Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I Can't

Today is a day, if I still drank, that I would be a little drunk on the porch right now. I'd be smoking, surfing around on the web. Adding ice and seltzer to my wine so it lasts longer. Dear God, I can even just inhale and feel the relief from that.

But. I don't drink anymore. I do this other thing: I deal.

Do you ever have those days where it's not really that bad, but it just really sucked? Or, really only one thing really sucked, but then there's all these underlying things that keep nagging, insisting on popping up over and over and over.

Like the ladies in my neighborhood. We used to hang out all the time. Drink on the weekends. I used to listen to A talk about B. B talk about C. C talk about B and A. One of them is a pathological liar. They all sort of bait each other. But act like the best of friends. And then tear one another down behind each others backs. I realized quickly when I quit drinking that I wanted no part of that drama anymore. I hadn't even realized how in the middle I was. So I stepped back. Created distance. Created awkward.

And then days like today happen- I'm innocently walking my eight year old to school and voila. Here they are, walking their kids to school. And I don't want to deal. I want to pretend we forgot something and go back to the house. But it was too late. So we walk along, slowly. But they slow down too. And I just cannot figure out how to avoid it. We say hello (why must some folk be so over the top at this?) and it's fine, but I'm nervous and I just want to say, "Please. Just go away from us."

I realize on my way home why I feel this way. This is exactly how I felt in high school. Trapped in the middle of friends who pretended they liked each other. Stupid clueless me. I was always people pleasing. Always going along with it just to fit in. It bit me in the ass over and over and I still kept on doing it. Right up until last December when I decided to stop being in the middle and make friends who liked me, not who wanted me around because I would listen to them bitch about each other and keep it a secret.

And then later this afternoon I realize this can be as big, or as little as I make it. Since I am in control here. So I decide to make it not awkward. I can be friendly, and kind. I can treat them as I want to be treated, and keep my distance without making my life in the 'hood hard. Phew.

Then I get an email from my son's teacher. Asking if something is different at home because he's been really intense about things for the past few weeks. My oldest is intense by nature. He is this 40 year old man trapped in an eight year old's body. He is a perfectionist. So hard on himself. So angry sometimes he tells me that the only thing that makes him feel better is if he hurts himself. He is super smart, and super competitive. Super intense. He is also charming, and funny. Quirky. Sharp. Loving. He has amazing manners. He looks you in the eye when he talks to you. He might need some help.

So I reached out and asked for help. Got a recommendation from the pediatrician for a child psychiatrist. Another recommendation from a friend whose partner is a psychiatrist. I'll make an appointment tomorrow. It will make him feel better. It might change his life. It might make it so he can deal without having to go through twenty years of drinking to do it.

All day I just kept telling myself to open my heart. To not close it and try to hide it all away, but open it wide and let everyone see inside. See that I'm hurting. And scared. See that I'm dealing by not drowning my worries away in a sea of white wine and just-please-can-I-forgets. I dealt with what I was given today by looking closely even though my stomach was in knots and I wanted to look away. I can't do that if I'm drunk.

I can't tell what will happen with either situation, or the other handful of things I'm worrying about right now. I can't hide under the covers and wish the hard stuff away. I can't ignore how much stronger I've become in the past almost six months. I can't pretend everything is OK, even though I'm scared that maybe it really isn't. And I can't imagine how I got through my life while I was drinking all my problems away. Oh, right. I didn't.

So tonight I'm so grateful for my sobriety. So grateful to myself for sticking with myself even when the going is getting tough. So grateful for this woman I can trust, this me that tells me it will be OK, have an orange and go watch "Parenthood". There has not been a much better feeling than knowing I've got my own back. That I can trust myself to be vulnerable. That I can deal with it. Whatever comes along.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Poke in Eye

The other morning I woke up and starting thinking about recovering the couch. Myself.

And so of course that got me thinking about how getting sober is like a big sewing project. I mean, that's what you've been thinking all this time right?

Now, I'm pretty sure my first sewing project does not need to be recovering a sectional. Myself. I should probably start with a blanket- nice and flat, no sleeves. Start small (stay home) then work up to big stuff (a royal wedding). That's just like getting sober! See? I have a borderline obsession with sobriety metaphors.

