Blog Archives

You Are In Integrity

“You are in integrity when the life you live is an authentic expression of who you are.” — Alan Cohen

 

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Setting Healthy Boundaries

“No one else can set your boundaries for you.” — Lois J.

Let me start out by saying that I am not an expert at setting boundaries. The setting of healthy boundaries has proven to be my single most challenge I face in my personal growth work. That being said, what I am going to share in this blog is what I have learned to be true about the setting of boundaries, and what I strive to integrate into my daily life.

I have learned that one way to create boundaries with people is to show priorities in our relationships. In the past, I believe that out of my loneliness and neediness, I may have talked to anyone, whether the person wanted to listen or not. In the mixed up world of my uncontrolled bi-polar disorder, I often withheld my true feelings from people close to me, but perhaps spilled them to someone outside my inner circle, say such as my new “best friend” the cashier at Fry’s.

As I now grow in self-esteem, my relationships improve and I act to meet my needs. Then I have a better sense of who everyone is in my life. I make choices in my relationships and take responsibility for them. I learn to bear the pain of boundaries that aren’t respected and enjoy the serenity of those that are.

I no longer need to give myself away in bits and pieces; I know now what it is to feel whole. I can simultaneously have acquaintances, friends, and intimate relationships, both sexual and nonsexual, in my life. I can trust that I will act appropriately and that my boundaries will keep me safe.

I know that there are some people in my life that will doubt the validity of my commitment to this level of understanding of boundaries. But I am a work in progress and this is truly the knowledge that I have gained.


Gemini ~ Naturally Bipolar and Anxious

 

I am bipolar and within the last year or so, have begun to experience severe anxiety and panic. In late December I had meltdown of incredible proportions. The extreme anxiety disorder is new for me; haunting me for a little more than a year now. Anxiety so strong, and triggered by the actions of my partner. For several years, he has promulgated a new behavior, “Babe, I’m just running up to the 7 Eleven to get some cigarettes; I’ll be back in twenty-five minutes.” As he walks out the door I always say, “Take your cell phone with you,” which he already has in hand.

That promised “twenty-five minutes” turns out to be days that he is away from home, not answering his cell phone or even calling. I refer to it as my partner “going missing.” My reaction begins with worry. Then I may happen upon something on the computer exposing the person he would be meeting and what they would be doing. A friend of mine has a husband who has nearly same behavior. She calls this type a “player” explaining that these types of men want to still run the streets, cheat on their partners or spouses. The “player” behavior is incongruent with the committed relationship my partner and I have. This friend’s advice to me was to be proud that it is me he eventually comes home to, giving me parts of himself his hookups never see. To this I say, “bullshit.”

Player my ass. My worry then turns to anger. I can’t sleep. I start calling my partner’s phone over and over. He calls it “psycho dialing.” The anger then turns to tears. I cry as I wander through the house, “What did I do wrong? I didn’t do anything wrong.” My speech becomes so slurred and difficult to understand that it has been described as though I had a stroke. Lately, I noticed a pain in my chest along with a rapid and what I describe as “fluttering” heart. Irritability for me is a sign that I am swinging toward the maniacal part of bipolar. Then deep depression, laced with that wicked anxiety and panic. I began taking a prescribed anti-anxiety medication called Ativan. I was eating it like candy.

This most recent December meltdown grew so out of control I felt as though the only way to be free of it would come through ending my life. I have been in this cold place before and placed a call to the behavioral health crisis line associated with my health insurance. I was referred to the Maricopa County Hospital. There I was checked out and cleared medically and it was suggested I sign myself in to St. Luke’s Behavioral Health. I’ve been there before too. St. Luke’s worked for me before. Back in 2005 I nearly ended my life with a mantra in my head, “I hate my life, I hate my life.” After two months they helped me see the world differently and I left there with a new mantra, “I love my life, I love my life!” I felt safe returning there.

I worked hard over the next three weeks, finding that each time I told my story, I felt more at ease and could see the flaws in my relationship. I realize the degree of my co-dependency and made a commitment to attend CODA (a twelve step group for co-dependents). I was placed under the care of the psychiatrist who followed me last admission. He wanted to take my treatment further than I agreed to last time. In my first admission, he suggested ECT (Electro Convulsive Treatment.) I refused it then because of the loss of one’s short-term memory as a side effect of the treatment. But this time felt different to me and I agreed to begin the treatment.

Hello World!

