by telling me that she didn't go to a neighborhood social event as planned because she had a migraine. Then, later, she added in that she went to a meeting instead because her sponsor said she had to. Then, there was the relapse stuff about looking for, finding, and taking a "loose pill" because her hip hurt. Then, the stuff about her sponsor's conversation about me locking up the meds that aren't hers. That made no sense until much later when it came out that what she took was a sleeping pill of mine. She kept talking about it being loose in the box and that she wouldn't have taken it if it were in the bottle. I guess that was a big part of what triggered me. I'm not buying that bullshit; it just pissed me off. It bothers me that there's yet another boogeyman to be concerned about now that my sleep meds are fodder for her addiction. Oh, then there was the part where she asked her sponsor if she "had to" tell me. Oh, and we had another segment of the continuing saga of the missed work. She took yet another day off this week. When I asked her what she planned to do about the missing day, she said that she had another paid day. This keeps happening. She says she has no more paid time off, but then magically finds more and more days when she takes more and more time off. I've told her that I'm no longer willing to pay for days off. So her solution appears to be that she keeps finding more and more days. Feels like addict math to me!!!! And yeah, there was also the part where I'm supposed to lock up something else that I didn't know was a problem after the fact. So, which part bothered me the most? I don't know. I'll have to think on that one."

Again, I'm copying this to both you AND your sponsor so that you both know where I'm coming from. I've told your sponsor and I'll tell you that my intention for including your sponsor in these particular emails is that it's sometimes hard for you to hear me when we're in a hard place. If it gets too complicated for your sponsor, I've told her that you have dibs on her. I love you. I'm hurt. I'm angry. And I still love you. I really hope you choose to initiate some kind of contact. I'm done reaching out for now until I hear from you."

I've yet to hear ANYTHING from my partner. Guess I've got some praying to do about what comes next.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


In my naranon circles, people often share that when they travel, their addicts typically relapse. Apparently, I'm not immune to this trend.

I talked to my partner last night, who shared, among other things, that she got into our medicine lockbox and found a loose pill and took it. She said that she told her sponsor right away and picked up a white chip. I started out with the politically correct feelings of gratitude that she caught it early and that she's doing the things she needs to do to take care of herself. But later in the conversation, which got more and more convoluted, she shared that what she'd taken was something that was prescribed for me for sleep. She said that her sponsor thinks that I should keep all of the medicine that's not hers in a separate lockbox. We've had many experiences of this game, and it just doesn't work in our house. I hide shit or lock it up at her request. She finds it or breaks into it. I feel not good enough. I just don't have it in me to play one more round of that particular game today.

Meanwhile, I'm having all kinds of complicated feelings about her taking this particular pill. I know that she wasn't purposely doing this TO me, but I find myself feeling ambushed. It's yet another area of my life where it didn't occur to me not to feel safe. One of my dearest friends in naranon uses the analogy of "please don't shit in the sink." Somehow, I'm supposed to know every condition under which my addict might use and set boundaries (oh yeah, and play the invade the boundary game) around it.

I'm also playing the "it's not bad enough for me to be having these feelings" game. It WAS one pill. She DID tell her sponsor immediately. The other people in my naranon circle deal with much bigger relapses. But my truth is, it's big for ME. She took what was mine, and gave me one more trigger to have to work through. I'm GodDamned tired of working through triggers where her actions, whether intentionally or not, HURT ME!! And I just don't have the energy to invest in this bullshit right now. I've got bigger things on my plate.

Which brings me to the "I don't want to go home" game. My original plan was to leave this morning, but I just didn't want to. I guess the good news is that I have a bit of time. I can take the weekend, talk to my sponsor, figure out a plan that works for me. Hell, I can even hit a few naranon meetings in this town I find myself in today. And maybe, just maybe, by the time I DO go home, that promise will be true for me- We will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us. Please, God!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More God Grad School

I really thought that I was in a field that was somewhat protected from the financial madness of the times. Surprise! I got the word today that my job is terminated, effective in June. I have the opportunity to reaapply for one of an undisclosed but significantly reduced number of positions. I can also apply for one of a number of new positions for substantially reduced pay. Many of us in this same boat get the added bonus of being expected to go back to school (on our own dimes) to get additional training for this position on our newly cut salaries. Luckily or unluckily, as the case might be, I already meet the requirements for both my current position and the lesser paid one. It's a lot to absorb.

