Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Work of Reality

What a relief- to blurb and bleat all of my inner dialogue out into the world. Like sharing a too big secret, today things don't seem so big. They are the same, but manageable again.

Something I know about myself is that I am not good at asking for help, I'm not good at placing value on my own wealth of feelings. I tend to minimize things until they end up screeching at me. I was so angry that no one has been as scared as I have been, and in doing that I have been discounting my own self.

I had a couple good snotty cries. I told my husband about my fears, and I reminded myself to stand in my own two feet- that even if it sounded totally stupid it wasn't.

Blasted reality. There's the way I want to see the world, and then there's the way things really are. I've known for a while now that it's much simpler to accept the things that are true rather than wallpaper and shellac over it. It's when I forget the security of surrender that I start to feel frantic and too big for my skin.

I went back to bed this morning and slept. I did some yoga. I meditated. I didn't have coffee. I could have gotten up, poured coffee down my throat, and forced myself through another day. But I didn't. I'm thankful that I'm learning how to recognize what I really need, and to ignore what I want, and then actually do the things I need. Whoa.

I'm still afraid. I'm still thinking about all the unsure-ness about the future. It's true that the one you feed is the one that gets stronger. So I'm going to feed the one that keeps me grounded. And I'm going to remember if I'm behind a wall and I'm on fire I have to make sure that someone, even me, can see the smoke.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Today

Something happened to me at acupuncture today.

I realized I'm doing the thing I do: going backwards when I'm starting to head forwards. Goddammit.

So, I've been going to acupuncture for about 4 months now. It has helped my double vision. It has given me insight into what I need help with, what I need to pay attention to- my blood, my digestion. It gives me a solid hour of meditation that is usually useful. A month ago I was in a good healing place. I realized today that I'm on a steady slow backslide.

I wasn't happy with my earlier post- but it was about things I've been thinking about and I have been pressuring myself to get a post out there. It makes sense that it was about slowness, and about my body, but the part that feels bent is that I can feel myself sliding into old comfy behaviors not after I'm way back into it but as they are starting. And it feels good and sucky and oh. Awful.

It's hard for me not to sugar coat everything. It's hard for me to be honest about the way I feel because I don't want to seem weak or even worse to burden anyone. This always puts the world on my own shoulders- me lugging all my own heavies around afraid to ask for help. Afraid everyone will think I'm stupid. Or that I'm a fake. Or that I'm lying to get attention, or that there are people with actual real problems in the world and I should just be quiet, please.

My acupuncturist is insightful and quietly curious. He put all my needles in and asked me a question before he dimmed the lights and started the chime-y music. "What's different now?"

I almost started weeping right then and there- but y'all. I just couldn't. Instead I said the thoughtful thing instead of the feeling thing. I said I thought I wasn't going all in- that I was backing out at the last minute like I'm prone to do. We talked for a minute about slowly bankrupting yourself, and then about how I'm around people who drink a lot a lot of the time. He said, "That's difficult." in a statement-y way that comforted me. I mentioned that I was worried now that my husband is out of school and looking for a job. He said, "That's hard too. Not to mention kids, and life, and marriage. Tell me if you need anything." Then he left me on my own.

My dear friend Sherry wrote this amazing post that I haven't been able to stop thinking about. It was so honest, and upfront, and truthful. It made me start to look at how I'm really feeling, and then today I just had to face all the things I'm afraid of and let it be hard.

I am dying for a sober/recovery outlet. I have got to get myself into another group, or find a good meeting to go to. I need some more like minded people around me. I won this giant bottle of wine at work and not one person thought it was a strange thing to give it to me. Um...hello? I am an alcoholic. Holding out a giant bottle of fabulous wine is not the best prize for me. I do not have enough people in my life that understand where I'm coming from. At all. Even my husband is insensitive to what it feels like for me to not be able to drink, for what it feels like for me to serve wine and watch everyone I work with drink every night I work. People still come up to me with terrific wine and best intentions. "Taste this?" they say. Then "OH, I forgot. Want a smell?" Being around half drunk people at work is annoying. My husband is working at the restaurant again while he job hunts. Staying after work for a glass or two of wine and to "hang out". It feels like because  I am successfully sober he has forgotten that it is actually still a struggle, and he feels resentful when I say it bugs me when he drinks.

