Don’t Risk the Happy

We were out to dinner with my oldest-at-home the other night and I said to him and the hubs, “What would you do if I ordered a glass of wine right now?”

They both looked at me like I had grown a horn between my eyeballs.

My son said, “I’d tell them to take it back!”

“No you wouldn’t,” I said.  “That’s my job – you don’t need to worry about it.”

Then my husband said, “Well…I’d wait to see if you actually drank it…then I guess we’d start counting again.”

Hmmmm….

As most of you know, I had my sobriety date tattooed on my right wrist.  My drinking hand.  It has served as a reminder to me of how important this journey is.  Of how far I’ve come.  Of how far I’d fall if I started drinking again.  It’s been a good thing.

But when the hubs mentioned counting, the first thing that popped into my mind was…It’s not about the number.  That shocked me!  When did I stop counting?  When did I stop caring about how many days sober I had?  When did those little numbers on my right wrist become redundant?

The more I thought about it and the more we talked about it, the more I realized that it hasn’t been about the number in a very long time.  The fact is, I really don’t care anymore how long I’ve been sober – I only care that I am right now.  I also don’t care about whether I drink tomorrow or next week or in the next decade because it doesn’t matter either.  What matters is the now.

What matters is the happy.

After some discussion I said, “The reason I won’t drink is because, for the first time in my entire life I am truly, blissfully and peacefully happy.  I can see all my blessings and feel the joy they provide.  I can feel pain and sorrow without the need to run away and numb it therefore, I can move past it.  I can be present in each and every moment (good or bad).  I can deal.  I can’t risk giving that up.  I can’t risk the happy.”

I’m thinking about having the tattoo on my wrist removed and replacing it some pretty script that says…

Don’t Risk the Happy

Namaste

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The Art of Letting Go

Someone, (not the Buddha – in spite of what Facebook says), once said, “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”  It’s apropos to this post because I was sitting here thinking about my trip west to visit my nephew and his new baby.

First, OH MY GOD I LOVE THAT BABY!!!  She is the most beautiful thing since…since…well since my last grand-baby was born!  This one has touched my heart so much because I truly believe she was sent to save my nephew.  Usually I wouldn’t be this thrilled about a birth to a couple so young.  But this little angel is just that, a little angel sent to help him understand what true love is.  He’s not there yet…but he’ll get there.

Anyway, he lives in the very small town (pop. ~2293), in which his mother still resides.  Because of their proximity to one another, she’s still making every attempt to fuck up his life.  It’s like she can’t stand for him to be happy (in fact, she can’t stand for anyone to be happy).  He’s written her off and told her and her husband that he wants nothing to do with them and that they should stay away from his family.  He’s even gone as far as to investigate a restraining order.  Has that stopped her?  Ha!  That only makes her more determined.

In addition, like all small towns, word travels fast.  Everyone is fully aware that she’s a drug addict and an alcoholic.  It’s fairly easy when you drive around town running into things and nod off in the check out line of the local Dollar General.  Or show up at your son’s house and try to break in to see his baby and refuse to leave…even when the police show up. Because it’s your right to see that baby!  She’s your granddaughter!  You have rights!   Really?  Good grief.

Anyway, all of this just serves to make my nephew’s blood boil.  He’s still hanging on to so much hatred and resentment (all of it deserved mind you) that it’s beginning to turn his heart to stone.  She’s so toxic to everyone she touches.  She’s like a cancer that grows the longer you allow it.  While he was living here I tried to boost his immune system and help him see that if he allows her to continue to infect him with ugliness, then she wins and he loses.

But, if he lets go and just moves on from all that darkness and sickness, then he wins and who the fuck cares what happens to her.  Seriously.

His girlfriend says that right after he moved back he seemed softer and more gentle and loving.  But the longer he’s there, the harder and more angry he gets.  My visit was like a booster shot…one he needed and one I believe I’ll have to deliver from time to time until he can finally, and blessedly, let her go.

As for me…well that’s an entirely different story.  I try and try and try to let her go but as long as she’s hurting my family, there will always be a kernel of resentment and anger that I’m going to have to manage.  However, I actively work on that every day.  I’m not at the point where I can even begin to forgive (I may never get there) but I am at the point where I can see that moving on and being happy and loving is the best thing for me and she can burn in hell for all eternity for all I care.  (Ooops…guess that was that kernel bubbling to the surface.)

