Thursday, July 25, 2013

And For the Win.....

Remember how you decided to try something? And then it worked? 

The media free thing worked. We had dinner a little early. I was actually present and not flopping from email and Facebook to refereeing the kiddos. Each child had a long bath. Lots of stories. Youngest was asleep by eight. Oldest and I lounged about reading our books and making idle chit chat. Bedtime was a happy thing. 

Remember how, when you put your foot down, it kind of sucked, but then it was totally worth it? 

Boundaries y'all. Concentrating on what makes life work, and then doing it. Keeping trying. And coaching yourself in your head that you are doing just fine, with sympathy when you mess it up a bit. "You'll do better next time" instead of "You've ruined it forever". And realizing that things take time. So if it doesn't look exactly like what you want it to today, that doesn't subtract from the effort. Making a life is hard good work.

And loads of deep breaths. :)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Little Victories

So, I'm sitting here eating an apple. 


I'm also loving this book by Brene Brown I'm reading that might actually create a self revolution since it makes so much sense. I want to grab B.B. by the shoulders, look her in the eye, and be all gushy and show off a little since her words are changing my life. 

But about that apple.

It's not eight oatmeal cookies. (I only had two) It's this big realization I had in the kitchen about fifteen minutes ago: 

I have no idea what to do with myself.

Before, when I drank like a fish in denial, I knew what to do. Hang out for a bit. Figure out an excuse to get the kiddos into the car and off to the store. ("Hey you guys, do you want to have a coke with dinner? Let's go get one.") Then home with my supplies, plant kiddos in front of TV and sneak out for a smoke with my first big ass glass of wine. What else to do? Nothing else. Get drunk. Ta da! The night is taken care of.

But now. 


I was talking to Belle and she asked me if I'd figured out my passion. Does flailing around on the computer between email and Facebook fourteen times a night count as a passion? Can eating too much be a passion? 

Dang. I didn't think so.

She did say "passion" not "time suck". 

One of the things I loved the most about drinking was that time just sort of.....disappeared. Voila! Five o'clock to bedtime and I didn't even notice! Then after the kiddos went to bed the wine and time floated right away. Then at the end I would just black out and then who knows what the fuck time it is.

Now, some days, I watch the seconds crawl. 4:37. 4:38. 4:42. What to do what to do what to do. 

Today is the first day of our after five tech blackout. Which means that I'll post this and then not be able to see if anyone read it until tomorrow morning. I might go crazy! 

Today is the first day we will hang out together before dinner. We'll eat on time. People will have baths, and stories on time. I won't be hurriedly slapping something on the table and skipping bath and rushing through stories. We can play Crazy 8's after bath time like we did this spring. The children can hit the sack clean and loved, not rushed and covered in sunscreen. 

Boundaries and rules. Changing what makes me annoyed with me, and then reminding myself that I can do it. Eating two cookies, thinking, and then grabbing an apple. Giving myself an atta girl for that little victory. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

May I

We did this meditation at my meeting on Monday. I am saying it and saying it (and winging the third line when I kind of forget how it goes) and it makes me feel good. Here it is:

May I be at peace.
May my heart remain open.
May I know the beauty of my own true nature.
May I be healed. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

(Not) Crossing the Line

Yesterday was a two bowl of ice cream after dinner kind of day. With a big bowl of marshmallow oaties after that to crunch down the well of sadness.

Well, that's pitiful, ain't it?

Actually, I spent most of yesterday trying not to cry at work, then crying some at my women's meeting. Then a little more in the parking lot after with my dear friend Amy. But then there was a little dinner to make, and my folks were here so that was good. The kiddos went to be without complaint- youngest singing himself to sleep, oldest with contraband video game buried under the covers. I didn't have the energy to have him not to, or to read youngest a story. It was a bury your head and eat kind of night.

It should have been a connect and feel some love kind of night. Sometimes what we want (ice cream) isn't really what we need (love).

I'm reading another great book and the last bit I read was about boundaries, and also compassion.

