And the Resentments Just Keep on Coming

When I was doing my step work, I remember writing letter after letter after letter about how and when I was “wronged” and how I felt about it.  As with most people, that was probably the most cathartic work I’ve ever done (the jury is still out on the sexual abuse therapy).  Pouring all of that out onto a page and then talking about it with my sponsor was liberating.  I gained so much freedom during that time.  I was cleansed.

What I didn’t realize was that the work of dealing with resentments is an ongoing thing.  Step work is meant to help you heal and also to give you the tools that help you live in the world without the crutch of alcohol.  (I almost typed “like normal people” in that sentence until I realized that nothing could be further from the truth…everyone deals with this shit.)  I think that’s why people go through the steps many times in the program.  The work is never really finished.  Life goes on and we go on with it.

I’m thinking about all of this because I’m dealing with a whole heap of resentment that has spent the better part of the last year rolling around in my head and belly and making me sick AND I don’t know what to do about it.  Unlike my former resentments, this individual is still alive and on the fringe of my life.  I see her and speak with her from time to time and every damn time it feels like a knife in my gut.

I’ve prayed about this – a lot.  I’ve discussed it with the hubs and the boys and my daughter and I still can’t seem to let it go.  I’ve written emails pouring out my feelings only to delete them all before hitting send.  I thought just by writing it down I’d be able to release it into the universe and let it go.

Not so much.

Here’s why I’m struggling.  Old Sherry would have had no trouble calling a “meeting” and talking about it woman to woman, face to face.  I’d spill the venom all over her and then wait for my apology.  If it came, great, we could repair our relationship.  If not, good riddance to bad rubbish.  I didn’t care if it hurt the other person because I knew how healthy it was to clear the air and confront my issues head on.  If we couldn’t do this then we didn’t need to be friends anyway.

Yeah…I know.

I never stopped to think that, perhaps, the pain I was inflicting was exponentially greater than the pain I was feeling.  I never stopped to think if the carnage and collateral damage was really worth the price of my uncensored honesty.  I just knew that I was in pain and, being a balls to the wall bad ass, I had to confront it and drive it from my soul.

But now…hmmm…now I’m in recovery.  Now I’m learning that feelings are just feelings and they should be honored within my soul rather than banished (read…stuffed down).  Now I’m learning to weigh the cost of bringing this issue from May of last year into the light of this slushy, cold February.  What purpose would it serve?  She’s not even aware that the issue exists and she’s happy – why in the world would I ruin that?  Shouldn’t I be the bigger person and let it go?  Why do I feel like talking about this with her would be akin to punishment?  Do I want to punish her?

No…I don’t want to punish her.  I don’t even think I want an apology because apologies are hollow unless filled with the why.  What I want is to know why.  Why did you behave this way?  Why did you hurt me?  Was I being punished?

What I do know is that I’m sick to death of thinking about it.  Sick to death of it creeping it’s way into my head and making me cry.  Sick to death of dealing with an issue that, on the surface looks petty and unimportant but in my heart feels like a lead weight that is tethering me to the past and won’t let me go.

Being a grownup sucks sometimes.  When I was a little girl and my feelings were hurt, I would go to the offender and say, “You hurt my feelings.”  Then that person would say, “I’m sorry.”  I’d say, “Okay, you want to play?”  And just like that, we’d move on.

I would really like to move on.

Namaste

Advertisements

Support & Friendship

If you don’t think we support each other out here in sober-blogging-land, just try posting a milestone.  Thank you all for the love and support that you showed me yesterday.  It made my anniversary even better.

Many times when we get sober we lose our former support network and find new ones through blogging, AA or other methods (how DO adults make friends anyway?).  Often our former tribe drifts away and we discover that the only thing we really had in common was the booze.  Or that without the booze there’s no real conversation.  Or that (mostly in the beginning) they aren’t able to forego drinking while you get your sober legs.  They can’t fathom an event without wine or a cocktail. (Which brings up a whole host of other issues that are none of my business.)

I’ve noticed that I have friends who I believed were really, really close friends that have faded into the mist because I don’t drink and there are certain function I won’t attend either because I’m uncomfortable or, more likely these days, this introvert doesn’t have to pretend to be the life of the party anymore.  (Damn that is one long run-on sentence.)

It’s not them…it’s me.

