Monday, September 15, 2014

Ten Random Things to Write About Because I Had No Other Ideas

1. I am doing fine. Fine. As in, you know- OK. I haven't had any big moments of oh! lately. Just regular stuff like: coffee makes me grumpy, the laundry is never ending, if I stay here in this moment instead of somewhere else (like tomorrow) I feels loads better.

2. I went out on a limb and started taking an upholstery class. It meant I had to go sign up and then ask for days off to be able to take the class. It meant I had to ask for time from my family and my work. This took some bravery. I am no bueno at asking for stuff that's just for me. But I'm a little better at it now. Practice.

3. I am running again. This brings great delight and joy to my heart!!!! I am running almost a mile with no pain the next day. Yesterday we saw a friend on the trail doing a 24 mile training run and I can remember when that was me. And now a mile is a triumph. Never underestimate the power of small stuff or short runs.

4. The clock works of our lives are shifting some- different plans in motion. Braver, bigger plans in motion. Because when I got sober my expectations got much higher. I'm not at the sky's the limit yet, but I'm way above the rock I was under.

5. My health is still my biggest worry. (I've been having double vision, headaches, and fatigue) I don't see the neurologist until December which is good because they didn't need to see me straight away and not good because what the fuck is going on???? I think I have a brain tumor at least four times a day. This is one of those things that is good letting go practice since as much as I want to control what's going on with me I just really cannot. And so I just keep remembering to let go, put my hands up and fly on down the big hill. On a scale of one to ten I am three to five scared. I get all sentimental and treasure my lovely sobriety life like a precious gem while I feel like it's totally fucking unfair that I'm going to die with only a few years of sobriety. And then I remember that nothing is wrong yet so I may as well just keep on waking up in the morning. I have a flair for drama. This means until I hear different I AM TOTALLY FINE.

6. I have poison ivy again. I am terribly allergic and love to play in the woods. Which makes it a total surprise that this is the second time I've had it this summer and it's actually really pretty much fall.

7. Another thing I'm really thinking on is being the me I'm actually meant to be: not the world's version, or my parents one, or this one, or that one- my one. I remind myself when I get dressed every day to wear what I feel like- even if maybe 73% of people might think I'm a total dork. I remind myself to not worry about what so and so does with their kids, or what things I'm "supposed" to be doing. I stay not busy because that's the way I like it. So even though most people around me are dashing to and fro and crowing about how busy they are I just make little bits of plans and cancel them if I feel stretched thin. Because that what works for me. The other day I was talking with a new friend and she said "I'm introverted extrovertish" and I was like "Yes! You are my people!"  This could also translate into liking myself for who I am.

8. I am working on getting my sense of humor back. Do you every look around and wonder "Who the hell made this so serious?" I had a little come to jesus with myself this morning on the way to work about lightening up and laughing more. I have gotten into a pattern of getting something in my craw and keeping it there. My naturopath taught me this thing called tapping that helps me ease through my nagging problems. Big and small. But it only helps if I use it. So I did, and lo and behold! It helped!

9. Things are good. Remarkably regular. Comfortingly similar. I like it. I still like waking up in the morning and knowing what I did last night. It hasn't gotten old yet. It still feels like a pretty little present when I wake up unhungover and with it. I am still getting used to not wanting to sleep for all of my free time. This is very cool. Very.

10. Being sober is the greatest. Ever, ever ever.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Mountains to Climb

My youngest started kindergarten today. It kind seems like an end to a ten year cycle: baby, little, bigger, another baby, little, big kid, little kid- both in school. Whoa. I just ate lunch alone. And in a way I wanted to be sad about it, and then in a way I felt grown up. Able to chew. Able to be quiet. Take my time. Read at the table. (Shhhh. Don't tell.)

This means I have free time.

To like, blog and stuff. :)

And stuff! I swear, whenever I put stuff out into the universe and say "OK, universe. I'm ready for this. Really ready. Suggest some things." the universe goes, "Well, right on! Here you go!"

Over and over again it amazes me that one of my biggest side effects of being sober is being brave! So when the universe says "Here's this?" I can say things like "Oh, that's possible" and "Wow, I never thought of that before- but I could totally do that". Not what I used to say which was "I don't have time for that" or "I can't". It also means I can change my mind about things if I want to and not have to feel scared or guilty about it. It means I can choose, and then re-choose if I want. For you that might be easy, but for me that takes some serious guts- all of it.