But then I thought a pincushion would be a good way to keep track of your days. And it's pretty too. So you could try that, and then if you want a drink you just poke yourself in the eye with one of the pins. (which would do you just about as good as that drink would.)

In totally unrelated news: I start a new job today. Same place, different team. I was very frustrated with my old job. Angry a lot about it. So I got brave and said, "I need to move" then the right person said, "We'd love to have you!" and after lots of waiting it's finally here. This is something I would never have done if I were still drinking. I would have stayed and resented and stayed and resented.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr! I would have said, over and over, while I pounded wine and wondered why I was so miserable. (the proverbial pin in the eye trick!) I'm nervous, and excited. I've learned that not knowing what's coming up isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm wearing my orange shoes to remind me to be brave, and to just be myself. Fit the job to me, not the other way around.

In other random news: I got new running shoes yesterday. I got fitted and everything! Matt was grand and brought out several pairs of shoes and I got to go outside and run in them and he asked lots of questions and was patient and kind. Someone treating me like that when I was drinking would have made me totally uncomfortable and I would have just picked the shoes by color and made sure they were the right size and hurried right out the door. Instead I let myself be taken care of. It was awkward and also pretty awesome.

Drinking is like poking yourself in the eye with a pin, change is good, and letting yourself be taken care of (either by you or someone else) takes some getting used to. Happy Memorial Day y'all. I'm thinking about soldiers everywhere: those in uniform and all of us. Soldiering away. Fighting our own private wars. Coming back even when we can't fight another day: living to do it. Peace.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Finishing Lessons

My parenting style is sort of like this: "You can't play Wii for a week!" Then two days later....."Wellllllll, I guess it's OK. Just don't blah blah blah ever again!" That was kind of my drinking style too. "You can't drink for a week!" Then after the hangover passed....."Wellllllll, I guess some wine wouldn't hurt. Just don't have blah blah blah glasses again!"

I guess we all know how well that worked since I'm writing a blog about sobriety.

My oldest is on day two of a week long "grounding" from the Wii. I wrote the date when he can play again on a post it and stuck it to one of the kitchen cabinets. No Wii until May 28th.

Now I have to stick to it. (Heh, no pun intended!)

I've never been good at finishing the lesson. I'm great at the pre-lesson excitement. I'm awesome at the first bit. Then I slowly slide back into the easy chair of the old way. Even if the new way is working markedly better. And then I sort of take that mental look around....."Um, what has happened here?" and kind of cobble together some new way, mostly old way. Never finishing the lesson.

It's sort of like learning math: there are these logical (mostly, math is not my best subject) steps to take and then you get the answer. Maybe math is a bad analogy since its' answers are absolute (again, mostly) and life lessons have a little more leeway. But the finishing is the most important part- at least trying to complete the problem. And asking for help if you need it. You know, sometimes you just don't get it and someone else does. And so you ask for help and suddenly the clouds part and you can move on to the next question, the next problem.

Being sober, for me, feels like I'm finishing my life. I don't mean ending it, I mean finishing it. Taking the next step. Solving the problem. And waiting for the answers.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Like the Normal

Here are some things going on in no particular order:

  • This morning I realized I had no idea what number of days sober I was on! And so of course, I just counted them: 166! How cool!

  • I am grinning a bit since I would have never, in a million ba-jillion years thought that I would quit drinking and not keep a close count. But I guess once they start piling up you just sort of.....get on with it. 

  • And then, the tag on my tea bag says this: "Be proud of who you are." (It's one of my favorite things about Yogi teas- the sayings.) I've switched from coffee to decaf tea recently since coffee was kind of taking over my whole life. Luckily I only spent about two and a half months drinking coffee recklessly. Phew!

  • My job is about to chill out big time, which will help with so much. (And please, y'all. I have a very simple job. But it's about to get simpler, and I'll reduce my hours. So I can concentrate on other stuff. Like my children. The garden. My new fabulous sewing career! Not being at work all the fucking time!) I chose to make a change since I am miserable where I am- and instead of grinding away for a few more years drinking and resenting it I decided to change that shit. Something I would have never, evah! done if I weren't sober. I still have to brave up and reiterate the hours I want to work- I kind of wishy-washed around when my new boss asked me yesterday. Not being afraid to speak up for what you want is kind of hard! But.....we can do hard things. 

