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s.a.l.t.

16 Nov

Taken from al-anon sayings

As a recovering codependent, one of the acronyms that has helped me most is “S.A.L.T.” STOP ACTION, LISTEN, and THINK. Now when i get myself into a situation where I’m in conflict with someone else, instead of reacting to the conflict I do the following:

STOP ACTION= so i can focus on how I am feeling. I take a deep breath, and try to get my bearings so I can detach from the persons behavior.

LISTEN= to myself “self-talk.” Am I telling myself to change the other person, to get him or her to see my side? Do I feel afraid or threatened?

THINK= about what I want to do. If I think about the choices I have, I can change my usual ways of reacting. This gives me a feeling of mastery over my actions, and the self-confidence to deal effectively with the conflict.

Please Listen to What I am Not Saying

Don’t be fooled by me. Don’t be fooled by the face I wear. For I wear a mask; I wear a thousand masks I am afraid to take off, and none of them are me.

I give you the impression that I am secure, that confidence is my name and coolness my game, that the water’s calm and I’m in command, and that I need no one. But don’t believe me please.

My surface may seem smooth– underneath I dwell in confusion, in fear, in fear being found out. That’s why I frantically create a mood to hide behind, a calm, sophisticated front to shield me from the glance that knows. But such a glance is my salvation and I know it. It’s the only thing that can assure me of acceptance and love. I’m afraid you’ll think less of me, that you’ll laugh. Laughter would kill me.

So I play my game, my desperate pretending game, with front of “having it together,” and a trembling child within. And so my life becomes a front. I chatter to you in a cool tone; I tell you everything that’s nothing and nothing of what’s everything what’s crying within me. So when I go into my routine do not be fooled by what I am saying, Please listen to what I am not saying.

I dislike the phony game I’m playing. I’d like to be real and spontaneous, and me. You’ve got to hold out your hand even when it may seem to be the last thing I want, and need. Only you can call me aliveness. Each time you’re kind and gentle, and encouraging, each time you try to understand because you really care, my heart begins to grow wings– small wings, very feeble wings.

I want you to know how important you re to me, how you can be a creator of the person that is me if you choose to. But it will not be easy for you. A long time of feeling inferior builds strong walls.

The nearer you approach me, the harder I may strike back. It is irrational, but I am irrational. I fight against the very things I cry out for. But I am told that love is stronger then walls, and therein lies my hope. Please try and bet down those walls with firm hands, but with gentle hands– for a child is very sensitive.

Who am I? you may wonder? I am someone you know very well, I am every newcomer you meet.

From the book called “Stepping Stones To Recovery from Codependency by Katie C and Deb M

Denial

31 Aug

I’ve been recovering many years. I’ve used denial many times. It has been a defense, a survival device, a coping behavior, and, at times, almost my undoing. It has been both a friend and an enemy.

When I was a child, I used denial to protect my family and myself. I protected myself from seeing things too painful to see and feelings too overwhelming to feel. Denial got me safely through many traumatic
situations, when I had no other resources for survival.

The negative aspect of using denial was that I lost touch with my feelings and myself. I became able to participate in harmful situations without even knowing I was hurting. I was able to tolerate a great deal of pain and abuse without the foggiest notion it was abnormal.

I learned to participate in my own abuse.

Denial protected me from pain, but it also rendered me blind to my feelings, my needs, and myself. It was like a thick blanket that covered and smothered me.

Eventually, I began to recover. I had a glimpse of awareness about my pain, my feelings, and my behaviors. I began to see myself, and the world, as we were. There was so much denial from my past that had the blanket been entirely ripped from me. I would have died from the shock of exposure. I needed to embrace insights, remembrances, awareness, and healing gently, gradually.

Life participated in this process with me. It is a gentle teacher. As I recovered, I was brought to the incidents and people I needed in order to remind me of what I was still denying, to tell me where I required more healing from my past, as I could handle these insights.

