Back Again

Confession

Forgive me cyber world because it has been 5 years, 4 months, 13 days, and 3 hours since my last blog post.

The Latest

Instead of catching up from 5 years I will just start right now.  I have Co-dependence which means that  I am obsessed with fixing other people and am controlled by other people’s moods, opinions, and actions.

I am more aware of the feelings of others than I am of my own.  I struggle to allow myself to feel emotions because somehow I have this false belief that the only emotions allowed are happy or angry (with a justifiable cause).   The book “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie (Code) is my textbook.  I am also going through the LDS Family Services Addiction Recovery (ARP) Guide, as well as attending the meetings.

Addiction

“Addiction is emotion mismanagement; it is about medicating emotions that we don’t know how to deal with.” John Bradshaw.

I think that most people can relate to emotion mismanagement.   Certain events happen in my day which trigger a powerful negative emotion.  I shoot up to an extreme reaction – a 5 out of 5!  I have been in recovery for almost 5 years and have made a lot of progress but I am still discovering more issues and needing more work.  This blog is now about my journey to work on addiction and co-dependence.

Today

Today I am going to work on Step 3 in the ARP guide.  The question is “How do you feel about submitting willingly and with patience to the Lord’s timetable of change?”   I hate feeling vulnerable and want to change immediately once I discover a weakness but I need to let go of those prideful feelings and submit to changing just as fast as the Lord sees best.

Today I will practice not loathing myself over my weakness, stop beating myself up over my flaws, and just trust that God thinks that I am ok the way that I am and that eventually these problems and weaknesses will be resolved.

Now to”Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie.  In Chapter 6 “Don’t Be Blown About By Every Wind” it says “By practicing detachment we can lessen our destructive reactions to the world around us.  Separate yourself from things.  Leave things alone, and let people be who they are.  Who are you to say that the interruption, mood, word, bad day, thought or problem is not an important and necessary part of life?  Who are you to say that this problem won’t ultimately be beneficial to you or someone else?”

I am nervous because my husband is coming home today from a business trip.  I tend to react a lot to his moods and actions and try to save him from things.  I have been trying to detach (lovingly) from him and have had some success but these are some realities about detachment that I have discovered:

  1. It is clumsy
  2. It is a process
  3. It takes practice
  4. Nobody does it perfectly

Today I am going to allow him to experience whatever he is going through without trying to come up with a solution to save him.

 

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Our Spirits long to soar

In a seminar that I attended with Sheri L. Dew she said that our Spirits longed to grow, stretch, and achieve.  This is so inspiring because it means that our natural desires to be comfortable and to take it easy get in the way of our Spirits’ natural desire to soar.   So – feed your spirit today!  Pray, read the scriptures, attend church, serve somebody, or repent.  Do something way harder than you ever thought that you could.  There is nothing inspiring about the status quo.

Success story of my Life

I am reading a book by Wendy Watson Nelson called “Change your Questions, Change your Life”.  She invites you to examine how you retell the story of your life – are you the victim, the survivor, or the hero?  Then she asks you to write a story of your life in the next little while with you being the hero.  Put it aside for a few days and then review it.

I tried this a couple of weeks ago when I was really bogged down with trying to make up the schedule of Joshua’s care providers for the fall.  The story that I wrote was all about me making up the schedule which would probably only be about 80% accurate with the understanding that it would need tweaking in the future.  Also that I would be able to handle the heavy load of things that I need to do by making a list and prioritizing it and then accepting the things that I can’t or don’t want to do right away and not focusing on them.  It was life transforming!  I felt so empowered as I worked through my difficulties, continually casting myself as the hero.

Going back to Crawling

In the year 1995 when Joshua was 2 and not talking, Cam and I attended a night class called “The Hanen Early Language Program”.   A group of parents were taught how to encourage and expand speech in our language delayed children.  We watched training videos, worked through a manual, and had several home visits from a Speech Therapist who critiqued us and gave us pointers on how to implement this methodology better.  Joshua went from having a few words to being completely non-verbal during this time.

This was incredibly heartbreaking as we tried everything possible to get him to talk and communicate and then to watch him lose what little language he had and become more withdrawn.  Joshua was later diagnosed with Regressive Autism, the type where he actually developed some skills and language before losing them.

