"groupiness", budget, Can't people, community, deprivation, DIY Life, DIY recovery, extrovert, habits, happy, looking silly/unshowered, Maslow, neglect, new behavior, nurture, patience, purpose, relax, self-awareness, stress, sustainability, work/job
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.
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.
*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.
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.
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!
As I moved through my day, it occurred to me that I never wrote what my successes were or what I meant by success. For me, success is very 12-steppy. Success is change in behavior. Success is ceasing the cause oneself harm. If it is AA, success is abstinence from alcohol because one drink is not enough. For me and my addiction to spending, it is tight adherence to my budget, checking my balance before spending, and remembering to think ahead to other planned spending. Success is naming my feelings and not behaving in harmful ways while feeling them. So here are a few of my quiet successes.
- I found the urgency to attend an ACOA meeting on my way home from my last trip away to be a success in lifestyle change. I absolutely know I need my group’s give and take as I work my program. I need to see them once a week to feel normal.
- Recently I bought a loveseat for my studio. It is a success that I have made it on my own for 3 1/2 years now. It is a success that my life is stable enough to buy something large and upholstered. I haven’t had upholstered furniture in 15 years.
- Buying the loveseat was a success financially. I saw it in a resale shop window, fell in love, and had the cash on hand to buy it. This was good discipline in saving for something large.
- After moving in my new couch, it was a success for me not to go all nuts spending on the rest of the room to make it perfect. I stopped with a couple sets of rugs-new for me.
- In terms of relationships, I have been wanting to pull away. I feel like I am getting to close to a few people and them to me. Length of time is a big deal to me. I have been in some peoples’ lives too long. My success is that I haven’t moved away. I haven’t tried to get closer either. I have stayed the middle ground. Very strange……
- Another relational success is that I am neither bailing on my job nor behaving badly. I am squarely committed to my co-workers until I am not. I finally feel like I belong, I am part of a larger group, I have a place. These are gigantic successes.
- Even though I swim most days, I am still kinda stiff and tight. I really wanted to find an exercise class on the cheap. I found one for free! It is exactly what I need and the time is perfect for swimming and getting to work afterwards.
- A couple of weekends ago I went on a retreat. The expense turned out to be problematic due to an additional $246 dollars in bills. I applied for scholarship funds and was granted them. The monumental success was in the asking for help. This I never do.
- There was a problem within my 12-step group. A plan was made to deal with it in order to keep the meeting safe. My role required me to step up in ways I haven’t for a long time. I successfully stood my ground under fire from someone trying to best me and ignore our 12-step speak. This was a success for my group as well.
- For a week I had a nagging sensation to check my budget. I didn’t, but at least the nagging is firmly in place. I went downtown on a mission. The successes were that I got cash out before I went, only bought what I went for, and kept a running total for the day. I repeatedly reminded myself of upcoming expenses. I have a tendency to hurt myself out of a very short memory.
- I thought finally yelling at the guy who was following me was a pretty big success. I will remember in the future to leave much sooner when someone is being that pushy. It is also a success that I am not so scared that I won’t venture out on my own again.
- Finally, today when I did check my budget and my outgoing bills, I am short funds. My tummy sank to my toes. There were some successes though. One, I hadn’t entered the bills in the computer to get paid out draining my account. I must have already seen the problem coming. This is great on my part, I gave myself room to plan for being short. Two, I am ahead in my rent. Over time I worked my way to being ahead so if I didn’t have the money, rent was not an issue. Now, moving on, I need to generate more income and fortify even better. Three, I didn’t panic. The success was that I did send out what I safely could, I filled my gas tank, bought groceries and pet needs, then I rearranged my budget. I didn’t buy some things on my list, but I insisted on hot-trigger items. I cannot deprive myself of things I have deprived myself of before and then suffered. Deprivation will cause me to act out. The success is I know that.
- A baker’s dozen might be a fun place to end. I feel sad. I feel sad that I’ve only made it this far in life financially. I feel sad about my “potential” unreached, opportunities not used to my maximum benefit, no family to support my personal success developmentally, educationally, financially, professionally. My success is recognizing that this is sadness. My success was not spending out of sadness today. I am learning how to operate in my sadness without harming myself, how to peek above it.
One day at a time. One success at a time. One rearrangement at a time. Slowly the new changed behaviors become the norm. Ya, there will be shortfalls, the dyke will spring forth with bad behavior, I will gobble chocolates of excess; but not only will I survive success, I will learn to thrive.
