I woke up today and went to 6 am yoga as usual.  It was delightful.  I came home, drank a creamy, delicious coffee in my hot shower (leftover habit from drinking wine in showers with me) and then sat down for some leisurely facebooking.  I looked on fb and nothing of J’s came up in front of me, no reference to her came to be in my physical realm.  None.  Somehow, though, I quickly grew angered that she hadn’t written anything nice to me on fb/text, etc., in months.  Where did this come from?  No where.  It came from nothing.  Nada!

The anger!  How could she be so rude to NOT say something nice to me recently?!  It had been since early June that she hadn’t spoke to me, hasn’t responded to my pleasantries.  Only one thing happened causing this- it was presumably because I did not meet with her when I went back to WI.  Since then however, I’d written nice birthday notes to her kids on fb, commented on their lovely vacations, her photos, etc.  And how many had she acknowledged or done for me- none.  The nerve!

We were there in WI for the closing of our house there and combined it with a family vacation.  We were scheduled from one place to the next and back again, plus fitting in 2 bits of time for my top priority- father figure neighbor Mr. Hans, when possible.  J texted me asking if we could get together, and I said I could not because of it being a family vacation.  I can only assume she felt slighted that I did not make time for her (but did make time for Mr. Hans, as she probably saw on facebook.)  With that post back then, I referenced her along with 5 other friends as having regrettably not been able to visit, but hoped to do so during my next visit in the fall.  She always felt entitled to more of me than others and felt our relationship was special- elevated far above my friendships with those other people.  The J that I know would have jokingly but seriously said she’s “too good” to be grouped in with those other B listers in one fb sentence.  Nonetheless, I continued to post thoughtful things every few weeks and she did not.

Only today, this made me very angry.  I “needed” to unfriend her today, and not only leave it at that quietly, but let her know why I needed to do so.  Praise God that He gave me the insight to slow down and run it by my level headed sponsor for a moment before sending it and pushing that unfriend button.  I copy & pasted this and sent it to R, telling her that I was sending this to J:

Hi beautiful J, Hope all is well with your family. Your summer adventures look amazing. The road trip! Happy for you and wishes for nothing but peace and happiness in marriage, life, work, all of it. Still so grateful that you did end up getting that much deserved promotion, too.

I totally understand needing to take a break from our friendship but will admit that it is hard for me to be on good old facebook and see you but not hear from you like I used to. It kind of feels like that example of being in a relationship but not having a meaningful connection within it. It’s just facebook, I know. But still- on the idea of genuinely getting a break from the things that were unhealthy in our friendship, I will unfriend for now. I’m always here for you as a friend if you need another one. Blessings,

R is brilliant.  I told her that and she said she isn’t, but indeed, she is.  She sees far beneath my surface.  She likes to remind me that she’s not God and that I don’t have to do as she says, but by the grace of God, I am smart enough to realize that indeed, I should really consider doing what she says.  Here are some things R told me or inspired me to realize this morning:

  1. I don’t need to lash out at J today after *nothing has happened.*  I told R “Why should she get to see photos of my kids and not ever say anything nice?… Therefore, I want to unfriend her!”  I see now how ridiculous this sounds.
  2. J hasn’t done anything to me lately.  She has had zero contact with me since the beginning of June when she invited me to get together and I declined.  It makes me sad/angry (?) that THAT of all things seems to be the defining wedge, but it’s not up to me how she feels, so I need to let that go.
  3. R says that the way I feel about J is quite possibly the exact same way she feels about me, because I essentially told her that I don’t approve of her lifestyle.  This is not new news, but my insistence on not hearing about her escapades was new.  I allowed her to treat me poorly for years, and to suddenly put my foot down about what I was willing to listen to was a substantial change.  It clearly hurt her.  She and I know each other very well.  I tend to think that I know how she is feeling and thinking and talking about me behind my back, but I suppose I can not be certain of these things.  I should not act on unconfirmed thoughts.  The only way for me to really know is to talk to her, which I’m not interested in doing, so therefore I should just let it go.  I think.  (?)  My fear is that she is talking about me in stupid ways, because I know her, and I know it is likely.  Am I supposed to just not care?  I can’t control what other people think/do/say, so….? Just nothing?  Hmm.
  4. J & I talked over the years about how she is ashamed of what she is doing and has done, and wishes she never started it, yet seems to be addicted to having affairs.  With R’s help, I’m able to see her issues as an addiction.  This helps me have more compassion for her.  I know that she doesn’t like what she does, just like I didn’t like what I did.  I know that she prays for God’s forgiveness every day, yet keeps on making the bad choices, just like I did.  I can accept that she is on her own path.  I know it is also ok for me to have healthy boundaries necessary to my own mental and emotional health, and I need not apologize for that.
  5. My favorite gem from this mornings call with R: I am a representative of God.  Do the next right thing.  Exemplify behavior that makes other Christians proud to call me one of them.  Do things that I can look back upon and not be ashamed of bad behavior.  Don’t be snarky or underhanded or try to wrap meanness in fluff, just do the right thing to begin with.  Don’t react (or act- since there is nothing to which I can react in this situation) with harshness.  Have a heart of tolerance, compassion, acceptance.  Let go of my expectations.  I have a sign on my mirror that says “you can’t control people’s expectations of you.”  Realize that this goes both ways!  All people are made by the same mighty Creator and each one deserves to be here on this world.  J can be in her place and I can be in mine and I can accept her just like many people have accepted me on my dangerous, offensive, upsetting path.  Just different.
  6. My other favorite: I could be planting a tiny seed in her for her to change some day.  I might not see the changes or even know about them, but by doing the right thing, others DO see and know and find inspiration.  God’s plan, not mine.
  7. My other OTHER favorite: “Well so I give her kindness and she gives me none?!  Well what should I do then???!”  R, calmly- so calm it is funny, “My advice at this point would be just to disengage.”  Does she know that I say this word in my house at least a dozen times per day to my children? A lot of problems can be solved by disengaging!  True story.  Making me laugh as I write that!
  8. If I feel that strongly, I could unfriend so she can’t see my stuff, but if I do, eliminate the “explanation note.”  It is just not nice- and unnecessary- to send along that harsh message.  R said it comes from a very angry place.  It’s one thing to unfriend and leave it alone, and another to try to mask my unresolved anger in nicey nice bullshitty words like that.  If I must unfriend, I should just go ahead and do it and then leave it alone, maybe some day she will notice, wonder why, and it could lead to opening a fresh conversation.
    1. As an aside- I guess I’m not 100% clear on how/when/why/if a difficult or in some way unwelcome message does need to be delivered, is it then ok to fluff it up like that, or should that never really be done? It was honest, it’s just that it came from a place of anger… is that the problem.  When a situation makes me angry, and I try to say nice things WITH the angry thing, how can it sound like anything but that?
  9. She noted that I just did my first “real” amends and it didn’t all play out exactly as I thought/wanted it to, and this could be anger misdirected at J, SO insightful and a real possibility.
  10. Feelings do not define me, and actions need not be an extension of feelings.  Feelings that are harmful can go, I can release them.  Yoga this morning was all about breathing out the yuck.  Twisting and holding and breathing and releasing.  All the way releasing.  Funny that I clearly did *not* release…

