Sunday, August 31, 2008

Acknowledging Your Grief And Releasing It

From Opening our Hearts, Transforming our Losses, written and published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Hope and help for families and friends of alcoholics, 2007:

page 45:
"By taking responsibility for our own lives, we begin to recognise that our happiness isn't contingent upon what others do or don't do."

"When we apply our slogan 'Let It Begin With Me,' we stop waiting for others to meet our needs and instead look to ourselves. This does not mean we have to 'do it all,' or that we can't count on anyone. Rather, we learn to stop expecting our needs to be met by someone who is incapable of doing so. We can feel disappointed and let down without our whole world falling to pieces."

A friend who read my last article "Grieving Again" wrote me and said that I seemed to understand the grief and how it is interconnected in my family and its history. That got me to thinking.

I do understand the grief. I have lived with it for so long. As Adult Children of Alcoholics, that is what we do. That is what depression is, unresolved anger and grief that, instead of being expressed, it is turned inward on ourselves. My friend also said that I seemed able to walk through my grief. Yes, today I can, but that wasn't always true. If you could see the child that I was standing beside the adult that I am today, I doubt that you would recognise the two as being the same person other than the physical characterists that we both share.

The child was extremely shy and withdrawn into her own little world of a few friends and her books. Outsiders rarely heard her speak. She didn't have an opinion about anything that mattered. She was terrified of people and life. She dressed to fade into the background. She craved your attention and love as much as she feared it. She felt totally alone. Fear was her main companion. The child, Patricia, felt that there was a hole of emptiness where her heart was supposed to be. She was afraid to feel anything. Patricia knew that if she had to feel all of the pain that she carried inside that she would die. The pain would be too much. She would curl into the fetal position and never come out. If Patricia started to cry, she would never stop. She had so many tears stored up inside. The only anger that she knew was the rage of her father and the silence of her mother. With the rage of her father, Patricia knew what to expect. With the silence of her passive-aggressive mother, she felt crazy. In some ways, the passive-aggressive behavior was more destructive by its silence.

All of the anger was hidden under a ton of grief, waiting, hoping to be acknowledged by someone. Anger is a power struggle that a small child has no way of winning, if she can even figure out how to compete in the game with the adults. Patricia felt so powerless as a child, like she had no value to anyone. That is the main reason that I stopped using the name Patricia for many years as an adult. I didn't ever want to feel that powerless again. Feeling powerless was beneath the majority of my fears.

Except for family, I refused to answer to Patricia until about 5 years ago. That was when I finally started working with my grief, coming to terms with it and took back the name of Patricia. Sometimes, even today, I can feel that blanket of darkness trying to work its way back up and over me. Today, I can recognise it and say, "What's going on? What am I feeling?" Oftentimes, just acknowledging that I am feeling another layer of grief coming off of me is enough to lighten the load and release it.

Any new grief, such as my uncle dying last week, is enough to bring up the old grief that hasn't been fully released. As my friend stated, I can, today, walk myself through my grief as it arises. Thanks to my friend for the new awarenesses that you gave to me about my grief. Taking responsibility for my own life and my own feelings was a very important step in letting go of my grief and finding happiness in my life. Take that finding happiness a step further to making happiness in my life. Nobody else can do that for me or for you. We are each responsible for our own happiness. For me, happiness has to begin with me. For you, happiness has to begin with you, or not, your choice, just as it is mine.

Related Articles:
Grieving Again ---
Grieving---A Necessary Process For Healing ---
What's In A Name? ---

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Grieving Again

Grief, like forgiveness, isn't a one time thing. I just got home late last night from a trip to Louisiana for the funeral of my dad's oldest brother. My uncle was 80 years old and died of a blood clot that happened after a minor falling incident that happened on a walk to his mail box last week.

Funerals are always a sad occasion. At my age of 56, they are also beginning to be the main way that I reconnect with family members from my parents' families. My dad was the 3rd oldest out of 13 kids born to his parents from 1927-1950. In addition to 13 kids, my grandparents unofficially adopted one of my younger cousins and raised him too.

Some of my dad's family, I am close to and some I am not so close to because of the age difference and distance that we have always lived from each other. There are lots and lots of cousins that I haven't seen much since we were all kids and now we all have children and grandchildren of our own. Nine of my dad's brothers and sisters are still living. My grandfather died in 1989 and my grandmother in 2001 just a month after my dad died.

Uncle Odis took on the title of "Old Man Caldwell" when my grandfather died. As one of my younger aunts commented yesterday, Uncle Odis has now passed that title on to one of his younger brothers.

