Thinking Back While Moving Forward

When I think back to 2012 and try to review (once I get past New Town), all that comes to mind is one word…recovery.

2012 was the year I began this blog, dipped my toe into the AA world, and finally, blessedly, entered the world of recovering alcoholics.  What a difference it has made in my life.  I’ve found a semblance of peace I have never, ever, ever experienced in my 50+ years.  Words like contentment and satisfaction come to mind.  And, the miracle of it all is that I’ve begun to actually love myself.  Whoa!  Who said that?

I always thought that in order to love myself, I would have to feel the same joy for me that I feel when I think about my children or my husband.  That all consuming warmth that fills my mind, heart and soul when I think about them.  That, “I’d throw myself in front of a bus for you” feeling.  Um…not so much when it comes to me.

Turns out, loving myself is more like the love I feel when I think of God.  It’s hard to explain but it’s not the “earthly” kind of love but more like the “universal” kind of love.  When I think of how I love God (or whatever you call your HP or deity) it’s an all encompassing filling of my soul with a certainty that I am loved and therefore I love.  Wait…what? 

In other words, it’s not something I have to think about…it just is.

And now, because of this blog and the wonderful people who read and comment or who read and send me emails or who read and talk to me about it or who just read, I am on a path of peace and lovingkindness that I assumed only existed for other people.  I am okay just the way God made me.  I have faults but I also have some really, really good characteristics as well and they all come together to make one flawed but perfect human woman…wife, mother, teacher, friend.

That’s not to say I couldn’t stand a little improving…hahahahahaha…in fact…I could use a lot of improving.

I’m not big on resolutions.  I try only to make them when I’m serious about making them happen.  I’ve made four in my life that have been serious.  One in the early 80’s to wear my seatbelt whenever I drove my car.  The second came the next year when I resolved to wear it whenever I was in a car (it was several more years before it became mandatory).  Then, 12 years ago I resolved to quit smoking, which I did.  And finally, three years ago I resolved to quit drinking, which I did.

I think I’m ready for some new ones.

This year I resolve:

  • To join my blogging friend ByeByeBeer in her “No Sugar January” and then see where it goes from there.  One day at a time people – or, in this case, one month at a time.
  • To help myself and my family improve our eating habits overall.  (A lot less white food and a lot more vegetables and whole grains.  I fight this often but this year I’m digging in my heals.)
  • To get up every morning for 30 days in a row and practice yoga followed by at least 10 minutes of mindful meditation…and then see where it goes.

I hope you all have a safe and sober New Year’s Eve and a wonderful 2013.  Thank you for being there for me this year.  Thanks also for your support and, most importantly, your friendship.  I couldn’t have done it without you all.


Another Christmas Come and Gone

What an incredibly odd Christmas for me.  Thirty days ago I was filled with holiday spirit and looking forward to enjoying the peace and serenity I had discovered of late about the holidays.  Most of my shopping was done and I was entering the season feeling like I’d never felt in my life and looking forward to seeing what the holidays would bring.

Then a series of events came tumbling in and left me feeling frightened and unsettled.  A good friend’s mother passed unexpectedly, then another friends father and still an other’s grandmother.  Add to that the events of December 14th and I was beginning to think the Mayans were right…

But once I sat down to really examine my feelings (yeah…I know…go figure) I realized that with the exception of the horror of New Town, I have had many holiday seasons filled with sadness, despair and even death.  I’m not sure if more people die over the holiday season (I know it’s true in my family) or if we’re just hyper aware of it during that time but it does seem as if it comes in groups (threes?) all at one time and that it’s cyclical.  This was just a very, very bad year.

What’s different this year is how I’m dealing with all of it.  Prior years had me running to the bottle even before I began drinking at home.  I’d just find another way.  Date night?  Holiday parties that I wouldn’t normally attend?  Local restaurant and bar celebrations?  All of the above.  I’d find any way possible to “find my festive” and disguise any unpleasantness as a happy holiday season.  Stuff down all those feelings and “get into the spirit” of the season. 

Yeah…how’s that workin’ for ya?

This year I had to feel those feelings.  I had to walk through the pain in order to come out on the other side to discover…well, I’m still trying to figure that out.  But at least I can say that I DID enjoy Christmas.  I was settled, peaceful, even a little serene.  I had some bitchy moments, one heart to heart with the hubs that left me in tears, and WAY too much sugar but all in all, a very happy holiday.

