Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Do you ever tell yourself yes, but in the right places? I've been looking for yes in all the wrong places.

I've been reading Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. It has me thinking about yes.

I do this thing, all day, where I make choices, and then I un-choose them. And then I choose them again. And then back. I do this other thing where I look for the worst in everything. And not the worst worst, like "Oh no. Driving home I'm going to get car bombed and then flattened by an eighteen wheeler" sort of worst; more like "Oh. no. Morning. Again. Work. Gah. I don't like this day already. I never get to do what I want." It's the whiny worst that really isn't even true when I look at reality. I give myself permission to have the cranky fear/doubt stuff, but not to deal with it. Yes, I say to myself. Yes. You can not trust yourself or rely on yourself. Sure. Sounds fine. 

How is my brain such a murky mucky place to be when my heart and soul are out gathering daisies?

There's what plays in my head, and then there's my actual real life. They resemble each other, but don't really look alike. They're my own set of personal inner fraternal twins. Hydra Siamese ones. 

I've been looking for yes, but only seeing no. "No" is my default setting. It's a blanket statement that covers all the things from "I can't" to "I shouldn't" to "No way in hell". It's a tiny little word that keeps me safe from harm. It also holds me back, pushes me back to my tiny corner of the world where I'm protected. Where I can predict the future. 

This morning I started in on the same old, same old: "Do I want to get up now? I should. Do I want to? I won't have time to write later if I don't. I don't want to get up." Blahty blahty blah blah. So I did what I do when I can't decide about getting up or not- I picked up my book. Then I read about yes. Yes.

"I felt the inner freedom that comes from agreeing unconditionally to life."

I agreed this morning with myself to stop fighting the life that's mine and to start living it by not resisting every thing that comes along.* And by not resisting every thing I mean having an open spirit about all the things. Things like children who won't get dressed, another red traffic light, spoiled milk. Things like money that's tight and scary health mysteries. Resisting those things doesn't make them not true, it just makes them harder to swallow.

But then I also have to not resist the good things. Things like compliments, green lights, and a back up loaf of bread in the freezer. Things like a lovely place to live, plenty of food, and beloved friends and family all around. I can't resist the gratitude part. 

This yes is different from permission. It's more of an acceptance rather than carte blanche. It sometimes sounds like yes but means no. It means hearing the part of you that's scared, and then putting a blanket and an arm around its' shoulders and inviting it in. It means hearing the part of you that's happy, and then feeling it fully without downplay. It means that I have permission to feel what I'm feeling, and that there's a part of me that knows how to take care of that with either a gesture of reassurance and comfort or a high five and a boost up on the shoulders. It means that inside I am capable of handling whatever comes along.

So much of my struggles come from fear. Fear that I can't get my children to do what I ask. Fear that I am not doing it right- some of it, any of it. Fear that I am not where I should be. Fear that I am too far behind to catch up to whatever it is I'm supposed to be up to. Fear that with all this good trying that I am still badly failing.

Facing life fear is hard. It helps to know that I can say yes- yes I am afraid, yes I am not perfect, yes I am happy. It helps to know that it doesn't have to be all one way or another- I can have both. I can be afraid and OK all at the same time. It helps to be able to say yes to the things that sound like they need no's. It makes the hard parts easier because I know I don't have to resist them, I can reveal them and keep going. 


*This seems kind of big for just a regular Tuesday morning, but you know. That's just how these things happen.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Little Things

I got a haircut last week. My first one since I've been sober. I haven't had a haircut in over two years. I've been sober for almost nineteen months. It seemed like about time.

There are so many things I put off. Things I swear I'll make time for next week, or tomorrow, or in the fall.

Like haircuts. Going for a walk. Erasing some things from my mind that just don't need to be keeping up on the rent.

It seems like such a small thing to take an hour or so to trim the ends of my growing long hair. It has given me no small amount of pleasure to braid it and not feel the tiny frustration at the dried rough ends poking out from my pony elastic. To pull my braid forward over my shoulder and finger the smooth ends: a sign of upkeep, a sign of self care.

