Monday, August 31, 2009

Step One- Admitted we were powerless....

"Step 1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable."

This seems like a good place to start for today. Many times when I think about this step, I stop at the comma. "I admitted I was powerless." Sometimes being powerless can be very freeing. I was wishing I was powerless yesterday. I told my husband "I wish I wasn't a grown-up. Being responsible, having opinions, and having to watch all this stuff happen is just so painful!" I am in a hard spot now with my family, I am powerless and I hate it. Seventeen years ago, I was powerless and I was good with it. The family gave me Responsibility though, and now I have Guilt.

I was 21 when my maternal grandfather died, and I was chosen to spend a week at their house, keeping an eye on my grandmother. They'd been married for 50 years. Not surprisingly, my grandmother didn't open up to me. I would wake in the middle of the night and find her playing solitaire at the kitchen table, just like always, and she was talking to my grandfather, just like always. I've always felt that I botched that week. She didn't reach out to me, no surprise, and she grieved my grandfather dearly. Now it's her turn soon. The nurse at the nursing home told me "She's fading." She's not in pain, and she's not sick, but she's slowing down. Sometime she'll fall asleep and that will be it I think.

What does this have to do with alcoholics? Because they are my maternal grandparents, that's what. I have to deal with my mom a lot right now, and she's just as toxic as ever. After a brief visit with my grandmother on Saturday, I went to my mother's house. My aunt and uncle were there (uncle is my mom's brother), and my brother was there with his youngest son. I'd never met the son before, and he just turned a year old. I was happy to meet him, but a quick look around the apartment told me very quickly that my mom and my brother have different ideas of parenting than I do. Anyway, my mom and my uncle were going through my grandmother's jewelry box, and I didn't think that was right. The box is personal, and she's still alive. Leave it alone!

I'm powerless. I'm just the grandchild. I have no say in this. It is their mother, not mine. Shut up, and be quiet and let it go.

I didn't stay long. My daughter was taking a nap in the car, and my husband was out there with her, with the engine running. I dropped some things off for the baby and left as quickly as possible, but not without feeling some pain.

The next day I talked to my mom on the phone, and told her I'd like her to keep the jewelry box as in tact as possible, and if she wanted, I'd pay her for it. I just want to keep it sacred, but I didn't tell her that. Then she switched the conversation to my brother. She asked me if I thought the baby was fat, and then she told me my brother had served time in jail. I'd never heard of him being in jail, in fact as far as I know he's in the National Guard Reserves, so I'd be quite surprised if he'd done jail time. I pressed her for details- when? what jail? for how long? how many times? She faded. I knew then she was lying. Same old, same old with her. I just can't trust her to tell me the truth. I am so powerless.

And then the last part, can't forget that...l "my life had become unmanageable". Indeed, my life feels very unmanageable when I'm around her, and I spent hours crying yesterday. Hours.

This is a hard time in my life. A week ago I was feeling up, but this week I'm down. I am turning to my HP, and even considered trying to go to church (but I don't think the stress it would bring to my marriage is worth it). I am praying though, and meditating, and focusing on the tools of Al-Anon. I am constantly reminded that whether I like it or not, my mother is still sick in so many ways, and I am still an adult child of an alcoholic.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Do I really want to do this??

I went into the BIG library today, up to the 17th floor, and explored the Al-Anon books up there. Some of them are pretty old, and many have never been checked out I think. Too bad. I saw some interesting stories as I skimmed through the books and along the shelves. Then I stopped to ask myself "Do I want to do this? Do I want to identify myself, however anonymously, as an 'adult child of an alcoholic'? Do I want to let that define me?" My husband and my child love me unconditionally. Neither are interested in who I was before I came into their lives. They love me for who I am NOW, in the present, in this moment. They do not care about how I got here or why I am the way I am. They accept me for what is. They are practicing healthy relationships without even knowing it, without even thinking about it. They are just healthy to begin with. Why is it so much work for me to not be so toxic? Why can't I have their peace and sanity?

And then I remember that my 3 year old drives my husband insane sometimes too, and when that happens I am fortunate to have a program to turn to to help me keep mine. My husband doesn't have that gift, and I am fortunate. Gratitude.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Something to ponder quickly

Yesterday I went on Amazon and ordered some books. Seems my old copies, that I had before I got married, have vanished. I think I gifted them to charity in order to save space. My book collection took a huge hit before I moved in with my husband. Since we've lived in our current house, it took another hit by being stored away. I went through the few boxes that I could find, but could not find my old favorites so I ordered new ones.

