Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I'm Suzi and I'm Co-Dependent

I have for eight or ten years been seeking and trying various counseling, self help, and support groups in an effort to find the right path to my recovery.

Each one of those experiences has brought me some measure of healing and understanding of myself.  I can honestly say that no matter how brief the experience, each one has played an important part in my healing process.

Recovery from what? you might ask, if you do not know me, let me introduce myself ... Hi, I'm Suzi, and I am the victim of domestic violence, I have a mild clinical anxiety disorder, an inferiority complex, fear intimacy, and what I have discovered in the last year, at the heart of all of this, I am a co-dependent.  And what, exactly is that?  What does that mean, co-dependent?  I had heard the term before, and being married to a drug addict, I attributed its meaning to me being an enabler.  I did not research further into it for many many years.  I am discovering that the difficult thing, really, is that co-dependent means different thing for different people.  It has more to do with our personal, deep, motivation for doing the things that we do.

One evening, my boyfriend lovingly commented to me that I seem to have some co-dependent behaviors I was still dealing with.  I pulled my hand away from him, and felt the hot tears welling up in my eyes.  I felt my stomach turn over.  I could not look at him.  The chink in my armor had been spotted.  I decided that if it was that obvious, I had better consider looking into that more seriously.

It took me about a year to get brave enough to dive into discovering this next level of "what was wrong with me".  Then one during the fall of 2009, I just started searching the web for different words and phrases that popped into my head about how I was feeling, and what I was afraid of.  I started reading various blogs, and counseling web sites, until I came across the CoDA web site . I read the opening welcome page, and then clicked on the link that said "Am I Codependant?" ; a list of behavior patterns and tenancies popped up.  I could not stop reading as the color drained out of my face, and I felt a pit in my stomach ... this list was about me!!  I had discovered the missing piece of my heartache puzzle!

Over my adult life, I have come to discover that for myself that the first half of my recovery from any condition, be it medical, mental, or emotional, is in knowing and understanding what that condition really and truly is!  Right from the moment that I read that list, I felt relief!  There was a name for what was wrong with me!  And if there is a name for it, then there is a path of healing.

Next I started reading on the site ... what is the cure?  There isn't one ... it is a healing process.  A process of essentially behavior modification.  So, what do I do now?  OK ... find a local support group ... and I did.  And just my luck, there is a Women's Focus Group about 20 minutes from my home. I emailed to verifyu it was still active, and get directions to the location.  I have been attending most every Wednesday evening for the last 8 months.

From the moment I walked in the door, I felt like I had found what was missing in my recovery process.  I felt safe to talk about my struggles.  I felt encouraged to explore my previously bottled and ignored up feelings.  I felt no judgment.  I felt accepted for me, just the way I am.  This was a huge hurdle for me in that it was a group of all women.  Not my usual venue.  I have not often had a lot of female friends, and had let myself call very few women friends during most of my life.

Perhaps, when I am feeling a little more confident in this part of my recovery process, I will be ready to face the issues I apparently have had with accepting women as friends.  But for now, this enough to keep me moving on a forward and healing path.  I was thinking the other day that I would like to start writing about my "work" through the 12 steps or recovery, and sharing them with you here ... I'm not sure that will happen, but I am thinking that being willing to think about sharing that is certainly a step in the right direction ... Recovery!

Consider the areas  you might need to seek healing, and
Live Well
Love Suzi~Q

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Being Open to Opportunities

I am being offered an opportunity by God and the universe to challenge my preferences.  To reach for what I want as much as for what I deserve.  To accept what is before me without forsaking the deepest desire.  My heart is being stretched to a greater capacity than I had previously known.

If you have been following me, you know that I recently graduated from my medical assisting program, allowing me to return to an industry that I left in 2002.  My heart is there, and my soul so longs to provide much needed to care to my fellow human beings.  I am excited to be using the vast array of skills that my life and training have provided me with.

