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Shalene Kritzinger

Think of the times when you've acted courageously in your life – in speaking your truth, in giving your heart away, in trusting someone fully, in honestly looking at yourself and changing what no longer serves you! Having faith that things are exactly the way they should be. All that takes courage. You cannot be truthful if you are not courageous. You cannot be loving if you are not courageous. You cannot be trusting if you are not courageous. You cannot enter into reality if you are not courageous. Hence courage comes first… and everything else follows. —Osho

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The final letting go

Written over a year ago but not published until now.

Trying my best to not hold on for dear life.  I’d held on so tightly and for so long I knew of no other way.  I had started to think it was not possible to let go.  Not possible to love and care for someone that is slowly drinking themselves to death and at the same time set them free from who you think they should be. And then it happened.

I became free, no longer obsessed with what he was doing.  And I had been obsessed.  I was the one who bought him the pill box so that he could put each day’s pills into separate containers, thereby avoiding a possible over or under dose.  I don’t think he used it. Not. even. once.  I took him to doctors and even to an iridologist,  bought him vitamins and red goji berries to eat with breakfast.  I arranged numerous moves, and paid people to help.  I was the one who convinced him to go to rehab for the last time and then travelled 80km in peak hour traffic every Monday, for 12 weeks, so that I could attend the family meetings with him while he was in rehab.  I  took him into my home.  I threw out his alcohol and dared not keep alcohol when he was around.  I was the one that he called every time he couldn’t breathe (the asthma), thought he was dying, or just couldn’t sleep. I  lent him money to pay for his radiation.  I took him to hospital and sat in the queues with him when he had no means of transport.  He could have arranged with someone to take him, but he didn’t,  so I drove 130km and two hours to fetch him from his house and take him to the hospital.  I was the one who called the ambulance one Valentine’s day and got into trouble for it (how dare I?!).  I had to explain him that his car keys were not stolen as he hadn’t driven himself to the hospital, that he had been brought in by the ambulance.  I asked the doctor to check his brain function because he was talking as though he were mad.  I later learned it’s one of the many serious side effects of delirium tremens (DT’s) caused by the withdrawal of alcohol which if not managed properly can be fatal.  I’d seen it before and it was terrifying.

But I was more worried about him and his life than he was. I was neurotic.

The reality however was that I was the one who’s life was out of control.  Anxiety and panic attacks threatened to take over my life.  But I had seen it for what it was and was finally letting go of this need to control him.

He didn’t call me for my birthday because we had a fallout and I was absolutely ok with that.

After walking around for years with the world on my shoulders, it had finally lifted.  And just as I started to get I right… he died.

And just like that he was gone.

It wasn’t supposed to happen like that. No.  I had not been ready for this. There one day, me practising letting go, gone the next, me forced to let go. He just left.   It felt so unreal.   So this is how it feels to lose a father.  That hurts, I don’t like to hurt, how do people live through it?  It felt like there was a hole where my heart should have been.

What did my letting go matter now?  There was nothing to hold onto.  I didn’t have to set and stick to boundaries, or sit with fear in my heart that he would call and tell me that he is dying.  No.  It had just happened.  Found by the domestic lady, on the floor in his flat.  Alone.  His final moments on this earth and he hadn’t called a soul.  Unlike numerous other occasions where I received a call at 01:00 am in the middle of the night or any other time for that matter. It didn’t matter if I was asleep, or training the dogs, watching a movie or eating dinner.  My heart used to lurch when the little phone screen lighted up with his name.  The ringtone used to send my heart into a gallop.  He would just want to talk, to tell me that he is dying and couldn’t breathe and he just wanted someone to talk to.  I spent many phone calls  with him getting angry at me for summoning the ambulance to his place, for trying to help him.  Getting angry with me when I spoke about boundaries and that it was not ok to call me like this.

He didn’t want to help himself, so how could I have ever helped him? Young and naïve.

That day he died he hadn’t called anyone.  He just left, without letting anybody know.  I didn’t think it would happen like this.

 “I’ll speak to you another time…” 

Those were my last words to him… 8 days before.  I was unhappy with him for calling me when he was drunk, as I had made it clear that I didn’t want to talk to him when he was in that condition.  I told him, in no uncertain terms… “I’ll speak to you another time…”

I sometimes wonder if he tried to call anyone.

