Pepper

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Our Brittany/Beagle mix is sick…really sick.  Yesterday he was throwing up everywhere and the hubs took him to the vet.  Diabetes.  His glucose level was over 600 when it should have been below 100.  He also had a fever and was dehydrated.  After some fluids, some anti nausea meds and a prescription for antibiotics and insulin they sent him home.  We gave him a shot of insulin and put him to bed.

Today he’s worse.  He’s at the vet now under observation.  I thought he had renal failure but finally, blessedly, he peed.  (I thought I was over the potty habit after the kids grew up…guess I was wrong).  Now we wait.

This is our first dog as a family.  I wanted a beagle and when I found him on Petfinder.com, they said he name was Pepper (name of my first ever dog) and that he had hazel eyes (my dad had hazel eyes) and that he was a beagle mix.  I set up an appointment for him to meet our family.

When that dog got out of the car I realized he was about as much beagle as I was and that his eyes were amber…not hazel.  Didn’t matter though, he captured our hearts as soon as he walked pranced into the house.  What do they say?  When a dog comes into your home he never leaves?  Yeah…that. 

That was only 7 years ago.

He barks too much, nips at little children and counter surfs but he’s ours and we love him and we want him well and back home with us…where he belongs…with me.

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Namaste

 

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That Feeling

Work is crazy right now.  We’re coming into our busy/crazy/kill-me-now season in addition to an increased work load and a reduced staff.  That’s one of the reasons I’ve not been able to post or comment a lot lately…too much to do and by the time I’m done for the day – I’m fried.  Crispy.  Burnt.

During all of this insanity (which I secretly love BTW – except for the part about missing all of you) something happened last week that brought back some uncomfortable shitty memories that need to be put on the “page” so they get out of my freaking head and leave me the hell alone.  They bug me when they’re up there, rolling around in my already stuffed head begging for attention.  I don’t like to be bugged.

Lots of times I have early morning appointments that get put on my calendar and, because I didn’t put them there, I may or may not forget them.  Well, I don’t exactly forget them but they get shoved to the back of the priority list in favor of stuff that I put on my calendar and therefore is much more important top of mind.  Add to that the fact that I’m getting old and can’t remember shit about most things and, well, I’d better be writing this shit down or I’m in a heap o’ trouble people.

Oh…and in case I haven’t mentioned it about a million times, I am not a morning person.  At.  All. Period.

So last week all of these things came together in kind of a perfect storm.  Fortunately I had to be at work early (6:45 a-fucking-m) so I was there when the event that I was supposed to remember but didn’t came to light.  Naturally I said, “Of course I remembered!  Just been a little busy is all.  Wait one sec while I take care of that!”  Bullshit meters all of Charlotte, NC were going off so loudly you could have awakened the dead.

That, in and of itself, is not the point of this post because…well because I’m older than dirt and it happens more and more frequently here lately and well fuck me if I can’t take a joke.  It is what it is.  The point is the feeling that came over me when I realized my mistake.

All of you alcoholics out there are way ahead of me here aren’t you?  You know what’s coming.  And now, thanks to me, you’re feeling it too.  Don’t lie.  I know…we all do.

It’s that feeling of, “Oh shit what did I do what did I say why can’t I remember if I hadn’t slept so long because I drank so much last night I would have been here and ready to handle this I drank too much last night and overslept and missed an important meeting blah blah blah.”  Yep..that one.

And son of a bitch if I couldn’t feel the hangover!!!  The quesy stomach.  The headache.  The exhaustion.  It didn’t last long but for one brief, hideous moment I was back in that place again.

I hated that place.  Still do.

Then, as quickly as it hit it was gone.  Relief swept over me.  I took a very deep breath and let out a long sigh.

Then closed my eyes and quietly whispered…

Thank you God.

