Category: CoDepend/Boundaries

Why To Consider Ending a Friendship

I wouldn’t say that forming new friendships post-sobriety has been easy, but the ones that I have developed are the most rich I have ever experienced.

Recovery has proven over and over again to offer a multitude of exceptional promises, ironically these promises are delivered only after we let go of the assumptions, the control and the worn-out ideologies that we have convinced ourselves are imperative to our survival, (despite them being the very things that were killing us).

The promises deliver gifts to our lives that we weren’t even aware we needed and fill voids we didn’t know existed.

The same has been true for me in the area of connection, vulnerability, and specifically: friendship.

I have made a lot of progress. Stepping out of my comfort zone and allowing my messy, reconstructed-self to be seen, heard, and embraced has gotten easier. I show up without masks, as-is, and wide-open.

By allowing my imperfections and eccentricities to live on the surface I have inadvertently invited the right people into my life.  “Don’t change so people will like you, be yourself, and the right people will love the real you,” is one of my favorite anonymous quotes that I think sums it up nicely.

It’s a really scary idea to let yourself be seen and heard in all of your disorganized, blemished glory. It is also just as difficult to allow people to fall away if they don’t like what they see.

But it is usually always what is best for everyone involved if it happens organically.When people aren’t a part of your next chapter, or you theirs, it is not necessarily always the result of fault of either party.

Last month I had to come face to face with the fact that a nine-year friendship had probably run its course. Actually, I am positive that it has.

It still feels fresh and sort of odd to talk about, but on the other hand honoring and recognizing truth, no matter how difficult or weird, always feels insanely euphoric to me.
And I like euphoria. It is a deep breath of fresh air that to me, and it compounds a sense of freedom even in the midst of pain or a tough transition. It’s a complicated and beautiful space.

It’s okay to have bumps in a friendship, even necessary and expected. Friendships among humans are going to messy. We all have our faults and what friends do, is we accept these things and we love our friends hard anyway.

But what happens if you start to see red-flags? What do we do when red-flags transition into indicators that it’s time to break-up with a friend? I tend to gauge things on a “healthy” or “unhealthy” scale. If anything becomes too toxic, and unequivocally tips the scale over on its side, it’s time for it to go. It’s time for me to move on.

With this particular friendship the red flags began sprouting here and there. I began to take notice of the massive amounts of gossip happening. 

Not just the small stuff, but about the important, personal, confident stuff. And the more she talked about other people’s marriages, their life choices, husband’s, behavior, and even their personal financial decisions, and as I listened intently to her harsh critique’s, assessments and inventories I started to realize that I was also probably subject to this kind of peer review too. That “Oh my gosh she probably shares my personal stuff too,” realization. I began to second guess the things I had already shared with her in confidence about my marriage, our struggles, and even the battle that I was going through with my mental health.

There was also a consistent and very blatant insensitivity to my feelings.

I am not highly sensitive, as much as I am empathetic and aware. I think there is a difference. For a long time I looked past the differences and distinct stances in completely different corners in the realm of politics, social justice, and other topics that are usually considered controversial, that this friend and I had, and I always appreciated hearing an open and honest viewpoint from ‘the other side’. I really did.

But I began to notice that we had several disagreements that seemed to feel personal and more serious. It felt like she would use unnecessary digs to win an argument that I thought was a discussion, no matter what the cost. Other times it manifested into her sharing something hurtful with me, and it felt like it was being done for no other reason than to get a reaction. And just like that it would be over, there would be a subject change, and we would move on like nothing ever happened. I would hang up the phone or drive away from the restaurant we had eaten at feeling angry and confused with a “What just happened?” sort of feeling.

I remember one particularly intense phone conversation that began simple enough, and somehow we began talking about the allegations and disgusting truths that had surfaced of Josh Duggar’s sexual abuse. I can remember her distinctly saying “It’s bullshit!, kids will be kids.” “Young boys are curious by nature,” she said. “It happens all of the time, people need to get over it.”

For obvious reasons I was appalled, but even more so personally. She knew that I would react to her comments, and she knew that I had been molested at a young age by a person much older than myself, but who was technically a minor.

He could have been curious too.

Regardless, she knew I would react and that I would never even consider agreeing that a teenager violating your body (whether you forgive them or not as the Duggar sisters claim that they do) is okay, and most definitely not normal ‘curiosity’.

To this day, years later, I still don’t understand her lack of compassion for me as her friend. I also cannot fathom what positive motives were behind a need to specifically negate any responsibility to the ‘curious teen boy’.

Another time during a face to face dinner, (also the most recent) I asked her why she had gone so long without calling me, only to call me out of the blue to list off juicy information about my family that I wasn’t privy to (because we are a mostly estranged family).

Her response floored me.

Her motives were pure, I was assured. Despite what it looked like or felt like to me or how quickly the gossip was delivered, she did not realize how much it would hurt me knowing that I had been left out of important family health-related news. She didn’t know that telling me that my sister had gotten married might not be something to spring on me in the way that she chose to. She had no idea that it was going to be rough for me to hear. She had no idea that I would silently begin to cry in my car, realizing that I had missed a major milestone in my sister’s life, and there was a possibility that my grandma was very sick.

As for not calling me for so long, she reminded me that I had in fact, mentioned that I was really struggling with postpartum depression after having Max, and she really just thought that I was probably maybe still battling depression. She didn’t know.

It was just so hit and miss with me, and also, she really just never knew “what or who to expect anymore” when we talked.

In hindsight, she was right.That’s fair. I was battling with some fierce postpartum. I had a lot of support and I made it through, thank God.

And yep, I still battle with depression and it is hard. It’s really hard sometimes.
I am thankful for the people in my corner who cheer me on and love me through the harder days and darker times.

Also yep. She is spot on. I pulled away from her and she really probably didn’t know who or what to expect from me.

Between my lack of trust toward her prompting me to take a few steps back from any deep or personal content, and also that pesky depression, fuck. Truth be told I probably didn’t even know what or who to expect from myself some days.

It was just time, you guys.
Time to close this chapter.

Admittedly, I am not the best or some kind of hybrid, classic representative of what an ‘ideal’ friend should look like. I am just not.

I am not consistent and maybe, probably, or even likely, I am a bitch sometimes.

I also suck at returning phone calls, although I do well to answer texts. I hate to shop in groups and I don’t drink. I am slow to trust, and even slower to open up.

But recovery has shown me a few things about what I am.

I am more of a long-talker kind of friend. I want to walk and talk. I want to know how you are and who you are and where you are. I want to know how you are feeling and what is going on in your world. If you are sick, I do care. If you need a ride, call me I will come and get you. If you need a hand to hold, hold mine. I eat with you, drink coffee with you, laugh with you, cry with you, and you can be just as messy and blemished as I am without worrying. I don’t expect perfection from my friends and I don’t keep a creepy scorecard on my nightstand.

I am a person who has worked hard to accept that not only is it okay to respect and love myself enough to not exemplify doormat qualities, it is healthy. I am a person who knows that toxicity has a real effect on my psyche and how I feel. I am a woman who has opinions, I am a person who can only honor God, by cutting out crap that doesn’t do me any good, because in turn, I can’t do Him any good if I am entrenched in negativity.

So if you, like me, happen to be brand-spanking new to friendship sabbaticals or friendship break-ups, I think certain things are important to remember. Here are a few things to consider:

*Keep it clean.
Don’t share names or deets on social media.

*Take some time to grieve.
This was a real, meaningful relationship.
Recognize that it hurts to face an ending.

*Don’t play games.
Stifle any urges that you have to lash out or play the blame game or attack that friend. It is just what it is at this point. Things weren’t working for you, and chances are, she might feel the same. Cool.

*Remember you.
This does not have to be about them or what they did or said or didn’t do. This is about you, what you need, and what you tolerate. Your needs, not their shortcomings.

*This is not about being sad or angry or regretful that something is changing or ending.
Realize that this is about making room for productive, positive, healthy relationships in your life, and maybe even hers as well.

*For me I want to serve God, honor who He made me to be, and bring glory to Him.
I can’t do any of that if I am enmeshed in toxic, unhealthy, situations that are only making me question myself, question who I am, second guess everything, and over analyze. I operate and function at my best when things are chill and calm and uneventful. Learn to let go of what doesn’t need to be held anymore. Let go of what drains you.

Note: Still not sure about this part of it yet. This has been a lot to process thus far and from here, I will navigate the ‘how-to’ part of ending a friendship.

How I Learned to Stop Living Crisis to Crisis


If I were re-writing and tailoring the first half of the classic Serenity Prayer to speak to my former-self and the way I lived my former-life, it would go something like this:

Brittany, c’mon already and grant yourself some strength, 

to desperately avoid the things you cannot change; 
courage to continuously hide from the things you could easily change if you tried; 
and enough energy to blame shift long enough to forget about your most recent self-created emergency.

Living one disaster at a time; 
enjoying one traumatic moment at a time; 
accepting your steady stream of conscious & subconscious crises, as the only pathway to continue feeding your tedious, tiresome existence; 

Naturally, addiction won’t allow you to have any peace of mind and definitively not any calm states of ‘being’ but long before my life became all about my drug abuse and eventual addiction, I was comfortable riding the waves with crisis-mode turned on. (Click here if you are interested in learning more specifically about developmental trauma and excessive attention seeking behavior).

