Thursday, October 31, 2013


A few years ago my husband and I went to Carowinds (an amusement park) after a long night of drinking. (Which sucked, by the way. Hangovers and big rides do not mix.) There was one roller coaster that had a cyborg-y theme. They strapped you in, laying down, your head leading the way up the giant hill. "Resistance is fu-tile. You will assimilate." announced a computerized voice. I wasn't so sure I'd assimilate, unless that was also code for be green and barf, but now I can't get that voice out of my head.

Resistance y'all. It really is fu-tile. I have been resisting myself my whole life. Fighting against who I truly am to be some version of me that is made up of years of trying to fit in and other random bits and pieces pulled from everywhere. Everywhere. All the places and people of my life trying to claim a bit of me, and me just willing to pass them out like candy.

What the hell.

So I woke up the other morning and I was having my morning think- where I just snuggle into the covers and think. I pray some, try to meditate. (Although I really cannot make the breath square but up to about 4 times without completely losing track. "3.....4.....when was that dentist appointment again? Gah, I'm fat. I need to go for a run. Why did I eat that cake last night? I think I want a purple rag rug for the living room. Oh, shit. I forgot to keep meditating!" ) But there was room for this big thought: I have been resisting my life. Struggling against it. Standing firm right smack dab in the middle of my own way.

And I might just need to MOVE.

You know how, when you know something, but you don't really know it, but then you do know it, and then you feel sort of dumb? Like, ohhhhhhh, yeah, yes! That's it! I kind of laughed a little out loud at myself in the dark at 5 in the morning. Well, DUH. MOVE.

There are things that are consistent struggles in my life: My weight. Being afraid to be me, to speak and live my truth- even if it isn't the most popular thing to do. Feeling like I am enough, that I have enough- like I'm doing it right. Being vulnerable when I am so afraid to open my heart. Fear of big success, of any success.

Keeping myself at a nice save average when I could really shine.

Immediately my brain resists: You're trying to be something you're not.

But what if that isn't true? What if I'm trying to be something I deep down am and my play-it-safe part keeps getting in my way? What if all this time I've been refusing to see what is really true about me?

I feel like I've been in a slingshot. I'm the rock. All my life has been pulling me back. Pulling and pulling. And I've been helping by doing all this resisting. By living on wishes ("I wish I were thinner. I wish I could be a writer. I wish I could be a yoga teacher." Etc.) BUT DOING NOTHING TO MAKE THEM COME TRUE.

What. The. HELL?????

I got pulled far back enough that I can see the slingshot. I can see the whole thing. And it makes a Y.

It makes a Y. A why.

So here I am, rocky little me. Stretched as far back as I can go, afraid to fly. Looking at what drives me and seeing the Y clearly for the first time. Yes, I am afraid. What if I lose weight and people notice me? What if I wrote and wrote and made something happen and people think I'm trying too hard. What if I got to be a yoga teacher and I was really good at it? What if I was good, really good, at stuff? My rocky little self is afraid of heights, afraid to fly.

But I'm already here, in the air. Sobriety slung the shot without me really realizing I'd been flung. And I've been scrambling, grasping for a handholds. But all this time I haven't needed to hold on, I've needed to let go.

Resistance is futile.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Brain

What is up with my brain?

I swear I have felt like the saddest of sad sacks for the past weekish. And not really right with myself since the beginning of summer. I've been Google-ing "How do I know if I need an anti-depressant?". Searching for small campers in which to make my escape. I knew I was in trouble the other afternoon when I was sitting at the bottom of the stairs with my hands in my hair yelling "Help me!" at my husband because the boys were bitching about turning off their video games. Yesterday I tried to hide in bed, to "sleep in" which is really code for "check the fuck out". My youngest wouldn't leave me alone so it was a resounding non-success.

It probably reminded him of when I was drinking. And couldn't get out of bed. I was really just trying for a little reading/sleeping time. But the intention felt like when I was hungover and just wanted to escape. Sleep into nothingness. Disappear. Could he tell?

So I got up. Ate breakfast. Had tea. Made myself go for a hike at the river with my husband, youngest, and dogs. I made myself keep a meeting at my oldest son's school. I didn't cancel my husband's grandmother's visit. I bitched and moaned, and I really really wanted to, but I didn't disappear.

