Tag Archives: denial

Gut instinct

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Something short tonight.    I was reminded of how accurate our intuition is.   Make your intuition stronger than your doubt of it.  We all have been gifted with free will, intuition, denial…  The five stages of grieving identified by a female german doctor who was called “Dr. Death” by the many male doctors that she worked with, Dr. Kubler-Ross.

But I digress.

What I want to say is, don’t stay “stuck” on one thing.  Don’t deny what you are seeing and hearing with your own eyes and ears.   Learn to trust your judgement, learn to trust your gut instinct.  Many of us have been groomed differently, and many of us just brush off things because it may sound absurd, or ridiculous.   Your intuition will guide you, it will protect you and others.  We all have it, innately.   For whatever reason you are repressing it, ask yourself WHY.  What is it I’m afraid it’s going to tell me?

It’s healthy to question others words, motives.   I’m not talking about extremes.  I ‘m not suggesting you walk around like, cynical of all.  But what I am telling you is…  I believe the wisest man listens to his instincts.

Put that in your hat and smoke it!

 

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Whitney Houston

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Last night I stopped at a local store to pick up some snacks to bring to my uncles.   This place is like a soda/beer distribution place.  Anyway, my eyes caught the glimpse of a man who was in the hospital just months ago with liver failure due to alcohol.   Typically he will say Hi, this time he didn’t.  There is “bad blood” so to speak between us, as his association with Jim was one that I knew would be trouble, and it was.  Anyway he disappeared into the beer cooler, came out with a case of beer underneath each arm.  I wasn’t surprised, even though I heard he was sober, I was however saddened.   How can anyone watch the  insanity, destructive manner that an alcoholic or addict displays and doubt that they aren’t sick, but weak?  Would a healthy man give up his home, wife, children to go sit and drink?  Would a healthy woman leave her children, let her life fall apart, all for the sake of beer? liquor?

I thought about this a lot last night.   Once angry at this man for being a bad influence on someone I loved very much, and someone whom addiction controlled, I have long since been praying for him, and his family, for his health, mental, physical and spiritual.

Tonight its all over the news that Whitney Houston has died at the young age of 48.  A woman who has been struggling painfully and whose struggles have been in every newspaper, rag magazine, and more.   I sometimes feel sorry for “famous” people that they aren’t allowed to go through their struggles without public scrutiny.  I know I wouldn’t want that for myself.   Still, as I say that, I was reading the articles, some of them anyway.   This absolutely stunning, beautiful and enormously gifted young woman who was destined for greatness, and then years later a woman whose struggles with drugs was not only plastered on the front of every magazine, newspaper, or hollywood gossip tv show, but was evident in her face, the darkness under her eyes.  Her eyes, once filled with life, shine and beauty later revealed dulnessl, sadness and withdrawn.    I don’t know too many people who would wish this upon themselves, or even their worst enemy.   At one point she had gotten her act back together, looked like the beautiful and talented Whitney Houston that most of us loved as she sat on the stage of “Oprah”.  Later it was “revealed” (rolling my eyes here) that she and Oprah had had it out afterwards.   Now we sit here at the time of her passing, shaking our heads, some shedding tears…what a tragic ending to a beautiful life, I say this assuming it was somehow related to drugs or alcohol.  Not necessarily an overdose, but something that manifested physically throughout all the years she was using.   Most alcoholics do not die of cirrhosis, but of heart failure, or physical manifestations that have been created by the overuse and abuse of alcohol.

I remember how angry I would get with Jim, and at times how ridiculously naive and foolish when I thought “if he loved me” he would give up drinking.   Love doesn’t have anything to do with it.  The good news is, some find this as their bottom, or a beginning.  A chance to start over, get help, save their marriage, their ass, their home, etc., but many do not.

Long gone for me is the anger, the rage that once ruled me when I was with an active addict.  Life gets complicated, but quick.  It gets insane, and things roll out of control at the speed of lightning.   The negative affects this has on themselves, their family, their friends plays out like dominos.  Clearly, no matter what Whitney Houston died of there are many mourning.  I’m confident that there are family or friends who are left with the lingering sadness and frustration, the humility of knowing…they couldn’t “save” her from herself.   She walked through hell with her addictions, as does any addict.

I am not “pro addicts”, I hope that is not how I sound.  My heart goes out to her family, friends who have to live with the reality of her passing, and most second guessing if they could have helped.  The “if only’s” run parallel and steady with the grief process.

I have many friends who have gotten clean and sober.   Some arrogantly will slam others who are still using, but most?  Most are so damned grateful to be one of the “chosen few” who survived that they aren’t judging another, but basking in the beauty of their lives.

Surely one thing we have learned over the years with the access to the internet, television, magazines, media is that..no longer are addicts stereotyped as dirty, unkept street people who drink out of a paperbag.   Here is a very sad example of fame, fortune, incredible talent, and yet she was not exempt from addiction.

