Just Put Down the Glass

Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York.

I’ve never really written a post like this before – one that reaches out to those still drinking – but something is calling to me today and just in case it’s one of those bricks that God sends to me from time to time, I’ve decided to get this out of my head and onto the “paper”.  Please understand that this comes only from a humble and caring place and is not a lecture…just some feelings from one recovering alcoholic to those of you that may be struggling right now…especially this time of year.

Right now I’m in New York (yes…again) and it’s really kind of magical here right now.  The whole city is bedazzled and since I’m the queen of sparkle and bling, it speaks to me on a molecular level.  As I’ve been walking around peering into windows, I’m seeing a lot of people drinking.  Some are celebrating the holiday season, some on vacation, some just at happy hour, some at business dinners, some just at dinner.  For whatever reason, they are tipping back glass after glass and reveling.  As I looked on, I started remembering when that was me.

Long before it got “bad” and I took to my room with several bottles of wine every night, and long before kids, the hubs and I celebrated like this often.  It was festive, and cheery and fun.  But as I looked in the windows, I also remembered another feeling…a feeling that was always just below the surface.  It was a feeling I didn’t even acknowledge…like a dull itch below your skin that you can neither find nor scratch.  It was that hole in my gut or soul or whatever…the one that said, is this all there is?  I want more.  It’s not enough.  I feel like something is missing.

It would be a long time and many, many hangovers and broken hearts (mine principle among them) before I began to fill that hole.  But at the time, under all that fun and frivolity, was that feeling. It was like I was cold inside and looking for a way to warm myself.  For a while the wine helped to dull the cold but it never warmed me completely.  There was always something just not right.

I want to reach out to those of you that are struggling with this same feeling this holiday season.  Those of you filling that hole with alcohol and hating yourself for it.  I can’t speak to the “normies” because I don’t know what it’s like not to have a running dialog in your head while you’re drinking, but I can speak to those who can’t find any peace because the demon won’t shut the fuck up.  Peace is out there but you have to reach out and take it.

Just put down the glass.

It won’t be easy.  It sucks ass for quite a while.  It may be the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life.  You may need a medical detox and rehab, or you may be able to do it at home with help from AA or blogs or “drunk books”.  No matter…just do it.  You are so much stronger than you think you are.  I promise you will finally, blissfully find that peace you have been seeking.  You’ll begin to fill the hole and finally get warm.  That hole will fill with pure joy that comes from within you as opposed to a facsimile that comes from outside of you.  It will fill with laughter that is genuine and not fueled by alcohol or embarrassment.  It will fill with sleep that is uninterrupted and deep – the kind of sleep you haven’t had in years.  It will fill with love, again from the inside, love you never knew you had.

You will also find a group of people who are ready and willing to hold your hand and guide you through this journey.  People who have been where you are and know not only how much it sucks ass, but, more importantly, what’s waiting on the other side.  People who can help erase the shame and replace it with relief.  People who accept you for who you are, right now, even when you can’t stand the sight of yourself in the mirror.  They will love you until you can love yourself.

If you are fortunate enough to be loved by others, family, friends, children, a spouse, the hole will fill with their love and admiration too.  It may not come immediately – if they’ve been on this ride with you for some time, you may have to earn that love.  Give them time, because when they finally do embrace you again, the warmth that fills your soul will sustain you through all the cravings and thoughts of “just one won’t hurt”.  It will silence the demon and tell it to stay the hell asleep…it’s not welcome anymore.

And once you’ve experienced all of this, grab it and hold on until the world begins to slow, the cravings become almost non-existent, the demon sleeps and all that’s left is…

Peace.

Namaste

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Perfect is Overrated

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  My daughter and her family came down to be with us (they do it every year) and the house was filled with noise and laughter and love and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

I’m usually a real traditionalist, but this year I relaxed the rules a bit because the Redskins were playing Dallas and since our area of the country seldom broadcasts my beloved ‘Skins AND that’s the biggest rivalry in the NFL, we ate in front of the TV and it was grand.  (Okay…if the ‘Skins had lost it might not have been quite so “grand” but it still would have been good.)  I also decided that next year we would decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving so that all the kids AND the grand kids can help.  The grand kids were thrilled to hear this.

My children looked at me and said, “Who are you and what have you done with our mother?”

Fact is, I’ve mellowed in my old age.  I’m breaking some of the bonds that tied me to old and ridiculous notions.  I was a believer that if my house and my decorations were perfect then my life was perfect.  That if I could just get the right china, the right tablecloth and the best turkey and make homemade everything…from scratch, Thanksgiving would be perfect.  That if I could place all of the Christmas decorations just right on the tree and throughout the house, then everything would be perfect throughout the holidays.

