17 December 2012

An Early Christmas Gift

Hey WOPA friends! Great news!

A new website, with a downloadable version of our awesome new 12-step manual for loved ones of addicts.



I haven't had much time to look over the website or to see how different the new manual is from the pilot ones we've had in the past, but I couldn't bear to keep this secret a second longer.  (You're welcome.)

Let me know what you think!


** POST EDIT: There is some question about the source of this manual, but as far as I'm concerned USE IT. It's awesome. 

Admin stuff

Hey Friends-

I hate word verification for comments.  I used to laugh at the line

"Prove you are not a robot"

becuase I didn't care if robots read the blog.  (Haha.)

That was until I started getting 100 comments a day from robots.  Comments that are non-sensical like this:

"I got this web page from my pal who told me concerning this website and at the moment this time I am visiting this web page and reading very informative posts here"

And then there is a link to some random website called something like "Italian bond auctions" which I never click on because I am sure my computer would explode. 

Anyway, it looks like I'm going to have to experiment with some settings to see if I can eliminate or reduce this comment spam. 


Hope it doesn't prevent you from commenting.  (Which, admitedly it has done for me on occasion.)

14 December 2012

My Girl Jacy

I carry a little bit of Jacy with me everywhere I go.  A gift from her (and Scabs), I keep it on my keychain. 

I know I've talked about Jacy before, how she was the first person I reached out to online in my lonely desperation, and how she reached right back.

Jacy is determined to use her difficult experiences to make her better and not bitter.  And she'd do anything to help anyone do the same.  Her honesty is refreshing and her love and acceptance for all is contagious.

Circumstances in her life are making it so that her blog won't be around much longer.  Head over and send your love and thanks, and see how we can all still keep in touch.

Thanks Jacy. Love you girl!

11 December 2012

Not judging my feelings

A couple notes:

* Sorry about the horrible format issues with my last blog post. I published it on my way out the door, and didn't look back at it until today.  I noticed it was hard to read, so hopefully I've fixed it for any forthcoming readers. 

* My knowledge about things I post about is often infantile and inadequate, I think I know just enough to write a blog post and that's it.  For this post in particular I suggest reading a book on the subject from a real expert.  I might recommend "Calming Your Anxious Mind" for starters.  (Jeffrey Brantley and Jon Kabat-Zinn.)  I know it sounds like it is written for someone with anxiety, which it is. (Isn't that all of us?) But it is full of helpful information about meditation and feelings.

Sooo, without furthur ado...

What does it mean to not judge my feelings?

I had never thought about this concept until I read the book I mentioned above.  And then I started to see it alluded to all over on blogs and in counseling and at group etc.  Let me illustrate a great example of my bad habit of judging my feelings.

The night before Thanksgiving I had a meltdown. It was when my sister had hurt my feelings, then when I got home it seemed like everything was going wrong and I was spiraling into sadness and self-pity.  (Interestingly I don't even recall what had me so upset.)  But eventually I started having these, judgmental thoughts

"Why are you so sad? You shouldn't be sad.  Tomorrow is thanksgiving and you have so many things to be grateful for.  You are an awful person for being so ungrateful.  You should be ashamed of yourself for being so miserable when you should be so happy. Why can't you just be happy?!" 

So what is bad about that? I'm always saying things about choosing happiness and counting blessings right? Absolutely.  There is a time and place for that.  But sometimes, there is a time and a place for being sad.  So as I lie on my bed that night, I just let myself be sad.  I had a good cry and I thought about when Alicia blogged about that article in Readers Digest.  It was about how we spend so much time chasing happiness, we make ourselves miserable. 

Sadness and sorrow are part of our experience here in on Earth

Yep. I said it and I meant it.  We don't have to be happy all the time.  We can choose to be happy as much as we want, and when we want.  But it's okay to choose to be sad sometimes too.  Sorrow is not a sin. 

Here is a quote from that book:

"You are not your thoughts, feelings, or sensations.  These are events in the present moment that can be observed kindly and compassionately in the mirror of mindfulness.  Learning to experience these events [without judging them] ... will give you new power.  You ... discover your deepest quality of being and the peace and stability within you."

In other words, I don't need to feel guilt and shame when life's frustrating moments leave me feeling discouraged and sad.  If I don't want to feel discouraged and sad forever, I know what I need to do, I know how to turn it over and let it go.  But sadness isn't inherently bad.  It just is. 

I think all feelings serve a purpose for us by increasing our ability for empathy and compassion toward others, bring us closer to God, make us humble, motivate us to change, help us appreciate the good, and so on. 

So what do I do to feel sad without hating myself for it?

