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Liz's 16 Steps

  1. I affirm that I have the power to take charge of my life, to learn to express my emotions and needs in a healthy way, and to identify and leave behind behaviors that no longer work for me.
  2. God, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in me, strengthens me and leads me into the wisdom and discernment necessary for healing the wounds of the past, present, and future.
  3. I choose to be my authentic self. I choose to embrace the power of truth as an integral part of my healing process.
  4. I choose to examine and stay aware of how my culture - family, friends, media, church, professional training - affects my beliefs and behaviors.
  5. I share with another human being and with God all things inside me for which I feel shame and/or guilt.
  6. I affirm and enjoy my intelligence, strengths, and creativity, remembering not to hide those qualities from myself or others.
  7. I am willing to let go of shame, guilt, anger, unforgiveness, and any behavior that keeps me from loving myself and others.
  8. I will make a list of people I have harmed and people who have harmed me, and I will confess my own sin to God first and ask Him for wisdom and discernment. Then, as God leads me, I will make amends and/or share my grievances with the people on my list in a respectful and loving way.
  9. I express love and gratitude to God and others, and I increasingly appreciate the wonder of life and the blessings I do have.
  10. I learn to trust my reality and I daily affirm that I see what I see, I know what I know, and I feel what I feel.
  11. I promptly admit to mistakes and make amends when appropriate, but I do not say I am sorry for things I have not done, and I do not cover-up, analyze, or take responsibility for the shortcomings of others.
  12. I seek out situations, jobs, and people that affirm my intelligence, perceptions, and self-worth. I avoid situations or people who are hurtful, harmful, or demeaning to me.
  13. I take steps to heal my physical body, organize my life, reduce stress, and have fun.
  14. I seek to understand my calling and I daily ask God for the strength, wisdom, and discernment to walk in it.
  15. I accept the ups and downs of life as gifts that can be used as lessons for my growth.
  16. I grow in awareness that I am a sacred being, interrelated with all living things, and I contribute to restoring peace, love, mercy, grace, and balance in my family, my neighborhood, my social circle, my church, my city, my state, my country, and the world.

Original 16 Steps

  1. We affirm we have the power to take charge of our lives and stop being dependent on substances or other people for our self-esteem and security.
  2. We come to believe that God/Goddess/Universe/Great Spirit/Higher Power awakens the healing wisdom within us when we open ourselves to the power.
  3. We make a decision to become our authentic selves and trust in the healing power of the truth.
  4. We examine our beliefs, addictions and dependent behavior in the context of living in a hierarchical, patriarchal culture.
  5. We share with another person and the Universe all those things inside of us for which we feel shame and guilt.
  6. We affirm and enjoy our intelligence, strengths and creativity, remembering not to hide these qualities from ourselves and others.
  7. We become willing to let go of shame, guilt, and any behavior that keeps us from loving ourselves and others.
  8. We make a list of people we have harmed and people who have harmed us, and take steps to clear out negative energy by making amends and sharing our grievances in a respectful way.
  9. We express love and gratitude to others and increasingly appreciate the wonder of life and the blessings we do have.
  10. We learn to trust our reality and daily affirm that we see what we see, we know what we know and we feel what we feel.
  11. We promptly admit to mistakes and make amends when appropriate, but we do not say we are sorry for things we have not done and we do not cover up, analyze, or take responsibility for the shortcomings of others.
  12. We seek out situations, jobs, and people who affirm our intelligence, perceptions and self-worth and avoid situations or people who are hurtful, harmful, or demeaning to us.
  13. We take steps to heal our physical bodies, organize our lives, reduce stress, and have fun.
  14. We seek to find our inward calling, and develop the will and wisdom to follow it.
  15. We accept the ups and downs of life as natural events that can be used as lessons for our growth.
  16. We grow in awareness that we are sacred beings, interrelated with all livings things, and we contribute to restoring peace and balance on the planet.
© Charlotte Kasl
Sunday, December 7th, 2003
5:59 pm - Phew!
I am just too busy lately! This past week was a whirlwind. All my muscles are complaining, but it's a good tired. I had a small accident a couple months ago. Dent in the rear bumper, took out one tail light. Unfortunately, the car is so old that just that small amount of damage totalled it out for insurance purposes. So I've been through quite a procedure between the two insurance companies, etc. I finally got the money and this week, the car went in for the repairs.

I also took Gumbo to the mall, where we studied escalators very carefully and then decided to take a pass on them. He also went out to eat with me twice this week. First time! And he did very well. One of the places we went was a salad bar kind of place. Great test. He was very good.

We also visited the county animal shelter, because one of my cats went missing while I was gone for Thanksgiving. She wasn't there. I have given up on finding her. The good news is that Gumbo was not concerned about the visit to the shelter, so I guess he knows he's my dog now. Good boy.

On Friday, Gumbo and I went to court. Last weekend, I saw RJ loitering at the park next to my house pretending to fish. I called his probation officer immediately. She verified that she has removed his computer from his residence, and she has added to his terms of probation that he stay out of that park, But she highly recommended that I get another order of protection, this time with a perimeter and a restriction on the park. Well, the DV Coalition told me that I couldn't get the park added because it's a public place. So did the guy at the self-serve law library. But the judge added it, I think perhaps because Gumbo is a service dog and must have a daily walk. I don't know why, I'm just guessing. He was fascinated with Gumbo and went off record to ask all kinds of questions about the Catahoula breed and about service dogs. Gumbo was on his absolute best behavior in court. I was very proud of him.

This week I have almost nothing scheduled. I can catch up on my sleep and get some things done around the house. My dining room is waist high in boxes that need to be sorted and things that need to be listed on eBay. So I'll be doing that this week. LOL Sounds restful, eh?

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Friday, November 14th, 2003
11:12 am - Big news!
I talked to the gal from Gabriel's Angels, a group that provides therapy dog teams to agencies who work with children who have been abused or who are at risk. I talked with her honestly about my own problems, because I'm more concerned about me qualifiying than Gumbo passing the test. She was quite encouraging. So...... Gumbo and I go in to meet her on Monday so she can assess Gumbo's personality and ability to work in their program. If he passes, we will do a home study course and go for an official therapy dog certification through the Delta Society. We are very excited!!!!

