Moving forward from the 4th & 5th Steps

I have spent most of my adult life analyzing myself. The fourth, fifth and tenth steps, in my recovery program, at times, has been a double edged sword for me. I analyzed things to death. My sponsor used to say to me to stop analyzing and start utilizing.

Step 4 says that we make a “searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” My first attempts were full of self-loathing, self-pity and self-justification. In other words, I wrote out my inventory the way I thought about myself and my life, and I colored everything with my own negative attitude. I did not know how to do it any other way. I went into this process looking for the good guys and the bad guys. Somebody needed to be held accountable and somebody need to undo my hurt and make me feel better about myself and my life.

I thank God for the 5th Step – “Admit to God, to ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs, “ and I thank God for my sponsor. I know now why that fifth step is so critical after writing a fourth step. But, what is even more critical is the person that you share that inventory with. With the patient help of my sponsor I was able to strip off the veneer and write the honest facts without the embellishments.

My sponsor guided me to look at the facts. It was not easy being honest with myself. I could justify and rationalize everything that I said, and everything that I did, to the point where it made sense and seemed right to me. But that superficial honesty was a recipe for failure. It was only when I could face being honest with myself that real growth began to happen. I was very good at being the bad unloveable person, or the victim. It has taken me years to be objective about the hurts in my life. True, there were some people who hurt me on purpose, other times, the person never intended to hurt me at all. There were even some people did not even know they hurt me.

Examining the hurt was one thing, moving on from it was another whole ball game. You see, for years I had nursed and fed some of those hurts and kept them alive without realizing what I was doing. I had wallowed in self-pity or self-loathing for so long I did not know how to let them go. I allowed those hurts from my past to sabotage many opportunities for happiness in my life. I drug those hurts from my past around like a ball and chain and allowed them to distort how I felt about myself.

I used to put myself first by demanding that other people meet my needs and when they failed me it confirmed the insecurities I had about myself. One of the hardest things I have ever done was to put myself first in a healthy way. I had to shout down the negative voices in my head and decide for myself my own worthiness. Regardless of what someone else did or did not do, I am the person defines myself worth. People and circumstances may never be what I want them to be, or what I think they should be, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be happy anyway. I am the only person that can live my life.

I am a work in progress. This is the first time in my life that I have many charming delightful friends. In other words, it is the first time in my life that I have healthy relationships. When I look at my friendships today I can see progress. This has been a long and difficult process for me, because I have struggled with accepting friendship from “normal people.” I don’t feel the need to suck up or kiss up to them, the only thing I have to do is just be me and being me is good enough.

Time did not heal my wounds

The ingeniousness of the 12 Steps is mind blowing to me. Life is complicated. There is no way that I could have ever been able to navigate through the fragmented pieces of my life and come out whole without the help of the 12 Steps and my recovery programs. The 12 Steps are in a specific order for a specific reason – maximum results. I am not saying that there are not other alternatives to find healing and recovery because there are. But since this is my blog I am just sharing what worked for me.

I kept waiting for something or someone to saved me so that I would feel whole. But as long as I waited nothing changed. There is a saying that time heals our wounds and I am here to tell you, in my case, that was a lie. As long as I walked around wounded and miserable I stayed wounded and miserable. My resentments grew and I was hurt and angry. All of these emotions became distorted over time because I nursed and fed my hurts. My negative feelings grew to epic proportions.

The poison from those negative feelings spread over into how I felt about myself and how I looked at life. Trust was out the window. No way could I ever trust anyone to say or do what they told me they were going to do. And when they did follow through, I kept looking for an ulterior motive. I could never trust the real me to anyone so I “dressed the part” of how I wanted others to see me or how I thought they wanted to see me. But no matter who I pretended to be on the outside on the inside I was still fighting my demons of insecurity and self-doubt on the inside.

Over time ignoring or pretending that I was not hurt, pretending that I was not disappointed, pretending that I was not angry and resentful did not make the pain or the vandalism to my self-confidence and self-esteem go away. Time did not heal my wounds because I was only masking the hurts and disappointments in my life. And because my wounds were not healing I would either shut down and not allow anyone to get close to me, or I would gravitate towards the same type of unhealthy people. You see, I had done nothing to change me over time.

My sponsor helped me to see that healing the brokenness inside me was the only way that I was going to stop the depressing loneliness and the revolving door of unhealthy relationships. In order for me to do that, it was necessary for me to write down, in black and white, a fearless moral inventory of my relationships and events in my life; in other words a 4th Step – a fearless moral inventory. Even then I struggled with understanding where I was going wrong. I could not be objective. I felt raw when it was completed.