I have the compaq back. My laptop is so unreliable that I have learned to not count on it. I also have a Gateway Notebook that I bought for school because fits in my purse, when my main laptop goes down I use it. The thing is, I think that this practice just allows my insides to continue to assume and prepare for unreliability in general. I don’t put the work I should into maintaining things because I get scattered, then my scatteredness nearly guarantees that things will break down. Then the breaking down of things solidifies that I don’t deserve for things to work and go well for me. This pushes me to either give up on things or have back-ups in case of failures. Now, this can go two different ways.
When I can’t maintain things or be consistent, I could look at those things and decide that I don’t need to do them or be consistent in them; or I can push through because giving up isn’t a good option. I tend to be lax in repairs/replacements. My laptop isn’t an item I can go without. The notebook is helpful, but a full sized computer is best. I do need to be consistent on conducting my online life, this is not an option. However, my digital camera kept malfunctioning and breaking. I managed to get it working/repaired a few times then gave up. I found that as smart phones improved, the camera feature on those did as well (now far better) than the camera. Almost nobody creates hardcopy photo albums anymore, so this “hobby” has fallen by the wayside. Now, if my phone goes down, no camera. My Garmin no longer holds a charge, it has to be plugged in in the car. That’s a problem because my cigarette lighter doesn’t work. Once again smart phone technology saves the day with Google maps!
So, to recap, camera and Garmin out, laptop and Notebook in; however I need to get faster at updates to prevent crashes and picking it back up when it does go in for repairs.
Other things are on the fritz. My car needs many repairs. A mechanically sound car is not an option, but other broken components often don’t get fixed due to lack of money, time, or interest. This is beginning to wear on me. It is almost to the point of embarrassment. I feel ashamed of my car. I feel ashamed that I can’t buy a newer one. Currently I am grappling with putting effort into it’s interior maintenance. When it comes to an old car I am of two minds. One, I live in a city with city parking/towing/human selfishness, so it is not really a great idea to have a lovely car. Two, my city is God awful expensive so the cost to have a car needs to be minimal. Three, and this is huge for me, I only drive 9 miles to and from work. The condition of my car not longer has to be stellar to get me where I need to go most of the time. Now, before I travel out of state, it goes in to be checked so I am not 400 miles away or God forbid mid-way, with a break down. The others side of it is the emotional cost of a barely reliable, tacky, older car. I panic a lot while driving, the lonesomeness I feel about getting around while she is in for repairs is hard to deal with, and I don’t ever feel comfortable offering to drive places because of how she sounds, runs, or looks. Accepting who and where I am in life is hard. This is one of those areas that makes it harder.
My main printer/copier/fax has been down for months as is common for me when it comes to electronics. Last year I posted that I finally got my laptop repaired after being down a full year. At that time, the Notebook went boom too, so I had no choice but get them repaired. So once again, I have something down for a long time and haven’t dealt with it. This is mostly frustration. I am sick of things breaking, malfunctioning, needing “updating”, needing to be uninstalled/reinstalled, a “patch”, or expiring out of old age due to the insane speed of technology and a disposable world. I miss things like televisions, telephones, space heaters, washing machines, and clocks that were made of heavy durable materials, working parts that could be repaired, and were made to last. Okay, so my printer is 10 years old, still. My cell phones must last at least FOUR years. The last one only made it two (although I was pretty rough on it-it was too small, too easy to abuse). I am crazy careful with my new BlackBerry, I absolutely love her! My space heaters keel over after two winters, my forth one will soon be garbage. This makes me feel bad for my pocketbook and the environment. Lastly, I sneezed on a clock and it broke. No, really, it fell down (but landed on a rug) and broke.
This is a lot and it doesn’t even count all the things that need to be super-glued or go out for cleaning and repairs like purses, shoes, and my VCR. I have pockets to be sewn, stains to be removed, lamps to be re-wired, and a desk leg to be shorn up.
All of this is really about how normal aggravations of life such as navigating wear and tear of possessions, normal replacement times, and the pace of technology; are compounded due to all the shortcomings that come with insufficient development due to growing up ACOA.
