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Life Goes On (was Oh Well?) Part 3

Old 12-03-2020, 07:30 AM
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Happy 10 months—proud for you O!

I have been clawing my way up and down the slippery slopes these past two months.
Restarted my own clock and will keep chugging away.

Grymt, I also would love to know more about what ordination entails, if you don’t mind sharing a little.
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Old 12-03-2020, 04:02 PM
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ordination

With Robes and Bowl: Glimpses of the Thudong Bhikkhu Life by Bhikkhu Khantipalo
https://static.sariputta.com/pdf/tip...s-bowl6pdf.pdf



Going Forth - A Call to Buddhist Monkhood by Sumana Samanera
https://accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth.../wheel027.html



The two above are easy read introductions. There are a number of traditions or teaching lineages that differ a little bit, but the basics are very much the same.


Probably the main things for me is renounciation of things. A monk has very few things. A bowl, a robe, sandals, and a few other necessary things.


Once I start to look at all the things, objects, that I call mine it quickly gets ridiculous. How could I ever think such and such is worth having. It's like being an overly possessive squirrels with no moderating principles. A huge complex comfort zone. A thing for every conceivable, and inconceivable, occasion.


Another thing to give up is sensual entertainment. The whole path is about abandoning the underlying tendencies to grasp on to pleasant feelings and abandoning the underlying tendencies to reject unpleasant ones, while abandoning the underlying tendencies to ignore neutral ones. In other words, nurture a tendency to equanimously being aware of the present moment as it is, not as one has a habit of trying to change or ignore it. As one ceases the habit of judging reality a process of deep cleansing starts where the results of past actions manifest and are let go of, gradually freeing one from their influences and leading to a deep and abiding happiness, peace and liberation, or, as it's usually called: enlightenment.


These long cherished habits of wanting are, as alcoholics know, hard to abandon.


Going forth or ordination is an ideal format to do so.
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Old 12-03-2020, 04:35 PM
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Thanks, Grymt. I am really attracted to the idea of letting go of things, but I don't act like it. I've thought for a long time it's out of laziness because I don't get pleasure out of many "things," but here I sit in a house cluttered with objects. Makes me wonder. Thank you for the references.

Hawk, I am truly glad you've decided to rejoin us. We'll be here with bandaids and cold compresses and chicken soup while you recover. I missed you very much.
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Old 12-05-2020, 06:31 AM
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I did write that letter to eldest. Told her that I couldn't tell her how living in a sober home would help her any more than anyone could have told me. It is an individual experience, just like everything else is. It is what you make of it, or what you are in a position to receive, or something. In the end, I said, "Just think about it - why not? I'll cover that rent, so there's nothing to lose. I understand not understanding what the benefit is, but so what - why not?"

Haven't heard from her in a week now. When I mentioned that yesterday, middlest said, "Oh she tried calling you but you didn't pick up so she called me." Oh, ok - how's she doing? "She's mad at you about the sober home thing." Oh, ok - I was mad too when the idea was presented to me. Then middlest said, "I think her plan to do IOP is fine - her drinking wasn't like yours" (Uhhhh - by what measure are you making that comparison and why does that matter?) I'm pretty sure she said as much to eldest. Ok. Sure, ok. My crystal ball doesn't foresee a good outcome here, but miracles happen. Before she went to rehab, she was so frightened she was ready to sign up for a year-long program. Now 28 days is sufficient. Ok.

I think it's a mistake.
I'm going to have to staple my tongue to not say so.
I think I'm going to need to rehearse, "I understand you need to find your own way and I won't offer further advice unless you ask it of me." Plus maybe, I dunno... something along the lines of "let's not even talk about this unless you want to _________" I don't know what. I just don't think it's ok to be her lifeline any more. The person she calls when she is remorseful about drinking. The person with whom she can casually drop the phrase, "I only had one drink" with and I let it slide. The person who drives her to rehab and ships cigarettes to her. Not because I'm angry or feeling vengeful but because... none of that is helpful, really. It's just comforting. On both ends. And that's nice, but this is life and death stuff now. (Other substances were part of this latest round and it literally could have killed her.)

What do you guys think?
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Old 12-05-2020, 09:16 AM
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I really do not know.

The first question is whether this is endangering your sobriety in which case there is an easy answer. But I have the feeling that is not the issue.

Assuming that is true, then the question is obviously what is best for her.

The quick comparison your middlest made to your situation is worrying because it indicates that in her mind and presumably eldest and your other girl's minds there is a link. The statement as such does not say so, but the implication is clear. As is of course the immediate rejection of your thoughts on the sober house probably both because she does not want to go and I suspect also because "who are you to tell her" kind of stuff.

This is not to say that there is not some degree of link, just that looking to it is not helpful.

