Heya, Monster.

A SoberBlog by a TallWoman.

Archive for the tag “Growing Up”

Dear Dad,

Or Dear PapaBear. ūüôā

Or Dear Man-Who-Believes-In-Me-Most.

Or Dear Man-I-Look-For-In-Every-Other-Man-I-Meet-Or-Know.

Or Dear Most-Generous-Kind-Man-In-My-World.

You keep bugging me for a blog post. And, well? Here it is. *smile* Just for you (with a few other worldly people dropping in to say ‘hi,’ of course).

As you know, I am still sober. 2+ years now, and doing well. So well, that I drifted from my blog, because I wasn’t thinking about SOBRIETY so much anymore. I had gotten into the swing of things (as a golfer, you can appreciate this metaphor *smile* (Although, maybe it is actually a reference to monkeys in trees? (Not sure. I will have to Google it))). I was feeling pretty even, pretty confident about my new job, my life with husband, my life with kids, my life with friends. It was all feeling good.

But then, it all of a sudden wasn’t. About a month ago. I got real shook up because the hubs said he wasn’t happy. That I wasn’t giving him any energy. That I seemed really depressed and angry. That I wasn’t loving the kids, but rather, I was super-short-tempered with them all of the time. That ‘We’ were not good. That he was feeling really distant, and maybe even separate from me, and all because of the way I treated him, or didn’t treat him rather. He said we were really good roommates, but not partners. He said I didn’t talk to him, or touch him. Anytime he would reach for me, I would swat him away, or more often than not, say ‘I’m busy.’ I didn’t have time for him in my world. I didn’t have energy. He wondered if I liked him at all.

Holy shit. Did that wake me up.

My first instinct was to defend.

Wait, no. That can’t be right. I’m the best I’ve ever been! (I actually said those words.) And then I went on with a list about how great I was – Job, check! New job, check! Current show, check! Kids, mostly check! Learning new things (sewing), check! And the hubs? Well, he made the list only in the way that I don’t worry about him. I trust us and what we have, and I see us as pretty separate, mostly because of how our work takes us away from each other so regularly (theatre). So, Hubs? Semi-middling-waffling-check. (No exclamation point.)

So we walked away from each other, not seething from a blowout fight, or crying hysterically from a dramatic moment. No. I can’t speak for him, but for me? I walked away feeling hollow – like my stomach had been scooped out and there was nothing left inside of me. Shaken, sad, confused. If that’s how he felt, then that’s how he felt.

Over a week, I reflected and watched and tried to understand where his concerns and feelings were coming from. It was an interesting and odd week. We walked on eggshells with one another, but then would talk about the eggshells, and then things would feel if not normal, then at least honest. We talked more that week. When I got home, I would find him and talk with him about the day. We were a little awkward-distant in our text messages, but then we were also thoughtful and considerate of one another. To use a weird metaphor, it felt like we were fourteen-year-olds dancing a slow dance. Awkward steps. Happy, but unsure of ourselves. Hyper-aware of one another and ourselves.

It was a hard week, but a good week. I realized, he was right. (He usually is. Psh.) I was without a doubt, one-hundred-and-fifty-seven percent taking him for granted. I trusted him and trusted in us so much, that I forgot that marriage needs work. And time. And energy. Of course it does! Of course he needs my attention. I was being a selfish, solely-functioning woman of the world. I was conquering all that I saw, but forgetting the treasures I had right there at home. (That metaphor was a little squishy and cliche, but right? It’s the truth!)

And most of all? … Well, sort of ‘most.’ He/The Hubs was the Most. His feelings in our relationship were the most important in that moment of upside-down.

Secondarily-Most of all, was the feedback from this man who loves me most in the world (tied with you, Dad *smile*), and here he was saying I was depressed. I was angry. I seemed really bad. And my reaction was disbelief and surprise. Over that week, I started reflecting on what he had said, and really trying to notice myself and my ways. ….. I had caught myself isolating in May/June, but I thought maybe that was old drinking habits trying to take hold. Not that I would drink, but that my tendency is to isolate. But then, I noticed I had been having loads of trouble waking up for the last three months, ever since my spring show closed. During the school year, I wouldn’t wake up until 7:30 most days (school starts at 8:30), and during the summer I was sleeping until 9 am every day, no matter if I put my alarm on or not. I had ballooned up again and couldn’t get control of my eating. I kept thinking, ‘I deserve this.’ *munch* ‘This is my reward.’ *bite* ‘I’m not drinking, so I can afford these calories.’ *gobblecrunchsmackswallow* Over and over and over again. Worst of all? I was really angry with my kids. Short-tempered. Short-fused. Over stupid shit. ….. Who was this woman? And how in the heck did she get here when I was feeling so strong, vibrant, and amazing in my Working Life?!

