Tag Archives: Relationships

My Miscellany: Umbrella of Health

my_miscellany_on_recoverywise

I am not one for very long blog posts; however, if you are to appreciate this particular post, some background information would be helpful.  If not, just read my letter to my sons in the scope of a father having had to let them go to be parented only by their mother these last 11 years and that they truly hate my guts.

First, here is a post I wrote explaining why I gave up my children in the first place:

MY RECOVERY:  MY CHILDREN

Second, I wrote a letter to my ex-wife requesting assistance and also apologizing to her for some of the things I put here through:

LETTER TO MY EX

Finally came her response email.  Quite a dramatic and impactful one.

MY EX WROTE BACK

And now, here is the letter I have drafted to my two sons.  I would love any feedback you have regarding this letter.  It was extremely difficult to write.  I am hoping it is as honest and as loving as it feels to me.  Thanks, and bless all of you.  I hope to be back sometime in April after I get settled into my new place.

THANKS TO ALL WHO HELPED ME AMEND THIS LETTER.  HERE IS THE NEW VERSION I WROTE WITH YOUR HELP, AND ALSO SOME MORE SOUL SEARCHING:

Dear Nick and Matt,

I decided to write this letter to both of you, as the message is the same. I am in a place in my life where I would like to–and am healthy enough–to see you. That has not always been the case. However, I feel it would be doing an injustice to explain everything on a sheet of paper. You deserve more than that.

You may be angry. You may be feeling like I abandoned you. You may be a little sad about the whole thing. You may not actually give a shit. Whatever you are feeling, I certainly do understand it. They are all valid emotions. I consider not keeping you in my life my greatest blunder. It has caused me great sadness. I have missed you terribly.

I am very sorry for any pain I have caused you. I thought I was making the best decision for you and your welfare. I regret making that decision as it has probably caused you tremendous pain. I missed a lot of important activities and events in your lives. I wish we could do it over, but that time has passed. Perhaps we can create new memories together.

I realize that the opportunity to be a dad may have passed. However, I am always willing to be that to you if that is what you wish. I would like to have you consider perhaps having me in your life in a different role if that is not a consideration. If there is a possibility, I would like a chance to show you that I can be someone you can trust and rely upon.

I have battled quite a few demons since we parted. I have PTSD, Bipolar 1 Disorder, Anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder, and am now just 10 months sober from drugs and alcohol. I was in no position to be an effective parent to you. These issues have affected me negatively throughout my life. They also had something to do with me being out of contact with you. But now I am sober, now I am at a healthy place, this is why I am contacting you today.

If you decide you don’t want to see me, my hope is that at least you will be able to try and get past any negative feelings I may have caused you so that you can be free to live in peace. Of course I do hope that you will be able to find it in your hearts to forgive me, and to consider at least talking with me. I might just surprise you! I can’t imagine the entire rest of my life without you in it.

We were Dad and sons once. I know you remember how much fun we used to have. How much time we spent in the woods exploring, hiking. Our trips to the White Mountains. Trying to defeat that damn game Kid Chameleon. Fishing, playing sports, the crazy fireworks, Christmas together, and so much more over your younger years. I’d like to create new memories with you. I have never stopped loving you. I always have, always will. I’m not here to convince you of that. I already know it to be true. I hope that one day I can prove it to you.

Here is my phone number. I hope to hear from you soon. If not, take good care of yourselves, and your mother. My phone number is 222-222-2222. My email is kxxxxx@gmail.com. Remember, whatever you decide, I respect and accept.

Love,

Your Father

My Miscellany: Umbrella of Health

my_miscellany_on_recoverywise

I want to take a moment and tell you about my friend.  My friend is very unusual.  That’s because my friend is a woman.

Now, before you laugh, let me explain.  I’ve never had a female friend.  I would like to be able to say that one of the longer term relationships I had involved friendship.  I thought that once.  But I don’t any longer.

Most of the women in my life were pursued by me.  They were pursued for companionship and sex.  In my 20’s all the women in my life were sexual conquests.  I hate to use that term, but I was spastically promiscuous.  I thought my answers lie with women and booze.