In other news today: R was helpful a few days ago when 2 ladies at a meeting hassled me about homeschooling.  Super overly sweet and clear, direct, short answers are ok in that type of situation to diffuse the absurdity of it.  Jen gave me another AWESOME nugget: “Thanks for your opinion.”  Except that I don’t actually feel thankful for their opinion, so what would be another way to say that.  “I hear you on that opinion”?  Hmm.

In retrospect, I see now that for whatever reason, I was falling down a crevice of craziness this morning and I praise God for helping to slow down my fall enough to reach out and contact R. I am thankful that she was available and that she helped lift me back up to normal ground.  I was doing my hysterical cry-laugh when we hung up and yet I knew even in that moment just 30 minutes after my utter anger was on full blast, even before I hung up the phone, that I need not unfriend, I need not contact, I could just sit.  Thank you, God.  His beautiful mercy and grace continues.

My sponsor is so insightful.  Not only did she shed light on what I put  myself through the past 5 days, she offered absolutely amazing perspective.

  1. I kept it all to myself festering for a painful 5 days, and then I finally did explode in an accusatory, angry, distressed hot mess on the 5th day.  ** Perhaps I needed not to take my accusations to H at all.
  2. It is surely a burden and weight to my husband, even though it is entirely in my own head/of my own doing when I work myself into these negative spirals.  While yes, 3 years ago it was warranted, now, it is absolutely not warranted to bring him down when my *feelings* are telling me something.
  3. I should keep this in mind in the future for the next time suspicions arise.  I could take alternative routes like calling someone else for perspective or a reality check.  Sometimes I may just need to write it out or speak it out or talk to someone, just somehow get it out of my body, but perhaps I need not burden him (in an already very stressful period of life for him) with feeling guilty or overloaded.
  4. How would I feel if he came to me, accusing me of drinking again, telling me that he had this FEELING and was so terribly certain that he was RIGHT, and trying to force me to “just admit it” and “just tell him.”  I’d be enraged and supremely irritated/angered, honestly.
  5. Now imagine that I’m already dealing with something very intense, substantial, life changing even, outside of his “feeling” worried about my addiction (when he has no real reason to worry about it.)  How would that make me feel to have to deal with his pain in the ass interrogating and crying and screaming about it when my plate is already full and overflowing with other stressors?
  6. Each time I am *so sure* that he’s been unfaithful and I end up being WRONG, is an experience I need to remember. It has been twice now that I have shared those intense moments with my sponsor. One time– the FIRST time that I had those feelings, 3 years ago, I was very right, and that was very, very terrible, but today, I can realize that my feelings are not always correct!  And they are just feelings.  Feelings do not need to define reality.

Brilliant!

I mean really, I thought my marriage was ending.  I had spun so out of control and had given up any shred of grace I could have for my husband having his own life, his own feelings, that I genuinely was thinking, sobbing, heaving tears of misery as I pictured having to go back to work after our divorce.  I don’t take my misery lightly do I?

It was last Thursday, the day that a new employee confirmed he was taking a new position, thus elevating my husband’s position.

He was stressed, and slightly withdrawn.  He ceased to touch me when walking by me, his more “aggressive” moments of initiating intimacy decreased, and he had less light in his eyes.  Surely, he was cheating on me.  Surely.  How many days could I take without berating him?  1?  2?  5? Yes, five painful days.  Had I just said something, had voiced my thoughts, had given words to  my fears, had kindly shared what was bothering me like a reasonable adult…. well, that would have really changed all my “sickness” the past 5 days.  But instead of giving those fears a voice and putting them into words outside of my body, I kept them in and allowed them to grow in anger and fear and more anger.  Why is everything so dang clear after the fact?

I can see today that I was being absolutely ridiculous.  I apologized and thanked him and asked him for what I needed in a KIND way instead of a nonsensical demanding pouty way.  And by God- everything is totally fine.  It really boggles my mind and brings tears to my eyes to think of the pain I put upon myself the past 5 days.

I need to remember that he is human, just a mere mortal.  That I am not God, that I am just a mortal as well, and that neither of us is perfect.  I don’t even know what started my spiral into my own insanity, but I CAN learn from it.  God, please be with me, keep me sane, take away my spiraling negative thoughts and guide me on this journey.  Thank you for giving me a loving, kind, compassionate husband who somehow does not tire of me.

A very unlikely, very random breach of trust:

2 or 3 months ago H did an overnight camp with our son.  At this camp he was offered a chew and took it.  Background: he chewed since childhood and quit 2 years ago.  He has been very proud of having quit but did admit to always missing it, though committed to staying away from it.

So, he used tobacco again at this camp a few months ago.  He came home and was super awkward.  He told me all about all the camp stuff and there was something weird.  I asked…. um, what else?  I was nervous.  I get nervous every time he gets into the weird posture and has the weird tone and acts withdrawn like that.  Sometimes it’s nothing, it’s work stress.  Other times it’s something.

So he said, Oh, there is something else- I had a chew.

Hm.