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Monday, November 10th, 2003
2:47 pm - I'm back, I think
Ahem. Well. I went missing there for a while. Can't remember when I last wrote. Probably after hubby was sentenced. For some reason, I went back into depression at that point. Not as deep as last spring, probably because Gumbo was here. It was just like I was trying to move inside a vat of jello. Everything took so long and tired me out so completely. Just getting up, eating, and going to bed was about all I could handle reliably. Anyway, I have crawled most of the way back out of the pit again. I am still sleeping too much. I would sleep all day I think if Gumbo weren't here. But my mood is better. We've done some monumental work in therapy over the past month. Peeled a couple of huge layers. Now I'm down to another layer of shame, which means I've started having the "naked in public" nightmares again. But I think a session of EMDR will peel that layer. I am on an every-other-week schedule for therapy now. The issues I'm dealing with are so deep, I need processing time between sessions. Anyway, things are really starting to go well on this front, despite the depression.

The restitution hearing was held in August. Glad to have that over with. RJ pays me monthly. A pittance. About 10% of my actual out-of-pocket expenses for therapy and drugs. Or it will be once we settle the divorce. Until that happens, he's still under a court order to pay my therapy bills directly. Our next settlement conference is set for Dec. 29. The last two were cancelled because he hadn't gotten his act together about the business valuation. That's done now, so I hope we can complete the thing and go into the new year as single people.

The one bright spot in my life this past summer has been art. I have really gotten into altering books and collage. When I work on art, I forget how miserable my life has been lately and I really enjoy myself. Last week my parents came down and helped me turn my home office into a studio. Very cool. I have a whole room just full of paint, fibers, clay, adhesives, paper, and all kinds of doodads. My online gallery is at:

Gumbo is doing very well in his service dog training. He went with me to the DMV and the post office today, and he was very well-behaved. Other than wanting to sniff too much. Especially a baby in a carrier on the floor that we had to walk past. He didn't get anywhere near the baby, but the mother had a fit. The baby, however, was entranced by Gumbo. Perhaps would not have been if Gumbo had managed to plant the big wet one he wanted to plant on the baby's face, but we'll never know. The baby might have loved it. Doesn't matter. I did the correction and off we went, no harm done other than upsetting the mother. Personally, I don't think the baby should have been on the floor anyway. So darn crowded there, she's lucky someone didn't kick or trip over the carrirer. She had it set in the middle of the main walkway next to the information desk. Very poor judgement.

My other project is cleaning the house and going through all the boxes of old stuff, most of which is getting tossed out. This will keep me busy for a good long time.

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Sunday, November 2nd, 2003
7:13 pm - The Dangers of Pride Without Love
If Thou be one whose heart the holy forms
Of young imagination have kept pure,
Stranger! henceforth be warned; and know that pride, 50
Howe'er disguised in its own majesty,
Is littleness; that he, who feels contempt
For any living thing, hath faculties
Which he has never used; that thought with him
Is in its infancy. The man whose eye
Is ever on himself doth look on one,
The least of Nature's works, one who might move
The wise man to that scorn which wisdom holds
Unlawful, ever. O be wiser, Thou!
Instructed that true knowledge leads to love; 60
True dignity abides with him alone
Who, in the silent hour of inward thought,
Can still suspect, and still revere himself
In lowliness of heart.
     William Wordsworth

The Works of William Wordsworth

Bible Verse and PrayerCollapse )

Positive AffirmationCollapse )

This is from a lovely poem that inspired me in many ways. I hope you'll read it in its entirety at


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Monday, June 16th, 2003
10:49 am
I didn't sleep well last night. I am more upset about RJ being in jail than I realized. Still, he needs to hit bottom or there is worse ahead of him. I talked to a friend at church yesterday who is an ACOA, and she told me that God has RJ where he needs to be. I need to trust that. It's hard.

Took Ann for surgery this morning. It went more easily than the first one, probably because an actual surgeon did it. I will go over daily and help her with the dressings.

Found this in my email this morning and thought that it was great:

Be loyal to your own well-being and happiness.

If you go through an unhappy period, remain loyal to your own happiness, and you'll find yourself returning to happiness. Be loyal to your own upliftment so that if you get a little down or depressed, you'll just move through it and come right back around to being happy and uplifted.

Be loyal to doing spiritual exercises. If you miss a day or two, your loyalty to doing them will reassert itself and you'll move back into the process.

(From: Loving Each Day, Volume 1, p. 307)

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Thursday, June 12th, 2003
9:05 pm - Yahoo Messenger
If you get a message from me on Yahoo Messenger tonight, it's not me. Someone has hacked into my account. I got disconnected with a message saying I'm signed in on another machine. I can't get signed back in. If anyone knows how to fix this, HELP!!!!

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Wednesday, June 11th, 2003
10:01 am - Still alive
I've been quiet here. Last week in preparation for the sentencing hearing and this week in recuperation from the sentencing hearing. Mom and dad came down Saturday afternoon, so we had some nice time together before the hearing. Gumbo always loves to see his grandparents. Dad fixed the drip main, which Gumbo had chewed open and planted some ferns for me. He also fixed the drier vent and the cat door to the laundry room. The house is in great shape except that Spook has something going on with her bladder and is leaving little aromatherapy treats around the house. I have not been able to find all of them yet, so we have a distinct odeur. Spook doesn't have an infection, and yet there is blood in her urine sometimes. The vet is concerned that she has a bladder tumor. She's 13 or 14, so if she does, she does. We all start falling apart when we hit middle age.

The sentencing went well, I guess, but it was extremely emotional for me. The judge was in chambers with the attorneys for quite a long time before the hearing started. When they came out of chambers. the county attorney and my victim rights attorney pulled me aside and said that the judge was going to give RJ jail time in addition to the probation. They asked if I was agreeable to that. I said that I did not feel it would fill any purpose in terms of rehabilitation, but that as long as he was going to get probation and treatment as well, I would go along with the judge on whatever he decided. When we went back into the courtroom, a deputy was there stationed next to the bailiff. My victim advocate pointed him out to me and said that meant that RJ would be taken into custody immediately and taken out in handcuffs.