Namaste

In Honor

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Suicide affects us all. Every year, millions of Americans are directly affected by the more than 37,000 suicides and hundreds of thousands of suicide attempts made by friends or loved ones.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  1.800.273.TALK (8255)

According to the Centers for Disease Control Preventions (CDC) in 2010, someone in the United States died by suicide every 13.7 minutes.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

There are far more deaths in the United States each year from suicide than homicide.  In fact, the rate of suicides is almost double the rate of homicides.

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, scientific evidence has shown that almost all people who take their own lives have a diagnosable mental or substance abuse disorder, and the majority have more than one disorder.

National Alliance on Mental Illness

 

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.
Washington Irving

 

 Namaste

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gremlins Running Amok

I’m happy to say that, mostly because of your awesome comments, I’m pretty much okay with my last post.  Yes…I do see failure when I think of myself next to the word “alcoholic”, but when I divorce myself from that word I’m proud and happy about who I am.  A mother-fucking-sober-warrior-ninja-lady!  It’s a good place to be.  It’s my place.  And I love it here.

Besides…we have cookies.

Speaking of cookies (smoooooooth segue don’t you think), I’m still eating too many of them – and everything else.  Breathe easy however, this post is not about my battle with sugar or food…it’s about my battle with me.  On the tails of delving deep into my psyche about why I feel the way I do about different things, I’ve discovered that the part of my brain that loves to beat the shit out of me is alive and well.  I think, sorta like feeding a Gremlin after dark,  if I feed her sugar she grows and gets really ugly.  Yeah…must be that.

Yesterday was a totally awful day.  No matter what I did it turned to shit.  I blamed it on the blood moon but I actually have no idea what it was…it just was.  In and of itself that’s no big deal.  EVERYONE has bad days and has to perform mea culpa from time to time.  Shake it off, rub some dirt on it and get on wit yo bad ass self.

Except that’s not what I do.  MY Gremlin does not have the ability to shake it off, let it go (damn…now that song’s in my head), or move on.  It just likes to start that damn tape that runs on a loop and tells me what a loser I am.  It doesn’t matter what the “good” side of my brain says, the Gremlin side is always louder.  Kind of like arguing with a drunk – you can’t win and no matter how hard you try to convince them they are wrong, they get louder and louder and more and more obnoxious.  Of course…I guess I am arguing with a drunk (albeit a sober one)…oh crap…now my brain hurts from thinking too much.

My depression medication really helps since the part of the brain that has gone haywire in me is also the part that feeds the Gremlin side.  A huge symptom of depression is the inability to shake things off and the overwhelming tendency to beat yourself up about how awful you are.  Even medicated though, old habits die hard and if I’m not vigilant, those Gremlins come roaring back with only the slightest of provocation…or cookies.

So for now I’m going to sit with it and try to figure it out.  I’m going to work on “beefing up” the good side of my brain so she can shut the other side up.  It won’t be for good but even a moment’s peace is a godsend.  Besides, I’ve turned this one over to God and He never lets me down.  He eats Gremlins for lunch.

Namaste

Failure May Very Well Be An Option

Since my post the other day about the “A” word, I’ve been thinking a lot about why that word bothers me so much when I apply it to myself.  I have nothing but compassion (and maybe a little pity) for other alcoholics.  What’s the problem with just saying it out loud…to the world?  Why can’t I have the same compassion for myself that I feel for other addicts?

So I sat with the feeling a little while and tried to dissect it.  (Get me!  Using all my recovery tools like I know what I’m doing!)  I let the feeling settle.  I got very quiet until the reason popped into my head like one of those old MTV pop-ups.

Failure.

Whoa…back this train up a sec.  What did I just hear in my head?

F. A. I. L. U. R. E.

Shit.  That’s what I thought I heard.

The longer I sat with that one word, the more I realized that it was exactly why I was having trouble (and may always have trouble) with calling myself an alcoholic…even though SURVEY SAYS!!!!…I am most certainly an alcoholic and always have been an alcoholic.  (Let’s play a fitness game shall we?  Every time Sherry says the word “alcoholic” in this post, do 20 squats. That ought to help with that April challenge.)

