Day 144 – Relapse Averted

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You will be remembered as the mom who was strong enough to overcome a problem with alcohol. That’s fantastic. That’s who I am too. We rock.

The sad side would be to be known as the alcoholic mom who wasn’t able to stop drinking. Alcoholism and addiction are diseases and there are many many out there who want to stop and never find their way out of their hell.

We are the fortunate ones.

Back in March, Anne of A in Sobriety wrote those words to me. They are so beautiful. They have saved me often during this year. And once again yesterday.

If my only goal was to not drink, I could have done that. (I did do that!) But I am getting greedy in this recovery stuff. I want to create a life that sustains me through whatever comes my way. The good, the bad, the ugly.

I am wanting a place to go in my soul that creates space around emotions.  That lets me back up a little and breathe through it all.

In my favorite yoga video Linda Arkin is smiling and doing a pose and says, “I’m totally relaxed right now.” I am straining and short breathing. She reminds me if I am not relaxed and letting my breath support me, I am reaching too far. I sit up a little and only touch my knee instead of reaching for my ankle. I feel the air flow back in my lungs, a gentle smile forms on my face and my lower belly relaxes back down towards the floor, not trying to climb over that fat roll. She reminds me that some of us “have more body” and sometimes just sitting on the floor is stretch enough. I love her.

I need to back up sometimes and let my breath support me. The absolute amount of thoughts and emotions that overwhelmed me yesterday was crazy, and my head went straight to – Turn It OFF. Here’s what I tried:

  • Gardening
  • Reading novels, my fourth Liane Moriarty in a row.
  • Reviewing my self-help books. Miracles Now by Gabby Bernstein #82 – Don’t dance around the perimeter of your life. The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal – which part feels like the “real”you, the part who wants to drink or the part who doesn’t ( answer: the part who doesn’t feels like the “real” me)
  • Pinterest
  • Candy Crush
  • Not putting on a bra so I wouldn’t leave the house (except when I gardened!)
  • Not going to the grocery store where they sell wine here.
  • Eating a lot. Getting my belly full. I crave less when I do this.
  • Haven’t watched TV all week and watched a couple premiers of my favorite shows. So glad I didn’t watch them during the week now!
  • I stayed up late. 8:45 for me. I wanted to be super tired but it didn’t work. I was very nervous about my older son.
  • I used my earlobe tapping twice in the night to get back to sleep when my thoughts raced, and it worked twice.
  • This morning at In The Rooms I attended a Y12SR online group. I learned that “Those who are best at life, are best at Plan B.”

Plan B. Plan A is drink. Plan B, what a concept.

Day 143 – Questioning Everything

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Every morning I wake up with a headache from clenching my teeth at night. I am processing so much in my sleep. So be it. I would rather my subconscious work hard while I don’t know about it.

With a life spent drinking and shoving aside emotions, it feels like I’m standing under a waterfall. I can breathe if I’m careful, but can’t quite take a full breath or I will be engulfed. The heavy relentless feel of the of emotions makes me anxious. I love the water, but I want to step out.

My usual response has been to stay under the waterfall but numb out the feeling. Like putting on a wetsuit and tank. It makes it tolerable, but I’m still standing below the onslaught.

Where I want to be is standing just downstream of the waterfall. Still in the water, feeling it flow against my legs, but watching the rolling frothing fall. The power, the movement, the endlessness.

I’m challenging some of my routines. Sticking my head or arms out of the waterfall where it’s sunny, much quieter and very peaceful. I can see the water sparkling and the rainbows in the air. Things you can’t see when your underneath.

I have been behind the waterfall, it is also quiet there. But it’s even scarier because you have to step into the falls to get to the other side.

After some fine tuning, I can feel it will be easier to step out. My routines are keeping me strong during this onslaught of emotion.

As you can see, I’m writing ‘around’ my issues as my posts are metaphors. I’m going to be okay with that for a bit. The issues I am trying to process are dirty and ugly. They are coming up unbidden. I do feel like I’m almost drowning.

