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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

Starting Over — Again

End of a relationship.  Moving.  Losing our job or home. Stopping addiction to drugs and alcohol and learning to live clean and sober. Discovering we’re codependent and redefining ourselves and our relationships — including our relationship with ourselves.

From being diagnosed with a serious illness to experiencing empty nest syndrome, we wake up one day and before we go to bed that night, our lives change.  Irrevocably. They’ll never be the same again.

Sometimes we lose all the important parts of our life (or almost all of them) at once.  A friend from years back woke up one morning.  That day he discovered that his wife of 15 years had been cheating on him from the first day of their marriage, that neither the son nor daughter he thought belonged to him were his, and his accountant informed him that his business had gone bankrupt.

Some people call it reorganization. Others, a new beginning.  Most of the time I hear it described this way:  “Sigh.  I’m starting over.  Again.”

I hate new beginnings, at least at first. It feels like too much, more than I can handle.  I feel weary from all the start-overs I’ve already experienced.  I don’t want to do it one more time.

When we start over, we’re walking in the dark, living in the mystery without a clue about what’s next.  Sometimes we may feel like we’re dying, and harbor a sense o imminent doom.  That’s because the change or transformation is so profound that the experience resembles a death.

If loss of a loved one triggers the starting over, it may feel like our heart has been broken but if we tell people that, they may look at us like we’re overplaying the drama queen hand.  Not true.

Recently the Mayo Clinic identified “Broken Heart Syndrome” as a legitimate physical malady.  Broken Heart Syndrome can be caused by the loss of a loved one or stress overload and it’s more than something that’s just in our head. The Syndrome presents, according to information from Mayo Clinic,  with symptoms similar to those of an actual heart attack and may include: heart pain that worsens with each beat of the heart; difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; and nausea or vomiting.

I went out to do errands.  Around lunch-time, I decided to find someplace to   eat.  I had driven out of my usual neighborhoods and didn’t recognize the mall I pulled into, at least not at first.  Then I saw it – the restaurant where we celebrated my son, Shane’s last birthday – the one two days before the date of his death.

The pain hit hard and fast – right in my chest.  I felt paralyzed.  My hands gripped the steering wheel.  I couldn’t move them to rummage around in my purse and find my cell phone.  Movement of any kind hurt too much.  I couldn’t even roll down my window and yell, “Help.”  I’d rate the pain as a ten on the pain scale from one to ten.

For just over one hour I sat in the same position, leaning forward, clutching the steering wheel, stopped in my tracks by this pain in my heart.  Then slowly the debilitating pain began to subside.  I didn’t get out of the car; I went home instead.  A week later I went to my doctor.  (This was before the identification of Broken Heart Syndrome as an actual physical illness.) The doctors made me stay overnight.

“It’s the strangest thing,” the doctors said.  “For all purposes, it looks like you had a myocardial infarction (heart attack).  But then, it also doesn’t appear as though you actually suffered from a heart attack.  It left the doctors scratching their heads but I’d known from the minute – the second – the nurse at the Emergency Room asked me if I had someone I could call after Shane’s accident that his death had broken my heart.

Don’t rely on self-diagnosis.  If your heart hurts, get a checkup. During times of transition or grief, we’re more vulnerable to any kind of illness.  See your doctor if you suspect any problems.

For a while we’ll feel like Someone pulled the rug out from under us and we’re in the air – upside down.  Disorientation has a positive side.  It leaves us open to new ideas, new people and new ways of living.

When we stabilize, which we will, we’ll get on with the business of Starting Over Again (SOA).  One idea that may be helpful:  although it feels like you’re starting over again, you’re not really starting over. Life is a continuum.  You’re either jolted or sliding into the next experience. You’re moving on.

Here are a few tips for those of you in that uncomfortable place of SOA when you thought the last time you started over would be the last.

  1. Let yourself grieve your losses.  You don’t need to be so stoic.  Give yourself room to be human.  What you’re going through may be extremely difficult and it may hurt.  But you will get through it.
  2. Remind yourself that what you’re going through won’t last forever.  If you have to leave post-it notes around the house, then do it. Remember other times you had to reorganize after a loss.  Recall the behaviors that helped you get through it. Draw from what you learned, including the knowledge that you did survive that devastating time.
  3. Give yourself time to cocoon.  You’re not isolating.  You’re resting, giving your body a chance to adapt to the change.
  4. Tell your story often. Tell it to people who will listen and care.  While some people may accuse us of obsessiveness, telling our story repeatedly is part of how we incorporate the unthinkable into our life story.
  5. Set goals.  In the beginning, start by writing a list of what you want or need to accomplish just that day.  Take life in small chunks.  After some time passes, begin writing goal lists that go further into the future.  For now, while you’re in shock, a list for today is enough.
  6. Be kind to yourself.  There may be days when all you accomplish is getting out of bed and taking a shower.  Instead of focusing on how little you did, tell yourself you did great – because you did.
  7. Slowly, as new people and interests come into your life, be willing to say “yes” to opportunities. Often a person or an interest that I think is just a “time killer” slowly becomes a major part of the next part of my life.
  8. If you need to cry or get angry, cry or get angry. You may even be furious with your Higher Power.  That’s okay.  You’ll work it out later.
  9. Know there is no one right way to start over.  We have tools, not rules.  Now is the time to dig into your toolbox and use what you’ve learned:  living in the present moment; prayer; meditation; exercise (when your body can handle it); detachment (which involves feeling all your emotions); and sometimes Acting As If.  Know that if the emotions become too intense, you can shut them down for a while without going into denial. Something as simple as taking a shower, going into another room, or going to the grocery store can help you stop falling deeper into what feels like a bottomless pit of pain.
  10. Beginnings are delicate, sacred events.  Even when you’re in pain, take time to acknowledge that this is a new beginning.  You’ll likely find yourself trying to recreate your old life from time to time.  That’s okay.  It’s part of the process of letting go but we can still honor the sacredness of this time. Later we’ll see how holy this junction really was.

Although I wrote earlier that there aren’t any rules, there are three hard and fast ones that have no exceptions: 1) don’t let anyone hurt you; 2) don’t hurt anyone else; and 3) don’t hurt yourself. Even if you’re someone who never tolerated abuse, you may feel that God is punishing you (not true) so you can be more prone to allowing someone to abuse you.

You will get through this, although maybe not as quickly as you want. One morning you’ll wake up and find yourself living in the next part of your life, a part that feels as comfortable and normal as your old life (in most situations). Instead of opening your eyes and feeling a blast of pain, you’ll be at peace. Your new life will be there — fully formed. You’ll be living it even if you’re still dealing with remnants of your grief.

Congratulations. You did it. You started over again, whether you wanted to or not. Now the next time you need to start over, you’ll know what to do.

