Relapse

drowning

Is it possible to have a codependency relapse? I believe so. And I believe I’m in the dark, convoluted, serpentine midst of it all.

Tomorrow, I will accompany my mother to an appointment that may very well reveal that her cancer is back. I will have to sit and sift through the medical jargon that became a part of my every day life almost exactly 4 years ago, taking in all of the information that slides over her as she retreats quietly into her protective shell. I cannot blame her for shrinking away from the data. Data makes it everything real, and that’s the last thing she wants. Hell, it’s the last thing I want, but I don’t have the privilege of handing over the reigns to anyone else. There is no one else. There is only me, and I must once again rip off my civilian clothing to dawn the suit of “Mother” and protect her.

From there, I will drive directly to visit J in a medical detox facility. God, I don’t even know where to start to begin unpacking that statement. To summarize, he decided to finally get off of Subutex, a transitory prescription drug used to help heroin addicts get sober. He was only supposed to be on it for 2 weeks but instead, wound up in the center of a more socially acceptable dependency that has lasted 3 years. A week ago, he decided enough was enough and took active steps towards becoming completely substance independent. I am so extremely proud of his bravery and support his recovery 100%. I know that this is the best thing for him; however, I cannot deny that  it comes at a really difficult time in my life. But it’s not about me, right? (When is it ever about me?) Thus, I pull on the mask of strength, collectiveness, impermeability, and secure it steadfastly to cover my anxiety, exhaustion, and weakness.

I love these two people with all of my heart, and I would sacrifice every last piece of me to ensure their wellbeing, their happiness, their success…I do. And I do it all with a smile on my face and a comforting word on my tongue. But can I be honest? I’m drowning. Cancer, detox, school, work…my list of responsibilities to fulfill the expectations of the spheres around me is starting to close in, and I can feel my grip on my own sanity slipping. I need to go back to therapy, to group, to yoga and church and meditation…but I don’t have the time (or really the energy). What I can do – and what I’ve decided to do – is start writing again…to take advantage of this little space on the internet that is solely mine, where I can lay down the armor I adorn and just breathe. I know I need to get healthy, to make a change for myself, and be intentional about my own recovery, but now is not that hour. For now, this is enough. This is my first step…the next 12 will come with time.

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Fighting the Darkness

My heart is so heavy, and my stomach is sick with disgust. Today, yet another mass shooting occurred, this time right in my backyard. 3 suspects entered a regional center for children and adults with special needs and opened fire, fatally wounding 14 people. Having begun my journey working with young children with special needs, this especially torments me. I can only imagine the experience through the eyes of individuals who already struggle with over-stimulation, are easily startled/triggered, and who wrestle with emotional regulation as they were thrust in the middle of one of the scariest situations any person could endure. I send my deepest condolences to all of the families who were affected by today’s heinous crime.

I only have one question..why? What motive could anyone have to rain havoc and destruction on any group of people, let alone those that struggle with disabilities?  What has our world come to? This is a thought that I know is on most everyone’s mind, and I can’t even fathom where to begin to address it. Maybe there is no straight answer except that there is unexplainable evil in the world with which each person battles internally, some of us winning and some of us losing. But that doesn’t satisfy, does it?

Today, I sat with my little client, Jack, as his mother watched the aftermath of the shooting play out on her television set. Everything in me ached. All I wanted to do was hold Jack close and protect him from all of the evil out there in the world – to lock him up where he will be safe, but doing that is an injustice in of itself. It would deprive Jack of all the good I know is still out there too.

So I now have made it my mission to give Jack as many tools as possible to help him with his difficult areas and prepare him for his journey ahead. I guess that’s really all we can do. We cannot change the heart of every person, predict and modify everyone’s thoughts and behaviors, or prevent all the bad things in life from happening. Instead, we can inform the ones we love of the unpredictability of human nature and equip them with the necessary tools to handle any situation as early as possible. We cannot control every variable, but we can manipulate our given pieces to allow ourselves – and the ones we love – the best advantage point to tackle whatever life can throw. Whether it’s by teaching our little ones self defense, awareness, calming techniques, or tolerance for stimulation, we have tools at our disposal. Though it may not feel like it in distressing times like these, we are not powerless.