I continuously puzzle over the chore of taking care of myself. The in between of putting forth some effort and working on conscious avoidance.

I got new glasses. It took me two weeks to get around to it after the double vision doctor told me to, but I finally did. It has not helped my vision much but it makes me feel better to know that I didn't blow it off. And it's fun to have a new pair of specs. They are big and square like I like and transparent grey. I decided on them all by myself: no asking anyone but me if they were what I wanted.

I quit my recovery group and have decided not to join the next group my therapist is starting. It took me weeks of anxiety and soul searching to decide that I had to urge myself towards other unknown things. I am on my own again: me, my blog, and books as my therapy while the universe conspires.

I made flaky pillowy biscuits this morning. I even got out the food processor and shut up the voice that whined that it was too much trouble. I let the kitchen be messy-ish and a bit floury. I took my time and drank my coffee. Asked my husband to relax at the table and talk to me. I let the biscuits rest for twenty minutes before they went into the oven. We made the children cups of tea since we were out of orange juice.

I read Just Kids by Patti Smith this week. It pushed me. It freed me- it acknowledged the artist in me and made me want to let her more out. It made me want to write and write and take loads of pictures and remember to take the time to feed my soul and not just my face for solace and repair. It made me feel like I can be more brave about what I write here and there and to not listen to the voice in my head that warns me about sounding weird or not like everyone might want me to. I love all that when it comes from a book.

Do you ever forget to add up your self full stuff? Forget to give yourself credit for the little things you do to care for yourself? I do, I so do. I forget that it's OK to get a haircut. To spend time picking out new glasses. To stop doing something because inside I want to and that's all the reason I need. To make a simple lovely breakfast slowly. To get some insight from someone else's written about life.

I used to try to get all that stuff from getting drunk. It works a lot better this way, hands down. It stays with me instead of draining away with my hangovers, guilt, and headaches. The self full stays here as long as I remember to pay attention to it, to look at it. I don't feel bad when I think about biscuits and walks and books and new glasses. And I feel better when I think about taking it slow to find the things this week will bring. My spirit moves because I let it go.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


I went to go see a holistic health specialist. My appointment was over two hours long. We covered a lot of stuff.

A lot.

She asked me about sleep and dreaming. About my skin. About my joints and muscles. About mucous. And pooping. About exercise. About my vagina. We talked about it ALL. It was cool to talk about my physical health rather than winnow out more mental stuff.

She said, "So, with autoimmune stuff (for me rheumatoid arthritis) stress is a big factor. It seems like you are stressed even when you sleep." I never really thought about that, but I never really wake up feeling well rested either. Huh.

Then we talked about when I quit drinking and smoking and then had to stop running I lost all of my outlets. All of the places I let go of stress had disappeared, but I haven't replaced them with anything else. Eating cookies is not really a stress reliever. Huh.

We also talked about my breathing- how I breathe very shallowly. Another example of being in survival mode.

I need to relax. Saying that makes me laugh a little since my first response is "Yeah. Right."

When I quit drinking I really thought that all the pieces would fall into place. That because I quit drinking I would be healthy, lose weight, and life would tra la la along. That I wouldn't feel tired and wasted all the time.

I would never have guessed that I would be four cups ("cups") of coffee fatigued each day. When I was drinking I couldn't even drink coffee because it made me way too edgy. I wouldn't have thought I'd be thinking about pulling over to take a nap on my ten minute drive home from work. That I would have to go to bed before nine o'clock because I just can't make it any longer. That I would have to give up running because no matter how much I take time to heal it's too much for my body to take. I think about how lucky I was when I was able to go out and easily run ten miles or so even with a hangover. I think about how I felt such relief after that first bottle of wine. How I was almost disappeared by then. Nothing lets me disappear now.

Being present is hard. I didn't realize how alone I felt until Dr. C told me I was in survival mode most if not all of the time. That I don't feel safe in the world. That I lost my three biggest supports and have been sort of flailing around with nothing to take their place. I didn't even think about that.