Ok, I say.  Ok, why are you being so weird about it?  He says, I thought you’d be mad.  I tell him I’m not the least bit mad, that it doesn’t bother me at all, but I did find it odd that he got that weird awkward withdrawn usual tone about it.

He was a little put off that I wasn’t more upset.  I think he felt un-cared for that I wasn’t more disappointed in his chewing.  I talked to my sponsor about it and asked her if it was unkind of me to NOT care more, to not portray more disappointment or to be upset with him.  She said of course not!  It’s his body and his choice.  Like if I were to drink again, maybe he would be mad at me and maybe not, but ultimately it is MY choice, my doing, my actions and my body.  And it’s the same with him and chewing.  I don’t need to mother him, I don’t need to lecture him or tell him how bad that is or he is or all the risks- he’s an adult, so if that is what he wanted to do in that moment and he did it, then that’s just what he did.  End of story.

Not talked about it again.  I don’t ask if he’s chewing more, he doesn’t tell me he’s chewing more.  I’m not thinking about it.

So a few months goes by– let’s go to 2 weeks ago.  He seems off.  Slightly withdrawn.  I start casually asking every few days-

What’s wrong?

Is something wrong?

Hey what’s going on?  Are you stressed at work?

No… no, no… everything’s fine.

We go to a weekend birthday party for a friend’s daughter and he was totally not nearly normal.  We would have looked normal on the surface but I knew something was very off.  Our laughter wasn’t there, our love wasn’t the same, we weren’t connecting.

Another day goes by: Honey, it really seems like something has been weird lately…?

Nope, not at all.

Finally last Thursday I couldn’t take it any more and I broke down and badgered him.  I am not proud of this behavior- I don’t want to badger him like a nagging mother.  If he has something to say to me, he can man up and say it.  Except………. that this time, he didn’t.

After badgering and finally crying and pleading for him to tell me, getting myself all worked up to think it was something bigger— he tells me HE HAS BEEN CHEWING FOR 2 WEEKS.

I had no words for my anger.  I was ANGRY.  I COULDN’T CARE LESS if he chooses to use tobacco.  It is not my preference.  I’d prefer not to increases any of our family’s cancer risk, I don’t love wasting money- but for the love of all things—- he had been withholding this tiny slice of truth from me- and the problem was that it was not a tiny slice of truth to him.  TO HIM, it was a shameful disappointment.  He felt disappointed in himself so very heavily.  This was a big-ish deal to him.  He says not nearly as big as if he were to use porn again or masturbate again, but he felt genuine disappointment that he could not resist his urge to buy more chew.  It had been going on for 2 weeks and he kept wanting to be done but then would buy more, etc etc etc.  I certainly know the cycle of addiction.  He convinced himself that he didn’t want to tell me because he 1. would quit again so soon surely that I didn’t need to know (?!!!! what kind of angering logic is this.  Concerning.)  and 2. he was disappointed and 3. didn’t want me to be mad.

None of these things are ok.  I felt betrayed and hurt.  This is SUCH a dumb little thing, yet it says more than what it’s saying.  It says that he was able to rationalize for 2 weeks to keep something from me that he felt shameful about.  It says that he felt disappointed in himself and kept that honesty from me.  It also says that YES, I do indeed know and I can clearly tell when he is withholding something from me.  I give myself credit where it is due and trust my instinct that God gave to me.

We had lots of tears over this and ultimately, he had a polygraph because I felt like this “meant” so much more than what lied on the surface.  He apologetically and tearfully agreed and felt very bad that his *dumb* situation (which was not at all dumb to him- which makes it even worse to me….) brought me this hurtful shift in trust.  It was hard.  And it hung over us for a few days and hurt my heart.

We moved past it.

We really got past it the next day, but it lingered until Saturday- when we made a conscious choice to get over it.  I got over it first but being who he is, he held onto his guilt and continued to act weird.  Forced.  Withdrawn.  Pained.  I told him to let it go.  Take the polygraph this week when he could and for now, move on and enjoy the days.  And he was able to, and I was able to………. and that was that.

It hurts me and I see what it signifies and it makes me nervous but for today, I choose to trust him and let it go.  The polygraph of course was fine.  My sponsor said to have some grace and allow it to be ONLY what it really was: a 2 week lie about chew.  To try not to read into it more deeply and get into all the deeper meanings.  And that is valuable insight to me.  I know it does mean more but I don’t have to let those things scare me and steal my joy that is real TODAY.

And, I must say, that in almost 3 years … wait…

I found out Dec of 12, we moved to this house in July of 13… it’s now July of 15.  Wait!  It’s not been almost three years, it’s barely been more than 2 years.  Well, 2 1/2.  I told someone recently it was 3.  Anyways- if this is the worst lapse in judgement / lie / deception since then, then, well- I think I can thank God for the progress we have made in this journey.  With that, I will be grateful and hold the goodness close to my heart.

We have sex now 3-5 times a week.  He initiates it 99.9% of the time.  He looks me in the eye.  He SMILES.  HE LAUGHS so hard he gets tears in his eyes.  I LAUGH so hard I get tears down my cheeks!  He touches me, holds me, loves me and I FEEL HIS LOVE.  I feel it in my body.  Not just a sexual desire.  Not a desire for more, but a wholeness with him and through him.  Not just in sex but in hugging and holding each other in the kitchen.  We smile.  He shares his days with me.  We have 900000 inside jokes.  We are tender with each other’s hearts and he is tender with my body.  He doesn’t sweat the small stuff any more.  He leads of family in prayer at night before bed- all 6 of us together every night.  We say grace before dinner.  We prioritize family dinner together.  He plays softball with our church team.  All these things don’t mean much on their own but together they paint a picture of a relationship that is meaningful.  I don’t worry (too much!) any more.  (Hey, it’s big progress.)  Between sobriety and connection in love, I feel blessed.  I feel God’s presence in my life and in my heart every day and I know H does too.  :)  I choose joy today.

It is a gift to be sober, a gift to have real love, a second chance at love.  Despite it never being perfect- it never will be on this earth, but it is darn good.

It’s been a while.  I probably cursed my journaling here by saying I wanted to do it every day.  My recovery is going really well.  There are some *moments* of thinking about alcohol in a yearning way, but not actually *yearning* for it.  Missing it like an old friend, perhaps.