Let me say that again -WE. ARE. NOT. POWERLESS.

Yes, right now it may seem as though the enemy – the overwhelming evil of the world – has won. But it only wins when we stop fighting. So today, though my heart is indeed so heavy, I pledge to never stop. I will continue to educate my loved ones about the bad AND the good, teach them all I can, and then let them add the light of their life to the world. If we keep this up, and our little ones pass on the same lessons to their families down the road, and so on and so forth, eventually the light will outweigh the dark.

We just have to keep trying.

Unraveling (The GOOD Way)

Back when I was in one-on-one therapy, I was given extremely useful insight that has stuck with me to this day…

I had entered my session feeling overly anxious for unknown reasons,scribblehead and I iterated this to my therapist. She said, “Freedom, anxiety in of itself is not a single emotion. It is a mixture and jumble of other emotions that are snowballing into this pit in your stomach.” From there we began to unravel the convoluted hairball that was consuming both my mental and physical wellbeing. Turns out I was worried about my mother’s health, overwhelmed with my caseload at school, and angry at my boyfriend for something or rather. Being able to label exactly why I was feeling the way I was feeling was an emotional breakthrough for me already. Plus, it gave my therapist a starting point for our session that day.

Today,  I am no longer attending therapy (though  I tell myself everyday that I need to go back), but I still use that technique of “peeling the anxiety onion” whenever I feel turned upside down with worry.

What brought this up? Well, I woke today up with an all too familiar feeling in my tummy – churning, gurgling, nausea- and I employed my unraveling tool.

Here is today’s list of anxiety provokers:

  1. Again, I am worried about my mother’s health. She has had 4 episodes in the past few weeks in which she experienced extreme disorientation – forgetting where she was, why she was there, and who the people around her were. Hearing this, my warning bellswarningsign went off, and I immediately encouraged her to make an appointment with her doctor. However, my sweet but sometimes stubborn mother has given me the excuse that she is waiting for insurance yaddah yaddah to come into effect. I am struggling with my Codependency in regards to this…guess its ugly head is just inescapable in my life. I’m not sure if I am supposed to just go on and make the appointment for her like everything in me is screaming to do, or if I simply need to let her go through the process on her own. I go back on forth on this every hour minute second.
  2. As I mentioned yesterday, I have this new job that has an extremely steep learning curve, and I am feeling discouraged after my first week. Though my supervisors and the schIcantool staff I work with have all expressed their deep gratitude for my work, I cannot help but feel that I am in over my head. Trust me, I know that these thoughts are typical for someone starting out in an entirely new field, but the fact is, I still have ’em, and they are NOT nice. I have my first solo session tomorrow with sweet Jack (name has been changed for confidentiality purposes), and I could not be more nervous. Add that the the core of my anxiety mush.
  3. I have to register for school on Monday the 30th, and the main class that I need has only 6 spots left. DARN ALL YOU PEOPLE WHO HAVE JUMPED ONTO THE SPEECH PATHOLOGY TRAIN. PLEASE SWITCH YOUR MAJORS NOW BECAUSE THERE IS NO MORE ROOM FOR YOU AT CSUN. PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
    Golemn
  4. Finally, it is the week of Thanksgiving, and I will be thrown into the mix of potentially socially challenging situations. I have discovered lately that I have some form of social anxiety (yes, yes, I know I need to go back to therapy…), and it has caused me some pain in particular settings.While I absolutely ADORE J’s immediate family and feel very comfortable in their presence, I will be meeting an entirely new set of faces that will be in town for the holidays. Pl
    ease be still, my dying heart. I know I’ll get through it, I just pray they like me. Oh, hello again, Codependency…

As you can see, I have quite a bit on my plate, but let me tell you, even just writing it all out has made me feel slightly better. Thank you WordPress for being the silent ear that I need.

What are your anxiety makers today? Go ahead, give the unraveling a shot! Just be warned, once you start pulling, it’s hard to stop. But that’s what blogging is for. So let it go, see what happens. Oh, and if you feel up for it, share your results; it’s freeing! I would know 🙂

unraveling.jpg

 

 

Freedom 2.0

Sigh…

Looking for inspiration

I have sat here with the cursor blinking on a blank WordPress page for about 10 minutes now, just thinking of how to begin this post. Over and over I would type a few words, laugh at my lack of creativity, erase everything and delve in complete mental silence all over again. It is the most frustrating feeling to have all of these thoughts pinging around in your head and to have no inspiring opening lines.