I was the kind of young adult who grew to love seeking out toxicity. I actively pursued people, places, and things that weren’t good for me, and if I did have anything good within my grasp, I would begin the process to sabotage. If something became too messy or had expired and could possibly be let go, I would purposefully tighten my grip. Back then you could have found me crawling around in the dark earnestly seeking dry land, hoping to god I might catch my breath. I was slowly drowning myself with waves of mostly avoidable scenarios and calling it stress. I felt most comfortable living among rapid gains & losses with really high-highs, and what felt like the lowest, lows imaginable. My day-to-day life looked and felt like an unpredictable super-cell waiting to make landfall with about as much predictability that is offered to our modern day meteorologists. And in my life there never seemed to be enough time to recoup. No time for emergency clean-up before the next storm began to develop. Yet, in the midst of it all I never understood why I couldn’t get it together.

Often, crisis-seekers in recovery such as myself don’t actually have a cut and dry, easy-fix, kind of issue to deal with. More like a complex set of emotional and behavioral issues that need to be drawn out, sorted, and managed. But as it is with recovery from anything, we all know the first step to begin healing, solving, or managing any condition is to first acknowledge that you are negatively effected by it. That is what sobriety did for me. It gave me a long awaited opportunity to catch my breath.

So, while I don’t have any fool proof tricks, tips, or advice when it comes to finding the secret to finding balance in life and I won’t even pretend to think that I have all of the answers, I do know that living crisis to crisis isn’t healthy. I do know that it can be turned around.

Here are 4 things that helped me to change my life from living in a constant state of emergency, to living a full, messy, dysfunctional-on-a-normal-level, life:

 

  • I began to ask myself hard questions
    In the beginning of the undoing, I had to purge. I cleaned mental and physical house, so-to-speak. I got rid of excess toxic stuff. All of it. I cut ties, connections and phone cords. I created distance, boundaries, and rules. I had to prune and weed and make my garden a little less cluttered so that I could see what I was actually working with.
  •  I took the time to listen to the truth tellers
    You know who they are. They’re there and it’s likely, they always have been. Until now they have been snuffed out by unwillingness but the coolest thing about people who truly love and care about you, the ones who are actually interested in seeing you change and thrive, is that when you are ready, so are they. During my early recovery (and even now) I don’t seek wise counsel from myself. We only know what we know from our own perspectives at certain times in our lives. First, I go to the Lord. I seek out the advice or wisdom of women who walk with God. I get with people who don’t believe in ulterior motives or self-selling. These people are typically the most candid, straight-forward, advice givers especially when I need to be called out on my own crap, or if I am not sure if I am making the right decision.
  • I learned things but then I put them into practice
    So often I meet people who know things. They have all of the facts. They say the right things. They have the pamphlets memorized. They have stored information. I used to know a lot too. I learned that knowing isn’t enough. I have learned that you have to take intentional steps to get to where you want to go. The only way to actually replace a learned behavior and turn it into a staple in your life or a building block in your new character traits is to practice it. Use it. Plug that shit it. Do it. Be scared. Screw up. Do it again. Just keep trying. Keep doing it. It can’t become a part of your life if it’s not a part of your life.
  • I continued (and still do) to reassess my motives
    Why am I doing this? What do I want? Who am I doing it for?  Will this help or hurt?
    In my revised version of the Serenity Prayer, I tried to show you how I sought all of the wrong things in all of the wrong places. I sought advice. I wanted wisdom. I needed direction and strength but all directly from myself, the most depleted source I had at my disposal. My decisions needed to be made for the right reasons. I have to remember what I actively pursue matters. Am I seeking peace and calm as much as is in my control? It’s always good to start the decision-making process with truth.

I always (like a lot) say that contentment has by far been my most favorite perk of recovery. I am not sure I realized just how much my soul and my body and my mind and my spirit needed to find a landing-place. I don’t have to fight. I don’t have to run. I am finally okay with just being.

When You Finally See That Everything Is Not Fine

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Generational addiction is complex and ugly.

While it isn’t a hopeless thing to come back from, it is impossible to mend relationships if no one is willing to take a look at the truth, especially if you are talking about unraveling years and years of effects of trauma, abuse, codependency, enabling, addiction, and mismanaged mental-illness.

So not every family trying to interact with each other after dealing with addiction and its ramifications make it. We don’t all kiss and make up. We don’t all attend group counseling sessions or family rehab visits or collaborative therapy or accept apologies or offer or accept forgiveness.

It’s a hot fucking mess express, and everyone knows it.
And sometimes, it just stays messy and no one wants to touch it.

There are no unicorns, no rainbows, no positive quotes. No hugs or family selfies.
There is disconnection, and minimizing, rationalizing, denying, justifying, and distorting. It’s frustrating.

And I totally get it. 
I know how good it feels to push away the raw, real, shame-ridden truth for as long as you possibly can, and those defense mechanisms are helpful truth shunning aids.

They trick your mind and your heart into feeling like things aren’t as bad as they actually are; into believing that ‘everything is fine’ when in fact, all of the things are anything but fine.
And they do great work. 
You can use them for as long as life will allow, or, as long as your own truth will allow. Defense mechanisms are most definitely one of those things that work until they can’t anymore.

But there is no grey area to linger comfortably in.
They either work or they don’t.

So sometimes when you commit to living authentically, you have to walk away.
You have to space between you, and Pleasantville.

Maybe, like me, you have to throw your hands in the air and scream:
“Everything is not fine. No matter how many times you say it is or band-aid it all up, it still isn’t fine.”

So you make new choices.

You decide to do what is best and healthiest and easiest for you to live with every day and you own it.

You believe in the choices that you are making.

You choose to face the pain of walking alone because it hurts less than pretending.

You gather up your pieces of what is left and you keep moving forward.

You stay open to possibilities, but you refuse to allow old mindsets to hold you down.

And you wrap God’s truth around your heart tightly, and you cling to His track record in the restoration department.

The end.

Why I Keep My Boundaries and Why We Can’t Be Friends

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Something I have learned through my experiences with my family and their ongoing addictions and my own struggles with addiction and substance abuse is when it comes to implementing and honoring boundaries….

All of it resides in a beautiful, flexible, gray area.

And this area is meant to provide a safe place but things there aren’t permanent. They are there sort of leasing short-term lots; like a camp ground for the shitty things that we don’t know what to do with, so we just do our best and continue on knowing that everything in the gray area can be re-evaluated at any time and assessed to fit what’s most current.

Things can then stay there or we can take them and move them and change them.

And the choice is always up to us.

I haven’t always fully understood this but that is because it has taken time.

For a long time, creating a boundary within a relationship or a friendship always felt so concrete. I believed that because I made a decision, that meant that I had ruined any possibility of a future relationship.
*(And yes, sometimes cutting ties and burning the bridge to the ground is what’s up. It is what is best for everyone and in my experience, it can be therapeutic and positive.) But that isn’t the only option and it is not always obvious as to what ‘the next right thing’ is going to be.

So when I got a friend request on Facebook from my brother last week it through me through a loop. I was surprised to see it in the notifications because it has been around six months since we last spoke.

Without thinking it to death, I sent him a message that said I wasn’t trying to offend him or make him feel bad, but I am not sure that we’re ready to be friends. I added that I hoped he was feeling well and that he was alright.

And that was it.
For now that is all that I have to give.

But it is also all that I should be giving to him.
He doesn’t need to be my friend right now.

Not only are boundaries okay.
Not only are they (not) permanently fixed , set constrictions.
They also aren’t always set because they are what’s best for US.

I have watched and felt and observed our dynamic over the years that I have been sober.
For some reason my brother and I cannot be in the same room for long periods of time.

Too much of my own sober time has been spent perpetually wondering what I have done wrong or what I could maybe do better or different, and where the rage and impulsive behavior comes from when we are together. I am always left feeling confused and sad and hurt.

But it wasn’t until the truth finally clicked:

I am a trigger for him.

It’s that simple.
And right now, he doesn’t recognize it.
Until he is in a place where he is ready to confront that, we can’t be friends.

Seeing me and being around me obviously stirs his emotions and buried issues and negative feelings that he has in his heart and mind that cause him pain and anxiety and anger.

Lots of anger.

How badly do I wish I could just explain this to him and have it click?
But that’s not how it works. I know that.

I believe that he needs and deserves connection because he is valuable.

But it is wrong to believe that I have to be that person to connect with him or that I am a good candidate to help them feel connected.

Because in this particular instance, I am not. I am not the person for the job even if I want to be and it doesn’t matter that I feel like I am over-qualified for the job.

It’s God’s job.
There is no doubt in my mind that He will provide the right people who will walk alongside of my brother when he is ready for that walk. And when it is my time to walk I will walk alongside of him, gladly.

I know that one day we will have to come face to face with some hard things that he has buried. I am also positive that some day I will need to apologize for a long list of things that I have done indirectly and purposefully and unknowingly, and I am ready to ask for his forgiveness so that we can learn to move past the water underneath the bridge of reconciliation.

I am open and willing to do that when the time comes.

Until then I am going to try to stay out-of-the-way and do my best not to become another hindrance to an already difficult and bumpy road.

I Couldn’t Open the Door.

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The day after Mother’s Day I heard a knock at my front door.
And then almost immediately, my door bell rang.
I quietly stepped to the front window and peeked out and I heard the doorbell again.

When I looked out, I could see my mom standing on the porch.
I stood there peeking through the blinds and I watched as she nervously shifted her weight back and forth. Her arms were swinging from side to side. She was anxious.
A few seconds passed and she rang the door bell three consecutive times and she stepped back down to the sidewalk. She looked around and then she lit a cigarette.

I really couldn’t bear to watch her facial expressions as she began to realize that I probably wasn’t coming to the door, so I backed up and sat down in my chair.

I felt conflicted as I always do.
I wanted to open the door and then another part of me wanted to hold my breath until I knew she was gone.

My anxiety started to make itself known and I began asking questions.
What was she doing here?
What did she need?
Was she in trouble?
Why didn’t she park in the driveway?
Was she hiding something?
Was she alone? Is she angry?
What if I answer the door?
What kind of person am I?
Why is this so difficult?

