I can be difficult at times, I don’t deny that, but as I once told a boyfriend whom I lived with for about 48 1/2 hours, if you think I can be ugly on the outside, you should see what it looks like on my insides.
The truth is, I’m a mixed bag, and it’s been many many years now since I felt that ugly inside. I can be impenetrable and secretive. It’s probably the characteristic (defect perhaps) that I have the least control over. But like most of us, much of what you get from me depends on how you care for me, and of course, most of what you get from me depends on how I am caring for myself at any given time. So TAKE CARE!
I woke up this morning and my first conscious thought was, I’m so glad I’m doing this thing (meaning life.) If you’re having a hard time today, I’m sure you’re thrilled for me that I’m feeling so good. I used to want to vomit when I would hear people talk about how happy they were. That would all be part of my ‘jealous and brooding’ self. One of the ugliest things about me is that I can be belatedly (meaning not right away) happy when those I care for experience something I perceive as a great success. Ugh! It’s so ugly. But in the last several years, it’s slowly gotten better. Let me put it another way, I covet _________________. In other words, any life that’s not my own. It dates back to late 1979 (I was 7!) when I thought that if we could just move into an apartment without the sinfully disgusting puke green shag carpet, my life would get better.
I have a sister. Here she is:
We weren’t raised together (long story!) but we met exactly 20 years ago when she was 11 and I was 18. As you know from reading the blog, I was deeply into my addictions at the time, and I wasn’t afraid to share them with her on the occasion that we might be in the same house at the same time, unsupervised.
My relationship with this young lady has (at times) been a source of great pain. She is hyper-smart. And super confident. And she majored in something like nuclear fuel science. She had a college degree before I rolled out of my own puke, and most relevant perhaps, our father raised her, after he abandoned me. You can guess that the dynamics have been difficult over the years. You bet I coveted her experience in life. I coveted her LIFE! Which led me to cause her great harm at times.
But this weekend, as she shared some of the things she’s feeling and going through, I had a moment of extreme gratitude for my own personal experience (the good and the bad of it!) I realized that this person, who I really love, is suffering a very human exposure to instability and she doesn’t have any of the basic training I’ve gotten in more than 11 years in the program.
What a powerful gift it is to realize that we are driving the bus. This is what sobriety taught me. Regardless of what anyone around me is doing, saying, thinking, feeling…it doesn’t matter. It’s none of my business. Because I can’t control it. I can’t change it. I am the only person I have any control over. The last four years have been what my sister calls ‘the worst 4 years of her life’ due to some shared family dramas. But for me, they have been 4 amazing years spotted with some very bad moments. What a difference in perspectives that is. I have learned not to hold on. We have to let things go. Otherwise they eat us, quite literally, alive.
As we approach 2012, may you let it all go. Letting go makes room for new things. It clears an empty space. It’s like a controlled burn for your soul. Very very important. Otherwise you’re just an overgrown mess full of dead foliage.
Maybe instead of holding on to whatever dramas have invaded our life, what we really need is a new set of care instructions. Maybe setting a few boundaries is in order. Maybe it’s time to let someone know exactly what we need from them and to find out once and for all if that person is capable or has the desire to meet those needs. But maybe, our real happiness depends on our willingness to look for the best in life. Optimism is everything. In hope, there is possibility, promise, excitement. Whatever fills us with anger, resentment, sorrow and grief…we need to let that go, because there is absolutely nothing there for us that can help us in any way at all.