This post is about valuing and respecting myself enough to take care of the things I have that I need. It’s about respecting that I am like anyone else who wants their things to work properly, be up to date, and appropriate to their social situation. I deserve to be able to pay attention to my transportation, IT, and household items. I see how normal things like this can trip anyone up. Normal things like this make it difficult to get out of bed. Normal things like this make people want to medicate with alcohol, drugs, over working, over sexing, over exercising, over eating, over doing. I get it. I get addiction. I have to take very good care of myself. Life is hard.
Several times I have written about my struggles with getting up in the morning, planning my day, moving forward, feeling accomplished, and warding off The Committee. It is finally happening. Despite anger on Wednesday and overall burnout, I woke up Thursday rested and happy. A few recent changes have made life different. These differences are important because recovery for me is about becoming different from what I have been, mostly a wreck in a reactionary state. Sometimes this becoming different is just a returning to who I know myself to be.
One, I have been going to bed without sleeping pills for a few weeks now. This is fabulous because I have been on sleeping pills, or at least Benadryl, for 18 years. For now, I have been crawling up into my feathers, coloring for a while, watching BONES on DVD, then going to sleep and staying asleep. Sleep without anxiety, is something I never thought I would enjoy again in this lifetime.
Two, briefly, but most importantly, the dread of having to survive another day is completely gone. This is so huge I cannot even go into it now. I think it started to really fade the end of last April. I have sort of left it unacknowledged for fear of jinxing myself. Not waking up cursing the day, cursing my breath, cursing the curse; is indescribable.
Three, new the end of November, a glimmer of peace in the a.m. began to bud. All of February I have felt this peace most mornings. Yes, peace. In. The. Morning. Automatic fear and torment is mostly gone. The silence is still loud, but I don’t sit in it anymore. I don’t wait and listen for safety. I am safe. I assure my own security. I am just like everyone else crawling from bed out to the day, out to my life. Loneliness still pokes me a little, but drastically less than two or three years ago. Neither the silence nor the loneliness freeze me to my sheets these days. If I linger in my bed now, it is because it is so freaking fantastic. I am grateful for my income and staying firm in my budget to attain an amazing sleeping area. I feel lucky and happy as I stretch under my covers.
Four, recently I noticed that keeping my heater on low all the time is good for me. Stepping out of the cold hall and into a warm apartment soothes my battered psyche. Likewise, in the morning, I will get up if it is warm enough. I am tossing aside the tradition that I picked up with my last name, that the heat goes off when not home and just barely above freezing when in bed. I am sufficiently out of survival mode to be comfortable 100% of the time. This is ginormously comforting to me.
Five, despite the mess that may encompass my kitchen food prep area, my morning writing spot is clean, neat, and sunny. The idea to swap my kitchen and livingroom furniture was almost brilliant. I broke out of the notion that things had to look or be a certain way. My folding table/chairs does not have to occupy my current kitchen in the same tradition as previous kitchens. The table, how it looks, the availability of seating, what sits on it, it’s very history; does not a kitchen make. I can still have an inviting eating space for myself and one other person without my longtime friend. I can still display my vintage tea bag holders, my grandmother’s Pfalzgraff sugar bowel and salt and pepper shakers, for function and for fun. I can still enjoy a lamp, candle, and holiday decor in the place that I eat and invite another to join me. It just required an open mind to furniture use and space reduction. Ultimately, the truth I finally faced up to was that no one comes to see me anyway, except for 2 days at Christmas. The truth is, I don’t need room at my kitchen table for anyone to sit and have a meal with me because no one does. The next truth was even harder to face; I don’t need to pretend anymore.
Once past those hurdles, swapping my table and it’s chairs, for my secretary desk and rocking chair, freed me up mentally and physically for much better use of space, sunlight, and time. My flow is better. By that I mean that I am not reserving space that I am not going to use. (My kitchen table is now my “project” table or work area.) I am not trying to cram myself into a space that doesn’t fit my needs. (Trying to create or work at the secretary is not possible.) If I need to leave a mess, I can. If I need minimal mess, I have it.
I can now move straight from bed into a warm, sunny, clutter-free writing space. I can have a small meal or recline in my rocker cuddling a bunny as I order my thoughts. My kitchen has become an inviting relaxing spot for solo joy because I became willing to accept painful truths.
How many constructs do I hold onto because of what they represent in my mind; even though in real practice these constructs trip me up? How many comforts have I denied myself out of addictions (co-dependency on others), impatience (overspending unnecessarily), or teachings that don’t help me (other peoples’ values)?