Then I got all analytical on myself because…well because it’s what I do.

Why do I feel this way?

That, friends and neighbors, is the question.  Let’s examine the facts as we know them.

  1. We all know I grew up the child of an alcoholic.  I loved my father fiercely but I did not like what his alcoholism did to our family and to me.
  2. My mother was a train wreck that not only could not feel unconditional love, she couldn’t express it either.
  3. My extended family on my mother’s side – aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. were also a fucked up mess and could have benefited greatly from some deep, soul-searching therapy.
  4. My extended family on my father’s side was either narcissistic, alcoholic or had divorced themselves from the family long ago (guess I should have taken that as a sign – I always liked those people).
  5. In short, I come from a long line of losers.  Some of them loveable but all of them a hot mess.

I grew up knowing that I was different.  That I wanted to be somebody separate and apart from these people.  I set about to make myself different.  I took control.  I took care of everyone and everything.  I dressed differently.  I spoke differently.  I carried myself differently.  Most importantly, I believed that I was different…better even.

And it worked!  It was a crock of shit but it worked!  I crafted a successful, well-educated, articulate and loving human being.  I have a lovely home, amazing husband and relationship, fulfilling career (for the most part) and six of the most wonderful offspring on the planet.  More importantly, they are growing up to be healthy and happy as well and have begun raising their own kids.  Look at me!  I’m not a loser!  I didn’t FAIL. 

But I forgot one, very important thing.  Genetics don’t give a flying rat’s ass what you think of yourself or how much you’ve worked to separate yourself from the fray.  If you’re born predisposed to alcoholism (it counts…start squatting) then guess what – if you drink then one day you’re going to wake up and say to yourself, “I think I have a problem.”  And you’ll be right.

For me…that spelled a failure of epic proportions.  How could I, the “good” one, the “successful” one, the “stuck up” one (that’s my sister talking) have let myself get this way?  How could I have lost control like that?  After all the promises I made to myself about how I wasn’t going to torture my family the way my father tortured us could I have let this happen?   OH MY GOD!  I’m one of THEM! 

I failed.

The problem is that children of dysfunctional homes that have taken on the control freak-care-giver-grow-up-way-too-fast persona (there’s usually one) don’t fail well.  We do not tolerate mistakes in ourselves.  We MUST be number one at all costs.  Things MUST be perfect in our lives.  Our houses must be clean.  Our children must be well-behaved and well-dressed and get perfect grades.  We must excel at school, work and every single activity we put on our plate. 

WE MUST SUCCEED.

And if we don’t?

Well then we fail don’t we?

I failed.  I succumbed.  I lost control.  I suck.

I became an alcoholic. (Squat)

But wait sports fans!  Sherry would never end a post with negativity like that!

Hate to disappoint you but this time she will.  After all, I just figured this out.  Believe it or not this concept of alcoholic=failure just popped into my pea-brain.  Why, you ask?  Well because I never thought of alcoholics as failures.  I never looked at my father and thought, “Dude…you failed!”  On the contrary, at some base level I knew he couldn’t help it – that he was an addict and that it had him in its grips.  He may not have been a great man but he was no failure.  He was simply an alcoholic.

So why can’t think of myself in the same way?  Why can’t I have that same level of compassion for myself?

I’ll have to get back to you on that one.  Besides, my butt cheeks are cramping up from all these squats I’ve been doing.

Namaste

Hi I’m Sherry and I’m…uh…the “A” word.

The hubs and I were chatting this weekend and at some point he used the “A” word.  No…not asshole although I will admit that sometimes it applies.  He used the word “alcoholic” in a sentence (he’s an intelligent being after all).  That, in and of itself, is not the issue.  The issue is that he wasn’t just talking about alcoholics in general.  He wasn’t talking about alcoholics that he’s known.  He wasn’t even talking about my father, grandfathers or sister.

He used the “A” word and was talking about me.

Wait…what?

