I’m Also Not A Very Good Bowler

Last night we went to our Crossfit gym’s bowling night. I’d been turning over whether or not to go, ultimately deciding that we had to take advantage of free babysitting while my mom is here on Christmas break.

I’m ashamed to admit that besides a wedding at 60ish days, that was the first time I’ve been out socializing in the evening in over 10 months of sobriety. The first time I’ve been around other people drinking. I have the great excuse of two small children to get me out of a lot of stuff, but I’m starting to really feel the pull of wanting to be with people. To go out and do stuff. To have fun. To be normal.

So I put on some music and did my hair and makeup. Rocked out in my car as I drove to pick up my husband from work. The last time I did that I drank a bottle of champagne before getting in the car. I felt mostly good the whole night. Everyone except the two underage kids was drinking. I noticed the couple guys that showed up already smelling like bourbon. I didn’t have to explain not drinking to anyone. We left early, just as it seemed the party was getting started.

I was a little sad on the ride home. Last night brought into focus all the things alcohol did for me. Feeling separate, not knowing how to talk to people, feeling left out of inside jokes, not knowing what to do with my body. Of course people talk about this all the time at meetings, but I was bummed to find out just how bad I have it. And beyond wanting to ease the social anxiety, there is a want to be the center of attention. In total honesty, it’s not just that I want to blend in, I want to shine.

My husband was the life of the party when he would drink. At drinking events, he’s the person people would cheer for upon his arrival because it meant things were about to get more fun and interesting. And I missed that last night. These new friends won’t see that side of him, and I won’t get the adoration by association. Of course, the party friends don’t come home with you to see what happens at the end of the night.

I woke up with two little monkeys (and one big one) in my bed, and no hangover. On social media I saw that they continued the party. I feel like I’m missing out, but I also see that I’m not single and 24 anymore. Alcoholic or not, I’m a mother with no business drinking till 2am anyway.

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Merry Christmas

Our Christmas was really lovely.  For all the hemming and hawing about not being able to drink on Christmas, the day came and went with little to no thought about drinking.  At least not my own.

My dad was arrested on Christmas Eve for DUI.  The details are exhausting, and I just don’t feel like typing them out.  He’s really sick right now.  All my siblings were in Utah to spend Christmas Eve with him, and I feel terrible for them.  My full brother (29) did a fantastic job of pulling it together for them, and was able to get them back on a plane and home to their mom early this morning.  Everyone is physically safe today, and I am grateful for that.

My oldest half-brother (18) is in college there and he called me late Christmas Eve to vent.  He’s never called me before.  Ever.  I am just so grateful that he felt he could reach out to me and that I was sober to receive his call.  He doesn’t want anything to do with my dad, and I told him I support him fully in that.

At one point during the day I got on Skype with my brother and my dad suddenly appeared in the background.  I hadn’t been expecting that.  I haven’t spoken to him in almost 2 years.  I was holding my daughter who he has never seen before.  He was mildly drunk/high and had a smile on, but looked aged and badly suffering.  After hating him for so long and for what he just put the kids through, I was surprised to feel mostly deep pity.  It’s all very sad.

But the worst part about it is that he was in the house with all those kids and everyone was pretending like nothing happened and that nothing was wrong.  That brings up some anger for me, because I feel like that is the story of my childhood and it has caused so many problems for me in terms of knowing and trusting my own feelings.  But what could I do?  They are not my children.  I’ve done my work on this, and hear my sponsor in my head.  They are own path.  I’ve been through it, and really I am fine.  Some days now I am better than fine.  And I’ve already seen my experience with him benefit others, because I was able to talk to my 18 year-old-brother and tell him I know exactly how he feels.

I’m sober.  My kids don’t have to know confusion, fear, anger and abandonment because of alcoholism.  I can be a sober voice in the lives of my siblings.

My intuition is telling me he’s not going to get better.  I think this disease is going to take him out.  I don’t think the DUI will wake him up.  He may lose visitation rights to his kids.  He won’t be seeing his grandchildren any time soon.  I feel like this situation is going to deteriorate rapidly in the coming months.  I don’t think it will matter.  Maybe I’m just preparing myself for the worst.

This shit used to unravel me.  I’d be raw and weepy and angry and drinking.  Today I feel solidly powerless and strangely calm about that.  I can stay present and happy in my own life.  I’d be willing to talk to my dad, alcoholic to alcoholic, if he wanted that.  And I’m available to my other family members if they need an ear or want my advice.  Just… grateful.  And for now, able to both love and let go.

First Rule of Dieting: Don’t Talk About Dieting

There are few things that embarrass me more than when people talk about dieting on social media.  The announcement, “Lost 3 lbs this week!” causes involuntary cringing.  If you are a woman, or have ever been near a woman, you’re probably aware that women talk a lot about weight and dieting.  It’s typically the favored topic in groups of women.  We like to bond over the shared misery of hating our bodies and how we can change them to be more acceptable.  This commiseration is taking place as we speak in hair salons nationwide.