And now this morning I feel better. Like, really like ME. Silly. Hopeful. I found yet another few white napkins in the dryer this morning (my husband is a waiter. he brings these things home allllllll the time) and I laughed a little about it when yesterday I would have been furious. I would have had that dialogue in my head all about "Why can't he leave those at work! How hard is that? What are we going to do with all these white napkins with wine stains on them? Aaaaagggghhhhhh!" I would have said it in that gritty voice through clenched brain teeth. I would have rubbed and polished that resentment right into breakfast this morning.

But instead, because today is today I smiled a little fondly at the napkins and just folded them right up. Moved on. Started another load of clothes. Let the dogs out. Got on with it.

I've been thinking a lot about what makes me tick. Like, cellular-ly. How what I eat and when I sleep and how much I exercise affects how I am. I am the queen of experimenting and giving things up. Which people make fun of me for, and which I kind of understand since it seems like I'm always saying, "Wellllll, I think I'm trying no gluten again......" or "Yeah, I know I sometimes don't eat dairy, but I'm trying yogurt. I read that it's good for beginning menopause (which I may or may not be having)....." or "No sugar for me! It makes me crazy!" followed a few hours later by nineteen tiny Halloween candy bars that someone should have never bought in the first place.

One big thing I have known for a long long time that I really really do need to give up is.....gulp.....caffeine. I never ever had any while I was drinking because it made me feel even more shitty and also terrifically edgy and jumping out of my skin anxious. Yaaahhhhhhhh! But after I quit drinking I began a slow love affair with coffee. Then more coffee. Then a fling with Yerba Mate. Then I went for the hard drinks. Then last Thursday I had two of these big energy drinks. Trouble y'all. With a capital T.

All this caffeine and up and down and woooo and booooo makes my dear body crazy. It makes me (in my humble I'm my own scientist way) know that I'm not making my own energy. That things are waaaayyyyy out of whack. Because, just like with booze, just one cup in the morning is not enough. Suddenly I was making coffee with dinner for pete's sake! I was so tired and worn out in the afternoon it was the only way to make it to stories and bedtime. Either that or I was just a fucking zombie and we were eating dinner in front of the TV again. And it was cheese and crackers again.

And I was also miserable. Does this sound like booze, but coffee? Yes. YES! Dammit.

But here's the thing I realized Friday of last week: just stop it. Stop that which makes you sad and miserable. So Monday I quit caffeine. Cold mother fucking turkey. Because that's the way that works for me.

And now today I woke up on my own feeling good for the first time in a while.

And really, it is time. Time to try to feel better. Time to stop using early sobriety for an excuse to treat myself like shit. Time to do what I know makes my body move better, what makes me feel steady on my feet. Planted here, roots in the ground. Time to dig deeper, to know that it's OK for things to get harder. I realized after a long conversation with Universe-Sent Amy that I have made huge progress, but I am not to the bottom of the soul hole yet.

She said, "You've pulled off scabs. Big ones. Now you have to heal them and not just let them scab up again." She also said people tend to relapse right around one year. That it seemed like instead of canceling therapy appointments and kind of dropping off the radar I should amp up my game and try going to an AA meeting? To keep my appointment. And get ready to get down to business because this could be even harder than it's been, but if I reach out and take care of myself I can handle it. I can handle it.

I think I was around the block from giving up. Not drinking again, but just saying yes to the life check out. I am so sick of this shit I wanted to say. And pass me another cake.

But here I am, typing away at five in the morning. Here I am, keeping going. Here I am. Tears in my eyes feeling proud of myself for being so brave. For looking when the world holds up hard things. Having my own back. Feeling capable again. Able to help myself instead of lying to myself. Holding hands with my brain again.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Life has been a little roller coaster-y for me lately. I feel exactly like that: here is a solution but I'm busy being busy and won't stop to look. Plus there have really been some big things going on.

Y'all, I met Sherry from Oh for the love! After much planning and arranging and finagling we found a free Saturday for both of us. It was so damn good to give her a hug, to know that there's another person out there who gets my crazy. She gave me some great perspective on some things like saying "I need" rather than "You never".

We talked like we'd known each other for years over five hours at a Starbucks halfway between our houses. We talked freely. We told stories about ourselves, our drinking, our families, the way we are exactly the same about papers all over the damn kitchen counter. :) We had a few moments that made us both get goosebumps. We got to look into each other's eyes and hug each other hard and promise to do it again.

