October 25, 2009 - 5:08 PM
There really isn't enough of me to go around. This is funny to think about because life has been relatively low in stress and I am finding myself about 3 weeks ahead in school. I have to stop and remember that getting sick a couple weeks ago was instrumental in my ability to get ahead in my school work. I also have Mondays to do homework. My Mondays are brilliant! It just so happened to work in my schedule that I don't have any classes, internship, or meetings. Brian however, does have classes and internship so he's not around to distract me. He also has the car so I have no chance to escape the house if I decide there are more interesting things to do than homework. But what makes Monday's the best for homework is the fact Shaelene has school and then goes to an afterschool program and isn't home until almost 6:00. This gives me the entire day without having to be distracted by a husband and a little girl.
It's when they are home that I am having problems having enough of me to go around. This is especially true with Shaelene. Since I am Shae's step-mom there is a whole set of challenges that come with a need for me to be very present and continue to develop that relationship with her that is 5 years younger than Brian's. And I am happy to say that Shae and I do have a very good relationship. She is the best daughter I ever could have asked for, but she unfortunately carries around a lot of drama and weight that no little girl should be responsible to hold. This burden is solely the product of life events and the choices certain family members made without asking or considering the effect they would have on her. Shae has been living with Brian and me full time for almost two full years now and we are left to help her process and learn how to communicate and express her emotions in a healthy way.
This is a full time job in itself and it is hard to see her have to struggle with pain beyond her years and understanding. This has been even more difficult lately as we have transitioned into a new routine where Shae gets to have more contact with her Mom. Shae's Mom is a neat person, however she doesn't live close and the distance breaks my little girl's heart. But the good news is Shae does get to see her more, the bad news is I don't know how to help Shae best when the more frequent visits are bringing up floods of emotions that can't ever fully settle and give Shae any rest. The results of this have come out in weird attitudes and issues that aren't like Shae. So I have had to transform into Supermom the second she is home and I am not able to put all of the energy and focus into this that I want to. I really love school but it will be nice to have the homework and all of the extra time consuming activities gone so I can focus more time and energy into a little girl who desperately needs a Mommy. Don't get me wrong, I do pour myself into being Shae's Mom. I feel this is an honor and I take it very seriously. I don't know if I'll ever feel I am doing enough, but it would be nice to have more creative energy to spend on her.
Oh, and just to close on a completely different note, I relapsed on an apple cider doughnut this weekend. I will have to go in to class on Friday and tell my classmates what happened. I had never seen an apple cider doughnut before and while I just took enough to try a taste, I did technically eat sugar. It wasn't good of me but it tasted so good!
October 25, 2009 - 4:46 PM
This past Wednesday I had the huge honor of eating dinner with Richard Lariviere, President of the University of Oregon, along with his wife and about 50 other students who received a Diversity Building Scholarship (DBS). The heart of this scholarship focuses on individuals who excel academically, represent a unique slice of the University's student body, and who routinely give back to either the campus or the community. This was the first year any president in the history of the DBS has offered to hold the annual banquet at their house. It was very flattering to have been awarded this scholarship, but even more so to be invited to have dinner with the president.
I was very impressed when I met Mr. Lariviere. I can't say I'd spent much time imagining what the U of O's president would be like, but I'm sure if I'd tried to imagine him I would have underestimated him. He was a very kind and generous man and he took the time to introduce himself to every student and ask us questions about our experience at the U of O. But more than what I got to know of Mr. Lariviere by my brief conversation with him was what I learned by listening to him speak and hearing what others had to say about him. I consider the U of O blessed to have a president who takes such a genuine investment in the students and who offers such generosity. In his speaking, he shared his excitement for the students and charged us to go on from the University and change the world. This may seem like a tacky or programmed message for a scholarship banquet, however, it was the heart of how these words were said that showed a piece of Mr. Lariveire's character. All of those who knew the University's president more closely spoke with enthusiasm about him and there was a constant excited murmur throughout the house about the amazing things that were being instituted on campus and in the community as the result of Mr. Lariviere's presidency.
It was also very exciting to meet some of the other students who received a DBS. I am horrible with names and don't think I could recall their names if I saw them on campus, but I know I would recognize them. Everyone I met seemed to be a remarkable person. They were all so motivated and so passionate about their areas of study. I found it kind of strange to be counted among these individuals I met. It was quite a lot of fun to meet other students who aren't a part of my cohort. I hope to see some of my new friends around on campus and if I can get a copy of some of the pictures taken at the banquet, I will be sure to post them for you all to see.