Recalling when I started to really grasp the disease of alcoholism, how enormous, powerful and destructive it was.  It was at that moment that I placed additional words at the end of some of my shares.  “I have been affected by the disease of alcoholism and addiction…. and I’m very grateful I haven’t been afflicted with it”.

“One moment in time”…. you shared and spread so much  joy and enjoyment to so many.  Thank you Whitney Houston.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYFHAvULvJ0

Rest in Peace Whitney Houston, rest in peace

 

It’s all small stuff….Gratitude is the Attitude!

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When my sister died I vowed that I was going to start living differently, to live each day to its fullest, to not take my life, others, things for granted…to be more grateful.   The grief process and what followed for me was extremely difficult.  I remember thinking about that vow and feeling like I had failed at that because I wasn’t happy, the challenges seemed too insurmountable and more times than not I wanted to just give up.  What I have learned, however is that the storms  of our lives test us, teach us and show us what we are made of.  While it appeared to me that I had lost my way, that I was not being true to the vow I had made to myself, I was indeed.  Why would I think that the trails would be without sweat and tears?  Each step walked in rocky terrain with hopes of greener softer turf was in fact dangling that commitment to myself like a carrot in front of a horse at a race.    Fortunately for me, I have reached a softer time, an easier time, gratitude comes more naturally and it is typically my first choice.   I am  living my life in accordance to that vow I took several years ago at my kid sisters funeral.  I wonder sometimes if  it has been the accumulation of disappointments, difficulties, or the tried and true manner that no matter how dark times had gotten, I was blessed with more days, opportunities to start anew.  What was it that brought me to this point?  Why is it that for many of us, it takes trauma, life altering illnesses or events to truly appreciate our lives? Yet I realize for some, they never get here.

I have stated before that I am no longer tolerant of “drama” and I have little patience now for what I call “luxury problems”…a broken nail is a broken nail, it will grow, it is not the end of the world.  I remind myself not to compare with others but to relate.  I have and do live my life one day at a time because for one, I am easily overwhelmed with the possibilities of tomorrow that may NEVER come.  The things I fear and found myself fearing in the past?  Typically never came to fruition.   I have not only survived, but grown through the very few things I feared that did come true.   I was always given the strength, the people, places, the fortitude I needed to prevail.

When trespassed or violated, harmed by another I have learned to forgive as quickly as I can and move on.  I need not tell the other person that I have forgiven, as selfishly this internal act is really not even about them.  It is a gift to myself.  It frees ME from the torment, the rage, the victimization that all keeps me from the very state that I so desire in my life…. peace, serenity.

I heard the expression last night in my cancer support group “Who do you pray to?”  While this was asked more as “Who is your God?, Higher Power?”  I ask myself daily “What are you grateful for?  What is more important to you?”   Getting pissed off about something that happened to which I am truly powerless over, allowing something to snatch away my peace, serenity is giving away the one thing in life I DO have control over, and that which is most important to me.  Because without either of these, my decisions, choices, the manner in which I view my life, love myself or others all goes to shit.

There are so many gifts in being diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease… you begin to look at what is important in your life and start to pluck out the weeds and invasive plants that threaten your personal “yard of life”, you learn to protect it at all costs.  You learn that in doing so, things take a natural order, they work out as they will, without your giving up hours, days, weeks to worry, without your trying to unsuccessfully control that which you truly cannot, thus you realize you are blessed with time to just enjoy the very essence of your life, your existence, others existence.    The white picket fence goes up to protect your new found discovery that your life really is very fragile, it has nothing to do with how pretty it looks, that is just a bi product.  The veil of denial drops as you realize, you ARE touchable, you are not bulletproof, oh how dear the simple daily things become.    And you begin to focus on all that is right in your world and spend time in the quiet solemn of knowing…Gratitude is in fact an attitude…and where you place your focus, “who you pray to” or not, will either guide you or dislodge you.

I am so grateful that I know enough to BE grateful for the little things in my life.   Everyday I am granted more opportunities to let go of the small stuff, and you know what?  That little book is right, it’s ALL small stuff!

Setting boundaries

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Once in a while I come upon people with whom my gut instantly tells me… Alert! Alert! Alert!    Nowadays I listen to my instinct and what it is telling me.  Experiences have taught me many things:  what to do, what not to do in certain circumstances.   One important thing it has taught me is to identify as quickly as I can when something or someone is a problem.  This means to shrug off the tendency to deny, or make light of a situation, to assess the person or actions in question not in a judgemental manner but how and where there is a problem between us, then to make choices as to what boundaries need to be set.

