Rant=Passion

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I ranted yesterday. I know. I wonder if a person’s rants are just a sign of how passionately they feel about the issue. I hope so.

For me, beating suicidal ideation required a total values over haul. I had to tip my life completely over. I wasn’t on the right track as far as values prior to 2013. I have posted them in long form before, here they are again, short version. I don’t think addiction or self-harm can be beaten without serious internal values laser focused on the person who is suffering.

  1. Safety in all things
  2. Sustainability- can whatever it is be maintained whether one is up or down
  3. Balance – equal parts care to just yourself, work, fun, exercise, sleep, connection to others.

4. Harmony with yourself, the Cosmos, others

5. Stability- within yourself, emotions, budget, relationships, lifestyle

Other people are important. The values of friendship, church, family, work, all the things people usually name are important. But I have found that they have to be a little further out in the rings of my life. If I am focuses on others, I am not focused on myself. It isn’t selfishness.

Quite the opposite. When I am well, I have more to give. I am easier to get along with, I show up, I am more reliable. Stepping way back, demanding that others back the f off, is better for everyone later on when I am not suffering.

My verbose post about laziness and my yelling was because people mean well, but don’t understand the pressure someone can feel that leads to self harm thoughts (thank God, actually). I yelled because society is not nice to those who need more time, space, or effort to find peace within themselves, and then find their way in the world. It makes me mad that people can get stressed to death.

bc

 

Be Lazy, Be Successful, Be Recovered

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 I got this from “Pocket Hits”.  I get dailys from them and Seeds4Life.

 

When people are suicidal, I get really really pissed off when other people keep pressuring them “to keep going”, to “go to or stay in school”, or to “get over it”, “grow-up”, or see that “we are here for you.”

This is all true, it usually comes from love, care, and real concern for that suicidal person. It is meant to keep the person going, mitigate the fall-out of circumstances, often, actually not over-reacting, but plodding along despite a scary situation. It is meant for good reasons and I am sure it does sometimes work.

The thing is, for some suicidal people, like me, it has the opposite affect . When I am suffering with suicidal ideation I want people to BACK THE FUCK OFF. Don’t pressure me “to keep going”. Don’t stress me out about missing or leaving school. I WANT TO DIE!! OKAY?    I’m not caring about a degree, I’m caring that I am in so much pain that I want it to stop. NOW!!

I can’t think about writing papers, logging in a hundred times a day to post to a ‘thread’, or do homework that doesn’t count toward my grade. I have to NOT think at all. I have to concentrate on calming my body down because it feels that destruction is eminent. I am going to explode spraying bits of myself all over my bed, not spread myself all over BlackBoard.

I can’t travel to my school, I can barely make it to my bathroom.

Just stop it!!! My mind is busy trying to kill me. I don’t need you encouraging it by cranking up my stress. I’m so stressed out that death is preferable to you, or school, or work, or anything. Death is my escape route from too much on me right now. BTFO!

In 2013 I dropped out of school. It is 2017 and my world did not end. I still have my job, healthcare, my child, an apartment, a car. Yes, I don’t have the income that graduating would have brought me, and that’s getting to be a problem. But I’m alive. I have 5 new core values, a solid budget, reduced debt, a gym membership, a church membership, new friends, and most importantly my sanity.

That year I took a 5 week leave of absence. I did nothing but sleep, watch DVDs, and go to the day hospital. It was the best 5 weeks of my life. It was the best thing I have ever done for myself. Five weeks of me, me, me, and me. Just me. Only me. All about me. Five. Weeks. Of me.

My brain had broken and was behaving badly. It was trying to kill me. Being lazy for five weeks in a row broke through the desire to commit suicide just enough to function again. And by function, I mean eat, shower a couple times a week, pet my pets, notice my studio’s kitchen was becoming a health hazard. I began to move about after five weeks. And by that I mean, I got out of bed.