Getting and being sober is about so much more than not drinking. Dammit. DAMMIT! :)

I have to smile at that too because even as hard as it is, I love being sober. It makes me feel like I at least have a chance.

So yesterday I breathed A LOT. Deep, purposeful breaths. I drank water, and ate slowly. Slept terrible.

Randomly, I feel so encouraged by it all. First off, can you imagine if all this was happening and I was still drinking? I would be feeling ultra uber shitty and probably in dirty sweatpants with wine stained teeth and a bottle of ibuprofen in one of those hip coin dispensers. Fuck. So this is kind of like life tra la la-ing along, really.

I suppose it's all in the way you look at it. "How unfair!" I could rant. Or "How possible!" I can be. My life seems kind of like an endless crossroads- but how fortunate I am to actually have choices that aren't all "guess I'd better get drunk again." It reminds me that I am aware. It reminds me that I have a lot to be grateful for. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

"Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be." Clementine Paddleford

Since I'm doing all this wishing but not much backbone-ing things are staying the same. Wanting to feel better and working to feel better are two different things. Dammit! So me and Clementine are getting the boat out. The scenery isn't going to change without some rowing.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mrs. D is on TV!!!!!!

I am floored and thrilled and delighted to share this segment with y'all. Mrs. D has been a part of my sobriety from my day one. I am so grateful for her spirit and courage and support. Check her out!

Mrs. D is on TV!!!!!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Some Posts I Almost Posted

I have lots of drafts that never really made it into posted posts.

1. Um, My Break Please....

Sometimes it all gets so overwhelming I need a break from recovery. Like, um, could I just be a regular person? I don't even want to drink like one, I just want to think like one.

2. Enough Already 

After I wrote about my six months of sobriety, and then having a huge craving (that struck again last night while husband and I were having a before dinner snack and he got the grill started: soooooo time for a few glasses of wine before dinner. It amazes me how tangible and real it feels- almost like I'm having it) and reading the comments about it something has been bugging me.

The enough already.

My mom tells me all the time when I talk to her about something I want to do: "Oh, that sounds like a lot. Take it easy. Don't try to do too much." This is what she means: "I care about you and don't want you to get hurt." This is what I hear: "You aren't strong enough to do it. You aren't really capable of such lofty goals. You should just sit back and not try."

"Already enough" is not a bad thing. It's a great thing, actually. It's contentment. It's OK, but in a good way.

I'm fighting with the sides of average- of already good enough. Of saying yes, I am good enough, but it doesn't mean I should stop trying.....does it?

I feel like I need to clarify a bit- for y'all and for me. Just because I make a big ol' list that says so many things I want to do does not mean I'm throwing myself a pity party everyday if these things don't happen. Not even if they don't happen in six months, or six years. 

It means that I have this new life and I want to shape it. It means that here I am, big ball of clay that is my life: ready to shape and twist and pull. Some planned, lots unexpected. But I'm ready for all that. I'm strong enough.

The message I'm telling myself when I make a big list like that is this: "You can do it. You can take it. You can make it anything you want it to be. Dream big! Because if you dream big and you fail you can get through it. You are strong enough. You can do hard things."

I can't just let getting sober be my biggest accomplishment. I believe you get sober, and then you get a life. I believe that the thing that was really stopping me was my drinking. Now that that mess is out of the way I can take chances, take risks- put my heart on the line and do some living.

I read a great post by Lisa Neumann about how she's doing something hard but getting through it. I don't think the work and love of my life all depends on it being easy, cuddly, and sitting back. I think it takes balance of hard and easy- of pushing pushing pushing to reach lofty goals- and of being gentle enough to say "It's OK" when you need to, and smart enough to know when "It's OK" is the last thing you need to hear. Knowing that all the things you feel are good- because feeling is good. Even when it sucks big time.

So it's not enough already. Not even close. And I'm OK with that. :)

3. We Are Family 

Something I forget to remember is how connected to people I'm getting because I'm sober.

