23 Days – Leaps and Stumbles (Sun – Feb 17)

May I always remember that growth happens even in the rocky places

May I always remember that growth happens even in the rocky places

I’m finding myself challenged – yet again – in this 60-day journey to a new beginning. This is my birthday month and I have come to think of myself as being “birthed” into the “third trimester” of my life – and it is coming with “labor pains”!

There’s something going on here that I don’t yet fully understand. Even though I “get” that recovery and progress are not consistently even and straight lines of progression, I seem to be ricocheting from serenity to fear and back again in varied and repeating cycles. And it isn’t fun at all!!!

Mostly the fear is around finding a place to live. For the past several years I have moved a ridiculous number of times. Sometimes I’ve been house-sitting, sometimes renting, sometimes living on grace with family. Now, I’m two weeks away from the date my landlady (and I) would like me out of here. A week and a half ago, I spent a day gripped by fear that I couldn’t shake, worrying about the situation. The more I fought against the fear, the more it stuck with me (of course).

Since that particularly difficult day, I have gradually moved back toward serenity and peace with the situation. Last weekend, I had some delightful time with a couple of different friends and appreciated a bit of help moving a few things into a storage unit. It felt good to take those preliminary steps that will make the actual move a bit easier.

This evening, I posted another ad on a popular free-“classifieds” website, as my earlier post had expired a few days ago. What I find puzzling is that editing and re-posting my ad served to trigger anxiety rather than to bring me some peace of mind for again being pro-active. What is up with that?

What keeps rolling around in my mind is that this may somehow be tied not only to the frequent changes in where I’m living in recent years, but also to a somewhat similar early childhood experience. I do not remember this, but my (younger) sister has told me that our mom let go our apartment every summer and took us to live with her parents. Our mom was a single-mom trying to raise two young girls on a teacher’s salary. It wasn’t easy for her and saving rent for the summer evidently helped.

What I remember is spending lots of time at my grandparents’ home and at my cousins’ home, which was conveniently nearby. I remember having fun, playing, feeling very much part of a big, loving family. There were five kids in their family and it was a place where I felt safe, accepted and loved.HPIM2039

Yet, as I continue to think about it, I suspect that the constant moving, which probably meant we could keep much, in terms of possessions, were more of stressful than memory indicates for me. When I imagine what it might have been like for me – leaving our current apartment every summer and whatever else was familiar, then returning to different apartment in the fall (though they were almost always in the same complex) – I can’t help but imagine it must have felt terribly insecure. Having fun visiting cousins you like is great fun; having to start all over in a new apartment with few possessions every year probably wasn’t.

When we finally did move into an apartment where we stayed year round, my sister and I lost all our toys one day when the charity truck took all the toy boxes on the porch, instead of the ones my mother intended them to have. My sister and I were crushed! And mom didn’t do anything to see about getting them back. Another loss. Another incident that left me with a need to hang on tightly to what I have.

I don’t know that these early childhood experiences of repeated loss were traumatic, but I do suspect they are at the heart of my deep-seated yearning for a consistent, reliable place in which to live and perhaps even at the heart of my ridiculous accumulation of the stuff that makes it so hard to keep changing living spaces.

I don’t quite know how I feel at the moment, but it does feel a little better to share about this here. Hanging onto the serenity is rather like trying to grasp mercury. It doesn’t work. I can only keep my hands open and let myself experience the surrender of trusting in a God who loves me and wants my happiness even more than I do.

As my sponsor has told me often, trust the process. For now, that means I will continue with my nightly practice of writing my thank-you note to God, jotting down the things I’ve done or noticed in the day that are affirming, and reviewing my “Dream Book” (which is growing) before I turn in for the evening. Whatever has happened that day, I appreciate the opportunity to remember where to place my faith.

Let me come with open hands...

Let me come with open hands…

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52 Days – Am I Afraid to Be Happy? (Sat – Jan 19)

Last night my fears were trying to get the better of me, so I cast about for what to read. I had a Guideposts, a Forum, a DA book – A Currency of Hope, and Ponder’s Open Your Mind to Receive. I was floundering, wondering what would be most helpful to me to read, feeling anxious and worried even about such a small thing.