Boy was I wrong!  Neither of those approaches to life got me anywhere.  It got me heartache, loneliness, despair, confusion, jail, and on and on and on.  The hole in my gut had to be filled by ME.  No woman or no drug or substance was going to do that for me.  Ironically, it was booze and a woman that finally landed me in jail and into recovery.

I’d like to clarify something:  I do have feelings for my friend.  I am physically attracted to her.  However, she has taught me how to be a friend.  She has taught me that it IS possible for a man to be friends with a woman.  I suppose you can say I landed in the “Friend Zone” haha!  I think I still have one foot out, but I digress.

Some of you are probably shaking your heads going “No shit” men can be friends with a woman.  Well, I was either to afraid to try it, or I didn’t believe it.  Don’t get me wrong, I have feelings for my friend.  We had started out flirting.  Me more than her.  That’s because I liked her.  But here’s this major distinction:  she expressed how important it was for us to be friends.  I was like “UGH.”  I was like what the fuck happened?

Well, dear readers, what happened was that I almost bolted (twice) because I wasn’t sure I wanted any part of this friendship thing.  But we had been interacting for a bit when this came about.  I really liked this girl.  I really enjoyed being around her.  But now she was saying we had to be just friends.  I was torn and emotionally distraught.  But it came to me the next day (each time), I valued her presence in my life more than I valued being macho-get-the-girl-man.  So I stuck around.  And she let me!

She could have easily said this isn’t worth it.  She could have just said she was all set.  But she stood by me.  And that’s what she has been doing from the word go.  And she has taught me so much about myself, about her, and about true friendship.  I do sometimes push the envelope from friendship to romance, but she does maintain vigilance, I’ll give her that haha!

Look, I used to be a creature of habit when it came to meeting women.  I just learned what worked and what didn’t.  I played games.  I used my words.  I used my sex.  I didn’t do it maliciously, I just thought that was the best way to the end zone. 

I’ve had several long term relationships that all had their merits.  They just didn’t last.  For two reasons:  I always ended up with woman who were opposite, as in opposites attract (that’s a future post I have just decided) and MUCH MORE IMPORTANTLY:  none of them were ever my friend.

I could never talk about anything with them.  I couldn’t have a bad day or there was emotional annihilation.  I always felt I had to be a certain way.  One girlfriend would get bullshit if I didn’t like all her fucking Facebook posts.  Very few of them had their own friends to go out with.  I could never just be myself.  It was always, let’s go out to dinner.  Yes, once or twice a couple women went fishing with me, but they didn’t enjoy it.  I’m not blaming them, trust me, you all know I am no angel.

But I got off track.  My friend is not only tremendously honest, she is extremely non-judgmental.  I can be myself with her.  She doesn’t just require disclosures from me, she shares her own.  When I take risks, she doesn’t run from me, she takes her own.  She shows interest in what’s happening in my life.  She’s always has a kind word.  We can talk about anything together.  And do it for hours, day in and day out.

She is the kind of woman you could spend the rest of your life with and KNOW it was the best decision you ever made.  She is funny, smart, beautiful, talented in many ways.  She is insightful and creative. 

She is a woman warrior, a survivor.  She is funny.  She is caring and kind.  She is open-minded about many things.  She is entertaining and interesting.  I trust her.  I respect her.  I admire her for reasons she knows.

As a result of our friendship, I have changed.  I have changed for the better.  I catch myself if I am being generic.  I don’t write things to her just to write them.  I don’t act inappropriately.  I don’t say things to her because they look or sound good.  I don’t treat her like a sex object.  I don’t write her romance or sexual poetry just because I know that she will love it.

I don’t pressure her for emotional returns.  I guess I really don’t do anything I used to do with other women.  And I have her to thank for that.  She has actually shown me how to be a better person.  I consider her my best friend, not just any friend.

Take a moment out of your day, and acknowledge one of your good friends.  Oh my are they so few and far between.  Thank you for being a tremendous human being, and a great friend!

I do still try to sneak some stuff in there once in awhile though, heh heh.

My Miscellany: Umbrella of Health

my_miscellany_on_recoverywise

Isolating kept me in the grips of my alcoholism.  I stopped giving care to the many aspects that sober folks participate in on a regular basis.  Add to that boredom, and my recipe for almost daily disaster was ready for the oven.

