- I resolve to practice eating cleaner and staying away from sugar as much as possible.
- I resolve to practice meditation and/or yoga every day in order to get more in touch with my spirituality. As an added benefit, I won’t feel like such a fraud when I sign my posts, “Namaste”.
- I resolve to practice kindness at all times…even when angry, or frustrated or depressed…there is never an excuse to be unkind.
- I resolve to practice approaching life from a place of love. Love for every one and every thing in the universe. That includes me.
- On a more practical note, I resolve to floss every day and not every other day the way I do now.
My home is about to be besieged with all manner of chicks coming home to roost for the holiday.
I am so happy I could BURST.
So I’m stepping away from the computer for a week or so. I know, I know…you’ll miss me but think of this as a growth experience.
To all of my blogger friends, thank you for hanging in there with me this past year. Your support has meant the world to me. Plus, I think it’s pretty cool that I have friends in London, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico and even Yemen for Gods sake (I think I just misspelled that…sorry). Not to mention those close enough to actually meet whether by getting in my car or taking advantage of a upcoming business trip. Your blogs have pulled me through some low times and your comments have let me know I’m not writing in a vacuum…that you understand what’s going on in my crazy head, and you like me anyway. (You like me…you really – sorry, lost my mind there for a sec).
Anyway, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year guys. And if you’re new to sobriety and need a pep talk, I’ll be checking email. You’re not alone.
And sobriety is the greatest Christmas miracle there is…I promise.
To everyone, I wish you peace.
What is it about this time of year that leaves normies and addicts both with their panties (or boxers) in a wad? We’re supposed to be all Peace on Earth and instead we’re all get-out-of-my-fucking-way-I-need-that-toy-for-my-kid. Why do we take what is supposed to be about love and caring and turn it into a shit storm of agony and angst?
I don’t give a fat rat’s ass how you greet me this time of year…just that you do. If you’re Jewish wish me Happy Hannukah. African American? Joyous Kwanzaa (if you celebrate Kwanzaa). Plain old Christian? Merry Christmas always works. And if you’re conflicted just say Happy Holidays. They’re all just a way of saying get-out-of-my-fucking-way-I-need-that-toy-for-my-kid so who cares? Just kidding. They are all a way to say, “I care about you”. Let’s not take ourselves so seriously okay?
I am well aware that my ample ass and my sugar levels are not in need of Christmas cookies. I am also aware that I like them and I therefore will be baking them so put that in your Christmas pipe and smoke it. They will not be vegan, or gluten free, or sugar free. There will be no carob or agave or stevia used in my cookies. I will be baking the plain old chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin with the occasionally Snickerdoodle thrown into the mix (as well as Monkey Bread…can’t forget the Monkey Bread…my grandchildren would kill me) and those funny little peanut butter things with the Hershey’s Kiss or miniature Reese’s Cup smooshed down on top. I will not be stressing about making the most recent Pinterest concoction that looks like Santa’s sleigh and all nine reindeer complete with presents and Rudolph’s red nose that sings to you and tastes like Heaven has melted in your mouth. Pinterest does enough to make me feel inadequate the rest of the year, I don’t need it kicking my ass at Christmas.
There will not be bows on my packages…get over it. I hate those little fuckers that come in the bag, are all squished and bent and refuse to stay stuck on my gifts no matter how much freaking tape I use to stick them there! There was a time that all my wrapping paper, bows, tags and ribbon were all coordinated. Bows stayed stuck, ribbon slipped elegantly from packages when being opened and names were clearly visible on each tag. Then I had children. Now I use Dollar Store ribbon and write on the self-sticking tag with the nearest Sharpie (so it won’t get erased) no matter what color it is. Guess what…NO ONE CARES! If they are kids they’re too busy tearing into the damn thing to notice the freaking paper and if they’re adults they’re thinking, “Who the hell is she trying to impress?” I love you. I bought you a gift. I did wrap it even if it’s not perfect. We cool?
I will be watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” this Christmas Eve like I do every Christmas Eve. I will cry. It’s sappy…so WHAT? It has sentiment. I like sentiment. This is the time of year when a Publix commercial can make me cry (it’s a grocery store) not to mention Hallmark and Budweiser…don’t even get me started on THOSE. I’ll also cry when Frosty melts and when Linus gives his speech and when Bing unwraps his knight on a horse. Then I’ll laugh at the Griswolds and Ralphie and that little dog that loves the Grinch in spite of the fact that he starts out a real asshole. It’s part of tradition and if you don’t like that stuff it’s okay too! But I do so back the hell off.