The judge entered and the hearing began. He checked with the county attorney as to my agreement with his sentencing plan and the county attorney indicated that I was agreeable as long as treatment was the main thrust. Then the defense attorney spoke. He asked that the judge drop the felony down to a misdeamenor and waive all punishment. I don't know if this guy is clueless or if he is out and out lying to RJ about what is said in chambers. He talked about the psych eval and listed several things as if they should mitigate the punishment. In particular, the polygraph that RJ passed saying that he never raped me in the pool. First off, sex offenders routinely fake out polygraphs. If you want the truth, you have to do the pleisomygraph (and I've spelled that wrong I'm sure). Secondly, he didn't perceive what he did as rape, so of course he passed it. Just like he didn't perceive that he'd done anything wrong in making the video. All that polygraph proves is that he still doesn't know what the word "NO" means and that he's still in denial about his illness. The defense attorney at this point brought up the score on the sex offender test they give on likelihood to re-offend, and said that RJ was less likely to commit a sex crime than anyone, including the judge. I don't think that won him any brownie points with the judge. He then said that he knows RJ better than anyone other than his family, and that he would be willing to bet the judge an amount in six figures that RJ would never re-offend. I couldn't see the judge, but dad said he was rolling his eyes. The county attorney thought this whole spiel was so stupid, he got out his wallet, made a big show of going through it, and said, "I'm a little short." All in all, the point of the defense attorney was that the crime was no big deal, I should just get over it, and his client should walk free. I really wonder how he thinks he, or even RJ's family, think they know him at all when he's been a sex addict since age 11 right in front of their noses and they still aren't willing to admit it. They have no clue who he really is. They won't ever have a clue unless they cross him, and he drops his mask like he has with me. There is an anger inside RJ that is deeper than anyone can imagine. This is the dark side of codependency.

Then the defense attorney asked if RJ's brother, G, could be allowed to speak. This is where the hurtful things were said. G said that RJ has always been the most kind, gentle, honest person he's ever known. I chuckled when he said "honest". It just came out. Even RJ will admit that he has led a double life his entire life. That he has never shown anyone who he really is. I think that I'm the only person who has had the honor of seeing it, and it is quite ugly. Now, I'm not saying I'm never ugly. I am. We all are. It's part of the human condition. But my ugliness is expressed directly. If I'm angry. you will know it. I don't pretend to be loving and kind all the while hating you and plotting some kind of passive aggressive revenge. But all G, and the rest of RJ's family, have ever seen is that placid facade that hides the ugliness. And they love that facade, so they enable it. And to them, that is an admirable person. This is the dysfunctional "no talk" rule taken to an extreme. Going on, G's major point was that RJ is the same wonderful person that he grew up with, the same wonderful person now as always. He didn't seem to see the illogic in that. That RJ, that same wonderful person who hasn't changed, is EXACTL:Y the person who committed 4 felonies against his wife. The thing that insulted me most about G's little speech is that he kept saying that RJ "is the submissive one." I think he said that 3 or 4 times. I started to get the feeling that he was implying that I did this to myself. That I either ordered or manipulated RJ into doing this so that I could treat him horribly. I need to keep reminding myself that this is a sign of Gary's dysfunction - this strong need for denial about something that would be clear to him if it weren't going on in his family. Whenever I forget that, I get terribly hurt and weepy that he could believe such a horrible thing of me. He also brought up the letter that I wrote to Delma setting boundaries because of the verbal and emotional abuse she put me through last spring. He made it sound like I had written a terrible and poisonous piece of hate mail meant to cause his feeble 81 year old mother to die. I am really tired of this family's believe that after a certain age you get to be as abusive as you want and no one is allowed to call you on it. This whole discussion just verified for me again how untrustworthy RJ is, as he was supposed to tell his family that he assisted in writing the letter, that he told me he agreed with every word of it (which, of course, he later retracted), and that he believed that his mother needed to read the letter. He obviously still has not completed this therapy assignment, given to him last August,. His therapist even reiterated the assignment after we talked about divorce, saying that RJ needed to do this to make amends to me as part of his recovery and that the divorce did not change that. RJ will never do this, just like he will never complete the assignment to go to the church group and confess his scapegoating of me.

Finally, it was RJ's turn to speak. He mentioned my chuckle at G's assertion of his honesty and admitted that he had been dishonest with me. He did not admit that I never would have dated, much less married him if he had told me the truth and that he knew that. Anyway, he admitted to being conflict avoidant and passive, as if these things should mitigate his actions. What they do, in my opinion is to make it all that much more likely that he will re-offend, because as long as he can't deal with conflict openly, he will continue to do so passive aggressively. But the big news of the day (and how stupid must RJ be to admit this voluntarily in court when no one had asked him) is that RJ is back to hanging out at Internet dating sites and corresponding with multiple women as some kind of plan to get back to having a "normal" life. I just about fell off the bench! How stupid can a person be to admit in a mitigation hearing that you are back to the activities that landed you in court for felony charges in the first place! RJ also said that the two women that he sent the video to were very close friends of his for over a year and that he was 99.9% sure that they would never have passied it on. (This is just laughable. He sent them the video after the 3 of them had engaged in group masturbation via webcam and then joked about whose boobs were the biggest. Why he continues to believe that these women have such sterling character is beyond me. It seems pretty clear that they are probably sex addicts themselves.) I don't remember what else he said. Overall, my impression was that he has not changed, he is still in denial, he has not hit bottom yet, and he is not someone I would ever want anything to do with again. I do not need to second guess my decision to ask him for a divorce. And I had expected some grief about that, but I don't feel any. All love I ever had for him is finally washed away. I just have pity left, for both him and his family.

Now it was the judge's turn to speak and pronounce sentence. He started out by assigning 3 years of probation. This is double what I had asked for and what the probation officer had recommended. That should have told RJ and his attorney that there was trouble ahead. Then the judge began to speak about the attitude expressed by both RJ and his attorney. He went on at length about how this is not a crime that a victim can "just get over" as they seem to think. He indicated that he is bothered by their trivialization of the damage it causes. He talked about how uploading that video on the Internet and how that means that control over that image can never be regained. He pointed out that each time that video is viewed or reviewed, it is another crime committed against me and that I will have to live with the uncertainty of that for the rest of my life. He compared it to child porn in this aspect, which I hope slapped some sense in to RJ although it didn't seem to faze his attorney in the least. I was crying tears of joy throughout this. It was so validating to hear that the judge really understood how devastating this was, and is for me. The judge then pronounced the sentence of 10 days in jail. This is where it became comical. The defense attorney acted like this was a big shock to him. He strutted out from behind the podium and said, "Judge! I thought we had reached an agreement in chambers that this would be dropped to a misdeamenor with no sentence!" I don't know how the judge kept from screaming at. him. The deputy approached RJ with the handcuffs at ready and the attorney recovered enough to beg that his client be given time to get his affairs in order, being a business man and what not. The judge agreed to allow RJ to self-surrender in a week's time. My victim advocate was very disappointed. She had wanted to see the cuffs put on him. Then they discussed work release. RJ will be allowed to work on the 4th and 5th day and the 8th, 9th, and 10th day. He will be in county. It was not specified whether he'd be in Tent City or the Jefferson St. lock up, but my victim rights attorney said that Tent City would probably be no worse than lock up as they apparently don't air condition lock up.