And I am really craving a break. I am craving a night of wine. Both my kids will be gone tonight for the first time in 3 years. I have been thinking lately – if only they weren’t here I could drink.

I want to wake up tomorrow sober. I want to be able to write a blog post in the morning telling about how I made it through.

Day 135 – Fine Tuning My Song

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I have been making some changes. Not like the ginormous kinds of change that the first part of getting sober needed, but just a click or two of the radio dial. My new song a little louder, less bass, more melody, clarity not crackley static.

“My background” the drumming beat of the past. My childhood, my little sister getting cancer at 12, my mom having breast cancer when I was 11. My adult years of dating, jobs, babies, divorce.

“My chorus line” the routine of my days. My kids, my home, my books. My comforts and securities. The things I return to after playing with changes. The purpose and essence of the song. 

“My melody” the notes that bounce, dive and dance around “my story”. Refining my story from – I haven’t painted the porch because my marriage fell apart 10 years ago and I have been doing everything alone – changing to – I haven’t painted the porch. No story attached. Painting the porch as a choice, not a victim’s story.

The biggest change is done. Getting sober. Setting down the main track to my new song. Drinking was my entire melody line 135 Days ago. Now  I’m tweaking the melody, making a note flat or sharp. Eating a salad not a burger, turning the tv off 30 minutes earlier, re-purposing something I own instead of buying new.

These are fun changes. Just tiny tweaks. Some choices stay, some are too goofy to keep. Some work for a day, a week, a month. Fun, unique, crazy, quiet, serene, gentle, sweet, spicy, salty, teary, weepy.

My song. I get to write it.

The Soloist – Part II

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He did it. A book club of 16 women, all in their 70’s (three of which were his friends’ grandmas!) He wasn’t alone in not reading the book, others had just watched the movie as well. It was a big group, unusual for us, people were interested. They were delighted to have a young man want to be part of the discussion.

About half the room felt that, if the mentally ill would just take their medicine then they wouldn’t be homeless. The other half recognized it wasn’t that simple.

Then there was my son. He was the only person who related to Nathaniel – a 50-year-old paranoid schizophrenic & Julliard music prodigy.

Part of the controversy of the movie is, at what point do you force an adult to take medicine?

Can you force them, just because they choose to live on the street? Violent? Uncommunicative? I imagine there is a lot of undiagnosed autism among the homeless. My son said, if he was offered medicine to “fix” his autism he wouldn’t want to take it because he wouldn’t be himself anymore.

The other part of the story is, why is it so hard to get the homeless to come inside?

My son reminded us that Nathaniel had the opportunity to be inside but didn’t choose it. Nathaniel didn’t want to leave his routine and his possessions. My son explained the extreme need to keep his own room in a certain order, that not being able to have his writing supplies and comics would cause too much anxiety. He got it. 

He got what none of us understood. Living your best life isn’t defined by others, it’s about being allowed the freedom to make your own choices in your time. Living on the street wasn’t a bad thing. It was the only choice that Nathaniel had to be himself.

As a few women shared that they battle mental illness, I noticed they didn’t identify with Nathaniel. They didn’t group themselves with the mental illness that causes homelessness. My son though, did. He recognized that his autism could take him there, but he didn’t view it as less than.

I am a fixer. I want to swoop in and get things solved. Create meaningful outcomes. That is not how time works for the homeless, or the paranoid schizophrenic or the autistic.

School gets in the way of my son’s real life. In his real life he creates intricate stories. His desk drawers have always been filled with stories on paper and now my excel program is filled with flowcharts. Mapping, it is called.  And when he’s not drawing or typing he’s telling me stories. Constantly talkIng.

So, what about The Soloist sparked such passion for him? I think it was watching a story of a person like himself. Someone who fits in until he can’t anymore. That being yourself looks different from the rest of the kids.

As the rest of us felt called to action, to donate money, work at a soup kitchen or even just say hello to a homeless person, my son felt is was important to share Nathaniel’s side of the story. Nathaniel wasn’t looking for help. Help meant change and change meant not being allowed to be yourself.

