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What is your handful of nuts?
July 17, 2008
3:36 pm
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WizardofAus
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Years ago, I had this boss who had a sign above the door into his office that said, "Before you come in here, please clarify whether you want to be part of the problem or part of the solution."

I think it might have been Mark Twain who said, "Most of us prefer a familiar problem to an unfamiliar solution."

Addiction can be thought of as a trap from which we have not yet learned to escape. Gregory Bateson, who was Margaret Mead's partner, had a really interesting take on the alcoholic trap. The alcoholic tries to prove that he is in control of alcohol by having just one more drink; as they say in AA one is too many and a thousand drinks are still not enough. Bateson felt the effectiveness of AA lay in the statement, "I am .... and I am an alcoholic." In other words your admission is your escape from the trap; you no longer have to prove the negative, because you are positively an alcoholic. Once out of the trap, you are free to get on with managing the illness.

So what are codependents addicted to? Often nothing too harmful in the short term. For instance falling in love in order to create a toxic relationship is fun to begin with, the hangover comes later.

Carl Jung thought that our sort of codependent personality disorder had its roots in "an attempt to avoid legitimate suffering." It may be that leaving a toxic relationship will expose us to fears that we are not yet willing to confront, so we avoid paying the price of leaving.

This is why I find the saying about familiar problems and unfamiliar solutions so helpful as way of locating my courage to attempt change.

So what is our codependent trap? Well in Sumatra they make these traps for monkeys; our close cousins in the big scheme of things. (lol) The tribespeople weave a basket with a relatively narrow opening. They tie the basket to a tree and put some nuts in the bottom of the basket. The monkey puts his hand into the basket and grabs the nuts, forming a fist in the process. However the fist is too big to fit back through the opening. The monkey would then rather be captured than let go of his handful of nuts. So he is trapped.

The question for us, is what exactly is our handful of nuts? It could be as simple as a preference for the familiar rather than the unfamiliar.

One psychologist cured a lot of codependents by asking the question, "what would you be doing if you were not acting out this drama?" There was often this huge silence that sometimes lasted days until the client found this really exciting dream of a better future. I think that this may be our basic problem; we are no longer familiar with our own cherished dreams. Our true purpose has become an unfamiliar solution and our crummy drama has become the familiar status quo in our life.

July 17, 2008
3:42 pm
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I think your last paragraph is very interesting. All of my life, I have wondered why I don't have a dream. I have never had a dream of doing anything. Whenever I try to come up with one, I can't. Coming from an abusive childhood I know that has probably everything to do with it. I was too busy trying to survive to dream. Now, as an adult, I am just busy doing what I do. I get stressed when I start thinking about dreams...trying to come up with one, so I quit. This has always been one of my biggest frustrations. Life happens to me and I react. It's all I know.

July 17, 2008
4:26 pm
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hm looks cool, im gonna come back and read this later.

July 17, 2008
5:06 pm
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Well, I would be more inclined to agree with Mark Twain than your boss, but finding a solution to a familar problem would be nice. Sometimes we make the same mistakes over and over, but as long as we believe there is a way to solve it, then it does not hang around as a problem.

Definition of insanity:

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

July 17, 2008
8:51 pm
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This is a good thread Wizard. It's very hard to break away from any crutch or vice, especially before you know what you are using it to escape or hide from. Certainly, before then, you have not even the glimmer of what benefits lie ahead once you get a moment of clarity and realize how the destruction of the addiction itself has caused you pain, let alone life's pitfalls. It's like a blind journey at some point, and certainly it requires a little faith or hope or some measure of strenght that we don't know we have in us.

People find many resources to arrive at a healthier life, a sounder mind, a more peaceful existence. Religion, work, therapy, exercise, what have you. It's not always easy, because the tendency for an addict is to cling to whatever that thing is that makes them feel better and to do it to excess. So something that might seem beneficial for some people, like exercise or religion (both of which I used in a weird way myself to "avoid" reality) could in effect just be another part of an imbalanced picture. But... as we move in the right direction, like giving up drugs for exercise, we begin to gain things we care about and do not like to lose. Sometimes, things settle down and we broaden our horizons.

I'm finding I still have the impulses to do the same things over and over, but the bad experiences in life have knocked me around enough that I want more good stuff, more DIFFERENT stuff. Things I can't get but the same old patterns.

