Saturday, December 31, 2011

I always feel like somebody's watching me

An ACoA friend of mine named Duane was dumped recently by his ACoA girlfriend Jennifer. Duane likes large breasts (or more accurately women with large breasts). Jennifer used to be one until she had breast reduction surgery. Jennifer asked him at one point if he'd still find her attractive with smaller breasts. Duane, being a literalist, said he didn't know. This was one of those questions that meant something other than what it was asking, which was "Will you still love me with smaller breasts?" Because it was to Jennifer the latter question, she went ballistic and broke up with him.

Duane moved on and found another woman (who coincidentally had large breasts). Jennifer, however, sends him texts and e-mails, has stayed Facebook friends with anyone who knows Duane who will still be friends with her. And she has stalked him over the internet, finding an author's website where he wrote stories about liking women with large breasts. She is now angry at him, thinking that he somehow was the cause of her breast pain and didn't love her, just her breasts. Duane isn't afraid, but were I him, I'd look over my shoulder.

The moral of the story? Avoid ACoA women with abandoment issues that aren't getting treated.

Rockwell (with Michael Jackson)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why my Christmas tree has no ornaments.

I know I said I was done for the year, but I decided I needed to get this one in.

Kathy is visiting and overall it is the most awesome week of my life. However, she has had some concerns with just how far I have come along from my bad old days (the idea being not as far as she would have liked).

Like many ACoA, I have perfectionism issues and deference issues. I get extremely agitated when things I care about do not happen in the way I want them to. It seems the more I care about someone or something, the tighter the choke. Christmas was one of those things.

The very first fight my ex-wife and I had was over a Christmas tree. Christmas had become about pressure and expectations and I had started to actively dislike it. But I remembered as a kid liking the Christmas tree and opening presents and all of that, so when I was alone I decided I would again have a tree.

But I wanted one that wasn't huge, didn't leave pine needles everywhere, and wasn't a pain to haul down from the attic and back up. So I got a pre-lit small artificial tree. And because I didn't want to try to keep track of ornaments, I left it naked.

I'm sure there is a middle ground on tree decorating but right now almost no effort is good enough and I'll add more when I can deal with more.

As to Kathy, I took her and the granddaughter (Tina) to the ocean as part of her visit. And it made me think of this song:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I deserve a break today

So I am giving myself the rest of the week off. See you next year.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The long and winding road, part two

Long, long day and drive yesterday, but we're here now.  She hasn't run screaming.  And her in my real life is like a whole new life.  I'm afraid of all the questions but I'm more afraid of what my life will be without the answers.

Who else, really?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The long and winding road.

Making a long journey from Kathy's place to mine. Frightened of what she'll think but happy to be with her.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Family time

I met Kathy's family and nobody told me to go away, so so far so good.

Found these guys when I went looking for the Beach Boys original. They're pretty good.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine.

Drama addiction is probably the hardest part of ACoA to control. You do have to stick up for yourself and take care of yourself. We often use this, however, as an excuse to allow us to render our lives into a soap opera with us as the lead.

What we don't see, at least right off, is the damage it causes. First of all, it keeps wounds fresh. If you're trying to get a wound to heal, while you do have to clean it you at some point have to leave it alone and let it scab over.

This constant stirring of the pot leads to another bit of damage, the masking of the real problem. The drama addiction never lets you get past the causes of addiction in the first place by keeping you focused instead on the individual episode instead of the larger issues in play.

And lastly, it's just bad for your health. It creates actual physical symptoms that do actual damage to your cells.

The key thing to remember is mindfulness is paramount. I found myself in the heat of an episode and it was only by taking a moment to step outside of myself to look objectively at what I was really doing to know that I was in the throes of it. So feel how you feel. Just keep a close watch on what you're actually doing.

I keep my eyes wide open all the time (unless, like right now, I am tired enough to fall asleep).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

All my bags are packed

By the time you read this, I will have wended my way from warmer climes for a brief visit to the frosty north. I will try to post here for you, but no promises. And there may be a day or two without musical interludes.

I'm leaving on a jet plane, but I know when I'll be back again.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Love and mercy

In one of the many books and articles I have read about Brian Wilson and his recovery from his well-publicized troubles of the late sixties, I read that in his rehab he had discovered that you can drink without having to get drunk. When I read this it was an epiphany for me that things "everybody" knows not everyone knows.

