Thursday, March 27, 2008

Another Example of Healing I Didn't Notice.

I listen to my iPod on the long commute to work. A song from the '80's came up. I listened in shock to what my life used to be:

Too Much Time On My Hands
Written by tommy shaw
Lead vocals by tommy shaw

Sitting on this bar stool talking like a damn fool
Got the twelve o'clock news blues
And Ive given up hope on the afternoon soaps
And a bottle of cold brew
Is it any wonder I'm not crazy? is it any wonder I'm sane at all
Well I'm so tired of losing- I got nothing to do and all day to do it
I go out cruis'in but I've no place to go and all night to get there
Is it any wonder I'm not a criminal?
Is it any wonder I'm not in jail?
Is it any wonder Ive got

Too much time on my hands, its ticking away with my sanity
I've got too much time on my hands, its hard to believe such a calamity
I've got too much time on my hands and its ticking away from me
Too much time on my hands, too much time on my hands
Too much time on my hands

Well, I'm a jet fuel genius - I can solve the world's problems
Without even trying
I have dozens of friends and the fun never ends
That is, as long as I'm buying
Is it any wonder I'm not the president
(hes not the president)
Is it any wonder I'm null and void?
Is it any wonder I've got

Too much time on my hands, its ticking away at my sanity
Ive got too much time on my hands, its hard to believe such a calamity
Ive got too much time on my hands and its ticking away from me
Too much time on my hands, too much time on my hands
Too much time on my hands

This is the best description of having no purpose or direction I've ever read: "I'm so tired of losing I got nothing to do and all day to do it. I go out crus'in, I got nowhere to go and all night to get there"

I lived that nightmare for most of my life!

Also notice a totally out-of-control ego: "I'm a jet fuel genius - I can solve the world's problems without even trying." Another example of "If you so smart, why ain't you rich?"

Back in the '70's, before becoming a Christian, and sadly, for many years AFTER, life just happened to me. I sat around, not changing me, and expecting things to "get" different.

I am stunned to realize that everything has been changed and turned up-side-down. I now have the "normal" problems of living. I have in a quick outline. from recovery, a  "life".

"Something to do, somewhere to go and someone to meet".

I have real friends, interests, hobbies and several kinds of work. Amazingly, I'm now getting compensated for my "volunteer" church work. Every time I go to the grocery store I literally thank God for his bounty as I use a gift card for purchases.

I'm learning how to have love, joy and peace. I'm learning to develop: patience, gentleness and kindness. I am also working on learning to practice having faith (trust in the future), humility and self-control.

By no means am I any way near DONE on any of those things. They are the nine "fruits of the Holy Spirit". I'll get to work on all of this for the rest of my life.

The first three (love, joy and peace) are things I experience directly as flat out gifts from God. As I make more reasonable choices and avoid obvious chaos from people and situations.

I remember wallowing in self-pity: "I'll always be alone. I'll never have a husband and I have to be grateful for always being alone..." Yuck-o,, yes?

I decided that while going to The Marriott for dinner by myself, I could talk to God about how wonderful dinner at the Marriott is. I just thought at God all through my dinner alone. I told him everything, just as though He was sitting there with me.

The beauty of the dining room. The brilliant sun splotches on the carpet and the kindness of the Marriott staff. What happened inside surprised me. I didn't feel alone any more. I was REALLY grateful for ACTUAL people, places and things. I spent a glorious afternoon feeling at peace and content, instead of tasting my own tears of sadness as I'd choke down a dinner my emotions wouldn't allow me to even enjoy.

I no longer get into a fight between two other people. I stay away from violent, or raging people. I also have learned that negative people do not have my best interest at heart.

Long suffering, or patience, gentleness and kindness are things I CAN already accomplish, if I want to badly enough.

I have a little experience with even patience. When I'm at the Social Security office waiting to talk to a worker, I see someone get angry, scream, yell and leap over the gate between the waiting area and the Worker's desks. ARMED security guards quickly take the out-of-control client away. From these observations, I have learned to be quiet instead of loud and threatening. 

Gentleness is having the strength to shove you off your feet when I push you as a joke.  Sanity is not applying all my strength towards you while giving you a friendly "push".