Our time at the lake is the hardest for me in regards to thinking about drinking.  It’s so vacation-ish and camping-ish, both of which go hand in hand with a drink or 10.

My husband’s recovery is also doing so well.  I have just passed 6 months of sobriety and he is approaching 3 years.  We communicate, we love each other, for THREE whole years we have been intimate and connected and… laughing.  We laugh.  We live in a joke.  I live in prayer and laughter.

Yoga has become very important in my journey and life.  AA has become less important.  Still, my husband is first, besides God, who will always be first in His own entity.  The entity of everything, that is.  Many things have happened… my son is going through puberty.  He has a black toe hair, 2 long scraggly chest hairs… I let him drive a bit and that was disastrous, a memory for us all… my other son fell off the top of a slide and had one tiny scratch to show for it.  My other son took an extra month to finish his final school assignments.  We’ve had a 4 wheeler “accident” and many close calls.  Lots of drama and scary things but none have led me back to the drink.  None have really even come close.

The closest I came was just this past weekend- which may be what urged me to write again… the rumchada pudding desserts in tiny plastic jello shot cups.  The girl next to me was talking about not wanting the cookie on hers.  I fixated on that cookie.  She was picking it off.  I was staring at it.  Inner dialogue: it would just have a HAIR of the taste of the goods on it.  Clearly it’s not like actually drinking, it would just have a fraction of a taste of rum and I could remember, but not actually drink!  What an opportunity!  I wouldn’t even have to tell anyone if I ended up deciding I shouldn’t have.  Should I?  Might it get me back on the drinking train?  I don’t want that.  But it’s not even a drink. I’d be like eating a piece of chicken cooked in wine.  Just the flavor without the content or risk!  But no, it probably is unwise.  So I’m thinking these things at 1000 words per second.  In the 1 second it took her to remove that damn cookie I had a huge conversation with myself about it.  I think it was a Teddy Graham for crying out loud.  And then- she lifts it off – and I’m looking at the cookie- and BAM, she gives the cookie to the dog.

I just laugh.  I am still laughing.

I wouldn’t have really taken it.  It would be a teensy step in a very bad direction and I would have declined that cookie.  Buttttt…. these are the thoughts a sober alcoholic has.  A recovering alcoholic.

Two people in two different groups of neighbor friends (none of whom know I’m an alcoholic) offered me drinks.  Both were drunk, and we know how pushy drunk people are.  I declined and it was totally not a big deal.  I was very happy, pleased, even proud- mostly humbled by the strength God gave me.  Who knew.

Right before me lie a lifetime’s worth of pains, fears, resentments, hurts.  I know that I am soon giving it all over to my Creator and Savior, and yet there is so much that I want to hang on to.  I wish never to forget this experience, this night, the fact that I just drove home from R’s house smiling and crying at the same time.  Crying in gratitude, smiling in pure joy, relief.  Crying at some of the realizations, at what they meant and what they will always  mean.

Towards the end, when I read the fear of being too demanding, critical, or that my children won’t know they are loved… and then acknowledging that that was just my fear making that fear up… that it was probably based on my own upbringing.  And R looked me in the eyes and said “you are not your mom.”  “Yeah, I know.”  And she repeated those five words: “you are not your mom.”  I nodded.  My eyes got just the hint of watering.  And once more for good measure, “you are not your mom.”
Right now, in this moment, I realize that I am not my mom.  That so many of these hurts are based on my mom.  Moms have so much impact.  They make such a tremendous difference on our outlook on life.  To hear out loud what I already in my heart knew, that my mom has different ways of showing what to her, looks like love… I think of what I’ve read about people not being spiritually full, whole, and because of their own pain, an inability to fully love or care for others.

I had “thought” before of my mom’s upbringing, have many times referenced her mom being so similar to her.  Never though, did I realize how deep that went.  Never had I thought that her berating me on the phone to her “friends” might have been on the phone to her mom, because she was just trying to earn her mom’s approval by being like her in that hurtful way.  Just like I tried to win my mom’s approval as a child, she was possibly in that same cycle with her own mother, and though I was the one hurt by it, she might have been equally hurt by her own mom.  It doesn’t make sense all the way, but I at least feel a little more compassion and a HINT more understanding, maybe.  Maybe.

I breathe.  Look at the papers.  They’re just so full.  I recognize the difference between resentments and annoyances.  I recognize that I can. not. control. other people.  I knew that, but now I SEE it, at least am starting to see it.

We had another great conversation about some fears.  My children dying fear is so very unlikely that I need to start working towards finding a way that works for me to redirect that thinking immediately.  My husband getting lost in his addiction again is much more possible.  I have faith in him, and confidence that he will remain faithful to his recovery, to me, yet it is possible.  And because of that, I need to not only redirect my thinking but acknowledge that even if that fear does come to fruition, It Will Not Destroy Me.

The only thing that could destroy me if I lost him or lost a child, would be losing my faith and dependence on God.  Because very simply, as long as I have TRUST HIM, I will be okay, no matter what else.  No matter what else.

I am so thankful for this program.  I can’t even begin to believe the changes that it has brought into my life.  All because of the cancer that I didn’t have, which led me to my first meeting, which opened my eyes to possibilities of living for real.

It’s important that I remember that it takes two people to have a relationship, healthy or not.  I do not have to take responsibility for what happened in JT’s marriage, because he too, was a willing participant.  What I do have to take responsibility for is my own actions.  Actions that were based on fear and self will.  Fear and self will are not of God.

There was a lot of focus on boundaries, both with M, J, H, free photography, and also a lot of focus on my expectations.  That because I can not control people, places, things or situations, since I am not in control of how J responds to my bladder problems or how my mother does or does not comment on how cute the children are, that these things are out of my control.  And being out of my control means…?  Means what?  That I need to let it go?  That I need not focus on those missing desired responses?  Thoughts.

She also asked if my mom/parents have had any negative comments the last time they were here.  They did not.  They haven’t for a few years.  They show up, give gifts, and don’t notice anything lovely.  For years, that has made me irate inside.  Why is that not enough from them, to show up and be present?  Even if they aren’t conversational, don’t go deep, maybe it doesn’t need to be my problem.  Maybe I can just accept what they do have to offer, and be grateful for that.