For me to stay sober today, I want to create what I’ll call an Umbrella of Wellness. If I can surround myself with people, places, and things that will get me out of my head and participating in life, then I know that I will enjoy lifelong recovery.

Some people in recovery only focus on one or two ways to keep them sober. Often, I have heard Veterans talk about burying themselves in work, overdoing it with the 12-Step meetings; putting something ahead of their sobriety.

Invariably, many of these Veterans have experienced relapse after relapse after relapse.  When they put something, anything, even one thing, ahead of their sobriety invariably they took the fall.

Umbrella of Recovery

This is my first attempt at sobriety.  I am sometimes chastised for “not knowing the rules,” “not understanding how it works.”  Really?  I don’t need to relapse 5 or 6 times to realize:  I can no longer pick up!  Plain and simple.  Well, how do I plan on accomplishing this seemingly dauntless task?

I have learned there are many avenues to creating an Umbrella of Health:

  1. Family–reaching out and staying close to loved ones.
  2. Sober Folks–creating a new Social Network with like-minded individuals.
  3. Spirituality–working with my “Higher Power” on a daily basis.  As I understand him.
  4. Hobbies–doing things, that give me peace, tranquility, and happiness.
  5. Volunteerism–reaching without out enriches me within.
  6. Meditation–this is my #1 priority, meditate daily!
  7. Treatment–in whatever form, outpatient therapy, group therapy, will keep me grounded.
  8. Physical Activities–maximize my body’s potential will strengthen me!
  9. Nutrition & Sleep–getting the right kind of both strengthens me to the core.
  10. Knowledge–renewing my interest in learned things will keep me engaged.

The above list represents everything I haven’t been involved on a regular basis throughout my life.  I used alcohol to avoid my problems, self-medicate, to isolate and condemn me.  If I can cover myself with this broad Umbrella of Wellness, then man the sky’s the limit!

My Miscellany: 30 Great Questions

my_miscellany_on_recoverywise

As part of this brief series on Relationships and Unrealistic Expectations, I took the following quiz and tried to be as honest as possible.  There is a link to the printable version.

Take some time and do this with your partner, it’s a great way to see what is going on with you and with them!

1. Do you completely trust each other?

Yes, I believe we completely trust one another.  That being said, I am aware that some of my behaviors with her may be seen as lack of trust.  I believe now they are just symptomatic of me pushing unrealistic expectations onto her.

2.  Do you believe in soul mates, and if so, do you believe you are each other’s?

I am not sure I believe in soul mates as it is generally understood.  I do believe that we are highly compatible souls with an uncanny energy connection.

  1. When was the last time you said, “I love you?” If it’s been a while, why?

Today, and everyday.

  1. Are you satisfied with the intimacy you share?

For a long distance relationship I can say that it is most satisfying.  I have mentioned to Bec that I would like her to take more of an initiative, but I recognize now that it might be a bit before she is comfortable doing that.  I was taking this personally, but now I see again that I had been pressing an unrealistic expectation onto her.

  1. How often do you laugh together?

Everyday, and often.

  1. Do you feel you have made personal sacrifices for your relationship, and have they been reciprocated?

I don’t think I have had to make as many personal sacrifices as she has.  She stays up well beyond her bedtime so we can talk.  She spends an inordinate amount of time during her working day texting with me.  She has done far more sacrificing than I have and I need to tell her that I appreciate that more often, though I do

  1. When you think of your partner, do you smile?

Always, always, always.

  1. Do you feel threatened when others find your partner attractive, and why?

No, not threatened, but I have told her it is something I will need to adapt to the fact that she has male friends.  But threatened?  Not the way we have sex.

  1. Do you believe your partner is your biggest advocate?

Most definitely.

  1. How do you feel about your partner’s views on finances?

We share pretty much the exact same views.

  1. Do you enjoy spending time with your partner’s relatives? Friends?

Doesn’t apply, she’s almost 3,700 miles away lol.

  1. Do either of you dredge up resentments in arguments, and why have you struggled to let them go?

We haven’t really had all that many arguments.  I think we have had maybe 4, mostly caused by me.  In one instance it might have been mutual.  That being said I know that I don’t have any resentments, and I believe she does not either.  But I am not 100% sure.