In all, I did 11 weeks of ONLY MENTAL HEALTH. (I did work, but it was awful.) for the rest of the year my only focus was staying safe. A year. One entire year of just staying safe with myself. 12 months of behaviors laser focused on staying alive. Nothing else mattered. A clean apartment was nothing if I was dead. Paid bills would be good, but not if they caused me to over-dose. Other people were great, as long as I didn’t need them for my roof or any part of my future, I’ll maintain those myself, thank you. (This was necessary for me, I am in my forties, it was time. I don’t mean this for young people.)

For me, I stopped my life completely. I had to. I had to tear it down and re-create new ways of navigation that didn’t stir up suicidal ideation.  It has taken me 5 years. To some, I have been lazy for five years. I would argue that Michael Lewis, of Moneyball,  is onto something here. Not “would I be sad if something didn’t get done?” but rather, “would getting it done just get me dead?” Now, THAT would be sad.

I vote for being lazy and the success is being alive.

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I absolutely love self-help books. I also love just plain smart books. I’ll read anything that I think can be applied to changing behavior.

Being Lazy Is the Key to Success, According to the Best-Selling Author of ‘Moneyball’

“‘People waste years trying not to waste hours,” says author Michael Lewis.

By Minda Zetlin

Co-author, The Geek Gap@MindaZetlin

Pasted from <https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/why-being-lazy-makes-you-successful-according-to-the-bestselling-author-of-money.html?utm_source=pocket&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pockethits>

Lewis was a keynote speaker at the 2017 Insight Summit put on by online survey company Qualtrics. In a candid interview with Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith, Lewis explained why laziness never seemed like a bad thing in his mind, and how it’s helped him succeed.

“I grew up in New Orleans, where no one did anything,” he said. “It’s an endlessly charming and delightful place, but the idea that your worth was connected to things you did in the world was an alien idea.” In fact, Lewis recalled, his father had him convinced that there was a Lewis family crest with this motto: “Do as little as possible, and that unwillingly, because it is better to receive a slight reprimand than perform an arduous task.” That turned out to be untrue, but the idea that leisure was to be cherished and that being constantly busy was not necessarily a good thing stuck with the younger Lewis.

Embracing laziness has helped him be successful because he focuses his efforts only where it really matters, he explained. Here’s how that can create a real advantage:

You’re OK with doing nothing.

When was the last time you felt comfortable doing nothing?

Not for an hour

or a day,

but in general,

with no immediate projects at hand?

Lewis said he has no problem with inactivity if nothing worthwhile has captured his attention.

If he believed that being industrious was important, he said, “I’d be panicked at the question ‘What are you working on?’ if I wasn’t working on anything.”

Have you ever taken on a project just so you wouldn’t be inactive, just to keep things going?

How many better opportunities have you missed because that project made you too busy to pursue them?

Being willing to be inactive or less active means you’ll be available when something truly worthy of your best effort comes along. It also means you’ll have the time and space to go looking for those really worthwhile projects. If you’re busy being busy, you’ll miss them.

ME- to me, nothing is worth it if I’m dead. Aren’t I worth my own time, interest and effort? Even if that effort is almost nothing at all? Remaining breathing ain’t nothin.

You won’t waste time trying not to waste time.

That’s something most of us do, Lewis said. “People waste years of their lives not being willing to waste hours of their lives.”

Me- think about that… what is wrong with wasting some time? The way I see it, as a child I spent a lot of time staying safe. Not being victimized, kidnapped, or killed. I hid a lot. Times that I did explore, I got royally busted. Or another thing I see now is people who were overly scheduled, had helicopter parents, or other wise over scheduled.

By the time I was 18, I WAS FREAKING EXHAUSTED!!!!

Waste some time. Pleeeeeease waste some time. Catch up on sleep, childhood, exploration, learning about yourself.

If you mistake busyness for importance–which we do a lot–you’re not able to see what really is important.”

Me- Nothing is more important than yourself. Nothing is more important than saving your own life.

Lewis is willing to waste time–a lot of it–if something seems like it could be really worthwhile. He’ll spend a year or more hanging around someone who interests him even before he knows for sure whether he’ll wind up with a book.

Have there been potentially great projects in your own life that you didn’t get to explore because you didn’t have the time to waste?