Now on to New Year’s Eve and Day.  I have a couple of resolutions that I’ll write about in a later post but for now I think I’ll just relax and a little and enjoy the decorations because they’ll be packed away in just a few days.


Sober Thoughts on Christmas Eve

We don’t have a lot of “traditions” in my family but we definitely have some Christmas ones.  Christmas Eve in particular.  On Christmas Eve we do the following:

  1. Head to the mall to people watch.  The hubs started this many years ago when he would shop for all his gifts on Christmas Eve.  Drove me batshit.  Now we go to enjoy the decorations, feel the spirit and watch the panic. 
  2. Bake cookies and watch “A Christmas Story”.  Ralphie and I have been hanging out for a number of years now.  I love that kid.
  3. Watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” late in the evening with hot chocolate.  Only M will watch with me, B and W never got into it, but I love that at least one of my boys has embraced what has been a personal tradition for 30 years.  I’ll cry at the end (I always do) and the kids will go to bed right after so that Santa will come and deliver gifts.

I was never much of a drinker on Christmas Eve because my father always ruined holidays.  I made it a very specific point NOT to repeat that behavior.  The last few years of my drinking, however, I drank a bottle of wine or so before bed and woke up with a hangover – not my best moment for sure.

Year one of sobriety I was high on being sober for almost a year.  Still on my pink cloud I floated around, spent too much money and let everyone who would listen know that I had been sober almost one whole year.  I was a little annoying but everyone was very gracious about it.  After all, it was a damn site better than drunk and/or hungover.  Oh, and I ate a lot of sugar.

Year two…flat.  By then I was sober but not recovering.  I was looking around and wondering, “Is this it?”  “Is this what I have to look forward to?”  I wasn’t regretting my sobriety, quite the contrary, I was ecstatic that I was going on two full years.  I was just…bored.  Restless.  Not content.  Little did I know how dangerous this frame of mind could be.  No chance I was going to drink but I wasn’t exactly in love with my new lifestyle either.

In January I’ll have three years and oh what a difference a year makes.  This year I began to truly recover.  I uncovered lots of different rocks, looked closely at the crap underneath and, most importantly, let go and forgave.  I let go of a lot of shit that had been tying me to a world of resentment and forgave everyone, including myself (okay…I’m still working on this one), that put me there.  In the process I found what has become the most miraculous revelation of all…I found peace.

The dialog in my head finally quieted, the hole in my soul began to heal and fill with love, the restlessness disappeared and contentment moved in.  I found a semblance of bliss I had never imagined.

I still have my moments.  I get pissed, weepy, needy, irritable…you know, all those woman (whatever) things.  But the difference is that I just deal.  I feel the feelings, I share what needs to be shared (well – when I’m pissed I probably over share…just ask my family), and I…let…go.

Now I find myself excited about my sobriety again.  No longer flat.  No more discontentment.  Restless only when I’ve missed some yoga practices.  Open to hearing God without the brick…um…mostly anyway.  Looking forward to a new year and my third Christmas and New Year’s Day without a hangover (damn I love that).

Merry Christmas everyone.  May you find peace in your soul and joy in your heart this Christmas and always.


Wise Thoughts

Furtherton over at Guitars and Life, who is a very wise man and always has some really great comments, left one of those comments on my post Moving On.  Basically, he said that if we don’t try and move on then the evil wins (I’m paraphrasing…sorry).  He’s right.

My son has a teacher who, every morning when his son wakes up, says to him, “Don’t let anyone take your happy today.”  He’s right too.

And the Dalai Lama is quoted as saying, “Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.”  He’s often right as well.

So I’m going to move on and try to get my happy back and rediscover my inner peace.

Because, no matter what else I do in my life, I will not let that bastard win.


Moving On…

I think I’m beginning to move forward, away from the tragedy of last Friday (tragedy is a weak word for what occurred).  I was actually singing Christmas Carols on the way into work this morning and I’m starting to really laugh again.  This was the first morning I woke up and didn’t think, “20 children were massacred on Friday.”  I guess that’s moving on.