I think my mornings are getting better because I am getting better. My budget remains intact paycheck to paycheck. I am even under-spending at times. My blind-closing-BONES-on-coloring-time-in-bed ritual ends my day, teaches me how to talk to other people, and calms me down for sleep. I awake with some kind of vague continuity, calm, and peace. As my life remains predictable with ample time to assimilate the positive, I am more embracing of the new day.
I do my best to write 1000 words, so at 1400 I knew I needed to post in two parts.
I am convinced that for me, all of life is a message. I am also convinced that my body knows what it needs, it expresses itself through my hands (where I put my attention), and that if I follow it when well grounded; life improves. I am determined to heal myself with the help that comes my way. My guiding principle the last year has been to pay attention to what I am actually doing. Not what I think I am doing, not what I lie to myself and say I am doing, not what I am outwardly pretending I am doing; but what I am doing for my body.
I am basing this post on the physiological consequences of growing up in a dysfunctional home. In homes where there is intentional/unintentional neglect, abuse, inadequacies, and/or extreme stressors; the pain felt by the child remains in the child. Trauma lives inside me, always. My struggle to function with my pals of dysthymia, generalized anxiety, PTSD, narcolopsy, and suicidal ideation; are also accompanied by fabulous survival skills, decent intelligence, massive curiosity, quirky creativity, and an innate ability to heal myself. I want to think this is how all living things are created. I have already survived many things. I can do this. I also plan to write it down.
So, what I mean by asking myself what I am actually doing, is this: Physiologically, what is happening inside myself? What am I physically doing for my own self’s survival (this includes comfort, rest, defense, and energy)? What is my body trying to say by what I am actively doing? How is my behavior keeping me alive? How is it maintaining what I know? (To see this, stop doing something you “have” to do, then check in with your feelings about yourself or your body’s sensations.) If you begin to freak out, then maybe you aren’t doing what you think you are doing. I just went through this at work this week. It was a real eye opener! In the name of behavior modification, I am assuming ALL my behaviors are there for survival in some way.
Let’s take something easy to start. There are reasons for the coffee break. I love coffee. I live coffee. Pretty sure coffee runs through my veins. It’s an addiction. When I am jonesing for coffee, if I don’t let myself have that coffee because of money, time, availability, or weaning; ALL I think about is coffee. Why? Because coffee for me is comfort. I need comfort just like anyone else. It is liquid calm. It is a moment of happiness. It is love in a cup. But mostly, sitting down with a cup of HOT coffee, especially at work, means to me, that I deserve a moment of rest, peace, and comfort. I get seriously bent if I can’t have just 3 minutes of quiet with coffee. If my hands are searching for coffee, I am stressing and need to ground or I need to rest and gear up again.
Today I had a bunch of tasks on my mind. All these pressures, outside interests looking at me, actual needs to meet for my next few days to run well. But I was slowly moving from one small household annoyance to another. I was fussing over planning accomplishing things that required me to leave my studio. I have noticed that what my hands do generally bring me feelings of satisfaction, calm, comfort, and control. What my hands are up to usually give me a sense of self, self-worth, meaning, and place in the world. For today, I think I was slow because I needed to slow myself down. I needed to resolve annoyances and restore control in my environment. Fussiness is resistance. I wanted to stay home to empty my mind into my blog so that I could track my progress, and know I’ve gotten somewhere before adding more.
In my previous post I wrote that while in the bathroom it occurred to me that I didn’t want to do anything. For myself, checking in on what is normal and what is questionable mental health worries, requires constant surveillance. Okay, I am not depressed, I am not completely broke, it is not -10 outside, and I was not alone in the world today.
Enter conversation with myself:
So what’s with the not wanting? I just don’t. I’m pooped.
What’s this not “do” about? Be, not do, I want.
Okay then, Yoda.
The decision was made to let go. Don’t just do something, sit there. I am a fan of this kind of Mindfulness (Sylvia Boorstein). However, at times, I am still stressed either way. If I give in to my body’s need to rest and write (hopefully posting); then I am a bum for letting other things go. If I tell myself no, that I have a gym membership to utilize, I need quarters, I have a camera to finish, and that good weather and momentum are good for me; then I am not sticking to my “program” on my wall.
Today, after cleaning the floors, shoes, and counter space, I only took out the trash. As the sun moved across my south windows into my “livingroom” I moved with it. I bit the frustration bullet and started up my IT. As my laptop booted up, complained, poked my cellphone, complained more, and my router blinked unsteadily; I brewed my own coffee, lit candles, and organized my work space. I had nine days of hard work to share.
