Thursday, March 26, 2009

More about Letting go

I remember that a friend of mine said my problem is that I am a codependent. I still am not sure what that means, but I have read some on this. Sadly, my control obsessions prevent me from reading other opinions on this subject with an open mind. It is funny how many people write about this, and my personal frustration with the therapeutic/recovery community makes me perhaps more critical than I need to be.

So, am I a codependent? Well, I do not know. I do know that many folks ask me questions about my relations with others. The key question I found today is “Do you feel a need to compromise your values to avoid conflicts with someone else?” So.... that question brings me back to my conversation with TG over fifteen years ago. He felt I was too obsessed with other people's feelings. Looking at my latest reading, I am convinced I am getting better. One person who read tons of books on these things diagnosed me as a “codependent”, and worked to convince me what a problem it is in my life.

To my credit, I believe I am getting healthier. I have not tried to diagnose anyone's problems in quite a while. In fact, there is a degree to which I am feeling more peaceful by not analyzing other people's problems. But, I was feeling a little out of balance, so buying that book (Language of Letting Go) is helping me recoup my peace.

Whereas my neurologist has my permission to diagnose my neurological problems, I am sure not in a hurry to give myself some kind of name to my emotional issues. I am gaining a little peace from avoiding limiting names to things. When my friend told me that she thinks I am “very codependent”, I assured her I could stop it if that would make her feel better. I am not making fun of codependency as an idea. I am startled by the people who are struggling mto help others with this problem. I think there is something scary about people who are trying to find problems with others.

I will not get started with the ubiquitous question, “Are you sick?”, or “Are you coming down with a cold?” What can I accomplish by buying into the questioner's reality? Still, we are living in a time when a disturbing number of people are self-diagnosing with emotional problems, as if there is something useful in identifying with the labels of ADD, OCD, ADHD and today's label of discussion, codependency. I do not believe I gain any freedom from applying a label onto me that could actually cause me to acquire more symptoms than it will alleviate.

There is nothing cool about being obsessive-compulsive. People with attention deficit disorder have serious problems that go beyond being entertained by two things at one time or keeping a messy desk. Understanding this, I know that most of these diagnoses are serious problems that can only be rendered meaningless by my fighting to get a diagnosis I can call my own.

Since 1992, I have read many books and articles on alcoholism, codependency, mental health, attention deficit disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. I loved exploring these worlds, loved working to glean something to help me feel more comfortable in my own skin. I noticed my life started getting better when I stopped reading all these books. Peace by peace, I learn what books help me, and now I am able to limit my time lost to gratuitous self-reflection.

This is why I am learning to write about things that do not deal so much with me.

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ever Have a 2000 Year Old Date?

"The fact that seeds can survive for so long under the right conditions says a lot about conservation and ways to preserve seeds for future generations. Thank god some seeds can survive, because the way we're busily cutting down everything on the planet, we're sure going to need them." – Sarah Sallon

I get thrilled when I hear that a two thousand year old seed of a palm date tree was not only sprouted, but was successfully grown into a viable tree. This is a wonderful thing, because I work in a health food store, and listen to question s every day that ask me if seed is viable. They ask whether or not the seed product they want to buy will sprout. Not knowing enough about genetics or horticulture, I was shocked to hear that thew scientists do not know whether or not the palm tree is male or female. Apparently, the ability to recreate the tree is limited based on the gender of the tree.

Still, the excitement of this tree, reported four years ago, was somewhat significant, in that the palm plant is listed as extinct. I guess that this becomes the vegetarian version of Jurassic Park. I need to try to find the story follow up to find out if this plant, reported on in late 2005, had persisted in its growth and has continued to develop since the positive reports three and a half years ago.

I was listening to some 2005 podcast when I heard this as a short science notice that piqued my interest. I was sitting at my computer and found an update from last year saying that the tree was still alive and growing well. The claim that the seeds came from a place that was supposedly the palace of King Herod arouses my curiosity. But archaeologists tend to be smarter than me.

They have carbon dated the seed, and verified its age. For this reason alone, I do not care if the seed was found at King Herod's palace, or buried under Herod's in Las Vegas.

I love dates. I am thrilled to know that when I package dates in my cubbyhole at Orchard Nutrition, I know these dates are highly formidable foods. On the island of Java one beautiful woman assured me that she does not like dates. I asked her why, and she told me, “That is what we eat when we are fasting.” I suppose that under those conditions, I would be less than excited about them.

My prevailing fascination with this discovery comes from the fact I work in a health food store. The people that walk into my bulk foods section often are experimenting, venturing into the world of sprouting for nutrition. One question I get asked is whether or not some seed or nut is apt to sprout. I can still not answer with assurance, but at least now I can say, “Maybe if a 2000 year old date stone can grow into a tree, than you should have a decent chance of sprouting those right there.”

Monday, March 2, 2009

How I Remember to Let Go...

Years ago, I started a dialog with a friend of mine, TG. TG was many years older than me. He knew what crazy thoughts I had,stayed patient with me, and he knew a little about my history drinking. He shared with me many times for a hours. In reality, things seemed to change so fast, small periods of time actually seemed longer than they were. I decided I wanted change in my life. Perhaps I was not a hard core drunk, but by the 1990's I was feeling crazy enough to need some guidance, and quitting drinking was a good choice. That idea came to me in 1992 at the age of twenty-two.

But, many of my friends, some of them in Al-anon, were talking about wacky psychological stuff. Popular ideas around that time were talks about inner child therapy and codependency. I would be afraid to start my rant about all the other stuff that filtered into my world. But, as time passed, I decided that entertaining multiple models of healing tended to make me feel crazier than saner. I do not think recovery meetings are extensions of “group”. I now am able to look back and realize what I was writing about months ago.

I was discussing people in crisis. People in crisis can fall prey to anyone with enthusiasm, and they do develop quickly the desire to share these ideas with the world. These ideas incubate quickly in the warm, fertile bodies of people in crisis, because it is these people that always describe their experience as “Having an emptiness inside them that needs filling.” So when you pack hundreds of these people into rooms to discuss their problems, their own acquired ideas on healing start to grow and infect others that try to proselyte and infect even more.

It was during such a time that I developed my enthusiasm for multilevel marketing, for inner child work, past-life regression, healing herbs, mystical rocks, Carlos Castaneda books, and the pursuit of time with anyone who seemed more stable and happier than me. I also loved learning about Rational Emotive Therapy, the John Birch Society, and anything else that showed any promise of positive returns. So, I was a man in need of guidance.

But, today, life is much, much simpler. I do not spend countless hours finding new books on improving my life and world. Also, today, I remember my friend TG who talked to me that day back in 1995, and told me to find a book. The book is called The Language of Letting Go, by Melody Beattie. I bought that book, and read it page by page for months. I bought it, because my friend was so insistent.

His voice was paced, deep, and resonant as he enunciated every syllable : The Lang-uage of Let-ting Go... By Mel-o-dy Bea-ttie... TG died one day after disappearing for a while. Despite his youthful demeanor, he had a number of strokes, and one day, years later, I noticed his name on a clubhouse wall with a time to visit a church. He is remembered, and I am glad I met him.

One man once said, “if you open your mind too much, your brain will fall out.” I am grateful for my selectively open mind. I am grateful that what works for me, may only work for me, and I am pleased I can share this story with you without having to convince anyone of anything.

As for the book, I saw a copy on discount at a major corporate bookstore, and have started reading it again.

I thank you for reading.