And so I pray and love and hope that he can let her go and move on with the blessing that God has bestowed.  I pray that he can see how much this young woman loves and understands him.  In fact, how much she has loved and understood him since middle school.  I pray he comes to understand that her family can teach him a lot about how real families behave.  How they love and interact and support one another.  How they can be a western extension of what he has with us.

I often wonder why my sister is still alive (God knows I’ve prayed for her to die more times than I can count).  She has abused her body with so many chemicals for so long and placed herself in such dangerous positions…how is it that she still breathes?  But I’ve come to realize that God won’t remove her from the planet until my nephew has moved on.  See, for many people, the longer a loved one is dead, the more saint-like they become.  We tend to forget their transgressions and only remember the good things.  That’s good – unless you’re a young man who was raised to believe that he’s worthless and responsible for all of his mother’s unhappiness.  In that case you need to see the world as it really is and your place within it before she can depart.  That is the only way to ensure that she won’t be canonized after she croaks.

So, as always, everything in God’s time.  I’m working on ridding my nephew of her toxicity and I’ll leave her fate to her Creator.

In the meantime, she might want to remember my mantra…don’t fuck with my family….I may be old, but I’m sober.

Namaste

If you can’t find me…

The next few weeks are going to be insane for me…kind of like a mini hiatus.  So if you can’t find me here or on FB don’t fret, I’ll be back.

Tomorrow the hubs turns 65.  I can hardly believe it.  I told him that I’m too young to be married to a senior citizen (I HATE that term) because, clearly, I haven’t aged one day since I turned 35.  He just laughed.  I don’t know what he finds so fucking funny.

Friday I fly off to visit with the nephew and his new baby.  I’m not sure if I’m more excited to see him, the baby or his “in-laws”.  In any event, I know I’m going to have a good time.  They’re having a crayfish boil in my honor.  Um…I’m a city girl.  Crayfish?  I hope I don’t embarrass my nephew.  In fact, I hope they like me.  Oh well…he loves me so that’s all that matters.

I still hope they like me.

When I get back it’s Easter and then…dun dun duuuuuuun…I have jury duty.  This will be the third time in my life I’ve served.  Enough is enough.  The hubs has NEVER served and he’s always wanted to!  It’s not that I mind because I feel it’s my duty and I think we have the best judicial system in the world (flawed as it is) but seriously people…three times?

AND, the other two times I served I got cases and was even the foreman on one case…a DRUG case.  With guns and everything.  After we found the defendant guilty, the bailiff had to escort me to my car.  Fun times.

The following week I’m off to the west coast for a week to observe a training class.  There are worse things than a week in San Francisco.  The only drawback is I had to postpone our 30th anniversary celebration because I’ll be on the red-eye on the 12th and our anniversary is the 13th.  So we’re going the next weekend.  After 30 years…what’s one more week?

Talk to you soon!

Namaste

What a Weekend!!!

Our high school’s production of Beauty and the Beast was this weekend.

One twin was the Beast.

The other was the tech manager and set designer/builder.

The oldest came to every single performance AND stayed to help strike the set with the cast, crew and my hubs.

To say I’m going to miss all of this is an understatement of epic proportion.

I’m going to miss my “Beast” singing all over the house AND I’m going to miss listening to people applaud thunderously when he finishes his big song.  I’m going to miss all the little girls in the audience (as well as their parents) gasp when he transforms and becomes the prince.  I’m going to miss the standing ovations for the Be Our Guest number and again, at the end, when everyone takes their bow.

I’m going to miss his brother coming home every night and needing to talk to me about every nuance of his day with his tech crew and his girlfriend (who is also the stage manager and lighting director) who plucked his last nerve during this production.

I’m going to miss dinners with the drama teacher and her family as they all sit around my kitchen table and plot their next move.

I’m going to miss crying every time the show is over and I’m bursting with pride.

I’m going to miss the look in my husband’s eyes when he hugs his boys after the show.

I’m going to miss the look on all my friends faces because this is the first time they’ve heard my boy sing.  And the next look when I tell them that the other one built the amazing set they’ve been oooo’ing and ahhh’ing over all evening.

I’m going to miss high school.

And I NEVER thought those six words would EVER leave my lips.