I feel like no one notices or cares about all the sacrifices I make to stay on top of my health. I don't drink alcohol or use any other substances to take the edge off. I handle all my shit just as me: no prescriptions illegal or otherwise. I'm still working two jobs. I'm still handling the bulk of the housework, caring for the dogs, and sharing care of the kids. Plus dealing with both sets of our parents when it comes to those logistics. The kids' social lives, plans for the summer. What kind of vacation we want to take. Can we afford it. I have to quit caffeine again because as un-fucking-fair as it is I can't have it if I want to get good sleep. Not to mention the fact that I can't eat pretty much everything else because it aggravates my MS-ish symptoms. So no dairy, or gluten. No grains, no beans. No sugar. But then I get bratty and eat a biscuit. Or we get a fire pit and make s'mores and I just want to be a regular mom that can eat a fucking toasted marshmallow on a graham cracker for gods sake. Or I have all these strong things come up for me at acupuncture and while I really just need a good cry and some support I instead have to pick the kids up at after school and make dinner on my own because my husband is at work and I don't see any other support except to hold on tight and write when I get the kids to bed. My youngest has been in twice already to be scared of a knocking noise and to remind me that he finally has a loose tooth.

And although I love him to pieces I just want to be left alone. I feel like there's the part of me that needs to just cry and pout and shout and wallow and heal and then there's the me that I am in my day to day life: holding on for one more day. Being all I can for all my people and keeping it together so no one can say I can't handle it or see that I'm kind of falling apart. I sometimes fantasize about having a nervous breakdown or almost hope that I do have MS or something else definable wrong with me so that people with be more tender with me, that people might recognize that even though I might make it look easy I am fighting mightily under here and then they could offer me a blanket and a break. That instead of my mother saying things like, "Oh, you're so worn out, so stressed out." or "Yeah, you're handling it" with that unsaid "not so gracefully" or "I'm not going to worry about the MS thing until it's actually true" that she might call me and say "I know you're worried. It's OK. You should worry some. That could be scary. I'm here for you."

Lying there in the dim and the chime at acupuncture I thought about how I need to take things more seriously to be taken seriously. That I want to and need to be all in. Then I came home and ate my proper dinner, and then promptly ate half of the kids' unfinished chicken and cheese quesadillas and almost a whole bar of chocolate telling myself the whole time that I might as well since the liverwurst I had earlier had a little surprise dairy in it and so whatever, I'll get serious again tomorrow. And then I broke off a big piece of easter bunny and ate that. I've been doing so well for 34 days now, and today I finally broke and ate all the feelings that came up.

We all struggle. And here I am: struggling. I'm tired of doing it alone. I'm tired of always being fine and never being weak. I'm afraid. What if I have a disease that could put me in a wheelchair? And why won't any of my people feel afraid with me? Why do they all blow it off like it's nothing when it may well be nothing but I need someone to sympathize with my fears that it could be something?

I feel a load better just writing all that out. I'm so grateful to have this blog, and people out there to read it, who give me kindness and support- it helped to know while I was writing this that I would be heard. That I am never alone in the world. Thank you.






Slowly

I've had a couple of oh wow moments this week- I'm reading this book and this book and both are so much food for thought that I've just been reading voraciously and trying to get into my head space but totally out of my head space.

The Recovering Body has been such a terrific reminder that my body is just as important as my mind, if not even more important. I spend so much time finagling and think-a-ling that I forget to listen to my own messenger. Then I'm surprised that I'm so hungry, or sooo a little cranky, or sooooooo almost overwhelmed and needing a minute. But my body isn't surprised at all. "Duh!" it wants to tell me. I told you we needed to eat like over an hour ago. Or a sarcastic "Shocking!" when I feel twitchy and realize I need a little minute. "Remember how you felt that in your gut a while ago?" I count too, my body is speaking up to say, and slowly I am learning to listen.

I have spent a goodly amount of years on this planet feeling so mad at my sweet body. Mostly mad because I am not 5'7" with coltish legs like I was sure I was meant to be. I am coltish, but more in shortish sturdy donkey way. Mad that I have freckles, and a gap in my teeth. Mad that I can never look in the mirror and be glad to see myself. Many of those same years were spent abusing my body, and my body just kept on showing up: no matter how many times I bulldozed over myself I would always uncrumple the next morning and somehow keep on being alive. It was all like the ultimate fuck you to myself. How could I be such a bully?