I know that I would be unable not to be there for her, but I think there may be a middle ground. Drive her to rehab, but hold her accountable if she drinks. So do not let it slide, speak up and if she does not call back, accept the risk. But if she does take the call.

On the sober living, my view is that if it gives her even a small additional chance of making this stick, which it clearly does, I would not back down. I would rather try and find a way to say that this is a situation where reducing the risk by even a small amount is worth it, and doesn't she see that sober living would do that. So even IF she can do it on her own, why wouldn't she decide to reduce her risk. So maybe she is right that sober living is not necessary for her, but none of us have a crystal ball, and I dont there is anyone who would seriously argue that the risk of relapse is not reduced in sober living. So why not give herself the best chance of success.

And then I would let it go, but if it were me, I would not say I am not going to give her advice. I think you can say what we all say on here, take what you like and leave the rest but I am you mother, I love you and have some serious experience is this particular problem and I am going to share that with you. I hope that you will listen and then decide what is right for you, but to ask me not to share is like asking me to let you walk in front of a car.

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Old 12-05-2020, 09:28 AM
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Thanks, Drops. That's a lot to chew on. Can you say more about the link and what is concerning? What is the obvious implication?

My sobriety is not at stake. It is not contingent on what anyone else does or does not do.
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Old 12-05-2020, 09:50 AM
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Then middlest said, "I think her plan to do IOP is fine - her drinking wasn't like yours" (Uhhhh - by what measure are you making that comparison and why does that matter?)

To me, that indicates that your middlest views Eldest's drinking through a prism of your drinking. And I suspect believes at least subconsiously that there is some degree of causality either genetically or by example or both and that this somehow discredits you from getting involved. If this is the case for middlest, may well be the case for eldest as well. And instead of seeing this as a source of wisdom, eldest sees it subconsiously as a reason to reject your views.

Because if eldest was willing to look at this rationally, she would see your experience as a great source of wisdom to draw upon, but then she would need to accept that, which is really hard for mothers and daughters generally and in the case of my eldest would be especially hard because of her experiences of my drinking. So if she had a drinking issue and I tried to give her advice, she would likely feel and say, mom who are you to tell me when it took you decades to get you act together. And she would be right about the facts, but wrong about the conclusion because those decades of trying and failing is the world's best (and hardest) learning ground for what really helps. Of course, my daughter would likely never own up to those feelings, but I suspect she would them.

Which is why if it were me, I may try and mange those feelings by explaining to her how you feel, how you think you really can help, but not because you think she is incapable but rather because you know first hand just how hard it is and that very little thing she can do to reduce her risk of relapse is worth it. Because abstinence is not control, which is something we need to accept in our soul and every cell in our body.

XX


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Old 12-05-2020, 10:08 AM
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I see, thank you. And of course, they have no choice but to see her problem through their perception of mine. And certainly it's not possible for either of them to see these last 10 months as an indicator of anything as earth-shaking as they've been for me. Not because I'm not willing to tell it but because it's irrelevant to them for now. This is all understandable.

I like the standing in traffic analogy. It's spot on and aligns nicely with the jaywalker story in the BB.

I was just wondering this morning about how meaningful that phrase is to you: abstinence is not control. Can you help me understand?
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Old 12-05-2020, 07:39 PM
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O,
my thoughts are that you are trying to offer something that is not meeting her where she’s at. she doesn’t want it, isn’t open to it, maybe doesn’t think she needs anything like that, and/or maybe just not from you.
stapling your tongue might stop you from speaking with her in the way you want to, but doesn’t really help you, does it?
she is no different in any of this than you were, or i, or most of us. you can see it on this board, in meetings. we have to be in a place where we really do want what others have, and for that, we need to recognize what that is, and recognize that we ourselves don’t have it.

my other thought is that you might find spending some time in the Friends-and-Family threads really useful.
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Old 12-06-2020, 12:21 AM
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Great thoughts Fini and I totally agree. And I am totally OK with just giving my experience and never try to push anyone, indeed I have been accused of the opposite. It is one of the curses of being too willing and able to see things through the other's eyes. But with my children, it is different for better or worse (or both).

As to why Dee's abstinence is not control message is so important to me, we can all stop drinking. The issue is staying stopped.

And for me, the absolute key to staying stopped was to 100% acceptance that the fact that I could stop had nothing to do with having control over my drinking. This is both counter intuitive and means that there is something "wrong" with me, that I am different.

And for me, the best analogy was to smoking. I was a huge smoker and stopped smoking when I was 21. And the key what when I accepted that I was addicted and that if I started again with even one puff I would just have to stop again and who wanted that. And for me the key to stopping drinking was to accept that I was addicted so that abstinence is not control -- we all have said to ourselves, see, I did not drink for a month, I got this. But we don't got it, because for us abstinence is not control.

