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(recorded in California June 2011)

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Melody talks about her book, Making Miracles in Forty Days on WEBE Radio. In this interview, she guides listeners step by step in harnessing the power that we forgot we had to find out where we want to go in life, and how to get there. How to remain grateful and where our unchecked codependency traits can still show their ugly heads and take us back to that negative way of thinking many of us spent years in and more years working out of. The real key is disciplining our thinking and remaining grateful for everything, all the time, and that is no small task. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/webe/2012/04/24/melody-beattie--author

Melody’s Latest Release

Deep Cleaning

There are two ways to clean a room or a house: surface and deep.

You can straighten up piles of stuff, get rid of obvious dirt, vacuum, dust and do dishes, but when you open your closets or kitchen drawers, they’re stuffed with junk, clutter and crap. Lift up the carpet and you’ll find years of dust and crud.

Or if you have time and like a truly clean environment, you can start at the bottom of things, organize all the drawers and closets, throw away or find a home for what’s not utilitarian to you and end up with a home that when you look at, know is clean through and through.

To do that (deep clean), we often need to first make a bigger mess than the one we had before while we sift through stuff, organize, make decisions and then create order out of the chaos.  When we finish, it’s much easier to maintain a clean home because the old adage reigns:  there’s a place for everything and everything is where it belongs.

Many people, including me, use house-cleaning as a metaphor for personal inventories and staying current with our emotions, relationships and belief systems.  If you’re reading this blog, likely you’re someone who wants a clean, well-organized home – both the physical structure we live in and the body – emotions, mind and soul – that house us throughout our lifetime.

As we spend more time growing, we have more events to organize and deal with the impact from in our lives – divorces, breakups, loss, betrayals and other nasty goings-on that we’ve come to call “learning experiences.”  We find and share with others ways to reorganize our lives, deal with our emotions and then reframe our pasts in such a way that we’re no longer victims – of Life, other people, and especially ourselves.

The longer we’ve been consciously seeking to live decent and moral lives, lives that don’t hurt others or ourselves, the more we have a filing system for events that take place and the emotions that result from them.  We develop systems for dealing with the pain, sadness, grief and fear that come attached to life events.  We feel and release our emotions because we want to stay clear and in balance.  Doing this, we believe, allows us to make the best decisions possible now and in our future.

It sounds good on paper. But the one emotion that I’ve yet to find an adequate filing cabinet, a means of organization for or even a place to put it is the pernicious, vengeful and sometimes downright evil events that transpire and the anger I feel as a result of them.

“What have you been so edgy about,” my roommate asked recently.

“I’ve got all this anger and I have no place to go with it,” I said.  “The people I’m angry at are waltzing around far enough away from me that likely I won’t encounter them again. I don’t have an opportunity to tell them how furious I am, how their behavior impacted me and I don’t have the ability or power to insist that they make these situations right.”

My voice quavered slightly and I could tell I had slid into that place where we’re so damn angry we cry.  We’re livid, outraged and incensed and have to place to go with it.

I don’t want these emotions inside me.  I don’t want to take them out on innocent bystanders.  I also don’t want to turn the emotions inward and take them out on myself.

Now this is rhetorical, which means all of you loving and caring people don’t need to rescue me or solve this problem for me.  I know about getting an air bat or using our hands and beating a pillow.  I know about primal scream therapy.  I know that exercise helps.   But the pillow didn’t do anything wrong and I don’t want to hit it.

I don’t want to break dishes.

I don’t want to punish people who didn’t do anything to me.

I do understand why some people have the experience we label “going postal.”  The person who receives the result of all this unresolved anger had nothing to do with it; he or she was just the person  who happened to be there when all the anger we’ve stuffed into utility drawers, hid under the carpet and crammed into our closets finally emerged.

Exploded may be more like it.

We live in a society that’s now legislated anger.  If we honk our horn while driving, likely we’ll end up in anger management class, which only ticks us off more.  If we dump on the person who we know violated us, the predator – not the victim – will often be the person protected by the law.

We can journal, see a therapist, tell a friend how we’re feeling but often these attempts to find release and redemption do not equal the level of fury we feel.

“Seek and ye shall find.”

I know each of us will find an answer to the anger dilemma — a safe and legal way to deal with and organize the anger we feel.  Not the surface irritation, but the deep rage bubbling inside us that we feel on our way to forgiveness, acceptance and peace.

To forgive too soon causes cancer.

Often, the subtle awareness and consciousness of such a dilemma as this means we’re closer than we realize to finding a solution – one that works for us and doesn’t hurt other people, even the ones we may fantasize about hurting.

Those who have read my writing for any length of time know I don’t have many rules, but the ones I adhere to are:  don’t hurt yourself or others, and don’t let people harm you.  I do not advocate violence and I oppose the death penalty.  Dying isn’t punishment.

I’m deliberately leaving this blog open-ended.  Remember its title?  Living in the Mystery.

This subject fits into that category.

It’s not wrong to feel anger but harboring it can have consequences we may not prefer. I want the peace we find to be the kind that results from deep, not surface, cleaning.

If over the course of the next three days or nights you hear a strange, pulsating scream, one that shakes your home similar to the way a 3.2 earthquake would but you check online and no earthquake occurred, don’t worry.  You’ll know I found my answer.

I got my anger out.