I am reminded of this as the true meaning of something Kathy said to me at our rendezvous has begun to sink in. I am the one depriving myself of joy for turning things that started out to be fun into chores. She had reminded me that I was the one who had chosen the goal for myself and that I could be kind and understanding of my situation and I could release myself from the goal or alter it.

My word is important to me, even to myself and even over something this trivial. However, it is also important to me to be more kind and understanding of myself than I am used to.

But the main revelation is that I am the cause of my grief. I mean, I have always known it on an intellectual level. (See my post on Eclipso.) But now I am really getting the full meaning of it, that whatever the origins of why I do this to myself, right now the person doing it to myself is me.

And yes, you can drink without getting drunk (at least some of you).

My musical hero.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Martian Manhunter Monday

Once again on a Monday I turn to the subject of the Martian Manhunter.  In his non-comic book appearances, the Martian Manhunter has been played most often by black guys, which makes Manhunter sort of DC's first black super hero.  Sort of.  I always had a thing for him in part because he was clearly not white (in his real identity) and yet a member of the Justice League.

Black guys who have played the Martian Manhunter:
  • Carl Lumlby (Justice League cartoon, Static Shock cartoon)
  • Dorian Harewood (The Batman cartoon)
  • Phil Morris (Smallville)
  • Kevin Michael Richardson (Young Justice cartoon)

Just another Manhunter-ic Monday.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

That same old feeling

One of the biggest things I have learned about my issues as they relate to ACoA is that they're ultimately somatic.  They may be caused by faulty thinking, but by this point they have become muscle memory, nerve twitches, chills up the spine, gurgles in the stomach, all attached to Pavlovian triggers.

And since they've become reflexive, when my ACoA-heightened guard is down, I can experience the same old feelings, even though I know in my higher brain they're ridiculous.  Case in point: today.  Kathy will be coming for a visit later this month and I had one weekend left to get the house in reasonably presentable shape.

So I have been busting my butt all day today and I am very fatigued (even beyond the most recent usual).  Because I am so tired, instead of evaluating everything from my more mindful perspective, I am seeing doom and gloom around every corner in every response or lack thereof.

While I am not well enough for this to not happen anymore, I am, however, better enough to recognize it for what it is.  I asked Kathy if we were okay in a way that didn't suggest that I believed something was wrong.  I have taken a moment to breathe and write this blog.  And I am reminding myself that I need to honor myself and not let myself get quite this tired.

Pickettywitch. No I don't know what it means.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Someone to watch over me

I sent some Christmas cards today for the first time in a long time.  I did the Christmas card deal when I first moved out of my parents house and quickly found that the manual maintenance of a Christmas card list (pre PC days) was way more difficult than I wanted to deal with, never mind the handwriting and the cost of postage.

Today's Christmas card delivery was a little different, though.  These were cards to men I had never met.  They are recovering from substance abuse and are in a facility for self-same.  They are away from family and friends and may possibly have alienated those people by things they did while dealing with their addiction.  If you are alone at the holidays, your loneliness may be magnified because you know so many of the people around you are not alone.

The group I work with makes it a point every year to ask people to send these men cards to let them feel a little closeness of the holidays, even if it is from someone they have never met.  And this year I decided to actually do it.  I am not at all sure that my cards will be welcome, not from any defect in the cards, but simply my doubt that it could mean something to someone I don't know.  But if there's even the slightest chance that a card from me can take away some of the pain and loneliness of the holidays for someone, then I needed to do it.

These years, even in a good year, Christmas is a mixed bag.  My late mother was born in December and the holidays are just a double barrelled reminder that she's dead.  Even though I have Kathy this year, the fact that I have to split my granddaughter's time with Portia (the ex-wfe) is a reminder of the failure of my relationship prior.  Much like the men I wrote to today, my family is far away, although that too can be a mixed bag, were I actually back home.

I heard once that this was a bad time of year for suicides.  I can see why.  (Let me state for those of you who know me personally that I am not at all contemplating suicide; I'm merely thinking about this time of year and reflecting on the sadness that sometimes comes with the season).  All of that said, there is always hope, even in the darkest of times and I hope that my card helped bring some.