I also heard and started to understand that when sharing my marriage story, I could still make an impact by being vague.  I’ve not been a very assertive or direct person at all, and though I have the words in my head, it’s hard to make them come out.  R inspired me by very naturally being able to say a few sentences that just amazed me.  I yearn to be able to state my truths without shame or apology or anxiety.  It may come to me if I let the seed grow for a while.

I felt my heart soften, my heart open up a little bit in ways that it had been very tightly closed.  Just some possibilities.  Asking my dad if he ever got that card in his briefcase 10 years ago.  Letting go of something IN THE PAST because it is only and forever going to only be IN THE PAST (Jim’s mom’s letter.)  Acknowledging the pain of what I did in very poor choices with other men, with allowing C to be hurt when I knew it was wrong.  That all those very very painful memories are in the past, and God can use it all for good, somehow.  Every single thing in His kingdom can and will be used for good on His timing, not mine.

They say our pain is cut in half and our joy is doubled when we share our experiences with those who care about us. R shared that quote with me when I shared my experience with her!  Her empathy and compassion is so beautiful.  She is one very special girl whom God is working through in so many ways.

When we are open to hearing God, to fulfilling His will for us, we hear new things and have new thoughts.  While our thoughts will never be His thoughts and our ways will never be His ways, being so fully and astonishingly OPEN to Him really changes everything.

My yoga mat experience came to me, I’m convinced, because of my openness.  I became willing to let my guard down and shed my own self will, I let go of my own plan for myself, and I opened myself up to HIM!  I repeatedly prayed and said out loud that I wanted Him to remove from me my self will, asking him over and over again to use me as he wishes, to do with me what he wilt, He DID do something with me!

Never in all my years have I heard those thoughts in my head, not even remotely.  NEVER have I felt, wondered, or admitted fear, control, or sadness regarding my mother, and then all of a sudden, out of no where (!) my brain is telling me that “she can’t hurt me any more?”  What??!

Thank you God, that’s all I can do, is praise his Holy name, thank Him for the gifts, for His strength and insights and for the path he has created just for me.

 

I completed my step 4 (well, 99%) on Sunday.  I talked to my wonderful sponsor, R on Monday and confirmed that we have another week and a half until schedules align so that we can go over it together and move forward.  I thought that that was that and I had put it out of my head.

Doing the actual work of step 4 was no party.

Denial is a shock absorber.  We know what we need to know, when we need to know it, on God’s timing.

Step 4 for me dealt with a lot of denial and things came up that I didn’t plan.  R mentioned that that happens for a lot of people, but I did not think it would for me.  Because *I* am very in touch with my feelings of course.  I went through my resentments, fears, hurts, all the while listing things very matter of factly, knowingly leaving H out of my lists because I didn’t resent him any more- I totally accepted what he did to me and had forgiven him based on his own extreme changes.  I had recognized how I contributed to all that happened in my marriage a million times over and simply did not need to include him on the list.

So on and on I went.  A good hour or more into it, after writing about my “real” resentments- the ones that I acknowledged logically, my hand just started writing about H.  And it wrote and wrote and I cried and wrote and cried some more.  I didn’t expect it, didn’t plan it, didn’t think about it or approve of what I was writing, it just happened.  Still, I get a little teary thinking of that sadness that came out of no where when writing my resentments about him.  I don’t really get it.  Do I still resent my husband for real?  I don’t think so, I really REALLY don’t.  My mother and my husband- I totally just roll with the way they hurt me and deal with it and move on.  With my mother, I “move on” by limiting my interactions with her, by not caring about her or loving her; with my husband I “move on” by applying God’s forgiveness and acceptance and appreciating the work he has done and the man he is now.  But I don’t RESENT him in a way that I’m still holding on to that pain.  So I’m not even sure if that was real- if my pain in those moments of writing it out, was real.  I will leave it and talk about it with R.

Mostly the sadness of step 4 besides H coming up, was dealing with my mother.  In a numb and calculated way, I wrote down all of the things for which I resented her, struggling with column 4 (my role in it, how I may have indirectly or directly contributed), because I know I didn’t deserve that poor treatment as a child and realize no child deserves such cruelty.  I didn’t cry about that because, well, I’m SO OVER IT.  I do resent her, but I’m not upset about it.  It just is what it is.

So that was Saturday and Sunday while H was working.

Fast forward to last night, and something amazing happened that I am still trying to digest, and intensely want to hold on to and remember.

Dark room.  Calming voice.  99 degrees.  40 percent humidity.  One hour and 15 minutes of delicious hot yoga.  Challenging hot yoga.  Side crows, hurdlers pose, inversions, headstands and wheels with slippery, sweaty hands and mat.  Cleansing low side twists, squats, nice long pigeon holds and my first time trying a frog stretch, moments of gratitude and praises to God.  It was with my favorite teacher who leads you through the flow with beautiful words and uplifting, soul reaching kindness that you can just feel.  A teacher who reminds us that we are exactly where we need to be often throughout the practice, and takes us back to our intention a few times as well.  She sees everyone in that room and lifts them up with love and thoughtfulness in her words, spirit, cues, attention and heart.  No one is invisible.

For that 75 minute practice, she feels like my best friend, even though I barely know the woman.

Needless to say, it was a really good practice.

She said something towards the very end, right before the final rest pose (I can never get the name right), she said something about how other peoples judgements and expectations belong to them, that we can let them go and not take them on, to just be here, to appreciate what our body can do, to let go of what other people think or say or whatever- that all those things need not matter to us.  I’m totally paraphrasing and at that point in the heat, I may just be hearing whatever I want to hear.  :)  The beauty of yoga.  She hasn’t said anything like that, anything so specific before that I have heard, and I think it was not a coincidence that she did last night.