Namaste

From Bars to Scars

I remember in the first few months of my sobriety, crying and telling my husband through smeared mascara and snot that I didn’t know who I was.  More importantly, I didn’t know who I’d end up being without alcohol.  My drinking had become so much a part of how I viewed myself and how I behaved, that I didn’t know what the hell was going to happen after it was gone.  What if I didn’t like who I was sober any more than I did when I was drinking?  Even more scary, what if…way down deep…I was really like the rest of my family?  Selfish, narcissistic and self-serving with no capacity for real love.  Oh shit…just shoot me.

Of course, as time passed I began to realize that I am my own person.  Little of them, little of me, lots of life all mixed into one human being.  Still haven’t figured that out entirely…I’ll get back to you.  I have some hurdles to jump before I’m there.  Starting with my face.

See, I’m not very kind when it comes to myself.  Many beat downs from that inner bitch I have (in addition to those provided by my family while I was growing up) have resulted in a severely skewed viewed of myself.  For years I’ve carried this view and, no matter what anyone says or does, that’s my view and I’m sticking to it.  No amount of  compliments, or accolades, or awards or unconditional love will change my mind.  In fact, I dismiss them as easily as swatting a gnat on a warm summer night.  Sometimes I even squash them.

For example, I don’t like having formal pictures taken.  The reason is simple, I don’t like my face.  Before you freak all the hell out, let me explain.  It’s not that I don’t think I’m pretty or that I do think I’m ugly, I can’t get that far or be that objective.  It’s that all I can see when I look in the mirror are my mother and sister.  They weren’t/aren’t nice people.  Ergo…I don’t like my face.  It really is that simple.

Now I ask you – what the hell kind of attitude is that?  If I was mentoring a young woman and she made that kind of statement to me, I’d be appalled!  And then I would try and convince her how beautiful she was in her own right.  But it wouldn’t work.  And do you know why?  Because those kinds of scars go way too deep to be healed with words…or even love.  Those kind of scars can only be healed from within.

And that is exactly what sobriety is helping me do.  Some of those scars are open wounds that need to be disinfected and closed.  Others are battle scars of which I should be proud and learn to love.  And still some are self-inflicted – those will take the longest to heal.

I hope that along the way I learn to see myself more objectively and honestly.  I hope I learn to see myself as my husband and children see me.  I hope I learn to be kinder and gentler with myself.  I hope I learn to heal.

After all, I deserve it.

Namaste

Exit…Stage Left

I had one of those awful memories yesterday.  You know the ones…something happens and all of a sudden you remember something from your drinking days that makes you feel like shit.  Yeah…those.

The oldest-at-home and I went to get the hubs a new phone after work yesterday and then stopped by the school to drop it off.  Everyone is in full out crazy mode because the musical opens on Thursday.  One twin is the lead and the other has built the set (along with help from the hubs).  Once again I was struck by how blessed I am to not only have the best six kids on the planet but also to be married to the best husband/father on the planet.  These drama productions have brought us even closer as a family and I’m grateful that we’ve been sucked into the vortex.

We stopped by the store on the way home to pick up a few things and began chatting about all of the school’s productions since they started attending there.  That’s when the memory hit.  It came and punched me in the gut and almost brought tears to my eyes.

See…I’ve been to most of the school productions…but not all.  The first few I didn’t get to because I was too busy with my ass in the chair sucking down a couple of bottles of wine a night.  Go to a high school play?  Puh-lease.  That kind of stuff just doesn’t interest me.  Oh…my kids want to go?  Well then I’ll go and see it one night but that’s it.  By the way, how long does it last?

In other words…don’t bother me, I’m drinking.

Then I got sober.  And about the same time, the kids began to get really involved.  And so that’s when we started to get really involved.  Then last year’s musical is when I started the “I-want-to-see-every-rehearsal-and-performance” syndrome of which I now gladly suffer.  I even sit in a different place in the auditorium every night so I get a different view of the performance.  It gives me such joy to see how hard these kids work and then watch them as they grow and succeed.  I cry a lot at these things…they are tears of joy and gratitude.  My hands are bruised and sore by the end of the season from clapping so long and so loud.  I’ve usually lost my voice because I’ve been hooting and yelling “Bravo!”  And my hamstrings and quads are a little stronger from all the standing ovations I’ve given them.

I am so grateful for these sucker punch memories.  They keep me sober.  I wouldn’t trade my life now for all the Chardonnay in California.

Namaste

Moody Blues

Why do other people’s moods bother me so? 

The biggest reason is that I always assume I have done something wrong.  That somehow, I am responsible.  And unfortunately, that’s just the way I’m built.  I’m Italian, I’m Catholic and I’m the product of a mother with a narcissistic disorder – there are days I’m sure I’m responsible for the death of Christ.  So someones mood?  Yeah…it’s probably me.