It's a scary place to be. For some people, I imagine living the way I live right now is as simple and easy as pie. For me, each day is a major accomplishment. I wish I felt good about it. I can congratulate myself in type here, but truthfully, I haven't advanced enough to feel confident. Babysteps, right? Six years clean of alcohol and drugs, six years with out self harm or attempted suicide, and 2 1/2 (this one seems the longest for some reason, and the hardest) since my last toxic relationship with an addict. I am on my own, RE-learning how to socialize, I have only a couple of people that I socialize with, and I have social anxiety even with long term family and friends, no new boyfriend (for the first time since my teenage years)... no caffeine even! I hate it! But I have to admit, begrudgingly, that life is better without the drama.

Being a depressive type, I don't feel hope, yet only as an idea. But I keep on keeping on. It's too hard to think ahead. Shit, this would be frightening as hell to take in all at once six years ago. I wouldn't have been able to concieve of it.

But when you do it, one day at a time, you don't realize what you are doing... by recovering. You are staying alive, staying out of jail (in some cases), or staying out of the hospital, not breaking the hearts of people you care about, not spending time with people you don't.

This is a long post, I'm talking to myself pretty much, 'cause I need the reassurance. I need to keep the faith, to keep it real, and I checked it just in time to read this thread. So thanks for making me think about this stuff. Sometimes I can be so negative, it's painful.

-ella

July 17, 2008
9:26 pm
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Ella, yours is the post of someone who is showing great courage and integrity in facing the truth. If I could bet on you getting there, I would mortgage my house on it.

There was once this little caterpillar crawling along as fast as she could. She looked up in the sky, just as this beautiful butterfly flew overhead. "Oh no", she said, "you will never get me to fly in one of those things." (She did not realise that caterpillars turn into butterflys.)

What about adding belief to your courage and integrity?

Two quotes from Jesus: "Your faith has made you whole;" and "take up your bed and walk, you are healed."

You have done your homework and turned in a quality term paper. It is time to enjoy the bit of the process where the Universe gives you an A++++ lifestyle in return for all your hard work.

I really hope that the above proves to be that "unfamiliar solution" for you. Grab it with both hands and enjoy your life. You deserve it.

July 17, 2008
11:33 pm
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The caterpillar story is great! It reminds me of a book I read to the children I work with, but your story is even better! I like the way you said "(She did not realize that caterpillars turn into butterflies.)" It is like a fable. Did you make that one up?

Belief is always in me. However, belief manifests itself on many levels. Some for me are: intellectual (this does not change), spiritual belief (what you "know" to be true without anyone telling you, without any proof), and the stuff you feel in your gut. I haven't been feeling it. To me this is just involuntary. It is my opinion that one has limited control over their feelings.

As the program taught me, "feelings aren't facts," so I know from experience of my own, from what I see around me, that there are certain truths if I only try and perservere "as if" I FEEL better than I do. I mean, if I don't keep on keepin on this way, I will never feel better. I could lie in bed all day, but I don't. I KNOW that would make me feel worse, because I've done it.

It's okay to have a lapse of faith to a degree... to let go a bit, if you keep moving in the right direction. A lot of people have a crisis of faith, but keep doing the right thing because they have learned what that is. It's just harder during those times is all. The good thing about having had even the teeniest bith of faith in earlier times, is that it carried you long enough to give you strength to learn the tools to get by when you have none. It grows. But you have to nurture it.

I guess I need to nurture my faith and my soul with a lot more than discipline and "staying healthy." Part of it is in enjoyment, like you're saying.

I'm just having a hard time juggling all the parts of my life and keeping things in order. On top of it, I am feeling pain like never before... I don't know if that's just because hindsight kills some pain, or because I'm actually dealing with stuff I didn't have to face before. I'm considering some kind of 12 step meeting again, but not NA... it's been too long and I don't want to throw myself back into that scene... searching for "clean" meetings. Possibly AA or Al Anon. But I do have trouble in Al Anon as I am what they call a "double winner." They have meetings for us, but none I can get to.