The strange thing is, I was already mourning the loss of my father for 3 weeks before he physically died.  How to wrap a head around that.

I was grieving the loss of a father mostly absent from my life.   He was in his own world with alcohol, chain smoking, his messy bushveld flat and bushveld creatures (I didn’t inherit my fear of spiders and creepy crawlies from him).  Surrounded by his rocks – he was an exploration geologist – they were his absolute passion (that and music).  The rocks that he studied every day of his life had also nearly taken his life in 1990 when a ton rock had settled on him while working underground and smashed just about every bone in his body from his pelvis to his neck. The doctors said he’d never walk again.  He was adamant he would.  For the next three years we watched my father dragging himself down the passage, behind a chair, willing his legs to work.  Dragging, crawling, standing up, using two crutches, using one crutch and finally walking by himself, with a limp but walking nonetheless.

How incredible.  If only he had seen it that way.

He had suffered a lot.  Reading his journal after he had died  (random bits of paper he had written on while in various rehab centres), I saw a very sad man.  Extreme sadness.  Sometimes that suffering is too much to bear and you numb it anyway you can.  He chose alcohol.

Vodka will make it better and the day I let go

The day of my brother’s wedding.  Dad is sitting cross legged on the bed he begged me to buy him vodka.  The stench in the room was overwhelming.  The stale smell of cigarettes and the smell of alcohol oozed out every pore and made me sick. I stood and looked at him. He was deathly grey. The room felt heavy.  He’d been wretching all night. My dogs had barked at him earlier, perhaps he wasn’t even fully present to this life any longer.

“I can’t do that Dad, I’m sorry… I’m not supporting that any longer and it’s your son’s wedding later” I choked. It was nearly too painful to speak.  I stood and looked at him, sitting on the bed, the blue bucket I had given him to use cradled next to him.  He looked at me and we just looked.  I think I saw it.  They say the eyes are the windows of the soul – I think I saw it.  He saw it too. At that moment we understood – no words needed to be spoken. No words would describe it anyway.  A split second of clarity.  He had asked me for the vodka. The eyes implored me to let go.

I didn’t throw anything this time. I didn’t shout, beg or plead. His eyes bored into mine.  I turned to leave the room.

Eyes stinging with tears I stumbled to the lounge and my legs crumpled from under me.  I had a strange feeling around me. Excruciating pain in my chest, perhaps pieces of my heart were dropping off.  I had never felt such a staggering sadness in my 33 (nearly 34) years on this earth.  I sat and just breathed for a while.  And then a sense of calm. A growing sense of calm.  What a strange feeling. And then I knew, with every fibre of my being, that this is ok.  That he is ok, that I am ok and that we will be ok.  I was compelled to take a book off the shelf and opened it up.  I read “trust that everything is unfolding exactly the way it should”… and suddenly I believed this with my entire being.

We were going to be ok.

I took him to the doctor for a shot of some sort.  I took him for a haircut. He had gollywog hair, and it stood out in all directions.  Like Einstein. Perhaps even eccentric, but without the money.  I nearly didn’t take him but I did and I’m glad I did.  I bought him orange juice, which he drank while sitting in the chair. I cried.  Tears steaming down my cheeks, watching him sit in the hairdresser’s seat. Small, frail, not completely withit and so grey.   The hairdresser quietly went about her job, but not without throwing a curious glance at me every now and then.

Every time now when I walk passed that salon, my heart lurches from the memory.  As if the memory of him sitting there, still lingers in the shop.

So ecstatically happy for brother.  Desperately sad for this man, my father.  The paradox. The high and the low, living together within me. Opposite ends of the spectrum, co-existing side by side.  Is that even possible?

I walk to his hotel room to make sure  he is ready. No. 601.  I open the door and he is standing in the middle of the room,  showered, hair combed and in his suit.  I was shocked to see that he looked nearly normal, besides being a deathly grey.  Oh my god my heart wanted to climb out my throat.  He looked so smart.  “If only”… The tears leaked out of my eyes again.  I softly told him “come Dad, it’s about to start”…

He had bad diarrheoa and had to run to the toilet every now and then.  Partly due to the alcohol, lack of food and nutrition, partly due to the myasthenia gravis, partly due to the radiation treatment he had received for his prostate cancer.  That’s how he missed being part of the family photos at the wedding.  He had needed the toilet.

