Wednesday, March 13, 2013

1 year later

Wow. I can't believe it's been over a year since I posted to this blog. I keep up with Eleanor's blog and photos and updates and whatnot, and keep up LESS often with my own private journaling....but looking back at a year...

My father passed away on Feb 14. Almost a year to the day after my last entry about him. Long story short, he busted his leg pretty badly (not allowed to bear weight for 3 mo), lost his job, and turned 65 all in a 3 week span back in May 2012. He essentially refused to rehab physically, and by late summer had essentially stopped eating.  A man who, at his peak surgery before gastric bypass, was probably about 380 lbs, died at just over 130 lbs.

He was always a man of excess, of extremes. But this whole thing has called into question how to talk about death with a toddler.

We had to put our cat down about 3 months ago. That actually helped to bridge the abyss, since my dad was already in hospice care at this point.  Telling Eleanor that Mouse was gone, that he had died. Not bringing up heaven or anything else. It's hard. It's hard not having the easy fall backs.

We have a photo on our mantle of my old dog and 2 cats, including Mouse. Eleanor has made some connection that Mouse and Chester and Stanton are somehow in the same place, whatever that means to her.

I admit, I made one mistake with my father and explaining it to her. I told her, when we went to Florida, that we were going to Grandpa Rick's funeral to say goodbye. We had gone to visit him in September. But when I said this, it's too vague a concept for her (she turned 3 the day after we got home). She expected to see him. But he chose cremation, so there was just a small gold box. She whispered to me "Grandpa's too big for that box". Which I actually thought was very sweet, but couldn't really go into details with her, so I just changed the topic til I was able to figure out how to address it.

All that being said, we've gotten through the next round of tough questions for the time being. I think this was the last year I'll be able to get away with no questions about Santa. We got a tree, and had a TON of fun decorating it with ornaments that were mostly centred around dinosaurs. And glitter. Lots of glitter.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

12 stepping

Step 1: Admitting we are powerless over the effects of addiction and that our lives had become unmanageable.

My father called me drunk last night. I doubt he remembers. It was a pointless phone call, just for him to brag about the new fire pit he and Mom got to sit around a fire. In Florida. Don't ask.  The point is, as I'm going through some of this literature from ACoA, and trying to figure out how to wrap my brain around the whole Higher Power stuff, I think I need to just take a step back and figure out exactly what I'm looking at.

I am, indeed, powerless over my father's problems with addiction. I have tried to micro-manage every situation, I tried endlessly as a kid to be good enough, smart enough for him to actually SEE me. I apparently even told them when I was little that I didn't like someone because of the way they touched me. But in the mind of an alcoholic, or at least, in HIS mind, much more rested on the way things appeared to others.

I have to accept that nothing I could have done, and nothing I can do now, will change who he is; will change the dynamic that I grew up with; will change the way he knows how to interact with me, or with the world around him in general.  I have to give up hope that there's anything I can do or say that will make him different, or change what our history is. And I have to accept that everything I grew up thinking was "normal" was distorted and wrong.

I continue to live my life in the way I was shown: I go through the motions of what seems to be normal, to me...I have a very hard time being present. Even without being an alcoholic myself, I have that personality trait emblazoned on whatever I take to be my soul.  Part of the ACoA definition of "The Problem" is co-dependency and taking on the characteristics of the diseases (alcoholism) without necessarily ever using chemicals or behaviour to mood alter.  

But here's the funny thing. I was always such a control freak that I DIDN'T get drunk, or let myself feel out of control, maybe because some part of me, even years ago, recognized that what I came from was twisted. But no matter how far away from home I got, or how much I tried to be everything my parents weren't/aren't, it's all I know.  And I still couldn't let myself be present for my life. Because all I've known is surface, cover-up, superficial, impress-the-neighbors bullshit.

The promise of a solution through ACoA is tho hopefully begin to "...begin watching for present day self-destructive patterns, recognize these patterns and make better choices for change sick attitudes and characteristics that have plagued us for years and made our lives unmanageable".

So here we are back at Step #1.  In all my attempts to micro-manage, my life has, indeed, become unmanageable.  Trent sees right through me, I am desperate to be a good wife and parent, and to be a real honest to goodness, present part of the world around me.  So this is me. Admitting my powerlessness over what my parents' dysfunction has rendered in me. In the hopes that I can forgive them, and myself, for a life only half-lived up to this point.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

As the holiday season sets in...

