Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Hey y'all! Something I've been kicking around for a while is a virtual read along. I love to read and I always appreciate it when a blog I read posts about books they're reading...and then I thought it would be cool to post it before I read it, in case you wanted to read it at the same time. I'll start a discussion by writing a post about it, people can join in, and we can have some "me too's" and maybe some "whoa really's?".
I started with this because sex and intimacy is my biggest thing I am working through. It has taken me years to get to a point where I can actually almost talk about it and almost not feel like I should probably find the nearest rock and crawl under it. In other words that tiny little s-e-x word is HUGE for me- I have a ton of stuff around it: my body, my freedom, my violations- but what I don't have is a clear intelligence about my own self as a sexual being, how sobriety has changed my sex life, and what all that even means. In talking with others I've learned that I am definitely not on my own when it comes to this subject.
So let's read THIS BOOK and then talk about..(moving rock)...sex.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
I've been stretching thin, starting big new things, internalizing all the stress from thinking I might die from skin cancer, juggling all the things that are supposed to slow down after the holidays but that really just keep going. My body has been so lovely, healing my stitched back beautifully, having the energy to balance my ever persistent roller coasters of anxiety, putting up with having coffee instead of rest when I'm tired. I've had a little patch of eczema in between and around my eyes since the fall, for four or five months, this tiny spot, controlled by a cream the urgent care doc prescribed for me when as an afterthought I had him check out my rash while we were there for my son's fourth bout of strep throat in as many months.
Those creams you can't use forever- so in addition to removing a piece of my back the dermatologist prescribed a different cream I refuse to use (holy warning on that sucker- please read your paperwork at the pharmacy before you pay $50 for something and then get it home and realize you wouldn't use it, which I didn't do and learned a $50 lesson) and so my eczema has been like a wild animal unleashed- moving around both eyes like a blotchy red lizard-y eye mask. I hate to admit how vain I am, but I am. We've been snowed in and I've spent the snow days peering at myself in the mirror half horrified half amused at what seems like a really bad joke.
I have to laugh kindly at myself when I start bargaining with the universe: Um, hello. I just had that skin cancer scariness so all this eczema all over my EYES so soon seems a little...unfair?
And then in typical universe fashion the universe sort of shrugs and says ...meh, what're you gonna do?
My body is always obvious, it just takes me a long time to listen. Even though I've been sober for four years that doesn't mean my body isn't still processing almost 25 years of drinking. It's interesting how me being able to say "I'm sober" seems to make me think that my sobriety absolves me of all bodily (mental or physical) debts incurred over my long career as a drinker. Like living while drunk was punishment enough, but now that that part's over, it's just over. It's kind of like when you start working out for like two weeks and then get a little pissed at your good intentions daily because your jeans feel a little tight and you still want to eat all the cookies.
Are you as good at hide and seek stress as I am? I can take on so much and still seem okay, it reminds me of a duck: gliding at the surface, paddling like mad underneath. I push it down and push it down until my body throws up the flag of surrender: I get sick, or I get a big rash all over my eyes, or I have a breakdown and pick fights with everyone in my family until I can finally admit that I'm freaking out some and then I work my way back to being fine, shedding good intentions as I go.
My good intentions can also be my downfall. I get myself into too much and then I have to get myself out of it, I get wrapped up in taking care of everyone else and forget the instruction that I am the first person to get the oxygen mask always. Then my sweet body shows up for me, making me more tired than usual and when I still don't listen my face blooms in a messy rash around my eyes making it impossible for me not to see where I am really.
I spent so many years making the wish to quit drinking, I wished and wished and drank and drank, wishing to be well. It wasn't until I got out my backbone, stopped wishing and made a life out of reality that I got sober and started to heal. This is always the truth: when I get with my backbone instead of my wishing I move myself to more healed. I find my remedies rather than my excuses- it's then that I am back to my backbone, facing reality.