And if everything was perfect on the outside, I didn’t have to spend any time dealing with what was on the inside.

What a crock of shit. 

Now, I was never a momzilla when it came to the holidays.  I always made it about the kids so they actually enjoy some of the traditions I set forth.  For instance, we always have a least two trees, one with white lights and sparkly ornaments (most of them Lenox) and one with colored lights and hand made ornaments with hand prints and face prints and pipe cleaners and googly eyes and lots and lots of glitter.  Now before you go all, awww…isn’t that sweet, you should probably know that part of the reason for doing that was so that all of those beautiful, hand made creations would not touch my “perfect” tree.

Not so “awww” now is it?  More like, “Aw…that’s really fucked up.”

But they love it.  I tried to change it a couple of years ago by buying a cut tree and putting colored lights on it and mixing up the ornaments.  Let’s just say it didn’t go over well.  I did manage to let go of the outside some years back hand it over to the hubs.  We now look like the Griswolds.  But we are also the most festive and happy house in our subdivision.  Everyone else has boring white lights and our house just makes me smile and go all gooey inside when I come home at night.  I think it’s beautiful.

So now at least I’m giving up control and letting others help me trim the tree and put up the lights and string the garland.  It will be lovely no matter what it looks like because they did it.

Too bad it only took me 30 years to figure it out.  Thank you God for keeping me sober so I could figure out who I am and what’s important in life.  It’s not the things we accumulate and display, its the love we accumulate and share…and that, my friends, is perfect.

Namaste

It’s Worth the Ride

For the past several months I’ve been feeling a little…flat.  My emotions have been a little dull and I haven’t been able to muster a tear for the Hallmark Channel.  Definitely not me.  I cry at McDonald’s commercials.  For years this was the only way I could get a good cry.  I didn’t believe in crying because I thought it showed weakness and my lovely family always used tears as a form of manipulation.  I never wanted any part of it.

Of course that’s also one of the reasons I ended up clinically depressed.  See, you HAVE to let those emotions out or they will fuck you up but good.  I had a therapist tell me one time that crying is God’s Prozac.  It resets your hormones and gets you back to “normal” (whatever the hell that is).

Antidepressants are supposed to put you on a level playing field with the rest of the normal population (there’s that word again) and that means you do this dance (if you’re paying attention) that has you evaluating your medication on a regular basis.  That’s the reason I sought out a psychiatrist that was also a pharmacologist – I wanted to be sure he knew his shit. 

I went to him week before last and asked him to lower the dosage on one of my medications (I have two) so that I wouldn’t feel so flat and emotionless.  It’s a side effect of one of my medications…too little and you’re still depressed, too much and you’re…nothing. 

BUT, when you’re adjusting meds like this, it can take some time for your body to settle in with the new dosage.  As a result, I’m a little short tempered at times, a little weepy at times, and a whole lot needy when it comes to the hubs.  It’s a bit of a roller coaster ride but definitely better than the alternative, which would either be a trip back into the black hole where there is no light, no joy and the only way out is some pharmacological help or death…at least for me, or an existence of no emotion at all.  Neither of those is acceptable  Nothing else seems to work for me in the long term, and I’m not willing to put my family through hell while I try something new…again.  Life’s too short to spend it making myself and other people miserable.

So they get a little roller coaster ride for a little while.  Hey – roller coasters can be fun right?!

It’s a delicate balance.  I definitely do not want to go blubbering on about everything but I do want to be able to be moved from time to time.  For example, yesterday my son (the singer) and I were running errands.  Our radio station is already playing Christmas Music (thereby ensuring I won’t be able to stomach one more note by New Years) and “Oh Holy Night” began to play…and he began to sing.  By the time he was done I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat and it was joyous!

And THAT’s how I knew that even though the roller coaster is challenging, it’s definitely worth the ride.

Namaste

Once Upon A Time…

Once upon a time, in a village in the seat of power of the most powerful nation on earth, lived a little girl.  This little girl was born into a broken family filled with broken people who thought that by bringing this little girl into the world, they could heal their broken selves.  Alas, her birth only served to bring attention to the holes and cracks in their souls and so no healing ever took place…only more sickness and rot came to their hearts and their souls slowly began to die.

