Thursday, May 21, 2009

FOG = Fear, Obligation and Guilt

The 12-Step Programs have a lot of great acronyms that help to keep us all sober and focused on recovery. Today I was grateful to read this one: "FOG stands for FEAR, OBLIGATION and GUILT. When we work on these three issues the FOG begins to clear."

These three emotions are exactly what I am feeling as I consider the fact that I'll be back in my home state where my stepfather lives during the Father's Day weekend. I just told my therapist yesterday that my FOO (family of origin) has a real committment to obligation. With the obligation comes guilt.

The truth for me today is that no one can MAKE me feel any emotions I don't choose to feel. However, I can make a decision to turn my sense of fear, obligation and guilt over to my Higher Power and ask for guidance in my thoughts and actions. I can ask for healing and acceptance in my heart and in the heart of my abusive stepfather who I truly want to forgive, not for him, but for me. I have realized I cannot give away forgiveness. It is a gift I give myself. But I cannot do it alone. I need others to help me learn to love myself enough to let go absolutely.

People have told me for years ... "You don't owe him anything." I KNOW I don't, but knowledge carried in the head, doesn't always make it to the wounded spirit that still wishes for those beautiful father/daughter relationships you read about on Hallmark cards. There's still that feeling of being unsettled, knowing that my stepfather could die at any time, and I might feel as if I never took the chance to release my pain face to face. I chose to stop talking with him about three years ago, because I was tired of "putting on a happy face" and pretending that I was not hurting, but unwilling to scream and rage at him either. At times my silence has been punishment, and at times it has been necessity. But because of it, I've been able to heal without continuing to live the lie.

I'm grateful today to be able to speak these truths, to have this wisdom and to desire healing that will come in God's time, not in mine. I'm grateful for the willingness to pray for God's guidance and to be quiet and listen for it. My therapist and a recovery friend have both recommended writing a letter to my stepfather (not necessarily to be mailed) which outlines what happened, what the results were and what I am doing about it. Both have said that unless I can own my own power, that going to see my stepfather during this trip was not a healthy move, but one based in classic codependence. Just for today, I can accept their guidance as gifts from my Higher Power.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Somewhere between the jagged edges

I've been in a weird, bifurcated place lately. On one hand I feel as if I'm growing and on the other as if I am in the pits of hell.

I was able to release some tears last night during an SLAA meeting as I expressed how lonely it feels to be in a committed relationship with someone who often feels very absent from my life. My husband's workaholism is raging and my addict continues to knock at the door and remind me that it's there "to help."

I have always been open to my Higher Power's will in my marriage and continue to be so. I'm also acknowledging that I'll be open to my Higher Power's will in my relationship with my therapist as I meet with her tomorrow and tell her for right now I think it's most important that I focus on my own personal growth rather than on the growth of my marriage. My husband and I are at a place where I'm not sure we're ready to grow and after much prayer and discussion with others, I have to believe that I have to focus on the things I can change, which are within me. I have felt at odds with my therapist over this and skipped a week's session with her to get more clear in my own mind about how I wanted to deal with it.

It is true that my marital relationship could be more fulfilling and that is sometimes triggering to my addict. It is certainly not that I don't think our marriage needs work. It's simply that I know my husband well enough to know that he's living so deeply in his own disease (workaholism) that he will most certainly not be present for any joint work we might attempt right now.

In the meantime, I am reminding myself to live life one day at a time, living in the solution, feeling my feelings, whatever they are. I am reminding myself that medicating painful feelings with the disease means rather than practicing healthy behaviors such as setting boundaries and self care within my marriage, I am using those efforts on a dead-end situation, which can be incredibly painful. I am reminding myself that if I give in to the subtle call of the disease, I'll be caught up in a mental prison that keeps me obsessed with seeking reassurance, checking e-mails and feeling empty when nothing appears, feeling obsessed with a need to hear from and be with the unfortunate bloke who falls into the addictive trap. I am reminded, that while living in the disease, there are never enough emails, phone calls, text messages, dramatic expressions and blow ups. There is never enough face to face time, never enough committment, never enough balance. It's just an empty vat of never enough anything, and suddenly my life is completely unmanageable as I try to make it enough by reading the same e-mails over and over, thinking until it feels as if my head will bleed, and feeling as if my life is completely not worth living.

One day at a time, I am attempting to show myself before a power greater than myself who can restore me to sanity, rather than send me down a very rocky road where the lessons are earned on the edges of jagged rocks.