>AA

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I’d be surprised (and would stand corrected) if there was a family who didn’t have a member or relative struggling with alcoholism. It’s something so universal, so tangible, so real. There are families who are torn apart by it, and there are families who rally around one another and get through it. Mine is a little bit of both. I think I’ve mentioned to you before that my family as a unit struggles with addiction. All kinds of addiction. And I am no exception. Bulimia is just as serious as being a drug addict, as being an alcoholic or a shopaholic or a Starbucks addict or someone who struggles with gambling. It’s just a part of life. We are all broken in some way.

Last year as I approached my breaking point that same friend who coached me through the super hard beginnings of recovery took me to an AA meeting. Alcoholics Anonymous. I thought it was a ridiculous idea. “I am not an alcoholic”, I thought to myself. I didn’t think I would have anything to gain, anything to learn, anything to contribute. But I was so wrong.

The meeting I attended was held inside a little old church that smelled like…um, a little old church. We sat at a table. Said a prayer type thingy that I mouthed the words to and pretended to know because I was embarrassed and kind of felt left out that I didn’t know it. I was uncomfortable and nervous and vowed that I would keep my mouth shut. I can’t tell you what we discussed that August afternoon but I can share with you what I learned.

Like I said, at first I didn’t know why I was there. My friend told me we were going (and that I didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter) because she wanted me to know that everyone struggles, that a lot of people are addicted to things and that a lot of people have family members who are alcoholics. Fair enough. So when I got there I thought I was gonna kick up my feet and take a backseat and get to listen to everyone else’s problems.

That’s not what happened.

Within minutes of starting my heart started pounding, like when you’re in class and you know the answer to the question your teacher is asking and you really don’t want to be the one to stick your neck out and answer but you know you’ll probably have to. That’s how I felt. Some people were crying. Some were fanning themselves with brochures. Everyone was vulnerable. Everyone. Before I knew it I was out on a limb. I was talking. I was talking fast and there was a lump in my throat and I didn’t know where my words were taking me or why. All I knew was that I was in a safe place. So I opened up.
And I learned in my time there at AA that I was an addict. I was recovering from bulimia, yes, but there was a deeper addiction that I never saw before. It was the addiction to being needed.
Heather Nova has a song called London Rain that strikes a chord with me whenever I hear it. The second verse starts out by saying this:

When somebody knows you well,
Well there’s no comfort like that.
And when somebody needs you,
Well there’s no drug like that.

I learned at that AA meeting in August of 2009 that Heather Nova was really onto something there. Being needed is my drug.
Does that even make sense to you?
I realized it a few times over this last year as I put myself aside and started making crazy plans with people because they needed someone to help them pick out a dress or study for an exam or stay up with their newborn for night feedings or babysit for the weekend so they could go on holidays and so on and so forth. And don’t get me wrong here. Being a good friend and helping out is a beautiful thing. But I realized after having this epiphany at AA that I was not really doing it to be just plain old nice. I was doing it because I want people to like me, to need me, to depend on me. Is that because I am a girl or is it something I was born with or is it something I learned? I have no idea. But I DO know that I have a tendency to spread myself too thin. Then I start to resent being needed so I shut down. Then people find other ways to get help and I feel rejected and sad. What a pickle…
I’m trying to nip this one in the bud and build a fence around it because I don’t want this pattern to be a part of my relationship with Brian. I have seen a few times now how it could be a real problem and it’s not pretty. I am learning to trust him and I am learning to be okay with time spent apart, that it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want me or need me. Whew…that was hard for me to say. It’s a tough one.
As always, the learning curve continues and this girl is trying hard to go with the flow.
So while I may not be an alcoholic, I can appreciate a good struggle and I think recovery is one of the most beautiful things about this world and about God. There is so much hope for all of us to be whole and to be functional and to be real and to be broken all at the same time. We’re all in this together.
Sometimes when I am wandering the aisles of Michaels or Walmart looking for a crafty little project to work on, I come across a cross-stitch pattern with a prayer. I never gave it much thought. To my surprise, when the AA meeting came to a close that August afternoon everyone held hands and as a group they prayed,
“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,

courage to change the things we can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”


Well, this seems to be a good time to say a collective “Amen”, which means, “So be it”.
Amen?
~C~
To learn more about Alcoholics Anonymous click here.
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>When You Believe

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I went on my very first date when I was about 12 years old. My “boyfriend” of approximately 6 hours took me to see the Prince of Egypt at the local theatre in White Rock where we grew up. I don’t remember too much about the date except that we had to cross the street after the movie to Tim Hortons where we would get picked up by his dad, and I was wondering the whole time if he would hold my hand or not. For the record, he didn’t. Ahh…the dynamics of pre-teen relationships. : )

It was the one and only time I watched that movie, and while I am vaguely familiar with the bible story, I still can’t say I know what it’s all about. But other than crossing the street after the movie, one thing I do remember quite well was that song that Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey sang called When You Believe. It’s about miracles. And this post is not. Well, not directly at least. Actually maybe in a way it is, I guess.

I’ll get on with it.

Do you have a hard time believing people who say nice things about you? Do you believe you are totally and completely worthy of love? Of acceptance? Of happiness? Of joy? Of wealth? If you’re anything like me, moments where you truly, deeply believe those things are few and far between. And I just can’t figure out why.

be·lieve
[bihleev]
lieved, –liev·ing.
–verb (used without object)

1. to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so:
Only if one believes in something can one act purposefully.

My coworker was reading the beginning of this as I was writing, and I asked her why she thought we have such a hard time with this subject, and she gave me a kick-ass answer. One I wasn’t expecting to write about. She said that believing the good stuff about yourself is hard because our expectations of ourselves are so high that we rarely meet them and therefore can’t understand when people see good, pure things about us. Wow. Can I get an ‘amen’?