I still use, and break through, denial–as needed. When the winds of change blow through, upsetting a familiar structure and preparing me for the new, I pick up my blanket and hide, for a while. Sometimes, when someone I love has a problem, I hide under the blanket, momentarily. Memories emerge of things
denied, memories that need to be remembered, felt, and accepted so I can continue to become healed – strong and healthy.

Sometimes, I feel ashamed about how long it takes me to struggle through to acceptance of reality. I feel embarrassed when I find myself again clouded by the fog of denial.

Then something happens, and I see that I am moving forward. The experience was necessary, connected, not at all a mistake, but an important part of healing.

It’s an exciting process, this journey called recovery, but I understand I may sometimes use denial to help me get through the rough spots. I’m also aware that denial is a friend, and an enemy. I’m on the alert for danger signs: those cloudy, confused feelings . . . sluggish energy . . . feeling compulsive . . . running too fast or hard . . . avoiding support mechanisms.

I’ve gained a healthy respect for our need to use denial as a blanket to wrap ourselves in when we become too cold. It isn’t my job to run around ripping people’s blankets off or shaming others for using the blanket.

Shaming makes them colder, makes them wrap themselves more tightly in the blanket. Yanking their blanket away is dangerous. They could die of exposure, the same way I could have.

I’ve learned the best thing I can do around people who are wrapped in this blanket is to make them feel warm and safe. The warmer and safer they feel, the more able they are to drop their blanket. I don’t have to support or encourage their denial. I can be direct. If others are in denial about a particular thing, and their activity is harmful to me, I don’t have to be around them. I can wish them will and take care of myself. You see, if I stand too long around someone who is harming me, I will inevitably pick up my blanket again.

I tend to be attracted to warm people. When I’m around warm people, I don’t need to use my blanket.

I’ve gained respect for creating warm environments, where blankets are not needed, or at least not needed for long. I’ve gained trust in the way people heal from and deal with life.

God, help me be open to and trust the process that is healing me from all I have denied from my past. Help me strive for awareness and acceptance, but also help me practice gentleness and compassion for myself–and others–for those times I have used denial.

detachment

24 Jun

Detachment

Detachment doesn’t come naturally for many of us. But once we realize the
value of this recovery principle, we understand how vital detachment is. The
following story illustrates how a woman came to understand detachment.

“The first time I practiced detachment was when I let go of my alcoholic
husband. He had been drinking for seven years -since I had married him. For
that long, I had been denying his alcoholism and trying to make him stop
drinking.

“I did outrageous things to make him stop drinking, to make him see the
light, to make him realize how much he was hurting me. I really thought I
was doing things right by trying to control him.

“One night, I saw things clearly. I realized that my attempts to control him
would never solve the problem. I also saw that my life was unmanageable. I
couldn’t make him do anything he didn’t want to do. His alcoholism was
controlling me, even though I wasn’t drinking.

“I set him free, to do as he chose. The truth is, he did as he pleased
anyway. Things changed the night I detached. He could feel it, and so could
I. When I set him free, I set myself free to live my own life.

“I’ve had to practice the principle of detachment many times since then.
I’ve had to detach from unhealthy people and healthy people. It’s never
failed. Detachment works.”

Detachment is a gift. It will be given to us when we’re ready for it. When
we set the other person free, we are set free.

Today, wherever possible, I will detach in love.

progress

24 Jun

I never realized how much I blame myself for the misery that surrounds me in my friends & family. I was just cleaning out the ice cube dispenser in the freezer and the thought hit me, “I am NOT going to blame myself anymore for the pain of my life and the life of others”. The 3 C’s that I’m learning in al-anon, “I didnt CAUSE it, I can’t CONTROL it and I can’t CURE it“. I can be the cause of my OWN pain, but I can control it by working the program, talking to my sponsor, getting involved in service. There is no cure, but as long as I keep going, it will be lessened.