I miss NA, but I don't feel right about going back. It sounds like I'm doing better than I am. I do have days where if I was at a meeting with a new comer who invited me to join them to get high, I might just take them up on it. So I have a lot of work to do. Right now I feel "safe" because I know how to put myself in those places. You know the saying "stay away from people, places and things?" In an ironic way the meetings are all of those things for me. I am scared of going back there. Is that wacky or what?

So I have been trying to just be responsible, take care of my pet, my home, my body, my job... I even started lessons in an interest of mine, and want to start doing the creative stuff I used to do, plus exercise. It's a lot. But I don't want to make the fun stuff a chore you know? I have to manage a tight schedule, so I just have to work it out one day at a time.

Thanks again for the thread. I hope it becomes a regular one.

July 18, 2008
12:09 am
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WizardofAus.
Please don't go away!
You are just wonderful!
Yes, keep this thread alive(even if i just read it would be an inspiration)

Being female my hand full of nuts are fleshy ones.LOL
Seriously, I am holding onto hope. A nice Lost guy, who hasn't any dreams he wants to attain without my urging!
It's very tiring.
The longer i hold those nuts, without sustenance elsewhere, and time goes by, the thinner and weaker i get! Sometimes I think those nuts are empty shells but I hold on til I get them out and see.
I just may pass out holding those nuts i just can't get at!
Hm, that means my grip will loosen.

It's always some trauma that wakes you up to move on.
One last trauma.
Be Well!

July 18, 2008
12:14 am
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Wiz, tks for bringing ella back!! I was so worried for a while but I had to let it go, too much going on here... And I always knew she´d e back, just didn´t know who would bring her. Or did I just hit the right thread?! Anyways, so happy to see you both and everyone joining in on a god steering thread. When I write something this good, Wiz, Im hoping people will feed that back to me when I need it. But I have higher hopes for you!

And for me. Ive gone and come. Then gone again. Many things pushed me forward. As ella said, sometimes it was faith, sometimes it was a gut feeling... But many times it was rehashing to myself the same old poems, articles, excerpts, book sections, citations and guess what? To do lists. I finaly realized that when Im depressed or generally anxious, as per my last doctor, my faith quivers, my energy disappears, my belief in the good behaviors are shattered and all those things we need to fight to not happen, happen; Those we need to fight so they happen, they usually don´t or they just dont bring me any satisfaction. So I force myself to think of things I enjoy and then on same sort of a whim I spring out usually of bed and go do that one little thing I remember made me feel good and from there I carry on.

Maybe thats what ella calls nourishing or enjoyment, and when Im down I just remember it as "practice." I wish I were doing some creative with my hands other than typing. Gosh. I could make pompoms for a xmas tree! Whatever. All I know is that if I keep seating or lying and not practicing some of the things I like, Im gonna bust with anxiety. If then I´ll let go -let the monkey´s fist open - and be on my route to liberation, so be it. How else would I have got here those many times I was holding to my beliefs.

Its nice to see the words faith, hope, among others. I would add one word that also nudged me ahead in my recovery road which is gratitude. I could be less tired and estressed at this very moment, but I sure could be alot more if I didnt practice the little bit of gratitude that gets smothered by negativity at these times.

In Africa, there are some starving kids that have a little teenee tiny braid on the ver top of their heads. The mothers explain thats the little hair by which God will lift those starving kids when they die. If I ever get lifted up (there would be so many stops, sure not a direct flight) but if ever Im lifted hope it will be by my monkey´s fist clenched to a bunch of gratitude, faith, hope and hopeful charity. I will no longer allow myself to go lifted by my weaknesses, my Achille´s tendon. It takes work, it takes practice, but it feels good discovering and living myself one day at a time.

Tks for sharing! Rambling Rose Sini

July 18, 2008
1:53 am
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So Wiz, I'm curious, what are your dreams?

Here I am, almost 50 & wondering now what the hell I wanna be when I grow up!??

Of course the dream doesn't necessarily have to involve ones vocation. I dream of peace & all that I feel that entails, such as being spiritually grounded, improved self esteem, dropping any & all bad habits & adopting new ones, etc.
I dream of the possibilty of being healthy enough to perhaps find someone lovable to share the rest of ny life with, although I realize that there is NO rush on that one.
I also realize that it may never happen.
I also dream of seeing my kids continue to grow intellectually, spiritually & having good lives.
I dream of the rest of my family having happy lives as well.

