Count Your Wins

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Hello! WP fellow travelers! I am here to share my 637 wins with you all.

I have trouble standing up for myself. This issue has been front and center in a battle with a questionable dentist.

In February I had oral surgery for two dental implants. I verified that the dentist was in-network with both the insurance company and the dental office,  I verified the estimate best I could with my insurance and further negotiated the charges.

I explained my financial limitations, how I would be paying for it – a combination of flexible spending and insurance, and that I could not carry credit card debt. I did the math to the dollar. This is critical to living within one’s means which is critical to living in recovery.

The dentist initially stated that the office would not submit to insurance, that I had to pay up front, then submit myself. This, then did require a line of credit. This is scary to someone who has been in credit card hell.

This entire thing is hinky, but I am sticking to the money part in this post. Against my better thinking;  I paid him in full, or so I thought, at the time of the surgery, or so I thought, and waited for my insurance money to cover the credit card bill.

As it rolled out, he got all my flex spending, hit the credit line, and got paid by the insurance company.

This is not unusual, just that the way it was done was inappropriate, he is not being transparent, and he refused to give me the excess money to pay the credit account. I even missed one payment because I was unaware of this lender’s process, my bad, but this the short version. I did pay the credit bill when I found out, thus throwing off my already tight personal budget.

Another wrinkle is that he is not honoring his contract with my insurance company. I have my explanation of benefits so I know he has over charged me by $682.

I am  very good at research, keeping records and knowing how dental/medical processes work.

I completely suck at standing up for myself.  I stink at not panicking when it comes to money. I also have almost no negotiating skills when it comes to complex, mulit-partied, lots of money, kinds of situations. But I do have friends.

A friend of mine is a finance guy. He came over and made a spreadsheet which he then morphed into an understandable document that anyone could understand. With that as my template, and his constant guidance, I was able to make and execute a plan to retrieve part of the insurance money.

I won by doing good homework, monitoring my insurance account online, calling the insurance company weekly, knowing my rights, and enforcing dental billing rules. I retrieved $637 by turning to someone smarter than me when it comes to numbers. I was confident in my instance of being treated fairly because the insurance company validated my concerns.

Through my friend’s guidance, I know that this is just part one of a multi-part negotiation of finishing my dental work yet not being taken advantage of by the dentist. This will be a delicate dance of getting what I want for my smile, while protecting my pocket book, my recovery.

To wins of all sizes! Cheers!

bc

 

 

 

 

Hurting Myself Less

Sometimes I wonder if recovery is just about hurting yourself less. I wonder if I will ever get things all the way “right”. Will I ever get the pleasure of something big without some part of it accomplished in a way that harms me? Will I ever have pleasure without pain?

