The Park

I had a friend call me the other day. I was on my way home from work. There was no, “Hey, what’s going on?” It was “Where are you?” I could tell from her tone there was a need. I was tired as I was driving home. I had yet to go to the store, pick up a few things for my mom. She needed toilet paper, donuts, and juice. But toilet paper, donuts and juice are not crisis items (well, maybe one of them is) but I blew off the store and my mom and went to see my friend.

I hadn’t told this friend that I wasn’t drinking yet, but since we all run in similar circles I assumed those whispers had reached her ears. But still, when she asked if I could meet her I said “Absolutely, but just so you know I’m not drinking.” “I know.” she said. “This isn’t about getting together for a glass of wine.” So we met at a park. In the beginning of our conversation she said she was having a tough time and many things began spilling out, and then I added to the puddle so instead of cleaning it up we splashed around in it for a while.

My friend and I talked what being in our 50’s is like. We talked about parents getting older, and losing them. We talked about identifying ourselves as somebody’s mom, and then all of a sudden we are left with a quieter home and figuring out who we are if we aren’t wiping asses, packing lunches, anguishing over moody teenagers, shuffling to and from sports practices. We talked about the kids leaving home, moving away and forming their own lives. We talked about our husbands and changing relationships. I listened, and took all of her in, and I shared. But when she shyly opened up about her worries about her drinking I thought, aha. This is why she chose me to be with today. And I was honored that she felt comfortable enough to discuss it with me. I know I wish I had had a close friend that quit drinking, so I could quietly talk about my own drinking and worries.

I heard all about plans for moderation at the park at a picnic bench as we heard kids laughing and sweating on swings nearby. I swear she was speaking my words that I had thought of and written down in journals over and over again. I’m sure most can relate, so I’ll just go over a few of my own tried and trues that my friend mixed in. You will see they aren’t original, but as always meant with good intent. I will not drink throughout the week. I will only drink 2 glasses of wine during the week. I will only have 3 glasses of wine when we go to parties, and I will have a glass of water in between each drink. I will not drink at home. I will not drink alone. I won’t drink wine anymore, but I can have vodka and cranberry. I can’t drink wine anymore but I can drink beer. They sound like grand plans, make total sense. Through words or a written page it seems so easy, but when you put human blood, skin, nerves, emotions into it it becomes difficult, and the path is not clear but grown over with weeds that you have to take a machete through to find a clearing. This is true for some, but not all and I get that. I’m an all or nothing kind of girl, and I guess my friend will have to find out which she is.

The whole moderation thing has always reminded me of a time when I was a little girl and I was going to help my parents with their smoking. I think my whole life I’ve been trying to figure out how to fix something whether it was my problem or not. I had already talked to my mom about moderating her drinking when she had come home totally drunk after a night out with my dad. I remember asking her the next morning as she apologized to me for losing it, and I told her all she had to do was to just have 1 or 2 drinks. What was the big deal? She agreed with me that morning, so I figured I’d fixed that problem. NOT! But on to fixing the cigarette smoking.

I had a lot of anxiety over my parent’s smoking. I was convinced the two of them were going to get cancer at any given time and would die and I’d be left all alone with my little sister. One day it occurred to me I had all the answers to fix my parent’s smoking. I sat them down at our kitchen table and explained, very seriously, that all they had to do was to put how many cigarettes they smoked each day into a sandwich bag. The next day they just had to put one less cigarette into another sandwich bag and they were to continue doing this until they had that last sandwich bag with that one last cigarette in it, and voila! They were non smokers! I remember being so excited, so animated, but they looked at me like I had lost my mind, and I was told it didn’t just work like that. What the hell was wrong with them?  I was saving their lives for Christ’s sake! They just didn’t get it, just like they didn’t get it when my 10 year old self told them in front of a drugstore one day that I wasn’t afraid to die because I figured I’d be used up by then and ready for a rest. They told me to stop talking, it was uncomfortable.