Kindness came to me via a crying bus driver. It was raining and she almost drove by me. I got on the bus screaming at her incompetence. She cried, through real tears that "I'm not Jesus Christ!" Man, did I learn a lesson. Talk about feeling small and stupid!
Now when a driver messes up I make it clear that there is a problem, but I also make it clear that I'm not going to go hysterical on them. I can have a reasonable and fair conversation even when angry enough to tell you off.

The last three are last because they are extensions and usually completely new behaviors. I had a PhD in being negative. I could find something wrong with winning the lottery. I had all the answers and never bothered to question my responsibility in any situation.

Having experienced a tinsy bit of the first six traits of the Holy Spirit, I have a new ability to think about something positive. Yeah, I'm on the system and unable to support myself. BUT there is a possibility (maybe remote, but real) that I will be able to be self supporting. I have learned to be thankful for what I DO have, instead or cursing the darkness about what I DON'T have.

It is amazing how much stress and tension leaves me when I plan a vacation NOT letting lack of money prevent me from even THINKING about taking a vacation. A good way to get unstuck to where you can at least figure out what you would LIKE to do is to let your imagination lose. What would you like to do if money was available?

Once you get a list of what you'd like to do, then you can come back and cross off the truly ridiculous. "I'd like to stay at the Marriott for five days". I settled for two really great days and a night - and actually did it! Thinking positively is the germ of faith.

Humility came to me the hard way. When you are arrogant and outrageous people roughly rebuke you. "Attitude Adjustment" is a great example of "oops" and learning to eat crow.

Attitude Adjustment 
By Hank Williams Jr.

Now I met an old friend
In the bar the other night
And he got a little drunk
And he wanted to fight
And he jumped up
And challenged every man in the room
And just about the time he got the words out
An 'ol boy jumped up and closed his mouth
And used his head for a mop
And his butt for a broom

It was an attitude adjustment
I guess it was his first time
An attitude adjustment
Now he understands just fine
He got bent out of shape
And he opened his mouth
And just one appointment
Straightened him right out
It was an attitude adjustment
Oh It'll work every time

Well I've got this big 'ol brother-in-law
And me and him just never did get along
Because he wants to make sure
I'm treating his sister right
He got drunk one night
And started beating me up
And I went and got a tire tool
Out of my truck
And laid him out as cold as a block of ice

It was an attitude adjustment
And it will work every time
An attitude adjustment
I made him see the light
And he says I'm his kind of man
And he comes around with his hat in his hand
It was an attitude adjustment
I cured all his family pride

Now my girlfriend slapped me in the face
I said darl'in that was you're first mistake
Then she went wild and her eyes turned red
She started breaking everything
And screaming loud
And kick'in me and cussin me out
And I gave her a little adjustment
On the top of the head

It was an attitude adjustment
Now she loves on me all the time
Just an attitude adjustment
She got a whole new frame of mind
She don't nag
And I don't beg
And we get along and like I said
Just an attitude adjustment
Oh everythings just fine
Well almost

She called the cops to take me in
And I said you're never gonna do it friend
And they just smiled
And said "Oh Yes We Will"
Now a stick to the head
And some kicks in the chin
And a several bites from Rin Tin Tin
And I couldn't wait to get into that jail

It was an attitude adjustment
Oh I went along peacefully
Attitude adjustment
Oh they made me clearly see
Cause my head is black
And my legs are blue=
And both knee caps are bit clean through
It was an attitude adjustment
It made my whole outlook brand new
Just a attitude adjustment
It made my whole outlook brand new

I really believe I've eaten enough crow to never seriously entertain the idea that: "I'm all of that and a bag of chips". Man, humiliation is hard and a very painful way to learn that you aren't God.

I misunderstood humility. It is not to deny what you can do. I have some natural talent in several areas. However, God has permitted me to really shine by teaching me things and taking my natural abilities and adding to them. God is "the wind beneath my wings". But as long as I stay under God's control, I have the joy of flight.

I just don't get to put other people down who don't perform as I do. I also don't get to take the credit for what I do. It even works on things like this blog. I pray for ideas. Now that I'm not in and out of crisis on a regular basis, I find it harder to figure out what to write. This blog is an answer to one of my prayers. God gave me the thought and the ideas. I basically just copy what he gives me. That is very different from claiming I have great personal talent and ability.

The last gift from the Holy Spirit is self-control. Like humility, I didn't easily embrace this trait either. Having untreated Bi Polar Depression shows up in being impulsive and headstrong. You don't have to be Bi Polar to have those faults, but Bi Polar Depression puts you on a whole other level of immaturity.