October 18, 2009 - 8:42 PM
This is the third day of my sugar "detox" for my addictions class and I am hanging in there. I have always known that I want to snack on sweets more in the evening and evenings have been more difficult than the rest of my days. I think this is so for two reasons; first, I am so used to running around busy all day that I don't know what to do with down time and fill it with food, and two, I have a relationship with sugar and use it as a sedative in the way someone else might use alcohol. It's a very easy way to get my body to relax at the end of the day and get ready for snuggling up for the night. I don't like the effects of this though and am glad that I have this opportunity to refocus myself on my goals for a healthy life style. I am sure I will quickly find healthier ways to unwind, but until then the evenings are feeling a bit void. Especially tonight; my family went to a birthday party for one of our friend's sons. Of course the menu held the promise of multiple decadent goodies that I couldn't indulge in. But you know, it felt really good to not have the soda, cake, ice cream, and sweet yams and was hit with the realization with just how much sugar I was eating. Before this project started, I'm sure by the end of the night I would have had a bit of every one of those sugary treats and would have been glazed over.
It was really helpful that I was able to hold a cute baby boy at the party. I love babies and have spent the past year in baby envy, but envy is lately giving away to hope and joy at the realization I only have 8 more months until graduation. With only 8 months left, this means that I can get pregnant at any time and not have to worry about juggling a baby with classes and internships. I get so excited when I think about this and I guess you could say my husband and I are officially "trying" to get pregnant now. I'm finding myself getting distracted when I'm trying to do homework looking at baby names online and doodling pictures of myself with a big pregnant belly. I daydream about waddling up and down the stairs at my house and trying to manage driving when I have to sit so close to the steering wheel with my short legs! I can't say for sure, but I bet I'll be one of those cute pregnant women who LOVES being pregnant. I think it is an easy way to tell you've got baby-fever when the thought of having morning sickness is exciting. Here's hoping I can experience this and all of the other joys of pregnancy sooner rather than later.
I've also been thinking more about EMDR training. I am really struggling with the thought of spending so much money on a training that I can't be positive I will love or use on a regular basis. This is especially true now that I am determined to see my family grow. I can't help but think if I spend 5 grand on a trauma training that I might forfeit my ability to pay for diapers, a crib, and baby clothes here in the next year. My husband Brian is not as convinced as I am to not pursue the training. He knows one of the two therapists in Eugene that is certified and uses EMDR in their practice. He doesn't want me to make a final decision before I've had a chance to speak with her and hear more about using EMDR. I know he is right but I have a hard time waiting on this. I just want to know one way or another and free up some head space because God knows there is a shortage! Well, I guess I will just have to wait longer before I decide what to do. Now that I think about it, I will probably read a book or two on EMDR also to make sure I want to make such a huge investment.
Well, I guess EMDR, a desperate desire to be pregnant, and the sugar assignment are the major additions to my thought life lately. Life is pretty unchanged from my daily routine in other areas. My classes are going well and I am somehow managing to get farther and farther ahead of where I need to be. I don't quite know how I am managing to do this, but I am so grateful for it because my stress level is so low as a result. The lack of stress makes it so much easer for me to enjoy classes. I am getting to be with my family and have scheduled in time to exercise. And with that, I guess all I can say is life is good.
October 16, 2009 - 2:53 PM
Just as a quick update to my last blog, as of 9:00 am this morning I have officially started my sugar detox and am embarking on my 28 day journey in sugar recovery. At 8:55 I was eating my last bite of a giant chocolate chip cookie and sipping the last of my pumpkin spice latte. It is funny to think I put myself through the pain of too much sugar in my stomach when I have been sick this week and didn't enjoy it and when it is more sugar than I've eaten in one sitting in quite awhile. I did it just because I could and it served as a final rebellion before I gave up sugar. For those of you who are joining me, I hope you enjoyed your last indulgence in whatever you have chosen to give up and are now on your way to 24 hours "clean and sober" with me.