The mess I need to clean up is the mess in my mind.
The good, but infrequent poster is back. I tend to experience a boatload of life, fill-up a 100 page composition notebook plus scribble on other things both with pen and keyboard, then, generally process said experiences, and finally worry that I need to stop and post before there is too much to post, to get me to post. The point of this blog is to share my struggle with adulthood built on tide-washed sand.
It has been nine days of extreme ups and downs. They have been that bitter-sweetness of necessary pain for growth and joy, mixed with both accurate and inaccurate criticisms that scream for behavioral change that I may or may not want or be able to change. They were also full of that confusing word: love.
This will have to be a series of posts because of the length, depth, and the many topics covered. Most of what I have written in the last nine days is specifically about processes. I am all about behavior modification as goal of recovery from addictions and I am my subject. This is how I am changing my life.
As usual, it was 2pm and I was deciding on what to do with my day. I had completed my rising tasks, met friends for lunch, and checked my calendars. As usual, I was beginning to stress that I was not going 100 miles an hour and “doing things like other people”. I was stressing over dirty floors, dishes, laundry, and pet biffies. I was concerned about my surveillance camera project, pending possession replacements and repairs, and demands from snail mail, email, my calendar, and a few people. I felt like a slug for not swimming for quite a while now, and for my lack of enthusiasm finding additional employment. Got the picture? My head was swimming, The Committee was gathering, and my anxiety was rising.
I noticed what I was actually doing with my hands. My hands were picking up my rubber boots and cleaning them off. I saw that they are cracking in places and that my feet were going to get wet if I didn’t apply duct tape. I was chuckling to myself that they would match my brand new yellow rain coat that already has torn pockets, because I was planning on duct tapping them too. Next I saw my hands picking up and cleaning my black leather dress boots. Later I would buff out the saddle soap from it’s creases. One by one my foot attire was cleaned and put away or moved temporarily. The large rug just inside my studio door was also picked-up, shaken out my bedroom window, rolled-up, and tucked into a laundry basket. I fetched a small hand broom to sweep, my swiffer to mop, laid a clean rug, and reset my shoes.
I stopped to admire my now clean “livingroom” floor. It had been bothering me for several days, that as I came in my door I walked into a dirty mess. (Part of the mess is from drilling through my wall to set up a surveillance camera and the disintegration of a shelving unit next to the door that organized my possessions.) Chaos when I stepped inside was bothering me. My thoughts were on taking care of something that was driving me nuts. I was not necessarily “cleaning”, I was clearing the space, and yes, wiping away dirt, salt, and cement dust. Underneath it, I think I was afraid of tripping and falling over my shoes, and losing an allergy battle with the cement dust.
Without planning, I went into my bathroom, removed everything from the floor (mostly laundry), wiped it, shook the rug out the bathroom window, and cleaned out the sink. It was in the bathroom that it occurred to me that I didn’t want to do anything*.
Moving to the kitchen, I cleared my minuscule counter space, washed it, rinsed the side of the sink sans dishes, and contemplated washing my hotplate and the inside of my microwave. Then, BAM!!! My mind began to go a little nuts, but through practice, recovery kicked in and the grounding began.
In thinking about cleaning the hotplate and microwave, The Committee tried to start yacking. Right away they were all about how messy my whole studio had gotten in the last week, the dishes, the laundry (what a loser I am over my laundry issues#), how dirty the inside of my car is, and the rabbit biffies. They tried to continue on to plan out the route I would have to drive to obtain quarters (maybe swim too), or not swim but still get quarters and use the laundromat instead of the building washer (yes, ONE washer for the whole building). They said to purchase a recording device for the camera, and oh, ya, get a new shelving unit to restore order by the door. They were all over criticizing what I wasn’t doing. Now, I am beyond sick of The Committee hijacking my emotions, energy, time, and money. I told them to shut the hell up.
One of my kitchen walls is made up of south facing windows. My kitchen is also painted yellow. In the height of the afternoon, I might as well be on the Sun Itself. Turning from my hotplate and microwave, I stepped into this Great Ball of Fire. I closed my eyes from the white brightness, leaned on my refrigerator, concentrated on the amazing heat radiating to my body, and smiled in gratitude for my glassy apartment with it’s warmth from the cold, arranged for maximum light enjoyment, and it’s affordability on just one job for now. Capitalizing on this gratitude, I felt peace. In that moment, my current small sustainable firm life, built over three years, enabled me to IMMEDIATELY ground myself.