They are still the same people they’ve always been. The same friends I fell in love with back in the day.  It’s just that I was presenting a false version of myself back then.  That Sherry wasn’t the real me.  That Sherry needed alcohol to be, what she perceived, a real person.  She was lost and a little broken and whoever she was, she fit very well with those friends.

But five years ago all that changed.  At first it was ugly because I hid or, worse yet, tried to pretend I was fine when really I wasn’t.  I would see these people and put on a false happy and them, being my friends, would see right through it.  Later, as I began to get more comfortable in my sober self, I noticed the texts were more and more infrequent (mine and theirs), the invitations dried up and that we just grew apart.  It hurt but in realizing who I really am, I’ve had to resolve myself to the fact that I can’t please everyone and not everyone is going to like the new me.

That’s okay.  I’m sad but not a bit angry.  It is what it is.

But some friends stay.  Some like the before, during and after of you.  Some have seen you at your best and your worst and love you anyway.  Some let you be strong for them at one moment, and then vulnerable and needy the next.  Some understand that the time, distance and circumstances of life may not allow you to see each other but that you’re still friends…no matter what.

I am blessed to have several friends like that.  Most I left behind in my hometown but I have some here too.

Yesterday I came home to a greeting card.  It wasn’t a late Christmas or New Year’s card.  It was a beautiful card celebrating my 5 years with a lovely message inside written in her own hand.  It was a tribute to my sobriety and, in many ways, to our friendship.  Thank you KC, you have no idea what that meant to me.  I love you.

So for those of you out there who feel like you’re losing friends because of your sobriety let me assure you that you are not.  You’re just mining for gold.

Namaste

Homesick

I am a Maryland girl.  I was born and raised for a period of time in Washington, DC, but in my heart of hearts…I’m from Maryland.  I have a big tin of Old Bay Seasoning in my cabinet (because what self-respecting Marylander doesn’t), crave Thrasher’s fries and Dolle’s caramel corn on a regular basis, think of mountains as soft and rolling like the Blue Ridge rather than sharp and steep like the Rockies, and likely have a combination of salt, fresh and brackish water running through my veins (because the Chesapeake Bay is actually an estuary which has all three). 

Chesapeake Bay Bridge from the Annapolis side.

Maryland is neither north nor south having straddled the Mason-Dixon line for the better part of the last 300 years.  Most of the state has very little accent save for the group near D.C who put an “r” in the word wash (as in Warshington), the group from deep southern Maryland who sound like they’re from the deep, deep south, and the group from points north of Baltimore who sound just like they are from Philadelphia.  We have bays and beaches and mountains and lots and lots of places where not only George Washington slept but most of the Founding Fathers’ laid their heads as well.  In fact, MD is a hotbed for political activity and personalities.  (Camp David is in MD you know).  We are the shit yo!

Western Maryland in the fall…only God makes colors like that.

I’m finding that I get homesick less frequently but with greater intensity than I used to and that the only thing that will cure it is plant my feet in good old Maryland land.  I need to soak up some salt air along with the stench of crooked local politics and fresh cut tobacco.  I just need to go…home.

The Boardwalk in Ocean City Maryland.

When this feeling comes over me, I begin to think about how and when I’m going to go.  With whom I’ll stay.  Whether or not I can make a trip to the ocean while I’m there or if I’ll just hang at the Bay.  Who I’ll stop and visit and for how long.  Maybe I can get a trip to the mountains in while we’re there and stop at my grandparents gravesite to maybe “tidy up” a bit.  Or maybe not.  I wonder how to get where I need to be while still managing to avoid the absolute nightmare that is the Capital Beltway.  I know I need to grab a copy of the Washington Post – Sunday Edition and read my favorite comics and talk one of my friends into a crab feast while I’m there.

Steamed Maryland Blue Crabs

My daughter and her family are still there.  My best friend is still there.  My beach is there.  My Bay is there.  The city dock in Annapolis is there.  My football team is there (don’t bust my chops, The Redskins play in Maryland); my baseball team is there (The Orioles).  It’s where I met and fell in love with the hubs and where all my babies were born…all six of them!  My first house is there and my favorite house is there and the only church to which I ever really belonged is there.

One of the oldest Catholic churches in MD (and Maryland has A LOT of Catholic Churches). I love this church.

