Hope Inspires, Hope Wissel, Recovery

Anniversaries – Celebrations With Reflection

This past week I celebrated two anniversaries both filled with emotions and the struggle to remember.  Two milestones in my life which changed me forever.

On Friday, hubby and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.  We have been together 18+ years BUT only married 10.  If you know our story, you get it.  🙂

I generally blog about our story BUT this year,  I want to share the gratitude I have for this man.  Our road has been a rocky one – from his commuting for 5 years, to living together to marriage.  It all seems so basic, right?  But add to it – recovery on the road to relapse, a perceived loss of independence, his congestive heart failure, my diagnosis of MS and now his retirement.  Life on life’s terms which is something I’m not really good at.  It has been a true test for both of us of our wedding vows.  He has been my rock on my most difficult days.  I have tested his patience and he has learned how to communicate just a little bit better. We have grown together in so many ways…

As we sat at dinner the other night, the subject drifted to the one question to be sure about a relationship.  I had never heard this and honestly, I was scared. But he continued saying it is “do you bring out the best of each person?”….. Of course I had to know what he thought about us because honestly my memory is awful and fear was creeping in.  My immediate reaction was to feel less than. Not worthy of his unconditional love.  Instead of blurting things out, I prayed to be quiet while he finished.  He said “our life has been a balance –  sometimes we have brought out the best in each other while there are times, we have brought out the worst.  He said it is life but the true test is how you get through it.  We have made it.  WOW!  I didn’t get defensive.  I didn’t try to over analyze.  I just was grateful I kept my mouth SHUT and for how far we have both come. I may have already forgotten much of the night, I pray his words about our life together stay with me forever.

Jump ahead to Saturday and another celebration…. WE HAVE 3 YEARS!  I look back on where I was three years ago… a hot mess on the verge of losing my hubby, a mound of credit card debt, a victim mentality while I isolated feeling less than everyone else, broken emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  Appearing confident (often cocky) on the outside while a scared child on the inside.  I had walked this road before and relapse became part of my story.  I had let down my family, my friends but most of all I had let myself down.  The strong confident person was gone.  What was left was a broken, shell of my former self.  Sadly, I didn’t notice it – I thought I hid it well.  I blamed everyone else for what was wrong in my life when the only one who was to blame was me.

As I sit here writing, unable to feel anything but sadness (MS seems to play with my emotions as well as taken my memories) I struggle to remember how bad it was.  Not just this time but the first time (my first clean date was 10/26/91).  Hubby often says, God took the memories because it was too unbearable for me to remember.  God gives me glimpses at times but when it becomes overwhelming for me, they fade and only segments remain.  So instead of struggling to remember, I try each day to be a better person than I was yesterday. Does it always work? NOPE!  I know with God’s help, it will.  I continue to go to meetings – I need to hear the struggles, I need to share my blind faith, I need to be surrounded by people who have been where I have been and I need to remember  “never” should not be part of my vocabulary.

Today, the credit card debt is paid off.  Today, I am trying to connect with local women in recovery.  Today, I accept I am an introvert but it does not mean I need to isolate.  Today, I know my ride & die gals who have been with me since the first night 3 years ago are just a phone call away.  Just for today, I like myself.  Today, I don’t beat myself up over the weight or how I think “I should look”.  My life is blessed in so many ways.  Yes, MS kicks my butt BUT it is not an excuse to go back to those old destructive behaviors.  Living life on life’s terms is not always easy but WE do recovery together.

Thank you to everyone who has walked these many roads with us.  We are grateful for the part you have played and continued to play in our lives.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday: Feelings

 Happy Halloween….I was flipping through the photo albums trying to remember Halloween’s gone by.  I remember the costumes, I remember the faces BUT I don’t remember the feelings attached to them.  Some days I struggle with feelings…. Some days I feel numb unable to feel anything.  I wonder if the MS not only stole my memories but also stole some of my ability to feel???

Well, today is all about feelings….. so what are feelings?  We all have them, right?  Feelings is defined as “an emotional state or reaction“.