I briefly considered the Ponder book, but thought I needed something other than “merely” opening my mind to receive. I was unsettled, unable to think clearly. I opened the DA book and found a story that I had already bookmarked to read: “Busting Out of Debtor’s Prison.” I started reading it. I connected with things the author was relating about his experience. He spoke of feeling angry when his Pressure Relief Group told him he needed to earn more money.

I felt angry at the idea of being told that too. Earning more money would just raise my monthly payments on my student loans! Of course, that wouldn’t be until next year when I “re-qualify.” And I keep forgetting that I would still have the other 85-90% of that extra income to use for other things.

I want to surrender my fears to my Higher Power

I want to surrender my fears to my Higher Power

I’d truly like to learn how to stop my mind from racing to that place of fear! It’s especially ridiculous (although it feels fearful, rather than “ridiculous”) because I rarely even have clear thoughts about what that unseen, expected disaster might be! Mostly it’s a vague sense of pending disaster that has no basis in reality. And mostly, when I stop to think about it, when I can calm myself down and think more clearly, I discover that my worst imaginings are, themselves, ridiculous.

I am so grateful for the things I read last night. I am grateful to have read the story from my DA book. And I’m even more grateful for having returned to the Ponder book and to be reminded by the words from the Book of James, that I do not have because I do not ask (James 4:2).

In the passage from James 4, I was struck by the words in verse 4:1 that talk about our cravings or our desires being at war within us. That rings so true for me. I notice that I long both for a place of my own and for a place where I have a roommate with whom I enjoy sharing the space, that I might have the social connection of another person in the home. I long for an independent income that frees me from the need to work at a “regular” job, yet I love being able to be around others and share the experiences that bring laughter and friendship through the workplace. I long for a love in my life, yet I’m afraid to be open to the possibility of this happening with someone I’ve not yet met. I’m afraid of the unknown, for I have no control over it.

I want to rush toward changing my words and changing my experience, yet the idea of being abundantly blessed scares me! Which seems completely crazy, ridiculous! But it does…and I don’t really understand why. Is it really just the unknown that scares me? Is it some unarticulated sense of responsibility that a part of me knows will come with it? Is it the fact that I would have to change how I see myself or how I do things if I suddenly were financially blessed and found myself in a loving committed relationship where my life would no longer be just “my” life but would be a part of “our” life?

Am I truly afraid to be happy and blessed? And if I am, why?

I want the courage to jump into the "hoop."

I want the courage to jump into the “hoop.”

A break in the wall – Day 317 (Tue – Oct 23)

Do you ever have trouble deciding what to do? Not because you don’t have anything to do; rather because there are too many things to do. That’s how it feels for me right now. I keep floundering. Do I go through mail? Do I organize my shelves? Do I do Step work for my next meeting with my sponsor? Do I start my Step work for the other programs in which I’m less active? (Everything goes back to Al Anon for me, so that’s my primary program and the one that helps me with the others.)

Do I read? Do I relax? Do I blog? What is it exactly that I’m “supposed to be” doing right now – besides hiding from the emotional turmoil just below the surface?

In the past ten days, I have been through an upheaval of body memories and emotions. Old memories are surfacing, clarity is arising around those experiences, and possibilities for positive change are determined to filter through the confusion of unexpressed grief, fear and anger to let themselves be known. I tried writing about this, but I find myself talking in circles and don’t quite know what to do.

Without going into detail, I had an experience of recognizing on a deep level the abusive nature of a previous relationship. I had spent years discounting how I had experienced it because it wasn’t physically violent in direct or tangible ways. Therefore, it couldn’t really have been abusive, right?

“WRONG!” my body tells me.

I’m still trying to sort through the myriad thoughts and feelings that have surfaced and continue to unfold. Later this week, I’m going to work with a dear friend who is trained in areas that will help me to process this. We’re going to do some InterPlay work with this because I need to work on a body-spirit level and avoid getting stuck in my head. I’ve already spent too much time analyzing and compartmentalizing my experiences of this. It’s time to listen to what my body has to tell me about how this did (and still might) affect me.

The thing is, as difficult as this has been (I know there’s a ton of grief just waiting for the right window to open so it can spill out), it has also led to the deconstruction of certain beliefs about myself and relationships. In short, I have realized that something I believed about myself might not be true and that I may have the ability to move more gracefully into a new relationship than I would ever have thought possible.

