1-17-2001To all the Magnificent Spiritual Beings on my e-mailing list,
Hi everybody - and Happy New Year. It has been a long time - almost 3 months since my last update. On one hand I don't know where the time went - on the other, it seems like ages ago. That is one thing I noticed in recovery, that my perception of time changed. I think it has to do with getting more conscious. The days seem to last forever sometimes - but the weeks and months seem to whiz past. It seems like the year 2000 came and went very quickly - yet it feels like it was ages ago when I got moved back to Cambria, when in reality it was September 1st.
I celebrated my 17th sobriety birthday on January 3rd. 17 years is pretty much incomprehensible for someone who couldn't go for 3 days without a drink or a drug. It doesn't seem like it went fast though - rather it seems like I have lived 7 or 8 lifetimes since 1984. It is important for me to remember where I came from, and how far the Spirit has lead me on this journey. As they say, the qualities of my problems has greatly improved. ;-)
It is especially important for me to remember that right now, because I have been going through one of those difficult times in recovery. There are times when everything is flowing fast and furious, with miracles popping up every time I turn around. Then there are other times when it seems dark and murky - like I am trying to move through quick sand and not making any progress.
When I am in one of the difficult times, it is so important to observe myself so that I can catch myself when I start going into shame and judgment. This disease is so insidious and powerful. It puts up huge resistance to change and then turns around and tells me that I am not changing fast enough - that I am not doing enough, not doing it "right."
As I say many times on my web site, the challenge for us is to have compassion for ourselves, and to accept wherever we are at as being a perfect part of the process, rather than punishment for being bad. My critical parent voice wants to beat up on that wounded little boy in me whose father raged at him, who couldn't protect his mother, and who was taught that god was judgmental and punishing.
I have to call on the defense attorney within to stand up to the prosecuting critical parent and the judge who wants to sentence me to suffering. Sometimes it is easier than others. Sometimes it is important just to accept that I am feeling overwhelmed, alone, and worn out - and to let myself indulge a little. A few days ago, I let myself just kind of wallow in the part of me that feels like a wounded animal who wants to crawl into my cave and lick my wounds.
Accepting and embracing that part of me for a few hours - allowing myself to crawl into bed with a book and some chocolate - allows me to get through it and come out on the other side in a way that fighting it never does. The disease wants to tell me that when I am feeling bad it will last forever. That is a lie. Accepting where I am at without shame and judgment and reminding myself that this too shall pass is an important part of maintaining some sense of balance today.
I think part of what I have been going through is a planetary thing - the process has cycles and this seems to be a murky one. Part of it is the changes I am making in my life that I spoke about in my last newsletter. Being in transition is always a difficult time. I sometimes think about how it must feel to be a caterpillar in the cocoon - being torn apart and put back together as a butterfly. That is kind of what happens in recovery - except we get to be conscious of the tearing apart process in a way that I am sure caterpillars are not. A dubious gift if you ask me.
I also, have just gotten aware in the last couple of days that I may have had some denial going over the holidays. I thought I had sailed through the holidays without hitting any of those pot holes of grief over being alone - the pot holes that used to be huge abysses (is that a word?). I even congratulated myself on how I had succeeded in taking all of the emotional charge out the holidays - when I used to really feel lonely and have great sadness over being alone.
It seems I may have some of that grief and loneliness after all. It is natural in my process that, sometimes when I am consciously choosing to focus on the part of the glass that is full, I overshoot a little and indulge in a little denial about the part that is still empty. Oh well. Got caught being human again.
So anyway, about the web site. Actually web sites - but I haven't made any changes to the Joy to You & Me site recently. I am adding new material to Joy2MeU but only rarely do I add one of the new pages to the original site. The Joy to You & Me site is still getting around 15,000 page views a month - while the Joy2MeU site is getting between 20-25,000. There are links to Joy to You & Me from a number of other sites - and it has search engine ranking in some places that the domain site (Joy2MeU) does not. So, it makes no sense to take it down - since I would have to pay the same amount every month for an ISP (internet service provider) even if I just had a page redirecting people to the other site. And a redirection page would cause it to be dropped out of many of the search engines. So I am going to be keeping it up indefinitely but I rarely add new pages to that site.
One that I did add to both sites is a CoDA Meeting finder resource page. I get so many inquiries about finding resources locally, that I did a little research and found some helpful ways to find those local resources. Specifically I was looking for Co-Dependents Anonymous and Adult Child of Alcoholics meetings - but the same search strategies could be used for finding local therapists, workshops, etc.
The other thing that I do add to both sites is recommended links - or a very rare case, where I added a recommended book to my book store page on both sites, as I did since the last update.