Years ago I had superficial dreams of wealth & fame as do many of todays youth, however, to hell with the fame. Even the wealth I think could be as much a problem as a benifit.
I feel that a bit more than I need to survive is adequate at this juncture.

It's one day at a time as they say. I need to remind myself of that.

. . and so the long & arduous journey continues . . .

Crg

July 18, 2008
1:57 am
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Sini-

Hi, I wish I could say it's good to be back. It's not. I still like this thread though.

But I came back because I needed some help because I f*** up. So everything I said above sounds great, until you scratch the surface. I was going to post on support side tonight, maybe you will see my thread sometime. I don't want to lose the topic here tho- suffice it to say, I lost focus but I haven't steered completely off the right road. Yet.

HOpe you are doing better than I.

-ella

July 18, 2008
2:39 am
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I agree wholeheartedly with the attitude of gratitude.

Especially be grateful to yourself. I bet I could take any of you in your struggle for sanity, and get Merryl Streep to play you in a movie and create a classic motivating story about a heroine/hero who beats the odds in the long run. Your courage in writing down the facts of your life and reading it back to yourself is truly heroic. So stop giving yourself a hard time if you do not have Merryl's luxury of an editing suite. Your movie goes out live and that is a tough gig. So cut yourself some slack. It does not have to be perfect.

I think you do have choices about how you perceive your future and the feelings that attach to those visions of the future. My friend explained it as follows.

The future has not happened yet. So there are no facts about the future; only speculations, dreams, nightmares, worries, expectations, fantasies, etc. The future is always going to be in your imagination as a fantasy.

So my friend's argument is that if the future is a fantasy, why not make it a positive fanatasy. What have you got to lose when fantasy turns to fact in the present? We always have to deal with the present reality as it is. So what we imagined ten minutes ago does not change anything. What we can create is a more relaxed and creative approach to our dreams about tomorrow; instead of fear, worry and/or trepidation.

Dare to dream, dare to hope.

So why not believe that 1. I have done my homework (reasonably enough, maybe not perfect; but perfect ain't an option), 2. I deserve to succeed because I have done my best with what I have at the moment; and 3. Therefore in a rational Universe I will turn out ok.

July 18, 2008
10:40 am
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Wiz,

First, just wanted to say thanks for pointing out the obvious of this "side" of the site. I had totally missed that it was even here so thanks.

What a wonderful topic? The story of the monkey reminded me of chinese handcuffs and how only by letting go can we escape.

I like to think of codepency as a series of coping mechanisms that were developed in order to save me at a time in my life when I didn't have any other weapons in my emotional arsenal. A real healing and empowering took place inside me when I finally realized that I'm not the same scared 7 year old any more and I am not forced to live in an environment that is beyond my control. If something works for us and alievates us from pain or suffering, it only stand to reason that we will employ that same tactic again and again in situations that are threatening. It becomes almost instinctual to employ these familiar strategies in seemingly similar situations. As for the types of situations that we gravitate toward, they also have that air of familiarity.

I know personally I always swore that I would never end up with a man like my dad and on the surface that was true, but there were many underlying behaviors that were very similar to the toxic and abusive relationship I had with him. I found comfort in the familarity of the emotionally abusive part of those relationships because they confirmed my own notion that I was worthless. It became a self fulfilling prophecy.

The unique twist on this is that didn't realize that it was what I was doing and deluded myself that it was differnt. My Momaw used to say that you can roll a dog turd in rinestones, and even though it glitters, it's still just a dog turd underneath." Only now in her absence do I realize the mountains of colorful wisdom that she gave me. (What a wonderful gift?)

This was my handful of nuts so to speak. Expoloring the similarities between my relationship with my father and the men in my life really allowed me to "let go" and get out of the familarity trap that I was setting for myself. It freed me to begin dreaming about the type of man I wanted to share my life. Something I had never done before. It also helped me to identity those characteristics instead of being thrown off by the rinestone facade.

You spoke of Carl Jung (one of my favorites-btw). He held a very fledgling therory about how emotions are closly tied to energy and just like Newtons First Law of Motion: Energy in motions tends to stay in motion. Think about our behaviors as poles. The way we are used to handling a situation on one end and the consequences on the other. We have a feeling (good or bad) and we send out the energy toward our familar behavior pole. It hits the wall and bounces back toward the consequences, then back to the familiar, back to the consequences. Much like the perpetual motion balls that swing back and forth. When it slows down, we add more energy making the process continue.

