Sunday, August 26, 2012

Changed Attitudes

I was doing yoga exercises this afternoon, listening to an Al-Anon speaker, and kept having to pause the file, to get up and run over to the kitchen table to write down what she'd just said. This woman spoke about her version of "contempt prior to investigation" and her description caused me to realise that I've been doing just that about my new living quarters. As of the first of Sept, I will be living in an apartment. I've only lived in two or three in my life, becauce I had all sorts of reasons why I didn't like them, and preferred a house.

At the moment, my options are severely limited due to my finances being severely limited. I've been offered a one-bedroom in an area of town I love, close to a large park, and the ocean. It's very small, but it will be my peaceful, private nest.

I have a choice, do I concentrate upon how much I'd rather live in a house with my dog, which at this time, is not within my financial reach, or do I concentrate upon the blessing of this little private space which will be mine alone, and in which I will be able to learn and heal from my sorrow? My choice.

One makes me feel hard-done-by and self-pitying, one makes me feel grateful. I want gratitude, and peace of mind. I want to be able to accept what I am given in life without always wanting something different. It isn't that I believe we shouldn't strive for more, I do, but I"m realising that in the unhappy years of that marriage, I had some belief in geographic cure.

And that never works, because I have to take myself with me. My same crazy over-thinking self would be along for the ride no matter where I went. So I choose gratitude, and the work required to remind myself of my choice, when those little thoughts slide across the forefront of my mind.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Old Pain.

I have never cried like this. Leaving without my dogs was agony, it seems to have ripped the store-room door wide open, and all the pain of all the years in which I could not cry even had I wanted to, is pouring out, an unstoppable river of tears.  I have enough self-possession to drag myself into a state approaching calm when I must, to deal with life's necessities, and to keep my friends from thinking that I have lost my mind, but all other times, it just rains out of me, a force not controllable by any other way but pleas to my Higher Power to grant me peace.

I go to Al-Anon meetings, and no sooner am I in my car afterwards, but it all sweeps over me again, and I'm driving home sobbing. I remember things I haven't thought of in 15 years, which caused me awful hurt at the time, but because back then I couldn't cry, they were stuffed into that internal store-room and the door firmly closed against them. That won't work as a solution anymore, the door itself has been removed.

I'm trying to let it go, to let it out, to validate that person who believed in love, who was crushed to be treated so harshly by a man who swore he loved her. I accepted his blame for all of it, and I tried so hard to be some other way to make it work. When he told me it was my fault that he was emotionally cruel to me, I believed it, why wouldn't I? I'd been getting that message all my life.

I remember the hope I had when we were starting out, and the early beliefs that this time I would figure out the way to make us happy, since according to him, it all fell into my area of reasponsibility. If only I would be a different way, then he would be, too. It never worked, he was the same no matter what I did.

I started this blog because my denial was finally smashed. He said something to me which broke through: he told me he had treated his first wife exactly the same way. When he said that, he set me free.
Freedom at the moment seems to consist of hours of weeping punctuated by sleep. I want to let it all go, I don't want any of that old sorrow festering inside my heart and soul. I want peace. I want to be an instrument of my HP's peace, and to do that, I must be emptied out.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

On Becoming Whole Again.

Driving home after an Al-Anon meeting tonight, I was thinking that I have been married for the last seventeen and a half years, to an alcoholic with a very large personality. An extrovert, skilled at "schmoozing"  - that level of social conversation where nothing of any importance is expressed, but the people involved can sound like great friends, if one doesn't know any better.

What I'm discovering, this last month or so of being on my own, is that people respond to me very differently now that his personality is no longer taking up all the space in the room, eclipsing mine.
In the short time I've been down here on my own, I've been told quite a few times that I have a calm, accepting presence, and that people feel safe with me. That's good for my self-esteem.

Those people might have reconsidered the "calm" part had they seen me last night. I'd turned off all the lights, and was walking towards the bathroom, to wash my face, and brush my teeth before bed. Somehow, I misjudged, and walked straight into the door jamb with my nose - instant agony!  I imagine that's just how it feels to be punched in the nose.

My very first thought was "Smart move!" said to myself in a sarcastic fashion.

Even in the midst of my pain, I knew that I was being offered a life lesson. Had I seen anyone else, friend or complete stranger, have that accident,  I'd have leapt to help them, asking, "Are you okay? Do you need to sit down? Can I get you a glass of water, or a cold cloth?" Yet for myself, I had only a sarcastic comment.  Even as I clutched my face and leaned against the wall, groaning, I decided to treat myself the way I'd treat any other person, asking, "Do I need to sit down,  a cold cloth, or a glass of water?"

I gave it a moment's thought as the pain in my face began to subside, and chose the cold cloth, in an effort to gain relief from the pain and possible swelling. Today, you'd never know I did that to my poor nose last night, but the lesson in self-esteem, and treating myself with kindness, has stayed with me. I spend the most time in my own company - doesn't it make sense to treat myself with loving kindness and acceptance"?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Loving Me.

So many times the topic of a meeting will be precisely what I need to hear. Today I had an experience which brought up a lot of old, bad feelings about myself, and I couldn't seem to shake them off. I tried for a couple of hours to work it through myself, then decided to go to a meeting, and when I did, this was one of the readings chosen by a member, on the topic of "patience." The reading begins with a rather joking listing of high expectations we may have of ourselves in recovery, and the accompanying lack of patience with our character traits or defects, then goes on to talk about the ways we deal with ourselves when we aren't moving fast enough for whatever arbitrary speed we've set as the correct speed for us to be changing and growing.

From Courage to Change, page 103:

"Is it still hanging on? Very well, I'll launch a major campaign of self-criticism. What's wrong with me? Why do I have all these feelings about something that isn't important? I'm sure I caused all this myself; somehow I'm to blame.
 Heaven forbid I should surrender, accept my discomfort, and pray for guidance."

  I realise that I must surrender to the pain, sorrow, grief, and whatever other feelings are going to arise in these early months of learning to live alone again, after 17 years living with my ex. It's not going to be something I can toss off like a stubbed toe, so why do I do this to myself, launch this "major campaign of self-criticism"? All I manage to accomplish is to add to my discomfort in my own skin, without having eased the original ache one iota. Hounding myself for whatever I perceive as lacking in my character, or for mistakes made, is old behavior, and it's interesting to see how quickly I have reverted to this "default mode", in the midst of this major life change of leaving my marriage.

  I'm grateful for those in program who show up at meetings, so that I may have that glorious feeling of peace which descends upon me when we are "having a moment of silence to remember why we are here."  I feel blessed with my friends, who keep reminding me that I don't have to treat myself harshly, that I need extra love right now, and that love needs to be coming from me as well as those friends who are my staunch supporters.

I wrote a reminder not to be unkind to myself, and placed it where I would catch regular sight of it.

I want to be at least at loving to myself as I would be if any other person asked for my support while they went through this sort of massive change in circumstance, thinking, and life.    I sat quietly tonight, surrendered, and asked, "Please help me." I know that my help is there for me, I have only to ask, from myself, from my friends, from my Higher Power. I must open my mouth and ask. No more silent misery.