Start Again

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve written here. I will peak from time to time at others’ posts, and my heart will lend itself to the stories that are told. It is such an amazing place for all of us to come together to share our world of trying to conquer the things that are causing us harm. But I struggle knowing what to say, to give advice. I always think that I am not qualified because I’m just trying to figure out each day myself at this point. 

I was becoming obsessed with this non drinking world I was living. It was taking up most of my moments. I delved deeper into myself and I was analyzing most of my time. I was either loving my non drinking self and wanted to wear a t-shirt that said “Non Drinker, High on Life!”, or I was in the depths, wondering how I was going to live my life as an outsider, how am I going to save my marriage, how am I going to explain to clients that I do not drink. Sure, there were times that I thought I could handle it, and I felt that I had the magic key to clarity and true living. But there were many times that I thought my obsessiveness was ruining my life in a different way. So I decided to back off. To try to  learn how to just be me, and to be forgiving, non judgmental, and to just do the next right thing. I tried to focus on my work during the day and not just on being sober so that I could learn to live a normal life. So I’m trying, and a lot of time I’m succeeding, and some of the time I’m failing. 

I overcame a huge hurdle this week. I accepted an offer at a new company which is like a dream come true! I will be leaving my high stress sales job for a new position that will offer a bit more of everything, and I can’t wait. I am one luck sober girl this morning, and I’m hoping to handle being on this site a bit more again, to be able to join you sober sisters with truth telling and encouragement. Thank you to all who share. There’s so much learning that takes place when we open our hearts and minds to others.   

Pink Clouds

I was reading Unpickled, Jean McCarthy’s blog, and in a recent post she mentioned the Pink Cloud phase of sobriety. Wow! There was a name for that euphoria, that intense OH MY GOD I’M SOBER AND PROUD AND FEEL GOOD AND AMAZING which was waaayyyyy better than any cocktail or glass of wine that I’d ever had! But now those feelings are gone, and I’m waking up every morning not hung over, but not especially feeling so great either. Not having those feelings of feeling like a bad ass makes it more difficult not to drink, and that, my friends, really sucks.

When I quit drinking I thought everything was going to get better. I thought my sales at work would go through the roof, and I saw promotions, pats on the back, an employee of the CENTURY plaque at my desk and my very own parking place. But that didn’t happen. Actually I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately, and at my revenue driven company that is not okay. Perform, perform, perform or get out of the way because somebody’s ass will be sitting in your seat if you don’t press on the gas! So that’s been a real bummer, and I’ve been thinking lately,”Hey Sobriety, I thought you were going to solve all my problems, and Hey Drinking, I thought you caused all the problems? What the hell is going on here and where did my pink cloud go? If my pink cloud was around me I wouldn’t care about work, I’d figure I’d manage my relationship with my husband some way somehow, and I’d keep on spreading good cheer and cheerleading a life of sobriety. But my pink cloud zoned out on me, or I zoned out on it and the skies are gray.

I mentioned my relapse recently in another post. That really sucked and I haven’t felt the same about myself since. I know I need sober people in my life, and although this group has been the biggest support I’ve ever gotten in any attempt to stop drinking I realize I need real people. But I’ve been lazy about that too. I’m tired. I’m tired of thinking about drinking, not drinking, sobriety, maybe I can drink at this occasion, maybe I’m not alcoholic, maybe I am an alcoholic, maybe I should see a therapist, maybe I need to go to AA, maybe I need to get away from here, maybe I need a new job, and on and on and on and on. I want to stop focusing so much on all of this and just get on with it already, and when I say IT I just mean life.

I have this habit of shutting down when things get to be too much. I retreat, and just go through the motions. I’m afraid I’ve been doing this lately, and I am recognizing it threatens my sobriety. I am in awe of the women in this group that reached out to me to see if I’m okay since I’ve been quiet lately. Thank you, thank you, thank you. That act of kindness, that realization that somebody was thinking of me and my sobriety meant more than you will ever know. It was exactly the kick in the butt I needed to pull myself out of the gray skies. I’m realizing the skies of sobriety may not always be full of pink fluffy clouds, but even when the skies are gray the skies are always blue, and the sun is always shining once you bust through those gray clouds. So this morning, for the first time in a long time, I’m feeling rather cheery, and happy happy happy about another sober morning.

Happy Sober Thursday Everyone!

Replapse

I came home from work on Friday and I’d had it. I was emotional, raw, hurting, scared, frustrated, and charging into my head with absolutely no love or compassion, especially not for myself.

I have been struggling lately and I am letting my head get the best of me, and even when I know I need to put on my gratitude big girl panties they are falling down around my ankles, like even the elastic is too tired and saying, “I can’t hold you up anymore, this is just too hard.” I’m tired too because I’ve been letting my feelings back away, as if they aren’t important anymore and I have to keep trudging forward even though I’m going to fall off a cliff, despite the fact I know better. I’ve been feeling like anything I talk about nobody cares about so all I’ve been doing is listening and once again forgetting that I matter.