That realization itself leaves my head fairly spinning, as I continue to integrate this new information.

Perhaps I’ll be able to talk about this more later. As I continue to discover what is and isn’t true about myself, I know it will reshape how I see the world and what I see as possibilities for my life. For now, I’m grateful to discover that pulling out a single stone from the wall sometimes leads to an avalanche that creates a new door to a brighter other side.

(Am I making any sense at all today?)

Room for Fear and the Challenge of Facing It – Day 300 (Sat – Oct 6)

Was it only yesterday morning that the words “Be of good courage” provided the emotional release I must have needed? It seems longer ago than that…

I have been letting go of many things, including expectations around how much time I have in the mornings. For more than ten years, I have spent at least 20-30 minutes every morning doing a little reading, then reflecting on what came to me, filling page after page in my now dozens of journals.

With my recent, self-imposed (though much appreciated) early work schedule, I don’t always have time to write in my journal in the morning. So I’ve been trying new things. One of them is to simply read something that helps me to hear God’s voice. Usually I read from my Al Anon literature, like The Forum magazine or Hope for Today (one of the daily readers), or I read from an inspirational resource, like the Daily Guideposts devotionals or the Guideposts magazines. I like hearing other people’s experiences, how they’ve made it through the difficult times and how they celebrate the rejoicing times.

It was the third devotion I read yesterday that brought on tears as I recognized the depth of my loneliness. I hadn’t actually noticed it while trying to work on the challenges in my life right now. In fact, I would likely have told you that I’m not especially lonely these days. But there it was!

As I reflected on these feelings on my way to work, I noticed that clearing out so much unneeded stuff from my room last weekend had actually created room for more feelings and more fear to emerge. It was as if I had begun disassembling the wall of protection I’d hidden behind for such a long time. Without all the conspicuous clutter and my constant concern about what to do with it, my mind had room to turn to other things. And the next “other things” are the many stashes of paper living in various spaces in my room, from orderly boxes to random piles.

It’s within the paper piles that the scary stuff lives: the stuff that brings up emotions, triggers fear, and generally intimidates me, sometimes even overwhelming me when I think about addressing it. If I open the piece of mail from the credit card company, for instance…here, let me grab one right now and open it…

Okay. This one is a “REMINDER NOTICE.” (They capitalize that to make sure I don’t think it’s some other kind of notice, I suppose, or perhaps to make sure that I am, indeed, “reminded” that I promised to send them $25 a month.) It’s from the “RECOVERY DEPARTMENT.” (More caps.) Of course, “recovery” for them means getting as much money from me as they can before they give up. “Recovery” for me means learning to let God lead me through this maze of challenges as I am restored to sanity.

What happens for me, in the very process of facing the unopened envelope, is that I’m afraid I will open the envelope to discover that something is happening that is the very opposite of what I want to happen. So I procrastinate and let the papers accumulate. Then last weekend, I had to go and do what I realize was a remarkable amount of cleanup in my room. So much so that I really have no more excuses to not begin plowing through the stacks of paper.

The words I read yesterday, especially “Be of good courage,” came on the heels of newly realized feelings of loneliness. They became both the reminder that this work must be done alone (for the most part) and the encouragement for me to hang in there. At an InterPlay retreat last Saturday, I was encouraged to ask someone to simply come be with me while I sort through stuff. Just thinking about that possibility brings up fear and uncertainty, because I know that having someone with me as a supportive witness would intensify the experience.

Rats! Here come the fears and the tears, as I am reminded that there is a reason I’m being led through all of this inner work incrementally, one small step at a time. It is hard work. And it is often intensely emotional…and powerfully cleansing when I have the courage to take even the smallest of steps.

I can only do one piece or take one step at a time…

It’s scary around the edges – Day 294 (Sun – Sep 30)

My room has gone through a transformation today. The transformation isn’t quite complete, but the difference between how it looked when I woke up and what it looks like now is huge. When I got up, one side of my desk had a chaotic pile of stuff that needed sorting, clearing out, and organizing. There were cloth boxes full of silly things, like jars and baggies, as well as boxes with my printer, paper for the printer, and other random stuff.

My primary goal was to clear this space and set up my printer. But I kept looking at the disaster zone on top of the desk and wondering if I might possibly be able to do something about that today as well.

