Don’t React to Your Friend – Twice!

 

This lesson was so strong that I got it twice in a row, with the same person.

 

This happened with my friend Doris, who I wrote about in “Recovery in Friendships,” and in my first book, in a section titled “Doris.” This was a painful experience for me.

This was also a lesson in not reacting and it was a lesson that I passed. I received an upsetting email from Doris and I did not react. I did not respond right away. I prayed about it and contacted my inner teen. God said I didn’t have to do anything about it, so I didn’t. That doesn’t mean it was easy. There was a big part of the old Juliet deep down in there that wanted to go shamefully crawling back to my long-time friend, blubbering all the way, stating how “less than” I was, and begging forgiveness. I was really hurting.

 

That has been my training from my family for most of my life and I was an excellent student. But I did not react. I clung to the words and voice of God for dear life and listened. This was difficult, laborious, and emotionally exhausting for me, but I got through it. God told me not to respond to the email, so I didn’t.

 

A couple of weeks later, I got another email from her, which was an attempt to tell me how she felt about things. I felt my heart start to race as I read the email. None of it felt positive. I took it all in as blame. As I read it, I felt like I was being put through a paper shredder. My heart chakra felt really uncomfortable. Panic was setting in. It didn’t feel good. I felt the CoDA crazies coming on. I was in trouble.

 

All of Juliet’s Codependency Patterns and Feelings that are listed above were in action inside my brain.

 

I wanted to react by emailing right away, just as I wanted to with the student, in an endless apology, begging forgiveness so I could feel better about my pitiful self.

 

I started once again by chanting my mantras:

  • Time out!
  • I will not react.
  • I will wait for God’s guidance.

 

I repeated them over and over.

 

Thanks be to my loving, all powerful, merciful God. He got me out of that chair at my computer and sent me upstairs to my altar. I contacted the inner child and the inner teen. The details of the contact with my inner child and inner teen are presented in further detail in “The Inner Child and Doris” section of “Recovery and the Inner Child” later in this book.

 

The short version that I will present here is that I asked the child, the teen, and Christ what to do and they told me. They told the how, when, and what regarding my email to her. I followed directions and did that. I thought it was a nice email.  Summing it up, I asked for space from her. It was really difficult for me to do this, but I did what God wanted me to do. In the end, as tough as this process was, I felt relief — a huge amount of relief.

 

Then I got on Facebook and saw part of her post. The trailer indicated she was devastated by something, but then you had to click on it to find out the details. I didn’t click on it. I didn’t take the bait. I didn’t react. Yea me! It was tough. My heart was beating and I felt like I was bad. I had been bad and was hurting her and it was all my fault. I was mean. This was my inner critic once again giving me grief. The good news is that I did not react. I told my inner critic to be quiet and I got the heck out of there. I stopped following her on Facebook and eventually defriended her.

 

This was a good decision for me and for my inner child. We feel much safer.

 

A few weeks later, I got another group email post from her. I was away at the American String Teachers Association Conference in Utah at the time. The subject line referred to the dark, rough time she was going through. This email came late on a Friday night, just as so many of them had. This was a lesson in not reacting. I felt panic run through my body. I did not feel safe and neither did my inner child. I stopped. I breathed in and out. I called a program friend for support. She stayed on the phone with me as I deleted the email. I know this was what God wanted me to do. This was my lesson. After all, what else could I do? It seemed to me that I could never do anything right in this person’s eyes. Anything I did got criticized. Reacting would have no doubt had bad, painful consequences. I followed the directions from God and am better off. I did not react. Good for me.

 

 

 

Juliet the Reactor (Lessons in Not Reacting)

 

 

Part One

 

I have been a reactor for most of my life. I learned to react as child. I did it to protect myself and survive my difficult childhood. Now that I’m an adult, the habit of reacting no longer serves me. Lately I’ve had some lessons in not reacting.

 

Reacting to me means that I respond to a situation automatically without thinking it through first.

 

What follows are some of the lessons I’ve received in learning not to react.

 

 

No More PD?

 

In “Patience Please,” I described a situation that occurred in my worklife regarding my professional development. In this situation, I think I was being given a lesson in not reacting.

 

Did I react? Maybe. As soon as I received the email from the computer system saying that my paid professional development was denied, I emailed everyone involved and informed them that the trip had been canceled.
A better plan might have been for me to wait a few days, contact my administrator, and see what could be done about the situation.

 

I did react and then I obsessed about the issue all weekend. It was a long holiday weekend too, which was too bad because I ruined it by obsessing.

 

In the months that followed as this process evolved, I tried to think the process through and reach out to those who could help me. It did work out in the end but it was a long process requiring much patience. There were many times that I wanted to react by either canceling the whole trip and saying forget it or calling the administrators in charge and demanding that they resolve the situation immediately. In the end, I didn’t over-react. Good for me. This was a lesson in not reacting.

 

 

Don’t React to That Student 

 

The next lesson took place in the classroom with the student that I wrote about in “Keeping My Eyes on Christ.” I didn’t react on that one either, but boy I wanted to badly. The old Juliet wanted to get that parent on the phone, bring the student in, and then get on my knees and beg for forgiveness. I wanted to react, but I didn’t. I stopped, prayed, asked God what he wanted me to do, and waited for him to tell me. I waited to respond. It was very difficult for me to do this. It was painful. I obsessed. My gut ached. That is what happens when I feel like I’ve hurt someone.

 

Here are Juliet’s Codependency Patterns that were at work:

  • Your moods and actions are my fault.
  • If you hurt, I hurt; I think I have to fix you.
  • If you like me, I like me.
  • If you think I’m good, I think I’m good.
  • Your customs and thoughts are always right. I’m always wrong.
  • I am obsessed with making you happy, with saving you.
  • I shower you with favors and pleasures to make you stay.
  • My fear of abandonment and fear of rejection determine how I behave.[1]

 

All of Juliet’s Feelings were at work here:

  • This is all my fault. I did something wrong.
  • They are right. I am wrong.
  • They are going to abandon me.
  • They are going to reject me.
  • I don’t deserve good things.
  • I am less than.
  • I am ashamed.
  • I’m bad and now everyone knows it. I’ll be alone forever.
  • I’m not good enough to be here.[2]

 

This is what I learned from my family of origin. I learned that I was responsible for everyone else’s feelings and actions. It was all my fault. So I learned to automatically apologize for everything all the time and take everything in as blame. I don’t have to do that today.

And I did not do that in this situation either.

 

I started by chanting my mantras:

  • Time out!
  • I will not react.
  • I will wait for God’s guidance.

 

 

I repeated them over and over.

 

Then I waited to respond to the mother’s email until I was sure what God wanted me to say. I asked God to write the email for me and He did. The fact that I never heard back from the parent is immaterial. This was a lesson in not reacting and I passed.

 

[1] Adapted from the Family of Origin packet materials provided by the Sequoia Recovery Center.

[2] Ibid.

Patience Please

 

 

All my life I’m waiting

For one thing or another

Patience is my lesson

And time is my mother

 

~ Waiting Part One from Fearless Moral Inventory by Juliet A. Wright

copyright 2010, all rights reserved

 

 

One of my biggest defects of character is impatience.

 

To me, patience means that I’m willing to wait for what I want or need. Impatience means that I want what I want right now and don’t ever want to wait for it.

 

That pretty much sums it up for me. I’d like everything right this minute, please. I can’t stand waiting. Whether I’m in traffic, on hold on the telephone, in line at the checkout counter at the grocery store, or waiting for my computer to boot up, I’m always in a hurry. Maybe it’s because I’m always late, always short on time, and thus am always trying to fit too many activities into a small amount of time. Or maybe it’s because I live in a society where multi-tasking has become the norm. Perhaps it is a combination of all of those things.

 

I’m very impatient. I’ve written a three-part song about my impatience, in fact. A selection from that song introduces this section. The song is called Waiting. Here are some more choruses from that piece of music:

 

Why must I keep waiting

For time that doesn’t exist

Am I missing something

Or trying to resist

 

Why must I keep waiting

Everything takes forever

Life is never simple

It’s always an endeavor

 

~ Waiting Part Two from Fearless Moral Inventory by Juliet A. Wright copyright 2010, all rights reserved

 

 

Why must I keep waiting

For hours without salvation

What is it that I’m gaining

But pain and frustration

 

Why must I keep waiting

What is it I’m to learn

If it’s peace I have none

More lessons will I earn

 

~ Waiting Part Three from Fearless Moral Inventory by Juliet A. Wright copyright 2010, all rights reserved

 

 

I am impatient for many different things. I’m impatient at the wheel of a car when I get behind a slow driver. I’m impatient when the phone rings, I answer it, and I don’t have time to talk and need to hang up. I’m impatient when I’m tired. I’m impatient with my art. I’m impatient when I’m in line at a Cumberland Farms convenience store, where some person is buying lotto tickets, cigarettes, sandwiches, and everything else behind the counter at a very slow pace.