Which brings me back to eldest. I give my mother 100% credit for the fact that I stopped smoking. She was relentless. I was at college and she sent me news clippings every week about the dangers and made it clear to me how very important it was to HER that I stopped because she loved me and it made her worry so much.

My mother and I had the kind of relationship where generally if she suggested something I did the opposite. But this time was different. She did not really go to bat much, but boy did she about the smoking. And because I really did not want her to worry and because I knew is my heart she was right, I stopped.

So, that is a long way of saying, it was not just what my mother said, but it was the way she said it and the place she was coming from that made the difference. Her desire for me to stop smoking was so clearly a reflection of how much she loved me, that I could not ignore it. And because I loved her, I could not leave her in a state of constant worry when I could stop it.

Interestingly, while my drinking was out of control on some level from my teens, she never did the same. And even later when my eldest asked my family especially my sister to intervene, they chose not to except in the mildest way, which she blames them for. It was complicated because it was all tied up in a messy divorce etc, but the contrast is interesting.

XX
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Old 12-06-2020, 06:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Dropsie View Post
Great thoughts Fini and I totally agree.
I'm chuckling to myself, same as I did at 0400 or whatever time it was when I first read this. It seemed to me like you two were saying two completely opposite things.

But I think what y'all are really saying is
- You can't force her into doing anything, or at least you oughtn't (I know and I'm not trying to do that, but I am trying to convince. I am ok with that.)
- You're her mom, of course you're going to want to keep her from jumping in front of a bus (Goes without saying, but also this means I can't speak with her as if I'm not her mom.)
- Use your love and understanding to meet her where she is. And if she doesn't take the meeting, that's ok - even if it's not.

Of course I feel some responsibility for this problem. Of course I want to save her from any more decades of this. Friends and Family, ugh. I was also encouraged very kindly some time ago to check into Al-Anon. Didn't cause it, can't cure it, can't control it - right? I was (sort of) ok with that mantra when we were talking about my father. But it's really difficult to let go of that first "c" when it comes to my child.

You know what I think? I think I'm fine with this thing being between me and eldest. I'm not upset that she's upset or angry or whatever it is. I just think middlest doesn't know what she's talking about and I'm sitting on some resentment that she thinks she does. No, it's more than that - it's about her being the decision-maker. She is the one who really forced my hand with sober living. And she is the one that's giving eldest "permission" to not do that. And her opinion or judgement or whatever counts more to herself than mine does. Has for a long time. I know I created that by leaving a void, but she doesn't even go there with me now because it's not necessary. I'm angry (?) that she is giving eldest permission for an out that I fear (honestly, think that I know) is too easy to manipulate and that she'll be drinking again within short order.

I'm inserting myself into the situation.
But I don't know how to not do that.

Nope nope. That's not the problem. The problem is that I'm projecting. Because that's how I control things. How I used to have the illusion that I had at least some control. I could look into my crystal ball, then reward myself with a little bit of self-satisfied "I told you so" whispered under my breath only to me. And to others who understand and offer me those soothing words, "I'm so sorry you're going through this." This is why my friend Grymt advises me to release attachment.

Oy

This morning's broadcast of O's Stream of Consciousness has been brought to you by the fine folks at Co-dependent No More.
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Old 12-06-2020, 09:12 AM
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well, i've watched my kids make "wrong" decisions, of course. as my parents watched me. and tried to , uh, convince. which did much ongoing damage to our relationship, the never-ending need they had to convince. which i only experienced as restrictions, criticisms, constant badgering and letting me know i knew nothing and likely never would.
what i'm really saying, in a nutshell, O, is that you don't have the power here, and trying to convince her of something she cannot accept is unlikely to be helpful and in fact could be harmful.
middlest also does not have the power to grant permissions or withhold them, but seems to be in a position where eldest trusts her more to be "on her side", which is how they might be perceiving this.
if they were indeed seeing this the way they perceived your situation, the recommendation from middlest to eldest would likely be the same.
do you remember the "yeah but...this is different with me, my situation?" no surprise if that is what might be going on with your kid also.
"'m inserting myself into the situation.
But I don't know how to not do that."
yes. i hear you. that is where you can practice.




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Old 12-06-2020, 09:50 AM
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Yes, fini. All of that is clear to me.
Now.

I think I remember every single step of my own circuitous journey, including the certainty many times that this one was different. That's why I struggle in regard to meeting her where she is. I need to understand, for myself, if that's something I can actually do, especially in good conscience.
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Old 12-06-2020, 10:33 AM
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I think the abstinence is not control issue is a core one for serial relapsers. I have have had continuous, even joyful sobriety for over a year on three different occasions, and I think I have fallen into that trap countless times beyond these longest periods of sobriety.