Why have I never just told my brain to sit down and shut up? My thinker is always right up front arms waving pushing for all the attention. It's so exhausting maintaining a relationship with myself sometimes: it can't ever just be me, and my body, and my brain biologically meeting for tea. It's the three of us, bratty brain bullying my simple body into submission. In the battle of wills we are all losers I think.

Plus, my brain is the thing that talks me out of all of my good ideas. "Mmmmm, yoga" says body. "BLAH BLAH BLAH no time not in the mood" says brain. "I want to work on my chair" says body. "BORING!!!!" says brain. "Sit down and write" says body. "YOU SUCK AT THAT!" says brain. "Please quit drinking. We have to." said body. "BUT WINE IS SO GOOD!" said brain.

Since I finally was able to listen to that one I feel much more qualified to hear this other stuff. I meditated three times last week and it was hard but lovely. I am going to keep doing that- the relief I feel deep down from the quiet rather than the chatter is palpable. Instead of pushing myself in yoga I've been doing restorative classes online- lots of props and support and surrender. Slowly making all of me strong instead of thinking about weight or what I look like. Taking care of my self rather than my image.

It's a damn hard thing to love all of oneself. Eastern Body, Western Mind has me thinking about Chakra one: how I am safe and grounded to the earth. How to have a steady base I have to have a steady base. And that base is my body. How to feel safe and rooted I have to NOT be the one abusing myself: either with booze, or food, or words, or criticism. Slowly getting back to the basics like I have plenty of time.

All of this winds up with me doing a lot of thinking, but a lot of not thinking too. I made me think of this: I am mostly so grateful all of this happens slowly. I need time to get my feet under me, to feel them touch the ground and support me fully. Time to breathe. Time to listen. Time to get to know me- and my body.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Working Things Out

I have been doing some different things since I found out I might have MS. It got me to thinking about how I want things to be- that and that journal I was reading- the one that said the same stuff over and over again for like two years about cookies and not doing yoga.

Almost three weeks ago I made a promise to myself to walk every day. Do yoga every day. Brush and floss and wash my face before bed. Write each day.

I'm doing it.

It's kind of incredible what listening to yourself can do for you. I had coffee with my dear friend (my bridge moment friend) and we talked about shame. She's reading Brene Brown and totally groovin' on it and made me realize that I want to revisit that book too and got me to thinking about my progress since I read Brene Brown last. The patience I find for myself increases every day, the delight in my own me-ness is such a new and tender thing I'm still surprised when it shows up.

So many of our decisions can be based on shame. I drank because I was ashamed of who I was, and who I wasn't. Either way I was never good enough. I was full of shame for all the things about me, and I drank to stop feeling so bad about it. Which made me feel bad about that. Then I got sober and I wasn't ashamed about my drinking anymore but I still hadn't really looked at the person I wanted to be. For a long time being sober was enough. But then I realized I was still here- and I was still not tuning in to my nature, things were still wonky because I was still not turning to my own true North.

That inner voice is damn hard to hear because it gets overrun by the voice of shame. It all is attached.

There's something about being told I might have a disease that might put me in a wheelchair. It makes me want to walk. It makes me want to bend and twist and feel my breath. It made me look at of all the time I spend being sorry at my life, at all the time I spend in my head wishing I was one thing yet being another. It's making me try harder to be good at my life: not good for any one reason other than it is mine.

A while back I listened to Anne Lamott give an interview. She said something that I will never forget: "YOU WILL COME THROUGH." Until now I didn't realize that there are two ways to see that. One is that, yes, you will. You will reach the end or the other side. You will, with patience and time, come through all the things. All things good and all things bad- you will come through. I was only thinking of it as it defines the journey, not as it connects my soul to my outer life. Now I can see that not only will I come through, but that I will come through. I will, despite my efforts to not, come through. My self-ness will seep through until I become saturated and unable to ignore my own self.

I do that by remembering that I am no longer ashamed. I don't have to hide the woman I am because I was so drunk last night and did embarrassing things again. I know my mind, so I can speak it. I can feel strong enough to be who I am in the world without fear. I am connecting these things because I am listening to my voice- my conscience that wants to love and protect me that I mistakenly thought hated me all along.

