Hello God? It’s me…pick up.

I can’t seem to make that deep spiritual connection with God the way I used to and it’s really beginning to scare me.  (I’ve written about this before so if you’re tired of hearing about it…you can hang up now.)  But no matter how much I write about it, talk about it, pray about it, meditate on it…still…it’s just not happening.  Okay – that’s not entirely true.  I know He’s there…I just can feel Him the way I used to.  Which is weird.  I’ve always found a way to make contact.

When I was a little girl living in a totally dysfunctional, sick and disturbed family, I naturally used to talk to God often.  I would pray for my dad to quit drinking.  I would pray for him to get his eyesight back.  I would pray to not get in trouble when I misbehaved.  I prayed for boyfriends.  I prayed for grades.  Normal kid prayers done in my usual, informal conversational way.  He never intimidated me or frightened me and I’m not sure why.  The priests would certainly have preferred that I be afraid (it was the 60’s – the church was different then)…but I never was.  I was just chatting with a friend.

After kids, I began to connect with my spirituality on a deeper level.  That’s probably natural after bearing witness to three honest to goodness miracles.  I returned to church and fell back in love with my faith.  It took me to a deeper level of belief and connection.  I watched my children become ensconced and gain an understanding of what I took for granted.  I let the experts explain the basic tenets of our faith, and then I shared my own version and left them to decide for themselves what they wanted to believe. 

As a result, I have two very spiritual but not very religious kids and one agnostic (or so he believes right now) and that’s okay with me.  We talk about God and prayer all the time at home and we discuss different faiths and why they believe what they believe.  We debate and discuss…and, most importantly, we believe (even the agnostic believes in something…he’s just not sure what yet).  And we pray…informally, conversationally, like we’re chatting with a friend.  I’m proud of that.

But my confusion is that since getting sober, when I’m supposed to be connecting with my HP, I’m getting busy signals, voice mail or hangups.  In other words…I’m not making any connections.  Back when I was in total and complete denial about my drinking, I used to feel a connection when I sneezed – and by that I mean – I only had to reach and it was there.  When I prayed or meditated, I actually heard God speak to me from time to time, and once even got the shit scared out of me when I connected a little too closely.

Was that because I was in such bad shape and He knew He had to be there?  Or am I just not doing enough to make the connection?

I don’t know.  I’m doing a good job in my yoga practice connecting to myself (major progress BTW) but my meditation practice and daily prayer isn’t yielding any open lines.  Maybe I just need to extend my meditation time and stop trying so hard. 

Whatever it is, I hope the lines of communication are cleared soon.  Two years of static and sporadic connections isn’t enough for this recovering alcoholic.

No…like any good alcoholic…I always want more.

Namaste

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
~ Psalm 46:10
Advertisements

Real Life 101

Our last group of trainees reported for work this morning.  During the introductions, I had a major realization.  I have been in my field for longer than they’ve been alive.  That was a real kick in the ass for me.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if they were high school graduates, or even undergrads…but these are business school graduates.  That means they are in their late twenties to early thirties.  I have been in banking for 33 years.  I can do that math.  I remember very clearly what it felt like to be the one in those seats…nervous and fidgeting, excited and anxious, ready to get going because I knew everything there was to know, and yet…scared shitless and so grateful to be where I was.  They think they know it all right now too.  It won’t take long for them to find out that they don’t.

So while it was a real kick to the ego to realize that I could, in fact, be the mother of everyone in the room (young mother – I started my career at 18 after all), I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there was no way on God’s green earth that I would trade places with any of them.  No freaking way on no freaking day.