So I guess, I’ll just begin.

I quit my job! Ha, I think I should have just started with that news. I’m not quite sure if I mentioned what exactly I did, but it no longer matters. Just know that it was extremely boring, mindless work that was unchallenging in every way. Now, I have found myself in the midst of the opposite field, one that has a steep learning curve but a dynamic and rewarding payoff. Friends, I am now a Registered (almost) Behavior Technician (a.k.a Behaviorist), specifically working with children with special needs. In the span of 2 days, I went from imputing data into a computer to implementing behavior modification techniques both in home and in school environments to the most amazing kiddos. It is such a promising opportunity that has put me on the ground floor of my future career aspirations as a Speech Pathologist.

Blocks

To be honest, it is this job that has motivated me to pick up blogging once again. Confession time: I am a notorious, serial project-abandoner. Ask any one of my family members or close friends…I sincerely struggle with maintaining and/or finishing the random, creative outlets I take on. I have half-knit blankets, partially written songs, and squeaky clean exercise gear lying around the house. Thus, it is unsurprising to me that I have drifted off of the face of the WordPress planet over the past few months. Please understand that I am not justifying my behavior as a positive attribute, but it is simply a part of me that still needs some serious work.

Anyhoo… after my first week at the new job, I honestly felt so emotionally drained. I had a difficult time adjusting and felt both overwhelmed and disheartened all at once. Overall, I knew I needed an outlet for the pent-up emotions that were brewing (and I’m sure will continue to brew). So here I am. I need to write to keep my sanity. I am working with extremely emotional little people, and being extremely emotional myself, I will need a safe space where I can vent and cry and grow and reflect and learn all at once. From my past experience, blogging is just the perfect medium.

Overwhelmed

For those who have been on this journey with me from the beginning, things are going to look a little different around here. I definitely need to get back to Codependency introspection, but for now, that will be interspersed between my everyday vent fest. I am going to focus on growth and learning in general, and should Codependency topics rear their heads in the midst of that, so be it. Altogether, though, I just want to focus on the new path that I am on (mainly because I am so excited about it), and not be too harsh on myself in the realm of change. Instead of forcing it, I’m just going to let it be and love myself through the new process.

So for now…Freedom has a new face!
Love it or Leave it.

 

 

 

Realignment

HOME

Hello again, my dear WordPress community. It has been quite awhile since I have broken bread with you all in fellowship, but I really needed the space to reevaluate my recovery. While blogging had proven itself to be an amazing outlet for me to discuss both my victories and my failures, it also slowly began to transform itself into a dangerous situation. You see, I began to get sidetracked by this notion that my stories were sparking change in other people. While that, in of itself, is a positive repercussion of this whole experience, it was always supposed to remain just that – a cherry on top of this amazing journey towards a better, more peaceful me. That wasn’t the case, however. This idea of “writing to fix people” started to consume my sense of purpose, and my own ppuzzlerogress was no longer my main priority. So it was time for a break. I simply wanted to recenter myself and redirect this blog towards a more introspective dialogue.

Now, that isn’t to say that I don’t want to continue to encourage sharing and    community…quite the opposite! Those spheres have been nothing but positive influences for me, and I intend to foster the relationships I have built through this medium. I just want to refocus on falling in love with me because let’s be honest, that alone if a full time job. Please continue to comment and interject your thoughts and opinions; they will always, ALWAYS be welcomed and appreciated here.

