Thursday, February 15, 2018

Emotional Check-Ins

Few things have helped me (and my husband) more in our recovery from addiction and betrayal trauma than emotional check-ins. This is a simple and powerful practice that helps foster connection with self and others.

I first learned how to do a check-in in LifeStar Therapy. Everyone is pretty sick when they first show up there so they started out easy by showing us a page of emojis to chose from. All we had to do was point to the face that best described how we were feeling. As easy as that sounds, it took some practice. Many addicts have shut off their emotions to sleep at night and their loved one's have shut off their emotions to keep breathing.

After trying many different check-in's, I decided that none of them had all the elements that I loved so I created my own. It is attached to the acronym C. H. E. C. K.- I. N.. If you have any questions, just reach out to me in the comments.

Emotionally connecting with self and partner

Clean living date: (What is the sobriety date? For the loved one, how is my serenity today?)
How have I worked recovery today? (Step work, exercise, scriptures, service, talking to sponsor....)
Emotions: (How do I feel today?)
Compliments: (Share the positives I see in my partner.)
Knots or Kinks in self: (What is my own junk to own and work on?)

I need .... (What do I need?)
Newsworthy blessings: (Principles learned, a Hand of God moment that day.)

Happy connecting,

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
 -Psalms 27:14

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Connecting the Dots--Recovery from Betrayal Trauma

On Sunday I sat behind a red-headed 15 year old at church and he was doing a dot to dot puzzle like none other. It probably had at least 1,000 dots. It looked like chaos. It looked like fun.

I wanted to reach my arm over the bench with my pen and connect a few dots. By the end of sacrament meeting a picture was forming.

I thought about how this was like my life at times; chaos. I thought about how what works best for me is just continuing doing the next right thing.....and then the next right thing. The beautiful picture is there but I can't always see it. God can see it though. I just need to have faith that something good is going to come of the mess.

The next day I decided to listen to President Uchtdorf's talk​. He had spoken to the youth of the church in a devotional from Temple Square in Salt Lake City on the previous Saturday. 

In the devotional President Uchtdorf said:

".....when we look at our lives in the frame of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can begin to see how the various dots in our lives interconnect. We may not be able to see the entire picture just yet, but we’ll see enough to trust that there is a beautiful, grand design. And as we strive to trust God and follow His Son, Jesus Christ, one day we will see the finished product, and we will know that the very hand of God was directing and guiding our steps.

We will know that the Master Artist had a plan for those random dots all along."

"Don’t get overwhelmed by the many large, difficult tasks of life. If you commit to doing the “easy” things—the “small” things God asks you to do—and you do them as perfectly as you can, big things will follow.

Some of these “small and easy” things you could do perfectly are daily prayer, studying the scriptures, living the Word of Wisdom, attending church, praying with real intent, and paying tithes and offerings.

Do these things even when you don’t want to. These “sacrifices” may appear to be small, but they are important, for “sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven.”

"In a sense, your “small and simple” sacrifices are the dots of daily living that make up the masterpiece painting of your life. You may not see how the dots connect now, and you don’t need to yet. Simply have faith enough for the moment you are living in now. Trust in God, and “out of small things [will come] that which is great."

"Your work is to make the best decisions you can based on the information available to you, grounded in the values and principles of the gospel. Then strive with all your might to succeed in the things you undertake—and be faithful.

Do that, and the dots will connect.

Perhaps it’s disappointing to hear that God won’t necessarily give you a detailed itinerary for your life’s journey. But do you really want direction in every detail of your life?

Do you really want someone giving you the cheat codes to life before you have a chance to figure things out for yourself? What kind of adventure would that be?"

"You may not see it until much later, but you will look back and know that the Lord did indeed direct and guide your path.

The dots did connect."

"On that future day, you will look back on this cherished and exciting adventure of mortality, and you will understand. You will see that the dots really did connect into a beautiful pattern, more sublime than you ever could have imagined. With unspeakable gratitude, you will see that God Himself, in His abounding love, grace, and compassion, was always there watching over you, blessing you, and guiding your steps as you walked toward Him." 

After reading his talk, I decided to go to the toy store and buy myself some dot to dot books. The kind with 1,000+ dots. Now I have them by my scriptures and I connect a few dots everyday. It's fun. It's self-care. It gives me hope.