I’ve touched on this topic many times during the course of this blog, the subject of expectations. And it’s always the same outcome: I don’t know about you, but my expectations of myself are far too high. And it’s not like I necessarily want to lower them, but I want them to be more realistic. I want to believe that I am doing a good job in life and in love, and I want to believe that I am beautiful.

Let me repeat myself…

I. WANT. to. BELIEVE. that. I. am. BEAUTIFUL.
Walking out of work the past few days into the beautiful crisp sunshine has been amazing. Don’t you agree? The cloudless, endless blue sky, and the colourful crunchy leaves and the down vests from The Gap are all enough to make me smile like a crazy person…but the sun. Oh the sun. I want to just pause and soak it in. I want to bask in it. I want to capture it, those rays of warmth and light and hope. I want to feel it resting gently on my back always and always and always.
The sun is real. We can feel it. We can see it. We can even almost touch it. We believe it.
That is how I want to feel about the beauty that is within me. I want to feel it. I want to see it. I want to believe it and I want to bask in it, soak it in, just like we soak in Mr. Sun. When people say nice things about me I don’t want to make that face anymore; that mock-humble “nah” face where I act like I am embarrassed because what they said is true but I actually am embarrassed because I believe it isn’t. That’s horrible. It’s not cool.
So even though I said this post wasn’t going to be about miracles, I think I am changing my mind a little bit. Because the miracle would be for me, for US, to start BELIEVING that we ARE worthy of love, totally and completely, and we ARE beautiful and we should be soaking that in every single day.
Believe your parents when they tell you they are proud of you. Believe your boss when he or she tells you that you are doing good work. Believe your friends when they say that you can lean on them. Believe your boyfriend when he tells you that you are beautiful. Believe your teacher when he or she tells you that you are clever. Believe your little brothers and sisters when they tell you that you are their hero. And most importantly, believe in God because he says that he loves you. And that is a promise.
Time for me to sign off here. I have talked enough for one day. I have no answers that go along with this post. No cure or medication or ideas on how to start believing in these truths. But I know that it is time to try. Time to start now. I’ll keep you posted and you keep me posted, too, okay?
~C~

>Le Jour de l’action de Grâce

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Some things I am thankful for this blustery Thanksgiving weekend…



ma famille



le garçon


mes amis





Afrique






ma santé




But above ALL else, I am the most thankful for…



l’amour



In Every Form


In Every Capacity

In Every Way

Forever…


Nothing but love, baby.
Happy 2010 Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends and my friends from around the world.
~C~

>Crash and Burn

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When you feel all alone
and the world has turned its back on you
Give me a moment please
to tame your wild, wild heart.
.
I know you feel like the walls are closing in on you
You’re caught in a one-way street
with the monsters in your head
.
When hopes and dreams are far away
and you feel like you can’t face the day
.
Let me be the one you call
If you jump I’ll break your fall
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night
.
If you need to fall apart
I can mend a broken heart
If you need to crash then crash and burn
and you’re not alone


(oh, Savage Garden…)

There is a universal truth behind this song…people don’t want to be alone. Well, at least I don’t want to be alone. But the funny thing is, up until I met Brian I thought I really did want to be alone. I’m not good at asking for or accepting help. I am pretty independent when it comes to life and I enjoy my own company.

Of course there were those moments where the &*!$ would hit the fan and I’d be desperate for someone to gather this broken girl in their arms and rock me till everything felt right again. I am human, after all.

And then there were those seasons of insecurity where I defined myself by how many people I had in my life…or at least by how many people I felt close to. I held people from arms length and yet worked my butt off at the same time to fulfill as many coffee dates as humanly possible in any given week. It was insane there for awhile, for a few years at least. I had no concept of boundaries. At all. The more people I saw, the more I gave of myself, only all the while I was totally denying myself the joy of receiving from them as well. I felt like I had to always be the strong one; the rock, the counselor, the guardian.

You can all guess what came next, right?

After years of living this lifestyle in both Canada as well as Kenya and South Africa, I finally began to understand the concept of what it felt like to crash and burn. And crash and burn I did. Many a’ time. Over and over. I felt empty a lot. Like I was depleted somehow. Sometimes I still do. Because I am still learning how to have equal, balanced friendships and relationships. I am still learning to lean on others.

Throughout those years my best friends were amazing. They gave back to me and they gave me no choice about that. When I was stubborn and didn’t want a Christmas present they bought me one anyways. When I would shut down and refuse to tell them my problems, they would hold my hand until my resolve melted away. When I cried, they were right there beside me offering me kleenex and good advice and a shoulder to lean on. Maybe a part of me struggled to receive this kind of love because I thought I wasn’t worthy of it. Maybe I thought I didn’t deserve it.

When I hear this song it makes me a little teary. It’s linked to some memories, both painful and joyful, and it reminds me every time that we are not meant to go this road alone. We are built for community and relationships. None of us are immune to hard times, and at some point or another, we are all going to crash and burn.

My challenge in the coming weeks and months and years is going to be knowing where to direct my needs. I fear that now that I am in a relationship all my needs will be projected onto this man, and while he is amazing there is only so much he can do. I need to remember that I have best friends out there who want to support me. I have a family to turn to. I have a loving God who knows my every fear and hope. This all falls back on the balance issue; learning when to give and when to take, when to listen and when to open up.

It’s amazing knowing that when I crash and burn, there are people there that will catch me. You all know who you are and I want to thank you for being that friend to me.

Let me be the one you call
If you jump I’ll break your fall
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night
If you need to fall apart
I can mend a broken heart
If you need to crash then crash and burn
and you’re not alone.
You. Are. NOT. Alone.
~C~