And I will put cookies and milk out for Santa. Because he still comes to our house.
Because we BELIEVE.
First, to all of you Ugg lovers who commented yesterday…I KNOW Uggs are the shit in footwear, that’s why I choose them for schlepping back and forth to the bus this winter (well actually I was looking for knockoffs but couldn’t find any so I purchased the real deal…then Christmas rolled around and now you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a pair of knockoffs). And they are the most comfortable things I’ve ever worn on my feet and I am now officially an Ugg addict. But they are butt Uggly (see what I did there) and I am not used to wearing ugly shoes. So I have a love/hate relationship with the suckers.
Still…the fact that I’m buying lower and lower heels and seeking comfort over fashion is really pissing me off. And that’s a fact.
Next, for some reason I can no longer comment on Blogger posts from my work computer. Who in the hell knows why…someone in IT decided that it was FORBIDDEN and so I wanted all of you to know that I’m reading even if I can’t comment. (Yes I’m working but I read and comment on my lunch hour.) So to Barbara – I am so going to miss your posts. I’m glad we’re Facebook friends and please keep me updated if you start a new blog. Amy – please feel better soon…sucks to be sick. As to calling in sick? Girl, keep your germs to yourself! Your co-workers and customers appreciate the effort.
There is someone in my life right now that is sucking the Happy right out of me and I’m trying very hard to cope but it’s getting more and more difficult every day. Just being around them takes me from a place of joy to a place of frustration and even anger faster than a Mazzeratti goes from 0-60. I’m very sensitive to the feelings of the people I love, so what they feel, I feel…for reals yo. I think I’m going to have to get some kind of force field to put around me to protect my Happy this holiday season. Someone call Bella and get her to drop that shield she used on the Volturi around me. (That was a Twilight reference…sorry.)
That’s all for today. Protect your Happy.
Notice I didn’t say that I am old. Because I’m not. And I will never be. I am the coolest, hippest, youngest mom/grandma on the planet and I plan to stay that way for-fucking-EVER and you can take that to the BANK.
But I am noticing changes and this one hurts most of all. It cuts me to the core and leaves me raw and bleeding on the road of life. This is the cruelest, most inhumane, beastly sign of getting older and I’m not sure what I’m going to do or how I’m going to handle it. It’s just too painful.
It’s not the post menopausal weight gain. I’ve made peace with these 40 extra pounds. If they are insistent on sticking around well then so be it. But I’m not letting them kill me. I’m dedicated to being a carb-less carni/herbivore that will keep my blood pressure and cholesterol/tryglycerides in check and therefore keep me healthy. I’m committed to 10,000 steps a day and anything else that will keep me active and vital. So if those extra pounds like me all that much…I guess we can co-exist.
It’s not gray hair because I don’t have any. Yep, 52 1/2 years old and no gray hair. It’s genetics so I don’t take any credit for it. I still color my hair though. My actual hair color is the blahest, dowdiest, light brown you’ve ever seen. I hate it. So I color it and it’s a different color every 6-8 weeks which is fun and hip. But it’s not because it’s gray…because I’m on trend!!!! Right! Yes…just nod.
It’s not that I can’t hear or can’t remember anything (because I’ve never been able to remember anything), or that my teeth are falling out or that my knee aches from too many aerobics classes for too many years on hard floors with the wrong shoes. No…that’s not it.
It’s because I’ve lost my passion for SHOES!
Look away…I’m hideous.
I am a shoe-aholic and, up until recently, damn proud of it! I still love shoes – I haven’t totally lost my fucking mind – it’s just that recently I’ve begun to get uh…more…um…sensible about the shoes I buy. (Wait…I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.)
The shoes I’m buying are still on trend but…uh…gulp…the heels are lower; the toe box is roomier; the colors are more neutral than my usual “POW”. They are more…ugh!…COMFORTABLE! And I’m seeking them out! I’m buying them ON PURPOSE. It’s not like I buy a pair of stilettos and accidentally happen upon a pair that is actually comfortable (I do have a couple of pair like that). It’s that I insist on comfort before I buy them!
