Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Family

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

9th Step

The 9th step in 12-step programs is to make direct amends to all the people we’ve harmed, except when to do so would injure them or others. This doesn’t sound easy, and frequently it isn’t. One of the things that makes the 9th step difficult is that the people one needs to make amends to are often angry or difficult to approach. In this situation, talking to others who have experience with carrying out the 9th step can be invaluable. However, in dealing with particularly volatile or long-standing problems, especially with family members, additional help may be useful in easing the process. One way to get help is to use mediation.

Mediation was developed specifically to resolve interpersonal conflict. It involves a structured process in which each party tells their story, followed by a discussion of the issues each party raises. The goal of the mediator is not to judge or diagnose or treat, but rather to help the parties understand each other by engaging in open dialog, and if possible to forge a joint vision for their relationship in the future. The success rate of mediation in helping parties reach agreement is very high, and often in the process the magic of forgiveness and reconciliation are made possible.

In cases where the person or people who we need to make amends to are very angry or reluctant for other reasons to talk to us, mediators can also provide coaching as to how to approach them and how to communicate in a way that makes it easier for them to hear us.

As difficult and painful as carrying out the 9th step may be, it offers many benefits. One of the greatest benefits may be peace of mind. Making amends is a step that often allows us to breathe more easily and sleep more peacefully at night. This is especially so if making amends leads to forgiveness. Both giving and receiving forgiveness have been shown to benefit physical health as well as lightening anxiety and depression. Engaging in the process of making amends is truly a contribution to others as well as to ourselves.

Amends accepted

Sober Mama,

Thank you for your email and sincere message. I appreciate the energy you have taken to write me and I wish you continued healing and a prosperous life.

What's ridiculous, after all this time, is that I still feel quite emotional about the series of events that caused my move from the apartment, sadly, there are friends I never spoke to again and rehashing the events, which I've started and stopped attempting... is exhausting honestly. I'm sure after all this time I've forgotten much of the point anyway and share responsibility for how the events unfolded as much as I hate to admit that.

It seems appropriate to let things go especially as we enter middle age (dear god) and move on, perhaps this is nice closure.

You must know I've thought of you often over the years as I still have the mixed tape you made me, and I've considered downloading itunes to get the same mix on CD. Especially now that my dilapidated Volvo's tape radio system has been refurbished with a fancy CD player. A few years ago I even made a copy for my mother who also enjoys the compilation.

This email flows a little better now as it began rather cathartic. Funny how we hold on to events in our life as they are certainly lessons that we should learn from.

This is an interesting vehicle for reaching out to old friends and colleagues, I've been surprised now a couple of times seeing the faces of individuals I hadn't thought of in awhile.

Again, I appreciate your effort at reconciliation.

Be well, Friend

And my subsequent reply:

Dear Friend,

Thanks for your reply and for being receptive to my apology. I'm so sorry that your move from the apartment way back when resulted in a loss of friendships for you. I didn't know that. Loosing connections with people we care about is always painful, and I speak from experience around that. If you feel it would be helpful for you to go into greater detail around the events of the past, please know that is fine with me as I have little recall but would probably remember if reminded. It's amazing to me how much of my 20's seemed to be experienced in some kind of blackout.

I have had to learn to let go of resentments and things in the past that I don't have any control over. This includes many people and events that were toxic and painful. I have had in some situations to create my own closure, which has been challenging but the peace that it has brought to my life makes it worth the effort.

Wherever possible, though, I believe that closure is so healthy and is of genuine benefit to both parties. Again, I am sorry for hurting you and if I was a party in causing you to loose connection with some good friends, I am also very sorry for that.

I too have found FB to be interesting, I especially enjoy seeing the pictures of people I haven't seen in years. Most of us have married and have children, "real" jobs and lives, and generally seem to have grown up. Amazing that we all survived our childhoods and adolescence! I can't seem to bring myself to embrace the concept of "middle age" tho.

I'm glad you're still enjoying the mix that I made for you. I want you to know that you were a very special friend to me at a difficult and turbulent time in my life, and I also had a lot of fun with you. I remember you as being full of life and positive energy much of the time. Please give my best wishes to your mom, who I also remember with fondness. I have vivid memories of her pailla and that giant pan! Yummy!



Dear old friend with whom I have had no contact for many (15+) years,

I'm fairly certain that I owe you an apology, although to be honest I don't recall the exact details around why that is. But I can tell you that when you and I were friends, back in the early to mid 90's, I was in the process of becoming an alcoholic and addict. During that time, I made a lot of bad choices and I did a lot of things to a lot of people that were less than admirable. I am sure I behaved in a manipulative, self motivated way towards you and I need to take responsibility for that.

I have been in recovery and sober now for 9 years and have moved on with my life in a positive way. Please know that I am honestly sorry for my behavior and for any pain it might have caused you. I wish you nothing but the best that life has to offer and much happiness with your beautiful family.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Life in the time of transitions

"Transition" is defined as "a passage: the act of passing from one state or place to the next". I guess I'm constantly in a state of transition. I wish that I could push the pause button sometimes, so I can get slowly acclimated to the states a little bit at a time. Kind of like when you go swimming on a not too hot day, or the water is kind of colder than you expected, and you get in little by little. I guess plunging in is usually better since you're going to get wet anyway.

I went to a really good meeting last night. There was a woman there who has been sober for a number of years and she is in a lot of pain because her grown son is an active alcoholic and he can't get sober. He has just lost his sight and is now blind due to his disease. It is her deepest wish that he get sober and experience some joy before he dies. Her pain was tangible. She doesn't understand why she got sober and he can't.

Why do some of us find our way out of the madness of active addiction and others don't? I know this is an unanswerable question, better left up to others with more spiritual wisdom or insight than me. Practicing detachment around this is really hard, and the closer I am to a person who can't get sober the more painful it is to watch. I am grateful that no members of my immediate family (still living) are in this situation right now. My sister in law was but she has already died. Dying at age 41 from complications directly related to alcoholism. She tried to get sober and just couldn't get it. Watching my husband and his mother and brother go through that was horrible. Finding out about her death devastated us. What a waste of a life, of a vibrant spirit. I miss you JCB and I know you are watching over my children.