I absolutely hated every second of that she stood out there. I hated that she probably didn’t understand why I didn’t just open the door, embrace her, and invite her in for a tour and a cup of coffee.

But I just couldn’t make myself open the door.
I had no idea what would have happened if I did and that pretty much sums up the extent of our entire relationship from my birth up to this point.
I have never had any idea what was going to happen next.
(I would like you to meet reason number one why I battle with anxieties, control, and balance issues as an adult.)

Opening the door would be too risky.
She makes me feel unsafe and somehow her presence makes me feel unsure about everything. I know it’s irrational, but that isn’t the point. It feels like I am standing on shaky ground that could crumble beneath me at any given moment. Just because my heart sank as each minute passed that I knew she was standing there doesn’t mean that my head believed that opening the door was a good idea.

This internal battle is a tough one and it really always has been. Since I have been sober boundaries have been an integral part of my sobriety and recovery. I learned how to live a healthy life keeping toxicity at a safe distance.

But while it has made more sense over the years and I have gained more perspective on why my health and well-being is so important to me as a wife and mother, and as a woman in general, it doesn’t mean that it has gotten easier. It is indescribable to have to wrestle with what feels like a natural inclination.

I have tried to take this last month to just allow myself to process the feelings that I have been experiencing, quietly.
I kept how I was feeling between me, and God and I didn’t verbally share until two nights ago. When I finally did (out loud) I cried like a baby, and not because I hadn’t faced the emotions, but because there is something about saying it out-loud that just makes it hard to get out.

My head and my heart may not always agree but that doesn’t mean that either is necessarily wrong. I just have to remind myself that the boundaries that have been put in place are for protection, not to harm anyone.

For me one of life’s toughest lessons has been accepting that right thing is almost always the most difficult option.

This is just one of those situations where all that I can do at this point is remind myself that God is good. He is so good to me.

He has helped me to accept some of the harsh realities that have entered my life and my heart. I do my best not to over-analyze the situation, because I cannot change it.
I don’t spend all of my time worrying or beating myself to death or drowning in guilt anymore.
I have also been given the perspective that I had always sought.
I have the confirmation that I need and while I do doubt my ability to always accept my situation with as much grace as I have been given, I never doubt God’s ability to get me through the things that I face.

I also have hope.
Sometimes when we close a door another door opens.
Other times it is meant to stay shut.
But the best thing about doors?
We have options.

They don’t have to stay closed indefinitely.

Amends & Unexpected Blessings.

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When my grandma passed away it hit me hard.

From the time I was a little girl she was my bestie. My one constant. My rock.
But as I got older our relationship changed.

Slowly it became less and less about our inside jokes, the back and forth, the one liners, laughing until we both had tears streaming down our faces, our late night trips to Long John Silver’s where we would dance and ring the bell obnoxiously before we left, or talking about religions, politics, our favorite books, authors, and boys until the wee hours in the morning.

Our dynamic became contingent on strings.
Strings that she desperately tried to take hold of and wanted to control as I dangled them in front of her face to keep the chase alive.
Eventually she ran out ways to help me and she became tired of me sucking her dry of all of her resources and all of her energy.

Because she had become my enabler. 

The first few years of my newly formatted sober life didn’t feel quite right to me and it wasn’t just because I had to push the reset button psychologically and physiologically.

I needed her and I looked to her for everything. I depended on her and I missed her. I felt like one of my body parts was missing and when I looked around I felt like I had abandoned everyone, but most notably, my grandma.

But I just wasn’t ready to dive back into that part of my life.
We had become unhealthy for each other and I didn’t know how to approach integrating my new life with the old one that she represented to me. So I never really did.
Not like she wanted anyway and not like I could have (or should have).
We talked on the phone occasionally and I visited a handful of times and that is where my fear left things.

And then she got sick.
She had struggled for years and she had held on for as long as she could hold on but this time was different.

When I walked into her hospital room that last time I studied her face.
I stood silently next to her for a few minutes, alone.
Those minutes felt like an eternity.
I watched her labored breathing. I studied her face and her hands and her hair.
She opened her eyes one time and made eye contact with me and for that minute, I studied her blue eyes.

And I knew.
I felt her exhaustion and I knew she was tired.
But not just tired, she was ready.

Admittedly, I selfishly panicked as many people do when they suddenly realize there is no time.
There is no more time left to attempt to repair or mend what has been broken.
There wasn’t any more time. I wasted all of the time.

She would not know how much I had missed her and she would never hear me tell her why I felt like I had to stay away.

I still miss her. I live in the same city where she and I made many of the memories I talked about. I drive down the streets that she used to work on and live on, I shop where she used to shop and I run into people who knew her from time to time. I drive past our Long John Silver’s and the corner where her house sat, and I see the fences that she and I painted together.

So of course she crosses my mind every single day.

But here’s where I might lose you.

I talk to her sometimes when I am alone.
I tell her all of the things that I wished I could have been brave enough to tell her when she was still here.

That I was so afraid of what might happen to my life if she were back in it.
That if our relationship began again, I had no idea what that could mean for my sobriety and I was ashamed for feeling that way.
I was embarrassed that I felt weak when it came to letting my family back into my life, as they were and still are my biggest stressors and my number one triggers. They steal that secure, safe feeling that I have found with my life and shake it to the core.
I tell her that I miss her and that I am sorry. So so sorry.

I hope that she knew that I was just trying to be my best self, and nothing I did was to purposefully hurt her.

I look at her old photo albums often and last night after my husband and the boys were asleep I dug them out but I had a plan when I walked into the room. I am currently writing a post about how amazing my experiences were growing up backstage at the community theater. I would watch my grandma and her friends and cast mates rehearse and I met so many amazing people. I was digging for some of the cast photos and my grandma in costume for the post and I found them.

But of course as I sifted through years of memories I couldn’t help but reminisce and I ended up sitting on the floor with photos all around me.

As I was packing the books up I found a stack of papers that had my grandmother’s distinctive writing on them. There were several print-outs from Ancestry dot com (she was adopted so it didn’t surprise me that she had researched her family tree) and it looked like she had jotted down notes on the backside of most of the print-outs.

There was one piece of paper that I held in my hand and studied a little bit longer than I did the others and my eye was drawn to what looked to me to be like two lines that seemed odd; out-of-place and not quite flowing with the rest of the notes.

ALL of the notes that she had written were names and dates, first names, last names, nick names, birth dates, and numbers.  And then -these two lines. The ones that didn’t fit with the rest of the information on the page in any conceivable way that made any sense.

When I read the words “Safe in the arms of Jesus, Safe on his gentle breast”
I forced myself to exhale and then I smiled and I closed my eyes and I wept.

Not a pretty cry either, a big ole’, thank-you JESUS ugly cry.

I thank God for those words and that I noticed them.
Maybe I noticed them because I was focused and it was quiet in the house, and it was just the right time but I *needed* these words.

It hit me almost immediately that not only were those words out-of-place on the paper, they didn’t match how she spoke or what she talked about, or the music that she listened to.

So I did what I always do when I need a fish bowl of random, but plausible answers:
I asked Google.

The first page of results led me to believe that I Google was on the right track.
Here’s what I discovered:

 Safe in the arms of Jesus,Safe on His gentle breast;
There by His love o’ershaded,
Sweetly my soul shall rest.
Hark! ’tis the voice of angels
Borne in a song to me,
Over the fields of glory,
Over the jasper sea.Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe on His gentle breast;
There by His love o’ershaded,
Sweetly my soul shall rest.

Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe from corroding care,
Safe from the world’s temptations;
Sin cannot harm me there.
Free from the blight of sorrow,
Free from my doubts and fears;
Only a few more trials,
Only a few more tears!

Jesus, my heart’s dear Refuge,
Jesus has died for me;
Firm on the Rock of Ages
Ever my trust shall be.
Here let me wait with patience,
Wait till the night is o’er;
Wait till I see the morning
Break on the golden shore.

 (Lyrics found here)

I don’t really know what else to say, to me, those words answer a thousand questions for me and comfort me. I think it’s best to just leave this one here for now.

Alcohol, I’m Aware.

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Late at night, when all is calm, and our house is taking a rest, I see your face in my mind.

My heart aches for who you might be, or who I know that you are, hidden underneath all of your scars, and beneath the pain that you carry on your shoulders.

You would hate to hear that I am your secret prayer warrior.

Sometimes I cry, warm tears.
I let them stream down my face, saturating my pillow.
I say nothing.
I just let it happen.
I feel it.
I let it go, and I go to sleep.

Other times I immediately switch to a happier mental channel.
I do my best to not wonder where you are, or where you are sleeping.

I try to avoid the flashes of good memories.
The one’s of you running around in pajama’s on Saturday mornings.

Mostly because they are overwhelmed so immediately and change to the you accidentally falling into a fire, or unknowingly walking into highway traffic, or living through totaling cars.

Then, it will change to the you that I used to catch a glimpse of every few months, the you who used to still hold out a tiny bit of hope.

For that one day stretch- that you, he can only make it for so long before he is coughing up blood.

You are completely lost in him.
And then, it all starts all over again.

Realistically, I understand that I deserve to accept love.
I know that I have a right to my own happiness.
I remind myself why It is necessary for me to live my life separate from you, and raise my boys somewhere where you, well…..aren’t.

I still have times where I struggle to allow myself to embrace my new life.
I struggle to humbly celebrate my own victories as an individual.

I feel like I am leaving you behind.

So I put it away.

I tuck you safely into my heart and place you into my prayers.
I continuously push you out of my mind and put you back to a place where you can’t hurt me.

I quiet the worry that tends to creep in by staying very close to my savior, who reminds me of the truth.