But I started thinking about what I wish someone had told me when I was young, obnoxious and just starting out in my career and I came up with the following courses…

  • Effective Communication Skills
    • Let someone else speak and stop thinking about what you’re going to say before they’ve even finished their thoughts. 
    • Listen. 
    • Think. 
    • Then speak. 
  • How to Manage the Real World
    • The real world doesn’t care that you went to an Ivy League school or what your GPA was.  You may have gotten the job because of it – bravo – but once hired, all the real world cares about what you’re going to do for them today
    • Shut up about what was and concentrate on what is.
  • The Importance of Work/Life Balance (Note:  How to Manage the Real World is a required prerequisite of this course)
    • Live in the NOW.  You will get promoted, you will move forward, but only if you can truly make the best of the moment you are in right now.
    • Concentrate on making a good life for yourself outside of work.  You’ll need it on those days when it looks like the world is falling down around your ears.  There’s something to be said for a nice home, good friends, and maybe a family one day.  THEY are what matters.
  • Human Resource Code of Conduct
    • The only salary you need to be concerned with is yours. 
    • If you are fairly compensated for the job you are doing then be happy. 
    • If you are not, ask for a raise and outline, clearly and succinctly, why you deserve one.  Show how you add value to the organization, not just take up space.
    • If you are overcompensated for the job you are doing, ask for more work and show how you add value to the organization.  One day, someone will notice that you are paid more than you’re worth – make sure you can show them your worth.
  • Keeping Work in Perspective
    • Don’t postpone personal decisions because of your job.  If you want to get married, have a baby, go to graduate school, whatever…do it!  There will always be a job and, truth be told, once you have a child your “career” will become just a job so work to live a full life, not the other way around.
    • Take a vacation.  You need to recharge, relax and release.  Working through vacations and holidays doesn’t make you an overachiever, it makes you a chump.  Don’t be a chump.
    • Don’t move just to be closer to work.  As soon as you do, you will be transferred.  Find a place you want to live and then live there.  In the city for the nightlife, in the burbs for the schools, in the mountains for the fishing…etc.  The commute will be worth it if you’re happy. 
  • Financial Success after College 
    • Live within your means.  Save.  Invest wisely.  Leave the credit cards alone.  You are never too young for a 401K.  When I got laid off it was all we had to live on.  Although I’m paying dearly to the IRS – at least we kept the house.
  • Health and Human Life
    • Stay fit but don’t obsess.  Your body will eventually begin to break down.  Everything ages and changes.  Stay healthy and embrace the changes.  Enjoy your life.

And finally, and most importantly, don’t wait until you’re 51 and in recovery for alcoholism to figure all of this out.  Just sayin’

Namaste

~Vikas Narula

Why Can’t I Mother and Merger?

My kids grew up watching the Rugrats on Nickelodeon which is to say that I also watched them.  In fact, the hubs and I love the Rugrats.  In the second spinoff movie, Rugrats in Paris, Charlotte Pickles, highly successful career woman and mother to the precocious, oldest child of the gang Angelica, says to her husband Drew, “I can’t mother and merger at the same time Drew!”

I freaking LOVE that line.  I love that line because it says to me that sometimes I need to just let go of stuff and stop trying to “mother and merger” at the same time.  That even though things may not go my way, they will still go.  That I don’t have to control everything.  And that bad things won’t happen if I can’t control the outcome of every freaking moment of my family’s lives.

And so I try to take Charlotte’s advice and step back and let others take control OR, more importantly, realize that some things just cannot be controlled by me.  Some things are actually out of my control!  The only problem with this is that as soon as I step back, fear and anxiety sneak in and bite me on the ass. 

I am an anxious person.  I think I’ve always been this way and I believe it comes from growing up in a home that was out of control.  It left me feeling that, unless I could control it, something was bound to go wrong.  The hubs says I’m always waiting for the other shoe to fall because, in my head, things can’t possibly be this good.  Something will have to come along and fuck it all up.  As a result, that shoe constantly hangs precariously over my head, and I end up sleeping with one eye open to ensure that it doesn’t fall…square on top of my head.  (I’ll bet it’s some cheap Louboutin knock-off too.)

These fears and anxieties are built on sand.  They have no foundation.  In fact, they are figments of my imagination.  But, if I’m not careful, they will take over my thoughts and mess with my head until I’m a quivering mass of depression and stress.  They make me weak and superstitious and I hate both of those things. 

