Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Painful Emotions are Actually Useful

For a lot of my adult life I just wanted all my emotions to just go away.  I kind of wanted happy to stay but was willing to give it up to get rid of the others.  I had no problem with going through life being numb.  I felt like I had had enough painful emotions to last a lifetime and I was just finished with the whole thing.

In recovery I learned that emotions were given to us humans as tools to keep us safe.  I had no idea!  I thought I was just being tortured for no reason.  "No," my mentors said, "If you broke your leg and had no pain, you would keep walking and do yourself damage.  The pain alerts you that you are injured and need to take action to take care of yourself."

The same thing is true of painful emotions.  Of course, the usefulness of those emotions depends on my ability to determine exactly what causes them so that I can take the appropriate action to take care of myself.   That was the hard part.  I had to have a lot of help with that because I had spent so much of my life blaming what was going on outside me for my painful emotions.  I learned that the pain was really about what I told myself.
When I was angry I noticed that I thought someone had deliberately done something to hurt me.  Sometimes that was probably not true.  It was a good idea to talk to a mentor to help me sort out when I needed to protect myself from someone and when I needed to just let it go.

When I was afraid, I also learned to talk to a mentor to sort out whether I was entertaining a real or imagined fear.  It turned out that most of my fears were about the future and that the problem was that I had a habit of believing I could predict the future and my predictions were always about disaster.  So...I learned to do today the next right things and let the future take care of itself.  Fear was useful in that I could use it for motivation to take action when action was needed.

Grief and sadness - unavoidable - a natural reaction to losing people I loved.  The price we pay for love.  But when I let go of anger about it, or beliefs that I could have somehow prevented the loss, I was just left with the sadness of missing the person and learning to live without that person.  Something that every human being must learn to do.  So...we can have compassion for each other.

I started out in recovery feeling guilty about everything.  My mentors taught me to sort that out too.  We started with harm I had done other people - guilt alerted me to the need to amend my behavior and do what I could to right the wrongs I had done.  When I had violated my values, I also felt guilty so I learned to examine my values, and commit to living up to them with the help of God. 

I was going to make mistakes, my mentors told me.  They also said, that a daily review would help me remember to stay on track, but that I was not to carry guilt for my mistakes for the rest of my life.  Instead I was to try to do better the next day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Keeping the Spark

Since people in recovery talk to each other about problems a lot, I've heard a lot from wives who are sick of their husbands demanding sex.  I have to laugh because my last husband never even came close to having to do that.

From what I hear, a lot of husbands think their wives are supposed to provide sex when they want them too, and they get mad if that doesn't happen.  I guess they just don't know what my husband knew.

Us girls are wired differently.  We aren't turned on by seeing you naked.  We might be turned on by help with the housework, sweet words of love, and hugs without a push toward sex. 

This might take a lot of time before we're in the mood - especially if you've been acting like we owed you sex on demand.  We're going to have to get over that.  At first we're going to think you're just trying to manipulate us into sex.  (which you are, of course.)

Speaking of time-- I don't mean a few hours.  It might be a few weeks.  Even then you're going to have to pretend you're in the back seat of the Chevy and you know it's going to take awhile for us to give in.  In fact maybe several make out sessions.

When we finally do give in, it had better be after a very long make out session.  And if you haven't yet learned how to make sex worth our while, you'd better study up on it.  And you better not roll over and snore.

Since my dear husband knew all this, there was never a problem.  He made sure I was always happy.  Best way to go, guys!

Monday, June 09, 2014

Why I Usually Don't Believe in Advice

When I'm quiet and listen to people talk around me in public settings, it surprises me how much of their conversation is either complaining or advice-giving.  I've come to believe that neither are actually very helpful in making life better.

Complaining doesn't solve problems.  Focusing on stuff I don't like and then complaining about it is a big waste of time.  I might get a little bit of satisfaction from being self-righteous, but nothing gets better as a result.  Plus my mind just runs in a negative groove which never makes me feel happy.  Acceptance has brought me so much more peace.

Advice-giving is not only a waste but even can be dangerous.  I have lots of opinions, but unless they're based on my life experience or on my education and training, they're just my ego flapping it's lips.  I'm just judging and then telling someone else what to do.  I could be extremely wrong.  If anyone listened to me, did what I said, and got horrible results...well, enough said.

Of course, I learned to complain and give advice from childhood.  I think everybody does.  Of course, those of us who consider ourselves intelligent (isn't that practically everybody?), think our opinions are the exact truth.  What an illusion we're all living in!  No wonder there are so many unsolved problems in our world.  I actually have no idea how things are supposed to be because I'm not God.  I actually have no idea what somebody else should do because I've not lived their life nor had their experiences. 

What can be helpful for me is to say the Serenity Prayer and really give thought to what I can change and what I can't.  If it seems after prayer that I can change something and it would be helpful, I can do it.  That's a big difference from complaining. 

If someone is struggling with a problem that I have experience with solving, education and training about, or I've researched solutions, I can share what options they might have for solving the problem - if they want my input.  If they haven't asked, well...why would I open my mouth?

Of course, this means that I pretty much ignore other people's complaining and advice.  I try to remember to change the subject or just let the advice go if I think it's well-intentioned.  (If I asked for input, it's from someone who has similar life experience or training.) 

I do wonder sometimes if it would be more helpful if I said what I think, but usually I don't.  I would probably say something that might hurt feelings.  I used to say something like, "I'm not open to advice from anyone who hasn't had my life experiences."  But that seemed kind of harsh so I stopped.  Of course, I was irritated and really wanted to say, "Oh honey, you are so full of shit.  You have no idea what you are talking about.  You are just sharing your judgmental thinking and that's inappropriate even if you are well-intentioned."  Very harsh. 

I think I should add that there are some things that probably apply to just about everything.  I saw something on TV once that was meant to be funny but was also truthful.  A guy was sitting in his recliner with his iphone.  He said, "Siri, tell me something wise."  Siri replied, "Always be kind, eat your vegetables and get plenty of sleep."

It's so much more peaceful inside my head when I'm not looking around for what someone else is doing that I judge as wrong, or complaining about stuff I don't like.  I can have fun, listen to music, read interesting books, hang out with friends, walk in the woods, take a nap, etc. instead.

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