Yesterday my brother and I had a talk about my mom, how she is. How we both feel. How we both feel crazy, but that maybe she's the crazy one. How (like you and I recognize each other because of our struggles with alcohol/addiction) he and I recognize each other because we grew up together. In the same house. With the same parents. That made me feel much righter in the world.

We don't talk about my drinking yet. He knows I quit. He knows it wasn't just a whim, but a necessity. We are six and a half years apart and never had anything in common. I was miserable by eight or so, and he just added to it. Yet, I have always adored him. And to this day believe that he is the best person I know. He has a kindness inside. He makes me laugh. He knows where I come from- who I come from.

This morning I sat down to read my email etc. and it hit me: I am building relationships. Because I'm not always worried about drinking (either doing it or feeling sick and guilty from doing it) I can reach out. Hold a hand. Show people who I am, and then they might come back. I am building these bonds by slowly getting to know me and them.

4. Soul30 

I'm having a Soul30. You can eat and be and do what you want but it has to feed your soul. Most of the time. Even the soul needs a break, and so you can take those too. But the very biggest unbreakable rule is this: no lying to yourself. That means about "Sure another four cookies are fine" or "Well, I think I can go to that big drunkfest party and be OK" or "I can keep doing this thing that makes me feel like shit because I'm sober". It's about finding out what works for you and then being it, doing it. Even if everyone else can and you can't. It's about finding the can, the yes, the it works and ignoring what doesn't.

So far it's working pretty good.

Two days. It took two days for me to feel righter again. And I ain't gonna lie, I gave up gluten and dairy again. I'm kind of back on the Whole30 way of eating, but with dark chocolate and butter. And I'm calling it a Soul30 instead of a Whole30 because it's sometimes nice to call things something. And also it makes me feel less shallow. Plus Monday was the 21st, which makes me 42 and a half so it seemed logical to start something important on that day.

5. no title 

I've been feeling a little sober stale lately: when I put my sobriety sort of on the back burner and kind of muddle through life with my eyes half closed and my ears half listening.

6. Getting Sober Support 

Feeling safe in the world means that I can speak my truth and not fear any repercussions. Because when you tell the truth it doesn't involve judgement, or malice. It means "Here you are in my life, and these are things that are true for me. Maybe they are true for you too?"

Getting sober for me is like I won the biggest jackpot lucky luck luck lottery there ever was. Sometimes I want the sober parade to follow me around everywhere so you can see what I have. Sometimes my sobriety is big and shiny and I get prideful and looky looky. It's like the emperor's new clothes- as soon as I'm flashy I'm suddenly naked and nervously out there looking for a way to get some cover.

As soon as I think I've gotten all ho-hum about being sober another thing happens that shows me exactly how important my sobriety is to me- how without it nothing else is. I still re-read the beginning of the instructions: One: Get Sober, Two: Be Sober, Three: Stay Sober. Now I need to figure out Four: Share Sober and Five: Sober Support. All without being an asshole.

Support has many forms, but I have to be willing to share without being overwhelming. Without being selfish. Understanding when enough is enough so no one's boxes get too soapy. Being able to be supportive and knowing how to keep myself safe- these are things I've never had to do since it's just always been me far flung without aid or protection. I've never valued myself enough to think I even needed protection until now. But how do I balance support without being self serving? How do I, when someone is struggling, help them understand that I'm not that mean lying ego-y voice in their head that tells them over and over "You're wrong, you suck, you're wrong, you suck" but the one that is really telling the truth? How, when you're holding out a light, can it look like a way into the dark?

7. Out of My Mind

There's been a theme running through my life for the past few fews- trust the body. When I go to yoga my instructor tells me to "hang my bones". I had a one-on-one much needed therapy session and my therapist told me the same thing: "trust your body".

Trust is an evolving thing for me. I want it, I need it, but in a strange twist I don't trust it. Oh.