For example, the hubs is a heart patient.  His entire family passed away, at very young ages, of heart related illnesses.  He had his first heart attack at age 45.  About 8 years ago he had quadruple bypass surgery.  I can’t control any of that which makes me a crazy woman.  What I can control is how much I nag him about seeing the doctor, eating right and getting at least some exercise from time.  It drives him a little nuts but I don’t care…he’s a man…if I left it up to him he’d never see a doctor.  Since I can’t imagine living without him – this is not an option.  So last week, I waited until I couldn’t stand the feelings anymore, and, seemingly out of the blue,  I texted him from work and asked him to make an appointment with the cardiologist for a check up and a stress test. 

Thank God that after 30 years he no longer asks questions.  He has an appointment for Monday.  But for me to really feel better, I’d have to crack open his chest and inspect his heart myself.  Uh…yeah.

My boys have an outing planned today.  It’s the first one that they will do entirely on their own.  Getting to this outing will require a trip up the interstate.  They are good drivers and their car is new.  So naturally last night I began thinking about all that might happen.  This morning I’m checking weather reports and pushing away images of mangled cars and bodies on the highway.  I’m praying for God to watch over them and keep them safe and bring them home to me (well…that’s not really fair since I pray that every morning).  And part of me fears that putting this in writing out in the Universe will somehow make this all come to pass.

I know – it’s crazy and superstitious and unfounded.

And it’s me.

For me to feel better in this scenario, I’d need to get in the car and drive three practically grown men to their outing, wait for them, and drive them all home.  Believe me when I say that I’d be more likely to be able to perform open heart surgery on my husband than it would be for THIS to happen.  But it sure would make me feel better.

I wish I could really figure out why my brain works the way it does and vanquish whatever demons create these crazy thoughts.  I wish I could put my faith in God and the Universe that everything will be alright and, if it isn’t, it’s not always my fault.

I wish I could trust.

Namaste

A Public Service Announcement

I try to keep this blog mostly about my own experience.  Sometimes, if it touches my experience, I will relate something about someone else.  I want to take a moment to let anyone who reads this blog know that it is NEVER about you unless I call you out specifically.

I grew up in a house of liars and while I am very, very good at it, I try only to use my power for good (i.e. Santa Clause, birthday surprises, etc.).  I also grew up with people who were passive aggressive and practice subterfuge like it was their job.

For this reason, among others, I am kind of…well…in your face.  I am direct and upfront and will always tell you the truth.  That is, I will tell you the truth with your permission.  My friends know that if they ask my opinion and I ask them, “Are you sure you want to hear what I have to say?”, that they are going to get it all, delivered with as much kindness and love as I can, but all nonetheless.

I wanted to take a moment and make it clear that I would never write anything veiled in order to get you to “understand” or “hear the truth” or any other of that bullshit.  I would also never betray a confidence.  If you tell me something and ask me not to share then it goes “in the vault” with the possible exception of my husband and even then I’ll ask, “Can I tell the hubs?” before I actually do.

And, even though I think it keeps us ashamed and in the shadows, I guard and hold dear the concept of “anonymous” in Alcoholics Anonymous.  Just because I have a big mouth doesn’t mean the rest of the world wants their shit known all over hell’s half acre.

So, if I’ve given you the link to this blog because I think it might help you or because you are my friend and I trust you with my secrets, or, in the case of my family, I want you to understand why I am the way I am; then rest assured that if I am writing about you, you will definitely know it.  I won’t hide it or disguise it or make nice.

It’s just not my style.

And, to my handful of readers, thank you so much for reading and commenting.  Even if you didn’t read and comment I would continue to write because it cleanses me but I am so appreciative of everyone out in this blogging space.  You guys rock my world.

Namaste

Stupid House

Ever since the morning of my “blast o’ serenity”, that allowed me let go of some serious shit from my childhood, a lot of other serious shit has been rolling through my brain.  Okay – so the other stuff isn’t quite as serious as forgiving the woman who gave birth to me for being a crappy mom – but it’s kind of serious if for no other reason than I can’t seem to let it go and I don’t, for the life of me, know why.