GAH. Life is so dang hard to balance. GodDamnFuckAssShitFuckFuck.

Okay, so the Hubs was right. Absolutely. No disputing him. All the facts were there. I just hadn’t seen them at all. I felt them and was going through them, but gah. Depression. Addiction. They’re hard to see when I’m in the middle of them, which is such a weird factoid. One would think that being in the middle of a months-long depression, a person would eventually get the kick-to-the-head they would need to realize, ‘Oh! I’m depressed!’ But no. For myself, I go through my days slogging and dragging, while simultaneously kicking ass at my job, because over-achiever? Driven? WonderWoman? But then on the flip-side miss the clues of me dropping my HomeLife, my SweetLife, my LifeLife…. And letting it drift through my fingers without even noticing. Or, really? Without even knowing.

So. Self-reflection? Check.

And then, I did what I was taught to do by you, PapaBear, and by MoM. … Take care of shit! (I wasn’t really that flippant, but for purposes of this post, and, if I’m super-honest, to sound a little cooler than I actually am, I am pretending to be a little flip. But only pretending. (For real? I was core-shook and scared.))

So, that same week, I actually had a 4-month check-up set-up with my psychiatrist. I unloaded on her in our 10-minute session. She was very sympathetic and she asked if I needed help on the meds side, but at that point, I hadn’t got down to the deepest layer. So I said, ‘No.’ I thought I was just crappy because my Life was suddenly horribly crappy. I didn’t think there was more to it. (Hey, Monster: Wrong!)

I kept on, keeping on. I started working on fixing the little things. Being more aware of the Hubs. Being more aware of the Babes. Being aware of my isolating/drinking behavior.

Things started to feel like they were moving in a better-than-bad direction, so that was good. My summer show opened. The Hubs and I were doing better-ish. I was doing things with friends. My Life was looking better. Looking Good. But it still wasn’t feeling good-good. You and Mom came down for the show, and if you remember, Dad? I was just cranky. Okay, but not Good. Not great. I had started noticing I was also still really short and quick-tempered with the babes. There was a low-lying feeling of dissatisfaction permeating most of my minutes.

The ‘it’… The Ick didn’t start lifting until I got out of here. Until I got to my hometown with you and Mom and got some time to just rest and not rush. To relax. To just Be in the place and the Home that felt good and felt soothing and healing. And so much of that goodness comes from feeling cared for and loved. I know how lucky I am to have had a great childhood and adulthood with two parents who love me and care for me and put up with me and my ways from time to time (let’s be honest, right, PapaBear? *smile*). Being Home always spins me back to Center somehow. It realigns me and my two poles, if you will. Ha. There is the gift of not having to worry. Not having to ‘Be’ for anyone. I mean, yes, I am still a mother. But somehow, being in the primary role of Daughter while I am with you and Mom is really comforting in a way I don’t get when I am a Woman of the World. So thank you for that. Times infinity.

While I was home with you, I realized I hadn’t been Good through and through, and I caught myself getting sharp with the Babes still, too. So I finally picked up that book you kept telling me about – The Happiness Project – and I started to read it. I am only three chapters into it still, but I while I read, I kept and keep thinking about how profoundly it touched you and where you were those few years ago, when you were LowLow. And some of the beginning stuff is basic and good for just Life and living. It’s made me look and see where I could prioritize myself and my needs (Hungry-Angry-Lonely-Tired, anyone?). It’s reminded me to step outside of myself and Give, as opposed to looking for what I might Get. And honestly? It’s just made me happy knowing how lifted up you felt after reading it.

As things were going now, I felt the gears start moving a little better and a little less muckity-muck. And with the layer of ‘Hmph-ness’ still somewhere inside of me, I thought, ‘Nope. I need more Help.’ And so? I upped my meds. Not a lot, since I was already taking basically the lowest dose one could really take. (I often wonder as someone who is very susceptible to meds and their affects, do I make doctors scratch their heads that I can actually feel what I feel from meds? Kind of like the Princess and the Pea. …. I wonder if they wonder if I’m faking it. Or if I am actually feeling it, or if it’s in my head. …. Anyway. Another post.) So, yes. I upped my dose by milligrams, and? About five days later? The crud and the crap and the junk? It kind of left. Just lifted. … I mean, Life is still up and down, and the children still drive me batshit-crazy sometimes, but I don’t hit the top of my Anger Meter when I deal with them. I lost my temper yesterday, and do you know what? I gave myself a timeout. And it was a really good choice. Woot. Go, Me. *smile*

