Historical Post: Clarity of mind and the Task of Rediscovery - April 23, 2016
Clarity of mind and the task of rediscovery
April 23, 2016 by julieannhowe
Today is my 15 month anniversary of sobriety. What a trip this last 15 months have been! I’ve been kind of in a stalemate trying to think about what to write lately. I believe this is what they refer to as writers block. This past week I’ve had a few things that really just sparked a lot of thoughts for me and I thought I would share.
In loving two dear friends of mine, I have played an ear to their lives sounding boards. It has lead me to a point where I’m listening to myself give out thoughts and ideas and wondering why I haven’t been listening to myself more. I wanted to share a couple of examples, because I think many of you who have ended up in divorce/breakup later in life, when you were truly in love may know some of these thoughts yourself and may not be listening to yourself either.
Let me preface this with something. I tend to be a light switch kind of thinker. When I am dealing with my own actions and questioning the things I do and finally figure out what my issue is and how to fix it, it’s like someone flipped on the light and now I can see and all is right in the world and not stub my toe as I make my way. It befuddles me and irritates some people in my life that I’m like this, one because I can’t understand why they can’t just flip that switch when they are struggling, and two, because they hate that I can and that I don’t understand why they can’t. So with that being said… this was some of my recent light switch flipping!
Friend #1 is in that head space of a long term break up where he is thinking one direction but going the other. What iImean is, his heart and his mind both know that staying single and healing a bit longer is a great thing not only for him but for any future woman in his life, but his actions are quickly kind of wandering in opposite directions. In sounding off to me, I told him, that void of the person, no matter how horrible they turned out to be, is very real. We work so hard in relationship (well some of us do) to really nurture, love and support our spouse/significant other. When we are in a long term relationship that person becomes a part of our being. We worry for them, consider them in our choices (the WWJD kind of effect) and we do things to help them through their day.
If you are anything like me, and like he is, we go beyond that and think ahead, doing often times more than we should and letting go more of who we are in order to be what they need. This is where a lot of issues tend to occur. Losing a relationship causes a period of mourning which is completely natural. The heart break is really hard to overcome, however, when that person you loved has become fiber of your own being, and when they leave the you that was there is no longer whole, it’s more devastating. When you can’t look in the mirror and think of something to do with your time because you no longer remember what you like to do. This may because what you did with your free time was for them, or with them, and most of that time didn’t involve anything you enjoyed because you enjoyed so much doing things for them. The void is so much bigger, because not only are they gone, but the all the other purpose you had for your free time is gone, and finding what you enjoy becomes a major hurdle in your healing.
So in this specific case, for him, and for myself even, the void is a very large hole in his time and his heart. For me personally, prior to sobriety 15 months ago, I wasn’t coping so I’m a little behind. While he is healing I am truly only steps ahead when I should be years. In his particular case, he is in a waxing and waning phase where one moment he wants to feel that connection and fill that void and the next he is freaking out (I used that term lightly) and ending things because that logical side kicks in and he isn’t ready. I found myself realizing that he was kind of doing it again, vaguely telling me that he thought someone fit him but not able to pinpoint why. I told him what I thought was happening, and he lovingly hated me for pointing it out.
For myself, I’m just past this period, and by just I mean like weeks in some ways/months in others past it maybe. I am now reaching this clarity that has been very strange to me. I had been pushing so hard to fill my own void that I had settled into some relationships that were completely wrong for me. By relationships I mean 5 mins of your great by 10 min of I can’t stand you, get the fuck out! They weren’t really relationships even, they were really me acting like a total freak and treating people badly inadvertently. I managed somehow to keep most of them as friends, but looking back, oye I’m not proud of how I behaved. I raised hopes in hearts and then dashed them on the rocks of my rebound. Not cool, but I’m thankful I realize it now. This is probably why the wise people we love tell us to take time to ourselves after a break up. That feeling that you hurt someone isn’t a fun one, so when people tell you that, try to listen. No judgement coming from me on it, trust me, we all have to go through things ourselves and cope in our own ways, but take it first hand from me, now realizing what I did to others isn’t a great feeling. If I could take it back, I would. I also realize that isn’t s a need, it’s like a sick addiction, filling that void and not even realizing you are working too hard to do it. I recently found this light switch, flipped it on, and am happy to be single and just have fun.
