Wobbling on the Edge…

I’ve been feeling sort of like a vase on the edge of a shelf…  Like sometimes I’m perfectly stable… And then other time’s it’s like someone bumps into the shelf and the vase wobbles and blessedly doesn’t fall over… but in that infinite space of time while it’s teetering back and forth… you’re not fully sure if it’s going to keep itself upright, or careen to the floor and shatter.


We found an amazing (old) pop-up camper.  It has ALL the things we had on our must-have list, and our want list.  We were the first ones to reply to the craigslist advert… and the first to look at it.  It’s 20 years old, so there’s patches needed, and some fixes… which is what we wanted.  Pay less and fix it up… So now it’s parked in our driveway.  And I have SO MUCH energy around fixing it up and making it ours.  I spent hours and hours cleaning it out the first two days.  And we’ve been recovering cushions.  Once we finish those, we’ll paint the cupboards.  I can’t tell you how much I love the idea of having my own space to recharge in when we travel… with all our own stuff… I am giddy just thinking about it.  After our lovely, but stressful, family vacation to Maine last month, having our own space has become more important to me.

Right after we brought the camper home, my husband left for a 4 day conference.  He rarely travels.  It was HARD.  Harder than I anticipated.  I honestly don’t know how single parents function.  So right as I’m coming off of that “learning experience” my (until 2 years ago estranged) father and his wife flew in from out of state.

My dad has a lot of issues.  He’s done a lot to break the parent child bond/trust.  And he doesn’t see it.  He re-writes history very well.  Suddenly, I’m the issue again.  I was a bad kid.  I was a bad teenager.  I ruined his relationship with me.  It wasn’t him hitting on my best friend and making us so uncomfortable we ran away in the middle of the night.  It wasn’t him using me as a springboard to try to date girls younger than me when I was 16.  It wasn’t the multitude of other ways he damaged our family.  No, it’s that I was a lippy teenager and therefore it’s my fault.  So a few years ago he came to me contrite.  He had been in a 12 step program for 11 years.  He understood he was the problem, as well as his behavior.  He was sorry.  For me, most importantly, he was about 2,500 miles away.  I had just had my first child and couldn’t imagine not having her in my life.  And I was in therapy to work on the emotional and mental abuse of my mother… and was aware that relationship was on the wane…  So of course I caved.  It had been about 14 years since I last had seen him.  So long story short we started talking on the phone, and he seemed okay for a while.  He was 2,500 miles away.  Didn’t call too much… sent cards at holidays and packages of clothes for the kids..  As long as I didn’t talk too frequently he stayed on his manners and didn’t go down the overly critical and negative path with em.  But then he and his wife decided to come “home” for 3 weeks this summer to visit their kids and meet their grandchildren.  (Come to find out, my stepsister lives less than a mile away from me.)  The safety I felt in allowing a small relationship with my father and step-mother has been stripped away because they are here, not a safe 2,500 miles away.  It’s been about a week and a half they have been here.  My stepmother is a lovely woman, with a large capacity to love and see the best in everyone and their actions.  She’s quite nice to be around.  My father is still who he always was.  I’m sad to say.  I guess for years I thought his deviant behavior was what made things so toxic with him.  But it’s not just that.  It’s the whole nothing-bad-that-happened-is-my-fault thing… it’s always been his way, but when he said he was sorry and was in a 12 step program… I thought he might have changed that part of him.  It’s his constant negativity, and putting everyone else and anything they like down.  It’s him trying to parent me as a 35 year old woman; or even more offensive him trying to parent my kids.  It’s him not even listening to the actual words I say, and then I realize he never really has.  It’s him being offended because to remain whole, I can’t spend time with people every day.  Because I am an introvert… but both my parents wanted me to be an extrovert (Isn’t that a weird concept?  Wanting your kid to be something other than who they just simply are, so you ignore who they are… If you refuse to acknowledge it, it’s not really true, right?!?).  Me taking care of myself and my family… it’s a personal attack and rejection of them… Instead of simply me taking care of myself and my family.  I start thinking, maybe this is normal…  Maybe this is how families actually work, and I’m the problem for thinking things shouldn’t be like this….  Maybe everyone’s family is layered with shame, feeling unsafe and abuse, and I’m making more of things than I should.  And then I realize, that’s one of the biggest reasons I drank so much.  To avoid processing things like that.  To stay numb so I didn’t rock the boat.  So I didn’t have to do the hard work of figuring out what was right for me… And how to live that.