  • I'm going to visit my brother and his family this weekend. I've already told him I quit drinking in that "no big deal" way. I don't know whether to have a bigger talk with him about it. 

  • I told one of my oldest and best friends about being sober. At first I was also going to take that the casual route- you know, "Oh, just quitting for a bit for a challenge.....blah blah yadda yadda." Then I realized that would be a lie, and I don't do bullshit anymore. So I told her, and told her about this blog. And she read it, and was supportive. And we will analyze it thoroughly on our annual camping trip I'm sure. I cannot wait to hear what she thinks. 

  • The longer I'm sober, the longer I want to OWN IT. It is a huge-mungous part of who I am. Hiding it would kind of be like trying to hide one of my legs. "Oh, that? Just one leg, nothing to see here.....move along....." It would be awkward to tuck up behind my back, or it would make my one leg look really giant. And then it might pop out suddenly *sproing!* and how do you suddenly explain a surprise random extra leg? It's just easier to have it be a part of me like: "My favorite color is purple, I love to run, I'm sober, kale is my favorite food....." I think the preemptive strike is easier, because it's all on your own terms. So I'm sticking to that. (But not the over sharing method. Just because you got it out that doesn't mean you have to wave it all around in everyone's faces.)
  • Life is good. Like, pretty really good! I really am treasuring all these normal days, and they are starting to feel like the normal. When I sit and review the past five months I am amazed at how different my life is! It pays to take time to reflect. I must add that to my helpful help getting sober hints:
  1. Have special things to drink: seltzer, fresh fruit juice- the splurge-y stuff you would never buy because you spent all your money on booze. That $6 Pellegrino is yours for the taking!
  2. Be kind to self. Sleep when tired. stick the kids in front of the TV for a while so you can nap, or just hide in bed for 45 minutes. Buy small treats: tea, flowers. Pamper self! 
  3. Take time to reflect. All these changes aren't easy to see when you take them day by day. Play a mental movie of your new life. Write them down. Hug sweet self. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dinner with Amy

Y'all, I had a visit and dinner with my asked for and answered universe new sober friend Amy. We laughed hysterically at general silliness of selves and children, and then had some suddenly deep as shit conversation. It was incredible to actually face to face talk to someone who has had so many of the same struggles I've had. I can see now why AA has such pull- a sympathetic ear is a balm to the soul. I felt more OK in my own skin today just from the compassion I was gifted. 

I have been having a bit of a rough time, not all the time, but just that adjusting thing that keeps happening. I am practicing so hard being kind to me in my own head, but it's a hard habit to break. It's so hard especially since it's mostly unconscious and definitely unwarranted. Sometimes I just say, "You're OK, you're OK, you're OK" to myself just to be OK.

But last night I heard someone else say it. "You're OK." Amy said it like she meant it. And she said, "I understand" and it made me feel like I wasn't my own brand of crazy. That my to's and fro's are just regular back and forth. She looked at me with kindness and that has reminded me all day to keep looking that way, at other people and at me. I'd been not noticing closing my heart, putting up some protection: a shell to guard my delicate new self. Our visit last night made me realize that I have to open my heart wider, not cover it over.

Early sobriety is hard, and the early middle is harder. It's nice to have a friend to help carry the burden, another hand on the bucket. Thanks universe. And Amy's.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Blog Post to Share

I read Renegade Mothering a lot, and love it a lot too. The post I'm sharing is much more serious than her normal, but I thought it was mindful, and sad, and full of hope.

It reminded me, in an achingly pretty way, how beloved I am by my children. How my hopes for me and them never really separate. How we love each other deeply and without fear because we are attached at the heart forever and ever. And how lucky we all are that I quit drinking before things got ugly and terribly desperate.

Happy Mother's Day y'all. Whether you're a mother to kiddos, or pets, or you just are mothering your own life: it's all important, it all means something.