I don’t know. Sometimes (Read: ALL the Time) I feel like I can do things all by myself. And do you know? I am going to call ‘Bullshit!’ on myself. Because I can’t. People can’t. We’re not built that way. We’re not meant to be that way. Looking back, I see the steps and the incremental improvements I made by adjusting myself and my world slightly and differently from day to day, and honestly? Yes. I absolutely got a little better, and truly, I thought I was better-better. But until I stepped away from my Regular, I couldn’t see the fact that I was Not. Having the space and the love and the support from you and Mom, even though neither of you even knows that that is what you give me without even trying, I finally saw where I wanted to be and that I was Not There Yet.

PapaBear and Friends, this is seeming to be more of a BiPolar-Post than an Addiction-Post. However, I will say, to those of you new to Ye Ol’ Blogge here, that for me? They go hand in hand. I am no longer a drinking-drinker. I got rid of that garbage (Woo-hoo!). But? I did not get rid of the garbage that comes with the garbage. All of the isolating, moodiness, rewarding, woe is me, I deserve this, resentful, yucko crapola that is Addiction down to its bones. That shit? That shit is still around. Added to the fact that I am a BiPolar, who has of late favored my depression more so than my mania, and you have a lovely combination that simmered, stirred, and served is enough to knock any optimistic-peace-loving-goody-two-shoes onto her ballet-flatted ass.

I am SO beyond lucky that I have people who love me. People who love themselves. People who are honest. People who care. And sometimes? PeopleLikeMe need a little more help than even those awesome ones. We need a therapist to talk to, or we need daily exercise (okay, we all do need that (Goals)), or we need a pill or a combination of pills.

And the hardest part of it all? Is getting off our cute little butts and going out there and getting the help we need. Dad, I always laugh when I think of you telling me I am the dumbest smart person you know (when I started smoking (Update All: I quit 10 years ago))…. But I always think of that because You Were Honest. And you Love Me. And? It always. Seriously, ALWAYS gets me off my ass to do the thing I think is stupid because it is the smart thing to do and I just don’t want to (whiny-whiner voice). Or, because I think, ‘It’s not fair!’ (Also whiny-whiner voice.) And just this last visit, Mom said to me, ‘Well, I’ve just learned that Life isn’t fair, so I can stop griping about it and just get on.’ YES. Life isn’t fair because I’m BiPolar and I’m Addicted and I’ve got a temper and I’m too tall and blahblahblahblah ….. It isn’t fair, but let’s get the ThisThatIsNow figured out Now, right? *smile*

I learned that from YOU, Dad. You and Mom.

And oh, my dear Lord, has it …. Have YOU …. saved me a million-and-one times.

Day 780, Thank you and I love you.* Your, -HM.

p.s. Hope you liked your post. *smile*

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You changed my world, PapaBear.*

October Road.

It’s early morning. I can her our grandmother¬†clock ticking. My family is tucked in their beds – mostly. My daughter stole her way into ours, which was the impetus for me getting out of bed, and thus, finding myself here in my chair with a hot cup of coffee. I’m quite happy she did. I love starting my days off a little earlier than everyone else, reading, and just waking up on my own. It’s nice to be awake and to have some time and space just for me.

I’ve been feeling this way – this relaxed, contemplative way most of this past¬†week. On the one ¬†hand it’s very nice because my brain has stopped going a thousand miles a minute every second of the day. With the new job, I didn’t realize until I had stopped spinning, that I was in a constant state of stress and anxiety. I was trying to race as fast as I could to write curriculum, clean, grade, plan, collaborate, learn the community, organize, and take stock, that I didn’t even notice how hard I was working to stay caught up with even the most basic responsibilities of getting through each day¬†and doing what I was hired to do – teach.

This is my sixteenth year as a teacher, but this new job is really Brand. Spankin’. New. I am writing it from the ground up, which is exciting to do, because I and my partner are designing a theatre program to follow students through each of their elementary and secondary years a child’s entire elementary and secondary school years. The structure before was a bit too nebulous and focused on Fun. I am definitely not opposed to fun, however I want kids to be challenged and to grow as artists.¬†It’s exciting, and I know in the coming years, this planning will do the program a lot of good, and help us to create a lot of depth. However, I am a little frustrated because I am covering basics with most of my students at every grade level, so that next year, I will have to write even more curriculum once we have students on the same page and with the same skill sets.

