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Life Goes On (was Oh Well?) Part 3

Old 11-01-2021, 01:18 PM
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I spoke with my sister in law yesterday afternoon. By the time I was done listening to her troubles, I had lost the need to ask her if everything was ok between us. Clearly, if she trusts me enough to dump all of her junk out in front of me, we're ok.

Sometimes all I need is the opportunity to be there for someone who needs me.

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Old 11-01-2021, 02:04 PM
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Hi everyone-- just saying hi and that I'm glad you're all doing well.
O, I was moved by your "thank you" note to SR and to your SR friends. I second that gratitude.
Also-- it's so great that you can be the listening ear (or dumping ground) for your SIL. You're right; you two must be all good. She must trust you and like that you hear her.
This reminded me of the best children's book ever. I keep it on my desk as a reminder of the loveliness that comes with just being there for someone. It's called "The Rabbit Listened." Author is Cori Doerrfeld. I've read it to students of age 5 all the way up to age 65 and all are moved by it.
We all need to be heard, but for that need to be met, we all have to listen, too.
Love this thread and appreciate you all!
Hang in there.
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Old 11-07-2021, 02:22 AM
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Hi FMN.

I just watched the author read "The Rabbit Listened" on youtube. She's a wonderful reader.
Another message implicit in the story is that sometimes the best thing to do is... nothing. Listen to the silence.
Or listen for the silence.

I'm glad you decided to start posting here. Knowing that you are here listening is bolstering.
Knowing that you feel free to pop in occasionally and unannounced for a spot of tea is heart-stoking. That's the kind of house I've always wanted to have - the one where people drop in at any time (that's convenient for me, of course ).
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Old 11-09-2021, 06:42 PM
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Boy, it's nice when someone is kind, isn't it? Thanks, O. I love having tea here in this thread, and I appreciate the consistent invitation.

Today I was teaching a class and the students (all teachers) were tasked to do group activity in response to some reading. I asked them to report back on their discussion by summarizing it into a 1-sentence moral. It was fun and different and they said such smart things... I summarized them all into a list of "takeaways" for the students to consider. The best was the group that had discussed how to help students regulate their behavior. Their moral was, "Everyone needs a regulated adult in their lives." I thought about sobriety, because that moral is true in the context of staying away from alcohol. We all deserve to be regulated, not only for ourselves but for the people who know and love and need us to be regulated.

Hope you're all having a great week. I think of you often.
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Old 11-13-2021, 06:45 AM
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Yeah, I sure could use a regulated adult in my life. Oh wait, I am one of those now.

I am increasingly remorseful over what I put my girls through, because they didn't have one of those regulated adults around - at least not at home. I'm not going the route of self-recrimination and hatred, but do sort of long for the day we might be able to talk this all over in a way that is most helpful for each of them. I would like their forgiveness. Not to make myself feel better, but to help them.
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Old 11-21-2021, 06:17 AM
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I've been working in my current position for just about three years now. I've been in the same (very large, humungous) department for fifteen years, in various areas. My director directly recruited me for this position because it was a really hard one. Bad relationship between my group and our customers, low morale, poor performers, lack of organization, finger pointing and dodging... you know, all of the juicy stuff. Since the day I stepped my foot in the virtual door of this area, I've had a mission to put order into how we do our most essential work. Problem is... a handful of our customers (clinicians) are clinging to a horrible messy process developed in conjunction with the former manager of this area. Old habits are hard to break. Even if we know those habits are not particularly 'good,' they are still comfortable in some way.

So I came here to write about this because I've been working on a process improvement project for close to a year now, and Monday is the Big Presentation to that handful of entrenched customers. I'm anxious about doing this right. I mean, we've done this right so far. My sponsor is an executive in the clinical area. He and I met with and interviewed over a dozen focus groups to listen to their thoughts and challenges. We've been meeting periodically with a second physician sponsor, and both of them are on board with the changes we propose to make. All good moves. I just sent off the 'almost final' presentation slides to my physician sponsor and asked him to facilitate the meeting. (Up til now, I've been facilitating the discussions.) Also a good move.

