Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I don't know what to write, so I'll simply write the truth.

My grandfather passed away. He was simply one of the single best people I've ever known, and watching as his ravaged body began to breathe more and more slowly and finally just stopped has left me with a hole in my heart that only he can really fill. The good part is that my entire family--all of his children, their spouses, my grandmother, and me--was there with him to the end, cheering him on.

The infection had just spread too much--there was simply nothing more to do. We all felt it was best to just remove the medications except for pain control. He was more peaceful throughout the entire day than he has been in the past few, and looked comfortable even as he passed. Yet still, when it came down to it, my grandmother--the strongest woman I have ever seen, who spoke to him throughout the day to tell him it would all be fine, whose voice didn't even crack until the very end--broke down and wept. She broke my heart more than anything else. She is bereft--her best friend and husband of almost sixty years, gone after this incredibly exhausting struggle.

The most painful thing was knowing that just a week ago, when the infection came back after a few weeks of relief, he looked at my mom and told her, "I was almost there." He was so close to being able to just go home. That was everyone's greatest regret. He hadn't been home in several months, between different hospitals and rehab facilities, and it was his single greatest wish. All he wanted was to be able to go home, and he never got to.

And yet. Yesterday, when it was finally over, I texted D to let him know. My phone has a technology that allows it to predict words based on what numbers you punch in--and the message I typed was, "He's gone." The numbers that spell the word "gone" are 4663. Incidentally, the first word that the phone recognized--spelled with the same numbers in the same order--was "home." He's home. He's finally home, free of all this pain and disease and fear and frustration, and I truly believe (as he did, so simply and passionately) that he is in a much, much better place, and that he is truly happy.

That's what gets me through, but it still hurts like hell.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


D promised to me today, in the car, on the way to his polygraph appointment (he has to complete and pass a poly in order to finish his probation) that he had disclosed everything to me, and that he had been sober since he said he had been sober (11 months yesterday). He promised that he had been honest throughout the past year and had nothing to hide going into the polygraph.

He passed the test. Thursday is his official last day of probation.

On the way home, he promised me that on Friday, his first act in being probation-free will be to take me to the city (which is across state lines, and had for the past two years been verboten without express permission from the PO) to eat dinner wherever I want.

For the first time in longer than I can think, I actually believe that he will keep his promises.

As I told him last Thursday, I do not believe he will never relapse--and he didn't promise that. I do, however, expect that if he does relapse, he will tell me in a reasonable amount of time--and he promised to do so. As of now, though with the honest understanding that anything could change at any moment, I believe that he will keep that promise, too.

I'm also making some promises to myself. I promise that I will never again allow someone to treat me in a way that is unacceptable. I promise to stand up for myself when my gut tells me something is amiss, and not to sit back and accept obvious lies even if they are comforting. I promise that I will be strong enough to set clear boundaries and keep them (fyi: anything illegal is a Deal Breaker, acting out with a real live person is a Deal Breaker). I promise to keep working on me, and to remember just how far I (and we) have come if things seem over my head. I promise to be myself, take care of myself, and love myself as much as possible. And most of all, I promise to believe I can keep those promises.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The many faces of self-care

Today, I feel strong.

I spoke up for myself yesterday and set clear boundaries surrounding D's relapse plan and our continuing relationship post-probation.

I paid my bills and am carrying no credit card debt.

I started pre-studying for when classes begin next week, and I feel ahead of the game and ready to go.

I think I might finally be getting the hang of what this whole "self-care" thing really means.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ch Ch Ch Changes

As of tomorrow, we officially have one week left in D's probation. Part of me is thrilled. We have survived this mess not only intact, but stronger, both individually and together thanks to the recovery it sparked over the past year. D has almost a year's sobriety. We will finally be able to travel where we want, when we want, without asking permission weeks in advance. We will be more financially stable, not having to spend significant money each week for his mandatory counseling classes and the gas it takes to get there (as to the PO meetings). I no longer have to stress over D's requirement to turn down the occasional glass of wine at a dinner party or family gathering. We won't have to worry about him losing his job because of his need to leave work early once a week, and we won't have to spend the significant amount of time in the car each week worrying about arriving everywhere on time.

And yet. We won't have to take so much time out of our week to drive--but we won't get that awesome few hours in the car alone together to just talk. We won't have to pay for counseling, but we won't have the impetus to have open, honest conversation about our progress in recovery and any issues we're having. We have made a lot of amazing progress in the past year, and now...what happens next? This feels like such a huge turning point, such a wonderful occasion, and yet I feel some trepidation as I wait for the next week to pass.