I wasn't close to Uncle Odis. He did do me a really big favor that I will never forget. Two nights after I left home at the age of 19, my mom finally told my dad the truth that I wasn't coming home. She also told him where I was. Mom called me to tell me that Dad was on his way. She told me to call Uncle Odis because he was the only person that my dad ever listened to. I called him and he came. We sat out in the front yard of my friends' house in Uncle Odis' car so that my friends wouldn't have to deal with my dad. My dad and I talked; I agreed to go home for the weekend only to talk some more. After my dad and I left my friends' house, Uncle Odis went in and talked to my friends. I didn't know this part of the story until years later. Uncle Odis told my friends that if my dad ever came back to shoot him. Uncle Odis was a policeman for 28 years and retired as a Captain. Uncle Odis was probably the only family member that recognised how dangerous my dad could become when he was drunk. Mean drunks seem to run in the Caldwell family.

Despite the circumstances, I enjoyed seeing all of my aunts, uncles and cousins that were well enough to make it to the funeral. I even met some new relatives that I hadn't met before. Welcome to the Caldwell family.

We aren't an easy bunch of people to get to know. We are, most of us, as the Catholic priest described Uncle Odis, bossy. Another choice description would probably be opionated. We know what we think and want and aren't afraid to say so. We also love strongly. We are red-headed Irish even though most of us didn't actually get the red-hair. We feel things strongly. We have quick tempers. We are family, disfunctions and all.

Uncle Odis' funeral and the resulting family gathering brought up feelings of grief for me, not so much for Uncle Odis but for my dad. I was surprised to feel tears coming two different times. I remembered the death of my dad, the stress of being the oldest child who had to make all of the arrangements, the grief. Being in charge of everything when I had not had much close contact with my dad for years because of the alcoholism and incest was very difficult. It isn't surprising to me that I ended the day yesterday with a migraine.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fear Expressed

"When fear is expressed, we recognise it as anger, abuse, disease, pain, greed, addiction, selfishness, obsession, corruption, violence, and war." --- A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles written by Marianne Williamson.

What an incredible statement!!!

I never thought about all of those things as coming from my fear. When you stop to think about it though, how true that statement is.

I have read the statement that everything that is not love is fear. I just didn't get it as clear as this statement makes it for me.

Are you living with fear or love?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Forgiveness Starts With A Decision

From the book "Dare To Forgive" written by Edward M. Hallowell, M. D. in 2004, pages 17-18:

"But habitual, active forgiveness, the kind of forgiveness that elevates your life and makes you a healthier, happier, more effective person, does not happen by accident, by revelation or by the mere passage of time.

Forgiveness comes from a decision you made long ago to live in a certain way. You don't have to be religious; indeed, many religious people can't forgive anything. You don't have to be a goody-goody; indeed, many goody-goodies are secretly nasty. You don't have to become a saint, take special vows, undergo therapy or get on some medication.

All you really have to do is look for the best in others and in yourself. When you try to do that, you set forgiveness in motion."

Forgiveness isn't easy when you have been deeply hurt or betrayed by someone that you love. Forgiveness isn't immediate. It takes time and effort to let go of the hurt and anger. Forgiveness isn't a one-time event and it is done. It is something that you have to face over and over again until finally all or at least most of the hurt is gone. Then you are free of the pain. You still remember; it just doesn't hurt as much as it once did.

Is forgiveness worth the time and effort? Sure it is. So much of your life can be affected by holding in the anger and hurt. Once you can finally release those strong emotions, you feel better mentally, emotionally and physically. Forgiveness can make you a better person.

Related articles:

Forgiveness, Done In Layers ---

Prelude To Forgiveness ---

Forgiveness Is For You, Not The Other Person ---

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Protecting Our Children From Sexual Abuse

As a follow-up on my article entitled "Internet Porn Targets Our Children" found at , I did some more research on The Oprah Winfrey Show website found at and found some articles on how to protect our children. Awareness is what these articles provide you with so here they are:

Online Predators: A New York Times Investigation

Traits of a Sex Offender

Warning Signs of Abuse In Children

Be an Informed Parent

What to Do If Your Child Was Abused

These are just those articles that I found that has provided online. There are many others that you can find online if you do a Search. If you are a parent, please take the time to check out these articles. They are a valuable resource for helping us to protect our children from sexual predators online and off.

