Saturday, August 31, 2013

Telling Practice

I've been sharing my story a lot (and by a lot I mean I told 3 or 4 people) this week: putting myself out there for people to see. Owning up to being an alcoholic. I don't have any practice at that since I still don't go to meetings. So it feels strange, and shameful, and very very freeing. Being able to say that I quit, that it was a problem. That I wasn't just a woman having one or two too many, but having enough to knock out any reasonable person who wasn't an alcohol superhero like me.

......"Duh duh duh dun da da! Boozewoman! Able to leap tall bottles in a single stumble! More drunk than a skunk! Look down on the floor! It's a rug! It's some dust! No! It's BOOZEWOMAN!"


In these conversations I start to sugar coat it before I say it, to make it not that bad, and then I remind myself gently to be honest. This has happened. Has happened. It is who I was, but it is not who I am today. The hard part is how much I sugar coated it for myself, and how now that we're being all honest I really see how bad things were. Oh, how bad. Oh.

I can see it on my husband's face. How he didn't know what to do and because I'm stubborn and he's more the go along type he just didn't speak up. Couldn't speak up. Didn't want to damage an already shitty situation beyond repair. Things are better and better but, man. We have a ways away before he trusts me again with his whole heart.

Writing this post reminds me of what sobriety really is: it's hopeful and reaching. And at the same time devastating and heart rending. It's everything all done up in a funny papers wrapped present: you're not really prepared so you use what you've got. It's charming, and colorful, and is kind of funny. When you open it your hands are going to get dirty.

When you want to share it some people will say no thank you. They will feel bad for you that you have to admit such things, and act like you are naked right there in front of everyone. Or they will be baffled that you could even do such a thing: NOT DRINK? They will look at you like you have three heads because such a thing is not possible. Then probably offer some excuses why they would love to quit, but.....

Most people are slightly underwhelmed and a little uncomfortable.

The hard part for me is that you don't really know what people think. How being an alcoholic changes their opinion of you. How admitting it may make them think worse of you when in reality you are so much better. That blows my mind a little. Then I have to gently remind myself, "It's none of my business what you think of me."

Owning my alcoholism makes it easier to be who I am. As time goes by it becomes more a part of me, of my history. It becomes more of a trait than a defining word: I am funny, and stubborn, I'm an alcoholic, I love eggs and toast. The truth is in the telling, the telling makes it true. And the truth is setting me free.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Three's A Crowd

On my ride to work this morning I was zooming down a hill, grinning like a fool in the dawn's early light. And no one much oh say can you see'd, since it's early. But that doesn't stop my brain from haranguing me.

"You didn't leave on time. You aren't going that fast. You should worry about not doing so great at work today." (I'm doing new stuff at work.)

And then my heart-me yelled out, "Shut UP! You are wrecking it! This is AWESOME!"


I thought about how, all my life, I've had not one, not two, but three voices in my head. There's just-me, then there's ego-me, then there's heart-me. And ego-me has a big fat loud mouth. Ego-me drowns out the other me's since it is, after all, an ego. It's pushy and always has to be the center of attention. Regular me is just-me. Usually background noise. Heart-me is shy and reserved, not very outspoken or chance-y. Just-me comes up with the ideas, then the other two are like the life commentators- like sportscasters, but without sports, only plenty of keeping score.

I started holding heart-me's hand and listening when it speaks up. Really listening. Not that wishy washy bullshit where you say "I know, I know" to your sweet self and then listen to the same old song and dance from ego-me. But in the "I HEAR YOU!" way you imagine things might be at some churches where people are swaying with their eyes closed and their hands waving around in the air. Amen.

Getting sober is such an excavation- a mystery. Where did this shit come from? And then: What the hell do I do with it? Well, here's what I do: I puzzle and struggle and then I figure something out and life gets easier in my head. I move closer to forgiving all of me for my past hurts. Realizing that I can ignore ego-me, or even hear it but just not listen was another one of those moments of a-ha that seem almost stupid since I should have realized that, oh, about a million years ago.