So I started thinking about setting boundaries for the kids, and how I am really really bad at that ("second chance queen" might be my nickname, or maybe "don't do that, oh well it's OK") and how (F.O.B.) (flash of brilliance) I am totally bad at that for me too!

And then I started wondering about who is making the rules around here anyway?

It seems like I have one really really good hard fast rule: DON'T DRINK.

And then things get a little muddle-y and cloud-ly and I sort of don't really have any other rules. Well, damn.

I feel like was kind of ruled-to-death as a child, so I'm really glad to break all rules and stomp over all the fences. As in "Ha HA! You can't tell me what to do! See? I just did just what I wanted. So THERE!" I practice extreme boundary breaking. My drinking was my biggest boundary buster: "I can drink as much as I want and you can't stop me!" And then my body wouldn't even stop me by throwing up or passing out or making the hangovers so so terrible that I never wanted to drink again. (well, then again on the hangover part.....)

But, wait. Boundaries are good. Without them we'd be all over the place. And I like rules, funnily enough. I like limits, and reasons. Ones that keep me sane.

Boundaries can also be really friendly ways to not have to have the morning mental beat down. I am so much better at not having it, but I still wake up and do a kind of inventory: "Oh. What time is it? What day is it? Oh. I ate two bowls of ice cream last night. And that cereal too. And I cried all day. And didn't even really look the children in the eye. Oh. well, shit."

And that is not the way to wake up. Boundaries can be a good way of preventing regrets. If I'd had boundaries (simple rules for myself- truths that stick for the way I know I like to live my life) then I.....well, I can't really say. But for me, for at this time in my life, some boundaries seem like a pretty good idea.

Things like:

Not checking Facebook and email fourteen times after dinner. How about not at all? The computer has become a big time suck for me. It kind of gets in the way of me connecting with the real people and dogs around here. I check every morning- sometimes I'm on it for a few hours in the morning! That is enough.

Or not eating after dinner. Have a little dessert after dinner, but don't take ice cream and sesame sticks and bowls of cashews up to snack on in bed. That feels like I'm taking care of myself, but it's really sabotaging me mentally and physically in an irritating way.

Those two are good.

Oh, and one more. When discipling the children ( That is a total typo that I like that better than "Disciplining") stick to it. Be fair and firm. I will disciple them. Spread the word about manners, and not calling your brother a stupid poop head.

I'm going to start with the second one. It's OK for me to try the other two out, but for this week the only really really good hard fast rules are these:


Cool. Simple Boundaries. Little Life Rules. I think I'm finally ready for some. Boundaries can help prevent regrets. Life management. Not everything is OK. And that is.....OK. :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Poem I Like

This poem is one I've carried in my heart and in my head for years. I just realized that I've been using it as a sort of mantra of my sobriety. A love poem transformed into a love poem of a different sort. 

“To Have Without Holding:

Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.

It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.

It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch, to love and let
go again and again. It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously,
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.

I can't do it, you say it's killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry,
You float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor's buttons blue and bobbing
on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.”

― Marge Piercy

Glass Slipper

You know how, you spend a lot of time liking stuff, and then you realize you really don't like it at all?

It's peach season, and everyone is raving about peaches. I love a good peach. But I rarely get a good one. Peaches make me feel.....meh. And then people all but insist that peaches are a must right now, and if you don't have a peach you're about to be voted off the island. (you big weirdo) And then I buy peaches, and be underwhelmed and puzzled (why do I keep trying these?) and lemming-ing right along.


I started riding my bike to work this week. Four miles there, four miles back. This has been grand, and surprising. Getting ready in the morning is different- tight shorts at six AM are just OK. A neon yellow mesh vest and a bike helmet. These things can be challenging to my vain-ish self. And people, in cars, and when I get to work, might think I look stupid. Or worse, like a show off. Or like I'm not going fast enough, or like I'm some sort of imposter, not a real cyclist. And that I'm doing it wrong. Trying too hard.

I bought lights and road tires for my bike months and months ago. I was so excited to ride my bike to work. And then I chickened out. Why? Because I was scared of what people would think.