With those words though, I finished drinking some water and laid back, oblivious to God’s hand in this.  Somehow, when my head hit my mat, of those words shot through me and hit me hard, right in the heart, and I felt everything all at once.  When I laid my head down, I immediately started to cry and smile and shake my head all at the same time.  (Thankfully the lights were out and the music was playing!)  I cried a lot.  Like, the ugly cry.  On my back, tears running down my already wet, sweaty face, pooling in my ears, snot draining the wrong way down my throat.  The teacher came by with a lavender towel and placed it on my forehead with a slow, deep breath, which felt so good.  I felt her good intentions come through to me.  God was working through her last night.  God is working through everyone, all the time, but this time *I* got to feel the effects of it right on me.  Magic.  His kind of magic.

I do. not. know. where it came from, but I swear, this crying, this sadness was not sad, it was letting GO of the sadness!  All I kept thinking was “She can’t hurt me any more” and “I don’t have to hurt myself” and “I don’t need to be scared of her.”  “I don’t need to be scared.”

Backstory: for the past … maybe, two weeks, I have been trying to “take away the power” of food/alcohol/self harming compulsions.  The compulsion to consume alcohol has been lifted from me for months, but food remains my control.  Ah, even just writing that sentence made my stomach jump up to my throat when I thought of food.  It is so horrible and mystifying to be controlled by something so otherwise harmless and present in everyday life.  It doesn’t make sense.  Like any addiction perhaps, it is cunning, baffling, powerful and tricks me all the time.  And makes me so sad and ashamed.

I told no one about this experiment because I haven’t been open to feedback or questions or criticism about it.  I just  needed to try it.  I didn’t tell H or my sponsor.  Another AA friend, L, had referenced doing this, but I was not open to it at all until a few weeks ago.  Maybe the *dozens* of Geneen Roth books I’ve read over the past 10 years just sunk in eventually.  I tried to do what she suggests, despite the insanity of it.  Insane only to a food addicted person, that is.

This insane experiment is to eat whatever you want, whenever you want it.

Yes, that’s it.  To eat when you’re hungry, and eat whatever you want, with NO restrictions whatsoever, when your body wants to eat.  To eliminate your mindset of good foods and bad foods and horrible choices and healthy choices.  To just let go of all the rules and restrictions and control.  To let go of the shame and silliness and nonsense that goes with the control that we give to food.

To let go of trying to control that compulsion.

To realize that the compulsion has been created because something bigger was missing.  That the compulsion, probably like any- to eat– was a way to distract ourselves from the pain of something else in life.  A way to stuff it down and hurt yourself in a different, easier, more familiar way, than dealing with the actual things that are wrong in life.  Like alcohol.  Like sex addiction maybe, or gambling maybe, or whatever.

This is just FOOD we are talking about.  Not drugs, not alcohol, not even anorexia or bulimia but binge eating.  Eating food, in too high of quantities, in too poor of qualities for episodes of a weeks worth of intake all in one sitting.  For the past several years…. alcohol has been it’s own animal, and binge eating has been another.  I’d binge for days, and then fast and severely restrict intake for more days.  The days I’d binge I’d feel physically disgusted (ahhh, writing that made my gag reflex twitch a little…) eating well over 10k calories per day, usually for a few days in a row.  Then I’d feel so nasty, guilty, shameful, disgusting that I’d force myself to fast, tell myself I needed to, and eat very very little for several days.  Maybe an apple and a spoonful of peanut butter over the course of a day.  Of course, those days felt awful- I had no energy, felt like a total lazy slug, almost sick with lack of fuel.  And this was my cycle.  I remember trying to practice hot yoga some of those fasting days and talking to C in the parking lot after an hour long practice that consisted mostly of me doing childs pose because I had no energy to stand upright and lunge.  Telling her about it, her giving me more books, offering ideas.  And slowly, I guess, I was opening up to the possibility that all these people were right.  That continued restriction and control was leading to the problem itself.  I’d every single day, either feel disgusting for one reason or another, and then when not binging or fasting, I’d be wasted beyond intoxication, bringing a whole different kind of shame that went beyond how I felt about myself.

SO.  A few weeks of eating whatever I wanted.  Geneen Roth and recovered binge eaters say that this is how it works.  But it sounds so absurd.  If I want donuts, I’m supposed to let myself eat donuts??!  Ludicrous!  If I want a meal of ice cream after my meal of donuts (literally. And we’re not talking small servings.) I should do that????  Yes…. and doing exactly that, I have been.  She says, and others have told me, that no, I would not become obese, that it will level out sooner than I think.  And that oddly, one day, instead of having those hankerings for donuts or pizza or cheese its or ice cream or cereal, that I’d unbelievably desire chicken and green beans or a smoothie….

Over this 2 weeks, H has come home complaining of angst from eating too much pizza at a work lunch, or eating too much candy from the candy bowl at a conference.  I just frowned with empathy, silently knowing that my food that day consisted of all sugars, all carbs, literally zero of what I’d have called healthy foods.  And I had to be ok with it.  And I had to do it again!  BIZARRE.  Ice cream for breakfast.  Chocolate bar for lunch.  Two!  Ice cream for dinner.  Whole box of cheese its.  6 snack size bags of oreos.  Gardening and hot and hungry?  More ice cream!  Add chocolate syrup and whipped cream!  Why not!  Eating what I want!  Going to Meijers?  Get a donut.  Get three!  Let yourself!  As long as your body feels hunger, you are to feed it whatever you want.  Retrain your brain not to hate yourself for eating certain foods, to view food as food, and to not be scared of it.  To just let it.  I just gave myself wide eyes and shook my head at myself, all while insisting to my brain that this was okay.  What an odd struggle.  ODD.

Literally.  While H and the boys were at the movies on Saturday night, L and I went to Meijer and grabbed two donuts and a frosting filled cookie.  How many times have I gotten a box of oreos or 4 donuts and sat in the car and stuffed them in my mouth with fervor, all the while feeling nasty and shameful and disgusted??  Too many to count.  And now I was choosing these foods even outside of feeling the need to binge?  The most shocking part of all is that I ate two donuts and half of the frosting covered huge cookie- and then the weirdest thing happened that has never happened before.  I stopped eating.  Before the binge food was gone, I noticed (as crazy as it is) that I was full.  (?!!!!!) and I STOPPED EATING.  What?!!!!!!!!!  Unheard of.