Here is a quick update on my life as it stands now:

J is off on another adventure. This trip is the longest one yet – 6 weeks in Savannah, GA working for another reality TV show. Let me just tell you that it has been quite the struggle and strain on our relationship, but we are working through it. I am working through it. If you have read any of my past posts regarding this matter, you and I both know that the distance is really difficult for me largely due to Codependency. But it is also growing me. I am learning so much of what it means to be comfortable in “aloneness” and how to cope with all of the doubts and insecurities that plague my mind like an unwanted tape recorder stuck on repeat. Everyday is a new opportunity for me to explore another step of recovery. Some days I win, and some days (most days) I lose, but I am discovering that it isn’t about the end goal right now; it is about the process.crossroads

My family is about to go through a rough time. I can’t delve into too much detail because ofthe sensitivity and confidentiality of the matter, but a storm is coming. I am deeply saddened. My heart weeps at its core for a particular woman in my life who means the world to me. She is faced with the most difficult of situations that is forcing her to choose between her own happiness and the happiness of others. Neither path is an easy one, but I love her enough to support whatever she decides. If anyone understands the importance and responsibility of taking care of oneself, it should be me. But still my heart weeps.

Part of my re-dedication and commitment to myself has involved getting healthy and getting active once again. I have gone back to bikram yoga (hot yoga), and it has really boosted me both physically and emotionally. Not only that, but I am simply trying to get outdoors more. I have been hiking semi-consistently, but really just allowing myself to find harmony with Mother Nature. That, too, has done wonders for my spirit.

Next week, I will be traveling to North Carolina for my best friend’s wedding. I will also be driving down to spend a few days and nights with J as Georgia is only 4 hours away. So I have much to look forward to!

Writing is truly one the best outlets for me to express my thoughts and to reflect upon my life journey. I am so happy to be back and to be at peace with this blogging experience once again.

Thank you for your patience and for continuing to be open ears and open hearts that have helped propel me towards a better place. I hope you all are well!

Namaste,
Freedom

Rumblings

I am floating in a chasm, it feels, balanced somewhere between here and nowhere. I can hear a distant pulsing, almost as if the swirling mess around me is alive with fervor. I am suspended.

That is truly how I feel right now. I feel like I am on the verge of something big. It all started when I began reflecting upon this blog; my thoughts trailed from one post to another, analyzing my overall growth. While I do know that i have taken leaps and bounds in my recovery, even in these past weeks alone, I also sense a tiny orb of “incompleteness”. I can’t explain it, nor can I fully describe it, but I know that it’s there. It’s real.

What is my goal for this blog? What is my goal in recovery or even in Life as it encompasses me?

Those are the types of questions that have been pinging back and forth in my brain, like dots that won’t sit still long enough for me to connect.

I wish I could go back in time and sit my younger self down, explain to her all of what Codependency is, and send her packing on a journey towards self-discovery and self-love. If that were an actual, tangible facet of this blog – the ability to transmit my writings back in time to a younger me – it would have set my purpose apart from the get go. Sadly, that is not the case. It is too late for the younger me. But there are hundreds and thousands of young adults who could benefit from the wisdom I never received at their age.

Blogging simply to vent my feelings and connect with an online community is no longer satisfying the growing passion within my heart. The more I write, the more I feel as though I am missing a bigger picture. I want to change the world. I always have. And the further I venture out onto this precipice, finding my place and balance in this world, the more I want to share my excitement and my lessons learned with a generation of young girls that remind me of me. But is that just the Codependency in me talking? Is my own journey not enough to satiate my need to be needed?

I really don’t know the answer to that question. The desire to “help” is a dangerous place for a Codependent like me, and I know that. But something in me is stirring. It is demanding to be felt, and I think it may be time I listened.

The Courage to Change Award

courage

I think this award is the most special of them all. There are no bells and whistles that accompany it, no questions to ponder, and no explanations to give. It is simply an acknowledgment of courage and vulnerability. I could not be more grateful to my dear, sweet friend, Ms. Ethel Duck, for not only passing on this accolade to me, but for constantly being a pillar of support and encouragement. She is one of the handful of bloggers who have truly made my WordPress experience a meaningful one thus far.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it…” Nelson Mandela. This is my mantra for the week. May I always be a person who is passionate enough to follow my heart, no matter where it may lead.

The Great Divide (Lessons From Kenya #41)

Melting-PotDiversity…it’s a beautiful thing. Los Angeles, my birthplace and my home, is nestled in the “melting pot” of the world where different races and cultures combine into one gloriously, bubbling masterpiece that is constantly spilling out onto every sidewalk. In my little section of office alone we have the Filipino/Pacific Islander culture (represented by me), the Latin American culture, the Mexican Culture, the Chinese culture, and the African-American culture all located in a 30 x 30 ft radius. I love that. So there’s no way I would ever judge someone based on their race, right?