And, really. That isn't me, right? I'm cool and hip. Certainly not worried about what other people think. Certainly not.

Well, that's a big fat lie. I worry what people think. A LOT. I think that's a top twenty reason why I drank: I knew I was A-) worrying about what people thought so then B-) trying to be what people would like and C-) sad that I never felt like me. It's kind of like my life was a glass slipper, and I was trying to squeeze my Cinderella self on in, except I was a lesser well known stepsister who didn't really even like slippers.

My bike rides have given me a whole new perspective. It's MY ride to and from work. So if someone looks and sees me and thinks I'm dorky in my vest, or not pedaling fast enough or working hard enough, or trying to be something I'm not.....well then. So be it. I just pedal and smile and say to myself "My ride. My life. My ride. My life."

Do you ever notice that you are so so hard on yourself, and that you think that other people are always doing it right and you are always doing it wrong? Me too! Me too!

I put a load of energy into trying to figure out how to be what everyone else liked that sometimes I didn't really know what I liked! I tried for years and years to be "other people cool" and that was exhausting.  And (surprise, surprise) I'm a lot more at ease when I'm just being me. Liking what I like.

I just finished reading "Happier at Home". The author has commandments for herself. The most important one is "Be Gretchen". I am totally stealing this. Except for the Gretchen part. I've started, when I'm faced with a choice, or I'm doing a thing, I say in my head "Be Amy". (breathe) "Be Amy".

And, no thank you, about the peaches. But if you like them, go ahead.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Flash of Brilliance: Happy-ness

Sometimes I have these moments that I like to give the fancy fixed up name "Flash of Brilliance". A sort of superhero that swoops in and saves the day. A gentle reminder that I really am growing, and changing. Getting better! Feeling.....happier.

These often come at the tail end of a really sad, hard time: just one day I wake up and I don't feel blah. Not a little frantic in my head. And I notice that I've been reading more, running again. Being patient when I want to yell and freak out. Putting flowers from the yard on the dining room table. Not calling myself names. 

You know....."normal". :)

This particular flash comes from my oldest. He is a serious kid. He isn't carefree. He is a kind of grumpy 60 year old man in an 8 year old body. He is so smart, and witty. Sharp. He has a temper, and is a terrible loser. He wants to be the best, and he wants it handed to him with no work at all. As in: "I should be able to show up at the swim meet and be the best at all the strokes just because I showed up." I don't know if you'll understand this but I had to quit drinking just to keep up with him and how he sees the world in this really sharp intuitive way. So we could talk about it at night like we do and I wouldn't become a big drunk dumbass. So I could still be smart and teach him stuff. So I could help him be happy.

Whoa. Now there's the part that I got brilliant about. It is not my job to make him happy. Or anybody else for that matter. I can twist and bend and gumbify myself into a thousand versions of best mom ever and guess what? He still might not be happy. And here's the bad part: neither will I. So I have to let that go.

That is hard. When I was little I don't remember anyone really caring whether or not I was happy. I didn't feel tenderness. Adored. Needed. Wanted around. I was more of a nuisance than a gift. And then when I drank I was the bad daughter on the outside that I felt like I already was on the inside. I have made it my personal mission to make sure my children know they are loved and adored. Important. Cared for. Thought of. Needed. That I am happy they are here. 

But see, that is my mission. And mine and theirs are two different things. Just like mine and yours.

One reason I love Gretchen Rubin is because she emphasizes how different what makes people happy can be. Muddy kids in the backyard makes me happy. But perhaps you can't stand dirt. Lists of hopeful goals makes me feel.....hopeful, whereas to some people that is way overdoing it. Going to bed early and getting up early makes me feel real good. But maybe 5 AM is much too early for you.

It seems like the real unhappiness creeps in for all of us, whether we know it or not, when we are trying to live someone else's happy life. And by doing that we make our own lives miserable. Oh. OH!!!!


I realized that everyone has their own truth. Their own way. And that where I was really fucking up was trying to fit my path to someone else's. This was so concretely true when I was drinking, heavy and true. Now that I'm sober I see that clearly: I cannot make myself happy when I'm not making myself happy.