That comes from way way back when I was little and was hushed and shushed and teased and made fun of. Endlessly. I still am often amazed at who and what people think are "cool" and how I sometimes don't feel like I fit in anywhere. I'm amazed because I feel like I mostly don't really care about being "cool" anymore- but it's still hard at 43 to feel like I haven't quite found my place.

It's hard to find my place when I don't trust my instincts. When I doubt the voices in me that I know are true but that damn lack of trust throws up roadblocks all the time.

I imagine that most of my trouble comes from my mind. That big crazy awesome place where who I am is. I think about how my body does its' work without any help from me- my heart beats, I don't forget to breathe, I coordinate all these parts to be able to type this without having to consult instructions. Then I think about all the work I out myself through in my own head- studying why things happen, questioning myself, reviewing things over and over until I want to throw my brain out with the bathwater. I am living sober, but I still have a drinking mind.

I am working hard on that.

The universe is working hard to put me in places where there are lessons. Tough ones. I'm making a new way of thinking that isn't really new as much is it is me.

I took some time this morning to remember where I came from. How far I am. How, because I trusted that instinct that said "QUIT DRINKING" I am here, now, figuring out all this other stuff that was making me need to drink in the first place.

8. Get Some

Speaking my truth is one of the hardest-easy things I do. Easy because I believe in sobriety with every bit of my self, hardest because I'm one of those people who really wants to be liked and even though I know better I still say things to make others feel better rather than the things I really need to say. That makes me feel a little like I'm wearing the wrong color lipstick and there's some on my teeth- weird and awkward. I don't even wear lipstick. Perhaps I should just keep my mouth shut. I'm learning when to do that too.

Feeling safe in the world means that I can speak my truth and not fear any repercussions. Because when you tell the truth it doesn't involve judgement, or malice. It means "Here you are in my life, and these are things that are true for me. Maybe they are true for you too?"

When you are fighting for sobriety- however you may need it- freedom from the any thing you can never ever do enough no matter what- the first step is to check ego at the door.  I had to understand that I didn't have the answers, I just had all the excuses why I didn't have a more than just liveable life. But this, but that, but later, but tomorrow, but but but. I think most of the reason I drank and drank and continued to drink even though I knew it was the very worst thing I could do to myself was because I handed the keys over to my ego and said, "I'm tired. You should drive. Maybe forever." And then I reclined my seat and closed my eyes. But but but.

After you've turned over the keys it's hard to hear anything over the blaring blaming ego-radio. You take suggestion as insult and when people say things that are meant to be helpful you think they're pushing you around. You think this because you don't really want to give up your big comfy comfort and when someone says you have to your ego yells "Well FUCK YOU" and so you do too.

The reason I know this is because I yelled FUCK YOU at myself for twenty some years and so I know just what it sounds like. And it usually didn't sound like FUCK YOU, but more like IT'S OK TO DRINK SO MUCH. NO ONE UNDERSTANDS ME. PLUS I AM SO HURT. I know exactly what it looks like in the dark. I know that the light can be there all end-of-the-tunnel-like and then there's that hopeful feeling like you can make it and then the tunnel end rushes away from you when it seems like you're getting closer to the light and so you just can't go on.

It's just too hard.

This is when you must go on.

You can.

And then you are sober, or you are not. This is overwhelming at the beginning of sobriety, I know it. But that's just the way the sober thing works. It isn't a give-a-try hobby, it's your life. You have to be all in. I was the best alcoholic I could be: I dedicated my life to the surety of my own suffering. So therefore I am equally as passionate about my sobriety. It only seems fair.

But when you aren't there yet, you aren't there yet. When you are sober like I am sober all you want is for everyone else to be able to be sober too. To be free to live and not merely exist from one excuse to the other. I know I am a miracle. I know that I fought hard to be one. That even though it seems like I just woke up one day and found my sober it was really a lifetime in the making.

It's unfortunate that you can't really cut sobriety and recovery in half to share. It isn't like a PB & J, where if you seem hungry I can just tear mine in half and then you get some too. You have to get your own. You have to. I'm not sure about the rule books since they are different for everyone and so there aren't really any rule rules except you have to be "sober" and I can share mine but it won't make you full.

