Sunday, July 6, 2008

Thoughts From Melody

Hello and welcome to this site.

For several years I’ve been promising reconstruction. I intended to begin the changes as soon as I recovered from my back surgery (I had two artificial discs implanted in my lower spine at the Alpha Klinik in Munich, Germany). However, as soon as I was functioning again, that still, small voice told me to go see my mom.

I found her almost dead.

I had tried before to intervene at my brother’s urging. I went to all the city and county agencies I could find but none could help. Now, after a few rounds in court, I was appointed her co-Guardian and Conservator. For the past two years, I’ve been flying from California to Minnesota monthly to care for Mom. She passed on September 6, 2007, at the age of 93. By then, we’d come full circle—from a family so sick that it gave birth to Codependent No More to a family where I found real love.

Now, it’s time to upgrade this site and get back to writing. Here are some ideas about what to expect:

You’ll be able to find information on Codependent No More, but without so much “codependency” thrown in. Some of you may remember the first editions of Codependent No More. The book jackets were in bright yellow, red, and black. I’ve heard they sell for up to $400 on E-Bay, but I don’t have any left. When I wrote Codependent No More, in 1986, the world hadn’t heard about concepts like taking care of yourself, setting boundaries, detachment, letting go. The words weren’t concepts talked about openly, everyday, like they are now. I’ll write about the behaviors associated with the word “codependency,” but I’m not going to label you—or me—Codependent Anymore.

We’re so familiar with the word now that many people have attached stigma, or shame, to Codependency. “It means someone is a raving, stalking psycho,” some people say. “It means I’m clingy, needy, and if you come near me, I’ll suck the soul out of you,” others warn.

I say it means we’re human. It’s normal to try to control someone, when that person is doing something that hurts him or her, and our relationship. It’s normal to have low self-worth if we lived in a family that told us we weren’t worth much. Codependency is so normal that from 1986 to now, “dysfunctional” and “family” have come to mean the same thing. While some families are more loving than others, all families have problems. All people have issues. It’s not “us” and “them.” It’s “we.” I’ll write about behaviors that can become painful when we cross the line from normal to codependent, but there will be little or no name-calling here--just information, hope, and options instead.

I won’t be offering my services as a non-codependency coach, either. You can get information here for free. I won’t be selling books directly from this site—but you can go to Hazelden or Amazon through the Library section on my home site and buy any books you want from them.

You’ll find tests, interactive discussions, and information about MUCH MORE than codependency. What about those times when care-taking is the thing to do—like when I took care of my mom? It’s hard when the roles switch, or when a parent becomes ill, has Alzheimer’s, or dies. Look for a section on that. Look for a section on grief and loss. The more I learn about codependent behaviors, the more I understand that much of codependency is loss. Maybe I should say the more I learn about life and loss, the more I know that the behaviors associated with codependency are normal grief behaviors. Ever heard the term “insane with grief?” It’s more than a cliché. It’s what happens when we lose something or someone we love. It’s part of how we get through experiences too overwhelming to endure.

“God never gives us more than we can handle,” people say, the words dripping off their lips like butter. “Yes, God does,” I think. There are times we’re so overwhelmed we consider ending our lives. Life is a rich journey with ups and downs--but some of those downs flatten us to the floor. You’ll learn how to hang around long enough to let Life offer it’s hand and help you get back on your feet.

You’ll find sections on this site that have nothing to do with therapy, too. I’ve found so many bad deals—and a handful of good deals—that I’m going to have a “thumbs up, thumbs down” section to share what I find. These are my personal opinions. But I think that many of you will agree that the good deals are good deals. They’ll save you money; many are products or businesses I wish someone would have told me about years ago. I’m not making any money or getting a kickback by telling you about them. I’m recommending them the way I’d tell a friend about a good deal.

I’m also including “Lighten Up,” a section about weight loss. Weight Loss products are one of the top-selling games and gimmicks (and rip-offs) right now. I don’t know why we’ve either a) gained so much weight en-mass; or b) become so obsessed with being thinner, but we have. Including me. My hope is to help you avoid some expensive products that don’t work, stay away from diets that are downright dangerous, and find healthy, quick ways to shed extra pounds while understanding that life isn’t One Size Fits All. It would be exhausting to carry around a twenty-five pound block—but that’s what we’re doing when we’re that much overweight.

What else? Living with Hepatitis C, AIDS, or another chronic disease. Living with ourselves and with people we love. I’ll talk about my books, too. I don’t do many speaking engagements anymore, but when I do—I’ll post my itinerary and let you know where I’m going to be. If you’d like your book signed, you can mail me a self-addressed, stamped envelope and I’ll sign a bookplate and mail it right back to you. A bookplate is a large sticker you can paste inside your book so you can get it autographed without paying extra postage.

I’m going to pull chapters out of my books and have them on the site. You won’t be able to download them (there are copyright laws; publishers have rules and writers deserve to be paid for their work), but you can read the chapter and we’ll have a discussion about it. I’ll choose four questions each month to answer, and post those answers—and other discussions we have about that chapter. Then, in four or six weeks, that chapter will be removed and I’ll put another chapter up and we’ll talk about that.

We’ll do polls too—so we know what we’re thinking and feeling. Seems like many of us have lost our voice.

Speaking of voices, when we figure out more about doing talks on the site, you’ll be able to come to a “Melody Beattie lecture” by turning on your computer. Some will be for free; some will cost.

You’ll find an area of the site called “Chew on That.” There, we’ll have some favorite recipes—and a special surprise I’ve been working on for months. (Many of you will say it’s the best surprise you’ve ever had. But you’ll have to be patient, wait, and then you’ll see. I promise it’ll be worth the wait.)

There will be pictures (of me, my life, my family and friends), and links to sites I find helpful, interesting, or fun. We’ll tackle some sensitive subjects, such as the positive side of pain-killing drugs and politics. I’ve even found a treatment center for chemical dependency that treats people for free.

Likely you won’t agree with me on everything, but you will find new material. This time it’s not a promise. The time for change is here.

My best,

Melody Beattie