Ella Fitzgerald, a favorite of my mother's.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A solitary man

We're supposed to put ourselves on our amends list and I have decided to go ahead and do that. I have ruined relationships and missed opportunities because I didn't know how to handle the expressions of my condition. Shoot, I didn't even realize I had a condition. So in thinking about how to make amends to myself, I thought about what I could give myself.

First of all, I owe it to myself to keep sincerely working the program. The program has worked wonders in my life and I will continue to improve if I keep executing the tenets with zeal and understanding. So I vow to continue to do just that.

Next, I owe myself at least as much patience and understanding as I would give my stepson or granddaughter. I'm better but I am a far cry from perfect or even cured. It's bad enough things beat me up when they go wrong. I need to stop piling on myself in addition. This is no mean feat, by the way.

And finally, I owe myself my freedom. At first I lagged on executing my divorce because I didn't want to end the relationship. I thought that Portia and I might get back together even with Stella in the picture. Then, when I was certain that wasn't going to happen, I lagged because I wasn't sure about my relationship with Stella. Then, when that died, I didn't see any need because I wasn't supposed to get into a relationship for a while.

Well, I am in a relationship now, but even so, that isn't why I am finally doing it. In the process of getting to know Kathy, I realized that I need to say to myself and the world that I have truly moved on. (Stella would argue that I already have said it to the world, but I digress.) Kathy and I made an agreement that we wouldn't officially announce we were in a relationship until I was legally out of my current one. So it's time.

I cannot get back my own years lost and my opportunities frittered away. But I can do this for myself. And so I am going to.

Don't know that I will, but until I can find me
A girl who will stay and won't play games behind me
I'll be what I am:
A solitary man.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


This is the week that I have to actually make amends where I can.  I told Stella almost everything I said here.  I think I will tell Portia in person as well.  I have decided to leave Winnie well enough alone, although I would love to know what has become of her since we last spoke about five years ago.  I have no idea what I will do about Wilma.

But the apology of the letters seems relatively meager compared to the harm done.  I am not sure if the apologies will be welcome.  And thus, I am not sure about passing the harm test, since Step 9 says that the amends need to not be made where they will cause harm.

However the program calls for amends to be made and there must be a reason for it.  I have trusted the program thus far and it has helped me, so I will continue to follow the program.  But whether or not I execute the other letters, I think it was important to identify the areas where I hurt people.  Hopefully it will keep me from making those mistakes again.

Not sure what I am going to do if I need another "I'm sorry" song.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

If I had a hammer

The fundamental cornerstone of the ACA program is the 12 Steps.  But the steps themselves don't contain what I will call the Tools of ACA. The primary tools we use to move from where we were to where we'd like to be are:
  • Sharing ESH (Experience, Strength, and Hope)
  • Actively applying the Serenity Prayer
  • Reparenting
  • Fellowship / community
Reading other people's ESH shows us how we're not alone. It shows us how behaviors we never before considered related to our FOO (family of origin) are really rooted in our pasts. And it gives us ideas on how to handle certain situations specifically when we hear from people further down the path than we are. But it is also important to share our own ESH. Later in the program your ESH will serve the above purpose. But at the start, sharing your ESH will get you in touch with feelings, memories, and issues you may have found yourself disconnected from. It was only through expressing my own ESH that I discovered that I have a relationship addiction, that I fully connected to and understood the origins of my abandonment feelings and unlovability perspective. You learn from others, but you also teach yourself.

Another tool is the active execution of the Serenity Prayer. You have to identify what you can truly change and what you cannot. You make it a point to examine things under that lens. You learn that you can empathize with a co-worker, but you cannot get her to change her destructive drama that she talks to you about all the time. What you can change is whether you participate, whether you encourage the behavior.

You learn the limits of you and the true power of yourself. We tend to believe we're powerless over things we actually can change. We tend to believe we can (or should) change things that are not our affair. Actively applying the Serenity Prayer helps us out. It inverts this. Also, as part of the active application of the Serenity Prayer, we hand things we cannot control off to the Higher Power. This frees us.

