tunnel vision thoughts

My thoughts have been stuck in tunnel vision.  I became obsessed with what my husband is not able to do or see.  My focus was on what I didn’t have and how miserable it’s made my life. I was determined to get my husband to understand his fault in all my pain. If he couldn’t admit it then I felt there’s no point in going on. We just stopped talking because I wanted something from him that he wasn’t able to give.

My sponsor, J, pointed out that I don’t need to move mountains or change the world.  No one likes everything about their job but they go and work around those things that rub them wrong.  Basically, I don’t have to engage in the negative stuff.  All I have to do is follow what is right for me.  If it feels right then I’m staying true to myself.

I am so thankful that J can talk me down from my major thinking problems and pull me out of my tunnel thoughts.  Today feels more manageable because I can do the next right thing without feeling like I have to change everything. Practically speaking, I can love my husband and work together on solutions to our communication issues.  It’s not all or nothing.

Simple advice that lightens my load.

♥ Fern

The silence is deafening…

You would not want to visit my house. There are a lot of unspoken words in the air. Tensions are high. My husband and I are not talking to one another.

Last Thursday at our marriage counseling session we dug into a specific situation that triggered strong feelings of inadequacy for me. I expressed as much to my husband in therapy and his reaction was defensive. “I was just stating a fact and if she wants to think I was saying she was doing something wrong, that’s her problem.”

I sat quietly and allowed the therapist to tell my husband how the interaction made me feel. The therapist pointed out that I’m sensitive and it’s neither right nor wrong, it just is. Conversely, the therapist said my husband is fact-based and that’s not wrong either. But when two people interact the most important thing to remember is how we make each other feel.

The therapist continued to talk directly to my husband about the specific situation and how his initial tone was strong and opinionated followed by a defensiveness to avoid being blamed.

I observed our communication problems from the viewpoint of the therapist. And I realize that I have a basis for not feeling understood. My husband did not acknowledge his part because he didn’t see that he had done anything hurtful. It’s as if he just sees his side and it’s perfectly fine to state his opinion regardless of how others will feel.

I became sad and frustrated during therapy and hid my face in my hands, crying softly, and saying, “Never-mind, he just doesn’t get it. What’s the point?”

The therapist persisted in trying to break down the problem in a way my husband would understand. I could tell my husband felt in the hot seat because he became flushed and looked intense.

Eventually my husband agreed he could have used a softer tone with the initial interaction; but he still held on to the belief that he hadn’t intentionally done anything wrong. I took that to mean, I’m too sensitive and it’s my fault which is quite common for me to feel. My husband sees the issue as I blame him for things that he didn’t do.

We’ve been tiptoeing around each other for 10 days now. After therapy I tried numerous times to talk about the session because I felt we had touched on the real issue between us, which is a misunderstanding with our communication. My husband didn’t want to go back to the discussion in therapy. At one point he said, “We are not going to be in therapy forever so let’s focus on today not therapy.” That comment hurt because what he didn’t want to discuss is the exact thing I crave.

The issue is about believing that I’m significant enough for another person to think about how their words affect me. Right now I’m feeling disregarded, unimportant, unworthy, and viewed as too emotionally sensitive. It’s not a good spot to be in when the person triggering these feelings is someone I’ve been married to for 25 years.

The length of our relationship certainly adds a deep layer of difficulty to solving our communication issues. Recovery has given me the strength to speak up and not hide behind the secret life I created while drinking. I’m learning to be honest with myself and express what I need.

I’m finding a lot of support from open-minded people in AA meetings. This has been a real gift for me. We don’t crosstalk during meetings; instead we listen and have an opportunity to share. I’m learning to know myself through listening to others and having them listen to me without judgment. It’s so refreshing!

Unfortunately, my husband continues to hold resentment that I’m choosing AA over him. But, I’m not. I’m just finding a broader support system. He frequently doesn’t want me to go to meetings. This morning I went to my Saturday meeting and when I said goodbye he didn’t answer.

I feel like I can’t please him while pleasing myself because becoming more independent is what I desire and it is counter to what he wants. This makes my life very uncomfortable.

My husband has spent the last few months trying to fix his resentment. He has gone to great lengths to make me happy so I don’t need AA. Flowers, cards, lingerie, massages, dinners out, movies, just about everything, including long lovemaking sessions where he can feel victorious if I finish satisfied. All his efforts have confused the hell out of me and caused a sense of guilt and shame. Each time I fall into the traps of seduction I lose the person I’m finding in recovery.