There's just something about talking to someone face to face who knows mostly exactly what you've been through. There's something so comforting about that "Mmmmhmmmm" and head nod. There's the way you hug someone a little tender tighter because you know they've been where you've been and you know it was a hard place to be. It was such a pleasure to spend the day together.

Another big thing is that my women's group ended.

I knew I was learning stuff, but I didn't really realize how it all sort of came together. You know, like being sober. You start and you try and then you kind of go, "Oh. Here I am. Whoa. I have been changing! I am flowing along! Really?"

We wrote about ourselves in six months, but it had to be in the present tense. (So like the stuff was happening) I wrote that I was running again. And meditating. That writing was a bigger part of my life. That my husband and I were partners, intimate and life. That we moved to a smaller house and were saving money, paying things off. She told us to dream big and so I wrote that my website was a success, and that I was working on a book, that Soberbia was going to be a real place, and that I also had stopped yelling at the children. I wrote that I was strong enough to handle what life gives me- good or bad.

I have to say, that writing was cool. Like, all of these things are totally possible! And not only are they possible, but I believe they can happen. Wait, that the future? And does it look.....OK? Dude.

Another big, big bigger thing at our last meeting was that I realized I had reached a point of peace with my mom. We had a conversation the other day that was sort of crying and disagreeing and sort of spouting out some feelings. My mom is tough to crack, she isn't mean, she's just....protective of herself.

"While you're busy living your life you don't know other people's pain!" she said to me. Oh. I realized that she is the way she is not out of anger at me, but that she was hurt A LOT as a child and that she doesn't know how to be open and tender without feeling totally out of control. And so she acts abrupt and curt to protect herself. So now I can try to take it differently: now I know when she's acting bitchy that she might be just scared underneath.

I'm still considering how I feel about the group ending. What is my next step? Um, AA? Join the ongoing Tuesday group? I'm going to take advantage of my five free counseling sessions I get with my health insurance. (woooo five y'all! I'll be healed in no time!) I have great admiration and respect for the therapist who ran the women's recovery group and maybe I can see her once a month.

Another biggest thing that happened was sitting in on my son's first counseling session. My kids have been fighting like crazy lately. As a family no one is happy much. We don't laugh, or joke. Or relax for fuck's sake. We have been a "me first" family all year. Except there are four of us.

We might ALL need some therapy. Really.

Yesterday my mom said, "I'm not trying to hurt your feelings, but they act what they see." It was spoken soft, and with open kind eyes so I knew there was no judgement.

And after Jack's session I was really knocked for a loop. In a "Oh! This merry-go-round is so fun but I think I might throw up" way.

He's so pent up, and frustrated, and angry. He's so hard on himself. So hard.

He's also really well spoken, and funny, and quirky. And so fidgety!

I realized that he is being a lot like, um, ahem. Me.

Hard on myself. So hard. Quick tempered. Needing perfect. Chasing the end and upon reaching placing another rung just too high to reach. Never feeling relaxed or happy because it just isn't happy enough or relaxed enough. Never good enough.

Here I am, there again. In that wonderful cringe-y moment where I am seeing the light and dang, that is real bright and a little painful. But oh. It's so good to be able to see my way again. And I'm OK, and the therapist seems to be a good fit- he talked to Jack like he was a person and not a little kid. It made me realize that there is a lot of anger running through all of us. That these qualities that are so easy to pick out in my little boy (anger, perfectionist, never good enough) are wild and alive in his dad and me. Well, shit.

My husband and I are meeting with the therapist together without Jack on Thursday. I am really nervous and glad. Inviting a trained to see stuff stranger into our family dynamic is nerve racking, but if I can help Jack deal with the bigness that life can be it's worth it. So much of sobriety is uncomfortable, and this is one of those things. Doing this feels like I put on a too small sweater and now I can't get it off. Which is why we need some help. Just a little help.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sort of Surrender

This is what I looked like while I was praying/pleading with the universe for some patience and also understanding. Except there was more crying and not as much of a pretty glow.

The past two days have been rough. Like, rough.

I swear when I was sobbing and pleading for help on the bedroom floor earlier I was not all the way crazy. I mean, I knew I was down there doing that. I felt like I could cry my very heart out. Like I wanted to cry it out. "Just get out, heart," I would say. "All this caring and hurting and living is so hard. Please, just go away."