After court, we met with my victim rights attorney, and she said this was the best result of any case she's been involved with. We still have to do the restitution hearing, which is scheduled for August 29, but she said the judge had already told the defense attorney that he will not tolerate harassment of the victim or having his courtroom turned into a circus. Keli says that if the defense attorney is as clueless at that hearing as he was today, I could get more than she's predicted. The judge did really urge the defense attorney to come to an agreement on the restitution before the hearing date, but he said that his client doesn't make enough money to pay the amount I'm asking. The judge said that didn't matter, he wasn't required to pay it all at once. There would be a monthly payment assessed and he would be required to pay it. Period. It seems odd to me that the attorney didn't already know this. Of course, this is the same attorney firm that didn't realize that RJ still owed the court ordered spousal support even if the garnishment hadn't commenced yet. My divorce attorney's paralegals are still laughing about that one.

So that is the story of the last few weeks. I am just trying to recover right now. I feel washed out. I have nothing on tap today, although I forgot that the window washer was coming at 8 am today. I was in bed reading Madame Bovary and was quite startled by a doorbell appearing in the midst of a muddy street that I was flying down in a horse drawn carriage with the good madame.

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Sunday, June 1st, 2003
12:12 pm - I can't believe this
About 3 weeks ago, Gumbo started barking when he wants to be let back inside. It's OK if it's just one bark, but when he started, he would bark until I let him in. So I had this bright idea to teach him to ring the doorbell on the patio door. So I went out, had him Paws Up on the wall next to the door. Then it became a wrestling match. I was trying to show him how to press the doorbell with his paw and he was trying to gnaw my wrist. And really, this was the first time I thing I realized just how huge those paws are. Even when I could get it over by the bell, actually ringing the bell with it wasn't that easy. Especially since you can't hear the bell from outside the door. And at that point I gave up. Why would he press a button that doesn't seem to do anything. So I have worked on teaching him to bark once and then sit to wait for me quietly. He's been doing this very nicely, although the sitting part is only about 50%. But I give him the sit hand signal as soon as I see he isn't sitting and he goes right down and waits for me.

A couple nights ago, I heard the bark, but I was chatting with my mom and delayed a bit in answering. Just a few seconds. When I did get up, Gumbo was paws up next to the door. He got down so fast, I couldn't tell if he was trying to press the doorbell or not. I thought probably not. We hadn't worked on it for weeks, so why would he? I laughed at myself about having such a big head that I could think that one poorly conducted training session on pressing a button that didn't make anything happen would train the dog to ring the doorbell.

This morning, I got up and let Gumbo out at his usual time. We were both really dragging, having stayed up way too late last night playing with craft stuff. I went back to bed, forgetting to set the second alarm to get me up in an hour. So a couple hours later, I hear the doorbell. Here's the deal. The front doorbell makes a little melody. The patio doorbell is just a single chime. this was the patio doorbell. I leapt to my feet, and by golly, there was Gumbo at the door waiting for me to let him in. Well, of course, I showered him with praise. What an amazing dog!

I also have to tell you that I don't have to drag him into the pool anymore. He comes in on his own. Yesterday I got in because I was hot and dusty from working around the house. Gumbo had been inside, so he wasn't overheated and didn't need to get in the pool. I just plopped myself in, completely ignoring him, but low and behold, he just got himself in anyway. And looked darn proud of himself as well. He is seriously considering leaving the safety of the steps. I've seen him doing it for a couple days now. I'm not going to push this. I am just happy that he can get in far enough to cool himself off if he needs to.

On to a different subject: The neighbors across the street moved out last weekend. The house closed on Friday. I thought we'd see the new neighbor moving in over the weekend, but so far, no sign of life over there. The neighbors next door have put the Sold sign up on their house, so apparently the people who bought it on contingency were able to sell their house. I saw those folks at the house yesterday, but not sure exactly what they were doing there. It seems to be an older couple, and a younger woman with a baby. I should go ask Elaine what the timeline is for their move and if all 4 people are moving in, or just the older couple, or just the woman and the baby.

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Saturday, May 31st, 2003
10:16 pm - You can't believe this!
Gumbo brought a grasshopper in with him from the backyard. It was flying wildly around the kitchen. Gumbo and Mystery were stalking it. The next thing I know, Gumbo is over trying to get my attention. And here comes Mystery with it in her mouth! The pudgy cat who cannot even clean her own butt. She caught the grasshopper. She came and showed it to me. I declined the gift, so she carried it off. She is eating it right now. I can hear the crunching from across the room.

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Friday, May 30th, 2003
2:11 pm - Warthog drives off in zoo's van
Associated Press
May. 30, 2003 07:43 AM

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - It was anything but "Hakuna Matata" - Swahili for "no worries" - when an anesthetized African warthog at the Potawatomi Zoo took off in a van.

Zoo visitors had to seek shelter inside zoo buildings briefly Wednesday when Mando the warthog woke up unexpectedly and knocked the otherwise unoccupied van into gear, sending it rolling down a small hill.

The ride came to an abrupt end when the van hit a fence. The warthog jumped through the driver's side window before falling back asleep.

No one was injured, although Mando needed stitches for cuts, zoo veterinarian Jeremy Goodman said.

The entire event occurred in a restricted area of the zoo, but visitors were moved inside buildings as a precaution because the warthog, with its sharp tusks, is potentially dangerous.

Mando was taken to the zoo hospital Wednesday afternoon when his keeper noticed he wasn't putting any weight on a back leg. X-rays showed there was no break, so he was placed back in the van, Goodman said.

The movement of being put in the van, though, woke Mando up. Workers quickly shut the van's door to trap the warthog inside.

When Mando moved into the front seat, the zoo workers cracked open the door and gave the warthog another shot of anesthesia. Before it took effect, however, Mando hit the gear shift, sending the van rolling.