Then, I look around my space and in my rooms, and I just see a Mess. Granted, it is entirely my own fault because it was my idea to flip the costume and prop room inside-out, as well as the library….. Yeah, it’s a mess. Ha. And I know, from growing up with my father, whenever I was feeling stressed, he would tell me to clean my room so that my mind would feel better. A good rule of thumb, as long as one has the time and the energy to do so. *smile* I have kept my office quite clean so that I have a space I can escape to, but…. Yeah. Maybe I will work on prioritizing the other rooms again so that I don’t feel trapped underneath a mountain of Theatre Things.

This post is sounding quite negative, but overall, I am feeling better than I was. I should have written more last week, but I was feeling tired and sad and …. Oh, wanting to isolate. Dagnabbit. Stupid human tricks that keep repeating themselves. Argh.

Anyway, the other feeling I’ve been really having trouble with is melancholy. The longer I am at my new job (which, even though is overwhelming, I am really loving – and I’m not just saying that as a¬†perfectionist in order to appear¬†perfect to the outside world – I truly love it and the students and the people), the more and more Real it feels that I have lost my old job and my old community. With the fall weather exacerbating everything, I just feel Sad. And lonely. The communication from my old people has been little to none, which further breaks my heart. And I know everyone is as busy as I am, or more so, but it just makes me sad. I definitely feel like I am grieving again in many ways. The two months of grief and franticness and loneliness surrounding the¬†initial news of my job loss in April seems to almost be repeating itself from August to September to now.

However, like I said above, I feel like I am stepping out on the other side of those feelings of sadness and spinning my wheels. I am still definitely in there. It’s not a quick fix by any stretch of the imagination, but at least I can now see where I was and what I am moving away from. Why can’t we see our full situation when we are in the thick of things? Is it because we don’t have perspective? Because we are too close to it all?

Day 496,¬†a little James to walk with me today and to¬†make the day brighter….

 

Love Is Love Is Love Is Love…

“There is no originality in tyrants, and they learn nothing from the demise of their precursors. They will be brutal and stifling and engender hatred and destroy what men love and that will defeat them. All important battles are, in the end, conflicts between hatred and love, and we must hold to the idea that love is stronger than hate.‚ÄĚ

РSalman Rushdie, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights

Day 490, People of the US, please Vote.

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The Long-Awaited…

Is finally here!

…. And it hurt!

…. And it still hurts!

…. But It. Is. SO. COOL!!!

I love it.

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That tattoo artist is amazing. Cool. Good at swearing. Great story-teller. And a friend of friends. Can’t wait to go back to her next year for my second star… *smile*

For those who ask, first, it was a pretty tender place to get tattooed in the first place. But? I couldn’t think of anywhere more I wanted it. So, glad I went through with it. The feeling was like when you scrape your knee, but in slow-motion, and on purpose, and for a looooong period of time. Well, 30 minutes. But still. Slow-motion pain.

But now? I feel like a bad-ass. I also feel like if I do become a regular inker (skeptical), then anywhere else I decide to put a tattoo would be a breeze. Did I mention how tough I am? *smile* Ha, yeah, right.

Day 390, Heya, Universe. Thank you.*

A Year in the Life.

Well, today is the day.

1 Year Sober.

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And?

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I was inexplicably sad and tired all of the time. I felt constantly stressed, angry, and frustrated with my Life in general, and I was resentful and irritated with those people I love most in the world. I wanted so much to be the person I remembered being in my younger days, but I couldn’t find my way back to Her. I turned in on myself and away from the world. I tried every night to ‘treat’ myself and take some Me-Time in the guise of a wine glass. I thought it was adults did. Instead of filling me with positives and benefits, the wine took things away…. Most of all my sense of self, and replaced it with shame and pain.

Today? I am not the person I was. Even in the midst of all that has transpired this year (this spring in particular), I am Joyful. I am Happy. I am sure of myself, who I am, what I want, what I believe. My relationships with others are deeper, more sincere, more honest, more present, and more consistent. Resentment has gone the way of the dodo. Shame left me soon after I stopped drinking because I had nothing to feel ashamed about. My work/my creativity is stronger. I am rested. I am kinder and gentler Рmost of all with myself. I truly feel like I have recaptured Who I Was into the Me Who Is Now.

Sobriety is the best gift I have ever given myself, because it has given me my Life back.

To those people I love here in the blogosphere, my family, my friends, and the hubs, THANK YOU for all the love and support. I would not be here without having you with me on every step of this fascinating journey.