I was offered a job today.  I rejoice!  It's a job, and in this economy, that is a big deal!  It is with a company that has a good history, and a mission of serving the under served, which very much is a part of my personal mission (there is a post about that!)!  It is a small clinic, and feels like the kind of place where I can be part of a team of people that want to be doing what they are doing.  It will be good to be part of a group of people that work well together as a cohesive team!  I love working as part of a team that becomes synergistic!  I have no idea yet where all of this will take me, but I am sure that more doors will be open.

I have my sights already setting on the next level ...  have a friend who is an RN and has just returned from another medical missions trip, this time to the Dominican Republic.  I sat and cried like a baby as I looked through the pictures she shared.  When she went to Hatti last year, I cried after looking at those pictures, and my heart started to be open.  I have always had a heart for service oriented mission work, and am really feeling a strong calling to go, and utilize my talents and skills to make a real difference in someones life ... To impact to world.  I have been further inspired to help by another friend that has a small business helping non profit organizations with their data collection so they can better provide food and medical services in impoverished countries.  While there is much need for me right near home, I am truly feeling the call to places off this continent.  To explore, and connect,and bring home the stories.  To help those at home to see how blessed we are here.  I see, in my heart the unique and individual human souls that are looking at me through those pictures, and I long to connect with them, and make as much of an impression in their lives, and they have already made in my heart.

To get to that place, I will begin by working with what is laid before me, and keep seeking connections and opening my heart and life to all of the possibilities that God and the universe see fit to provide me with.

It helps me to live well!!
Love Suzi

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Letter to a Soldier

This is the printed version of the letter that I wrote in support of the partnership between The Zac Brown Band and Dodge Ram, Letters for Lyrics Promotion . Check out the link, and help provide some support and encouragement for our military personnel!! You can borrow from my letter if you wish! But take a minute and let a soldier know you care!

Dear Soldier;

I live in a small town in northwestern Washington, and the photo on the cover of this card I took last summer of a family friend’s barn near my home. To me, it is a little bit of poetry for the eyes. This barn is close to 150 years old, and is recently on the local historical registry, though I do not know its story. What always takes my breath away, is the way that the shape of the barn mimics the shape of the mountain when photographed from this angle! I have taken many pictures of it during all of the seasons, and it never ceases to bring me joy with its rustic and sturdy lines. I just wanted to share a little bit of where I am from with you today!

“Thank you” feels to be a very inadequate way to describe how I feel regarding all that our American soldiers do for this country. I respect and admire the courage that it took for you to leave your home and native soil, in an extreme that such an elite few ever can. I have the utmost respect for the courage and the dedication that it takes for you to do what you do. Without so many generations of amazingly brave young men and women, such as yourself, this country would not be what it is today.

It is my belief that the tumultuous times we live in serve several purposes. One is to test our courage and faith; both of which are not as exercised in times of ease. Both of which are necessary for such times as this. Some of the most important things in life we learn through triumphs and failures in troublesome times. I am sure that you are more than aware how tragedy is something that comes into all of our lives, at one time or another. May you ever be victorious in whatever is set before you.

I have no doubt you, and your entire unit, have shown great courage and grace during this time in your life. My family, as well as your family I’m quite sure, are proud and blessed for the sacrifices that you have made for this nation, though it does seem a small return for such a weighty investment. Nonetheless, you have the love, gratitude of my family and myself for your service and commitment.

I believe that difficult situations and experiences come into our lives, to allow us an opportunity to provide love and encouragement to others. It is an honor and a privilege to bear the burdens of another in prayer. It is my desire to do just that for you. I lift you, though I know not who you are, in prayer. I pray for you to have a calm peace in your heart and mind, and to be steady in hand while at your tasks, no matter what they may be. I pray for your family at home, and thank them for their sacrifice, in supporting you as you serve this great nation.

I cannot wrap my arms around you and hug you, but maybe through this little letter, you will know that I wish I could. Again, it seems such an inadequate way to thank you for all that you and your fellow soldiers and your family have done for us as a nation.