No more, “I’ll break them in,” or “they’ll probably work with a pair of tights”, or “my toes aren’t THAT squished”. No, now it’s all, “Nope…too tight,” or “Nope…can’t feel my pinky toe,” or the worst…”Nope, the heel is too high!”
Wait…I’m feeling faint.
I’m the girl who spent six weeks on crutches and still wore one high heel every day! I had to replace all my shoes after the cast came off because one heel of each pair was worn down more than the other. For reals people…I was serious about my heels. I used to teach for eight hours in four inch heels and then walk to dinner with colleagues in the same shoes. Change shoes for dinner? What do you think I am? OLD?
And to prove to you how bad this is…I want to introduce you to my most recent shoe investment…
See…told you it was bad.
Talking to the hubs on the drive in to work today (sun is shining blindingly…blahs have passed – thanks to everyone for your kind words…they really do help) and we of course got on the subject of Christmas. I wanted to know how we were doing on the money front since I’m working so hard to stay on budget. Answer? We’re doing “great”!
That was a relief because this time of year always weighs on my mind when it comes to money and shopping for the “perfect” gift for people. Many times without regard to what it costs.
See, my mother equated love with “things”. If you had the right things, bought the right things, wore the right things and, at Christmas, gifted the right things, then you were normal. No problems here folks…move along…nothing to see. Didn’t matter how much it cost or how far in debt we were or how many nights she spent playing bingo to try and win the money while I stayed home and dealt with a drunk father. Nope…just had to have the right things. What’s more, if she didn’t get the right things as gifts (and it was never right), she’d pout and make you feel like shit all day.
For years I didn’t even realize I was replicating some of this behavior. I didn’t realize that I was trying to make myself feel better on the outside with things, while all the time I was dying on the inside. And this was never more true than at Christmas. I gave the kids everything on their list, every year, no matter what. Most years, after all the shopping was done, I’d go out and fine some “wow” gift that they weren’t expecting so that they would have “the best Christmas EVER.” (Let’s get them all new Macs! How about we go get them each a new car! Let’s get them the XBox, Playstation AND a Wii!) Add to that all the baking, decorating and time spent with them and you have a shit storm of crazy, manic behavior that left me exhausted (and usually hungover) and feeling empty and most definitely broke and further in debt.
No one (except, probably, the hubs) knew what was going on inside of me. The kids had a great Santa experience. The neighbors attended the best parties at the best decorated house in the neighborhood. Friends received the best cookies and candies made from the most trendy recipes. The house remained spotless at all times. The only difference between me and my mom was that I had more money and I could care less if I got anything – I just wanted everyone else to have “the best Christmas EVER.”
But then I got sober and began to recover. I started to dig and pick at old scars and uncover what was really going on inside this dying heart. I’ve written about it over and over in this blog but one thing that has finally, blessedly, come to pass is that this year I’m not stressing about gifts. I purchased things I knew people would enjoy, that I picked out myself but that are within a prescribed budget. I clued my men into the fact that there would be a strict budget this year and no “wow” gifts under the tree. I will make some candy and cookies but only if there is time and I feel like it. There will be no Christmas party at the Magic House this year.
What there will be is a house filled with love and gratitude for the simple gift of being together for one more year. There will be gifts, purchased or made, that were selected especially for loved ones and given with love. How they take them is not up to me. What they think about them is not up to me. All I can do is love them and provide a small token of that love in the spirit of the season.
There will be a remembrance of the birth of Jesus and what that means in our Christian home (it’s not the same among all of my kids so it’s always a great conversation). Again, there will be gratitude.
And for me? There will be some hard won peace. I am so okay with that.
Okay people, Susie Sunshine here is having a blah day…and it’s only 10:00 am. Blah meaning not a particularly good mood coupled with a rumbly tummy and a headache that’s been plaguing me for weeks. Blech.
The weather here is crap. Just cold rain. No snow which always cheers me (as long as it melts as fast as it falls). And yes, I know it could be worse, I have family and friends fighting ice and snow right now which is never a good thing. Snow yes. Ice? Not so much.
No sunshine which I NEED to combat the blahs.
No challenging work in which I can sink my teeth (this is our slow season).