On the up side, I finally feel the whole weight of my actions, the helpful ones and the ones that hurt me. I am a hundred times slower than I was six years ago. This is good because now I generally have the time and the resources to deal with my mess-ups due to memory lapses. Taking forever to do things, being “lazy”, and not giving a fuzzy rodents behind actually helps me reduce the impact of mess-ups. In terms of recovery, I rarely lose much ground in moving forward even with good sized mistakes.
When I say, “it will be okay, there’s enough,” for the first time in my life, that statement is true. I am no longer covering something. I am no longer trying to be more than I am. I no longer spend without thinking. I don’t use a credit card. I never pretend anymore. This week, stubborness almost got me. I recognized the thought process starting up but ran the other way. Today I see that running the other way saved me from repeating mistakes I have been doubtful I could stop making. Running the other way totally arrested a spiral that was one of my worst MOs. I think I recognized the false power hit of that behavior. Maybe my slippery memory remembered the pain and chaos I plunge myself into when I ignore reason, my budget, and my commitment to stay inward facing. Appearances and productivity are seductive little bastards. They pal around with judgement, fear, and shallowness, who is such an asshole. While there is truth to needing to finish my bathroom, but nothing about it in any way should be allowed to topple the entire damn household. Addiction has no rest here.
Or maybe my memory is working well and I remembered what it feels like to feel good. Maybe in that moment of struggle with my stubborn streak, a new me stepped in and said, “no, this is how we do it now”. Maybe I remembered how it feels to be comfortable. It’s possible that my new behaviors around having enough, back-ups, and practical things like 12 rolls of toilet paper, 1 unopened tube each, of my toothpaste, and every form of tape on the market, is finally so part of my new normal, that it literally stops me from doing stupid shit on purpose. I’ve gotten really stubborn about being able to spend $100-160 at a grocery/discount store monthly at the bare minimum.
I’ve gotten stubborn about holding myself to myself when I say “no, you can’t have it now, next time.” I damn well expect it the next time. Often it is something as small as Liquid Gold. I don’t care, I love that stuff, it makes my cupboards look amazing! It also turns my hardwood floors into mirrors. Slippery as thin ice, but gorgeous.
Maybe I’ve gotten stubborn about maintenance of what I’ve got, built up, accomplished. Perhaps there is enough of the small daily things about my life that make me so happy that it isn’t worth the risk that my destructive stubborn streak is bent on.
Maybe my memory remembers that it sucks or has a line to my subconscious that I don’t know about and sometimes stops a headlong rush of planning and doing what instead seems ok, but actually isn’t because I forgot yet ANOTHER thing. I was lazy about some small spending these last couple of days. Turns out, yet another large expenditure needs to be covered. Now, the “it’s ok, there is enough,” is not true without canceling something, and extremely tight budgeting for two paychecks.
I am continually frustrated, grateful, and amazed at my tiny life. I remain with one job because I stubbornly love this life of mine. I don’t love every single aspect of it, but as a whole, I say “I’m so happy” to myself now more than any other time in my entire life. I genuinely have about ten things all the time that bring me joy, comfort, and peace. I don’t want this disturbed. Additionally, all the struggle and the time I have, is perfect for real growth and development. I write out nearly 100% of my struggles. I learn what I am actually doing, not what I think I’m doing, what I really think, and expose my feelings by typing out all this tightness, suffering, and mistake making. I’m basically growing up from 21 to 31 in four years. I swear forty years of life confronts me almost everyday and I feel like I absolutely have to stop in my tracks and deal with it no matter what is going on. I stubbornly cling to the ability to do this. I usually tell myself that normally I would have gone through all this stuff at 18 or 22 or 25 or 35, but I couldn’t at those times, so I’m doing it now. And honestly, this probably is the best time for me to do this, because I finally have the resources and enough know how to do it. I constantly have to remind myself that I couldn’t have done most of what I do for myself now on $4.25 or $12.00 an hour, without health insurance, medication, a computer/internet, a smart phone, and the years spent at my aunt’s building a significant part of the kind of life I always wanted. I have things in my life now, based on that blueprint. That is the only map I have except for Maslow and Erikson. My whole life I’ve thought, “can I please just grow up here?!” Right now I am grateful 100 times a day for this opportunity.
On the other hand, my mess-ups are almost always because I don’t make enough money. In terms of dollars, just $500 a month would prevent mistakes like the two I encountered this week. That’s not a ton of money, yet not having it could devastate my tiny, tight, delicately balanced life. I also can’t save, replace, or expand. It’s almost a catch 22. More money would mean less of other things like time to process, the driving need to process, self-honesty, focus on the basics, and clarity of my thin trajectory. It could also bring more of things I don’t want, like distraction, noise between me and God, demands on me, and a velosity that is too much. Oddly, when I have more, I can unintentionally hurt myself.
So, moving forward, how do I maintain my tiny life, my emotional sobriety; yet make the kind of money I need to be financially secure?
How will I know when I’ve peeled down enough layers that I know myself and can provide for myself safely every single time? How will I know when I’ve built up enough layers in new healthy behaviors that I don’t have to doubt myself? How will I know when there is enough of me to believe? How will I know when I’ve learned enough to stop hurting myself?
Or maybe I will never know enough, maybe nobody ever does. Maybe this is why people have to stick together. I’m going to need people to put up with me, to find me extra hours, to share coffee time with me, or take me out for pie while I continue to untangle the wires of self-destruction.

 

bc

My Road to Emmaus

 

Starting point. Some I like, some I don’t. Some smooth, techniqued, personal; the rest a rough attempt. My life, thus far, has been a rough attempt.

I consider this painting as a base on which to build something to be proud of. Not to cover. Not to hide, exactly…