Getting things to come to a rest means diverting the energy to a more positive place. But what do we do with the energy if we aren't putting it into our familar place? This energy can then be invested in dreaming and other healthier pursuits, but you have to free up the energy and teach it a new pathway. That can be very difficult because the unfamiliar can often cause discomfort.

Discomfort can actually be a good thing. It is my new measure for if I am really changing my own familiar negative behaviors or just rolling the dog turd in rinestones. If you have to have a self fulfilling prophecy, why not make it one that is going to have positive effects?

Sorry to be so long winded. This topic just really stuck a nerve with me.

July 18, 2008
11:28 am
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Oh Alice, I like how you have developed this idea.

Our coping mechanisms in relationships are like tools which we learned to use under extreme threat to our survival in our earliest relationships. I have this friend who was well into her teens before she realised that other families did not have food fights at every meal. (lol) That was her normality while growing up. So, one of her major relationship tools was really a coping mechanism for dealing with family shame. Like me she hated big gatherings where peoiple might see her shame.

The Chinese say, "once you learn to use a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail." And, like you said, that is also true for us with our distorted coping mechanisms; we also need to check out how we actually perceive the goals and challenges in our relationships. If that friend sees relationships as essentially a potential food fight and applies her coping mechanisms to that perceived threat, then it is natural that each relationship will tend to end up in the ditch as yet another food fight.

When I was a kid, my family encouraged me to read about the heroes of history and in general I am glad they did because it has given me a very positive view of the potential in life for success and happiness. In the same way, I think we could help each other in here by telling a few success stories about the huge potential of relationships in our lives. It is very easy for us to end up thinking that all potential lovers will come with some sort of incurable addiction and we will end up codependent in their problem life-scripts. We possibly need to overcome that sad line from Janis Joplin, "And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong."

Love is for us all and we can find it, in ourselves and in others. We just need to see relartionship challenges in a less distorted way and develop new more appropriate tools for meeting those challenges.

I remember being in this really tense negotiation, with a friend giving me support. I usually tend to turn into a linebacker in that sort of battle; just fight them toe to toe. My friend sat beside me and said, "just keep smiling and nodding agreement." Boy, it felt strange and completely incongruent, but it worked. The temperature of the fight plummetted and we got into this really creative space where we talked solutions instead of battle plans.

I know I need more insights like that in relating to my primary partner.

July 18, 2008
2:23 pm
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Wiz,

I'm from a VERY rural community which is very limiting in it's social norms and views on the outside world. It almost amuses me now that I have gotten out into the "big world" how comic some of those views are. I think it's the same inside our family unit. It is just the reality in which you live. Pia Mellody talks alot about codies having distorted views of reality. When I shed my rural/family reality and went to college despite the pressure from my family not to (My family still believes that only men should go to college and have jobs because they have to support their family and women should be barefoot and with child.), I reformed my reality. It is much more difficult with the reality that was engrained in us emotionally as a child, but I often think about recovery in terms of altering my "familiar" reality. It has been a wonderful tool. I tell myself that if I can change my reality about the world then I can change my reality about my emotional issues as well. It gives me hope.

I have been reading a book written in the 1960's by one of the countries first plastic surgeons. He only performed "medical" surgery-stuff like burn victims, birth defects, etc. and would not treat patients who had no real issues other than the ones in their minds. He found that often times the power of seeing yourself in the future as successful lead to people becoming successful. If you saw yourself becoming more beautiful, you became more beautiful. The power of the mind is staggering.

I am so thankful that I am learning that I deserve to be loved and that I can share my love with others without becoming their doormat. I have seen such vast improvements in my relationships with my friends, coworkers, and even within my family. I feel like I am leading by example and as a leader that people are looking to me to see how they should behave. It may be a tad unrealistic that everyone is mimicing my actions because I have all the answers-I don't and that is for sure, but if I want better interactions (and like your boss' sign said) I have to be part of the solution and not the problem. My parents repeated the mistakes of their parents and by showing them that I refuse to repeat theirs, I am not only maintaining my boundaries, but giving them the hope that if they chose they can change too. My mom has actually begun to open up to me a little which has lead to some great talks that I don't think I would have had with her without my own transformation. Happiness is contagious.