Meanwhile, I've got some ethical challenges in the weeks ahead. I've been put in a positon of having more to do than is feasible in the time I have left, and that was before the added stress of job seeking. I've been hanging on, by a thread, as more and more has been added to my plate. I've been being quiet, because we've been clearly told that job performance, as rated by our supervisors, will be the main factor looked at as cuts are made. This week, I was given one more task, one that I believe to be unethical. The person that I would typically turn to for direction was given even worse news than mine this week.

I think I'll try my favorite 12 step exercize.

Step 1. I am powerless over the financial state of this country and the effect it is having on me. I am powerless over direct supervisors and their direct orders. I am powerless over the number of hours in a day and the number of days left of employment. The first situation shows financial unmanageability. I am the primary breadwinner of our family. And, as a gay person, I can't even get health insurance once Cobra runs out. I've been trying to set boundaries in the second situation, but they've been continually trounced. My life is becoming more and more unmanageable as the clock ticks. I was given a direct order to do something that I believe to be wrong, which feels unmanageable.

Step 2. My higher power can help me sort out what I can and cannot change and take the steps I need to take while letting go of what I can't change.

Step 3. God, I give you my anxiety over the job situation. Help me to know the right things to do and help me to let go of the rest.

Step 4. Character defects that have surfaced include fear of economic insecurity, unwillingness up until now to ask for help because of fear

Step 5. God, me, and the internet, my fears have been getting in the way of my making good decisions.

Step 6. I am willing for God to remove my fears.

Step 7. God, please help me to let go of my fear and trust that I can do what I need to do and that I will be ok.

Step 8. Up till now, I've harmed me. If I do what I've been told to do, I will harm a child.

Step 9. I will amend my behavior by letting go of my fears, by asking for help, by doing what I can do, and by letting go of the rest.

Step 10. I don't think I've left anything out.

Step 11. I think that God wants me to go to the person, who like me, still has a job today, rather than making a choice that I believe to be unethical. I think that God wants me to take care of myself by confiding in this person what my current work situation is. Depending on the outcome of that discussion, I'll need to check in with God again for knowledge of his will for me and the power to carry that out. As for the future job situation, I think God wants me to do what footwork I can and trust the process.

Step 12. I do feel a spiritual awakening. I'm much calmer than when I started this exercize, and clearer about what I can do. Hopefully, I can get some sleep now.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Rickety Bridge

Yesterday, my partner and I were having a conversation about a difficulty subject for both of us. She was talking about why she often pushes me away when I pursue intimacy. She said that because of her early experiences, it's like there's a rickety bridge that she has to cross over to get to her adult self. If she can make it over the bridge, then it's a wonderful experience. But, the bridge is really shaky, and often, she falls off. Meanwhile, I have my own rickety bridge that tells me that I'm not good enough and not desirable when she pushes me away. Sometimes, I can use the tools of the program and remember that it really isn't about me. But sometimes, I fall off. It makes sense that we activate each other. But the good news is that each of us is working on our own stuff and hopefully we're each fortifying our own bridges. And that today, we can talk about it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

5 words

I asked Jay for 5 words to describe me.

The deal is she gives me five words that she associates with me, I write about each one and offer to provide five words for any readers who would like to do their own. If you're interested, let me know in comments.

Jay's words for me were attachment, commitment, clarity, healing, contemplation. I just wrote about clarity. Here's the rest of my homework.