Thank God the steps did not stop at the 4th Step. It was in the 5th Step, “Admitting to God, to myself and another human being the exact nature of my wrongs,” that it all started to make sense. “Admitting to God” – If I had not taken the 3rd Step of turning my will and my life over to the care of God I would have been afraid of the 5th Step. You see, before I took that 3rd Step I saw God as a punishing God just waiting to catch me in a wrong. I could not take that third step until I knew that I could trust that God only wanted the best for me. I knew that God was not out to harm me or to make me feel bad. I knew that He would not use my hurts to make feel bad; but, He would use my hurts to help me rise above them.

When I chose my sponsor I chose her through the eyes of the 3rd Step. I looked for someone that had the peace and serenity that I wanted. I trusted this woman to be God’s voice to help me evaluate my inventory objectively – almost clinically. It was through this process that I begin to understand the source of my wounds, how they happened and how they affected me. Talking it over with my sponsor was like taking the scab off and flushing out the poison so that real healing could begin. But understanding the wounds, understanding how and why I thought and felt the things that I did was not enough. I had to progress through the remaining steps to find that peace I was looking for. Like I said the 12 Steps are in a specific order for a reason. Each step prepared me for the next step.

Unhealthy relationships are always one sided

Some hurts in life just hurt more than others. For me, some of my deepest hurts involved people that I trusted. Some times it was nothing more than a mistake. Other times it was thoughtlessness. It was a lot easier for me to forgive and move on when that happened. But the times when it involved deliberate action of betrayal, I felt wounded to the center of my being, and I just could not let it go. At that time I believed that the only way that that hurt could go away would be for the wrong to be made right, and for the person that had hurt me to apologize and be remorseful. I really believed that I needed their apology in order for me to get better.

When I found myself caught with hurts like that, it was usually because of erroneous and flawed expectations that I had placed on a relationship. The first flawed expectation was because I expected fairness from someone that did not play fair. I had placed myself in a position of vulnerability with a person that I should not have trusted in the first place. So I had to ask myself, whose fault is that? How do I find these people and why do I set myself up over and over again to be hurt with people who are dubious to start with? Why am I so needy that I will ignore all of the red flags warning be to proceed with caution with a person?

It took a 4th and 5th Step for be to begin to have insight into why I seemed to gravitate towards the same type of broken people over and over again. Until I could see my part in the situation I could not even begin to understand what I needed to do to help myself to be more discriminating in my personal relationships. I had wounds that need to be healed and problems to be resolved, in myself, in order for me to take off the blinders toward other peoples’s character defects.

Wishing and hoping and dreaming will not turn a frog into a prince. It will not turn a witch into a fairy god mother. Through my 4th and 5th Steps I could see how all of the warning signs were there and yet I still proceeded without caution. I saw what I wanted to believe and not what was real. My desperate need to be liked and accepted blinded me to the dangers that right in front of me. Those unhealthy relationships were always one sided. They were definitely give and take relationships; I gave, they took.

Because of my insecurities I felt privileged to be their friend or anyone else’s friend for that matter. I assumed they cared about me the way I cared about them but nothing could have been further from the truth. My gut and my heart tried to tell me otherwise and I ignored all of the warning signs. I was always afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing and being discarded.

Recovery has taught me to search for the truth in everything and in everyone. It has taught me how to recognize the manipulators, users and abusers in my life. It taught me how to recognize character and integrity in my relationships. But one of the most interesting things I learned was to recognize when I was dishonest with myself. Anytime I tried to be something that I was not so that someone would accept me I was being dishonest. The self-honesty this program requires has helped me to have the wisdom to know the difference (more often than not) of who I could not trust with the real me.

We do not live in a perfect world. Even the Garden of Eden had a snake in it to shake things up. Thanks to my 12 Step programs my life, and how I live it, has changed dramatically for the better over the years. That does not mean that my life is perfect; it does mean that I get what I want when I want it; it does not mean that I never make a mistake or I never get stinking thinking anymore. It does not mean that I am never disappointed, or that I don’t get my feelings hurt or that I never have a bad day. What it means is that now I more realistic about my day to day life. When I have a bad day or a bad experience or when that snake in the garden tries to mess with me I am now better equipped to deal with my problems and to recognize a snake when I see it.

