The Recovery Group

A Personal Recovery




5-14

Hi all,

It's been a while since my last update. I've had some interesting things happen to me. I've suffered through an horrendous toothache (gum infection) the likes of which brought me to tears and sobbing, so intense was the pain. For 2 weeks I endured hoping it would get better, but it only got worse, and when finally I went to the doctor for some antibiotic and pain pills it took another 8 days before any real relief came... my dentist gave me an additional course of antibiotic just to make sure we got all the infection this time, as this is the third time he has treated this, so hopefully this will do it... if not, I think there will have to be some other solutions looked at.

The intensity of the pain affected all areas of my life, inability to sustain any thinking, less ability to deal with normal life irritations, but throughout it, I did not consider food as a comfort, and actually because of it ate less than normal because it was just such an ordeal... so, who's to say this was necessarily a bad thing huh?

What brought me to writing this morning was something else however, I have been thinking about changes, and expectations.

My wife is on holiday this week, so she will be under foot, messing up my schedule, interfering with my and my child's daily rituals, and in general getting on my nerves more than usual. How's that for expectations? LOL

When she is not working we go for our walks as a family together, and because of the heat here in Florida, we have been getting up earlier and earlier to try and beat it, sunup is about 6:30 and I like to get out by 7am. So far I've only made it once, but that's another story... This morning, I awakened at 6:30 just like I'd planned, (I don't use an alarm clock, just my internal clock) and my wife and daughter's alarms began going off at 6:45, I went to awaken each one, open the blinds and say hello... I then got ready and left, still hearing the alarms going off as the snooze time ran out... :-) I and my dog took off, then began the thoughts about the lack of discipline, attributing most of my daughters shortcomings to her mother, but not getting angry about it, just accepting that that is the way she is, and there is really nothing I can do about it. THAT is a change from my past.

I have always been the one with the sharp biting comment, always with a smile, but I could be very mean. Constantly making fun of her shortcomings over the years, never passing up an opportunity to get in my zinger. It was a couple of years ago my behavior began to really bother me, as I saw how really hurtful it was to her, and even though she was "used to it" and sorta laughed also, I came to realize that doing that was slowly eroding her self-esteem, not that she had much to begin with as her family was the same way and her mom endured the same kinds of .... abuse... there's really no other word for it, and that hurt me to think that I had continued and added to it over the more than 25 years of marriage to her. I began to be aware of how often this behavior manifested itself in me, and I began to acknowledge and make my amends to her when I would say something hurtful in this smiling, sarcastic way. At first she was surprised and hadn't even realized that what I had said was meant to be hurtful, it was just "normal" to her... but I continued to say I was sorry anyway when it happened.

I have not been able to completely let go of this, but the incidents have lessened significantly. I have much anger and resentments stored up and though I am learning to deal with them better, I have a ways to go yet.

(back to the walk) Before I had walked a half a mile this morning, my daughter caught up with me... I was so proud of her for coming out anyway.. I was sure she would just roll over and go back to sleep since I had left and wasn't going to press her to come out with me. I really swelled with pride, but then started to wonder, Should I say anything? What should I say? How should I say it? How can I say it without her thinking I'm being snotty about it? so I just said, "I'm really proud of you for coming out anyway." and I could see her eyes brighten and she smiled and said, "I told you I wanted to come." and that was it... I felt I handled it well, she had accepted the compliment, and I had done it without any underlying emotion except the joy I was feeling at having her with me.

Her mom caught up to us a little ways down the road, and the walk continued... when we got back to our house we sat in the gazebo and were watching the birds, and chatting, and then I felt I should also say something to my wife, so I told her that I was impressed that they had come out anyway, and her response was, "What, you didn't expect us to come out?" I thought, well, that was kind of defensive, I said, "no, not really", then I was silent for a minute, then I just smiled at her and said, "Thank You", indicating that it would have been the response to a compliment, and she said, "you could have just not said anything", and I responded, "yes, I thought about it, but I wanted you to know I was really impressed that you came out anyway." Her defensiveness melted just a tad, and we continued to talk of things, our daughter between us... the conversation went to household organization and she was talking about "putting things back", and about my work room and that she could never remember where things went exactly, the pegboard is full of tools and if there was more than one space available she just couldn't remember what went where... and I decided to join in the admissions department here and said, "yeah, I know how that is, I have the same challenge with the kitchen stuff"... to which she promptly started (what I considered) attacking my stupidity as she went through the layout of the kitchen and where stuff went and how logical it was and how she just couldn't understand why I couldn't remember where things went. oh well, I didn't feel compelled to join in the "discussion" (that's new) and defend myself, or to attack her to change the focus, I simply endured and let her go on. The subject changed and we continued with our morning, I came in to shower and get ready for my day, she's out doing yard work, and I'm here typing the happenings to help deal with our family idiosyncrasies. :-)

Acceptance of the way things are, realizing those things I can change, which is really only "one thing".... and that's "how I react to those things that happen to me".

It is certainly different for me to not get angry at being attacked, and not wish to retaliate, but to try and understand where her head is at and why she feels the need to point out "my" shortcomings. [payback is a pain huh? :-)]

I feel that much of our conflicts are simply the differences in the thinking of the male and female of our species... learning to tolerate and understand one another is a lifetime trip.. and maybe we don't even have to take that tact, (to try to understand), maybe we can just accept the way we are and concentrate on those things we do have in common..

In my past life, this (now) seemly small event would have had me eating to alleviate the hurt feelings that are now a source of wonder to me, not to be feared but to be "felt", to be experienced.

My thoughts also were about "change", I had attempted to really alter my behavior, to give a true heartfelt compliment, but the response was as if I were still being the "old me".... the resistance brought on by years of predictable behavior, and now not knowing for sure what the underlying intentions might be, the response was still one of self-preservation, defensiveness. When change happens, it takes a while to have people accept that it wasn't just a fluke, to really accept that we have, in fact, changed. I actually have no resentments about this now, because the goal of my behavior is not to curry favor, but, to be a better partner, a better father, a better human. There is no other motive, not to "get" something, not to have people think well of me, no other reason than to be "better".

I love this program, it is teaching me how to "live", not merely survive.. At first survival was the goal, from where I came from that was enough of a challenge, but now, my goals have grown a bit, and isn't that something to take joy in? I think so!!

Stay Strong!

love and hugs,
me

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