I know that next Friday will most likely come without fanfare, and that life will probably continue just fine. But there comes with this new, exciting, progress-laden change just that--change. I feel like I have become comfortable with the status quo over the past 2 1/2 years. 2 years, spent dealing with the probation requirements and the counseling and the homework and the driving. It feels odd that it will just...end. And with that strange new sense that comes with change, comes just a little bit of fear. It's not fear because something bad might happen--it's just fear that this will be new again. I have always hated change. Change has usually been very, very bad in my life.

And so as we head into this last, frightening, exciting, wonderful/terrible week, here's hoping that this change--as seems very probable--will be a good one. That we will ride off into the proverbial sunset, if not to a world free of addiction and its ravages, at least to one where we (and especially I) can take each day as it comes, accept what I cannot change, and continue every day to work on the bettering of me.

Or maybe the world will just explode next Friday. You never know. :-)

Friday, August 14, 2009

His, Mine, and Ours

Yesterday evening, D and I made the trek to his counseling class for what was almost the last time.  He has two weeks to go--two more classes, one more PO visit, and then we are "off paper."  For the next two weeks, he is focusing on finalizing his relapse plan.  As we were driving home, he offered up of his own accord that he thought we should sit down and write out the final version together, so that I could be involved in knowing exactly what the plan was so that I could help him remain accountable after the end of his class.  I was thrilled with this idea, not least because it shows just how far we have come to feel comfortable being that open and vulnerable with each other.  In the past, D was never comfortable talking to me about what he was going through, and in my codependent state I did not have strong enough boundaries or confidence to say things like "I want X as we move forward."  At least, not without making it a controlling, demanding set-up for a fight.  

Yet as we drove home, he offered up that he was a little scared about all the new things that were coming.  He asked if I would help him avoid his biggest triggers by disconnecting any computer he has in the future (his has been on lock-down for the past year) from the capability of getting on the internet.  And I was able to tell him that, while I thought that was a great idea, I needed any computer he has in the future to be a new one--the old one is just too triggering for me, too symbolic of all the crap that has gone on in the past.  

With all this honesty and communication going on, everything seemed to be going just swimmingly, but the biggest sign of progress that I noted was my own response later that evening--everything we had discussed earlier had centered around him--writing out his relapse plan, me helping him stay sober, etc--when really, the biggest changes that I have seen in me have come through my own recovery and focusing more on myself.  And so I resolved to make my own "relapse plan" of sorts, and when we sit down to discuss his, to include my own recovery goals and plans for the future.  After all--it really is the combination of our individual recovery efforts that has contributed so much to our current (and, with the help of our HPs, future) success as a couple. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I recently took a Myers-Briggs personality test, which is supposed to be one of the more accurate ways of describing one's personality type.  The test involved a ridiculous number of questions, but at the end, the description I got was SO spot on it was scary.  There are 16 MB personality types, consisting of 4 different categories:  E or I (extrovered or introverted), N or S (intuitive or sensing), F or T (feeling or thinking), and J or P (judging or perception).  I'm an ISFJ, and as I read the description, not only did it fit my personality EXACTLY, it also showed in full light a lot of codie behavior and a lot of issues that I have (see: People Pleasing and Difficulty Expressing Emotions).  I'd be interested if any other codies out there were ISFJs, too. 

ISFJs are characterized above all by their desire to serve others, their "need to be needed." In extreme cases, this need is so strong that standard give-and-take relationships are deeply unsatisfying to them; however, most ISFJs find more than enough with which to occupy themselves within the framework of a normal life. (Since ISFJs, like all SJs, are very much bound by the prevailing social conventions, their form of "service" is likely to exclude any elements of moral or political controversy; they specialize in the local, the personal, and the practical.)

ISFJs are often unappreciated, at work, home, and play. Ironically, because they prove over and over that they can be relied on for their loyalty and unstinting, high-quality work, those around them often take them for granted--even take advantage of them. Admittedly, the problem is sometimes aggravated by the ISFJs themselves; for instance, they are notoriously bad at delegating ("If you want it done right, do it yourself"). And although they're hurt by being treated like doormats, they are often unwilling to toot their own horns about their accomplishments because they feel that although they deserve more credit than they're getting, it's somehow wrong to want any sort of reward for doing work (which is supposed to be a virtue in itself). (And as low-profile Is, their actions don't call attention to themselves as with charismatic Es.) Because of all of this, ISFJs are often overworked, and as a result may suffer from psychosomatic illnesses.

