Sunday, March 28, 2010

In My Mirror

Last night, D's sister (we'll call her...Anna) called late. She's been having a lot of trouble in her life recently and I think she just wanted to chat...she's currently going through a divorce, having trouble with her job, unhappy with where she's living and just in general in a really negative place. I feel for her, because I know what it is like to grieve a relationship (although in my case, it was obviously not a divorce but the process of working through addiction), and to feel stuck in a position you don't want to be in. I've never been extremely close with Anna, so I don't often feel that I am in a position to offer her advice, but she said something last night that I found myself extremely touched by.

As D and Anna chatted (with me close enough to the phone to hear), Anna shared that she was frustrated by the fact that she will probably have to take on a second job in order to pay off the rather extensive debt that she and her ex have built up. She was even more concerned because the ex apparently just got a DUI a few days ago, and is looking at several thousand dollars in fines, fees, etc. that will land a more significant chunk of the credit card bill on Anna's shoulders in the coming months. Of course, D said (and I thought to myself) that she should let the blame rest squarely on her ex's shoulders--he got himself into trouble, and she should not have to pay extra bills because of his mistake. "You don't understand," Anna said. "The bills have to get paid one way or the other, and I want the debt gone. Besides, this wouldn't have happened if we were still together--I would have been able to stop him or drive him home."

In those words--in Anna's attempts to take on her ex's problems as her own, to shoulder more than her fair share of the burden, in her ardent belief that had she been there, she could have controlled him and his actions and the situation to a more positive end--I felt more kin to her than I ever have. Here in her own life, I saw a mirror to my own past codependent mess. No! I wanted to shout through the phone line (or somehow teleport myself through it to shake her into sense). Nothing you do can control what he does. His behavior is his, his bad choices are his, and the consequences of those choices do not have to make your life worse if you don't let them. I wanted to tell her how this used to be me--how I honestly believed that if I were present all the time, constantly watching the phone bill and computer and D's social life, none of the horrible addicty problems would have ever arisen. But of course, I couldn't do that. Because I can't fix her either--and she will have to come to realize all this in her own time.

In the meantime, my heart goes out to her. And I am grateful for the fact that I, at least, can now realize that someone else's drunken mistake is not of my own doing, and not something I can fix, or need to feel guilty about, or take on the consequences for if I don't choose to do so.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Slaving Away

Do you ever get frustrated on behalf of someone else? I have a bad habit of that with D. Today's example: one of D's employees is basically a crappy worker. Shows up late, leaves early, often disappears throughout the workday, acts misogynistically toward other women that he works with, and (best of all) blames his poor performance on D and his coworker M because they "set a bad example" and "don't support him." When D and M try to correct his behavior, the employee complains to other bosses that D and M are too hard on him, don't like him, and then D and M get in trouble for being too harsh and not good managers D and M work evenings and weekends, and their other co-workers and bosses who are not there at the same time have no problems with this employee. Recently, the employee (let's call him "Bob") sexually harassed a customer of the company to the point that she made a complaint to D and M, who forwarded her information to their head of human resources. D and M were both relieved that there was finally some legitimate evidence about Bob's wrong-doings and hopeful that he would be reprimanded at least, if not fired.

Today D called me from work because he was incredibly frustrated that the head of HR had been unable to reach the woman who filed the complaint, and therefore nothing would be done about Bob's behavior. In fact, a previous write-up for other issues was also being removed because Bob had complained that the only reason this issue had been brought to HR was because D and M "had it out for him."

I hate this, because D basically works a really crappy middle-management job while I finish up school. We can't afford for both of us to be in graduate school at the same time, and D's true "dream career" requires a lot of extra education. And so he goes in every week to a job he hates in order to support me and my ability to pursue my career. And when things go badly at his job as a result, I feel bad and frustrated for him, sometimes to the point that I feel as though it's my fault he's in this situation--if I had not chosen to pursue graduate work, he might be able to quit his job for a while in order to either go back to school or at least find another/better position elsewhere.

