Sunday, August 31, 2008

Prayers for all on the coast

My fervent prayers go up today for all the men, women and families whose lives are being turned upside down today in light of the threats posed by the fast-moving Hurricane Gustav.

A special prayer for my friend, EC and his family, as they make their way northward and out of harm's way.

God, please bless them all.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's 4 p.m. ...

... and I haven't been out of the house all day.

But guess what? I am happy about that. It's the first time since I went into the treatment center that I've allowed myself to really just take a quiet day at home. Catch up on e-mails, read a few blogs (still a long way to go on that one), and take a long nap.

There's a huge difference in choosing to waste an entire day doing close to nothing HUGELY productive and feeling as if there is no choice at all.

Do I wish I had accomplished a bit more today? Sure. It's great to get things done and my hair needs cut in the worst way. I also have some work to do for a class tomorrow. But it can all wait for me to have this day ... where I'm still in the same t-shirt I slept in and about to watch something good on television.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Playing catch up

It seems as if it has been ages since I posted here. In actuality it's only been 15 days, but hey ... that's half a month.

I guess you could say I have just been trying to settle into my new life, filled with new coping skills, starting back to school in hopes of pursuing a new career, and learning what it is like to live life without a constant sense of frustration.

I still struggle at times with unscheduled time ... not knowing exactly what to do with myself, or not being able to keep my focus on the priorities. At the same time, it feels like I am staying very busy.

I have been blessed to go to two SLAA meetings in two days this week and I'm feeling good about that. I even exchanged phone numbers with a fellow female sex addict tonight and even put her phone number in my cell phone. That's progress.

My husband's out of town til tomorrow and I'm thankful that I was far more interested in going to meetings than even letting ideas form in my mind that I might "take advantage" of that opportunity to act out.

Also, one other new thing that's going on is that I've started seeing a therapist who specializes in sex addiction. I can tell she's going to push a few buttons and maybe help me to see just how far my comfort zone will stretch. But I'm keeping an open mind. I'm accustomed to teaching my therapists about sex addiction. Now I get the impression that I may learn a few things.

I'm sure there is a lot I haven't covered ... but I wanted to at least post a brief update regarding what is going on in my world. I'm hoping to get caught up on blog reading soon as well.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Grieving the loss of a past self

I wrote to one of my SLAA friends today:

One HUGE thing I am realizing is that I have to grieve the loss of my former self, and accept who I am today. The old Rae was a successful (professional), respected in her community and by her peers, constantly engaged with others, always full of energy and ideas, at the top of her game. The new me is not all that, in fact she bears little resemblance to that -- but I am alive, I have plenty to offer to others in clear, quiet tones, I am fully focused on awareness of myself, equipped with tools that I never dreamed of having, and have people in my life who I love and care for deeply. I must grieve the loss of that past person and embrace the person I am today ... otherwise I will never be happy, never be free from living in the past. Acceptance of who I am now is the answer. There is a lot of me I've never discovered because I was going at lightning speed, never slowing down, and never realizing that I was living life barely on the surface of my potential.

It's interesting as I read that again, that I realize that there is still a lot of that former Rae in me, I simply have a different set of peers.

I "graduate" tomorrow from the outpatient treatment program for depression. I have been a patient for four weeks and have learned a great deal about myself and about managing my mental health. It all supported my need to continue to work a program of recovery and develop a deepening relationship with a power greater than myself. It was interesting today as I spoke with my therapist about our "decades of life." She is in her 50s and I just turned 40 this year. (I finally feel like my chronological and emotional ages are synchronized.) I shared with her that if you had asked me in my 20s if I would have ever, ever experienced what I did in my 30's I would have likely laughed in your face. Yet, I did experience the loss of my career, full-blown sex and love addiction, the near loss of my marriage and my sanity. I am a different person today because of it all. And one day at a time, I am learning, and I'm always amazed at how much more there is to learn.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The tides

I just finished watching "Prince of Tides" for at least the 20th time. I've read the book and watched the movie and can never get enough. And whenever I need to feel, a deep, real feeling, I know I can count on this movie to connect me.

The problem is, when it is done, I feel hollowed out, empty and left on with tears and all the thoughts it brings to me.

It's a love addict's movie to some degree. I remember I was involved with someone very seriously the first time I saw it. I related so much to the line, "Before I met you, I was in a deep. deep sleep." It was true, I had been. I had never opened myself to love before that relationship and when it ended I was devastated and torn.

I remember too that I watched the movie -- or at least part of it -- with R. I couldn't bear to watch it to the end and made an excuse to get up and leave before it ended. Because even then, I knew that like Nick Nolte's character Tom, I would return to my home, to my husband, and I couldn't bear to let R. see my face and the tears that came as the movie ended and Tom drove across the bridge whispering "Lowenstein, Lowenstein."

This time as I watched the movie, I paid particular attention to the way Nolte fabulously acted the part of an abused child living as a grown adult carrying the immense burden of deep and horrifying secrets never told. "The southern way" was the way in my family too, so ingrained that the warnings never had to be whispered. I grew up, like my neighbors, my cousins, my siblings, my friends ... knowing that there are some things you simply never tell. Those things may kill you, make you want to kill yourself ... but never tell.

I was thinking this week that I am thankful to be an adult now who has the choice to tell.

Friday, August 01, 2008

A gratitude twist

We learn the magical lesson that making the most of what we have turns it into more.
--Codependent No More

Say thank you, until we mean it.

Thank God, life, and the universe for everyone and everything sent your way.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Gratitude makes things right.

Gratitude turns negative energy into positive energy. There is no situation or circumstance so small or large that it is not susceptible to gratitude's power. We can start with whom we are and what we have today, apply gratitude, then let it work its magic.

Say thank you, until you mean it. if you say it long enough, you will believe it.

Today, I will shine the transforming light of gratitude on all the circumstances of my life.

From The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

My therapist asked me yesterday to begin expressing gratitude for myself. What? You mean I can't thank God for the sound of the birds, the warmth of the sun, fun times with my husband? I have to be grateful for me? Oh boy? I am a firm believer in the power of gratitude. I think it is a fantastic tool of recovery and life. But this is a real twist.

Gratitude for myself is supposed to be an exercise in building self-esteem. It makes sense, but I have to admit to being a bit lost. I think if I were sharing this exercise with someone else, it might be easy for me to make suggestions about what they can be grateful for in themselves. But I'm not always so good at practicing what I preach.

Let's see:

1. I am grateful for the gift of compassion I have.
2. I am thankful for the talents God has blessed me with.
3. I am thankful for my body for carrying around my soul and for giving me a life form so that I might interact with others.
4. I am thankful for my intellect.
5. I am grateful for my perserverance.
6. I am grateful for the way I love and embrace nature and the peace that gives me.
7. I am grateful for all the changes that I have worked hard to bring to my life over the past few years.
8. I am thankful that today I realize that I am an adult who has the right of choosing what I want to do with my body and my time.
9. I am grateful for the ability to make decisions.
10. I am thankful for my open heart to others.

What do you appreciate most about yourself? Does anyone else find this difficult?