It’s not easy to only eat when you’re hungry.  Suddenly it seems “hunger” comes often, but I know it doesn’t.  It is hard to feel the literal emptiness of my stomach.  I want to eat far more often than it requires.  And I have been, to some degree.  And I have been ok with it.  I need to be ok with it….. to let go of the shame of consuming food and having a flat stomach.  I need to let myself love myself even if my belly sticks out a little.  I need to really FEEL inside that the size of my stomach does not define me.  This is not easy.

Last night in that final resting pose for six minutes of my life, I cried.  Six minutes.  I hugged her when I left, thanking my favorite teacher; she had no idea how profound and impactful her perfectly timed, perfectly stated words were to me- that is only God.  I cried, knowing how cruel I’ve been to my body, the one and only body God has given me for this life- but crying that it was okay, that I would be okay, and oddly, that “she” can’t hurt me any more and I don’t need to hurt myself.  Crying that I don’t need to drink today, that I don’t need to stuff donuts into my face as fast as I can, crying that I was sorry to my self, that I don’t need to be afraid of her any more and that she can’t hurt me.  (?)

She, her, my mother??  Who else?  Had the long long ago hurtful things that ruminated in my head for a few days changed into a realization all at once on my yoga mat?

I can only assume that I have been suppressing this pain for decades, that it doesn’t “not matter” to me as much as I have claimed and forced myself to think.  Both outwardly and inwardly, have I been telling a lie?  To myself and everyone in my life?  Have I not “let it go” that she tore me up, shaped me in the most critical, unkind, unloving, mean, heartless way?  I could swear that I had, yet God gave me those thoughts- the thoughts with the “she” pronoun, the thoughts of not being good enough in “her” eyes, the thoughts that if she can’t hurt me, I need not hurt myself.

I smiled all the way home.  With gratitude for my Creator still loving me, faithfully carrying me through hard times not just once or one hundred times, but forever.  Nudging me to grow and evolve and understand, along the way, too.  I smiled with tears in my eyes at 9 pm as I unloaded groceries into the house, just remembering.  Thinking that maybe it was true: that I need not be afraid of her, and that I need not hurt myself any more since she can’t hurt me either.  Realizing.

Rough day.  Yesterday went to urgent care certain it must be strep.  The wait was too long, and I’m obviously too impatient to wait for a regular dr. appt, so I left.

Today, better, but still quite bad.  Just yelling.  Let the kids fend for themselves.  Prayed.  Tried to find gratitude even when frustrated.  But yelled.  And then yelled about other things and then about different other things.  Yelling mom is not proud mom.

I’m trying to be kind to myself through a lot of compulsive eating.

I am reading Anne Lamott’s book and the chapter on eating speaks to me very clearly.  I’m not brave enough to let go on it.  I’m just feeling a mess about that compulsion.

Sad and lacking on hope.  Tomorrow will be a new day.  Today I am exhausted and over it.  Tomorrow is a special day for our family- a birthday that we will be celebrating all day with food and treats and more treats…. must be kind to myself and have grace for my own self.  Hard moments in a big picture that is good.  :/

Looking to the light and trusting my God to carry me through the moments when they get too hard.

Processing this 6 year long friendship.

When we first met my B was just a few weeks old.  We met at a pizza buffet and she asked to hold him, while I went up, I declined, she laughed about this remembering it for years.  I was struck by how beautiful she was, how much more beautiful than her sister, whom I met her through.  I was a very very superficial, mean person then.

She was like this mature, supermodel, spiritual angel to me, she guided me through my meanness and helped me be a litttttle bit nicer to people.  She shared with me about how she bought people’s groceries.  I was amazed by all she did and she really turned me on to the art of kindness.  She was a democrat, she went door to door knocking.  We bonded over politics.

I made her laugh like nobody’s business because my meanness was so entertaining.  My bitch factor was so high that the shock value of things I said and stories I told her brought lots of laughter.  After a night of drinking & eating nutella crepes I “bumped into” a parked car with  my car.  Funny stuff.  She was astounded at my hilarity and it made me keep being meaner and meaner and funnier and funnier.  But also when not being mean, she did bring out some hidden nice inside me.

Hanging out with her was easy.  She was in a place of quiet isolation, she didn’t take care of herself the way she said she’d used to, though I thought she was beautiful.  She was inspired by my frequent working out, by the immense effort I put into my appearance.  She always said she used to be like me but lost her ambition for life after having her last child (few months before we met.)  Said I gave her hope, because if I could have children and work, and find time to workout and put on makeup and get dressed nicely, maybe she could too.  Sure.  A friendship was born.  Nourished, fed, grew.

The first few years of our friendship were based on her looking up to me in a superficial way and me looking up to her in a spiritual/kindness way.  When I moved, it seemed devastating to her, though I welcomed the space in our friendship.  She had become a pretty needy friend, and I had walked with her to get to that point every step of the way.  She wanted to be very involved very frequently, always wanting more.  More time, more dinners together, more getaways, more more more.  I enabled this by always going along with it though it tired me out.  This was when our mutually codependent tendencies really exploded.

I didn’t know words could do so much.  The words changed.  The neediness changed.  The responsibilities changed.  The responsibilities CHANGED.  It became my responsibility to respond to everything, to stay on top of many minute details of her life.  If Tuesday her son had drum lessons and on Tuesday I asked her what she was up to, she’d have an annoyed tone when telling me “Every Tuesday we have drum lessons” chuckle: “that’s never changed!” If she was having lunch with her mom and I didn’t ask about it, “Well, I don’t know if you remembered but I had lunch with my mom- did you not want to hear about it?”  These things wouldn’t bother everyone.  They may seem like nothing.  But they added up.  I allowed them to effect me, to give me this sense of responsibility….

Somehow I took it upon myself that I was a bad friend for 1. moving and 2. not being totally on top of her life.  I allowed it to be my fault that she missed me too much.  We talked on the phone nearly every day, and nearly every conversation consisted of how much she missed me.  Not in a casual “I miss you, friend” kind of way, but in a “I have a hole in my heart because I don’t get to see you enough- I wish every day I could see you and we could just have lunch together and TALK” kind of way.  Weren’t we talking?  Wasn’t that enough?  It wasn’t.  And it built up in me to give me this illogical sense of guilt.  Guilt for not sitting in her living room every few days, guilt for PUTTING that hole in her heart that she often told me about.  I was always apologizing, always trying to relate, though I couldn’t truly relate.  I didn’t miss her like that, and it was okay with me.  I thought we were friends, best friends even, but I didn’t feel like my heart was shattered because I moved 6 hours away.