Of course my time there wasn’t all sunshine and unicorns.  As we all know my upbringing wasn’t exactly Ozzie and Harriet (and if you’re too young to know what that means…Google it).  Could I move back permanently?  I doubt it.  We’ve planted roots here.  It’s a beautiful place to live and I love it.

But 8 hours north (by car) is home and every once in a while…I need to be there.  I need to hug people and wander roads that I’d know in my sleep and see what’s changed and visit old haunts.  Maybe it’s a result of the depression cycle I’m in or maybe it’s just been too long but whatever the reason, I feel a distinct pull to the north.

Now where did I put those ruby slippers…

Namaste

Frozen Hearts

I’m on a heart theme lately so just go with it okay?

I FINALLY saw Frozen for the first time on Friday evening.  It was a beautiful movie, clearly made for a stage production, with strong female characters.  What’s not to love?

I cried almost through the whole damn thing.

I know that a lot of people cried while watching Frozen but I don’t think I was crying for the same reasons.  See, I was crying because I’m estranged from my only sister and will likely be for the rest of her (my?) days.  Watching two sisters grow distant and then come together was tough for me.  Then there’s THAT SONG…but that’s another post entirely.

My sister was born 49 years ago today.  I was four when she came into the world.  She was conceived in an ill-fated attempt to save my parents marriage after my mother figured out that she didn’t love my father and my father found out he was going blind and he started drinking and she started gambling and running around.  A real “happily ever after” if there ever was one.  I know this because I knew all the intimate details of my parents marriage…doesn’t everyone?

From the moment she screamed her first breath she was a challenge.  She was always getting into something.  When she was about two my mother awoke one morning to find my sister at her feet with her purse contents all over the floor and my sister eating her “diet” pills (amphetamines…it was the 60’s after all) like they were candy.  I remember it clearly because she yelled at me and told me it was my fault.

I was six.

That was just the beginning.  I won’t go into detail because her story belongs to her; but suffice to say, she has been in active addiction to anything and everything since she was about 13 years old.  She is the worst kind of addict.  A narcissist who believes all of her problems are someone else’s fault (usually mine or my parents…but mostly me) and that she never gets a break.  She’s been through countless rehab’s, spent tens of thousands of dollars (most of which were not hers), has never worked a day in her life, and tried her best to ruin the lives of her children.

I cut off all ties with her after my mother died in 2006.  Her children we pretty much grown thanks to the hubs and me so I didn’t have to worry about court battles and lawyer fees any longer.  I had only tolerated her to that point because my mother continued to try to help her and stay in contact in spite of some very bizarre and hateful things. (She called the police once from where she lived, 1200 miles away, to report that I had my mother tied up in the basement and I was abusing her.  We didn’t have a basement.  The poor police had to come out, wait for my mother to get home from bingo, and make sure she was okay before they could leave.  That was an example of the bizarre…the hateful I’ll leave to your imagination.)  Even before I got sober I knew that her dysfunction was something that I no longer wanted in my life.

If she had just been an addict I can say without question that I would have had more compassion and would likely still be in touch.  But the ugliness that she brought upon her children and my parents is something I can’t forget.  I’d like to think that if she suddenly got sober and clean I would relent and greet her with open arms…but I don’t really know if I could.  I’m still working on healing wounds she inflicted in her children…the kind you can’t see.  I’m not sure there’s any hope for my niece…but I keep trying.

The thing that made me cry though was the fact that, like the sisters in the movie, we were so close when we were little. Of course we fought, but we played together when things were good and comforted each other when things were bad.  We were a unit and I loved her so much.  Like the movie, I think she was born with her demon and it wasn’t long before it became apparent to everyone around her that there was a problem.  Teachers, clergy, psychologists, relatives, doctors all tried to help…only to give up when it had no impact.

I kept trying though.  I kept trying to be there for her.  To help her when she needed it and even when she didn’t.  I stuck around for a very long time until I couldn’t any longer.  I had to save myself, my children and her children.  For lack of a better term…I froze my heart where she was concerned.

It’s still very sad.  I don’t really miss her because she’s been gone from my life for a very long time.  I certainly don’t miss the chaos and dysfunction she brought.  I think what I miss is the idea of a sister.  Not in a “happily ever after” kind of way but in a “no matter what we have each other kind of way”.  I have that with a number of other people, my best friend of 35 years, my daughter, my husband…so I’m not lacking for anything. 

But still…

Namaste