Live Well!
Love Suzi~Q

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Change is Good

Time for a little face lift!  I decided to change the look of my blog.  I really wanted to put one of my own photos up for the back ground but have not figured out how to to that here.

Change is good, as long as it brings forward movement and growth!  Sometimes just a little change, of our choice, can help open our hearts and willingness for other, more challenging growth opportunities!

Sometimes change is forced, but can still be accepted with an open heart!  For example, last summer when I was let go from my job!  That certainly was not a change that I was openly seeking, but I was ready to embrace it ... well I was ready after I cried for the rest of the day from a combination of relief, frustration, and fear of the unknown!! But the next morning, I was excited to start figuring out what was next on the agenda of my life.  Some how I just knew that it was going to be a return to health-care!  I had always promised myself that if I ever left aerospace, it would be to return to health-care!  (Just to clarify, I did not start crying when they let me go ... in fact, I just asked for a box to put my personal belongings in, quietly packed, and left without saying a word to anyone, not even one of my longest and dearest friends who was working in the next building.)

Even though I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, I did not know what that was specifically going to look like, or how I was going to make it happen.  But I just could not help but have faith, and trust in the God that Saved me!  And as I went about my searching, it was wonderful how the pieces fell into place.  I looked at the various nursing programs at a couple of the local community colleges, but a minimum 2 years was too long for me to be out of work!  Then out of the blue, I got a call from a friend of mine that she had found a local technical college that offered an eight month, super intense, medical assisting program! I immediately knew that was the right thing for me, and I went in the next day and registered and started at the next class opening.

Never give up on your dreams ... granted sometimes we have to set them aside for a time, perhaps to raise children, or deal with health or financial situations; but here I am, 42 years old, and just beginning my childhood dream of being a nurse!  I am starting as a medical assistant, and will go back to school and start taking classes toward my LPN, then onto my RN, and maybe even ARNP!!  The possibilities are endless!

Openness to change is the key in this case, to living well!!
Love Suzi~Q

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Too Much of a Good Thing: Dealing with Food Addiction

I am an over-eater, and this is something that I can honestly say I hate about myself.  I have not come to terms with this behavior.  I do not understand this behavior, as it relates to me.  I even recognize when I'm doing it, but cannot seem to stop myself.  I hate this because it makes me feel out of control, and undisciplined.

It happens when I'm bored, angry, distracted, and other "down" emotional times.  It happens less often when i am feeling active, and happy, and sexy, so I try to keep myself in activities that help me focus on those positive feelings, and stay busy ... too busy to eat.  I am noticing more of these patterns right now, as i am done with school and homework, and not working yet, so the boredom come easier right now!  Keeping my life active and busy, and in a routine sure helps a lot!

I feel slightly fortunate that I mostly choose reasonable foods to over eat; I am not going to eat a whole bag of chips, or a cake, or an entire valentine box of chocolates.  But I will eat more garlic bread than I should!  One time I hate carrot sticks until I feel like I had to go sleep it off!  I like food! I really like wholesome, beautiful, food!  I love food with wonderful colors, and textures.  Foods that have deep aromas that you can taste even before the food gets in your mouth!  I like the way things crunch! I like the taste of butter and salt, and olive oil.  I love the taste of meat, almost any kind, but beef and fish are primary favorites!  Apparently, I like that too-full feeling!  I drink unsweetened tea, A LOT, to try to trick my tummy into thinking it is so full, and a good portion of the time it works.

Portion control is helpful ... because I'm a member of the clean plate club!  Putting the left overs away right away so they cannot be picked at helps.  Eating off a smaller plate helps sometimes.  When my Sweetheart dishes my plate, he does a good job of providing the right portions, and then I don't go back for more.  If we eat out, I always as for a to-go-box when my meal is served, and put half in the box before I even get started.  I don't keep a lot of food in the house, and what I bring home is healthy, so that way, if I do get the urge to over-eat, at least my options will not be detrimental.