I’ve personally come to believe that diets do not work.  I debate my level of hypocrisy on this often, but I’ll just say I experienced a psychic shift when it comes to food that left me thinking more about leaky gut than an expanding gut.  I understand the focus on weight and why we want to (and sometimes should) lose weight.  But I have learned from experience that dieting is just not the way to get there.  The weighing, measuring, logging, deprivation, rebellion, guilt.  It’s a punishing cycle that dooms us to failure.

I’m a part of an online group geared towards sobriety, and the announcement of a diet reminds me a bit of when someone who is probably an alcoholic says that they are going to attempt to moderate.  I’m not yet evolved enough to prevent the eye rolling and dramatic sigh.  I freely admit that tolerance and compassion is a real challenge for me when it comes to this stuff.  I have black-and-white thinking and basically want to go around shaking people and screaming in their faces, “Don’t you get it?!?”  I thought twice about even writing this because I don’t want to hurt feelings, but I am where I am.

But so it goes with the chronic moderaters and dieters.  Because it seems to be the same people repeating the same patterns and talking about it on Facebook.  I have one friend in particular who is always exclaiming, “This is it!”  She posts her weigh-ins for a few weeks and then just disappears.  Why even post it?  Doesn’t she see it embarrasses meeeeeeee?  For God’s sake how much of your failure can I possibly endure?”

What would I have?  Those that are struggling to go hide in a cave?  I’m not a very nice person.  I sometimes become aware that behind every bad behavior is fear.  I get afraid when I perceive a threat to my beliefs, choices, lifestyle.  A public declaration of a diet or a casual drink enrages me because I hear that, “What if…”  The lure of an easier, softer way, beautifully packaged in a Facebook status with congratulatory “likes” and adoring commenters.  What if I’m wrong?  What if all this effort was for nothing.  Look, LOOK!  They are doing it and saying it’s great.  The defense against the fear is haughty superiority.

I’ve gotten my messages loud and clear.  My Higher Power has demonstrated for me that I cannot drink or diet without being miserable over and over again in my life.  It is my responsibility to listen to those messages and respond appropriately.  The most appropriate response being to ask for help.  Now, what will it take for me to love and support others along their path, no matter where it may take them?

God Says, “Go the F**k to Sleep!”

If I’m being honest, and I am, I’ve been sliding a bit in the food department. The massive, meticulously planned binges are hopefully a permanent thing of the past, but I have resumed the nightly chocolate thing.  Not terribly out of control, but there.   I’ve grown a little weary of the effort preparing whole, healthy meals requires.  There were no vegetables in my dinner last night.  Actually, I just kind of picked around what my kids ate.  I’m getting lax with my nutrition and am paying the price in zits and low motivation for life.

My body really does show me what it wants, what it likes.  Sometimes I don’t want to listen.  Sometimes it’s just easier to go to In-N-Out.  I don’t want to shop, to cook, to clean.  It’s exhausting.  Life is relentless.  So I guess I’m tired.  And you know what the funny thing about that is?  I ignore that, too.  I’m falling asleep on the couch at 9:30pm every night and forcing myself to stay awake until 11ish.  And for what?  I feel like I have a right to that alone time.  I deserve it after taking care of the kids all day.  I don’t want to get short-changed on me time because I’m tired.

When I made the decision to surrender to my workout routine, I also decided to make my body a higher power.  Self-will certainly hadn’t helped me when it came to my health.  My preference was to sit on the couch watching Real Housewives, drinking wine and eating pizza and ice cream.  That was my reward for just getting through another day.  The problem is that my reward was killing me, albeit slowly.  So I accepted that my way wasn’t working and surrendered to the signals of my body.  I did it in a loving way.  Muscle soreness means keep exercising and acute pain means stop.  If there aren’t any vegetables in the house, load the kids in the car and drag my ass to the store instead of making mac & cheese.  When I’m tired I go to sleep, even if I’m 2 weeks behind on Homeland.  My body sends the message and it is my responsibility to listen no matter what.  I let go of ego either telling me I deserve something or am not worth the effort and become willing to just follow directions.

This practice has worked so well for me for the last six months.  I’ve been able to change my health and fitness in ways I used to dream about.  Today it is sliding, and I don’t like that.  I’m having more and more fantasies of reward and feelings of, “What’s the point anyway?”  I’ve been thinking I’d like to rededicate myself to using my body as a higher power (not THE higher power), and I’d like to start with my sleep. Sleep is so important, and I’m disrespecting my God-body every single night.  I want to say that I’ll start tonight.  I could.  I could just let go.  That would certainly be something!

Et tu, Costco?

Costco used to be my favorite place at Christmas.  I’m sure you see where this is going.

I was there by myself on Sunday.  It’s rare that I get to shop by myself. We needed gas, diapers and dog food, but I decided to seize the opportunity for some me time by doing a zombie-like stroll through the entire store.