Miraculously, the little girl lived among the death and decay, seemingly in a bubble of sunshine and warmth.  No matter how dark and ugly her world was, she saw only light and beauty.  No matter what they did to her, she found a way to look past the act to the person and know that it had nothing to do with her, that they were ill.  She found only pity and sorrow for them in her heart.  She knew that she didn’t belong in this world and she waited for the day that God would allow her to escape and find her true purpose.  She held tightly to the light and love within her soul and, hoping to nurture it, she shared it freely with others in spite of the scorn  and ridicule of her broken and rotting family.

In an attempt to escape, she married young to someone who was also born to broken souls.  Unfortunately, his heart was also marred and beginning to die so their union was dissolved.  The girl (who was now a woman), couldn’t bear to spend the rest of her life in a land so dark and desolate.  She wasn’t sure where the journey would lead, only that it had to lead to light and beauty because without this, she could not thrive.

One day the young woman met a man.  This man brought light and love wherever he went.  People smiled when he walked into a room and everyone wanted to be around him.  The young woman was instantly drawn to this happy and joyful man; she yearned to bask in his light.  She never wanted anything from this man except to be around him.  They became friends and she was glad.

Then one day the man turned his favor to her and began to court her romantically.  She was aghast!  How would she ever be able to live in his world.  She was young and stupid and ugly and he was handsome and brave and kind.  In the dark, dank recesses of the world in which they lived, he shined a light that lit those spaces and warmed those who dwelt within.  She could not resist; for the light and beauty that lived inside of her heart yearned to be joined with his.  She fell hopelessly in love with him and, by some miracle, he with her.

And so they were joined.  The sunshine and love and light the woman had always felt was able to blossom and bloom when joined with his.  She found that life was meant to be this way.  That the broken bits of her past were just a means to bring her to this place.  That God smiled favorably upon her and sent her not only this wonderfully kind and loving man, but allowed her the grace to live out her days with him.

And so they lived…happily ever after…

Namaste

Unconditional Loving

One of the reasons that the hubs and I will celebrate 30 years in April (holy shit that it is a long time) is because we are of like minds and share the same value system.  Back when we were first dating he told me this would be important and that it would help us to trust each other.  All I was thinking was, “Damn this guy is not my type and yet all I want to do is jump his bones!” or “Please God don’t let me fuck this one up!”

I was very young (22) and he was very old (35) so that should explain the fact that he was wise and I was, well, a child.

Anyway, those values and beliefs have always revolved around honesty, sprituality, and unconditional love.  Of course he had to help me uncover the fact that I had a deep, deep capacity for unconditional love because no one had ever taught me that this is the way love is supposed to be.  He is the greatest gift God has ever sent me.  Without him, nothing in my life would be possible, not even my children.

Again I digress…and I’m getting sappy so I’m going to move on.

ANYWAY, we have always lived with a giving spirit and have taught our children to behave the same.  When someone needs something, we are the ones who provide.  99.9% of the time we have no idea what result our giving has.  We just DO it because that what human beings should do.  There’s no comeback.  We don’t talk about it (except to each other).  Many times it’s anonymous so as not to embarrass the receiving party.  When we are able, we ask that the receiving party simply pay it forward, then we release it.

For many years we joked that rather than having our own kids, we would be destined to love and raise OPC (other people’s children).  Even though we now have six kids we call our own, our home remains open to various friends and girlfriends who, for whatever reason, have a hole in their homes.  They aren’t getting enough hugs, or support, or unconditional praise and love – so we give it to them.  It’s easy.  They are wonderful humans and we do for them what should be done for every human…we love them.

What I’m ALWAYS amazed to find is that everyone does not feel this way.  Many times people have been suspicious of us.  I’ve been accused of being a “care a holic” because I need this kind of life.  People have asked me why?  My only response is to look them in the eye and say, “Why not?”  They can’t believe anyone would do this for another person…I can’t believe they wouldn’t.

I’m actually very selfish…you see I get way more out of this than I could ever give.  I know that this is the way God intended humans to behave.  I know He’s pleased. 

So in the season of giving thanks I’d like to say thank you to the Big Guy for not only making me the way I am, but for sending me a mate that also believes in living this way.  I’d also like to thank Him for allowing me to find recovery so that I can finally, after all these years, know that I’m a good person and say to all the nay sayers and suspicious minds out there who question my motives…

“Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.  Have a nice day.”