Once in a while it takes a big something to motivate you to change. Other times it's just time to be different. But I have always known who I am, in my heart of hearts- I know. I'm working out how to be brave enough to be that person. Although it sounds kind of morbid it helps me to think that one day this life of mine will be over. How will I have wanted to spend it? Fearful and ashamed or at least trying my fucking heart out for the best life I can have? I don't want to be dying and wishing I'd done the simple things my heart desired. I want to do all the things. I want to live out loud and wide open and unafraid and unashamed with a balance of gentle and strong. But most of all, I do not want to keep wishing for things that are in my power to make come true.

I have a spinal tap scheduled for April 22. The day after my 44th birthday. Then there will be an answer: a yes or a no that changes my life either way. I am not afraid. I am not afraid because I am who I am, I am strong enough to handle hard things and ask for help. Being sober gave me life, and it also gives me something to live for. It gives me the courage. And for that I am forever grateful.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How the Story Goes

I read this book and I loved it. I'm reading this book now and I also really dig it.

You know how the life of an alcoholic is- well, I know how mine is: I drank for a long time, then I stopped. And now I have a pretty good time figuring stuff out about myself like I'm really an introvert, or I need time by myself to stay steady, or I will be lazy about things unless I push myself to do them.

In the second book Donald Miller talks about the story our lives tell. If my life were a story it would be me being little, then me being drunk, and then the much more interesting me sober and getting on with it. It really got me thinking about the story I want my life to tell, the story my children might tell about me. The story my husband might tell of our marriage.

It made me think about how many things aren't under my control, but then how many things are.

Books always seem to show up right when I need them. I have been in that winter rut where I do the winter thing I do: gain weight. Abandon everything except Facebook and avoiding all the things. I let the boys fry their brains on computer games and I sink into my own version of hibernation until thankfully spring happens and I find some books and some sunshine and get off the couch and back out into the world.

I also found a journal entry that I can't stop thinking about. It's the one where I talk about telling myself no, and doing the things I want to do, and how sad it makes me feel when I just give myself full license to eat all the cookies. But it isn't just one journal entry- it's a lot of them. Then I came across the book that talks about our life stories and I knew I needed to start writing mine instead of it writing for me.

It's like this: when I was drinking I just told the same story over and over again. And over, again. I don't want to do that now that I'm sober- it's just the same thing over and over but without being drunk. (which is a huge plus)

I sometimes feel like I'm in limbo land. Sober long enough to not be newly, but not sober long enough to be consider totally "there". I feel like when I put myself out on a limb people still want to tell me to "be careful" and "take it easy"- like they think if I take on too much I'll drink again. Or are they comfortable with me the way I am? Or am I always changing things?

I feel very comfortable in my sobriety. What I don't feel comfortable with is carrying the alcoholic behavior on in my story. My perhaps MS has got me thinking about the many things I would be sad I didn't do when I had the chance to do them. And then I think about when I get to the end of my life will I wish I'd eaten more cookies or gone for more long walks? I don't think I'll be heading into the light wishing for more time on Facebook.

The idea that my life is my story to write is all at once kick ass and scary. It's a balance of control and free fall. But it is mine. And it's up to me to choose it: the people in it. The things that happen. I can't control outcomes but I can write them as close to my desires as I want them to be.

Think about your story. How you want it to be. How to write it, how to read it. How it's true, and hard, and lovely, and yours. I'll be out on a long walk in the sun thinking about mine, too.






Saturday, March 14, 2015

Bridge





Thursday in between one job, my follow up appointment with my neurologist, and my other job, I went for a walk on a trail I used to run frequently. I set my timer for fifteen minutes so I wouldn't worry about the time and started walking.

I love this trail. Three plus hilly and woodsy miles. Challenging in spots. Back when I was still drinking and I was still running I would go and punish myself with the two big hills- one steep and one endlessly long. On my way I would always look for a rock to pick up because towards the end I would stop at this bridge and hold that rock tightly in my hand and wish. I would wish I could stop drinking. I would whisper intently to the woods and my rock that I needed help please. Then I would look at my rock, squeeze it hard, and gently toss it into the creek below.

I had forgotten about this.