The more tired I am, the clearer my vision and ability is to identify problems areas.  When I am rested, alert, and at my best I am busying myself by working on a positive attitude, perspective thus ignoring or disregarding negatives, aversions, etc.  Exhaustion automatically lowers my defenses.  It takes too much energy and effort to deny, to avert.  It is during this time that I am able to directly examine, identify and protect myself or others by setting some rules, drawing some lines, making some choices for myself as to where I will and will not go, or where this person may or may not tread.   Unfortunately it is not always wrapped in the softest and prettiest presentation.  At the same time, I am also my most vulnerable during this time because while my defenses are down to my own defense mechanisms, they are also down to others.  I have to be aware of this.  But typically, setting boundaries for me is much harder when I am at my best.  Strange, huh?

Sometimes I mistake firmness in myself as being rude.  It is not.   Firmness is simply the level of integrity in which I choose to set these boundaries and hold to them.  Many a day have I set wishy washy boundaries that were quickly discarded or forgotten.  I have learned that with some people all I need to do is to very gently mention my comfort zones and they instantly and respectfully responsive, honoring them.  With others it is sometimes important to draw a line in the sand, and more so at times is a necessity to erect a fence.  Some people are more astute at manipulating their way around your boundaries, and firmness and fences are necessary.  Therefore I remind myself, this is not being rude, it is being firm.  It may not be the way I would like to deal with them, but sometimes it is indeed necessary.

How interesting it is to detach from my feelings for others and just observe.  I learn much about other people, and much about myself in doing this.  Alongside of this is how difficult it can be to find a vehicle to carry and ditch the body of the person who crosses my boundaries! 🙂

Grieving…

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My chest is heavy again, no longer from those awful iron turtle tissue expanders, but from a broken heart.  I went to bed last night with a 300 lb chest, woke up this morning with what felt like an added 100 lbs.  I want to be a positive person, and I think most times I am.  Today my heart is at war with reality.  This post will probably be sad, so if you don’t want to go there, stop now.  But sometimes, life is just terribly sad, and to be true to ourselves means to feel them, to work through them, but to still keep walking at the end of it all.

Out of 7 in my immediate family, 6 have been diagnosed with cancer, so far one death resulting.  My older sister had breast cancer at age 40, my mom colon, and then 5 years later kidney, ureter, my dad had prostate, and then last year my brother and I were diagnosed, he with colon & rectal, myself with two different breast cancers.  My kid sister died 7 years ago this month to advanced ovarian & uteran cancers.  It has been a hellacious few years for my family.  Two different gene mutations have been identified, BRCA2 and HNPCC or better known as Lynch Syndrome. 

Your thoughts I bet are automatically going to “where did she grow up?  Was there a radioactive or carcinogenic water? ground?  I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire, bordering Vt.  We lived probably 20-25 miles from a nuclear power plant.  I do not believe this contributed to my families misfortunes of cancers.  I am, however, very suspicious of environmental contributing to this, as if you look at all the cancers on the street where we lived, it seems more than “normal”.  But what is “normal”?  These days some cancers are caught earlier (Thank God).  The earlier the diagnosis the greater the chance of survival and better prognosis.   Clearly my family has had more cancer than the average family.  It at times can be very unsettling, frightening.  But as with anything in life, all you can do is your best, and the rest is out of your control.  This is where Hope & Faith come in.

In my younger years I always believed that everything happens for a reason.  Today I want to believe that, but my soul has been tried with much pain and disappointment.   So this is something I am working on.  I do know that since finding out the news of Jim’s death that my heart isn’t the only thing in turmoil.   I learned from my sisters death at 38 that life just isn’t fair.  Questioning Why?  Only further served to upset me, because there are some things we are not meant to understand.  It did, however, take me several years to accept the death of my kid sister to cancer.  The death of Jim at 46 to alcoholism is just as sickening to me.  Both are insidious diseases.  When my sister was diagnosed I immediately left to be with her, not returning home for a couple of weeks.  This was hard on Jim’s and my relationship, and his drinking escalated then.  Clearly he too was having difficulty accepting what was going on, but his “choice” as I thought was to drink.  This made for much resentments to me.  Here my sister was doing everything she could to save her life, and yet he was drinking his away.   Cunning, baffling.  Perhaps he did have a conscious choice then to stop, but I truly believe now that the disease was so intricate in him, this is all he knew how to do.  Jim was a sensitive guy, when sober he had many emotions. He had a gentle loving spirit.  When he drank, it numbed those feelings in him, and then he could cope with life.  Emotional pain is difficult, and it can be debilitating.  It has been for me.  The older I get the more I learn how to deal with it, and that is simply, One day at a time, sometimes one hour, one minute, one moment…  I am not blaming myself here for his drinking, I am simply stating what hindsight has brought to me.  Jim had me to walk with him for years, and I him.  My not being there during this time contributed, I believe to his drinking, but that is not saying I was doing anything wrong, or that I was responsible.  I’m saying that  what he depended on for grounding was uprooted.  Right/wrong/indifferent, it is what it is.  I was just as dependent on him for grounding.  I have since learned to depend on myself, and I wish that he had learned that too.  He was VERY giving and available to friends, and only in the way of his drinking was he selfish.  At least he wasn’t with me.  Quite the contrary.