Maybe the next time something comes along that tugs at your heart, you should  find a  way to waste as much time as it takes to get the project off the ground or prove to yourself that it won’t work.

You’ll zero in on what’s truly game-changing.

“My laziness serves as a filter,” Lewis said.

ME- I love this!! For me, learning to filter demands on me has been life-saving.

“Something has to be really good before I’ll decide to work on it.” Lewis has published six heavily researched books in the past 10 years while also working as a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, so his laziness certainly hasn’t stopped him from producing quite a lot of work.

Me- it will get done, I will get things done. I only won’t get them done if I’m dead.

But it has helped ensure that what he does is his very best work–only the things that really call to him. Here’s the test: “If a story I’ve gotten to know didn’t get told, would I be sad?” he asked. Unless the answer is an absolute yes, Lewis doesn’t take on the project.

Me- if it doesn’t keep a roof over my head, relax me, make something easier for me, re-fill my soul, make me happy, help me bring mental health into the light, or bring authentic relationships my way–I don’t do it. Period. I want to thrive, not just survive.

The answer is a loud “NO” if that thing is another thing I have to survive. This includes a job, an educational track, an activity, or a  relationship. Don’t ask me to survive something.

When was the last time you asked yourself if you would be sad if some work didn’t get done, or if a possible project didn’t happen? Next time an opportunity arises, ask yourself that question before you say yes.

Me- I would take Lewis a step further, ask yourself if it’s worth your life. 

Pasted from <https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/why-being-lazy-makes-you-successful-according-to-the-bestselling-author-of-money.html?utm_source=pocket&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pockethits>

 

 

Recovery is so freaking exhausting

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downloadcntpeopl

I love this image that I got from the internet. I feel like this more and more. I have a feeling that this is getting  to be very very common in American Society. We are wearing ourselves out.

American work life is completely insane, yet I know that on a global scale, we are extremely fortunate. It’s weird to balance attention towards my own dysfunction and my place in my own society, yet have gratitude for my address. My thinking zings between the utter ridiculousness of the expectations of my job, and the peace I feel on the days that I “cannot people”, choosing to tend to myself well. I’m pretty sure that it is the pain that people feel in their jobs that propel them onward. It is probably also the case that the ability to be  quiet, have downtime, get organized, and prepare for that moving on, is how people move out of such jobs. And then gratitude for what a person has and what they may reach for keeps them rooted and provides some direction.

All of this is so exhausting to me because I have to constantly be in process with it all. There is a lot to hold in my head at the same time, while under awful stress at work.  I resent needing so much recovery time from work.  For myself, I hope a good deal of this is just work that I should have done in the first 25 years of my life, and didn’t get to; so I am doing it now.

Doing this work well into adulthood seems to be an even slower process than before because there is so much more going on – work, health, associations, children, normal daily activities, odd things like battles with dentists, the state, insurance companies, debt, and keeping up with technology.  It’s a lot of balls to have in the air and grow-up, or out, heal, or complete at the same time. I literally feel the weight of every single decision large and small. Everything does indeed matter because it is either part of something old that may be on the way out, or something new that I am trying to develop. Every dollar spent is either continuing old comfort finding but budget breaking strategies, or a deliberate move to improve my life today to have a better tomorrow. Because I have such scars from neglect or deprivation, everything I do is to compensate for that. Is painting my bathroom, putting up a shelf and adding cabinets to make it “look better” and like “I know what I am doing” or is it to make the room more user-friendly so I have room for my things and can add a means to wash my uniforms? Well, both, depending on the emotions going into it  and the amount of money in the bank.

Really figure it out.

For me, my DIY Life, my notions of DIY recovery, ferret out those emotions and help me spend my money better. When I finished my kitchen, I wanted to roll right into the bathroom and whip it out that same month. I felt like I was finally on a roll and “doing something” to move my life ahead. Then I remembered that this a habit that I am trying to break. It was “outward facing”.  It was a move to say “see, I am not a lazy looser slob”. It was to say “see, my place though small, old, and not well-kept (the building), is nice. Please say my place is nice.” My emotions wanted to be told that I was “good enough”.  Luckily I know myself enough now to be hip to what I was up to. Below is the exhaust fan/light I installed myself. I am a DIY chick.