From the desk of Melody Beattie

October 2, 2012

40 Responses to Deep Cleaning

  • Smerk says:

    Thank you for sharing, Melody. I’m sorry that you’re experiencing the discomfort of anger. I’ve never experineced any relief via the pillow punching method and I’ve had to learn to make “friends” and sit still with my anger. That’s always been a challenging one. I’ve discovered that whe anger arises for me it usually centers around protection- a dishonoring of a boundary. My anger brings up the questions What must be protected? What must be restored? The occasions where I’m able to treat it as an energetic entity by envisioning it as a color, sound, or a sensation and channelling it into my boundary as a means of expression as opposed repressing and internalizing it or externalizing it – spewing it out and wasting the precious energy that it brings are the times when I can readily receive the gift that my anger has brought. There’s been a few direct confrontations where I’ve even been able to have some fun with it by envisioning my anger as a fire and then using it to set my boundary on fire, kind of like a ring of fire. Using my imagination around it has served to calm, center and ground me in some potentially volatile situations. But there are also those times when I ruminate in the frustration of carrying it much longer than I care to and that’s when it becomes painful and it gets masked in power struggles, enmeshment and projection. Those are usually the times when it inevitably takes longer because there’s an old wound or some long forgotten baggage that needs to be cleared. The kind that need to be debrided – deep cleaned as you had mentioned- in order to heal. In the back of my mind I carry the awareness that there’s the potential for a breakthrough and deep healing, but that never makes it suck any less while I’m in the midst of it. -Wishing you a swift and easy release, Patty

    • Melody Beattie says:

      Hey Smerk. Thanks for taking the time to comment on the deep cleaning post. Actually, I found release the second I edited the post and pushed “publish.” I started laughing — for the first time that day, then giggling outloud. The entire book, Language of Letting Go, was by Life dumping me in quicksand and then letting me write my way out — sometimes four or more times in one day. Same was true of this blog — I knew I felt angry and I have awareness of both what we’d label “New Age” and “Old Age” and everything in between for release remedies, but I was just frickin’ mad. Bubbled up and over the sides of the pan, my anger did — that day I wrote that blog. Writing it turned out to be my “release” — writing the blog I mean. And I’m not of the habit of writing to or for myslef, but instead I write and express myself to my readers. It is most definitely an interesting journey and a rich life. Thanks again for commenting and your heartfelt concern. Best, Melody PS — plus I was busy writing something else and had absolutely not one intention of blogging that day.

      • Smerk says:

        Whoot, Whoot! Here’s to “Living in the Mystery” . Your writng for us readers blesses us both. It IS a wonderful phenomenon how the Universe works things out when we get out of the way and get in the flow, even though more times than not we have no idea where that flow may be taking us next. Like they said on StarTrek: “Resistance is futile” ( so I often wonder Why I have an inclination to “go there”…) The brilliant lunacy of human behavior and emotion is a fascinating thing. I’ve always marvelled at some of the funky quirky animals that are native to Australia, like the duckbilled platypus, then I realize how beautifully ludacris humanity is by comparison. Sending love and light from “the fringe” ( I kinda like it out here) Smerk ;)

  • Liz says:

    Great post. When you do find a great way to release anger please let me know. So far the best way for me has been gratitiude (I wonder who taught me that) – bizzare I know. But I think acting would also be pretty good. This guy called Chris Lilley played a role as an angry boy in his mockumentry “Summer Heights High” and said dressing up as a boy in a school uniform and swearing across a playground full of students was actually really fun as well as picking fights with teachers. Sadly, it sounds like a lot of fun to me too. It would be a cool way to release anger. What a shame that I won’t get the opportunity to release my anger that way. But… you never know….

  • Karin says:

    Hi Melody, I don’t know how it works other than God/the universe sends me messages through you just when I need them. It’s really incredible. The ‘deep cleaning’ theme is where I’m living every day….and where I’ve been living for quite a while. In fact I think I’ll be deep cleaning the rest of my life. I was divorced in March 2011 and it took quite a few years of deep cleaning to get to that stage. I am now in another relationship and I continue to realize more ways I need to surrender to deep cleaning. For example, as weird as it may sound, my new husband has some similarities to my dad who passed away 14 years ago….and I find myself needing to process deep feelings of pain and anger regarding my dad that I never had the opportunity to process while he was still alive. I am amazed at how healing at the deep levels can take so long. And yes, I’m 100% with you, I wish there were an easy way to release all the rage. It seems I deal with it every day in some way or another. I also focus on not hurting myself and others in the midst of my feelings. I try to center in the belief that even though I may not see the justice that occurs on my behalf, I believe that in the end justice will prevail for all of us who have been used, abused or exploited. I pray every day that I will have the ability to make healthy choices that will lead to life and peace. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, truth and feelings once again so that many others, including myself, may be encouraged and helped. May you be blessed today and always with much joy and peace….knowing that you are loved! Karin

    • Mr Mark Jones says:

      ” WOW , OooooooHH Baby , Melody you SHO can write , you know that’s Right ! ” Honey what I do is is get into SUPER MEDITATION – you know Imagination is Everything and Memory is the other Half and I a a a ah , ah what I do is drain my head of toxins and release a big snake out from my belly and seal up the exit wounds and start over …….. Thanks for the Shakedown …… As a brother said in the Army , ya gotta get it out one way or another ! I am Groovin On , Mark Learns Alot …… 12-9-2012

  • Melody Beattie says:

    Hi Liz — without overly repeating myself, the second — the instant — I finished editing that blog and pushed “Publish,” my anger released, diminished. I started laughing and giggling. I won’t duplicate the rest of my response to Smerk, but thank you for taking the time to comment. I’ve been writing away (not at blogs but at other projects). I’ve been considering blogging about my experiences first learning to and now writing screenplays — it’s a far more intense ride than the other writing I’ve done. At any rate, it appears we live in a society that doesn’t approve of anger (or actually any emotions). I guess our feelings “bother” people but franly, I think our emotions trigger reminders of their own issues, which is why anger is legilated and grief is ignored. The powers that be don’t mind us feeling afraid as it tends to keep us in place. Best, Melody

  • Melody Beattie says:

    Hi Karin. Good to hear from you again. I won’t repeat myself (or at least will strive not to) so instead, please see my response to Smerk (first one under the post). Thanks for dropping by and leaving me a note. Best, Melody Beattie

  • Ken Tuvman says:

    Dear Melody and friends, Anger isn’t necessarily good or bad – it’s an emotion. I try to remember that! Facts are facts and emotions are emotions. But when I’m in the midst of anger/drama it’s hard to differentiate the real from unreal. The antidote is reaching out like Melody does – it’s healthy – some people pick up the phone, others write a blog or just keep it to themselves in a journal. Last week in Minnesota, the day after Yom Kippur an employer let his employee go – the fired employees solution was to use his concealed gun to shoot and kill the boss, the UPS driver, and a few other innocent bystanders – the guy went postal and in the end took his own life – a long term solution for a short term problem! I’ll speculate that everyone reading this has had bad things happen at certain times in their lives – for me I had something bad happen last week also, on the day after our Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) where I’d asked G-d to forgive me for my transgressions. I went to workout at the health club and when I came back to get dressed, someone had stolen my Allen Edmonds shoes – they were 12 years old but I loved those shoes – to top it off, I use orthotics to help me walk straight (broke ankle in my 20′s). I had to walk out of the club barefoot – it’s like when someone steals someone’s wheelchair – how low can people go? I’m angry, feel victimized, and spoke to the manager, but moving on. My job is to rise above all this “animal behavior.” G-d gave us the power to reason so we could be better than animals. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work this way in the real world. I try to keep moving forward like the salmon returning to spawn – they’re always moving, always on a mission – what’s written in their DNA clock is focused on something other than themselves. Remember the phrase from AA, “No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.” In the final analysis, it’s one day at a time – lately I loathe getting out of bed in the morning but I have others in my life that depend on me – family, friends, customers, employees that causes me to get up, drink some coffee, sometimes pray/exercise/read something inspirational – anything that’s bigger than myself. Since last November, my dad’s dying a slow death – instead of letting nature run its course, my brother and his wife are interfering, doing everything they can to keep him alive – makes me sick – a little Al-anon please! Anyway, thanks Melody. I enjoy the way your write and express yourself!

  • Seeker says:

    I don’t know how long my comment will be but just this thing has been bothering me. I have been angry for quite some time that I cannot tell the person causing the anger without feeling guilty or like it is a useless attempt. She is way too manipulative and smart to let me get the proper words out without being interrupted. She is a very toxic person but I am consciously trying to stop being so codependent although the attempts are almost in vain. I want to be her friend. I want to be included in her life…if only she wouldn’t play mind chess with me 100% of the time. I am sure you know the type. The type that puts out the irresistible bate out for codependents to hook into. She isn’t looking to be fixed. She is actually looking for someone to abuse. She is a counter-dependent with slow then fast then back to slow codependent moments. I can see all this yet I cannot help myself. The story is much deeper than friendship. She was the first little girl I loved at the age of 5. We’re now 40. We reconnected 3 years ago after not hearing from one another for 17 years. We are both married but we had a torrid 2.5 year love affair. It was exciting and horrible all at once. I am still angry that I went there with her. I am still angry over not being able to make it work with her even though I have worked through things with my wife and are now doing a lot better. I am angry that I cannot be her friend and she disposed of me for being an alcoholic/pill popper. This is why I am angry: She decided to dump me as her friend after I graduated 4 1/2 months worth of rehab. She held me accountable for my actions in the past during my using period which is fine, I accept that but she also followed my “congratulations” with “You are still the same old person..even though you are sober.” This came down into my lap 2 hours after graduating rehab. She had made no effort to try to know me again to make the accusation. She also told me that I was not taking care of the core issue. She diagnosed me as having BPD. I talked to my therapists and clinicians who then pointed out to me: You need to cut all ties. She is lethally toxic and is your typical abuser in a domestic violence situation. The manipulation she uses is simple crazy making behavior or gas lamping. So now that I realize that I am angry over that as well. So, yes I completely understand trying to clean out in the deepest sense of the world. I find myself holding the cleaning rag and unable to start cleaning. Why? Because she actually told me that I should consider her dead to me. I want my chance to tell her how bad she was. I want to tell her all the harm she did, how wrong she is. So why don’t I? I can’t…I’ve learned in the last 5 months- think things through without being impulsive. Be the better person…walk away. So where does this leave my anger? I am so frustrated. I just reread your book “playing it by heart” again and it points out a lot of good advice and I felt better. My anger has been persistent though. It’s a knot in the pit of my stomach that will not go away. I wish that I could find a way to get over getting cut off from friendship, talked to negatively about my future without taking into consideration that I might have evolved into a better person, being frustrated that if I complain or reason this whole situation out then I am having a pity party and see myself as a victim(according to her), and finally I want to stop thinking about her! It’s become like an obsession- if only she would realize that we were both wrong to cheat but it was her intentional carelessness that put me through a lot of dismay. Actually writing this is helping me momentarily feel better :) Sigh…does the pain ever get better? I hope so. Thanks for reading my rant :)

    • Melody Beattie says:

      I know. That’s all I can say. I have several people right now I would like to talk to honestly and clearly. I want them to hear me, stand still and hear me. But they do not want to hear what I have to say. They “ran” when they got caught. It makes me so angry, I feel so angry that I have no place no safe space to speak to these people about it and know that they have to hear me. But honestly? I don’t even know if that would help, for the anger and rage is mine, now. I own it. I want it out of me — all of it. But just like houses taking more time than we thought, so do these emotions — especially as we work and wind our rugged way through the stages of grief. Best, Melody

      • Mr Mark Jones says:

        Dear Melody , On 3-5- 2013 I feel pretty good cuz i have a new counseler ,, 7 sessions into it ….. She insists on being a mental health Counseler , but has a Masters in Theology/ Psychology …. I asked her to wear the Theology hat once ……. I Like your Deep Cleaning piece ; seems so true & alot of what I am feeling now ….. I just want to get rid of the old and bring in the new, fresh , me …. ! Happy Spring Melody – lets go from Mark J , to Mike if that’s okay ? Just a little cover , but I hope my writing will be true blue …… Good Night , may you have continued success at whatever you choose to do …… Take Care …… more later …….——->