Until the other day, when I'd just been to the neurologist, and she said things like "spinal tap" and lumbar puncture" and "up to you". I had an hour before I had to be at work. I remembered that this trail was on the way. I had just enough time to take a thirty minute walk in the woods to think on this. Right at the time I needed to turn around I came to the bridge. I stopped walking and went over to the rail. I grabbed it with both hands and took a shaky deep breath. The memory of me, and my rocks, and my wishes came flooding back. I could feel my old self standing there next to me. I stood quiet for a long minute. Then I cried a little, then smiled.

I have been sober for over two years y'all. Right there, in that picture up there, in that spot, is where I wished so hard for myself to hear me, to help me. Below the bridge is the creek that took all my rocks and kept my secret until it was time to tell it, to tell it out loud.

Yesterday a beloved friend and I walked this whole trail. We were talking about some heavy shit, but when we rounded the corner and came to the bridge I said "Wait. I have to interrupt. I have to tell you this." My face crumpled all up and I started to cry.

"I used to run this trail," I told her. "And I would be sad, and hungover, and I would pick up a rock." We walked over to the rail, and held it. "When I would get to this bridge I would wish into my rock. I would wish for help. I would wish to be sober. I would say 'I wish I could stop drinking' and I would throw my rock into the water, then watch for a minute and try to hold it in." I cried harder. "I've been sober for two years and three months now. I am a miracle." I whispered it again. "I am a miracle."

She grabbed me and held me tight. She looked at me and told me she was proud. Proud to know me, proud to be my friend. I hugged her back, and then we laughed at ourselves crying on this bridge- both of us with our big life stuff but still brave enough to show each other who we are and ask each other for love and support. I said out loud what I hardly ever say: how proud I am of myself.

Sometimes when winter has been too long, and the grey is holding me down, life just really shows up. It shows up as a bridge, a book, a dearest friend. It reminds me of all the good I do for myself, the meaning I give to my life, the meaning I give to the lives of others. It reminds me that I am an important person in this world, that I matter.

I have been doing the things I said I was going to do for five days now, and magic is happening. Whether it's because I've been making it or keeping an eye out for it so I notice when it shows up I'm not sure. But it's here, every day. I've been being the person I wish I am.

It's all a bridge, wherever you are. There is always that place, that time, when you wish so hard for things to be different. When that voice inside cannot let go of that wish. The thing about wishes is that most of them are ones that we can make come true, you just have to be brave enough to embrace your inner wizard and to remember that you are worthy. No one ever really plans that one moment when wishes start to be real, where you start from a new spot. You only know that happened when you look back, when you conjure your old self and see who you aren't anymore.

My neurologist wants to do a spinal tap because she is suspicious that I may have Multiple Sclerosis. That day in her office I turned her down. She told me I could change my mind, and I have. Because that's the thing about wishes- I wish I didn't have MS. I don't even know that I do. But I have to look, I have to see, because then I'll know what to do. It's just like me wishing I wasn't an alcoholic- I wish I wasn't one. But I had to look, and I had to see so I could stop wishing and know what to do. To not wish for wasn'ts but for things that can be.

What I know is this: there is nothing wrong with wishing. Whether it's with pennies and fountains, rocks and bridges, or in your heart alone in bed at night, there's a reason that wish keeps coming back. When you get to that place, your bridge where you made your wish, you will know that wishes really do come true. And you will know, no matter where you are, that you are a miracle too.




Thursday, March 12, 2015

Quick Post

Today is the first time I've posted away from my computer. I was just talking with one of my work mates about responsibility. How sometimes it feels like you do so much and there just isn't any tangible reward.

Here's the thing: I work hard. I do what I'm supposed to. I show up on time, I rarely call in (and only if I'm sick- I took my first "mental health" day a couple weeks ago because I was wiped out) But there are no parades, no t-shirts, no big or small thank yous. I work for a corporation. There isn't a lot of time for hugs and Kumbaya. Sometimes I feel really frustrated that someone isn't saying "thanks" and "we notice you working hard".

Then I think about what my head would sound like if I wasn't doing my thing. It would suck. It would sound just like all the guilt trips I give myself about other stuff, but on top of all the other stuff. No thanks.

It's my responsibility to take care of myself- whether it's staying sober, working hard, walking, writing, or yoga. Even if it's just brushing and flossing my teeth at night it's still up to me. Maybe there aren't fanfares and big prizes but there is the peace of mind I get when all is right in my world.

That's good enough.