From the Desk of Melody Beattie

Original article on Broken Heart System available at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/broken-heart-syndrome/DS01135

52 Responses to Starting Over — Again

  • Roxanne says:

    How is it that you so often address, in some way, exactly what I’m struggling with, exactly when I’m struggling with it, Melody? Well, I know “how” it is…yet, without fail, I still sit in awe. Over and over. I sincerely hope I never, ever, take for granted God’s voice in my life. I’m moving at the end of this week. Out of my parent’s home, where I’ve been staying since the final demise of my marriage began. A month ago, my divorce (that I did not, in any way, want or pursue and could not stop) was final. Moving means unpacking the few remaining possessions I came away from that marriage with. Much of what is packed away wasn’t packed by me…I don’t even know the full extent of those losses and am dreading having to go through everything. And it means seeing physical reminders of the love, dreams and life I had with him…now gone. I also started my classes for my degree this week…a two to three year commitment of time, money and energy. Not to mention, the daily revelations and changes taking place within me as a result of the working (allowing?) the 12 Steps and Recovery in my life. Yesterday, I was wondering why I was feeling so much stress when so many wonderful things are happening!! Wondering why there is a part of me that wants to say (very loudly!) STOP….STOP NOW, I CAN’T HANDLE IT!! To God, to Recovery, to everyone and every thing. Starting Over Again. Again. With less than I’ve ever had….and more than I’ve ever had. Yes, it’s scary stuff…this Life. This New Life. I’m currently suffering from the “other shoe dropping” syndrome right along with the excitement. This morning, I found a painful spot on the side of my arm that I instantly thought must be cancer. For no good reason other than it hurt and I couldn’t think of any reason for it to hurt. Sometimes, I just have to shake my head at myself and keep putting one foot in front of the other….assured that more will be revealed. And grateful beyond measure that reassurance comes…just when I need it. Every time, if only I am willing to listen.

    • Melody says:

      Hi Roxi. I so appreciate your vulnerability and honesty. It’s refreshing beyond belief. If we could just “get it” that recovery doesn’t mean being perfect; it means accept who we are — with all our quirks and issues. And strengths — can’t forget that — although it’s so easy to. Regarding the pain in your arm, of course I’m paranoid now. My daughter herself will tell you that it’s her hypochondria that saved her life. I’m not saying that anything is physically wrong with you — but you’ve had so dang much going on. If anything doesn’t heal, please seek medical help. Okay? We love you and we don’t want you sick. After all, you’ve got to finish those Steps. I think I’ve told this story before — about going to my chiropractor and acupuncturist. Each visist (and I saw him two or three times a week for five years after my surgery, until he swallowed a bullet.) Anyway, each visit, he’s say, “How are you doing?” At first, I’d say “Great” when that was an honest response. Then I began to notice a pattern. Whenever I acknowledged how good I felt, that damn other shoe didn’t just drop. It plummetted to the bottom, rattling and crashing all the way, and bringing me with it. I started to fear telling anyone how good I felt, or accepting my good days — it was as thought by acknowledging peace and joy, I jinxed it right away. (That’s magical thinking, by the way.) So this day, when the doctor asked me how I felt and I hesitated, I explained the above to him and asked him why it worked out that way — that when I told him I felt great, I could forthwith expect the shoe-dropping deal to happen. But if I held back, said oh yeah, well you know how life is, I good hold the other shoe syndrome at bay. This is what he told me, after thinking about it for a minute. “Life goes in cycles. Things, life, seasons, and we constantly change,” he said. “Our emotions and moods cycle, from high points around the circle to low points, and then back up again.” A light went on. What he said made perfect sense. Even biorhythm charts show we have these cycles each month — for physical, emotional, nd mental well-being. So that means that by the time we feel good enough to honetly describe how we feel as “great” chances are good that we’re on our way around the circle or cycle again. “This too shall pass” doesn’t apply only to the pain. It applies to life’s high points – to everything we ezperience. So, that’s the story for the day — July 3, 2012. With the decision made by the Supreme Court, I’ve been allowed to leave the Obamacare Death Row. I get insurance. I get to continue to live (for a while anyway). I’m getting back to writing. I don’t want to talk about it too much, but I stumbled into a plan to drop weight that fits my belief systems. With this plan, people no longer diet. It’s based on the belief that if our body holds onto extra weight, it’s doing it to protect us and we need to look at the deeper issues. The meditations and visualizations are terrific. What’s even more terrific is that without dieting I lost over gten pounds in one week. It just dropped off my body, like an old heavy coat I no longer need. So with that, I’ll close. Again thank you for writing. You’re starting quite a journey. Remarkable. However, I do believe you will end up as an author. I don’t know what you’re going to school to study, but maybe you’ll do both — for I do know you’ll be writing, and I know that for certain. Whatever happens, it’ll hold some pain, chalenges, fear (if we weren’t afraid, it would mean we weren’t doing anything new), but it wil also hold joy, peace, freedom, and rewards. You have the wisdom gleaned from your past, a clean vessel, cleansed by the 12 Steps, an abundance of courage — which doesn’t mean the absence of fear. Bravery means being afraid, and doing it anyway. One day you’ll wake up, and this new life will be your new normal. It will feel … like you. It’ll feel comfortable and good. You’ll know without a doubt you can take care of yourself because you’re led and guided and cared for by your Higher Power. Honestly, it doesn’t get much better than that. You’ll even look back on these days — this beginning — with fondness. You’ll see how the struggle, the hurling of your energy at this new life, is what made it yours. It’s the personal price we pay to “own” our lives. Again, I’m not sqying that it’ll be good then. I’m saying it’s good right now. Thanks for being part of this forum. You have no idea how much you add. Best, Melody Beattie To the others: Happy Fourth of July! It takes recovering codependent to truly appreciate what Independence Day means. Personqlly, I think the holiday was intended for us. /mb

      • joe says:

        You should do spellcheck. I love you but notice those things – control issues?

        • Melody says:

          Hi. I appreciate your feedback and you’re absolutely right — I should do that. However, I have three websites, each with its own forum, plus a blog — plus my work and my life. I don’t allow anyone else to respond to posts using my name; I do the writing myself. In all reality, I don’t have time to edit my responses. So people either get the “unedited real me” in the forums, or their other option is getting occasional edited responses, possibly written by an assistant. I have to believe they’d prefer to hear from the real me — the same as if we were emailing each other. This allows me conection with my readers, yet doesn’t take too much time. As it stands, doing unedited responses takes a minimum of one and more like two to three hours of my time every day. So that’s the story of why my sites aren’t edited. (But I’m a stickler on editing in books and writing for publication and sale.) I consider the forums more like conversations with friends, so what you get is who I am. Thanks for writing — Melody

  • Todd Lohenry says:

    Melody, I have benefited a great deal from your work and I curate your content here frequently; http://toddlohenry.com/tag/melody-beattie/ I’m also a WordPress developer and a ‘thought leadership’ marketing consultant. There are signs on your site that WordPress is not your native language. I’d like to redo your site for you at no cost as a way of working my 12th step. Please drop me a line if you’re interested…

    • Melody says:

      Hi Todd. What a thoughtful offer. I appreciate it. However, the problem isn’t my webmaster’s issue. I started out by building my sites myself on one of those “do it yourself deals.” (Or I should say “site.’) Then, one site became three. I redid it a second time, and that’s when I got a webmaster involved. While learning my way around the computer was and is good for me, I have a tendency to push buttons when I become frusrated or confused. (I’ve made a commitment not to do it anymore, though.) Anyway, my webmaster — who has a penchant for WP — came along and he redid one of my sites (The Grief Club) three times as we figured out what we wanted it to be and do, and the best way to do that. What we’ve ended up with is a combination of my do-it-yourself site along with wp aplications. And then there’s the issue of the blog — a whole other story. But we get 1,000 unique hits a day with no site optimization. I’ve worked hard to avoid monetizing my sites so they can reflect service and “give-back.” My webmaster however is working on a new business of his own, so I may be in need of assistance before long. Stay tuned, and if you see a big HELP, and have time, maybe we’ll talk then. Best, Melody Beattie