Year 1, Here I Am.

p.s. To those considering sobriety, perhaps just try it and see. What’s the harm? If, like me, you’ve tried counting drinks, setting limits, setting rules, jumping through the hoops of justifying the morning-after drink, or the drink at 5 o’clock-even-though-yesterday-was-an-alcoholic-blur, or if you’ve covertly picked up another bottle because it was on your way, or next to the grocery store anyway, or if you’re planning get-togethers with friends because it gives you the opportunity to drink in a group, an alibi, but then later by yourself, or if you’ve drunk by yourself and secretly filled your glass, or watched the bottle level go lower and lower and you’re not getting enough while everyone else seems to, or if you’ve hidden bottles away from your people and then gotten rid of the empty bottles when no one’s looking….. If you’ve done any or all of that, what would be the harm in just trying sobriety for a day or a week, just to see how it goes? What I discovered was that Sobriety is a whole lot less work than drinking ever was. It was actually easier…. on my life, on my health, on my well-being, on my peace-of-mind. Reach out to us here, if you want someone to listen to your story, or if you have questions. There are so many of us here who have been where you are. And, to be sure, I do not have all the answers, nor is my journey done. I still choose sobriety every day, and sometimes that choice is a lot harder than others, but? To me, it is always worth it and proves itself to be day in and day out. Love, -HM.

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More About My Monster.

I realize I’ve alluded several times throughout these posts to the number of years I believe my drinking has been a problem, and I believe that number morphs and changes depending on the day and the factors I take into consideration in the moment. So this post is my attempt to nail down some specifics, as well as detail the last four years a bit more clearly and the build-up which led, ultimately, to choosing a sober life.

First, the discrepancies in the amount of years I’ve thrown out there…. I believe I’ve said ‘four,’ ‘ten,’ and ‘fifteen’ years at various points in this here bloggy. I will go on record at this moment in time and say that my drinking has been a problem since the first day I ever drank. Fittingly, the night was deemed ‘My Night of Debauchery’ as I was a straight-laced do-gooder throughout high school. I swore I would never chance losing all that I was involved in by getting caught with alcohol, and so I never drank. I will admit to seriously judging those who did drink, alongside of my dearest, most wonderful friends as we sipped our intellectually astute gas station coffee ’til all hours of the night at our favorite hang-out place in our teeny town in Midwest, Minnesota. We were very good at judging, and we were very good at staying sober. Throughout high school, I was never tempted because it was clearly stated to anyone who would listen that I would never drink in high school. Ever.

So, yes. MNoD was quite the event. It happened a few weeks after high school graduation. Friends of mine took it upon themselves to walk me through the steps of drinking a beer, drinking a hard alcoholic drink (vodka & cherry slushie, I believe, the creme de la creme of all alcoholic drinks), smoking a cigarette, and then smoking a cigar. It was quite the night. I remember it as fun and silly and ridiculous, and it was all of those things. I believe I walked away that night feeling like I had just broken the seal on ‘Naughty.’ It was fun to be a little bad, to feel the rush and giddiness of the alcohol and smokes, and later, walking away feeling like I had gotten away with something.

I’m sure I thought about doing it all again as soon as I could, but I was also wrapped up with my friends who did not drink, so pursuing a drink wasn’t my be-all or end-all…. Yet.

Then, as Fate would have it, my best friend in the entire world and I ended up in an extreme drunk-driving accident perhaps a week after my first drink. To clarify, we were not drinking. Not a drop. The people in the car which crashed into us were blackout drunk, perhaps even drunk enough to be hospitalized. The driver registered a .24 blood alcohol count, and the two people with him were as much as that, or more, I’m sure. It was horrendous. My best friend was so hurt from the accident (she was driving), that she missed her first semester of college, which was supposed to start three months later. Her life’s momentum was put on hold, her physical health was wholly compromised, and the mental toll it took on her takes my breath away, even today. For the others involved in the crash, they were also critically injured, but because of their responsibility in the accident, I felt no remorse for them. As the passenger in the second car, I was the only one to remember the accident. I had a small cranial fraction and some more severe facial cuts, which required stitches. I was unconscious for about ten or fifteen minutes, and when I came to, the accident scene was rushing forward in full force. I was taken to a regional hospital, while my best friend was airlifted to a trauma center, as were two of the other people in the first car. I still have issues driving as a passenger to this day.

You would think that after such a traumatic event, I would avoid alcohol at all costs. However, without my best friend next to me every day, I found a new, older group of friends to take me in that summer. They were not ‘partiers’ per say, but because they were older, they had already been to college for a couple of years, and they came back and took me under their wings. They were an awesome group of friends (and still are), but I quickly associated drinking with fun. I left behind all of my former choices and stances, and I began seeking out alcohol in order to have fun. I started to work my schedule and my events around drinking.

