Practice What I Preach?

November 26, 2012

 Last week I asked someone to help me do something.  While that might not sound like a big deal, it is.  Sometimes I call “flipping the coin” and being the exact opposite of codependent “recovery.”

I replace annoying neediness with fierce independence:  I can do it myself; don’t need any help; not going to be vulnerable to anyone.

That’s not recovery.  It is, as I just wrote, flipping to the other side of the codependent side of the codependent coin.

When I can step out of my reactions to my past, step beyond my fear and truly do something different?  That’s recovery. Not baby steps but big steps in my life.

It’s those moments when I remember to do different that make such a difference and I’ll tell you why if you can hang in here with me. The situation was complex and felt overwhelming.

I’m in California, stuck with a condo in Minnesota that I owe more on than it’s currently worth.  To sell it would mean sitting down at a closing and writing out a $50,000 check to pay off the mortgage.  Not for me.

About a year ago, I took the condo off the market.  Waiting and I didn’t know for what.  I know from the past that it takes time for the housing market to recycle.  Recently I decided to rent out the condo.

I resisted the idea at first because:  I’m half-way across the country from the property, unable to handle the calls in the middle of night about the garbage disposal not working or the toilet running.

But studying some online sites, I found a realtor who also takes care of renting out properties and he has a property manager that takes care of garbage disposals and toilets that don’t work in the middle of the night.

But my Minnesota condo was fully furnished. I was in a quandary (whatever a quandary looks like) about what to do with the furniture.  My California condo is furnished with furniture I like.

I have a small mobile vacation home in the desert but I bought that fully furnished with furniture I like. I decided to rent the Minnesota condo furnished.  According to all the statistics, someone would get divorced and need a new place to live and furniture too.

No such luck.  Everyone who looked at the condo wanted me to take out my furniture because he or she or they had their own. But even that wasn’t a problem because nobody stepped up to the plate with an offer – until recently.

A month before I’m scheduled to go to the desert and right when I’m scheduled for an important surgery and also right when the writing I’ve been struggling with finally begins to fall into place.  Not only did I write six words on the page, I know the order in which they should go.  Progress.  Right?

I talked to a friend and we came up with a plan. We’d drive together from California to Minnesota, rent a U-Haul, donate whatever furniture I didn’t want (carrying it down three flights of stairs first), load the rest in the U-Haul and find someone to uninstall the electronics and do what with them?

Didn’t know.  It would only take … counting, counting …. two or three weeks?  And cost, hmm.  thousands of dollars?  My friend had to work.  He could take some time off.  It felt messy, complicated and most of all – wrong.

I had to do something and do it now.  But, what? The words I had to say are the hardest for me to speak: I didn’t know.

This is where the title of this blog enters the picture.  I feel comfortable when I know the answer and hate it when I don’t about what to do to solve a problem.  The gap between knowing and not knowing is radical faith – faith that what I need will be provided even if I don’t see those provisions yet and even if I don’t know what the solution is.

I made one of the better decisions I’ve made for some time.  I decided to let go and do nothing, despite the realtor pressuring me and others wanting to know what I intended to do and when I would do it.  All I could say was the truth: I don’t know.

I made a clear decision not to do anything until what I decided to do felt right.

Huge.  Cataclysmically enormous for me, putting off a decision until some solution I couldn’t see fell into place meant taking a deep breath and Living in the Mystery.  That’s what the title of this blog means and what I did was practice what I preach.

I let go.

A few days later, I thought of a friend I knew in Minnesota.  Shipping was her thing.  She had been a trained professional.  She ran a shipping store the entire time her children were growing up – a family business.  Plus I knew she had moved frequently over the past years, since her children left home.  I also knew she got a good deal on moving vans.

I took a deep breath, looked through my email addresses and found hers.  I reached out and asked her for help.

She said yes, she would be glad to assist me.

In a matter of hours I saw what had been an insolvable problem began to get solved.  Each piece – from uninstalling the electronics, to selling them on E-Bay and what to charge, to shipping my furniture out to where I am without an exorbitant charge – fell into place.

Like magic.  Like a miracle.  Like an unspoken but felt prayer answered perfectly.  Blind or radical faith was the prayer.  The answer?  Getting the problem perfectly solved.

The moving van will be scheduled at an entirely reasonable price by the end of this week.  I’ll make enough money by her daughter selling the electronics (after paying her a commission) to pay for the moving van (this according to people who know what they’re talking about and triple-checked).

I don’t have to take two to three weeks out of my schedule to run around master-minding this when I can’t carry more than five pounds down three flights of steps.  My friend here won’t need to take off from work.

By letting go and doing nothing until what I did felt right, I found the perfect solution – even when that meant living with no solution at all for a while.

Sometimes living in the mystery hurts.  It means living with painful losses that I can’t explain and my Higher Power won’t. On other occasions, trusting what I don’t know yet feels good. This is one of those times.