Possibly our most powerful tool is reparenting. As ACoA, we often react to things as if we were still a child. We still have that raw, childhood emotion. And we need even as adults that parent to love us in the way our actual parent failed us. When we have a set back, we have to encourage ourselves instead of call us condemning labels. When we get scared, we have to tell ourselves that it will be okay, even without knowing that this will be the case. Because if we tell ourselves it will be okay, it tends to be okay in the end. As we take on the reparenting role, we turn down the voices in our heads. We begin to actively become what we have always had the potential of being.

As to fellowship and community, we tend to be isolationist. We do things by ourselves. We're not social. But there are times where the love of others, just knowing someone else cares about us and wants good for us, makes us feel better. It has no specific result. It just makes us feel better. It's like hanging with really good friends, or if you are lucky your family (because family is not always a positive place for us.)

So by actively sharing and receiving sharing, by active application of the Serenity Prayer, by reparenting, and by just hanging out with other ACoAs, you will begin to modify your behaviors and achieve results.

Meanwhile, at the Hammer of Justice...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A good horse

My maternal grandfather told my mother upon her choosing my father for her second husband that she needed to watch out because people will run a good horse into the ground.  What he meant by that was that my mother needed to protect my father from the demands of others (and herself for that matter) because with his ability to do so much so often, there would be an invitation to abuse him to the point of no return.  ACoA are also prime candidates for this type of mistreatment.

ACoA tend toward being people pleasers, being perfectionists, cowering to authority, and being workaholics.  This, from an employer's standpoint is the perfect recipe for an employee: someone who will do high quality work (perfectionism) and a high volume of work (workaholic) to your standard (people pleaser) without any sass (fear of authority).  The problem is that, much like my grandpa's proverbial good horse, without a caring person at the reins, we'll run ourselves into the ground.

If we're lucky, we'll have a mate who will protect us from the outside world luring us into that situation.  The problem is that mates are also tempted to lure us there for their own ends.  To me, one of the greatest challenges of going through the ACA program is training ourselves to be our own benevolent rein master.  But it is vital.  Because the only person we can know with certainty is on our side (if this person ever is on our side) is us.

A great way to begin to do this is to ask yourself whenever someone asks you to do something that they want done, something that would require you giving it "the old college try", "What would happen if I said 'No?'"  Just considering that there is alternatives creates a different sense about doing the task.  It stops being another of your many obligations and becomes a choice.  And that alone is freeing.  And it might just keep you out of the ground.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Seems you've lost your feel for me

Portia reads Stella's blog, so today I have had to endure Portia's questioning of me on the matter of yesterday's conversation with Stella.  And the cherry on the sundae?  She is siding with Stella (who is asserting that I could never have actually loved her, Stella).

Let's just say there's only she and me and we just disagree.

Dave Mason again. I just wish we could actually be this mature about things (Portia and I or Stella and I, take your pick).

Sunday, December 11, 2011

One of the toughest conversations I have ever had.

Stella met me today. She still had a few things of mine from when we were together and wanted to give them to me, spurred on by my returning the personal item I mentioned in her letter. So we rendezvoused at a restaurant and had lunch. We talked small talk about how she was recovering from her surgery, how she and hers were doing, how me and mine were doing. She then asked what I was doing for Christmas. And I told her. Which meant I told her about Kathy.

She cried. There were questions about the legitimacy of my feelings for her, how quickly Kathy and I became involved, and many other things. I answered. I was painfully honest. I tried to give her everything I could, everything but the reconciliation that it seemed she sought judging by her reaction to the news of Kathy's existence. She cried and cried. We hugged and departed.

Did she get closure? I don't know. Did this really do anyone any good? I don't know. But she now can move on when she's ready to. And I know that I have tried to make amends. But, as I said in the letter, I don't think it can ever be enough.

Given the time of year and the nature of the conversation, I thought of this song for today.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gifts from ten people I have never met

I have been trying to fix myself and make myself better for years and years and years and over the course of those years, I have been given gifts from people I only know through books or other professional works.  Here are ten people I have never met and the gifts I got from them.
  1. Philip Zimbardo

    I was shy. (Actually I still am shy.) It is limiting. So I read Zimbardo's book on shyness called Shyness and I learned that, basically, you can fake it to make it. The revelation that Johnny Carson himself was a shy man was all I needed to have a blueprint on how to be the things I wanted to be.