 

I’m impatient when it comes to my weight loss too. God tells me to be patient and to persevere. I do my best. I am learning to endure the weight loss process by being happy with small amounts of weight loss at a time. This comes in opposition to my old self who expected to lose 10 pounds in one night by starving myself as I have in the past. It took me a while to gain the weight, it will take me a while to lose it. Good things come to those who wait. In this way, I am learning patience. One step forward, two steps back.

 

The bible addresses patience in the book of James:

 

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.

~ James 5:7-8 (NIV)

 

When I’m struggling with patience, James reminds me to look for support in the prophets who were patient and persevered. I need to do this because:

 

As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered.

~ James 5:10-11 (NIV)

 

So the principle of perseverance is being addressed here. James wants us to keep going, keep trying, and not give up. In the book of James, Job — even though he was suffering from all kinds of illness and loss — persevered.

 

Patience and perseverance go hand in hand in my world too. I must learn to go by God’s timing, not my own. And I must remember that everything is happening as it is meant to happen.

 

Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.[1]

 

The booklet Let Go and Let God by Steve Mays says that God made Joseph wait 13 years before he became head of Egypt as Prime Minister.[2]

 

So here I have the concept of patience coming at me from multiple sources. That is God talking to me. I must listen.

 

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time. ~ 1 Peter 5:6 (NIV)

 

Steve Mays says we are impatient by nature. All humans are. He says sometimes God withholds things because he wants to do something even greater in the end. God is not in a hurry.[3] My therapist says that too. There is no urgency in Spirit.

 

 

Patience at Work

 

Patience and tests produce endurance. That must be why I went through all of those difficulties with my professional development approvals this year. Each year, I take my two professional development days and one personal day and go to the American String Teachers Association Conference. The conference is in a different place every year. In 2015, it was held in Salt Lake City, Utah. Every time, the process of getting it approved by my superiors gets a little more difficult. This go-round really took the cake. My school district has a new computer program that records absences. Of course I’m still learning how to use it.

 

The process is supposed to be really efficient, but that was not the case this time. I followed the process by filling out the necessary paperwork and putting the dates in the computer. Then my Deputy Superintendent said I couldn’t go. So I canceled the trip. I was really confused and disappointed by the Deputy Superintendent’s decision. This trip is one of the highlights of my year. Then she said I just entered the information wrong, but it could be fixed and I should go. So I fixed all of the information in the computer and sent it to her. She approved it. I thought I was all set. Later that month, she contacted me and stated that she never heard from me and therefore didn’t approve it. Then she left our district to work somewhere else. By then, I had paid for my non-refundable plane ticket and conference attendance fees. I was very frustrated and bewildered by this. I don’t blame my former leader. No one is perfect and she was no doubt doing the best she could, just as I was.
I did not give up. I stuck with it. The administration asked me to be patient and trust that it would be approved. I did that. I waited for the administration to help me fix the problem and they did.

 

This process taught me patience and perseverance. Working my program helped me to stay calm and take things in stride, instead of going to a place of anxiety and obsession. I had to wait for the Deputy Superintendent’s replacement to be hired. Then I had to persevere and patiently resubmit all that paperwork to get the trip approved. I was patient. I asked God for help. Once again He delivered. The trip was approved and I went.

 

 

Patience and Art 

 

I am also learning patience through the medium of art. I am an amateur visual artist, dabbling in oil painting. I’m not good at it, but I love it. I am slowly learning a little bit at a time. I built myself an art studio that has a barn underneath. The studio has a bathroom and doubles as a guest room. It has a wonderful view out the windows.

 

The purpose of painting in my life is to teach me patience. When I first started art, I approached it like I approach everything else. I was in a hurry. I wanted to create a perfect, museum-worthy painting in an hour. Right. Hello? I was still like that until recently. Then I had an awakening. Why don’t I just leave this painting on the easel for a while until I get it how I like it?

 

Now my paintings are not something I am trying to get finished, in the can, signed right away. They are something I am patiently picking away at over time. The old Juliet would have been yelling at herself, saying, “You just bought all of those art-instruction DVDs and videotapes and you haven’t even gotten through the first video yet! Hurry up! I want all of those videos done by the end of the month!” Tell me, do I have a drill sergeant in my head or what? That is my inner critic barking orders. I don’t have to listen to him.

 

Painting teaches me patience in many ways. First of all, it takes time to apply the medium to the canvas and work it in to the point where it can be successfully painted upon. Secondly, it takes time and patience to mix the desired color to be just right. The process cannot be rushed. Thirdly, it takes time, control, effort, and infinite patience for me to do the brush strokes just right as I try to emulate what the instructor is doing on the DVD. (I am teaching myself to paint via Bob Ross’s Joy of Painting series. Right now, I am working with his 3-hour “how to paint” DVD, which is fantastic.)

 

I am learning patience in other areas of my life too. A while back, I was leaving the coffee place and an old man was trying to make it to his car. This poor old man was really struggling and didn’t have a cane, so he was moving just a little bit at a time. Why didn’t he have a cane? I felt badly for him. The old Juliet would have been annoyed that he was so slow and in her way. The new Juliet had compassion for this man and was debating about whether or not to help him. That is a step forward, towards the kinder, more compassionate Juliet and away from the impatient Juliet. I’m learning to be more patient with others. I’m learning to be patient with myself. I’m doing the best I can. I’m doing as much as I can.

 

I’m still impatient when I am driving in traffic and I’m working on that. I’m also trying to leave earlier so that there is less stress involved and more time available to get where I’m going. I also try to get up at the crack of dawn when possible to get where I’m going so I miss traffic. I have my Angry Birds stuck to my dashboard. They are there to calm me down and they do so quite effectively. I keep lots of music in my car that I use to calm myself down and get into the patient mode when I’m driving. As I stated earlier, The Matrix Reloaded soundtrack is great for calming me down.

 

God is not on my time line. I am on His time line. He has a better plan for me, better than what I could have orchestrated. I need to chill out, trust Him, and keep going. These tests of patience are producing perseverance in me.

 

Juliet’s Mantras on Patience

  • I am learning patience.
  • I will become a more patient person.
  • Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

~ Corinthians 13:4 (NIV)

  • Juliet is patient, Juliet is kind. Juliet does not envy, she does not boast, she is not proud. ~ Juliet’s translation

 

So now I will take my impatience with my professional development approval and put it into Processes One and Two.

 

 

 

Process One:

 

  1. I consciously breathe in and out slowly. Breathing with awareness brings me back to the present moment. It gives me an automatic time-out.
  2. I become aware of what I am doing.
  3. I ask myself, What’s going on in my body, feelings, and brain?

Body:  Body is tense, heart is starting to race. My body is starting to sweat.

Feelings: Angry, frustrated, impatient, and rageful.

Brain:  I’m very tired of waiting for my professional development to be approved. Nothing is happening and I’m stressed out about it. I can’t get my money back for the flight, hotel, or conference fee. If they don’t approve my time off, I’ll be out all that money and I won’t get the professional development this year.

  1. If possible, I write down the information and journal about how I’m feeling. I feel angry, frustrated, impatient, and rageful.
  2. I pray for the willingness to accept the situation and information as it is. God help me be willing to accept this endless waiting process for my professional development approval as it is.
  3. I pray for acceptance of the situation. God help me to accept this endless waiting process for my professional development approval. Help me accept that you have a reason for this process and delay and that it is for my highest good.
  4. I admit powerlessness over said problem. Dear God, I admit powerlessness over my professional development approval process.
  5. Then I become willing to feel my feelings. I feel angry, frustrated, impatient, and rageful. I really let myself feel it, all out. I let my rage out by playing Porcupine Tree’s Fear of a Blank Planet, or The Matrix Reloaded soundtrack to relieve myself of this anxiety. I will glance at my Angry Birds while I listen. This helps me get my rage out. If I’m at home, I will exercise and pound and yell to get rid of that icky anger energy inside of me.
  6. I pray for God to help me with the pain I feel inside. Dear God, I am powerless over this anger, frustration, impatience, and rage that I am feeling now. I ask that you remove these feelings of pain from me.
  7. I put a note in my God Box about it. Dear God, I give you my professional development approval and my feelings about the situation to the highest good of all involved.
  8. Where can I put my mind that is not on this? I go do something else.
  9. The something else lately has been me playing music on my violin, viola, cello, and guitar when I feel despair coming on or am in the middle of the CoDA crazies. Playing music gets me relaxed, calm, breathing, and balanced.
  10. I have to remember that God doesn’t make junk. I am a beloved child of God just the way I am. I don’t have to do anything to be okay. I am okay just because I’m me. I must never forget that. I am a worthwhile person just because I exist.
  11. From now on, I will just decide to be happy and patient when confronted with situations where I feel anger, frustration, impatience, and rage. If this doesn’t work, I will repeat step 8 above of Process One until I feel calm. I will pray and give it to God too. He will help.
  12. Even if I never get my professional development approved and I lose all that money, I am still okay. I’m still a good person. I am a beloved child of God. I can always talk to God about it. He’ll help me.
  13. I take myself to Tanglewood: When I do this, I look at a picture I have of Tanglewood and take myself there in my mind. If I’m not near my picture, I use my cross ring as an anchor to remind myself to go to Tanglewood in my mind. It helps me relax. I am at Tanglewood sitting on the lawn and the breeze is blowing my hair. The orchestra is beginning to play.