I was looking at a picture of some mountains and it occurred to me: there are always mountains to climb. Always. And that's OK. That I love mountains. I love that they rise and fall and come in ranges so that once you get to the top there's a whole 'nother side to hike down, and then another one to walk up. That they all have a view from the top. And not just one view, but so many views you can't even count them all, and to see a new one you just have to change your perspective or turn things around.

I have finally also come to the understanding that even though my most wished wish came true (I'm sober) my life can still be hard as shit sometimes, and it can also be unbelievably amazing. That both of these things can be big and small. That I'm good at hiking. That I can handle the hills. Even when they are mountains. That I can let myself enjoy the view from the top.

I was talking with my naturopath today. We are winding up a fourteen week session of visits and although my progress has been slowish there has been progress- a lot of it. I said to her today "The person sitting here today and the person I was at this time two years ago are totally different. And even when things are hard I am still so grateful for the person I am today." I don't waste my time wishing away the woman that I am- I strive to become more her. And by strive I mean live.

When I was drinking you can bet that there was never a day I loved myself more because I had gotten drunk again. But these days? These days. These days I am brave and possible. These days I am a hiker. These days I see mountains and I hope they are in ranges because it is all so interesting and pretty and hard and lovely. These days I'm getting a lot better at doing and doing a lot less wishing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


It feels like I become more of my self more of the time. Self-Ish.

When I got sober I was definitely no one resembling anyone I was supposed to be or had been. I was this mess contained in my very own skin, that I mostly spent time trying to jump out of. In my head I think a lot  "too much me", "I have had enough of me", "please let me be less me and more be".

I had another one of those brain lightning zip pop wow moments. Because of course, when I am overwhelmed with all this thinking I need a huge helping of brain salad to toss around.

It's about care.

When I was a little girl I felt very uncared for: like, "Hey, huh. There's Amy. And also a wall." When I was in fourth grade we moved. After that my parents fell apart for years together. And I existed. The boys in the neighborhood would beat me up or later finger fuck me in the treehouses we built- but no one really seemed to care except me. The boys didn't care that they pulled my hair until I couldn't breathe, and no one noticed me sneaking off into the woods with the older boy who would do things to me that made me shrink into a shell of a girl too full with shame. My mom was more worried about "One Life to Live" than she was about how my life was falling apart. My dad was at work. Unless he was yelling at me to clean the bathroom.

It sucked. It helps me understand why booze was such a relief. It helps me understand how, when I try to care for myself, it feels arduous and awkward. Because when you are ten and everyone is too busy to notice you slowly dying inside you get used to being alone. Uncherished. I got used to saving the worst for myself, to being the worst to myself. People could hurt me, but I could hurt myself worse. So there, I would think: See? I win. You can't get me. I have already been gotten.

I discovered that I am still waiting for someone to come along and take care of me. That in my head there is a mythical time when some magical someone is going to come along and know how to soothe my fears and ease my pain. Who will say things like Oh, it's alright. You can feel sad and out of place and not eat all that ice cream. Or Everyone gets tired, the world is a heavy thing to carry alone. Rest your self. And Wow, you are really not so perfect. That's just fine. That I have waited long enough. That it's time for the caring to just show the fuck up now, OK?

As you can probably imagine I pride myself on the care I give others. I possibly over care about people like my children, but also that lady in line who wasn't very nice to me. There's like all this caring, but none of it gets to me from me.

It's similar to someone giving you a compliment (I like your dress!) and you explaining it away (Oh, I got it on sale super cheap!). So I feel overwhelmed and emotional (PMS is a bitch) and I know what I need (yoga and a hot tea) but instead I spend so much time talking myself out of caring for myself (but the kids need some attention and oh the laundry) that I end up in the emotional bargain basement once again.

I didn't know that while I was waiting for someone else that I might instead choose to show up myself. That I am someone else. That there is no magical someone who swoops in and takes care of it all- that magical someone is me. If I want these things to happen I have to make it so. I am exhausting myself giving all this care to everyone outside of me and giving none of what I need back. It's sort of like standing in front of a speeding train and expecting someone to appear out of nowhere to push you out of harms way.