In the midst of all this emotional upheaval, and opportunity for personal growth, one of my dear friends had a heart attack this past week.  At 35.  At the gym, because she’s pretty stinkin fit and healthy.  While her kids were there at the onsite daycare (they didn’t see it happen), and she had to be wisked off to the local hospital and then transferred a bigger one.  It’s shocking.  It’s been freakin unreal.  This was Friday, and I don’t even know how to process it.  There’s the part of me that is insanely worried about her, and her family.  And there’s that other part of me that realizes that I’m not nearly as healthy as she is and is scared shitless of leaving my babies and husband behind.  She’s okay now, but my heart aches when I think of not seeing her again.  Because she and her kids are such a huge part of our life.  It makes me want to dig deeper in my life and just live that much more completely.

It’s so freaking hard not to drink my way through this.  I have, several times, wondered if it wouldn’t have just been better if I hadn’t stopped drinking 67 days ago… If I had waited until after my father’s visit.  But what keeps stopping me is that I have been given the gift of sobriety through this.  To be able to see each part of it more clearly… To have clear memories to sift through and choose what to do with it.

So these ups and downs are like that moment when the vase is stumbled into…  But I know… I KNOW…that if I were to start drinking again…  It would go away.  Because I’m 100% certain that the result would be my life in shatters.



PAWS, Bravery, and Kismet Conversations…

Maybe because I quit drinking without a support group… Or because I felt shamed when talking to my doctor about it at my last physical… But I keep getting blindsided by this whole recovery process.

Like having C-R-A-Z-Y sugar cravings those first few days.  And being cranky AF!!  I didn’t anticipate that!

Or not realizing that stopping the drinking was the VERY tip of the iceberg.  Once I took my primary (tried and true) coping technique away that things would start bubbling up and that I wouldn’t know exactly how to handle or process them.

That without drinking when things get overwhelming I have to see them and then grow from them.   I have to learn how to see why they are a problem.  What I can do differently.  How I’m making things worse for myself by not wanting to face things.

And then there’s just normal family insanity

And then… about a week ago, I got just so wore out.  Out of nowhere.  It’s like EVERYTHING was too hard to even contemplate.  Getting out of bed was the worst… I woke up not rested, and achy…  But I have this beautiful life to go out and participate in…  These three humans and that dog and cat that count on me showing up… Even if things seem pointless….  The baseline functions of my life stopped feeling like I could handle them…  What’s the point of cooking?  I’ll just make more dishes to do and it’s not like food has a point… can’t we just survive on spoons of peanut butter???  Disposable spoons of peanut butter, at that!

Gosh, I almost cried at the prospect of having to go to a kids birthday party Saturday.  The effort required to show up, smile and say hi to people…  Unbelievably inconceivable.

The effort involved in mommy-ing…. O.V.E.R.W.H.E.L.M.I.N.G.

So I randomly decided to google it… and LO AND BEHOLD… It’s a legit condition linked to withdrawal.  Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome.  Who knew?!? (Well, probably people in a recovery program/group… or ones whose doctors don’t shy away from talking about it…)

And then literally, overnight, the cloud lifted.

I woke up this morning refreshed, engaged and ready to have a day just hanging out and enjoying being with my girls.  I wanted to bring them for a walk and playground trip.  I didn’t mind getting up first and making breakfast with the one and a half year old.  I, infact, enjoyed it!!! The preschooler wanted to help make lunch… sure!!!  We’re also going to make a smoothie, together, when I finish my writing. (Read: super mess.  Yet, I’m still totally motivated)

And of course feeling more like myself again makes sobriety something I can approach and examine far more easily.

