Anything is Possible!

With Love, Hope, and Perseverance


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Rebound From Hell

socs-badge

Is it really better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all?

Well, considering the word, “never,” which I don’t like to use, then the answer would be yes. To have never loved at all, would be sad. But if we expand this question beyond romantic love, then who hasn’t loved some one or some thing?

In my post-divorce single years, trying to be cynical about love, I laughed out loud when I saw the following saying on T-shirt:

“It’s better to have loved and lost, than to live the rest of your life with a psychotic.”

I’m not saying my x husband suffered from psychosis. But my post-divorce rebound from hell probably did. Of course I didn’t know it when I met him. And neither did he. People are on their best behavior when we first meet them. And I was blinded by grief and codependency.

The rebound from hell contained one crisis after another. Thank God it only lasted a year, which was a year too long, though I feel like the delusional jealousy and emotional abuse took years off my life.  I am reclaiming those years, now!

To be perfectly honest, I wish I’d never loved him. The best thing that came out of that relationship was learning to have compassion for people who stay in unhealthy relationships too long.

Every relationship teaches us something we need to learn. I needed to learn to love and respect myself again. I needed know that I am loved and cherished by a Power greater than myself who brings me back to sanity. I had to learn to honor my own boundaries, to be ready for healthy love with some one else. Some one who is not  psychotic.

Not that I have anything against psychotic people. As long as they are getting therapy and/or working a recovery program, taking medications as prescribed (if prescribed), and can respect me and my boundaries, fine. We can hang out.

We all have broken places that need mending. We all have something to work on. We all need love. Good, healthy love.

Today, I celebrate my independence from co-dependence.

 

Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday post prompt for today was “is.” And I got bonus points for using it at the end of a word :).

If you’d like to join in the fun, visit:

http://lindaghill.com/2015/07/03/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-415/

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!


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Global Warming and the Serenity Prayer

fan

The highs this week, in my neck of the woods, will be in the upper 90’s. Today, it might even reach 100 degrees. This is not unheard of here in the Carolinas, but we typically stay in the 80s for most of the summer.

When I was a kid, in the 1960’s, my family didn’t have AC. We did have window fans though. And Popsicles. And a freezer I’d stick my head in and inhale deeply. I have no idea whether this is hazardous though, so I’m not recommending it. We rolled down the car windows to get air, except when my parents bought that portable air conditioner unit that fit into the passenger window of the ’68 Chevy for the drive from the East Coast to Camp Pendleton, California. Somewhere in the desert, the chord wouldn’t pull. Dad reached over and gave it a yank, and the machine spit ice water all over Mom making her shriek. We went back to rolling down the windows after that.

For most of human existence, there was no electricity, no AC, not even electric fans.

How did people get by with no electricity, no window fans, no Popsicles, even?

Now, as I start to think outside my own little world, how do so many people living in hotter climates  today still get by without air conditioning?  Am I spoiled or fortunate?

I don’t have central air, but I do have ceiling fans and two window units in my modest abode which I resist turning on  until it’s in the 90s.

But sometimes, like this week, even our abundant shade trees can’t keep it cool enough to prevent the heat and humidity from growing mold on my old shoes in the closet. The window units are running a lot more this week, not really for the shoes, but for the dogs.

When I think about the Serenity Prayer, which I wrote about last week, I usually include “The Weather” on my list of things I cannot change.  But what if we did this? What if this is global warming? Can we change it?

(I look forward to hearing what Pope Francis has to say about this later in the week.)

Most big changes take a long time. There are those things that maybe we can change, over time, with organization, like laws and injustice. We have to decide where to put our energy.

People changed the status of slavery so that it’s no longer legal in the US.  Once upon a time, women, and African Americans did not have the right to vote in my country. But brave women and men worked hard to change that one step at a time.

Can we change the weather?

I don’t know. But we can do our part to change our habits, and maybe that will, at least, slow down the destruction of our planet. At best, we can, help our lovely planet heal, one step at a time.

I’m partial to this list of 10 things we can do from “Flood London” http://www.floodlondon.com/global-warming/

Let us not take the earth for granted.

Today, let us have the courage to reduce our carbon footprints.

Let us express gratitude for the earth

…and for things like air conditioning, clean water, and Popsicles.

Earth, The Blue Marble

“The Blue Marble”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

This post was inspired by the prompt, humidity, a few weeks ago by Andi Floyd-Cumbo, leader of the Online Writing Community via Andilit, and topped off with my series on the Serenity Prayer.


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A Closer Look at The Serenity Prayer

clouds at sunset

Last week, in “How to Help an Addict (or Alcoholic)” I mentioned using the Serenity Prayer as a tool  that can apply to just about any situation. It occurred to me that some people might not be familiar with the Serenity Prayer:

“God grant me the Serenity

to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.”

     Before I got into recovery from co-dependency and compulsive overeating, I’d see this prayer hanging on someone’s wall, and think, Yeah okay, that’s nice. But I didn’t pay much attention to it. Maybe it seemed too simple.

I’ve said the Serenity Prayer hundreds of times by now, with varying levels of awareness of its meaning.  Lately, I’ve been taking a closer look at the long version, which can be found here, and just realized the connection with mindfulness in the line, “enjoying one moment at a time.”

The Serenity Prayer was written by Reinhold Niebuhr, probably in the mid 1930’s, according to this Wikipedia article. The prayer was included in a book for army chaplains and service people in 1944.

Applying the Serenity Prayer, like most things in recovery, is easier said than done.

One way to work the short version of the Serenity Prayer is to clarify what I can and cannot change.

If I draw a line down the center of a piece of paper (sometimes I still like to use old fashioned paper and pen), I can put the things I cannot change, the things I need to accept, on one side of the paper.

On the other side, I can write what I can change.