[now, if the newspaper contained nothing but stories like this, I'd subscribe again!]

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1:47 pm - Hey, I pick friends pretty good
elvenjewel 102%
atariprincess 98%
netguru 98%
em_moo84 98%
multicolours 95%
keltgrrl 95%
jaytee 87%
mightyafrodite 87%
How compatible with me are YOU?

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Tuesday, May 27th, 2003
11:38 am - Emotional Health
There is substantial agreement among professionals on the general aspects of what constitutes good mental health. Healthy people like and accept themselves, do not depend excessively on others for approval, and are not severely wounded by others' criticism. A solid, integrated sense of self, neither grandiose nor despised, exists with relatively continuous, reasonably pleasant memories. Healthy people do not have to diminish other people to maintain a positive self-view. They acknowledge and accept personal shortcomings, and seek help from others when it is needed. They have internalized loving, nurturing parental figures who provide sustenance during times of crisis and inner support at times of failure (I would add to Simon's observation that those who did not
have such parents may find such support from important other people in their environment). They intrinsically reject suicide as a solution to life's vicissitudes. There are values and standards that
throughout life provide them with a moral rudder. These people are fair and adaptive, not harsh and punitive or cruelly and unbendingly righteous. Present is a clear but reasonably flexible sense of right and wrong. In the face of human suffering, healthy persons do not insist on compliance with trivial formalities. They accept guilt when appropriate without experiencing panic or immobilizing
depression. Their consciences work in harmony with other aspects of the personality and are not full of holes that permit acting out destructive behaviors inconsistent with their value systems.

Their value systems emphasize proficiency at their work while aiming at realistic goals. They have no debilitating perfectionist or pie-in-the-sky goals that guarantee failure. They value cooperation and collaboration with others and enjoy competition but not by humiliating their competitors. Life is not a dog-eat-dog struggle but a positive challenge. Psychologically healthy persons enjoy their relationships with others. They can place appropriate trust in others as well as be trustworthy. Support and empowerment of friends and acquaintances is their hallmark. They curb feelings of envy and jealousy in deference to the importance of maintaining friendships. They do not desire domination of others. They esteem other persons in their own right and appreciate that we all must bear the
vicissitudes of the human condition. They seek no personal advantage. While healthy people pursue their own self-interests, they do so with empathetic regard to the consequences their own
actions might have on others. They each maintain good personal boundaries, knowing where he or she stops and another individual begins. They feel regret or guilt if others are unnecessarily hurt
by their actions. They do not shift blame to others. Healthy persons can accept the darker side of their humanness. They can enjoy childish pleasure but at the appropriate time and within measure.

Strong indicators of emotional health are the abilities to withstand anxiety without falling apart or launching into drastic action; to delay gratification and tolerate frustration, when appropriate; to think before acting; to modulate impulses; to sublimate basic impulses. Healthy persons can love, that is, value and care for another person. Feelings of jealousy, anger, hate, and rejection are tempered by an overriding concern for the person who is loved. Sexuality in a relationship is empowering through a mutually loving, physical, and mental exploration of one another. The emphasis is less on finding the right person than being the right person. Work is a source of creative emotional growth and psychological refreshment rather a primary way of obtaining or maintaining self-esteem. It is folded into a broader fabric of life rich in sustaining relationships, recreation, hobbies, and spiritual quests. Healthy individuals can experience awe, joy, and wonder in relation to the world. Emily Dickinson wrote, "To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else." They find a sense of fulfillment and are not beset by regret and bitterness. Reality is perceived reasonably clearly and is harmoniously melded with the pleasure principle. They can accept professional help with their emotional problems. William Sloane Coffin succinctly stated, "I'm not okay, you're not okay, and that's okay."

Quoted from Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream March 1998 By Richard Layton

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11:32 am - This is so right on that it's scary!
Traumas as Social Interactions

By Sam Vaknin

May 26, 2003Dr. Sam Vaknin is the author of "Malignant Self Love -
Narcissism Revisited", the owner of the Narcissistic Abuse Study
List, and the editor of mental health categories in The Open
Directory and Suite101.
His web site:


Note: "He" in this text - to mean "He" or "She".

We react to serious mishaps, life altering setbacks, disasters,
abuse, and death by going through the phases of grieving. Traumas
are the complex outcomes of psychodynamic and biochemical processes.
But the particulars of traumas depend heavily on the interaction
between the victim and his social milieu.

It would seem that while the victim progresses from denial to
helplessness, rage, depression and thence to acceptance of the
traumatizing events - society demonstrates a diametrically opposed
progression. This incompatibility, this mismatch of psychological
phases is what leads to the formation and crystallization of trauma.


Victim phase I - DENIAL

The magnitude of such unfortunate events is often so overwhelming,
their nature so alien, and their message so menacing - that denial
sets in as a defence mechanism aimed at self preservation. The
victim denies that the event occurred, that he or she is being
abused, that a loved one passed away.

Society phase I - ACCEPTANCE, MOVING ON.

The victim's nearest ("Society") - his colleagues, his employees,
his clients, even his spouse, children, and friends - rarely
experience the events with the same shattering intensity. They are
likely to accept the bad news and move on. Even at their most
considerate and empathic, they are likely to lose patience with the
victim's state of mind. They tend to ignore the victim, or chastise
him, to mock, or to deride his feelings or behaviour, to collude to
repress the painful memories, or to trivialize them.


The mismatch between the victim's reactive patterns and emotional
needs and society's matter-of-fact attitude hinders growth and
healing. The victim requires society's help in avoiding a head-on
confrontation with a reality he cannot digest. Instead, society
serves as a constant and mentally destabilizing reminder of the root
of the victim's unbearable agony (the Job syndrome).


Victim phase II - HELPLESSNESS

Denial gradually gives way to a sense of all-pervasive and
humiliating helplessness, often accompanied by debilitating fatigue
and mental disintegration. These are among the classic symptoms of
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). These are the bitter results
of the internalization and integration of the harsh realization that
there is nothing one can do to alter the outcomes of a natural, or
man-made, catastrophe. The horror in confronting one's finiteness,
meaninglessness, negligibility, and powerlessness - is overpowering.