I don't really blog about this because I have to be careful about confidentiality even with the anonymity I've tried to maintain here, but I'm a foster parent. A few of the kids I've fostered over the years have been diagnosed with or show characteristics of Reactive Attachment Disorder, which develops when a child doesn't form a healthy attachment with a primary caregiver. I talked a bit about RAD when I discovered my own spiritual fanny pack. It's interesting that these particular kids keep finding their way into my life as I'm slowly learning to develop more healthy attachments of my own. So much of my learning has come from the kids themselves, as well as an amazing group of RAD moms. I connected with this group of women online almost 15 years ago and I'll be flying across the country in a couple of weeks to visit them.

Commitment- One of the characteristics of codependency is a tendency to be too loyal, remaining in situations that are harmful. For me, this characteristic can be one of my biggest character defects or my biggest assets. I can make a difference by committing to a child who has never experienced that before. I've worked through the rough patches in my relationship by my strong commitment. But, sometimes, I've hurt myself when the commitment I make is not necessarily reciprocated. I'm learning today that I need to commit to myself as deeply as I commit to others. And sometimes, when the person I commit to is unwilling or unable to make the same commitment to me, the best thing I can do is to detach with love and take care of me.

Healing: I'm finding healing through my journey through the 12 steps. I'm developing a newfound relationship with a power greater than myself and even a newfound relationship with me. I'm learning better ways of relating to my partner that have turned out to be healthier for both of us. I'm learning to change my focus and change my life.

Contemplation: One of the greatest gifts for me of recovery has been blogging. When it's just me and the page (or more likely the screen,) I can engage in whatever circular thinking I need to use to get where I'm meant to go. I can let myself be so easily distracted by other people's thoughts and feelings. But, left to my own devices, I've really surprised myself along the way with my own insights.

So that's it. Another homework assignment out of the way. Comment here if you want your own set of 5 words.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Baby Steps vs. Do Nothing

One of the things we talked about in our naranon meeting last night was baby steps. Many of us shared the feeling of getting overwhelmed and becoming immobilized. A few members shared about taking one small action and letting momentum carry us forward.

I'm in a pretty overwhelmed place right now. I have more to do than I think is possible to accomplish at work. I've taken on a new sponsor, who's given me step 1 homework. My online step group is on step 3, which we're committed to finish by the end of the month, and I've only completed one question. I asked for and was given words to write about by Jay. I was asked to take on a major leadership role in a local nonprofit organization. And that's just part of my overwhelm.

This morning, I started thinking about the slogan "Do Nothing." It's carried me through some hard times when I wanted to react out to my addict. But today, I'm realizing, that I need to look at the slogans "Do Nothing" and "Baby Steps" and apply them in conjunction with the serenity prayer. When what I'm stressing about is not mine, the best thing to do is "Do Nothing." But, when what I'm stressing about is mine alone, my best strategy is to take a baby step. I need to take one day, one task, or one minute at a time, but put my energy into what I CAN do rather than stressing over the possibility that I can't. In both situations, I need to work on trust.

So, I'm off to work to get something accomplished on my "to-do list." And meanwhile, I just realized that I've just taken a baby step on my homework from Jay. I just had a moment of clarity!

Thanks for listening.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Retreat- Acting In and Reacting Out

I spent the weekend with a group of women addicts in recovery at an informal gathering. It was an interesting experience. I'm really glad that I had the opportunity to become a part of this group of women. Most of the weekend was wonderful. We had a candlelight meeting that was just awesome. Some of the time was challenging. Mostly, it was interesting to watch myself and watch the addicts as we interacted with each other. At dinner on Saturday night, one of the women, whom I'll call M, was having a hard time, and she acted in (I just coined that phrase. It's MINE!!) She retreated into herself. I found myself really wanting to draw her out- to react out to her acting in. I didn't. It was interesting to watch my own tension as I chose to stay out of her stuff.

Later, we all played a game, where we were on teams trying to solve mindbenders. My partner and M were on the same team. My partner missed a question, and there was what we thought was friendly teasing, mostly by M, but we really all took part. My partner got triggered, and left the room, with "fuck you" as a parting shot to to M.