In Alanon we learn the three C’s.  We didn’t cause it, we can’t cure it and we can’t control it.  Humbling.  Humbling is a key ingredient to growth and on the flip side of that is gratitude.  I believe that those in this world who have “less” have much more gratitude than those who have “more”.  That is not implying this is true with everybody, but as humans we tend to take much of our lives and the everyday gifts for granted.   Things happen that bring you to a point of humbling or humility and as you process through that, hopefully you become aware of what is really important in your life.  The diagnosis of cancer, my sisters death, Jim’s passing are all examples of that for me.

To be mindful of your every moment brings about many surprises.  If I am to list off the things that bring me joy & happiness, and touch my soul, I would list off the smaller simpler everyday things in my life.  My nieces smile, comments, watching my animals or patting them, painting, tea with a friend, laughter,  feeling a cool breeze on a hot day.  These are all things that money cannot buy, these are all “gifts”.  I am blessed with so much, I know this.  Not only am I grateful for gratitude, but I am grateful for my ability to BE grateful. 

This pain in my chest will subside over time.  Grief is the hardest trek I’ve ever encountered in my life.  The stages of grief let us know we ARE in fact working through it, but it is never as quickly as we desire.  In the case of my sister, or Jim…. the pain that I felt after their deaths, the heartache, in no way compares to the tremendous joy that they both brought me.  And yes, that is true even with Jim, the alcoholic.  There were very painful times the last year and a half together, and certainly after we split.  We do not stop caring just because they aren’t with us.  We do not stop worrying because they are out of sight.  But we learn that we are not their higher power, and that we can always pray for them, even after their passing.

I am grateful for the time I had with Jim.  I am grateful for the memories, and even for this pain because I know that I have loved, truly loved.  While I wish there were more, it has to be “enough” now.  I am grateful that my cancers were found before metastasises and that they were able to do what they have done for me.  And though I do not LIKE everything, certainly any of this or my families battles with cancers, I am choosing to look to the positive.  Every diagnosis brought a better appreciation for life and new appreciations for those enduring it.  I am grateful for this day, this very moment, for all the colors and noncolors that I see.  I am grateful that just for this day I can feel this pain and yet be grateful at the same time.  I have grown.

There are positives in everything, we have choices as to which direction we choose to look.  But I believe too that there are times to cry, laugh, dance, and mourn.  And right now I am mourning and holding onto the positives, as this is HOPE.

It’s over…

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I sat there staring at the computer screen.  He DIED?  He is dead? Denial takes over, No, No, No, it isn’t him.  I read on, the obituary verifying his childhood schooling, time served in the Navy and yet I still denied it.  For probably five minutes a war raged  between reality and denial.   Then I read his parents and brothers name as survivors. Oh my god, he died… This can’t be.  Tears streamed down my face at the speed of a rolling river.  My heart sank, and I suddenly felt like I was going to vomit.  I grabbed my cell phone, my hands shaking, I realize I do not know the number.  Back to google.com, where I found his obituary… I found his parents phone number, misdialed it twice because I was crying so hard I couldn’t see the numbers.  Third time is a charm…  His mom answered.  This is Donna Scully…. “hi Donna!”…. her voice was her cheerful self but with a very tired solemn tone that I wasn’t familiar with.  Rolling my eyes now at feeling the need to use my last name, but it had been 4.5 years since Jim and I had parted ways and probably 3 years since I last spoke to his mother.   I had kept tabs on him not in an obsessing way, but I always felt the need to know where he was in the world.  I never stopped praying for him, in fact I would hold the paw of Brody, the aussie we got together and say “it’s time to pray for daddy!”.  Last week being the last time.   I had never given up hope that he would find sobriety, that I would hear from him again.  A few months earlier  I had heard he had married the woman he met in a bar just a couple months after we parted, a new drinking buddy and together they moved to the Virgin Islands.  When I heard this it only confirmed to me what I already knew inside 4.5 years prior when we parted.  He is going to die of this disease, he is going to die.  ” Is it true, did Jim pass?” I asked.   “Yes, she said with a short sigh.  Yes Donna, he died in December.”  The dam breaks.

The love of my life, the man I spent almost a decade of my life with and had once intended to spend the rest of my life with is dead.  It’s over, I thought to myself as I lifted my shirt to wipe away the continuous flow of tears.   

There are three possible endings for an alcoholic:  Recovery, institutionalized, or death.  How I wished he had been in the first category.  This beautiful, intelligent, funny, kind, hard working, fun loving man has died of an awful awful disease.