Delayed gratification is another term used for self-control. I still struggle with the idea of saving the money FIRST and then PURCHASING my desired item. The difference now, is I am aware of what I'm doing and am willing to take responsibility for my behavior. (What a concept)!

My time is now valuable to me. I have more to do, then hours in the day. I am not saying I have unfair pressure put upon me. I struggle not to over-work, because I am so happy to have meaningful work to do for my church. I have to set a timer to keep myself from the brain numbing three hour marathons! I am not a loser. As a friend says: "I'm one of God's kids". I am grateful to be alive. This is why I had to laugh when I listened to the song: "Too Much time on My Hands". Wow, God, like the song says: "Look where You brought me from!" 

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Recovery: When It Isn't Black or White.

I haven't posted lately from being either busy, sick, or both. Tomorrow I officially get help with whatever has taken up residence in my lungs. But now back to recovery!

I was the one with the courage to turn my dad into my mother when he was trying to have sex with me, but thought I was my mother. Black and white. I did what needed to be done.

I left my abusive lover and almost everything I owned, as I knew my own weaknesses. Not letting him "talk me back home" was my only protection against going back for more physical and mental abuse. Again, black and white.

I thought I had enough emotional strength and maturity to walk with a friend while she had an anxiety attack. She started talking really crazy, violent crazy. She then became unintelligible. Then it was over. She thanked me for hanging with her and assured me she was fine.

Unfortunately, I was no longer fine. Her crazy talk scared me back to thinking about my mother and her "attacks". My mom would be fine, truly fine. I'd ask to be fed, as a small child and she'd give me food. She would talk to me and even engage in mild play. It was real, fun and safe.

When my mother would have one of her "attacks" I'd ask for food and she'd lose it completely. Screaming at me and savagely punishing me for something... I never knew what I'd done wrong. As an adult I'd black out, grab a large stuffed animal and beat it with a closed fist screaming: "I'll teach you a lesson!"

My mom knew she went crazy. She cried and prayed to God a lot, after she'd recover. But I learned to know that my mother was never truly "alright".

Now I had a box to place my friend in. She thinks she's okay, but I am afraid she may kill someone. Do I sit by and wait for something to happen? Do I call the police? What exactly do I report? My adrenaline has shot up like it did after my 2nd mugging. I'm totally on hyper "red alert"

I decide it is time to lay the hammer down. Time to "exit" another person from my life. Oh God, how I hate this part of myself. I leave a message on my friends machine letting her know that I think she's psychotic and not to call me like that any more. I also dumped on her for doing "Psycho-drama". A pastime played in every psych ward.

But, my friend, being my friend, saw things more clearly and had a different idea. She wanted to continue being friends. She was clear that I was not a good pick to talk to when she was having any strong emotional outburst. She was willing to try and continue being friends with some new insight on how what she does can scare some people.

Wow. I am stunned. Yeah, her anxiety attack sure did scare me. I really didn't want her to totally go away, but those episodes of hers can for sure "go away". Just like when I get really upset and start spouting off about suicide, I have also learned that my friends can't deal with it. It is time to go to the hospital, or at least get some "tune-up" counseling. All are available to me and my friends are spared unnecessary upset.

This is one of the first attempts to keep a friendship in my world, instead of just cutting and running. I'm sure some of you have a past strewn with those who you don't associate with any more. Sometimes that is survival, as we sure know how to find illness in a crowd! But as real healing begins, I am overjoyed at NOT trying to make friends with the most troubled soul in a group. I've learned some of the "signs" of trouble, before befriending and man, my friends are so HEALTHY!

I now have to attend to this lung, weakness thing that has been around for almost a month. Time to call for medical help. I have no doubt I'll be taken seriously. My HMO loves it when you try to get well on your own before running to them. I've never been refused treatment. I may have some kind of low grade infection going on, but something sure is going on and I've had it. Yes, I waited so long because I have issues around being sick and actually making it official. My family had issues with illness and as much as I thought I was done with their garbage - well, maybe not.

This is more of getting "really well". Sure not as cut and dry as I once thought it was going to be. Keep waiting for the angels to sing and a bright light to shine on me while a voice booms out of heaven: "Yes, thou art finished!" THAT probably won't happen until the rapture, or my physical death. So recovery continues with very little "drama". Have to remember that "dramatic" is rare, like "traumatic". Health is so sweet!