  2. Leo Buscaglia

    I saw him on a PBS special a long time ago urging people to love themselves, which at the time for me was a wild concept. His self-acceptance through love was fascinating, and he said something that has since proven itself true. He told someone "If you have fat thighs, celebrate those fat thighs and you’ll find a fat thigh lover."  You can find someone who will love you for you.  Trust me.

  3. Nathaniel Branden

    He was the first rational psychologist / psychiatrist in my life and helped me make sense of romantic love. The fact that I ever found myself in any relationships has a lot to do with him.

  4. Napoleon Hill

    How to comport yourself to succeed in America really hasn't changed all that much in the many years since he wrote this book. He taught me several key pieces in how to make it financially in this world. I am not yet independently wealthy, but the fact that I have as much as I do have goes in part to him.

  5. Phil Laut

    Phil Laut is another of my success coaches, but with a unique twist. One of the things that hurt me in developing my financial success was my literal perception of money. Coming from a working class blue collar background, I had a limiting perception of money. Phil Laut's strange little book changed that for me forever. It's weird but it worked.

  6. Wendi Friesen

    Wendi is the only person on the list with whom I have actually communicated, but I have not met her. Wendi is a hypnotherapist and several of her hypnotherapeutic recordings have helped me with habits, issues, and questions. The fact that Kathy finds me studly is due, in part, to her work. It doesn't hurt that I am studly, too.

  7. William Glasser

    The second rational psychotherapist on this list, Dr. Glasser's Choice Theory of human relationships is fundamentally very similar to the way that the Serenity Prayer and ACA is supposed to work. We cannot control people. We can only improve ourselves and let the world see our improvement. If my relationship with Kathy is better than my previous, he will be to thank.

  8. J. Michael Straczynski

    The creator of Babylon 5, back when he was struggling, wrote a column for Writer's Digest, teaching me many things about the craft of writing. I do not recall if he was the one who specifically told me how to get past writer's block, but I know I learned it in the magazine and I know he did teach me that you could write a screenplay in 24 hours. (I took 48 when I had to do it, but I did it).

  9. Claude Bristol

    My third success coach on this list. Claude Bristol was an introduction into using belief to manifest results in your life. Without getting into particulars, I proved this to myself and it really works. Many things have come into my life from the Magic of Believing both the book and the concept.

  10. Melody Beattie

    She wrote the book Co-Dependent No More. While the book was more for people actively involved with a substance abuser, it did lead me to ACA and without ACA my life would be considerably different right now.

Friday, December 09, 2011

You don't bring me flowers any more

Dear Portia,

I meant it when I said it. I really did.

I meant it when I said that I loved you. I meant it when I said I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. I meant it when I said that I would buy you a house. I meant it when I said I would take you on that honeymoon you always wanted. I meant it sincerely and I wanted to do it right up until you decided you couldn't take it any more.  Couldn't take me anymore.

My part in the end of our marriage had at a lot of its core my issues as an adult child of an alcoholic.  By the time you got to really know me, you felt like you had married a stranger.  We couldn't discuss trimming a Christmas tree without it turning into World War III because, in part, of my defensiveness.  I tried very hard to please you (as a people pleaser is wont to do) and bred resentment in myself.  I harmed you many, many times.

One of the things we do in ACA is we make a list of the people whom we have harmed and we have to figure out how to make amends to them if at all possible.  I cannot change our outcome.  But I still remember the things I said to you, the promises I made. And so, while none of it will come true in the way that I had hoped back when I said the things I said, I have found a way, through the settlement that we reached on the money, to make a lot of it happen.

I was responsible for you being able to buy a house, thanks to an early dispersal of some of the money.  And you'll be able to take a nice vacation with what you will get over the remaining time.  And because of the grandchild we have custody of, you'll be in my life for years whether I want you to be or not.