It still stings when I think of myself and that word in the same sentence.  I type it…a lot…but I don’t often say it, you know, out loud, where other people can hear it.  I think it and I’ll say it in a round about way but actually coming right out and saying to the Universe and anyone listening that yes, as a matter of fact I am an alcoholic?

Mmmmmm…not so much.

That word still carries a stigma I have trouble wrapping my brain around.  It still brings up memories of my dad and my sister and skid row and bums with “Ripple” in paper bags and…well…you get the picture.  How can I, successful, high functioning, mom of six be…that word?  How can it be that I went from the life of the party to that word.  I don’t look like that word.  I don’t behave like that word.

Yo!  You over there!  Yeah you…with the tattoo on her wrist.  News flash.  You do (or you did) behave, look and drink like that word. As a matter of fact guess what?  You are that word!

Well shit.

Okay, okay…let me examine this.

I don’t drink.  In fact, I can’t drink because if I do I don’t know when to stop.  When I am in drinking mode all I do is think about when I am going to drink again.  I plan when I’m going to drink and how much.  I look forward to “Happy Hour” like it’s fucking Christmas Day.  I drink until it’s gone and then go looking for more.  I wake up every morning feeling sick and guilty and wondering what the hell I did the night before and dreading looking into the faces of my family and friends for fear I’ve really messed up this time.  It doesn’t matter if it’s once a week, once a month, or once a year…if I drink, that’s what is going to happen.  And trust me…it’s not pretty. 

But really?!  Why must we put a label on it?  Isn’t it just enough to say “I don’t drink”?  Do I have to say it out loud?  Because I, and a great deal of society, sees an alcoholic that looks very different from what I see when I look in the mirror. They see selfish.  Weak.  Homeless.  Incarcerated.  DUI.  Unemployed.  Destitute. 

But I know that it’s not an accurate assessment; it’s a sweeping generalization and, as is usually the case with generalizations, it’s wrong.  It’s a label that overlooks nuances and removes individuality.  It paints us all with the same brush and removes the humanity that lies just under the surface of the label.   The fact is that many of us have never had a DUI.  Most are not homeless or incarcerated or unemployed.  Most of us are also not weak or selfish.  We simply share an addiction to a substance so prevalent in our society that you cannot watch a moment of television without seeing either it being consumed during a show or being advertised in a commercial.  We are addicted to a substance has become synonymous with romance, fun times, male bonding and girl’s night out.  In fact, alcohol fueled “mommy and me playdates” are all the rage right now which is just so wrong in so many ways I can’t even begin to count them (but that’s another post entirely). 

And it does something else that is much more frightening than just embarrass or shame us.

That stigma, that sweeping generalization, that skid row mentality allows many of us to stay in active addiction for a lot longer than is necessary.  It keeps us in the dark when we should be reaching for the light.  It lets us lie to ourselves and keeps our families and friends living in fear and worry about our well-being. We say things like…

  • “I’m not THAT bad.” 
  • “At least I’m not like the people on Intervention.” 
  • “I can’t be an alcoholic!  I don’t drink every day!”
  • “Listen, my Uncle Pete was an alcoholic and I’m nothing like him.”
  • “All my friends drink like I do and they aren’t alcoholics.”
  • “I don’t have a problem.  I know because I’ve gone {30, 60, 90…pick a timeframe} days {weeks months years} without drinking.  If I was an alcoholic I wouldn’t be able to do that would I?”

…and we get sicker and sicker and get worse and worse until, one day, we wake up and find we DO look like the stereotype. And all the while we keep secrets and try to quiet the voices that tell us…

“If it looks like a duck…”

One day maybe we’ll come out of the darkness and show the world what an alcoholic really looks like.  Maybe we’ll come out from behind the shadow of anonymity and own our truth with our shoulders squared and our faces turned toward the sun.  For now I’ll try to do my part…

Hi, I’m Sherry.  I’m strong, successful, and intelligent.  I have a kind heart and I can make you laugh.  I love with the fierceness of a lioness and the warmth of a thousand suns.  I’m a mother, a wife, a friend, a coworker, a blogger, a woman.  I am creative but also an introvert.