How I stumbled over a simple two letter word

No is a very simple word. It only has two letters. So why in the heck was it so difficult to apply in my little ole codependent life. Looking back I cannot believe the things I did trying keep the peace, or trying to control or manipulate someone else’s actions, or trying to be all things to all people so that they would like or accept me, or so they would do what I thought they should do. I over extended myself, I sacrifice myself, my dreams and my needs to be accepted or to make someone else happy.

What the heck was wrong with me that I had such little respect for myself that I could not just say no? Why did I believe that everyone else’s life on the planet was more important and more valuable than mine? My life was coping and surviving. Walking on egg shells and making the best of a bad situation. I did whatever it took even though I didn’t want to do it, or even sometimes when it was repulsive to me to do. But it was also more than that; It was self effacing; Self punishing.

Why did I allow others to take advantage of me that way? Why did I do that to myself? Why could I not just say no? Fear that’s why. Fear of being rejected. Fear of losing something I had or fear of not getting something I wanted. What amazes me is how willing I was to sacrifice my needs for someone else’s wants. Rather than embracing my wants, needs and my feelings, I tried to squash them and quite them. They were choking me. I was looking for someone else to be responsible for my happiness and to fix my problems. I was looking to someone else for self-esteem and value.

The blinders started coming off after I got into my recovery programs. In recovery the focus is on me and that focus is so intense that I could no longer look back at past hurts as an excuse for how demeaning I lived my life. By holding my life up to the light so that the 12 Steps could shine through it, I began to see my part in this debasement. I could see where I had given up. I could see how I blamed my faults and character defects on hurts from my past.

Usually, during a crisis, I was so focused on what was going on with all the other players in my real life drama that I neglected my own needs. But with the help of my program, I was now taking back ownership of my life. Through the 4th and 5th Steps I began to acknowledge the effects of the past, learn from it, and then move on from it. It took time for me to learn to take care of myself first; especially during difficult circumstances. But for the first time I began to realize that if I did not do it for myself no one else was going to do it for me.

As I began to grow and change I received a lot of resistance from the users and manipulations in my life. They did not like the new me that was evolving. If I was going to make it, I had to stand up for me and that was not always easy. It was like driving with one foot on the brake and one foot on the gas. There was a lot of stop start attempts along the way. But it was also that resistance that helped to make me stronger. By having to fight my natural tendency to role over and allow other people to run my life it became necessary for me to make conscious choices to do right by my me. In the end I made the decision that if one of us was going to be miserable it was not going to be me.

Separating feelings and the truth

My emotions and feelings were all over the place. Most of them ended in stinking thinking in the form of anger, resentment, fear, regret, guilt and judgement and sorrow. Different situations provoked different feelings at different times. The strange thing is, at one time or the other, I have felt all of those things over one incident or circumstance in my life. How is this so?

Such a mess it was trying to untangle and straighten out what was fact and what was emotions and feelings. You see, through this program, I came to realize that there had been so many times I had an immediate emotional reaction to something but the emotion was not congruent with the reality. The reason it was not is because I was carrying around a lot of emotional baggage. Hurts from my past were haunting and sabotaging my life.

Past hurts and disappoints had destroyed my ability to trust and my self-confidence. They had distorted my expectations and they had placed a huge burden on everyone in my life, and anyone that I met, to prove themselves to me and they did not even know it.

I cannot even count the number of times I have assumed the wrong thing. I cannot count the times that I have embarrassed myself jumping to the wrong conclusion. And, every time I did that I was always left with more guilt and more emotional baggage. It was a vicious cycle of disappointment that I could not stop because my emotions seemed to be an automatic response that I could not control.

I know you probably are tired of me writing about the 4th, 5th and 10th Steps, but hey, this is how it worked for me. My 4th Step was my first go at untangling truth from fiction in my emotions. I had this amazing sponsor that question and challenged me to look at my past objectively, and she helped me to see how I had used a lot of those emotions to protect myself at one time or the other. She also helped me to see that they were no longer a coping tool and that they had transitioned into a character defect that was interfering with my ability to enjoy my life.

My past was my past. I could not rewrite history. Therefore it was up to me to use my past to help me write the future that I wanted. I used my past to help me understand how I got this way and what I needed to do to change. Instead of painting everything in my everyday life with the hurts from my past, I learned a lot of wisdom to know the difference of what I could and could not change. My past taught me that if I did not set the boundaries in my life that someone else would.