Gah. This sobriety stuff takes bravery. It takes such courage and grit to not be life lazy. It is so hard to do for myself what has not been done. It's so hard to get so uncomfortable to get to a better place. It's so hard to not just say fuck it, I'm sober! That's all I can do! Isn't that what I deserve? Isn't being sober the biggest best gift I could have ever gotten? I'm sober! Wanting more is selfish! Greedy greedy greedy. And plus what more do you people want from me???

What more do I want from me? I feel like I have a sweet little secret when I ask myself that question. Because, in secret, from my own self, is this: I want everything from me. I have possibilities. I have chances. I have whatever I dream could be as long as I am brave and faithful to my self. Being sober is wonderful, but it is not what makes up all of me, it's what makes me know that there is so much more to come.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Florida Beach Rehab Post

I wrote a post for a site called Florida Beach Rehab. It was so cool and hard to write something for someone else. It took me back to my drinking days and my early recovery days. The most fun was reading all the emails Belle and I sent back and forth for my research! I was really happy to have her to write to- and I could really tell that from reading them.

Here it is: Florida Beach Rehab Post

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Willpower is a Big Fat Lie

This is a post I wrote and then decided not to post. But then I really like what it means to me, and I also feel like if you take it in a gentler sort of way rather than the serious way it comes off you'll understand where I was coming from. I think. 

Willpower is bullshit.

Bull. Shit.

I didn't will myself sober. I made myself sober. Willpower to me seems like deep in the sea wishing for air wearing a suit of armor and concrete sandals. Out of all the words there are in the world willpower is one of my very least favorite ones. It implies that you probably don't have any of it and you are weak and unable to even get out of bed in the morning much less change your whole life. It makes it seem like you could just drop by the store and pick some up: eggs, butter, apples, paper towels, willpower....


The other trouble with willpower is this: there are two sides of it. There's the will to not drink. Then there's the will to drink. Then it's a mind wrestling match and without practice we all take the easy way out. No, yes! No. Yes. NO! Yes! NO NO No no yes yes oh, fuck it. Yes.

Thanks a lot, Will Power. You officially suck.

I had to change my mind- change my thinking to quit drinking. I feel like I thought that there was a person I was yet to be, and that person was the one who could quit drinking. Just as soon as I got some willpower then I could start being that new person who could resist the lure of the wine store. Somehow I could force myself to be someone I wasn't. As soon as different than me me showed up I would be OK.

I am realizing now that the person that I am today has always been here. This woman has always been me, I just haven't always been this woman. The things that I say that I want in my head (peace of mind, sobriety, patience, contentment, well being, an open heart) are here right this second. They always have been. I only have to pause and look for them, find them. When I tell myself that I can't deal, or that I deserve things that cause me harm (like booze or too many cookies) I can change my mind. 

I can change my mind.

I used to tell myself not to drink on New Year's Eve because I believed the way I started the new year was the way I would finish it. All day I would sweat and sigh and swear I wouldn't drink. By midnight I would be wasted and give up- another year ruined. Unturnaroundable. I would make the same decision on my birthday: don't drink and I would be safe. I could be sober because it was a new year and I hadn't ruined it. Until I was drunk and wrecked my grand plans again. The first of the month worked for this too: if I could just manage to pile up some days then I would have the willpower to never ever drink again. Day one was a nice neat beginning until I had too much wine on the second.

But really all these beginnings never worked because I had already made up my mind: I was a wishing quit drinker. Plain and simple. A drinker with no "willpower". There was no possibility of revolution- the year had already started. I had already been drunk on my birthday. It was already the third of the month. I was always choiceless. I was always one hand on the glass and one hand into tomorrow- magical tomorrow when I could make that fresh start....tomorrow.

Willpower? Willpower was marathon training with an eight month old and a four year old picking up smoking again and drinking hard. Hard. I made myself do it because I couldn't not do it. I couldn't change my mind. I couldn't give the children back. I couldn't undo the promise to run a marathon. I couldn't stop drinking and I wanted to smoke. I wanted to make it as hard as I could on myself so I could try to change my mind but I didn't change it. I didn't think I had the right. I didn't think I had a choice. My willpower wasn't the right stuff. It was the total wrong stuff. Countless times. Years of times.

I didn't quit drinking because of willpower. I quit drinking because I changed my mind. I decided that drinking was not who I was, and that I was going to do everything I could to make sure I didn't drink. That did not include a lot of hoping and wishing: it included a decision. A decision that I was not a drinker. I didn't hope I wouldn't drink: I declared it. I made it a damn law. Rule number one: no drinking. Ever.