But I digress. So back to the evening in the park. “What do you do now when you get home from work?” she asked me. “That shit was hard, but easier now.”  “Yeah, I heard that if you can quit a habit for 7 days it’s no longer a habit.” “Ummm, I think that’s 21 days.” I explained. “I wish it was as simple as a set number of days, but coming home from work was the worst. I wanted to shake the day off. I didn’t know how to come home and switch gears, and my gear shifting was done by drinking. Isn’t that why they call it cocktail hour? But for me, gear shifting meant drinking a bottle of wine. And smoking. So in the beginning I’d pour soda water and cranberry and throw in a lime to cheer myself up. I ate as soon as I came home, even if it was a snack before dinner because if I was hungry I’d climb the walls.”  But as I was talking I could tell my friend wasn’t interested in hearing me, she was interested in me listening to her. “Well, I know I can moderate. I just have to do it.” and so the conversation continued.  There is so much value honor gratitude compassion love understanding caring soul searching spirit giving when listening. I’ve been learning to listen more thoughtfully for a while now, and it has brought a lot of gifts into my life. Sometimes people don’t need to be told what to do, they just have to let it spill out, and to have another to wallow around in it with. The answers will come, and if they need something more I imagine they will ask for it.

I’m so glad I’m sober and able to bear witness to another woman’s questions about drinking. And for that I’m truly grateful for whatever I could bring to help her my friend along her own journey.

Happy Sober Thursday

 

My Desk

I bought a desk this weekend, I found it at an estate sale, and as soon as I saw it I wanted it. I loved it’s lines, the size, the color of the wood. I loved the little cubby holes, and I loved the fact one of the drawers is locked and there is no key, There is something more to discover, and this is a comforting thought. Sobriety can carry a feeling of sameness for me, but this desk is now a reminder that there is always something more to discover. So here I am this early Monday morning, writing for the first time at my secret little desk.

I had a really hard time yesterday. I’ve been down in the dumps, but I’ve remained sober. I woke up early, did my regular morning routine. Make coffee, read, write, think about all the things I’m grateful for, but I just couldn’t shake feelings of sadness, and loss.

I went to yoga yesterday morning, and since the place where I bought my desk was right down from the studio I said I was going to take my husband’s SUV to pick it up, it would not fit in our smaller car when we made the purchase. But I was met with a swift answer, NO. My husband will be picking up the desk with his pal which meant he now has an errand and an excuse to have a few drinks afterward, maybe some lunch. I kept my mouth shut and went along with it so I didn’t bring bad energy into my place of calm.

I live in a house that my husband grew up in. We bought it because his parents were not capable of taking care of it anymore, and my husband could not bear to let it go. He has 5 other brothers and sisters, and inside of the house resides all of their childhoods. The attic holds letters, school notebooks, toys, and artwork. Nothing was thrown away. The house is beautiful, but an older, colonial style, and over the years I have made many changes because most of the rooms were dark and serious, carrying paintings of the Revolution, period style furniture, and the air was heavy with lack of sunlight. So I cried because nobody wanted to see changes in this house, but the darkness and the lack of me being able to make it my own slowly damaged my spirit. My in-laws and even my husband fought against me. They didn’t see me in the kitchen cooking for my family; they saw their parent’s in the kitchen cooking for them, and for many years it felt like my kids and I were guests, overstepping our bounds as I struggled to make a home for my family.

But over time I did. The dark shutters shunning the sun came down, my husband took a sledge hammer to the big brick barbecue that blocked the view of the lawn, white paint brightened the walls, and my things found a place to rest. But still, in the back of my mind, I’ve been waiting to have something that just belongs to us. I guess you could say I’ve been homeless because of my thoughts.

But I’m happy with my little desk, and taking one of the bedrooms and using it just for me. I’ve put one of my carpets that never felt at home in this house in this room, and it feels right. Little by little I’m going to fill this space with things I love. I don’t want anything new in my room, I want to find these things, and to have them hold time and secrets like my desk with the locked drawer.

When I was drinking I’d never bother to care about a desk, my beautiful kilims  up in the attic. I would be too depressed over my behavior, and whatever crisis that was happening around me and I would not feel that I deserved to have a place of peace. I see a sense of my old self coming back, trying to make things special and lovely. I haven’t felt like that since my children were little and we were not swallowed by my divorce and loss of innocence.