My preschooler is driving me crazy. I'm losing my sanity, and feeling unhappy around my child. Not good feelings. I'm reminded that I need to practice my program in other areas of my life, not just around the addicts and alcoholics that brought me to Al-Anon in the first place, but everywhere. I need to find MY peace, and my sanity at work, with my husband, with my child, and with everyone else as well. It's a struggle and I'm feeling like I'm not where I want to be with some of these things. It's difficult especially when dealing with children who can't be expected to understand another person's perspective.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Time to get kickin'!

I'm making an effort to post Monday-Friday starting next week. I haven't figured out where I'm going to find the time, or what I'm going to write about exactly, but that's the plan. Wish me luck! And if you have suggestions, I'm welcome to hear them. Thanks!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Let Go and Let HP and "Courage to change the things I can" often go hand-in-hand

I often find that having the "courage to change the things I can" and "Let Go and Let God/HP" go together. I prefer the "Let go and Let HP" motto over the serenity prayer sometimes because I really have to practice at the Letting Go part. I want to be in control, I really do!

This past week has been an example of these two things in action, and it has nothing to do with my mother. As further proof that the 12 steps are not just about the addicts and alcoholics in my life, but about living MY life for me I offer this example:

I work for the state. I was hired in 2005 to my current job. In 2006, after my maternity leave, I gradually began to take on greater responsibility and do more complex duties. Last year my supervisors finally decided to officially acknowledge this and tried to get my job reclassified to a higher level. Unfortunately they failed. There were others that the supervisors were lobbying to upgrade as well, and none got approved.

So now the ball is in my court. I decided that I had the "Courage to change the things I can" and I filled out the forms to try to get reclassified myself. With my supervisors support, I gathered evidence to support my case, and I scheduled an interview with the powers to be to state my case. That's the "Courage..." part.

Today I had my interview, and did my best to succeed. Yesterday I even got my hair cut and bought some new clothes and shoes to bolster my confidence. I did everything I could think of to prepare beforehand, and really studied, and then I did everything I could during the interview to do well.

Now it's time to "Let Go and Let HP". I've done my part. The administrators will gather more information from my supervisors' director, and other sources. They will prepare a report and give me a chance to review it. Right now I have to wait. Right now there is nothing I can do. Right now I have to Let Go, and I don't know how long it will take. It might be a month before the next step of action is required on my part. Letting Go is hard work, but it's what I have to do. "Grant me serenity" while I'm letting go.

and peace too.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Practicing Detachment

Detachment is so key to my sanity, and when it comes to my mother I've had a hard time with it. When she moved to Florida it really helped me because I knew there was little I could do. I had to "Let Go and Let HP". I was worried that when she moved back north that I'd get sucked in again, and I know that I have to be very careful with boundaries or I will lose my sanity.

I have been doing quite well in the past 6-7 weeks since my mom came back. On Saturday my daughter and I saw my mother at a local event. In the course of the 2 hours that we visited, my mom mentioned she is probably legally blind in her right eye. She has cataracts and might need surgery. Before Al-Anon I would have been quite upset about this. "My mom is blind? Oh no! She shouldn't be driving that's for sure! Surgery? When? I better be there in case anything goes wrong." That would have been me the old-way. On Saturday though I stayed calm. "Mom I've been saying for years you shouldn't be driving". Of course I've been saying it because of all her DUIs, not because of her vision but I left that part out.

I have a firm boundary here. My mother will not be allowed to babysit my daughter, ever. The most I am going to let her watch my kid is any situation where I'd be okay leaving my daughter alone, or for very brief periods of time. I need to use the portapotty at the event, my mom can watch my daughter for the 2 minutes it takes me to go pee, but I'm going to pee fast! so later when my mom mentioned that my brother's ex-wife might let her babysit my nephew I did not panic. I did not feel guilt. I did not feel like "Oh Marie trusts my mom with her kid, I should trust her too." No way. I did not let this get to me. I am making a decision, with my husband's support, that is best for my family. Marie and my brother can do as they please.

There were other comments said during our visit too, but I kept my focus on myself and my daughter. I was determined to enjoy a beautiful summer day and I did not let my mother, my husband, or anyone else distract me from that. My daughter and I had a great day. Before Al-Anon it might not have worked out that way, but by practicing "Detachment" and "Live and Let Live" we had a wonderful visit.