M's sponsor jumped on M and M got angry. Meanwhile, my partner went into acting in mode. (Boy, retreat is a good name for this experience.) I was able to support my partner, because it wasn't about me, and because it WASN'T about me, my partner was able to hear feedback from me. After quite a bit of drama and a night's sleep, they were able to work through it. I was really proud of my partner, who was able to go to M to try to resolve things, TWICE! It was a big growth experience for her. It was a good experience for me to mostly be in observer mode. I was able to see how my typical experience of reacting out to my partner's acting in makes things worse. When my behavior was removed from the equation, my partner was able to successfully negotiate the relationship. She was able to own her part, while having compassion for M. My partner was able to see how much she and M were alike, so in some ways, she was able to show compassion to herself. All in all, it was a really good experience.

And it was really great to get to know my partner's support network. They're really good folks. They're good for her. And her ability to work through relationships is really good for us.

In a couple of weeks, I'm looking forward to my own retreat with my own support network. I'll be flying across country to spend a weekend with a group of women I got to know online about 13 years ago. I can't wait!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

God Lessons in Letting Go

Apparently, God really wants me to learn to let go.

Even after writing that my partner has been choosing NOT to do what she said she was gonna do every time when it comes to doctors, I didn't understand that she really was making that choice, EVERY TIME. Here I am again, surprised. The person that I love is an addict. Addicts lie. Addicts are not dependable. I want to be with my addict AND I want her to be dependable. I want HER to change, so that I can be OK. My way is clearly not working, yet again.

Since I apparently haven't been getting the message, God decided to be a bit more clear. So, when I got to work yesterday, I found out that my hard drive has crashed. I've lost much of what I I believe I need to get my job done.

There's not a damned thing I can do about either situation. I've requested tech support at work, and I've spoken my truth at home. I can't bring back information on my hard drive any more than I can change my addict. Life on life's terms. AFGO!!!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

more doctor confusion

Here's the game we play at my house over my partner's recurring sinus headaches.

She whines that her head hurts. I suggest calling the doctor. She chooses not to and continues to whine. I try ignoring, since she's not interested in my suggestion. She keeps whining. This part can continue for days.

In the next phase, she agrees to get help, but not the help I think she should get. She's gone to a doc in the box and to our former doctor, but NOT to the doc that we agreed on.

We've gone through two doctors together. The first was her pusher,the doctor who got her hooked on narcotics and patted me on the head when I brought the issue to him. The second accidentally gave her something with a narcotic in it and said that she didn't think there was enough narcotic in it to harm her, which led my partner to a relapse. We agreed (or so I thought) to go to an internist who is also an addict. He is an internist and also specializes in addiction.

But, every time she goes to the doctor, she chooses NOT to go to him or to his practice, which leads to my codiexplosions. The last time, we talked it through. She thought it didn't matter that she went back to the old practice, since our doc wasn't available on Mondays anyway. I said that since this is an ongoing issue, if she goes to our doc's practice, he has access to the records. I thought she got it and that she agreed, but apparently she just heard "blah blah blah" and agreed to shut me up, because, today, it's right back to the same old same old.

I'm trying to figure out why this is so huge for me. I want to figure out what my part is, and I want to let go of what's not mine. This hysteria is so not working for me. She's going to do what she's going to do. I have no control over her choices. What she's doing doesn't seem to be working for her, but what I'm doing doesn't seem to be working for me either. And hell, I guess the truth is that either we're both insane or what we're both doing IS working, cuz we're both still doing it. ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Will- Power

I'm working step 2 online with my compulsive overeater group at TJWC. Here are a few of my realizations:

I'm realizing this time around how much I blame my partner for behaviors that I do as well. I get frustrated with her for not speaking her truth to me, but I realize that I'm doing the same thing. I am afraid, and I stuff my feelings rather than owning them and speaking them. I also blame her for the isolating we do as a couple. I want her to go to social things with me, in part because I'm fearful of going alone. I want her to change so that I can feel better, and I know that that's insane.