Who am I kidding? Of course it’s to hide something I don’t like . A base to layer up. I can quietly remake my discomfort. Now, alone in my studio, I can let art unwind my brain, build pathways, take risks, and have immediate re-dos. In private, I can let lose my heart from my head and see what happens. Maybe each layer of paint will become layer of belief.
You see, my privacy was taken from me. My growth was highly visible early on. Responsible. Well behaved. Seen and not heard. Or not seen, unless there was blood.
The visibility was too much. The exposure too much. The risks too big.
So I grew to hide. And to be quiet. Or try to. The thing is, I’m hard to miss and I’m not quiet.
I was a really cute little kid. I’m a born extrovert, a curious cat, a whirl of energy, a deep well. I grew into a physical presence that is hard to not notice.
Yet the feeling of over exposure persists making it difficult to harness and direct the gifts I possess. Over exposure has meant a lifetime of being camera shy and hating mirrors. And then when I do rise and shine, I have no idea how to maintain it. I don’t have the connection points. My neural paths have abrupt ends. I can’t access my continuous memory. Almost everything is brand new to me every time. I feel like Alzheimer’s must feel like. And I know it, so it’s really disturbing.
These last four years have been a blessing in privacy. My road to Emmaus has been a largely solo journey, gradually walking with new others as tolerable. In doing so, God shows up in them, re-placing isolation with community, addiction with freedom, fear with acceptance. For me, this journey is not just loss and grief, but complete surrender. A surrender of what I thought I was. A surrender of what I thought I knew, where I thought I was headed, and what I thought previous others were. I’ve come to realize how much I was always looking at the wrong things and then forgetting that I knew that. In my constant battle with fear and grief, I kept not looking at my only real source of strength; my road to Emmaus leads to me.
Truth is, I didn’t forget what Jesus looked like; I forgot what I looked like.
bc
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Holding the Line

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Recovery, God, balance, sleep, trust, writing things down, and connection; it does work.

Resisting addictions in all their forms, for me, can be a moment by moment intentional battle. I have no internal middle road. I suspect most people don’t given the lack of compassion and permanent damage we inflict on one another. Black/ white good/bad, on/off, in/out, all/nothing, yes/no dichotomies permeate peoples’ lives. And this, I think, is the crux of addictions in the lives of individuals.

I tend to spend too much and wind up with housing instability, or not at all and keep myself from moving forward in jobs, education, and life. Recently, I have been gorging on burgers and beers with my pal, which has been emotionally stabilizing, and apparently I need the protein, but I am shorting my grocery budget and my sleep. My pal says that this is just how urban people socialize. Good point, but I’m an addict so my life depends on looking at it closely.

What I’m really dining on is attention. I know I need appropriate attention and a lot of it. I am seriously attention deficit disordered! Or said another way, I have disorders or damaging behaviors because I lacked attention at home and still tend to not get enough because I shoot myself in the foot or I am a pain. I also know I have to watch myself with anything that leads to me getting noticed, accolades, attention, or “in”. Because for me, all of that is a drug that acts on my brain.
Recap: I am biologically mis-wired due to lack of attention, yet attention is like a drug to me. Tigers are so hard to walk.

Here’s why. I am an only child of one parent who lost their mate. They lost what I now suspect was the one person who might love and accept them. Who might hear and feel their loss of love and belonging. My parent, probably with the loss of one of their parents, lost acceptance within the family. They lost the safety that home should bring a child, a young person. Not just that, but I think my parent actually fled tyranny.

 

So here you have somebody, emotionally on their own with their own child, bumping along in the world, damaged themselves, with less than a clue, fleeing their home, and no particular guidance. So they do the best they can in their starved state. They lack foundational components for setting up a safe life. My parent lacked emotional continuity. My broader family, as I see them from afar, are not compassionate people. They lack compassion for themselves and everybody else. They are generally not open and honest about what hurts them, and when someone is, they are immediately abused. This poisonous pedagogy has done permanent damage to everyone and has continued into the next generation.

 

My parent’s permanent damage, thus far, emerges in everything about them. Because they have no emotional continuity they lack middle ground most of the time. My parent lives full-throttle or nearly not at all. (Or the last time I checked, this was still the case. I’ve been away for four years.) My parent carries the labels of bipolar, borderline, depression, anxiety, PTSD, narcissism and “crazy”. My parent is broken. My parent is shattered. My parent’s hope for love, a life with a partner, children, and a home; was destroyed by an auto accident just as it was birthed. Their fragile grasp on “normal” disappeared into an Indiana night.

I think their many addictions are just ways to deal with this night and the left overs from a home where they were refused a voice, and abused by another family member who ultimately pushed them from the nest, changed the stories, and nearly obliterated them from the tree.