Just a short reminder of something you probably already know but that’s easy to forget when we get stressed – a Holiday greeting of sorts. Keep breathing your way through the Season.

If what you’re doing doesn’t feel right, it’s okay to do nothing until what you do feels good to you. The answer will come; I know it will – the answer that’s perfect for you.

From the desk of Melody Beattie

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  • Denise

    Boy do I relate to this! I have been in the ‘no solution but attempting to force one’ place for about a year. “Living with no solution at all” as you said.. was what I finally surrendered to and accepted. I did’t like it. It felt uncomfortable and totally wrong for a while, but I had nothing left in my bag of tricks. Nothing. At first I was angry and looked around for someone or something to blame. This allowed me to feel like I was ‘doing’ something, except it didn’t take long to realize anger energizes me and helps to feel not so out of control. And though it can also help to move towards God Will, staying angry doesn’t. I kept asking my brother what can I do? what do you want me to do? And though he kept saying nothing right now or I will ask when I need help. I simply could not accept this answer. I began to realize I wasn’t in control. I had left behind my safe familiar world that I controlled for a new territory. One where interdependence would be both necessary and critical for my brother and I to succeed at sharing a property where we would both live. Although living in separate houses there was now a need to share info, ask before assuming a decision was what the other wanted and learning to have a relationship that for the first time in our lives did not include our mother. I finally realized that we were both grieving our mother’s passing and for better or worse mom was mom and had been mom for the 58 and 59 years we had both been alive. I began to understand in a way I never had before, how who I was and where I came from would always be tethered to my mother. As my brother stated: her presence filled up the room and so now does her absence. We were in new territory, with a new learning curve that was requiring each of us to create, accept and navigate a new normal. He had just come through a divorce and move. I had made the decision to leave my home town, job, my safe and comfortable residence, and hardest of all proximity to my son, daughter in law and grandchildren, going from a 30 minute drive to their home to a 3 hour drive. The decision was largely precipitated for us both due to our mothers passing and leaving us 5 acres with two homes on this land. Though an enormous blessing, there were still many pro’s and con’s to consider. Reading the page about taking responsibility for our life and the decisions we make, was a huge help in my decision making phase prior to moving here and has remained so. I am at the anniversary of the one year mark, for which I told myself I would reassess my decision. Ohhh there were days I wanted to kick myself for moving here.. days I wanted to give up, leave and find an easier way. But fortunately I have learned the hard way .. there isn’t one. I reminded myself: You can do the hard part now or you can do the hard part forever. I am glad I opted to ride it out and reassess when I actually had a frame of reference. The decisions one would make while in throes of grief are not the same decisions one makes after the numbness and sense of loss of ‘what is’ has been integrated into the fabric of ones life. I am very grateful you have shared the life experiences and life lessons you have learned Melody. I am 60 now and find for myself that Recovery has enabled and allowed me to recover my ability to default to the truth instead of the wounds from my past. It means I can live in today no matter how painful, confusing or unsettled I may feel. I can choose to ask myself What is the lesson here? What do I need to do? I do not need to force solutions that aren’t wise, as I once did. I can know that if I have asked God to make His Will for my life known to me that He is. In the mean time it is my job to trust the process of life, to trust God, to trust the abilities he has given me to help myself and to also trust that he has put loving helpful people all around me, should I choose to accept the support, help and encouragement they are willing to give. Anyway I am glad your site is back! Thank you :)

  • Bryan

    I’m currently in the process of a very difficult move. My wife, child and I have rented the same house for two years. It was recently made aware to me that the situation we had with our current landlord was more than I could handle in my fragile emotional state. So we found a new place to rent and are in the process of packing up two years of life’s accomplishments. I’ll admit, there have been days where I contemplate putting the lot of it in the dumpster and starting anew. That sums me up though; always tempted to trash things (possessions, relationships, experiences) when things get difficult. So, I trudge on. Pack the boxes, load the truck, drive it slowly across town because the transmission is shot and I can’t afford to fix it. Paint the new place, carpet it and fix the yard. The electrical needs redone and the new landlord is in the process of doing so, but we need a place to live by Sunday. It’s so easy to panic or to curl up in a ball and do nothing. Somehow, amidst all the things I’m dealing with, I’ve found a balance between the two. I don’t consider it coincidence as much as I do God’s intervention that I discovered making miracles in 40 days in the middle of all this turmoil. I will be grateful for this stress, this uncertainty and the hard work that still needs doing. I will practice what you preach. God Bless.

  • Ceeb D

    I felt strangely stuck with a decision, about giving a party, that “should” have been easy. My AlAnon friend suggested I “pray and wait”. I’d never done this before but I courageously did this. A few days later, my neighbor said she’d give the party, and picked the date. What a blessing!