Even with all of this loveliness going on I almost drank yesterday. While my husband was picking up my desk, having a few afternoon drinks with his pal, I was creeping around the thoughts of how lovely it would be to have him come home, set up my desk. and then go to a local winery and have a couple glasses of wine. We would come home, cook dinner together. We could talk and laugh like old times. This romantic picture kept playing over and over, and I knew that all I had to do was to get out of my yoga clothes, take a shower, put on make up. He would be all in and I’m sure a big shower of relief would cleanse him from who I am now. But I didn’t drink, and I let that image go. Because that image is not the reality, and instead of sitting here writing, I would be hating myself this morning. I would have that dry, icky taste in my mouth. I no doubt would have smoked, and my hair and pillow would carry stale cigarette smoke. My chest would be heavy and filmy, and I would want to just curl up in a ball and would fall back down into the rabbit hole.

I kept pushing the images of drinking out of my mind yesterday by keeping busy. My son and I visited my mom. She was happy to see us, and we went for a walk, talking. She repeated over and over again how tall he is, how handsome. The other women commented on how good looking he is, so her face beamed, and she said they will all talk about it for days. Such a little visit brought so much happiness.

I planned our dinner while my son did his homework and my husband drank. I went to the store, bought what we needed. The images of drinking lurked in the corners of my mind, but I pushed them away with activities. My husband called, he is back, but over at his friend’s watching the football game. Did I want to come over? I could hear the tiredness in his voice. I don’t think he wanted me there with my non drinking self, but I don’t think he wanted to come home so my presence would relieve him of his guilt of spending a Sunday with somebody else’s family.  I gave him the gift of relieving his guilt, and went over there for a bit while my chicken was marinating.

I came back home, finished making dinner, my son and I ate. My husband did come home as I was getting ready to take my son to work, but I know he’d rather have stayed at his friends. I can see what is happening. At home he is facing me and my sobriety. He does not drink at home anymore. It makes him irritable, and there is a heaviness in our home between us. He wants to be in an environment that is free of my sobriety, of the problems of my alcoholic sister, and the new responsibility of my niece that is most likely coming our way. I keep thinking that if I can shake my seriousness, that if I can be more loving and kind things will fall into place.

I set an intention at yoga yesterday. It was kindness. I keep thinking that is key. SO HUM, I am kind.

Happy Sober Monday.

 

 

 

August 31, 2018

I have been sober for a month! I don’t know exactly why, but this time around the sobriety bend I have not fixated on how many days I last drank. During my zillion other attempts at getting sober I counted days, hours, minutes (well, maybe not minutes) and I hung onto them hard. This time though seems more life changing rather than an entire focus on getting sober. Kind of like living a healthy lifestyle instead of just dieting, eating only certain food groups and counting calories. Unknowingly I think I stumbled into a lifestyle chage by joining this community and sharing, listening to podcasts and reading, reading, reading. There is not just the goal of getting sober, but of living my life in a different way and I am putting in the work. But of course every day is different with its ups and downs, but today is appearing to be one of these incredibly happy days, so instead of dredging up old hurts and focusing on how hard sobriety is, I’m going to focus on gifts.

Call me an optimist,crazy, delusional, or whatever you want, but these last few weeks have been miracles. Even the tough ones, the sad ones, the OH MY GOD I CAN’T TAKE THIS ones have been lessons that I am finally ready to receive. So I thought it might be helpful to list all the gifts I have been given in just 30 days. Just in case if somebody is struggling and wondering if it’s worth all the effort, all the withdrawals, the loneliness, being uncomfortable, the facing the truth, the mood swings, the woe is me’s, the relationship strains; that in the middle of all of it gifts can come swiftly in sobriety. And what I finally learned is that I not only have to receive them, but I have to be ready to pay attention to them when they show up. Because not all gifts come wrapped in pretty packages, sometimes they come in heart breaking moments. So for what it’s worth here are some gifts I have received in my 30 Days of Sobriety:

• I am more open and communicative with my children. When I look back at it I feel I kept a lot to myself because if I talked too much I’d be worried they would know I was drinking, and when sober I felt they wouldn’t really listen to me, and I didn’t deserve to be listened to because I couldn’t get my own life together, much less give them advice. That is all gone now. I’ve even told my oldest son I have stopped drinking, and I can tell he is very proud of his mama!
• I am more confident. I am not hiding behind a cloak of shame, reliving how much I drank the night before and pretending everything is just peachy. I am moving through my day purposefully (or at least trying to really damn hard). My job performance is improving, and I feel like a rock star at meetings nowadays!
• I have all of this time!!! I wake up early, can take some time for myself to write, read, make my son’s lunch and a decent breakfast. I have time after work to accomplish tasks I’d have put off because I’d spend most evenings drinking.
• I see possibilities instead of being shackled by believing I am worthless and weak. I am writing and expressing myself when before I’d keep all of these things in my mind, and I am feeling worthy of a great life. I’ve perfected my resume, and I’m applying for jobs that resonate with my values, interests and skills. I haven’t gotten a new job yet, but the feeling that I CAN is exhilarating.
• I have learned to be with myself. Before I hated being alone, I hated any deep thinking because that turned into self loathing. Now I enjoy being by myself and working on myself and taking care of myself.
• By learning how to sit with myself I am learning how to sit with others. Before I would be full of anxiety, always doing something to keep from being still and many times I would not focus on the person I was with. I now see that just being with somebody, fully paying attention to somebody is enough. This simple act was one of the biggest gifts I received as I was able to sit and be present with my dying friend who passed away a couple days ago. I would not have been able to have those moments with her the way they were if it were not for my sobriety.
• I am spending time with my sister tonight for the first time since she has come home. I’m praying I can just sit with her too, and just be present. Once again I would not have been able to do this if it wasn’t for sobriety and life lessons. I would have judged her, I would have let all the past hurts float on top of our lifetime. I feel a rebirth, and maybe we can start anew.
• I see all of the hard things that have happened in my life as lessons that I needed to learn. Before I have dipped down deep into the well of sadness, of blaming, and wishing that many things in my life could have been different. I am learning that all of these hard hard things in my life happened for a reason,and I believe they are revealing themselves to me right now, at this moment in my life, and I am grateful for them, because they are making me into the person I am meant to be, and they are leading me to my destiny.
• I see more beauty all around me. I am noticing nature, people, events in a different way. I went for a bike ride last weeknd, and there was a woman sitting on the steps of a church building. In front of her were concrete tablets with the 10 Commandments. It was beautiful, and I could see this meaningful picture of this woman and this church and those commandments.
• I am finally settling into this sober life with my husband. Since I opened up more to him things have gotten better between us, and he is no longer drinking at home! He does have a couple drinks if we got out together, more if we are with our friends, but he is respecting that what I am doing is hard, and he is closer to understanding why I am doing this. It makes me feel loved.
• I am more peaceful, more loving, more open, and connecting more to this earth, to my spiritual beliefs, to my family and friends. And this, by itself, fixes everything else, no matter how tough it gets.

If somebody would have told me just a few weeks ago that all of these gifts would be available in such a short length of time I think I would have fallen down weeping. I remember when I decided to try to get sober again. I remember that first day when I was driving to work with no doubt a hangover thinking, “In 24 hours I won’t feel like this.” And I could not wait for that hungover feeling to go away. That was all I was looking for at first, just that feeling to go away.

There are times when I want a glass of wine, especially when I have to face something hard, or when I feel left out. But what is keeping me from letting it creep back into my life is finding more pleasurable moments in my day, and BELIEVING in all the gifts I have received. The BELIEVING is where it’s at.

Happy Sober Friday!
Kelly

August 29, 2018

My sister comes home from in patient rehab today. She has been gone a little over a month, so she left before I got sober. My feelings are all mixed up about my sister, and I’m not sure how to handle her coming back into my life. I am guarded, I am scared, I am angry, and I am also full of love and understanding.

My sister is 3.5 years younger than me, and from the beginning we were always very different. I was driven, competitive, hard working. She was a dreamer, and always trying to catch up to me, but what she never realized is that she should not have been trying to catch up to me, she should have been running her own race. But I don’t think my sister ever found her own identity, She relied on other people to do that for her, and when she couldn’t live up to who she wasn’t she created a fantasy world in her head where she should could be anything she wanted to be. And in this world she created in her mind she was finally enough. I realized this when I realized my sister was not just an alcoholic, she was also mentally ill.