On top of that, the one good thing that my parent did have to contribute to our line, me, was also nearly stolen. My parent’s torment went on well beyond a mean sibling and my other parent’s death. It lived long in all the cross-country moving, wrecked relationships, over-spent money on appearances and others, and overall lack of planning for disasters, sick animals, and societal pressures. And this is the stuff I know about. I am sure the echos of the past remind them of their now older age and the estrangement from their one good thing. Maybe they fear they’ve lost me in the end anyway.
Although I have no immediate plans to contact my parent, they haven’t lost me. The thing is, I saw what destroyed them and thus robbed me of their attention. They were denied their parent by said family member even as death approached our Matriarchy. In illness, death, and grief all of us were denied ourselves because attention to addiction still reigns supreme. There is no comfort zone in my family. If you don’t already have PTSD, give us 5 minutes…
This is a very wordy way to say that I lack attention. My therapist suspects trauma practicality from the birth canal. I lack nurture, comfort, and emotional continuity like my parent. But different from them, I don’t carry the same lables, I am not as resistant to behavior changes to be in a group, and I wasn’t usually as directly attacked. I also lived a split life. This gave me varying points of relief from the most difficult behaviors of the adults around me. And also, despite their darkness, they always had a night light on for me. While it didn’t offer much, it was a nod of awareness.
I know I can’t out run my own or the collective trauma of my family or the growing traumas around me; but I can cling to recovery in 12 step, writing, painting, my rabbit, days off. I can keep an ear to the Sky and to wise words that seem to flow to me each day from those I encounter, blogs, my therapist, my minister, Vanity Fair, NPR, texts between my pal and I. I can shake in trust for a bit, holding onto my connections when the urge to let go is strong. I can continue to insist on keeping my life balanced even if it seems smart to load it up with more jobs and school and “works”. I can slowly learn to stand big and tall and speak loudly my attention needs, rebuking abuses or dismisses of my struggles. I will be heard without addictions doing the talking, or the silencing.
I have to spend money. I have to eat. I have to socialize. Often I have to appear a certain way. My apartment/life actually does need expenditures to optimize work/life flow. I have to learn to buy what I need but not get swallowed up in the process.
That accident in the night affected my life too. There are lions, and tigers, and bears in drink, and money, and people. But when recovery takes the wheel, turning toward scenic views- Oh, My!
bc

Books Saved Me

Reading has saved my life a number of times and kept me safe while growing up. As the only child of a single parent, I was frequently alone and we moved a lot, perpetually making me “the new kid”. So I turned to books.

My brilliant mom read voraciously. She left all kinds of books laying around, so I read them. In second grade I found Han Ruesch’s Top of the World, thus I wrote my “Indian” report on Eskimos. It was the 1970’s.

My first mystery was Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. I think I was eight. From that point forward the mystery became my favorite genre. I worked backwards from Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple to Nancy Drew to Trixie Belden. I have read every Mary Higgins Clark mystery, most of Anne Perry’s, and Patricia Cornwell up to 2009, among others.

My mother’s Christian interests lead me to Hannah Hurnard’s Hind’s Feet on High Places and C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. This was by the age of ten.

Around this time, my mom began to notice my consumption of her book sets, so she directed me towards more age appropriate material, thus The Chronicles of Narnia. I loved those books and a tragedy of my life was losing them in 2001.

Judy Blume was among the authors of my friends, however, precocious as I was, my first J.B. was the infamous Forever. Again, I worked backwards so to speak, reading Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, Deenie, and Super Fudge. Even in adulthood I love Judy Blume, reading Forever and Wifey every ten years. (Skipping ahead, I also read Erma Bombeck’s A Marriage Made in Heaven or Too Tired for an Affair once a decade.) Judy Blume helped me grow-up. She was my guide through adolescence and a validator through my twenties. Today, I follow her on Facebook.

Interestingly, I read the Love Comes Softly series by Jannette Oke after Judy Blume. I came to understand love and sex through Forever and Loves Comes Softly. Important information for an eleven year old.

By twelve, I wanted bodice rippers, but my Christian reading teacher was having none of that, so my mom and I visited the Christian bookstore. The lady at the store gave me a wink and sold my mom and I on Eugenia Price’s Savannah. It took me ten years to read all her historical fiction romances. I read them even while fishing with my ex-husband, much to his dismay.

To date, I have read about a third of Barnes and Noble’s self-help section, a good number off the best sellers’ list, and most recently I am into memoirs. Besides books, I read newsletters, newspapers, and magazines. For Christmas my mom gave me a subscription to Vanity Fair, thank you Mr. Trump! I read blogs and write daily.

I believe nearly every problem can be solved by books and reading, or maybe it’s just literacy. Either way, they can save lives, they certainly saved mime.

bc

Just Be Lost

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Today at church, my minister asked for stories of times we were lost or felt lost. I’ve been lost about a hundred times so there is too much to chose from. I’m currently still lost from my 2013 crash. My fellow church-goers have front and center seats to someone really really lost.