I've been having another crisis of "faith".  Canadian and American Thanksgiving aside, now begins the season of Christmas music, Santas, reindeer (which i LOVE that Ellie signs Moose for every time), and mall-insanity.

On top of that, I have now joined the ranks of 12-steppers and have attended my first ACoA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) meeting.  Here's the thing... there were SO many things said at the meeting and in the literature I've been delving into that ring true, that make me feel like I have found some common ground and some explanation for a lot of "why I am the way I am".  But then there's all this "higher power" stuff.  It's very clearly worded as to God, however you may define it , but it's the entire concept of "Let go and let God" baffles me. How am I supposed to reconcile my atheism with "...believing a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to wholeness"; or "...make a decision to turn our will and our lives over the the care of God, as we understood God"??

Much to think about...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In the air...

Now granted, Thanksgiving in Canada is in October, not November (earlier harvest, I suppose), but this just sums up my sentiments these days:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Shanah Tova

Tomorrow sundown begins Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  My parents arrive tomorrow afternoon. Not to celebrate, just to visit. Perhaps this is one of those times that I need to take a look at something that Judaism offers as a good thing, and let's be honest, the timing couldn't be better. I'm not close with my parents. Recently, a few things have come to light that make me downright furious with them, with my history.  And I'm just as likely as the next person to play The Blame Game when I get like that. I've always liked that Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are different from the Christian ideas of confession.  Instead of asking God for forgiveness, you're instructed to actually apologize to the person you ask forgiveness, and grant it when it is asked of you. My friend on Facebook posted this as her Rabbi's description of these holidays, and I think it's well-written. I just don't know if I"m a big enough person to forgive recent transgressions that have come to light...Perhaps I'll just play it by ear...


Which of the 613 commandments in the Torah do you think is the most difficult to observe?
My answer would be to "love your neighbor as yourself." (Leviticus 19:18).
What’s the difficulty in loving your neighbor? One possibility is that he or she may not be such a nice person. Some people are very difficult to love, to like, or even to tolerate.
We also need to look at this problem from the opposite perspective. Maybe we ourselves are not easy to love.
The point is that interpersonal relationships are not always easy. As we go through life we all make our share of friends and, yes, let’s be honest, enemies too. Who of us, in the past year, has not offended someone, intentionally or unintentionally? Who of us, in the past year has not been offended by something someone else said or did, or failed to do?
This is one of the reasons that Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur exist. In the course of living, we all collect baggage — the baggage of resentment and disappointment. And we add to the baggage of others. The High Holy Days are an opportunity to rid us of unwanted and unnecessary baggage by forgiving others and by being forgiving ourselves.
We are all imperfect unfinished creatures. We all make mistakes. We all say things we shouldn’t. None of us ever fulfills all of the expectations that others have of us or even those we have of ourselves. We all fall short.
And so a New Year comes to us with a great gift. It says we can start again. It says we can attempt to make right what we have done wrong. Not by praying to God. Not by telling God we are sorry. But by seeking out those who we may have hurt, by word or by deed, and trying to make amends.
It’s not easy. It’s never easy to admit that you have been wrong or to say, "I’m sorry." And it may be even harder to forgive, to accept someone’s apology, to let go of your anger. Some people thrive on bearing a grudge. They just love to hate.
The call of this season is to let go. The challenge of these Days of Awe is to be open to forgiveness and reconciliation. It may be hard, but it’s worth it.
Life is too short and too fragile to be constantly bearing a grudge. When we are able to forgive, we free ourselves of a burden that wears us down as much as does the burden of guilt.
As we celebrate a New Year, may we all come a little closer to loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Shana Tova U'm'tuka,

Rabbi David H. Auerbach

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Anyone know of any atheists in 12 step programs? I mean, there HAVE to be some, right?  Is there honestly no group of people who have found a way other than a "higher power" to deal with being out of control? or being the child of someone who was?

My mom is just "coming to terms" with the fact that my father is an alcoholic and addicted to pain pills. No big surprise on my end, he's always been a man of excess--he eats, drinks, drugs, talks too much. There is nothing small or reserved about my father.  But I guess I never put a label on it. Last night I was looking into ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) and Al-Anon and trying to see if anything clicked. And it kinda all did. But Jeez, all that God stuff is off-putting!! I'd love to go to a meeting and see if I connect with the people there, who might have grown up like I did, with no "real" role models for parenting, but all the God crap is a total turn off!! Sigh...