My boss came back from vacation today.  She is not in a good place.  Of course my assumption is that I did something wrong which is not true at all.  But I’m still sitting here with a knot in my stomach waiting for the other shoe to fall.  What I should be doing is leaving her to herself and letting her work out what is obviously HER problem.  What I am doing is trying to figure out how to “fix” this so the tension in the office is lifted.

Note to self…contrary to what your mother taught you Sherry…everything is NOT about you.

Then there’s the hubs.  Every once in a while he gets grumpy.  Usually when he’s feeling overwhelmed or under appreciated.  (Those are my words…not his.  According to him he’s FINE.)  He becomes extremely negative and goes on rants about the silliest things.  For example, we were onstage yesterday with the kids for the spring musical and the lighting director announced to everyone that she needed to “go dark” for a moment.  Then the lights went out.  A second or so later, when it became inconvenient for him to be in the dark, he yelled, “I would if I could get someone to turn on the lights!”  Of course she turned them on immediately but damn dude…could you be anymore RUDE?

On Saturday we were on our way to watch one of my twins participate in a state wide choral group.  It was on the campus of a local university.  I had to listen to the hubs rant about how nit picky the campus police were.  Now…I agree that they are nit picky but the negativity the man was spewing into the universe was so draining!  Would it kill you to smile once in a while?

Not to mention a tirade last night about how we’re paying a fortune for cable and there’s never anything on to watch.  To which I replied, “There is plenty on TV it’s just not something YOU want to see right now.”  Big mistake, that spurred the tirade to go on for another few minutes. 

All of which has left me feeling quite a bit wonky.  Like I’m off balance.  My stomach is twisty and there is the aforementioned knot.  What’s troubling to me is why I let this stuff get to me?  Why does it bother me so much?  Doesn’t bother the hubs.  When I get like he is now, he just gives me some room, waits for me to get a grip, or tells me my meds need adjusting.  He doesn’t take it personally.  He doesn’t feel the need to fix it.  He just lets it be unless I ask for help.

The office is the same way.  My coworkers (we’ve all worked for this boss for the same amount of time), don’t take her moods personally.  They wait until she makes it about them before they make it about them.  If it’s about her, they just give her a wide berth and wait for her to get out of her funk.  Me?  Not so much.

I’d like to say this is all about me being a really, really good person and that I just like to spread sunshine and sprinkly fairy dust and roses where ever I go.  But really?  It’s all about me feeling responsible for all the ills of the planet and that’s because that’s the way my mother conditioned me to be because that’s the way her father conditioned her to be.

The good news is that I’ve raised my kids to think differently.  While they are sensitive and caring, they do not think that everything is about them or that someones bad mood is directly related to them.  They just think it’s a bad mood!

I could learn a lot from my kids.

Namaste

"SMACK" I could have had a V-8!

Yesterday, out of the blue, like a God brick upside my head, I realized that a little over three years ago, not only did I stop drinking, but the hubs did too.

And, until yesterday, I never said thank you.

What a dumb fuck I am.

Okay, maybe I’m being too hard on myself.  I’ve been a little busy with this whole getting sober, figuring out who I am and getting on with life thing, BUT…so has he!!!  I know I’m easier to live with now because he doesn’t have to babysit me anymore, or listen to me blather on in a drunken stupor about nothing at all, or watch our bank account wither away and, literally, get flushed down the toilet, but he still has had to adapt.  After all, he’s the one that served as my therapist (and still does) through all the tears, temper tantrums, and diatribes that early sobriety brings.  He’s the one that soothed me when I was shaky, stood by me while I told the kids, offered to go to AA with me, and went out in the middle of the night to buy me candy when I was jonesing.  So really…would a little thank you have been so hard?

Yep…I’m a dumb fuck.

Not that he’s was much of a drinker after the kids were born.  The hubs had a mild heart attack about 30 days after my oldest was born.  After that, we really cleaned up our act.  Good eating, cooking at home and of course, no drinking.  Who the hell has time to drink when there’s a newborn in the house (all of our drinking was done away from home then…another one of my silly rules in an ill-fated attempt to control my drinking).  We stayed home.  He healed…and so did I…for a little while anyway.