It’s been good though. I am in year five of a horrific mental collapse. Each year I have laid solid ground on top of the rock I finally hit at my “bottom”. This was my response to my minister’s request. It is were I was, and still am.

Yup. Let it happen. Let it crash. Do nothing, just let it all fall. Sit in the ashes of the last mistake, the poorly executed action, the accumulation of misdirects, the covers for shame, failure, and fear. Yup, just be lost.

Hold tight to the floor under you, close your eyes in the dark, feel the rumble around you and inside you. Eventually the clamor ends, the last vestiges of your life fall away, your phone stops ringing. Silence. Stillness. Aloneness.

And then do the unexpected-nothing. Do absolutley nothing. Sleep, watch mindless TV, stare out the window, take long walks. Sleep some more.
When you are ready, look around and anything left upright, knock that down too. Anything still remaining pushing that former life, tear it up. Dig deep inside and excavate anything that hurts you. Pull it out kicking and screaming. Yank it into honesty and light. Find the dark corners or your being and attend to them.
Now, this takes time. By this point in my journey, I had returned to work. I was trying to drive again. But I remained in the ruble, I explored the losses, I stayed down. Gradually my eyes accustomed to the darkness, slowly I became able to move, eventually I hit rock.
This time I was, and still am in no hurry to “get back up”.  The view from here is the best ever.
bc

Dear Florence

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WARNING: This is a full on rant. I’ve done my best not to use my blog in this manner, but I have cracked.

I came home tonight and literally googled “jobs for people who hate people”. I don’t hate people but I need out of my nursing job because stupid, selfish, entitled, people who think hospitals are hotels and medical staff are wait staff are making my actual MEDICAL JOB IMPOSSIBLE TO DO- YOU WIN!

A twenty year medical person is leaving because my pay is capped, others’ raises are dependent on your “satisfaction” and this is not just the patients’ but also visitors of the patients’, we are under staffed (32 patients to 1 CNA in my ICU) nurses tripled, and our patients in and out averages 14 on PMS. I NEVER get a break in 8 or 12 hours, I can’t pee, and once a week or so my phone rings for 8 hours straight. There is a CBT on “alarm fatigue” but that does not apply to the constant ringing of phones. A long time ago I gave up any kind of routine, goals of patient care or unit orderliness. I no longer try to plan my shift, arrange times with other nursing staff to get care done, or make any promises of help what so ever. I am only there as a “noise abatement officer” or a “runner” or a “customer service person”. Never mind that I have grabbed slippery bloody babies from doctors, escalated a Tele patient’s distress to the charge nurse when the primary nurse was ignored, saving that patient’s life, or performed chest compressions in an elevator from the neuro floor to the ICU (the patient survived) and I was the one to ring the alarm on the neuro floor, never mind that I got RSV from an abandoned infant that I held for 8 hours, or all the hands that I have held while someone died. My 20 years in 5 facilities, home health, and my own grandmother mean absolutely nothing.

Let me clarify, this NOT when we are “slow”, or grandpa has died and 8 people in the room should have water and Kleenex while they cry, or the wife that needs a cup of coffee at 8 am when she comes to fetch her husband to take him home, or the person who is diabetic and has been sitting in the ER with their family member and needs juice Pronto! No, I am talking about unnecessary requests on already ridiculously over-loaded nursing staff.

So, sure, let me drop what I am doing when I am the Health Unit Secretary AND the CNA AT THE SAME TIME for TEN rooms and get YOU, a visitor, a friend, not family, out in the lounge where there is a drinking fountain AND a kitchenette, a glass of water because you don’t want to drink from the fountain, take the elevator up a few floors to the cafeteria, or go to the restaurant a few floors down and get it yourself. You aked me “where can I get water?” I told you- and you stood there staring at me. Oh, I’m sorry, you weren’t asking where to get water so you could get it yourself, you were asking so I would make the assumption that I should wait on you. It’s not about a glass of water, it’s about an ICU healthcare worker, dropping what they are doing because you don’t want to take care of yourself. You seem entitled to what you want. My other recent favorite was a young mother holding her possibly four-year old in front of me while I was the secretary for all 32 beds (why a 4 year old was IN the ICU I don’t know), anyway she asked for orange juice. I said that the person she was visiting was not able to eat or drink. She said “no, I need the juice for him” and nodded to her child. So, you think I should drop what I am doing in a 32 bed ICU and walk to a kitchen to get orange juice for your child, for free. It’s NOT the orange juice, it’s the demand and expectation that I drop what I’m doing to do something that is your responsibility and that you seem to feel you should just have it for free. I’m tired of this “give it to me” attitude of not patients, but visitors. GET IT YOURSELF. Get your own coffee, water, or juice. Bring a sweater! We run out of linens- you may not deplete the blanket warmer of blankets- THEY ARE FOR PATIENTS!