Well, Africa taught me many, many things about myself, including the areas that aren’t so loving and nice.When I first arrived in Kenya, I had already met up with 4 fellow travelers during my layover in Amsterdam. They, too, were from all parts of the United States, so there was still a sense of familiarity and camaraderie. Even when we first stepped onto Kenyan soil and were shoved into a matatu (taxi van meant to hold a maximum of 10 people) with 15 others, and I was forced onto the lap of a random group member, I still felt comfortable. It wasn’t until The Incident that I truly felt the divide.

On a 6 month trip to a completely different nation, one expects to be thrown into the midst of an entirely different ethnic circle, experiencing a new language, different spice palates and styles of eating, alternative expectations of what is appropriate to wear in public and what isn’t, etc. So I definitely was ready to adjust my ways of thinking and acting to better acclimate to my new community. But it wasn’t so easy. Our group had a fairly equal split of Kenyan born members and “Westerners” or “mzungus” as we were often called, and I honestly loved every single one of them. But the cultural differences kept us all fairly divided. Westerners became best friends with westerners and Kenyans with Kenyans. It wasn’t intentional, but it was comfortable, and it really didn’t cause any major problems. RedSea

Until, however, money went missing. 3 Westerners, my best friend included, had American dollars and some souvenirs stolen from their suitcases. Instantly, everyone was on the alert. Fingers were being pointed and accusations were flying out the window. Many Westerners were absolutely 100% sure that one particular Kenyan brother was to blame. He had come from a “rough” upbringing where money was tight and he supposedly fostered a drug addiction, but that was all hearsay that came to the surface during the commotion. Our Kenyan friends justifiably bristled at the harsh words, taking it as a slight against their whole community. Of course we think the Africans did it. It was an extremely tense situation that divided our entire group and paused our humanitarian work for an entire week. No one felt safe and everyone felt threatened by the others. Personally, I wasn’t sure who did it, but I knew there was no way a Westerner could. I had gotten close to each of them! I knew not a single one of them would do that. We were all here to help the people of this country; why would any of us steal?

The hostilities got to a point where nothing was getting done, and the base leader had to put his foot down. So he forced all of us into a room to spend time together eating, drinking, and playing games for an entire day. The initial progress was slow, but all of us had come there to do good in the world. That yearning to extend love and grace inside each heart leaked its way to the surface, breaking the tension, allowing for forgiveness. Slowly, but surely, the palpable anger began to seep from the room and the old friendships we had before the stealing replaced it. By the end of that time together, it was almost as if everyone was in agreement, “The past is behind us. Let’s move forward as a team and do what we came here to do”.

So we did. And I learned such a valuable lesson: no one is safe from the deceptively sneaky tentacles of bias. It is easy to stick to and defend what we THINK we know…what we believe to be comfortable and safe. But comfort and safety aren’t always synonymous as I have learned throughout my life (see this post). It is important to recognize that anyone can fall short of extending grace to those who are different, even those of us that think that’s the last thing we ever need to worry about. It’s hard thing to admit, but it is a lesson that I hold dear to my heart. Recognizing and admitting that I am not perfect used to be such a difficult thing for me, but now? It is the most freeing.

I am not perfect. But I’m working on it. That’s enough for me.

Communication and Confrontation PSA

couple

I was sitting in the office, minding my business, when I overheard my male coworkers discussing the difficulties of being in a relationship. Well… that’s the nice way to put it. In all honesty, they were simply griping about their wives. One guy in particular was saying that he specifically hates how he has to do both the cooking and washing up afterwards while another was venting about having to constantly pick up after the family dog.

Really, I wasn’t planning on interjecting or commenting on the situation, but somehow, I always get roped in. The guys know that about 6 months ago, I moved in with my long-term boyfriend, and they proceeded to basically ask me if things had fallen apart yet. When I told them, no, they hadn’t, they all responded with, “Just you wait” type interjections. That was extremely irritating to me because they made it seem like a miserable relationship was inevitable! There was just no avoiding it; just buckle up and get ready for the ride.

That would have been just fine with me prior to recovery. But now? There is no way that statement wouldn’t push my buttons because I know better.