As I continued to nibble on the pile throughout the day, I noticed a feeling of uncertainty hanging around the edges of my thoughts. I was afraid to think about it too much, because the reality is that I don’t know what it feels like to have a space that isn’t chaotic. Sure, I have corners and places within the room that are organized and fairly neat. But for decades, I have also had piles or boxes that are an accumulation of un-dealt-with stuff, especially papers. I would wager that I still have a few pieces of unopened mail that are older than my son (who is an adult) stashed somewhere in my oldest (and biggest) storage unit. (I have three.)

Sadly, the consistent “before” state…

For too many years, I have often felt overwhelmed by various pieces of my life and things like mail and other papers have multiplied and accumulated by – quite literally – the boxful. What kept lurking around the edges of my thoughts today is that once I’ve sorted through the miscellaneous non-paper-pile stuff, I will no longer have an excuse not to begin working on the paper piles. And that scares the pee-waddlin’ out of me! Dang! Just saying that “out loud” magnifies the fear bubbles coursing through my veins right now.

So many things have been coming clear to me in the past few weeks. The first significant “aha” was to realize just how much shame I have had around having so much stuff. I honestly didn’t realize I felt shame. I readily acknowledged a bit of embarrassment and the fact that it has been burdensome and inconvenient come moving time (and I’ve moved a ridiculous number of times in the past few years), but “shame”? Yet there it was!

Acknowledging that – and sharing those feelings with trusted friends (including my Al Anon sponsor) – must have created cracks in my walls of defense. Little by little, other insights followed. I realized – I mean truly realized – that this is a lifelong journey. There will always be more stuff to sort through, more mail to deal with, more papers to organize. This isn’t going to just “get done” and that’s it. This is a part of life! You probably already “get” this, right? But for me, for the first time in my life, it felt not only okay that this isn’t a task that will be “completed,” it felt pretty good. I don’t know if I can explain it, but it did feel good to realize this.

Not ideal, but so-o-o much better!

The next realization was that I didn’t have to deal with everything all at once. I can’t begin to guess at how long I’ve held the notion that I have to deal with all my stuff (i.e., the countless boxes in storage) all at once, in one continuous marathon clear-out-and-organize session. Otherwise it will never happen. (Can you relate?) But it suddenly dawned on me what a huge step it would be if I were actually able to go through and organize, sort and clear out just the stuff in this room. OMG! That feels like a mountain in and of itself!

So today, I tried not to think too much about what comes after I get my room into a workable, working space and just kept plodding along. It felt pretty good to throw away lots of things I really didn’t need. Small things that didn’t take up much space, but made for a lot of clutter come moving time. And you know what? I discovered there actually is a desk under the clutter!

I don’t know what it will feel like in the morning, and there’s certainly more to do, but for the first time in the month since I moved into this room, I’ll actually be able to sit at a desk to read and perhaps even do some journaling before I head to work. I’m sure the fear will resurface when I get to the rest of the stuff, but for now, I’m going to enjoy the progress I’ve made. 🙂

Who knew it could look like this!

Day 155 (Mon/May 14): On releasing guilt

I’m fast concluding that releasing guilt, like so many other aspects of life, is a process, a journey that has ebbs and flows, times of ease, times of struggle. (Who knew?)

This morning, I turned to page 217 in my Bible simply because that number was what popped into my mind when I considered what to read for my reflection. I started reading about people dying and being afflicted with tumors and thought, “Bleck! This is not what I want to use for my reflection!” But I persisted, especially as I had begun in the middle of a chapter. It didn’t necessarily get “better,” but I found myself intrigued by a couple of lines in the chapter that started on that page. The people were told to return the ark to God with a “guilt offering” and they would be healed (1 Sam 6:1-3).

It took a few minutes for it to register that guilt is one of the character weaknesses I identified for myself in Step 6. I decided to see what I might find in Courage to Change on guilt. But before I looked in the book, I decided to prepare my own “guilt offering” to be placed in my “God box” – a written prayer asking God to take my feelings of guilt and remove them from me.