The book I added was unique in several ways. For one thing it is fiction - the first time I have added a work of pure fiction to the book store page. (I tend to think of Illusions as something other than fiction. ;-) It is a book written by a friend of mine here in Cambria - a friend who has been part of my recovery for the last 10 years, and one who I mention in my book. A major motion picture was recently release based upon this book: Pay It Forward. I actually added the book to my bookstore pages on both sites before I had read it. I didn't get a chance to read it until I was in Phoenix over Thanksgiving. I started reading it at about midnight one night and couldn't stop. I finished it at about 5 am that morning. A very good book with a very interesting premise.
Since the last update I have added a total of 6 new recommended links. Two are humanitarian type of links: to a site on which you can click to donate funds in the fight against hunger; and one where you can click to donate free mammograms in the fight against breast cancer.
I added links to a very slick online magazine that is going to be printing some of my articles. It is called The Heroin Times. Also to a site for an author who I have been aware of for several years because we both contribute monthly articles to Recovery Today - a newspaper published by the Chemical Dependency Counselor licensing agency of Texas.
The other two links are pretty unique and interesting: One to a ranch in Montana that has a program of self help and self discovery that involves working with horses; and one to an amazing site by a very Spiritual person who has multiple personalities.
Among other things that have been added are: a new telephone counseling testimonial (the phone counseling is proving very successful as I note on the phone counseling page); two new book stores that have stocked the book and are listed on the bottom of the New page; information on 2 workshops I am doing this month; additions to the number of countries that have visited the site - bring the number up to 70 (also on the bottom of the New page); new referrals of healer/counselors in New York City, Detroit, Florida, and more info on one in Michigan; and a new award from NBCi.com which is now listing my Relationships section among it's premier Top Sites Directory. In addition, the Holiday Gift Special that I offered was so successful that I have extended the offer of special prices on orders for multiple copies - at slightly higher prices than the holidays special (as it turns out those slightly higher prices were mostly eaten up by the big jump in price for Priority mailing from the post office.)
I have also added 3 new pages of content - as a new series forced itself into my life. Richard Bach talks in the foreword to his book The Bridge Across Forever about this monster that smashed through the wall of his house and grabbed him by the throat, forcing him to write the book. The monster being an idea that grabbed a hold and wouldn't let go. I kind of feel that way about writing sometimes.
As I have talked about previously, I resist writing because I never know exactly where it will go once I start writing. I certainly had no plans to write a new series of articles. I have two series already that I haven't worked on since early in 2000 - Spirituality and Sexuality. Because of some responses I got to writing about my resistance to writing in the March Update, I ended up doing a five part (6 page) series on The Recovery Process for inner child healing - finding emotional balance. That series was of course perfect for what I was going through in my process at the time, but it wasn't something I had planned on writing.
This latest series was not at all planned either - at least by me. This one grew out of my latest attempts to get some visibility on the internet so that people can find my site. I decided to give up on getting listed in Yahoo, and because of some research I had done on search engines due to some contract work I was doing for a web designer for whom I was submitting web sites, I decided to try out a pay for ranking search engine. Yahoo now charges $199 just for the privilege of getting them to look at your web site - with no guarantees that they will list it. Many of the other search engines and directories have followed suit. One of the fairly recent developments on the web is search engines that give ranking according to who bids the most for individual keywords.
I had actually had an account with this search engine goto.com for some months - but only had bids of a penny for the keywords I wanted. (Keywords are the words that you put in a search engine to find what you are looking for, i.e. codependence, or inner child healing. Unless your web site appears in the top 30 or so in the search for keywords, people won't find your site. It is kind of like having a phone but nobody knows the number.) I decided to go for the top rankings in some of the keywords. Most of the keywords I wanted did not have very high bids on them. The one that had the highest was Spirituality - and I got a ranking in the top 3 for $ .27. Doesn't sound like much money, does it. However, when there are thousands of searches for Spirituality every month, and I started getting hundreds of hits - I had to back off my bid for that search term because it was getting too expensive.
In any case, it turned out that I started using goto just at a time they were expanding and becoming one of the most important searches on the net. Their top search results are now part of almost every other search engine - including AOL, Lycos, Alta Vista, etc., and all of the multiple search search engines. So, I started getting a lot of hits for the search terms I had bids on.
One of the terms I had bid on, because I found I could get top ranking for $ .02, was Emotional Abuse. I started getting a lot of hits for emotional abuse. In December, for instance, I got 592 hits from goto on that term. The problem, I realized, was that I had never specifically written about emotional abuse. I mention it throughout my web site and in my book - but I had not written specifically on that topic. And I realized that a lot of the people that were finding their way to my site for that term, were new to the concept of codependency. So, I needed to write a page to meet the needs of the people who were desperate enough to have gone to the internet to search for information on emotional abuse.