Many of us have spent our whole lives stuffing feelings (okay, so some of us).  I know I am not alone in this.  One of the reasons addicts become addicts is because they don’t want to feel anymore.  Pretty much we don’t know how to cope with whatever the feeling is we are feeling.  I don’t mean just drug or alcohol addicts…. there are those who stuff their feelings by eating, or shopping or having sex or the list goes on.  Basically an addict is anyone who does something to not feel feelings.   I usually say, anything I can get obsessive and compulsive about to help me not feel is an addiction….. I know I squirreled. LOL.

I am writing on my Fourth Step which is all about feelings.  It is actually about taking a moral inventory of myself.  When it came to the part about feelings, I was lost.  The only feelings I ever remember having were shame, guilt, fear and anger.  Were there any others???  See I had beat myself up for so long over the mistakes I had made in my life I didn’t know how to cope with my feelings.  So, I went from drugs to alcohol to shopping and credit card debt. Anything to help me step out of those feelings I didn’t want to have and feel better about me.  It worked for awhile but then life got unmanageable.  We can only stuff the feelings for so long before they start to bubble up and create a mess in our lives.

I actually had to do a Google search for what types of feelings there were..  I was clueless.  I was amazed at the list I found….pleasant feelings vs difficult or unpleasant feelings.  I had actually felt a lot of them.  The tough part came when I had to remember the time when I felt them and describe the event.  MS has stolen so many memories.  I remember bits and pieces but not always the details.

MS along with my relapse/recover brought about so many negative emotions I am learning NOT to stuff on a daily basis.  The reason I started Thankful Thursday was to turn the things which I tend to view as negative into a positive.  By looking at the blessing associated with the negative situation, I can get a better perspective on my life.

Shame is “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior“.  This one is HUGE for me.  We all do stupid things growing up, right?  Some worse than others but at some point, we need to let go of the shame.  I thought I had my first time in recovery BUT there is still some things buried deep down I have never let go of.  I actually think I wasn’t ready to deal with them until now.  I need to forgive myself and take the positive aspects of the situation and learn from them.  It may be easier said than done but I am giving it a try.

One of the toughest feelings I have to deal with is resentment.  Resentment is “bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly“.  Have I really been treated unfairly? In most cases… NO.  I didn’t know what resentment was for a long time.  There were obvious situations where I resented people but many of those cases I had been treated unfairly.  Now,  when I am talking about a situation with anger and frustration, my sponsor is quick to say this is growing into a resentment.  WHAT!?!?!   Think about the invisible score card you keep in your head of the things you have done for someone.  They do something against you and you want to automatically run down the list of things you have done for them.  Guess what, you have a resentment!  When I do things truly out of love and caring, I forget about them and the invisible list in my head goes away.  Who do you have an invisible score card on?

Feelings are emotions, they are not fact.  When we talk about them, we let them go. Well, most of us try to…. Wrap yourself in the positive feelings…

Have a blessed day!

 

Unclutter Your Life

Are Emotions Ruling Your Decisions?

We have all done it, right?  Let emotions rule our decisions.  I am sure there are more time than I can remember where I made impulse decisions based on how I was feeling instead of thinking them through.

When we make an important decision at the height of an emotional state – whether we are angry or ecstatic, frustrated or giddy – can lead to decisions you regret.  How about the shopping spree when you were feeling down?  Or the eating binge? Or maybe you left a job after a bad review or incident?

Emotions are powerful. Sometimes they are positive and sometimes they are negative, but they always have the power to move us into action.

I have to admit, I take action more often when the emotions are uncomfortable – like fear or anger or frustration.  The end result was to always get rid of the feeling.  Yup, stuffing feelings lead me to my addiction and then to my relapse so many years later.  Those inner gremlins reared their ugly head and made me feel less than in so many ways.  They compared me to what others were doing in similar situations (or so I thought).  The end result was some really bad decisions leading to credit card debt and more negative feelings.

Emotions can  be brought on by the circumstances and events in your life, or by the manipulative behavior of a particular person in your life.  The key is to take notice when you feel pressure to make an important decision in the midst of strong emotion. Is it easy – NO!  The pressure of our emotions is strong.  It allows those inner gremlins we thought we had dealt with so many years ago to gain some strength.  Emotions or stuffing them, allows old behaviors to come back creating more of a mess.