Namaste

Breaking Dawn

Tonight I will go with a group of crazy, middle aged women to see the last in the Twilight Saga movies.  It’s been a crazy and wonderful ride and I’m excited to be going.  I started this journey because my niece insisted that I read the books.  I had heard about the vampires and werewolves and the love story and all I could think was, “Why doesn’t he just go ahead and bite her and get it over with?”  Other than Stephen King, I’m not much for supernatural stuff so to say I was a skeptic would be putting it mildly.

Then she sent me the books.

About a week after they arrived, I finally started reading and didn’t stop until I had read the entire series twice and the last book, Breaking Dawn, four frickin’ times!  I have purchased all of the movies and re-watched the first one at least five times.  I went to see New Moon seven times.  The others I have seen at least twice.  And the funny thing is I’m not one bit ashamed.  Stephenie Meyers is not the best writer in the world (although she improved as the series progressed) and the material is distinctly juvenile but hot damn!  I am addicted to these vamps and their drama.

I think the attraction is the romance factor of the novels.  Many of us remember “bodice rippers” from our past.  Those are the romance novels with the hot guy on the cover with long flowing locks, dressed like a pirate ripping the bodice from some young, chesty female with equally long, flowing locks.  They were written for women, by women (mostly) because they tapped into that fairy tale, sweep me off my feet and ravage my body need that so many of us have (well…at least those hopeless romantic types like me).  The Twilight Saga has all of this plus some supernatural qualities that make “happily ever after” really mean “happily ever after”. 

And the movies did a really good job of following the books.  They were able to capture the mood without a four hour long movie (although many of us would have been happy to sit through a four hour long movie…AND pay extra for the privilege).  And since all the actors returned for every movie, the continuity and integrity of the books was maintained.

Look – I am well aware that these books are not literary masterpieces nor are the movies going to win any Oscars; but they make legions of girls, women and a few men (my boys like the whole werewolf battle thing) happy and not take themselves so seriously.  I love Hemingway and Shakespeare and have been known to watch Gone With the Wind over and over, but I also like cartoons, Cap’n Crunch and Legos.  The Twilight Saga fits somewhere in between.

I won’t mourn the end like I have the Harry Potter series – that was like watching one of my children grow up and go away – but I am sad that this particular adventure will end this evening.

Then again…I do own all four books on my Kindle and will soon own all five movies…

Namaste

Having a Moment

I’m sitting here at work “having a moment”.  That’s what I say when I get emotional – that I’m “having a moment”.  See…I brought the last three kids’ senior pictures into the office where I could enjoy them every day.  Now I’m beginning to question my judgement.  Do I really want to sit here everyday and risk a look (it doesn’t happen every time) that sends me into one of those moments?

Yeah…it’s worth the risk.

This particular moment is brought to you by the letter N…for nostalgia.  Or W for…where the hell did the time go.  Or the letter O…for oh shit they’re grown.

It’s not like I didn’t know this was coming, it’s just that sometimes it jumps up and bites you in the ass – usually when you are least expecting it.  I look at these three gorgeous and wonderful young men, the last three at home, and think, “Oh my…we’re done.”  And that’s when I have a moment.

Of course my rational brain jumps in and says, “Whoa Nelly…wait just one minute…you most certainly are not DONE.  Don’t you field insane calls from the niece on a weekly (sometimes nightly) basis that make you want to reach through the phone and strangle her?  Don’t you have a new grand baby coming from the nephew who called you first when he found out he was going to be a dad?  Isn’t yours the house that everyone flocks to over the holidays?  And isn’t your 19 year old still at home with no plans to move out any time soon?”

Well yes but…

But they are all in the adult phase of their lives.  This is when they really begin to pull away and, if we’ve done our jobs right, begin to build lives of their own.  The boys will soon replace me with a wife who, even if they deny it, will mean more to them than I do (especially after their first child is born).  The daughter has already replaced the hubs with someone who is so much like him it’s scary.  (The niece…well let’s just let that one alone shall we?)  That’s the way it’s supposed to be.  It’s the natural order. 

It also sucks ass sometimes.

(I’m really glad only one of my children reads this blog.  I don’t want them to know what a foul mouth their mom has when the filter is lifted.)

I have loved every single solitary minute of being a mother and will continue to do so until my dying breath.  I was made to be a mom.  I have never, not one single time, regretted parenting any of my children.  From the oldest who came into my life at 12 and began chipping away at the hard, outer cover of my heart, to the niece who we parented part time but who can’t see how valuable that relationship is, to the nephew who has come and gone and come back better, to the three who are the only humans on the planet that know what my heart sounds like from the inside.  Every minute, every second has been a blessing and I’d do it again and again in spite of the pain that their pulling away creates…because the joy that they give me every minute they breathe is so much greater than anything else in the Universe.

