Sorrow

One day I’ll write about where I’ve been the past 3 years.

But for now it’s about how quickly the unthinkable and horrible can become the every day. Like how I can wake up at 5:30am on a Saturday wishing I could go back and spend more time with my cold, dead father.

On September 15, 20116 my dad took his life. The manner of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, but the cause of death was alcoholism. Anyone who knows him says, “I can’t believe John would do that.” Except me. I can’t believe he’s completely gone, but I know that suicide is a real possibility for many alcoholics who find they are, for whatever reason, unable to live sober.

Must have been a few years back that he mentioned his rendezvous with terror, bewilderment, frustration, and despair. I have had my own mild encounter with the four horsemen towards the end of my drinking. I remember relating to him. I wanted the conversation to say, “Yes. I get it. We have this in common. Isn’t it great we’re going to share this sobriety thing? Everything can get better now.” But I knew somewhere deep that I couldn’t possibly understand his suffering. It was so much bigger than anything I’ve known. And no human can help with that kind of pain.

Over the last 4 years there has been a growing, reluctant realization that he wasn’t ever going to get better. I wasn’t able to accept him just as he was. I pulled further and further away.

So here it is. This is alcoholism. And it wasn’t his fault. My greatest heartbreak is that he didn’t know he was forgiven, that he didn’t know how to be loved, that he never heard the good news sing inside his heart, that he couldn’t see that anything can be mended, and that I can’t do anything about it.

I love you, Dad. And I am so, so sorry.

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Embrace Change

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Just wanted to drop a line to anyone who might still subscribe.  In the coming weeks I am going to take down this blog.  I’m planning on leaving a forwarding address, but my new site will have my name and face on it, so the AA stuff has to go.  I got so much out of writing here.  My life has opened up in amazing ways because of sobriety and my food recovery.  Great events indeed.  I hope you’ll continue to trudge with me on my new blog.  Stay tuned…

Be Here Now

I am just back from a hypnotherapy session and have had a breakthrough?  Hit a bottom?  Seen the light?  Who knows, but I’ve decided I need to change.

The session was directed at removing obstacles that may be holding us back.  As I’m sitting there listening to the hypnotherapist suggest that we pick out some specific barriers to work on, I have the realization that step 6 and 7 are unfolding in front of my face.  Barriers, obstacles, character defects, shortcomings – shit that gets in my way of usefulness and ultimately my happiness.

At the beginning of the year, I chose a word for the year.  My word was, “Here.”  As in, be in the present moment.  In addition I chose two words I wanted to let go of.  Those were judgement and comparison.  I haven’t been thinking much about “here,” but from time to time do think about the judgement and comparison.  Today I chose to work on perfectionism, judgement and comparison.  Those 3 guys cooperate so nicely, total partners in crime.

So I’m hypnotized and trying to give up the mental fight of needing to understand and needing to be right.  Things are going okay.  Towards the end she had us visualize our old selves.  Of all the images I had in the session, this was by far the most clear.  Heavier, yes, but mostly I noticed my face.  Pale, puffy and just so sad.  Helpless.  Blank.  And here’s where my subconscious fucked me.  I was sitting on this blue barstool that is in our family room/kitchen.

My husband has complained about it for who knows how long?  My mom has made several comments.  My 4 year old has begged me.  My 2 year old clawed at my legs.  I have spent a lot of time sitting in that chair.  It’s where my computer is.  It is where my computer was.

I’ve known it was a problem for a while now, but I really just don’t know how to function without it.  I even felt a little weepy during the car ride home.  I got such a clear message, and I’m not in the business of ignoring these things anymore.  What about all the stuff I’m going to miss?  I’ll be out of the loop!  People will forget about me!  I’ll lose all my friends!

No need to get dramatic.  I’ve just decided to move the laptop out of our main living space.  Maybe I can set aside designated times to delete spam and touch base with my online peeps.  I heard Iyanla Vanzant once say something to the effect that not giving your attention to the person who is in your presence is spiritually abusive.  That hit a slight nerve because I knew I was doing this to my husband and children day in and day out.  But like a true alcoholic I told myself that I’m not that bad.