Oh, and.....Here's the post I was talking about.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Trusting the Universe

Or the title could be: How I Stopped White Knuckling It and Started Letting Go. Having faith that whatever happens happens. Not in the "it is what is is" way (which I hate) but more in the "What will be will be" one. Que sera sera. In the I can't control it but I'm OK with it way. Not in the nothing I can do anyway so who cares way. But with some control included. See?

Sometimes I am grasping at everything: concentrating on how life isn't what I want it to be rather than making it what I want it to be. Be a better runner? Then run. Be in better shape? Then don't eat dessert twice every night sometimes twice a day a week. Be a better mom? Then pay a-fucking-ttention to what's going on and stop checking the computer. Clean house? Take an hour or two and just do it. Plant the garden? Plant it then!

I have a habit of wanting things, and then waiting for someone else to do them,. And then getting mad when they don't get done. Lord, help me.

Or the subtitle could be: Getting/Giving Up Control. I have another habit: Giving things up. Now that I've finally given up booze forevah I have other stuff to take care of. I never drank coffee before when I was hungover a few/several/every day a week. It made me nervous and sickish, and I already felt bad enough without the cursed thought patrol coursing at ninety miles an hours through my head. So I would just chug water and ibuprofen and wait for 5 o'clock somewhere.

Then sobriety arrived (hello there and welcome, and thank you sweet baby jesus) and I started drinking coffee. It was innocent at first: just a cup in the morning while I wrote my blog. Then another a little bit after I got to work. Then another before I left work. Then maybe another after I got home before I walked over to get my oldest at school. And then all these cups became necessity not luxury. And suddenly I was pissed off every evening, gritting my teeth through bath time and stories please please please is it time for fucking bed yet? And I was waking up at 2:30 in the morning mind racing unable to get back to sleep. (and when you get up at 4 or 4:30 what's the point?)

So, sadly, coffee and I aren't meant to be either. It would have been much cooler if we were, but getting sober isn't just about giving up booze. It's also about learning what works now that I am coherent enough to identify what does and what doesn't. Learning myself. Getting comfortable. Being mostly happy, or at the least content-ish. Which means I'll be experimenting with things. Like giving up coffee.(yes, this obviously works- I feel mucho better-o today (day 4)) Or running more. Running longer distances slower, running short distances faster. Giving up things like cheesecake and cookies and having things like dark chocolate or a little maple syrup in my oatmeal. Because those things make me feel better in my head for a long time, while eight cookies makes me feel better until the last crumb goes down and then I regret them all immediately. Which might make me reach for a couple more cookies. So giving that stuff up gets me some control. And with that control comes peace. Peace in my mind.

Which is my new prayer. I am not spectacularly religious, but I do believe in prayer. And so my new prayer goes like this: "Please help me do the things that make me happy and give me peace." I'm relaxing my knuckles by gaining some control. Giving myself permission to do whatever I want makes me unhappy. Just because I stopped drinking it doesn't make it OK for me to keep passing my stopping points. That just starts the rounds of bad how-could-yous that I've given up. So being sober is all about not drinking, but also all about not behaving like an       -aholic. Whether that includes cookie-aholic or coffee-aholic or giving things up-aholic. Setting some damn limits around here. Like I'm five years old and don't know any better. Parenting myself. Teaching myself.

And trusting that the universe is listening. And that maybe, just maybe, I'm listening too.

Inner Instructions

Um, what? What is that? It's kind of what I feel like when I'm trying to direct myself and my life, kind of like I'm making a shuriken. Whatever the hell that is.

I was five months sober yesterday. I'm so good at the not drinking part of being sober, but I've been pounding sugar like crazy. (no, really. I ate two pieces of cheesecake the other day. Then a sliver of pie. Then I broke off the crust of the pie and ate it. Then I finished all the yogurt pretzels.) I'm eating alcoholically.  Terrific. And also coffee. Coffee. COFFEE!!!!

I wonder at the part of people that says, "enough". When they were giving out "enough" I must have been in the bathroom. I don't really have that part. It's my missing piece. La la la la la.....what's that you just said? "Eeeeeee-huh? Eeeeeeee-nuff? I don't understand."

