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Be the change you want to see revisited... Sunday January 3, 2016

On New Year's Eve Les challenged us to be the change we want to see. In my last blog I asked "How do I respond as an adult when my heart is reacting like that of a child?" (24 December 2015) as I dreaded spending three days with my mum and my alcoholic sister, Nicky.

I am SO grateful for the lovely, supportive, wise replies I received which really buoyed me up prior to the visit.

So, how did I respond?

1. I used the strategy "act as if..." I played the role of a friendly, caring, supportive, professional; (i.e. not daughter/sister/child).

2. I used mantras "I am an adult; I respond as an adult; I treat everyone here as an adult" which I kept repeating;

3. I told myself that the best Christmas gift I could give everyone would be to remain calm and smiling.

4. I limited the amount of time I spent in the same room to just meal times.

5. I told myself that my feelings could wait until I got back home again (hence this blog!)

How did they respond?

1. My sister was drunk when we got there; she looked dreadful, and took herself off to bed for the rest of our first day there.

2. Mum defended Nicky ("she's ill").

3. Mum was also very angry with my younger sister and my brother in their absence. (They have both dared to challenge Mum about Nicky's alcoholism and have both refused to go to stay if Nicky is there).

My younger daughter (22) commented to darling hubby that I was not getting drawn into conversations or arguments but was managing to stay detached.

I wonder whether it was as a result of my behaviour that Nicky made a huge effort the following day to join us for dinner; maybe my behaving as an adult allowed her to respond as an adult and make the necessary effort so that we all had a lovely evening together.

I have come home changed. I have a better understanding of the battle Nicky fights, probably on a daily basis. I also see how my previous childish reactions were probably making the situation worse for everyone. I have found a certain peace of mind, though not yet peace of heart as I still have a way to go in grieving for Nicky. It is as it is.

How can you be the change you want to see today?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Sally Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 6:53am

Very well done, Frankie! It is such a difficult juggling act living with an alcoholic. I know this from experience. You showed great fortitude because we are always emotionally drawn in when it is family or a spouse , and want to put up a fight against abuse of your and others' rights. Like you, I detached, and only dealt adult to adult, and, whilst never a bundle of fun, it became manageable in small doses.
I always find the saying "Walk a mile in my shoes " helpful when trying to imagine role swapping. Suffice to say I would never want to be in an alcoholic's.

Frankie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 11:30am

Thank-you Sally; yes, manageable in small doses - a really useful phrase for me, thank-you. I always want to fix the whole lot immediately - if everyone just did what I suggested it would all be fine! Oh, I suppose that's the parent in me treating everyone else as children - oops ... that's only just occurred to me ... Ouch ... I need to accept that my actions can make things worse ... Manageable in small doses; I like it ... a lot! I can do this ... in small doses ... alcoholism is just such a ghastly illness ... Frankie

the room above the garage Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 8:18am

Hello Frankie, as I read, all I could think of was the word brave. That was a long time to be in an intensely charged situation and yet you rose up and surfed it! 'Acting as if' is a brilliant survival method! You sound steadfast and I have no doubt this subtle shift within you will be the change always. I truly wish your sister can find a fragment inside of her true self and use it to grow again. And you have wrapped yourself up for protection meantime. Beautifully handled Frankie, and breathe! Love ratg X.

Frankie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 11:34am

Thank-you RATG - not sure if I was brave - determined, yes ... Your suggestions on Christmas Eve were a huge help - and I know that I need to spend more time exploring my feelings in more depth, as you suggest ... and yes, I continue to pray that Nicky can find her true self ... Much relief now I am back home so, yes, I'm breathing easier now! Frankie x

Lex Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 8:37am

This is a work of art in your heart, Frankie. Beautiful, eloquent, and still in progress. Much love. L'x

Frankie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 11:35am

Thank-you for your lovely words Lex - and for the much-needed reminder that it's not over yet ... Frankie x

Alice Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 8:49am

Very well done Frankie! I too had a 'eureka' moment over Christmas with a drifficult family member. Like you I decided to be adult and it seems she did too. Or as you perceptively say, did that change in my attitude give her room to respond? My Europa moment was when I realised we had done three days - pleasantly! Thank you so much for sharing this particular before and after. It was so helpful. Like the rest of the gang - dead proud of you Frankie!!!!