You are worthy of love and redemption, but it is up to you to accept God’s gift of grace.
You have to choose to change and one day,
I know that you will.
I believe that you will.

I wish that I could hope you back to life.

I want to hug you without fear for my safety.

I want to look at your face and see life in those eyes.

I want YOU to see who you really are.  

Until then, I will continue to keep my thoughts focused on what could be; what I believe could happen for you, or anyone else’s loved one who is slowly sinking, swallowing gulps of their own poison as each day passes.

Because hope is real.

Recovery is a real place where real people turn their lives around.

People just like you.
One day, I know you will know what I am talking about.

Until then, broski.

5 Common Roadblocks in Recovery

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You know that saying “Nothing worth having comes easy?”
When it comes to being a newly sober person this couldn’t be more true.
A person who is has become chemically dependent on a substance has a tough road ahead when it comes to long-term sobriety. They will need a strong support system behind them.

Here are 5 common road blocks people come face to face with on their quest for living a sober life:

1.) The initial battle with the clock.
Why do they tell us to live one day at a time?
Mostly because when you are detoxing or trying to stay sober, one hour can drag on so long,
to us it feels like a week.

Our body is screaming at all times with zero breaks, it is asking for more.
Sometimes people give into the immense pressure.

In the very beginning stages of sobriety we are fighting like hell. You might not be able to see it, but it’s happening.

We are doing our best to figure out what to do with our feelings, our emotions, the physical triggers, and quieting the psychological triggers without any substances.

It’s like an insane bundle of hot mess, squished inside of a physical body,
a body that is watching the second-hand make its way around all of the numbers, in slow motion.
We can hear it move, we feel it move, and it is moving very slow.

So time can feel like public enemy number one when you’re newly sober.

2.) The fear is overwhelming.
We are afraid that we won’t be able to make it and what that could mean.
We are afraid that we have screwed up way too many times.

There is a real fear of the future, fear of failure, and fear of the unknown.
Fear of letting people down.
Fear of having to face the past.
Fear of having to face all of these people who are rooting for us, after we let them down…again.
Fear of not being strong enough.
Fear of not knowing what to do next.

 

We are afraid because we don’t have any idea how we are going to face all of it.

3.) We have unrealistic expectations.
We are used to living fast and have become accustomed to instant gratification.
We ended up trading quality of life for a now, now, now way of living.
Most of us assume that positive change will happen as fast as our lives fell apart.Unfortunately, this is not the case and frankly, we start to lose any hope that we might have found when things don’t start to look as pretty as we would like, as fast as we would like.And although change occurs the second that we make the choice to change our lives,
we don’t have the luxury of feeling or seeing any of the changes instantly. So we immediately think that sobriety isn’t working or isn’t for us.Sometimes it can seem easier to revert back to believing that we just aren’t capable,
rather than continuing the hardest, longest, walk of our lives.

4.) Our mistakes loop continuously in our stream of subconscious thoughts.
It might take us years to gain proper perspective to see the damage that we have really caused while we were living the way that we were living,
but don’t assume that we don’t know that we have made a long list of mistakes and have hurt a lot of people.

We know.

This is a huge part of the reason that we keep using when it doesn’t make sense to other people.
We can feel the shame deep in our bones.

Many times, we stay sober just long enough to be reminded of how shitty we are or have been, and all of the harm we have caused, and then, we have heard enough.

5.) Unresolved trauma whispers to us.
Often our emotional baggage and our scars are quieted by drug abuse.
This abuse is what has turned into a this monstrous thing that we are now attempting to gain control of and eradicate. We want to be free of it, and from the pain underneath the surface.
We have experienced things that no one should have to go through.
We are forever changed, and rightfully so.We still have not allowed ourselves to process these things that have left imprints on our lives.
Our hearts are tightly bound with bitterness, resentment, sadness, and often, rage.We keep holding onto these feelings because if we let it go, none of it really mattered. If we choose to forgive, it means that we think it was okay. It feels better to keep it with us, because that way our perpetrator is being punished.

Because we have not accepted, faced, and sorted through the damage the aftermath of our experiences will continue to replay in our mind.

In order for healing to begin and for us to make forward progress, we have to make the courageous choice to put this away.

For good.

By trying to understand the hurdles that many people face in early sobriety, I think that we have a clearer understanding of just how tough this road can be for them and we have a better perspective on what our roles as supporters should look like.

Tis’ the Season to Al-Anon.

To-love-an-addict1I really enjoy having the freedom to put my thoughts -well, somewhere; writing is like my personal therapy.
My brain, even though I am sure on a scan it would be lit up all funky, blotchy, and likely considered ‘dysfunctional’…

is somehow still full of ideas and deep things that always seem to be circulating and brewing regardless of where I am or what I am doing.

My routine, routinely changes. That’s something I can count on.
Although I am somewhat of a crazy list making person who enjoys the illusion of control that my lists allow me to hide behind…

I know that I can arrange and personalize this juggling act to fit our lives, but the day to day will always look completely different than what I envision in my head when it comes to planning or scheduling, or balancing.

So lately, my writing world has come down to a battle of ‘blog or sleep’
and sleep is winning.

I am happy to say that things are settling down and look semi-reasonable.
I am more than ready to spew and piece together random thoughts to share with the internet again. 

Our little family of 5 is doing well. We are happy and healthy, and crazy and loud.

We enjoy this madness and especially love the long weekends, yummy food, and extra family time that the holiday season gifts to us. 

And yet there’s this nagging feeling in the back of my mind, amidst all of the fun and memory making.

*There are people in my family who will spend the holiday season alone. 

Obviously it is unfortunate and sad year round, but it’s just super sucky during the holidays.
There really is not one way to deal with something like this.

In my mind it seems like it is always shifting around these thoughts:

On one hand:
My head knowledge tells me that I have drawn boundary lines that I know are the safest and most reasonable choice for the mental healthy/physical safety/future of my kids.

The flip side:
I am also a recovering codependent enabler who has spent countless hours learning to differentiate being an empathetic lover of all things ethical and human,
and being a chronic ‘helper’ with an incessant need to scoop these people up and dust them off every time they might have to experience a self-fulfilled consequence.

As a person who has struggled with an addiction:
I definitely spent more than enough time all alone with nothing but shame and deafening silence to comfort me. I know how alone, loneliness can feel. 

Then again:
I also know that I isolated myself and at some point in the ordeal, I began isolating on purpose. Although I was very lonely, I had also got to a point where I felt like f*ck anyone who doesn’t accept me for what I have become. (Or who doesn’t have cash or anything for me to pawn).

So in truth, spending time with me only ended up hurting people who loved me,
because I wasn’t ….me.
They wanted to see and hug and help a person that they remembered.
They wanted to just see if I would come out even for a little while.

Yes. It hurts thinking about it.
It hurts knowing that they fight within themselves still continues.
It is hard being the one having to make decisions that are rational and healthy to fit into my new life.
I have times that feel almost unbearable knowing that my decisions seem so heartless and irrational to others, despite my understanding that I am doing the right thing.

Knowing that we cannot fix them or
take steps for them tears me up –but isn’t the hardest part. 

It is the knowing and watching part.

Watching as they continuously and tirelessly cycle through shame and use
we can still see shadows of potential wrapped up in the destruction.

We know that God has something spectacular to give to them. It is easy for us to see all of the things that they cannot imagine for themselves.

So this holiday season if you are going through the motions, I say don’t.
Don’t just go through the motions.

Try to allow yourself to embrace and enjoy the season with people that you love, who love you, and who you are able to make memories with. 

Love your sick/hurting family member in whatever way you are personally able to handle and in a way that is in fact helping you both and not destroying the both of you.  

We can only love them.

We can’t do it for them, and it’s okay to believe that. 

 

Reflections From a Visit with Mom:

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I had lunch with my mom on Thursday, October 15, 2015.

We had only really seen each other a handful of times since our last big hoorah in March of 2006-
and on that particular St. Patrick’s day we both ended up in adjacent jail cells.

Fast-forwarding to our next big hoorah, that happened on February 16, 2014,
1 year and 8 months ago.

That was the day of my late grandmother’s visitation, or celebration of life; and we had quite an afternoon.  (It was terrible, but you can read more about that visit HERE)
That day could have played out much like our past encounters, except that last time, things were different. Mostly due to the fact that I was sober. Also because I had one of my children with me, and something about working a Recovery, growing, learning, and forgiving, had really tweaked my soul.
In February of 2014, I experienced one of her episodes – and I reacted a little bit different from I had in the past. Even though I was left a tiny bit traumatized and it really almost triggered a legit panic/anxiety attack, I managed to not react.

I guess it was the first time I had really experienced an episode while I was sober and not utilizing one of my cognitive escapee techniques.
That time I lived the moment, I processed it, and moved on with my life.

So our most recent visit was uneventful. Well – it was definitely not boring or quiet, but it also wasn’t violent or threatening, so, I guess I consider it a major win for us.

Judging from our visiting patterns, it seems that we see each other on average, once every year or so, depending on the severity of drama encountered at last visit.
After each experience, I do try to reflect.

This most recent visit I took away a few new things, and I am okay with what I learned.

I can appreciate that I am not sitting here writing about my anxiety as a result of the visit. This time we both managed to end the day feeling pretty positive.

Here are 2 things that I took away:

* I have to accept what is, for exactly what it is.

She had no recollection of our visit from last year, nor did she understand why we hadn’t seen each other in over a year.

Ah, this.
Yes,  I recognize this.
The memory loss, or loss of time, phenomenon is one that I talked about in support groups for years. For a long time, much of my deep-rooted resentment stemmed from my anger toward her for this very reason. How in the hell does someone treat any someone, more specifically, someone who you spawned, in the way that she has acted toward her children, and manage to not remember any of it?