I'm also seeing more clearly today how I've really been clinging to my compulsive overeating. I've been working the steps, hard, when it comes to codependency. I'm a whole lot better in that area, though obviously not cured. (See above paragraph.) But, I continue to do the same things expecting different results when it comes to compulsive overeating, and that IS insane.

It's interesting how as I work the steps again and again I find different stumbling blocks. Before, I've really struggled with the God steps, because I didn't really believe in a God who would have a personal relationship with me. Today, I have an ever deepening relationship with my higher power and I KNOW that he can and does restore me to sanity when I let him.

But I've been actively keeping my higher power out of this area of my life, because I haven't been ready to let go of MY WILL. I'm sticking my fingers in my ears and singing "La La La" rather than being WILLing to look at God's WILL for my life and asking for the POWER to carry that out. All of a sudden, I'm looking at those critical words from step 11- WILL and POWER. My willpower certainly doesn't work in the area of food. But, if I ask for God's WILL for me and the POWER to carry that out, I know that it will work for me. Today, I feel like I'm moving more towards being ready.

Friday, February 13, 2009


I was talking to a friend who's struggling this week with her husband and the addict that shares body space with him. I described it as being in a threesome. It's funny how easy it is for me to see in somebody else, and how hard it is when it's in my own relationship.

Last night, my partner confided in me that she's been in relapse mode for about a week now, and that she went through my purse to see if there were any leftover narcotics in there from my kidney stone. She said that her sponsor told her that she had to tell me. She said that she didn't agree, but her sponsor told her that she didn't have to agree, she just had to do it.

She really seems honestly confused about why it's a good thing to tell me these things. I told her that I'm really glad that she let me in, because right now, it feels like me and her against her addict where when she keeps things from me, it feels like her and her addict against me.

This morning, I had a new insight, though. It's only MY perception that when she keeps things from me it's her addict and her against me. And honestly, when we're in the midst of it, I don't see the addict, so I think that it's just her who's against me. When her addict is running the show, no matter how much I try to give her both hands, that is tell her the things I appreciate as much as the things that upset me, she can only hear the bad stuff. So, in her mind, it's me (and her addict) against her.

When we're not being intentional with each other, neither of us really see the addict as a player in our psychodrama. So we see each other as the enemy and we turn from or lash out at each other.

I want to try to hold on to the realization that I really am a part of a threesome. I wish I could just kick the addict out of our relationship, but since the addict is a parasite of the person I love, that's just not an option. But, maybe if I get clearer about who's who, it'll be easier for me to have compassion for my partner. I can really see her better. And maybe, just maybe, she'll be able to see me with more clarity too.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Asking for what I want

I have therapy homework. I'm supposed to write about what I want to ask for in my relationship. It came from a daily meditation that I brought to therapy last week (January 27) from The Language of Letting Go on Needing People. I realized that not only am I the person who has unmet dependency needs and drives people away by needing too much, but I've also become the opposite end of the spectrum- someone who's become used to someone not being there for me, so I push her away, and don't allow myself to need.

So, what do I want to ask for?

I'd love to have some kind of routine with intimacy. It doesn't have to be sex, but physical intimacy. Routines seem to work for my partner. She's gotten herself back into a routine for attending meetings, and it's got her in a good place again. She has some routines for expressing her love by taking care of me. She lays my clothes out every night. I wake up in the mornings and feel loved. I'd love to have some kind of routine where we are physically intimate. It'd be fun to make up a ritual together. If we made it into a routine, I'd know when to expect it, and it would make me feel safe.

I'd love for her to figure out a system to help her remember her committments that are not routines. She's supposed to be asking for an intentional dialogue a week. She forgot again. My guess is that she forgot to do her homework this week. I understand that she has a hard time with memory, but when she forgets things regarding our relationship on a regular basis, I end up feeling unimportant. So, I'd love her to develop a system- a calendar, a place to keep reminders, a string around her finger, sticky notes on her forehead. I don't care WHAT the system is, but I'd love her to make that kind of a committment to us.