I've been sober for long enough to have learned what it means to me. I've been in recovery long enough to know that it lasts forever- there are no breaks or vacations for time served or good behavior. Like children, sobriety and recovery are relentless miracles. There's more more more than enough sobriety for everyone to have some. But you have to help yourself.

9. It's All About Me It's Not All About Me

You know how, when things happen, it's all about you? And then, all at once, it's not?

I'm learning about my bubble. I'm imagining it- making it. My bubble is the place I go when I need to feel safe. It's where I can gather my anxious self together and take a breath. It's where, when I don't understand or I want to sort out something that's none of my business, I go to shut up. It's where I can say to myself in my own little force-field of OK-ness that everything is fine. That I am fine. It's where I go to know words like "enough" and "peace".

I went on a trip with my family this weekend. Everyone was who they are. And I was me. But, I was me. See?

Instead of taking on other people's stuff I minded my own business. I thought about if I was thirsty, or had to pee. I thought about what things to worry over, and what things had nothing to do with me. I was me me, not me who helps everyone feel happier. I wasn't me who tries so desperately to keep the even keel when things go wonky. I let the wonk wonk, I let people have their own moods. I stopped and soaked in the joy and terror while my boys rode big rides at an amusement park. I let them be: ride this ride, go here, go there. I didn't have a plan, or that awful thing parents do where we set our expectations so high for something we are just flat out disappointed all damn day since children get tired and want to do things just one more time and maybe really want a huge stuffed animal that you don't want to carry around the park for five hours.

I minded my own business. It seems like it's hard enough for me to keep my own life flowing along without adding other people's flow to the mix. I minded my own business when my dad seemed grumpy. When my nephew cried before every ride. I said "Sure!" when my husband wanted to go ride a huge roller coaster I did not want to ride. "Sure!" to him, and "Sure!" to myself who didn't want to go ride it. And we didn't debate, or struggle over it- he just took off on his own and rode it. He met us, beaming, thirty minutes later. And I didn't have a heart attack because I'd already ridden enough roller coasters and one more would have really been too many.

I have to say what I mean. When I find my space in my bubble I can gather the courage to do it.

10. After the 'But'...

"I feel bad, but....."

Do you ever say that? And then not really feel bad, maybe just a little uncomfortable? Like this: "I feel bad, I want to volunteer for that committee, but....." and then the truth is what you say after the 'but'. And that's the part making you squirm. Oprah or Dr. Phil told me that once, so I know it's true.

Or it's like this: "I feel bad, I really want to quit drinking, but....." and then there's the truth again.

My sentence of that was pretty simple for a long, long time: "I feel bad, I really want to quit drinking, but..... I really don't want to quit drinking." And that was the truth. I mean, I wanted to, but I didn't want to want to. See? The truth after the 'but'.

The truth is not always pretty. "I feel bad, I want to quit drinking but it's too hard." "I want to quit drinking but I like it too much." "I want to quit drinking but I don't really think I have a problem." Or, like someone said to me the other day, "I don't want to quit drinking. I might be a stumbling mess, but that's who I am." Oh. Well.....dang.

The truth can also be an excuse. "I want to create a successful at home business, but I'm afraid I can't do it." "I want to run a 5K, but I don't have time to train." Can the truth be a cop out? Or a clue into what you need to adjust so you can do the thing at the beginning of the sentence that seems like the thing that you really want to do. Which then makes that part of the sentence the truth, and the after the 'but' the lie?

I suppose before and after the 'but' are all important. These 'but' sentences have power.

11. Fault Line

Knowing who or what to blame for all this life is an interesting proposal. I'm not a big fan of finger pointing, I am a fan of accountability. Which means I should just go look in the mirror.

How long do you look for something to blame before you just put past as past and move along with it?

