Hope Wissel, Personal Causes, Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Addicted to Our Thoughts…

It has been awhile since I blogged…. I didn’t know what to write.  I didn’t know if anyone actually cared. Believe it or not it was part of my addiction.  Obsessed with “my image” and what people would think.

See, addiction isn’t just about drugs or alcohol.  It is about anything which consumes us – food, people, shopping, sex, love, thoughts and so much more.  I needed to take a break.  I needed to STOP and think about what was important to me.  I needed to decide what I really wanted to do with my life on disability.  Tough decisions but things I had to think about.  Do I have all of the answers?  NOPE!

We are addicted to our thoughts.  We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking.

WOW!  I don’t know about you but this quote scares the hell out of me!  Changing my thinking has been the toughest thing at age 62 with 20 months in recovery.  It is a daily process which has affected all areas of my life.  My addition shows up in some of the strangest places….Here are just a few, any of these sound like you?

1.  Comparing ourselves to everyone else, and then competing with them.

It is this kind of thinking which  started my troubles during my relapse.  The grass was always greener on the other side.  I wanted to have what I thought others had.  It is a struggle for me to remember I  don’t have to always be and do what everyone else is being and doing.  I remember my mom saying “if they jumped off a bridge, would you?”  I know that is an extreme but it is the wanting to be liked and to be like everyone else which contributed to my crazy way of thinking.

Now, I try to not compete with others.  I try to compete to be a better version of me. For some, this sounds lame.  Through recovery I am learning to not compare my outside to their picture “perfect” life because you never know what they have been going through.  I mean who doesn’t want to look good on social media or when gathering with friends? I know I am not the only one who struggles with this, right?

2.  Secretly wishing for everyone’s stamp of approval.

This is one of the hardest things as a people pleaser I deal with.  The truth is “we don’t need anyone’s affection or approval in order to be good enough in your own eyes.”  I know, easier said than done sometimes, right?  When someone rejects or abandons or judges you, 99% of the time it isn’t actually about us  WHAT??? You mean I am not the root of all things?  Self-centeredness is for another day.  It’s about them and their own insecurities, limitations, and needs.  “Your worth isn’t contingent upon other people’s acceptance of you – it’s something inherent.   You’re allowed to think things and feel things.  You’re allowed to assert your needs and take up space.  You’re allowed to hold on to the truth who you are is worthy.  And you’re allowed to remove anyone from your life who insists on making you feel otherwise.”  These are the things I am working on every day.

3.  Being more loving to others than we are to ourselves.

Here comes the people pleaser in me.  I want everyone to be happy, so I will make myself miserable to see it happen.  I have been told I am self-centered because of my addiction.  Truth be told “I don’t always get it”.  The result of those words though has created the struggle of being able to love myself without thinking I am self-centered.  If this is you, you are not alone.  “There’s absolutely nothing selfish about self-care.  If you don’t take good care of yourself then you can’t take good care of anyone else.  Because we can’t give what we don’t have.  Treat yourself right and you’ll be life-giving to others.”  This is one of my BIGGEST struggles.

4.  Dreaming of what could have been, or should have been.

Letting go of the shoulda, coulda, woulda is tough for me.  The inner gremlins have a field day on bad days.  Letting go and turning things over is a daily (sometimes hourly process).  I have learned (most days) before you can truly LIVE today, a part of you has to die first.  I have to let go and bury the what could have been if I never relapsed.  I (neither can you) can’t change the past, or the outcomes from our choices.  The best thing we can go is: Let go.  Forgive.  Be present and free.  Just for Today.

Are you struggling with any of these things?   You are not alone!  Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, and leave a life free of addiction (all types).  The bottom line is it’s never too late to take a step in the right direction.  It’s never too late to break free and become the person you are capable of being.  Addictions of all kinds CAN be beaten!

I’m not sure if anyone needed this but it was on my heart this morning…

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday: Acceptance

Acceptance is defined as “the action or process of being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group“.

For years, I didn’t feel like I fit in.  From about the age of 12, I started to stuff the feelings of inadequacy which raged in my head every day.  Fear of not fitting in.  Fear of not being good enough.  Fear of not doing the right thing.  Fear of disappointing others.  As  a result of stuffing those feelings, I developed unhealthy coping mechanisms – bulimia along with many different types of addiction (drugs, alcohol, and shopping).  It wasn’t until I entered recovery the first time, I found true acceptance from others and with myself.  I spoke my mind and felt confident.