Society phase II - DEPRESSION

The more the members of society come to grips with the magnitude of
the loss, or evil, or threat represented by the grief inducing
events - the sadder they become. Depression is often little more
than suppressed or self-directed anger. The anger, in this case, is
belatedly induced by an identified or diffuse source of threat, or
of evil, or loss. It is a higher level variant of the "fight or
flight" reaction, tampered by the rational understanding that
the "source" is often too abstract to tackle directly.


Thus, when the victim is most in need, terrified by his helplessness
and adrift - society is immersed in depression and unable to provide
a holding and supporting environment. Growth and healing is again
retarded by social interaction. The victim's innate sense of
annulment is enhanced by the self-addressed anger (=depression) of
those around him.


Both the victim and society react with RAGE to their predicaments.
In an effort to narcissistically reassert himself, the victim
develops a grandiose sense of anger directed at paranoidally
selected, unreal, diffuse, and abstract targets (=frustration
sources). By expressing aggression, the victim re-acquires mastery
of the world and of himself.

Members of society use rage to re-direct the root cause of their
depression (which is, as we said, self directed anger) and to
channel it safely. To ensure that this expressed aggression
alleviates their depression - real targets must are selected and
real punishments meted out. In this respect, "social rage" differs
from the victim's. The former is intended to sublimate aggression
and channel it in a socially acceptable manner - the latter to
reassert narcissistic self-love as an antidote to an all-devouring
sense of helplessness.

In other words, society, by itself being in a state of rage,
positively enforces the narcissistic rage reactions of the grieving
victim. This, in the long run, is counter-productive, inhibits
personal growth, and prevents healing. It also erodes the reality
test of the victim and encourages self-delusions, paranoidal
ideation, and ideas of reference.


Victim Phase IV - DEPRESSION

As the consequences of narcissistic rage - both social and personal -
grow more unacceptable, depression sets in. The victim internalizes
his aggressive impulses. Self directed rage is safer but is the
cause of great sadness and even suicidal ideation. The victim's
depression is a way of conforming to social norms. It is also
instrumental in ridding the victim of the unhealthy residues of
narcissistic regression. It is when the victim acknowledges the
malignancy of his rage (and its anti-social nature) that he adopts a
depressive stance.


People around the victim ("society") also emerge from their phase of
rage transformed. As they realize the futility of their rage, they
feel more and more helpless and devoid of options. They grasp their
limitations and the irrelevance of their good intentions. They
accept the inevitability of loss and evil and Kafkaesquely agree to
live under an ominous cloud of arbitrary judgement, meted out by
impersonal powers.


Again, the members of society are unable to help the victim to
emerge from a self-destructive phase. His depression is enhanced by
their apparent helplessness. Their introversion and inefficacy
induce in the victim a feeling of nightmarish isolation and
alienation. Healing and growth are once again retarded or even



Depression - if pathologically protracted and in conjunction with
other mental health problems - sometimes leads to suicide. But more
often, it allows the victim to process mentally hurtful and
potentially harmful material and paves the way to acceptance.
Depression is a laboratory of the psyche. Withdrawal from social
pressures enables the direct transformation of anger into other
emotions, some of them otherwise socially unacceptable. The honest
encounter between the victim and his own (possible) death often
becomes a cathartic and self-empowering inner dynamic. The victim
emerges ready to move on.

Society Phase V - DENIAL

Society, on the other hand, having exhausted its reactive arsenal -
resorts to denial. As memories fade and as the victim recovers and
abandons his obsessive-compulsive dwelling on his pain - society
feels morally justified to forget and forgive. This mood of
historical revisionism, of moral leniency, of effusive forgiveness,
of re-interpretation, and of a refusal to remember in detail - leads
to a repression and denial of the painful events by society.


This final mismatch between the victim's emotional needs and
society's reactions is less damaging to the victim. He is now more
resilient, stronger, more flexible, and more willing to forgive and
forget. Society's denial is really a denial of the victim. But,
having ridden himself of more primitive narcissistic defences - the
victim can do without society's acceptance, approval, or look.
Having endured the purgatory of grieving, he has now re-acquired his
self, independent of society's acknowledgement.

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10:51 am - Thought provoking!
Posted on literaryquotes by minnesattva:

"We all make vows, Jimmy. And there is something very beautiful and touching and noble about wanting good impulses to be permanent and true forever," she said. "Most of us stand up and vow to love, honor and cherish someone. And we really truly mean it, at the time. But two or twelve or twenty years down the road, the lawyers are negotiating the property settlement."

"You and George didn't go back on your promises."

She laughed. "Lemme tell ya something, sweetface. I have been married at least four times, to four different men." She watched him chew that over for a minute before continuing. "They've all been named George Edwards, but, believe me, the man who is waiting for me down the hall is a whole different animal from the boy I married, back before there was dirt. Oh, there are continuities. He has always been fun and he has never been able to budget his time properly and--well, the rest is none of your business."

"But people change," he said quietly.

"Precisely. People change. Cultures change. Empires rise and fall. Shit. Geology changes! Every ten years or so, George and I have faced the fact that we've changed and we've had to decide if it makes sense to create a new marriage between these two new people." She flopped back against her chair. "Which is why vows are such a tricky business. Because nothing stays the same forever.

"Maybe because so few of us would be able to give up something so fundamental for something so abstract, we protect ourselves from the nobility of a priest's vows by jeering at him when he can't live up to them, always and forever." She shiverd and slumped suddenly. "But, Jimmy! What unnatural words. Always and forever! Those aren't human words, Jim. Not even stones are always and forever.

"Until you get the measure of your own soul, Jim, don't be quick to condemn a priest, or anyone else for that matter. I'm not scolding you, sweetheart," she said hurriedly. "It's just that, until you've been there, you can't know what it's like to hold yourself to promises you made in good faith a long time ago. Do you hang in there, or cut your losses? Soldier on, or admit defeat and try to make the best of things?" She'd looked a little sheepish then and admitted, "You know, I used to be a real hardass about stuff like this. No retreat, no surrender! But now? Jimmy, I honestly don't know if the world would be better or worse if we all held ourselves to the vows of our youth."

--Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow

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Monday, May 26th, 2003
12:46 pm - Brain Dump #2 - Old Acquaintance becoming new friend?
So, I talked on the phone with the gal from my old church who is in the dog obedience class. She shared her story of leaving the church -- she was also spiritually abused, although she doesn't recognize it as such. It centered around her parenting skills. Her son has ADHD and the Sunday School people were telling her that she was a bad parent and that was why her child was difficult to teach. No matter how many times she explained it, she got the same story back. I happen to know that at least one of the people who laid this guilt trip on her was one of the first people to shun me as well. A very judgemental woman. Anyway, we also talked dogs. Hers is a cute little toy poodle / maltese mix. A male who wants to be dominant. He IS an ankle biter. I have to tell you, it looks so much harder to handle those little dogs - so much bending for corrections etc. I think I'm glad I have a monster! Anyway, Brenda had to run fairly quickly. Her son spent last week throwing up and as of Saturday was still going strong.

Saturday, she brought peaches to the class for me. Homegrown. Small but juicy! That was so nice. We sat and talked before and after class. I hope we can become friends. I thought I had blown it at one point during the phone call. I let more of my anger out than she was comfortable with hearing. So Saturday I apologized to her and told her that I would be more careful. Told her that I hoped we could become friends and didn't want to scare her off. She said, no, she understood where I was coming from and that her reaction was really because her son was running to the bathroom to throw up. So, typical of the PTSD, I am not sure I believe her about that, but I'm going to try to accept her word while at the same time, being a little more circumspect about how much detail I go into without her explicit approval. And particularly I don't think I should divulge new information over the phone because I can't see her reaction.

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11:37 am - Brain dump: Stress and the Singer
I have a lot of stuff to write about that I've been trying to get up the energy to put down in words. So I'm going to separate topics in separate posts. This is Brain Dump #1: Stress and the Singer.

This weekend, being a holiday, we had a lot of folks on vacation. All that was left was 2 singers and the guitarist. It was decided that we would use the midi for the music and the guitarist would work the computer that projects the words. So George was called in to work the midi. Now, George is a really nice guy. I want to say this up front. He's in his 50s and going to seminary to become a Methodist pastor. He travels over to California for 2 days of classes every week during the school year. He's very interesting to talk to and a very kind man.

I am usually there early, because that's just how I am. And that's when set up is happening. I am not comfortable dealing with expensive equipment. I'll plug in mics, I'll set up stands. That's about it. I explained to George that he really didn't want me messing with anything more complicated than that. He accepted that OK.

We had a great rehearsal. Even though she wasn't going to be around Sunday, the director came. I have decided to be more proactive in my relationship with her, and we had a good talk Thursday night. I am feeling much more comfortable with her. And she was extremely complimentary about how Ann and I sounded together. She said that the two of us sound better than the whole group, which led the guitarist to say that the male singers were screwing everything up. We all laughed. I felt very accepted.

After rehearsal, I gathered up the mics, put them in their individual black zipper cases and put the zipper cases in to the bag where I found them. Put the stands away. Sat down. George goes over to the bags and says, You really can't be trusted. You put the mics in the yellow bag instead of the black one. And I'm looking at him holding the mics in their black cases and not seeing a yellow bag anywhere, much less near the mics. So I'm confused and I go over and ask what he means. And here the comedy of errors begins. I say, "I put them in the black bags" (referring to the zippered cases). And he says, "The cords go in the yellow bag, the mics go in the black." And I say, "I didn't do anything with cords. And the mics ARE in the black bags." And George, not changing a thing says, "The cords go in the yellow bag, the mics go in the black." We go back and forth several times until I finally am so stressed out that I say, "Stop talking about the cords. I don't care about the cords! Tell me what I did wrong with the mics. They are in the black bags." And I point to the black zipper case that he is holding and ask him if that isn't black. And George STILL repeats, "The cords go in the yellow bag, the mics go in the black." So I give up and go over to Ann and say, please explain this to me before I go nuts. And Ann says, "You put them in the right zipper cases. You just put the zipper cases in the wrong bag." And I say, "What yellow bag is he talking about? There is no yellow bag." And she says, "He means khaki." So I go back to George and say, "What you're trying to tell me is that I put the mics in the correct zipper bags, but that I then should have put them in the black bag instead of the khaki bag." And he says, "Yes." And I say to him, "I got confused because you kept bringing up the cords. I really need for you to give me only the information I ask for and in as direct a matter as possible. When you bring in side issues, I become confused." And he just looks at me. And I think to myself, This is a guy who isn't used to having people set boundaries with him. Red flag.

OK, so Sunday comes. First thing that happens is that he has decided that his daughter is going to do the special that Ann and I had worked on Thursday. That's OK. Not great. She's young, her voice is nasal and completely uncovered (a deadly combo--worse than nails on a chalkboard to my ear) and goes flat frequently. She has lazy articulation and poor breath control. But what the hey. People are going to enjoy it anyway. Not everyone is a critic like me. We go through rehearsal and everything's fine. The service goes fine.

After the service, we are cleaning up. Again, I put the stands away. I put the mics away. George asks me to put cords away. I say I'd rather not. He says, "It's easy. Wind them up individually and put them in the yellow bag." (Again with the yellow!) So I begin winding a cord, against my better judgement, and Ann comes up and says I'm not supposed to be doing it that way. She says the cords are all wound up together. I say that George told me to do them individually. George says, yes, we are doing them individually but not like that. I say, I don't feel up to doing this right now. George says, "It's easy. Here's how to do it." And he shows me. I try it 3 times and I cannot make it work right. I say to George, "I don't have the motor skills to do this. I'll help you untangle them, but someone else will need to wind them." And George starts trampling my boundaries again. "You can do it. You have enough fine motor coordination to sing, so you can wind cords." And I say "No, I've tried and I can't." And he says, "You need to learn how to do this so that you can be a useful person." OK GIGANTIC red flag. I don't NEED to do anything just because someone else things thinks I do. So I say to him, "George, I have a very low threshold for stress and I'm right at the brink right now. If you continue to push me, I'm going to have a panic attack." I was already internally shaking at this point. And George says, "There is nothing to get stressed out about here." Notice the invalidation of my emotions. Very abusive, although I am sure that wasn't intended. And that's it. I start crying. I say, "I have PTSD, George. I don't react to stress like other people. I really need for you to accept what I say to you and not push things." And he gets this totally shocked look on his face, I think about the fact that he's made me cry. And he says, "Ok, don't worry about it. I didn't know."