  • ken tuvman says:

    Dear Melody, Thanks so much for all you do and how the words come out so explicitly – starting over isn’t so great but there is one important way that the experience helps me. I abruptly moved away from Los Angeles to Minneapolis in 1994 – 18 years ago – a long, long time. Left behind my friends, family, customers and brought with me a lot of guilt, remorse, and shame. But did manage to find AA here and was able to raise our boys in a good environment with a good school system. Managed to make amends to my wife and show her that I changed – words wouldn’t do the job. So now, 15 years sober, and active in AA, I’ve learned to face life on life’s terms instead of self medicating and running from what scares me. It’s hard, but I’ve come to realize I’m not in charge of how life unfolds. For instance, my dad’s still hoping to recover, 6 months after having a stroke that left him paralyzed and unable to swallow. He sits in bed in a VA nursing home and still enjoys being around people – it’s amazing how dedicated and compassionate 99% of the caregivers are. Our #2 son, who just graduated high school, enlisted in the Marines and is leaving us in October. At his grad party a parent said “oh, at least you don’t have to pay for your son to go to college.” I answered, maybe but we’ll be paying in other ways when he gets deployed to Afghanistan or another hostile region or has to raise his gun and fire at someone – which will certainly change his life, a thought I don’t relish! While visiting my dad in LA, I received a call that #2 son was in jail. He’d taken my little Honda motorcycle, that I’d just restored, w/out my permission and was seen by a police officer riding down the street at 2am without the headlights on. When the officer did a “U” turn, #2 son ditched the bike and ran home. He’d also been drinking (duh). We live in a small town and any police officer becomes engaged when a suspect flees – they called out the K9 squad and the dogs tracked him to our house. When I got the call from his friends dad (who never ever calls me for anything) saying he was sorry to hear about my son and how he had a good attorney who could help – I demanded to know what happened as my wife didn’t want to aggravate me any more than I already was while seeing my dad. When I found out, I called my wife and we both agreed NOT to bail him out and let him sit in jail for 3 days. Then he got a summons from the courthouse in LaCrosse, Wisconsin to appear – when he said he was sleeping at his friends house nearby, he actually drove to LaCrosse to party with friends and got arrested for driving while under the influence of weed – a big offense in Wisconsin – the consequence amounted to $700 and getting his license suspended for 6 months. He has to appear in Hennepin court on fleeing an officer charge – potentially a felony – we’ve hired an attorney but I also seized his savings account and he’s paying for her and the $165 it cost to get my Honda out of impound. I’ve cooled down since then but this is the first time I’ve actually shared my story with anyone other than my wife and AA sponsor. It was hard being in LA around my mom and brother and not saying anything – didn’t say anything because they don’t get it – I’d only have received a large dose of blame. I know not to go there. I’d like to conclude by saying that the memory of moving, losing everything (material and reaching spiritual and emotional bankruptcy) and starting over is seared at the forefront of my memory – I don’t ever want to start over again by choice. I may have setbacks – and what I describe above are setbacks. My AA sponsor tells me it’s as easy as 1 – 2 – 3 > I’m powerless over what happens; I’ve come to believe in a power greater than myself that helps restore my sanity; I’ve made a decision to turn my life and will over to the care of a God of my understanding. Thank you again, Melody. You’re very inspirational and have been given such a great gift in how you communicate to the world. You’ve helped me a lot and have been a friend and were there when I really needed a life preserver!

    • Melody Beattie says:

      Hi Ken. It’s good to hear from you again. I can’t believe your dad is so committed to life, living and people. I think I would have given up long ago. He deserves a medal of honor. But then, so do you. You’ve got a lot on your plate now — and have for some time. You’ve worked hard on yourself, honestly facing issues as they arise instead of sticking your head in the sand. You’ve asked for help when you needed it; accepted advice from your sponsor. You’re a role model for people who want to know “how to do it.” I’m proud to have you as a guest on the site. Be well. (And I don’t blame you for feeling irate about your motorcycle. Who wouldn’t? But again, your boundaries seem well-thought-out, reasonable, and appropriate to the situation. Congratulations on letting recovery work.) Best, Melody Beattie

  • Karin says:

    Melody, Your SOA blog came to me at a moment in time when I was asking God for specific guidance. I have been divorced for 15 months from a very painful, 24- year marriage. Six months ago I met a wonderful man and we’ve been together since then. A few months ago he asked me to marry him and because I’ve been so concerned about not repeating my unhealthy relationship cycle I told him I needed to think and pray about it for a while. Last week I started getting the impression that I was to take the step of commitment and remarry. My birthday was this past Monday and since birthdays are a symbol of new life/new beginnings I felt strongly impressed to have our private ceremony on the evening of my birthday. Your blog came through to me on the afternoon of my birthday and you voiced everything I was feeling and confirmed my decision. I was blown away by how God came through to me loud and clear that my decision to remarry was the right one. That evening my new husband and I stood in the middle of a huge field with a gorgeous sunset on one side and a full moon rising on the other and we exchanged rings before God and commited ourselves to each other. I was totally relaxed with no fear. I had so much peace and a complete knowing that it was the right choice for me. We took pictures that turned out so beautiful. It was a very sacred time. Thank you so much for giving your time and energy to communicate once again a powerful and much needed message….learned from your own experience. I’ve read it over about 10 times this week and I will continue to read it in the future. Once again God spoke his words of love and guidance through you to me. I send you blessings, love and joy. Karin

    • usbaMelody Beattie says:

      Hi Karin. Congratulations! (Or do we say the other thing to a woman — etiquette says we say “congratulations” to either the bride or groom and “good luck” — I think — to the other. Hmmm. Thinking about it, maybe it’s “congratulations” to the man and “good luck” to the woman. Either way, may you have many blessings in your marriage. Kudos to you. I had the children, and didn’t want them (and they wouldn’t allow) a stepfather in their lives. Besides, I was so busy with my work I didn’t have time to give a husband the time or attention he deserves. It’s hard to say, “Hey, honey. I’m going to Europe for six months. See you when I get back.” I’m glad the blog spoke to you. I try to listen to my inner voice and when I get an urge to write one — although I don’t have a pat routine — I take the time to put words to peper (or computer as the case may be). Your wedding sounds beautiful, sacred, and peace-filled. Best wishes. (Maybe that’s the other thing — I’m not sure. If any of you readers know the etiquette on that, please send it in. Thanks.) Best, Melody Beattie

  • EileenMarie says:

    I come here when I feel the tornado starting up, my Co-DA issues taking over. I know this is the place I need to be and today you write about Starting Over and all I can think is Thank you :) Thank you Melody for writing. God definitely gave you a role in life to help others, I hope you don’t mind me saying that. You help me. I read others comments and know you help them. My Co-DA meeting is filled with people helped by what you have written. Tonight I start a Co-DA step meeting at my house and I was a bit apprehensive because I have to clean up after tearing the house apart looking for my 15 year old son’s camp bag. However, reading this changed it because I can START OVER who cares how many times it takes, I don’t have to be so hard on myself. I haven’t reorganized since I moved back into my home almost 2 years ago because it overwhelms me. I will be okay with that today and remember I can do it another day but today I need to get outside and spend time with a friend shopping because today I am overwhelmed by my home and lawn care and that is the best thing I can do for myself. Thank you for this blog :) EileenMarie

    • usbaMelody Beattie says:

      Hi EileenMarie. The great thing about Life is that we can start over (the positive side of it) every day, every hour — as often as we need. Just push the delete button, or better yet the “refresh” button, and go on with our lives. Thanks for your kind words, and for taking the time to comment — and best wishes with your group you’re hosting at your home. That’s a big commitment, the kind that makes this program “yours.” Best, Melody Beattie

  • Karin says:

    Thanks so much, Melody. I don’t know what etiquette is for 2nd (or 3rd or 4th….) weddings but I appreciate all your positive sentiments! :) In Beyond Codependency you say that relationships are where we take our recovery show on the road. That statement has already proven very true for me in my new relationship and I know it will be true every day. We never stop growing and learning! Thanks so much again…. Karin

  • Barbara Luttenberger says:

    Yes. Yes to all of it. Sometimes, you just get tired of making lemonade. Grace comes. Thank you.

  • Stella says:

    Boy, did I need this! All of it! Thank you. Because I’m about to start over…again…and I am more scared this time than I’ve been any of the other times. I hadn’t visited in awhile – when I finally do, I find exactly what I needed :) Some very wise words and someone who understands. And though I’m sure it is nothing, it is new and I’ve been ignoring it…and it gets worse when I get upset…so I am calling my doctor tomorrow. So, thank you for that, too :)

    • Melody says:

      Hi Stella. I’m glad to hear you’re taking good care of yourself. It’s so important. Beginnings are fragile — delicate things. (They say that about beginning each new writing project, but I believe it applies to all areas of our lives.) I’m so used to just plowing through the doing the next thing that I need to remember to stop and take the time and attention to honor new beginnings. I also like to make sure I’m not harboring any resentments, as that can block my progress. Anyway, thank you for the kind words and for taking the time to write. Best — and let us know how you’re doing. Melody Beattie

  • Heidi says:

    Hi Melody! Just wanted to thank you again for sharing your voice, thoughts, experience, and truth. Your words speak to me and strengthen my faith like nothing else can. I love reading Language of Letting God daily and any other lil’ tid bits I find on your blog or other books. I have a question for you…I am a mom, (and also parent/elementary educator). I was just wondering what wisdom you would impart to parents, that might prevent codependency from developing in children. Thanks again for sharing your stories. They are making a difference in my life. Heidi

    • Melody says:

      Hi Heidi. Did you know that in some public schools (grades six and up), they read the meditations from Language of Letting Go in class? I was blown away to hear this. (So was my daughter, the first time they read the meds in class.) Re your questions, I’ve always been of the belief that the two things that impact children the most are 1) role modeling healthy behavior; and 2) information. We don’t have to be “perfect” to be role models for our children. Sometimes having the humility to admit our mistakes and show that we’re learning a new way is far more powerful than having not made a mistake. It gives our children permission to be human, and to find the solutions they’re looking for. Also, re #2, I believe it’s good to give our children information about issues like chemical dependency and codependency — to warn them of the signs (truthfully — drugs feel good but can have horrid consequences). If we lie, we diminish our power and trustworthiness of our information. But to honestly describe what the symptoms of each problem (and others they may be at risk for) are, and what the solutions are — and how the children can access this solutions — is extremely valuable. I’ve seen it work. It’s always been a dream of mine to see an outpatient chem dep and codep outpatient program combind with education in every school — a natural part of life (treatment). One holy book says that the poor will always be among us. I believe that the same is true for chemical dependency and codependency. I don’t know that it’s possible to wipe out these problems, but we can deliver the solutions and hope much earlier to our children than we had it delivered to us. Best, Melody Beattie

  • holdda says:

    Hello Melody, I think I am in the middle (maybe) of this starting over again business. I got abruptly yanked out of my “past life” and landed in a very tenuous circumstances. Nonetheless I had been blessed such that all that I needed to survive had been provided for me. But I still had so much pain to deal with – and the kind of pain separation and eventual divorce was something completely foreign to me. I have finally realized what having a “broken heart” felt like – and that is literally how it was for me. It’s almost a year since we separated and although the pain has dulled some, it is still there. It feels though that the worst is over. I am ready to follow through with this new situation I am in. More than that, it seems I am being pushed further – the company I work for may have to shut down in a year’s time. Strangely, I am not too worried. I have come to depend on my Higher Power for my needs. As much as I try to address my concerns, after I have done all I can, I leave it up to God. I approach yet another change with some trepidation but also with a curious sense of excitement. I look forward to the day when, as you wrote, I would wake up and find myself living the next part of my life and be completely at peace. Thank you for continuing to inspire people like me through all the challenges we undergo. You are a blessing!

    • Melody says:

      Hi hooldda. Thanks for corresponding. You sound like you’re dealing well with the changes going on (even though you may have preferred that they not occur — which is normal too). From everything you wrote, it sounds to me like you’re wonderfully on track and will continue to stay that way. I think we live in a country that has dismissed the horrendous pain caused by divorce. We’ve become so blase about it — and it really is a big deal (to our hearts and families). I recently have gone through some changes — and the outcome could have had a potentially devastating effect on my life yet, like you, I had no control but a lot of peace about it. When the event finally occurred, it worked out extremely well for me — could not have been better and like I said, had it gone the other way, it could have nearly destroyed my life. That Peace that Passes All Understanding is a powerful gift and as one of my readers reminded me, an act of Grace. Best to you. Melody Beattie

  • Krob says:

    Dear Melody, Your books and website have become invaluable to me as I’ve tried to navigate my daughter’s drug addiction. Over the past 10 years I’ve reached out to a multidude of resources you and Alanon have proved very supportive. Recently my daughter, 8 months clean shared that she’s 14 weeks pregnant with our first gandchild. She’s very happy and healthy at the moment. The father is her boyfriend/using partner of three years. I’m seeking the grace to cling to the joy of this little one’s arrival in January. Thank you for being here. Blessings, K

    • Melody says:

      Hi, K. Wise decision, to use an initial like that. We try to stress to people how important it is to retain anonymity on this site. Keep doing what you’re doing. I don’t know that I could give you any further tips. The actions you’re taking sound wise — still a challenging situation, yet a blessing too. There’s a lot more that I would say, but I don’t have the anonymity you do and it’s not my place. There’s so much in life over which we have no control, yet each of us still has an inherent connection with power once we channel our energies into the right place. Please keep me updated on how things are going and I’m glad you’ve experienced benfit from the site. Best, Melody Beattie

  • Mimi says:

    Just got your book, and I’ve just started the Miracle Project today. I really want to thank you for writing it, as it has lifted my spirits some (though it also brought up some painful feelings, as of course it should.) But I wonder whether this could work for someone like me. I’ve had an unusually difficult life & it’s been one tragedy after another. I can honestly say I’ve never been happy, and I’ve started to think that it just wasn’t meant to be. Perhaps it’s karma or a curse placed on me at birth? Whenever I think I’ve overcome the obstacles (and sometimes it takes years), more obstacles appear out of nowhere. I don’t have an alcohol or drug problem but seems I have a people problem. My family’s very toxic and dysfunctional and I spent years unlearning much of what they taught me, working on myself to become a better person. Yet whenever I try to reach out and make friends I end up with people who try to discourage or even psychologically abuse me, so I end those relationships but find myself alone as a result. I can’t seem to find quality people. I get bullied a lot by people and am told I’m “too nice.” I was bullied as a child and get bullied at work. But whenever I try to be assertive and stand up for myself I seem to get shot down there too. So I can’t win. Perhaps this is a problem that goes beyond me–perhaps it is societal? Also I feel so victimized by life that I think my self-perception as a victim may have become a problem. But how do I stop viewing myself as a victim when I have a stalker, yep, a stalker. I went to the police who told me there was nothing they could/would do, though I’m going to go back and file another report. I have health problems & don’t have the money for the treatment I need. But most important of all, I have serious financial problems through no fault of my own. I just can’t find a decent paying job, so I keep falling behind on bills and literally can’t afford to live anymore. I believe I’m talented and very well-educated but it seems other people don’t appreciate that or place any value on my talents and skills. A counselor I saw suggested I go back to grad school so that I could teach college, but I don’t have the money to do that and am overwhelmed already with student loan debt. I’ve been trying to start my own business but that too is challenging when one doesn’t have resources. I do have one friend who’s been helping me some with that and I am grateful for that but I still am limited by my own financial situation. Anyhow, I spent a lot of time today writing that I’m grateful for my anger about my situation. I can’t say I’m grateful for my financial problems, for my lack of resources or for being bullied by a crazy stalker but I’m grateful for my anger because it shows that I believe I deserve better. It also shows I still have some energy somewhere, some “fight” left in me. I really need a miracle, and it may not happen as I’ve begun to think I’ve been cursed, but I really like the book so far. I wonder whether you’ve ever met someone like me who’s had an especially tragic life (I haven’t told you everything) but was able to overcome it, eventually. I know you mention people in your book but they’re successful people, not poor and struggling at a minimum-wage job like me. Oh, and I have tried therapy. I can’t afford it. I went to free clinics in the past, but they just had college interns working on their psychology degrees who were tired from studying or partying, didn’t seem to want to be there, and had no understanding whatsoever of what I’m going through. And I can’t afford to see a “professional” therapist. So I’m working through all this on my own.

    • Melody says:

      The closest I’ve come to meeting someone like you is myself. Abused since childhoods, kidnapped at age 4, serious health problems, a mother who reminded me daily that she should have aborted me when she had the chance. Alcoholic by age 11, addict by 18, treatment by 24. Married an alcoholic and although I didn’t drink, all the work I’d done reconstructing my life went right down the drain. Slowly switched from being a counselor (worked at minmum wage) to being a writer. For seven years made ten cents an hour. Had two children with my husband. Initially I received $5.00 a story, then moved up to $25.00, then $50.00. Three years after my second book (Codependent No More) hit the bestseler list, my beloved son, Shane died at age 12. I spent the next ten years in overwhelming grief. Slowly I moved out. By the time I felt like I had joined the human race again, my daughter told me she was moving to New York. I went right into empty nest syndrome (yes it’s real). I worked through that, I was 50 by then, and decided to give myself a treat — a little cosmetic surgery to help with aging. In the pre-op physical, they discovered I’d had Hep C — likely since I was 21. I spent two years trying to “get it out of me” holistically to no avail. The day I realized I wasn’t sick, I was the same person I was before the diagnosis, the results of degenerative disc disease landed me in Germany having a two-level artificial disc replacement, which put me in bed for the next year. When I came out of that, my guts told me to go to Minnesota to see my mom. I did – but didn’t recognize the woman who answered the door. My mother was being deprived of nutrition, meals, food — everything — by the person she gave power of attorney to. I spent the next two-three years caring for her (flying to MN from CA every month) while she died from Alzheimer’s disease. After her death, I spent another year helping oversee that her wishes took place regarding her will. On April 1, 2011, I discovered my trusted assistant had embezzled half a million dollars from me. Although she’s been charged with ten felonies by the state of Minnesota, she has yet to plead innocent or guilty and the bank won’t cover one forged check. I had to re-establish all my bills and business accounts without one piece of paperwork as they’re in the possession of Minnesota District Court. I haven’t worked since then, as it’s taken all that time to do all the paperwork required to set up my business again. Just as I was ready to get back to work (it was my birthday), I received a phone call from my daughter. “Happy Birthday, Mom,” she said. “I have cancer. They said they know the tumor is malignant.” We got through the surgery. Her prognosis is excellent — they caught it in stage one, thank God. She will need to see her oncologist for the rest of her life. Other than that — I’ve lived Happily Ever After — the Great American Dream. (That was a joke.) Do I think this activity will work for you? No, I KNOW it will. You are the ideal candidate — a lifetime of pain crammed inside, automatic denial activation sensors to modify the pain upon awakening that move into place every day when you wake up, a feeling that you’ve been cursed, and little if no hope. Yup, you are perfect for this program. If you haven’t read these two books, I would also suggest that you check them out from your local library — Language of Letting Go and Codependent No More. Work at this activity ten minutes a day. You don’t have to feel grateful for the things you say you are — you just need to be grateful instead of practicing misery for the things you’ve been through. Be honest. Be vulnerable. Feel everything you feel. If the emotions get to be too much, take a break by focusing on what’s really good in your life — the blessings — to get your balance back again. I have a feeling that you’re in for one hell of a ride (a good one). Recently a friend who observed the trials I went through trying to clean up the mess from the embezzlement (sometimes taking as long as one month to change account information with one vendor), anyway he looked at me and said, “If I didn’t see this with my eyes, I wouldn’t believe it. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were cursed.” Some of us have a challenge this lifetime, but it’s not to be a perpetual victim. The challenge is to keep fighting for ourselves and learning self-love, no matter what. It sounds like you might belong to that group. Best, Melody Beattie

    • EileenMarie says:

      Mimi, I am sitting here at my desk and accidentally clicked on this webpage instead of another (it’s in my favorites so it was there as a choice) I thought umm wait read this blog there is a reason you clicked this one…. After reading your story and then Melody’s answer…….. and kicking myself off the pity train……. I wanted to tell you I started going to a Co-DA meeting after I read Co-Dependent No More. See if there is one in your area, I can tell you it is the best thing I have done for myself. I started in Jan/Feb and I have to say it is best thing I have done for myself. I too am surrounded by emotional vampires and people that would rather see me down. I am always trying to stay out of someone’s line of fire after standing front and center my whole life. I have a tool box now and in it are my Co-DA books (Melody has written all of them but 1! ), the gym, a small group of friends that I can trust, and my 2 great kids that are my reason for breathing some days…… Good luck with everything! I wish you the best :) Eileen

  • Melody says:

    Good support, Eileen. How did I get such a fantastic group on my sites? Seriously, I couldn’t ask for a better group of site guests. Best, Melody Beattie

  • Debbie says:

    I am starting over again, I have sold my house and moved across country to be near my kids, I have been doing temp work through an agency but know a good job will come along when it is time, I have been using my spare time in between work assignments to read Codependant No More and The Language of Letting Go and these have spurred me on to go back to Al-Anon (I left my alcoholic many years ago and thought I could be normal and not go to meetings! ) so I am making new friends, I also found the courage to join a local singing group which is just for fun and the girls who go are funny and kind and we have a real good time. I am working through a lot of pain which I had buried and learning to live one day at a time again the trust in my higher power is growing daily too so I know I am on the right track. I am very lonely at times but just let that flow through me as best I can, I have the tendency to be attracted to the wrong kind of men and have made a few mistakes since my divorce seven years ago but am ok about them now as I have forgiven myself and others, my one forage into dating since the move found me with a guy who was beginning to be a bit obsessive and when he began to favour a rather large bottle of whisky regularly I knew it was time to bow out, which is real progress for me. So thank you Melody for your books and this wonderful website of yours that I found today and thanks to the honesty of those who share here as it helps to know I’m not alone in my feelings or recovery. Much love to you all. Debbie

    • Melody says:

      Hi Deb. I’m glad you found the site. That’s why it’s here — to remind all of us (that includes me) to take care of ourselves. I had a good go-round with remembering to “say no” the other night. Boy did it feel good after I did. I’d like to blog more, but there aren’t enough hours in the day, but connecting with like-minded people makes me feel good. Check in whenever you’d like, and thanks for taking time to comment. Best, Melody Beattie

  • Ali says:

    Hi Melody, wow. I just came across this website. I have been reading your books for years and every single one of them is awesome. My personal favorite is “Finding Your Way Home.” Anyway, this particular post felt like it was written for what I am going through! I went to AA 9 years ago and never drank again. But, six months ago I started on Lortab. Big surprise, I was an addict in six months. I am now three weeks sober. So yes, I am starting over yet again. And I am in this weird space where I am not using anymore, but I am not totally sure what my recovery is going to look like. There is a lot of guilt and shame because I was “supposed to know better,” I had already gone through alcoholism once. Anyway, I am so glad I found your website. Your books and your story have helped me in some very dark places in my life. Thank you so much.

    • Melody says:

      Hi. I’ glad you found the site too. Like my counselor told me when I was in treatment and had a slip, if I learned something from it — then it wasn’t a mistake — it was a lesson. Were you on a pain management program for medical reasons or using drugs on the street? I’m asking because many people don’t know the difference between dependency (need for something for quality of life and ability to function, where need and amount doesn’t necessarily increase and often decreases) and addiction (a downward spiral, where our entire life falls apart and we’re stone out of our minds and our threshold constantly rises). Just thought I’d put that out there. Either way, you are most welcome here. Best, Melody Beattie

    • Melody says:

      I know I responded to your post, but in case my response became lost somewhere, I just want to pass to you what was passed to me when I had a slip in treatment and confessed to it in group. I said I had to start all over again from day one. My counselor said, Did you learn something. I answered, Yes I did. Then she replied, “You’re not starting all over again. You’re moving on with your life.” Best, Melody Beattie (On another level, I understand all the feelings — or at least I think I do — you must be going through. It does sound like you’re back on track. Please don’t give into the thinking that because you used prescription meds, you might as well just give up on sobriety — because that’s just not true. You have a bright and brimming with promise future ahead of you.)

  • Nancy Talbott says:

    Melodie, this post has helped with with change I’ve experienced the last 8 months having reitred from the work force. I’ve felt that blast of pain every morning. I feel like cocooning. This is really helping me. Thanks so much.

    • Melody says:

      I’m glad you found some relief here but plase remember — you are the one stepping up to meet life’s challenges (whether you want to or not), and you’re the one doing the work. When it comes to grief and loss, we each become our own Guru. Nobody else knows how we should handle it and besides, we don’t handle grief anyway; it handles us. I don’t like pushing my “things” — but I have a completely free, safe and no strings attached content-heavy site for all kind of grief at MelodyBeattie.net — the Grief Club. You might want o stop by there now and again to read some of the articles, threads, or post (somewhere where it’s safe) your own feelings. Just a reminder: if you decide to (everone needs to register so we can keep the site safe — but no emails, no spam, nothing at all is generated from the site) register, PLEASE do not use your real name. Many people think it’s no big deal at first, but if we get “down and dirty vulnerable about how we really feel” we likely will want to take advantage of the anonymity aspect of healing. Let me know how you’re doing, okay? These “rites of passage” in Life can be a much bigger deal than we thought (until they happen to us). Best, Melody Beattie

  • Margarita Rivera Swank says:

    Your books connected me with peace and the assurence that everything is perfect the way it is.For me took time lo discover the lesssons after “the treagedy” but the lessons are there, only takes our openness to discover them. Thank you Melodyfor your honesty.

  • petra says:

    Dear Melody …Your books are always with me and so often have I been comforted .Right now I find myself in a recycle mode as I believed I could be friends with an ex -partner of mine .I found that after 6 month my crazy thinking has kicked back in .We are not in a relationship ,yet I find myself once again trying to convince myself and the other party that I am worth loving.I am in CODA and have experienced such peace and growth at times.I would love some thoughts of yours in regards to this ebb and flew of our recovery process.Namaste ,Petra

    • Melody says:

      Hi Petra. Re your comment, please understand that codepedency involves very normal and human reactions to situations in life. The longer I study it, the more I believe it has to do with unrsolved grief. There’s a reason this person was in your life, and you’re not the same person you used to be or you wouldn’t have recognized so clearly what was happening. There’s such a fine line with codependency as two people can do the same behaviors — one is responding in a healthy manner, the other codepndently. But again, it’s about being human. The best thing you can do is accept and love yourself as you are as once you do the other changes you need will be clear from the wisdom inside of you. Best, Melody

  • EileenMarie says:

    Melody, I write poetry…. I wrote an Acrostic Poem about CoDependency….. I just wanted to share it with you :) since you have given me so many tools to be able to attempt to break the chain!! Here is my link so you can see it there http://www.writerscafe.org/writing/EileenMarie/1019469/ Thank you for the inspiration….. I had no idea what I would be able to accomplish until I found myself in the CoDependency groups, meetings, books…. Eileen

    • AnnMarie says:

      Hello Eileen, Melody and All, I have appreciated all of your words of wisdom today. I feel like I am watching all of you for the last several days but I am trying to gain the courage I once had. I have had an interesting five years. My ex was arrested for dometic ase against my daughter in 2007, It was not the first time, worst time but it was the last time. During this process my daughter was going through some pretty horrible things. She was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Disease and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Both are incredibly painful and no cure is possible. Instead of an arm amputation she had a rib removed in summer 2008. In the mean time, my divorce was final Oct 2008 and the next day my daughter was in a catatonic coma for 2.5 weeks. In the mean time I had 30 days to be out of my house. We move in with a friend all of us thinking this is a new start. Well she went on vacation to Mexico and in Feb 2009 her house burnt down. We had to move in with my ex’s brother as my ex would not help us, any of us. June 2009 my mom had double bi-pass and really never did well after that. So here we are again, a new start. My daughter and I move into a townhome in Aug 2009. She struggled with pain and meds for the last of her days. She was never the same. In May 2010 my daughter died in her sleep at her best friend’s house after I kicked her out. I told her “live dying or die living.” You are in pain either way. My mom was never the same after that and it was the beginning of the end. She passed now May 2012. There are all kinds of things that have happened around this. I am currently trying desperately to fix this life I have. My son who is 22yo and absolutley wonderful but our relationship is strained. I am not a whole person and am not giving him what he wants or needs. So I am here trying to SOA. Thank you! Thank you all of you! This is the first time I have written anything down about it. I am not looking to let everyone know yet and so have not wanted this posted to FB. It is already stressful enough. I am not ready for that yet. I just wanted to say I have felt alot of what you have all been able to share. I so look forward to be as strong as you again one day. AnnMarie

    • AnnMarie says:

      Eileen, Your poem was awesome! Thank you

  • Melody says:

    Hi all. A quick comment to let you know that I just spent five days organizing and automating over 5,000 emails in my inbox — I’m receiving them at the rate of about 500 to 1,000 a day and had to automate uch of it (not the comments from here — not what I’m talking about) but I needed to get things organized so I’ll have time to write — which I’m beginning right now. For the next several months I’ll be checking in here maybe once, twice at most, a week. Please don’t take it personally — I”m still very much into all three of my sites and love connecting with you here. Best, Melody Beattie

  • Carol Ann Fenderson says:

    Hello Melody: I am 54 and at a ‘starting over place’ again. It still amazes me how incredibly frightening those periods of life can feel. One tool that has really helped me over the years are the daily readings from your book The Language of Letting Go and it’s French version Savoir Lacher Prise. These help remind me that I am exactly where I need to be on the journey of life, that a great power is directing the timing of events and that I am enough. Reminded of these basic notions I have been able to get through some very dark hours. Thank you for sharing your insight and wisdom. Carol Ann

  • Terra Slainn says:

    OMG, thank you for your words on starting over. I am 63 and in the last month moved back to AZ from WA. I left my house of 11 years, my job of 6 years and my daughter of 40 years. I decided that it was time to have the life that I wanted instead of living for other people. I followed my daughter to WA 20 years ago thinking I was a good mother and I needed to make up for the times I wasn’t such a good mother in her teens. I started over there, but never really ever felt at home. I did not connect with people very well as there were not very many like minded people to talk to. I had been very involved in CoDA in Phoenix and it had worked effectively for me and I thought I could take it up in WA and continue on. Not so. The programs I found were not of the quality of the ones in Phoenix. I got discouraged. I tried to keep up my CoDA in private, but I really needed other people to interact with. After a while, I drifted along trying to make a new life and always going back to your first book to find myself among the pages once again. Long story short, I tried for those 20 years to make a life for myself, but it always centered around my daughter and my 3 grandchildren. About 5 or 6 years ago, circumstances changed between my daughter and me. It was subtle at first, but then became glaring as time went on. I realized that she was playing me and was passive/aggressive with me in many ways. She would be nice, then say mean things to me and make me feel less than. Life telling me that she “parents differently” from me when it came to my grandkids. She might as well as slapped me in the face. I took it and tried to make excuses for it. She began pulling away from me emotionally and left me feeling like I didn’t belong to her family. About 18 months ago, I decided I had had enough of the pain and anger and decided to create a space between us. I needed to know I could live without her and be ok. It took several months, but I started feeling stronger. I knew I could no longer dance the dance with her anymore. When we finally did talk, she accused me of abandoning her and she could no longer trust me. I was dumbfounded. I tried to explain myself, but she would not listen. In the mean time I had decided that it was time to do something for myself….like move back to AZ to a life I once enjoyed. So I started making real plans. I was going to do it, this time. So I gave notice to work and house and started packing up my life. It took me over 2 weeks to pack up my stuff, then 4 days to drive from WA to AZ. I didn’t hear from my daughter or get to say goodbye to my grandkids. Now I am sitting in a rented home in Surprise, AZ feeling lost and unsure of myself. I keep thinking, “what did I just do?” I must be crazy. I am having all these feelings that I didn’t expect to have. I have done this kind of move before and have always have landed on my feet. I thought I would be happy when I got here and ready to take on the rest of my life, but I find the old more negative thoughts and behaviors keeping me from moving on. I am hold up in this house that I don’t really like….I had to settle for it as the last minute. A friend let me down…another story. Now I am wondering what to do next. I feel like I want to hide and lick wounds. I find myself missing the old place and my daughter more than I thought I would. She will not talk to me. So I am just a lost soul wondering what to do next. I found your book on gratitude among my books and starting reading it. It made me feel better. Then I found your other books and have begun reading them again. They are like old friends that understand me. It has always seemed like you understood me more than most people. Thank you Melody for being there for me. I am in my cacoon right now and I know I will emerge in a short time, but the ache of leaving WA and everything there has been overwhelming. I didn’t expect the feelings. Your words have comforted me. Thank you again. Terra

  • Mr Mark Jones says:

    Dear Melody, 10-31-2012 0200 Year of Our Lord Well , I hope this finds you well ? ! Boy , some people really write alot on this blog …. I think you said your Mom lived up into her 90′s , maybe 94 ? Did she keep pretty clear in her thoughts & speech up until she passed ? My Mom is 82 and she has recently started a ” surge ” of better memory , cheerfulness , and ability to speak more and to listen again better … She was an MSW from U of Washington – graduate – 1968 , so she was a Very Good Listener at one time …. I guess part of my grief is that so many of my relationships have ended or just kind of fizzled out ! I saw my ex the other day ( we did 20 years – been broken up for 6 years , no real involvements since except with my 2 cats ) and she looked relatively happy so that felt good ! The Hurricane Sandy thing is a Big Bummer – eh ? I have gotten better at ” letting go ” but it is still hard … ” To be or not to be , that seems to be the question ” …..Maybe some caccoon time is called for ? Anyway , still making good time on my TIME Book of Poetry …. My slowing down in Life feels good but I like to think that I have some speed left if I need it ! Can you tell me a little about your time management in your writing ? Like how many days a week do you write and for how long ? Happy All Saints Day tomorrow Melody ! You seem to fit into that number , when the Saints go Marching in ! I had a good laugh when you wrote , ” for Gods Sake and for all that is sacred and Holy , don’ t try more than 3 times ! ” That hit me as very funny ! Cheers Melody with some Martinelli Apple Juice ! your friend , Mark Jones ……..” formerly a West Coast Bluesman “

  • Melody Beattie says:

    Hi Mark. As always, it’s good to hear from you again. The “Sandy” is a devastating tragedy — hitting an area usually not hit by hurricanes, the wake of death and disaster. I think our globe — everyone — is sick of death and loss and tragedy, yet we have little or no control. Losing every, as many people are finding themselves doing, is so painful and difficult. When getting caught up in my “trite” stuff, it’s important to remember the victims of Sandy. Important for all of us. I can help put things in perspective, and give us a chance to be of service, even if we’re saying a silent prayer and giving five bucks. Re my mom, no, she wasn’t of sound mind. She died from Alzheimer’s Disease (50 percent of the people who hit age 82 will develop some form of dementia — a horrifying statistic). But, my mom lived to be 93. The dementia caused her to forget how much she hated everyone, and for the most part, she became very sweet, loving and childlike. There was an ugly family story involved — people gaining complete control of her money, depriving her of food, water, a clean environment, etc. — I took it to court and was made co-guardian and sole conservator (which is a horrid job that I would never want for anyone again) — but it was important to my mother that someone responsibly handle her finances and carry out her wishes after she died. We had a good three years — I made up my mind that she was going to know what it felt like to be loved before she left — and she did. We had fun. We laughed. I was even going to move from Malibu to Mora to live with her when she became a two-person transfer. The night I packed and was getting ready to lieave for the red-eye to move in with her, my sister-in-law called. “You’re not going to want to hear this,” she said. My mom had suffered a fatal stroke — no hope — the explosion of blood in her head had crushed her brain. I went to hospice and lived with her until she passed. It was a very spiritual and healing time for us, and I’ll never regret it — except I was so busy (I flew back to Minnesota monthly and then drove up to Northern Minnesota plus I was in court with some famiily members consistently as they fought every single thing I wanted to do to help take care of my mom. I did one or two books — one, I think, during that time period. Had to hire a mathematics degree person to teach me how to do the kind of accounting a conservatorship called for — but it was all good. We had a stormy, loveless relationship the rest of her time here, and I’m still surprised by how very much I miss her. Re my writing, we each have our own process. When I wrote newspaper articles and books, I wrote when I had a contract and deadline, and I wrote until I got the job done. Now, screenwriting, is different. Plus so much of writing is “pre-writing” work — especially in screenwriting but with books, too. In books, it was more the research. In screenwriting, it’s (especially now, at the begining), learning the structure, the essential elements, etc. Iv’e been studying the craft hard for about five to seven years now, and it’s finally clicking. I enjoy independent study, though. But when I get to the writing, I start and don’t stop until I’m done. I only break for necessities — sleep, showering, some working out — and that’s it. I work from the time I get up in the morning until I get tired (writing tired creates tired writing). But not all people work that way. I think it’s important to learn what our process is, and respect it — whether it’s different from other people’s process (as it likely will be) or not. Anyway, I wish you days of peace, joy, prosperity an dsafety. Hope to hear from you again soon. Best, Melody

  • Lars says:

    Hi Melody, I read codependence no more and joined Coda for 3 years taking your suggestion. I find that I have a lot of tears inside me. Seems to be an unending supply of them. Many things set it off. Music, people doing nice things, being considerate etc. You did the keynote at the Coda convention in LA a couple of years ago, which I was fortunate enough to listen to. In it you said that when you wrote the book, you thought that perhaps 10% of recovery was tears, but that you now feel like it is more like 90% (might have gotten the percentages wrong) What do you feel is behind the tears? Thanks for all your work and sharing… Lars in Palm Springs..

    • Melody says:

      I’m sorry if this posts twice, Lars. What I said is that codependency is about 90 percent unresolved grief. And it comes from all the losses and pain we go through and endure — but don’t take the time to “feel the grief.” I’m thinking you might benefit by reading some of the posts at the Grief Club site — it’s at MelodyBeattie.net. It’s completely free — no tricks, no gimmicks, no costs, no email lists, etc. But there’s a lot of content there that will explain — plus if you register and go inside (again no costs, no gimmicks, no tricks — registration is to keep the “phishermen” out), you’ll find even more content that will help you understand. Plus there are a lot of forums that focus on various issues, as well. Why don’t you at least go to the general public side and take a look? It might help clear some things up for you. The thing is, most of us come from a family system that says, “Don’t feel.” Or painful things happen to us, but we’re so used to them that we just toughen up and don’t give in to the emotions of the experience. So we end up with all that pain inside – and it needs to come out. Also, you might enjoy the miracle site. It’s a forum/site that supports Make Miracles in 40 Days. The book is about an activity that takes only ten minutes a day, but the activity is designed to help us get in touch with and release ALL our emotions on a daily basis. That’s at MelodyBeattie.org and you can get the book on loan for free from your local library. (The site is completely free too, and I respond to all posts myself — although lately I’ve been writing and there’s a great group of people at each site that offer excellent, healthy support to newcomers.) Just some thoughts. But at least read some of the info at the grief club site. It may clear up some issues for you. I want to reassure you that what you’re experiencing, though, is entirely normal — not comfortable, but normal. Although — I’d like to see you experience more joy. Please stay in touch and let me know how it goes. Best, Melody

  • Melody says:

    Hi. I’m losing some posts again — someone wrote me about changing identities, and how hard it is. I want you to know I read your post, but can’t find it in here. It is hard to change — and shame can stick with us for a long time. IN a strange way, feeling ashamed is a survival behavior — because if we blame ourselves, it gives us some sense of control over an otherwise random life of pain. All our survival behaviors — our coping mechanisms that keep us living less than a life — are patterrns many of us have had for a lot of years. We chip away at them, and wait for the first good moments, then more of those, until we have full good days. It’s okay for you to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. You might benefit from reading Make Miracles in 40 Days. It’s available at your local library; it’s a quick read but it has a recovery activity that takes only ten minutes a day. I have a web site devoted to the activity, and a forum for people working on it. You might want to check it out — it can be a great tool for “extinguishing” long-term feelings that we don’t know how to get rid of. Please stay in touch — if you read this, you’ll know I’m talking to you. I’m sorry about your post not posting — I looked for it but couldn’t find it anywhere. Best, Melody Beattie

  • Laurie S. says:

    You and I go back a long ways…..about 25 years maybe? You helped me then, and I’ve read your books through the years. I kept them, but thought I’d never re-read them. I have. But not lately. I found your website as I sit here, the night before Thanksgiving, two days before my 52nd birthday, alone. My 17 year old daughter is with her father. We have yet to finish a nasty divorce. We were married 20 years. I asked my lover to leave this morning; he is in treatment for HepC. I re-met him 35 years after we met when I was 15, he was my first date. I was too un-worldly, too immature at that time and he married and went on to have seven children and several marriages before we met again two years ago. He has many emotional issues from an abusive childhood, PTSD, plus this illness I was not aware of. He s Stage IV and his third time at treatment. I was married to an alcoholic before. Melanie, I jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Trying to save people. Romanticizing the impossible. These were wonderful men and I broke their hearts, first trying to fix them, then trying to change them, then trying to end things and feeling so guilty. I am an ACA. I am a mess. I have every self help book you can imagine, from Merle Shain to you to The Anger Trap by Betty Doty to Hazelden daily devotionals. Yet putting that knowledge into action in my life seems impossible. I’m a caretaker for two parents who have cancer, and I’ve given my life away to people; I’m resentful, on the downhill side of my life, and I feel like I don’t even know myself. Please help me. I want to disconnect myself from men, but when my lover comes back to get his things I’m afraid I’ll fall victim to his neediness. I’ve almost lost my daughter because of him. My therapist says he has integrated personality disorder from PTSD. What do I do? Thank you and Bless you, Laurie

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