Lastly, this week a family member was upset when we wanted to do dialysis on their loved one at a time they didn’t want because “friends may be coming to visit and they didn’t know when, so could we do it when visiting hours were over?” There were several problems with this one. One, this was literally a life saving measure. So, visitors possibly visiting at an unknown time, trumped treatment necessary to keep the patient alive. Okay, then. Two, we have open visiting hours- my hospital thinks that visitors walking around our ICU 24hours a day is just fine. People actually move into the room with their loved ones and just live there. So, no, there is no time when there aren’t visitors. Three, the dialysis nurse was on-call. So, you want us to call the young nurse with a baby, in at your convenience, not when your primary nurse has her labs and is ready for her patient to have their dialysis, and preferably not too late in the evening.

I have few issues with my patients. I am sick of their friends and some of their families. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF I AM THERE FOR THE PATIENTS. I AM A HEALTHCARE WORKER NOT A WAITRESS, BABYSITTER, OR MAID. If I am sitting down, I might be the secretary paging a doctor, I might be in a chart looking for an electrocardiogram order for which I HAVE TO DO because I am ALSO the EKG tech, or calling for your loved one’s meal; don’t ask me to waitress in the family lounge.

LET ME DO MY MEDICAL JOB, if you don’t, I will leave the profession because I am sick of you. I am very very good at my job, your loved one is safe with me, but I guess it isn’t about them, it’s about you. My bad.

bc

My Bad, I was Busy Living and Forgot the Rules.

Happy New Year and I hope everyone onWP is well. Like most people with depression, anxiety, family trauma, addiction and dysfunction; I tend to not really embrace the holidays. I tend to feel shame at the beginning of a new year, and as a January baby and unpartnered; I really just want to survive until past Valentine’s Day- March cannot come soon enough. But – have to share that this year went really well in spite if it’s challenges. Through it all I continued to take good care of mysel. I relaxed, I stood strong for others, and I entered the new year feeling strangly stable. All good, right?

Yes, but I forgot many rules along the way. I think this year I will set goals around remembering that other people, organizations, and simply time need to be better accounted for. As a recovering person, a mental health patient, and even a neurology patient; I need to remember that things are hard for me, I forget, procrastinate, and at times try too hard. I need others to fill things out, file things, send and receive things, and do their jobs. Places close, there are holiday hours, there is only so much time in a day. I get busy living my good life and forget.

Immediately after Christmas my driver’s license got suspended for one or two days. Basically someone at an agency didn’t fill something out correctly, then another person at another agency didn’t file something. I got a notice from my state about the impending suspension but procrastinated and underestimated the time it would take to find the problem. It all went fairly smoothly and everyone, even the DMV, was great; but I still faced suspention. I wasn’t fined because I was found to be in compliance and the errors weren’t mine. Bottom line- I was prepared for and enjoyed Christmas so much that I forgot about the state’s rules. It also occured to me later, that I suck at follow-up sometimes. I should have called my state when I met it’s requirements to double check they had my information. New memo: stop and check.

I got through New Year’s even though I was terribly sad for three reasons. A year gone that I am still not “successful”, my son was not with me (a first), and a friend died on the 26th. I spent all of this time, and I mean all, as it was my vacation week, home without driving and with others greiving. I would have stayed anyway because I finally belong somewhere, to someones. Then, my car failed it’s emissions test.

I get the notice to get it checked in October. Again procrastination bites my rear. I have 22 days to clear THAT up or my registration gets suspended. My state is such a pain, rules everywhere. This one I kinda did on purpose because in October I was hot on finishing my kitchen and getting my stove hooked up. I’ve lived in my studio for four years but not used the stove or oven. I wanted to be able to use it by Christmas. So I ran the car emissions close, chosing to use  January’s money. I hope it isn’t a huge expensive repair.

I have been to yet another funeral, returned to work, gotten caught up on things at work that I was not in compliance with and began the next two things that are due. I hit the post Christmas stock up sales, began next year’s planner, and looked at my flex-spending. Then I ran out of the medication that runs my brain. On Thursday I went to fill it.