Because this struggle… is truly a struggle.  My MO is trying to make myself look in control, normal and like I have it all together.  Therefore, I don’t know how to ask for help.  I don’t want to “bother” my sober friend with asking for help or sharing insights, unless I feel on that cliff’s edge.  I don’t want my sobriety to impact my husband; I hate when I have to ask him once in a while just to not drink that day because that beer he’s drinking… it’s going to make me want one.  I’m still not sharing being sober with the majority of my friends… Partly because I am scared it will change the friendship…  because then I have to let them see that there is something I truly can not control, and keep “organized”.

I’m still learning to embrace this dichotomy.  Mostly, I’m in control, I can handle anything… but when I drink… I can’t keep any control.  I create situations I can’t handle….  And having to face that, in the harsh light of day…  To open myself up to potential judgement… I don’t have that skill set yet.

We were at a friend’s house for an impromptu 4th of July dinner last night… The wife recently got new counter-tops that she funded with an inheritance.  But the granite folks… They messed up and cut the breakfast bar area of the counters 10 inches too short.  10 inches.  And it totally eliminated the space for a 4th seat at the breakfast bar.  Which in a family of 4 is a big deal.  Every time we’ve been over since, the wife laments this injustice… As a person, I respect her greatly because she’s very direct.  She’s very straightforward, realistic, and honest.  I can’t fathom her NOT having called and gotten them to make this right…Like all new granite and an apology.  So when we were over there last night, I asked her husband what he thought of the situation.  He said he honestly didn’t care.  BUT he knew it bothered her.  And he saw this as an incredible growth opportunity for her.  For her to call, and fix this for herself.  Because he wants her to know how capable she is.  And he knows he can’t do that for her. He honestly meant it.  There wasn’t an ounce of snark involved.

And it’s like a light went on in my head…  That’s what this whole sobriety thing can be…  A million chances to learn what I can do, and how I can get better at what I don’t do well.  To find that bravery inside to expose my “problem” to the people in my life and develop  that skill set.

Talk about a kismet conversation!!

So, I’m putting myself on notice.  I’m going to tackle the people I’m most scared to be honest with first.  I’m going to be very direct with the women in my ladies night group.  I’m going to no longer pretend I still drink, but am just chosing to be the DD every time we get together.  I’m just going to throw it out there, and see what sticks… and who doesn’t stick around…

Nothing ventured; nothing gained.



Tantrum Town

I’m going to just start right off with a disclaimer… I’m pretty sure that A) there are no perfect parents/perfect children… and B) Most of us are more than aware that we’re not perfect parents.  BUT…. Every so often you stumble across someone who parent’s in a way that is so blatantly against every moral fiber of your parenting being that it’s just appalling.

The worst is if that parenting rubs off on your kids.

Historically, I would say my kids are normal… They push boundaries, but know to stop (mostly) when boundaries are enforced.  They go to bed with their routines.  They don’t beg, plead and whine for things.  The older one asks before she does things even!  Yes, I know obedience is a touchy subject… forcing our will on our children and what not.  But really, for us, it’s about teaching them how to navigate life respectfully with regards to other human beings.  My youngest has an opposition to being told “No”… but if we word it differently, the same boundary enforcement can be achieved.

Two weeks ago we went away for vacation with my Mother/Father In-Law and my husband’s oldest brother and his family.  There were TONS of fun times.  It was wonderful for the girls to have time with their grandparents day after day.  And they loved having cousin time…

But… Cousin time is biting us in the ass since getting home…

The first few days, I just chalked up the neediness, overly-dependent, belligerent and flat out rude behavior to them being tired from vacation.  About 4 days in… it wasn’t going anywhere…  And it’s still here a full week later.