Neither of my parents graduated from high school. My dad was the bread winner, my mom stayed home, took care of the house and us girls. My mom did not have any friends, was mostly unhappy, and put the burden of her lack of friends squarely on my sister’s and my shoulders. It was a heavy burden to carry as little girls. We would constantly hear my mom talk about all the things that were wrong with my father, how we never pitched in enough around the house, how my father rarely took her out, how she could never have nice things, and how hard she had to work to make our house a home. I was always fearful my mom would just pick up and leave because of her sadness, and my sensitive sister took all of this in her body, and it made her sick inside, and readily destroyed her already fragile self image.

There was a lot of drinking my parents did together, usually at home. My mom was an angry drunk, and my dad knew this so he very rarely took her out because all of us knew how the night would end. When drunk my mom lashed out at whoever was in her path, and most of the time it was me with my head strong demeanor, and constantly thinking I knew better than my parents because those two just weren’t getting it. I learned that things were a little nuts in my house by spending the night at my friends’ houses, where I would relish in the calm “normal” family atmosphere. I would absorb these families and they would live inside me amidst the craziness and shame of my own home.

I particularly remember my mom and dad coming home after a night of heavy drinking. They came in, took off their shoes, and left them all over the kitchen. My sister stayed in her bedroom with her sensitive soul cowering under her covers. I remember picking up the shoes, trying to organize them nicely by the door because I was scared, and trying to be helpful. But my mom in her drunken stupor saw that as a sign that I was trying to take over, to make her look like a bad housekeeper, wife, mother. So she lashed out at me, screaming to leave her house alone, that SHE would be the one to put things away around here. I think she slapped me and then my father stepped in, called her a slew of names. I remember jumping up on the kitchen counter, sitting by the microwave and kicking my legs screaming, just screaming, letting it all out. My dad tried to make my mom go to bed, but she kept stumbling around the house, trying to tear me apart. My dad came over to try and settle me down, but I was letting my rawness come out, and there was no stopping me. And then there’s my sister. Slowly deteriorating as she lay listening to the insanity, with her sensitive heart beating in her chest, and her mind slowly breaking.

I was kind to my sister when we became adults, and she became a desperate alcoholic. I took her to the hospital repeatedly to detox, holding her tightly and giving words of comfort and encouragement. I found her the first in patient rehab she went to and took her there myself, and when I left her there I left a piece of myself with her. I have taken her daughter in over and over when my sister could no longer care for her. But I was not equipped to handle the years of lying, of manipulation, her lack of effort into getting better, so my heart grew cold, and full of judgment. My relationship with my mother grew distant as my sister told lies to my mother that she believed, and the two of them together rallied against me when I did not believe these strange lies my sister was telling.

And now I myself am in recovery and I have learned so much. I wonder how I’ve changed, and how this change is going to help me handle the return of my sister. I used to hate being alone because all the self loathing and negative talk that would creep in and consume me. Most of that is gone now through sobriety, and I have learned how to sit with myself calmly and peacefully. This has taught me how to sit with others, to just simply be present and to give of myself in a different way. I pray I can do this for my sister, and to let all the judgment disappear. I hope I can slowly let her back into my life, and that I can be a source of comfort for her, and not somebody that is disgusted by her. I hope I’m able to give her support, and if some of her old behaviors come back that I can sit through them, hold no expectations, and to simply let her find her way. I pray that she is learning that she is enough just as she is, and I pray that I can help her in ways I haven’t before, and I pray this time will be different.

Happy Sober Wednesday!
Kelly

August 26, 2018

Yesterday was a hard day, but it was also a good day. A day filled with memories, tears, openness, and the divine.

I moved my mom to assisted living a few months ago. She was not taking care of herself, and because she was alone, lonely and afraid living in the home she built with my father, she developed late life alcoholism. She used alcohol to keep the memories of raising her family, of my deceased father, and her better health away from being front and center, because these memories did not bring her joy anymore. She could not see these memories as a gift she was given, but rather as something she lost. When I spent time with my mother she was missing, and the house and the memories were slowly killing her.

I put the house up for sale, it recently sold, and now I am left with dismantling my mom and dad’s lifetime. My sister is away at in patient rehab for alcoholism, and since she has not been in any shape or capable of helping in anyway I do this on my own. My husband helps, always ready to pitch in to lighten the load, but cannot share the emotional strain because he was not witness to growing up in this house, and the things inside do not hold any emotions for him. I sort through all the things my parents accumulated and I alone decide what holds value, and I pray I am doing a good job as I place their lives in plastic tubs with my name or my sister’s name on them. All the time I’m doing these tasks I am waiting for a text or phone call that is keeping me even more on edge and more aware about the sacredness of life.