The next time you feel pressured by your emotions, I want you to do something different…

That’s right. Do absolutely nothing. I know it is scary – trust me, I have been there more times than I can count lately.  Let yourself feel uncomfortable, afraid, angry, sad – and don’t make a decision or take an action. Just sit with the emotion.  No, I’m not crazy (well, maybe a little).  Talk it out with someone BEFORE you make the decision.  Over the last eight months, I’m grateful to have found a group of like minded people who help me through the emotions BEFORE I make a decision.  I hate asking for help.  I mean at 61 you would think I could make them on my own.  The truth is I can’t….

We need to embrace the idea that your emotions don’t have to rule. The are not facts they are feelings.  Emotions can actually teach you something. What message is your emotions sending you? What can you learn? And when would be a better time for you to make a decision or take action?

I’m a person who seeks instant gratification.  I hate feeling uncomfortable.  I don’t like people to see me being emotional so I stuff feelings which doesn’t make for good decision making either.  Do you stuff your emotions or do you share them?

The reality is – it is oaky to be emotional. It’s natural. Just don’t let your emotions think for you. Slow down. Take a breath. Be wise.  Remember emotions are not facts!

Today, I challenge you to not let your emotions rule your actions. STOP! Be still. Hold off on making a decision until you are less emotional. When we are emotional, we fell the NEED to make a decision immediately to get rid of the feelings.  But, what would happen if you refused to make a decision or take action in the midst of high emotions?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Unclutter Your Life, Weigh to Goal

Assert Yourself…

What do you think of when you think of someone who is “assertive”? Assertion is simply expressing yourself in a honest, straightforward way which helps you get what you need.  It shows respect for yourself and others.  So, why do we have such a hard time with it?  Why does it have such a negative connotation?

This was a recent topic at my Weight Watcher‘s meeting.  This people pleaser tends to have a hard time with being assertive when it comes to anything but food.  I can easily tell you what food I can and can’t have but when it comes to anything else – I am as timid as a church mouse not wanting to hurt other’s feelings.  I rocked being assertive when I was early in my recovery then somewhere along the lines, those nasty inner gremlins creeped in again.

Being assertive is not being aggressive although we tend to lump the two of them together.  We worry when we assert ourselves people won’t like us.  We allow others needs to outweigh our own (those people pleasing gremlins).  Honestly, I think this is a skill (yes, it is a skill) I never really learned.  The reality is, once you master being assertive in an effective way, you will be able to let go of the fear of coming on too strong.

Think about situations where you wish you would have been assertive.  Maybe it was saying “no” to a piece of cake or to adding another thing on your to do list.  Maybe it was simply making time for YOU in the course of a crazy busy day or week.  For me, it is usually about putting everyone and everything before what I would like.  Yup, the proverbial people pleaser.

Being able to respectfully but firmly express feelings and ask for support helps us in so many ways – staying on plan to reach our weight loss goal, overcoming an eating disorder, finding time to exercise, building our business or beating an addiction.  When we learn how to advocate for ourselves and NOT put others’ needs and feelings first, we are more in control of our lives.  We are in a better position to reach our goals, whatever they may be.

I love the DESC model (now I just need to practice it) when it comes to asking for support, or getting someone to stop (or start) something or simply asking what you need.

DESCRIBE: 

First, you need to describe the behavior you want changed.  For example “You watch TV and I have to do the dishes after dinner so I don’t have time to get in a walk”.  What is the behavior you would like someone in your life to change?

EXPLAIN:

Now you need to explain the effect this behavior is having on you.  Okay, here is where I either get emotional or worry about saying the wrong thing.  For example, “I end up not getting in my walk most days of the week”.  Short and sweet.  No need for a lang drawn out explanation.  “Just the facts Dano”…. am I showing my age?  LOL.