It's not what I wanted and it's not what you wanted.  But I hope that from what is now possible it will do.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The winds of change continue blowing

Dear Stella,

I am writing you this letter because as part of my working in ACoA, I need to make amends to those I have harmed and you are one of those I have harmed. We have only a few precious years on this planet and I squandered those three years we shared together by not being upfront and honest with you about how I thought, how I felt, who I was, and what I wanted. I so wanted to make our relationship work, that I became a chameleon and went along with pretty much anything you had to say, thinking that doing so might keep you from abandoning me. In fact, it may very well have been the cause of our relationship ending

I cannot give you those years back and there is nothing I can do to ease the hurt that came attendant with our break up. The best that I can do is to say that I am truly sorry and to return [personal item I still possess] to you. I hope you're happy in your new life.

Dear Winnie,

I am writing you this letter because as part of my working in ACoA, I need to make amends to those I have harmed and you are one of those I have harmed. Even though I knew how hard it was for my mother to be in a relationship with my father because of the alcohol, I so enjoyed talking to you and being with you (before you passed out) that I tried to make a relationship with you work and you decided you wanted it too. So when our relationship failed as it was destined to do, you were very hurt. The conversation we had where I was trying to dump you I could tell was tearing you apart and it was no surprise to me that you stopped me and "dumped" me instead.

Please believe that I never wanted to hurt you. From mutual acquaintances, I understand that after we broke up you stopped drinking entirely and have had a fulfilling life and career and I am very glad for you. I wish I could make some sort of amends to you, but it seems from the pain you took a much greater gift for yourself than anything I could ever give. I wish you well.

Another letter

Dear Wilma,

I am in a program called Adult Children Anonymous.  I, like yourself, am a child of an alcoholic and many children of alcoholics develop behavior patterns as children that end up harming themselves and others in their adulthoods.  And much like Alcoholics Anonymous, we have a series of steps, one of which is making amends to people we have harmed by our behaviors.  And one of the people I have harmed by my behaviors is you.

Without getting into particulars, there were a number of things I did while I was in a relationship with you that led you to believe I was a different person than the man I truly am.  That was creating a relationship under false pretenses.  And then, because I so feared abandonment and so feared I would never find anyone else, I did not let our relationship go when it was clear that it was precarious at best.  I took away most of the childbearing years of your life in this dance.  And for those things I am sorry.  But I am also sorry for something else.

Back when we were in a relationship I would have done anything I could to get you to be and stay with me.  And so I lavished you with as many gifts and trips as I could afford on my then meager salary.  From what I understand from a mutual acquaintance, you developed a taste for living this way and being this way to the point where old friends do not recognize you.  I regret that my dysfunction may have altered you forever.  And for that, I am truly sorry.

I do not know how to make amends to you.  Your youth cannot be regained and you have gone on to a relationship in which you seem to be happy.  So I wish you light and love and I thank you for having been a part of my life.

Since if I ever send the letter I will not mention this draft here, I will present the song that came to mind as I wrote this.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Watch this space

Too many things today to make an entry now.  I'll double up tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Getting sentimental

Here is the first of the letters to go along with making amends.

Dear Mama,

I am writing you this in a relatively formal way to keep me on track and make sure I get to the point of the letter.  Otherwise I will be distracted by the kind of mother / son conversation I would like to still be able to have with you in actual life.

In the process of making my way in this world without you, I discovered that I had imprinted a pattern of self-defeating behaviors directly related to growing up with Pop's drinking and your, well, personality.  We call ourselves Adult Children of Alcoholics, but you needn't be raised by an alcoholic for it to fit.  Being raised by other addictive personalities can bring it on.  Certain types of family trauma may also bring it on.

At any rate, the program deals with being this way in a similar way as to how Alcoholics Anonymous deals with drinkers, including our own 12 steps.  One of those steps is identifying people whom you have harmed by having this behavior pattern and being willing to make amends to them.

One of the people that I have harmed is you.  Because I was caught in the spiral of trying to escape or cure my childhood shortcomings in my adult life, I was occasionally mean to you in a childish attempt to "defend" myself.  I messed around with the wrong women for many years, never producing a grandchild of my flesh which I know you so wanted (although you did love my stepchildren).  I never quite fulfilled the promise you and others saw in me when I was young.  And when you asked the last thing you ever asked of me, for me to come see you two days before you died, in the name of being responsible I said "No."

