Wednesday, July 29, 2009


A good friend of mine, who lives a couple hours away and whom I see very little, recently sent me an e-mail inviting me to join her soon for her birthday party.  My initial response was an enthusiastic Of Course! I Can't Wait!, but almost as soon as I'd typed the words I erased them.  Not because I changed my mind, or didn't want to go, or realized some urgent plans that had already been made that day--simply because D couldn't go and I needed to check with him first.  Now, it's certainly not a bad thing to check with my husband in order to ensure that there is nothing important in our respective lives on the date in question that I am forgetting, prior to sending my RSVP.  I think, however, it is probably a bad thing that the main reasons behind my desire to check-in with him before committing are fear of him being angry that I'm gone, and worry that he will act out either as a result of that anger or a result of being all alone on a Friday night.  

This is where my people-pleasing is at its worst--in these gut reactions to simple things, like invitations to birthday parties.  In my effort to please others and thereby control them and my environment (because if I can keep D happy, of course, he won't act out and I won't have to deal with all that craziness) I have once again discounted myself.  This kind of thing used to happen all the time, and cost me some friendships along with my sanity.  Luckily, now I have my recovery tools and while those deep-seated fears haven't exactly gone away, I can at least remind myself (again) that I cannot control D's reactions.  It is not my job to ensure his happiness 100% of the time, and even if he is alone and/or angry about my absence, he is perfectly capable to drawing on his own recovery tools to get through it.  I can leave him to his Higher Power and focus on--gasp!--me.  And if I focus on me, and self-care, and what I really want to do, the answer to her question comes easily.  

Of course!  I can't wait!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


This week has been a bit of an onslaught, trigger-wise.  I managed--with the help of this blog, my recovery toolbox, my HP, and some other select friends--to ride the wave on Tuesday night and come out better for it.  I didn't have a meltdown, didn't freak out about what anyone else was feeling, managed to keep the Need To Please (and appease) in check.  And then came Wednesday.  

Background story: For D's birthday, I (along with other family and friends) went in purchasing him a new video game system. He's wanted one for a while, especially for the social aspect of playing with his friends, so he was thrilled.  The system came with a game he hadn't played before, and we've both actually really enjoyed it so far.  Even I'll admit that it's a little difficult to put down once you get into it.  This past weekend, D spent an inordinate amount of time playing the game, which frustrated me because I felt like we didn't see each other much as a result.  We discussed my feelings about it and basically agreed that while the game itself wasn't an issue, we'd both be careful not to spend quite so much time with it as opposed to with each other.  

Last night started out well--D got home from work pretty early, he played for a little while while I made dinner, and then we ate together and watched tv for a while (including the presidential address, which was really important for me).  Once the press conference was over, he asked if it was alright with me if he played for just a little bit more before bed.  I had no problem with it, figuring that we typically go to bed at the same time each night and he'd play for a brief while and then bedtime would commence as usual.  

But then the system locked up and he needed some extra time to just get to the end of something he was trying to do.  And then he was almost there, and would have been done half an hour ago if this one thing hadn't gotten screwed up, so just a bit more.  Come midnight (a good 1 1/2 hours after we usually head to bed), I got up and went to the bedroom.  I mentally filed my actions under self-care, telling myself that I needed to take care of me no matter what he chose and that it was his own business and problem if he was tired at work the next day from staying up too late.  But then the brooding began, and I have to admit, I was incredibly annoyed and angry about his actions.  Hadn't we just discussed not letting things go too far with this stupid game?  Wasn't it ridiculous to stay up way past your normal bedtime, sacrificing self-care in lieu of some new quest?  This was absolutely outrageous! 

As I lay there in bed stewing away, I asked my HP to help me let go of this stupid situation, to help me remember that his choices were his choices, etc.  But what I couldn't figure out for the longest time was exactly why this whole situation was so bothersome to me--until it hit me.  I was letting my codie get the best of me (again).  When that happens, there's almost always a trigger of some sort happening, so I set out trying to put my finger on what was so triggering about this whole scenario.  What I eventually figured out was that I was not annoyed by the fact that D was staying up late.  I was not even really annoyed with the fact that he was playing his game, because we had had a good compromise earlier and spent plenty of good quality time together earlier in the evening.  What was really the problem was that his behavior was reminding me of how he used to use his computer when he was acting out.  

When D was in active addiction, he would stay on the computer late into the night, even though I begged, borrowed, and pleaded for him to come to bed.  Back then, I would struggle to stay awake with him, going so far as to get on a different computer in a different room to talk to him on IM, just to keep my eyes open.  I'm not sure why I thought I needed to stay up with him--perhaps out of fear that he would be angry, perhaps because I wanted to know exactly when he came to bed--but I know that it was an incredibly self-destructive behavior.  And now, this whole video game thing was frightening me, because it felt very similar to the old computer days when D would stay up til 3 in the morning looking at porn and chatting with various women online.  I was scared that he was unable to put the game down and come to bed (a replacement addiction?), but more than that I was experiencing a visceral sort of fear that was simply a throw-back to those times when I knew in my gut that his words of "yes, I'll come to bed in just a minute" meant nothing but a long, sleepless night for me.  I knew, then, that something was Not Right, and this video game thing was so similar that it was putting me through similar reactions even though the situation was different. 