  1. How do you feel when your partner arrives home after being away?

Well, I’ll relate it to not being able to text her or talk with her after 3 or 4 hours, it’s exciting and rewarding to be in her presence, always.

  1. Is your partner your best friend?

Many times over, for the most part.  Though recently I have noticed less of a tendency toward friendship and more toward the emotional partner side reacting to a few of our more difficult situations.  It’s hard to balance those two aspects.

  1. Is there a secret you are keeping that if your partner knew, you feel you would lose them?

Nope

  1. Do you feel that your partner accepts you?

Absolutely 100% unequivocally.

  1. When did you realize you had fallen in love, and how do you feel when you think about it?

Well, the emotions became clear to me the day she produced two lists itemizing many important aspects of her life and character.  But it would have to be 2 or 3 weeks after that when I identified it as such.  It felt amazing that I could be so lucky to find such an incredible woman and even more incredible person.

  1. Have you seen each other at your best and worst?

She probably has seen me close to my worst, even though she is not here lol.  I am not sure I want to know what her worst is.

  1. Would you ever consider having an affair? Why? Why not?

Never.  Why would I have an affair on my love, my life?  I’d just stay single.

  1. Are you excited about your future together?

More than excited.  But I realize that I have to temper that feeling with reality and a healthy dose of patience.

  1. Do you feel your relationship is a true partnership?

I think it is on the whole.  I still feel, and even with the fact that I have placed unrealistic expectations on her from time to time, that I would like to see her blossom into the person she really is sooner than later.  But I am patient, I’ll wait a very very long time.

  1. When was your last romantic outing?

Well we can’t take outings, per se, but you gave me something to think about there.

  1. Does it bother you if your partner has friends of the opposite sex, and why?

Yes, but not to the degree that it will hamper our relationship.  I am aware, however, that it is something I will learn to accept because it is important to her.

  1. Do you accept each other’s belief systems?

Yes, luckily we both seem to share these essential believes to the singlest idea!

  1. When was the last time you talked about your future together, and were you on the same page?

We talked about our future on Friday, and I was shocked to learn that, while she agrees with our plans and our future, she was not willing to stake a vow on it.  That really and truly hurt me.  I have to figure out where to draw the line on my romantic notions.

  1. Do you feel as if you can communicate without saying a word?

Yes, I believe we can when we just look at each other.  Not literally, but we feel that emotion shining through.  I can see her face now.

  1. What is your happiest memory of your time together? Your worst? Are there more happy memories than unhappy ones?

When she told me she loved me.  When I pissed her off over some stupid texts.  Many, many more happy memories than unhappy ones.

  1. What is a relationship deal breaker for you, and have you overlooked one in this relationship?

If she ever cheated on me, I could never recover from that.

  1. How do you feel about the last, in-depth conversation you and your partner had?

I don’t know how in depth it was.  I am not sure I was 100% satisfied that she was empathetic about me position.  I am also not sure how convinced she was that she was wrong about a few minor things.  But we were able to discuss it fairly thoroughly.

  1. Do you show your love for each other often, and if not, why?

Yes, I think we do for the most part.

Get The Quiz File Here!

My Miscellany: Unrealistic Expectations PT. III

my_miscellany_on_recoverywise

Three Part Series, written in 2017, Unrealistic Expectations discusses the pressures we can place on ourselves, but mainly others, in our various dealings with folks. Personally AND professionally.

So in first post, I basically introduced you to the fact that I have slowly burying my girl under unrealistic expectations.  

My goal in posting some things over this weekend is that I could gain a better understanding as to WHY I was doing that, WHAT unrealistic expectations are and HOW I can prevent myself from this type of behavior.

Part II: Unrealistic ExpectationsPart III: Unrealistic Expectations30 Great Relationship Questions
Unrealistic Expectations

Often we have an idea of what our partner should be like.  We might expect them to clean up after themselves, be considerate, to always think of us first, to surprise us, to support us, to always have a smile, to always be present.  Not necessarily these expectations, but almost always we have expectations of our partner.

Having some expectations is fine–we should expect our partner to be faithful, for example.  But sometimes, without realizing it ourselves, we have expectations that are too high to meet.  Our partner isn’t perfect–no one is.  We can’t expect them to be cheerful and loving every minute of the day–everyone has their moods.  