I also have learned the value of the "smile and nod" defense. In some situations, it works like magic. Some people live for the fight. My older sister was much like that. Nothing she liked better than a toe to toe encounter. I learned that if I just didn't play into her negativity that she would get even madder, and madder. (Which being a sister I always loved pushing her buttons.. 🙂 )When she finally realized that I wasn't playing her game, she would just back down and become a whole different "nice" person. I think that is how I survived sharing a room with her as a child.

What type of personality does he/she have?

July 18, 2008
2:34 pm
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Oh yeah, and btw...Janis ROCKS. She is a great example of a wonderful person who lived in her own distorted reality. I can't imagine being able to sing like that with that intensity and that much soulful power and not thinking I was amazing, but she thought she was unlovable. I often wonder when I listen to her (which I did only this morning) if she would feel any differently now knowing that she was not just a singer, but a legend.

July 20, 2008
2:24 pm
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Alice-

Do you think some of Janis' soulfulness came exactly from just not thinking she was the center of the universe? Not that her level of discomfort in the world, or whatever it was that drove her to drinking and drugging, was good for her... but sometimes a certain lack of contentment pushes one to examine both themselves and the world around them in a unique way... and some great art has come from that. But to the extreme, the individual voice can be sacrificed to their own pain and it's devices (just like Janis, Jimmy, Kurt and many countless others) and there's no new art to go on from there. Only the successful will have work that lives on after that. Too bad they weren't able too fully use their creative outlets without the drugs or self harm in their journeys. But then we are reminded, they are not the gods the media makes them out to be but only humans that had pain too- and didn't always know how to deal with it.

Wonder what Janis Joplin would have thought of this post-MTV world where it's difficult for a woman to get successful in the music industry, no matter how talented she is- unless she has a six pack of abs that rivals those of fitness moguls, must undress rather than dress for success, and a pretty face that latter can serve as good advertising, pushing products and fashion lines that might even be their own. (I know that sexism not the reason for everyone's pain, but it doesn't help. We live in a lopsided world. It causes a lot of greif to our men too.)

Really, I believe we have lost a lot. Girls today have to be strong and learn how to cultivate their own self worth, I don't know what it was like before the women's movement, but I think we have a long way to go. I realize I am straying from the topic here, but people fail to recognize the extra strength it takes for a woman to survive on her own and feel good about herself, when all the while society- still after the millennium conspires to make you feel "less than" unless you are their version of a perfect anorexic ten, wear "the right" clothes, have the right "stuff," and of course- have a man, and then some kids. Do it all, and do it all perfect. That's the message.

I don't know what message Janis got, but thoughout the years afterwards, through the years I lived (I was only born in the late sixties), the same dull messages from the establishment trickled right on down into the so-called counter cultures of every decade. They just put their own costumes on it.

Poor Janis, I wish her talents and her world would have protected her. But like the many unknown versions of herself, those things aren't worth as much in this world.

The world is just not set up to protect a soul in pain. That's why we have to reach beyond it. And I'm not sending a Christian message or talking religion in anyway. Just look beyond the every day crap we are fed everyday. A lot of it serves up a good deal of the pain we are feeling. It's easier said than done though. I'm still looking for a way, just like anyone else, no one is on this site if they really have the answers... we are all on our journey.

Honestly, I think what really sucks is knowing that I might now find any "answers." Knowing that life is a spiritual struggle until the end, and I might always feel like a fuck up, less than, or have to put in energy to stay afloat. I'm tired. Even the people I get help from are tired of me. What can do do, but keep on doing what you believe is right, right?

sorry for spillin',
-ella

July 20, 2008
2:34 pm
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oh yeah, "the smile and nod defense" works wonders in the workplace too! I know what you mean... it can save you from have an incident that can ruin your day, and then some. I'm still learning that one!