I have not had the best week. I started feeling sick on Monday, was informed I wasn't to come to class on Tuesday, to the clinic to see my clients on Wednesday, and not allowed to be at my off site internship on Thursday either. I understand everyone's caution with all of the nasty and scary sicknesses going around this fall. I can't say as though I would have wanted me around either, but I really missed being in my normal routine. I can only take so many days of being locked in the house wearing my husband's oversized sweat pants and t-shirts and eating whole wheat saltines and ginger ale before I start to go a little nutty. And I did start to lose it a bit. For example, I went into the bathroom to grab the thermometer two days ago. I walked in, reached up to grab it off the shelf, and put it in my mouth. I got a little tangled in the yards of extra fabric in one of my hubby's giant hoodies in the process. There I am, feverish and confused trying to untangle myself with a thermometer in my mouth when I hear a soft blup sound. Oh no, I thought! I looked down and my suspicions were right, as I shifted around in the hoodie, I twisted the pocket at just the right angle to have my cell phone slip gently into the toilet! I did what I needed to do and pulled it out, attempting to save it from a rather embarrassing death, but I was too late. Frustrated, I washed my hands about 10 times before I would touch the thermometer which was still in my mouth. I pulled apart the phone and waited to see what would happen the next day. That night when Brian came home I told him what happened and he just smiled and laughed. I love that about Brian. I never have to worry about his reactions because he is never harsh or upset by things like cell phones in toilets. Anyway, the next day Brian put the phone back together and I was shocked to find it worked perfectly fine! I doused the phone in Lysol and was happy to know that I wasn't going to have to run down to the store and buy a new phone in addition to all of the other havoc my tangled sick-day sweater dance created.
So I am happy to say I am finally back on track today. No more big sweaters and pajamas for me! I was able to go to class and am scheduled to see clients tonight. The only challenge is that my voice is completely gone from being sick. So tonight will be an experiment. I am not sure how I would react going to see my therapist and find that she couldn't talk. After all, isn't that what a therapist is supposed to do? Hmm, well I guess I won't know what kind of reactions I will get until I am in the room screaming in a whisper to be heard. The good news is it is a perfect opportunity for me to learn and I am so grateful to be back in the swing of things, I am just happy to know I can safely be present in the room with my clients.
October 11, 2009 - 7:35 PM
28 days. When an individual goes into inpatient treatment for an addiction it takes (on average) 28 days to complete. This means that a person walks into treatment and from that moment on they are to be abstinent from whatever their addiction may be for 28 consecutive days. This may seem like a simple task, but for those whose bodies and minds are dependant on their addiction this is very difficult.
I am taking a class this term looking at addictions and how the family system interacts with an individual's addiction. I am one of two students in the class who has experience working with addictions and while I do know some about addictions, I am by no means an expert. I am really looking forward to learning more from my professor on a systemic perspective rather than the traditional individual focus I am well acquainted with.
But I truthfully didn't recognize how much I do know and how much I have experienced until I was in class last Friday. My professor was describing one of the major assignments of the course; to be abstinent from something important to us that we feel dependent on for 28 days. I have done this before and for much longer periods of time for various reasons. Most commonly I have given up sugars, sweets, snacking, caffeine, and all carbohydrates besides whole grains, brown rice, and vegetables. I've learned a lot about myself and my own addictive-like behaviors around food through this process. But being so familiar with the process, I was not prepared for the reaction of my classmates. They were all noticeably agitated about having to give up something they enjoyed. There were so many arguments made and most of them centered on the need to function and the debate about timing (e.g. I want to give up sweets but Halloween is in a few weeks). I had to laugh to myself because this is exactly what someone goes through when they are looking at quitting an addiction. Since there is a dependence on a substance or thing (sex, food, exercise, gambling, drugs, alcohol etc. . .) they too need their substance to function. They also question timing in giving up their beloved habits. Isn't that just human nature though? We tend to look at people through and have a clear perception of who is and who isn't an addict. The truth is, most of us have things that aren't the best for us that we are dependent on in one way or another. For me, this is sugar.
But then I realized that I too was hesitant to do the assignment, but rather than having an argument of functioning, I debated internally because I had done this before. I felt that this made me exempt from having to go through with the assignment. But, as some other addicts can tell you, a period of abstinence does not always mean that the addiction is gone. I know mine is still active or else I wouldn't be reacting to letting it go for another month. I guess that I am human too despite my "knowledge" about addiction.
So starting this upcoming Friday, I will start my sugar-free life for a month. Other students in the class are giving up other food items, media, and a range of other things they feel dependent on. I will be very interested to see how we all grow in this process.
I propose the same challenge to you. If you are reading and want to join me then I invite you to explore your life, find what you feel you need to get through the day (Coffee maybe?) and give it up for 28 days. The harder it is for you to give up your "addiction" the more you will be able to learn about yourself and understand that experience of someone who is chemically dependent on their substance. This is a fun learning opportunity. I'll keep you updated on my progress and hope you enjoy your own 28 day journey.