Step 1

Compassion for Kitty

After nearly losing my mind and my humanity in the same day when I sat in cat poop, I was on the verge of animal abuse and traumatizing Luna. I’m not proud. Quite ashamed to tell the truth. When LaLa showed up while I was still working to let go of all the negativity and rage and I told her what had happened. She told me, “Violence against animals is still violence.”

I know this. I believe this. I never could have imagined that I would EVER be capable of animal abuse in anyway, shape or form. I’ve had the same harsh and judgmental thoughts toward those who abuse animals that others have. “They deserve their own personal level of hell along with child molesters.” Yeah, THAT.

Thank GOD I didn’t actually abuse him.

However I was overly harsh and nearly out of control and Luna witnessed it. It scared me.

It scared me.

I had a REALLY rough night last night in conflict with Keith via text and private message after a Head Start Parent Policy Council Meeting where I was approached afterward and informed I had communicated in a way that possibly made others feel as though I was correcting them and treating them as inferior. In the middle of the conflict with Keith, the cat pooped on a blanket on the couch. I felt sick . . . for multiple reasons. The cat was not harmed in ANY way shape or form.

Insomnia reigned. I reached out privately to some supportive people.

I don’t have the energy or the will to go into details. We just need prayer, I need a lot of prayer. I feel like the plane is taking a nosedive and the oxygen mask I’m supposed to use for me never dropped but I’m supposed to be administering the ones that dropped for everyone else. Not a pity party and I know God will carry me through, but I’m having a hard time breathing.

After receiving private, one-on-one, compassion, encouragement, and support from one of them, I was breathing easier. I was able to work through the conflict with Keith, somewhat. Definitely feeling the powerlessness and unmanageability of the co-dependency. *sigh* Process. ODAT.

3:30 am scooping the box and cleaning up someone’s barely digested, regurgitated cat food. yay.

3:45 Sweatshirt on and out to smoke a forbidden cigarette.

4:30 Oblivion shuts my eyes and switches off the brain for a few hours.

7:30 The slight vibration of the silent phone from a text sent by Keith, “Are you still awake?” Interpreted by my bleary eyes and muddled brain, “Are you awake yet?”

Um, no. Roll over. Close the eyes. Drift in the zone trying to regain oblivion, didn’t happen.

*sigh* Walk out the bedroom door sniffing for the telltale scent of a cleaning task. Nothing new. Gratitude.

Into the living room, switch the lights on and look around. There he is: Big, beautiful, silent, beseeching. Carefully, gently, calmly I pick him up and cradle him in my arms.

I’d forgotten how soft he is. How steady and low the thrum of his purr is. How gently he reaches his paw to rest on the back of my hand. Claws too long to sheath fully, barely pressing against my flesh.

I rub my face against his fur. “I’m sorry buddy. I guess we’re both broken, huh?”

He needs my compassion and empathy as much as I need yours.

Later….

Luna comes out of the bedroom. “He’s not a bad cat anymore?”

“He was never a bad cat. Mommy was just wrong.”

“Yes.”

If you or someone you know in the Portland, Or area can help Jade, please send an email to humaninrecovery@gmail.com. We love him but cannot provide for his needs. We don’t want to take him to the shelter where he will likely wind up euthanized and don’t want to turn him loose to fend for himself and we risk eviction by having him in our existing housing situation. He’s been part of our lives for over 12 years and it’s breaking my heart to not be able to give him the care he deserves.20130130-091953.jpg

Step 1 Powerlessness: Peace Like A River

The previous four days have been completely wrought with high emotion, deep distress, and life-changing events. Most of the stress and conflicted thoughts and feelings centered around my co-dependent qualifier, Keith, whom I sincerely and honestly believe experiences Borderline Personality Disorder. A significant amount of his symptoms, especially the anger, were triggered by my son’s treatment of him when we attended his wedding on Saturday, cementing the rift between them.

Another potentially triggering event was that LaLa once again needed to leave where she had been living, bring some of her things here, and stay here temporarily, on the same day he came home. Those of you who have been following for a while may recall how badly that went the last time it happened.

Thankfully, LaLa has grown and matured, as have I. So, she was more cognizant of the role her own actions and choices have in contributing to conflict, especially with Keith. She’s doing the work on her inner self that she needs to do. I’m so proud of her and was grateful to have her around.