SPECIFY:

Now is the big step….specify what you want or need to get the behavior to change.  This is where you ask for what you want.  Not demand but present a possible solution.  For example, “Would you please do the dishes Monday, Wednesday and Friday after dinner so I can walk for 20 minutes?”.  Seems harmless right?  If you don’t ask, you will never know what the other person is thinking.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) mind reading is not in our genes.

CONSEQUENCES:

Clearly state the consequences for you or how it is going to help you.  This is when I have to overcome the inner gremlin which says “you are selfish” or “it’s all about you”.  For example, “I’ll be able to walk three more times than usual and it’ll help me reach my FitPoints goal”.

My challenge to you this week is to identify a situation where being more assertive could help you get what you need then use the DESC model to practice being assertive.  

Thank you Weight Watchers for this lesson which can be applied to all areas of our lives.  Would love to hear how it went, share your success or your challenge with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Unclutter Your Life

What Do Your Emotions Teach You?

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Happy Monday!  I don’t know about you but the holiday season always brings on a ton of emotions… some happy, some sad and some even angry. I know this is a weird topic for a Monday morning, just hope it touches someone’s heart.

Over the years, the holidays have changed so much for me.  They seem to have gone the whole range from happy to sad to depressing and then back to happy.  Okay, so maybe I have bumped back and forth between happy many times in between but each time during the road back, I have learned something.

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Simply put my emotions are teachers.   The late Thomas Leonard, a pioneer in the field of life coaching, used to say.

Emotions are not there to simply annoy you or make you miserable or ecstatic. The annoyance, misery and excitement are there to get your attention and offer you clues about the state of your life, your thoughts, and what you should do next. When you learn to read the messages your emotions send you, you can literally coach yourself to higher levels of happiness and success.

After reading this, I figured it was time to be honest about my emotions.  It was time to ask myself, “What message is being offered to me right now?”.  Have you ever really sat down and thought about it?  If you are like me, emotions were just an expression of what I was feeling inside.  Something I usually had to get over.  I am finding as I struggle with my memory, many times I seem to be emotion-less than SMACK, I am like a broken damn overflowing.

As I journaled my feelings this morning, I came across a list from Valerie Burton from her book What’s Really Holding You Back?  Here is her cheat sheet of common emotions and the messages they send us:

Anger: A boundary has been crossed. Perhaps it is time to set stronger boundaries or protect yourself from trespassers.

Guilt: You believe you’ve done something wrong. Maybe it is time to apologize … or maybe you’ve done nothing wrong and you need to reset expectations.

Jealousy: There’s something you wish you had in your own life. Perhaps it is time to be grateful for what you have … or start creating a situation that reflects your heart’s desires.

Disappointment: Your expectations weren’t met. Maybe you need to adjust your expectations.

Burnout: You’ve exhausted your mental and emotional resources. It is time to restore your energy and fill your tank back up.

Sadness: You’ve experienced a loss, whether the loss of something/someone you had or the loss of the vision you thought you were going to have. Give yourself time to acknowledge and mourn your loss so you can move forward again.

Anxiety: You fear danger is looming in the future.

Excitement: You are experiencing something that energizes you. How could you savor it and perhaps even create more of that in your life?

Okay, so how are you feeling this morning?  I can tell you I am a mix bag of emotions including guilt, jealousy, disappointment and sadness. Kind of a hot mess, right?  The truth is despite the mess, I am working hard to not allow emotions to rule me.  I am trying to heed the lessons and move on.

Think about your day, does the outcome of your day depend on the emotion you are feeling?  Feeling excited about something (new business, new relationship, new outfit, whatever) and the day is full of positive energy and wonderful things.  Feeling guilt for eating too much, not working out, overspending, lashing out at a friend or family member – the day becomes full of negative energy with nothing going right.  This is when we let our emotions rule our day/ life.

Now, acknowledge the emotion you are feeling.  Listen for the message it is trying to send you and then use it as an opportunity to grow.  Bless and Release.  Remember the Universe is waiting to respond to the thoughts you have.  Negative thoughts bring negative things.  Positive thoughts bring positive things.

Today, I am challenging to you to acknowledge your emotions. Then listen to what they are trying to tell you.  Then decide what action will you take as a result of the message?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!