Monthly Archives: April 2012

Acceptance

Many therapists believe that we seek out people who fulfill a need or lead us in a direction for which we were already destined. My therapist keeps asking me – what wasn’t I seeing? My 12 Step sponsor continuously reminds me to consider what’s my part. I am not sure where I sit on the spectrum of believing that we seek out relationships to reinforce our internal beliefs, but I feel that investing in my own recovery and seeking therapy has been the single best outcome from this particular life altering event.

Part of my recovery has been my decision to join my local AlAnon family. Attending meetings are some of the best hours of every week and I have grown substantially from listening to other members share their experience, strength, and hope. One of the meetings last week addressed the idea of acceptance. It got me thinking a lot about my frustration in others for not accepting my husband in his entirety and my inability to accept other people’s reactions to his actions.

As my decision to work on my marriage strengthens, some of my friendships have taken dramatic shifts. I have dealt with those shifts and the feelings they bring up for me  privately most of the time, but at brief moments I have engaged in raw conversations with the friends whose relationships have been most affected. On Easter Sunday I visited with a very good friend and somehow the conversation led to  the recognition, on both sides, of just how much our friendship had changed since my husband’s arrest. This was the second conversation of this nature that we have had over the last several months. At the close of each conversation, I have felt a bit better – bringing the unspoken to light and having the opportunity to grieve the loss together. But those feelings quickly fade. I find myself confused by the connection created in these conversations and increasing saddened that his connection does not result in acceptance for my decision to stay with my husband. Moments of light followed by an even darker glimpse into the future.

My next set of actions are where I have substantial room to improve. I play out scenarios in my head – perhaps if I explain it differently, try to explain myself further, acknowledge more of what she said, empathize with her position, try to find a point of comparison, or just simply have the same conversation again – I will get the outcome I want. So I follow up – I drag on the conversation with follow up phone calls, emails, chats. And it ends in a place where I feel less understood and increasingly angry.

I need to learn to stop short. To accept the outcome as it stands. I would save an incredible amount of energy if I learned to accept the difference in opinion and core beliefs rather than attempting to eliminate the contrasts. And with this friend in particular, this scenario is present in many facets of our relationship. Letting go of my need to control or predict the outcomes may lead to an even stronger relationship – the same lesson I have learned with my marriage. See a pattern here?

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Lesson through Service

Over the past eight months I have looked for experiences that let me step outside of my own life for a bit – both as an escape and as an opportunity to gain perspective. It is easy to fall into a trap of feeling like my husband’s arrest and addiction are a clear end to my world, but the truth is that life is made up of a lot more than one relationship. Just today, over lunch with a girlfriend, I was saying that its so difficult to listen to voices and influences in my life saying that staying in my marriage will hold me back. I find myself today feeling like life is fuller than it has been in a very long time – I am spending my time pursuing things that feel right, I am successful at my job and have secured a promotion, and my relationship feels solid and makes me happy.

To navigate a lot of my grievances and frustrations with the legal system, I stumbled upon a great volunteer opportunity. I am now working each week with a young woman who is in jail – someone without a voice and is merely part of a broken system. My role is that of a mentor – an avenue to help her see the possibility of a path that is promising and far from what her life’s circumstances would normally lead her towards. The experience, though relatively fresh, has been pretty phenomenal – for personal growth and as a source of strength.

I wanted to highlight a few larger thoughts from the training I completed to prepare me for this mentorship.

  • Depression stops someone from thinking about the future; it is life absent of color – pure blackness
  • Blame is concentrating on the past; Responsibility is concentrating on the future
  • Any one snapshot in time is not reality
  • The interpretation of reality is more important than the reality itself
  • People fail because of their strategy, not because of who they are as people
  • Success comes from changing the strategy
  • You don’t even have to belief in yourself, you just have to take the next step
  • Challenges that you meet head on bring a new level of development
  • Learned helplessness brings opportunity blindness
  • Learned helplessness is the belief that there is no connection between one’s actions and the outcome of events
  • Resilience is the belief that actions, exerted over time, produce outcomes
  • Negative Explanatory Style: stable (no change), global (effects everything), internal (my fault)
  • Positive Explanatory Style: dynamic (things change), specific (problem is limited), external (not necessarily my fault)
  • Substances allow you to run from the feelings you don’t want – If you run, it will chase you – The more you run, the stronger/bigger it gets – If it catches you, it will kill you – At some point you have to turn around and chase it back
  • People think sobriety means a great life – it really means facing problems – and they have gained interest
  • Relapse occurs when the mind changes
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