I had to see myself not as someone wishing for the willpower to quit drinking but as someone who could make a decision. I didn't need a word that was so....needy. I needed words like courage. Backbone. Ones like concentrate and pause. Handfuls of words like surrender, peace, and able. Words like safe. And loved. Tough words like surrender and powerless. Big big words like forever. As soon as I decided quitting was something I was doing rather than something I wished I could do I was there: there at the place where I quit.

Thank you, Sherry

There are times that make me want to pinch myself to see if it's really real- really real that I'm sober, that I write a blog, that people read it and feel the same way I do. That people read it and feel like I have had a good thing to say, or that it made them feel better. There are other blogs that do that for me, too. Oh for the love is one of them.

In my time here in soberspace I have met only one other sober blogger in person. That person is Sherry. I liked her blog from the get go, at first mostly because at the end she says Namaste and that's one of my all time favorite words. Then I got to know her and realized that we are so similar- that we both come from the places of fear and broken hearts but we are still honoring our light. And then we spent a day together and I got to see her strength and grace in person. She is a truthful, kind, open hearted woman. I am honored that she called me someone who inspires her and makes her happy. Takes one to know one, sister.

What am I working on now?

I'm working on my physical health- getting things sorted out from years of abusing my body with booze, cigarettes, and general mean-ness to self. I have taken a break from the mental therapy and am trying to feel the best I can physically. It has helped me so much to be able to fix some concrete things and not just be searching for answers about why I needed to drink for twenty five years to be able to deal with life. Feeling healthy makes me feel safe. I'm working on slowing down, taking deep breaths, and pausing. I'm also working out how I can have both Tara Brach and Anne Lamott as my neighbors.

I'm always thinking about the big beautiful book I'm working on. And by book I mean the one I haven't "officially" started or even really planned but I think I'll know when it's time.

How does my work differ from others in this genre?

I think we are all so particularly lovely in our differences. I spent most of my life trying to fit in with the ideas of others, so my blog gives me the license I need to be the person I am whether I fit in or not. That being said I think we are all so comfortingly similar that fitting in here feels good. I try to keep my focus on sobriety: how it affects my life, and the changes that happen because of it.

Why do I write/create what I do?

I feel such a tenderness for this blog- it has saved me and saved me over and over again. Some of my very biggest moments have come when I was sitting at my desk typing away trying to work out how to say what I'm trying to say in a way that feels right. It's my place: mine. The only person it has to please is me, or no one. That other people like it is one of my biggest reasons I feel grateful to write it. I need to be able to put the things that run around in my head on a track so they can finish. Otherwise I just have all these loose ends continuously bouncing off the sides of my brain. I do it because I can't not do it. I often fantasize about the places this could go if I just had more time, or money, or gumption. But you know, this has worked really well so far, so I'm gonna just keep going.

How does my writing/creative process work?

Something pops into my head, or I have a persistent thought. Or a book I'm reading grabs me in a way I want to share. The things I write about are things that make my sobriety easier, that make my life feel easier. I usually write and post in one sitting- very rarely do I work on something more than the hour or so it takes me to write it. I used to get up at the crack of dawn to write when I first got sober, but now I just write it in when I feel it. Like now- one o'clock in the afternoon, music playing, kids content. So far I've only gotten up three times to look at what they've made, look at what else they made, and remind them to be kind to each other. Which means I probably have about four more minutes left.

Now for three blogs that I encourage you to read if you haven't. And y'all can do this fun process and call out some more folks if you want to.

Thirsty Still is honest, encouraging, and a pleasure to read. I love how she writes about regular things and makes them seem so special. It's like she has a day and then brings you along with her and explains perfectly how being sober makes it work. I feel like she understands where I'm coming from when I read about her own struggles and joys. Plus the added bonuses of delicious recipes and poems. I'm hooked!

One Too Many. Lilly is one of the bravest women you'll read. She puts it all out there and keeps right on going. She tells of her struggles in a thoughtful genuine way. I can relate to all of it.

