Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Finding Balance

Is there anything that chocolate can't fix? Maybe, but it sure helps.

Admittedly, I've been a little off my game lately, and that is for a multitude of reasons. Let me tell you about one of them.

Hi, my name is Doris.

(Hi Doris)

I'm a co-dependent.

(Duh, aren't most of us?)

You see, if you go back a ways in my blog, or if you are familiar with another blog of mine that I usually keep private, you'll find out that I am the mother of a child who is mentally ill and who is addicted to prescription (and illegal) drugs and alcohol. For more years than I care to recall, I've been trying to fix what's "wrong" with her and with two other addicts in my life (none of whom currently live with me, but all have in the past).

Last night I saw a man on Deal or No Deal who was the guy in the neighborhood who took in all the strays, all the kids who had crappy home lives, etc. He was the town hero. His wife was nuts about him but thought he was nuts most of the time. I couldn't be that guy, you see, because I'm a fixer. I try to people-please to the point at which I lose me. That's where it really gets problematic.

I realize where it comes from. I'm doing all of that digging in a 12-step program at church right now. Undoubtedly, this is the best thing I've ever done for myself, but it is also stirring up a lot of muck and mire from my past. It's painful. And the worst part is that life goes on around me while I'm dealing with all of this. No one I've met, myself included, has just one problem. We have many areas of our lives that need work. Not surprisingly, many of us are at mid-life. Many of us are starting with the co-dependency issues and then plan to deal with other issues from there.

Life has indeed taken a turn lately. There is "The Program". There is "The Election". And there is "Grad School".

After all of my time working toward, applying to, and getting into an MFA program in Creative Writing (and then finding one that would let me do the whole thing from home), I have decided that my calling is really elsewhere. This isn't to say that I'm giving up writing. I don't think I could give up writing if I wanted to! It is the way I process my world.

My calling, however, since my mother died 2.5 years ago, has been toward grief counseling. During her death, I amazed myself by how well I handled it. Of course I grieved afterward; in fact her death precipitated many changes in my life. Looking back, it seems as though I'm not even the same person now that I was then. I have grown so much. I have matured. I have listened to that voice inside me.

I am in touch with myself in a way I've never been. So naturally it seemed that it was the right time to attack my co-dependency, to find a way to stop killing myself over things that I cannot control. I cannot control my daughter's behavior, but what I can do is to protect myself and the rest of my nest. I cannot control my brother's behavior, but I can control whether or not I let him in my house. I don't hate either of them. No, indeed, I love them! I love them so much that I wanted to wave my magic wand and make their lives all better! But only they can do that.

Did I need to confess this here tonight? No. But I'm hoping that if there are any others out there who are struggling with similar issues, you'll find that you are not alone. It isn't an easy road, but it is so worth it! Friday night I got my "3-month chip," meaning that I got a shiny green medallion in front of an auditorium full of people and got to tell them what I'm recovering from and how I'm doing it. I am so doggone proud of that little medallion! That represents three months of self-examination, fellowship with other women in a similar situation, and learning new ways to handle old problems. I wish I could say that it also represented three months of not falling for her stunts, but it doesn't. As John Mayer says, "I'm in repair. I'm not together, but I'm getting there..." (see video below...it's a great song)

So if I seem a little snarky or off my game, if I seem like something's bothering me? It probably is. I've gotten a little sensitive this last week or so as I go into Step 4. Add to that mid-life hormonal changes, "The Election," and general stuff.

I'm getting there. Stay with me. I think we're going to learn something. And when I get into that Thanatology program (the study of death, dying, and grief)? You're going to see that there is a diamond in this lump of coal.

Peace - D


Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Awesome for you, hon! I think it's great that you're working toward a better you and figuring out your place in the world. I just wish your daughter and brother could do the same. Here's hoping they do. Someday soon.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

A huge kudos to you that you are doing this. You are going to learn things that completely change you outlook on everything! I am so PROUD of you. And while I understand that it is more important for you to be proud of yourself, I still wanted to tell you that I am proud, too. Hugs.

the walking man said...

8 years ago I thought that I'd never go 1 without alcohol...it's been 8 now. Even my doc thought I had gotten addicted to the pain drugs because of the MASSIVE amounts I was taking, but when the time came to change the protocol...well they just went into a bag and haven't come back out.

I can't do anything about them around me other than say this is what I went through. My solutions aren't yours Doris, but as a reasonably intelligent person you are finding what works for you, you'll never find what works for the others. Each man walks the road at his own pace and the beauty and tragedy is that each road is different.

I do think though that as long as there is breath there is hope that eventually the others we wish so much wellness for will come to a better place in their lives.

Hope is not a bad thing. Continue to have hope for yourself, God wants that within you. Now have another bit O chocolate.

RiverPoet said...

CMGD - Thanks, sweetie. I hope they pull it together someday, too. For now, I've got to get ME healthy.

NATUI - Thank you! That makes me feel really good, and I will take that compliment. :-)

Walking Man - I very much appreciate you saying all of this. "Where there is breath, there is hope," particularly. My brother and daughter (and baby sister) are all still breathing, so I just keep praying for them. I just know that I can't fix there. I don't know what it is like to be in the grips of a chemical addiction. I've had to take lots of pain meds, too, but I would give them up in a heartbeat if the doctors could give me an alternative. I am following your story with interest. My doctor does those implants. For me, it's a matter of ruling out some other things first.

Thanks all - Peace - D

Don Mills Diva said...

You really sound like you have found some clarity - congratulations on your three months and for finding your calling...

San said...

Doris, I went through a lot of turmoil during the perimenopausal time. I don't know if I ever mentioned it to you, but I sought out a women's group. It met weekly and was sponsored by a local counseling college. It was called "Women in Midlife Transition." I found a voice in that group. Then I sat in circle for a year with another group of women, a group that met monthly for five whole hours. Again, another voice emerged. There is nothing like having your doubts and fears mirrored back by others to help you feel you are not alone or nuts. And locating kindred souls who will egg you on to pursue your gifts is priceless.

Funny. Once during this period of questioning, I was drawn to grief counseling too. But I realized that a truer calling (for me, and at this time--because times do change) was in art and writing. I wish you much joy on this journey of discovery, Doris. I am blessed to know you.

Daryl said...

I agree with San ... hearing others who have similar issues is fulfilling and reinforcing of who you .. and I too (while not at all religious) feel very lucky to know you and count you as a friend.


Moannie said...

Dear girl, you are so strong and I so admire you. I don't know if you feel it but when I read the comments I feel so much love coming at you from 'perfect' strangers. It truly is phenomenal. I do not have the strength to dig too deep, I always felt better to bury my hurts and they have been healed over by time and the love of my family. More power to you for doing something so painful-may you see the light at the end of your tunnel.

Akelamalu said...

Like you I'm a fixer and it bloody hurts when you can't doesn't it? :(

Ashley Ladd said...

Hugs. Good luck at working through all this.

Lavinia said...

I already see that diamond and no, I don't see any lump of coal. You are always developing your self, on top of everything else you do. As a mother, I can relate, we want so desperately to fix everything for our kids. Bless you, for all you do, and for all you are trying to stop doing, and for all you are doing for others.

CrazyCath said...

Doris, our Momma, you know I came across that blog a while ago. It is some time since I visited. The reason? I am a fixer too and I could not visit without trying to fix, and I cannot fix. So I had to not visit. But I could and can see you here.

You are a very strong and courageous woman. I have lived with the drug addicted similarly and done the 12 step programme etc etc and the tough love and crying and screaming.....

You're doing great. Hang in there. You're doing just fine. I always saw the diamond in the coal. ;0)