 

After I go through Process One, I proceed to Process Two — Make a Plan:

 

  1. I recheck my anxiety level. How am I feeling? I feel better, more relaxed.
  2. I breathe big and deep.
  3. What is the information? I am impatient about my professional development coming through and am stressed about losing money over it.
  4. What are my choices? I can stay stressed, or I can do whatever I can to resolve the situation and leave the rest in God’s hands.
  5. I hold the outcome in the Light of God, give thanks, and visualize what I want. Thank you God for helping me with my professional development approval process. If it is your will, I pray that I am able to go on my trip and that I will be at peace during the whole process.
  6. I take action in the direction of the choices I’ve made. If needed, I plan my additional steps. I am doing everything I can to resolve the situation with my professional development approval and give it to God to fix the rest.
  7. I affirm my choice and accept it. I am comfortable with my plan.
  8. I give it to God by either placing my problem in an imaginary goblet and offering it up to God with arms outstretched, or by getting on my hands and knees and giving it to him. Dear God, please take this issue off my plate. I place it in your capable, loving hands.
  9. I ask myself, Where could I put my mind that’s not on this?
  10. I go play my instruments, write a song, work on my book, or do some painting.
  11. I thank God.

Additional practices that help to me work through my impatience:

  • Music: I listen to Porcupine Tree’s Fear of a Blank Planet, The Matrix Reloaded soundtrack, or Linkin Park when I feel severe impatience coming on. It helps me relax.
  • Exercise: Working out on my punching bag, swimming, walking on my treadmill or in Hopkins Forest, and lifting weights all help me to get rid of the negative energy that comes with impatience.
  • Scripture: Reading the bible every morning helps me to discern God’s will for me and helps to give me the strength to do His will. It helps me to remember that he is in charge and I’m not. I’m on his time table, he is not on mine.
  • Slogans: I repeat my favorite slogans, such as “Easy does it,” “This too shall pass,” “Act as if,” “Let go and let God” and “Turn it over.” Repeating the slogans really helps me relax.
  • Take a break: Sometimes I need to just stop, sit, and breathe. This helps get rid of the anxiety and stress associated with being impatient. I need to keep practicing this. Sitting and doing nothing but breathing is a really good exercise in patience for me.
  • Let it go: I rid myself of anxiety and impatience every time I give my life to God. I let go, trust Him, and move on. I consider that it is as it’s supposed to be at this moment and I always feel better.

[1] Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book, 4th ed. New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. 2001, p. 417.

[2] Mays, Steve. Let Go and Let God: Casting Your Cares Upon the Lord. Gardena, CA: Light of the Word, 2009, p. 9.

[3] Ibid, pp. 6-7.

Being Wrong

Being Wrong

 

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,

But the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

~ Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)

 

 

I am much better at admitting I’m wrong than I used to be. I can admit I’m wrong and not get nearly as bunched up on the inside as I did before. Working my recovery program has really helped with this. Quite specifically, working Step 10 and the corresponding principle have worked immensely.

  1. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.[1]

 

 

Sometimes now when I’m in front of my students and they catch me making a mistake, I admit it and kind of shrug. I’m human. I’m not perfect. It’s okay to admit I’m wrong. It does not make me weak. It makes me human. Being able to admit I’m wrong reveals my humility and that’s a good thing. Thank you, God!

 

Now sometimes I’ll admit I’m wrong with someone and the situation will not work out the way that I wanted. A perfect example of this is the incident that occurred with my student Connie that I described in “Keeping My Eyes on Christ.” I went and confessed my sins to this girl, so to speak. I apologized and tried to make amends. What I wanted was for her to forgive me and come back to viola class again permanently as a student. That didn’t happen. There was no forgiveness there on her part, at least in a form expressed directly to me.

 

Now the old Juliet may have thought to herself, Why did I bother embarrassing myself in front of this student when nothing good came out of it? She still quit! She’s still mad at me. I failed. I’m wrong and have made a permanent error. This is the Juliet that gets caught up in “all or nothing” catastrophic thinking.

 

I would have practiced the following Juliet’s Codependency Patterns:

  • I am not conscious of my own moods. I am conscious of your moods.
  • Your moods and actions are my fault.[2]

 

I would have been engaged in the following Juliet’s Feelings Patterns:

  • They are right. I’m wrong.
  • I don’t deserve good things.
  • I am less than.
  • I am ashamed.
  • I’m bad and now everyone knows it. I’ll be alone forever.[3]

 

This does me no good.

 

My new teaching mantras fit perfectly here as a recovery tool:

  • Don’t take it personally: Her feelings and decisions are about her, not me. Her decision to quit has nothing to do with me.
  • Don’t react: I will just observe her behavior and the situation. I will not act until I’m sure if I should take any action and what that should be.
  • Stick to business and just teach music: Every child in this class is there to learn music and that’s what I need to teach them. Focus on the children that are here and the subject matter at hand, which is music.
  • Think before you speak: I will not say anything unless I’m sure it is the right thing to say.
  • This too shall pass: This situation will not last forever. I will move on and so will the student.
  • Let it go: I will give it to God and keep doing what I need to do. God has it handled.

 

First of all, the recovery Juliet feels better just knowing that she has done the right thing by practicing Step 10. I promptly admitted I was wrong with Connie. I cleaned my side of the street. It seems like it helped me more than it helped her. So what! That’s the point, isn’t it? This is my life, my program, my recovery.  Doing a Step 10 about this incident took the burden of guilt off my shoulders. The fact that she chose not to attend class with me anymore is her loss, not mine. I did the best I could. That’s recovery.

 

But sometimes pride keeps me from admitting when I’m wrong. When I was growing up, we were punished and love was taken away if we were anything less than perfect. In order to more easily admit I’m wrong, I have to admit, accept, and believe that it’s okay to make mistakes. Today I know it’s okay to make mistakes. God will not love me any less. Now it even easier for me to admit my mistakes in front of my students. I know it’s okay with God. It seems to be okay with my students too.

 

Admitting I’m wrong helps me to practice humility. There’s a God, it’s not me. Only God is perfect.

Positive Affirmations:

  • It’s okay for me to make mistakes every day.
  • I do the best I can in everything I do and that’s enough. I’m a good person.
  • I do the best I can to teach these children and that’s all I can do.
  • I do my best to teach and then I let go. I give it to God before and after.
  • It’s okay that I’m not perfect.
  • Today I’m God’s brand new creation.
  • Today everything God intends to accomplish in and through me shall be done.

 

It’s okay for me to be wrong. It’s okay for me to make mistakes. As I persevere in my quest to become closer to God and the person he wants me to be, I shed the shame I feel for this defect because I know that mistakes, trials, and suffering are part of the process. Recovery is a process, not a destination. It involves getting up, dusting myself off, and trying again. It’s worth it.