Current Me:

I'm not sure why I didn't post these. Oh, well, yes I am. They were either not quite right, or too close to that moment, or going to get worked on or it was Tuesday or some other something. I'm having trouble collecting my thoughts and so putting out the loose strings frees up some space for some more strings.

A friend sent me a quote that I can't get out of my head. It's from The Zen of Recovery.

"You must believe in your true self 100%, especially when the world is telling you otherwise, trying to knock you down the long stairway of recovery.  Listen:  Don’t take any shit off anyone if you believe in yourself and your direction 100%.  No one else has to live your life and die your lonely death.  No one else has to make your amends and pay your karmic debts.  No one else has the right to judge you and take your inventory if your personal evolution is well-motivated and clear.  Everyone works his or her program his or her own way, and everybody practices Zen or any spiritual path according to his or her own needs and vision."

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


There must be something in the spring that makes me go a little off. At this time last year I entered a funk that lasted all summer- it didn't abate until early fall. And here I am again.

I've taken the whole week off from work because I lost my voice on Sunday. I'm still hoarse today. I went to the doctor yesterday, she breezed in, announced what I had was a viral infection, there was no magic pill, I needed to rest and drink lots of fluids and could go back to work in a few days. Gee, thanks.

I suppose I need to back up a little and tell you that I've been having trouble with double vision since around Thanksgiving last year. My regular eye doctor sort of blew it off and so I did too. Then it started getting worse, and so I went to a different non-blow-it-off eye doctor who sent me to a double vision specialist who sent me for a myasthenia gravis blood test. That I managed not to freak out about until the night before I got the results: negative.

Oh yay! Negative! Oh....no. Negative. So now what? A neurologist. Deeper tests. The double vision plus other symptoms mean something is going on, but none of us know what. So we're pulling back on my eyeglass prescription. I'm going to see a hollistic health specialist since I'm one of those folk that believe in treating the source not medicating the symptoms. I have another appointment with my double vision specialist at the beginning of July.

At yesterday's appointment I learned that I gained ten mother fother pounds since last year. Wahhhhhhhh.

I wasn't really going to say anything about all this until I read this post from my dear friend Sherry and knew that I had been hiding myself away too. Yesterday I read this post from another blog friend, Chenoa, and really felt the fear I've been feeling: me, rolling stone, innocently gathering moss. Insulating and isolating from keeping my soul full.

Shit y'all. I'm scared. Scared I'm having something big that I can handle because I'm sober, but so resentful too because goddammit! I am sober! Can't that be enough? Can't it be enough that I suffered for all those years? Can't I just be healthy and happy for one time, ever?

OK, I know. I am healthier and happier than I have ever been! I am, really. All the dealing with life is still something I am not quite used to. It's hard! So hard. Work, and kiddos, and this and that. Sometimes that is more than I can handle without words like "neurologist" and "autoimmune neuromuscular disease" thrown in.

The funny thing about all this is I know what to do. I know how to feel better. I need to eat right which means four pieces of pizza are too many. I need to exercise every day which means go for a walk. Stretch some. I need to read things that comfort me rather than the book I'm reading now (The Goldfinch) that is totally stressing me out. I need to do the things I should do and not the things I want to do- and I know the difference.

The difference is: the things I should do make me feel capable and safe. The things I want to do make me feel fat and wobbly-brained. Fuck. The shoulds are good seems easy enough to remember. So why can't I do them?

The things I "want" to do put me back into my booze cocoon sans booze. It all started with a bad situation in my recovery group and is now snowballing because I'm dealing with things in my old way (i.e. NOT dealing) rather than keeping myself at the level to which I've become accustomed. I got a big shove backwards and it's not easy to regain momentum even though I know overthinking myself into paralysis is not the solution.

I know that I need to not sneak out of the pool and slink away. I need to climb up on the diving board and holler "CANNONBALL!!!" and jump back in. And so when my brain says "coooookies" I'll just yell "CANNONBALL!!!" and when I want to hide under the covers I'll get up on the diving board instead. Because that's all I can do. Because I know my old way doesn't work.