So I asked to coworker who was tired of cooking and cleaning, “Have you mentioned this to your wife? Maybe you guys could come up with a system that dictates if someone cooks, the other does dishes?” He looked at me like I wasn’t the brightest bulb in the tool shed and said, “I’ve tried that. It always turns into an argument”.

When I got home that night, and J and I finally settled in, I brought up this discussion. I explained how much it bothered me, and how I really didn’t want us to end up miserable and angry. So I made him promise to never let fear stop him from confronting me about an issue, and in return, I promised to handle it as maturely and calmly as possible. This also works the other way. I need to remember to put aside my worries about pleasing my partner and speak up if I have a genuine issue. As a Codependent, this is high up on the list of struggles for me. I am always hesitant to ask for things, especially when I feel I can accomplish them on my own. However, if I do this time and time again, I will find myself over-burdened and exhausted – 2 things that I am striving hard not to be. I know we won’t be perfect at it, and we will probably fight many times, but I don’t want that to be the end of the story. By setting this expectation of communication now, I think we stand a better chance of paving the way for a healthier partnership.

We all deserve so much more than to be stuck in fearful, resentful relationships that make us bitter towards the people we should be treasuring the most. I think many of us, myself included, forget this because of the way we were brought up or because of the unhealthy mindsets that were modeled to us throughout the years. But here is my PSA for today: stop settling for mediocre relationships (romantic or otherwise). Seriously. Stop it. You really are worth more than that.

So whatever is holding you back from communication or confrontation – whether it be fear of seeming imperfect or needy, the hesitancy to initiate fighting, Codependency, or anything else it might be, put it aside and allow your heart a chance at vulnerability. And no matter how the other person takes it – even if they are angry – love them enough (and love yourself enough) to push through that emotion and come to a place of agreement. Even if it takes 30, 50, 100 tries.

Your future selves will thank you.

Mandela

Bubble Girl

bubble2

Denial. I used to live wrapped up in its hypnotically charged blanket, succumbed into thinking I was safe in my little bubble of “happiness”. But recovery requires the acknowledgment and embracing of truths that can be hurtful, painful to recall, enraging, etc. The second half of Chapter 3 from Love is a Choice discusses this exact point.

“If the effects of codependency are so glaringly obvious, why bother with counseling? After all, surely the sufferer need simply identify with the problem and take steps to resolve it…

Codepdendents with significant unmet emotional needs are masters of denial. It comes built in. For their whole lives, these people have been living a lie – pretending, wishing, yearning that their lives were lovely when in reality they were unbearably painful emotionally and perhaps physically. They can’t stop lying now. If reality sinks in, the wracking past will surface with all its open sores, its pockets of pus and filth. Codependents have spent a lifetime burying that mess. Denial, therefore, becomes a major hurdle to healing. In fact, healing cannot behind until denial dealt with properly.”

This was so much easier said than done for me when I first started on my journey towards a freer place. I had come to love and adore my Denial. It provided a safe place where I could continue to float in a chasm of serenity. But that peace that I thought I was experiencing was all a facade. It was a unit built with cushioned walls of lies that I had told myself so often they became truth. I could no longer distinguish reality from insanity, and I was doing the same things over and over in my relationships expecting different results. So while Denial can definitely provide a temporary state of “happiness”, it ultimately destroyed my willpower and kept me suspended in one place for a long time.

Getting out of that deceptively beautiful bubble was honestly so difficult. When therapy was first suggested to me, I had this negative stigma about mental health that instantly aroused my defenses. However, my life was slowly spinning out of control and I was so tired of keeping up this pretense of being perfect that I was willing to try anything. So I found Nan and I found a CoDA meeting and those two outlets slowly coaxed me from my death grip on Denial. Man, that was a painful process-I had to examine wounds I didn’t even realized existed. But each community wrapped their comforting arms around me and walked with me through my stages of grief.

So, yes, I know how amazing your safe place can be; it keeps all the bad things out of your life. But what you may not realize is that Denial is a darkness within, and if we barricade ourselves from outside harm, we are trapping our hearts in with a different kind of evil. And that will ultimately consume us.

We cannot let that darkness win. It’s time to break out of your cage. Freedom is waiting.

serenityprayer