  • Lisa O says:

    Oh, Melody, I’ve been dealing with that same anger, and in fact, just prior to reading this, wrote about it in my journal, if you can believe that. The exact same thing. Pondering the exact same thoughts; asking the exact same questions of the universe: how do I feel and then release this anger?! I want to scrape it off the walls of my insides and package it into the blackest garbage bag I can find and place it somewhere that it can never find me again. I want it over with. Out of me. Gone. Because it’s tearing shreds from me. Because I can’t contain it anymore. I could primal scream, beat and shred that pillow out of existence and I don’t think the anger would yet be gone. Perhpas I’ll let you know when I find my release mechanism – I’m so happy for you that you found yours, and I’m so glad you’re a writer, and willing to share it with us. Now go live and love life again!

  • Melody Beattie says:

    Hi Lisa. What’s really sad is that neither society, recovery nor religion give us the outlet or permission we need to feel this emotion. Instead, it’s looked on as a scourge, something to be ashamed of and as you said, get rid of as quickly, silently and unobtrusively as we can. I’m so sick of being shamed for my anger (and no, I do not think you were shaming me, not at all) by people in recovery. I’m not talking about letting anger harden into resentments, into fostering and nurturing it. I’m not talking about allowing it to control my behaviors or thourhts. But until it’s released, that’s exactly what it does, albeit subtly. One day, I had ordered a brand new refrigerator-freezer from a well-known business, and paid for delivery fees. The business delivered my fridge, took the old one, and then they plugged in the new one to see if it worked. It didn’t. Not at all. The delivery team walked out the door — “Call the manufacturer,” they said. “Take it up with them.” I steamed. When I called customer service the next day to convince them to take out the non-functional refrigerator and bring me one that worked, as I expressed my dissatisfaction to the man on the other end of the phone, I heard my word about boundaries being shot at me, “Well, I do not have to listen to this kind of talk,” he said. “Now, I am going to hang up the phone.” Oh Good Lord, I thought. Have I contributed to creating this monster of non-tolerance for self-expression in our world? If I have in any way, I sincerely apologize. We should all be strong enough to hear an appropriate expression of anger from others — one that’s not directed at us, but one we could help diminish by at least listening to, and validating it — wherein the problem, I believe, exists. People are afraid of anger. I think we’re afraid of our own anger. I think others are afraid to hear it and express it themselves. So much stigma comes with it — in the program or out. It’s a true Achilles Heel for us all. And to those who say, “Oh me? I never get mad,” I say, “BS.” It’s impossible to live in our world and not feel, at times, a degree of fury or even rage — especially with the greed and criminal activity that permeates our world and the internet and businesses in general. It makes true victims of us all, and creates a need for us to work hard to stay out of the victim frame of mind, especially when we have been truly victimized. However, it’s important to know that we remove ouselves from victim status the moment we take steps to take care of and stand up for ourselves — in any way, shape or form, but especially in ways that work. So often we feel ashamed by being victimized, and don’t take those steps to report the incident, or talk about it. I hope this doesn’t sound like a ramble, but in our world today we need real, ordinary and accessible ways to express our anger without getting thrown in Anger Management Groups (and no, that hasn’t happened to me) or worse yet jail (no that hasn’t happened to me either). Part of letting go means feeling all our emotions that come up on the way to true forgiveness and peace and that includes, especially, feelings of rage — as they are very much part of that path. We should be born not with a silver spoon in our mouths, but with an airbat by our sides. Best, Melody

  • Ken Tuvman says:

    I can relate to the guy on the phone threatening to hang up on you! It’s frustrating and angering when something you order arrives and doesn’t work or is the the wrong part, etc. The past year, I know I’ve been “short” with a lot of people – it’s been a hard year. I was pulled over awhile back for turning on the brights on a dark night – one of my headlights had burned out and I couldn’t see. The officer accused me of “road rage.” From his perspective, it looked like I was flashing my brights at the car in front of me. I had to show him one of my low beam lights was out and I planned to fix it the next day – he let me go with a warning! Yikes! I just try to stay focused on the big picture and remember the material things aren’t the most important parts of life – it’s our loved ones, families, friends. Just saying.

    • Melody says:

      Hi Ken. I just realized that I interpreted what you said in your comment incorrectly (I think). I thought you meant that you related to the guy who was angry at me because I wanted a new refrigerator that worked delivered. I’m sorry. In re-reading your post, it reads so much differently. Words are such strange things — our interpretation of one word can change the entire meaning of what someone says. Thanks for participating in the blog — and I hope things are going well for you. How’s your dad? Best, Melody

  • Melody says:

    The problem is, Ken, if I stay focused on other things and the anger is lurking inside me, staying focused on other things does not make the anger go away. Usually, anger signals a problem — tells us, “Don’t go there,” “Stay away,” or “You just got a bad deal and need to do something about it.” If we don’t take action on behalf of ourselves when timely action is indicated, we will forever stay in the victim mode. Best, Melody (Glad you got away with a warning ticket. In CA, they charge $15 to walk with you to your car to inspect the change you made — even if the walk is 200 feet.) As to companies delivering products that are broken after you just spent a thousand dollars on it, that’s just plain wrong. When we, as a group, have the courage and take the time to stand up for ourselves, the scams will begin to stop. The problem is, businesses do actuarials showing them that most people will not take the time nor will they spend the money to stand up for themselves. They’ll shrug their shoulders, and say, “Whatever; I have better things to do.” And one by one, they get to keep all the money they stole because we shrugged it off. All we do is give them permission to do it again and again and again. It’s time to make the figures in their actuarials change.

  • Golden Shine says:

    I love that you said that to deep clean you have to first make a bigger mess. That’s what I always say!