Get it? I have other people's standards for a lot of my inner/outer stuff. Weight is a big one. The way I dress is another. (Although sobriety has released me from that big time. I hardly ever have outfit anxiety like I used to.) I feel so judged by my outward appearance that I forget to let my eyes shine when I smile, or I forget to smile at all. I tend to want what other people want rather than take some time to figure out what I want. Being sober makes me not so much that way. And then the F.O.B. showed up and I can lighten up some.

Cause it's amazing how trying so hard to make others happiness makes me so so un-happy.

I've had a rough time of it lately. Not overwhelming, not awful. Just blegh. Sometimes I feel guilty because my demons aren't in the shape of wine bottles, but repetitive soul searches- paths in my head worn paper thin from traveling them over and over again. For me, at this point in my sobriety it's not the booze I miss, it's a sense of well-being. I feel like now I'm getting my groove back, ready for another trip among the pink clouds until the next life lesson comes along. The nice part is that I feel better- stronger. Like I'm becoming more and more me.

P.S. Going to the recovery meetings (I've been to 2) has been a blessing and a curse. The relief, the be-lief, the connection to others has been extraordinary. Cleaning out the closet of my shoved down secret self is no fucking fun. But seeing the look of compassion from other people that says "You're still OK with me even with all this stuff" has helped me. Shored me up. Made me brave and unashamed. Proud of who I am.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Care Taker

Isn't it odd how we tend to forget this very important fact? Or maybe you don't. I'm glad if you don't. I can't say the same thing for me. I forget all the time. It might be that patience part of me that I'm trying to strengthen not quite being even a muscle yet. I start just dashing through life, teeth clenched in my sleep, tension tuned and at the ready. Pushing myself around and kind of living in a busy fog. Not seeing the forest for the trees.

I went for a little run this morning. It was fine. And by fine I mean I wanted to run into runs arms and swing it around grinning "I missed you so!" Note to self: stop avoiding exercise. It makes you crazy.

I have my second meeting today. I'm nervous again, but not about the meeting, more about what sorts of shit it will dredge up. I've tried to patch things up with myself the best I could, but real forgive-me-ness is still a ways away. To get better I have to accept my past. To stay better I have to not repeat it. I'm not really mad at myself, just sad about the things that I'll excavate, and wondering how to deal.

I do know this: self care is crucial in my feeling OK. Eating right, moving my bod, sleeping. Taking a minute if I need it. Being understanding. Showing the love. Self care. Cause the more of it I have, the more I have to give.

Also, a warm congratulations to my dear pen pal Belle who is celebrating a one year of sobriety today. Here's to you friend! I'm glad to be a part of it.

Emotion Tornado

It's 2:25. AM. WTF? This has been a big ol' week of emotional hell.

There's the PMS. The eating that goes with it. The I Can't Run Blues. The inner pot stirring from going to not one but TWO therapy sessions. I feel like I'm caught in an emotion tornado. "I'm OK! I'm not! Yes, I'm fine! No! No I'm not!" Whirl, whirl whirl. Seriously, there might be a cow flying by.

My husband and I had a fight/discussion yesterday We were yelling, and mad, and then sitting side by side. We decided to cancel our beach trip (sob) and be responsible adults. For the first time in almost nine years of being married I think we might have heard each other- learned something. Deep breath.

This week is requiring some thought- thought that I haven't really had time for. More deep breath.

Which is probably why I'm up and blogging in the middle of the night. Noticing that I feel frantic. Not like myself.

And then the light bulb goes on. Go back to bed. Get some sleep. Stop white knuckling. Don't be nervous. Stop piddling and wasting time doing nothing (And by nothing I mean cruising around Facebook and Huff Post on the computer. Time-suck-a-saurus.) Try a small run. Go to yoga. Don't build Rome in a day. Stop trying to solve everything, stop looking so needlessly for the answer. Because it changes every day. Maybe roll with it a bit. Control freak, anyone?

More deep breath. And sheep. Best be counting some sheep.