I think the most difficult thing about my life’s choices and the resulting consequences and turmoil is the realization that I don’t have the power to change my past decisions and their outcomes. Another difficult thing is being able to see and appreciate the good that comes from what seems and feels so bad. The latter difficulty appears to cancel out the former difficulty.

A friend posted this today:
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I may regret the pain and sorrow my two oldest children experienced as a result of my relationship with Keith. I may wish we had been less toxic with one another and had found our path to functionality and healing sooner. Our present difficulties may trigger feelings and thoughts that try to feed my inner fears and demons. Yet, none of that means I regret Keith’s existence, because without him, Luna would not exist.

After examining myself and facing my inner truth, I know that regardless who my partner in dysfunction was, I would have been the same me I was and my oldest kids would have suffered from that, regardless who I was in relationship with.

Because it was Keith, we have Luna, who is the love and light of not only her daddy’s eyes, but the thread of love and joy that connects us all, even though the rift between her father and brother is so deep and wide it currently seems unnavigable.

I am powerless to heal that rift. I can’t reason or explain away the anger, resentment, and deep wounds that exist between them. I can’t control or dictate when, if, or how they are going to interact, forgive, or work through their damage.

I just know I can’t and won’t close either one of them out of my life and my heart.

As we were driving away from the wedding on Saturday and Keith continued to rant and rave in overwrought anger because he was so hurt by the rejection and ostracization he experienced by my son, all I could do is close my eyes and breathe.

It hurt me deeply to hear what he was saying: I hurt for him, I hurt for me, I hurt for Luna, who was hearing her dad, and I hurt for my son. I had no ability to intervene and stop the flow of words, thoughts, or feelings emanating and overflowing from Keith’s side of the car.

I felt my pulse pounding, my heart skipping beats, an explosive pressure building up in my head, and the constricting, choking sensation closing my throat and causing my breathing to come in short, incomplete bursts.

I began thinking of an old hymn, actually one phrase, “Peace like a river.” I closed my eyes and began praying and hearing the hymn inside my mind. As I did, I began recalling the story of the lyricist. This man lost so much and went through incredible hardship prior to writing the words to this song. His tale was a modern (in his time) story of Job.

The realization came that if a man who has gone from the height of socioeconomic and familial success to the overwhelming loss of it all in uncertain times, can experience and write about such profound spiritual and inner peace because he experienced it, then I can too.

My peace cannot continue to be dependent on people or circumstances, relationships or the approval of others. My peace has to become founded on the knowledge that regardless of what is happening in or around me, “it is well with my soul,” and my story is still being told.

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Join Bloggers for Peace at Everyday Gurus

Step 1: Powerlessness – “weary and scattered”

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“In what counterfeit ways do we seek for interior security through codependent manipulation of the outside world?” ~ Serenity: A Companion For Twelve Step Recovery

• Perfectionism
• Workaholism
• Approval/Praise seeking
• Distorted focus on body/health issues
• Relationship dependency

These are just a few behavioral, mental, and emotional distractions and dysfunctions listed. They also happen to encompass the myriad of ways I have sabotaged myself and immobilized my life.

There are so many physical and psychological symptoms that have combined to give me the diagnoses of depression and fibromyalgia: fatigue, insomnia, apathy, headaches, itchiness, headaches, nausea, restless/repetitive movement, sensitivity to light, sound, odors, touch, and taste, lack of concentration, and memory disruption – to name a few.

I have come to limit and define myself by these things. I have chased remedies and information as though any peace, joy, contentment, happiness or love were dependent on the externals: physical appearance, health, material & relational success. Always encountering another obstacle, self-imposed or otherwise and then giving in and giving up.

Recently I have seen the statement that submitting is not the same as surrendering. However, these two words are synonymous.

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The reality is that I have submitted and surrendered to the obstacles inside of myself and to the circumstances of my life, instead of believing that I am more than the sum of my past mistakes.

I understand the need for taking care of the physical and nutritional needs of my physical being, that by not doing these things I am contributing to and exacerbating my own misery. However, I feel overwhelmed, “weary and scattered,” not knowing how to apply the knowledge or which thing to take on first. I have resigned myself to failure, lack, and conflict.

That feels like defeat.

I landed myself in quicksand or I got pushed, pulled, prodded or manipulated into it. How I wound up in the immobilizing muck that has been sucking me under doesn’t even matter at this point. The reality is that I’m here and all my best efforts just made me sink faster.