    • Mr Mark Jones says:

      The true release of Anger takes more time than we thought before , correct Melody ? That helps cuz I think I eat when I am upset , angry , or anxious ….. to sort of fill the void of not knowing what to do about those feelings ……Some of us may get surgery or go to the doctor alot or , kick the cat , or write graffitti on mailboxes , ?? !! I think this ISSUE is worth a book !! Rather than flip on highbeams —–> SPEED !! OOooooooo you all have opened a powder keg , Melody being Natural just send off an Earthquake with a very Erie SCREAM ! Thanks for being you ! It ain’t all pretty but its True ! Mark in the Morning Dark, 22 days before 2013 ….izliate Addrefs

  • Melody says:

    I had a dickens of a time getting my reply to you to post. We made some changes to the site (“we” meaning the webmaster) to make it more secure and since then we’ve had a few technical problems — so bear with us if any of you have had dificulties posting. Anyway, responding to your post: I was just talking to a friend today about guilt and anger, and how much guilt I had about my anger at certain people in my life when I first got into recovery — and how much anger I’d had buried deep within me for so many years, since I was a child. When it finally came out, it shook the walls of the treatment center I was in — literally. But, finally I became free. That’s when I got sober. Several different incidents happened around them, but that anger had to get out of the way first. So often anger can appear as guilt, and guilt can show as anger. It’s like the world is divided into two: people who need to get angry but instead feel guilty, and the people who are angry and instead need to deal with their guilt. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to comment. Yes — chaos preceeds order, and when we really clean we always make a bigger mess first. Of all the things life is, it’s more ironic than anything else (I didn’t say tha tlast sentence quite right) — but life is completely and surprisingly ironic, and still doesn’t cease to amaze me. Best, Melody

  • claudia says:

    I just came across this post, and it’s so timely for me… I have had an increasing anger (and bafflement) for a person and his wife who were friends with my husband and I for about 14 years – a friendship discovered and kept alive by our love for the 12 step program we’ve shared for almost 20 years, and that began (seemingly suddenly) to disintegrate about 3.5 years ago. To this day we do not know what angered the husband so deeply and suddenly, but as time passed there were no amends made, no explanations offered or, even when asked, given. The really crazy thing was that, because their betrayal was so vicious and we honestly could not figure out what could have started the problem, we refused to retaliate or defend ourselves – even though our reputations were at stake (to to the extent that even newcomers to meetings were refusing to speak to us or shake our hands, due to the lies they’d be told about us)…and so we stayed angry…sharing our anger with one another, my sponsor, and one or two at most close friends who would be unaffected (directly, anyway), but we would not…absolutely refused, to share our anger with the offending couple. I watched my husband be destroyed by the loss of his best friend, and for three years I saw how deeply it hurt him, how deeply baffled (worse than me, I’m sure). Now, my husband is the KING of “pausing” — to the point where a LOT gets stuffed. And this is what I finally learned last Friday. It came to my attention that this guy who’d treated us so horribly had approached, hugged, and spoken at length with our daughter. From all of his other actions, this appeared to us to be just another way to push our buttons…to get us to react in public and look nuts in the process, while he…calm, cool, collected, could look about the crowd, seemingly confused by our hatred and anger. Fortunately, I wasn’t at the meeting where this happened, but when they got home, I’d been sleeping and was off my guard and I picked up the phone to call this son of a bitch and tell him that he could indulge in all the paranoid fantasies he wanted to, but to keep his filthy hands off our daughter…under no circumstances was he to approach her ever. And the next day I felt great. I felt great that night, too. No regrets…no fear of having shown my humanity,my weakness. Because by this time it was almost a game among the four of us to see who could pause and hold our anger in the longest. Crazy, crazy, crazy. The next time I saw him, the next night, in fact, I felt a love for him…a true forgiveness…not for his actions, as he has never admitted his wrong, but for his humanity. It was as if all I could see was his soul…and the rest wasn’t important. It doesn’t mean I trust him or want to be friends with him again…it just means that I have complete peace with his imperfection and my own. He’s wrong, yes. But I am wrong, too. And although I have not discovered the wrong I might have done in the problem with him, I am human and make decisions that miss the mark every day…decisions that with the Grace of God I am able to learn from…eventually. I have heard many times, people say that forgiveness is for us, not for the other guy. And I guess I’ve always gotten that, intellectually and often in my heart, but this experience, because of the depth of my anger, I suppose, helped me to feel acceptance and forgiveness in every cell of my body…and not just for him, either. For everyone. Even for me. These are such intense times we are living in…I am not surprised by the depth of any experience I have, or of the impact it has on me. This seems for me to be a time to answer the real questions about myself: who am I? What did I come here to do? My answer? To serve God as I understand God. So of course I have to experience pain, love, joy, contradiction…everything. If not, how will I grow in my relationship with God? Anyway, that’s where I’m at today. We’ll see about tomorrow. Bless you, dear Melody.

    • Melody Beattie says:

      I read your comment first when I had only had abuot four hours sleep after a “marathon” of taping tv shows the other day. I was exhausted, but kept reading it. Now, tonight, I’m rested and I get it. Yes, these are intense times. I have been hit — since 2002 — with the need to forgive others but more than that, to finally forgive myself. It set me free. I blamed myself for my choices, my disease, my mistakes — long, long after making amends. Someone once told me, “It isn’t made a list of all persons we had harmed and walk around ruminating about it after we make amends.” But that’s what I did. Long after the amends. Then one day my ex-sponsor suggested I needed to feel angrier at certain people. So I sat down to meditate, and “get into” my anger. I put on a tape of monks chanting, closed my eyes, and was absolutely enthralled at the complete perfection of all the imperfections in life. I had found the peace that passeth all understanding — or it found me. That’s like hte “peak of the mountain.” But climbing up it to get there — and going back down the other side, are entirely different issues (For me). Life happens. Things happen. Nobody knows where this world is going. Many of us never dreamt we’d be here this long. Yet … we have tools. We have each other. We have a HP. That’s really all we need. Best, Melody (And thank you for ranting. I think it helps everyone — gives each of us the permission we need to feel as angry as we really feel when the feelings come up. There is no other way to reach true forgiveness but to feel the other emotions before forgiveness sets in.)

