January 23, 2011

Reevaluating my Priorites

Recently I had discovered a program where I could return to college to obtain my B.A. Degree in 16 months, with only one evening class a week.  After completing this program, I would be able to complete my Masters through the very same program with a few additional evening classes after work.  I was very excited several months ago about this prospect and was told I needed intermediate algebra to get into the program.  I took the course through the university (never had touched an algebra problem) and ended up doing very well, but it sure added a ton of stress to me physically and affected all other arenas of my life.  I then found out I have about 28 undergraduate credits to complete along with the program.  I decided I would put off the university and pick away at some online courses through our local community college until I could have enough units and go into the university program clean and fresh.

So, off I go, my little happy Al-anon self, taking on 9 units on top of my full time job that has had major administrative changes in the last three months, including the retirement of two judges and the court executive officer, essentially putting a whole new admin in place.  I found very quickly how stressed I was when opening my online course to look and see what was going to be expected of me.  I must admit, I thought it was going to be a little of a cake walk (there go those expectation:) .  It was not, the work load was massive for my schedule right now and I could feel my tension growing.  I kept putting pressure on myself, starting spinning out of control, pure fear that I would fail.  I then realized something.  I will be working at my current job for a minimum of 9 more years.  I have time, something I never have allowed myself once I get an idea or goal, got to get it done, done as quickly as possible and with outstanding grades.  I prayed about it, and realized I had not purchased my books yet and that I would drop one class.  Before the end of the week, I dropped them all.  I have the book for one of the classes and will start that in the Summer semester and see how I do with online courses.

I guess my point in all this gibberish is that I allowed myself a break from the very high expectations I placed on myself at this point.  I just had surgery, just returned to work this past week and have a 12 day vacation planned in February, I simply am not in the right frame of mind to start my schooling.  I realized it was not my priority right now.  My priority is to work on my program on a daily basis.  This is something I have a hard time with.  I need to treat my program like a class that I really enjoy with some homework.  The class is the meetings, sponsor meetings, counseling meetings and this blog.  The homework is always where I get stuck.  That is the follow-through work, the reading, the meditation, the self care, etc.  When I am on track and doing the best I can, I see and feel the positive changes it makes in my life.  So again, I am learning that I can still return to school, but it is not an emergency for me, and I want to return to school and enjoy it this time around.  I want it to be on my terms, not because I need to hash out a career path so I can pay bills and support my son as a single mom.  I have the freedom to never return to school again if I so choose.  It is not all or nothing, and the more I am learning that, the better I feel about myself and trust myself.  It is a great feeling.

Blessings to you all,


January 10, 2011

Banging Your Head Against the Wall Over and Over

Tonight I was doing some reading out of my "Hope for Today" and flipped to a reading that really struck me.  I will not quote it completely verbatim but loosely. 

Could it be that all the pain and suffering I have been going through with Z for the past several years could have all been his fault?  Through Al-anon meetings, my sponsor and counseling sessions I have come to understand that I must take responsibility for my own peace and happiness.

Early in my own recovery I would often bring the same questions/problems to my sponsor, counselor or bring them up in meetings.  I would often liken it to hitting my head against the same wall over and over, that is what it felt like what I was doing.  I kept trying to "fix" the problems of my son's addiction by doing the same exact thing every time without it ever working, sometimes making things much worse. 

From today's reading there is an expression that was given that reads "an addicts behavior and your response the first time it happens is a fluke, second is a coincidence, and three times is a pattern."

What did this mean for me?  If I was still suffering in reaction to Z's specific behavior that has happened over three times, I needed to stop hoping the behavior would cease and instead, detach and start changing my attitudes, expectations and responses.

I have been able to see my own suffering was as a result of my own reactions to others which has helped me to be aware of my contribution to the problem.  Sometimes my part is bringing up something better left unsaid (like hey son, you look a little pale today; oh, so you are really doing well even though your pupils look like pin needles), etc.  Or sometimes I would start a serious conversation at an inappropriate time (this happened too many times to count and at too many locations to list).  Other times my part is harboring unrealistic expectations of others (especially Z) and of myself also.  When I am willing and aware and can see my part of the pattern, I can choose to respond in a way that will not cause me suffering.  There is no need to suffer because of the behaviors of others, I can only change my responses and attitude, which allows me to enjoy my own life.

"Thought for the Day":  The next time I react to another's behavior, I'll ask myself how many times I've reacted the same way before. (If I am always reacting, then I am never free)"

I must say that a little over a year ago, if you would have told me I would be writing something like this I would have thought you were a little crazy.  I mean come on, me being the problem, he is the addict!  What responsibility other than the guilt of creating an addict (which I know now is not my fault).  The relationship I had with my son one year ago is so very different than the one I have with him today.  We laugh and joke, I almost never get up in his life journey (notice I said almost as we all slip).  The pattern talked about above in the reading is so very true and I believe one of the most important elements in parents moving forward from their pain over their addicted loved one and the addict taking responsibility for their own journey and path they are on.  The pattern between Z and I was completely diseased for many years.  I don't think it has changed his addiction, but it has changed our relationship and a much deeper understanding of each other, compassion for each other and boundaries that are understood by each other.  I thank God and am so grateful for getting to a place where it doesn't have to be all or nothing.  I choose to have a relationship with my son whether he is clean or sober, again with boundaries.  He knows not to come to my home completely stoned out of his mind anymore.  Most days when I speak with him I can actually understand his words now and we both speak with much more respect towards one another.  This has made a HUGE difference in both of our lives, how happy we are, how much more peaceful life is and how much we love each other openly.  Acceptance that my son could be an active addict for the rest of his life, grieving that and then deciding if I wanted him in my life on life's terms was essential to me getting to this place.  Z is doing better than he has in years and is proud of himself.  I am doing better than I have in years and am also proud of myself.  I think for me, this is what it is about. 

So much gratitude to this blog community, my sponsor, my counselor and the Al-Anon program for helping me to get this far.  To helping me break the pattern.


January 4, 2011

Falling off the Beam

So it has been quite some time since I have posted on my long lost blog.  I miss my blogging and the community that follows.  I do pop in sometimes and read you all, but lately I am feeling a bit off the beam and I need the support.  My family group and local Al-anon group have all but shut down and I always felt that this blogging community was like going to a meeting anyways!  I will attempt to start writing more so I can move forward in my growth.

Z is living in the next town up from us, working and living with his fiance that he met in rehab.  They are attempting to get an apartment of their own and we have worked on our own relationship quite a bit.  I have finally realized that things are not going to be what I expect or want them to be, but as they are.  Z knows my boundaries and I am more accepting of him and his choices.  We have spent time together at the holidays and it was really nice.  I believe he is still using but that it his stuff, his road to travel and I have plenty on my own road.

Off work for a couple of weeks from yet another surgery and am healing nicely.  I am struggling however with trying to set myself up some type of recovery schedule.  My sleep schedule is completely off and has been for years.  My meditation skills need much work.  I find that I am placing quite a bit of expectation on myself and my recovery even though I know it is practice, not perfection.  So here I sit with some time to work on myself and finding myself sitting and watching TV all day when I am not asleep.  Feeling a little toxic, I know it seems as though I am stuck in the land of self pity today.  Hmmm, something to think about.  I believe I will go off and meditate on that and make myself a nice long gratitude list, then call my sponsor. 

Happy New Year everyone!