I want to say my own Thank You to Oprah Winfrey for the valuable service that she provides through The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

You Had It All The Time

My friend Slade Roberson from the blog Shift Your Spirits recently wrote an article called "Are You Developing Too Rapidly?" found at

I read the above article just after reading the beginning chapters of a book called "I Had It All the Time" written by Alan Cohen back in 1995. I wanted to share a few quotes from the book in case you are like me and haven't read anything by Alan Cohen.

From the Foreword, on page ix:
"Sooner or later we reach the point where living the truth becomes more important than seeking it. Knowledge, techniques, and experiences pale in the face of riches of the heart. Learning must give way to being."

From page xii:
"You are not a black hole that needs to be filled; you are a light that needs to be shined. The days of self-improvement are gone, and the era of self-affirmation is upon us. It is time to quit improving yourself and start living."

For many years, I saw myself as a black hole wanting to be filled with love, with food, with something so I wouldn't feel so empty. I felt emptiness because, like my parents, I had abandoned myself.

What it took me years to realize and what this book says is, "I had it all the time."

I spent years running here and there, reading this book, watching that video on self-improvement. According to Alan Cohen's book, I didn't have to do any of that searching. I already had it; I just didn't know it. All I had to do is remember who I really am.

In the book "I Had It All the Time," Mr. Cohen talks about self-discovery rather than self- improvement. He says your spirituality isn't your journey. You don't have some place to go; you are already there and always have been. The real you doesn't need improving. You have forgotten the greatness of who you really are in searching for self-improvement when all you really need to do is remember and just be.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Internet Porn Targets Our Children

WARNING: Reading this article may be harmful to your peace of mind. I intend it to be. I haven't written one of these articles in awhile.

On Thursday, July 17, 2008, I saw a rerun of The Oprah Windfrey Show which was called "Seduced in Cyberspace."

Did you know that if your child has a computer and a webcam in their bedrooms that you may be inviting cyberspace predators into your home and into the lives of your children? Most teenagers know this. As parents, did you know this? I didn't.

Oprah's guests for this show were a New York Times investigative reporter Kurt Eichenwald and a 19-year-old named Justin Berry. Justin started his journey into the world of Internet Porn at the age of 13 with just a computer and a webcam that he talked his mother into letting him buy so that he could talk to his friends on the internet.

Shortly after Justin started using his webcam online, he was approached online by "a friend" and offered fifty dollars if he would take off his shirt. What 13-year-old would turn down an offer like that? He wasn't doing anything wrong. Being a kid, he took off his shirt. The seduction started. Within a short time, he was removing all of his clothes in his bedroom in front his webcam. Maybe by this time, he was starting to wonder but the money and the gifts were nice additions to his world. Nobody had to know. He wasn't doing anything wrong. Right? He knew these guys. They were his "friends" after all. Justin's mother had no idea what was going on behind the closed doors of her son's bedroom.

Justin was a good kid. He lived in a nice, safe neighborhood. He was an honor student and class president. He ran a small internet business creating websites for other people.

A few years later, a classmate found Justin's website and threatened to expose Justin. Because he didn't want his mother to find out, Justin decided to move to Mexico to live with his father. His parents were divorced.

Justin told his father about his internet porn business. His father asked how he could help. Justin told his father that he needed some girls to participate in the camweb videos. His father went out and found the girls. Justin's business escalated to a new depth. His clientelle grew to 1500 strong.

Justin started using drugs. Things were getting out of control. Then Justin met a man who changed his life. Kurt Eichenwald is an investigative reporter working for The New York Times. Kurt was working on an article on fraud when he found Justin's site. With Kurt's help, Justin has become a witness in an FBI investigation into Online Child Pornography. Justin has been in hiding because of death threats made against him. Kurt's article was published on the front page of The New York Times on December 19, 2005.

Some of Justin's online clients were pediatricians, lawyers working with children, counselors, and teachers. These people are in contact with kids every day. They are likable and pay attention to our kids when we may be too busy to listen to what is going on in their lives.

Justin was offered a book deal if he would not go on The Oprah Show. He turned it down. He wanted to tell people about what is going on in their children's bedrooms. Justin said that he wants to help protect other children and keep them away from the kind of life that he lead.

Why did I write this article? Because some of you might not have seen the show. Unless this is your first time to visit my blog, you know that my childhood was filled with incest. This article is another step in spreading awareness of what is going on in our world.

If your child has a computer and a webcam in their bedrooms, get them out now. Talk to your children. Be involved in their lives. Know their friends. Read my next article about this topic when it comes out.