Guilt is a wholly appropriate topic for me today. I awoke with dreams of worrying about my credit card debt and what I should do about it. In an effort to take better care of myself and to maintain a sense of serenity, I have chosen to ignore most of the incoming calls from the credit card agents. I have even left the messages on my voicemail to pick up when I’m ready to deal with them (or not). It dawned on me recently that they are the ones who feel the need to keep pushing for different answers from me when I have none to offer. Repeating the same, unhappy responses to their questions – affirming repeatedly that I do not, at this time, have the income to send them as much money as they want – upsets me and renews the guilt and the worry. Since they have not been willing to honor my request for less frequent calls (one company calls me five days after we last talked – every time!), I have chosen not to take the calls just now.

As I was writing my reflection this morning, I felt guilty that I have not picked up my voice messages. Now I’m at work (on my lunch break) and it’s not the time. There are five messages – all, I suspect, from these collection agents. I have more practicing to do in order to let go my guilty feelings. I have more things to figure out with regard to how and when to respond to the messages.

I read two of the pages on guilt listed in the index in Courage to Change. They reminded me that I am imperfect because I am human (can’t escape it…), that I can “be free to look at my mistakes without blowing them out of proportion” (CtC, p 120), that I can learn to stop repeating the mistakes I’ve made and learn to make wiser choices. I already am making wiser choices and the tendency to fall back into old patterns is lessening every day.

I especially appreciate the “Today’s Reminder” with the April 29th reading:

I will not chain myself to the past with self-defeating guilt, or by inflating the importance of my errors. Instead, I want to face my past and heal old wounds so that I may move forward into a richer, fuller, and more joyous life today (Courage to Change, p 120).

The reading on page 144 in CtC also reminds me that it is easier to love myself when I accept myself as I am, imperfect choices and all. I notice I need to be reminded of this often – the idea of loving myself, that is. Sometimes I get caught up in the doing of xyz and forget that the reason I am doing recovery and other work is to be able to see and love myself more the way I know God does. Once in a while it occurs to me to ask God to give me eyes that see others and myself through the eyes of love. I even get there and stay there for a while now and then. Then I slip and fall back into old patterns of thinking and behavior. I am so grateful for 12-Step programs, wonderful little books like Courage to Change and a God whose love is big enough to overcome those times when I forget to love myself.

Day 151 (Thu/May 10): What am I missing?

I’ve been reading this book – a light, romance novel. I would have put it down after the first ten to twenty pages except that I’ve enjoyed other books this author has written and it did keep making me laugh. What I found troublesome is the way the ‘heroine’ and ‘hero’ start using the word “love” – at least in their thoughts – within a couple of days of knowing each other. But the heroine is intent on warding off all prospects of love based on a marriage that ended badly.

Around page 269 (after I had decided the book was enjoyable enough to finish), I noticed the heroine kept saying the same (stupid) things over and over again. She kept having the same arguments, returning to the same inane reasons for wanting to push the hero out of her life despite all the worthy things she’d observed in him. One too many repetitions of “she loved a man who didn’t exist” (he hadn’t given out his full name until late in the game) led me to increasing frustration and annoyance with her stupidity…until I asked myself how many times I repeat things to myself that aren’t true, that don’t help me, or that keep me from seeing the progress I’m making.

The trip this past weekend raised memories for me that weren’t always fun. I was reminded of experiences that were very hard – emotionally, financially, and in other ways that wove in and out with my journey of recovery. It was a joy to see a familiar face from Colorado; it was depressing to remember that this person had affirmed in me a particular call to ministry that did not come to fruition. It was cool to see classmates in their clergy attire; it was deflating to not know where I’m going in this arena. It was an incredible blessing to have the funds to make the trip; it was (and is) deflating and disconcerting not to know what my income will be the week after next.

I keep feeling like there’s something obvious I’m missing. Some important piece of this journey that’s eluding me at the moment.

I’m experiencing a slowly growing fear around finances. They’re great at the moment, but I don’t know what comes after this temp position ends. I haven’t yet put aside some of the funds, mostly because I haven’t had the time and energy to figure out where I’m at. I haven’t updated my checkbook in a week. My balance looks good online, but I have a few bills to pay. I have 5 voicemails not yet picked up, probably all regarding my credit card accounts. I keep meaning to play them. I keep wondering when to return their calls. But I’ve been falling into bed early these past few days and I don’t want to talk to them when I’m that tired.