My first blog on Blogger! I am so excited to be able to share my blogs with a whole new audience. I’ve been blogging for almost two years now on my 360 page on Yahoo! as well as to an even larger audience on WordPress.com (http://christophersmark/wordpress.com). My experience blogging has been very positive. I started blogging on Yahoo! after my partner, Christopher created my 360 page as a surprise to me. He did all the initial “setting up” of the page, and added as much of his own creativity as he possibly could. I had been telling him for months how intrigued I was by the concept of blogging. I’ve always been a conscientious one to journal on a daily basis. For my journal, I must have the most luxurious of bound papers and I treat myself to the most expensive pen I can afford. Journaling to me, is a release. It’s a way for me to look back on feelings, experiences and emotions. It’s a valuable way for me to review the lessons I’ve learned, and a chance to discern what I could have done differently in a given situation. When I journal, I write as though no one will ever see those pages but me. Honesty comes forth easily.

Honesty has become a theme in my life. I haven’t always been a person of integrity or honesty. It’s taken me a long time and its been a very difficult journey to get to the point where I am today. My blogs are all about honesty. My honesty. The lessons I am learning in this life, the fears I face, about my willingness for greater spirituality in my life, about my addiction to methamphetamines, my experience with mental illness and much more. There are individuals who may read this and find the level of honesty to which I subscribe well, unbelievable! Unfortunately, I have either run out of chances with them to prove myself, or they are unwilling to let go of the resentments they hold on to so tightly. To them, I shall always be “guilty until proven innocent”. I know the commitment I make each and every day when I first get out of bed; I commit to being rigorously honest in this new day, honest in every thought, word and action. I realize of course that I am human and prone to error, but by making this simple promise each and every day, I have grown into making honesty a habit and part of the under girding of my life.

The sharing of my honesty and my path of personal growth began on Yahoo! I quickly began making “friends” around the globe, all of whom were sharing such valuable feedback regarding my blogs. Eventually, I realized that I was nearing 700 “hits” per day on my 360 page! I yearn for ways to be more creative with my blogs and take my writing more seriously. I began taking a look at my options, and none seemed better than WordPress and now Blogger. Blogging has helped me grow in my writing, as I have even stretched a bit through my first attempts at writing poetry and short stories. Through WordPress and Blogger I have an even greater audience, still from around the world, and still offering that valuable feedback. I look forward to building a following of readers who are perhaps on the same path as I am, or maybe considering making changes in their life. I don’t set out to change anyone with my blogs, but rather show myself for who I really am. I’m no different than you…

I’m Standing At The Edge of a Cliff

I‘m standing at the edge of a cliff. That damn tape keeps playing in my head. It’s the old one. The one that makes eveIything look black and confusing. I look around and nothing, no place feels like home. It all feels cold and impersonal, and not mine. Everyone around me seems fake and superficial and carrying out a life’s plan just for their own gain. But that tape that’s playing, “I hate my life, I hate my life, I hate my life…”I feel like a ghost moving through the thick tide of a life that was once lived. A life that was normal, with things, people and events I took for granted. All of which is gone to me. I strive to create a normal pattern or flow to my life, only to have it subdued by the life I live now. A life that isn’t real. That feels good for only a moment, and then leaves me feeling guilty and paranoid. Sleep doesn’t come to me. I get stuck on one thought or one task. I realize that responsibilities are not met. I don’t even know what day of the week it is. I can’t recall when the last real meal was that I ate, and I can tell I’m dehydrated.

And I’m still feeling unfulfilled, lost, alone and afraid. I look around me and see disarray and disorganized projects. I unleash my anger toward my partner, placing all the blame on him. All I want is a normal life. I want the life I used to have, but gave up. I was so dumb. I beat myself up in my mind, over and over again. I want to feel joy. I want to laugh the way I used to laugh. I want to take care of my pets, and my home, and my partner the way I used to.

I’m sick. There’s always something wrong with me. I feel as though death could transition me at any time. So why do I persist? There are people, normal people that love me. They care for me, and will never accept this life for me. Yet I make every attempt to disguise my real life, hopefully making them think that I walk with them in the land of normalcy. But the bizarre thing is, they can see that I walk through their world differently than they do. They know. But only I can go back to the world I should be in. It’s all up to me. And until I have that insatiable desire to return, my attempts will be futile. But how much longer do I have? I’m all ready two years into a two to four year death sentence. So much I allowed to slip away. I had it all. Once. And just look at me now. No. Don’t look at me. I’m too ashamed.