 

Additional practices that help me when I’m struggling with being wrong: 

  • The 12 Steps: Reading the 12 Steps of Co-Dependents Anonymous every day out loud really helps me to get back in balance because it reminds me that God is in charge, not me. I don’t have to figure everything out and I don’t have to be perfect.
  • Attend meetings: Going to a CoDA meeting is one of the best ways for me to recover from a bout of the CoDA crazies when I’m beating myself up for being wrong about something. Sharing with others and learning from their shares really helps me to realize that I’m okay just the way I am, mistakes and all.
  • Submission: I put my face to the floor and give it all to God. This is about what He wants, not about what I want. He’s doing work in me and I have to do my part to listen and follow Him.
  • Worship: I pray to God. I walk into His healing arms. I tell Him what is bothering me and ask for help. I ask Him through prayer to take this cup of guilt and shame about being wrong from me. I listen to Him through meditation.
  • Constant God connection: I pray as much as I can throughout the day, listen for His guidance, and try to do His will as I think He has told me. Just knowing that I’m trying to do His will and follow Him helps me to feel better about myself. If I’m listening to and following God, there must be good in me.
  • Step work: I work the steps on whatever it is I think I’ve done wrong. This helps me separate myself from my behaviors, which is very, very helpful. I am not my behaviors.
  • Music: I listen to and/or play etudes, Handel’s Messiah, and Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas on my violin, or sing and play my own music on my guitar when I’m feeling bad about myself. Being able to play music helps me to forgive myself and let go.
  • Exercise: Working out on my punching bag, swimming, walking on my treadmill or in Hopkins Forest, and lifting weights all help me to feel better about myself.
  • Gratitude list: Reading my gratitude list helps bring me back to a place where I realize how wonderful my life is, how much I have, and how much I’ve accomplished. This helps me to realize that I count and matter in this world.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Co-Dependents Anonymous. Co-Dependents Anonymous. Dallas, TX: CoDA Resource Publishing, 2009, p. iv.

[2] Adapted from the Family of Origin packet materials provided by the Sequoia Recovery Center.

[3] Ibid.

Center of the Universe Complex

Enlightened now, I look above

There’s His love, It’s perfect.

 After all it’s not about you

 

~ Expectations from Fearless Moral Inventory

by Juliet A. Wright, copyright 2009, all rights reserved

 

 

I am really recovering well from my center of the universe complex. I am much quicker to catch myself and get out of that mode than when I first got into recovery.

 

The world does not revolve around me, my wishes, or my dreams. People are not always thinking about me. I am also not the cause of other people’s problems.

 

Here’s an example of this defect in action and how I quickly deflected its action inside myself. I recently spoke to a contractor about doing some concrete work in my new barn. He never got back to me with a price, so I chose someone else to do the work. So then one day he just showed up at my door, ready to start doing the work. I told him I had hired someone else. Well, the other day, I saw his truck for sale at the local convenience store. Oh gosh, I thought to myself, I’ve put him out of business. Now he has to sell his truck to survive. He has gone out of business, is going to starve, and it’s all my fault.

 

Stop! First of all, I don’t know for certain why he’s selling his truck. It could be for any number of reasons. Second, he never got back to me and business is business. So neither myself nor my job could have been foremost on his mind. Clearly he is not thinking about me. I am not the center of his world.

 

I also am now aware that just because a principal might have reprimanded me in some way, she may be reacting to something else that had happened to her earlier in the day and is just taking it out on me. The negative energy I experienced probably has nothing to do with me. She was also onto the next thing in her life as soon as she interacted with me. I am not the center of the universe.

 

Here’s another example. Last week a student came into class and seemed to be very angry and frustrated that she had to be there. The old Juliet would be thinking to herself, Wow, this kid hates me, and I’m ruining her life by making her be here. I have to make her like me. I have to control her and make her do things my way.

 

Then I would have jumped headlong into my codependency patterns:

 

I’m not conscious of my own moods. I am conscious of your moods.

  • If you’re happy, I’m happy.
  • Your moods and actions are my fault.
  • If you hurt, I hurt; I think I have to fix you.
  • If you like me, I like me.
  • If you think I’m good, I think I’m good.[1]

 

Then I would have jumped headlong into a power struggle with this girl to get her to do what I wanted her to do and win her over.
I didn’t do that this time. I immediately got into the observer and just watched her behavior. What’s going on with this girl today? I wondered.

 

During the course of the class, it became clear that she was not going to follow directions or do as she was asked. The new in-recovery Juliet let it go. I went on with my class, focused on the other students, and did my job. I knew in my heart that I was not at the center of whatever was going on with this kid. It was her issue. I was doing what I was supposed to do.

 

I was a little flustered during and right after the incident with the student, at least on the inside. My heart was pounding the whole time, indicating that my inner child did not feel safe. She felt attacked. Still, I held it together, didn’t take it personally, and kept going. I didn’t get resentful at her or lay blame. That is huge progress for me. That’s recovery.

How did I do it? I plugged in my new mantras that I use when teaching:

  • Don’t take it personally. This girl is going through something today and it has nothing to do with me. She was upset when she walked in.
  • Don’t react: Observe her behavior but don’t react. Relax, breathe, wait, and watch.
  • Stick to business and just teach music: Remember, she’s not the only student in the room. Every student here deserves my equal attention. My job is to teach them music to the best of my ability. That’s why I’m here.
  • Think before you speak: I’ll take a breath and wait before I speak. Do I really want to say that?
  • This too shall pass: This situation and the anxiety it produces inside me will not last forever. I can handle it.
  • Let it go: Give the class, the students, and the situation over to God.

 

Besides, I’m not the center of the universe anyway. God is the center of my universe. He’s the one that it is all about. He’s the one to whom I need to be giving my attention. Everything that I do needs to be done to glorify him, not myself. What a great place it is to be in to not be the center of the universe. What freedom! What joy!

 

Whenever I feel like my center of the universe complex is coming back, I can plug into any of my mantras, including:

  • It’s not about you.
  • You are not the center of the universe.
  • Business is business.
  • Relax and breathe.
  • Where could I put my mind that’s not on this?
  • Treat it like the front page of the newspaper.

 

 

 

 

Working the principles to overcome a center of the universe complex:

 

I think one of the biggest things that has helped me overcome all of my defects, but especially my center of the universe complex, is working the spiritual principles and their corresponding steps.

 

Honesty: I become honest with myself and admit that I’m powerless over whatever the situation is, or even over my center of the universe complex.

Faith: I have faith that God is there, that he is all powerful, and that he cares for me.

Surrender: I give my life, my will, the situation, and my center of the universe complex over to Him.

Soul searching: I do an inventory of how I’m feeling, what I’ve done in the situation and why.

Integrity: I tell God and my sponsor how I’m feeling, what I’ve done and why.

Acceptance: I accept myself, what I’ve done, and my center of the universe complex as it is. Just accepting that I have it is such a huge relief. Suddenly the pressure is off. I just feel better about myself, my world, and my place in it. It’s okay. I’m dealing with what is. This is me.

Humility: This is the principle that helps the most with my center of the universe complex. There is a God, it is not me. I’m not in charge. It’s not my show, it’s His to run, as my song goes (from Something to Believe In). Then I humbly ask God to take away my center of the universe complex if and when He is ready. And He is doing it.

Willingness: I am willing to admit that I’ve made mistakes, hurt people, and make plans to make amends, even if those amends are a change in my behavior. That counts as an amends.

Forgiveness: Then I forgive myself and others for everything that has occurred in the situation at hand. I forgive myself for whatever actions my center of the universe complex has had on others. I forgive them for whatever it is I think they’ve done to me.

Perseverance: I keep working my program, working on myself, and do a daily inventory of my behaviors during the day. When I am wrong, I admit it. This still is not easy for me, but I do it.

Making contact (spirituality): Worship through prayer, meditation, bible study, and a constant contact with God all help me get rid of my center of the universe complex because I’ve placed God at the center of my life.
Service: Nothing like service work to remind me that it’s not all about me. It’s all about God and what he wants. It’s about reaching out to others in need and sharing my recovery. That’s me getting out of my own way, for sure.

Simplicity: I keep my life simple, with God at the center of my world. I live my life with a clarity of purpose focused on God and what he wants, not what I want.

 

The principles are vital to my recovery from my center of the universe complex. I will continue to work them and apply them to my life. Thanks be to God, I am grateful.

 

[1] Adapted from the Family of Origin packet materials provided by the Sequoia Recovery Center.

Concert Confusion

Concert Confusion

Wait to be hired

Wait to be fired

Wait for a voice

Wait for a choice

 

Wait to work

Wait to rest

Wait to try and

do your best

 

~ Waiting Part Three by Juliet A. Wright

copyright 2010, all rights reserved

 

Very recently, I received two somewhat, in my opinion, reprimanding emails from one of my principals regarding who was to be in the audience of one of my school orchestra concerts. What happened was that I had booked a concert on the same morning as the school field day for certain grade levels. (Field day involves lots of outside activities for students and lots of parent volunteers are involved also.) I booked this concert with this principal’s knowledge, but I sense there was a misunderstanding about what grade levels I needed for my orchestra concert. I don’t think she remembered that I teach third grade. I was going to remind her of this fact but was afraid of offending her, so I just kept quiet. Initially, when we first picked the date, we scheduled the concert for first thing in the morning. Fast forward a week and I get the first email that reprimanded me for not checking the schedule when booking a calendar and why didn’t I know that field day was that day, blah, blah, blah. I informed her that I did check the schedule and reminded her that we decided together that I would do the concert first thing in the morning and that way it wouldn’t conflict with the field day.