July 21, 2008
9:07 am
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alicenwonderland
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Mz,

I think she was a very troubled soul in a vast many ways. I read a book a very long time ago about her and her life. I remember a line that spoke of how she put her hurt into her music because only there did she feel beautiful. I often think about the troubled youth that I worked with some years ago and how talented they were. Their abilities were astounding. It seemed that they used art, music, sports, etc to overcome the pain in their lives. I had a girl whose voice would have rivaled Aretha Franklin and another whose art brought tears to your eyes. I had a boy that could have been the next Michael Jordan. These kids had such extreme talent, but no one ever bothered to say to them. Hey, you are amazing. Not because you can sing, draw, shoot a basket, but because you are you. Reading about Janis always reminded me of "my kids" because they too thought that they were mediocre and worthless.

You are so right. The MTV generation would not have accepted Janis because she was the polar opposite of what they represent. Look at Gwen Stephani...she was awesome when she first hit the music seen. She wasn't rail thin and danced to her own drumer, but just a few years in Hollywood and she became just the opposite of what she originally was. I was so saddended by this because her actions shouted to young girls everywhere "conform to societies standards of beauty". I can't even stand to look at the "pop" image she has adopted today.

No, society does not support pain. Pain signals weakness and unfortunately Darwin was right...it is the survival of the fittest. It isn't that people are more emotionally fit, but they just do a better job of hiding it than others. We all have pain. Without the pain, how would we know when God is giving us something good. The world exists in opposites and it takes both in order to make the world work. We just can't get stuck in our pain. My Momaw used to say "Flip the coin over" whenever I would get down and out. It sounds kinda hokey, but it is so true. We have the power to flip our coin to see what is on the other side.

I have been reading 52 Weeks of Conscious Contact by Melody Bette. It is just a daily reading of little things to consider throughout the day. She says that pain is sometimes just the kick in the pants we need to move forward in a positive direction. I kinda liked that thought. Pain is a motivator to change.

Thank you for you Janis insights...I'm a huge music fan and can talk all day on the subject...

Have a wonderful day! 🙂

July 21, 2008
10:17 am
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camino
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this question really made me reflect and, while I can see several traps that I very strategically put on my own way, there is one that I think has been part of my life all along and it is that I am still searching for " the lost paradise." What I mean to say is that I compare reality with a paragon that no longer exists or perhaps never did and , guess what...reality does not compare o that "perfect universe."

July 21, 2008
11:36 am
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Hepburn
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Camino, I can relate to your last post. I have always lived in the future. I'd think----If only "this" would happen or if I only had "that"......I'm trying to change my "thinking" which will change my reality.

I read (paraphrasing) "Some people live in the past, some live in the future, that's why living in the moment is so important because "this moment" is the future".

Easier said then done eh?

July 21, 2008
12:50 pm
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camino
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Absolutely, Hep. I am now with somebody who is gentle, giving, generous, great company, good companion but... I can always find the but and the thought that he might not be perfect for the rest of my life starts haunting me to the point of not being able to enjoy the "now."
I can understand it and even process it rationally but ( another but here) not emotionally.

July 21, 2008
1:48 pm
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alice-

Yeah, I so agree about the whole Gwen Stefani thing! I remember the No Doubt days, and then I read some interview with her where she talked a lot about how important being thin was to her! I was thinking, is this the same person??? Nice role models out there for our young girls huh? Anorexics, addicts, shallow image obsessed kids, ending up in rehab is only par for the course it seems. Shame. Is that something to look up to? But it's so much worse now with the perfect appearance thing... who can maintain that with all the other expectations?

Ever see those cookie cutter VH-1 the Music docs and wonder why they are all so fomula-like similar? It's like Icarus flying too close to the sun. Future shows with women will not only have their bouts with drug addiction, but with eating disorders as well. Nice.

Yeah, call it what you will. Everyone likes to blame the people who got it the hardest. I'm not calling us victims, I'm saying quite the opposite. That we deserve more credit where it's due. Everytime we achieve what a man achieves, we should give ourselves an extra pat on the back because we as women had to go an extra mile. Maybe some won't agree with that, but maybe there's a certain amount of taking some things for granted... there's extra effort in there, trust me. If we do what they do, often we've worked much harder to get where we are... not because we're less able, but because we have more on our plate, and more b.s. obstacles.