I'd love it if when she commits to do something "someday," she could give me a timeline. Months ago, she said she'd attend an OA meeting with me. She's forever complaining about her weight and her compulsive eating. But, we got this dynamic going where every week I'd ask her and every week she'd say no. It's part of what prompted me to bring the writing which promted this homework. So, I would love it if she'd say that she'd come by a specific date, and then use whatever system she creates to do what she says she's gonna do.

I'd love more time devoted to recovery TOGETHER. It could be OA. There's a couples recovery group that Margaux told me about that meets not too far away from here. It meets on her homegroup night, so I doubt we could go all the time, but maybe that could be something we check out together. We started a tradition study a long time ago, and then did tradition 1 again a couple weeks ago. We could get ourselves back into a routine with that. I don't really care WHAT form of recovery we do together, but I'd love to do some kind of recovery together, and again, have it be something I can count on.

I guess, bottom line is I want there to be more of an US, and I want to be able to count on her.

Homework done.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bless the Defenses

We had therapy yesterday. Because of the weather, we opted to have our session by phone. I ended up downstairs while she was upstairs. I was doubtful as to how we could work effectively being in 3 different places. But, it seemed to work.

We always start with a grounding exercise and then an opportunity to say what we want to work on. I wanted to work on getting through the stuck places. My partner wanted to work on becoming closer.

We got to a stuck place pretty early in. I heard my partner filing her nails, which was really annoying in the middle of a therapy session we were paying for. The therapist suggested that I bless the defenses that she's built to keep herself safe. In a way, it made sense, because it was the defenses that kept her safe and brought her to me. But, those same defenses are used today to keep me out. I've shared before about how lonely it is to be the partner of someone who's busy building fortresses to keep me out. If I blessed her defenses, wasn't I saying that I wanted that behavior to continue? I wish I remembered the therapist's exact wording, but it was something about defenses won't relax until there's complete safety. So, we each did this ritual of blessing and thanking the defenses that kept her safe. It really was miraculous. She was able to open up and start letting me in in new ways.

It reminded me of something I hear from long-timers in 12 step programs. They suggest that to get rid of a resentment, you pray for the person you resent to get everything you want. I guess I have resented the part of her who keeps her from me. And blessing that part seemed to make a real difference, for both of us!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Banished from my own home

My partner is having a sponsorship family gathering at my house in early February. When she first told me about it, she said "we" were having a breakfast and that I was included. I have felt so isolated from her and she has so often opted out of any opportunity to socialize with me, so I was thrilled for an opportunity to be a part of- especially to be a part of her recovery family. Later, she realized that spouses were NOT included and told me that I would have to leave the house that morning.

As the time is nearing, I'm having trouble with this. For one thing, I guess I do have to acknowledge that I am having feelings about being included and then unincluded. I understand that this wasn't her doing, but it doesn't mean that I don't have feelings about it. It's also bringing up old stuff for me. When she first separated from her husband, she came to stay with me. Part of the separation agreement that THEY made was that I would leave my home for one weekend a month so that the girls could come to stay there with their mother. Now, at that point, it was not our home, it was MY home that she was staying in rent free. And they made this agreement in court that I was not a party to but had to comply with. It sucked in all kinds of ways. And yes, those feelings are getting triggered, so I get that my reaction is bigger than it would be because it's pushing old buttons.

But there's other stuff too. It's interesting, because she's been struggling with feeling like she's being controlled in the situation where our therapist told her she needed to go to 5 meetings a week if she wanted to continue to be in therapy with him. It's funny how she refused to hear the difference between setting a boundary and being controlling. In this situation, I get it. Setting a boundary is if you do or don't do this, I will or won't do this. Controlling is saying you have to or you can't. He set a boundary- if you don't go to meetings, I won't see you in therapy. She, on the other hand, was being controlling- you can't be in the house.