Frankie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 11:37am

Thank-you Alice, and well done to you too ... it's not easy is it? Glad it also helped you , and you should be proud of yourself too - together we can do this! Frankie

Mrs Jul A Non Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 8:50am

Hello Frankie. As ratg says, you were so brave. What an exhausting day it must have been for you but it paid off; you are now feeling so much better and calmer. What could well have been a dramatic Christmas turned out differently thanks to you. You now have neutral memories of this Christmas, neither good nor bad but positive for you. I have been wondering how it all went. It's so good of you to let us know. You are so thoughtful. Jul x

the room above the garage Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 11:24am

I agree Jul, it's great to read blogs of progress...other people's walls that are either built or dismantled, brick by brick. Wonderful.

Frankie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 11:40am

Thank-you Jul - really appreciate this; and your visualisation of Nicky in a "grey scarf" so that her words are muffled also helped enormously ... Now that I am home I visualise her bathed in golden healing sunlight ... which allows me to let go of the constant worrying about her ... Frankie x

Sheena Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 10:23am

Christmas! Wow can it bring up so much - beyond eating, drinking and presents. Observing strategies that allowed me to survive childhood were not going to take me far through adulthood was really difficult. Reading that with the support of other Moodscopers Frankie has achieved so much, realtively 'suddenly' is just a wonderful start to 2016. Thank you all for your compassion, grace and will to understand yourselves.

Frankie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 11:45am

Thank-you Sheena; yes, it does seem relatively suddenly isn't it? Yes, Moodscope and Moodscopers have been the main support in all this, for which I am hugely thankful! Frankie

Norman Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 10:31am

Wow! Fantastic achievement! Give yourself a 3 for strong, determined and proud!

Norman Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 10:34am

The last barrier now is your mother's enabling behaviour, What do your other siblings feel about it?

Frankie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 11:57am

Thank-you Norman; not sure about the "strong" - desperate more like! But I'll willingly accept 3s for determined and proud ... yes, mum's behaviour is enabling - when we are around; I suspect that it is less so when there is no audience to her and Nicky; the three of us alternate between feeling frustrated and resigned ... Mum's own health is not brilliant so she doesn't really have the energy to tackle the situation and in any case it is not her style so I doubt she will change now ... I have worked really hard to change her enabling behaviour in the past when she had more energy; I now settle for discussing the situation only if Mum raises the subject; and when she does, I opt for using neutral, factual sentences which I repeat (like "the only person who can deal with this is Nicky" and "the only thing we can change is our own response") Frankie

patricia Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 10:37am

Well done Frankie, you have been in my thoughts, you really handled that good, congratulate yourself for being somewhere you didn't really want to be, you worked through "it"
I think of my wants for the future, to not expect too much of myself, don't dwell on what others say (I spend a lot of time on that one) If things don't work out right pick myself up keep trying and learn from it. I would like to lose some weight amongst other things, mentioned it to my Lady helping me, said I pick in the evenings, asked where I get the food from, in the cupboard of course, well how does it get there, I wonder? When you go shopping next time say to that little six year old girl (on your shoulder) not to put things in your trolley, put them back, phew what a good idea, she came round shopping with me yesterday, she didn't manage to slip anything in. here's hoping she doesn't find another way in!!!
Keep up the good work Frankie, bye for now

the room above the garage Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 11:33am