By taking a daily inventory (10th Step) and promptly making amends when I was wrong, it helped me to not be so quick on the trigger judging everything and everyone in my life. This step helped me to prevent a build up of unhealthy emotions. By facing my reality each day I eliminated a lot of wrong assumptions. This step helped me to stay on target and not get myself out in the weeds. It helped me to focus on me and my responsibilities and helped me to mind my own business. This step helped me live One Day At A Time.

Finding me

No doubt about it I had an attitude problem; A chip on my shoulder. As a child I was not given a voice or a choice. A lot of hurt, a lot of rejection, a lot of intimidation, and a lot of put downs. By the time I was at the ripe old age of 18 I had a civil war of emotions going on inside of me. First of all I was needy and yet I was prickly. I was desperately seeking approval and if you uttered one word of something that I perceived as a criticism I would snap at you or I would withdraw and embrace that criticism as a fact that proved that I was not good enough.

Then I got in to a 12 step program. What a mess I was! And I had no clear idea of who I was or what I wanted. I thought that I wanted to be loved, cherished and taken care of. But that wasn’t happening and it had not happened in the past. My thinking was twisted and distorted and as long as it was those things were never going to happen.

Then I hit that 4th Step like a hitting a brick wall. “A searching and fearless moral inventory of myself.” There was no way I was going to get this one right and I thank God for the 5th Step. If there had not been a 5th Step of admitting to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs, I would have missed the whole purpose of the 4th Step because I saw myself and my whole life through everyone else’s opinion of me.

My opinion of me was what I thought that my parents, (untreated codependents) my husband (an alcoholic) and all of the people in the peripheral of my existence thought of me. And that is the way that I wrote out my 4th Step. My Sponsor ask to read it before we started. After she read it she handed it back to me and told me that it was not complete. She told me the purpose of the 4th and 10th Steps were to help me improve the quality of my life. In order for me to do that I only need to write the facts. This is what happened; No justifying and no rationalizing, just the facts. This is when it happened and this is how old I was when it happened and this is how it effected me and this was my part in it.

By looking at my inventory I was able to actually see things about myself that I could feel good about. At the same time I saw things I regretted. By peeling back the layers of my life I began to see how warped and distorted some of my views on life had become. My self-image was based on what I thought other people’s opinion was of me. I had no clue how to find value in myself and yet at the same time I wanted to demand that other people accept and like me. But the truth was I was too wounded for that to happen.

All of my hurts were like never endings sticking out waiting to be struck. Anger, resentment, fear, helpless, desperateness, distrustful, jealous, needy, sad, defeated, spiteful, pessimistic, anxious…this list could go on for pages. Oh yea, let’s not for get blame. I blamed the people who hurt me and I blamed myself. After all their must be something wrong with me in the first place or they would never had treated me this way.

Through the 4th, 5th and 10th Steps I became aware of changes I needed to make in myself so I could have peace of mind and so I could have reciprocal healthy relationships. I learned that I have a responsibility to make choices (not selfish choices but healthy choices) that are right and good for me, even if they are unpopular with the other people in my life.

Before I began to worked these steps and apply these principles to my life, my life was always lopsided one way or the other. Either I gave to much of myself or I put up walls and did not give at all. Through these steps I created balance and equilibrium in how I lived and approached life. I don’t always get everything I want and when I don’t it is not the end of the world. I have an honest approach to self-awareness that allows me to accept a compliment or a critique and keep it in perspective. It works if you work it.

I was my own worse enemy

Often times I was my own worse enemy. It was beyond my ability to trust and therefore I rejected people and opportunities in my life to avoid being rejected. Like a thief in the night every hurt and disappointment, every unloving and unjust experience I lived created a lack of trust in me that made it impossible for me to have normal happy relationships.

I never trusted anyone with the real me; therefore I could never be transparent with my real feelings. There was no one out there that I trusted to love and accept the real me. I did not even like me so how could I trust anyone else too? How in the world was it going to be possible for me to do a 4 Step inventory, (a narrative of my life’s hurts and mistakes) and then actually share that with another human being. So for a long time I avoided going beyond the 3rd Step.

Interestingly enough my sponsor never pushed me to do these steps. But, what she did do was teach me trust. She broke down every wall and barrier I had by showing me unconditional love and friendship. She would invite me to go to lunch and I was suspicious. Why was she inviting me? I was such a porcupine that no one did that. I was always the one that initiated things. When I was at my lowest ebb she showed up at my door one morning for coffee and gently encouraged me to get dressed, put my makeup on and comb my hair and she did this day after day until that routine became a habit in my life.