I think one of the worst things that can happen to us is humans is to be a people-pleaser. To base our happiness and contentment in life purely based on the happiness & the acceptance of others. What an GOD AWFUL way to live. I say this because I have been one for so long. I’ve blamed myself for all the misery of everyone, and I have felt nothing but a complete, and total FAILURE. Not an exaggeration, not speaking in self pity, but in truth. I have been a people pleaser, and I’ve felt nothing but useless and a failure in my life. I constantly beat myself up for “falling short”, for not being more like other people, for not being (financially) successful. For this for that, the list goes on and on.

Am I a disappointment to God? Does He hang His head in shame because of me, the mistakes I’ve made, my flaws, my shortcomings, does He ever regret making me or everything He’s done in my life?! NO!!!!!!! No, no, I say again…..NO!!!!!! God does NOT expect miracles from me. He accepts me and loves me JUST AS I AM TODAY. My sponsor told me yesterday, while nearly having a panic attack over going to work, “i love you and all your imperfections”. I told her she was weird, she laughed and didn’t take it back. God never takes it back. GOD LOVES ME, AND EVERYONE AND OUR IMPERFECTIONS. The sooner I take that to heart, the less painful every day life will be.

The Gift of Readiness

6 Jun

Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
–Step Six of Al-Anon

We progress to the Sixth Step by working diligently, to the best of our ability, on the first Five Steps. This work readies us for a change of heart, openness to becoming changed by a Power greater than ourselves – God.

The path to this willingness can be long and hard. Many of us have to struggle with a behavior or feeling before we become ready to let it go. We need to see, over and over again, that the coping device that once protected us is no longer useful.

The defects of character referred to in Step Six are old survival behaviors that once helped us cope with people, life, and ourselves. But now they are getting in our way, and it is time to be willing to have them removed.

Trust in this time. Trust that you are being readied to let go of that which is no longer useful. Trust that a change of heart is being worked out in you.

God, help me become ready to let go of my defects of character. Help me know, in my mind and soul, that I am ready to let go of my self defeating behaviors, the blocks and barriers to my life.

choices

2 Jun

We have choices, more choices than we let ourselves see. We may feel trapped in our relationships, our jobs, our life.

We may feel locked into behaviors such as caretaking or controlling.

Feeling trapped is a symptom of codependency. When we hear ourselves say, I have to take care of this person . . . I have to say yes . . . I have to try to control that person . . . I have to behave this way, think this way, feel this way . . . we can know we are choosing not to see choices.

That sense of being trapped is an illusion. We are not controlled by circumstances, our past, the expectations of others, or our unhealthy expectations for ourselves. We can choose what feels right for us, without guilt. We have options.

Recovery is not about behaving perfectly or according to anyone else’s rules. More than anything else, recovery is about knowing we have choices and giving ourselves the freedom to choose.

Today, I will open my thinking and myself to the choices available to me. I will make choices that are good for me.

Letting Go of Self Doubt

28 May

A married woman who had recently joined Al-Anon called me one afternoon. She worked part-time as a registered nurse, had assumed all the responsibilities for raising her two children, and did all the household chores, including repairs and finances. “I want to separate from my husband,” she sobbed.

“I can’t stand him or his abuse any longer. But tell me, please tell me,” she said, “do you think I can take care of myself?”

–Codependent No More

Not only is it okay to take care of ourselves, we can take good care of ourselves.

Many of us, so confident about our ability to take care of others, doubt our inherent strength to care for ourselves. We may have come to believe, from our past or present circumstances, that we need to take care of others and we need others to take care of us. This is the ultimate codependent belief.

No matter where this self-defeating belief was born, we can release it and replace it with a better one, a healthier one, a more accurate one.

We can take care of ourselves — whether we are in or out of a relationship. Everything we need will be provided. We will have loved ones, friends, and our Higher Power to help.

Knowing that we can take care of ourselves doesn’t mean we won’t have feelings of fear, discomfort, doubt, anger, and fragility at times. It means we practice “courageous vulnerability,” as Colette Dowling called it in Cinderella Complex. We may feel scared, but we do it anyway.

Today, God, help me know how I can take care of myself.

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