The Hanen Early Language Program was just poor timing – we were trying to stop a slide which was bigger than anything that we could combat and it left us pretty discouraged and beat up.  I felt so powerless as I tried all of the strategies to get Joshua to communicate and to have my efforts rejected over and over again.

Fast forward to the year 2010.  X has entered our lives.  X is language delayed but not autistic.  All of the strategies from the Hanen Early Language Program work on X.  I hold up the bubble wand and wait expectedly for X to say something before I blow.  X yells “Blow it!”.  We go through this routine over and over again.  on the 3rd go round X yells “Blow a big bubble”.  Bingo!  That is exactly what the exercise is supposed to achieve – to get the child to expand their communication attempts.

This is an incredibly gratifying and healing experience for me.  It is like a parental equivalent to going back and learning how to crawl again before walking.  I feel so good being able to do these things and have them actually work!  It feels like I have become the parent of teenagers without experiencing some of the really cool parts of childhood.  That is why bringing other children into our family is such an essential part of our major plan in reunification.

Rough Monday

Joshua had a rough Monday.  He had to get up earlier than usual because we started him at the regular school time.  He is coming off of a manic period and we were tracking the signs and knew that he was on his way down.  He ended up having a melt down or two at school – something that they haven’t seen since the fall.  When he got home I treated him to a can of pop, lots of movies, and a car ride around a favorite 30 minute loop that we like to take.  Joshua is making a lot of connections with me which is very gratifying.  During our car ride he would often look over at me until I looked back at him.  He was doing a lot of smiling and laughing.  He especially loved having the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Come Thou Font of Every Blessing blasting.

Joshua also enjoyed being present for Family Home Evening.  We start by singing a Primary song, accompanied by the Primary CD.  He likes the music so much that after opening prayer he will gesture to the CD player and want the music back on.  It is kind of distracting having music playing during the lesson.  Last night’s lesson was fantastic again.  Cam taught Abbie about Negotiation.  He had a bunch of visuals – one listed the principles of Negotiation and another was a fill in the blank on what was valuable to him (the payer) and Abbie (the payee).  Then we practiced negotiating the payment for her mowing the lawn.  She started to crumple because this is very difficult for her but Cam was really patient and kept working with her.    When he offered her $1 for mowing the lawn she suddenly got angry and started to negotiate.  In the end they settled on $5 for this last time and left the opportunity for negotiation open in the future (as she begins to bring more value to Cam by not needing help and reminders).  Cam then paid her in $1 bills and showed her that without negotiation she would have received $1 but with negotiation she received $4 extra dollars.  It was a very effective lesson.

Communication Steps

Today Joshua communicated his wishes quite definitely.  When I took him to his morning schedule to show him that getting dressed was finished and that it was time to get ready for  the bus, he went and found the video player picture symbol and stuck it in his schedule.  He sometimes has time for 5 or 10 minutes of a movie before his bus comes but today he was starting school earlier and didn’t have extra time, so the symbol was not on the schedule.  After he added the video player symbol to his schedule he got some movie time because I didn’t want a full blown melt down. He ended up scrambling to get his shoes and coat on when the bus came.  Luckily he gets door to door service and the bus will wait a few minutes.

Thanks for everyone’s prayers and his behalf and ours – he has finally started sleeping again and we are all coping better.

Atonement and Mistakes

The atonement of Christ allows us to learn from our mistakes without being condemned by them.  I tend to think that I should be able to do things right the first time and never make mistakes.  That is pretty black and white thinking.  When I get that way my husband has to talk me through it and get me to see things in a more reasonable light.

Unfortunately I hold these high, unrealistic set of expectations not only for myself but for others as well.  One thing that having special needs kids has done for me is to help me have empathy.  To realize that most people are “leading lives of quiet desperation” and “but by the grace of God go I”.  I hope that the people who I have been critical of can forgive me as I try to do better at this.

Donald Hallstrom said in his recent Conference talk that his Grandparents were able to get over a terrible tragedy in their lives, move to Hawaii to be close to their only living child and grandchildren and “mostly, they just enjoyed being together”.  That really touched me.  It made life seem so simple and yet beautiful.