When I look into their hearts, I see the face of God.

Namaste

Changing Times

I am always amazed at what the change in time (“falling back or springing forward”) and the fact that the days are becoming shorter, does to my attitude.  I’ve always known that I have a little touch of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) to go along with my clinical depression, so this doesn’t surprise me in the least.  It’s more…fascinating. 

As you all are painfully aware, I am on a quest to get my healthy back.  Right now I am down 16 pounds and inching closer and closer to that magical 20 pounds which will mean I can have my pants altered (I’m only altering or purchasing every 20 pounds).  Part of this journey has been to exercise more.  I’ve been walking, practicing yoga and I recently ordered Jillian’s 30 Day Shred because I know I have to do some strength training as well.  All in all, for a 51 year old, post menopausal woman I’m kicking some major booty.

Well…I was kicking major booty until two things happened.

I injured my knee doing jumping jacks in bare feet (a challenge from a group on MyFitnessPal.com – not the bare feet part…that was my own damn stupidity), and the time changed.

The knee thing is not really an excuse because there are things I could be doing while it heals.  I am practiced enough in yoga to know which poses I should and should not be doing.  Upper body strength training doesn’t come anywhere near my knee.  Walking on my treadmill at a slightly slower speed for an increased period of time would suffice.

It’s the time change that has thrown me for a loop.  Please remember that I am not, nor have I ever been, a person who works out in the morning.  I can barely get myself dressed and out the door in time so don’t tell me to work out before work when (for now) it’s still light out.  Plain and simple…ain’t gonna happen.

After work it’s dark…and cold…and my house and flannels are warm and cozy…and being snuggled up in my big, green chair with a book or a good TV show seems SO much better than bending myself into a pretzel in my yoga room or sweating while Jillian yells at me or walking on my treadmill in my cold garage. It’s only when I get on the scale and it hasn’t moved that I remember that I need to work out if I’m going to be successful.  It’s a mindset, I know, and one that I can change just by making it a habit to hit the workout before I do anything after I walk in the door.

Changing another habit…I should be a freaking expert at that by now.

Namaste

The Noise

I read a lot of sober blogs…it’s part of the reason I’ve been so successful staying sober for the last 35 months…a very BIG part.  In fact, the only thing bigger is God so that should give you an indication of what I mean when I say BIG.

I love reading about others’ reasons for staying sober.  For example, an overwhelming number of people stay sober just so they never have to experience another hangover.  Oh yeah…that’s a biggie.  To wake up every morning and just feel whatever way I feel is such a blessing.  No sour stomach, no fuzzy head that aches, no sweaters on my teeth…no overwhelming shame.

That’s another big one – never having to wake up either ashamed of what occurred the night before or wake up wondering what happened the night before.  In some ways I think the latter is much worse.  Tip toeing around friends and family looking for an indication that they hate you, still love you, pity you…whatever.  That is just humiliating and ugly and I hate it.

Rest assured there are as many reasons for not picking up again as there are alcoholics.  You do the math…that’s a shitload of reasons.

But for me, the biggest, baddest ass reason I stay sober (apart from my children) is to quiet the noise in my head.  To finally experience some peace between my ears, or, at the very least, make room for other noise that occupies any mom’s day, is such a blessing that it could only be accomplished by faith in a God who always has my back.

THE NOISE is what went on in my head from the moment my drinking career began at about age 17 or 18.  Noise about when I would be able to drink again.  Noise about what other people thought about me before, during and after drinking.  Noise about what I was going to drink.  Noise about what other people were drinking (not drinking).  Noise that rationalized my drinking.  Noise about how much I was drinking – was I an alcoholic or not; what did it mean if I was; what did it mean if I wasn’t; could I moderate; could I abstain; would I or could I go to AA; how was my health; was my liver getting fat; were the whites of my eyes turning yellow; was this starting to impact my work; what example was I setting for my children; was I chasing my husband away?

And let me tell you, it didn’t stop the day I quit.  Some topics were quieted but some tuned up and shouted even louder.  For the first year I think the noise was actually worse.  No…I know the noise was worse. But as the days, weeks and months passed, it slowly began to ebb until, for a while, it was just a whisper.

Until…

The other day I was looking in the mirror as I was getting ready for work and I stopped to listen.

There was no noise (at least not about my drinking).  It was quiet for the first time in as long as I could remember.  I almost started to cry…first because the silence was so wonderful but then because I realized that I never would have to listen to it again.

I was free.

Namaste