That is how months after he had died I found his unwashed shirt and suit amongst his clothes bundled into my garage, the white shirt stained with blood at the back where it would have been tucked into the pants.  My heart broke again.  He had needed the toilet. I had let him be.  Sadness and guilt overwhelmed me.

The last time

The day after the wedding I had dropped him off at my sister.   A mixture of relief and guilt about feeling relief.  I turned and gave one last look at him as we drove away.  Perhaps if I’d known it would be the last time I would see him, I’d have looked a bit longer.  Perhaps I would have hugged him and told him not to worry and that everything will be ok.  He was  looking down at the ground, looking dejected, grey and small.

I sobbed.  This deep well of sadness had no end it felt.  At home I put my brown and blue jacket in the wash that he’d been wearing – one that I wouldn’t be able to wear for months after he had died because he was the last one to wear it.  You know how it sometimes feels better to stuff things into a cupboard and forget about it, than to rather sit with the pain of a memory.

3 weeks later he died.  8 days after my birthday he was gone and no-one ever told me it would hurt so bad.

While clearing his flat I picked up a chest infection. I struggled to clear it for 8 weeks. The lungs are related to grief –  my lungs were weak from grief.

He was gone.  I was free, but not quite the way I had planned. I had not planned for it to be the final letting go.  He was only 61.

The mystery of this is that I had learned to let go, before the final letting go.  I had learnt to put a boundary in place and stick to it. I had learnt that everything is unfolding exactly the way it should.  I had learned that it doesn’t matter how much I worried and tried to control things, they happened anyway.  There was nothing I could do.  There was nothing I could have ever done.  I learnt I was ok and he was ok.  I could let go and know that everything was going to be ok.  Whatever that ok was.

I had been privy to experiencing a beautiful, excruciating painful truth of actually letting go before I learnt it from death itself.

I miss him.  I know one day “…. I will speak to you another time…” – perhaps even in my dreams.

And a quote that brings me close to tears when I hear it:  “I forgive you for not being the way I wanted you to be” Louise Hay.  I really do.

 

We find by losing. We hold fast by letting go.

We become something new by ceasing to be something old. 

This seems to be close to the heart of that mystery.

I know no more now than I ever did about the far side of death as the last letting-go of all,

but now I know that I do not need to know,

and that I do not need to be afraid of not knowing.

God knows.

That is all that matters.
Frederick Buechne

Once you have seen the truth
you must make the decision to let go
of the pain, anger, and resentment you have been holding on to.
This requires you to take action.
If you are attached to your pain, resentment,
and self-righteousness, and addicted to your emotional reactions,
this will be a difficult step for you.
Taking action requires letting go of the very thing
you have been holding on to for so many years.
There is comfort in what we find familiar,
even if we are experiencing pain and suffering.
The pain and suffering itself becomes the familiarity we seek.
It takes absolute faith in yourself
plus courage, will, and discipline to let go.
But once you let go, it will be as if
the weight of the world has been taken off your shoulders.
In this process it is important to forgive
not just the others in our lives, but also ourselves.
For most people, giving ourselves
the gift of forgiveness is very challenging.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

letting_go_bird

Image source: http://echoes19.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/letting_go.jpg

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Do you speak South African?

The graffiti under the bridge catches my eye as I drive by. “Do you speak South African?”

And it gets me thinking. Well, I’m South African, so yes, I guess I do speak South African. But the question lingered with me. “Do you speak South African?” I ponder this for a while.

“Do I speak South African?” Do I really speak South African?” What does it mean to “speak” South African? South African is not a language. South Africa has 11 official languages of which I speak only two and know a couple of words from the others. Which one of those would be South African? Do I need to speak all 11 to be able to say I speak South African?

No, South African is not a language.

So what does it mean “Do you speak South African?”. Is it a cultural thing? Can only one part of this country actually claim to speak South African? What would that culture be?

“Do I speak South African?” What would qualify a person to be able to speak South African? It’s certainly not English or Afrikaans in my point of view. Neither is it Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, Sotho or any of the rest.

I’m South African and I speak one of the languages, but the question goes much deeper than that for me. My thoughts around this make me sad.

If speaking South African means being desensitised to the beggars on the street, looking straight ahead whilst someone motions how hungry they are, then perhaps I speak South African. If it means being relieved that the beggar doesn’t smash my car window, throw his body into the car and grab whatever valuables I may have forgotten to place in my boot, then I definitely speak South African. If I sit vigilantly everytime the car’s wheels come to a stop, keenly aware of my surroundings in case some gun wielding madman comes to take my car. Being petrified to drive alone at night – then yes, unfortunately I speak South African.