Hello patricia, I really like the strategy you have. You may need a few more to run alongside each other to truly make a change. When drinking was my demon, and I made the final change (it had been a stop-start journey til then) I had to change everything. So my day routine and even my evening habit had to more batch cooking meals whilst little ones slept (because I realised it made me feel lonely and tired and I turned to something in a glass). I started to eat my meal at the kids teatime, clean up, set breakfast and close up the kitchen...bucket out, lights off. In the beginning I even closed the downstairs and got into pyjamas, brushed teeth etc. Little pockets of fight to stop the habit. Do the new habit enough times and change takes place. Commit. You can! X

Frankie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 12:07pm

Thank-you patricia, and for your previous comments about how I might regret not going if I stayed away; you were so right! Thank-you! I am sure I gained strength from your thoughts and those of other Moodscopers, so thank-you for thinking of me ... RE: losing weight, I lost a stone doing the 5:2 diet whilst on steroids! I can highly recommend it ... two good things about it are that the weight comes of gradually but steadily, and that on 5 days you can eat and drink what you like! RATG is right, changing routines and adopting new habits also help. I really like the idea of talking to "the six year old on your shoulder" ... Good luck with it! Frankie

susan Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 11:38am

This is great stuff, Frankie! Congratulations on being able to lovingly detach. If we are able to alter our own reactions and behaviours, everyone else responds differently. Yes, i believe it was your change of behaviour that helped Nicky make it to dinner that night and subsequently enjoy a lovely family time. That's BIG!! But in any case, the most important thing is that you looked after you and that should be your only focus. Anything else that evolves as a result will be a bonus. This is so uplifting, thank you for sharing. Yay! xx

Frankie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 12:15pm

Hello susan, thank-you - and for your comments on my previous blog. Thank-you too for your reminder that I need to look after myself first. Glad it makes you feel good too! Frankie xx

Melanie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 12:13pm

Dear Frankie, this is so brilliant and such an inspiration! Well done and thank you so much for sharing. Who knows what will happen next in your family as you become your adult self and look after your younger self yourself! Love her and you! Melanie xoxo

Frankie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 12:17pm

Thank-you Melanie for this; it's good to hear it helps. Yes, who knows? Feeling more hopeful, the first time in a long while ... Frankie xx

Joy Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 1:00pm

Bravo, Frankie! For keeping your cool and staying the adult; for your insight and awareness of Nicky"s behaviour and "disease"; for making those huge changes in your expectations of yourself and others; for being so open and receptive of new ways to tackle old entrenched beliefs; but most of all, for your courage to make those changes without a safety net! No guarantees of success, just faith and willingness. Brilliant. Love, Joy

Frankie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 2:42pm

Thank-you Joy - I am so grateful for all support and advice received which allowed me to get to this stage. Frankie

Les Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 1:15pm

Hi Frankie - FAB stuff............. // Emotional intelligence is being aware of and being in control of your own acting as a wise adult and not an upset youngster.....i.e. YOUR change, most likely changed the spirit in the house and enabled Nicky to 'feel' different about you and thus herself and gave her some responsibility which she took. // Fab fab stuff.....well done.....and a great challenge to the rest of us, with your ending question. // "There is in the worst of fortune the best chance for a happy change" Euripides

Frankie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 2:45pm

Thank-you Les; and for all your support which helped me get here; I think your quote about the gift of the box of darkness was a starting point - I am more grateful than words can ever express ... Frankie

Adrian Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 1:43pm

Brilliant! You are so inspiring. This wounding comes down in families and if we become this conscious, we can break the cycle – I've seen it happen.

Frankie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 2:46pm

Thank-you Adrian and your helpful words "break the cycle" - am nicking this as my next affirmation! Frankie

Catherine Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 2:38pm

Great to hear. I too had a small victory as I resisted my bossy big sisters attempts to make me feel guilty about not doing her bidding and I am sure that your blog helped me do that.Thank you.