On top of that, I kept reaching out to people and things that are also mired as I am and hoping to somehow work my way out by grasping onto them.

Admitting that my intellect, my reasoning, my strength, my knowledge, my abilities and my experience have not enabled me to heal and grow into the person I was created to be, is a difficult admission to make.

I am where I am in spite of myself and thanks to great gift of mustard seed sized faith that I am loved, despite the mountainous range of doubt that tries to overshadow it. I hold onto this tiny seed and reach again for the Vine that has brought me through the muck and mire to this point. I am progressing to a firmer foundation than the lies I’ve been believing.

Admitting my powerlessness opens me up to ask for and receive the help I need to keep moving forward.

Renewed Resolution: My Recovery Plan in 2013

Happy New Year everyone. I hope everyone brought in the new year in safety. Mine was fairly quiet and uneventful. I watched a couple of episodes of Doctor Who and caught up on Suits

I was also very frustrated and overwhelmed that Luna absolutely would not leave “her” cat alone. I am powerless over this little girl and cannot get her to understand that just because he’s her cat, that does not mean she can treat him like he’s a stuffed animal. I’m also upset because I’m powerless over the fact this animal doesn’t seem to believe the litter box is for more than urination. It doesn’t help that we weren’t able to get the medical waivers signed, so the cats are here illegally and we’ll get an eviction notice if and when we get caught with them here.

Once again, my codependency caused me to go against what I know should be done and instead allow my need to appease and cater to others, Keith (formerly known as Jerry) and LaLa, to take over.

So, I act in a codependent manner, increasing resentment and frustration levels and set myself up to be anxious and stressed. This exacerbates the depression & fibromyalgia symptoms of pain, headaches, fatigue, and insomnia and I continue in a cycle of irritable non-productivity, overeating, and escaping into the television or internet.

Time to revisit Step 1 again.

I admit I am powerless over others – my life is unmanageable.

My intention this month is to move beyond the surface admission and to actually work the step. So, I’m going to use the worksheet for Step One found at the 12Step.org website.

Have you seriously damaged your relationships with other people because of your addictive behaviors? If so, list the relationships and how you damaged them.

Let’s not pull any punches, shall we? I think the easier question is, are there any relationships that have not been damaged by my codependency? I’ve bailed on friendships and potential friendships. My two adult children were made to feel unimportant and unloved. Somehow I never take care of myself and my relationship with my God is virtually non-existent.

I shared a saying that perfectly describes a lot of my relationships the other day:

As I have grown older, I’ve learned that pleasing everybody is impossible, but pissing everyone off is a piece of cake.

I have made some progress, but I still find myself trying to control the outcome and making my decisions and choices based on what I think the approval ratings of other people will be.

If other people have told you how you how your have hurt them, then write down what they said

My son is getting married next Saturday. We’ve worked through some of the surface layers of our problems, but he really has zero interest in working through issues he has with Keith. We were initially only invited to the wedding because he wants his youngest sister included in the ceremony.

A couple of weeks ago I discovered he was planning for me to sit at the head table with his in-laws and his adopted family. However, Keith would be seated elsewhere. Instead of waiting to discuss it with my son, I unwisely told his fiancé to seat me with Keith, to try to keep the peace. It backfired and basically he told me if I chose not to sit at the head table I would be choosing Keith over him again and throwing away the progress we’ve made. Last year he told me I treated him like a distant younger brother rather than my son.

When my daughter told me she would be looking at getting adopted by a friend of mine, she explained to me she was doing it because she needed to feel unconditionally loved and accepted and that she was somebody’s priority, because she had never felt that from me.

The fact is that as much as it is my job to teach Luna and guide her in the appropriate and humane way to treat animals, she is an autonomous being. I can give her consequences, but I can’t control her. The cat is almost 13 years old and is used to the outdoors, his choices of where to defecate are beyond my control. Since I opted to let him be brought to live with us, I get to live with the consequences until we figure something else out.

My son gets to decide when, or if, he will ever resolve his issues with Keith. It is his wedding, so we don’t have right to dictate seating arrangements. I also did tell Keith the situation and we are working through it. I agonized, but faced it head on and let him feel his feelings about it. I have been facing things with LaLa and our relationship has become more mutually open, accepting, and encouraging.