I came home from work on Friday a shaky miserable mess. A week or so ago I found an old stale pack of cigarettes in my glove compartment. I can’t even remember when they were bought, but when I saw them they made me look hard. But I didn’t toss them out. They stayed in my glove box, just in case. So in my sorry state of feeling sorry for myself on Friday I took them inside the house so I guess Friday was my just in case. I believe I didn’t throw them away to erase who I was, but I kept them and brought them inside the house so I could remember. I poured a glass of juice and soda water, and took my 2 cigarettes outside to sit on my deck to try and feel. It didn’t work.

I smoked those 2 cigarettes and they made me feel queasy. As I was smoking and sipping my pretend cocktail I was trying to conjure up some fake drinking time. I was polluting my body again, and here it was feeling so strong and healthy. Or at least it did on some days, but on other days I was getting tired of feeling so damn good all the time. Where was the euphoria of being in my sober strong body? When did that leave me and was I really going to make it feel like shit again just so I could get that back?

There was a can of beer in the fridge, which has been there for a long time. Beer isn’t my thing, and through all of these sober days it held no threats. But somewhere lurking in the depth of my mind I knew it was there all along. And the house was still empty.  I knew what I was supposed to do. I knew to have something to eat. I knew to get out of the house, go for a walk, go to the library, call a friend, eat something. But I did none of that. I was caught up in my alcoholic sister and her poor little daughter, my aging mother, my friend dying, my job eating me alive, my indifference, my anger, my boredom, my resentment to my husband and it all took hold of me and whispered devilish things in my ear.

So with the devil on my shoulder howeling nonsense I finished my 2 cigarettes and got in my car and bought another pack. I came home to a still devoid house, and cracked open the can of beer. I took my first sip. Nothing. It didn’t taste good, and it didn’t take my feelings away. nor did it give my feelings back. I lit another cigarette. It tasted like shit too, so nothing was working. And then my husband came home. He opened the sliding glass doors, and just looked at me and said “What are you doing?” “I’ve just had a really bad day.” I said, and he closed the door while shaking his head. I wasn’t sure if he was coming back to talk to me, or if this was it for the night, so I just sat still, secretly hoping he would come back outside so I could talk to somebody. I was tired of being strong, I was tired of being a good listener. I needed somebody to listen to me. He did come back outside, and his eyes were softer, kinder. “I’m going to the store to get something to drink.” he said. I asked him to get me a bottle of wine.

And so we went back to our normal behavior for a small space of time; sitting on the deck, drinking, smoking, and talking. For the first time in a long time I opened up to him about everything, and he told me everything was going to be alright, and a piece of me wrapped into the words and I believed them and him.

The next day I tortured myself. I woke up in the morning and began my assault, but my husband held me tight, and told me not to beat myself up, that maybe that was my whole problem, this constant beating I am always taking. So I stopped the abuse and started trying to put things in perspective. I don’t miss drinking do I? Was there anything miraculous that happened while I sipped a beer, had a glass of wine and smoked the cigarettes? I replayed the night, my feelings, over and over and over again, and I made discoveries. I discovered the allure lies in the movie that runs in my head, and not in the actual act. It lies somewhere in between the lines of remembering and romanticizing a moment, but that moment never truly exists. It is a notion, a trick of a memory. And now I pray I know this.

These last few days I’ve discovered I cannot do this alone. I need somebody sober in my life, so I’m going to have to reach out, go to meetings perhaps, or reconnect with my one and only sober friend. I am isolating in my head and in my emotions, despite my physical body is here there and everywhere. And it is not good.

My worries are tight that I am seeing that the only time I really talk with my husband is when we are drinking. I’m constantly scared that drinking is the only thing that held us together, and he did not plan on a life with a non drinking wife. My sober self watches him, judges him, and I’m ashamed to admit that beneath my constant thinking, my so called wisdom filled sober thoughts, that I brush him underneath because surely he is not understanding. In my sobriety I have been shutting down the rest of my life and the balance is not balanced at all but leaning to one side which leaves me stumbling. Because there is nothing else to hold on to. Just me, me not drinking, memories. So my relapse was small, but made me feel like shit, but I’ve forgiven myself because it took the mystery away and left me naked and open to what was really happening. All these years I’ve been telling myself that if I just quit drinking my entire life will get better. Well, I quit drinking, but problems still exist and there is still work to do.

These past few days I’ve been trying to understand the lessons I learned and paid for. I’m going to remember to put things in perspective. I’m going to try and not focus on the negative, but remember the positive. I’m going to remember to believe in myself, and to give everything and everyone a break around me. I’m going to remember I’m able to imagine all kinds of things and worst case scenarios, but that is my imagination, and perhaps not my reality. I’m going to try and learn the difference.

Happy Sober Wednesday

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