When it is unconditionally off the table, booze is powerless over me. I’m grateful it’s a non-starter. But the moment I begin to even entertain the notion of putting it on the table again, even for a “ limited engagement”, the urge to do so takes root and begins to grow in my my mind, displacing the healthy recovery thoughts and habits I have had in place. Always. Every time.

l only have control with absolute abstinence. I am only believing this at age 56, after many attempts to quit. It’s taken that many relapses to finally accept the statistical analysis does prove I have no control if Alcohol is in my life.

I wonder if Eldest has that same skepticism so many of us have buried in our desired addiction and temporary oblivion from pain-of-the-moment? Nobody could prove or make me give up drink until the suffering it caused made me ready to try. . .

. . . and fail, but getting sober days and insight with repeated failures. I didn’t have to get too far down the rabbit hole this time before heading back up in a panic. The data are clear. But nobody would have convinced my hard-ass “in control” self of that at her age.

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Old 12-06-2020, 02:28 PM
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I have had the same experience as Hawkeye, and the good news is that I think I was 56 when it finally clicked and alcohol has been out of my life since, which is about 5 years. So, let's treat that as a sign Hawk.

On Eldest, the only real issue is what is she most likely to respond to, to be best for her, which is something mama knows best, or at least better than I do. And then there is the question whether you can live with it, even if that means doing nothing. I honestly don't know if I could, but I do know that I only could if I truly believed it was more likely to result in a better outcome for her. And then I only give it 50% that I would manage it.

I love being a mother, but I am not sure I am so good at it because I have a really hard time being the bad guy or letting them make their own mistakes and then live with them. Loving them I am fine with and I am also OK with letting them go (sort of) but not trying to fix things for them, not so much.

XX


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Old 12-06-2020, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Obladi View Post
Yes, fini. All of that is clear to me.
Now.

I think I remember every single step of my own circuitous journey, including the certainty many times that this one was different. That's why I struggle in regard to meeting her where she is. I need to understand, for myself, if that's something I can actually do, especially in good conscience.
maybe we are having parallel conversations here, O.
when you speak of meeting her where she is, especially in good conscience, that sounds like you are trying to decide if it would be wise, or advisable, when i am speaking of it in terms of, hm, seeing where she is and being able to just meet her there.

not sure if this comparison holds; was thinking of it this mornings in terms of having fantastically nourishing and nutritious lentil soup to offer to someone who has their heart set on deep-fried, salty chicken dripping in grease and doesn’t want anything to do with lentils. never has liked them or wanted them, doesn’t want them now and is convinced they never will.

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Old 12-07-2020, 09:07 AM
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ooof, after thinking about the lentil soup and deep fried stuff more, one thing wrong with that comparison is that it denigrates the option she is choosing. so let's scrap that, please. ugh, the arrogance!
what she is opting for may well work for her and is a totally valid option.
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Old 12-07-2020, 11:56 AM
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Lentils begone!

The way I understand "meeting a person where they are" is that we somehow are able to accept and support their choices right now. Having done a good deal of work on acceptance and having come to the realization that to accept is not necessarily equal to endorse or approve, I can accept the choice she is making Do I support it? Sure but. I don't feel in my heart that it's enough. That's what I meant about not being able to do so in good conscience.

I've had my say. When she called me last night, she rather formally thanked me for my input but she was not going to a sober home. I said, "Ok, I accept that" or something equally non-comital. She then said she was "looking into" IOP and she mentioned the absolute worst place I've been, so I told her it was the absolute worst. She countered with essentially, "What difference does it make?" but when I tried to tell her what difference it makes, her response indicated she truly was not asking a thing - she was saying "buzz off, Mom." Hah. Now I finally understand why people heard me asking the same question as opposition. It's a figure of speech. Or something.

So you know what? I think I'm just down to honest. "Eldest, I love you and will of course support every route you take to honestly support your recovery. I am afraid that you will make the same mistakes as I've done, and I don't think there's any way for me to discard that fear because I love you and because, for me, this sobriety thing was so much more difficult than I could have ever imagined it would be. My fear is self-centered because honestly, hon, I don't want to see you suffer more or even to lose you. I will do my level best to let go of that attachment to fear. I only ask you to be very clear with me if you do or don't want to hear about my experience or get my advice. I'm happy to offer it if it might be helpful in any way, but respect that it may not be at all helpful coming from me."

I've got a week to hone the speech. And it probably won't come out like I rehearse it anyhow, but it's helpful for me to talk this all out.
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Old 12-09-2020, 03:09 PM
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I have been thinking about this and I honestly cannot imagine having been ready to stop drinking at that age.

Very brave. And also really hard.

XX
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Old 12-09-2020, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Dropsie View Post
I have been thinking about this and I honestly cannot imagine having been ready to stop drinking at that age.

Very brave. And also really hard.

XX
Me either, unfortunately. Illusion of control was still firmly in place.
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