I thought about when I drank while I was laying there. I thought about that when the going got rough I got drunk. Now I just get on the floor and cry. I'm sure the children don't understand either way, but at least after my cry I gave them baths and then we cuddled up on the couch and watched TV for a bit before bed.

So I did surrender and listen to Jack's teacher. He is a kind young man who feels a kinship with Jack. He thinks up things for Jack to do when he finishes ahead of everyone else. He and Jack have a journal they write back and forth in. Jack's problem is not behaving at recess. They have a whole enrichment thing for that: a Personal Empowerment Program (PEP) (what the hell? Isn't he, um, eight?) that Jack will complete since he gets overwhelmed by Four-Square. My husband actually said, with no trace of sarcasm, "You're telling me my kid can't behave at recess?"

But the head banging is cause for concern, and also Jack's holier than thou attitude. He alienates himself because he thinks he's smarter and better than everyone else. And he puts so much pressure on himself to be the best, and first. And the best. And first.

The whole thing was surrealish and good but weird. And we all lived.

I did three asking for help things today. Help for Jack- finding a counselor for him to talk to about why he's so hard on himself and dealing with his anger and sense of entitlement and injustice. Help for me- my women's group ends Monday. I won't be joining the other group that meets on Tuesdays, and we can't afford for me to see my current therapist. So another counselor for me. And more help for me- an appointment with a new GP who does acupuncture and nutrition therapy. Someone who can help with my foot, and my hormones. Word. Word.

What really sucked was when the nice woman who was helping me figure out what I wanted in a counselor asked me what I was looking for I had to say, "I'm a recovering alcoholic. That part is more important than the holistic part. That's the most important part." Saying it out loud, to a stranger, over the phone seems like it could be a piece of cake. Except it isn't. Telling her that Jack's counselor needs to know that about me too doesn't make anyone feel like mother of the year.

Then I got off the phone and cried a little and whimpered to my husband, "It's hard to ask for help."

Because, God. It really is.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Surrender to the Dilemma

I'm taking a lot of deep breaths today.

I got a note from my son's teacher that he's having a hard time at school. When I asked Jack about it he declared that school makes him miserable. That he doesn't have any friends. That he has to bang his head on the pole at recess because otherwise he will scream and yell and lose his temper and get in trouble.

Y'all. This is my boy. My baby. Here is one side: I know how he is. He is a perfectionist. I often say that he's an old man trapped in a child's body. He has a temper. He is over competitive. He doesn't see the other people in the world, he sees himself. And then more of himself. And then also himself. He has all these grown up ways of looking at the world but isn't capable of handling it. And no one at school understands that- teacher or child.

He says the other kids bully him. Tease him. When one kid grabs him by the hood and swings him around Jack is the one that gets in trouble for telling. I want to punch that kid right in the face, little troublemaker. Picking on my boy for spiking his hair, for having to wear glasses. Making Jack feel bad about himself. Making him feel unsafe. Making him hate himself because no one wants to be his friend.

Jack is tall, and slender. He has friendly brown eyes, and a scatter of freckles across his nose and cheeks. He has the prettiest teeth, and kind of shrieks a little when he thinks something is really funny. He's good at saying things like "AGH! I'm really mad!" when he's really mad. He chews his fingernails down to nubs trying to behave and sit still at school. He curls into my lap and almost purrs because he loves me that much. He tells me in a husky voice before bed "I love you mom" with such feeling I can almost swallow the words whole.

He can be hard to get along with. Unbendable. Unwilling to take any blame, any at all.

I feel so in the middle. So caught between the "third grade team" and my little boy. I want to shake him and blame him and curse him. Just be normal for god's sake. Normal! Is that so hard? Why do things always have to be so wonky with him? Why can't he be kid of the year and have forty-seven best friends and I can bask in the glory of my wondrous son? Why can't it be easy?

Screw that.

I had thought that my being was calming down a bit. I mean, I was soul searching. Feeling like things were steady enough to get that soft hide-a-way part of me out and wave it around some. Feeling like fall was here and that we were all settling in for our long winter's nap. Now here I am, in the middle of molting during an uproar without my hard enough shell.