Do we – meaning those of us with homes & linear brains – do we have the right to “fix” ?

The Soloist – Part I

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If there is a movie to go with our book club selection I also like to watch it. Sometimes my prejudices toward infidelity or drinking change how I view a character. Watching another’s interpretation of the same character, I see the story differently.

When I read, I am much more apt to internalize and become the protagonist. I co-mingle my past with theirs.

Watching, makes me more subjective and my focus tends toward the dynamics of the relationships.

Reading The Soloist I identified with the author/journalist. I was intrigued by his research and horrified at Skid Row. I could be that person writing those stories.

Watching The Soloist I could only feel – There but for the grace of God go I. The ability to become homeless is such an easy line to cross. A few wrong steps, and it could be me.

I watched with my 16-year-old. He wants to be an actor/writer/director/cinematographer. He was interested to see Iron Man act in a different role. We talked about how people can end up on Skid Row; mental illness, PTSD, drug and alcoholism, autism.

I said that my book club will meet and discuss how we felt about The Soloist. My son said he would like to come too. He felt connected to the homeless man. How keeping things routine made him feel safe. Needing his belongings to be in a certain order. He wants to help the group understand why it was so hard to come inside.

Oh my heart.

Support From Strangers

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Where did your sober support come from?

My greatest support has been from strangers. Not my family & friends.

Yesterday I went to lunch with the my only friend in town who has seen my drunk. Her father is a raging alcoholic. She recognized that I was an alcoholic too. She has prayed for me to quit and is excited about my recovery. She loves me, but she can’t give me the constant feedback that recovery takes.

Family and friends have their place in support but I am unable to go to my deepest and darkest places with them. I have found that sharing is best done with someone who has lived it.

Sharing with my partner in the self-care class last night was amazing. She recovered with AA and a sponsor. She even got out her Big Book and showed me her treat to herself of an amazing leather cover. We talked about why AA didn’t mesh for me and why it saved her life. We talked about being mothers and Netflix and really shameful past experiences and hair color.

Blog sharing has saved my life by being honest and reading others stories of honesty.

It is good stuff, this sharing of stories with strangers.

Pre-Worry

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My weight loss is going well. I lost half a pound this week, which is perfect. It is all I can handle right now. I have left the 200’s behind. Even if I ate salty chinese 3 days in a row, I wouldn’t see them.

Now I’m getting ready to leave the 190’s behind. I’m a little panicked. Not for this weight but what will happen after.

I have uncomfortably lived in the 200’s for a couple of years. Previous to that I have lived in the 190’s for ten years. For my short body that’s a size XL or 14. My son asked me what those lumps on my arm were. I told him fat. He said you’re not fat, you’re thick. Ha Okay then! Yep, for me this size is my normal. Everything from my closet fits comfortably.

Leaving this number behind brings up some scary thoughts. Moving to a weight that involved dating in my past. People commenting on my appearance.

And guess what? I’m not even there yet!

I need to trust that the positive feelings will carry with me to the next weight. My self-care will beget more self-confidence. I won’t be drinking and that will change how I handle my new body relations.

What if my new weight brings me great joy?! It’s funny how those thoughts don’t cross my mind.

My goal for myself is to flip my weight statements to positive.

  • I don’t have to start dating even though I told myself I would when I lost weight.
  • I can buy new clothes that feel comfortable to me. Even if that means I live in exercise clothes.
  • I can feel joy, not shame about my body.
  • I can spend money on pretty things without spending equal money on others.
  • I am not losing weight. My body is reshaping itself with my healthy choices. When I was at a different weight before, I was a drinker. The numbers on the scale may be the same as before, but the person inside is different.

I am sober. I use my self-care and rewards. I am happy. I am approaching a new me. I do not want to go back to that other body. That body is in the past. Those choices are in the past. I do not need to pre-worry about facing those issues again. I get to CREATE (my word of the year) a new body based on healthy choices.

I need to stop worrying that I will go back to who I was.