The truth is it is bad!  Facebook is probably my primary means of escape right now, and I don’t want to lose it.  I’m a stay at home mom.  There is only 1 more week of summer camp.  I have the whole month of August ahead of me where I will be faced with the challenge of staying “here” with my kids and not mentally disappearing online.  Online where I’m prone to judgement and comparison.

So I’m pouting and broadcasting from a different room in the house.  I felt it was important to write this out.  Thank you to a God I do not understand.  I get it.  I’m open.  Let’s do this.

Of course

Been swimming along.  Am writing now because I don’t know what else to do.  I’m in my 9th step.  Have made amends to my husband and my mother.  Both were great, and then I fell into sort of a waiting period.  I wanted to make amends to my dad, get the biggest, closest ones out of the way before I moved on to the outer rungs.  But sponsor says it must be in person (duh), and a trip to Utah just isn’t feasible logistically or financially for me right now.  So I guess I got stuck there.  I guess I have been unwilling.

I have just started to read Drop the Rock with a group of friends.  Perfect!  I’ll just nip those pesky defects in the bud, and we’ll be good to go for the rest of my amends.  Dishonesty, judgement, superiority… BE GONE!  After all, I want to be in tip-top spiritual shape before I start looking up people I haven’t spoken to in years.  Hilarious.  Our last reading showed me how wrong I have it.  My defects don’t get gently plucked from my being while I peacefully sleep.  Oh no no no.

A program of action.  “Act, and God will act.”  All that crap.  So I just opened up the notebook and looked at my 8th step list, and don’t want to talk to any of these people.  When I made the list with my sponsor, I was thinking, “I’m so fucking willing.  No big deal.  I’m going to kill this 9th step.”  Not so much.  I’m terrified.  I really do not want to move forward with this, but I just know intuitively it is what is keeping me stuck right now.

Last night my husband made a joke that he’s already planned that if he goes out his first drink would be a White Russian.  I lol’ed and in the blink of an eye descended into a technicolor fantasy that began with a Manhattan and conveniently omitted all the terror, bewilderment, frustration and despair.

I’m going to meetings.  I’m praying.  I’m reaching out to newcomers and others.  I’m not supposed to get blind sided like that.  It’s infuriating and makes me feel like I’m failing.  It’s depressing.  I want to be better.  Unfortunately I don’t get better until I start acting better.  Damnit.

I could use some ESH.  Even if it’s a story of how you looked up someone to make amends and it went terribly.  I’m not the first drunk to do a 9th step.  Hell, my wrongs really aren’t even that bad.  Just want some inspiration.

The Chipper of Life

“My talent for leadership, I imagined, would place me at the head of vast enterprises which I would manage with the utmost assurance.”

Today at my book study we began Bill’s Story.  What popped out for me was that in addition to alcoholism, Bill and I share a propensity for grandiosity.   I graduated Cum Laude even though my major could have been 2-for-1 Thursdays, and I came out of college much dumber than when I went in.  I was always able to cram at 3am, regurgitate the information on a test at 9am and get an A.  I was born that way.  Within the structure of school this made me feel really gifted, superior and entitled.  I’ve always been told I was so smart, and somewhere along the line I came to believe that a lucrative career and glamorous life would probably fall into my lap just because I was so amazing.

Let’s be honest, I’ve never worked very hard for anything.  I’ve thought that every job I’ve ever had was beneath me and I treated them that way.  I somehow thought I could successfully coast through life.  This approach stopped working once I graduated college.  I struggled to get a job and once I got a job, I just couldn’t figure out how to advance.  I mean, didn’t anyone notice how smart and awesome I am?  The truth is that I had a crappy work ethic, bad attitude and was a little socially awkward.  These three qualities basically spell ruin in the entertainment industry where I’m pretty sure the recipe for success is endless hours, relentless positivity and the ability to pretend like you actually give a shit about other people.

My attitude and drinking deteriorated side by side, and I decided to give up on the job thing.  It just wasn’t working out.  With the blessing of my husband I quit my job and got pregnant a few months later without the blessing of my husband.  Kidding… sort of.  Anyway, motherhood conveniently solved my career problem for the time being, except that I carried my beliefs and attitudes with me.