My next thought is about stance - my stance. I know the changes we will be presenting are the right ones (my team backs me on this), but this core customer group is so entrenched and so invested in their process that it's going to be a major shock to them. If I don't get this right, the whole thing will go off the rails. My customers and I have this weird dynamic where they know that I have made the ship run smoother; and they are simultaneously threatened by my suggestions for change. Rationally, they would admit that things are far better now than they were three years ago, but they also are highly averse to change. They've circled their wagons to 'hide' the shortcomings of the current process and have thrown up roadblocks at every turn. So my stance needs to be "When I'm speaking with you today, it's not as the project lead for this group. I am speaking today from the vantage point of a trained process improvement person who is intimately familiar with the current process and barriers to change. The outcomes of this investigation will come as no surprise to any of you; the process changes will provide significant improvement in the long run - AND we will need to work together to operationalize said changes." Or something like that.

Anyway, I think I answered my question when I was writing the first paragraph of this post. Old habits are hard to break. Even if we know the old habits are not particularly 'good,' they are still comfortable in some way. I have a lot of experience with resistance to breaking comfortable habits for the better good. You know, with the drinking and all.

I think I can work with that...
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Old 11-21-2021, 06:24 AM
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In regard to remorse...

Come to think of it, I actually have been beating up on myself about what a bad mother I was.
When that is not the case at all.
At least not the whole case.
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Old 11-21-2021, 06:36 PM
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It seems to me, O, that you are going into this Big Presentation with three crucial things: Knowledge, skill, and humility. You have watched and listened and aligned your ideas with key team members. You're ready. You sound confident and strong, but well aware of the landmines—thus the humility—and how to navigate them. I think you'll nail it.

And here's the thing about beating yourself up about your motherhood mistakes: You can't define yourself by your rear view mirror. Who are you now? You're the same loving mother you always were, except now you see clearly. Time will help your daughters and will help you, but as you say, you actually weren't a bad mother, right? You were an actively drinking alcoholic mother at one point, but now you're a recovering alcoholic mother. I think there is enormous strength, grace, power, and purpose in that.
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Old 11-21-2021, 06:43 PM
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And since I'm here...
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. All the awesome without the pressure of gifts. The tricky family things will nag at me this week, but I get stronger every year, and more settled into my immediate family's traditions. Of course there is anxiety (my estranged sister is there in the universe, simmering; my parents can't be in a room together; I'll miss the sister I love, who lives internationally and thus can't be here; my MIL and her mind games) and there is grief (the death of the dream of a perfect extended family).
But there is also peace.
I've built my own little family and they are pretty freaking amazing. I am sober, and my life has expanded in ways I could never have imagined 1625 days ago. Thanks giving indeed.
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Old 11-24-2021, 04:44 AM
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The presentation went 'as well as could be expected,' maybe even a little bit more so. It is unfortunate but was also fortuitous that one of my customers had an emotional outburst of the type that is usually confined to within our own little dysfunctional family. After the fact, without prompting, my physician sponsor wrote a brief note, "They are just going to need to grow up." I think he was a bit shocked to see this glimmer of what my group deals with on a regular basis. I'd told him, but you know how things can sound like hyperbole unless you actually experience them...

For the first time, I actually have hope (rather than just my mule-ish conviction) that we might be able to pull off some meaningful change.

My girls don't 'do' Thanksgiving anymore. And that's ok by me because it always seemed like a bogus holiday, putting a patina on historical facts. Not that I said that... they just came to their own conclusions, with which I happen to agree. However, I did score a 16 pound turkey for $10 and eldest wants to come cook 'something,' so the paid day off from work will be filled with pleasant smells and the opportunity to be of help to that daughter. She called last night, very down in the dumps, which is not unusual for the end of the month because she works on commission. Knowing this is typical makes it no less difficult.

I'm so glad you have found peace and expansion in your life, friend. You're a fine example that I aspire to emulate.
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Old 11-28-2021, 04:41 AM
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I have developed a tic. I mean, I guess it's a tic? That's what eldest called it while hanging out with me the other day. She said, "Why do you make that noise when you're breathing?" When I asked her what she meant, she "hummed me a bar," only it sounded more like a quiet rythmic grunt. I said, "Oh, I hum constantly. It's irritating to me, but I didn't realize it was making any sound just now." She guessed that perhaps it was a side affect of one of my medications, but if that's true, I'd have no idea which it might be as this habit has been with me for a very long time.