She sponsored a lot of people over the years and to my knowledge she did not do the morning routine with anyone else. I ask her why; Why me? She said she did not know why either, she just knew that I was going down for that last time and that that was what I needed at the time was somebody to care. I was blow away. She never told me what to do and she would not make decisions for me. She listened to my pain and ask me questions that made me look at what was going on in my life objectively. This process taught me how to make decisions in my life. Her unselfish unconditional acceptance of me was mind blowing.

When I talked to her about doing a 4th Step inventory she talked to me about the benefits of the 4th Step. She told me that I could overcome the hurts and mistakes of my past or that I could allow those hurts and mistakes to overcome me. The purpose of the 4th Step was not about blame or pain, it was about understanding the root of my deepest wounds so that I would know what to do to allow them to heal. Some things were going to require my forgiveness; some were going to require me to accept and move on; some were going to require me to acknowledge my character defects and to also recognize my good qualities as well. I took both of these steps because I trusted this woman.

I do realize that my relationship with her was unique. She went over and beyond the responsibilities of a sponsor. I have not done that with anyone I have ever sponsored, but I have shared the experience, strength, hope and knowledge that she shared with me.

We talked about our unusual relationship before she died. Neither one of understood why she did what she did. Both of us are convinced it was a God thing. Thank you God!!

4th Step – A non-judgmental understanding of myself

Recovery is not for wimps. It requires a deliberate and premeditated action on our part to take some pretty drastic measures in our life that will ultimately change our life and how we live it. But to really create the changes we need to make, we have to first understand how we got this way.

There are two sizes to every story. In every situation, in every circumstance, in every event in my life, I walked away with my view of what had happened. That view helped me define and mold how I would respond to other people, places and things. In other words it shaped my view of the world and therefore it shaped the way I lived my life. Sure their has been times when life has been unfair, even hurtful and painful. Their had been times when I felt trapped into accepting unacceptable in my life and I did what we had to do to survive. All of my emotions, feelings and thoughts was based on past experiences.

In my 4th Step inventory I learned a lot about my myself and how I related to life. It was in my fourth step inventory where I examined both sides of my life story for the first time. It was in this step where I saw the “Other” side objectively for the first time. It was in this step that I saw my participation. Imagine my surprise when I learned that their have been times in my life when I handed over the keys to my happiness to someone that I knew that was not trustworthy….and then was hurt and disappointed when they let me down. Duh! There had been times when I had shut out opportunities because I was afraid of being hurt again so I made the decision to not even try. Imagine my surprise to learn that there had been times when I was the instigator or the mastermind behind my own disappoints. In other words I hurt you before you could hurt me.

That fourth step inventory was not always a pretty picture, because it was in that step that my character defects were revealed. Thank goodness this step is not designed to condemn but to provide me with a non-judgmental understanding of myself so that I would know what I needed to change to have the happiness I wanted in my life. Imagine my surprise to learn that I did have some culpability in my unhappiness. Oh darn, it was so much better when I blamed everything on my dysfunctional parents and on my alcoholic. I learned that habits and behaviors that I created to survive in the past had become character defects in my present life and they were not working for me anymore. But all was not lost, because now I knew what I needed to change to be happy.

Before this step the only feelings that I acknowledged was anger, resentment, fear, sadness and sorrow. I learned that there were pages and pages of feelings and emotions that impacted my life – feelings like burdened, ashamed, envious, lonely, mean, isolated, jealous, frustrated, empty, just to name a few. Always, always always, they were negative feelings. Thanks to the help of these steps I now experience positive feelings; feelings like, inspired, hopeful, peaceful, happy, and rested (just to name a few).

These changes did not happen overnight and they did not happen by accident. These steps are designed to release us from anything in our lives that limits us or harms us in any way; And, they are designed to transform us from the inside out. The only thing that can stand in our way is our own willingness to be honest with ourselves and desire to change.

Expectations of others

I have talked about expectations before, but always in the context of our expectations of others. But today I want to talk about the expectations of other people on us, and the pressure we feel to meet their expectations. Oh yea, I am talking about our need to people please; I am talking about the fear we feel that they may be mad at us; I am talking about the anger and resentment that we feel when we don’t agree with someone else’s expectations of us and we do what they want anyway.

It never ceases to amaze me how many times I have allowed myself to be sucked into someone’s demands and then later had a king size resentment about it. As a child I did what I was told, when I was told, for fear of reprisal and punishment. I also tried to anticipate what was wanted and did things before I was told to do them in a desperate need to get praise so I could feel loved and accepted.