So we agreed to keep the same schedule. My third grade students would come and perform first thing and then leave right away to go do the field day outside. Fine. The principal asked me to arrange this with the teachers. So I did that. The teachers then decided that they would like to have their third graders who are not in orchestra come to see the concert and see their peers perform. They decided that they would all sit in the back and leave as soon as the third grade orchestra members were done performing. That was completely agreeable to me. I mean, we were only talking about 5 minutes of performing, and I know my students would like to perform for their peers. I arranged this with the teachers and everyone was happy. I sent an email to the teachers, the custodian, the band teacher, and the principal confirming the plan so that everyone involved would know what was going on.

Then I received the second reprimanding email from the principal, which simply stated that I had misunderstood what was going on and that only my students who were going to perform would be there and no third grade students would be watching. She hoped I now understood what was happening. There was no formal greeting or sign off, no thank you or anything. Just a basic “you don’t get it.” I was upset by this email. I felt bad about myself too, like I had goofed up.

Here’s an example of how I use my Process One to get myself out of this low self-esteem attack:

  1. I consciously breathe in and out slowly. Breathing with awareness brings me back to the present moment. It gives me an automatic time-out.
  2. I become aware of what I’m doing.
  3. I ask myself, What’s going on in my body, feelings, and brain? I’m feeling bad about myself because I didn’t speak up in the first place reminding her of what grades I teach. Then I tried to follow the wishes of everyone involved and she sent me a reprimanding email saying I don’t get what’s going on.
  4. If possible, I write down the information and journal about how I’m feeling. Now I feel sad, stupid, worthless, unappreciated, unimportant, defective, wrong, shamed, and I’m obsessed about all of it.
  5. I pray for the willingness to accept the situation and information as it is. God help me to be willing to accept the events as they occurred, the concert situation as it is, and myself as I am in this moment.
  6. I pray for acceptance of the situation. God help me to accept the emails from my principal, the concert plan as it is, and myself as I am in this moment.
  7. I admit powerlessness over said problem. I am powerless to change the details of the concert, my boss’s wishes, her email, her opinion of me or my program, or the past events and how they occurred.
  8. Then I become willing to feel my feelings. I feel sad, stupid, worthless, unappreciated, unimportant, defective, and it hurts.
  9. I pray for God to help me with the pain I feel inside. God, please help me move through this pain and come to a place of serenity. I know you appreciate me, so I should appreciate myself. I know I don’t get my self-worth from my job or what others think of me. I have worth because I exist.
  10. I put a note in my God Box about it. God, I give you my concert, email, and principal situation at this school to the highest good of all involved.
  11. Where can I put my mind that is not on this? I go do something else.
  12. The something else lately has been me playing music on my violin, viola, cello, and guitar when I feel despair coming on or am in the middle of the CoDA crazies. Playing music gets me relaxed, calm, breathing, and balanced. I go play music on my instruments, do step work, write, or get to a meeting.
  13. I have to remember that God doesn’t make junk. I am a beloved child of God just the way I am. I don’t have to do anything to be okay. I am okay just because I’m me. I must never forget that. I am a worthwhile person just because I exist. I repeat this to myself a few times.
  14. From now on, I will go play music, go do step work, work on my book, or walk in Hopkins Forest when I feel a low self-esteem attack coming on. I will pray and give it to God too. He will help.
  15. Even if I don’t ask for clarity in understanding first, perfectly obey my principal’s wishes, and make mistakes, or get told to do things differently, I am still okay. I’m still a worthwhile person, worthy of the love of God. I can always talk to God about it. He’ll help me.
  16. I take myself to Tanglewood by looking at a picture I have of Tanglewood. If I’m not near my picture, I use my cross ring as an anchor to remind myself to take myself to Tanglewood in my mind. It helps me relax and breathe.

 

 

After I go through Process One, I proceed to Process Two — Make a Plan:

 

  1. I recheck my anxiety level. How am I feeling? I feel more relaxed and positive about myself. I feel like everything is going to be okay.
  2. I breathe big and deep.
  3. What’s the information? My principal sent me two reprimanding emails and I’m blaming myself for not speaking up when I should have and feel lousy about myself.
  4. What are my choices? I can keep beating myself up about it, replaying it in my mind, and thus living in the past, or I can accept what happened, turn it over to God, let it go, and move on.
  5. I hold the outcome in the Light of God, give thanks, and visualize what I want.
  6. I take action in the direction of the choices I’ve made. If needed, I plan my additional steps. I will accept what happened and stop beating myself up. I will do step work around the incident and will read it to my sponsor. I will then go play music.
  7. I affirm my choices and accept them. I accept my plan and am comfortable with it.
  8. I give it all to God by either placing my problem in an imaginary goblet and offering it up to God with arms outstretched, or by getting on my hands and knees and giving it to him. Dear God, I give you my principal at this school, her opinion of me, and my future there to the highest good of all involved.
  9. I ask myself, Where could I put my mind that’s not on this? I go play Bach and etudes on my violin and play my own music on my guitar. I once again rediscover why God has me on this earth – to play music.

Positive Affirmations: I am a worthwhile person just because I exist.

  • I love myself unconditionally.
  • I am a child of God.
  • I don’t have to do anything to be okay.
  • God doesn’t make junk. I am perfect just the way I am.

Additional practices that help me work through my low self-esteem. Submission: I get down on my knees in the morning, give my life and my day to God, and ask that His will be done. I say The Lord’s Prayer, The Serenity Prayer, and My 11th Step Prayer. This helps to remind me that God loves me and is there for me.

  • Worship: I pray to God. I walk into His healing arms. I tell him what is bothering me and ask for help. I ask him through prayer to help me feel better about myself. I listen to him through meditation.
  • Constant God connection: I pray as much as I can throughout the day, listen for His guidance, and try to do His will as I think He has told me. Just knowing that I’m trying to do His will and follow Him helps me to feel better about myself. If I’m listening to and following God, there must be good in me.
  • Step work: I work the steps on whatever situation is triggering my low self-esteem. Doing a 4th Step inventory of my positive character traits also helps. An example of this can be found in the “Positive Character Traits” part of this book.
  • Program literature: Reading the 12 Promises, 12 Steps, and 12 Traditions of Co-Dependents Anonymous really helps me to rediscover my sense of worth by getting me back on track with program and putting God in the driver’s seat. Reading the CoDA basic text and the stories within its pages reminds me that I am worthwhile just because I exist and that I’m not terminally unique.
  • Music: I listen to and/or play etudes, Handel’s Messiah, and Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas on my violin, or sing and play my own music on my guitar when I’m feeling bad about myself. Being able to play music raises my self-confidence.
  • Exercise: Working out on my punching bag, swimming, taking a spin class, walking on my treadmill or in Hopkins Forest, and lifting weights all help me to feel better about myself.
  • Attend meetings: Going to a CoDA meeting is one of the best ways for me to work through the tough times when I’m suffering from low self-esteem. I learn a lot from what others share and just being with them makes me feel less defective.
  • Gratitude list: Reading my gratitude list helps bring me back to a place where I realize how wonderful my life is, how much I have, and how much I’ve accomplished. This helps me to realize that I count and matter in this world.
  • Documentation: I record my thoughts and revelations about the situation that is causing my low self-esteem. Then I listen to the tape and write the contents into my computer. Working the matter out in this way really helps me to become settled on the matter.
  • Give it to God: I place the person and situation that is triggering my low self-esteem into a beautiful, imaginary goblet and offer it up to God. Then I put a note in my God Box about it. This helps me let go and move on.
  • Service work: I always feel better after doing service work. I know I’ve done something good by giving back and helping other people.

 

 

 

Low Self-Esteem

And what is she? What is she?

She is hopeless

A loser

Out of her mind.

 

~ Beloved by Juliet A. Wright

copyright 2005, all rights reserved

 

I still struggle with the defect of low self-esteem. The good news is that I’m slowly ridding myself of this defect. I feel much better about myself today than I did in the past. I’m beginning to see my worth as a person. I’m a worthwhile, lovable person just because I am a child of God. I can love myself just because of that.
Sometimes, however, I still get down on myself and tie my self-worth to what I accomplish in a day, how hard I work, how well my books sell, how many students I have, what other people think of me, and how I look.