At my request, she told me when she noticed subsequently, and two out of three times I had absolutely no awareness that I was humming - not even silently in my brain, a phenomenon I do notice quite frequently. And I wish it would stop. But then I wonder what fills up people's brain thoughts while they are doing mindless things like washing dishes or folding laundry or whatnot. And I wonder if the reason I can't generally have music playing while I'm working anymore is because it sort of competes with this humming.

Having done some limited research, I found this may be in the class of 'other' ictal vocalization. So I may have seizure disorder or perhaps schizophrenia, but astoundingly, Dr Google did not suggest cancer. Perhaps I didn't take my search far enough to find that one - and good on me for not going there, right?

Another possibility - and this seems the most plausible - is that it's a manifestation of OCD. When I read about possible interventions for this OCD business, I found an approach that very closely resembles AVRT. No kidding. I should first take note of the fact that I am humming, then remind myself that my brain is just doing the thing it does (no judgement allowed - it's just doing it's thing), and then immediately turn my attention to 'doing' something else. And that makes sense. Only I struggled yesterday with the doing of something else. Because mostly I was already doing something, my brain was just providing an annoying soundtrack. I tried thinking of a different song to sing out loud. Sang it, but pretty quickly decided that would just add more selections to my internal jukebox. Tried counting as I used to do during meditation - one to four over and over again. But my brain is so accustomed to this that it was able to 'sing' at the same time. Tried counting backwards from 99 and that worked ok, but then I worried that my humming will just turn to counting under my breath all the time - and that seems like it would be super annoying to me and make me seem like a crazy person to people in earshot. I mean, I know I am kind of a crazy person, but there's no reason to unnerve the unwitting person standing in front of me in line at the grocery store.

And then I decided to let the whole thing go for the time being, because of course I was obsessing over the humming (whether internal or external). I did the 'notice' and 'remind' thing, but remain at a loss as to what to do to keep the back of my mind entertained while I go on with my business. Maintaining vigilance and trying to come up with a solution was taxing me, bringing up feelings that I too closely attach to those I felt when I had to drink. This is something I need to pursue with my physician and therapist...and I will.

Anyhow, the reason the OCD thing makes sense to me because of Lance Dodes (thanks, Dropsie) and his contention that addiction is a subset of the larger classification of compulsive behaviors as a whole. It occurs to me that the humming may be serving as a (much less severe) buffer between myself and my thoughts, just as drinking did. That I could be employing this behavior without my own knowledge or 'permission' seems to be very like those end times of my alcoholic career. Better a moderately annoyed sober person than a desperately unhappy drunk, eh?

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Old 12-02-2021, 04:24 AM
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I think the reason for the humming might actually be due to this constant(?) ringing in my ears. I thought I'd just recently developed tinnitus, but now I'm guessing maybe I've had it for a long time and the humming developed as a subconscious way to dampen the ringing.

Having sleep difficulties recently, which I'm sure are related to this work project. The scales are falling from my eyes and I'm once again recognizing that management, for the most part, does not actually 'manage' anything at all. They tell staff to manage themselves. I've heard this more than once from managers and directors in the past few weeks, "I don't care who does it, I just want it done." Which is just fine if it's within my purview to get it done. But I don't oversee the work of my customers and it's not right to insinuate that I should to do their work because they refuse to do it. Worse yet to insinuate that I am the person who needs to tell their staff what they need to do.

I'm not biting this time. Not doing it.
Viva la revolution!
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Old 12-14-2021, 06:41 PM
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Hi there, O friends!
How goes it?
everyone doing well headed into the holidays?

Three work days until a well-deserved vacation week for me, which will be spent at homeÖ being at home. The perfect kind of vacation!

