Loving an addict...

I grew up with an alcoholic father.  There were so many things I struggled with because of that.  I had insecurities every time the feeling of abandonment was triggered.  I was angry.  I was sad.  I was numb.  I was jealous of people with present, engaged dads.   

One thing I realized early on was that for me to be healthy and sane, I needed strong boundaries and not to enable any longer.  As a daughter, I sometimes feel guilty about the physical and emotional distance that has created between my father and I.  In my adult life, I have done a lot of work to understand addict behavior, the dynamics of codependency, and to heal my heart from the wounds I experienced.  At this point in my life, it is more important for me to be safe emotionally, than to feel guilty about the decisions someone else has made. 

I was recently reminded of how important these things are from a pep-talk on my friend's Facebook wall.  She'd posted a few things that felt relevant.  I am copying them below: 

First was a post from Jaime Primark Sullivan.  I don't know this person; her post below had been shared on my wall.

       "You can not love someone out of addiction the same way you can't love someone out of   
        ancer. Addiction is an often fatal disease that needs constant treatment - of which love is
        but one ingredient.

        So many carry crippling guilt that their love is or was not enough - I promise you, absorb
        these words, truly, if love was enough to cure the disease, to save the addict, there would
        be no more addiction.

        So often we wonder, why aren't I enough? Why won't they chose me? Here is the truth -
        the drug/alcohol affects the chemistry and function of the brain, robbing the user of
        control, literally taking away their ability to "chose" you or anything else for that matter.
        Addiction is not personal. Their substances matter more then you, more than God, their
        reputation, their children, their parents, their life.

       You didn't cause it. You can't control it. You can't stop it. And if it's hurting you, you don't
       have to condone it. Protect yourself and please know it has nothing to do with you."

Second, I saw this picture and it confirmed things I've been thinking about.

If this is something you have struggled with, please talk to someone about the impact addiction has had on your life.  The truth is, as an adult, you are only responsible for you.  We should still be kind and considerate, but it is not your job to make others happy. 

Be kind and gracious to yourself!

How We Love: What to do on the Holidays...

I'm a BIG fan of the Yerkovichs' book, How We Love.  It helped me a lot in a time when I was confused and conflicted and not communicating well.  Since reading it, it has changed my interactions with those close to me in a lot of ways.  I like to revisit these themes to check in on my progress as well as refresh my memory for when I'm helping others.

This week, I was teaching my life skills/ relationship class and someone's results had a reference to this blog post on "Tips for the Holidays".  If you haven't taken this quiz to see what style you fall under, then I would suggest doing that first!  Here's the link!  Then reference the blog post from the How We Love website.  SO GOOD!!!

I hope it will be as eye-opening and informative for you as it was for me!




Good Vibes?

This article is fascinating.  I believe that these are great suggestions for staying positive.  Some of these things are items I have personally adopted to help me through seasons that are more challenging.  I've listed the items here and added my own reflections afterward.  You can look at more in depth information at the link below.

1. Admit when you don't feel well.
          --Don't ignore feelings.  They are here for a reason.  We have to pay attention to them
2. Treat meditation like you do a physical workout.
          --Quiet time of some time, to reflect, etc. is a good practice to keep us grounded.
3. When you have an unpleasant feeling, see whether it originated in your head or in your body.
          --Like #1, figuring out where the feeling is coming from is a great step towards having
             perspective and healing.
4. Compliment someone when you feel jealous of them.
          --Jealousy is a dangerous thing that causes division and makes those that might be   
             healthy for us the enemy.  We must learn to be grateful for what we have and not
             always focused on what we don't.
5. Make your objective to feel "at peace" rather than "happy".
          --Such a great tip! I know from my own life experiences that "happy" is temporary. 
             What's more important is that when storms come, do I have the fortitude to weather it
             and the peace and hope to trust that it will work out in the end.
6. Rather than just promising that you'll stop doing whatever habits stress you out, create alternatives for when the itch arises.
          --Finding new, healthy, coping strategies can make a big difference. 
7. Share something radically authentic.
          --Authenticity is the fabric of real, close, healthy relationships.
8. Assume persistent, irrational thoughts are cues that there's a feeling that needs to come up.
          --When I notice a pattern of negative thinking, it is a sign that something deeper may be
             going on.  Take some time to reflect and figure out what might be going on.
9. Do something you loved to do as a kid.
          --Connect to things that made us feel safe, secure, and loved.
10. Consciously decide to see people for what they are--not what they aren't.
          --There is a deep ravine between what "should be" and what "is".  The sooner we accept
             reality as it is, the sooner we can have some peace.
11. Go to sleep.
          --Sleep!  Enough said! 
12. Recite a mantra.
          --I have made a practice of adopting mantras over the past several years.  Sometimes its
             just a little saying, sometimes its a lyric to a song, but whatever it is, I recite it to myself
             when I need a pep talk, motivation, reminder, etc...
13. Practice letting yourself feel physically happy.
          --sometimes we do experience happiness, but we shove it away because we don't have
             time, we feel guilty about it, or a myriad of other reasons.  Let yourself enjoy moments!
14. Think of every single moment as an opportunity.
15. Plan something to look forward to.
          --And force yourself to go when the time comes and you don't want to go.
16. When something makes you very angry or upset, take a breath and say: "I'm really glad this was brought to my attention."
          --Allow yourself to learn from circumstances that are a challenge.


Surviving the Holidays...

For many people, the holidays are a source of stress, anxiety, and depression.  Here is a little article I read about surviving the holidays with JOY!  It's really more of a "what not to do" kind of article...

I hope you find it useful.  I know I did.


I was in a waiting room today...

I have worked with many clients who struggle with negative self-talk--that voice in your head that sends notions like "you're no good", or "you are (fill in the blank, usually a negative thought)",  Some of these things are voices of other people, lies spoken to us over the years, whilst others are our own subconscious.  Regardless, we all have that voice, and we all wrestle with it from day to day.

Today I was in a waiting room, and I found this brilliant article for combatting the voice in our head.  Go ahead to this link and read about how to combat it in a productive way.