 

What really affects me is what my students and their parents think of me. Making mistakes with, disappointing, or losing students is very, very hard on my self-esteem. I beat myself up endlessly when such incidents occur and really have to work my program to recover.

 

Process Four really helps me to stay centered and balanced in the classroom.

 

 

Let’s revisit Process Four:

 

  • Don’t take it personally.
  • Don’t react.
  • Stick to business and just teach music.
  • Think before you speak.
  • This too shall pass.
  • Let it go.

 

  • Don’t take it personally: I learned this from my therapist. Anything that anyone says to me is about them, even if it sounds like it’s about me. This helps me realize that I didn’t do anything intentionally wrong to hurt someone. They’re telling me about them.

 

  • Don’t react: I live in a world of reactors. I have been guilty of this myself. I get input from someone and blurt out whatever I’m feeling at the moment. The right thing for me to do is to stop, consider the situation, and say nothing, until I’m sure about what they said, what happened, and how I feel about it. This also helps me to keep my self-esteem up because it prevents me from saying and doing things that I’ll regret later.

 

  • Stick to business and just teach music: So after I have restrained myself from reacting to whatever a person said or did, I just stick to business and teach music. That is why I’m there. Juliet needs to do her job. That also helps build my self-esteem because I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.

 

  • Think before you speak: I need to think before I speak. This is related to don’t react, but it is helpful for me to have it as a separate step to remind myself to do it. What I say matters in the classroom and there are lots of little ears engaged. I need to be careful to say what God wants me to say, not what I want to say. Being in a constant state of prayer helps me to think before I speak.

 

  • This too shall pass: I have placed this slogan here because sometimes things are said and done in the classroom and on email by parents that are very hurtful to me. I have to remind myself that the moment and the hurt will not last forever. God will get me through it.

 

  • Let it go: This slogan is here because after I have experienced whatever hurtful verbal or email comment or criticism that occurred, and have reminded myself that this too shall pass, then it’s time for me to let it go. I put it in my imaginary beautiful goblet and offer it up to God. Then I move on.

 

 

I say these steps as mantras to myself whenever I need to during my workday or any other time. They help me get my center back and help me focus on God.

 

Another activity I engage in that helps me to stay centered on God is reading scripture at lunchtime. I have scripture written on index cards in a bag in my purse. I read scripture during my lunch break while I eat. This really helps me recover from whatever may have just gone on in the classroom by getting my focus back on God. Knowing that I have a loving, merciful God who cares about me and is sovereign over my life improves my self-esteem. I know I’m not charge, I don’t have to control or fix it, and I’m worthwhile because God loves me.

 

Deep down I am truly beginning to realize that I have worth as a person just because I exist. We all do. We all have worth. We are all worthy of God’s love, regardless of who we are or what we have or haven’t done. We are all equal in the eyes of God.
I used to get my self-worth from the promise of a successful music career. I’ll be a worthy person when I achieve success in music. As I look under the carpet of my past, I find my dream of commercial musical success trampled and crumpled like a dirty gum wrapper that flew out of my pocket, landed on the ground, and was never thrown away. I wanted that musical success for a very long time. Now I know that probably isn’t going to happen for me, at least not the way that I thought I wanted it. This self-pronounced failure gave me low self-esteem for a long time. I’ve failed. I didn’t get there. I didn’t make it. I don’t matter.

Thanks to recovery I now have a different outlook on the music I make in my life. Now I’m writing and playing my music to heal myself. I share it with others in case it might help them to heal. That is the God in me speaking to the God in them. I like that. Thank you, God. Under the carpet near the gum wrapper, there is the old Juliet who got her self-worth from her musical success. So when she failed, she wasn’t worth anything as a person. We can throw that self-image in the recycle bin and fix it right up. Juliet is a beloved child of God just because she is herself.

Next to that crumpled gum wrapper from under the carpet that represents my tortured music career are small pieces of a muffin that dropped while I was eating breakfast and changing violin strings at the same time. These pieces of muffin represent the Juliet who used to get her self-worth from the men in her love-life. Let’s throw that in the garbage too.

I used to think I was only worthy if a man loved me at that moment. For most of my adult life, that was Alex. So when our marriage failed, I thought I had no worth. The soul searching and step work I have done on that relationship has helped me heal from the related pain and relieved me of those misconceptions. I am grateful to God for this healing and learning. Thank you, God.
I definitely take some of my self-worth from what I look like. When I was younger, my relying on this source of worth was worse. I was supposed to look great all the time when I was young. Above all, I was supposed to be thin. This was fueled by my parents’ expectations and, later, a career in Hollywood. I still take some of my self-worth from what I look like, but it’s not nearly as severe as it used to be. Moving out of Hollywood and back to Vermont really helped me with this. I know that I’m a good person underneath it all and that won’t change with 5 pounds of fat, 5 pounds of makeup or a lack thereof. I’m a perfect child of God just the way I am. Despite aging, I really like how I look. That’s a huge step forward for me. That’s recovery.

 

Workaholism

Workaholism

 

Addie, don’t you think of lettin’ me down

I’m counting on you

To do your best and keep your feet on the ground

Oh

Don’t let me down

Get to spinning

Forget your dancin’

You’re always too slow

Oh,

Don’t let me down

 

~ Don’t Let Me Down from Fearless Moral Inventory by Juliet A. Wright copyright 2008, all rights reserved

 

 

Workaholism is still a major defect of mine. I learned it from my family of origin. I was only worth what I achieved. If I failed, I had no self-worth. Part of me still believes this.

 

It’s very difficult for me to stop working. I still work too late and feel like I failed if I don’t achieve the daily goals that I set out to accomplish. Even if I’m past tired, I still go on, and beat a dead horse until I’m just about sobbing. Gee whiz, Juliet! Give yourself a break.

 

Sometimes good things come out of it when I stretch myself. For example, there have been nights when I’ve been too tired to keep working, but I went ahead and wrote more of my book or recorded one of my CoDA meetings on tape. In these times, good things have come out of my work. I believe God alone has gotten me to do this work to the betterment of myself.
At other times, I have let my workaholism get a hold of me and yet I accomplish nothing. I can’t play a right note on my violin, the words aren’t coming, and the vacuum is clogging up. At these moments I know I probably was not listening to God’s guidance suggesting I call it a day.

 

My workaholism is at its worst when school is in session and I’m busy teaching during the week. I teach long hours, have a long commute, and often come home too late to do any of my creative work. I have CoDA meetings two days a week after work also, which affects my available creative time at home (don’t get me wrong, my meetings are a must, and are well worth it, even if I’m the only one there at times). During the school year, I work myself to death on the weekends on my practicing, working on my book, service for my Co-Dependents Anonymous groups, handling my Hidden Angel business, and addressing leftover schoolwork. So when Saturday comes around, I really try to get a lot done. I always work too late, eat too late, get to bed too late. Then I’m tired for Quaker Meeting on Sunday morning. This way of life has become a habit. I need to fix this. I need to cut some things out. But what?

 

One of the gifts of recovery for me is that I’ve learned that I am a beloved child of God regardless of what I get done in a day. I am loveable just because I’m me. I can say those words now. I have positive affirmations that I have said over and over again that have taught me this. I know it as a truth that I don’t have to work to earn God’s love.

 

But deep down part of me still doesn’t fully believe this. That is the part that kick-starts my workaholism. This is the part of me that remembers what Mom and Dad taught me about earning my worth and thus their love.

 

But thanks to the hard work I’ve done in program, I can now remember and say the words that I’m a beloved child of God regardless of what I accomplish. That is so reassuring to me. That produces serenity in my soul. That is recovery.

 

The other side of the coin is that I have a lot I want to accomplish. I believe that God has put me on this earth as a codependent to help myself and others who suffer from the disease of codependency. I think it is my book and music that are the vehicles through which I can heal myself and reach out to others. I want to be busy doing God’s work.

 

So whenever I’m not working on my book or my music, I think I’m not doing God’s will and that’s bad. I’m being disobedient to God. So then I think I have to go work myself to death to make up for it. That is my workaholism coming after me. I don’t think God thinks I’m being disobedient. I think he knows I’m doing the best that I can. Now if I’m sitting here playing on the computer instead of doing my work, that’s a different story. Then I need to get myself in gear and get my work done.

 

When I’m battling my workaholism and losing, what I need to do is surrender it all to God. When I’m exhausted from working all day, it’s time to stop, my work is not yet finished, and I’m tying my self-worth into the completion of my task, that is when I need to surrender. And when I feel like I can’t do that, I have to pray for the willingness to be willing to surrender. I have to ask God for the power to stop working. I have to move away from the computer, put down the violin, put the pile of unfolded clothes on the floor (okay I can’t imagine myself ever doing that… they will get folded), and stop. Just stop. The office is closed. The door is locked. Time to go home, so to speak. It means me abandoning my work because it is 9:40 at night and it’s time to stop. It’s realizing that whatever I did, it is enough for tonight.