This pattern was full-blown in college. Even though I was underage, I managed to drink five to seven nights a week, easy. At this time, my bipolarismness really came to the forefront as well, and I wonder now, with the clarity of hindsight, if my manic and depressive episodes would have been as extreme had I not been drinking as regularly and as wholeheartedly as I was in those early-twenties’ years of mine.

Zipping forward into my mid- and late-twenties, I see that I used alcohol to dampen the weight of a couple of bad relationships I worked hard at entangling myself in. I would go so far to say I even sewed myself into them. They were Bad. The first was bad because I didn’t respect the man, even though I had said ‘yes’ and gotten myself engaged. (So many times in my life I have wanted to grow-up faster than everyone else. My question to my younger self now is, of course, ‘Why, you crazy nutjob?! Slow the fuck down and enjoy the ride for Christ’s sake!’) To clarify, I did not marry the first man (phew!). The second relationship was emotionally and verbally abusive, and I am pretty sure (again with hindsight) that the man is a narcissist. So all through my twenties, I used alcohol as a social lubricant (what a weird phrase), as well as a buffer for my unhappy home life. I probably drank every night at this point. If I wasn’t out with my friends, or my current boyfriend, then I would cook at home and usually drink a bottle of wine by myself. Those nights were my favorite. I loved time to myself, I loved cooking, and I loved drinking wine. And I honestly thought that my friends were all living this way, too. I was single (to a degree), and I didn’t have the pressure of taking care of any children, so I could fit most of what I wanted into a day.

…. A note, too, to say that not all of my twenties were shit. In fact, I was mostly happy. I used to believe… I convinced myself that I shouldn’t be too greedy. In my world, my life was a pie divided into three pieces (.33333333333 for those math nerds out there). So, here I was over-the-moon happy with my career (teacher – still am, p.s.) and with my family. I thought to be completely happy in love was just not part of my equation. I thought it made me greedy and that it broke some cosmic rule in the universe if I should happen to be happy with¬†all three pieces of the pie. So I just accepted my fate and lived with what I got (i.e. not much, love-wise).

Then, tuh-dah! The heavens rained odours on me (that’s a Shakespeare quote (I’m not kidding – I know it’s weird)), and I realized I was a stupid idiot. I met my amazing, sweet, kind, handsome, good-kissing hubs, and had my pie and ate it, too (sorry for the quotey misappropriation).

But? The weird part that I noticed in the side of my mind…? I was still drinking just as much, if not more. And I didn’t know why. I blamed it on winter and seasonal blues. I blamed it on being in theatre and going out for drinks with everyone … all the time. I blamed it on the stress of work and let myself decompress at the end of a long day. … I knew I didn’t have anything to be truly unhappy with, but I still kept drinking. In my late twenties and early thirties, I was easily drinking a bottle of wine or more a night.

Then, children struck, or were born… Take your phrasey pick. My first pregnancy was wonderful. I was the epitome of a healthy, cute pregnancy. I didn’t drink during those ten months, except one glass of wine a month. And I usually tried to make my decision well in advance so that I could celebrate a family birthday, or a holiday or something.

When my daughter was born, I was so happy and such a helicopter (I still am). I didn’t go right back to drinking. I would have maybe a glass here or there in a week, but not much at all – not compared to my old numbers. But after about five or six weeks of monitoring, I slid back into regular daily use. Plus, now that I was home with her all day, every day, I didn’t quite know what to do with myself, so I would drink. I remember one night when my daughter was about two or three months old, I drank so much and ate so much of what I had cooked that night (feeling like a grown-up for a change and feeling put-together), that I threw up. I threw up a lot. My husband wasn’t home, and I was scared. My little baby was on the couch crying, and I was heaving my guts out and trying to clean everything as soon as I had made the mess so that my husband would never know. I don’t think I’ve ever told him about that night. The next day I went to my first AA meeting and wept and spun in circles as the AA members were so eager to pick me up and guide me along their path. …. Looking back, I just remember being so happy at the beginning of that night. Here I was a new mom, with the sweetest, smartest baby in the world, and I was being a grown-up in my own kitchen cooking a love-ily meal, with fresh groceries and a baguette, and I had picked up a box of wine, and I was just enjoying those minutes So. Much. And I was so excited for more and more and more goodness, that I ate and ate and ate, and then I drank and drank drank…. It was horrible. And it so quickly spun downward from something so exciting and good to one of the worst nights of my life. I still beat myself for putting my daughter in danger. Thank god nothing happened to her. Thank god, thank god, thank god… I shudder remembering that night.