I miss my house by the beach.  Not necessarily the location (because we never actually went to the beach much) but the actual house.  I can’t put my finger on why but it truly was my dream home…not house because I can dream bigger than that…but the home.  This is not news, I’ve blogged about it before, even I’m sick of hearing about it.

I have been trying to let go of that sucker for five years and I’m hoping, with my mom out of the way, I might be able to try again now.  I just get such an ache in my heart whenever I think about that house.  It’s like I broke up with someone and the other person has moved on and married someone else and I’m regretting the decision to break up.  In this case, the “other woman” is affectionately referred to as “The Bitch That Lives in My House”.  I’m sure she’s a perfectly wonderful woman.  I’ve never even met her.  Doesn’t matter.

This is such an odd feeling for me because I don’t really get that attached to things like this (with the possible exception of a 1984 Nissan 300ZX Turbo).  I mean, I am a child of low income apartment living.  Nothing was actually ever ours – we were just borrowing it and, because we were low income and my mother was a lousy money manager, we were always on the precipice of being tossed out on our ample asses.  It was a good idea not to get too attached to the apartment or anything in it for that matter.

To show you how unattached I am to things like this, I submit for your consideration the fact that I drove away from the first home the hubs and I made together without so much as a glance over my shoulder – after 20 freaking years!  Still shaking my head over that one…

Sigh…I only lived in this house I can’t let go for four years.  Four freaking years and I’m letting it take up real estate in my head (heart) like I freaking gave birth to the damn thing!  Still shaking my head over that one too.

There are a few facts that I’ve been acknowledging as a way to break free. For example, (and this is a big hairy one) there is no way I could have stayed in that house and gotten sober in a sane way.  Not only were there too many ghosts after my mom passed, but there were too many party people around me.  All my close friends were heavy drinkers and we entertained a lot.  I’m sure that eventually I could have done it but I don’t think as successfully as I’ve done it here.

As far as I can reason, God moved us here and plopped me down in a neighborhood where I didn’t know anyone and then put Mary Kay Cosmetics in front of me.  A tea-totaling organization, full of women who have A LOT of fun without so much as a drop of alchohol…seriously…I didn’t even realize that was an option until I met them.  I mean, I knew it was possible, I just didn’t know it was an option for me.  Even during my heavy drinking times I could go away with these women for 3 or 4 days and not drink AND have a blast.  Don’t get me wrong, I thought about drinking a lot but it didn’t get in the way of my fun.  It also planted a seed, one that grew over time and one that I grabbed on to for support when I finally put down the wine bottle.

And this place is so much better for my children and that, in and of itself, is reason enough to love the place.  When I needed AA there were so many more resources here than there would have been there.  If I had gotten laid off while in our old town, we would have been way more screwed than we were here, there is no work in that town.  Probably would have ended up in forclosure.  And, I have found so many more friends and extended family here than I ever would have found there.  So many more like-minded people who I admire and from whom I would love to learn.  In terms of friends and “family”, this place is second only to my home town.  The truth of the matter is that I was a little lonely in the last town. 

Bigger sigh…

So now I’m on a mission to maybe figure out why I can’t seem to let go of a house built in 1984 that functions on septic and well, in a town so small you can’t change your mind without someone else weighing in on the decision, with nothing for teens to do and no employment opportunities.  Why I still feel that familiar ache and tears prick my eyes when I think too hard about it.  Why I can’t fall in love with our current home the same way (even though we are going to be living in it A LONG ASS time).  Why I can’t just move the hell on!!!!

Dang I can be stubborn.

Namaste

Some Things Never Change

Not my cobbler but I bet mine tasted better anyway.

I made a kick-ass cherry cobbler last night for one of my “adopted” children because it was his birthday.  Today he gets cherry pie…it will also be kick-ass.  Just sayin’.

I had some cobbler last night.  It was a normal size portion.  Nevertheless, it sat in my stomach like a rock and threatened to give me indigestion so I slept propped up.  I tried, very, very, hard not to beat myself up about the cobbler.  It was a normal size portion.  It was a treat. 