The fact is…I don’t know what I’m supposed to feel or do right now.  The only thing I can bring to mind is how I felt during 9/11.  But 9/11 was political.  It was directed at a country in an effort to bring us to our knees.  It was military in nature.  The intent was clear.  Pearl Harbor came to mind.

But this?  That man looked into the eyes of those sweet children and intentionally murdered them.

I’ve got nothing.

In addition, there are 26 families in Connecticut who are burying their loved ones a week before Christmas.  There are friends and relatives who are grieving in unimaginable ways.  Parents who are burying their children and who are forced to go on because they have other children who need them.  A town that is forever bonded in a way that no one would every choose.  Christmas will never be the same for these families or this town ever again.  We will move forward and give a prayer or a nod every year on December 14th in remembrance of the tragedy, but they are forever changed.  Nothing will ever be the same.

So I don’t know how or when it is appropriate to move forward.  I don’t know what to do.  I felt guilty when I caught myself singing.  I don’t know if it’s okay. 



December 14th

On Friday I posted a silly little post about the 14th being not only the day my mom was born but the day she died as well.

Then the world changed.

I have removed the post…it’s no longer appropriate.

Then Kary May wrote a beautiful piece about a little boy and his trip to heaven during surgery.  I won’t recap here but I encourage you to pop over to Kary’s blog.  It’s a lovely post and one that helped me cope a little bit this weekend.

Now I will choose to remember this as the day my mom held one of those children during the insanity, providing a warm, safe place while she ushered him to heaven to be with Jesus.


Oh Holy Crap

Tonight is B’s Winter Concert.  He has two solos.  One is with the rest of the chorus and one is…gulp…his first Senior Solo.

B’s Music Director allows the seniors in chorus to do solos during their two annual performances – one in the fall and one in the spring.  They can choose any song they want, have any accompaniment they would like and sing for as long as they would like.  This has resulted in…um…some…interesting performances.

Oh what the hell, over the last four years I can count on one hand the number of kids who have performed well.  The rest have crashed and burned.  Some crash because they are nervous and look like they are going to throw up.  Some because, honestly, they lack the talent required to do a solo.  But for the vast majority of these kids, it’s song selection.  To paraphrase the judges on American Idol, please do not try to do Mariah Carey or Celine Dion for your first ever solo performance…please.

What happens is that ALL of the parents (and the students) in the audience end up internally cringing and visibly willing those students to succeed…and just get the hell off the stage.  It’s a learning experience, a confidence builder, a life moment.  But when it doesn’t go well it is also very painful for those of us in the audience.  The good news is that most of the kids just want to get it over with so they don’t even care how they did, or they were so nervous they had an out of body experience and therefore can’t even remember singing.  Add to that the fact that when they are done we ALL break out in thunderous applause and it always ends well.

But tonight…my child, who sings like an angel, who has been on stage countless times and who has even had a co-starring role in the fall play…will do one of these solos for the very first time.  He has chosen “Oh Holy Night” which I have heard him sing a million times and he performs beautifully.  However, when he told me his song choice, my first reaction was…”Oh Holy Crap”.  It’s a tough song!  What have I told you about song choice?

He said his goal tonight is to make me cry which, no matter what he does I will do.  I just hope I don’t puke.


A Non-Event Event

My twins are seniors this year and are about to launch into their very last semester of high school.  They both have over a 4.0 average (because of Honors and AP courses) and are working on SAT scores over 1400. The one who wants to be an Athletic Trainer is being mentored by the Athletic Training Director and the one that wants to be a music teacher by the Music Director.  When you think of all the people in this day and age that they could be emulating…I’m pretty pleased with their choices.  They are really good boys young men and the hubs and I are very lucky.

One of the things they have been working toward and looking forward to is being Teaching Assistants for each of their mentors.  They’ve each waited 3 1/2 years to do this.  They filled out their paperwork last year and got all the requisite approvals.  They’ve volunteered at every extra-curricular event and program to prepare themselves for something they take very seriously.  Everything was in place and proceeding as planned.

Then their guidance counselor lost the paperwork.  A couple of months ago, other people started talking about their TA assignments and they just happen to be the ones that my boys had been coveting and working toward.  These “others” did not possess the commitment to the roles that my boys did and just wanted an easy A and somewhere to goof off their last semester (in their humble opinions).  It was just not fair!  Lots of angry words and punching of pillows (I won’t allow punching of walls but the testosterone has to go somewhere).  I told them to each make an appointment and discuss it with the counselor.  They did…they got nowhere.