A key technique that has been working for me for about a year, is calmly asking myself, “What are you actually doing?”
Then I look at what is in my hands.
My mind was weird this morning. I didn’t have the normal dread or anxiety of facing a new day. I was not super lazy, yet I didn’t move very surely. After a while it was like ADD smacked into me, my thoughts all over the place, fast, fleeting, urgent yet indecisional. Like the Tolls on Charmed, they were so fast that prioritizing and planning to carry out a single action was beyond my grasp. I felt confused. Uncertain from one second to the next.
I have trained myself to focus through coloring. I grabbed my Color-by-Numbers from my bed and settled at my kitchen table to calm down and see what was really going on in my brain. After a few minutes I booted up my laptop to write what came out. Here it is.
Can’t alight on a thing. Criticism and judgment picks at me. I can’t do anything in peace because of nagging to do something else. No one seems to be in charge. Doubt prevents efficiency. A good decision cannot be made.
Uncertainty, life’s pause button. Stop. Check-in. Feel. Assess. What is irritating you? What issue is still in your mind from yesterday, the day before, or the week? What have you accomplished that has you on a roll? Should you still be on the roll? Pace yourself. Pace your energy, even good energy. Pace your money. Stay on budget in all things. Stop. Assess your expenditures. Plan your spending. Remember shopping is an addiction for you. Crap.
The addicted mind. Oi!
I have to watch the anger. I will strive to “make deals” with myself because I’ve called myself out. My addiction will argue good points. The healthier me will be tempted to allow addiction it’s “deal” because there is some truth to the argument. Shame will echo addiction’s reasoning. Shame wants to remain covered up, prompting addiction’s nagging. My parenting style is to say “yes” where possible, with limitations. Through poisonous pedagogy, I have also learned that true needs are met with anger and resentment. I will do to myself what was done to me. In this case, I may allow myself this purchase, but it will come with a, “There! Now shut up about it!” Guilt will be attached to the item because of the associated drama in acquiring it.
Shame will play both sides. Deprivation is shameful. Yet meeting that deprived need pokes at that deprivation. The self-acknowledged pain that I have let myself go without meeting true needs, tends to call forth my history of such denials either purposely as now, due to my strict budgeting, or not, directly out of my own failings, or in addition to someone else’s. Deprivation because it was “only you” (me, that is) seems to unleash a particularly frenzied addictive behavior. It is likely that shame will be standing next to me in line to pay for my purchase reminding me I am not functional enough or that my budget is so tight or that the addictive power of buying something is so dangerous that I can barely buy a bra.
Got it! I was still on a shopping high, distracted by very real accomplishments, yet my addiction was screaming for more, as addictions do. Like other addicts, there must have been some residual relief that I wanted to maintain, thus I was focused on how I was going to get my next “fix” rather than engaging in the real morning unfolding in front of me with my safety intact. Instead of reveling in the joy of the new comfy bra I had washed and was now on my body, I was scratching for another, immediately! Instead of washing the new sheets I got at the same time as the bra, putting them on my bed, removing the brand new set currently on it; I was cruising online for a new body pillow so I could throw mine away. Instead of being grateful for the gift card from my co-worker that enabled me to get a new planner, a Dot-to-Dot, three adult coloring books for myself, and one as a gift; I was plotting how to get still another tiny adorable purse sized color book as well.
It is never enough. As an addict to the exchange of my money for items I truly do need, objects and services that make my life better, and such for others, because I have a generous heart; I must forever reign in all thoughts regarding spending. Apparently, I now also have to reign in all thoughts the next day as well, to check on addiction’s agenda. Perhaps my shopping addiction has plans that it has not run past the daily planner, the bi-weekly budget, and oh, the actual person that makes any spending and very life itself, possible.
A drill down into the issues surrounding the addictive process in my head to go spend more today, yielded more than one post can contain. Each item that I bought, how I bought them, and the reasons for their purchase, turned out to be a snarl of behaviors in and of themselves. That I am on a roll in some areas is great news. That I am determined to alleviate a huge irritation is fabulous. However, I have a long history of destabilizing myself due to poor money management. It stinks that for the millionth time I have had to spend my day off protecting myself from myself.
