Archive for the ‘responsibility’ Category

It has been a very difficult past few weeks. My grandpa has been ill for over 10 years with Parkinsons but the past couple of weeks we knew it was the end. Things happened very quickly and he passed away yesterday.

I am, obviously, upset. He was my “Big Norwegian Grandpa.” He taught me about who I am and where my family is from; he funded sending me to Norwegian camp for 9 years, sent me to study in Norway, got me in volved in Sons of Norway, hooked me up with the Norwegian ambassador whom I nannied for, etc. He was quick to crack a joke, was a social butterfly and had a flock of friends from all over the world. He was a very stoic individual, detached from emotions or “mushy stuff.” But in his own quiet way I always knew that he loved and cared for me. He actually was one of the big reasons I started working on recovery. I remember clearly one day (when I was very ill) when him and my grandma were leaving my parents house and he very quickly came over to me, gently squeezed my arm and said “you take care of yourself, now. We want you around for a long time.” Then he turned and left.

That was his way. He never had to say much but there was always much weight in his words.

Even when the parkinsons had gotten bad he never lost his sense of humor or his love for singing. In fact, he was singing up until they day before he died – it wasn’t melodic, he couldn’t pronounce any words, but I know he was singing because he only made the attempt to make noise when we were singing to him.

I spent nearly all of my time with him the last 2 days. I was at the care center with my mom and grandma talking to him, holding his hands, putting cold wash cloths on his forehead to keep him comfortable despite the fever of 105. I also spent a lot of time crying. Often I couldn’t make it through a song without getting choked up and I had to give up on keeping the mascara from smearing around my eyes. He died peacefully yesterday, May 6 2011 at 12:32pm with my grandma, my mom, and me by his bedside. He was peaceful.

I am exhausted now. My sleep has been less restful and more catatonic as my fatigue over takes me. But I wouldn’t change anything about it. I got to BE there. I experienced his passing fully and in the moment. I showed up and I walked through the pain. I did what I needed to do to support my grandpa and the rest of my family. And I got to do it without drinking. I did it without numbing myself.

Recovery is what gave this to me and perhaps is one of the most profound experiences I have thus had. I am eternally grateful that my grandfather got to see me after my life was turned around and that he didn’t pass away wondering. He saw me go from the edge of death to a healthy, happy, young woman who graduated from college (he always placed a lot of emphasis on schooling) and was about to start her life with a young man that she loves.

Before he passed I got to tell him everything I needed to. I got to thank him for what he’d given me, apologize for worrying and hurting him and my grandma, and I got to sing “Nidelven” his favorite Norwegian folk song about the river that runs through his hometown of Trondheim in Norway. I promised to carry on his legacy and watch over my grandma for him.

Showing up, though, wasn’t just for him and my family. It was for me. It was healing and brought the closure that I didn’t think was possible when a loved one died. Although I am sad I am at peace with how his passing was. I am happy that I showed up.


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To put it simply, I need help from others because I can’t tell the difference between the insanity in my head and common sense. That isn’t to say that I haven’t learned a great deal about how to tell when I’m thinking crazy, but when it comes right down to it I think a LOT of crazy things and I believe them!

I have definitely learned that I can’t drink or use drugs “socially” or “in moderation,” so no matter what reasons my head gives me to the contrary I am able to ignore it. I have also learned that what I see in the mirror isn’t what is really there; my head likes to tell me I’m the size of a small country, but I know that isn’t true no matter how convincing my head makes it sound.

But there are other areas that are much less lucid. Areas that involve having relationships with people, handling stress, coping with anxiety, jobs… well, this could all be summed up as LIFE. These are areas that I generally suck at. The reasons *why* I suck at them could be many… mental illness, poorly developed social skills, trauma, character defects, whatever. And compounding my sucking at them is the fact that it is a regular old looney bin up in my head.

I think crazy things. And thinking those crazy things used to get me in a lot of trouble (whether it was internal or external trouble). In fact I would up an alcoholic and with an eating disorder… obviously following my crazy head wasn’t working so well. Thus I need everyone around me to keep my thoughts in check. When I start to “interpret” the “facts” of my life things usually get distorted so I have to ask someone about it. I relay the thoughts in my head to my sponsor, a close friend, my fiancé or my family and see what they make of it. We then talk it through and I am much more able to make a better decision.

And I am happy to report that the further into recovery I go the better I get at mitigating the craziness. Early on I was very dependent on those around me; often I asked people for reality checks multiple times a day… “Sponsor, remind me again why I can’t drink” “Friend, what does ‘Boy A’ mean when he says ‘X’?” “Fiance, do I really look as fat as I feel?”

Thankfully I don’t often have to check in about most of that stuff anymore, but the fact remains that I am still crazy and I will always need help staying out of that craziness. And I plan to continue asking for help. I need YOU and everyone else around me to mollify my craziness. So thank you in advance for keeping me out of my head.

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I Am Responsible

I am not responsible for the first thought that pops into my head. I AM, however, responsible for the second.

The first time I heard this it was like a light went on. As a person with a proclivity to beat myself up this statement felt like the life preserver I’d so desperately needed. Like most people, I had judgmental, brash, and often absurd thoughts pop into my head in any given situation – I mean its a crazy place up in my head!

But being told that finally I didn’t have to beat myself up for those first thoughts was a weight off my back. It did, however, simultaneously place on me a responsibility to quell those thoughts with a follow-up thought. This responsibilitiy, it turns out, is weightier than it first appears.

As a person in recovery I must be on guard against my old ways of thinking which means that I can’t dwell on them anymore… when I was still active in my addictions this was much simpler. If I had a bad thought I could sit back and let the craziness bring about nother bad thought. And then another and another and another. But I can’t do that anymore. Damn.

Now I have to counteract those thoughts and that takes some due diligence. But, it is a small price to pay for living in a state of honestly, shame-free, and serenity. So, I’ll take it.

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