My weight has been a life long challenge for me.  I lost 50 pounds and have kept it off for five years now, and intend to keep it off forever!  So understanding this need to eat is still a challenge for me.  I am more fit and healthy now at 42 than I have been in my entire life!  I am loving this new journey, and I am excited to keep growing in it!  Every day I am stronger in my body and my spirit. Everyday I am working toward the goal ... sometimes it is just tiny little baby steps, and sometimes I manage a bound or two! But always forward progress as I learn about me, and the things that make my body healthy or not so healthy.

Living Well is a process or discovery; of trial and error.  I stop living well when I stop trying!
Love to you

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Creativity Released from Captivity

There is a lot going on up there, in my mind.  All of the time there are thoughts and ideas milling around, and bumping into each other, and trying to find a way out.  All too often, the busyness of life takes priority, takes over, and squelches all of those lovely creative energies.

What do we do about that.  It really is a shame to have our creative energies rejected.  Like so many of our energies, when squelched and rejected over and over, they loose their will to live, and they slowly die off.  Creativity is a use it or loose it part of our human-ness,  and I can feel when I am not honoring mine!

At first it chatters endlessly inside my head, so excited about the amazing new idea!  Like a small child, it is begging to try, and create, and explore, and give life to the new endeavor!  And then the attempting to be supportive grown-up voice says, "That's a wonderful idea!  We really should do that! But first we need to (fill in the blank)". And slowly, the excited creative voice quiets.  And over time, the creative voice offers ideas less and less often, and grows quiet more quickly with each rejection.  The creative juices only flow, when they are allowed to flow.  When kept bottled up, they get stagnate, like water that is not allowed to reach and move beyond it's containment!

So what can do we do to help open up our lives to our own creativeness?  Start!!  I laugh as I write this, because it really is the only thing to do, and it really is the most challenging!  I started keeping a small note book and pen with me all of the time, so when I have an idea, I write it down.  I don't know about you, but great ideas often come at the most inopportune moments, like when I'm driving on the freeway.  So, the other thing I do is utilize the technology that I already have.  Most cell phones have audio features, and I know how to quickly set mine to record a one minute voice clip, and can quickly talk to myself and record that idea before it slips away.  I can then go back later that day, or even the next day, listen to my voice note, and write in down, then begin writing about what I want to do with it, expanding on it, and listing steps, and building it in my mind.

For me, writing things down helps to make them real.  I feel as if I have now made a contract with God when committing it to paper.  He gave me the thought or idea in the first place, so if I write it down, and see it with my eyes, and commit to seeing it through, then he will help provide the further ideas, and the resources to make it happen.

This works for my creative ideas, as well as my emotional recovery process.  As I work through the pains of my past, I am learning to journal them.  I did not used to.  I would try ... starting as a young girl, remember the old "Dear Diary, today was ... " and pouring our your heart in the small book of blank pages closed with a little hasp and lock?  Then hoping that your little brother or mother did not find it and read your deep dark heartfelt words!?  I did that.  Off and on through my growing up, but I just could not stick with it.  I tried again as a young mother. But I was inconsistent at best, sometimes a year would go by between entries.  When those half filled books were re-discovered so many years later, and I skimmed through some of the entries, I cried as I started to discover why writing about my heart was so difficult.  It was painful stuff. It was ugly stuff. I did not want to be that person.  I also discovered that the things that I wrote about had, or were, resolving!  The things I had not written about were still part of my life!  An epiphany!  Writing about it gets it, whatever it is, OUT of my body!

I had a ceremonial fire, and burned those old journals, releasing those words, through the smoke, back to God.  He had helped me discover a path of healing.  I have now taken up the habit of journaling again.  This time, it is healing.  This time it opens my heart to self discovery.  This time it is helping me to build and nurture my creative forces.  This time, they are words for my wonderful future.  This time, I am open to sharing some of those words, to perhaps help others.  This time, I am not burning them.

This time, the words are helping me to Live Well!!
Love and Blessings to you today!
Love Suzi~Q