Monthly Archives: October 2013

I am just one person.

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difference

 

Today was a pretty rough day in my house.  Our 3-year-old cat died from a sudden and rapid kidney failure.  We realized last night she may not make it through the night.  Sadly, my daughter was tired from an outing last night when we came home and fell asleep before we realized there would be no chance for her to say goodbye.  This cat was special to the two of us.  She was found abandoned before her eyes even opened, and together we bottle-fed her and nursed her into a healthy, albeit very devilish little kitty.

babymaddiedevil kitty

So, when my daughter woke up today, Maddie was already gone.  I watched my 12-year-old sit on the floor with her pet and stroke her soft  fur.  She quickly made her a necklace of bright-colored string and tied it around her little neck.  She lovingly touched her with tears flowing the entire time.  She said her goodbye in her own way, and it was heart wrenching to watch as a parent.

When I logged on to Facebook, still feeling pretty sad, this was the message that awaited me from a friend: “Just so you know: you are one of the nicest people I know, and you have made my life better just by being in it.”  This friend had no idea what had been going on in my house, in fact I hadn’t talked to him in the past few days. It was just random.  One of his friends had posted the status “Just in case you need to hear it today: go out of your way to make someone’s day. Give them a simple compliment and watch their day turnaround.” and he decided to do just that.

This reminded me of a meditation from last week.

Just for Today – October 13

“Words cannot describe the sense of spiritual awareness that we receive when we have given something, no matter how small, to another person.”

Basic Text p. 100

Sometimes it seems as though there is so much wrong with the world that we might as well forget trying to make a difference. “After all,” we think, “what in the world can I do? I’m just one person.” Whether our concerns are so broad that we desire global peace or so personal that we simply want recovery made available to every addict who wants it, the task seems overwhelming. “So much work to do, so little time,” we sigh, sometimes wondering how we’ll ever do any good.

Amazingly enough, the smallest contributions can make the biggest difference. To gain more from life than an ordinary, plodding existence requires very little effort on our parts. We ourselves are transformed by the deep satisfaction we experience when we lift the spirits of just one person. When we smile at someone who is frowning, when we let someone in front of us on the freeway, when we call a newcomer just to say we care, we enter the realm of the extraordinary.

Want to change the world? Start with the addict sitting next to you tonight, and then imagine your act of kindness multiplied. One person at a time, each one of us makes a difference.

Just for today: An act of kindness costs me nothing, but is priceless to the recipient. I will be kind to someone today.

When I read this meditation last week, I thought about all the friends I have who are making such a difference right now.  I have some pretty amazing friends in my life right now who are fighting to make this world a better place.

Sometimes it DOES seem like we’re banging our heads against the wall.  Other days, like the one in this video, are just amazing.  Sometimes when I think about the incredible friends I have and the things they are accomplishing, I think that they must have something I do not.  I think they are making a difference and I wonder if I am capable of that.  This meditation reminds me that making a difference doesn’t have to be global.  Sometimes you just need to be that one person who makes a difference to one other person. 

Today, my friend was that person.  “Just so you know: you are one of the nicest people I know, and you have made my life better just by being in it.”

Thank you.  I needed that today.

 

Things I suck at…and how I’m still ok despite them

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I promised a friend that if I decided to start a blog, that in between the serious posts we could talk about how we are just not together enough for some things and yet we still survive. So many people have this idea of perfection in life and when we fail to meet those horribly high standards we set for ourselves, the result can be a bit depressing. So today let’s talk about how those things don’t matter much in the long run, and how we are still here surviving despite those things.

laundry

 