And I am an alcoholic.

Namaste

 

A Magic Wand

While on the way to work this morning, the local radio station I listen to posed this question to its listeners…”If you had a magic wand and could change one thing about your significant other, what would it be?”

Rather than listen to the calls, I (being the glutton for punishment that I am) turned down the radio, turned to the hubs and asked him, “So…what would you change about me?”

Every man reading this is now saying, “NOOOOOOO do not answer!!!!  It’s a trick!  Go back!”

But my hubs has been on the planet and lived with me long enough to know exactly how to respond.  Begin with clarification.

“Is this what I would want to change about you or what you would want changed about you?”

But I am not so easy.

“Either.”

To which he wisely responded, “Well, there’s absolutely nothing I would change about you because I think you are perfect.  But if I could change something about you to make you happy, I would remove the excess weight you worry about because I know how much it bothers you.”

Dude’s good.

Then he said, “Isn’t that what you’d do if you had that magic wand for yourself?”

I started to reply, “Hell yeah!” but instead I paused because when given all that power and only one wish for myself I want it to be the right one.  So I looked at him for a moment and said that no…that’s not what I’d wish for.

I would wish for peace of mind.  I would wish for the ability to accept myself the way I am and for who I am inside.  I would wish for the ability to see myself the way he, and everyone else who loves me, sees me. 

Because it’s really not about the weight.  Sure, it’s about health but it’s more about just feeling good about who I am and how I’m perceived by the outside world.  For some reason it still matters to me and that is more troublesome than this excess weight will ever be.  And do you know how I know that?  Because when I WAS thin I didn’t know I was.  I was always obsessing and worrying and talking about my fucking weight.  It was always on my mind.  So waving a magic wand is not going to get to the root of why this weight bothers me so much.  It’s not going to give the the peace I so desperately seek.

I grew up with a mother who taught me that we are how we appear and that smoke and mirrors were better than substance any day.  She taught me to judge people based on their appearance and that if they were overweight (which she was every day of her life) then they were lazy and sloppy and not as good as us.  Wait…what?

Danger Will Robinson…that does not compute!  (Most of you won’t get that TV reference.  It’s an old thing I assure you.)

So even though I’ve grown past that kind of thinking when it comes to others, I still think it about myself AND I believe that others see me that way as well.  So I’m embarrassed that I look this way.  Humiliated to be seen in the “plus” size section of the stores.  Reluctant to invest any time or energy into my wardrobe because really…what’s the point?  I’ll wait until I’m “skinny” again and then all will be right with the world.  Like the tag in the back of my jeans tells the world what kind of person I am.

Bull-fucking-shit.

I am well aware that society has a predjudice against those of us carrying some extra pounds (check out airline seats if you don’t believe me) and that there are people in the world who do judge other by what’s on the outside but they aren’t the kind of people I would hang around with ANYWAY.  So why do I give a flying rat’s ass what they think? 

Because it’s how I was programmed.  I’m not hard-wired that way but I’ve been loaded with faulty software that now has to be uninstalled.  A complete reimaging (pun intended) is in order.

One thing recovery has taught me is to question everything that is instinctual to me.  That most of what I was conditioned to believe as a child is crap and that it fucked with my head royally.  That issues I uncover can seldom be fixed from the outside and that I must dig deep, turn over rocks and pick at some old scabs to get to the root of the problem and start the healing process.  This is no different.  This issue is not going to be fixed with my April challenge, a new diet, a new hairdo, more exercise, a better mirror or a magic wand.  The only thing that’s going to change this is hard work on the inside.

It may be time to seek some outside help.  I think I’m coming to a real turning point in my recovery.  It feels like I’m ready to make some real strides in my mental health and well being.  I’m not sure how that’s going to happen but this feels like the right path.  Making this decision feels like…an exhale.  Like a “Finally…I can move forward.”

Namaste