Thursday, August 30, 2007

That Place In Between

"It's not so much that we're afraid of change, or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place in between we's like being in between trapezes. It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There's nothing to hold on to."~Marilyn Ferguson

This was a quote shared with us at our first workshop in treatment. I couldn't relate to it then but it surely describes life as I find it now. About the only thing I would change is that I'm hanging on tightly to God as I take baby steps in living this new way of life. Interestingly enough I have my own Linus like blanket. I am forever cold and I often sit wrapped in this blanket. I took it with me to the treatment centre. On one particularly hard day, under the guise of being cold, I wrapped myself up in the blanket and went to my sessions that way. Halfway through the group counseling session I realized I wasn't cold instead I was using the blanket as a coping mechanism. Doing so was keeping me from opening up. I took my very real Linus blanket back to my room at break time with a new awareness of myself. Oh vey, isn't life grand?

All my energy these days is going into healthy self care. The things that many people take for granted....shower, dress, eat healthy, exercise. If those things go kaput in my life then I am already headed for trouble. I have a 37 point checklist to read daily - things to check within that can signal a change in direction from where I want to go. Reading it one morning this week was enough to motivate me to get in the shower, get dressed and go for a walk instead of crawling back into bed. The nap came later after the basics of daily living were attended to. I figure if I can get showered and dressed 20 days straight in treatment then I can do that at home, too. The same could be said for making my bed although that hasn't translated into daily life quite so well! If I had decided not to make my bed during treatment enough days of that and they would have asked me to leave for not following the rules. Funny what can motivate a person!

It's been a full week. I decided to resign from all my volunteer work. Work that has not been life giving. I knew that all along but was unwilling to do anything about it until now. I will choose carefully any volunteer work I do in the future.
I had my final session with Fr. Charlie yesterday. He heads for his new parish next week. Our parish farewell potluck will be on Sunday. There will likely be many tears but I cheerfully told him yesterday that I was okay with crying in public now. I spent most of the session grinning from ear to ear because I feel transformed and that is such a gift. He told me I looked radiant and that the transformation was apparent just from looking at me. I've had so many sessions with him where I wanted to curl up in a ball and rock in the chair; closed up tight with emotional pain. Yesterday half way through the session I realized I was sitting with such open body language that I laughed outloud. I looked at him and said, "Isn't this a miracle?"

Tomorrow I have my first follow up counseling session at the treatment centre. I am blessed that counselling is free for as long as I need it. I also had a phone intake interview with a local counseling centre this week. A place which specializes in providing help for sexual abuse survivors. That was a tough one. At the end of it the woman interviewing me told me to do gentle self care for myself that day as taking the first step in phoning was a huge one. Next week I go in for a more in depth interview and after that they will try and match me up with a counselor. This counseling is also pretty well free. I took one workshop at the treatment centre that was for sexual abuse survivors and it triggered so much in me I wanted to escape my body. This counseling will help me deal with the long term affects of the abuse. I can't say I'm looking forward to it but I am willing to take baby steps there, too.

Dearest one and I are having quite a time adjusting. It's almost like I went away to an extreme makeover place and came home a stranger, a more beautiful one at that. It's no wonder he's feeling a bit adrift because I am no longer doing those things that came so effortlessly before. Things like trying to control him and take care of him and when I wasn't doing that I was playing the martyr with ease. Those are roles I can still fall into at the drop of the hat but roles I no longer want to play. At one point this week he said to me, "You're, you're so calm".
It took us 25 years to get comfortable in our ruts together, it's going to take some time and hard work to get out of them. I am still blown away that there is a different way to navigate the journey and that I've been given the tools to do just that.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lingering Sadness

If tears are a form of prayer then I prayed a lot during my 20 days in rehab. Good, healing tears. In front of other people. And I survived to tell you about it. I also wrote more in my journal in 3 weeks than I did in the previous 3 months. It was good to have a place to process my thougts and feelings. It was my first experience of having to lock up my journal in case others might read it. At home I leave my journal lying around because we respect one another's privacy.

If I ever needed confirmation that I was where I was supposed to be, I got it. My second day there I passed a bulletin board and was stopped in my tracks when I saw a prayer from a retreat I spoke at 18 months ago. I gave every woman at that retreat a copy of it and the one on the bulletin board was the exact piece of paper I printed it on with my handwriting on the other side.

I have been a caretaker extraordinaire. My body's been trying to tell me that's not a healthy choice. It really got my attention after an evening of unconsciously trying to be the emotional caretaker of loved ones. I woke up the next morning hardly able to function and so short of breath I couldn't talk and walk at the same time. I had to phone my loved ones and ask them not to visit me the rest of my time there because it took too many spoons. That whole experience was heart breakingly eye opening. Who knew my spoon supply was being depleted by my being a caretaker, people pleaser, perfectionist and martyr far more than any physical demands I put on it?

After 10 days of walking a huge building I stopped taking the elevator and took the stairs. I have more physical stamina now than I've had in over 4 years. I have a new way to listen to my body and a new appreciation for following through on what it's trying to tell me. I find that both liberating and sad.

Having someone else cook for me was absolutely wonderful. Every time someone complained about the meal I just reminded myself what a treat it was to not cook. Because of my food allergies I basically was able to eat just like I do at home so it wasn't much of a change, other than salad, soup and dessert at every meal, too.

One day I was so pissed off at a group of people that I yanked open the dessert case, took out a brownie and thought to myself, "piss on it, I'm going to have this even if I am allergic to it." The next moment I thought, "I'm not going to give them that much power in my life" and I put it back and chose something else. That was progress. What an 'aha' moment when I saw my addiction operating so smoothly. AA says alcohol is cunning baffling and powerful, so is compulsive overeating.

Despite being fed so very well I managed to drop some weight. Enough to fit into clothes I haven't worn in a long time. I hadn't expected that. I found myself eating slower and more mindfully than I have ever done. Whenever I found myself pacing in a "Give me something to eat otherwise I'm going to blow up at someone." mode I became aware of my pattern of behaviour and the need to stop and deal with my feelings. It means I can no longer indulge in comfort food eating. Feeding my feelings instead of dealing with them will take me down a road I can't afford to go. I find that liberating and sad, too.

Did you know good isn't a feeling? We had a four page list to choose from every day of how we were feeling and good was not on it. Neither was fine. For two solid weeks I chose words that described emotional pain of some kind or another before I was able to honestly write on the board the word peaceful.

Which I think came about directly because of your prayer support. Dearest one would drop off emails and comments from online so that I could read and gather strength from them. There were several stretches where I could really feel the support. There is an abundance of people out there who have no one to support them in their recovery. They leave rehab and have to find a whole new support group and have to cut ties with family, too. I feel blessed to have a strong support group both at home and online.

However, I did not want to come home.
The treatment center was safe and predictable. I was able to practice the things I learned in a supportive, caring enviroment. I was overwhelmed much of the first two weeks in treamtent, and overwhelmed when out on pass. So much so that I chose not to go out on pass after the first time. Leaving the center on Friday found me scared and bewildered. Lingering sadness is my feeling phrase for today.
Coming home Friday night felt like culture shock.
I'm still adjusting.