For all of these things I say that I am sorry.  As to how to make amends to you, especially now that you're gone, one thing I have done is I have made sure to come back to Ohio every year around Easter, which is very close to when you died.  Since you have died, I have made it a point to get to know Pop before I lose him, too.  I remind others that we lose our parents all too soon, even if they live to a nice old age.

I am striving to improve myself through ACA, therapy, and other self-improvement techniques.  I have changed the type of woman I look for, with decidedly positive results.  And I am always trying to make something of myself.   You were not always effusive with praise, so I do not know if you are proud of me and if you were whether or not you'd tell me so.  But I think that I am someone you could be proud of.  Even if I don't vote the way you did.

Rest in peace, until we meet again.


A song my mother used to sing pretty much while she did anything other than talk or eat.

Monday, December 05, 2011

The letter

I have decided that I am going to write letters in support of the amends I have to make to several of the people I listed on Saturday.  I'm looking forward to that about as much as I looked forward to enumerating them in the first place.

Give me a ticket for an aeroplane.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Dream a little dream of me

I had an unsettling dream last night.  The particulars are irrelevant aside from this: I had an argument with my mother (justified, by my memory of the circumstances).  And yet, although in the context of the dream my anger was justified and in real life my mother is long dead, I still, hours later, am aggravated by it.

I miss my mother dearly and feel a number of regrets about the circumstances of her passing.  The last conversation we had was a day or two before she died where she had asked me to come home to visit.  I had not been long working at my job and had used time off relatively recently to see her when she was in the hospital to get her to take treatment. I have, since she died, convinced myself she knew she was dying and wanted to see me one last time.

Had I left where I live sooner than I did on the day that they called to tell me she was dying, I might have arrived before she died.  But I did not.  And my family left her hooked up to a ventilator after she was declared brain dead so that I could see her "alive" when I arrived, as though somehow an animated corpse was going to be of comfort to me.  This also left me with the task, as my father was not up to it, of telling them to pull the plug.  I have always had rocky relationships with my family, but that day was probably the worst.  I'm not sure I liked anyone to whom I was related that day.

These regrets loom large in my life and make even my telling the truth about how we were raised very difficult for me.  I do love my mother and wish with all my heart and soul she was still around.  My telling her that I did not think I could come any time soon made her cry, as I know telling the stories of my childhood would.  And my mother's tears are like a sledgehammer to my heart.

And that is why I am disturbed about my dream, in that I am aware that I rarely get the joy of dreaming about her and thus, in a way, seeing her still alive.  Yet here I was with a chance to spend time with my mother again and I was yelling at her.  But the kicker is, as I said, I was justified in asserting my position.  As I am healing and making myself better, had this dream scenario really occurred, I should have stood up for myself.

I think the dream may have been trying to show me that I need to find ways to assert and protect myself that don't come with the anger.  Anger is very damaging and is ultimately more the source of my ACoA related problems than alcohol itself, as it was my mother's anger at my father's drinking that was the real pain to me and I can see where my father's drinking could have been a substitute for his anger at something.

Perhaps it was my mother's not-so-subtle way to get me to put her on my amends list.  I didn't include her because I felt I had no means to make amends to her at this point.  Perhaps I will call my dad a little more frequently as a way to make it up to her.  Kathy said to me that dreaming about someone who has passed is a good omen, regardless of the circumstances of the dream.  I hope she's right.

And now to sing this lovely ballad, here is Mama Cass.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

The list

It seems to do me good to not only do these exercises but put them out for others to see.  I think it is a catharsis of sorts for me.  So with that in mind, I present the actual list I came up with for those whom I have specifically harmed through my dealings with being an adult child of an alcoholic.  I will possibly add other people tomorrow, but for how, here is the list.  All names have been altered for the purpose of anonymity.