I was also asked this past week a question about maintaining sobriety, and how I managed to do it. Sadly, this was a person who maintained their own sobriety for about 19 months, and then went back to the old habits. She said, how did you maintain, I mean I needed the socialization, I couldn’t handle not having time with other people. Boy this was a deep thought question for me. I did in the beginning go CRAZY about being alone, and by alone I mean I was home with my kids, not out with other drinking adults. I felt like I was on a self inflicted imprisonment. I had a few outlets, but typically I was coming home after work, and sitting with my kids all night. Okay for those who have a normal life, this might seem like an obvious night in the life. My ritual however had been work, happy hour, home for dinner and bed… socializing with the people at the bar, then doing the mom thing. So the adult contact that was fun, outside of my normal work life, was now gone.
After much thought I sent this person a message. The truth is, the people I see at the bar, minus a few special individuals who truly are a part of my heart, are people with the same sad life. Their worlds revolve around the drink, around the happy hour, around the same sad faces and sad stories, and oh… drama. My time at home, and struggling to deal with it during my recovery was really about struggling to be with the one person I had issues with…. ME! I didn’t want to sit alone with myself, I didn’t like myself. I didn’t like who I had become, what I had put my children through, what I had put my family through, how much I hadn’t accomplished during the time I spent shoved deep into a bottle. Getting to a point in my sobriety where I was willing to be with myself, and to actually enjoy it was a major turning point for me.
In the past month or two I have been wanting so badly to adventure. To find some more things that I love to do. I feel young, vibrant and ready to do try new things. I get off work, glance at music schedules at some choice jazz and funk places, yes bars, but where the focus isn’t on alcohol, but great drink and food, and not full of people who are completely blitzed or there to get that way. Where the drinks are so expensive, you couldn’t get hammered without a trust fund. It’s been so much fun! I have heard some great music and met some new people, and seen some AMAZING places. I’ve booked time at singles events, and a networking event where I get to see a Timbers game. It’s exciting and I love the idea of doing what I do best, networking and meeting people, but for the right reasons, not for filling a void of love or alcohol.
One last conversation and light switch I wanted to help turn on for you. My good friend called me the other day, fairly upset because a girl who he cared about very much, like may even be in love with, had blatantly hurt him by being genuinely inconsiderate (yes that is possible when you make a choice that will clearly hurt someone and do it for your own selfish reasons in a way that puts it in their face). I listened to his pain, and found myself thinking hard about what he was going through.
You see back when I divorced my psychopath, I found that once we were apart, it was like someone shut off the drama light. My life went from this turmoil of pain and suffering to quiet and serene. It was then that I realized that I could make the choice to just exclude people in my life that brought me pain and heartache, drama and frustration. Simplistic but real, I could just not hang out with people who had nothing better to do than hurt me. While I realized this about friends, I didn’t let it hold true in my “relationships.” I was so damn devout when it came to trying to love someone, that I put up with getting shit on over and over. I wanted to be that person who proved to someone that they had someone they could depend on, no matter how much it hurt me.
Here I set, listening to my friend and finding myself saying, “honey, why would you welcome someone back into your space after they hurt you, over and over?” I’ve dealt with a recent situation in my life where I was totally that person, just as recent as last week, waiting for someone to stop acting like an ass, to stop hurting me. I am needing to listen to my own head and my own thoughts!
In my case he is an ex and a friend, or would be, who has revisited getting back together several times, and it just hasn’t worked in either of our favors. I was sitting back not hoping things were going to move forward as much as feeling that no matter what, we would be friends, we would still be connected. He met someone new, and while I was hurt for that initially, I do want him to be happy. His way of coping with not talking to me (because she was uncomfortable with it and would go through his phone), but when he finally did, being mean. I find myself defending how he behaved, or behaves, it’s a knee jerk reaction, if he upsets me and I tell him to fuck off then leaving his life is on my shoulders and his conscious is clear because he didn’t have to tell me to fuck off. Honestly though, he’s already cheated on this woman twice, and defending his behavior does me no good. What on earth would I want with someone who is ready in the first part of his relationship (or any part) to screw around with someone else? Why would I welcome someone in my life to just hurt me over and over? I’ve learned a couple of things in this life, and despite knowing them, I wasn’t listening to my own head (and that pisses me off) but a man who is willing to cheat on her, will inevitably cheat on you because he hasn’t dealt with his own demons (not sexist this goes for women too).