If it means hearing about rapes, murders and the most horrendous acts of torture (horrendous do you hear me?) on people and elderly citizens of this country and accepting this as part of the daily news headlines, then I’m ashamed to speak South African.

Not feeling safe in my own home. If an electric fence, state of the art alarm systems, cameras, beams, locked doors and gates, dogs and armed response are needed to help me feel safe in my own home, and to know I’m still not safe – does that mean I speak South African?

If it means not trusting the police, the very people meant to serve and protect us tax paying citizens then yes, I guess I speak South African.

If it means trying not to get upset by the everyday lawlessness that I see – from people driving through red traffic lights, to zero consideration for others, to the government of the country not being held accountable for theft and corruption – then I speak South African.

If it means feeling hopeless about the state of education in this country, where you barely need 35% to pass a level. Yes our government thinks it’s good enough for you to know 35% of the work prescribed to you. Feeling frustrated because the future will not be easy for us, or our children.

If it means sitting in the dark for hours on end because the power-utility can’t keep the lights on, I guess that means I speak South African. Or waiting for the looming water crises to hit, as we all know it will, it’s just a matter of time.

If it’s made to feel like a second class citizen because of the colour of my skin, called a colonialist, to not have job prospects and to be made to feel unwelcome in this country then yes I speak South African. Yes, our very own president sings “shoot the boer” (Boer = farmer, but in South Africa, if you are white, you’re almost automatically a boer). He tells the masses that the electricity problems we face now is because of apartheid (an abhorrent government of racial segregation that was abolished over 20 years ago). In fact, the arrival of the first white settlers back in 1652, are where the real problems come from (yes he actually said that and what’s worse is people believe him).

If it means having a president continually stirring racial tensions in this country, one that doesn’t have a Std. 3 level of education and has the gall to defend the R206 million homestead of Nkandla and his fire pool as if the nation are a bunch of complete dimwits – do I speak South African?

To know your fellow countryman (I’m sorry, the ones that do this are savages) set people alight for being a different nationality – is that speaking South African?

If I feel I can’t relate to this country and what I see happening on a daily basis – do I speak South African?

Do I really speak South African?

I don’t know.

Perhaps because I can’t relate to any of the above, on any level whatsoever, perhaps it means I don’t actually speak South African.

But them I’m left with the question… what do I speak then?… South Africa is all I know.

Adrenal glands

stress1

Little glands sitting just above the kidneys,  playing a very important role in various aspects of the physiological functioning of our bodies, responsible for releasing several important hormones incuding adrenalin, noradernalin, cortisol, androgens, sex hormones etc,

These hormones all play various roles within the body ranging from controlling stress levels, influencing metabolism, anti-inflammatory reactions, blood pressure regulation, conversion of glucose and blood sugar levels, to name a few

Fight or flight…

With my history of anxiety I know about this phenomenon all too well.  The adrenals also control the “fight or flight” response, which helps the body to react appropriately (appropriately being the key word) during times of stress.  If you are confronted with a perceived harmful attack or event, the body has a physiological response which will help you to either run for your life or fight for your life. You do not have to think about this, it is a basic instinct in a fearful situation.  It is very necessary to have this fight or flight response in our  lives however sometimes during periods of prolonged and chronic stress or anxiety this gland becomes overstimulated and can lead to adrenal imbalance, weakness or fatigue.  (Have you ever experienced a burst of adrenaline, followed by increased heart-rate, cold sweaty palms, racing thoughts leaving you feeling shaky and uncertain of what just happened as there was no logical perceived threat?)

stress

 

Some of the symptoms of adrenal weakness to name a few are:

Anxiety, Autoimmune diseases, Chronic fatigue, Depression, Headaches / Migraines, Infertility, Insomnia, Irrational fears, Irregular menstruation Low blood pressure, Lower back misalignments, Mood disorders, Excessive sweating, Weight gain or loss

Due to the complex role that the  adrenals play in the functioning of the entire body, having these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have an adrenal imbalance.  It can however mean that an imbalance could be contributing to the symptoms and is worthwhile getting it checked out.

What can you do to support a healthy functioning adrenal gland?