Between pregnancies and after however, it didn’t take me long to get going again.  I remember being out one night at a friend’s house and when we got home, I was so drunk that I couldn’t get the baby to quiet and go to sleep (he had come with us).  The hubs snatched him away and said, “Just go to bed, I’ll take care of him.”  I wasn’t so drunk that it didn’t sting…bad (still does).  But the point is that he laid off the sauce and was able to moderate when I wasn’t.

After the kids got older and I began drinking at home, he NEVER did.  I tried to get him to drink with me but he never did.  He would drink when we went out for date night but he switched his signature drink (V.O. and Coke) to a tall glass to get more coke to the shot of V.O.  And I think, no I’m sure, he only drank then because he knew I would be upset if he didn’t.  I mean, I didn’t want to drink alone!  That would mean I had a problem!

Was it that he saw the writing on the wall?  That, eventually, I would no longer be able to continue my alcoholic journey and would have to quit so he might as well get used to it?  Nope…that’s an alcoholic’s thought process, not a normie’s.  I think it was more that he had just moved on.  He never needed it like I did, so when it became an issue he just let it go.  He stepped away as a natural part of the process of getting older.  He matured.  He grew.  And he never left my side.  He never judged.  He never criticized. 

So I took a moment and thanked him yesterday via my daily “Today I love you because…” text.

His response?  “I love you baby.”

My response? “I love you more.”

Namaste

Choosing a Path

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I want my life to go in my “next phase”.  Now that I’m sober and not preoccupied constantly with where, when and how much I can drink, it seems that a whole host of things are available to me. 

Just typing that sentence shocks me but it was what it was.

Anyway…I’m wondering what it is I want to do.  My kids are all pretty much self sufficient.  Soon it will just be the hubs and me and I’m definitely more type A than he is.  I like to be in motion.  I’m really happiest when I’m creating, building, or learning.  Whether it’s food, or crafts or school or yoga or work, I need a direction.  I guess I should be more content to just be, but the paradox of that is that to just be just isn’t me!  So, in order to be true to myself, I need to follow this convoluted logic and do something.

If you followed that last paragraph then you either know and love me or you should because we share a brain.  You have my sympathy.

But I digress…

I’ve thought about several paths my life could take –

  • I could go to graduate school.  There are a lot of online programs now that wouldn’t require me to quit my job (hahahahahaha…oh…sorry) or even travel to a classroom several nights a week.  Problem is, I can’t decide what I want to study.  I could go the path of career (and have my company pay a portion of the tuition) and enroll in an Adult Education or Instructional Design Master’s program, or I could find one that would allow me to get a Master’s in English (which is my passion but would provide absolutely no bang for the buck).  Then there’s the fact that the hubs won’t shut up about law school.  I was accepted once, a very long time ago, but decided against it after taking some law classes in undergraduate school.  Get over it honey!  The law is not for me!  Plus, all of the above is freaking expensive and I’ll have three in college next year.  This one will definitely have to wait.

  • I could learn to be a yoga instructor.  Again, a real passion.  The issue here is that the courses and programs are WAY expensive.  Of course I could make a few pennies (that is not an exaggeration) teaching a couple of times a week once I’m certified, but it will likely never pay enough to pay the bills.  Then again, it would be one step further toward the dream of owning my own studio one day that might, if all the planets align in just the right way, pay some bills.  But none of that is bloody likely.

  • I could pour myself into my career and work nights and weekends and network and schmooze and make small talk and…oh forget it…there’s no way that’s happening.

  • I could embark on a mission to redecorate and improve our home using as little money as possible.  I could start a blog and chronicle my before and afters. Yawn…I’m bored already.

  • I could finally put my nose to the grindstone and write that children’s book I’ve always wanted to write.  Or a book on parenting.  Or a recovery memoir (like they’re aren’t enough of those on the proverbial shelves).  The problem with that is that I don’t know the first thing about writing a book or getting it published.

Wow…as I was reading this over, I noticed how negative this all sounds.  Every time I list something I would like to do, I shoot it down in the same paragraph!  I’m no therapist but I can see some deep seated problems here.  Is it that I have no confidence?  Have I lost my drive?  Is it my parents’ fault?

Let’s go with the parent thing and just move on shall we?  It’s easy and probably the right choice anyway.

Bottom line…In order to make any of this work, I need to DO something.  I guess my first step will have to be to just pick one and begin to move forward.  As they used to say in Mary Kay, “find a way, make a way”.   Hey…I quit drinking!  I can do ANYTHING!

Namaste