I know (intellectually) that it's not my fault. I didn't cause it, can't control it. But I hate hate hate hearing every day about how awful it is, especially when there is nothing in my bottomless well of codependent helpfulness that I can bring up to say or do to help make things better.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

God in 100 Words Or Less

Do you know MPJ? If not, you should. Her blog is awesome--amazingly written, interesting topics, and one of the first and best sources of SA recovery-related material I found when I first got into this blogging experience. She recently wrote a post entitled "God in 100 words or less," in which (as you might imagine), she challenged others to explore their idea of a Higher Power. I've been thinking about this for a while, and as I'm right now in the midst of doing some shuffling about in my spiritual life, it seemed a good time to sort through some of my own ideas about God. And so....

God is Love. Truth. Beauty. All with Capital Letters.
My God connects us all because He is within us all--a divine spark in our deepest soul.
My God has no religion but reveals herself in all of them, sending messengers like Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed to show us his compassion.
He is my guide and strength. A very real presence in a sometimes unreal world.
God reveals Godself daily in kindness, laughter, music, sunsets.
My God cannot condemn because she cannot help but love us.
My God cannot be defined, but compels us to search for words anyway.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Out of the Dumps

It felt good to get that last post out, but since then I feel like I've been spending way too much time focusing on D and his life and his recovery and his actions and behavior. I've just been having one of those weeks when I want to ask every day, multiple times a day, if everything is going ok with him and if he is sober. I know it's not healthy, and I'm trying to kick the habit once again and get the focus back to me, but it's been more difficult this time for some reason. We did end up talking a bit more about the moving situation, and it was a calmer discussion but when it comes to this kind of thing, we often seem to come to the same conclusions over and over again. It's not that the conclusions aren't satisfying--they're just difficult to pin down.

Basically what always happens is D does everything in his power to reassure me that he is fine, nothing is wrong, he is not acting out or thinking of acting out, and then he gets hurt that I am once again suspicious when nothing is wrong and that he cannot go a (insert here: day, week, however long it's been since our last discussion) without me bringing up the past or assuming something is wrong with him. He doesn't like to think about it because he's trying to just be a good, normal, non-sex addicty person. My problem is that while he tries his damnedest to avoid thinking about it, I often cannot escape thinking about it. It follows me. I mean, things are wonderful in our life right now--D has been sober almost 18 months, school is going very well, we are planning a lovely and well-deserved vacation, etc. etc. etc. There's really no reasons for me to be worried or suspicious, but every now and then I'll just be driving down the road on my way to somewhere innocuous like the grocery and all of a sudden I just have a random flashback to a really bad point in our history. Those kinds of things have been happening more recently lately, and I think it's contributing to my not-so-fabulous state of being, even in the face of the outer fabulous that life seems to be at the moment.

Maybe it's the weather--I've long said that I feel I really do suffer from seasonal affective disorder, especially in this time of year when spring seems so close and yet so damn far away. I want to start wearing skirts and tank tops again, and find myself wishing I could will it to be warm just so I wouldn't have to bundle up so much on my way to class and work. Either way, though, I'm sick of being here, and while I know that sometimes you just have to accept where you are for the moment and know that "this too shall pass," I also know that sometimes I can't get better if I don't do something about it. And so I'm setting a goal this week to start doing a few little things to help me concentrate more on me and what I can do to stay healthy, rather than focusing so much on D. Goals for this week are to spend more time with my higher power each day, exercise at least 3 days (that's another thing the cold weather does to me--I'm not motivated to exercise, which just makes me feel worse which makes me not want to's a vicious cycle), and make a gratitude list each day. Starting now.

Today, I am grateful for the excitement that my next school year will bring as I move into more career-oriented work. I am grateful for my wonderful family. I am grateful for the new items I recently bought for the house that make it feel so much more homey. And I am as always grateful for this blog, its readers, and all my other wonderful recovery friends and resources who are such a help when things get difficult.