I had to learn to apply what I know. What I know is that I am only responsible for me.

Change in this situation, or in our relationship, will only happen if I am the one making moves.
It has come down to doing my best to understand even more, and educating myself about her personality, condition, traits, and patterns.

I have had to force myself to accept that her dissociative behavior hurts, but isn’t personal.
It seems like it is targeted directly towards me, but in reality, it isn’t  chosen or intently thought out -it is impulsive and triggered by things that don’t have anything to do with me.

In and in a perfect world, she would hold herself accountable and her brain would understand that she cannot hurt me with her hands, or with her words, but this isn’t a perfect world.

Our visit last year was one that seriously re-damaged my bandaged up wounds, and threw me off my game; however, it was not on her radar, whatsoever. Didn’t happen. No ill-feelings for her to do with or handle, just the confusion over why I disappeared again.

An incident that nailed our relationship coffin tightly closed until I came around to feeling safe around her, didn’t affect her in the slightest.

But utilizing what I know, has really helped my healing process this time. I am not trying to change anything but myself, and how I choose to deal with things as they stand.
I also understand that when I put myself in certain situations, I need to be ready to accept what happens. I know what the possible outcomes are, and I am able to make a conscious decision to cross certain boundaries, or not.

*I am learning to appreciate that she is different, and possesses good qualities that were drowned out during the more chaotic years.

She isn’t afraid to do everything under the sun, that is considered socially unacceptable; and something about it makes me smile.

So what use to mortify me as a child, is now pretty entertaining.
The older that I get, and the more that I learn about myself, the more I see why it isn’t so bad that she goes against the grain.
(Like all the grains).

-She isn’t afraid to wear exactly what she wants, despite season or color. If she likes it, screw it. She’s wearing it. It doesn’t matter if it is a child’s tiara from the thrift store, with a matching wand,coupled with a denim purse, or a very sparkly lanyard, and lots of costume jewelry. She is not afraid to express herself with what the mood suits.

Maybe it isn’t the fact that she is bold in the fashion department that I like, it is the part where she doesn’t even notice people staring, nor would she care if she did.
I need more of that.

-Age is nothing but a number. It really makes no difference to her. She  laughs too loud, she yells in what other adults have deemed ‘quiet places’ (like the bank lobby), she skips through parking lots, and she gets really excited when she see’s shiny things and birds flying.
Yes, it is funny and I give her crap about it when we’re together, but I like the freedom that she feels.

Maybe it isn’t so much that I like that she sometimes deliberately breaks what adults have adopted as ‘typical’ behavior, but again, what I like is that she is herself, no matter where she is or who is watching. I think I can always use that reminder; something that I learned in Recovery. It is always alright to be myself, and I am okay with who I have to offer the world.

-Even in her situation, she thinks of and gives to others. 
She talked and talked about others. Praying for other people, trying to do her part to give what she can to others, and had a bag full of things for my kids.
Granted, she has little to give, and the things for my kids weren’t gender specific or age appropriate, but her heart meant well, and her motives were loving.

It isn’t really that she gave silly things; it was that she isn’t really in an ideal position to give, by my standards, and she gave anyway.
I think that is something that I can learn from.

This visit was perfect considering alternatives.

I want to learn to do things more unconventionally, and radical. One-hundred percent…

Maybe not on her scale, but a smaller, more muted scale
that rests on the same fundamental principle:

We should live life and be exactly who we are, authentically, and unapologetically. 

This isn’t really me praising her for perfection, or erasing all that has been done.
This reflection is really about my learning to take what she does have to give, and trying to pluck out hidden positives that may not stand out.

This is much better for me, and my own mental health, instead of focusing on all of the typical &  traditionally passed down things,  that she simply cannot offer.

Ultimately, I guess I am excited that I am making progress in this area. It is not easy loving someone who isn’t mentally well, who is suffering in many different ways. It has taken me a long time to forgive her for her actions that affected my childhood, and it has taken just as many years of learning about mental illness and the after effects of long-term drug use to understand more of who she is today.

I have a feeling it will take more than one positive visit for me to see more of her and less of the illnesses, but I will take the little bits revealed here and there. I also have a feeling that as the years go by, things will change as all things do. I can only try my best to handle what is, right now.

Thanks for reading, lovelies!

4 Harsh Truths.

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Let’s start with I love you. I am not angry at you. I forgive you, and one day, I hope that you embrace your own Recovery and begin living that life that you were made to live.
Moving on..

I am an ethical human and believe that ethics are standards by which ALL people who have a heartbeat absolutely deserve, and addicts are no exception. They (we) are 100% worthy of love, respect, health-care, and chances to choose Recovery as many times as we may need.

But as a wife, mother, blogger, friend, person in long-term recovery, person learning not to enable or be codependent:

Don’t call me, I’ll call you. 
When you call it disrupts my rainbowy, calm, peaceful, yet-imperfect life God has so graciously allowed me to build here. It makes me anxious and I end up worrying for the duration of any and all remaining daylight hours.
I ponder, I pace. I examine and re-examine your tones and linguistic patterns seeking signs of sobriety, and am always pissed when there aren’t any.
When you call past 10 pm central time here in the states, I know one of these things are happening. You need something. You need a ride, bail, money, food, somewhere warm to sleep, someone to blabber to, or someone to rage at. Oh’ wait. I forgot the one where you tell me stories that aren’t real. Completely made-up, fabricated, fictitious, stories. (On repeat.)
Not me. No no no.
I’ll call you.
Sorry. 

Just because you don’t remember it, doesn’t mean that it didn’t really happen. 
Because it did. I assure you, it did.
Yes you spit in my face. Yes you have tried to grab my wheel and run us off of the road. Yes you have damaged my things. Yes you have confused me with someone who you thought was a threat and physically attacked me.
It happened. It really, really did.
It’s called accountability. It is necessary for a person to begin stepping out of that box, and into one of personal growth. Believe me. I am an addict who has had to do it.
So again….
Sorry. 

You are still responsible for you, even when you aren’t fully aware/conscious. 
You are accountable for your actions even if some of them were not sober actions. I do not have to talk to you if I don’t feel emotionally and physically safe. I also invoke my right and privilege to protect my children from your not-so-sober behavior as well.
True story.
Sorry.

Lastly, I just can’t.
It’s just too much.
Sometimes I take a year or so to stay away because I just can’t anymore. I can’t hear it.
Falling into that fire, or getting hit by that car, or flipping the car on the highway, or falling off of that roof, or suffering heart problems, or the shakes, or throwing up blood, getting stabbed, tased, etc.
I can’t. I just can’t.
Sorry. 

If you’re a person who is reading this and I’ve struck a nerve..
Sorry.

I spent years my own self-created hell because of my addiction. I have my own stories and experiences that are eerily similar to these.
I am not a hateful, mean, person. I have simply had my fill of being used, abused, and spit on.
I am also always here when needed, (for emergency situations).
Like many other people who have tried to help a family member who is addicted, I have absolutely given rides, found jobs, searched for treatment, given money, bought food, worried, cried and the rest.
But those were the years when I believe to my core that these things were equivalent to love and help.

**For new readers, please remember that this is a personal share and is my own personal therapeutic way of venting and getting through watching someone who I love very, very, much- get sicker and sicker. It is pretty tough, and aggravating. And tough…

I Can See You.

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*How you see you: 

You see failure.
You see right through yourself.
You feel angry when you see what you have become.
Shame consumes you, blinding you from seeing hope for any kind of change.
You see how far you have fallen.
You see all of the destruction you have created.
You can’t see your future anymore.
You don’t want anyone to see the real you.

You wonder if anyone else can see you at all. 

 

*How I see you: 

I see your empty eyes that were once full of life.
I see your dreams.
I see your tears.
I can see the hurt in your face.
I see the regret.
I also see your potential and all of your talent.
I remember seeing your smile.
I recall the light in your being when you talked about your goals.
I can still see all of the life that you have left.

I can still see you. 

 

*How God sees you: 

Someone who can be forgiven
Who is worthy of His kind of Love
Somebody who is enough
Who is worth saving
Who is precious
Who is capable, through His strength, to start over fresh, as a new person
A person who shines
Someone with a calling and purpose

You are much more than what meets the eye….
(so much more than we can even begin to comprehend)

HE sees you.

I hope that one day YOU allow yourself, to see you….

Thanks, Al-Anon.

PhotoGrid_1429718922441
You hold onto hope, because that is what you do when you love someone.
Instead of screaming- “that’s where people like that should be”  …
we are imagining all of the places that they have the potential and talent to be one day.

We don’t see the awkward, tired, malnourished human who has made countless dangerous, selfish choices.
We see who they once were. We see the funny, intelligent, witty, talented person that is buried somewhere deep beneath the surface…

This is the dilemma we find ourselves in when we love an addict.

*Applying the 12 steps to my life as Brittany: the enabler, codependent, someone who happens to love an alcoholic- has been a tough journey for me, but I do understand the value of setting necessary boundaries in this relationship; for me, and for him.

*Applying the 12 steps to my life as Brittany: the addict in long-term Recovery from drugs, alcohol, anger issues, and trauma- has been very tough, but navigating has been ongoing, and growth pretty consistent.

With family, it is difficult to love from behind the safety net of set boundary lines.
It is difficult to watch them struggle. It is hard to keep my feet planted and not rush over to help them up.

Realistically, I understand I am one woman, who by the grace of God has the opportunity to  live and learn, one day at a time.

I am one person who cannot control the actions of others.

I am just a lady who knows that the only actions and behavior that I am responsible for…
is my own.

So for right now, I will allow my heart to play a little bit of catch up in understanding the facts & truth that my brain already knows.