“There’s nothing that can be done.  The schedules have been set.” 

Um…what?  Did you just dismiss my children like that?  Oh…I don’t think so.

Now, let’s be clear.  I’m not one of THOSE moms.  I do not fight my childrens’ battles unless they’ve already had a shot at it.  I had a very long conversation with each of them where I explained that life wasn’t always fair and that this would not be the last time that someone took their spot at something.  I said there would always be a time when someone got promoted before them, or took an assignment they wanted, or got a raise when it wasn’t deserved.  That was life.  They nodded and tried to get over it.  They couldn’t.

Neither could I.

So finally I called and made an appointment to see the counselor.  The “gatekeeper” at the school tried to convince me that she could help me or that this could be done over the phone.  I was not dissuaded.  I wanted a face to face meeting with the counselor, both boys and me – in the same room at the same time.  I wanted this resolved so that I never had to hear about it again.  I was prepared to open a can of whup ass on that school.  My boys knew it too.  When I asked them if they wanted me or their dad to go they both said in unison, “You!”  (Guess I’m way bitchier than dad…who knew?)

So this morning I put on my battle gear and we all sat down in the counselor’s office.  The hubs had seen him the night before and told me that he was sure the guy was feeling guilty and would get this fixed so I didn’t expect much of a fight.  What I did not expect and was thoroughly pleased with was a complete non-event.

It seems he’d been thinking about this issue and had come up with a solution.  We moved a couple of classes, called the TA position an Intern and viola’, problem solved. 

So while this could have been done a month ago when all this started and it could have been done as a result of my boys having had a conversation like the men that they are and it could have demonstrated how well a calm resolution of issues can be accomplished and could have instilled a new level of confidence in their psyche rather than having their mommy come and fix stuff ..I’m just glad it’s over and my boys’ last semester in high school will be all that they wanted it to be.

And, secretly, I’m glad that no matter how old they get, sometimes they just need their mom.


A New Kind of Christmas

It’s funny how “whole” I feel this Christmas Season.  I don’t feel like anything is missing.  I just feel peace.  Whatever happens will happen and everything will work out just fine.  Weird.

Weird because trust me when I say that this “zen” approach to the holidays is a new state of being for me.  Usually I’m stressed beyond words and I end up ruining the whole season because of it.  I used to insist that everything was just perfect because that was the only way I knew how to do it and the only way I could feel good about myself.  What’s worse is that since nothing is ever “perfect”, when something went wrong it left me feeling like shit about myself and the kind of wife and mother I am.

Not exactly the ho-ho-ho kind of attitude.  More like a no-no-no kind of attitude.

The last two sober Christmases were spent in a very different mind set.  I wanted everything to be perfect but for the first one I was so busy trying not to drink and be “okay” with everyone else drinking that the holidays flew by in a blur.  It was really sad because I don’t remember much about what should have been a celebration of me.  Funny – I was used to not remembering things but certainly not because I was sober.

The second Christmas was really odd because I was trying to maintain the illusion of perfect but I wasn’t sure who the hell I was anymore.  I had been sober for going on two years but had not yet entered what I would call recovery.  I was feeling very “flat”, to borrow a phrase from my fellow bloggers”, and lacking in emotion.  I did not like that at all.  Everything looked great on the surface but underneath…nada, zip, zilch, zero.  I remember apologizing to my daughter while they were here because I was going to bed early and not staying up being the life of the party.  She, being the wise woman that she is, looked me in the eye with an expression that said, “Are you insane woman?”  Fact is, I think I was…just a little bit.

But this year I am at peace for the first time in…well…ever.  It’s not the insanity that was the Christmas of my youth, nor is it of the intensity that I had created over the years.  For the first time in my life, Christmas just…is.

There is certainly no perfection…anyone who has access to my Facebook page knows that I’ve decorated and undecorated and redecorated my tree three different times because I didn’t like the lights.  The best part was I didn’t stress about it – I just did it.  And because I wasn’t stressed, my family wasn’t stressed so it was a non-event.  Just another “mom” moment to which they are accustomed.

My shopping is done with the exception of a few gift cards.  That was a lot easier too because I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that what was purchased didn’t matter.  It really is the thought that counts.  Who knew?