Because really, the water is fine. I am fine. I'm OK. I am capable and able and I can swim. Even though life is hell-ish it isn't hell. It's only hell-ish. And I have to remember that's a big step up from what it used to be.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Reading Books About Drunk People

I just finished Drunk Mom. I read it since one of my very favorite blog friends, Thirsty Still, read it.

The book reminded me of how excited I would be on the way to the wine store: the giddy relief of giving myself the go-ahead, that I was going to drink. It brought back the sense of acceptance- that I never really had a choice in the matter anyway- that once I considered it I was going to drink. I could feel how it felt to pour that first giant glass of sauvignon blanc, adding ice because it was warm. How wonderful it felt to sneak out the sliding glass door. How I stood on that grey paver at the bottom of the stairs and lit a cigarette. I finished my first glass and the smoke at the same time. The bones deep relief of that. The feeling that I was getting away with something. That I was an adult- finished with a day of work and relaxing with wine and a smoke. The feeling that no one, not even me, could stop me.

It brought back the awfulness of my youngest's first year- me suffering from postpartum and boozing and breastfeeding and training for a marathon and picking up smoking again. I would sometimes go out with work friends and not come home- blacked out and coming to in a guilty rush on someone's couch. Slinking home at seven in the morning. I feel sick just thinking about it- anxious, nervous. God, it really sucked.

It's so wonderful to remind myself that I am here- almost a year and a half sober. THANK YOU.


I was disappointed that the book was almost all stories about being falling down drunk out making stupid decision after stupid decision. Why are the parts about being in successful recovery so small in most of these books when it's the recovery part that is so damn interesting? I would much rather read about how she dealt with beginning sobriety, what it was like a year in, how she changed as a person and as a mother while she maintained her sobriety.

The recovery part is the one that deserves all the chapters, not all the black out wasted stories that we can all tell in some way or another. I woke up not remembering going to bed more times than I want to mention: How did I get here? What did I say? Do you really need to read more stories about how I screwed up again because I had ten gin and tonics? Or would you like to know about how I dealt with it when things went wonky in my recovery group instead?

I feel like I've read it all the flotsam and jetsam before. I know the shame of it, but I haven't read anything about the recovery of it. The good part. The part that would inspire people to, you know, not be drunks anymore. The part where I sit in the den discussing my recovery stuff with my mom and my husband like we're talking about just regular old stuff. The part about how I had an awful day at work and then ran over a block and blew up the A/C in the car and then the kids were cranky and there was nothing for dinner and I still didn't drink. The parts we write about in our blogs- that should be in books out there for everyone to see. That's why I love Anne Lamott- she alludes to how bad it was, but then focuses on how good it is.

When I read books like Drunk Mom I feel comforted in a way- "I was kind of like that" I say to myself "but not that bad". Does it make people choose to not quit because they think that just being home having a bunch of wine isn't as bad as all that? What if you're just a boring old housewife getting drunk three or four times a week and not almost freezing to death? I didn't drink during the day. I was just starting to feel like I had to hide the amount I was drinking, but not that I was drinking. It makes me feel sort of under-qualified. Did I really need to stop? (Yes) I didn't do all that crazy shit. (Yet)

I think that bad enough to quit is when you know it, it isn't like a race: "And in first there's the woman who wrecked the car and lost custody of her children and now she's in jail. In second the lady who has vodka in her coffee. In third the woman who screams at her children and is drunk by bedtime! Oooop! Here comes the woman who has two or three glasses of wine a few times a week and it just makes her life suck some!" Justified sobriety is the pits. It doesn't make you the winner to have had more fucked up things happen to you, it just means you probably should have stopped sooner.

The only question needs to be "Does your addiction hurt your life?" and if the answer is "Yes" then it's bad enough. The inner suffering on it's own is plenty "that bad".

We all win when we choose to cross the finish line and stop drinking. We all get first place, and medals, and trophies, and parades. Anyone can qualify, everyone can win. Reading these kinds of books are good reminders, but they don't need to be the only reminders we read.