It’s not just my financial situation that’s ruffled my sense of serenity. It’s the unsettledness I feel since this weekend’s trip. Seeing my good friend achieve his goal, his calling, and being asked what I’m doing by people I care about (and some I don’t even know) leaves me again asking myself, What am I doing? What should I be doing?

I’m being affirmed in the work I’m doing. I’ve been affirmed in many ways in recent weeks, including by the friend I stayed with this past weekend. I’m even beginning to see myself in new ways. Yet I feel like I have a case of the “stupids.” It’s as if the most basic choices and decisions should be obvious to me, but they’re not. I’m growing unhappy with my present living situation (staying with my aunt and uncle), but don’t have the financial stability to look into rentals. I’m growing comfortable in certain ways that make me nervous that I’ll be tempted to stay where I am. (Except that I truly would love to move into a place – a room or an apartment or whatever – I could set up as my own for however many months or years I might live there. I’m waiting only for financial stability to actually be able to pay the rent.) I’m so out of practice at job hunting that it now terrifies me to think about taking action in this direction. (It’s time for a few drops of Rock Rose, Elm and Olive in my mouth and my glass of water.)

Then, just in case there wasn’t enough going on, a few minutes ago I learned that my temp job may extend to two days a week for a longer period of time. I’m not sure how I feel about all this just yet. This afternoon has felt unsettled and mixed up. My sponsor and I had our wires crossed on when to meet and my day suddenly became fuller and busier than I anticipated.

What does all this mean? What am I missing??  Or is this merely the stirring up to make a better something when the dust settles…

Day 136 (Wed/Apr 25): Taking a moment to appreciate the little things

My "kitchen" - at least it's indoors

I live in an area where there are a lot of people living on the streets. There are few places I walk where I don’t encounter someone asking for help. Sometimes I offer a dollar or two; sometimes I don’t. It depends on what feels right at the moment. At the very least, I try to offer a smile and perhaps a caring remark.

Yesterday, when I was walking on a main street after leaving my car for some repairs, a young man barely out of (or not yet out of) his teens asked for 50 cents. I was in a rush and taken by surprise, and apologetically said no. His face stayed with me and I prayed for him as I rode public transportation to work. I dubbed him “Michael.”

I have options

The encounter got me to remembering a woman I used to see when I was a kid. At some point I learned her name was Mary. Mary wore a voluminous, light brown, tent-shaped coat, winter or summer, which I now suspect may have covered her entire wardrobe. I knew she had no place to live and that was a mystery to me back then. Now that I live in an area with so many homeless people, the image of Mary has often come to mind. I can still see her standing on the street near the liquor store, across from the gas station and an auto parts store. I have wondered what may have happened to her.

The strain of constantly peering at the computer for days on end has left my eyes strained and irritated. I

It's not much, but so much more than some

decided to take a few minutes this morning to soothe them with a warm, wet washcloth. That simple act of running hot tap water over the washcloth led me to think about Mary and Michael and so many others, and the countless little things we take for granted. I have learned to appreciate many things I take for granted in recent years, as I have needed to move from place to place, sometimes house-sitting, sometimes staying with family or friends as an act of grace, sometimes being able to actually pay for my own place. But this morning, I thought of even the most basic things with renewed appreciation:

Access to hot tap water, for everything from washing dishes and showering to the simple things, like creating a warm compress for my eyes. Microwave ovens, toaster ovens and regular ovens, too. A bed to sleep in. Fresh water to drink. A refrigerator in which to put food that would otherwise spoil.

It does the job

Lights in the rooms to enable me to see, to work, to feel safe. A roof over my head. A bank account – no matter how low or high the balance at any given moment, right now I’m appreciating the ability to have one.

Shoes for my feet – in fact, having choices about what to put on my feet, knowing they are all in good condition. The choice to let go of my favorite ones when they have worn out. Clothes and the spaces to store the ones I’m not wearing, the ones I don’t need to wear.

Food. Music. Transportation. Family. Friends. Places to feel safe. Moments of quiet…

I'm safe and warm at night

There is so much in life to be grateful for, even when the going is hard. Today I’m grateful for the little things, as well as the bigger ones.