As I remember it, and I will admit to not remembering it well, I believe by that night of the AA meeting, I had convinced myself that the night before had been an accident and that I wasn’t that bad. I’m sure I also needed a drink in order to soften the hangover, and so convinced myself that I wasn’t as bad as all that. My husband is still confused about that weekend. I won’t tell him about it, or rather, I haven’t had the courage to yet. I don’t think I’ve told anyone that story until now. …. There you go, world. Not glib at all here, to clarify. I’m shaken and scared to put that out there to you, but it’s one of the biggest reasons in my long list of reasons over the many years it’s taken me to realize I needed help, and that I needed sobriety.

My second pregnancy was the opposite of my first. I was still depressed and not very good at figuring out how to balance my life with a baby, a job, a husband, my drinking, or at the very end of my list – time for myself. I was feeling frayed, hollow, lonely, and empty. I drank a lot – similar to my mid-twenties – about a bottle and a little more every night. With my second pregnancy, I still was mostly sober. Instead of my one glass of wine a month, I allowed myself a glass of wine a week. I also ate anything I wanted because I was trying to fill¬†the something in me that was so empty. I gained a lot of weight, struggled with sciatica pain, and was just sad and disconnected from my life and my toddler. Of course, my sadness was not apparent to the outside world. I was the picture of perfection (besides the weight) to the world at large (so to speak). In fact, I was Wonder Woman. *ching* (That’s the sound of my golden bracelets chinging together, p.s.)

With my second babe, I jumped into drinking¬†almost immediately. As before, I was always careful with my breast milk, but I definitely brought back my ‘reward’ faster than with my first. And I was still in my funk, in my depression.

All that time – almost four straight years – I honestly thought it was my bipolar that was bringing me so far down into depression. I figured the added complication of post-partem accentuated the depression of my bipolar, and was probably multiplied by two quick pregnancies, one after the other.

I am a smart woman. I have two undergraduate degrees and a masters. I am a leader of my peers, as well of teens. I organize and accomplish school-wide agendas. In short, I get shit done. …. And no where in this strong, independently-minded, smart woman did I ever consider my drinking as being the root of my extended depression. I thought it was my fate as a woman in her 30s dealing with the changing nature of my dear old friend,¬†mental illness. I thought I was just having a tough time sliding into the adult world of marriage, mortgages, and motherhood. No where in that brain of mine did it¬†occur to me that (so much) drinking was affecting me so poorly. My habit was an every day habit, and most mornings, I was recovering in one way or another from the night before, while mid-days I was usually figuring out how to get more, or at least figuring out when I would drink later that day/evening.

How could I have been such an idiot?

… Alright, no judgment. I didn’t want to see it. I didn’t want to recognize the problem that drinking and alcohol had become in my life. The last four years, especially, have been particularly painful and challenging, because of the added complication of being a mother and not being a very awesome one much of the time. I was also carrying so much Shame because I was working so hard to hide my habit. I’ve said before that I had switched to boxes of wine because a. Cheaper and b. So much easier to hide how much I was drinking in a night. In my last four to six months, I would say I was probably closer to two bottles of wine a night than one. …. And even though it’s only two months ago, I just remember always being So tired. And resentful of everyone around me wanting me for this or for that. My resentment was growing bigger, as were my instances of anger. I began seeing a therapist two years into my heavy depression, but as my depression was weighing heavier and heavier on me in the following years, I sought out help from a psychiatrist for the first time in twelve¬†years. I really thought, I believed¬†the problem was a fix that could be given from the outside. That there was a cure outside of me that would magically make me all better.

But no. That was not the case.

The cure was in me. In my accepting that alcohol had become too important, too much my reason for making it from one day to the next, too big a reward for getting through a day or an event or a minute, too much my anchor. Without realizing it, the alcohol was making my life unhappy, listless, and lonely.¬†Everything and every day was foggy. My memory was getting worse and worse, my sleeping was affected every night with early morning insomnia, and my resentments towards my family, my friends, and my responsibilities were growing daily. It was a horrible and difficult life to move forward each and every day, and it was mine. I couldn’t fathom why anyone would¬†ever want to grow up, why anyone would ever want to be an adult. This was awful. And since it was, I believed¬†everyone was working as hard as I was to keep their dirty little secrets hidden, which kept me running in my hamster wheel.

