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.

Whole30 Day22 and why losing weight is scary.

Feels like I’m in the final stretch of this Whole30 nonsense.  A week ago today I decided I was going to quit.  I announced to my food group that I was going to announce to my Whole30 group that I was turning in the towel halfway through.  It makes me laugh now.  A few posts back I talked about feeling a sense of responsibility to the people who were doing it for the first time.  Well that delusion persisted and suffocated me until I got to that place of “fuck it.”  I’m grateful to have a very wise, sober friend who gently suggested, “You know, you don’t have to tell anyone what you are doing.”  And just like that the situation deflated.  Listen folks, I’m just not that important.  I’m not saying this in the spirit of putting myself down, but to acknowledge that I had ventured beyond right-sized and into grandiose.  The only person I’m responsible for is myself.  Ahhhhhh, what a relief!

Over the past week I’ve noticed my pants fitting loser once again.  I touched on this in my last post, but a strange something is going on in that I am not necessarily thrilled by the weight loss.  I don’t weigh, so I only go by how I feel.  When I look in the mirror I feel mostly happy with my body and sometimes I love it.  I feel really feminine and strong.  So when I put on a relatively new pair of jeans and found that the butt was sagging, I noticed that I felt a bit of panic rising in me.  Part of it was that I don’t want to fork out money for new clothes, but behind that was the thought, “But I like where I am.”  And delving deep down to the bottom was the belief that skinny = dangerous.

I didn’t totally acknowledge that thought at the time, but I could feel this little niggling discomfort at the idea of losing more weight.  I couldn’t put my finger on it until I read this post from In My Skinny Jeans.  When I met ED I was 15 and bottomed out after a real mind-fuck of a relationship.  Self-worth was nil and I stopped eating much of anything.  The thinner I got, the more attention I got and I found myself in some situations that feel very dark and sad.  Then we moved out of state.  I got a fresh start, came back to a normal weight and began blaming that normal weight as the reason why boys at this new school didn’t like me.  Never mind that my aura screamed “DO NOT DISTURB!”  When I finally was able to cobble together a relationship in college, I started eating with enthusiasm and couldn’t seem to stop.  When that relationship began to display some serious foundational cracks, I decided to learn how to purge.  It goes on and on like that.

It seems almost insane that I would never put it together until now.  Yes, Miss Skinny Jeans!!!  Sexuality.  Yes.  **deep sigh**  So I’m even more grateful to be on the path of discovering my erotic creature through feminine movement.  It sounds kind of silly when I type it out, but WHATEVER!  That is totally what I am doing and I think it’s fantastic and interesting!  From here on out I plan to post a link to the song I choose for my dance each week.  I’m two weeks behind so…

She absolutely loved this one:

She absolutely hated this one which was a surprise because I love this song!

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.  😉

Aham Brahmasmi

I had a bad dream last night.  It’s recurring.  In this dream I’m pursuing my high school ex, trying to seduce him.  This person was #2 on my resentment list.  He was someone who manipulated, violated and humiliated me.  These dreams always have me waking in tears because in them I know the truth about him, yet I still want him.  I always wake up tearful and feeling so low, ashamed and desperate.

I’m doing The Chopra Center’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge, so I got up early before my meeting to get a meditation in.  In my meditation, I had a lot of trouble shaking this dream and the bad feelings that came along with it.  When it finally did go, what came in it’s place was thoughts of shopping.  I started making lists of all the things I need to buy for myself.  Just as I became aware of this thought, the meditation ended.  I opened my eyes and realized that the thoughts of shopping were me running away from my feelings, trying to find an acceptable way to fill “the hole.”

The Sanskrit mantra for today’s meditation was Aham Brahmasmi — The core of my being is the ultimate reality, the root and ground of the universe, the source of all that exists.  And now I’m not sure at what point this happened, but I think somewhere on my drive to the meeting I became aware that what had happened with my ex was a result of me losing touch with the core of my being.  That what happened in my dream is actually what happened in the relationship.  In small ways at first and then larger, I allowed him to behave in ways that I truly wasn’t comfortable with.  I showed him that it was okay to treat me disrespectfully because I was trying to get something.  I was trying to win.  He was very popular, charismatic, sexual.  All the girls wanted him, and he was a trophy for me.  A way for me to prove not only my worth, but that I was better.  And I was so desperate to be better, that I told that little voice inside me to shut up every time she peeped up to say, “This doesn’t feel right.”