Big and Small Steps:

  • Allowing myself to ignore certain phone calls, knowing they would derail my serenity and disrupt my work.
  • Making a (small for them, good-sized for me) payment toward that “debt” – they can accept it or not.
  • Attended a Debtors Anonymous meeting Sunday.

Noticings:

  • That the step/stair exercises I was doing were actually triggering the discomfort in my low back. (Whoops!…Rats! Gotta find something else to do for exercise.)
  • How much easier it is to keep my serenity when I choose the time and place for difficult phone conversations.
  • How much more important my own self-care is becoming to me, and…
  • How much I’m beginning to consider the “big picture,” if you will, of my life by seeing beyond my immediate circumstances, especially in terms of finances.
  • How much better I felt this morning after I rolled back over and let myself return to sleep, even though my alarm awakened me only an hour later. 🙂

Day 132 (Sat/Apr 21): From persistence to derailed in one short phone call…

I realize I am simply not having enough time lately to write the kind of posts I like to do. So, I am giving myself permission to write some mini-posts. There is just too much happening to not need to talk about it.

Yesterday, I started a post and I probably need to read it to hear the reminders in it for myself. As you can see, it never made it to the site. So, I’m including it here. But first I’ll begin with the derailing part…

My cell phone rang. “Restricted” displayed. Against my better judgment, I answered. After all, my aunt and uncle have their number blocked… It was the creditor I mention below. They’re starting to get pushy. I’m not willing to give them the chunk of money they want. I don’t know what to do right this moment. And my body reacts will all those unpleasant chemicals that scream “AUGH!!!!”

For now, I keep shaking out my arms and jumping up to do some kicking and other “thrusty” movements (as I learned in InterPlay). I’m grateful to be at work at a place where I can do this.

I also cling tightly to my faith and my Al Anon program, reminding myself to simply thing about what the “next right thing” might be. When I slow it down enough, it helps me to manage the unmanageable. I know I’m not the only one who goes through this. It’s just that I feel so alone when it’s happening on that visceral level that shifts me from serene to survival in a split second…

So, I take a deep breath…let it out with a(n audible) sigh…and remind myself that this too shall pass and God is always there for me.

Now, this is what I began writing yesterday/Friday at lunch (and I’m not even going to read it or proof this post – “Uncle!”):

This morning, my reflection time centered around a wonderful passage from Luke (11:5-13). It’s about persistence (“shameless persistence,” according to the New Living Translation). I feel so grateful for this passage and the reflection with it in my Life Recovery Bible (a 12-step edition, with helpful reflections related to the steps, to the Serenity Prayer and to other recovery themes). This particular reflection was on the 7th Step – humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings. It talks about the importance of asking for help when we need it – and I realized that’s exactly what I did yesterday.

The last couple of days I’ve been pretty stressed about my credit card debt situation. At a time when I finally am receiving some decent (albeit temporary) income, it seems I am getting resistance to my desire to continue making payments. The person at the collection agency “offered” me the option of giving them $500, then continuing with my small monthly payments (for a period of time not clearly defined) to bring things to a kind of “halt,” where they would cease their more aggressive efforts to collect on the debt. Sounds good, at least from their perspective.

The thing is, I’m wrestling (and starting to get ahead, finally) with the guilt of knowing I actually could pay if I was willing to sacrifice other needs – and am not willing to do that. My car visited the auto-hospital yesterday for a check-up. She received minor servicing and a diagnosis of front brakes in imminent need of replacement, a squeaky belt in need of same, and a leak in the oil pan (which is fortunately still covered by my extended warranty). The brakes and the belt replacement are going to run close to, you guessed it, the exact amount the collector would like me to hand over to them.

I totally reached the frazzled, stressed, can’t-figure-out-which-end-is-up stage yesterday afternoon. I had headed to a Debtors Anonymous (DA) meeting Wednesday, only to find the parking lot filled with both cars and homeless people. (The meeting is at a church that ministers to the homeless.) I was running late anyway and found myself unwilling to leave my car unattended with all my stuff in it. (It’s sadly acting as a storage extension at the moment.) So yesterday, when the fuses in my mind were about to blow, I tried calling a friend from my Al Anon group who also attends DA meetings, but didn’t reach her. Next I texted my sponsor (who also attends DA herself) to see if she might be available for a phone chat.