Thursday is my birthday. It wonít be much of one, as I have my once-monthly 14 hour workday that day, and I wonít really see my family. They seem more bothered than I am; I am used to meh birthdays. I donít say that passive-aggressivelyóit just is. For one thing, I share a birthday with my little brother, and with it being so close to Christmas it was always an afterthought in my childhood home. Iím trained to think of it that way. And then I grew up and donít care as much. My daughterís is three days after mine, and itís her turn anyway. Sheíll be twelve and canít waitó I think she thinks 12 is MUCH older than 11. 😂

But stillÖ itís Thursday. Sharing the day with my estranged brother is always a bit of an emotional hiccup. Maybe this year I should forgive and try to mend the splintered fence. Maybe.

Tell me how you all are! And O? How are you? I miss the chatter!
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Old 12-17-2021, 01:20 PM
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Hey FMN!
Happy Birthday to you!!! I hope it turned out nicely, even though you did need to work a long long day.
12 IS a lot older than 11; it's practically 13 you know!

It's going reasonably well over here. I've got anxieties and procrastination things and all of that stuff, but what I don't have is a drunk on - or a hangover. So it's all good.
I have a few more presents to wrap, have to figure out what to send my mom, and then I'm done with that jazz.
I've got 3 more work days now as well, after which I will be off work until January 7th, I think? Something like that!

Who broke the fence, you or your brother? Wondering if it's your job to mend it?

I mentioned something about my estranged younger sister the other day. Eldest said, "You should reach out to her, Mom." And I said, "Nope. Not my job." Eldest said, "Mom, that's ridiculous, blah blah blah should oughta blah blah" like she knows what she's talking about. She doesn't and that's ok by me. Oy, my birth family is so dysfunctional. I'm very glad that my girls at least speak with each other. Even when they aren't speaking with me. Seriously.
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Old 12-20-2021, 04:40 AM
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Good question, O. My brother broke the fence, with sledgehammers and chainsaws, but I suppose I gave him the tools. In short, I took my Dad's side in a post-divorce financial dispute with my Mom. My brother was (is) on my Mom's side because she is his unwavering and faithful enabler. They pride themselves on their loyalty to one another, which is why "loyalty" has a negative meaning for me—loyalty is no good if it becomes an echo chamber of just promising to tell the other person exactly what they want to hear. He's 45 and still calls her to say he's hungry, which sends her into action of making and delivering sandwiches. They are intertwined in the most unhealthy ways.

I still think I took the correct side. My father respected my perspective and listened to me, so lawyers were called and a resolution reached. My Mom got money, which she desperately needed, since she refuses (and has always refused) to work. Dad got the land—land he literally tended to by hand for five decades. I think it's fair. My brother disagreed, furiously and hatefully in a phone call I will never, ever, ever forget. He thinks my mother is a victim and should have gotten both land and money. He said horrible things. Accusatory and vulgar things. I told him the conversation was over and hung up, and we haven't spoken since.

Ironically, I agree with him that my mother is a victim, but more of her choices than of a systematic or familial problem. And certainly not a victim of my role in taking "sides."

Ironically, my mother is not and never was mad at me. We are strong. But I think she secretly likes that he lost his mind on me. It proves something to her, I suppose—that she's worth it, somehow. That he was willing to go to such lengths to defend her.
Upon a couple years of reflection, I think that phone call was made in one of his drunken rages and he doesn't even remember it—I'm willing to bet he knows it was really, really bad, but doesn't know exactly why and thus can't apologize.

Back to the birthday: I texted him and he replied, kindly. It was enough for now.

I laughed that your eldest advised you to reach out to your sister, O. You're right; it's not your job. Always, with these family things, others think they know what they're talking about. In my case, I know the "right" answer. Call the brother, make it right, water under the bridge, blah blah blah. But he needs to sit in what he said and what he did. I'm okay. I have that "I have forgiven but I won't forget" thing going on. It's fine.

How is everyone?

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Old 12-20-2021, 01:57 PM
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Oh yes, now I remember the drunken rage-fest. Yeah, not your job - particularly if he's still drinking. I have no idea if my estranged sister knows why she is estranged from me, but I'm pretty sure she does. She hasn't reached out to me once ever in our adult lives without a self-serving agenda. I played along for quite a long time (like she was Lucy pulling the football out from under my feet) until I didn't anymore. From time to time, I feel like reaching out to apologize to her for things that happened in our far distant past, but honestly - I don't even know that's on me either. I'm sorry she had a horrible home life. I did, too. And it wasn't the fault of either of us, but last I knew, she holds me responsible to a degree since I'm the older one. By four years.