My men are going through exams in school and so are not particularly cheerful and the hubs is not his normal self and I’m not sure why (maybe he’s feeling BLAH also).
Add to that the fact that we’re hemorrhaging cash because of Christmas (even though I’ve made and am sticking to a strict budget – it still feels like a lot of money) and the fact that I can’t get into any kind of exercise lately (and I really miss it) and you’ve got the perfect storm.
A serious, no holds barred, case of the BLAHS.
But I’ll snap out of it. One of my men called and invited me to lunch today. Yay. My Starbucks Christmas Blend is particularly good this morning (only 12 more stars till I reach Gold level – I have no idea what this means). The rest of the week at work is packed with holiday themed events – eight hours of volunteer work tomorrow and lunch and a pedicure with my coworkers on Wednesday. Then there’s next week and after that – I’m off for two entire weeks!
And really, when I stop whining long enough to “be still” and look around I realize what an incredibly blessed woman I am.
As I was praying this morning I was thanking The Big Guy for the fact that I have a nice roof over my head and three meals a day which makes me richer than about 60% of the entire world’s population (or something like that). That is a huge hairy deal when you think about it.
Add to that a good job with people I love that pays me well; a family that is filled with love and caring; and a husband who still thinks this old woman is hot – he is also old and therefore likely a little blind but I’m okay with that 😉 and you’ve got a multitude of blessings that should never be taken for granted.
Even on the BLAH days.
Yesterday someone told me that I was “direct” and that they like that. That’s a very good thing because that’s the only way I know how to be. I “shoot from the hip”, “tell it like it is”, “lay it all on the table” or any other well worn phrase you’d like to use. It’s “how I roll”. (Okay…enough with the quotes.)
Over the years this little personality trait has been both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, people always know where they stand with me and there are seldom surprises about how I feel about something. Hell, you can read my face like a book. I don’t have to say a word. This makes most people comfortable with me because they know I have no ulterior motives going on…what you see is what you get.
On the other hand, it makes some people very uncomfortable. These folks are usually even more conflict avoidant than I am and would rather just ignore the 800 pound gorilla in the room and pretend that everything is FINE, then face what’s going on and resolve it. To these people I say oh well. The kind of stress that is created in my gut when a situation is present and not dealt with is the kind that makes me a crazy woman who seeks comfort. Comfort in a bottle. Comfort in a new pair of shoes. Comfort in chocolate.
That’s why I choose honesty when I write this blog. And why I choose the “colorful” language I do. I was an English minor in college. I am well aware that a run on sentence is not a proper way to express myself nor is dropping the f-bomb in every other sentence. Except that it is. Here I get to write what I want and how I want and direct it to whom I want and use any type of language I want. (Except that there is never an excuse to mix up their and there…thanks Kathy.)
See, I started this blog to help myself through my recovery and that’s the primary reason I still write. But along the way I got a crazy notion that I’d like to help others on their paths to sobriety too. I wanted to give back a little of what I got when I found the blogosphere. I wanted to share my experience in the hopes that someone might say, “Oh thank GOD I’m not alone” and know that there is a better life on the other side of the bottle.
The only way I know how to do that is by being totally upfront and honest…about all of my experiences (since those are the only ones I can speak to). So instead of blowing sunshine and unicorns up your ass with ever post, I choose to tell you about that damned craving I had, or the awful drunk dream, or the fact that holiday parties sucked at first, or that yes, after all this time Chardonnay DOES still smell good to me and that I DO wish that I could have a shot of Jameson’s in my coffee. Sorry…that’s just how it is for me.
I recognize that each and every one of our journey’s is different. That all of our addictions are different. That’s why this blogging community is so great! Because of the different perspectives. Click on enough links on the blogrolls and I guarantee you’ll find someone who is exactly like you. That’s a beautiful thing. That in this crazy universe there is someone out there who can relate to how you feel right this minute and can help you through it! It’s not only beautiful, it’s a friggin’ miracle!
What I don’t want is for someone who is struggling to walk into a situation and think, “Why didn’t anyone warn me about this?”, or worse yet, “I’m the only one who feels this way…there must be something wrong with me.” UGH! What a waste that would be when there are so many of us out here who want so badly to make it easier for each other. I learned that after my first child was born. Why doesn’t anyone tell you about all the gross stuff that happens to you on that table?! Why aren’t women HONEST about that?!