 

Therefore, part of me has bid farewell to the Juliet who ties her self-worth to what she gets accomplished in a day. I want all of me to say good-bye to that version of myself. It’s not the true refection in the mirror. The true reflection in the mirror is that I am a beloved child of God regardless of what I get done in a day. I do not have to work myself to death every minute in order to earn the right to be.

 

So when necessary, I pray for the willingness to be willing to stop and say, “I’ve done enough.” I give it to God. I ask God for the willingness to stop working and move away from the computer. Besides, there’s always tomorrow. This is spiritual progress for me to be able to say this. I can do more tomorrow. That is growth. That is recovery.

 

Positive Affirmations:

  • I do my best and let go and let God.
  • I allow myself ample leisure time, without feeling guilty.
  • I stop working at a decent hour.
  • I am a beloved child of God regardless of what I get done in a day.

Additional practices that help me when I’m practicing my workaholism:

  • Talk to my sponsor: My sponsor knows me very well, and she is aware that my workaholism is one my biggest defects. She knows that it’s at the root of who I am and the source of many of my struggles. She’s very good at reminding me of this and pointing me towards my recovery tools. She will often tell me to take a break and go sit in my chair near the brook (a favorite spot of mine).
  • Step work: I get out the step work I’ve done with my sponsor and the notes I’ve taken during our conversations and read them when I’m in the middle of a workaholic attack. Reading the work I’ve done on the principles is especially helpful when I’m struggling with this defect.
  • Program literature: Reading the 12 Promises, 12 Steps, and 12 Traditions of Co-Dependents Anonymous really helps me to relax and accept myself the way that I am. Doing this helps to relieve me of the idea that I have to be busy at every moment.
  • Gratitude list: Reading my gratitude list helps bring me back to a place where I realize how wonderful my life is and that, regardless of whatever is causing me to get down on myself, I can sit back and realize that everything is really okay.
  • Reading: I love reading in bed. It is a treat that can lure me away from working when it’s time to stop. The promise of reading in bed gets me away from whatever I’m working on and into the wonderful world of literature. It works every time.
  • Movies: I put a movie into my DVD player, get some of my favorite food, and relax for a little bit.
  • Slogans: I repeat my favorite slogans, such as “Easy does it,” “This too shall pass,” “Act as if,” “Let go and let God,” “Turn it over” and “There is always tomorrow.” Repeating the slogans really helps me relax.
  • Painting: I am an amateur artist. I work with oil paints. Painting is a tool I use to get away from my work and into doing something creative and positive for myself.
  • Sit and do nothing: This is a task assigned to me by my sponsor. She has been trying to get me to do this for years. Juliet’s assignment is to just sit and do nothing for a few minutes. This means no meditation, no worship, no phone, no TV, no computer, just sit. This was very difficult for me. It still is in fact. But I do it. We started out with just 2 minutes. It seemed like an eternity. Now I’m up to 5 minutes. This practice calms me down and gets the hamster off the wheel. It’s very effective in getting me to stop and relax.

 

 

 

 

 

Driving Lost

 Waiting to sob

From the bottom of my soul

Trying like hell to give up control

~ Waiting by Juliet A. Wright

copyright 2010, all rights reserved

 

I have no sense of direction. I get lost at the drop of a hat. I’ve gotten lost in Los Angeles, Hawthorne, Malibu, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Kansas City (both of them!), Boston, Maine, New York State, Woodstock, Lenox, and even in Pittsfield, Massachusetts where I work. And I’m sure I left out like a million places. I can get lost going to the bathroom. Is it an illness? A condition? Is something blocking by brain? I have always been like this. I have always gotten lost very, very easily.
A couple of years back, my sister and her husband gave me a GPS, which helped. That machine was made for people like me, who obviously came out of the womb lost, not knowing where to go next. That’s me.

 

The problem with GPS systems is that you have to tell them where you want to go. Then you have to put in the right address. Then the GPS has to like the address you put in. A lot of the time it says, “Address not found.” That makes me so mad. Now come on. Please. The person who lives there gave me the address. The Internet likes the address. What’s your problem, Mr. Map-in-a-Box Computer Program? Frustrating!

Sometimes there is a roadblock or detour that Mr. GPS hasn’t seen or figured out. Then he starts giving you grief for going the wrong way. “Recalculating.” Okay fine, what can I do? I’m not driving through the river or over the side of the mountain. This was especially true in New England following Tropical Storm Irene when many of the two-lane highways were severely damaged and barely functional.

 

Most recently, I was lost in Acadia National Park in Maine. It is a beautiful, peaceful, Spirit-filled, mammoth place. It has one-way streets that intersect with two-way streets. It has signs that say, “Do not enter” and “This way only.” I don’t like that. I typed in Acadia National Park into the nice little GPS box and the box led me to the main gate. That’s not where I wanted to go. I wanted to go to the Visitor’s Center. What’s the matter with you? Then I tried to follow the directions of the guard. Then I drove around lost for one hour. The Man-inside-the-Box was laughing. Serves her right, stupid human.

 

You can imagine what came next. Rage. Yelling. Gone was the sweet Christian Quaker Juliet who was listening to her bible CDs in the car. Enter raging, cursing, mean, Kathy Bates character in Fried Green Tomatoes when she rammed the dickens out of that VW Bug that took her parking spot. Marilyn Manson and The Matrix Reloaded soundtrack replaced the bible CDs and were blasting in my car. Pretty soon I started having hot flashes and I was sweating like some sort of farm animal. This only added to my rage.
Eventually I realized I had driven myself not only crazy, but right out of the park as well. So then I got to turn around and do it all over again. Great fun! Eventually I found my way to the ocean walk, got a parking spot, and went for a walk.

 

Enter calm Juliet apologizing to God for her temper tantrum, saying her positive affirmations, reciting her gratitude list, asking for forgiveness for her terrible, obviously inherited temper.

 

So what is the purpose of me getting lost? Acceptance? Surrender? Letting go of control? Patience? I would say all of the above. And faith. Hello? I need to have faith. God is going to help me to find out where I am going. I need to turn it over, stop freaking out, and go on God’s timetable, not mine.

 

The good news is stated in the bible:

 

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

~ Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

 

Thank heavens! I get another chance or two to get it right. I mean I don’t know if I’ll ever really know where I’m going when I’m behind the wheel of a car, but maybe I can handle it differently so that I don’t have to rage over it.

 

Maybe the only time I really know where I’m going is when I admit that I’m lost. When I surrender, give up control, let go, have faith, practice acceptance. The fact that I think I know where I’m going and what will happen next is just an illusion anyway, a fantasy. Only God knows that. My requests for the knowledge of His will unveils a few ice crystals that are really part of a huge glacier. Crystal by crystal it is revealed to me. I will trust. I will accept. I will surrender. I will breathe in and out. Relax. Breathe.

 

I am now more aware of when I am moving into rage and am able to get back into balance by using the tools I have listed below. I have also learned from my beloved sponsor that I can choose how to feel. She says that even when I’m in the middle of a rage in my car because of traffic delays, detours, I’m running late, or whatever, I can choose to be content. I can just decide to be calm, accepting, and happy and be that way. I don’t know if I have achieved the ability to do that in all cases quite yet, but I’m starting to remember her words, and that is the first step. That is progress.

 

Quite recently, after being in my car for way too long and getting very angry about it, I remembered her words. I can just decide to be happy and calm, I thought to myself. I relaxed and made it home safely. I also made a vow not to get into my car at all the next day. That helped a lot.