No such luck.  Just like when I used to wake up with a raging hangover, my very first thought upon waking was, “Okay, if I eat really light today and get on an eating plan next week then I can make up for eating the cobbler.”  Followed immediately by, “OMG what is wrong with me…why can’t I control my eating?”

Um – it was one serving of cobbler. 

It’s hard to break a habit that is so ingrained in your psyche.  I’ve spent a lifetime thinking this way so it might be a little while before I stop thinking this way.  As I’m sitting here typing this, I’m still beating myself up in my head and trying to bargain with myself to make up for what my brain sees as a major transgression.

When I was drinking, I can remember waking every freaking morning and saying to myself, “I will not drink today.  I will spend sober time with my family and make up for my asinine behavior and my isolationism.  In fact, I think I won’t drink for a couple of days just so I can prove to myself that I can do it.  Yeah…that’s good.”  Then I would feel renewed enough to get on with my day.

In the early days, I might actually not drink for a few days but I would be miserable.  I would be constantly thinking about ways to get to drink.  I’d be planning that day when I could drink and how I would do it.  Would I be obvious and just buy a bottle of wine?  Nope…I would come up with a story that would make it okay to break my fast.  That way I’d be justified.

“Lots of people drink like me.  And they certainly drink to celebrate.  Okay, on Friday I’ll celebrate something and go buy a bottle of wine.  Then again, I’d better get two or three since we’re bound to have company this weekend.  Then again, you get a 15% discount if you buy 6.  Yeah…I’ll get six.  But not until Friday.”

And I’d be off to the races again.

Later, toward the end, I’d barely make it to 4:00 before I was off to the races.  Blessedly that didn’t last very long.

Just typing this has me shaking my head.  Who in the name of God THINKS this way?  Oh yeah…alcoholics do.  Okay…glad I figured that one out.

So now I’ve decided not to eat today.  I’ll be fine right?  Well, maybe I should eat a little something.

Finally, blessedly I tell the staff…(sorry – my blogs are bleeding into one another – not sure what I’m going to do about that one.)

Just…shut…the…fuck…up…please.

Because this is one that another hour’s sleep and two Excedrin with a Diet Pepsi won’t help.  Well…maybe the Diet Pepsi will.

Namaste

Grateful and Blessed

I held myself together pretty well yesterday.  Got up, went to work, listen and read the news, grieved about those lost in Colorado.  I texted a few friends who live in or near Aurora to make sure they were okay (they were) and then I stuffed down all the panic and fear that had been threatening to bubble up and over because I hadn’t laid eyes on my boys since night before last.  Before they went to the midnight showing of Batman and returned home to me…safe and sound.  Thank you God.

When I got home yesterday, none of my boys were there.  One was babysitting for a friend and one had gone out to help a friend.  So I made chit chat with the hubs until he began talking a little too much about the shootings.  I finally told him to please just shut up about it – I couldn’t listen to it anymore.  I texted the son who was babysitting to ask when he would be home.  About 10:30 pm.  Four hours.

And then the other one walked through the doors and I put my arms around him and just lost it.  All my fear and grief and gratefulness just came pouring out onto his t-shirt.  He kept asking what was wrong and when I couldn’t answer he just held me (his father taught him well).  When I could finally speak and I told him he “sort of” chuckled which told me he was feeling blessed as well.  Any other time he would have been laughing and teasing me for crying.  This time he just hugged me again.

And then we got in the car and drove to the house where the other one was babysitting and I did it all over again.  He didn’t laugh or tease me either.

Lord thank you for bringing them home safely to me.  Wrap your arms around the grieving community of Aurora and give them comfort.

Om shanti shanti shanti

A Mother’s Prayer

I had a post all worked out in my head but when I sat down to write I just couldn’t focus in light of the tragedy in Colorado.  What I had to say just seemed so trivial.

What a senseless, unnecessary, sad, sad tragedy.  My prayers went up immediately this morning for the families and will continue. 

