This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from janipoo. Make your own badge here.
a surrendered life
Not my phrase, by the way. It came from Oprah's show today on which she interviewed Tatum O'Neal about her near relapse. The only reason she didn't use the drug she scored was because she was arrested with it in her hand. Eighteen hours in jail but still clean and sober.

Addictions come in many forms ranging from substance abuse to particular ways of behaving but the common factor in all of them is an attempt to control things....outcomes, pain, the past. The twelve steps of AA proved to be so valuable for recovering alcoholics that people who are addicted to other things adopted them to deal with their personal demons. Sex. Gambling. Co-dependency. Say what?

Yep...that is what I went into recovery for and I clawed my way up and down those 12 steps a jillion times. Still do. Step numero uno is admitting that there is a problem...that you are in pain and your life is out of control. At 32, the pain was so terrible that I had no choice but to seek help. I had lived my life up to that point for everyone else but me and worn enough hats to fill up two racks in the hallway. Nice girl. Church member. Rebel without a cause. Daughter. Sister. Granddaughter. Medical technologist. Wife. Mother. Friend. And like Quixote, I jousted at every windmill that I encountered with a feverish desire to rigidly plan my life and be happy. Only I rarely was because I was so exhausted from sweatin' the small stuff 24/7.

Co-dependency is a disease just like any other behavioral addiction, only you can hide it really well. Who would dare suspect that the overachieving working mother who busts her butt at the day job and is all things to her family could possibly be an addict?! It was at this point that I was slapped smartly on the face with the realization that I didn't know who I was. Oh, I knew what my chosen vocation was and I did it extremely well, sometimes to a fault. My family life suffered because of my dogged devotion to a career that demands a lot both physically and emotionally. I was keenly aware of what others thought of me and constantly striving for approval with emphasis on pleasing those in authority. And that wasn't just at work. I always wanted to do the "politically correct" thing. I wanted my parents to be proud of me and I wanted my husband to love me and my daughter to grow up happy and healthy. I wanted to earn enough money to not have to worry about it and to be appreciated for my accomplishments at work.

The journey of self-discovery continues today, but I learned a lot of things those first few years that gave me the strength to keep digging until I found a different version of ME that was less painful and more peaceful. The 2nd step to that journey was accepting the fact that not much of it is something that I can control. The only thing I can truly claim is my outlook on life and the way that I react to others. The rest of the steps are tools to navigate that process. One of the hardest to get past is the place where you do a personal inventory of your own character defects and admit them to another person. Hey, nobody's perfect so go for it.

A lot of anger surfaced during that time...at anybody I could blame this or that pain on. Most of it turned out to be losses that I had not grieved fully or situations in which I was a player in someone else's game. I learned to distance myself from situations that felt uncomfortable emotionally and to be very cautious about why I was doing something...was it for someone's approval or for my own reasons? I would take five steps and go crashing down to the bottom again. Only this time the first one wasn't so difficult. Eventually they became a part of who I was and the way I lived my life. I began to recognize the things that trapped me and began to chew those bonds loose with my teeth thread by thread. I felt worthy and content just being who I was.

One of the most valuable behaviors one can have in this life is gratitude and I try to practice it even if I don't feel particularly grateful. If I've gotta bitch, I'll do it here or to a trusted friend who will let me vent and move on without a whole lot of drama. While I feel honored to have someone's respect or friendship, I really don't care what people think of me. I yam what I yam and I'm okay with it. This is not to say that there aren't some really REALLY dark days. But the difference now, is that I know they will pass. And I know that there is a plan where I may have to make decisions here and there, but for the most part all I have to do is be the best me that I'm capable of. The rest will take care of itself.

Today? The glass is half full.

Powered by Blogger
Design by CyberVassals