Diet and health

Eat regular balanced meals. Reduce coffee, sugars, sweets

Exercise regularly in moderation

Practise relaxation techniques (yoga, meditation, enough sleep 6-8 hours per night)

Ensure any candida issues are dealt with effectively

Emotions

Emotional blocks within your body can be contributing to your adrenal glands not operating at optimal capacity.  Often ongoing feelings of fear, anxiety, overwhelm, feeling like a victim or not good enough etc can cause the adrenals to overwork which can eventually lead to adrenal burnout.  In order to aid the healing process these emotional blocks need to be identified and cleared.  There are various techniques that can be used successfully.

With transformational kinesiology we can identify adrenal imbalances, recommend supplements to support the adrenals and clear any underlying emotional charges or beliefs that may be contributing to the overworked adrenal glands.

Ultimately helping your body along towards optimal health.

 

Find your courage

This quotation is so true. Think of the times when you’ve acted courageously in your life – in speaking your truth, in giving your heart away, in trusting someone fully, in honestly looking at yourself and changing what no longer serves you! Having faith that things are exactly the way they should be. All that takes courage.

You cannot be truthful if you are not courageous.
You cannot be loving if you are not courageous.
You cannot be trusting if you are not courageous.
You cannot enter into reality if you are not courageous.
Hence courage comes first… and everything else follows.
—Osho

Do you know Peace?

What a profoundly powerful word this is. Peace … it is so much more than silence after the noise, more than a peace sign around ones neck or represented by a time gone by with hippies, VW beetles and flower power. More than rainbows, white doves and flashing peace signs while posing for photos in exotic locations.

Peace is more than this, but what is peace?

InnerPeaceSpiral

I’m not sure how to explain it… I don’t think that you can know peace until you have experienced it. Until you have felt a deep, deep sense of what can only be described as peace – you will know it when you feel it.

The word Peace, to me, used to mean quiet… you know as in “run along now and leave us in peace and quiet”… And yes, it does mean that, but it means so much more as well.. Peace is not only the absence of external noise. Peace, to me, is a feeling. Yes, it is an absence of the inner chatter, conflict and noise of the mind, but not only this. As much as it is a quieting down of the mind, it is also a feeling. A sense that everything is ok – this does not come from the mind but rather from a feeling, a feeling radiating from the heart space.

Peace is the absence of the clenching of the gut, or a racing heart, or ice cold rush of unexpected adrenalin – in response to a thought or a situation. The absence of the fear that can grip you when there is something within you that threatens to erupt that you are afraid of facing. When your head and your heart are at war with each other… Your heart desperately trying to bring to the surface what it knows needs to be felt – your head in denial that anything might be wrong, stubbornly refusing to look that way, needing to be strong but desperately afraid of the pain that may come out should it give space for the heart to be heard.

Peace can only come when your head and your heart come together, finally realising one is no good without the other. The head realises that the heart is not the enemy, that it is not there to trap you in all kinds of hurtful situations and that it doesn’t have to fiercely protect the heart from pain. The head finally concedes that the heart has so much more wisdom than the head can ever hold. The head has knowledge, but the heart, holds wisdom. The heart already knows that nothing would get done if not for the head. The heart also knows what needs to be done in order to heal, and the head needs to learn to step out of the way.

Only when a truce is called between the head and the heart, and only then I believe, can you know real peace – a deep, unshakable, undeniable sense of profound peace.

Peace: It doesn’t mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work; it means to be in the midst of these things and still be calm in your heart. Unknown.

The Power of Vulnerability

One of my favourite talks. A must see.

Quotes about healing

“Healers are Spiritual Warriors who have found the courage to defeat the darkness of their souls. Awakening and rising from the depths of their deepest fears, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. Reborn with a wisdom and strength that creates a light that shines bright enough to help, encourage, and inspire others out of their own darkness.” – Malanie Koulouris

“If you bring forth the genius within you, it will free you. If you do not bring forth the genius within you, it will destroy you.” Jesus

Tough love – is tough

thCAT8IWGL

“You deserve to be happy” said Rose, smiling at me.  “You don’t need to put up with this type of behaviour” she said reaching out to touch my arm.  We were standing at the front door to a grand old  house where weekly tough love meetings were held in my area.  This was my first session and I wasn’t sure what to think about the whole thing. The rest of the group were milling around.  I had bumped into a work colleague and suddenly felt very ashamed to find myself in this place. I reminded myself that we’re both here for the same reason, and that he is probably just as shocked to see me.  We both had someone in our lives that was an addict and we needed help with how to cope.