We may or may not bake.  Fact is, everyone in my house tends to put on weight and we could all stand to lose a few pounds so baking 40 gazillion cookies, candies and cakes “just because” really is not very bright.  Rather, I will make some snickerdoodles, my fudge and a pound cake and that will be just fine.

To tell you the truth, this whole new attitude thing is a little disconcerting and has me just a tad off balance.  I’m way more used to rushing around like a crazy woman, barking orders in every direction and just generally making myself miserable while everyone stands around me, shaking their heads and thinking, “What’s all the fuss about?”  It was about rushing, decorating, baking, cleaning, rushing, stressing, worrying, buying, spending, overspending, partying (drinking or sober), and more rushing.  I know how to do that.

It’s the new version with which I’m not as familiar.  I like this version better.  I think this is what Christmas is supposed to be about…family, love, Hallmark movies that make you cry, commercials that make you cry, sentiment, lights, laughter, children filled with awe (no matter how old), smiles and relaxed family evenings and weekends with nothing to do but stare at the tree and enjoy the moment, tradition.

Yeah…I could get used to this.


The Beauty of the Beast

This is from my tree two years ago.   Belle is my favorite Disney princess.

I’ve been thinking about all these cravings and pangs we’ve all been discussing out here in our blog world recently.  It seems that a lot of us are going through the same thing – in spite of the fact that we’re all in different stages of our sobriety and recovery.  Hmmmm…

Then it hit me – AH HA!  It’s Christmas and we’re ALCOHOLICS (or, if you’re still in the drunk closet, problem drinkers).  Even people who don’t normally drink will have a cup of Christmas cheer during the holidays.  Hell there’s even a song that tells you to “have a cup o’ cheer”.  The alcohol ads pick up in intensity and get all warm and fuzzy with their colors and images and sentiments…always being careful to include a quick “always drink responsibly” at the end of the ads.  Christmas parties are in full swing and people are dressing up to go out and drink and it’s all just so damn festive!  And this is all just leading up to the biggest drunk of the year…New Year’s Eve.  So it’s no wonder that those of us who have put down our glasses are having some struggles.

And, now that I’ve had my ah-ha moment, it makes perfect sense.  Of course this time of year is difficult, the cravings and pangs can be unbearable.  But it’s only because we’re alcoholics because…now get a pad and paper and write this down…it’s okay, I’ll wait…you back?  Okay here goes…NORMAL PEOPLE DON’T CRAVE ALCOHOL AT ALL!!!!

I know that may come as quite a shock.  It’s the same shock you have when you see someone pouring wine down the drain after a party (why doesn’t someone DRINK that for god’s sake?).  The same feeling you have when you go out to dinner with someone and they wait, and ponder, and wait to order a drink.  Sometimes they even send the waiter away so they can THINK about it before they make a decision.  What’s there to think about?  Just order the damn drink!  The rest of us are waiting!!!!

Normal people just don’t think the way we do…they are wired differently. 

That’s not to say that they don’t look forward to a drink and that this time of year isn’t fun for them, because I have a lot of friends who are normies and I can tell you that they most certainly do like to drink and have fun doing it.  But they don’t NEED it the way we do and so they don’t CRAVE it and STRUGGLE with it and THINK about it the way we do.  They don’t have that hole down deep in their gut that churns when a craving comes on.  They don’t have a running dialog in their head that constantly shouts at them to find an excuse to drink.  They don’t think about how that first sip will taste and spread through your gut and warm you to your toes…okay…maybe they think about that but not ALL THE TIME.  They don’t have a beast (addiction, illness…whatever you’ve named yours) that hangs around and pokes at you like an annoying little brother with a stick.

So if you’re struggling and craving and dealing with pangs, just know that it’s your beast, your addiction, your illness (whatever the hell you call it) calling attention to the fact that YOU ARE THE STRONGEST PERSON IT HAS EVER ENCOUNTERED.  It is frustrated and angry that, no matter what weapons it chooses, you are not picking up, not drinking, not ruining your recovery or sobriety for the sake of a drink so fa-la-fucking-la to it.  No matter what it says, how bad it makes you feel, how distracted you become, you will still wake up tomorrow morning without a hangover and bursting with pride because, once again, you’ve beaten the beast.

And that is a beautiful thing.