Over the years, on the outside I accepted who I was but on the inside the inner gremlins were starting to play the comparison game.  Slowly, the “old me” who was insecure in who she was, was looking outside for acceptance.  I worried about disappointing others.  I worried about whether I was good enough.  I worried about EVERYTHING.  The truth was I didn’t like who I was becoming.  Instead of sharing the feelings with others, I stuffed them.  I didn’t want family and friends to see my struggles.  WHY? Pride.  I was afraid of what they would think.  Unsure they could or would love me for who I was.  Unsure they would accept me broken and unsure.  Pride and fear kept feelings stuffed away.

As the feelings got stuffed deeper and deeper, relapse was inevitable.  See, relapse can take on many forms.  With me, it was in shopping and credit cards.  I was trying to live up to the expectations I thought everyone had of me.  When I walked back into NA, I was broken.  I didn’t like me at all.  I didn’t like the person I had become.  I didn’t like the pain and hurt I had caused over the years to the people I loved the most.  I didn’t like the financial mess I had made of my life.

With the help of friends and the support of family, I am again accepting who I am (okay, at least trying to).  I struggle with the picture I have of who I should be.  I struggle with worrying whether I am meeting everyone’s expectations.   But I know when I turn things over, it will get better.  The tapes aren’t on replay and I can live in the moment.

I am learning to accept what is in my life – the good, the bad and the ugly.  I am learning to accept I am wonderfully made even on my worst days.  I am learning to accept (very slowly) my struggles with MS, having faith in the fact it is all part of God’s plan.  Do I think God’s plan was for me to make a mess of my life twice?  NO!  I do know he has helped me through the struggles.  He accepts me for who I am – no matter what.

I am learning to be thankful…Being thankful helps you get through life’s tough times, because you can easily call to mind all of the good things in your life.  Being grateful just makes you happy and being happy can help keep your mind and body healthy!

Accept who you are, without relying on outside influences.  Accept we are not perfect and it is okay.  What are you thankful for today?

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday: Acceptance

How well do you accept things – mainly change?  Do you adjust quickly or do you fight it all the way?   Do you embrace change or close your eyes ignoring it is happening?

Since my health issues started in 2012, it has been a roller coaster ride of acceptance.  When the diagnosis of MS  finally came in 2017 I realized it would be physically challenging, emotionally draining, and around-the-clock exhausting with some extremely lonely times. The truth is for those who don’t have it, you can’t understand the challenges or how it is different in each person.  On the surface, I accepted things.  Those closest to me saw the struggles but I was still living a kind of denial.

I had been having a run of good days – when there is no brain fog, moving okay just a little slow and making it through most of the day before I was totally drained.  Then there are the days which take an extraordinary amount of effort to complete even a simple task. Try going through a day not knowing if you will be able to manage another moment of fatigue, dizziness, muscle weakness, dropping anything you get your hands on, and feeling as if you don’t have the strength to hold it together for one more second.  I accepted these minor challenges too… or at least I thought I did.

When I started my journey again working through my addiction, I realized I have never really accepted my MS diagnosis.  Why was accepting I’m an addict so much easier than accepting I have MS.   On most days I admit to those around me the limitations I have especially with memory as a result of my MS. Acceptance, right?  Then,  I came across this definition of acceptance in an NA reading.  “Acceptance is an opening of your heart to the realities of life and to the ways in which you have been impacted by your life choices. It means you don’t fight against the realities of your life, but accept them for what they are and use them to grow as a person and move forward in life. Accepting life on life’s terms.  Accepting the things you can not change while you focus on the things you can“. The truth is, I have not truly accepted my MS diagnosis.

Last week, I was told by disability “you are not considered disabled”.  One of their reasons was “you can use your arms and hands so basically go to work” and instead of getting angry, I started to wonder if they were right.  Then I was told by the physical therapist, I had flunked the balance test!  She said “you are a fall risk and need to have a cane with you”.  SMACK!  She had me pegged though, she said “you still think of yourself as an independent woman who can take care of everyone else”.  It took both of these things to make be realize I was still fighting the realities of my life.  I continue to fight the things I can’t change instead of focusing on the things I can change.  I can’t change I’m a 62 year old woman who struggles most days with MS both physically and mentally.  What I can change is the way I decide to handle things………working on eating healthier, getting sleep, getting up and moving when I feel up to it instead of just sitting around then resting when my body says it is time.