For example:

I cannot change the past……………………………………I can change my actions now.

I cannot change my mistakes……………………………..I can learn from my mistakes.

I cannot change my childhood……………………………I can change my perspective.

I cannot erase the memory of big hurts………………………….I can forgive and let go.

When I can’t seem to forgive and let go…………..I can turn it over to God.

I cannot change other people’s illnesses………….I can love them and pray for them.

I cannot change that addiction causes irrational behavior…….I can present options.

I cannot make some one get sober………………………I can set boundaries for me.

I can’t keep people from being mean…………….I can try to understand or walk away.

…..

I need to remember that acceptance doesn’t mean I have to like what I’m accepting.

Acceptance frees me to focus on what I can change: me, my thoughts, and my actions.

I can change my attitude. I can focus more on what’s right than what’s wrong. I can cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

People may decide to change as a result of my actions, but that is not up to me.

So, how does this fit in with Anything Is Possible?

Change usually takes more time than I want it to.

God can change things we can’t.

There is usually something we can change about any situation.

(More on that later.)


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How to Help an Addict (or Alcoholic)

Iron fence

Last week, I shared things I’ve learned about addiction and recovery over the past thirty years. When I started working in the substance abuse field, there were drug counselors, and there were alcohol counselors. Over time, we realized people switch addictions.  So when I say addict, I include alcoholic, because alcohol is a mood altering, potentially addictive drug. Sometimes I say alcohol and other drugs. Either way, chemical dependence affects not only the “identified patient,” it affects family members, loved ones, and everyone who cares.

We worry about them. We lie awake at night and wonder about what we did or didn’t do. Did we lecture too much? Should we have said more? We feel shame, anger, confusion and fear. We feel love. Even when we don’t want to feel anything. When we try to control situations beyond our control, or try to make everyone happy, we just end up making ourselves sick. We wonder how we can help.

What I’ve learned is that we have to put our own oxygen masks on first. We have to make sure we are taking care of ourselves.

Here are some other things I’ve learned that might help those who care about some one struggling with alcohol or other drug problems:

1. Develop a support network for you. Go to Alanon, Naranon  Celebrate Recovery, Codependents Anonymous or an open AA or NA meeting. One of my favorite daily meditation books is, The Language of Letting Go, Daily Meditations for Codependents, by Melody Beattie. I believe it saved my sanity a time or two.

2. Invite your loved one to clean and sober activities, like going to a movie, or for a walk, or any low risk event where there will be no alcohol or other drugs.

3. Be encouraging, not critical. Try not to bring up the past. Express your needs. Express your fears and concerns if you need to, but express your hopes more.

4. Ask how you can help support their recovery, but set boundaries to take care of yourself. As one family member put it:

“I’ll help you in your recovery but not in your addiction.”

5. Don’t drink or use around them. I know this might be controversial.  Some people in recovery might say it’s okay for you to drink around them. Unless this person has been clean and sober for a long time, like 10 years, and works a program, it’s not worth the risk. Model that it’s possible to have fun and live life without drinking/drugging.

6. Don’t enable the problem: Don’t give money, don’t clean up messes, or cover up the natural consequences of the addiction. It’s okay to provide food, or if the person is working a recovery program, maybe pay a bill, but not repeatedly. (If safety is an issue, do what’s necessary to help someone, especially children, be safe.)

7. Offer to provide child care so the person can go to a meeting or counseling appointment. Or offer to help with rides to meetings or counseling appointments if you can.

8.Pray. The Serenity Prayer is always a good one, and works for about any situation.

9. Take care of yourself. Set reasonable boundaries for your own well-being. Get the rest, nutrition and support you need.

10. Never give up hope. Recovery takes time. Things might get worse, even after the drinking and drugging stop, before they get better. You might need to create distance to protect yourself, but remember: there is always hope.

bridge


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Addiction and Recovery: Some things I’ve Learned

pixabay.com. mountain climbing. 709320In my thirty years as a substance abuse counselor, the most frustrating thing I’ve observed, over and over, is that people underestimate the power of the addiction monster and the work it takes to fight it.

With a few rare exceptions, most addicts and alcoholics have to work on recovery for the rest of their lives. If done well, the work gets easier over time, and  life can be good. Not always easy, but richer and deeper, with more options and more peace.

One alcoholic I’ve worked with, who’s been sober for well over a year, still goes to AA every day. She’s learned the hard way, that’s what it takes for her. Every day, she calls her sponsor, prays and reads recovery literature or works the steps. She’s reasonably happy and able to share her experience, strength and hope with others. It may be possible to stay sober without that kind of intensity, but in my experience, it’s risky not to work a daily program.

Recovery is a process, not an event. Recovery is about learning to live life on life’s terms and creating new pathways in the brain. It takes practice.  Treatment ranges from counseling to intensive outpatient, to detox, to inpatient (if you can find one that’s affordable.) Sometimes, long term residential is what it takes. And programs are getting harder to access and more limited with funding cuts and managed care, but that’s another post, or more likely a rant.

For most people, recovery takes changing people, places and things – things like thoughts – and developing coping skills. A person who started drinking or drugging regularly in his or her teens is often starting recovery emotionally and socially as an adolescent. They may know a lot about life on the street, or how to get a doctor to write them a prescription, but they can easily become overwhelmed by feelings and relationships, the challenges of life on life’s terms.

What I’ve seen is that people who have a strong recovery support network are more likely to be successful. The people who I’ve seen be most successful at staying clean and sober are walking a path of spiritual growth. They develop a relationship with loving, caring, higher power, a power stronger than the monster of addiction.

Recovery is possible.

best may 2015

Next week, I’ll be sharing about how family members and friends can help a loved one suffering from addiction.

The climber is from pixabay: Mountain Climbing 709320

The sunset is from God.