There are consequences for the actions and choices that we make.
If we cannot allow people to experience their own consequences….
they won’t ever have the chance to begin their own journey.

Just. For. Today.

Thanks, Al-Anon.

Finally. All Alone At The Bottom.

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When no one came to my rescue, I found myself alone.

All alone in my self-created pit, that I called my deepest rock bottom. I really hated being alone. Feelings of loneliness seemed to be one of the only feelings that I allow myself to feel. Despite the fact that I always felt alone in a room full of people, I still preferred to be semi-conscious around people, than to ever be physically alone with my own thoughts.

I couldn’t seem to figure out how to numb loneliness.

But this forced loneliness was where the idea behind step one and I were finally able to come face to face. It is possible that maybe it had been there all along. Maybe, it had been there waiting for me every single time I hit the bottom. Waiting for me to arrive alone.

And it was here, this time, deep, in the midst of this unknown where I realized that I had lost this battle that I had waged against myself.

I finally admitted to myself that I was done pretending to have it all together.

Of course, from the outside looking in nothing had changed yet. My life was still a mess. I was skinny, malnourished, and unstable. I was still using and had urges to use and unmanageable triggers.

But ONE critical thing had changed down there in that pit.

I had become WILLING. 

People loved me when I was addicted by giving me rides, bailing me out of jail, giving me money, paying some of my bills or buying me groceries, or simply continuing to partake in good deeds that kept me feeling comfortable exactly where I was. All of these were all acts performed by well-intentioned people who were just loving the wrong way.

So remember. Pour out your devotion and love and loyalty and hope for your person in healthy ways that aren’t going to push them further down. Be a force in their corner, a person on their team that they can rely on, help them to see that you aren’t leaving. Be the person who refuses to tag along with them to the bottom to save the again, and try to be the person who is waiting for them at the top as they crawl up to the surface.

THAT kind of love saved my life. THIS is the kind of LOVE that kills addiction. 

When No One Showed Up At The Bottom

 

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I hit more than one bottom before making the decision to try Recovery.
My body felt like I hit thousands of times but realistically, hundreds is probably more accurate.

I really couldn’t tell you what a dozen of my ‘rock bottoms’ looked like and that’s because I was never down there long enough to have to observe or take notes.

Each time I fell down flat on my face I knew there would be someone who was waiting for me on the bottom. They were always more prepared than I was, and were ready and willing to bend down, pull me up, dust me off and walk me back up.

It was glorious.

I had manipulated my enablers into a cozy place; nicely secured in my front pocket. These were kind people, who gobbled down every spoon fed sob story that I dished out. They took my verbal and emotional beatings like champs, getting right back up again after I made pointed attempts to crush them.

These people also believed that if they loved me enough, I would change.

They had no idea that I could no longer feel anything. They didn’t know that I didn’t want, or need, or feel any of the love that they were forcing on me. They didn’t know that when I looked in the mirror, I was disgusted and embarrassed and ashamed that they loved me. I had given up on myself and wasn’t really concerned with the way I was making them
(or their pocketbooks) feel.

Over time my network of enablers began to dissolve. People started pulling back.
People started using the word no, and suddenly people weren’t picking up the phone.

It took years, but I had finally sucked the life and money out of all of my go-to’s. My life lines had officially run their course.

So this last time when I hit the bottom I hit harder than ever. 
As usual, I felt the sting of the impact- but this time, I just laid there face down.
I was alone.

No one was there.

I couldn’t see.
I was afraid.
I was bruised, felt beaten up, I was tired, I knew I was lost, and worst of all-
I was alone.

I couldn’t climb out, because I was too weak.
I couldn’t talk my way up, there wasn’t anyone close enough to hear me.

It was finally all on me to make a pretty tough decision, because I was finally able to see that I needed some help.

 

 

The Shame Card.

 

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Words.

They are powerful.
They have the power to help the healing process and they can hold enough power to destroy someone.

In the past using words as weapons to cut people down and stomp all over them was how I would react when I was angry or frustrated. It was my defense and it was how I coped.
I was good at being mean, and I knew it.

Although this particular issue is one that I still struggle with from time to time when I feel like I am being pushed, I can’t tell you the last time I verbally destroyed someone. However, I can recall the last time I wanted to.

Progress people; progress.

To be on the other side of this is interesting.

In my experience, no matter how much sober time you accumulate, there will always be at least one asshole person who will dig up your past and use it against you in some way like it is going to propel them in a forward motion in their lives or something. 

That one person who just can’t wait to remind you of what a piece of sh*t you ‘really’ are or who you used to be.

In my case, I have given these personality types a lot of options to choose from.

All of my cards are out on the table, via my personal choice to live a transparent, authentic, loud, recovery life and this makes me susceptible to open critique, and vulnerable to judgement.

Pulling the shame card is a cheap tactic and I can always tell when it’s coming.
Being the target of this kind of ‘communication’ triggers feelings inside of me that beg for instant reaction.

If you find yourself being shamed and you feel like someone is attacking you with your past, remember: 

1.) You really don’t need to react.
I understand being angry, and wanting to defend your new self and your new lifestyle.
We want so badly to remind this person that they are wrong.
That is not who you are anymore, so there is no reason to talk about it…..again.
The problem is our past is not being thrown in our face because that shamer is under the impression that we are still those people. This age-old cheapo tactic is used to hurt.
This isn’t about being factual, reasonable, logical, or accurate.
It is about using words deliberately to hurt you.
No defense on our part changes their desire to hurt us.

This usually happens for one of two reasons. They felt threatened, didn’t have a solid counter argument or couldn’t handle the heated discussion for whatever reason, so they resorted to being shit mean.

Or

We have hurt this person in the past (chances are pretty high) and they still haven’t processed it, or forgiven or healed.

So at the end of the day,  it’s not a you thing, it’s a them thing.

2.) Recovery is all about progress and not perfection.
Okay, okay.
So the mud being slung around is true.
It’s all real life stuff that actually happened.
It’s not pretty stuff, not admirable, and certainly not our best life stuff.

It is really hard to walk away from a heated argument or a crappy phone call
without second guessing your self-worth or your ability to keep living sober, especially after hearing a long list of reasons why you are a worthless person.

Remind yourself that it is okay to own your past, and to accept all of it.
None of it means that is who you are, those are things that you did.
Nothing that was said diminishes who you are right now.
It doesn’t decrease your value to God, who loved you then, and who loves you now.

It doesn’t take away the power that your recovery story can have to other people in the recovery community or others who are still struggling.

You have worked hard and every day you are one day further away from that old life and that is all that you can do.

If there are people who cannot see that,

At the end of the day that’s a them thing, not a you thing.

3. Boundaries are a great alternative to consider.
Boundaries are our friend.
In some really intense cases, they are our bestest friend.

The most encouraging part about this shaming issue is learning that we have options.

It is okay to create distance for as long or as little time that we need or want from a person or persons who refuse to even consider that we have turned the page.

Take these reminders with you and please don’t allow anyone to push you back down. We are busy working on rebuilding our lives, and loving people, and we will have a much harder time doing so if we are constantly cut down and reminded of just how far down we have gone.

We know.
We remember.

It is normal for people in our lives to ask for and get some much-needed time to heal from all of the ways we may have hurt or betrayed them in the past.

They will also probably need some solid blocks of time to observe us, and to see the life changes that we are making.

It is normal for them to feel like they need ‘proof’ because we have probably ruined any weight that our promises to change had once held.

They want some consistency and it will take time to earn our trust back with each individual person in our lives.

And we understand that.
We totally get it.

But it is not healthy to allow this to go on for years, and years.
It is not okay to feel like you have to put up with hateful rhetoric.

It is okay to draw some lines, and create some healthy boundaries for ourselves.
and if people aren’t on board to at least consider giving us a second (or 34th) chance,

it’s just a them thing, and not a you thing.

 

 

 

Bystanders.

After writing my open letter to my family members, I saw a photo posted by someone who lost their loved one too soon to drug addiction. I immediately teared up.

These emotions are so raw and real.

Family members literally watch their loved ones slip away, day by day, very slowly.
They aren’t dead but they aren’t who they once were.
They are lingering in that place between spiritual death and physical death.

We grieve while they are still alive, for who we once knew.
We yearn to see their eyes bright again.
We so wish we could hug them so hard, that they would definitely feel real love.
We want to break down those walls and rip off their masks.
We want them to feel safe with us and know that they are free to be them.
We want to scream so they will hear the truth, they can change!
We are here to support them!

None of it is heard.
It is like watching a silent movie.
Nothing penetrates that wall.
Their thoughts cycling through as repetitive  as they are, are stronger than our deepest, most sincere pleas.

I am so sorry to all of the families who have watched this happen, who have physically lost their loved one.

This is why we are so afraid to make boundaries and keep them.
We don’t know how much time they have left, and at the same time- by not keeping any boundaries, we are chipping away at the remaining time.

It’s a strange predicament to be in, and is not easily explained.

This is where we have to be reliant on God’s truth and the truth that we know as fact, backed up by science.
We only hurt by helping, even though we feel obligated to help.
We feel like if we just sit back with our hands metaphorically tied, we are enabling their demise…when in fact, it is the other way around.

It is hard to do when your brain doesn’t understand. Your heart doesn’t want to follow, but your brain tells you ‘facts’ and ‘truth’.

We have to be on top of our emotions, to make sure that when they are ready for help…
they have someone stable and reliable to go to.

Utilize Al-anon, Celebrate Recovery, Nar-anon, and online-support groups to get you through these tough times. It is not easy for families to get through this alone, in one piece (mentally, emotionally and financially for some)

We have to be bold and courageous enough to reach out and share with others about our struggles. People help people and there are people out there who are willing to listen and help you through.