I am dumb. Clearly there is a pattern here. The pharmacy couldn’t fill my pills for two days. OK. I go back today- four days later, still no prescription. They have refills allowed from the doctor but the insurance company says it needs a “preQualifiaction”. Now, I did not cry or react badly at the  department of motor vehicles over the suspension of my driver’s license. I did not get upset at the emissions tech over a “failed” report, thus I cannot renew my registration. I did however, spurt out that I will withdraw in six days at the pharmacy tech. I did cry in my car.

More rules that I missed because I was in vacation mode. I had been hanging out with a friend, watching movies, and other than stock-up shopping and funerals; I was lazy about life. I failed to request a prequalifiaction letter from my physician to my drug insurance company so that when I needed meds on January 5th, I could have them. I’m sorry, I was busy living my life.

So I microwaved a pot-pie, poured a glass of milk, lit one of my new stock-up Yankee candles, lit a Bath and Body De-stress candle, slapped on it’s matching body cream, and sat on my velvet loveseat to post.

For me, recovery cannot be forgotten for a moment. I cannot lay it aside for Holidays or death or 70% off sales. My short-comings, my mistakes, my under-estimations will bite me in the butt. My b.s. wlll affect others as they encounter me at the DMV, some agency, the emissions test site, some mechanical shop, the pharmacy, and over the phone to the state, the drug insurance company, and the doctor’s office. Recovery says that we take responsibility for our failings. I did a lot of things right this year end. I did many things new to me. I am very different than I was one, two, three years ago. Yet, as many things still linger. They continue to cause me problems and make me a challenge to others.

I can live my life. I can have fun. I can relax. I can have my emotions. But I cannot forget the Rules.

 

bc

Honesty as Related to Balance

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I  have read, “Honesty without compassion is brutality”. My ideas is that balance even balances out honesty. The need to say, “Just being honest”, towards others seems to me to need to me in balance as well. Does that make any sense? I wonder how often my truth is that I am out of balance when I am supposedly being “honest”. Even when sharing positive things like the use of my stove. The honesty of the not having use of a stove seemed to me, recently, to be disturbing to others. I meant it to be a celebratory thing, but is pointed out a serious lack of balance in self-care and was perhaps a bit TOO honest at the time of the sharing. I think that the timing of “honesty” is important and I’m pretty sure I miss this one all the time. But I am making headway through the Grace of others.

Another thing about honesty that am questioning is the need to balance it with just pain shutting up, thinking of possible ramifications, or simply adding burden to the emotional environment around me. Sometimes I think that even the good things can be upsetting to those around me because it raises their awareness to lacking around them, lacking to someone they care about, and may even poke at their own judgement. I’m coming to realize most people really do think the best of those around them, and it seems that if what they thought turns out to be wrong, then it casts doubt on themselves. Certain kinds of doubts about those around you can unravel the emotional fabric that is generally there as a protectant. Good will, inclusiveness simply by association, purposeful commendatory, even the often quoted, “it is what it is”; for me, keeps me in the fold, in the circle of trust, in the social group, in the herd. My honesty at times risks this.

I think some of the words I need to think on to balance this honesty out are: “the work”, certainly “recovery”, “self-accountability”, “productive shame”, grief, motivation, and perhaps “gumption”. I need to rally for myself. I need to shut up and get to work diligently to  push myself forward, up and out of my lackings. I feel like it isn’t to others that the honesty needs to be voiced, but to myself. I honestly need to pull myself out of a life-time of indecision, poor choices, financial irresponsibility, and tolerating deprivation, crumbs, neglect, and dismissiveness form others and my own self.

I feel like I need to embrace my shame, my lackings, my shortcomings, and the things I grieve privately. My privacy needs to increase and perhaps my honesty needs to decrease. I feel like I need to remember to be within as much as without, to continue to tend to my insides as I develop momentum working on my outsides, and to balance what I share with why I need to share it in the first place. I am seeing that I need to balance the sharing of my recent accomplishments with the concern for others’ concern that any of these accomplishments were needed in the first place. Maybe a healthy dose of embarrassment would be a good thing. Perhaps really FEELING the grief that resides within me, over a poorly managed life, would be beneficial. When I encounter a flash of shock on someone’s face, a drop in their demeanor, a pause in the conversation, a kind of psychological sigh, and often a collective glancing about for help and some silence; perhaps I can learn to take the cue that this honesty was inappropriate and out of balance.

It is hard because they are often joyful shares for me. They are often wins over other things, skills learned, physical improvements to make my life easier, and these day, opens the door for social improvements. I would make me sad to be dampened by my good news honesty shares, but the truth is; I can barely believe all the missed memos growing up that would have taken care of these needs and the social rules of sharing that would have gone with them. Now that Balance is my third core value, maybe now I can begin to fill in the blacks and do a better job throughout most of the areas of my life.