But yay! I'm nurturing my heart-me, my soul. In my head, three is definitely a crowd. Too many indians, not enough chief. I needed some crowd control- so I found another voice in my head: bouncer. But heart-me is the bouncer, which keeps me from being Sybil, since everyone knows you can have up to three voices in your head and still be considered OK. (And, just in case, that is not really true.)

All of this is going to take some practice, practical just-me reminds me when ego-me is steadily murmuring about how this blog doesn't even make sense. All of this seems so "me, me me" but that's the way getting sober is: you have to be selfish for a while, get the sharks out of the water, and then you invite folks over for a swim. I have to be self absorbed and all curious about "me" since things were so out of whack before when I was drowning all the voices in my head. And they still are, but in a nice way that is all about: me.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

See These Keys

I want out of my own head so badly some days. "Please!" I would cry, to anyone who'd listen. "Help me out of here! I'm trapped!" And here I am, holding the keys the whole time. But they're invisible keys. They just jingle. And have a lot of weight. So I know I can get out, but I just can't see the way. And I keep clearing the way, but then here's more stuff! And jingling keys! And then I go bat shit crazy. The end.

OK, well, no. Not the end. Just a few more days of me, swinging around out there on the end of my rope. Dangling in space at sixty some million miles an hour with exploding brain disease. Lord.

Do you ever just get so so sick of yourself? Like, ugh. Me to self:  "Go away. I am so sick of you. Tired of you! Sick and tired of you! And also you are fat." The end.

It seems difficult, since I know that even when I'm feeling worse I'm getting better. So that's really cool, and really awful. Yesterday in my group there was this:

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers
      but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain but
      for the heart to conquer it.
Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved
      but hope for the patience to win my freedom.

Here I am, being patient. Working for my freedom. Stirring my pain. Although sometimes 'being patient' looks more like me crazycakes screeching in the kitchen and then crying. Feeling my pain, even when I don't understand why I'm in it. Saying "I'm sorry for being so screechy" and hoping it is enough.

I think it comes from never ever being able to let me be. I was listening to music in the car and there was a piano part I get really excited about and I play the steering wheel and the air like I'm playing piano. Then I do some singing too, which I get a kick out of. But then, I start to think something like this: "I'll bet the person in front of me knows how to play piano for real and can tell I don't know what I'm doing. And I look stupid."

Now, now, don't get all "Oh! It's OK! Don't worry about that!" because I know, I know. I just wonder how I got to be my own worst enemy. That I am the solution to the problem, and in a cruel twist of fate, the very cause of it. Well, fuck.

I think I need to ask for more help. And be more help-full. It's no coincidence that my tea with sayings had this one today:

And it is. I can take a breath, ask for help. Look for signs. Remember that I'm doing it, I'm sober. That I'm not the worst person, wife, mother, air piano player, etc. in the world. I'm just me in the world. Finding the keys.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Comfort In

My friend Sherry got me thinking more about comfort with her latest post.

Semantics dictate that alcohol is addictive, that there is science behind the madness. That chemically and brain-i-ally some of us can have just one glass of wine while others of us end up naked and blacked out. Lord. Science is right, but what about what makes us reach for it in the first place? Why?

I have been conducting my own study of comfort. What it is, what it means. How to get it, why we want it. Getting that safe feeling makes us do a lot of fucked up shit. Some of it even makes us feel worse than we did when we started. Like wine. And cake. Is beating yourself up mentally a comfort? Logically I'd say no, but realistically.....well.

Now that I'm eight months into being sober I still am searching for that comfort, that mindless moment of forgetting to do the "right" thing and let it all go. To be free for just that minute. To say "yes yes yes!" when I could say "that's enough" and save my poor sanity.

I was addicted to alcohol. But what's the deeper part of that? How do I not shove the cravings down, but set them free? I don't want wine, but I still want that feeling. The I'm-doing-whatever-I-want-to-do-and-you-can't-stop-me feeling.

That freedom feeling.

Safe. Loved. Taken care of. Comforted.

What I used to do with booze I do now with food. Too much. Not only am I an alcoholic, I am a too-much-a-holic. I'm starting to realize that maybe that too much isn't the problem, it's that I'm not listening to myself. That I'm going for the easy solution (pecan pie) rather than the thing that will really soothe and ease my needy soul.