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TO FIND A MEETING NEAR YOU:
http://discoveringbeautiful.com/need-treatment/

An open letter.

I am in need of this reminder this week, so today I am going to refresh my memory as to why good, strong boundaries are so important in relationships with addicts.

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An open letter to the addicts in my life. 

I love you both very much. I know that you don’t feel like I do and you cannot see how I could. I distance myself from you both.

Brother,
I know that I won’t help you when you need it most, and I seem not to care if you are sleeping in a filthy motel with only one paid night left before you hit the streets.

I know that last night when you were crying and grieving, I wasn’t there for you. I didn’t even call. I won’t give you rides and I don’t believe your lies anymore.

I understand how you feel like I am better than you and I don’t have time for you, and I know that you think I don’t have any idea exactly how it feels to look out into the world feeling like you are completely alone with no one who has your back.

The truth is, you have physically hurt me, and you don’t recall any of it.
I am pregnant now and I really cannot risk being around you for one second.

I love you so much, and it absolutely breaks my heart to see you hurting and in so much obvious and denied, stuffed, heart -wrenching emotional and physical pain.

I love the memories that I have of you, when you were young, silly, and care-free. You were unapologetically….you. The best little brother ever. (even though I wasn’t the nicest big sister)

I pray for you all of the time and the only thing that stops me from swooping in and saving you- giving you rides, ten bucks, another night in the motel, a shoulder to cry on—is my own well-being and safety and your well-being and safety.

I cannot  and will not allow myself to be lost in you. I cannot and will not ever forfeit my own Recovery to ‘help’ you. How in the world could I break these cycles for my own children if I was destroying my own progress by getting lost in my love for you-& choosing to helping you in all of the wrong ways?
Oh’ how I wish I could just grab your face and reach the depths of your soul for you, but I cannot.

Only you can.

I wish that you could see from a different perspective, I want so badly to force you to see how talented you are, how much you are loved, how valued you are as a family member and just how important you are to the world. You have so much to offer. You have so much life left to live.

Even now, after you have been in and out of prison, dozens of treatments, accidents, car wrecks, overdoses, health problems, developing mental health issues ALL drug and alcohol related…. over a ten year span..
—my heart and mind still tell me the harsh truth.

Only you, brother can decide that you want to change and give it all you have.
Until then, I will keep praying for you.
If or when I get that phone call that I have been expecting and dreading- It will kill me inside, but ultimately I know that there is absolutely nothing that I could have done for you.

************************************************************************************************Mom.
My love for you is much different. I love the idea of you, and the you that I have heard stories about.

I know that you think my brother is my responsibility. I am not sure why you have formed this idea in your mind, but somewhere over time- it developed into something real for you.
There is no  way for me to help you understand how much I care about my brother, I am not abandoning him – but newsflash. I didn’t give birth to him.
This way of thinking that you have had my entire life, is precisely what gave birth to my colossal, destructive, and hard to get out of role reversal & enabling issues.

I understand that you do not comprehend simplistic statements and cannot follow in conversation. I know that you don’t choose this, you simply do not have the capability of having rational thought patterns.
I know you get frustrated and you don’t see why I am not helping you to help my brother.

I can sense the anger in your text messages, and I can hear you struggling to keep it together in the 1 a.m voicemails that I have been getting.
The hatred, the antagonistic threats and the sarcasm in your voice are exactly why I am still honoring the boundaries that I have had set with you for a few years now. You still aren’t safe for me to be around.

I wish I knew of some long-term, documented study out there that has already been conducted, to help me to better understand what has happened to your brain.

The mental health issues that have been either exaggerated or have developed as a result of your continued drug use frustrate me. I don’t understand the way you interpret and perceive any given circumstance. I cannot understand you decisions. We live in two different worlds.
My main frustration stems from not being able to get through no matter which way I word things, or how patient I am.

I don’t hate you but I certainly hate your illness.

Yes, I use to yearn to know who you may have been, or maybe who you were. By the time I was born, mental illness had already begun the decomposition process...but…..

I don’t hate you anymore.
I don’t blame you for my drug use anymore. Those were my choices.
I accept what is.
I have learned about the psychology of your illness and and I completely accept you for who you are.

I have come to a peace, a place that I found after true forgiveness for you.
God has shown me what true empathy looks and feels like, and I have that for you as a human.

You truly did the best you could, with what you had to offer. What I do hate, is the idea that you were cheated out of life. Maybe, you cheated yourself because of the choices that you chose to make, but ultimately, you missed out on so much Joy.
I wish that you could feel true peace for even just one second.
That, mom, is what i struggle with presently. That you won’t ever know what it feels like to just…..be.

I want both of you to know that my decision to stay away isn’t always as easy as you think it is. It wasn’t an easy choice to make. I knew that after over twenty years of the drama, I needed a break at the very least. I needed a chance to figure out who I was, apart from the role that I had adapted to. I needed to give myself a shot, for my kids. They deserved that. 
It has been one of the most difficult decisions to stay committed to, and at the very same time, one of the best decisions that I have ever made.

I also want you to know that it is never too late to change things. People can and do recover every day. I don’t think you are throw away people. I don’t believe that you are lost causes. I think that miracles happen every single day and like I have said before- if you are still here breathing, there’s still HOPE for you. 

************************************************************************************************

Venting & getting these things out is a healthy thing to do. It helps me to sort out my emotions instead of ignoring them. These thoughts and feelings weigh heavy on my heart and sometimes it makes it tough to enjoy my own family, or be excited about my own life happenings when I know there is so much hardship going on in the hearts and minds of these two. The battles are continuous for them.

In this case, I don’t have the option to say these things to either of them and even if I did, it wouldn’t matter, and sometimes, it just isn’t necessary.

 

 

12 Ways to Help Kill Your Addicted Loved One AND Lose Your Sanity

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1. Every time you talk to them, be sure to remind them of how they are wasting their life away by making stupid & idiotic decisions that make no logical sense. Remind them that if they were not stupid, they would be able to see that.

2. Be sure to base how much they love you solely on how often they lie, drink, use or relapse.

3. It’s always a good idea to take them at their word.
After all, they do love you and most people don’t lie to people who they actually love, if they really love them.

4. Always take it personal when they don’t tell the truth.

5. If they wreck a car, be sure to buy them a new one.
You don’t want them to have to walk anywhere or endure the extra stress of having to pre-plan, figure things out or have to rely on themselves to get to work, meetings or the grocery store. Haven’t they been through enough?

6. If anyone…..and I mean anyone… tries to help you by giving you pointers or advice when it comes to dealing with your loved one- you should cut them off quickly. Shut it down.
YOU know your loved one best- there is not any way that anyone else could possibly understand them the way that you do, or be able to help them or handle them quite like you can. No.one.

7. Don’t ever educate yourself about addiction or alcoholism.
What literature, study, science, or any other type of research is going to dictate how you handle your life with your sick loved one?
I mean, this is real life and it is absolutely preposterous to think that learning could help you in any way.
Your situation is unique.

8. Always pay them in cash.
After all, they have to live too. If they do an odd job or help out to earn some extra money for ‘living expenses’ never pay them with a check or tangible items. They don’t have a way to cash a check and they don’t always know exactly what they will need – paying in cash just ensures that they have funds available that are most convenient for whatever might come up this week. Why would you want to make their lives so difficult?

9. Always blame yourself.
If you were good enough, smart enough, strong enough and more in control – this would not have happened.

10. Buy them drugs one last time every time.
It might really be the last time they use. If you don’t buy them, they might commit a crime to get them or degrade themselves to obtain them.
Plus, they are just so uncomfortable when they don’t get to use and it is totally ridiculous to allow them to flounder and get angry without their drug of choice.

11. Always avoid boundaries.
If you have to check receipts, pat down pockets, go through drawers, take off work, stay up all night, call hospitals and county jails, put the taxi hat on and completely dismantle your existence, personal goals, hopes, dreams, emotional stability, mental health and sanity—to make them temporarily happy….by God- do it! It is just a small sacrifice for true love, and you’re committed.

12. Always place blame and direct your hatred & rage toward the other people in the addicts life, who have broken away and set boundaries.
They do not care enough about them and it is clear that they never did.
If they cared, they would stick around and sit next to you in the front row of the ‘I am killing myself show’- right there with you. But where are they? They aren’t there. They say they’re tired and exhausted and cannot do any more for them. Ha, right. But you’ll show them. You are going to stick around much longer than anyone else has. Because, well….that’s true love.

Disclaimer:

This list is clearly not formulated for public use or serious guidance.

It is a parody of  *some (only a few!) of the colossal mistakes that i have made loving family members to death. (or quite close)

As a former co-dependent of a 25 year crack-addict/mentally ill parent and a younger brother (who I would love to love to death),

These traits, thoughts, habits and beliefs (and many more) are some that I have experienced first hand. These are ALL THINGS THAT I HAVE DONE OR THOUGHT.

10 Tips: For Friends & Family of Someone Struggling with an Addiction

These are just things that would have helped me when I was struggling.

Here are 10 randomly concocted tips that I have come up with: 

1. Express empathy for them, directly to them. 

2. Avoid arguments with them whether they are sober or not. (this creates a high-emotion situation and doesn’t do anything besides creating an urgency to use for the addict)

3. Be honest and direct -in a loving way.
(Don’t use their past mistakes to berate them and beat them to death emotionally. They’re already bankrupt in this area, and you cannot kill em’ twice.
Instead, use truth- encouraging and positive statements about how valuable and worthy they are of so much more.)