I nodded my head, as if in agreement with Rose, perhaps she doesn’t understand, I thought to myself. I can’t be happy, I have tried to be happy before, it doesn’t work. My life is not meant to be happy, or carefree, or not sad… “I’ve just told them my story, don’t they understand?” I asked myself.  I had come here to learn how to help my father, who was an alcoholic, deal with his problem.  It wasn’t me who had the problem, it was my dad.  I couldn’t understand how me getting happy was going to help him?  No I didn’t need to get happy, my dad needed to stop drinking, that’s what needed to happen here.  Perhaps I could think of being happy then. The only time I was ever “happy”, was when he was not drinking, therefore, it makes sense that if he stopped drinking, I would be happy.   I studied Rose, at least 30 years older than I was.  She had a son my age who was an addict.  I thought the difference between us was that perhaps I was the only “child” of an alcoholic at the tough love group, and the rest were all parents of an addict.  I thought perhaps they just saw things differently.

It was January 2006.  I had my own flat, my own car, was travelling a lot for work, I had my own life, or so I thought.  I had dropped my dad off at Phoenix House, a rehabilitation centre in Jo’burg, just the week before.  I had checked him in, together with a couple of belongings and his pipe.  For 12 weeks I knew he wasn’t going to be drinking and I could relax.  He was living with me, temporarily.  He had myasthenia gravis (a complicated autoimmune disease where your own immune system mistakenly attacks itself and causes grave muscle weakness) and the alcohol was aggravating it. I had asked him to move in with me as I thought perhaps he just needed some support.  I thought that if he saw how much we loved him, he would change.  I had failed, miserably.  And it wasn’t the first time either.  I had offered that he come stay with me as he was desperately unhappy and lonely, I thought perhaps he just needed some family, and some good natural medication and healing to help him on the path.  He moved in, and brought his orange persian cat – Garfield with him.

What was I thinking.  The old chaos was back.

I don’t know what I had expected, I knew he was an alcoholic. I remembered the unpleasant days and nights while we were all still in the family home.  I knew he had been in to various rehab centres, many times before.  I knew he was drinking heavily. Perhaps I was acting out of guilt for cutting him out of my life completely for 6 years, because it just hurt so much to acknowledge that my father was an alcoholic.  Perhaps I was trying to make up for lost time.  I was hopeful that things would change.

The hope was in vain.  For nothing. The precarious bottom just fell out, again and again, like it always had. I should have known.

It was that very orange cat that went missing one day, that caused me to look in places that I never really looked in. Just as I was afraid to look at the darkest parts of my mind, I physically avoided looking too hard for and at things. Tucked away at the very back of my bedroom cupboard I found an open bottle of vodka… my cupboard… not my vodka…. so I did what I’d always done.  I went on the rampage, shouting, screaming, threatening, crying – my world was falling apart again.  I didn’t give a dam who heard.  Couldn’t he see how much he was hurting me?  Does he not care? Can he not see how I’m suffering?  The ugly truth was staring at me once again.  I had suspected that he had been drinking, but I didn’t want to look too hard for fear of what I’d find. The truth hurts too much you see – ignorance is bliss.  But, this, I couldn’t ignore.  I knew the truth now and I was devastated.

I knew this feeling though.  I knew how to pull myself together, I had been doing this from my early days at high school.  I knew how to push those feelings down to the deepest recesses of my mind. I pulled up my socks, and life carried on, as it does and always had.  I had lived with this feeling of unease and fear for what will happen for so long I had no idea there was another way to live.  A few weeks later I rushed my dad to the emergency room at the hospital (not the first time).  We thought he was having a heart attack.  After examination the doctor came to me and said my dad is fine – but he has been drinking. Duh… I knew that.  In that moment I wanted to defend him and defiantly wanted to ask what that had to do with the suspected heart attack.  But I didn’t, the feelings of shame and, dare I say it, hate, were so enormous I nearly wanted to die.