And then it hit me…

Her cousin is parented VERY differently.  Her parents are exceedingly permissive.  Even when they say no… she gives them this blank stare with a couple long blink… and they fold.  If she’s doing something wrong… there aren’t consequences.  It’s not… You don’t share your toy, it gets taken away…  It’s a pleading a gentle…”We share, okay?”… and if that doesn’t (which it doesn’t) resolve things… there is the follow up of stern lecturing at my kids for touching that toy that’s in a communal area.  And let’s not forget when the cousin started stockpiling my kids “special” toys that they were excited to share with the cousin…  And instead of telling her to share with the kids the toys actually belonged to… My brother in law actually told his daughter to ask my husband if she could take it home with her and to her (daycare)school.  Because he’s unable to tell his own kid no…Instead her uncle she’s met a handful of times has to. Heck, the kid had the option of about 10 meals per meal…. “Do you want a pouch? No?  Do you want toast?  No?  Do you want applesauce?  No?  Do you want yogurt?  No?  Oh, you want your cousin’s meal?  Of course we can take some off her plate for you…”  (That last one was a joke… kind of… it’s more that they would wait until we offered some of whatever our kids were eating… which cousin would, as you expect, not actually eat).

Our kids also go to see their parent’s picking up after that same family, multiple times a day.  In the kitchen after they made food and didn’t take care of their dishes.  After they used the kitchen counter as a drop zone for all their stuff. After all the kids.  You get the idea…   We picked up after ourselves and after them because my husband’s parents paid for the rental house we all stayed at… and we just didn’t think it was right that they have to pick up after their grown-ass kids.  It was their vacation too!!!  But look, not helping out, not pick up after themselves… the grown ups got off the hook!  Maybe the toddler and preschooler saw that and realized they might be able to get away with that too.

I’m trying to see all the positives…  Like that we have lovely friends, who parent relatively similarly to us…  My kids have frequent play-dates.  My marriage is respectful, fun and loving.  I am proud of who we are, how we live our life, and how we treat others.  And until I saw the way Hub’s brother and sister-in-law behave… I had forgotten to appreciate that.

Either way… My kids are holy terrors now.  Talking back.  Fake crying.  Telling me they don’t love me anymore. Fighting instead of playing together.  The little one wants me to hold her non stop… but then fusses that I’m holding her.  They refuse to pick up after themselves.  They don’t want to help with chores.  They won’t eat the meals they are served.  I miss my kids.  I miss being able to enjoy time with them rather than fighting every step of the way.  I just can’t shake the negativity.  I can’t figure out the magic solution to unraveling this bad behavior.  I live in fear of bringing them out in public…  The tantrums… THE TANTRUMS!!!

Lord help me with the tantrums…


Dancing around reality

I’ve started two other posts this afternoon.

In fact, I’ve essentially hosed my entire nap/quiet time freedom with two posts that I would love to, but likely won’t have the balls to post.

Because what if the subjects of, or persons eluded to, in the posts read them.

And their feelings get hurt.

And then I feel like a jerk.  Even if this should be my place to speak my truths.

I very very intentionally have left my personal information off this blog.  But what if…  What if I share one post and someone figures it all out…

I have sent my mother two no contact letters… She still doesn’t “get it”.  She’s a narcissist, with some pretty serious enmeshment issues that have wreaked havoc on me.  The funniest thing is I didn’t realize it was going on, at least on a real level, until I had children of my own and realized how WRONG her behavior was.  How yucky/icky/dirty-feeling/unsettling the entire madness was.  And how unsafe she was to allow around my precious babies.  I am making light of how horrendous things were… because as with all good narcissists, no one on the outside could understand how bad it was on the inside.  Not my family, not my friends I’ve known my whole life… Often it’s even hard for my husband to see it for what it was/is.    I am scared she’ll stumble upon this and have a doorway into my life.

We’ve had two situations during vacations that became very complex due to my brother in-law and his family… So I feel that the insights that I was able to sift out of those experiences are so very worthy of sharing… But I know my perspective puts that family in a negative light… So then… more censoring

I have gotten to a better place about my husband’s family.  I don’t have panic attacks about it… well… I still get worried it’s all going to regress back to where I felt like I wasn’t enough… but no full blown panic attacks.  I appreciate her, and her love for my husband and children.  Which has taken over a decade for me get to…  And I don’t want to go back to that place where I couldn’t find goodness in that relationship…  By accidentally offending her…

So here’s to anonymity…  Let that spark the truth serum.  Let that speak louder than my fears of being unmasked. 

41 Days

WineTime ASimplyBrilliantLife

Today I am 41 days sober.