So these phone conversations went on for several weeks after I moved, until one big one happened.

See, she was in a really unhealthy marriage.  An abusive one.  One where love and respect did not flow in either direction.  She was such a GOOD person on the outside, but in this one category, she was broken and lost.  One day I pulled into my garage in my house, in another state.  She said on the phone that something had happened, that she was away for work and a work acquaintance (who works for another company) asked her to come to his hotel room and … eeeee!  What did I think??

Very sadly and regrettably, I didn’t miss a beat- remember that I was the wild friend, the atheist mean girl, go wild friend between the two of us– I said DO IT!  Go and see what happens!  Whatever happens happens!

Yup.  She “took my advice.”  To this day she still maintains that if I hadn’t said that she probably wouldn’t have done it.  But with  my encouragement in the back of her mind, she did go to his hotel room, she did have sex with him, she allowed him deep into her heart, he romanced her the way a true player does- a chronically and compulsively unfaithful man, and a wounded, broken woman looking for fulfillment and some kind words and a gentle touch.  Her first affair was born.  He stayed with her and burrowed deep into hear heart.

I heard every detail and at first, it was fun.  I asked for more details.  I reveled in it.  I too was in a very unhealthy marriage and it brought me some unlikely HOPE to hear that she could be enjoyed and seen by another man.  I dreamed of going outside of my  marriage as well.

So our relationship became very much based on her telling me about her affair, the extreme ups and downs- the downs were overwhelmingly too much to bear for her at times.  I listened and tried (far too hard) to fix her problems for her.  Always giving advice, always trying to rescue her from her pain, always being on her side, whether he was wonderful that day or horrible.  Always avoiding the hard, painful truths of the  matter.  She thought they were soul mates, and he let her believe they could some day be together.  My life was boring in comparison, and so we really didn’t talk much about me.  Everything came to revolve around her affair.

Until…

Almost year after her affair began, I found out about my husband’s unfaithfulness.  This killed me.  Broke my heart and ruined me.  In the very best way (looking back), but at the time, unbearably, horribly painful.  This changed everything and ultimately is what brought me to faith in my Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ.  God let me be broken beyond repair so that HE could put me back together how he knew I should be- in a way that would honor Him.

Still, things were horrible.  As H would trickle out one painful bit of information, of reality, at a time, I would die, torn in half over and over.  And I would cry on the phone telling her and she would commiserate with me about how horrible men could be and how horrible MY husband had been.  One would think that a sensitive, generous soul like her would taper off on her own lies and cheating, as she heard my heartbreak over my own.

Still, often within the same conversation, I would have to hear about her upcoming rendezvous, how she wishes she could see her lover more, how she recently had a “close call” with her husband seeing their email exchanges, how she worried that her husband knew.

These things went deep and puzzled me greatly.  Over the course of about one year, on three separate occasions, I asked her to shield me from her affair, sharing with her that it brought back my pain, that I was trying to heal (all of which she knew because I was sharing everything with her), and it was like tearing my healing wounds open to hear about how and in what ways she had to deceive her husband, the intricacies of her sexcapades in work-paid-for hotel rooms, parking lots, etc.  This was not kind of her to put onto me, and it was my own fault for taking it, for allowing her to go on and on, for not putting an end to it sooner.  Like any abusive or controlling relationship, this became a very painful, controlling friendship.

If I tried to evade the topic, she would remind me that she has an “update,” as in, additional details on her next romp with the other man.  (And later, a second other man came into the picture.)  After I’d ask her to please not mention things to me, she sometimes would wait one phone conversation and then jump right back there “I know you don’t want to hear about this but I just have to tell you…” and I’d sit there like an incompetent lump and TAKE IT.  Or, “uhhh, feeling so sad today because I heard a song that K said was special to him blah blah blah…. wait, that’s ok to say about him, right?”  AND… I’d take it.

It was like a compulsion.  And I was like the beaten wife who just sat there and took it.  Like an idiot.  I maintain that my drinking shielded me from not only the pain and unkindness that she was throwing my way multiple times per week, every week, but also from the ability to find my own strength.

I look back and see that clearly, I trained her to treat me that way in initially asking about it and being into it, and then allowing it even after I asked for it to stop.

She sometimes reminded me that she “wonders if” she would have done anything with him if I hadn’t encouraged her that first time.

When I first started to get sober in the 2 month fog, I was withdrawn from her.  I read Codependent No More and could see her and I throughout the book.  I knew our relationship was unhealthy but didn’t have the strength to deal with it head on, so I withdrew.  She loved this I think, as it gave her all the more room to go on and on about her (now a different) obsession/could-be lover.

The last straw was when she asked me if she should kiss him.  No, I said.  You should get divorced if you need to kiss other men.  Thanks, she said….

Then she brought it up again on the phone, that *just so I know*, she was considering kissing him.  OKAY………… she knows my buttons and revels in pressing them.  Except they’re not just random annoyance buttons.  The buttons of infidelity destroy marriage, break hearts, change lives.  My lack of tolerance to hear consistently about her wandering heart hurt me, and she refused to respect that, she refused to respect ME in that very big, very important way.

We haven’t spoke in a several weeks and I’m feeling a weight lifted off me.  I told her about my drinking, and then about how hurtful it has been to not respect my requests to leave me out of her infidelities.  She responded days later that she was so very hurt and yes- needed some space, and that *she* had always supported me unconditionally.  Okay.  I am breathing through the twinges of resentment.  I do forgive this girl.  She is spiritually sick, her heart and soul are ill- and because I totally recognize that, I can not fault her for her lack of respect, compassion, or kindness.  I simply have to accept that when we are hurt, we hurt others.  She was hurt.  Hurt by disappointment in her marriage, hurt by not being with the man she fell in love with, and later, hurt that her best friend didn’t want to hear about it.  I do forgive her but it does still sting sometimes.  I imagine that time will heal.