My most dreaded WOD’s (workout of the day) in CrossFit are chippers.  Chippers contain high reps of many different exercises.  The other day we did one they called “Dirty 30” because it was someone’s 30th birthday.

30 Box Jumps

30 Pull-ups

30 Wall Balls

30 Kettle Bell Swings

30 Knees-to-elbows

30 Ab Mat Sit-ups

30 Walking Lunges

30 Double-unders

30 Burpees

I didn’t like it.  I like a 7 minute WOD.  I like lifting a very heavy weight once or twice.  I was the last in the class to finish this WOD, partially because of my fitness and partially because my mind really gets in the way.  It says, “Look how many more you have to do.  You’ll never make it.  This is too hard.  It hurts.  What’s the point anyway?  CrossFit is stupid.  Fuck these people.”  They are called chippers because you chip away at them, one rep at a time.  You don’t have to worry about 30 burpees, you just have to worry about your next movement.  One foot in front of the other, just keep going.  I fought myself the whole way, but I did eventually finish.  Each little rep added up to one killer WOD.

I’ve really never experienced this before.  I’m always going for the big bang.  I’ve never been interested in making a small, consistent effort at something until this last year.  AA has taught me the value of trudging and that has been solidly reinforced by CrossFit.  And what amazing results I’ve gotten on both fronts.  Not because I’m the best or because I’m perfect, but just because I show up and keep going.

And I have faith that this is beginning to spill into my everyday life.  Trying hard at things I’m not naturally gifted at (like cleaning or playing Power Rangers) is a pain in the ass.  A lot of times I get really overwhelmed just by the amount of stuff that there is to do in a day.  The laundry, dishes, organizing, shopping, cooking, bathing, bedtime, etc.  It’s endless and relentless.  I don’t like it, so I spend a lot of time avoiding it by waiting for my Facebook feed to refresh or playing Candy Crush.

The other day I was getting particularly overwhelmed and petulant.  I was standing in the kitchen and suddenly I had this thought/voice come into my head as clear as day.  Out of nowhere I heard, “What could you do right now to make tomorrow easier?”  And just like that I stopped pouting and did the dishes.

February 9, 2012

One year ago today I popped open a bottle of champagne at around 4:00pm. I was celebrating getting through another fucking day. I pumped a bottle for my baby, and proceeded to drink the whole thing. The plan was to get nice and numb because that made bedtime more bearable. It wasn’t a daily routine (yet), but it was familiar. I had it all planned out.

But then my husband called and said he’d be coming home early from work. This really threw a wrench in things for me. Any normal person who is drinking champagne home alone on a Thursday evening with a 3 year-old and 6-month-old in her care would quickly switch to water and get her wits about her. But that’s not what I did. I opened a bottle of red wine, took a big swig and hid it in the bookcase in the hallway. My husband came home, kissed me, asked if I had been drinking and I lied spectacularly. I drank the majority of that bottle in secret for the rest of the night. The baby woke up at some point and I was faced with a decision; warm a bottle and have my husband ask me why I’m not breastfeeding, or go and feed her. I sat on the edge of my bed, nursing my baby girl, drunk as a skunk. I went back downstairs and “fell asleep” on the couch while we watched TV.

At 3:00am I awoke with my heart racing out of my chest. My head was swimming with guilt and self-loathing. I was used to this feeling. The middle of the night detox. Of course, I didn’t know that was what it was. I did know that it had been getting worse over the past couple years. As the previous night came into not-so-clear focus, I hit my bottom. I didn’t have to get arrested. No one staged an intervention. All that happened was that I saw myself clearly. My two major realizations were that I chose alcohol over my children and that I was capable of successfully lying about my drinking. I became fearful that if I could lie about this, then what else would I lie about? How far could it go? I then had not so much a vision, but the sudden knowledge that by summer I would be drinking daily. And as I looked over at my husband sleeping, the next thought that came in my head was, “He can’t save you. No one is coming to save you from this. It’s up to you.” And I suddenly just knew I was an alcoholic. I shook my husband awake in the middle of the night to tell him I was an alcoholic and needed help. I told him I was going to get help.