That brings a sweet little smile to my face.

I never thought I would actually make that decision and stick to it.

I never thought I would be willing to change something that is so ingrained in the fabric of my life.

I have one sober friend.  ONE.  And she’s a newer part of my life…

In that messy period of time between high school, and before kids… I stopped knowing how to make non-work friends without drinking somehow involved.  The first time I hung out with my now husband it was to go out drinking.  When we lived out of state…  We had chardaneighbors…  We had other friends we’d meet at wineries, or wine shops.  At bars.  At outdoor (drinking) festivals.  Even after kids, kid birthday parties (bear in mind our kids are under 4, so parents still attend all the parties) more often than not serve beer and wine.  Hubs comes home… we have a cocktail.  Often I’d have a glass of wine while making dinner in that half hour he was on his way home.  I’d self medicate my IBS with a glass of red wine.  And no family function was tolerable without a drink.  When you build your life up with alcohol involved, it’s amazing how “normal” that all seems.  When “everyone” in your life does it… It doesn’t look like a problem.

The number of wake up calls that I’ve had in the 17 years from when I first started drinking, to when I stopped are, quite frankly, embarrassing.  A close call on a DUI at 20.  A DUI at 21.  Nights I wasn’t able to consent.  Nights I can’t remember.  Walking around lost.  Injuries.  It’s simply astounding that I was able to compartmentalize it all away.

I tried, like so many do, to just “cut down”.  To put “smart/healthy” limits on it.  But I never seemed able to stick to that.  I would feel awkward.  I’d feel silly.  I’d feel like by limiting in front of other people… that it would open the door for them to see that I wasn’t in control.  That was was broken and imperfect.  And I was raised to believe that if you’re imperfect; if you’re broken… You’re not good enough, or worthy of support and love.  I would make commitments I’d have to break after, because, you see, I try to please other people even more when I’ve had a couple drinks.  And then I’d wake up the next morning with regrets.  I hate regrets.  I hate remorse.  I hated that more than I hated having a hangover.

But sobriety… That has always scared me, yet this past year I started kicking it around more and more.  My one sober friend… She started being this inspiration to me.  She is warm, bubbly, engaging, funny, lovely to be around… and she doesn’t need booze to be that way.  People still like her, people still include her… And it’s the real her.  Not the boozed up version of her.

Let me be clear… As soon as we decided to start trying to get pregnant.  I stopped drinking… So I was sober for at least 10 months with each of my pregnancies.  But after each pregnancy, I started again.  And after kids, drinking wasn’t the same.  I generally didn’t get “shitty”.  I’d get a buzz, sometimes a good buzz, but rarely would I get drunk-drunk.

And so one Thursday evening… we went to have dinner and drinks with friends of ours.  And by watching someone else… someone who behaves very similarly to how I do when I drink…I became undeniably aware of who I am when I am drinking… How I don’t usually stop on my own…  How I’ll open more and more bottles of wine to keep the evening going…  How I keep chasing that buzz to fill that hole in my life I don’t want to fix, because I don’t know how…  Ironically, I did stop on my own that evening.  (Not that I never do, but I don’t always… it’s like Russian Roulette).  At 2 am… I woke up to to to bathroom and had the ABSOLUTE clarity that I was done drinking.  That who I was when I drink, is not someone I admire…. Is not someone I want to be.  And this has set me up to finally tackle that HUGE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM... My drinking problem.

And while that tiny moment has propelled me forward these 41 days… Through finding the bravery to tell my one sober friend… so someone other than Hubs and I knew.  Through those first few social gatherings where I vaguely said I was the one driving, or I’m just taking a break from drinking… Through an extended family vacation (read: huge drinking trigger)…. I find the not drinking isn’t the hardest part.  I can fight through the little moments… because the big things matter more.  Like my self-respect.  My husband and my girls.  My hugely beautiful life that isn’t enhanced by drinking… it’s actually dulled by it.

The hardest part is having to look at myself clearly.  To see WHAT the drinking was covering up and hiding…  And to see who I really am, when I don’t have a crutch to lean on.