Yesterday I went on one of the worst runs of my entire life. It sucked from step one. I plodded along and plodded along, hating it, mad at myself for being so slow and so not wanting to run when I really wanted to run. Then all of the sudden I said to myself, "ENOUGH!" And I stopped running. And I walked. And then a really fit girl ran past me so I ran a little more because I imagined that that was what I looked like running and so I should probably be running. And then I walked. Adjusted my shirt. Glared at my pouffy belly. Agh!

But then. I said, out loud, "Who cares about your stupid pouffy belly?" And I laughed at myself, and all the angry inner instructions I bark at myself all day. Pretty much a bunch of crap about how I'm not doing it right, and I don't measure up. More about how I look to other people. (Horror. I kid myself that I don't care about that, but I guess I do.) No wonder I was pounding wine like it was my job. No wonder I down cookies like they're wine. I'm trying to shut my inner instructions the fuck up.

I need to stop trying to make a shuriken. I could start listening to the real inner instructions- you know the ones that aren't my ego. The ones that say things like: "Coffee is really messing up your sleep. You need to stop drinking it" and "Don't buy a pound of yogurt pretzels just so you can eat them all" and "Hey there, when you run, eat right, and get enough sleep you feel awesome. Let's go back to that."

So I haven't had coffee since Saturday. The headaches have been awful, but it's my body readjusting so they are kind of (kind of) a nice reminder that I'm resetting. The sugary stuff I want is gone (I ate it all) and I'm not going to buy more. Why can't we just do the things that make us feel right? Why do we resist what makes us feel the best? What the hell is wrong with me?

Nothing. *waves*  Just over here being human, working on some new instructions.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Sober Friend: Update, Part 2

Thanks universe!

Now that the excitement has died down a bit (I know! I'm still thrilled, aren't you?) there's even more to it.

Amy goes to a meeting on Tuesdays. I'm not sure if it's an AA meeting, or just a women in recovery meeting. But it's a meeting. A gathering of women folk who are like me. You know, people with extra drink-y pasts. Maybe that will be the first thing I learn in the meeting: How to call myself an alcoholic. But I don't want to, because that isn't who I am anymore. See? But I digress.....

This is exciting and then a minute later not exciting. As in, "Yay! I can share my stuff, and people who get it will get it. Ahhhhh. And then as in, "Um, share? In front of people? That I don't know? Aghhhhhh!"

However. Since I am brave, and I take deep breaths and then show people who I am I'm going. And I'm probably going to cry, and laugh. And feel nervous and embarrassed. But I did get new orange shoes for my birthday, so I will wear them and they will help me be brave. Deep breath.

Now, in even more friendship news: Maintaining the Zen lives close to me. We're going to meet halfway for lunch in the next few months. Another sober friend. :) And then I found out yesterday that my new-ish friend whom I adore doesn't drink either. Wow! I'm up to three!

A Sober Friend: Update

A few weeks back I sent it out there: a prayer, a wish, a little note to the world.

"I wish I had a sober friend."

HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, I have a friend of a dear friend on Facebook. Amy and I became friends since we had Beth as a mutual friend, and Beth said something to the effect of "Y'all should be friends, you're so much alike!" And so this other Amy and I have been Facebook friends for months. We live about an hour away from each other. We are both Amy's, we both like birds, and plants, and yoga. We both have 2 children, we were both born in April. We both love Anne Lamott. We have the same political and religious leanings. 

Suddenly, out of the blue today while I was searching for cranberry sauce at work this woman I've never seen before says, "Amy!" I look at her, puzzled. She says, "It's me! Amy!" We hug, grin, and finally meet in person. Awesome!!!!


She goes to get a bite to eat, and I go back to work. She comes over to where I am to say bye and we start talking about when we can get together. We talk about my house, or a park, kids or no kids. She says, "We could get dinner! But, I mean it doesn't have to be a bar." 

Are you ready?

I say, "Oh, that's fine. I don't drink anyway."

She looks at me wide eyed. "OH! I'M SOBER TOO!!!!!!" 

Me to universe: "I wish I had a sober friend who was a lot like me"

Universe to me: "Amy? Meet Amy."