Here is an on-line dot to dot for you. Just for fun. Start on number one and hold your mouse button down as you connect the dots one at a time till you get back to one again.

Remember, life is simple. All you need to do, is the next right thing or just sit down on your dot and do self-care.

Love, Daisy
"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." -Hebrews 12:11

Friday, April 7, 2017

Resentment Poisening

One day on my way to the grocery store, I saw a banner that had been unrolled and attached to a bluff for all shoppers and drivers to read. It said, "Shame on the city for raising taxes on the water."  The next week there was another bitter banner with a similar comment. A few weeks later there were 3 banners attached to the bluff with hateful statements towards the city. On that day, I saw what looked like a troll scrambling around on the bluff affixing the banners. His body was bent and his face was snarled and twisted right up to the point of his nose. The poison of resentment had affected his whole body.

I know what it feels like to be self-inflicting this same poison. 

For a long time I felt like I had a black tar-ball in my chest right where my heart was supposed to be located. I couldn't put a name to it. It felt warm at times and like an empty black hole at other times. I could feel it growing like mold under the basement carpet. I didn't know what it was until an angry family member told me that I was "full of resentment". As much as it hurt to hear this, on that day I learned the name of my tar-ball.

We've all heard the saying "Living with resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other guy to get sick." For me, resentment is like a purple poisonous pus that is created in my brain and it pulses through my veins infecting my heart, slowly deadening it against giving and receiving love and feeling happiness. I replay a hurtful event in my head and attach pain to it. Then I replay the new more painful memory of the old hurtful event and I attach even more pain to it and on and on it spins. It continues to grow like green cotton candy in a cotton candy making machine.

I think naming the resentment is one of the first steps to healing from it and realizing that it mostly does damage to me motivates me to let go of it too.

In the AA big book it has a cure for resentment:
"If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free  If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free.  Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don't really want it for them, and your prayers are only words and you don't mean it, go ahead and do it anyway.  Do it every day for two weeks and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love." 

I have a 17 year old daughter who is smart, beautiful and talented but about 3 1/2 years ago she closed down. She now works very hard to show the world that she doesn't care about anything. For a year she wanted dreadlocks, she doesn't bathe often enough, or do homework and she spends a lot of money to buy clothes that look like they were run over with the lawn mower.

One day I decided that I was going to accept her for who she was and accept that she was doing the best that she could. I wasn't going to allow that purple poisonous puss to deaden my heart towards her. I believe that resentment can't be hidden; it can be felt on a molecular level and when the person who is being resented feels the resentment, it feels like hate. Which is no surprise because hatred is the foundation of resentment.

On the day that I decided to stop feeling resentment towards my daughter, I was tested. First thing that happened was that I got a phone call from the school that said that she was absent during 3rd period. 2nd thing that happened was that she didn't ride the bus home after school. She was supposed to come straight home because her grades were bad. At that point I started feeling resentment seeping in so I went to my bedroom and prayed and work through it.

Then she texted and said that she was at a friend's home. I told her that she couldn't stay because of her grades and that she needed to walk home because she missed her ride opportunity.---I was accepting her but I wasn't willing to rescue her.

She came home and listened to rap music and watched some videos on YouTube that I didn't like.

I continued to accept and feel love toward her.

4 hours later, 5 miracles happened.

1) I came upstairs with a load of laundry in my arms and she smiled at me. I hadn't seen that smile for a long time.
2) The rap music evolved into Disney music.
3) She asked if we could go on a family trip over spring break.
4) She grabbed bath supplies and took an hour long bath.
5) and at prayer-time she skipped her memorized prayer and asked God to watch over her missionary brother and to help us all to be happy.

We can't change anyone but when we change ourselves, miracles happen. I wish I could say that I have not had any resentment in my heart since that day--I have to work at it. 

I don't need the people around me to be perfect for me to be happy. I can be perfectly happy with imperfect neighbors, friends and family. I know that when they feel accepted AS IS and loved by me, they usually accept and love me back--It is easier to grow in the warm bright sunshine then in the cold dark night. Even God sends down sunshine on us all--sinners and saints alike.

 "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." --Matt. 5:44,45