I have a friend that is dying from cancer. I last saw her about a month or so ago, dropped off some essential oils I thought may provide some comfort and lift her spirits if even for a moment. She met me at the door, we hugged. She was thin but still incredibly beautiful. We parted ways a short while after with hugs and cheer, and talked about the next time we’d get together.

Thursday night I received a phone call from one of our mutual friends saying my dying friend had turned that corner that cancer killingly provides. It appears that practically overnight it has taken her around the corner with it, and has left her a mere shell of herself. My friend says she will text me Saturday, will let me know when I can come over to perhaps say goodbye. I received that text yesterday while I was sitting on my parent’s basement floor, reading my sister’s elementary school report cards and deciding whether or not to put them in one of her plastic bins. I race out the door, mentally preparing myself for this visit.

I am shocked when I see my friend. I want to fall to the floor and scream, but I do not. Instead I walk over, I hug her little body, and she says something like, “About time you got here, I’m dying you know. This is how we talk now, so get used to it.” That brings a smile to my face, and now I know my friend is still in there with her snarky wisecracks and sparkling blue eyes. And she has given me the gift of relief, relief to know that I’m certainly not going to say anything wrong in this group of women!

So us women chat, make her food she cannot eat, but loves to smell. Her big handsome son comes and picks up his mother and moves her from her wheelchair to the couch, and we all move like well oiled machines as we do our best to make her more comfortable.

My other friend leaves to run some errands, and now I am alone with my dying friend, and now we can get down to business. She tells me she is scared, that she doesn’t want to die. I hold her tiny legs on my lap and rub her feet. I don’t know what to say, so I just try to speak from my heart for once, not to guard my words to try and say the perfect thing, and I listen. My friend has taken her meds, and she grows sleepy, and I tell her to just take a nap, I’m not going anywhere. She closes her eyes, but opens them and says she’s afraid to. Afraid she is going to miss something, afraid that if she falls asleep this will be our goodbye. All I can say is “I know, I know, I know. I’m not going anywhere.”

I leave after a few hours, with promises I’m going to make homemade chicken broth, and I will bring it to her. That is exactly what I’m going to do once I pour all of this out.

On my way home after packing my mom and dad’s lifetime away, and after visiting my dying friend, all I wanted was to stop and buy a bottle of wine. I wanted to sit on my deck and drink and smoke my way through the evening. I wanted to sit with my husband and share the closeness he and I used to have when we would share our thoughts with each other over our drinks. I did not stop for that bottle of wine. I made it home empty handed, I came through the door, I sat down and cried. I then decided life was too short to hold so much in, and that I did not need alcohol to loosen the tightness that was inside of me.

I finally opened up about my feelings to my husband over all that I’ve been thinking about these last few weeks. My entire day was taking me to a place where I felt a connection to something bigger than anything in this world, and perhaps that is the Divine.

Through some great advice from women in this group, and through the fact I felt The Divine was with me all during that hard day, I let my experiences flow through me instead of locking them away and feeding them alcohol. I feel there is hope for my husband and I, and we finally let up on each other. I will finish up at my parent’s house today, and I will see my friend today. I will not drink, and I will fully feel everything I am supposed to feel. Thank you all you amazing women, I cannot express in words how much I am learning from you, and how much all of you mean to my recovery and learning to live life.

Happy Sober Sunday!
Kelly

August 24 ,2018

 

I’ve been sober for a little over 3 weeks, but it really seems like 3 years, because I am a different person, and a new me is emerging that I don’t think I’ve really ever known. Some days I love her, and some days I think she is melancholy, a touch too introspective and that dreaded word, BORING.

During these weeks, little by little, I’ve been letting more people in my life know that I am not drinking. This statement is met at times with huge eyes, with words like “How are you doing it? I could never do that, like how do you relax?” or “It’s not forever is it, I mean, you’re just taking a break right?”