Whom I harmed Relationship How I harmed them
Portia ex-wife By not being honest about who I truly was or how I felt, I led her to believe that we had a future together when we did not.
Stella ex-girlfriend By not being honest about who I truly was or how I felt, I led her to believe that we had a future together when we did not.
Winnie ex-girlfriend Was tempted into thinking I could make it work with an alcoholic, giving her some hope of a relationship.
Wilma ex-girlfriend By not honoring myself and respecting myself when I was with her, I wasted valuable years of her life that she could have better spent in another relationship.
Kathy girlfriend Because of my need to people-please I sometimes put others ahead of her when they shouldn't be placed there.
Tina granddaughter Because I am lax on self-care, I allow myself to be too stressed when dealing with her and thus find myself yelling at her for, in essence, being a kid.
Rick stepson For being excessively strict while raising him.
me By not correcting my behavior, I robbed myself of many relationship opportunities and subjected myself to agonizing break ups and personal humiliations in the name of making a fundamentally flawed relationship work.

It's humiliating to put this out here for the world to see, but shadows and secrets are harmful for me. Once it is out there, it loses its power. I only hope that others can find their courage to face this step from this.

I have another list. It has to do with Kathy and Hall and Oates.

Friday, December 02, 2011

My name is Earl

I watched the television show My Name Is Earl not long after its debut. I did so at the urging of some friends.  I enjoyed the oddball characters of Camden County but what I found most appealing about the show was the raison d'ĂȘtre of the show: Earl's list.

If you have not ever seen the show, Earl was an inept criminal who disappointed pretty much everyone in his life. And seemingly in retribution bad things would happen to him. The culmination of this was when he scratched off a winning lottery ticket, only to be hit by a car and lose the self-same ticket.

As he convalesced in the hospital, he was introduced to the concept of karma, which for our purposes I will distill into "What goes around comes around." And so he crafted a list of every person to whom he did wrong and vowed one by one to make amends for these wrongs. Once he did that, he miraculously found the lottery ticket again.

I compare Earl's list to what I have to do this weekend, which is make my own list of people to whom I need to make amends due to the effects of my ACoA behavior. I don't expect to get a winning lottery ticket out of it. I don't even expect a change of fortune. But I do expect to be be a better person for it and that will make my life better.

However, as the show demonstrated, making amends is a tricky business and truly sometimes it cannot be done without causing more harm that it alleviates. That said, it is worth the effort anyway, if for no other reason than it allows you to move forward in your life. And that alone is quite a gift.

Gene Chandler about another Earl, sort of.

Google AdSense can bite my butt

I didn't even want to put ads on here.  Blogger, a Google product, offered it.  So I decided to do it.  I didn't get many clicks.  I didn't care.

In the middle of November, Russian sites started visiting me out of nowhere.  Okay.  Fine.  Whatever.  Then my click rate shot up.  Okay.  Fine.  Whatever.

Suddenly, it got close to where Google would actually have to pay me for the clicks.  And then and only then did my click activity get “suspicious.”

I appealed.  They said, without explaining their mysterious vetting process, that my clicks were still suspicious and my account was suspended.  Okay.  Fine.  Whatever.

Google AdSense can bite my butt.  And you can click on it.


Just got an e-mail saying my AdSense account was disabled.  Happy Friday.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

I gotta be me

I am working the various steps of ACA and am up to Step 8, which involves compiling a list of people to whom I need to make amends. In the process of trying to figure out to whom such amends need to be made, I was called upon to recall the end of my relationship with my girlfriend prior to Kathy. For the purposes of this post, we will call her Stella.

As I was working with the crew on putting my list together, I had to get into the gory details of how we broke up, those that I skipped in my prior post on the subject, to explain why she was on my list of people to whom I needed to make amends. In the course of explaining, I also had to explain that a large part of what ended us was my actually getting better as far as being an ACoA is concerned.

As I have gotten better it has become easier for me to be honest with other people as to who I am and what I actually like. But as I was more and more myself with Stella, it seemed that Stella liked me less and less. Part of it I think has to do with the loss of Mr. Nice Guy, the one who would acquiesce to every whim of hers. And part of it was just I wasn't who she thought I was and who she thought she was in a relationship with. That is the part that is my fault and for which I need to make some kind of amends.

I have learned my lesson from this, and Kathy has seen me warts and all. Well, I don't have actual warts, mind you, but if I did, she would have seen them by now. Again this is a common struggle for those of us in ACA. Because we would at our worst do literally anything to keep a relationship alive, we often lie in this way and then wonder why we are so misunderstood by our partners.

So now I know that if anything is to be real and lasting at all, I gotta be me, as the song says.

The song.