Frankie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 2:49pm

Hello Catherine and well done you! It's a great feeling isn't it? I fully intend taking Mum out for a "just us" treat next time I am with her, as you suggested last time - thank-you again for that. Frankie

The Gardener Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 4:14pm

So glad, Frankie - people who have 'problems' are so apt to dominate Christmas - they are pandered to because nobody wants to provoke a 'scene'. We were invited out - and our host (massively provoked) went into 'melt-down' most embarrassing - and sad, we know how much he is provoked. My mother could put a damper on any proceedings - but luckily at big family 'dos' the grandchildren had the ability to sit on her, cajole her or tell her to shut up - and she accepted it! My problem is keeping some semblance of humanity in the face of extreme provocation by Mr G. Whatever ruses I use evenings are apt to be hell. Just written to my three 'experts', a doctor, priest and academic - all pretty good philosophers as well, and excellent communicators (and so they should be!) I felt really scared a couple of nights ago - and wrote from King Lear 'Oh, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven, keep me in temper'. Because I lose my self-control too often for my liking - and shut in by torrential rain with Mr G insisting that nearly all the lights are turned off is pretty dispiriting. Really glad (with loads of people, I guess) that the festive season is over - and normal life - kids going by to school, building works, town hall open etc stops one feeling as if living in a time capsule. Frankie's success will, I hope, be a 'beacon' for the future - courage is needed, but the results are worth the effort.

Frankie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 4:56pm

Hello dear Gardener; you are an example to us all; I just hope that I can be as strong as you are, should the need arise in the future ... yes, people with "problems" dominating Christmas ... been there, done that, got the T-shirt! My darling elder daughter is very good at "telling it how it is" with Mum and Nicky - which means that they respect her and are wary when around her ... and probably behave better as a result ... Yes, indeed, the results of courage are really worth the effort - onwards and upwards! Franke

LillyPet Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 7:14pm

Hi Frankie,
It's so good to hear that thinking aloud with us, enabled you to prepare to be the change you wanted to see... and it made such a difference!
You managed it in a way that made it easier for you to cope with at the time and be confortable with afterwards.
You didn't allow "blame" to be diverted to you and as more of an observer, you were able to see more objectively a little of what your sister is living with.
Your mother remains protective of your sister and whether getting involved in that at this stage with your mother would be beneficial.. well I sense perhaps not but things can always shift a little!
With regards to the grief you have been feeling for the loss of the relationship with your sister before the alcoholism, just because it has been feeling like grief doesn't mean that how you view the changes, in your sister and in your relationtionship, might not change too. So much of what we feel depends on how we think about things and look what you managed to shift by thinking differently about coping with Christmas. However things pan out for your sister, there is always room for hope that things may change for the better.
Thank you for your reflections Frankie and your living example of "Be the change that you want to see" I may adopt your 5 points to help me through a difficult and ongoing work situation.
Hugs to all. Love, LPxx

Frankie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 7:36pm

Thank-you LillyPet; yes, there is always room for hope that things may change for the better - I spoke to Nicky today to say thank-you for the lovely evening we spent together; to wish her well for the new year and to reassure her that if anyone can do it, then she can - which I think she appreciated ... Thank-you for being there LillyPet ... good luck with your work situation ... Frankie xx

Les Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 9:28pm

What get's rewarded - gets repeated.... // A kind word of thanks or appreciation goes a long, long way - especially for someone who is struggling to stay on track in their own life. Well done again....

LillyPet Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 7:46pm

Oh that's wonderful! :) It's great to be here and thank you. Will perhaps blog my expereince too! Xxx

Frankie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 10:52pm

Yes please LillyPet! Frankie

Rebecca Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 9:17pm

Was wondering how you got on, glad it went OK. Well done. Thanks for letting us know.x

Frankie Sun, Jan 3rd 2016 @ 10:51pm

Thanks Rebecca - I appreciate your concern! Happy New Year. Frankie

Sal Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 12:37am

Wonderful to read this Frankie, big smile on my face. Well done you! and thanks for sharing it with us all. Love, Sal x

Frankie Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 8:49am

Thanks for the feedback Sal - grinning back at you! Frankie

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