 

Here I practice Process One:

 

  1. I consciously breathe in and out slowly. Breathing with awareness brings me back to the present moment. It gives me an automatic time-out.
  2. I become aware of what I’m doing.
  3. I ask myself, What’s going on in my body, feelings, and brain? I’m lost.
  4. If possible, I write down the information and journal about how I’m feeling. I am feeling rageful; I’m wasting time and not accomplishing anything. I also feel fear because I don’t know where I am.
  5. I pray for the willingness to accept the situation and information as it is. God help me to be willing to accept the fact that I am lost and wasting time being lost.
  6. I pray for acceptance of the situation. God help me to accept the fact that I am lost and wasting time.
  7. I admit powerlessness over said problem. I am powerless over the fact that I am lost and wasting time.
  8. Then I become willing to feel my feelings. I am rageful and also fearful about being lost.
  9. I pray for God to help me with the pain I feel inside. God please help me to get rid of my rage and fear in a safe and healthy way.
  10. I put a note in my God Box about it.
  11. Where can I put my mind that is not on this? I sit by the side of the road and breathe in and out. I find the closest walking destination in the park and walk there for a while to calm myself down.
  12. I have to remember that God doesn’t make junk. I am a beloved child of God just the way I am. I don’t have to do anything to be okay. I am okay just because I’m me. I must never forget that. I am a worthwhile person just because I exist. It’s okay that I got lost.
  13. From now on, I will make sure that I plug the correct address into the GPS or I’ll take the shuttle to the hiking spot. I will pray and give it to God too. He will help.
  14. Even if I get lost again, I’m still okay. I’m still a good person. I am a beloved child of God. I can always talk to God about it. He’ll help me.
  15. Take myself to Tanglewood: I use my cross ring as an anchor to remind myself to go to Tanglewood in my mind. It helps me relax.

 

After I go through Process One, I proceed to Process Two — Make a Plan:

 

  1. I recheck my anxiety level. How am I feeling? I feel more relaxed. My heart rate has slowed down and I’ve wiped the sweat from my brow.
  2. I breathe big and deep.
  3. What’s the information? I’m lost.
  4. What are my choices? I can turn around, go back the way I came, and stop at the nearest walking spot no matter what it is.
  5. I hold the outcome in the Light of God, give thanks, and visualize what I want.
  6. I take action in the direction of the choices I’ve made. If needed, I plan my additional steps. I am turning around, going back the way I came, and then I’ll stop at the nearest walking spot no matter what it is.
  7. I affirm my choice and accept it. I accept my plan and am comfortable with it.
  8. I give it to God by either placing my problem in an imaginary goblet and offering it up to God with arms outstretched or by getting on my hands and knees and giving it to him. Dear God, I give you my “lostness” and ask you to help me find my way to the highest good of all involved.
  9. I ask myself, Where could I put my mind that’s not on this? I put on my Matrix Reloaded soundtrack and then a bible tape. I breathe in and out. I listen while I find the nearest walking spot. I relax.

 

 

Mantras that help me with my rage:

  • In this moment, I let go of what I can’t control.
  • In the moment, I let go and let God.
  • Relax and breathe.
  • Where could I put my mind that’s not on this?
  • I am powerless over this situation. I am powerless over my rage. My life has become unmanageable.
  • Treat it like the front page of the newspaper.
  • Humans make mistakes; that’s okay.
  • I recite The Serenity Prayer like a mantra.

 

Positive Affirmations that help me get out of a rage:

  • All is well in my world.
  • I am relaxed and calm.
  • Thank you God for your mercy and grace.
  • Everything is as it is supposed to be at this moment.
  • Be still and know that I am God. ~Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

I have recently also come up with a list of words that I say that help to calm me down:

 

Serenity, joy, truth, love, hope, peace, trust, faith, green, water, God, omnipotent, omniscient, sovereign, Nature, crunching, running, walking, breathing, relaxing, calm. Thank you, God.

 

 

 

 

Additional practices that help me when I’m fighting my rage:

  • Exercise: Working out on my punching bag, swimming, walking on my treadmill or in Hopkins Forest, and lifting weights all help me release my rage and get back into balance.
  • Loud music: I listen to loud rock music like Lincoln Park, The Matrix Reloaded soundtrack, or Porcupine Tree while I’m driving or using my punching bag. It’s one of my favorite ways to release anger in a healthy way.
  • Angry Birds: I have three Angry Bird figures that I have stuck to my dashboard. Looking at them while I drive helps me to get the anger out of me and calm myself down. They are my mascots.
  • Playing my instruments: I play etudes on my violin, or sing and play my own music on my guitar after I exercise as a way to help myself relax after a rage attack.
  • String quartets: Brahms and Mozart string quartets bring me into a place of serenity, no matter what’s going on in my life.
  • Gratitude list: Reading my gratitude list helps to bring me out of my angry tailspin and back into the present moment. I often combine my workout on the treadmill with reading my gratitude list, which is really affective.
  • Slogans: I repeat my favorite slogans, such as “Easy does it,” “This too shall pass,” “Act as if,” “Let go and let God” and “Turn it over.” Repeating the slogans really helps me relax.
  • Inner child work: My inner child tells me why I’m angry and tells me what she wants to do about it. Then we talk to God about it and make a plan. This is very helpful to me.
  • Step work: I work the steps on whatever situation is fueling my rage. I read this work to my sponsor. I’m even able to laugh at myself afterwards. That is a sign that I’ve stopped taking myself so seriously, which is good.
  • Documentation: I record my thoughts and revelations about my rage into a tape recorder and notate them later.
  • Scripture: Reading scripture helps me to get my focus back on God, where it belongs, and this calms me down.
  • Deep breathing: I take a few minutes to do some deep breathing. With every exhale I let go and my rage leaves a little bit more and for a longer period of time. I do this as many times as I need to continue.

 

Thank you God for this learning.

Daily Dose of Dislikes

 

 

Wait for the mail

Wait for the phone

Wait for a friend

Wait to be alone

 

Waiting for sound

Waiting for someone

To bring me around

 

Waiting in line

To lose my mind

What I might find

Insanity is mine

 

~ Waiting by Juliet A. Wright

copyright 2010, all rights reserved

 

I just took my daily dose of dislikes. I take one every time I want to torture myself unnecessarily. Much of the time it involves making phone calls to my bank, credit card, phone company, or other automatic-frustration-available-here type of organizations. UGH! This daily dose of dislikes is a good example of how resentment and rage can go hand in hand.

 

So what’s going on with me today? What defect is emerging its ugly head? I am feeling resentful. Why? Because for the 40th time I had to call the bank to try to get them to send me a reminder that the auto bill pay for a non-profit organization phone bill is going to happen. But they can’t send me the reminder. They can only send the old treasurer of the non-profit the reminder. However, I am now the new treasurer, so this is very frustrating. Now I’m not even clear if the auto bill pay is going to happen or not. It had better not because I just paid the bill.

 

So I have to remember when this bill is due. But remembering is beyond my capabilities. I can’t remember anything. It took a half-hour of my time to not get this done and most of that time was spent on hold. I am feeling very angry and resentful about it.

 

If it makes me resentful, it’s not a choice. Resentment leads to rage. So why did I bother calling? Unknown. Why don’t I just put a note on my own phone bill or calendar that says, “Don’t forget non-profit bill!” Cuz that is the only reminder I’m going to get.
How much will the bill be? I don’t know. I’ll have to guess. Maybe I’ll just pick a number out of a hat to decide how much to send them. This is very aggravating! It isn’t even clear to me why they won’t switch it from the old treasurer to me. They just said that since she is the one who opened the account, it has to be sent to her. This doesn’t make any sense to me.

 

Resentment and rage are my problem. I’m the one who called the bank. I knew what I was getting into with them. This is after calling another Internet utility company last night and getting someone from heaven knows where that I couldn’t understand who hung up on me. That was another winner. What a party. I can’t stand having this much fun!

 

Resentment. Frustration. Anger. Get it out. I have The Matrix Reloaded soundtrack on and they are screaming their lungs out. Awesome. That helps. I have my candles going. That helps. I’m journaling, typing, spilling my guts, working on my book. That helps too. Breathe. It’s okay. Just get over this hump. It’ll be okay. God loves you. Keep writing.

 

Bruises by Unloco is my new favorite song. This is the stuff!!! He is screaming his lungs out. He is helping me express myself. Yes! Go boy go!!!
Listening to this music really helps when I’m frustrated. Wailing on my punching bag at the same time is even better.

 

The poor bank lady. I feel bad for her. God bless the bank lady. It’s not her fault that this process is just a waste of time. I wish I had been nicer to her. I knew how the conversation was going to end when I started so what was the point? I knew she was going to come back and say she couldn’t help me. God please bless the bank lady. She really tried hard to help me. I hope she talks to nicer people than me.

 

That’s it, Unloco, scream some more about your bruises. Let it out. Thank you for helping.

 

I am expressing my rage and trying to let go of my resentments. After all, I did it to myself.

 

And see this stuff totally works for me. I listened to Bruises by Unloco about ten times. Then I listened to the entire Matrix Reloaded soundtrack. I lit some candles and wrote on my computer about how I’m feeling. I wrote and wrote and wrote. And now I’m calm. Now Unloco has taken a refreshments break and Brahms is helping me out with his String Quartet #1 Opus 88 in F. Thanks Brahms!