Tired of Thinking about Drinking is a great place to begin. I would be totally surprised if you haven't visited Belle's site, but if you haven't then you could go join her 100 day challenge. She posts all kinds of helpful hints, and audio, and gives kudos every time to folks who are pushing their way through the days. Belle was my daily pen pal for months when I first got sober. She is dedicated and insightful.

Renegade Mothering. Dude. If you haven't read this blog you should. Janelle is hilarious, smart, and totally human. Her blog is more about parenting than sobriety, but sometimes it can't all be about being in recovery. So, she is pretty popular, and I don't know if you can name people who have thousands of followers, but I'm naming her.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Daily Struggle

There is progress.

Here is what happens when you force yourself to get up and try not to be heartbroken every day: you heal. You eventually get to not feel heartbroken, or even heart impaired. I sometimes forget how hard I work every day to get to where I automatically feel like my self. Where I don't question it, I know it. That place where I forget where I am for a few minutes because I'm lost in what I'm doing. That place where I am not constantly every second steadily berating myself for the simple crime of being. Oh, the being.

I get an email or two a week (not hundreds like someone suggested which made me feel so good and gave me a good laugh) from people who are just starting out. They reach out and say help me. They say I am like you. I want to be sober.

Sometimes I think we give the surface issue all the attention and forget what we're really running from. I gave myself permission to drink too much, and then blamed the drinking for my sad sack life. And so I drank too much. I feel like if I had said "I hate myself" rather than "I hate my drinking" I would have been being more truthful. Drinking was the symptom of a much bigger problem. It's like having a headache while you bang yourself in the head with a hammer. You have to stop hitting yourself and treat the headache. It doesn't really work unless you do both.

The daily struggle began for me when I was five. I can remember feeling forgotten. I can remember trying to be noticed, trying to feel important. I can never clearly remember feeling like I was the person someone was delighted to see. I was an afterthought. For everyone- my parents, my friends. I was an outline of a girl and I was on the sidelines.This may not have been the intention of anyone, but it is a consistent truth in my life. Because of this I cradle my children close every single day and look them in the eyes so they know that they are the lights of my life. I tell them: you are a joy to me. I tell them: you make me happy. That without them my world would be less than. That they are tall as to space important in this world. I tell myself these things too. There is nothing like the comfort of being loved just because you are just you.

One December day in 2012 I decided I was finished. And it turns out that that day I actually was. Looking back the quitting drinking was the easy part- for me. The hard part has been facing myself, dealing with the years of guilt, shame, anger, and pain. Not wanting to face myself was why I drank in the first place. Do you see what I mean?

I've been trying to think of what the secret is for me. Like, what was the magical thing that changed my mind? What made it NOT ok for me to guzzle another couple bottles of white wine that night? How did I decide that was it? And what made it stick then when I was writing in journals about "I had too much to drink again. I know I need to stop" for all my life? I made morning promises several times a week, and broke them on the same night. It used to only take me a few hours to change my mind about being sober, how did I make it this far?

It was this: I wanted to love myself more than I wanted to kill myself. My heart and soul were tired of the daily struggle to drown myself. It was this: I listened when the me part of me said "I love you. It's going to be OK." It was this: I believed I could do it. And I didn't look for reasons to drink again. I look for every reason to stay sober, and never reasons to drink.

I drank because I thought it made me better. And not better as in better than but better as in healed. It blocked the hurt I could not muster the courage to face because it hurt. And so I would get drunk. And then sometimes black out drunk. At the end it was black outs all around.

But I have been facing things. Facing things that are true. Facing things that aren't. Learning what the truth is (I'm OK) and what the truth isn't (I'm not OK). My daily struggles are ones that see progression. Like learning a language or an instrument I am finding myself more in tune. Instead of the same daily struggle (to drink or not to drink) I am having lessons in life. Which actually sounds sort of lovely but can really suck except for when it is really lovely.

For the first time in as long as I can tell I feel peace of mind. Actual peace. In my mind. I feel like it's because I started stopping all the mind stuff and addressed some physical issues. That I am getting into my body and out of my fucking mind. For me it isn't all about what I'm thinking, but what I'm feeling in my body. You know, paying attention to real feelings rather than ones my mind has manufactured for me. It helps so much to see how I'm physically feeling. It's easier to not dismiss the concrete evidence.

The daily struggle is still here: it will stay forever. It's how I handle it that's different. I can handle my self.

There is progress. I can see it. I can feel it. I can trust it. And I am thankful.