Laundry. My old nemesis.  To be clear, I know HOW to do laundry. I am actually quite good at the various skills involved in doing laundry.  I know how to sort clothes, empty pockets, get stains out, use different settings for different types of loads, etc… I even was schooled as a young child on the correct ways to fold different types of shirts.  I COULD be a laundry goddess… but I am not. I always have good intentions, but it seems I can never quite follow through.  There is always a basket of unfolded socks and underwear lying around, as if I expect them to march in a line to the dresser, do a triple flip and land folded in the correct drawer.  To this date, I have never seen this happen.  If I ever do, I promise you will be the first to know!  Then there are those days that I get clothes all the way to the point of dry and then completely forget about them. You know, the old “use the dryer as a place to store clothes” days.  The good news is that a 12 year old’s skinny jeans do not tend to wrinkle, and if they do the wrinkles smooth out when they are stretched on in the morning.  The worst days are the ones when you wash and forget.  The worst one ever, my child was 7 and had a white bathing suit with colored hearts all over it. When it came out of the wash, those were not the only colors all over it and some colors were growing in front of my eyes.  That has never happened again.  Hey, at least I am teachable!

junk mail

Junk mail is the bane of my existence.  Ok, really ALL mail.  Even email.  How hard is it to bring the mail in the house, toss the junk mail, open the real stuff and move on?  Apparently harder than I ever imagined.  I have one of those cute little mail organizers hanging on the wall with 3 sections to hold mail.  I swear I could walk in the kitchen right now and find a cable bill from 3 years ago stuffed in one of those slots.  Let’s face it, those things are useless to some people.  The slots are too small for some envelopes, you actually need a schedule to clean them out, and after a few days they just look junky and are full.  I am one of those people.  Sadly, so is my fiance.  Perhaps we need to start scheduling monthly bonfires to invite friends to.  Solve your mail problems AND makes s’mores. I could get on board with that.  Don’t get me started about my email situation.  I literally have thousands of unread emails.  I think I’ve seen a few refer to email bankruptcy.  This sounds like a great idea, purging your email all at once.  If I actually made the time to do it.

Grumpy Cat

Clutter. Let’s be clear, I am not talking about trash and dirt. I do not hoard, we don’t eat in our bedrooms, and we are not unclean or unhygienic.  I accepted long ago that I will never have THAT house, though.  The one that looks like no one lives there? The one that could be shown off every single day of the year.  But just once, I would like for the coffee table to clear itself of the random things that take up residence on it.  I often think it would be so freeing to just go stark minimalist on everyone here and purge the house.  No one would know it from looking at my house, but I am quite the perfectionist.  I have a vision in my head of how I would like a room to look.  The problem occurs when I look at the reality of the room and realize I don’t have enough time to create that vision and decide not to bother.  I’m working on this. I swear! The old “take 5 minutes to pick up SOMETHING” has been in place for a while.  The problem is that my family can do more damage in 5 minutes than I can pick up.  So we have clutter.  And I just really don’t care.

clean house

I guess the point to this post is that we all have things we are not good at.  We get these images in our minds about how we SHOULD live, how an ideal life should be, and how we should be able to accomplish it all.  It’s easy to look at areas where we don’t meet those sometimes impossible standards, and judge yourself as a failure.  Lowering those standards doesn’t mean you fail. Sometimes it’s all about prioritizing them.  Most days I’m happy that my kid went off to school in clean, unwrinkled clothes and isn’t the stinky kid at school.  I never claimed to be, nor wanted to be the domestic goddess.  I know that drives some people crazy, and to those people I extend an open invitation to come do it all themselves. Knock yourself out!

What things are you not the best at?

I am not unlovable.

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beyourself

I remember being 9 and finding out my cousin had a part in the movie “Annie”.  I was so excited for her, we were like sisters!  I memorized the soundtrack to the movie, and could be found wandering around at school and daycare with my Walkman on, singing at the top of my lungs.  The reaction of many kids I knew was that I was “too weird, too different, too everything”.   I stopped singing out loud.

September 30
Being Ourselves
“Our real value is in being ourselves.”
Basic Text, p.101

Over and over, we have tried to live up to the expectations of those around us. We may have been raised believing that we were okay if we earned good grades in school, cleaned our rooms, or dressed a certain way. Always wanting to belong and be loved, many of us spent a lot of time trying to fit in – yet we never quite seemed to measure up.