Hhhhmmmmmm. Not forever? When somebody mentioned the foreverness of my decision it made me step back and stumble. I didn’t know how to answer so I just averted my eyes, looked down at the ground, and mumbled. “It could be forever.” Like I was ashamed. What the hell! I should have said “Hell yes it’s forever, I can’t take this shit anymore, and I’m moving past it, I’m moving through it and I’m crawling out on the other side and it feels fantastic, life changing, and why are YOU still drinking because it really is better on my side of the street!” But of course being the good little girl we are all taught to be I kept that inside where it is supposed to be. We don’t want to upset people, do we? If my husband is around a couple people have asked him, “How are you handling this?” or “Is she for real?” Like I’m not even in the room. He doesn’t say much, something like, “if it makes her happy I’m all for it.” And then I think we both pray that the questioning will end. We never talk about it after we make our exit, but I’m sure it’s talked about plenty in our absence. Another member recently posted some excellent ways she handles this line of questioning, so I’m hoping to arm myself with some of her brilliant phrases, so hopefully I’ll be ready for the next go around.

So back to that word FOREVER. When this word creeps into my head I have a hard time dealing with it. Like yesterday when I went to get my hair done after work. What about that glass of wine they offer and how much I loved having it after a hard day? Is that forever? Yep, I’m afraid it is. I’ll have an ice water thank you. I sip sip sip the ice water, and for a while I thought I was missing out, got the Woe Is Me’s. But then I thought about how just that one glass of wine would have had my mind consumed with, “Oh, I’ll stop at the store and pick up a bottle of wine so I can have A GLASS (which means a bottle) after I get home. And the whole time I’m getting my hair done I’ll want her to finish up already so I can get out of there.

Another aspect of the word forever is making me consider the fact my family may never have another decent home cooked meal again. I’ve mentioned it before so I won’t go into all the details of what my nights looked like, but like so many I’d take my time cooking, drinking wine, and smoking cigarettes on the deck. It was my way of relaxing, and my way of looking like I was doing something meaningful which was a big fat cover up because let’s face it, I was doing it so I could keep drinking. But when that dinner was finally served it was something! Now I don’t really cook elaborately because that is a trigger so I’ve been whipping up some really lame meals, or we’ve been going out. My son comes home from soccer practice REALLY disappointed, but as far as I know nobody has died from spaghetti made from Ragu, but they sure have died from alcohol. So I’ve been slowly lowering his expectations over his dinner.

When I get messed up over that word forever I try to remember that I’m supposed to take this one day at a time, not to think too far into the future, otherwise I might go crazy. But crazy I am because I can’t help but think of a particular dilemma I have coming up, so it makes me think about the future and where all of this is taking me so I have been throwing all of that ONE DAY AT A TIME business out the window lately.

We have a house rented with a bunch of friends and our kids for Thanksgiving. We’ve had this planned for months, and the thought of being stranded hours from home in a house full of drinking people is putting me over the edge. I will be the lone sober soul there except for the under age kids, and it now sounds like pure hell. I was soooo looking forward to this, and now I’m spending time trying to figure out how to get out of it. I know I need to protect my sobriety at all costs, I know this is a dangerous place to be. I know I am going to receive so much shit if I don’t go. I know my marriage is being strained by my sobriety, my melancholy demeanor, my quietness and constantly thinking, thinking, thinking. So forever sinks in a little deeper at times, and living one day at a time is harder at times. But I’m formulating a plan of going for a night, and then coming home separately with my kids so we can have dinner with my mom. Maybe my husband can just stay and get a ride home with one of our friends. But I know this will hurt him, and will probably put another divide between us. It’s exhausting thinking about something that is supposed to be relaxing…… so what is the point anyway?

Like so many in recovery I’m starting to get a bit bored, which when mixed in with forever boring becomes even more challenging for me. In the beginning I felt amazing, and waking up day after day without a hangover was this great big gift of clarity. Now it’s expected, and I still love my mornings, but the amazement is gone. Don’t get me wrong, I love my routine of getting up super early, making coffee, reading, writing, burning a candle and calmly starting my day. But that “OH MY GOD I FEEL SO GREAT” euphoria is replaced with, “Isn’t this nice and peaceful?” So I’m learning to live with the peace, and realize that not everything in life has to be super charged up, and boring is a part of life we need to accept. I think I heard on a podcast somebody explain that we need to learn how to deal with the boring parts of life. When I was drinking there was the taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary through alcohol, and then there was taking the ordinary and making it miserable through a hangover so I was constantly in a state of hyper emotions. So today, I’m going to hang out with just being present, and making that okay, and absorbing the words PEACE, CALM and HAPPINESS, and Forever is going to have to wait.