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
My youngest has the sweetest crush on a girl in his class. She is his seat mate, they talk all the time: "Even more than me and you mom!" One day after school we waited for her mom to show up so we could ask her to come over to our house. I introduced myself and said to my son's friend, "Would you like to come over to our house one day to play?" She said, "No thank you, I'm fine," and my son pulled in his lips and made the please don't let me cry face and I kind of laughed politely and said, "Oh, okay, um see you later. Nice to meet you." We walked the long walk to the car and when we got in he tried to smile but cried instead. I tried to make it better by saying things like be patient and maybe today just wasn't a good day to ask but he kind of got himself together with a ragged sigh and proceeded to act like it didn't matter.
This has been my relationship with myself. I send out these fancy love letters to myself and then when it seems like time to become home friends and not just at school friends I clam up and refuse politely, and I also forget to feel how heartbroken I am and I breathe a lot and pretend like I'm just fine anyway, thanks. Mixed signals all over the place.
Is it embarrassing and a little self indulgent to admit that I love myself? Does that make me one of those people that persistently posts selfies and quotes about how they just keep going no matter what because even in the darkest day there might be a slice of light? When did it become wrong to love yourself? Does school beat it out of you? Your peers? Just life? Can it just be okay and acceptable and not make me arrogant or full of myself if I am okay with saying I'm okay?
I'm reading THIS BOOK and although I get tired of all the rah rah rah I love reading about giving myself permission to be cool with myself. Gratitude to HIP SOBRIETY for publishing her book list, I hadn't seen You are a Badass before and I really am almost to the liking the idea of thinking of myself as a badass cool lovely woman point. What have I got to lose? I mean I hated myself for years, so I'm giving love a chance. It's all part of the MERGE. :)
Sunday, January 1, 2017
The photo above is us, New Year's Eve, 2009. It was the first or second year my oldest stayed up until midnight, he toasted our flutes of champagne with his own of sparkling apple cider and felt so grown up while his little brother slept through it all. I had worked that night and had a bunch to drink before I rushed home to ring in the new year with my dears. I'm guessing that after the ball dropped we shuffled Jack quickly off to bed and we drank more, my husband was probably tired and ready to go to bed and me just getting started- "Just one more!" I would demand and he would acquiesce rather than risk setting me off and end up staying up even later to fight instead of drink.
I'm well on way to drunk when we took that picture. My eyes are always my dead giveaway, but sometimes I'm the only person that can see that I've disappeared, to me my eyes look blurry, crossing a very tiny bit, looking far far away even though things are quite close. And this is exactly the way I wanted to feel when I drank: far far away, signals all crissed and crossed, swallowed up. I'm not here anymore.
When I first got sober I wanted to leave that shitty woman as far from me as I could go, I wanted to shed her skin a thousand million times until I was unrecognizable to myself, until you would never ever guess she had ever ever been me. I wanted to be separate from that version of myself, so cut off that there wasn't even a blurry memory of a single phantom limb or reminder of the amputation.
After a few years of sobriety I began to understand that I was still here, that I wasn't leaving. I was beginning to be at peace with admitting that I was my self, my view had expanded wide enough to see past the drunk woman I hated to find the tender girl I was before the hurt of life got in the way. But I was still two separate versions of myself: the unspoiled breakable girl and the woman who didn't drink anymore. Built with courage but scared, free but jailed, I could hold my own hand but not been ready to merge these two: I think of them both as parts of me that are who I really truly am but they remain friendly strangers- these parts of me that recognize each other but haven't trusted that one will allow the other to exist.
A few months ago on a walk in the woods the idea arrived that I was ready to be one person again. I could be finished protecting myself from myself, after four years I am allowed to be trusted. The two hands that represent what I was and what I am have reached across the middle and kept holding on when they used to drop. Instead of passing on the street with a friendly wave they shook hands and held on, each as each, melded together as one person, one woman who is unspoiled and breakable and sober and trustworthy. I have been protecting what is sweet and tender in me from the damage I've been known to do. I know now that this isn't necessary anymore.
My word this year is MERGE. Combining one into the other. Blending what has been and what will be. Becoming indistinguishable: the parts that are fragile and the ones that fight all singly recognizable as just me. Merging the hope and joy of my five year old self with the wisdom and care capably held by this woman at age forty-five. All the heartbreaking hard lessons I learned along the way? They are here too, part of my merge, here to make certain that this one woman never forgets to honor where I came from, where I've been, and all the places I'm yet to go.