I tried talking to her about it. I asked if it would be ok if I stayed in the bedroom. Her first response was no, because I might hear something. I told her I could keep the door closed and the TV on. She went on and on about how uncomfortable it would be for me, because I'd be stuck in the bedroom for hours. I asked her what other spouses do, and she said they all vacate their houses. She finally acknowledged that that was my choice to make and said that she'd been caretaking by trying to decide what was best for me. I told her that I'd like a vote next time about whether the function is going to be in my home.

At one point, she got pissed and said that I'm a grownup, and I can do anything I want. I can even come sit in the middle of it if I want to. Then she barricaded herself in the bathroom. When she came out, I asked for an intentional dialogue, and she refused. But she wanted me to think about the fact that she didn't do this on purpose. I started to respond to that, and then said that if she wasn't ready to engage in an intentional dialogue, that's fine, but that I wasn't willing to listen to her when she was choosing NOT to listen to me. I said I'd be more than happy to listen to her IN an intentional dialogue. Her response: "Fine!" She told me she'd be ready in a couple hours, which was of course more than a couple of hours ago. I told her to let me know when she's ready.

The problem is getting bigger and bigger. I started out struggling with her trying to control me. Then, it got crazy making when she was doing her mind bending reality altering shit by saying that what she was doing was trying to take care of me because I might be uncomfortable staying cooped up in the room, when her argument started with "no, you might hear something." Then, when she walked out in the middle of the conversation it pushed my abandonment buttons. Next, when she refused to dialogue with me but wanted ME to think about whatever the hell she wanted me to think about, it pissed me off. Now, I'm struggling with her not doing what she said she was going to do, which was to come to me in a couple of hours when she was ready for a dialogue.

My new step group is working on Step 1, and here I am faced with yet another situation over which I'm powerless. I can't make her work through an issue with me start to finish. I can't MAKE her agree to an intentional dialogue and give me the validation and empathy I need. I can't make her honor her commitments and come to me in a couple of hours. What I CAN do is take care of me. So, I've processed with my sponsor, with a friend and my sister in recovery. I went out with one of my recovery friends and ate interesting things. Now, I think I'll call another friend and invite her to a meeting.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My Word- 2009 Edition

It was interesting looking back to see my word of 2008. I didn't do such a great job of keeping it in my head as a focus, but I think I did do a good job of practicing self-care anyway. This was the year I bought myself my own fucking Hallmark Card. I got much better at using the phone tool. I participated in an Artist's Way book study, which included dating myself through Artist Dates, Morning Pages, and even a Reading Diet. I got better at using affirmations. I got a really cool self-nurturing tool in therapy last week that I haven't posted about yet, but it's turned into a cool way to end one year and start the next.

It's interesting to look back sometimes and see patterns AND growth. When I went back to see my word for 08, I got to look again at how it started for me. My partner and I went through a dance last night around new years that, in looking back, was very similar to last years. She wanted to isolate. I didn't. She was sick. But, instead of pouting, I chose to practice self-care. I went to figure out what I could do with my own self for new years. I decided that I'd take myself to see fireworks. My partner didn't like the idea of me spending the new year without her. The new behavior we both practiced was working through it together and coming up with something we could both live with. We decided to go to our local NA holiday meeting marathon together. Starting the new year with recovery felt like a good thing.

Hmmm. Recovery, maybe that can be my word. It kind of encompasses everything I've thought about and everything that's important to me today. God's already taken. I thought about gratitude, because I find that my life works better when I focus on the stuff I have to be grateful about. When I started this post, my word was gonna be Steps. I just finished step 12 with one online writing workshop this week. We finished with the 12 step exercise, which is always so powerful for me when I remember to use it.

I'm starting a new online Step Study focusing on my compulsive overeating. We're gonna do one step a month, so I'm excited that this one will take me right through this year.

So, I think I will choose Recovery as my word this year. That encompasses God, the Steps, and Gratitude. Happy New Year!