I am glad I took the time to write today. I am out of balance in my writing. Thanks for the visit and thank you WP.

bc

 

 

 

My Personal Values: I challenge you to pick new words for yours

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Per my usual, I am still trying to find balance, routine, and consistency with regard to posting. I am back to writing daily, but my posts are still a long way between. Real quick, my last post, a book really, ended with my personal thoughts on changing a person’s values in order to truly recover from addiction and other mental health struggles. This is my blog and my personal opinions based on what I have done for myself (which is based on reading almost the entire self-help section of my bookstore, mental health counseling, and 12-step).

I do not disagree on the importance of one’s home and lifestyle, of family and friends, of church affiliation,  employment, education, pets, nature, hobbies etc. I find them all important to a well-rounded life. What I disagree with is continuing to value the people, places, things, and situations that made me suicidal, depressed, anxious, shell-shocked, frightened, and generally f*d up in the first place. For me, continuing to “value” what made me this way is dumb. Threading those things back in LATER, when I am much healthier, much more solid in myself, much more discerning for my well-being, much much stronger, and truly ready for what they bring my way; can be done. I am not advocating disowning one’s family. I am not suggesting cutting all ties to the past, turning away from one’s up-bringing, or permanently destroying our place in the Known Cosmos; what I’m advocating it that those things not be one’s core values  if one wants to build a life based on recovery.

Two and a half years ago I sat in a day hospital break-out session on “Values”given by an old white religious guy. Problem number one. Everyone around me was calling out things to write on the white dry erase board. The group contained a surprising spread of demographics. Three different colors of people, three or more religions represented, a decent spread of education, household income, and employment statuses, married/single, gay/straight/, using/clean, veterans to the program and newbies. But despite the diversity, everyone said the SAME THING. They all valued things outside of themselves, things that did not necessarily put a roof over their heads, pay their bills, keep them from drinking/drugging/addicting. My point is that when it came to the “values” session, the dry erase board looked exactly the same both times and every person in both groups of people said exactly the same thing (of those who spoke, I know..). That was problem number two. It was a colossal re-run. And for some of us there, the whole experience was a re-run, and for others a re-run of a re-run. NO CHANGE.

Doing the same things over and over but expecting a different result is “crazy” right?

Here are my suggestions and what I said on my second tour through the day-time mental hospital.

I have five base values. They are for me to be able to take care of myself. They may seem selfish, but I think I deserve self-care since this is where I am sitting for the second time in two years, and on the second major mental break-down in 14. The statistics don’t look pretty after this. This is what I base my life on, and my life depends on it.

1. Safety

2. Sustainability

3. Balance

4. Harmony

5. Stability

The room was silent. No one spoke for a minute or two. Then someone said, “I never thought of that”.

I think they may have meant that they didn’t think of “values” as something for themselves personally. I think most of the people in the room had on rosy colored glasses and I took them off. I tend to point out reality. Many of us were in fact not safely off the streets, not safe in our homes, not safe among our “values”. Even the staff had to think on this. Problem number three. That bothered me a HUGE amount and almost up-ended my time there.

I don’t know how to use line spacing (and a bunch of other things) on WP so this looks long and I want to keep this post short. I want to leave time for anyone reading to ponder my suggestions. It isn’t that my mother, or child, or best friend, or education isn’t very important to me, or that I don’t value them; it’s just everything else has a place AFTER my safety needs are met. I let things back in when I can sustain them in balance with my life as a whole. I spent an entire year on each value, this year I am on Harmony. As I get along better with myself, I get along better with others, but it is hard with my desire to disconnect (hence my previous post). Next year I hope to be living in a place of stability. I’ll let ya know.

Over time I discovered that each value has an accompanying character trait that I have had to develop to solidify the value. This has been perfect for 12-step work.

I advocate for people to come up with their own words, their own core concepts that will give them a place a safety, mental health, a ground zero to start from perhaps again and again until it works for them. I’m a DIY girl. I believe the ground underneath us is stronger if we lay our most solid work ourselves out of the most solid parts we create in ourselves. I know what heals me, and I believe that most people know what heals them. I think the thing mental health needs the most is CHANGE.

 

None of the values on the dry erase board worked for me. They actually kept me trapped in co-dependency. They took the focus off myself and my development, even my personal physical safety.

Thanks for reading and I wish you safe.

bc