I want to be supported in my quest for emotional health. I need my husband to love the person I’m becoming. I’ve not been good at sticking to my guns about what that is because I’m not completely sure.  I have played the victim and damsel in distress far too long and I unknowingly fall back into that role. But I see more clearly that each time I do so, I distance myself from the supportive people in AA who are supporting me in my desire to uncover my true self.

I don’t want to be disregarded or blamed or made to feel unworthy. I won’t accept gifts that come with a price because I want to be free from external enticements. Those gifts are a means of luring me into submission or at least a state of dependence. I want my husband to encourage the progress I’m making with building my self-worth. I think a loving partner should want that for me.

I love my husband and I’ve got to ask him to support me in healthier ways.  I cannot allow his needs stop me from evolving. This will not be easy.  He will be hurt and elicit guilt in order to break me of AA and cease enlarging my circle of friends. I must be prepared to not cave in because I have a strong desire to please him. I’ve focused my life on being the person to make him happy but I cannot do that when it comes to my emotional and spiritually progress. Only I know what is best for me and I will stay the course to discover what my inner wisdom reveals.

Grant me courage.

♥ Fern

A prayer for my suffering self

Take away my obsessive negative thinking and replace it with a sense of worthiness and inner peace.  Allow me to feel the strength of the tallest tree, the beauty of a vibrant sunset, the lightness of a billowing cloud, and the love and safety of a baby snuggled against its mother.  Remind me that I need not do or be anything to feel worthy of your love and grace.

♥ Fern

Not feeling like I matter…

I feel unworthy and no matter how much I do the next right thing a sense of inadequacy prevails. It’s that alcoholic thinking banging inside my head. 

Last night I thought of taking every anxiety med I have in my bathroom and hoping that would be enough to kill me.  Ironically, I do not abuse my medications and I’ve never taken more than the prescribed dose. (I take one pill at bed to sleep). The fantasy came from an internal sense of suffering, which I do not know how to deal with rationally.  Alcohol was my solution and now I deal with emotional pain by imagining the ultimate escape route.

I awoke this morning and looked into whether that idea from the previous night could work.  I have 90 clonazepam pills for 90 days and according to answers.com a lethal amount of benzodiazepines at .5 mg for my weight would be about 5,000 pills. I’m prescribed the lowest dose available for insomnia so obviously my idea is only a pipe dream. 

I didn’t pursue other fantasies because I realize it’s alcoholic thinking. Even though I’m not drinking the thinking still wants me dead.  I dream of finding an easier path than facing my fears but there isn’t one. 

I’m forced to face an intense feeling of low self-worth.  I don’t know how to express my feelings because I never allowed myself the opportunity.  I did what other’s expected and tried to always please the people around me. I latched on to what others felt in order to be liked. This wrecked havoc on my developing sense of self.  I’m now in a situation where most of the time I don’t know how I feel.

I still have my intellect and it has served me well.  I can act appropriately and perform as expected.  But my life is full of challenges and the negative thoughts are piling up and burying me in a blanket of imperfection. It’s my new job, my marriage, my aging mother, my messed up brother and most importantly how I think I should be. The expectations I have for myself don’t allow space for fears or failure.  Hence, a feeling of self-loathing.

It’s cool, no worries.  I’m expressing my shitty thoughts but I’ll carry on and be okay.  Working my way through this difficult time is all part of recovery.  I’ve got to look at my thinking and acknowledge it.  Eventually something has got to give and I’ll let go of the twisted sense of comfort I somehow feel when I’m inside my head, isolating from others.

♥Fern

First week at new job

I picked the wrong week to begin a new job. Where I live has been getting pelted by huge amounts of snow and that makes my commute the drive from hell.

I may have picked the wrong job, as well. My desk is in a small room shared by 8 other people. The desks abut one another with no cubicle walls. To make matters worse the room must be 100°. I was sweating so much all week that every night I drove home with a headache from dehydration. My lips got chapped and I was so dried out even when I drank eight bottles of water a day.

My boss is a hoarder and the storage room is so full from the floor to the ceiling that the only way to maneuver is sideways. I was going to just work around it but my boss informed me Friday afternoon, “We’re going to have to organize the storage closet.” SAY WHAT? I wanted to say, “That’s not my shit.”

I drove home from work after my long first week feeling frustrated, angry, and exhausted. I cried for the situation I’ve gotten myself into. I even imagined an escape and since I no longer drink I considered ending my life. My husband wouldn’t have to worry about money so much if he didn’t have me to consider in his retirement plans. And I wouldn’t have to keep going to the new job.

My thoughts are going negative and I feel emotionally drained. The reality is things aren’t that bad; I just don’t handle stress and new situations well.

