Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day Seventeen of Twenty: Serendipity

In a recent comment, Karen recommended a book, The Gift Of Imperfection by Dr. Brene (I don't know how to do that fancy accent thingy) Brown. Within a day or so, Dr. Brown's name popped up again. So this time I took notice and a little action. I found a TEDtalk she gave on YouTube (and I actually thought I'd put it as a favorite link, but I guess not) and found that her work really resonates with me right now. Especially her work on connections, vulnerability and shame. The word connection has also popped up several times as I look to setting my intentions for the coming year. I think I'm honing in on this. Check out the good doctor's website at I can't wait to get the book that Karen recommended. Actually, I can and will wait until after the holidays. I'll want to savor it.

Last night was our final Christmas outing before the actual holiday. We didn't end up going to the actual ICE exhibit, we just toured the fabulous hotel it was in, instead. Way to save $75 dollars. Even so, it was beautiful evening. We then went up and down Main Street in Grapevine, which is all decked out in Christmas cheer. It is beautiful. All in all, I think everyone, including myself, has enjoyed this activity. I don't feel bad about forgoing the ICE exhibit. There's always next year.

I do, however, need to check myself a bit. Dealing with the family dysfunction, including my own, is certainly difficult. It is also insidious. Cunning. Baffling. Just when I thought I was doing the right things, I had some more insight into it this morning. I'm in the midst of a relapse - well, perhaps more of a slip than a relapse. And the thing is, this feels so familiar to me that I didn't recognize it coming on. It is a slippery slope.

ETA: This is me slipping back into my The Duchess of Largesse role.

1. While I have enjoyed the holiday outings, if I dig really deep, I am still hoping for some change. I am not accepting. I am hoping that if I show them that a holiday can be fun without the gift orgy that maybe things will change. I am trying to control. I am still trying to change others. I need to detach a bit. The only thing I can change is me.

2. I am not allowing others to feel the full impact of the consequences of their actions - to perhaps see the true level of unhealthy behaviors that permeate the entire family. Because I feel guilty that my family would have no place to go on Christmas as the rest of the family is in the midst of a multi-month blow-up, that has played a (small) part in my Christmas plans. By trying to mitigate, I am trying to control. This one is minor and it's turning out okay, but I need to always remember and realize - she/they are choosing to stay in their addictions/illnesses -my mother with her compulsive spending/resulting money issues/hoarding and my sister in her (and mine) codependent/X-anon relationships. They could, in fact, choose to host a holiday party of their own and invite me. People have parties all the time. People invite other people into their homes. But I am up in this, trying to make sure that no one feels bad. Change comes at the rate of pain.

3. When told of her plans to buy a small freezer to take over to the other house, I offered an opinion that it didn't make sense, financial or otherwise, they didn't have the space, that it wouldn't be at all useful to have a freezer ten miles away. Are these things true? Yes, I believe they are. Is it my place to say something? I don't think so. No one asked for my opinion.

4. I have to get really real and honest with myself over the kitchen repairs. I still don't have any satisfaction from the insurance company, but I am going to go ahead and go with the very reputable firm and get this finished. It's been four months and getting out from under it is worth something to me in financial and emotional terms. What I've also realized (again) and (again) and (again) is that I need to let go of any notion that a "new kitchen" will change anything. It will not. The new kitchen will soon look like the old one. I cannot fix this problem with new Formica. I need to get real and deep with my thoughts and motivations. I need to better manage my expectations on this one.

Detaching, with love, is a fine line for me to walk. And I will slip from time to time. Slipping back into old patterns and old behaviors. Showing love and compassion without fixing and enabling and then resenting it is a new skill that I am slowly learning. Keeping that balance by first doing no harm.


Day Seventeen Tasks

Plan your entertainment. Plan your free time. Work on those relationship lists. Work on them with your partner. Share your lists. Listen and encourage them to make lists and compare.

Write everything down. Daily.

1. Take a bath or shower. Wear cologne, perfume, deodorant, floss and brush your teeth. Shave. Do nails, eyebrows, ears.

2. Bed made. Sheets washed. You deserve clean bedding.

3. Continue your daily list non productive activities.

4. Take photos every day. Look how people light up when you give them copies for their desks or mantels.

5. Friend List

6. Continue the thank you notes as needed.

Continue to print copies and put in a folder.

7. Continue writing down and memorizing the names of new people.

8. Keep your house in order.

9. Continue keeping receipts. It makes you acutely aware of where your money goes.

10. Continue finding ways to like everyone.

Again, it makes no difference to them. Only to you.

11. Put $1.25 in cash in a glass on your bedstand.


Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Acknowledge your true motivations.



  1. "First, Do No Harm" is a great way to go about life.

  2. Interesting this control thing. I struggle with it constantly. It's one of the things I'm working on diligently now. I cannot change "X" person or situation, I can only change me.

  3. Thanks for the shout-out...and yes, Dr. Brown's book is definitely one to savor. My husband is reading it now. I will be rereading it when he's done. It's that good.

    And it's funny, because she writes about how our culture has become one of "shame and blame" instead of doing the harder work of "allowing others to feel the full impact of the consequences of their actions" as you so eloquently put it.

    And yeah, I am working on the same issue...trying to figure out my need to fix it and make it all better for certain people in my life. But it's not mine to fix. I recently put that on my bulletin board. It's not mine to fix. But I can still love.

  4. Change does come at the rate of pain. I am grateful that my tolerance for pain isn't as high as it used to be. Great post and insights.

    My daughter does the gift orgy thing too. It used to drive me crazy. This year it doesn't seem to bother me so much. Maybe I have changed alittle. I can't control her any more than you can control your mother and sister. Thanks for the reminder.

    Peace of mind and getting it over with is worth the extra money. I think you're absolutley right. If you can afford it, do it.

  5. I haven't commented for sooo long because of my weird angst, but I just wanted to say how much I admire your determination to change the things you don't like about yourself. I'm struggling with it too, mainly because it is seductively easy to just pretend that I'm already perfect ;-)

  6. Roxie- New to your blog. Check in on Helen's comments today, I made referred to you in my comment.

  7. I think that letting people hit their own bottom and deal with the consequences is so hard, particularly when you love them and know how to help them. The relinquishing control part is so, so hard - I am like that myself.

    On a side note - a bike trainer will fit any type of bike. You just use the axle they provide. Tire width is of no consequence.

  8. A great post. Where to start? The willingness to dig deep and unmask your own motivations really resonated with me. Better to focus more on myself and less on trying to control others (even if I didn't believe that was my intention). Sometimes the lessons of 'Change comes at the rate of pain' and 'First, do no harm' need to be relearned over and over again. I am NOT a fan of folks who comment and then include one of their own posts, but I am going to break my own rule here. When I found these 5 little words, they rocked my world. It's something I subconsciously try to do but seeing them in writing (from Carolyn Hax) was like a lightening bolt. Resist Anger and Summon Compassion.


We'll try this for a while.