I got a glimpse of this during my 5th step, but today it hit me like a ton of bricks and I saw the truth.  I saw that I got used because I was using.  There were a million warning signs that he was not a good person, but I denied them, denied the core of my being until it all blew up in my face.  Then I retreated.  I ran.  I ate.  I drank.

This is why the only solution is a spiritual solution.  Aham Brahmasmi.  To deny my true self is to deny the source, to deny God.  That is what carves out the hole that can never be filled.  He didn’t do that.  I did it.

Aham Brahmasmi.  This is why the answer is to get quiet.  To listen.  To meditate.  Because the longer I listen, the louder it gets.

I’m All Out of Love

I’ve watched my husband let his program and self-care slide over the last week, and I can see that he is suffering from that. This morning he was wallowing a bit and said something to me about giving up.  My response was, “I’m really sorry to hear that.”  He went on a rant of sorts about me not believing in encouragement, that I’m not a caring, loving person.  I think I previously would have just taken it and stuffed the feeling, but I stood my ground and told him that I don’t accept him turning his bad feelings into a personal attack. I said I loved him and am willing to help him if he tells me exactly what he needs.  He wouldn’t drop it. I eventually ended up yelling at him in front of the kids that he was hurting my feelings. He made a big display about me lashing out in front of the kids, suggested that my behavior would damage them, and then retreated upstairs.

Last night during a meeting someone shared that he finds himself acting out when someone says something that makes him fearful.  I thought about this today and realized that I freaked out because what my husband accused me of might just be my greatest fear about myself.  The thing that I worry might actually be true.  The thing that probably is true because I’m an alcoholic.

Last night I was called out in an online forum for defriending a fellow alcoholic on Facebook.  I fessed immediately, letting her know that I took her off my feed because I didn’t want to see her jokes about drinking.  I didn’t think twice about that decision, I felt it was best for my sobriety.  But then I read the other members responses to her, and a thought began to creep in.  “Everyone else is trying to support and understand.  You’re the mean girl.”

When I accidentally got pregnant with my son, the terrifying tape that played in my head was, “What if you don’t love this baby?”  I wondered if I was one of those women who might harm her baby or abandon her children.  In the final weeks of my drinking, my husband told me he was becoming afraid to leave me alone with the kids each morning.  I was afraid, too.

The Big Book tells me I’m selfish, and I most certainly believe that.  I have a hard time understanding other people’s struggles and have a low tolerance for their pain.  I’m judgmental.  I’m not affectionate.  Is this the real truth about me?  That’s what I’m afraid of, but I don’t think it is the truth.  These are my character defects, right?  This is the armor I put on a long time ago.

I can feel my brain fighting this.  It feels really tense, weepy, angry, so I’m guessing a surrender is coming.  I don’t understand how I’m going to digest it all, but I’m going to try and ride it out.

Here’s a fucking song.

I’m Eating Chocolate Right Now

Pretty sure my keyboard is getting chocolate smudges.  I’m having a sweet attack and am just going to go with it.  I’m worried about my husband’s family in NY.  Sandy is approaching and each time we get on the phone they sound more and more scared.  My father-in-law said it is the worst storm he has ever seen and it hasn’t even touched down yet.

My dog has something wrong with her nose.  I’ve been trying to treat it for weeks and it’s getting worse.  I’m taking her to the vet in an hour and am already pissed off by the bill.  Whatever it is, and it’s always a lot, there isn’t room in the budget.