Women are also held to a higher standard than men on a lot of things and more is expected of us and fewere rewards are given. After feminism we are expected to be perfect at all things, beauty and homemaking included. The movement forgot to mention that it's impossible to be all things and be perfect at them. Men aren't. What man do you know worries about a full time job, keeping house, looking good, spending time with the kids... you get me? Even if he does all that, he doesn't have to do it to perfection like we do. What father is judged the way a mother is when it comes to care and time spent with the kids? What single guy lets himself feel bad about himself when his house gets messy? He just says "I have far more important things to do than clean. I'll just get it in order before the company comes." Does he let it get to his ego? No. Should we? No, but we do. We are less than a woman if our house, hair, and clothes aren't right aren't we?

So I'm not saying let the B.S. get you down. I'm saying, there are things we achieve everyday that we take for granted and we need to give ourselves credit. No one else will. No man is gonna do that, and I know a lot of us are clear on that. Most of us are just regular folk, with out cheering audiences, so we have to be our own cheer leaders.

Damn, I give myself credit for getting out of bed and going to work each day. Maybe that's not much, but in my condition, it's more than I've done in the past... so I know it's something... but there's more to it... Not letting the negative noise in is hard, so if you can do what you do for your own reasons, that's an accomplishment right there. Maybe changing the root of one's own motivator helps.

For me, I'm struggling right now with getting back into the exercise thing. I want energy, to feel good. But I was obsessed with it when I was younger, addicted, wanted to be perfect and worked out for hours EVERY DAY. That's crazy. I want to know that I'm doing it for the right reasons and not get delusional about it again. It's hard. I don't want to go near that gym for what it brings back to me. It's a struggle for me. Even with all this talk. Intellectually I know the body image thing is crap, I hate those plastic images, I'm super concious on how the Gwen Stefanis of this world messed with my head as a young girl... but still... it's hard to exorcise that crap. So I've got to be extra concious of what is motivating me. Don't let some crazy ideal of unacheivable, shallow and worthless perfection prevent me from doing something that could benefit me for much more valuable reasons.
It ain't easy. But when I do it, I'll do it for me and not what people think of me, and I'm gonna give myself a lot of gold stars.

Well, you know the cliche, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I take that to heart. We are not victims, but we gotta give ourselves credit for the extra strength that we have, that we earned. It's only fair.

-ella

July 21, 2008
1:56 pm
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Hepburn-

That thing about "the moment" has so much truth in it. Sounds simple but is so important.

After September 11th I remember thinking about that stuff a lot because of where I live. Also, reading about other things- Katrina, the Tsunami... or anything where people are just going about their day and life is changed forever, or worse.

Gives you pause to think... how much of my thoughts today were unkind to myself... I wish there was a simple way to change gears. For now all I do is immerse myself in activities I think will distract me or make me or someone else feel good. I'm re-learning how not to do destructive things. Sometimes I get stuck though.

What do you all do when things get dark? What do people do to shift gears when you are stuck in a rut?

-e

July 21, 2008
3:37 pm
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alicenwonderland
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Mz,

I wallowed in a sea of darkness for almost 10 years and then was about to drown when I found recovery. I can't even begin to tell you how far I have come, but the dark tendencies are still there. There are days I too lack motivation to do things that I know are good for me. Exercise is a hard one for me too...I work 9 hours a day and drive an hour to and from work in each direction so my days are a minimum of 11 hours. Add in my time getting ready for work and it's 12. I also live alone which means the house, the yard, and the other tasks are all mine to handle. It can be a tad overwhelming at times. I have been on the "weight loss" road for about 9 months now and have managed to lose 43 pounds. I still have about 18 to go to hit goal. One of my big exercise motivators is that I deserve it. I read somewhere that good health is the best gift that one can ever give themselves and aren't we all worth amazing things. I think of my exercise time as my daily gift to me. It really helped for me to bend my old reality of seeing exercise as a chore and shape it into a privilage. I spend a few minutes before I begin thinking about all the people in the world who would give anything to be able to exercise. It really helps me to put things in the proper perspective.

Redefining our reality is a wonderful tool for helping to motivate us in a positive direction. As codies, we often distort that reality to think we do not deserve good things. We put everyone's needs before our own. Part of my recovery has been learning to put me on level playing ground with everyone else and giving myself no less than I would give to someone else.

Mind over matter keeps me from sinking back into the abyss...

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