I'm trying really hard not to feel like I should come with a warning label. I tried to communicate as clearly as possible that I was confused (Thursday) and frustrated (Sunday) and over stressed (Sunday). There is a gift in this experience. I have felt "wrong" for a long time that I let Rick trample my boundaries so much. I didn't know about boundaries and I actually enforced them more than the normal wife of an addict does, but I still have felt "wrong." Well, this just opened my eyes to the fact that most people don't recognize a boundary, even when it's being clearly set for them. And if a kind, well-meaning guy like George can push through my boundaries even when clearly stated, it really wouldn't have mattered if I had set clear boundaries with RJ. He would have squashed them anyway, because that's what passive-aggressive narcissistic psycho-hubbies do. And they do it with glee, as opposed to people who are ignorant about boundaries who just don't recognize that they are trespassing. So that's a good thing that came out of all this stress.

Another good thing is that once George realized I was upset and backed off, I was able to get myself calmed down again without meds. I chewed a stick of gum and that took the shakies out for me. I was on edge the rest of the day, but not in a full-out panic. I see that as progress.

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Friday, May 23rd, 2003
9:07 pm - Well, here we are
I am sitting here with a wet, wet dog. I decided that he is just way too overheated after we walk in 100+ degree heat. So either I'm going to spray him down with the hose, or he's going to come into the pool with me. So I dragged him onto the second step of the pool, where he is about belly deep. Then I splashed water up over his back. He wasn't too happy, but I did what the trainer said to do. She said never try to sooth them by telling them that it will be OK. Tell him that it's just water and nothing to be afraid of. Well, I was just praising him for being so brave and for being such a good boy, and he was smiling and happy. I had to drag him back out of the pool. I hope he'll go in more easily with me tomorrow. We'll see.

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11:57 am - Only the News that is fit to read
Watch out, I'm reading the news again! First, this story from the local affiliate. Last night, a dogastrophe of monumental proportions took place in this peaceful suburb of Phoenix. The culprit has been crated while further investigation is conducted. Back to you, Liz.


This is going too far:

Can't attend funeral in person? Do it online
Associated Press
May. 22, 2003 08:25 AM

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - A new company is broadcasting funerals on the Internet, giving friends and relatives who can't make the service a chance to pay their respects.

"Those who can't get to the funeral also will be able to sign the electronic guest book and e-mail condolences to the family," said Ross Johnson, promotional director for Chapelview Online, based in Rapid City.

The company captures funerals with a digital camera and broadcasts them live for seven funeral homes in South Dakota.

Its clients include funeral director Daryl Isburg, of Hot Springs, who heard about Chapelview during a conference and decided to give it a try.

Isburg said families often ask for a tape of the service to send to loved ones who couldn't be there. Relatives and friends who want to watch it online will be given a password.

Not everyone is sold on the idea.

"So will it come to: 'Hey, Mom's funeral got 40,000 hits?' " asked Tim Wingen, managing partner of Miller Funeral Home in Sioux Falls. "We should be there to support each other. And families really appreciate seeing someone that perhaps they haven't seen for years."


I want to see Bruce Almighty. Listen to this: "Jim Carrey embodies the scary possibility that at heart every human being is a sugar-crazed 6-year-old hellion gleefully wreaking havoc in Mommy and Daddy's fastidiously decorated living room," writes Stephen Holden in today's Times. Did you catch Carrey on Letterman a couple nights ago? I'm not always that fond of him, but the bit with the webcams all over his body was a total crack-up. They gave this movie a great review but completely panned In-Laws. The previews for that one have looked good. I'll wait and see what the street buzz is on that one before deciding.


We break away for more local news. A well-known (well, at least his private parts are well-known) local business man is now 2 months in arrears paying his court-mandated spousal support. His wife states, "As soon as that judge signs the updated temporary orders, I'm filing contempt of court papers on that turkey." She went on to say several other comments we cannot repeat here. Ahem. Back to you, Liz.


"On the first tee I kept telling myself, 'Trust yourself, you can do it.'"


On May 23, 1934, bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were shot to death in a police ambush as they were driving a stolen Ford Deluxe along a road in Bienville Parish, La. (Thus giving birth to the old acronym FORD = Found On Road Dead)


American Idol Brou-ha-ha - am I the only person on earth who doesn't watch this show????


And that's all the news that is fit to read.

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Thursday, May 22nd, 2003
11:36 pm - ARGH!
OK, this dog is mad at me. Apparently, he is insulted at the cat flaps and being denied access to his cat crunchies. So, when I went out on Tuesday, he destroyed an empty box and some junk mail. No big loss. But today he destroyed my favorite pair of sandals AND a book I hadn't read yet. [insert deleted expletives here]. So we are back to crating. Since they don't make crates to contain huge beasts like this one, I use the 2nd bathroom as his crate. He usually objects to going in there when he knows I'm leaving, but today he went right in there. He knows I'm unhappy with him. And yet, when I got home from rehearsal, he grabbed another shoe and was about to destroy it right in front of me. We are having serious issues here about who is in control. I can't afford to lose this game.

You would have totally cracked up yesterday. The last remaining slippers I have are kitty slippers made with fur (I'm sure it's fake, so keep the red paint to yourself!) with ears and eyes. I know that when I first got them, they freaked the cats out. But Gumbo went nuts for them. I thought for awhile that his nose was permanently attached to my foot. They are going to reside, with the rest of my footware, on the other side of the cat flap.

Rehearsal was good tonight. I wasn't expecting our director to be there because she is going to be out of town the next 2 Sundays, but she showed up. And I've decided to stop being afraid of what she thinks of me, so I took a more active approach to relating to her. And she really opened up to me! She also sat out in the pews to listen to rehearsal tonight. There were just 2 singers, Ann and myself. After one song, she said, "Wow, you two really sound great together. Ron and Joe must really be dragging you down." So Ann and I decided on the spot to team up to go tour with a big band. HA! I wish!

I got my new digital camera tonight. I've taken some pictures with it, just funning around, but I haven't really looked at them yet. Too tired to install the software and USB reader for the memory card. Tomorrow I may torture you with cute pet pictures. Or not. I wasn't really concentrating on getting a good picture. Just getting used to the feel of the camera and the different buttons, etc.

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Wednesday, May 21st, 2003
10:22 pm - Oh My!
It broke the 110 degree mark in Bullhead City today.Man! It was plenty hot here, too. I was beet red when I got back from walking Gumbo, and he was so hot I couldn't get him to drink any water. He just collapsed like a rag doll. I even tried to lure him with ice cubes. He has perked back up and is working on ripping the squeaker out of his third baby. Mom! Only 2 more babies left!

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