Now, in recovery, we are accepted as we are. Our real value to others is in being ourselves. As we work the steps, we learn to accept ourselves just as we are. Once this happens, we gain the freedom to become who we want to be.

We each have many good qualities we can share with others. Our experiences, honestly shared, help others find the level of identification they need to begin their recovery. We discover that we all have special gifts to offer those around us.

Just for today: My experience in recovery is the greatest gift I can give another addict. I will share myself honestly with others

When you learn from an early age that who you are inside, secrets and all, is not pleasing to other people, you learn to hide that person from others.  There was no one standing behind me as a child telling me that I could be anything I wanted to be and that who I was inside, the very essence of me, was awesome and amazing.  Instead, the messages I got loud and clear were more like “I saw you lying in the ditch pretending to shoot cars with a stick. That’s SO weird.” “Why are you always getting in trouble? What’s WRONG with you?” “Why are you darker than other people, but you’re not black?” “Don’t be such a baby!” “Don’t tell these secrets, no one will believe you because you lie.”  Well, you get the picture.

You learn early on to try to emulate other people, mold yourself to who you think they want you to be, all in a search for the one thing everyone really wants: to be loved.  That need to be accepted and loved is a strong one in people who don’t feel it freely given in their life.  It can lead to some scary places in life, some heartbreaking places. In many cases, it can and does lead to addiction and mental health issues.  Which only compounds the guilt and shame and belief that you will never be good enough for anyone.  As a rational adult, I can see that this “hole” in my heart was caused by  emotional hunger.  Even in the worst of my addiction, I was able to recognize this and have worked hard not to let this cycle repeat with my daughter.  But I couldn’t put my finger on how to fix this.  Some say fill that hole with God, others attempt to fill it with many other things.  Nothing I tried over the years ever worked.  I see now, why that is.  All of these experiences I had taught me to dislike myself, eventually taught me not to love myself, which in turn left me believing that I was unlovable.  When you feel unlovable, there isn’t a person on earth who can make you feel loved.

“It’s much easier to love yourself when you are being yourself.” When you have spent a lifetime trying desperately not to BE yourself, one day you wake up, sober up, and realize you don’t know WHO you are anymore.  You lose that essence of you.  That can be an overwhelming realization, paralyzing even.  When the only voices in your head telling you about yourself are completely negative, it is time for a clean sweep.

I have learned some things about myself over the past few years. Not about the things that have happened to me in life, or about the things I have done in my life, or even about the people who have been in my life… about ME.

  • I am still here, so apparently I am pretty resilient and strong.  I work every day to believe this, because it is true.
  • I have a kind heart and I care and feel deeply.  This is not ALWAYS a good thing, because it can lead to more hurt.  But what I have learned about myself if that I would rather feel even the pain of life than to not feel at all, because the joy and love of life is so worth it.
  • I have a wicked sense of humor at times.
  • I am a good person. I don’t need other people to tell me this, or to tell me the reasons they don’t think it’s true.
  • I am a good parent.  Now, don’t ask my 12-year-old about this, because I promise you will get a snarly 12-year-old response. But I know the truth.  I know that my child is kind, smart, brave, and loved.  I see the results of my parenting every day, coupled with the essence of who she is, and I know that I am a good parent.

This is only a sampling of the things I am learning about myself.  The fun part of trying to get to know yourself again is the experiences along the way. I have people in my life who love me and accept me for exactly who I am.  I am not the lost person anymore. I am not the sum of my experiences. I am so much more than my past or than opinions of other people. The most important thing I’ve learned is this: I am not unlovable.  I am deeply loved, flaws and all, by the person who matters the most and can fill that hole: ME. 

Sara Bareilles “Brave”

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“And since your history of silence
Won’t do you any good
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?”

This song always makes me feel empowered to speak MY truth! Well that, and it makes me want to dance around the house, which is totally fun too!