It's kind of like when you're a kid, and you eat macaroni and cheese the same day you happen to get the flu, and you end up throwing up the macaroni and cheese the whole rest of the night.  You just can't bring yourself to eat macaroni and cheese for a long, long time after that without wanting to run to a toilet.  This situation was similar enough to those old scenarios that my mind had that same gagging sensation in response.  The good news:  I was able to recognize that I wasn't really sick.  There was no flu this time, and I didn't need to stock up for a week of illness.  I was even able to explain the passing sensation to D, and we can both now work toward a solution wherein I either avoid mac-n-cheese or work my way back up to eating it again.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I am not responsible

I am struggling a little tonight with the conflict that arises when I know my inner codie is acting up--I am aware of the cycle's beginnings, can see the horrible patterns of thinking starting up--but nothing I am doing currently is helping to stem the tide.  And so I write, hoping to sort out the craziness on "paper" before it boils over.  (Wow.  How's that for enough metaphors in one paragraph.)

D is upset tonight.  He is tired from working two 12-13 hour days in a row, cranky from not having any time to just relax, sick of feeling like he has to please and take care of everyone else to the exclusion of himself.  He is irritable and frustrated and unpleasant, and has been a little short-tempered in his ranting about it.  Of course, the codie who lives in my head immediately decided to poke her nose out to see what was causing so much noise.  

What? she says.  Someone's upset?  What part did I play and what must I do so that no one is mad or upset with me?  D informed me that part of his frustration stems from the fact that after getting home late from work the past two nights, he has had no time to do something just for him--although last night I met him at the door (practically) with dinner and we spent the evening watching TV together and snuggling like we have done many nights so far this summer, to his delight.  What's different? she wants to know.  Why was last night's routine of snuggling and TV watching not ok when it has been fine on many other occasions?  Did I do something different?  Are you withdrawing?  Is something wrong?  Did something happen?  Do I need to go away so you can be happy?  What can I do to fix your mood?

Whoa.  Slow down there, sister. 

I know--I have read so many times in so many recovery resources--that I am NOT responsible for D's (or anyone else's) feelings.  I cannot control the fact that he is angry, upset, or irritable.  I am not responsible for "making him happy."  I am responsible for me, and my feelings, and my actions/reactions.  I can leave him to his higher power and trust in mine to take care of me. But the fact that I know these things in principle does not make the codie go away.  My ultimate Need To Please keeps me wondering what to do to diffuse the situation.  The answer, of course is nothing, and so I will simply keep repeating the Serenity Prayer to myself--that I must accept that I cannot change his mood or do much of anything different in terms of our daily schedule, that the only thing I can change is my attitude toward the situation, and I will commit myself to doing so (or at the very least, faking it til I make it).  

Friday, July 17, 2009


This wasn't on my list of things I'm currently making an effort to journal about, but I ran across this quote today and it so perfectly resonated with my efforts to seek spirituality (especially in recovery) that I just had to share. 

"Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of the spiritual life begins where we are NOW in the mess of our lives. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws but because we LET GO of seeking perfection and, instead, seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives. Spirituality is not about being fixed; it is about God's being present in the mess of our unfixedness."
 - Michael Yaconelli from the book "Messy Spirituality"

I was so touched by this description of accepting our flaws, letting go of a search for perfection, and seeking God (or a Higher Power) in the mess of my life.  I was raised in the church my entire life, but found the dogma and stringent requirements extremely difficult to balance with my worldview.  When I began recovery in earnest, I began striving to find a new sort of faith that would allow me to connect with God on terms that were more my own, and less dictated by two thousand years of bureaucracy.  I feel like I have developed a wonderful relationship with my God as I walk this path and work on myself, but I still find myself struggling--daily--with the idea of letting go and/or needing to chase perfection.  If I fail to be gentle with myself, if I find myself attempting to control everyone and everything around me, surely I must be failing not only in my recovery efforts but spiritually, since I am supposed to be more reliant on God in those situations and less on myself.  Instead, this quote reminds me that being a mess, being broken and flawed and imperfect is not only acceptable but inevitable, and that seeking God is much more important than seeking perfection in myself--and thank God for that, because I am pretty much perfectly imperfect.  

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Home Again

We (more than) survived a lovely week of vacation in a beautiful place.  It was glorious to wake up every morning when we wanted and do whatever we wanted--reading, lounging by a pool, walking on the beach.  I so love the beach--every time I go, I feel renewed.  As I sat watching the waves as the sun sank on our final night, I felt (as I do each time) that some small part of my life--the vacation, the past year, or something greater, perhaps--was drawing to a close, and something new and exciting was waiting just over that horizon.  The beach, for me, is possibility personified. More than New Year's, it represents a new beginning. 

I have been keeping up with blogs and recovery stuff sporadically while I was gone, but now that I'm back and feeling all new and potential-filled, I have ideas for several posts roiling around in my head.  Some upcoming attractions:
  • My relationship with my mother, or "possibly the most difficult hurdle in my search for serenity"
  • Setting boundaries as we approach the end of D's probation
  • Communication issues
  • To share or not to share 
  • The perennial issue of my inner codie control freak
Be back soon.

Friday, July 3, 2009


My grandfather is doing better, though still not out of the woods yet.  On Monday, we were all legitimately concerned that he wasn't going to make it, and today things are definitely looking at up at the least.  Now I am heading out for a week of vacation, and looking forward to some rest and good times with family.  I'll probably not be posting much this week, but I'll be sure to catch up when we return! Happy 4th of July!