Inner Strength

It’s that time of year when thoughts go to Christmas decorations coming down, resolutions for the new year come to mind, what your “word of the year” or theme will be be. Reflection. Changes. Decluttering. Reorganizing. (And you know how I love to declutter!)

But this year, as I was contemplating all of this, I had a slightly different take on it. Yes, I still want most of the crap in my basement gone. I’ll be working on that slowly this winter. Yes, I want to lose more weight, gain more muscle, and get Linda Hamilton arms. Yes, I want to find my inner zen more easily in times in difficulty or stress. Find my breath.

I want to also let go. I want to let go of things that weigh me down, both physically and mentally. I want to start each day with a positive intention and carry it through my day, no matter what is thrown at me. I’m not trying to be unrealistic. Everyone has a bad day. Or two. Or 10. But I want to find a way, if I can, to not get bogged down with stress, or misfortune, or just general unhappiness. I want to look at it in a different way.

What can I do to change it? Make it better? Because that is all that is my power. I can’t change someone else or their situation. I can fix me. I can fix my outlook. I can change my reaction. I can change what comes out of my mouth (which has got me in trouble more than a little!) and I can certainly change my perception.

So what weighs us down? A bad relationship that you know is not serving you and your interests anymore? Are you staying for the wrong reasons with a friend, a spouse, a lover? Are you spending more time bitching about this person instead of finding ways to improve it? Can you admit your part in it to help you find closure? That’s a tough one! It’s so much easier to place all the blame on the other person, but does that really help you feel better when you close your eyes at night?

Finding out what you need, what you really truly need, and then making that happen is what you can control. And what a wonderful feeling. Sometimes, the only thing you can control is your own breath. The world feels like it’s falling apart all around you and the only thing you can do for those first few moments is breathe. My yogi tells us to listen to our breath. Listen to it. Control it. Slow it. Regain your footing. When you feel you’re on solid ground, then start over. But you’ll have a harder time regaining your own footing when you’re relying on someone else for that. Trying to hold on to the broken friendship, the crumbled marriage, the relationship you thought was going somewhere turned out in the light of morning to not be what you hoped it would be. What then? Do you blame the friend, the spouse, for their failure in making you happy?

The guilt that comes with letting go of those relationships can be overwhelming too. We try and try and try to make it work. We don’t want to give up on years of that friendship. Or think we should stay in a marriage for the kids. Don’t we lose ourselves in that process? I’ve spoken before about the great loss I went through losing a friend of decades and how I didn’t know how to cope, how to deal and move forward. It seriously was harder than my divorce. More tears were shed, more sleepless nights, more self doubt and constant questioning shouting in my head. I couldn’t make her take me back. I couldn’t make her want me in her life. I couldn’t make her see how completely devastated I was. But through all that, I learned how to find myself that I had lost.

This year, this year is about finding my inner strength. Mind, body and spirit. I’m going to push myself to do things I never would have thought to try. I’m going to do things I always wanted to do but was afraid to. (Maybe time for my tattoo on my shoulder??) I’m going to allow myself to be a bit selfish. To think of what I want, what I need, and making it happen. I’m going find my inner zen. It’s going to be a challenge, and it’s going to stretch me out of my comfort zone as a people pleaser and a habitual “fixer”. And I’m thankful for 2014 teaching me that I can’t fix anyone but me. And what a waste of time it has been to try.



Alcoholism, nerves and yoga

One of the side effects of living with an alcoholic is having nerves of steel. Well, maybe not steel. Maybe more like wet noodles. Not so steel-like. I think when you have lived with this disease for a long period of time, it somehow leeches onto the family that surrounds it. Not that I have become an alcoholic, but it affects my life in myriad ways.

Some of the feelings that come up with having been almost conditioned to it remain, even after the alcoholic is in recovery. Some fears and shadows remain, below the surface, just waiting to spring up into your life. To take you right back to where you were and said you would never be again. (See how that sounds just the alcoholic himself?)

Last night I was just about to go crazy. And it was all me. My brain thinking, my hands shaking, my stomach sick. All of my own doing.

He said he was leaving work, on his way home. It was 4:15. Woo Hoo! Coming home early, we could do some yard work that the rain of the weekend prevented us from doing. Then I could go to yoga. Perfect!

He wasn’t home at 5. That’s ok. Traffic coming from downtown to the suburbs can be bad some nights.

He wasn’t home at 5:30. Wow. Over an hour seems a bit long. Don’t panic. But don’t call. Don’t let him know you’re worried. Just relax.

He wasn’t home at 6. Ok. I’m calling. This is crazy. I call. No answer. I text. No reply. OMG! I call again. No answer. Why isn’t he answering???? It’s been almost 2 hours since he told me he was leaving! What is happening??

Full force panic has now set in. I’m sick to my stomach. I’m imagining him on the side of the road, crumpled, waiting for an ambulance to make its way through rush hour grid lock. I’m imagining him in cuffs in the backseat of police car after getting another DUI. I’m imagining his phone going off on the front seat of the police car and he knows its me calling.

I’ve broken into a sweat and my entire body is literally trembling.

He walked in the door at 6:09. I literally burst into to tears as I collided with him in the hallway, hugging him, crying, squishing him in a monster hug.

He has no idea what’s even going on. He’s alarmed. Why is she crying? Did something happen to Ryan? Rob? Her parents? He pushed me back and searched my face for a clue. He doesn’t know what to do or say to make me stop crying.

So after I explained my completely irrational thinking and behavior, thanking God that he was home, he tells me he was on the phone on his way home. He didn’t leave the office until 4:50 after getting pulled into a meeting. He stopped for gas. He thinks his phone is on the Do Not Disturb setting which he uses frequently at work because he is on so many conference calls that he can’t have his phone beeping. My calls didn’t beep through. My texts were received but no notification signal.

He apologizes profusely. He’s so sorry. He didn’t mean to scare me or worry me. And most of all….he’s SOBER. He wasn’t trying to pull a fast one where he was drinking but oh-I-didn’t-hear-my-phone-ring BS. He was truly sorry for causing me to worry to the point of tears.

So I tried using my yoga breath (the suggestion of my dear sweet friend!) and tried to calm my shaking. He tells me about the phone call and the weird but potentially good news from his office. He’s made quite a name for himself and I’m very proud of what he has achieved in his company.

In through the nose. Out through the nose.

I changed and went to yoga (which of course in my doomsday thought process, I figured I would have to miss since I would be down at the police station and/or hospital) and tried to channel my fears and calm my mind. Find that stillness that is sometimes so elusive to me. I just need to trust, relax, let go, and breathe. All the things my yoga instructor teaches me every class. Find a way to put them into practice in the middle of a manufactured crisis in my head.

In through the nose. Out through the nose…..

Yoga Warrior Pose 2