The liquor and sugar is out of control this time of year.  That must have been why I loved it so much.  Specialty chocolates, truffles, peppermint bark and this crap.  Super-size bottles of bourbon in fancy boxes.  Sometimes with novelty glasses!  An expanded champagne selection and a whole separate section dedicated to the booze that is on sale.  I can practically feel the fireworks going off in my neural synapses.  I’ve been in the store since the holiday stuff arrived, but hadn’t paid much attention until Sunday.

I wasn’t really bothered until a man passed me and in his cart he had 6 bottles of what used to be my favorite wine.  You see, they’ve never carried this wine at Costco.  I was making special trips to buy it at a wine store.  I freaking loved that wine.  Seeing that Costco had also discovered it and picked it up almost took my breath away.  I suddenly felt a big sense of loss.  Like a friend of mine said here, I was queen of good, affordable wine.  I was a connoisseur in my own fantasies, but it was like my talent was being confirmed by Costco.  I was so good at drinking.  I relished researching, shopping and tasting wine.  And always more, more, more.  A true love affair.  A fucking alcoholic.  I’m also a pretty good baker.  These talents make so much sense now.

I guess I haven’t contemplated a drink too seriously since the very earliest days of sobriety.  I mostly get sad and resentful that it’s not an option for me.  I’m not sure if you noticed, but what happened at Costco began before I even got there.  See when I mentioned that I was trying to steal some me-time, that should have been a dead giveaway that the trip wasn’t going to end well.  I went there looking for more than just diapers.  I was looking to feel better.  What I got was a million reminders of the things that I can no longer use to make me feel better.  I resisted actually walking through the liquor sections.  I’m lucky Costco hasn’t carried Moose Munch for a couple years because I had already decided I would buy it if I found it.  You better believe I looked for it.

I’ve read a couple other blogs also talking about dealing with more cravings lately.  I agree that it’s the time of year.  Everything so shiny and special, everything I’m missing out on, everything the holidays used to be, all the good times I had drinking through this time of year, fun and warmth and togetherness, but I think most of all it looked really pretty and sparkling.  And it seems both easy and impossible to get that back.  Hard to accept that it won’t be that way again.  Hard to accept that I’ll never relax into the ritual of planning and executing a perfect holiday dinner wine pairing.  Hard to accept that the relief is really gone.

How I Made Preschool Heritage Month All About Me!

November was heritage month at my son’s preschool.  They sent home a poster board where we were supposed to put some pictures of traditional dress, food, celebrations from our country of origin.  I’m a western-European mutt with no real knowledge or connection to my heritage.  My husband is a New York Italian, so I figured it would be easiest to just go with Italy.  I Googled some images and pasted them to the board.  I tried to get my almost-4-year-old involved but he really wasn’t interested.  There was a sign-up for parents to pick a day to come in and share something about their heritage, but I kept putting off signing up because I just wasn’t sure what I had to contribute.  I’m not even slightly Italian, especially now that I don’t partake in any of the things that I thought were most interesting about Italy- wine, dairy, gluten & sugar.  Thank God I still have cured meats.

Looking back, I realize I was fretting about this quite a bit.  I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, so I didn’t want to even try.  Were ALL of the other parents doing this?  At one point I observed another mom teaching the kids a Korean children’s song and my ego freaked out.  I procrastinated on it until November ended.  I was relieved, but I admit I felt like I got away with something.

Until Friday night when at bedtime I asked my son about heritage month and he burst into tears.  Bear in mind, getting him to tell me anything about school is like pulling teeth.  His only topics of conversation are Power Ranger and Spider-man, so when he looks at me with a quivering lip and says, “All the other mommies came to my school and talked about heritage except you and that made me so sad,” I was just leveled.  I really couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  I couldn’t believe that he noticed, that it mattered.  He’s only 3!  I fucked up.  I looked him in the eye and made a sincere apology.  I’ve already emailed the teacher and am going to go in and talk about pasta in the next couple weeks.

I’m grateful for  this experience because it has shown me that I don’t have to be drinking for my alcoholism to get in the way of me showing up for my kids.  Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about my desire for the spotlight and what that’s all about.  My need for attention and praise at the public level is what prevented me from doing a heritage month presentation.  If I can’t have the best presentation, then I don’t want to have to do it at all.  I want the teachers and other parents to be humbled by my awesomeness and fawn over me while I feign humility.  In this defect, I hurt my son.  I’m also seeing how I have hurt my husband who tells me all the time that I’m awesome, but I’d rather be affirmed by the number of “likes” my Facebook posts get.  I guess it’s really just grand-scale codependence.

It’s a good fucking thing that the 11th Tradition exists.  I know the solution is the same for every other problem I have.  Sponsor, higher power, meditation, 7th step, help someone.  It’s not gone yet, though, so I’ll anxiously be awaiting your replies.  😉