4. If you set a rules or boundaries, clearly state them during a sober time, and stick to them.

5. Help them create relapse trigger lists, (environments, people, places, etc) and help them understand how it connects.

6. Make them a list of meetings in your area. Have them choose at least one to attend regularly. Go with them if you can. (Show support)

7. Treat them like they are human beings. They may be making poor decisions and may not be trusted, but still deserve to have thorough explanations for rules, demands and expectations and respect.

8. Help them make the connection between their goals for changing their lives, and what they are doing to make that happen. (going to meetings is a good step in the right direction toward a goal, completing book work or step work is another example, changing their phone number, avoiding triggers etc.)

9. Sporadically hug them. (:-) ) They might hate it, but they will love it at the same time.

10. If you are more interested in their recovery than they are, something needs to change. If you are working harder and are more dedicated to what should be their work- reevaluate your approach. (Never ever give up on them. Offer support and kindness. Hugs, tear wiping, etc….but you are not to do work FOR them.)

Ignoring My Boundaries.

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Last month I was literally chased out of my grandmother’s funeral.
Technically, I was ran out of a ‘celebration of life.’

I think that this could have been avoided if the genius who planned it chose a beautiful, historical location that meant something to our family, WITHOUT the open -bar that was posted up alongside of a large table full of a variety of lovely finger foods.

That decision didn’t make sense to me, considering that many of our family members are taking psychoactive drugs and shouldn’t drink. Some attendee’s were alcoholics and struggling with drug addiction, and we can just say, unequivocally, that an open bar at this event was inappropriate on so many levels.

But I’ll go ahead and take responsibility for this incident.
I knew I shouldn’t have gone in the first place.
I went against my better judgment and my husbands strong recommendation of privately grieving at home and cutting out the possibility of something exactly like this happening.

Since my mom does not have a car, I offered to pick her up and take her to the celebration.
Death had never been an experience that she handled or coped with sober and I didn’t expect her to this time. She lost her mother and I knew it would be a hard day.

She and I had already had a rough morning.
My mom had already screamed and yelled at me when I showed up to pick her up to pick her up.
She had already started the day out using, and I quickly became the closest target for her. She threw the necklace I loaned her to wear. She ripped off the sweater that I bought to go with her dress.
I didn’t take it personally, because without emotional regulation, people tend to overreact or misdirect emotion.

But I knew I should have just left right then.
And I didn’t.

I chose to put myself in harms way just because my grandmother was really important to me, and I knew that once I got there I would be surrounded by a huge venue full of my grandmother’s oldest friends, and my mom would be outnumbered, and hopefully, preoccupied with someone else to hate and torment.

When we got there she and I parted ways, and I helped distribute pictures on each table full of guests.

She made a beeline straight to the bar.

I made small talk with various people about our memories and the fun that we all had with my grandmother. I was able to watch a group of her old cast mates from the local theater sing a few songs; a performance I won’t forget.

But I kept my eyes peeled for my mother who was lurking around, shooting me dirty looks.
Then, things went really wrong.

I was talking with my uncle, reminiscing about a shared memory.
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught her staring at me, circling around me slowly like a shark tends to do when stalking prey.

I made a very discreet comment to my uncle:
“She is going to hit me, stand right here.”

As she circled away from me I walked quickly out of that room into the adjacent room,
grabbed my purse and got out the front door of the building.

And she followed close behind me.
As I walked faster, she began to pick up speed.
I started to run, and she ran right behind me.

Dammit.

No one was helping, no one was holding her back, but everyone was watching. I began to ran as fast as I could (in the cutest purple wedges that I have ever seen that my grandma would have loved.)
There was a long walkway to the parking lot that felt like it was on another planet.

I could hear her screaming behind me.

“Bitch you better run!” “You think you’re better than me, little girl!”
“You are a hoity toity little b*tch!”

This was familiar. I wasn’t surprised or caught off guard.
We had been here before many times throughout my life.
During my childhood I would just hide or leave the house.
As I got older, I began to fight back.
The last time that I did, we both went to jail.

I had my car in sight, car keys out and I was almost there.
All that I kept thinking was that I hadn’t been in trouble in so long, I was finally off probation for our last incident and I was not going to let my anger take over despite the fact that it took everything that I had not to just stop, take my shoes off, and whoop her mouthy little as*.

But I knew better.
I had made the mistake of going in the first place, but I truly felt like I had a right to be there too.

I chose to take the chance knowing the risk involved and the probability of something like this happening to me or to someone else.
I also really loved my grandmother and decided that I wasn’t going to let my mother rob me of yet another moment in my life that I wouldn’t ever be able to get back.

It is so difficult to have a parent who is unhealthy and suffering.
That day was a terrible day and I still kick myself for ignoring the boundaries that I know work for us.

The part of the story that should be surprising but isn’t is that the guests didn’t think anything of the situation. The large majority of them knew my grandmother for years and had watched or heard about her concerns and happenings with my mom for a long time.

Here is what stood out to me after I had some time to (calm down) and reflect on this day:

Not everyone will understand or welcome your lifestyle change and that’s okay.
Live well anyway.

People who judge me for cutting her out of my life and not offering her support are out of line.
I will keep doing what works for me, for my sobriety, and for my own mental health.

Change could mean a number of different things for you as an individual, do what works for you.

All of your change is to benefit your new life in Recovery, even if that means cutting people out.

You should expect resistance from unhappy people when it comes to you making positive change.
Not everyone wants to understand it.
Not everyone will respect it.
Not everyone will want to support you, and that’s okay.
Do better anyway.

What is right for you or your new life, or your best self, are not always the easiest things to apply.

My boundaries are necessary and are the right thing for me, even though I have spent a considerable amount of time questioning myself for sticking to them.

Valuing your own progress and your positive change is okay.
It is why I kept running and didn’t turn around. I refused to react in the way I use to. I refused to give into anger or to resort to being impulsive. I chose to stick to who I had become and what I knew was right.

As hard as it has been over the last 8 years, I have chosen to stay committed to my path toward my own personal health and journey to wellness- free of substances. Free of toxic people.

It is so hard to love someone who struggles with addiction. For me, it happens to be a parent who I think I love, but who I have never really had the chance to know. I love the idea of her and having to sit by for that last 30 years watching her chip away at her soul, dying pretty damn slowly, has been a hard thing to process for me.

I haven’t always made the most wise decisions, (evidenced by my decision to put myself in this situation) but life isn’t always so black and white, you live, you learn, and you allow yourself to move on.

I definitely took a few things away from this experience, most of which, are things that I already knew.
It is possible to veer from the norm. It is possible to make a healthy life for yourself, despite the odds.

Please don’t let anyone tell you different, not even yourself.

Ephesians 6:10
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power

Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength an ever-present help in trouble.

Bending The Boundaries

 

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Ya’ll this week has been a little bit tough.

I think that when someone who you love struggles with addiction, chances are you struggle with codependency issues.

This has been the kind of week that I really have to be on point.
I know a lot of facts and formal knowledge about addiction, codependency, and the dangers of enabling.

I know that I can only love them and it is not my job to fix them.

I know all of this stuff and I have it filed away for weeks like these.
Maybe I should practice these principles every day like I do the ones for my own well-being in recovery, but admittedly, I don’t.

My mother and my brother still struggle with mental health and addiction issues.
It isn’t easy to keep them out of my life and to stay committed to the boundaries that I know work best for me.
Sometimes, I break my own rules because I miss them..or, I miss who I think that they could be.
I definitely bend my boundaries from time to time, and when I do, I hurt myself.

This week I chose to answer the phone when they called and I actually listened to their voice mails instead of deleting them.

Two things that I choose not to do most of the time, because it never fails:
When they call, rest assured, there is a very specific reason and a very specific need.

Presently, they’re sleeping with no electricity in the cold and are desperately needing a couple hundred dollars.
Apparently, cold air + doesn’t mix well with emphysema complications and you can’t mix & inject anabolic steroids in the dark when you are drinking vodka, and the arguing has been more out of control than usual.

That is a life that I know and one that I remember all too well.
I understand where they are coming from and I know it is very real to them.

But I also know that my ‘helping’ in any way won’t really be of any help.
At this point my helping doesn’t even make me feel good anymore.
I know the truth, and its hard to elude.
There aren’t any reasons left or any more excuses that I can make to help them anymore.

I compartmentalize these feelings because of love. 
Being strong and turning them away doesn’t come easy because of this love and not helping them certainly isn’t natural.

It is also not a socially acceptable thing to casually talk about with anyone, really.

So for me there is nothing else that I can do with the feelings that come from loving people who struggle with their own demons, and who lash out and hurt those around them.

All that I can do is tuck my love away, and hold out hope for eventual wellness.

I am not going to allow myself to do retreat and hide.
To me that is not the same thing as facing the very real, intense, and emotional situation.

My role reversal issues with my mother and my brother cannot be mended by pretending that they don’t exist.
They can only continue to change and become what they should be as long as I am identifying what I am feeling and actively sorting through the feelings.

-It has taken me a very long time to adjust to my new role in the family.
-I am not my mother’s guardian, I am her daughter.
-I am not my brother’s mother, I am his sister.

I am completely, one-hundred-percent powerless over their behavior.
I cannot help them or anyone else to change if they don’t want it for themselves. 

-They don’t ‘need’ me, not in the way that I would like them to.
-I was never helping, I was hurting.
-I wasn’t saving I was enabling.
-I accept and believe that it is okay to let go of my guilt and my sense of responsibility.

Years ago, phone calls like the ones I actually answered this week-
would have sent me into a tailspin.

I am doing a better job at sticking to my own rules and boundaries.

So, while this week has been markedly more strenuous for me-  (compared to a typical week)…..

I have not allowed it to consume me.

I sound insensitive but I have to be rational about it.

And realistically, I know that if it is this hard for me, they are hurting a million times more.

The only difference is, 

I can feel it.

 

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