Step 12 and this blog

Yesterday I was still meditating on my visits with my family over the weekend. How will those encounters translate to my blog? What do I want to say? I emailed a friend and she responded that I seemed more positive than she expected. At home I opened an old filing cabinet and found my "12 step" folder. Even though I had long ago gifted away my Al-Anon books and meditation tools, I did manage to keep several brochures and small items from my meetings many years ago. These were a delight to read as I remembered the words "Detachment" and "Just for Today". Many of the slogans, steps, and tools from Al-Anon have become a part of my life over the years. Very slowly I learned to begin living the life and detach from my mother and other toxic persons around me. This has not been an easy journey, and a lot of times I slipped, fell and cried. However I am a stronger person now than I was 10 years ago. It was probably about 8 years ago that I found Al-Anon and I've come a long way since then.

Step 12 says : "12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs."

This blog is a way of practicing that step. This is a way for me to carry my message to others, if anyone is listening. I may not always get the font right, or the format, but my words might inspire someone to practice these principles themselves and realize that the tools of Al-Anon and the 12 Step programs can bring sanity into focus. I hope that's what happens anyway. There is a lot to talk about, and I hope I can do it in a positive way that inspires others and lifts them in some way.

The Twelve Steps

Twelve Steps

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.



Monday, August 17, 2009

I think I still have some tweaking to do

I'm not pleased with the layout of this blog yet. I need to make the left column bigger and I don't know how. I also would like the links to show up differently under the "Resources". More work for later I guess.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I know this isn't my fault

My mom called yesterday. The usual message "I know you're working right now, so just call me back whenever you like..." translate to "Why haven't you called me lately? I'm your mother after all..." So we had an early supper, and I called her back while my husband was watching the kid. I mentioned that I'd seen her on her bicycle the day before and she kind of twisted it around a bit. She was riding toward her house when I saw her, but she claims she was leaving her house. Why can't she be honest about a little thing like that? I know where she lives, I know where I saw her. She was going toward her house, not away from it. Grr... the conversation continued. She is going to the eye doctor today. She never goes to the eye doctor, probably because her health care in Florida didn't cover it. She tried to go to the dentist. She only went to the dentist once while she was in Florida. Once in 8 years. Yeah, what do you think happened when she went up here? Well they are concerned about her being on Plavix and aren't sure if they can treat her. Plus she's allergic to pennicillin so they are nervous about that too. I think she needs a different dentist. She is hoping for new teeth. I don't think she'll get them. She's always had gum disease and you can't have dentures if your gums are bad. She's got an appointment next week for something else, maybe a pinched nerve. She's bored, doesn't have any friends, isn't volunteering anywhere, and is locked into this apartment for a year I guess. I knew this was a mistake. She's too far away from things to get to them easily, and she'll only drive my uncle's truck for medical appointments and to see my grandmother. So she says. I'm sure she's "combining trips" and doing her grocery shopping and other stuff along the way. We should all be grateful though. The less this woman is on the road, the better. She really shouldn't be driving.
We spent 20 minutes while she went on about all this stuff, and how rotten my brother is because she bought all the stuff for Mexican Pizzas and then he didn't show up and blah blah blah. I refused to commit to plans for the weekend, again. I know there is stuff going on, and I do have plans for myself, but I didn't tell her. I just said "We are going to wait and see because the kid needs to go to the doctor on Friday..."

I read "I'm just F.I.N.E." blog today, and I looked at the Al-Anon website. I'm glad for Syd. Happy anniversary! I didn't find much on Al-Anon site that I was looking for. I might have to dig a little deeper on the recovery websites, or maybe even go to a meeting sometime. I know no one is reading this now, maybe later, except maybe Arlene. I am going to try to keep this ad-free for now. My other blogs have ads on them, but somehow I don't think they belong here. Still need to do some work to make this blog better.

Give me strength, give me peace, give me serenity today and every day.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's time!

My mother has just moved back to Massachusetts about 6 weeks ago, after living in Florida for 8 years. I saw her yesterday riding her bicycle, without a helmet, looking scared. I didn't stop. I didn't turn around, and I didn't call her later. It's her choice to ride that bicycle, and I have to remember that. She's got a scooter or a moped thing, and she's got a borrowed truck from her brother. She could drive if she choose. Riding the bike was her idea. Grant me the serenity.....

So here we are. Ready to start a new blog about this journey of a new chapter in my relationship with my mother.