I know it can't be easy. I know I will listen and advocate for my not-so-normal beloved boy. I know that my mama ego can take this imagined blow, and many many more. It's just so hard feeling so judged, or imagining that we're being judged since we haven't even had the conference yet. There I am, me with my conference ahead of the horse again.

These are the things that are hard to deal with without two bottles of wine. These are the things that make me almost vibrate with frustration. These are the things I want to eat all the cookies in the world about. That I want to just throw my hands up and say FUCK. IT. and then run far away about.


These are the things that I know I need to breathe in about. That I need to put on comfy pants and grab my book and maybe watch a movie with the kids piled on the couch while the cold mist rains and rains outside. That I keep practicing dealing about. And practicing. And practicing.

So I'm going to put down my arms. I'm going to stop the fight before it even starts. I'm going to get my cart, and my horse and arrange them in sensible order. Make it OK for me to not be in control, but to let the thing run its' course. Make my thoughts and words belong to me, to open my heart and do what I will feel is right. Let the time come and stay now in the meantime. And mostly not feel scared, or ashamed, or afraid. Breathe in, breathe out, and trust that I can surrender to the dilemma.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Making Room

Here is a miracle y'all: I am ten months sober today. From the day I got sober I could have grown a tiny delicate bunch of cells into a fat little ready for the world baby. That's kind of what it feels like I've done- created the miracle of a new life.


Miracle. I love that word. It's so big, and possible. And it implies people got saved, and it was good.

When I was drinking I was full of spirits, but not full of spirit. I had a lot of prayer but it was mostly about helping me get away from booze and also about get me through this day please. Then I said the same prayers when I got sober. A lot.

I've been thinking about being spiritual. And being OK with it. As in, not embarrassed.

I've been thinking that I'm ready to pray about other stuff besides keep me sober. That I'm ready.

I believe in the universe, in nature, and that things happen for a reason. I believe that there are things and forces and energies out there fluxing and flowing making it all go. I believe if you pray and put intentions and dreams out into the universe or to your big superpower person that these forces conspire to make wishes come true if they're meant to be. I believe the universe works with you, not against you- even when you don't get what you think you want. I believe that if you are honest with yourself something backs you up. I know that when I finally soul deep down meant it when I begged to be sober it worked. I mean, something clicked.

My mother will laugh in your face if you tell her you believe in God. She finds religion, spirituality, and faith a big fat waste of time that could be better spent watching "Project Runway". I was always told that if I wanted some of God's love that was fine, but I knew secretly she would think I was stupid for even trying. After the childhood she had I know why. If I had been a little girl in her house, with her parents, I would not believe God or any other savior existed either.

There are so many lines in spirituality. There are my mother's lines, and your lines. There are the lines of those people who just look so beatific that you almost feel embarrassed that you aren't so overtaken. There are the lines that make people sinners and hell bound. There are my lines: how I want to believe in a greater force, and I do, but only in a half-hearted way that never gets anybody anywhere.

We talked about religion and spirituality in my therapy group last week. That they are not the same thing. One of the women who is Catholic spoke about the ceremony of religion and spirituality, how that gets her through hard times like death of loved ones and also what to make for dinner Tuesday night. How there is always someone there for you, whenever you need them. I want some ceremony. I want a backer. I want it for me, for my children. For my spirit.

But church can be hard to swallow. And hard to get to. And believing can seem like something for people who can't take care of themselves. So needy. So weak. And we already have to get dressed to go somewhere on at least five other days.

I drank for over twenty years searching for some salvation. Then I got sober. Now I eat too many cookies when maybe what I really need to do is pray. Maybe what I really need is some kind of spiritual connection. Some ceremony. Some believing. A way to cleanse and fill my spirit with the light and goodness that is all around and in me. Some relief. The balance we all naturally get from the universe because we be.

There is part of me that knows that I have to open my heart to the love in offering. That there is this "thing" that wants to envelop me. That because I am sober I can be not afraid to be loved, or to love back. Since I'm not drowning in a well of booze and self loathing I can actually feel the warm approval that was there all along. All along.

So maybe it really doesn't have to have a name, or a God. I can, right here, right now, embrace my spirit. I can believe because I want to. I can say it out loud, "I believe". And that doesn't mean I have to get myself to church, or that I'm going to try to convince you. It means I need something to believe in, and now here's room to open the door. :)