Here's what I try:

1. Stick to the facts.  I try not to make assumptions about other people and my perception of how they influenced me. 

2. Stay in the present moment.  I try not to dwell on the past.  I try not to focus on what should have been different, "If only..."  I also try not to worry about the future. I can be dramatic when I'm upset, truly believing that I'm going to feel this way forever and that everything is going to be different because of the way I feel in that moment.  If I can avoid this, chances are I will feel better in an hour, or in the morning, or in a few days.

3.  Just FEEL it.  Don't exaggerate it, but don't condemn it either. 

4.  Meditate. Breath in.  Breath out.  I'm no expert about meditation but this never fails me.  Sometimes it helps to distract myself by listenting to my body.  "I'm hungry.  My eyes are sore. My head hurts. It feels good to relax my shoulders and unclench my jaw.  My foot is falling asleep."  Or I focus on the sounds around me.  I listen to the clock tick, the cars driving by, the conversation of the people in front of me. 

This is an art I'm just on the threshold of understanding, but it is exciting and liberating to come to peace with not being a bubbly bundle of joy all the time.  And that's okay. And I can teach my kids its okay too. 

05 December 2012

Ugh, a post about Charity


I'm going to skip question #2 for now, and go to #3.

How do I love my family in a way that won't bring out the worst in me?

And to be honest I can't answer that question in a way that says "This is how I love my family."   The best I can offer is  "This is how I should love my family."

The answer, plain and simple, is charity. 

Elder Marvin J. Ashton explained: 

"Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped."
Part of my problem is that I often take this a step too far.  Instead of just accepting my sister's weaknesses and having patience with them.  I dwell on them, I dramatize them, I exaggerate them, all to put myself in a place of superiority.  I become condescending and self-righteous but - *SHOCK* - this doesn't feel any better than being insulted or hurt by her criticism.
So I think charity includes a level of genuine compassion, for the ways that my sister's elitism hurts her, whether or not she ever acknowledges that.  I love this quote by Spencer W. Kimball
“Jesus saw sin as wrong but also was able to see sin as springing from deep and unmet

needs on the part of the sinner. This permitted him to condemn the sin without condemning the individual.”
It is not some inherent inequity between my sister and I that makes me feel less or better than her. It is not that she believes she is truly better than me in some way.  Her unkindness toward me is the product of some deep sadness she feels, and when I am in my most humble place, my heart aches for her, and anyone who suffers. 
So why is it so diffucult to feel that way all the time? Or to let those feelings be the feelings that guide my behavior?  Why do I want to withdraw, shut down, retaliate when my family members are unkind to me? 
I think the answer is two-fold
1. I do not feel close to God, and therefore
2. I feel afraid of rejection, afraid of the opinions of others, afraid of being inadequate. 

These fears, cause me to make choices about how I treat people that I think will protect me from being hurt, and that give me some artifical sense of power over situations, or feelings.  But operating out of fear prevents me from feeling God's love for me and my family members. 
Okay, now the good stuff from Danny's emails - (emphasis added)
One thing I'm discovering over and over and over again...charity never faileth. It may not fix the criticizer (that's up to them), but it never fails the one who bears the charity by lifting their hearts above the criticism and anger and self righteousness.
When you are not operating from Fear/Doubt/Enmity - you will respond better to every one around you, even those who are being critical. You'll find you're not defensive as much (being defensive comes from fear and doubt), and when you're not defensive you won't say things that cause others to be defensive in return
I made sure my interactions with [people] increased the likelihood that [they] felt faith, hope, and love.

Is there anything more Christ-like than deciding to offer your best self to someone who isn't willing to return the favor? And you offer your best self to them....not to show that you are better than them, or above it all, or with the intent to hang your positive interactions over their head, or anything of the sort....you offer your best self because doing so is the only reason you will be able to maintain Unity with God, and it is at the very heart of any joy you do or will receive, and is truly the only way that you can help them (whether or not they want or are ready for that help).

Unconditional love, the kind of love meant for families, love given for the sake of love, for the sake of the way it makes the giver feel whole, and happy, and peaceful.  The love I want others to offer me.

More from Danny-

So what did I discover? That I often didn't need to wait for the love and kindness to return to me from her or from someone else or even at some other time...it was simply in the offering of it that I became free to feel it...right in that VERY MOMENT.  And so, in many ways, what you offer comes back to you the second you give it...if it is given honestly and freely, holding nothing back.

Let me be honest. I am a selfish person.  I am a prideful person.  Sometimes it seems easier to just let myself be hurt and angry, to isolate myself, to build walls in my relationships.  But doing those things will not bring me closer to God, and it certainly will be the demise of good relationships with family members, husband included.

So as cliche as it sounds, true happiness, love and peace come from taking the higher road. Turning the other cheek, but not in a self-righteous proud way, but a sincere compassionate and forgiving way.  A humble way that acknowledges we all have need of love, of God and of forgiveness.