Thus the article Emotional Abuse is Heart and Soul Mutilation which I posted in early December. When I finished the page, I was aware that I wasn't finished. I knew that writing about emotional abuse wasn't enough, that I also needed to write about what to do about emotional abuse.
So I started to write about emotional honesty and emotional responsibility. Now that was opening a real can of worms. As I have said in different places on the site, writing about an issue can be very different depending on the perspective that you are viewing that issue from. There are so many levels and layers to this recovery process, so many different facets that are separate and yet intimately interrelated - that often in workshops or therapy sessions I will find myself answering questions from a different perspective than I ever have before. As I mention in one of my articles, I can't know the answer to the question until I am asked - by myself or someone else. So, I am often stimulated to look at some issue, or some facet of an issue, from a different perspective than I have ever addressed it previously. As I have also mentioned elsewhere, there are many facets of the disease and the recovery process that I have spoken about for years, but have never written about. (Like that thing about the defense attorney. I tell clients all of the time that they have a judge and prosecutor inside and they need to develop a inner defense attorney to defend themselves and their inner children.)
I realized that there were many aspects of emotional honesty that I had never written about. I also, in getting into writing these new pages started looking at both emotional honesty and boundaries in ways I had never focused on them previously. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. The one page I thought I had started out to write, kept going and going - kind of like the energizer bunny. I actually at one point, had prepared the New page for adding the new article and my update on December 24th. That got blown out of the water by my powerlessness over my writing - and the new iMac that got delivered that weekend. With the contract work I have been doing on the web, and just because my old computer is ancient in internet terms, I had ordered a new iMac back in October after some financial abundance had manifested. It didn't come in until right before Christmas. Kind of a Santa Claus thing I guess.
So, now I had this new computer and had to transfer my web pages and all the information from my old computer. Using 1.3 mg disks, this can take a lot of time. So I got caught up in getting my new computer up to speed and learning how to use it. This caused a delay in my writing. (See what I mean by the qualities of my problems improving. It is kind of silly to whine about how much trouble it is to get comfortable with my brand new computer. ;-)
I think this series will be at least 4 parts now - well, 5 if you count the emotional abuse page. I have now posted two of the pages and still haven't gotten into the nitty gritty of actually how to set boundaries or discussing all the levels of emotional honesty. I am going to have to leave this series for awhile. For a multitude of reasons including: need to do book work so I can pay state sales tax for last year before the end of the month; have two workshops to prepare for; want to get some writing done for my Journal which I have neglected all too long - and which I need to get caught up on the pages about my process before I forget what has happened. I also need to do some changes on all of my web pages to include 2001 in the copyright notice (unfortunately I don't use one of those programs where I can just make a change and have it appear on all the pages - I have to do each page separately and upload it) and a few other changes, like add Joy to You & Me Enterprises to the pages because, since I sell my book the site is considered commercial and such directories as, Yahoo won't list it if the company name is not displayed prominently. So, there is a lot to do, besides getting back to the two series that I have left hanging and getting the Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light book reorganized and hopefully submitted to some publishers. And, of course, continue this transition in which I am changing my diet and lifestyle completely - with a whole lot of resistance. ;-)
Anyway, the two pages are Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility and Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility Part 2. The other reason I need to get away from this series is to come back to it with a fresh outlook. When I have been writing so much about something, rewriting and editing, and trying to get it to work and be helpful in the way I hope it well be - I lose perspective after a while. At this point, I don't know if these articles are any good or not. So, I need to let them sit for awhile before I can come back to them with some objectivity.
I just remembered, I have to write a new article for my suite101 page - and it was due yesterday! I have to get 13 different web pages ready to upload - double check them in Explorer and Netscape both to see how they look - and then upload them and hope there are no technical problems. Then I have to get my e-mail list up to date - which will take a couple of hours probably with consolidating new e-mail address from my two main addresses. I also have 5 phone sessions in the next two days, some e-mail sitting in my inbox that I need to answer, and need to do laundry, and - gotta go. Bye.
I think 2001 is going to be a very interesting year.
Talk to you all through the web site,
PS You know, come to think of it maybe there is some reality to the feeling of being overwhelmed. I often find it necessary to remind clients that they are supposed to be feeling stressed at certain times, or overwhelmed, or confused and lost - whatever. As usual, I teach best what I need most to learn. It is so easy to go into thinking it is all my fault because I am not doing it good enough - when in fact, there is often good reason for those feelings. Exposed again. I am a codependent in recovery.
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