I got socked with a major drinking craving on Saturday that left me in tears.  We had an extremely rare date night planned, and I got upset that I couldn’t drink.  I played out the fantasy to then end, and even though it ended in me trying to drunkenly add up the babysitter’s money and then overpaying due to literal fuzzy math, I couldn’t shake it.  My 1st step is annoyingly solid sometimes.  Surprisingly what made me feel better was my sponsor telling me that at 16 years sober she gets craving every now and then.  She said that our natural state is to want a drink, and that made me feel like less of a freak.

So what do these three different things have in common?  Weather, illness, alcoholism?  Three things that I’m totally powerless over.  I’ve started reading Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron.  She was talking about control being an illusion.  The big things like natural disasters, sicknesses and oh yes, addictions smash that illusion to pieces.  It throws our powerlessness in our face, and that is quite uncomfortable.  I’ve managed to stop at 4 pieces and feel pretty satisfied.  A little chocolate and reflection goes a long way.

It’s Heeeeere!

The Halloween candy has arrived.  We live on a steep hill and don’t get trick-or-treaters because kids are lazy little buggers these days.  I don’t have a good reason to have the candy in the house, and am glad to not have to waste money on it.  Although yesterday I saw mini bags of Pirate’s Booty and made a mental note.  Happy gluten-free Halloween, kids.

Last night we went to a Halloween festival at my son’s school.  It was adorable, but I let the stress of getting dressed and out the door get to me.  Then I spent the whole time chasing them in opposite directions.  The Power Ranger insisted on going in the haunted house which is hilarious because he often gets scared watching Dora.  The butterfly just wanted to play in leaf piles.  I got into self-pity because my husband has been working so much these last two weeks.  I expertly turned the Halloween festival into, “OH MY GOD I ALWAYS HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING ALL BY MYSELF!”  I’m awesome.

Anyway, we came home with the first Halloween candy of the season.  It’s only noteworthy because I really don’t give a crap.  I don’t want to eat it.  I look at it and see chemicals and diarrhea.  Sorry.  Since reading It Starts With Food, this type of highly-processed stuff doesn’t appeal to me.  And since my Whole30, well I’m pretty sure that even a little of that stuff would end in zits and an upset stomach.  If I wanted to fall head-first into a sweet binge, I’d probably take the time to bake something so I know what’s in it.  I now am so aware of the consequences of my choices.  And since I’m not drinking, those consequences are a lot more uncomfortable than they used to be.

How are you feeling about the Halloween candy?

Off My Game

It’s been almost a week since we got back from our trip to Arizona.  I can’t call it a vacation.  I’m pretty sure on vacations you visit beaches not relatives.  It was a challenging week for me.  We stayed with my mom.  This trip being with her was like being with a walking, talking example of all of my least favorite character defects.  I’m so much like her, and I hate that so much.

I have not named or listed my character defects, but boy they are sure easy to spot when another person is acting them out.  Critical, judgmental, impatient, dismissive, insecure, people-pleasing.  (There are, of course, more.)  Actually the people-pleasing is one of my favorites because I’ll never forget the first time I heard someone in rooms say that it’s really people-manipulating.  Now the term people-pleasing makes me want to crawl out of my skin.

My mom has this great way of never saying what she really wants and then being angry about not getting it.  Or maybe she doesn’t.  Who the hell knows?  The point is that I’m constantly trying to predict what is going to make her happy.  I’m modifying my own behavior and attempting to modify my husband’s and children’s behavior in order  to keep things copacetic with her.  It’s maddening.  I knew I was doing this.  I knew that it wasn’t going to work.  I just didn’t know how to stop.  Too much fear, I guess.

Anyway, I’m grateful to be home and back to my routines.  My meetings, my gym, my food and most of all my giant Tempur-Pedic bed.  I was in a real bad funk for the last 2 days of the trip.  Having lots of drinking fantasies and getting real down that I was having them.  I feel like I should be better than that shit now.  I told myself they would pass and I’d start to feel peace again once I got my groove back.  I was right.

I know eventually I’ll have to get better at venturing outside the bubble.  Dining out, social functions, travel; I’ve really avoided those things in these last 8 months.  Last night I went out to dinner with a group of sober gals and it was wonderful.  Absolutely no remorse about the fact I cannot drink and gratitude for the reprieve.