And I'm ok too. Usually. Things have become a lot more comfortable around here since I put down (most of) the weight of the world I'd been carrying around.

Nice job with the text message.

The boss was off Friday and today, and will be tomorrow as well. Bliss.
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Old 12-20-2021, 04:14 PM
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Hi FMN, O, and All;
Things are going pretty well hereóI retired in June, and just made my last car payment this month, so feeling some accomplishment from a lifetime of work. Weather has been unseasonably warm and pleasant, except for the tornado which passed about 1/8 mile from us and hit the next finger of land from us on the lake. Really terrible destruction and a heartbreak for many. I count myself very lucky that we only were out of power for three days and some fallen branches and debris.

Eating too much but not drinking. Iíve had some stressful things to manage but am managing, and in a way knowing that things will not be managed unless I stand up and do it has been some good incentive to staying sober and cultivating a positive attitude.

I still have the anhedonia Iíve had for years now, but I do have moments of relief and gentle pleasure in nature, my pups, beauty in art and life. . . Itís my plan to start making some art in 2022 now that Iím released from the daily grind. Too much time is dangerous anyway, though I have been having some desire for just silence and no thought.

It is happening often enough Iíve been looking into non-duality stories as it seems at times Iím more a witness than a player, and Iím not depressed so think it is just a by-product of having time to Be instead of think.

Itís like being in process rather than positioning myself, if that makes any sense. . .

Iím no longer estranged from my brother since my alcoholic mother died. We used to constantly be at odds as he would try to manage me managing her toxic actions, while safely removed from the battle as he lives in Australia. Now we speak and see each other on Whatís App frequently, and he actually came to visit us here on the lake a few years ago. I never thought we would grow as close as we have, so thereís always hope for healing in a family.




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Old 12-23-2021, 10:08 AM
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It's good to see you, Hawk. Good too that there is hope for healing in these relationships, though I really don't see it happening with my kin. And that's ok - perhaps time will change my perspective, but for now those things seem too much to handle. It seems the more time I am away from my last drink, the less stable I feel sometimes. No need to mix things up, as I was previously wont to do.

Middlest has covid. Youngest is out of town until next week. IF eldest is covid-free on Saturday, we'll hang out for a decidedly different kind of Christmas. When I learned about middlest, the beast (who had already been stirring a bit) woke up and took a look around. IT thinks it would be a good idea to get a bottle of booze before Saturday, just in case it turns out that I'll be entirely alone. The problem there is that I Never Drink Now.

So that leaves me to sit through this dis-ease (or stand or walk or sleep) and just ride it out. I know and you all know that this feeling will pass, but knowing that only gives me a modicum of ease right this moment. I went out to the grocery store and sat in my car for a few minutes, watching with a sort of morbid curiosity who might be going into the liquor store next door. At that moment, I did experience a blessed duality in that I was observing myself with a detached eye. No thoughts about why I was watching these people, and the thought of walking through the door wasn't even near serious consideration. I did, however, think about how the store owner would always call out a cheery, "Hello!" whenever I walked in. Like it was the most natural thing in the world for me to be waltzing in to pick up my 5th of vodka during my weekly rotation to this particular store. So cozy and welcoming and non-judgmental. Bah, how dysfunctional that all was.

While I was in the grocery store, I decided to pick up whatever junk caught my eye. I will eat as I please over the coming couple of days, watching my weight be damned. And of course, I will not venture out again until I feel more at ease. I know how to do this and I can continue to 'do this' no matter how much discomfort it brings. And of course I will tell you all about it, because that always helps.

It's a good thing I Never Drink Now, or this would be a very different discussion altogether. Can you imagine??




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Old 12-23-2021, 12:39 PM
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Just dropping in to wish every a Merry Christmas

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Old 12-23-2021, 03:16 PM
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