Perhaps that has been the problem this whole time. That I am looking for comfort, and then making it harder. That I've been drowning and suffocating the voice that tells me what I need instead of sitting quietly for a minute and just listening.

Like this:

Me: "Agh. This day is hard. And I'm tired."
Other Me: "Fuck it. Eat that (insert food here). Have a bite. Have more. Snarf gulp snarf."
Heart Me: "Hold up, stop eating that. Sit down for a minute. Breathe for a minute. You're OK. Everything will be alright."
Other Me: "Chew louder so we can't hear that! YUM! You feel better! EAT MORE!"
Me: "Agh. This day is hard. And I'm tired. And fat. Why did I eat all that? I might as well just finish. I'm sad. Why didn't I stop at the right time? I'm giving up sugar forever! Starting tomorrow!"

Notice how the heart voice is the smallest? And how me says the same things over and over again? And this script was the same when I was drinking, like this:

Me: "Agh. This day is hard. And I'm tired."
Other Me: "Fuck it. Drink that (insert booze here). Have a sip. Have more. Snarf gulp snarf."
Heart Me: "Hold up, stop drinking that. Sit down for a minute. Breathe for a minute. You're OK. Everything will be alright."
Other Me: "Drink more so we can't hear that! YUM! You feel better! DRINK MORE!"
Me: "Agh. This day is hard. And I'm tired. And fat. Why did I drink all that? I might as well just finish. I'm sad. Why didn't I stop at the right time? I'm giving up booze forever! Starting tomorrow!"

It's not enough to scritch and scratch and squash yourself into giving up whatever outside thing makes you feel better. You have to teach yourself how to feel better from the inside out. To make the heart voice the biggest loudest voice you hear. To learn yourself, and honor yourself by hearing how you want to truly be. And then living it. It takes lots of practice, and patience. But since this other way isn't really working I'll try something different. And not listen to other me who doesn't like change, or me being comfortable.

OK, heart me. Speak up. I'm listening. And I'm going to try hearing, too.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Are You My Mother?

Was it when I became more like a little person and less like a cuddly baby that my mother couldn't love me anymore? Was it because I started to like different things than she did, or wanted to venture from her side? Was it because she reached her capacity for unconditional love and then found it too hard to love me back? Was it because it was just easier to retreat, to hold back the love owed to a child than to risk the hurt of throwing her heart open wide?

My mom, to this day, gets a little upset if I don't like the things she likes. We have reached a peace about it. Ish. She wants me to be so much like her to make her feel OK in the world- validating her. She would never admit to this. My mom hates other people. She does not want to make a new friend, or have any human connection. She sees no comfort in God, or faith. She doesn't like leaving the house, and watches a lot of TV. I still feel uncomfortable going places after four- we never ever left the house after school.

My mom can talk to anyone. She blossoms in a crowd. She has a smart sense of humor, and is unconsciously tender at times. She has the uncanny ability to scout out the coolest things- objects and otherwise. I rant and rail at her in my head, "Just give yourself a chance to be happy!" but she doesn't hear and so I don't try. That's not my job anyway.

We are working on mother stuff in my group. Yesterday we talked to an empty chair and pretended that mom was sitting there. Holy shit. Holy shit.

I didn't realize how much of my own unloving came from how I felt as a child. I didn't know out loud that I felt most like a nuisance and a bother. That I craved tenderness. Arms folded around me. Safety. Mothering.

Drinking gave me that. No fucking wonder I loved to drink. No wonder I always wanted more more more. Booze never pushed me away, it only pulled me in closer closer closer. Welcome to the cocoon.

You never know, as a mother, what you can do to and for your children. You don't realize in the day-to-day while you're busy feeling rushed or frustrated or finished that you are showing your children how to be people. You are showing them what they are worth to themselves and to you. I am certain my mother never set out to make me feel like a second thought. She never wanted me to realize that I was lost as a child because she was too busy with her own shit to show me how to be a person, a girl, a woman. She loves me deeply and in her way today. Just as I love myself.