Then, some time in May, I think, I found Kate and¬†The Sober Journalist¬†blog she created when she was pursuing sobriety. Although I had wondered about my alcohol consumption levels over the past eighteen years here and there, I didn’t see or identify myself in the word ‘alcoholic.’ And yet, here was a woman who looked like me, and worked like me, and who drank like me. Suddenly, I wasn’t alone! I wasn’t the only one. My secret only¬†felt¬†like a secret – there were others in the world who felt and behaved as I did. … All it took was the one blog (and all of her archival posts), and I found myself able to consider the possibility that yes, I might be an alcoholic. In the weeks to come, I found other blogs and met other voices with more stories I could relate to. Day after day I felt less and less alone.

On 9 June, 2015, I found myself ready to commit to sobriety, and here I am two months later and feeling centered, emotionally richer, happier, and not ashamed of who I am.

Day 62, What’s your story?

 

Saying ‘Yes.’

As a theatre teacher & director, it is my job to teach actors (and production staff/members) to say ‘yes’ to the moments at hand. Things¬†happen when a group of people has¬†acceptance and drive running through¬†it. Moments on stage are funnier or more sincere, sets are completed with panache, and everyone is invested. It is such a beautiful thing to work in this artistic world. I am so lucky.

So why then am I such an asshole to myself in the rest of my life? By ‘asshole,’ I mean a nay-sayer. Over the past decade, I have turned down countless numbers of invitations or talked myself out of events because it would take away from the little fort I had built up around my evenings and weekends. My MeTime that I was so possessive of and determined to protect… So that I could drink. Whoop-dee-fuckin’-doo.

What was I thinking?!

I have always been jealous of my sister, who is 8 years younger than me, because she is the person I want to be when I grow up. (See why I included the age difference now?) She is so together, and with it, and passionate for Life. She does things, and joins groups, and meets people, and puts herself out there every day… And I just think she is the coolest person I know because of all those things. She sparkles and shines and is dependable and someone her friends lean on for help or comfort. She has¬†networks of people she can reach out to who would do pretty much anything for her if she just asked. She is so fucking cool. And I want to be just like her.

This past week, I have put myself out there a few times, even when it wasn’t the most convenient or easiest choice to make. In fact, yesterday was full of hassle because I said ‘yes’ to something and had to juggle mountains of snags that rose up as a result. … But the production (which was the ‘something’) was awesome. And my babes were super-happy. And even though the hubs was slightly out of joint, the day was¬†full and great and fun. … And I wasn’t holding my breath, or counting the minutes until I got to enter my Fortress of Solitude and drink my brains away. Each minute – even the walk around the city block to the theatre – was enjoyable because I wasn’t holding my breath for my Main Event later in the day. I was in This minute, Right Now. That was a cool feeling. It is a cool feeling. And I found it momentarily. Cool.

Working my way into making the first step into sobriety has taken a lot of mind-suckage, as in when I wasn’t thinking about when I would drink in a day, I was thinking if I¬†should be drinking at all and wrestling with that and the guilt and the shame of my habit. One thing that kept surfacing in my thoughts¬†were my ‘Good Ol’ Days,’ which (not surprisingly) happened before alcohol ever showed up. I think my favorite year was when I was 17 and pretty much as awesome as my awesome sister is Now. Seriously. I did everything and loved doing everything. I filled up my days with academic challenges, social engagements (Coffee at a gas station? Why, yes, please! Midwest girls know the hippest joints.), athletics, dance, family dinners, dreaming about the future, theatre, writing poetry and short stories, and¬†having the deep, heart-to-heart conversations with girlfriends that just shook me to my core. All on a daily basis. What an awesome, Full life I led.

These past couple of years, I kept thinking it was the weight of motherhood that was sucking my energy and my want to do anything fun or daring, but really? When I look back on it, I haven’t been much of a go-getter for yeeeeeears! All through my twenties, I was clinging to the bottle on a nightly basis as well. It was just a little more ‘acceptable’¬†because I was hiding my drinking amongst friends and boyfriends and being out and glamorous in the adult world. But really? I was just a drunk who wanted to drink. How boring! And, more so, what a waste. Of time, and energy, and money. All those years spent investing myself into something I thought was making me happy and ‘an adult,’ but really, alcohol¬†was just stealing moments, memories, and relationships away from me,¬†because I didn’t have energy to pursue anything else whole-heartedly. I was distracted by booze, and I moved my world around It, rather than moving my world around Me.

Gah. Mind blown for the day.

In the past week, I have felt more like Myself for longer periods of time than I have in a long while. That¬†flicker I felt yesterday of the¬†17-year old awesome-chick inside? I’m going to keep reaching for her. Keep looking for her. I am going to say ‘yes’ to Me and to the world around me. … I’m excited…. *smile*

Day 12. Here’s to Awesome.

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