I struggle with being true to myself while pleasing others. I hoped that I could stay in tune with what I need but with each request my boss has of me I lose a bit of myself. I want to do what is expected and do it perfectly so that I don’t feel judged or evaluated poorly. We all know, though, no one can be perfect so I continuously fall short. By Thursday I lost my confidence and I found myself apologizing more than I’d like.

This is the first time I have worked and not drank during the initial phase of adjustment. It is not easy at all!

I have so much self-doubt it’s really kind of sad. I’m recognizing the harm I cause myself but I don’t know how to stop. When issues pile one on top of the other I lose my grasp of reality. It feels like everyone is judging me as less then.

My husband has been great with the start of my new job. He cooked all week, fed the kids, and took them to their sports events. But this weekend my stress caused me to be critical and impatient. Fortunately my family cut me some slack, showed patience and is giving me some time to adjust.

I called J, my sponsor, to talk about how I’m feeling about this new job. He was pretty insistent that my problems are thinking problems. But, I don’t know how to change. I haven’t seen J for awhile and I feel like he’s moved on to other people. I have difficulty believing I’m worth his time so I didn’t get the usual support from him.

If there’s one thing in life I’m good at it’s faking it. Doing the right thing. Not making waves. Pleasing others.

The bad part about that system is I apologize for who I am when I don’t do what I think is expected. I’m uncomfortable hearing myself say sorry so much. Whatever am I sorry for?

My boss assures me it’s fine that I don’t know what to do yet because it’s all new. On Friday afternoon she put her arm on my shoulder and said some positive things to me. I can tell she’s trying to help me feel more confident and comfortable. That’s kind of her and I wish I wasn’t shying away and feeling disappointed in myself.

Self-loathing leads to isolation. I can feel my head and heart are out of sync and I’m closing up. 😟

Lastly, I wholeheartedly admit that dealing with my feelings and thoughts without numbing out with alcohol is very difficult.

God needs to help me with this one. I’ll try to get out of my own way and give up my will to a higher power.

Fern

Next step in recovery – a new job

My life is about to drastically change. As if sobriety has not been enough I will begin a full time job on Tuesday. I haven’t worked full time since 1993 – that’s over 20 years. Holy crap! What have I got myself into?

I fear I’m leaving the safety of recovery to take on this venture. My sponsor reminded me that going back to work is recovery. It is the next step in the process. I’ll use what I’ve learned and put forth my best effort as my genuine self. This is scary because in the past I’ve lived by “performing” in public so as not to get undue notice, ultimately retreating to the isolation of my home, where I could erase the anxiety it took to keep up the façade, by unwinding with alcohol.

I hope I can handle the pressure without numbing my emotions. My plan is to stay in the present moment and be true to myself while not harming others. I cannot be more than I am or give more than I have. But I can be myself and offer my best.

There is a sense of relief in knowing the only person I really have to be true to is myself and in so doing it will please God and others.

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It’s been a year and a half since I quit drinking. The most difficult thing I ever had to do is LIVE SOBER. Initially, I didn’t make any huge changes because of some good advice I got in AA. I truly don’t think I could have remained sober through any major changes. Getting through a typical day without drinking was hard enough; but I’ve learned I can stay sober during the stress of  holidays, health concerns, family matters, and marital issues. The time has come to test the waters with a major life change. It’s not going to be easy but I feel strong enough and the change I’m making is positive.  The rewards will be self-affirming.

My marriage, on a more personal note, has begun to change for the better. My husband and I attend weekly counseling and the light of our love for one another is breaking through the darkness of alcoholism. Hard truths about our fears and hurts are being acknowledged and it’s allowing us to understand and grow beyond the resentments. I’m fortunate that my husband’s love has never waned and my fears are lessening and my heart can open to the love that is there. Letting go and trusting another is not easy; but I’m learning. Many of my fears are ego driven as a twisted self-harming way for me to feel in control. But the bottom line is my fears hurt me the most by continuing a story I’ve told myself for a lifetime. I’m not worth it. No one cares. I’ll never get what I need. Sobriety and recovery have begun to expose my negative thoughts as damaging to myself and others. My protective walls are diminishing thanks to the program of AA and my husband’s willingness to grow and make changes.

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The best example of positive change is this:

Since our counseling session on January 22, my husband and I often times embrace as we drift off to sleep. This is huge because I’ve never fallen asleep with my husband hugging me. I’m a survivor of abuse and for the entire 25 years of our marriage, the only way I have been able to fall asleep is separating my body from human contact and sedating my mind with alcohol. Recently, something has changed. Sometimes I’m resting against my husband and other nights he is holding me. For the first time I feel emotionally safe and I can let go.  This is a true gift in my recovery.

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Fern