As an adult this mentality morphed into a card carrying people pleaser that sacrificed my own needs just to satisfy someone else’s wants. I did things I did not want to do to be liked and accepted. The problem was that the results were never wanted I wanted. First of all even if I did receive praise it was never enough for me to feel secure. More often than not I had set myself up to be taken advantaged of from people with an attitude of entitlement.

This character defect, is without a doubt, a life long battle I struggle with. I am so much better than I was, but I still catch myself getting caught up into trying to take care of the world. There is a little difference now. I am more selective who I get off track with. Now it is usually with people that I love and care about that would do anything for me as well. In the past I did things for people who never appreciated what I did for them, people that felt entitled, and people who did not reciprocate. So there is some progress.

It took a while in recovery for me to be able to recognize the good guys from the bad guys. Through my fourth step I began to see a pattern of how I related to other people. What were the traps that I stepped into time and time again where I allowed other people to suck me into doing what they wanted me to do? What kind of relationship did I have with these people? What was my attitude toward myself that made me insecure so that I did not have the courage to say no? What was my motive for doing things I did not want to do? Or better yet, what did I fear would happen if I did not do it?

I believe that the purpose of the fourth step is to help us understand why we do the things we do. It is to help us define what we need to do differently so that we can grow and change so that we can be comfortable and at peace in our own skin. Through the years I have used the fourth and tenth steps for almost everything in my life that causes me a problem. These steps help me do the postmortem so that I can understand what went wrong. You have heard me talk about looking at things 360 – that means from all sides, from every angle. It is through these two steps where I analyze my motive; these steps help me see the hidden traps that cause me pain.

There is one thing I know for sure and certain in my life, and that is if I don’t learn from it and change I will repeat it.

Finding Serenity

One of the definitions of postmortem is, “an analysis or discussion of an event after it has occurred in order to determine why.” Sounds like a 4th, 5th or 10th Step to me.

When a wound festers it becomes septic. Hurts in our lives cannot be buried; they don’t just go away. Well, let me put it this way, they don’t in my life. I find that every time I deny, ignore or pretend that something did not happen, or that it did not bother me when it did, that it only resurfaces in another way in my life. I either have walls of protection around my heart that does not allow anyone in; or it makes me bitter and sometimes sarcastic. Sometimes I have had this deep aching sadness that I did not understand and could not explain. And every single time my self-esteem took a hit.

Last night I was talking to a friend on the phone and she told me that she was not strong like me, that she could not let go of the hurt as easily as I could. I told her I did not know what she was talking about because I couldn’t do it either. I explained to her that when I have been hurt or disillusioned I have to work through it to find some kind of peace over the situation. Finding peace did not mean that I could undo the wrong, or that I agreed with, or even liked what happened, or that I got the result I wanted in the end. Every single time it was a process. Some hurts take longer than others for me to get to a place where I can be at peace with what happened.

I hate pain. I hate feeling miserable. I hate being sad. I hate sitting on a pity pot. It is the postmortem of the problem that helps me find my way from pain to peace. It is turning it over to God and asking him to change my heart about the problem. It is asking God to help me understand the lesson I need to learn in this situation. I either learn from it or repeat it.
I have reached the point in my life where I where I am willing to do what ever I need to do to keep from repeating the same mistake over and over again.

No, I am not strong, but I am determined. You see, it is not like I sit down and analyze everything, have a light bulb moment and then put it behind me and move on. It has never ever happened like that for me. All along the way I have had to make decisions about accepting the pain or getting up and trying again, as many times as it takes, until the pain goes away. It is talking it out with someone I trust to be honest with me that will call me on it when I am wrong and that will support me when I am right.

Stinking thinking can get out of control pretty quick if I do not reign it in from the onset. What ifs and should haves, I can’t afford and keep my sanity. I just can’t go there. I have had to forgive some people that did not deserve forgiving because I needed to be free of the pain they caused.

The whole purpose of the postmortem is to change me. It is to help me let go of resentments, it is helping me to not take personal the ugliness of others, it is about helping t=me to understand what I can and cannot change, it is learning where to establish heathy boundaries, it is believing in myself when no one else does, and it is focusing on what I have to be grateful for instead of what I don’t have. It is all of this and so much more.

No, I am not strong, but I am determined to live a happy life and I am determined to get back up as many times as I have to until I find peace over a problem.