      • Claudia says:

        Well said. Wait…let me rephrase that: IMMACULATELY said, Melody…esp. that part about, “…and was absolutely enthralled at the complete perfection of all the imperfections in life.” That’s it. When I told a friend of mine about it, I felt she, too, found an excellent word for the understanding I had felt in every cell of my body – the word she used in reference to that understanding was, “humanity.” sounds so much like “humility,” doesn’t it? Especially that “human” part. It IS beautiful and horrifying and contradictory and so frightening at times, so gorgeous at others that, either way, my heart feels as if it will explode – life – I mean…as you say: it’s so big. It’s so God. You know? Kurt Vonnegut once (or twice) said that all human beings really want is for someone to tell them, “We all love you. Everything is going to be okay.” And that is so the shoe that fits for me. May the God of all our individual understandings, and especially those of us in gravest doubt and fear, help us to know us know we are loved and adored. And that all is, and will be, well. lc

        • Melody Beattie says:

          It’s such a fine line we’re called to walk — between knowing how vulnerable and human we all are, and yet feeling safe and at peace with that. The only way I can do iit is to truly live life in each moment. Going to yesterday or tomorrow — next month or even later tonight — just doesn’t work anymore. When I’m here, now, I glide. Best, Meody

  • Heidi says:

    It’s quite interesting to me how emotions work. I’m fairly new to acknowledging, being aware, and taking ownership of my feelings. I don’t know why feelings stay tucked away, why some times feelings aren’t ready to surface when we want them to. I guess some emotional wounds take a lot more work/time/patience to heal. I recently moved houses and it seemed like the kitchen cleaning would never end! One more drawer. Oh wait, another cupboard. Oh, another shelf. Eventually it got done. But it was a lot of work and took a lot longer than I expected. Maybe that’s how some feelings are. I am happy to say that I continually find myself noticing this certain feeling pop up, that I thought would be long gone by now. I’m glad I am finally in a place I can acknowledge it, and surrender to it, and know it passes. That’s all I can do for now, but I’ve come along way. It used to overwhelm me and control me. I wish it would go away and I could be done with it, but it must have been a deeper loss/wound than I thought. I wish you well as you work through those challenging feelings and find the freedom you seek.

  • Heidi says:

    Oh one more things. I also don’t know why sometimes we choose to hold on to some things, when we know it’s in our best interest to let it go. Like the monkey trap analogy. People make a trap by making a hollow gourd with a small opening, just big enough for their hand. They place some food on the other side. The monkey comes along and grabs the fruit, and becomes stuck because they refuse to let go of the fruit to get their hand through. It they let go, they can run and be freed, if they don’t, they remain stuck. I don’t know why, but I know that I do this, sometimes hold on to things mentally and emotionally that keep me stuck. I don’t know why, but I am finding gentleness with myself seems to get me further than beating myself up, controlling, and judging myself harshly. Okay, that’s all. :)

    • Melody Beattie says:

      Hi Heidi. I think it’s all survival behaviors — survival behaviors that turn on us ultimately, but work until we can find other choices. Even low self-esteem, I’ve come to believe, is a survival behavior. If we look around at our life as children and see what a mess it is, it makes life too random and miserable for us to accept. So we blame ourselves, say that something must be wrong with us. It gives us a sense of control over the unfanthonable — until we realize that surviving isn’t enough. I also belive, as you said, that we each “let go” in our own time, when we’re ready, when life is ready for us to take the next steps and be set free. Thanks for taking hte time to post. Best, Melody

  • graham says:

    Hi Melody Thank you for bringing your gift of helping others with the issues in their lives to the world. Each person who clears a little something from their life makes the world a little nicer. One thing I discovered is that everybody has a unique gift to share with the world. Too often over the years this gift is forgotten or buried deep under the many other activities of being a human. The “lost” gift is often the reason some people are feeling life is hard and not much fun. This is because “Using your Gift” is closely connected to your “Joy of Living” which is very closely connected to your emotional and physical health. Anyways, I created a free website to help people find their gift and you might be interested in having a look. http://www.YourDivineGift.com Cheers Graham

    • Melody says:

      Hi. Thanks for taking the time to share your site with us. I checked it out, and it looks like it will be very helpful to anyone floundering around, wondering what their true gift or purpose is in this world. I know I forgot about what I wanted to do, really wanted; for many years. But as you say, it had its roots (and blockages) in my childhood. I think (just my opoinion) that many of us can take our gift for granted. It’s a form of “the grass is always greener in someone else’s backyard.” They don’t know how valauble their gift is, and they wish they had someone else’s. Just an observation. Anyway, thanks for the kind words, and readers — if you have a moment, check out this very worthwhile and free site. Best, Melody Beattie

  • JBR - Just Be Real says:

    Melody, thank you for who God created you to be! I so admire your transparency. At the same time I am very sorry for what you went through and I extend my safe hugs to you. I am 55 and come from a background of alcholic parents who divorced when I was eleven but their arguments started years before that I witnessed and my little girl inside began to shut down. My dad did not spend time with me and would criticize me. I was then forced to move from Florida to New York with my mum who shortly remarried after her divorce. Leaving my father, home, family, school, friends and basically my life. I was also sexually abused around nine years old by my older brother. I have never married. Fear and isolation has been ruling the most part of my life. I am thankful in 1977 that I was Born Again and if I died I knew I would go to heaven. But due to my emotional damage that was the extent of my Christian life. Until I started going to a Christian Therapist four years ago. Grant it my Heavenly Daddy is my ultimate healter! Just in the last year and a half, as I heal inside, my desire for my Heavenly Daddy has become greater. I just CANNOT feel or express His love yet. I have no problem with anger, but love is hard. I gather that is part of the results from the abuse. So, I am praying for revelation into His love. I so appreciated your testimony on Benny Hinn. Thank you. Many blessings dear one.