So there I set, talking to my friend, and saying, why, and it dawned on me, I’m doing the same thing. So I flipped the switch. I messaged and said, good luck with your life, the dusted my hands off and called it done.
In closing here are some self realizations I need to share:
YOUR FEELINGS MATTER! Don’t sit back and think that what they feel and what they think are somehow more important than what you think or feel! Come on people, we spend way to much time being worried or upset about the other person and their feelings and forgetting that we have a right to be hurt or a right to be mad. Damn it, these are your defense mechanisms that are built-in to protect you and to help you either push away the assholes who don’t belong, or clarify that what you feel is important to those who do! If someone loves you, like truly loves you, they will take a moment to reflect on how they affected your life, and apologize if it is due.
TAKE TIME TO ANALYZE YOUR THOUGHTS! Emotions are triggered and we react on them like a pistol from a holster in a dual. Take time to accept your emotions, step away if you have to and find the root of what is truly bothering you. I can’t tell you how many times I have found that really, when it came right down to it…. I was angry with myself! Actually when I was super angry, it was almost always certain that in the end, I allowed myself to be in a situation where I seriously set myself up for hurt or failure of some kind. Analyze and sort your thoughts, feelings pass quickly but damage done by a trigger finger reaction may not be recoverable.
THIS IS YOUR LIFE! TAKE TIME TO MAKE CHOICES THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE! I don’t know how many times in this dating frenzy I’ve been on this past couple years where I started to think, yeah I can make this work. Of course my inner being overrode things and shut that down, but don’t settle for something because it might work or is “comfortable”. This is your life, the rest of it. Do you really want something that feels okay every day. I’m not saying be so damn picky that you never find you match, we all have to compromise some, but the person you welcome into your life should fit a lot of your likes, shouldn’t shut out your friends, should want to be an active part of things that mean a lot to you (LIKE YOUR FAMILY), should make you laugh, should hold you when things are bad, and should hands down be someone you are truly looking forward to seeing at the end of your day. This person should be someone you can rely on, and your best friend! You should not have to pay all their bills, you should not have to deal with them drunk and angry, you should not be on the receiving end of bad behavior and writing it off as “that’s just him, he doesn’t mean anything by it”. Bad behavior is just that, bad behavior, and if people in your life display it towards you or anyone you love dearly (your children or family for instance), they need to go!
TAKE TIME TO MEDITATE AND REFLECT! Clearing your mind is essential. It’s like de-fragmenting a computer. Taking your mind, separating and finding files placed in the wrong spots, putting things in order and organizing. I cannot tell you how much this has helped me in life. It helps to make the most trivial issues in this life easier to overcome. If you are ever in a spot of panic of worry, meditate on it, you’ll be so surprised how much it helps! I’m going to include a link to a book here that I highly recommend on meditation. I will say while I don’t include every book I’ve listened too on meditation, (I use Audible), I highly recommend the writings of Deepak Chopra, and Russel Simmons to just name a couple of favorites. There are some great books out there, and knowledge is power. As you heal take time to learn! Grow! Reflect!
FIND YOUR INNER PEACE! At the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of the month, and at the end of this life, you have to be at peace with yourself. Happiness is found in love. That love is for yourself, and the world around you. Being grateful, mindful and self-aware will help you find your center. Again, meditation, and yoga are huge for me in this. Kundalini yoga is fantastic for spiritual cleansing. I highly recommend it.
CREATE YOUR OWN BOUNDARIES! It’s okay to draw that line in the sand and stand by your beliefs. I’m almost 42 years old, and I am very proud to say that I am just finding my boundaries. In life I have been a yes person, let me help you, let me fix things, what do you need, yes yes yes, but in sobriety, I have found that I not only need to, but want to, make boundaries to keep myself safe and sober. Those who love me, will always understand, those who don’t, don’t belong.
LOVE THOSE WHO SHOW YOU THAT THEY LOVE YOU AND THAT YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO THEM! Never forget to tell them you love the, never forget to tell them they are appreciated, and never forget to remind them you are grateful for their presence in your life.
With that, I want you all to know that I love you, and I’m very grateful you are here, sharing my life an sharing my thoughts. I can only hope that it helps some of you, and say thank you for allowing me to barf all this out on a page because doing it and your taking time to read it, helps me greatly! Thank yo for being here, and thank you for sharing these posts with your friends.