Now, your struggle with acceptance could be much different.  The difficulties you face may be different from mine, but I am convinced there is someone, somewhere in the world who is going through the same overwhelming moments as you. Just because you don’t hear about them or know them personally doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  Believe me, I have been there.

Whatever your challenge, it’s okay to feel like you’re falling apart.  Eventually things will get better and you will find new ways of coping with all the changes happening in your life. I can guarantee it, but in the moment or in the heat of the battle it may not seem like it’s even possible.  I know, I am there fighting the battle of acceptance right now – with you.

It’s okay to ask for help.  I’m grateful for the rooms of NA where I can dump my stuff on the floor and walk away feeling a little less like a hot mess.  Find someone you can talk with about ways to help you manage your emotional chaos.  There is still hope for a better tomorrow whatever your challenge may be. I believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself.

When all else fails, repeat the Serenity Prayer and wait for an answer.  Of course waiting for an answer is not one of my strong points.  Answers will always come but they may not be in a way we expect them or it may not be the answer we want….. expectations is a whole other topic.  LOL.

So, just for today, focus on the things you can change.  Accept life on life’s terms and count your blessings.

Have a blessed day!

 

Hope Wissel

How To Do Fall Cleaning….

I will be honest, despite years of growing up and helping with “fall”‘ and “spring” cleaning.. it is not one of my strong points.  When I first had my own apartment, yes I cleaned bi-weekly.  Fast forward to being a crazy busy single mom, and cleaning was not on the top of my list.  The house was always neat but there have been the occasional dust bunny.  Now, when I struggle with days of not being able to move, I can see the dust bunnies and want to clean. YES!  I said I want to clean.  Then when I feel better, I am playing catch up and still don’t get everything done I wanted to do.

So, you are wondering how someone like me, can teach you about “fall cleaning”, right?  Well this is more about “decluttering” which may or may not lead to cleaning.  BUT it will help you get organized which could make cleaning much easier..

Step #1 – Determine if your clutter is, well, clutter.  

I know this may sound like a no-brainer but sometimes clutter is hard to recognize. Yes, it is true!   Seriously, hear me out.  We live in our house day-in and day-out, so clutter really becomes part of the landscape. Maybe you don’t recognize the piles and groupings of stuff because it’s become the norm. You know the pile of mail you are going to get to.  Or the stack of papers to be filed in the office.  Maybe it is the shoes piled by the door and never making their way to the closet.  Whatever your pile looks like, we are pretty good at ignoring clutter, or just plain not realizing when it’s moved in.

So, when do you realize it is clutter?  When you can’t find something you’re looking for, or realize you have bought something you already had – costing time and money. Admit it, you have run to the store to get something only to find it about a week later (after the tags were off and you can’t return it).

Are you wondering if you have clutter?  Try this:  Take a photo of the space in question.  Start small with a drawer, a closet shelf, or a bookcase. Zoom in on the photo. How does the stuff make you feel? Are you horrified what others would think if they saw it?  Does it make your head spin wondering how this happened?  Do you use all of the stuff? If so, how often? How would your life feel if the space was tidy, leaving room to grow?

The answers to these questions are a great indicator there is work to be done.

Step #2 – Accept you probably do need to declutter

Have you recovered from the shock of seeing the pictures of your clutter?  Have you now started to stress over whether or not you can part with ANY of this stuff?

Even with you think you have pruned your closets, drawers and home, you will likely still pick items up and think, “Why did I keep this?”  Life tends to bring new items into our space each day, and we frequently fail to recognize the pace at which we are accumulating things.

I used to clean out closets twice a year.  Donating them to the church rummage sale or Goodwill.  The biggest one was always before the holidays especially when Belinda was younger.  I knew the gift giving season would bring a whole lot more “stuff” while there were many things sitting in the bottom of the toy box which hadn’t see the light of day in years.  Now, as I notice things are no longer used or needed, they go in the box in the garage to be donated.  Slowly, I am decluttering…

Step #3 –  Let yourself let go

How many items do you have which you have only used once a year or maybe once in five years?  It is sitting there taking up space, right?  You wonder how you could live without it.  I have a wok which I have had for years and it hasn’t been used in years…. why?  you never know.