In the workplace, ISFJs are methodical and accurate workers, often with very good memories and unexpected analytic abilities; they are also good with people in small-group or one-on-one situations because of their patient and genuinely sympathetic approach to dealing with others. ISFJs make pleasant and reliable co-workers and exemplary employees, but tend to be harried and uncomfortable in supervisory roles. They are capable of forming strong loyalties, but these are personal rather thaninstitutional loyalties; if someone they've bonded with in this way leaves the company, the ISFJ will leave with them, if given the option. Traditional careers for an ISFJ include: teaching, social work, most religious work, nursing, medicine (general practice only), clerical and and secretarial work of any kind, and some kinds of administrative careers.

While their work ethic is high on the ISFJ priority list, their families are the centers of their lives. ISFJs are extremely warm and demonstrative within the family circle--and often possessive of their loved ones, as well. When these include Es who want to socialize with the rest of the world, or self-contained ITs, the ISFJ must learn to adjust to these behaviors and not interpret them as rejection. Being SJs, they place a strong emphasis on conventional behavior (although, unlike STJs, they are usually as concerned with being "nice" as with strict propriety); if any of their nearest and dearest depart from the straight-and-narrow, it causes the ISFJ major embarrassment: the closer the relationship and the more public the act, the more intense the embarrassment (a fact which many of their teenage children take gleeful advantage of). Over time, however, ISFJs usually mellow, and learn to regard the culprits as harmless eccentrics :-). Needless to say, ISFJs take infinite trouble over meals, gifts, celebrations, etc., for their loved ones--although strong Js may tend to focus more on what the recipient should want rather than what they do want.

Like most Is, ISFJs have a few, close friends. They are extremely loyal to these, and are ready to provide emotional and practical support at a moment's notice. (However, like most Fs they hate confrontation; if you get into a fight, don't expect them to jump in after you. You can count on them, however, run and get the nearest authority figure.) Unlike with EPs, the older the friendship is, the more an ISFJ will value it. One ISFJ trait that is easily misunderstood by those who haven't known them long is that they are often unable to either hide or articulate any distress they may be feeling. For instance, an ISFJ child may be reproved for "sulking," the actual cause of which is a combination of physical illness plus misguided "good manners." An adult ISFJ may drive a (later ashamed) friend or SO into a fit of temper over the ISFJ's unexplained moodiness, only afterwards to explain about a death in the family they "didn't want to burden anyone with." Those close to ISFJs should learn to watch for the warning signs in these situations and take the initiative themselves to uncover the problem.

All of the above from this website

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday Musings

There are several things I want to write about today, but each would take so long that I doubt I will be able to get them out.  Instead, I'll start with snippets and expand them, perhaps, in the next few days.  

  • D went running with one of his good friends last night.  We have been concerned for some time that V might have some tendencies toward alcoholism, which were recently highlighted when he got a DUI.  He is currently taking mandatory alcohol classes and nonchalantly mentioned last night that on the "tolerance scale" he completed in class, his tolerance was an extremely high number--which means he has a very low/easy trigger for alcoholism.  D and I both worry about the way he brushes these things off. The bigger feelings I have surrounding the situation, however, is that I can't help but get this nudge every time V is around or brings up alcohol that D should share some of his story with V.  I haven't mentioned it to D yet, because I'm not sure how comfortable he would be sharing anything with anyone, but if the nudging keeps up I will have to eventually.  My gut is almost never wrong.  

  • I have recently begun delving (somewhat unwillingly) into the issues I have surrounding my mother.  I love my mom.  She is a fantastic woman who raised my family extremely well and has never been anything but supportive, loving, and caring.  But yet there is something about her that makes both my sister and I absolutely terrified of making her angry and/or disappointed.  We are both incredibly concerned with keeping her happy, and I'm honestly not sure where that reaction comes from, other than an innate codependent sense that I can control my own environment by controlling everyone else's feelings.  I have conquered a lot of this response with other people in my life--especially with D--but when it comes to my mother my automatic response is to do whatever it takes to make her happy at the expense of almost anyone else, including myself, my friends, other family, D.  I know it's a bad thing, I know it's a huge roadblock on my recovery path, but it happens like a reflex.  And figuring out why it happens and how to solve the problem is going to be a huge, huge hurdle.  

  • In addition to my mom, I am working on figuring out what boundaries I want to set surrounding the end of D's probation and counseling.  We have had some great communication surrounding this recently, but I am trying to work on writing down a few things so that they become more concrete. 

  • I'm getting ready to go back to school in a few weeks and currently experiencing those mixed feelings of excited anticipation of all the new things that will be coming and dread that the summer is coming to a close.  

  • The birthday party Friday was a blast--I am incredibly glad I went, as I got to catch up with good friends and relax and just generally enjoy a beautiful afternoon with good company.  My fears that D would be upset about my going were unfounded; he got home not long before I did that evening and was excited to hear about the goings-on in our old town.  Just another little thing that marks the progression of recovery.