    • Melody says:

      Thanks for taking time to write. I get a feeling you would benefit from the Make Miracles in 40 Days site. You can get the book at your library (it contains an activity — and you need to read the book first to understand it.) I have a feeling it will help you open up to love by releasing any old pain and wound inside you. I think it’s time for you to come out of hiding and into the sunlight? Think about it. The site is at MelodyBeattie.org; it’s completely free — no tricks, no gimmicks. But you must read the book first. Then, the activity takes only ten minutes of your time each day. All libraries carry the book, if you can’t afford it. That way you could get it for free. Best — and I will hold the faith for new beginnings in your life. Melody Beattie

  • Karen says:

    To thy ownself be true. As Mother Teresa said, ‘It wasn’t between you and me, it was between me and God. To accept who I am. To understand. Who do I want to be lead by. Or in a form of a question, “Who is leading me”? Is it God? Is it me? or is it someone else? I believe each of us know’s the answer to these question’s. Melody, I have read your book’s. I believe it is crucial to have boundary’s for peace. To speak up in a kind way to other’s to let them know who we are. And sometime’s people forget and once again it has to be said over again. People are who they are. When I was just reading a article that you wrote something came to my mind. I know you wrote at one time you had to go to Court. What I thought of was almost like a declaration to put in each of your book’s that you write perhaps’ at the end. For example as a writer you experience embezzlement. Maybe you can not speak to some people directly but through your books you may be able to reach someone or someone else may reach a person you were not able to talk to personally. I have read, “Injustice’s have alway’s existed.” And President Kennedy said, “Life is not fair.” And as a friend would say to me when we parted. “Carry on”. Thank God, for God. I also read, when you get angry try to get angry less. I believe the key word is “try”. I was reading something from Robin Sharma today. Basically it was about sometime’s we feel we just can’t do anymore. And I believe he gave a example about exercise. He couldn’t do anymore situp’s for example. And his trainer said, “Yes, you can.” He rested. To his surprise he could do about fifteen more. And Robin’s point is “push harder”. Basically, you can do it. It is inside you. And I believe that is just like, “try”. When one love’s one gains alot, when one hate’s one lose’s alot. Melody, you are special. Karen

    • Melody says:

      Hi. I’m not entirely certain of the message above — but it’s important for my readers to understand that I’m not running around angry all the time. I had some intense anger emerging — as feelings often do. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that — and it would be sick if I didn’t feel angry about what happened — just as sick as if I nurtured the anger into resentments. That was my whole point, in a way, is that people get so frightened when a person mentions feeling enraged and angry. I don’t know the thoughts that ran through others mind — but I remember vividly at the ICU when after three days of the illusion that my son was still alive (to get me to donate his organs), the medical staff finally said they had to disconnect the life support machines. I became furious with God — an extremely natural response. (I have an extremely passionate realtionship with my HP.) Yet, my sponser was right there saying, “OH, NO! Melody you cannot feel angry at God!” Well, that takes us right back to DFS – dysfunctional family systems, and their number one rule: don’t feel, and number two rule: don’t be who you are. If we don’t release the feelings we feel, they will control us. And the key word, ultimately, is “release” but to do that, we have to feel them. We now live in a society that’s made it almost impossible to openly feel or express any anger — so my question is this: where is it all going? I know this much, it does not magically disappear. Please, Karen, I love your participation in the forum. I absolutely am not directing this at you, or criticizing you — I’m talking about our society generally, and how nervous and twittery people become when people become enraged. I’ve had about five sways of deep rage this lifetime: at my mother, right before I got sober; when I discoverd someone I loved deeply (a minor) was being sexually abused; when I was told my son was dead; and about being maliciously conned out of half a million dollars. I don’t think my reaciton in any of those situations was inappropriate and I hope I’m giving people permission to feel and release their rage too. So many people fear that they’ll lose control if they feel their anger. The opposite is true. They will lose control if they don’t. As always, thank you for writing, and taking the time to participate, Karen. You are very much appreciated here. Best, Melody

  • K says:

    I’ve been suffering for more than 20 years. Recently, I started learning about co-dependence, and came to know you online. I borrowed an audiobook, “Codependence Anymore”at the nearby library. First, when I listened to it, I didn’t like it, because listening to it caused me a lot of pains. It is very painful to be pointed out my weak points. However, I am understanding that I need to deep clean myself. Many negative habits, emotions and experiences were stored within me. I need to pay attention to them and clean them away. I am feeling so lonely. However. listening to the voices of your audiobook helps me a bit distracted from loneliness. I hope to listen to the audiobook more and clean myself a bit more. Thank you for writing this book and share with us.

    • Melody Beattie says:

      Hi K. I’m sorry you’ve had a lifetime of pain; you deserve better than that. I responded to this email once, but the first response went somewhere (??) – and I want to say I’m sorry. I believe it was several days ago I saw it for the first time. You might benefit by going to the Grief Club site at MelodyBeattie.net. They have a great codependency group online there; you’ll find some fellow-travelers on this journey and hopefully not feel so alone — because you’re not really (alone). Not at all. It may just take some time for you to discover that. Thanks for taking the time to comment. And btw, the site is completely free — no need to buy anyting at all to participate. I’m glad you’re using the libary — and I encourage people to do that. When I began recovery, I couldn’t afford to buy a book and thank God for the libraries however back then, there was nothing — nothing at all — written about codependency. That’s when I vowed that if/when I learned how to climb out of the pit I was in, I would write a book and share it with others. Some people mistakenly think I “wrote the book to help myself.” but that’s untrue. I wrote that book to share the same ideas with other people that helped me begin and maintain my recovery as it involves a complete shift in our thinking and our relationships, mostly our relationship with ourselves. It’s a loss, in a way (having codepnedency) which is why I put the info on it on the grief site. Any chnage at all brings loss, even good change, because we’re losing the old way we were. I hear — when I read your post — a woman committed to her recovery, a woman willing to do what it takes. I applaud you for you dedication and for taking this on. You won’t be sorry. And again, please feel free to visit my site at MelodyBeattie.net. No expenses, and you will find a group of people with issues just like yourself. Best, Melody PS — post now and again so I know how you’re doing. If you post on the Grief Club site — all the copies of posts come directly to my personal email box. I may not always respond the first day, as I’m writing now, but I will respond to your post and I’ll also read every word in it.