Happy Sober Friday!
Kelly

August 22, 2018

So funny that yesterday I wrote a bit about my divorce (can you believe there’s more, like a LOT more to that story) and yesterday was my youngest son’s 17th birthday, so essentially it’s been about 17 years since all of that happened, and writing it out like that seemed to put it to rest finally, because trust me, I’ve been carrying that around for years. All of your words of kindness, strength, encouragement and me too’s have allowed me to look at it differently.

My oldest son was most affected by the divorce and my drinking back then. He was 7 when it all happened, and he’s always been the sensitive type with an old soul. I feel like when I sat down to tell him that his dad and I were getting divorced he changed forever, similar to how I changed forever. I’ve always felt like it broke something in him, his eyes changed, and there became a sense of sadness to him. He was the first to recognize that I had started drinking, and it caused that sadness to expand, and I’m afraid it filled him up and I could not stop it from happening. He’s 24 now, and through all of these years I have wondered if I should have stayed just so I could have kept this sadness out of his eyes. Should I have worked harder on my marriage? What if I didn’t drink during that time, and instead of focusing on all that pain I focused on bringing my family closer together? How was I at fault in this marriage? Did I put so much of me into my children that I neglected my husband so he had to go elsewhere? And on and on and on this conversation goes in my head at times. Analyzing what I did, the mistakes I made, and beating myself up over my drinking, naivety, and acting on emotion rather than playing all of this out. In the end I’ve been analyzing if my children would have been better off if I stayed. Because if I stayed I wouldn’t have had to work so much and I could have been there to raise them more. My nerves maybe wouldn’t have been so brittle, and maybe I wouldn’t have become a problem drinker that probably, (saying with a big gulp) became an alcoholic.

But yesterday I poured out that story and all of you made me feel powerful, that I had a right to demand a better life for myself, and maybe I did make the right choice all along but didn’t know it. Maybe I had to go through so much so I could learn and grow from it so I can do something with it instead of holding it inside letting it me rot from the inside out. So thank you my friends, I think I’m letting it go, and trusting the universe had a plan, and I’m going to dance into the plan this time.

Which leads me to the word forgiveness. I’m a big forgiver. I forgave my ex husband a long time ago because I was tired of holding hate in my heart for him, and because my oldest son begged me to so we could get along, I forgave my ex so my children did not have to witness the turmoil, and we could somehow be a blended family. It probably took about 7 years, but we did get there. Hell, we just went to my ex’s house for dinner last night to celebrate my youngest son’s birthday! He is remarried and I really like his wife, I guess you could say we are friends, and they now have a young son. Don’t get me wrong, I know who my ex truly is, but he cannot hold me hostage with my feelings around HIM, and I give this forgiveness as a gift to my children.

I obviously can forgive just about anybody anything, but I could not forgive myself. My drinking has never lined up with who I thought I was or was meant to be. So while in the shower after a night of drinking I’d be sure to remind myself about how much I hated myself, how weak I was, how I was a bad mother, and how hopeless I must be. Driving to work feeling like shit, I’d be sure to keep the conversation going to let myself know that I looked worn out, like I’m starting to look like the lifestyle I was living and everybody was going to know what a drunken mess I was. When I had to face the kids after a night of drinking I’d tell myself what a shitty role model I am, how I am probably leading them to a life of addiction, and how they can never be proud of me. Forgiveness was never a gift a could give myself, not until now.

I am starting to forgive myself, and this too, is making a difference in my recovery. Every day I do not drink, and every day I get a little stronger. Everybody had a few drinks last night at the birthday celebration, but not me! My husband sat in the back seat, and my son drove us home because he has his learners permit. I sat in the front next to him. We talked about philosophy of all things for a little bit on the way home. I felt all warm, and a sense of pride in myself, and I hope my son felt a sense of pride in me, his mother. His mother that was fully present for his birthday celebration!

I will pray that we will all forgive ourselves a little bit more today, because we deserve it. We may struggle, we may not be perfect, but we are trying. And that, in and of itself calls for a celebration.

Happy Sober Wednesday!
Kelly