We can’t expect them to always think of us, as they will obviously think of themselves or others sometimes too.  We can’t expect them to be exactly as we are, as everyone is different.

High expectations lead to disappointment and frustration, especially if we do not communicate these expectations.  How can we expect our partner to meet these expectations if they don’t know about them?  More importantly, how can we expect our partners to meet expectations that are too high or unrealistic?  

How do we know if they are unrealistic in the first place?  Here’s a thorough list of unrealistic expectations.  Check off each one you think you are guilty of, or perhaps that someone expects of you.

((I have put !! next to the ones I feel I sometimes engage in, a few more than I thought, being brutally honest with stuff like this can be extremely uncomfortable, but do you really want to lose your love?  I know I sure as fuck don’t.))

Unrealistic Expectations

We will meet all of each other’s needs. (!!)
They will know what I’m thinking or feeling without me having to say (and vice versa).
They will never want to discuss feelings or talk about the future.
We will spend all our time together. (!!)
We will agree on everything.
They will earn a certain amount of money or have a certain status.
I will not budge from my ideals of how they should look.
They will never challenge me.
They will always make me feel happy.  (!!)
We will immediately know that we belong together, so we will definitely get married.
They will always do what I say.
I will not have to change, but they will change for me.
They will be stronger in their faith, so they will always know what to do.
I will only date the person I know God has told me to marry.
It will be easy.


My partner should always give me unconditional positive regard and constant reinforcement (!!)
My partner should always take responsible for all my feelings, happiness, and well- being.
My partner should always compliment me- and always tell me he/she loves me. (!!)
My partner should be the person I imagine her to be- or- who I want her to be.
My partner and I should have all the same likes, beliefs, wants, and needs.
My partner should be able to know what I am thinking, feeling; and always know my wants and needs.
My partner should spend all of his/her free time with me- never apart. (!!)
My partner should be sexual – all the time- anytime. (!!)
Relationship should always have passion and excitement- never boring. (!!)
When I assign my attention, value, and time to my partner, he/she will reciprocate (!!)

Yeah, doesn’t look pretty does it?  Well, if you read my earlier blog post you will know that much of time this is not a conscious choice you make.  There are many factors involved in this type of behavior–unless of course you’re a sociopath, and why would you be reading this blog anyway?  The good news is there’s help.  It’s called KNOCK THE SHIT OFF!

Actually, I’ve got a pretty good mass of information I boiled down here, and then I want to talk about using CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), and Emotion Regulation skills that will tidy up this behavior for you.  Finally, it is very important for you to be honest with your partner and ask them to help recognize when you are engaging in these expectations!  

Before you know it, your relationship will rocket ship to a new orbit—oops, unrealistic–will be at a much more harmonious place than you even thought was possible!

Realistic Expectations

We will have fun together.
We will be open with each other and grow in trust and commitment.
I will remain true to myself as I seek to change for the better.
We will work through disagreements.
We will have a similar view of relationships.
Sometimes we will need some space, but we will always try to communicate well.
We will share core beliefs and values, and enjoy debating areas where we differ.
We will seek to bring out the best in each other.
We will consider each other’s needs.
We will spend time apart.
We will encourage each other.
We will make every effort to talk to one another openly and honestly.
We will share a connection that we will want to nurture into something more.
We will be open to God speaking to us, together and individually, about our relationship.
To be treated respectfully
To have a partner who is caring, supportive, loyal
To share common interests (not all)
To compromise and negotiate when problems arise
To feel safe, secure
To respect personal feelings
To be trustworthy and honest with each other
To be empathetic or sympathetic
To be connected/close, more often than not
To have a satisfying sexual relationship
To be emotionally and physically faithful
To not abuse alcohol or drugs
To feel like best friends

The one thing that shatters relationships and ruins friendships more than any other is expectations.  When we say that someone is not meeting our ‘needs’, we usually mean that he or she is not living up to our expectations.  True needs are very few, but expectations are limitless.

When a person’s behavior does not match your expectations, you can try to change their behavior, or you could let go of your expectations.  The first is an exercise in frustration and causes untold damage to relationships.  The second is also difficult, but possible and worthwhile.  Learn to let go.

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