Well I am. I tell them every ugly and gross thing that’s going to happen the same way I do here.
And then I say the same thing I do here…that it’s all worth it more than you can know because, at the end of all of the ugliness is…LIFE.
Headed off to NY tomorrow to do an event…just like last year. Except last year I was there all week – this time its just 24 hours. Fine by me. Travel gets old after a while and I’ve been doing it for the last 20 years. It’s officially old.
Last year’s trip was a blast because it was my first time in NY at Christmastime. My two coworkers and I had such a great time! I did have a…um…pause…which inspired this post. That got me thinking about some of you who may be struggling and I decided that I’d like to add my two cents to the whole “Holiday Survival Guide” thing.
I mean really…what self-respecting recovering alcoholic doesn’t have some advice to get through this time and what kind of self-respecting recovering alcoholic would I be if I didn’t share?
Now say that last sentence three times fast.
First of all, if you’re newly sober (and hell, maybe even if you’re not), this is going to suck in ways you’ve never imagined. This is going to suck so bad your ancestors will feel it. But here’s the thing – it’s OKAY. Anything worth having takes WORK and sobriety is so worth having!!! Know that no matter how bad your feeling and how badly you want that drink…it will pass. I promise. It will pass. And when it does…you will still be sober.
Next, be sure to take care of yourself and your sobriety FIRST. Announce it to your family/friends if necessary.
“Look people, nothing matters more to me right now than staying sober so I’m putting you on notice, I come first! If I’m not here it means I’m taking care of me. If I don’t answer my phone it means I don’t want to talk you because you annoy me and that might trigger me so leave me a message. If I don’t return a text right away it means I’m doing something good for myself like taking a bubble bath, getting a massage or eating chocolate. Get over yourself. Right now, it IS all about me.”
Seriously, if you don’t put this first and foremost in your life, you’re no good to anyone else. You don’t HAVE to do anything. I promise that Christmas will still come and the planet will still keep turning if you don’t get around to wrapping all your gifts before the 13th, or making Aunt Betty’s pumpkin souffle that takes forty gadzillion hours and 23 steps not to mention 37 different ingredients. If it’s stressing you out then forget about it. You can do it all next year.
(And before you say anything, you are not special when it comes to this kind of thing. We all have those special things we’re supposed to do and ridiculous expectations put on us this time of year. So what. Just say no.)
Now I’m sure you’re probably worried about the holiday parties, saying no to the booze and/or not having a good time. I mean really…how in the world can you be expected to have a good time if you can’t drink?
So let’s do this. Let’s just all agree that you are NOT going to have a good time at any of these parties this year. Remember that part when I said this would suck? Yeah well this is that part. It sucks (at first) to be the sober one at the party. It also pisses you off. Why can’t I drink if he can? Well you can’t. Plain and simple. So stay home and throw a hissy fit (I’ve thrown one or ten or fifty in my sober life). Or go and throw one. Or go and sit in a corner and pout. If other people don’t like it…then fuck them.
YOU ONLY HAVE ONE JOB…TO STAY SOBER NO MATTER WHAT!!!
Go to the party and eat yourself stupid if you have to…which brings me to my next point. Fuck calories. If you are newly sober or if the holiday’s are a particularly difficult time for you, give yourself a fucking break and eat the goddamn cookies! Or fudge, or mac and cheese or bacon or WHATEVER! Just eat it!!!! You deserve it! You’re sober when no one else is! This eating thing will pass eventually and you’ll get your life back on track, don’t worry. It’s temporary and, for a lot of us, necessary to our sobriety.
If you go to the parties (or family get togethers or whatever) I want you to take a moment and look around. Watch how everyone else is drinking. Sure, some people are getting shit-faced (and you’ll either feel sorry for them or you’ll be disgusted by them…most likely you’ll just be glad it’s not you this year), but many, many others are not. They are sipping their drinks. They’ll have one, maybe two and be done. While you are looking longingly at their drinks I want you to remember THAT YOU CAN NOT DRINK LIKE THIS. So don’t even try. Remember, one job – stay sober…that’s it. NO MATTER WHAT!!!