    • Melody says:

      K, I’m fairly certain I responded to your other post (somewhere) but I’ve been immersed in my writing and in end of the year business “stuff.” But I wanted to let you know that if you wrote it, you own it — and nobody can use it without your permission. However — truth be told — (and people are working to change this law), even with my blogs, until I personally register them with the copyright office, I don’t have full recourse for copyright infringement. Some — but not as much as if I register them. I recommend that people, if concerned about this, keep copies of their posts but my deepest hope is that if you need healing, you will register on the site (if that feels right to you) under an anonymous name, post what you need to say — and to hve heard — and not worry greatly about copyright infringement. You could register your posts as “one work” every so often with the copyright office though, and then you would have recourse. As for me, it isn’t my intention to use any site posts in my work, and legally, I cannot do that without written release and permission. My publishers and their legal staff wouldn’t allow it. And we each have the right to go to other sites and issue “take down” orders should someone post our work without our permission. If we write it, we own it. But again — the purpose of my three sites isn’t to monetize them, it’s to provide a safe place for people to heal. Only you can decide if that’s right for you. Best, Melody

  • Kathy says:

    Hi, I am at home recuperating from eye surgery and alone for the first time in a long time. My husband is finally working. Now I can have the privacy to read and write whatever I want. Daily I read “Journey to the Heart” and have done so since 1997. The book is very tattered and yellow. It even fell in the toilet once. Luckily the toilet was flushed. I came across this blog. It really hit home. I think I have been deep cleaning for the last few months not only drawers, closets, etc., but from within. I have finally realized I am a co-dependent. I became worried this summer I was turning into an alcoholic. I am a child of alcoholics. I married an alcoholic (he denies). I believe 3 of the 4 children have alcohol and drug issues. In fact, #3 got a second DUI this past March (St. Patrick’s Day). I have come to the conclusion that it is time to end this farse of a relationship after I read a saying on fb, something to the effect: If someone in your life makes you more miserable than happy and despite how much you love them, it is time to let them go. Sitting here with a lot of time on my hands and able to take advantage of this alone time, this verse is soooo true. I have read and reread the web pages on co-dependency, ACOA and AA. At one time, I went to ACOA meetings weekly, and even sometimes twice weekly. I was finally realizing how I had formed such patterns. I then met my husband. He wanted to go to a meeting. After the meeting he replied and said he could not believe all these made up stories. Of course, I was hurt, but the co-dependent I was, I quit going to the meetings. That was 20+ years ago and what a big mistake. Here I am again trying to find myself and to finally find happiness. Just wanted to thank you for your books and I listened to your story. The one thing I really got from it, and I truly need to do, is forgive my mother though she has been gone for a few years. Thanks again for your inspiration. Kathy

  • K says:

    Hi Melody, When I found your reply to my comment, I was surprised. I have never imagined that a famous writer like you would take some time to write me back. I am happy to see your reply; especially because I am extremely lonely now. Loneliness comes from that I have left all the people I’ve known because they are abusers, as you left all the people you knew because they were chemical dependent. I hope to go to the Grief Club to feel less pains from this loneliness. Before going there, I have some questions. If somebody posts a message on the Grief Club website, does the copyright belong to that person? If so, what can somebody do in case somebody else reprint somebody’s comment on other websites or on their publication without taking his/her permission? Hope you are writing your book well, and would answer my questions only when you have time.

  • Anna says:

    Melody, Since I first started to read Codependent No More, I felt a sense of relief to know that I wasn’t alone; that what I was felt was real and that others had been there and succeeded in pulling themselves out of it. Still, I haven’t managed to finish this book, or to be able to live how I want or change anything. I am codependent at it’s purist, and I don’t want to be anymore. To take a quote from you, “I don’t want these emotions inside me. I don’t want to take them out on innocent bystanders. I also don’t want to turn the emotions inward and take them out on myself. Now this is rhetorical, which means all of you loving and caring people don’t need to rescue me or solve this problem for me. I know about getting an air bat or using our hands and beating a pillow. I know about primal scream therapy. I know that exercise helps. But the pillow didn’t do anything wrong and I don’t want to hit it. I don’t want to break dishes. I don’t want to punish people who didn’t do anything to me.” But I do..everyday. I read your blogs and stories and cry because it’s like you’re reading my mind word for word, when for so long I’ve felt alone and unheard. I just want to let it go..to be able to love and care for the ones I hold dearest in the world, but those are the ones I hurt the most. I am close to losing everything, my marriage, kids and job, all because I haven’t figured out how to just do it. I tell myself that I can, but something (which is almost always nothing at all) sets me off and my hope goes out the window. Then starts the evil cycle of my unfulfilled life. I have just seen my mom for the first time in 5 years (2nd time in 8 years) and it has brought up a lot of emotions that I’m not sure I’m ok to deal with right now, though I know that is part of my much needed healing process. I want to start your book again and try to let go this hate and anger. I know I can..at least some part of me knows it.. deep down.. You have been a huge inspiration to me and I pass along your message to anyone that I can.

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