Ownership is overrated. We often feel we need to own something to enjoy it.  How many things do you have which you could have rented or borrowed instead?  The truth is we may get more pleasure out of borrowing or renting something than actually owning it.  Sounds crazy, right?   Well, when we own something, it requires we clean it, move it, store it, maintain it, and maybe even insure it.  It all takes energy. Be open to alternative ways to access and enjoy physical objects.

Step #4 Baby steps when setting organizing goals

Yup, I hit you with a lot in just a short period of time, right?  I know it is overwhelming.  What happens when you get overwhelmed?  If you are like me, you run and hide.  NO, seriously.  Do you avoid the situation?  Most likely, when you are overwhelmed, you lose interest and momentum.  So what if you just took baby steps.  Do a little bit every day.  Continuity is key.  Do small spaces first, as you do small spaces, you will begin to see the difference around you and you will feel energized to do more.

Organizing is not an end destination, it’s a process of acquiring skills, applying them, and being committed to being organized every day.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Feel Good Friday

Feeling Good about Jiggle Thighs

NO! This is not a picture of me….I have been on a journey to get back to goal weight since January.  Back to Weight Watchers, walking or moving more and I have been STUCK!  Well, the scale seems to move VERY slowly but those “jiggle thighs” don’t seem to be going anywhere.

I am looking forward to the Leadership Cruise in September so I am on a mission.  I am fighting playing the comparison game. I am fighting the gremlins who want me to be more concerned about what others will think of me than me loving me for me.  I’m sure I am not alone.  Swimsuit season is upon us or at least it will be VERY soon and it makes me CRINGE!  What about you?

I read a blog post on Women Living Well about learning to accept things.  It made me stop and realize I need to look at my “jiggle thighs” in a different way..

For as long as I can remember, I have had “bumps” on the top of my thighs. Yes, they have gotten smaller with the loss of 105 pounds but they are still there! I walk, maybe not as much as I could (or should) but you would figure loosing 105 pounds would have helped to get rid of them, right? Most of the time my clothes conceal them but I still know they are there. Of course you can really notice them as my waist continues to shrink and nothing is in proportion. Maybe this isn’t your problem area, maybe it is the “jiggle arms” or the muffin top or the roll our bra creates – no matter what we all seem to judge ourselves when we look in the mirror..

How about this thought….My jiggle thighs (or your problem area) are evidence of God’s goodness in my life! Sounds crazy, right? Mind you I never notice this or any other problem area on other people, just on myself. Most people don’t mention it – okay maybe an occasional child who is curious but why wouldn’t they be – I’m curious to know why God has blessed me with these wonderful thighs.

Jen Wilken said “The expectation of physical perfection hits modern females early and often. In middle school, girls cut themselves to deal with the pressures of conforming to the ideal. In middle age, women do, too—but allow the surgeon to hold the knife.” WOW! She then goes on to say “We carve the record of our self-loathing into the very flesh of our bodies—a self-marring, a literal carving of an idol. Increasingly, physical perfection is the legacy of womanhood in our culture, handed down with meticulous care from mother to daughter, with more faithful instruction in word and deed than we can trouble to devote to cultivating kindness, peacemaking, and acceptance that characterize unfading, inner beauty.”

Yes, I considered surgery.  We even met with a doctor to see what would be involved.  By the time we left, they had described a procedure which would cut me almost in half.  They would take out the cellulite and the excess skin from the weight loss.  The healing time would be several months.  Then he said “there is no guarantee the bumps won’t come back”. WAIT! You mean even after all of this, and sticking to my WW program there is still the possibility they may return.  I will admit, I was willing to take the chance.  Then after much thought, prayer and discussion with hubby – I decided against it.

So, every day I work on squashing the inner gremlins who want to torture me with lies about the need to have a perfect body or to be an ideal weight. It doesn’t mean don’t be healthy. It means strive for a goal reachable for you. I am learning to accept me for me – jiggle thighs and all – knowing I am beautifully made by God. Most days this is a tough pill for me to swallow.  I am not less than because it has taken me a “LONG” time to reach my goal weight. I am not less than because my body is not a perfect size 10.

Today, I am living in the hope, security and the arms of a Higher Power who loves me unconditionally. Give yourself a break today and know as long as you are trying your best – it is all God is asking of you.

For tips on healthy weight loss check out – Weight Watchers.

Have ThirtyOne-derful day.