You never know, as a grown up, that there are mothers everywhere. That once you wean yourself from the bottle they appear to care for and comfort you. They are pen pals, and other Amy's. They are fellow bloggers, and long distance heart friends. They are people you will soon meet along the way.

I lost a lot of years searching for my comfort. Because that's what drinking is, really, isn't it? A soft place to fall. I looked for my mother in the bottom of a bottle only to come up empty every single time.

I'm learning to be a comfort to myself. To be the mother I wish I'd had, the one I long to be. To care for myself not by hurting myself, but by seeing and healing my wounds. By opening my arms and my heart to myself when I ask "are you my mother?" instead of opening another bottle of wine.

Being sober brings many gifts- too many to count some days. For me this may be the best gift of all: the gift of me and mother.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Part Of

I've been on this thinking tear lately: so much to think about! I kind of feel like my life is a 5,000 piece puzzle and I'm working out where all the edge pieces go. And also finding that bit of that middle part, and now oh! here's that piece so now that makes sense.

Not all of it is awesome. In fact, some of it kind of hurts. Suffocates. (Like the my mother stuff) (which is not overly dramatic, but not the Cleavers either). But it makes me feel closer to me. Like I understand myself, and that I understand myself with compassion.

I've been thinking about how I'm finding freedom from my past. How I am not my mother. How I'm not that miserable drinky woman I was a year ago. How now that I'm sober I can decide who I am, it isn't decided for me by my past, by my alcohol abuse. By me. How it's really really OK to be proud of who I am. To feel like I'm doing fine. Great even. How it's best for me to be kind to me.

I was talking with someone yesterday about how the year seems to be just flying by. But then this morning I thought about July 4th- which was only almost a month ago- and life isn't flying by. So much happens that I've started keeping my daily what-happened-today calendar up again. (Just one to some sentences about what happened that day, and if someone said something funny/notable jotted down right before bed when I probably should be flossing.....) Life is taking up time.

Then I started thinking about how life is so full of life now that I'm sober.

Before Sobriety:

.....wake up cranky and guilty all wine.....drink.....

After Sobriety

.....wake up early.....write.....make coffee (I couldn't drink coffee when I was drinking booze- it made me anxious and edgy-  ramped up the shame thoughts by about fifty million) bike to plans....cut flowers....pick tomatoes.....imagine....feel awesome.....feel heart.....well, you get the picture.....

The part I like about it is that I am actually doing the living instead of watching it pass me by while I get drunk again. That I'm in the game and not on the sidelines passing on playing. I'm in it! Me, flailing and missing that perfect play. Me! Making the winning point! Me- participating. Being a part of, not apart of.

Friday, August 2, 2013

In the Middle

Instead of a people pleaser I call myself a peacemaker. I think this is a people pleaser, but maybe the deluxe version. Not only do I want everyone to be happy, but I do it at the expense of my own well being. With some added meddling and fixing where I really don't belong. 

My mother and I have a complicated relationship. I adore her, but she can be difficult to deal with. Which I'm sure she would say about me immediately in rebuttal. I defend her a lot in my head to myself and to other people. Try to protect her. Try to make people see the person I see. 

She is loud. Opinionated. My way or the highway. Quick to tell me she's proud of me, but quick to say something hurtful too. We have a seesaw dynamic that never feels steady, or safe. I don't like asking her for help- it always seems to come with baggage. Her moods are unpredictable. 

I want her to be my soft place to fall. So much. I want to trust that when I call she won't be on a rant, or in a bad mood. I have A LOT of issues coming up with this that make me nervous and feel more alone in the world. Which I am feeling. Which are a big part of what I was hiding from in wine bottles. Which is hard for me to admit because of loyalty to her, love for her. She is my mama after all.

I put myself in the middle of a situation with her that I don't want to be in. I realized that I put myself in the middle of a lot of situations I don't want to be in, some I don't even belong in. Oh. 

By not drinking the bad away I suddenly got my get out of jail free card. Hello, my name is NOT the middle. I don't have to help her with this ongoing sticky situation. It's none of my business. The universe just told me politely to 'butt out". And I wasn't drunk, so I heard it. Loud and clear.