Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Emotional Rollercoaster

So, you all saw yesterday's posts. A real nightmare of resentment and bitterness. I disdain those words, frankly, because I used to be in control of my emotions, now I feel like a ping pong ball.

Last night I got some peace after I went for a run and posted my last post.

I woke up this morning at 5:30AM, a little late, and after a small cup of coffee decided to go to the coffee house down the road to get out and study my Leadership books that I bought from Amazon.com. One is really interesting, it is called "Leader on the Couch." Written by a famous professor at Instead in France. Short story here, is that it talks about leaders and their internal thoughts and where they come from, and the behaviors of leaders in business and how the behaviors today are a product of the past, how people interpret the events around them and how their dominant emotions and belief affect their actions and communication styles.

All of this said, it is almost directly related to the Al-Anon literature to some degree. Except the book and this scholar is not dealing with alcoholism. Which is, an unpredictable variable, thrown in the mix of some predictability, creating havoc. Then, with our frustration, mine very evident yesterday, causing more havoc and leading to chaos.

So, things are in normal mode. Reading. Drinking coffee. It's 7:30AM. Then the phone call from my daughter. "Mommy is being mean." OK, under almost every single circumstance, I used to brush this off as a child's pitting mom vs dad thing. I used to get these calls before. But now I am much more, "vigilant" or "observing." So, I ask my wife what is happening. Wife says, "She is being sassy." I say, "What has she done?" Spouse says, "She won't turn off the TV." I say, "Why is she watching TV?" We made a rule, no TV before school. Wife was sitting daughter down in front of the TV every morning as a baby sitter. I stopped that because I noticed daughter became more lethargic/tired. This was BEFORE I knew there was a problem with alcohol abuse.

So, I asked, "What else?" Spouse says, "I took away her computer privileges, and cell phone (I bought daughter a cell phone, because sometimes mommy would not answer hers or wife would forget to pick daughter up from school - I was really against buying daughter a cell phone but had to due to circumstances). Wife continued, "Because she said to me, 'I am afraid that you will be drunk when you pick me up from school this afternoon.'"

I said to wife, "You can't take phone and computer away because of a fear or concern she has." With that the conversation ended by wife handing the phone to daughter. Daughter says, "Daddy please come home."

I go home. I try to reason with wife. I take daughter to school. Daughter says, "When are you and mommy getting a divorce? And get this over with?" I am sitting there in car pool line, not knowing what to say to a 10 year old.

I come back try to reason with wife. She is a 17 year old in an adult body. I say this to her. I shouldn't have. Wife corrects me, "I am about 20 now." Am I hearing this crazy conversation? We say a few more things. I was trying to be compassionate when I said, "I do feel sorry for you. You didn't ask for this. But we have to try to figure out how not to get our daughter in the middle." This is crazy for me to talk this way to my wife. I expect another adult to be there. I am missing a key ingredient in the family. I realize we are all sick. No adult wife. I have a young girl's brain in an adult body. And an adult trying to break out and trying to be an adult, but doesn't know what that looks like or how to behave like one.

I call my sponsor. We talk for an hour. He tells me a lot. My sponsor is a very wise man. He tells me just enough so I don't confuse myself. He says, "Step one. List out all the things you are powerless over that is impacting you. All of them. Then on the flip side of the paper, list out how they are making your life unmanageable. Don't think or write in terms of solutions. Just do this."

His listening to me has a calming affect on me. I think he needed my phone call too. His advice to me, was something he needed to hear for himself too. I sense this. He is a good man. He gives me something else. He says,
"Think of you and the alcoholic in the ocean. You both are drowning. You know if you have ever tried to save someone from drowning you can't unless you're a lifeguard. But you know they'll drown you too. So imagine this, and then the choppy waters. Imagine a lighthouse off on the shore. All you can do is swim toward that lighthouse. You have to save yourself and hope that the alcoholic will follow."

Smart man. I am swimming.

Now, therapist (remember I hate that word - so coach/counselor/mentor) calls up. She just got a cancellation we talk for one second. I grab the hour slot. I rush to the meeting/therapy session. We have a real meaningful session. I tell her my 90% and my 10%. This is where I am and where I am going. She does a "chair therapy" session during the last 5 minutes. I talk about the 10% and the 90%. Interesting what I revealed to myself.

I am such a nightmare. I have so much swirling around in my brain. I am hostage to my own thoughts. I need an outside intervention. And I get one. Two. Three today (Sponsor, Therapist, Al-Anon Meeting).

I am swimming toward the lighthouse.

I work Step one at 5PM. I will work it hard. I got to an Al-Anon Meeting with Men tonight.

Last note. EVERYONE's thoughts were excellent yesterday and I CANNOT EXPRESS MY APPRECIATION enough. Every one of you - I owe you. IF I could take everyone to dinner I would. No drinking though (said in fun but in truth).

See you all later


nanceelee said...

It's hard for me to find words. "Hang in there, work the program" can sound very lame at times. Lame only because of the outside influences that put you in protection mode and that can blow many of the rules of 12 step away.

I did want you to know that once again I read what you write and process yourself, as it helps me. And I do care about your situation, even when words are hard to find.

I'm glad you embrace the support you have going on today.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what you share reminds me of the insanity I used to live in everyday. It also shows me how far I've come. My sponser always said to me you will know when you know and not a moment sooner.
Do your footwork, knowledge is power. Sometimes we see the light but are paralyzed to move towards it. I had to really meditate on what I was so afraid of, I wrote and wrote and wrote. I heard this once: God will not take you to what he will not get you through.

PS. Your child is very intuitive.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had found Alanon during the time I was in the middle of the biggest nightmare of my life. It wouldn't have changed the outcome, but it would have worked wonders for my well being.

I took my power back, before I even knew what that was, how ironic!

I can't fix her..... Is it my mission in life to struggle with that battle?

Whom am I battling with, her, alcohol, or both?

I found myself battling with me!

She had the remote that controlled the entire battlefield, in her drinking, sober states, and selfish processes. She had her finger on the buttons, and that button controlled all of my buttons. Looking back, I think she actually enjoyed the whole thing, how screwed up is that?

I took the batteries out of the remote..... No more power there.

It turned the grey scale into black and white for me, I could see it as it truly was, and it was the best for both of us to go our seperate way.

I can't fix her... I can only work on fixing myself, and I thank God for the premise of Alanon, as it works as my daily "repair manual".

Peace this Tuesday.


Syd said...

Joe, I read a lot of pain in your writing. I never had a child involved but know that my attempts at trying to change or control the alcoholic were useless. It was me who went crazy and the alcoholic was just a drunk who got crazier when I pushed all the buttons. I didn't understand until I worked the steps in Al-Anon. Glad that you are starting to acknowledge your powerlessness over her.

Anonymous said...

How strange, I have been listening to this song online (pandora radio) that is called "Lighthouse". I've liked it for no particular reason, but now I really like it because it will remind me of what you've written, and how I need to keep swimming toward the lighthouse.