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I decided to wait on the bathroom and it was a good thing because disaster hit draining my bank account more than I am comfortable with now. I over-road my usual MO to over-ride myself. Cool. Recovery does work but it is hard, long, and exhausting.  I have the money in the bank, a couple of days off, and no one to impress; so after writing this, I am off to buy paint. I am finally in the right frame of mind.

Relax, let it flow

Earlier today I was not sure that I could “people”. Thursday seems to come fast for me and I nearly had to send a text, as I did last week, that I would be missing my standing lunch with friends. Last week, my Wednesday shift was so horrific that I didn’t want to deal with a single person the next day. Today I felt a little of that. I really wanted to stay glued to NPR listening to the Comey hearing and insulating myself from my world. I actually had moments of forgetting that it was even “Thursday lunch day”. My phone alarm went off telling me I had 10 minutes to leave the house. I was going to cancel and stay in. But then I remembered that I am part of this group. I had flashes of us at other lunches. Memories of protests, meetings, field trips, movie nights, and conversations of things coming up suddenly engulfed me with warmth and an odd feeling of a spot at the table missing —– me.

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*NEW AND DIFFERENT* I would be missed. My presence, my energy, my issues would not add to the group, the annoying ones AND the amusing ones. Finally, at long last, I am beginning to see myself from the point of view of other people. I am beginning to have ideas about their perceptions of my reliability and connectivity. And I mean this in healthy, whole, “we are a good group” sort of way. I BELONG. Not being able to “people” sometimes cuts me off from PEOPLE who are MY PEOPLE!! People who have been put in my life to bring me along, literally and figuratively.  People who are part of a Welcoming Church which does what it says it does. I forget how welcoming these wonderful people are. Just when I think I can’t, is sometimes when I need to the most. Off I went, in my jammies, with my coffee mug and my rabbit.

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Lunch was great. Florabelle was a huge hit and nobody cared that I hadn’t showered or put on real clothes. I wore my torn, pink t-shirt night-gown, pink and white boxers, a grey and white with pink, apron, and one sage flip-flop and one with a big pink flower on a black bottom (could’t find matching flip-flops). I looked silly but I didn’t care. Showering and dressing takes time and makes me tired. I wore the apron because boxers don’t have pockets and I needed to take my keys.

When I got home, I was happy. I had energy, direction, and thoughts of upcoming events propelled me forward. From lunch, I realized I wanted to get important stuff done to that I could play better. I realized that I should spend the money on the paint for the bathroom, get it clean and painted, and possibly get a small washer before my vacation and trip with some of them to an upcoming festival. I got the bug to tend to my needs first, so that when my time off work came around I would know how much I could safely spend and return home to something nice for myself. This is all together a different way of thinking than I am used to. This is sustainable thinking. This is “I have to maintain myself and be able to stay as things are,” thinking. This is “I have to have confidence in the future, so I need to take care of now,” thinking.

The people that I am going on this trip with are excited for me to go. This is totally wild for me. Nobody is ever excited that I can, and have, accepted an invitation of theirs to do something fairly big. It’s weird to experience my minister’s glee over us attending this festival together. I feels weird to have another person so matter-of-fact about me riding with them and not beating the plans to death.

I came home feeling like I had a sliver of purpose.

Surprise! There was a plan afoot!

Maslow tells us that we need to belong. We need affiliations with family, churches, professions, areas of interest, and a community. These affiliations raise our self-esteem and confidence, and give us validation, and direction. As an extrovert, I need others for my energy. Yes, my job and my recovery  drain me making me unable to handle anyone for a day or three. I get so freaking tired of people. But I have come to see that it is in fact people who heal my issues of neglect and deprivation when I let them, thus actually giving me strength for the times when other people suck me dry.

I “peopled” and I liked it.

bc

 

 

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!
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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.

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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.
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