I think it wasn’t just my shopping addiction that got me today. Yesterday I also journaled previously uncharted territory prompted by my reading on men and shame, furthered by the genesis message at church. Then I shopped, then I had a social engagement that I attended and left alone, at night, leaving me wide open to an angry 7 year-old. Perhaps I should have known I had tackled too much in one day when coming in last night, I never turned on a light, I stripped off my clothes, and fell onto my bed at 9pm totally overwhelmed.
My lack of postings has been bothering me for a couple weeks now. This of course fits perfectly with my profile as that of an adult child of an alcoholic or other dysfunction in that in many ways it is hard for me to be consistent. It also fits with troubles with perfection, low self-esteem, difficulty with decision making, and in my own case, awful anxiety. Basically, so much has happened that I have gotten somewhat lost. The lessons have been coming so fast and furious that all I have time and energy to do is journal about them with pen and paper. Real life goes at such a break neck speed for me, that it is difficult to keep up with the minimum of work, home, and the activities of which I normally take part. Over all, I see all of this as positive growth and I am moving forward, but it frustrates me that I don’t post the ins and out, up and down, and lessons and discoveries as I make them, because that was my plan. Today thoughts of consistency, balance, middle ground, and finding my unique voice are in a tug-of-war with old habits of giving up, procrastination, self-criticism and flight. I feel like that friend who hangs around me when things are bad. You know that friend? The one who comes around bemoaning the injustices of everything from parental favoritism, to sexual politics, to work assignments, to domestic divisions of labor, and why the Kardashians are on television. The one who is actually quite smart and deep, but exhausting. That’s me.
Or that’s a part of me. In real life with real people I am usually not that way. Often I am the opposite. But here, I am short changing the positive, the fun, the peace, the small solid life I am painstakingly building for myself. This is a huge project that I have undertaken for myself. It is going surprisingly well. Enter fear of success. I am doing well and scared to death. This would be a good time for self sabotage. Or a health crisis. Drama? Anyone got any drama for me to get involved “helping”? I know, I’ll fill out a profile on a dating site and go on dates. I will wrap myself up in a search for an activity partner, a mate, a friend with benefits, a psycho to fix.
No. I will continue in my muddley way plunking along little by little one day at a time, as the recovery slogan says. Speaking of recovery, 12-step member that I have been in group with for 6 years, uncharacteristically hung out really late with me the other night. We frequently go out for ice cream after the meeting, for ‘the meeting after the meeting”. We were alone which is unusual. Him being out that late and engaged fully was unusual. It wasn’t raining. THAT was unusual. It was beautiful, warm, summer night on the patio of an ice cream place. There were even fireworks. (Why someone was setting off fireworks I have no clue). Anyway, upon further review I was apparently out of touch with the effect a warm summer night can have on a male in the presence of a female he admires. Upon further review, I do recall a few slight gestures of the hand that I ignored. Upon further review, his sudden directness in questions regarding where I live, now make sense. I erroneously thought that since I had been gone a month and had a lot growth to share, he was happy so see me and converse on ACOA issues as they applied in real life, with real people, over a holiday weekend while on vacation. Nope, he wanted to get laid.
It was both funny and sad. I was sad that he burst the bubble of the sanctity of our 12-step group by his lame attempt at whatever it was he was attempting. I felt betrayed that the evening was not about me, not about my wins, good plays, and development as a parent. It was a rouse to get close to me, perhaps to blurt his addictions in private to foster a bond just between us, rather than in a meeting as appropriate. Maybe it was a stab at acceptance or familiarity. Or both. It made me sad to lose what was there before. The unspoken attraction to me, but a boundary keeping it in. And it is even sadder because the urge was likely only for the physicality of it. Just to have sex.
I get the whole woman going “blabbity, blabbity, blit”; while the guy is like, “I want go go f***. When is she gonna shut-up so I can say let’s go have sex?” But I hate it. Even more so when sex is not part of the relational equation. I can laugh because it was a guy being a guy. I can accept it as part of being human. My 12-step member’s awkward play would make a good scene should Amy Schumer make a recovery comedy.
That will have to be good enough for now. I survived a trip to my hometown, negotiated a 5 day stay with my grown son, endured a holiday with people I didn’t know or have a stitch in common with, wrestled with my love of the outdoors juxtaposed to my city life while kayaking, and fought allergies while bonding with my son’s girlfriend. I returned home with my budget intact, drove my volunteer route, resumed swimming, and went back to work. All is good.
Something please save me.