It’s complicated and the only one whose thoughts or actions I have a right to control are mine. Right now, most of the time, those are on autopilot and out my immediate control.

So, yeah, working through this powerless thing this month, ODAT – One Day at a Time is pretty critical right now.


GOD, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living ONE DAY AT A TIME, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as the pathway to peace. Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will…

Powerless over … food?

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable

Proverbs 26:11-12
26:11 As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.
26:12 Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity

Matthew 11:28-30
11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God

John 1:12-13
1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

How is it possible that food is an addiction?  How is it possible that I am a food addict?  It’s kind of crazy, right?

I mean, I have watched alcohol and cigarettes kill one family member and marijuana and other illegal substances destroy the lives of various family members, friends and acquaintances.  I’ve heard and seen stories about sex, gambling, hoarding and other obsessive compulsive diseases.  I’ve been codependent my entire adult life and in a severely codependent relationship for almost 17 years.  I understand or at least accept that these are “real” addictions and “real” diseases.” But food? Come on!

I can’t be addicted to food.  I know that I have a lifetime of using food to distract myself from my emotions, but that just means food is the symptom and not the disease, right?

I have hidden, lied about, and stolen food – well that’s just because I don’t want to hear what the opinions and attitudes of others when I eat and I don’t want to see the look of judgment in their eyes.  Ok, but why? Oh, because I’m feeling ashamed and guilty and know I shouldn’t be eating whatever it is in whatever quantities at the time I’m eating because I’m not eating out of true hunger, but for some other reason and the food is calling to me.  I don’t HAVE to eat when I’m not hungry, I’m just eating because I don’t want to be rude and refuse someone who’s offering, even though I just ate a little while ago.  I’m just eating because I haven’t had that one dish in such a long time, a taste won’t matter…then I have two or three servings because it tastes sooo good, but now I’m uncomfortably stuffed.  Oh, I don’t want anything, really, but that looks good, how does it taste, do you mind if I try it?  All of that sounds suspiciously like the actions, rationalizations, excuses and motivations of an addict.

I had a really good week last week with my recovery journey…at least in terms of my psychological and emotional recovery.  However, each day my eating was getting more and more out of control.  I have been telling myself that food is the symptom.  If that’s the case, why then did my eating reach the point where I made a deliberate and conscious choice to over eat beyond the point of discomfort last night and to the point that I’m in physical discomfort this morning?  Hmmm, maybe because food is as much part of my disease as the emotional and psychological aspects of the disease?

Hi, I’m a food addict.  I am powerless over food.  My life is unmanageable.  I believe that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity and today I choose to turn my food and eating, as well as my thoughts and emotions over to the care of God as I understand Him.  Lord, help me.

Recovery: Restart & Refresh

I’ve dabbled with recovery probably for the past 18-20 years or so.  I’ve attended a couple of meetings with Overeaters Anonymous & CoDependents Anonymous for my issues and AA/NA for issues that others have.  Primarily, I’ve sought biblical-based recovery programs and attended more of those meetings: Overcomer’s Outreach, Celebrate Recovery, and other church hosted recovery groups.  I’ve also gone through Parents Anonymous and sought out counseling: individual, couples, family, group, group family, cognitive and behavioral therapies.  It has all worked to varying degrees of effectiveness, but I’ve never truly surrendered, not for any length of time.

So, here I am, approaching mid-life with my family relationships in complicated and difficult transition and on the verge of collapse, finances in relative ruin, body and physical health deteriorating, continually wondering why I still have a job in light of my scattered and unfocused unproductivity, and cycling through fibroflares and depression.  So repressed that I can barely smile a genuine smile at the tinkling laugh of my toddler or find a reason to enjoy a peaceful moment in the presence of my adult children or my partner.  I’m tired of conflict, tired of crying, tired of trying to figure it all out and realizing nothing has changed, really.

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable

Psalms 38:3-14
38:3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.
38:4 For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
38:5 My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.
38:6 I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.
38:7 For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh.
38:8 I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.
38:9 Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee.
38:10 My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me.
38:11 My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off.
38:12 They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long.
38:13 But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth.
38:14 Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs.

http://www.12step.org/references/the-bible/scriptures-for-step-1.html

I am powerless over my own thoughts, beliefs, actions and motivations.  I am powerless over the food and my codependent relationships.  My life is unmanageable.