Sometimes in life time seems to stand still. It’s as if for a moment everything revolves around you and the universe stops and waits with baited breath to see what you are going to do with the latest development.  I had a moment of truth, it had smacked me in the face and it was smarting.  I heard the humming of the bright overhead lights of the hospital, when did the lights become so bright?,  the waiting room, doctors, nurses and people swirled around me.  I felt removed from everything and from somewhere within me I absolutely knew something had to change or the next trip to the emergency room might be me.

Shortly after that hospital trip Dad was booked into Phoenix and I went to my first Tough Love.

There is a reason why they call it tough love, because that is exactly what it is.  What was I expecting to learn when I heard about tough love?  I thought I’d toughen up, learn how to deal with the alcoholic and the problem, with the intention of  changing his behaviour.  I was convinced that by me giving tough love, it would make it so uncomfortable for my dad that he would stop drinking.  Once his behaviour changed, then I would be happy.

And then, here was Rose and a group of people all with someone in their lives who was causing them overwhelming hurt and heartache. They spoke about acceptance of what is, and I could hardly believe what I was hearing.  Why should we accept it when someone in the family is dead set on ruining their life?  What if they drink themselves to death? What if they commit suicide? What if there was something I could do to help and I didn’t, and then he dies? What if… Then they told me to stop making “what-if” movies in my head…

I was confused.  It began to dawn on me that tough love was perhaps less about becoming tough on the other person and more about becoming tough with yourself and what you accept or don’t accept into your life.  I could feel that I needed bit of a mind shift, I was not on the same page, hell, not even in the same book, as these people. The intention was not to get the other person to change their behaviour, which was what I was hoping to learn there.  No, the intention was to change our own behaviour and thoughts and feelings towards the addict, to separate the person and the addiction, to set and communicate healthy boundaries, to stick to boundaries and ultimately know when to preserve yourself and walk away.  This wasn’t very comforting to me.  I wanted him to change, not me.  I didn’t want to walk away and if he would just change then I wouldn’t have to.

That is what is tough.  We can never ever, ever change another person, ever.  It’s about learning that we have a choice every moment in life and in how we respond to events that happen.  Sometimes the only thing left to do, for your health and sanity, is to let go (gasp). Even though the world can come crashing down around you, you can still be at peace.

It is possible.

Tough, but not impossible.

And then we read the serenity prayer by St Francis.  I had heard it before but never really paid too much attention to it.  That night it took on a new meaning to me.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

The meaning of the words hit home sometime that night.  Tough love was going to be tougher than I ever imagined.

This happened at the beginning of 2006.  Sadly, after battling alcoholism for over 20 years, Dad passed away in April 2011, his mind and body unable to handle the disease of alcohol combined with MG a moment longer.

The silent powerhouse

cartoon-sun-md

We don’ often spare a thought for our body’s very own powerhouse – the liver.  One of the most important organs in the human body, responsible for a multitude of vital functions.  The liver is tied to most bodily functions as it is responsible for the filtration of ALL incoming fluids and foods.

Some of the functions the liver plays a role in:

  • metabolism
  • digestion
  • storing vitamins and minerals
  • filtering the blood – removing toxins
  • breaks down and eliminates excess hormones including thyroid hormones
  • manages blood sugar levels

Imbalances in the liver often go unnoticed due to the fact that it can result in any many different kinds of problems, not directly related to the liver.

Symptoms of an imbalance could be:

  • excessive weight gain or inability to lose weight
  • intolerance to HRT
  • aggravation of menopausal symptoms and pms
  • allergies and food sensitivities
  • high cholesterol
  • gallbladder disease and intolerance to fatty foods and alcohol
  • acne
  • bad breath
  • Irritable Bowl syndrome, digestive problems
  • overburdened immune system and auto-immune diseases
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • fibromyalgia
  • recurrent viral, bacterial, parasitic infections

You can see why it’s important to maintain a healthy, happy liver.  You can do this by maintaining a liver-friendly diet consisting of (amongst others):

  • raw fruits, raw and lightly cooked vegetables
  • Nuts – brazil, almond, walnuts
  • legumes and sprouts
  • wholegrains
  • chicken and eggs (remember to get free-range)
  • garlic
  • seafood (omega 3 and healthy fats)
  • water

Avoid:

  • fast food
  • alcohol
  • salt
  • artificial sweeteners
  • monosodium glutamate (MSG)

The good news is that the liver the capacity to regenerate itself and it’s not too late to turn things around.

Keep your liver healthy and help it to look after you and keep your body functioning at 100%.

Love your liver today!

 

 

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