Now to the good part. At the end of every night this holiday season (with the exception of Christmas Eve if you have little ones) you can go to bed early. You can put on your warmest PJ’s and snuggle up under your blankets, read a little (and comprehend/remember what you’re reading) or maybe watch a little TV. Have some hot tea, or maybe some hot chocolate with real whipped cream (after you’ve squirted some in your mouth right from the can). Then you can drift off to dreamland only to wake refreshed the next day and ready for whatever the day might bring.
One job…that’s all you have this holiday season. ONE JOB.
You can handle that can’t you? Yep…you sure as hell can.
What a wonderful holiday. I totally love Thanksgiving. My daughter and her family came down (they’ll be back after Christmas) and my niece and her family were there along with my boys and assorted girlfriends. We ate way too much, screamed at some football and laughed until our sides hurt. No drama. No guilt.
That’s why it’s called the Magic House.
After they left on Saturday, the hubs and I decorated the inside of the house. It looks great and I only had to trim the tree once since at the end of last year we bought a pre-lit tree for downstairs (we already had one for upstairs). And then it happened…
The melancholy set in. That danged anxious, sad feeling I get every year around the holidays. I fight it and fight it and eventually it goes away, but it can leave me feeling flat and not fully present. It sucks. I’ve battled it for many years and have often attributed it to depression, money troubles or seasonal affective disorder but really, I’ve never put my finger on exactly what it is.
I know for a fact it’s why I loved holiday parties so much. Parties were an opportunity to escape the melancholy. Dress up in festive holiday attire and head out to a place decorated with Christmas lights where we would eat yummy food and, of course, drink our faces off. The more parties the season held the better in my opinion. Of course I spent too much, ate too much and drank so much that I can barely remember most of the parties. But oh they were FUN!!! At least I think they were…
Anyway, after the kids were born the holidays changed and became about Santa and the magic that was Christmas. To see their little eyes shine when they opened their gifts. Or the wonder when Santa came to mass and knelt down to bless the baby Jesus in the manger. Those were also great escapes. Ones that I will treasure always.
But down deep, the “thing” bubbled and brewed. That anxiety, depression, melancholy was merely sleeping, waiting for a chance to pounce…which it inevitably ended up doing. Break out the bubbly! Time to take a ride on the Escape Express! First and last stop…oblivion.
During my first few sober Christmases I never gave it a second thought. I put the feeling down to being sober. After all, how freaking boring is Christmas without wine? I have special Christmas wine glasses and everything! No wonder I can’t get in the “spirit”, I’m freaking SOBER!
Except this year I know that’s not the case. I LOVE being sober! I wouldn’t give up this sober life for ANYTHING. Then why do I still feel this way? What in the world is wrong with me?
So I stopped and tried to really examine what I was feeling. Anxiety…check. Sadness…check. Flat…check. What is at the root of this?
Then it hit me…I’m waiting for the other shoe to fall. You see, there’s no way my life can feel or be this good. Something bad is bound to happen…it always does. The holidays of my youth were always spent waiting for something to spoil the good time. My father got drunk and spoiled it. My mother brought drama where ever she roamed. The crazy side of my family ended up fighting. IT WAS ALWAYS SOMETHING.
So now I literally refuse to let myself get caught up in the good feelings for fear that I will be disappointed later when it all goes to shit.
Here’s the thing…so what if it goes to shit. I’ve carefully cultivated a home filled with love and support and joy. Ours is a drama and guilt free home. It’s warm and loving and caring and kind. It’s the home I always wanted when I was growing up so even if shit does happen, we’ll all be there to support one another and deal with it as it comes…just like we always do.
So it’s time to stop living in the past. It’s time to live in the NOW. Not dwelling on who made me feel what way 40+ years ago. Not worrying about what might happen. Not trying to control every fucking thing that may or may not come our way.
Just enjoying the spirit of the season. The joy of a well chosen (or made) gift given freely and unconditionally and filled with love. The warmth of family together and enjoying being that way. The celebration of the birth of God’s only Son. All the cheesy Christmas movies. Digging in the bottom of my purse for change so that I can drop something in every red kettle I see.
Just being and loving in the Magic House.
PS – If you have a minute or two and you pray, please send up one for the families who are living with the aftermath of the New Town shootings that happened last December 14th. This must be an awfully hard time for them.