We connected later and I’m so glad we did. She affirmed my intention to take care of myself and my vehicle first. She reminded me of the progress I’ve made. (Always helpful to hear.) And she applauded the fact that I’m finding out about my options and learning what I need to know if I have to go the worst-case route. (I refuse to use the “B” word on my blog. If you use it, I’ll edit it! ;-)) We talked for almost an hour and it was amazing how helpful it was just to be able to talk to someone about how stressed I was feeling.

That ends what I wrote yesterday. Today, I’ll simply leave it there. I enjoyed a lot of serenity for about 36 hours. Now I’ll look toward rediscovering it again as I wrestle with how to respond to this morning’s unwanted phone call.

Thank you for being there… Things are kind of hard right now…

Day 128 (Tue/Apr 17): Visiting places on the emotional map

So much yet to come together...

Now I remember why it was almost an entire week between my last two postings. This temp job is exhausting! When I see how stressed my supervisor is, I find myself especially grateful for my recovery journey. Of course, it’s easier to notice things when you’re not the one in the middle of them. I’ve been wondering what I might do to help her let go the fear that everything won’t get done. There’s this huge summit we’re preparing for and, since it’s the first one like this they’ve done, she’s a little freaked out about it. There are about fifty million little pieces needed to pull it all together and time is fast approaching. So I’m doing what I can to help – which is, of course, why I’m working there in the first place.

I must say, it’s interesting to be able to observe the way other people are handling the stress of this situation while also observing my own responses and reactions. Yesterday, for instance, I had a healthcare appointment. It was at a clinic I’ve never been to, to see someone I’ve never met. I tend to be skittish around medical doctors to begin with (I much prefer the chiropractic/naturopathic routes for my healthcare) and throwing in the whole “everything new” piece had me on edge.

Anytime I meet a new doctor, we have to do a kind of dance that reveals, for me, whether or not this person actually respects the fact that I know something about my own body. Too often I have met doctors full of their own arrogance, who are convinced I couldn’t possibly know anything. So, knowing this about myself and my history, I prayed and did my best to let go of all my fears before going there and while I was there.

I put it all in my inner "God box"

I was hoping for an on-the-spot blood draw to check my thyroid, but such was not the case. They don’t have that facility and the doctor wanted to check my cholesterol as well. With this, my anxiety rose. While I would actually appreciate knowing where my levels are these days, I dislike having to do the fasting bit. It isn’t required for thyroid testing, but it is for the other. The doctor also wanted to have me do another kind of test and I felt things spinning out of control. I didn’t want all that! I just wanted to know what my current TSH level is so I know if I need to adjust my thyroid meds!

Then grace stepped in. The doctor renewed my prescription on the spot, for the same dose I’m on now (which is easy to tweak as needed). It turns out the lab is not only open at 7:00 (earlier than some of the labs I’ve gone to), it is a short distance down the street from my “regular” job. In other words, God is making it very easy for me to have the lab work done as conveniently as possible. Once done, I can go to the office, feed myself, and spend a few hours in an environment that is fully supportive.

The thing is, I didn’t know all this about the lab till later. When I got done at the clinic and learned they do not validate parking, I tried to have my ticket validated at the offices they’re connected to. Unfortunately the person who had told me she would validate my ticket was not in. The rate is $1.25 for every 15 minutes – something I had not bargained for. I’ve been so broke for so long that even this small expenditure felt like too much and I burst into tears once I got in my car. I knew it was irrational and that I was overreacting. I also knew I was reacting more to the anxiety of seeing a new doctor and feeling out-of-control about how everything went.

It seems so odd and so silly to fly all over the emotional map from day to day. It feels so incongruous to go from bursting into tears to feeling deep gratitude for the little graces, all within a matter of hours. I suppose the moments of tears or anxiety won’t go away; they will just become easier to handle and last for briefer periods. I’ve noticed this already and appreciated it many, many times.

On the way home today, after a frantically busy day, after assuring my supervisor that it would, indeed, all come together, while inching along in the rush hour traffic, I was blessed by the most wonderful song on a CD I had not yet played. I don’t remember all the lyrics, but they said something about the river of peace holding my hand. It was a wonderful song to hear after a busy and hectic day…

Grace...

Noticings:

  • How blank my mind is right now…and how okay I am with that! 😉

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