And this mother thanks God that her children went to see the movie last night at midnight and came home safely…because not every one’s family did.

Om shanti shanti shanti
(a Buddhist or Hindu invocation of peace)

Making Peace Gaining Serenity

I’ve always been a little bit psychic.  I dream about things that later happen (haven’t done that in awhile though) and I’m sensitive to energy.  When we bought the house prior to this one, I walked in and had an overwhelming feeling of sadness.  It almost made me back out of the deal.  But then I met the owner and she told me how much she loved the house and how she was so sad to be leaving it.  Once I understood the nature of the sadness, I was okay.

After my mom passed away she…lingered.  I could walk in a room and smell…I am not even kidding here…mustard, and I knew she was there (she loved hot dogs with way too much mustard on it and she usually ended up wearing most of it).  We would also smell stale cigarette smoke once in awhile and knew she was there.  Even when we moved out of the house and into our brand new home 4 states away, every once in awhile she’d pop up.

I haven’t “smelled” her in some time now.  I thought she had found peace.

And then I started thinking a lot about her after I posted about forgiving her.  She must have heard me…she’s back.

It started as just a passing scent of smoke but has gotten stronger over the last few days.  I talk to her when I smell it.  Just to say “Hi” and “Remember…you died…you can rest.”  But driving to work this morning I got this overwhelming feeling of peace and serenity and I just KNEW.  I knew it was time to forgive and make peace.

So I did.

Tearing up, I started talking to her.  I told her how much I really did love her and how sorry I was for not turning around the night before she died to tell her so.  I told her I was sorry for withholding my love and affection as a kind of punishment for her narcissistic behavior.  I told that even though we were complete opposites and that she drove me BATSHIT, there were good times and times she was there for me when I needed her (no matter how few).

Most importantly, I told her I forgave her for not being a good mom because I knew it wasn’t her fault.  She really did do the best she could with what she was equipped – which wasn’t much.  An abusive father who molested her and a cold mother who was jealous of her.  A personality disorder that not only went undiagnosed, but that no one could have done anything about.  She didn’t stand a shot.

The hubs used to say that I needed to stop making excuses for her and blaming myself for her behavior.  So I did.  But now, on the other side of it, I see that life is way too short to carry resentment and anger around – especially for something over which you (and she) had no control. 

I uncovered it, I dealt with it and now I’m letting go and moving on.

After I have a good cry that is.  I miss you mommy and I really, really did love you.  You just sucked at being a mom…and that’s okay.

Namaste

Thank God for…

A nice side effect of working through my food issues on my other blog, “Changing My Relationship With Food“, (shameless plug for the new site acknowledged) is that I’m beginning (VERY VERY SLOWLY) to change how I think about not only myself, but my body too.

So this morning I actually looked in the mirror and didn’t hate what I saw…I didn’t like it…but I didn’t hate it either.  As I thought about what I was looking at in the mirror, I said a “Thank God” for not having ugly and hurtful thoughts about myself which prompted me to think, why not thank Him properly?

So here’s my Thank God for…list for today –

Thank God for…

  • My family and the way my children are turning out.  I love them AND I like them.  That is a blessing.
  • The fact that the youngest twin got a 5 on his AP US History Exam.  That is a huge hairy deal.  Very few people manage that and he did it.  It will count for two college courses.  You go my baby!
  • Yoga – I’ve been practicing every morning instead of stressing about doing cardio and I feel amazing.  My muscles are getting stronger and my well being is improving.
  • God’s forgiveness.  I haven’t been feeling very close to Him lately but I know He’s not far.  I’ll get back to where I need to be.
  • A husband who puts up with my shit.
  • Work that I love with the possibility (that’s looking better and better everyday), that it will turn into a permanent position.
  • My new blog which is giving voice to my issues with food just the way this one gave voice to my addiction to alcohol.  I love writing.  I have always wanted to be a writer but I lack the imagination required for fiction.  This type of writing suits me and makes me happy. 
  • The people who write and read blogs, what a wonderful community.

Have a blessed day…

Namaste