Friends, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this blog! The writing, images and author’s voice are beautiful gifts that remind me of my own childhood and also contrast sharply to my own experience (in a funny way!!!) relocating to the country. GREAT READS, peeps.
After 49 Thanksgivings, I finally “get” why it did not matter to my Mom, in her later years, whether our family ate dinner together on paper plates (themed, of course) or not. The mere fact that we were together was enough for her – and it should have been enough for me – but, alas, I needed more “road miles” in life to fully understand.
This Thanksgiving I am wildly and enthusiastically thankful for 4 Things:
To be curious is a state of willingness to allow life, ideas, people, nature and the world to enthrall and intoxicate you. In spite of my struggle this 49th year of my life on earth to discover and maintain a healthy sobriety, I am thankful to discover that I still experience the wonder of a child every single day. AMEN to that and keep the curiosity coming!
After all, it has been said, “interesting people are interested people.”
We all experience setbacks and many of them are stunning, paralyzing and utterly terrifying. Looking back, I really am thankful for each and every setback I have experienced. Not only am I learning humility, I am experiencing the ebb and flow of the journey and learning to take my EGO OUT OF IT. I mean, a mortal can only do so much – the Universe is so much larger and powerful, and there is no escaping the lessons we’re each meant to learn. To me, setbacks are just another way of experiencing mortality and human limitations. And like Garth Brooks famously crooned, “I thank God for unanswered prayers” every single day.
My husband and I were “curious” about life in a tiny town more than 200 miles away from our home so we packed up and moved away from friends, family, professional connections, and all the lovely comforts of city life. We stayed there 8 years. I joke that 2 of them were happy, but I seriously mean it! Looking back, that really is not true: my mental state was not happy because I was fighting the flow of our new lives. But something super cool I have discovered in mid-life: you can actually reflect back and accept what was once unimaginable and unendurable and it has the same effect – now my memories of what I thought was a “really dark time” are mostly funny and happy! I am so thankful for this gift.
A wise woman once told me, “Your kids aren’t always going to be this little.” Obvious statement of fact but, at the time, I could hardly imagine a time when my life was not dictated by play dates, diaper changes, snack times, story times, intrusive “Mom friends” and never-ending messes, usually involving bodily fluids. This is my beautiful daughter, now 16 years old, at 16 months old. I hardly remember the passing of time. Another wise woman, my own Mother, told me, “Honey, life will pass you by so quickly it will leave your head spinning.” And it has. She was right, as usual. I am thankful for my tribe of family, starting with my husband and children and colored with many interesting friends and co-workers. At the tender age of 49, I have learned how to assess quickly what “works” for my tribe and what needs to just go away! THANKS be to GOD!!
Happy Thanksgiving, wherever you are, and whether you enjoy it on the finest china or paper plates. Life is a gift.
I told my counselor today that this summer I allowed myself “permission” to just sit quietly (a lot!) and rest, reflect and heal. When I decided to get sober this past June, I had no idea that I would feel emotionally drained for so long – the exact opposite of what I was expecting.
Ironically, for me, the clearer my mind becomes, the less I seek the chaos that was once my life – am I now addicted to peace?
Talk to anybody who has been in recovery for more than a couple of years and they will nod in complete agreement and understanding and say, “the longer you are sober, the more you will enjoy a quiet life.” The trick is learning how to quiet the things that once stressed me emotionally without alcohol. This must explain my present state of fatigue, I am like a child learning to ride a bike without training wheels.
Thus, the subject of today’s blog: How does one successfully “recover in community,” with normal deadlines, stresses, demands and all sorts of other messy obstacles life presents? I began my sobriety without any kind of in-patient treatment, so I have been “hanging out there” in community trying to stay sober and keep my life going for five months. It is tiring. I wish I could say it is thrillingly exhilarating – the gratitude I feel each morning for a new day, a healthy and loving family, and my sobriety is comforting. But maintaining it all makes me well – TIRED.
Doing what is best for my 2 very different children without the influence of alcohol is certainly much easier and more enjoyable! However, some days it feels like I don’t have as much to give as I’d like. My body, mind and soul feel tapped out because all I can do is just “be” and “love.” Is this enough??? I see other parents (whose sobriety status I am not aware of) really “managing” their kids’ lives and this clearly is not what is happening under my roof. And the gnawing question I have, now that I am sober is, “what’s the difference between the way I loved drunk and the way I am loving sober?”. Or anything for that matter. And I think the answer is caring and feeling versus numb and complacent. I think my body hurts and my spirit feels tired because it hurts to feel and process one’s thoughts in healthy ways all day long, especially when you are responsible for young adults.
When I talk about these fears and feelings to my non-sober friends, I kind of get blank stares. Other addicts know exactly what I mean. It’s what makes us all different and interesting, right? So I continue to make room in my life for AA meetings, conversations with others who are focused on their recovery, and living a day to day life that is healthy, balanced and aimed at giving my family the right kind of love – without cheating myself. That’s enough for one person to handle. And that, my friends, is how I am attempting to “recover in community.”
Lately I have been on an inner journey. I won’t say I have “neglected” housework, but let’s just state for the record that I am blissfully tuned out of my immediate visual surroundings. Nobody in my family seems to mind. Clothes get washed, dinners get served and eaten, pets are not neglected, Fall decorations are properly appointed. Outwardly, everything seems “normal.”
What started out feeling like a mid-life boycott of mundane chores has now become – well, more of a daily meditation on the essential. Gratitude for all that we have been given tops my list of essentials. When my eyelids pop open in the morning and the awareness of feeling whole and not broken by alcohol, ugly words spewed to a loved one the night before – I breathe deeply and thank God for the blessing of one more day. Whatever I choose to do with that day, my underlying goal is LOVE.
Is a clean house essential to love? No. Right now, at 49 and managing a life with 2 teenagers, a husband intent on planning the sunset of his career, and a boatload of aging siblings and Mother whom I love – I give myself permission to LOVE FIRST, clean second. I used to think I was getting lazy because I did notice the slowing down. This coincided with my sobriety, which began almost 5 months ago.
The whole point of sobriety is to NOTICE, EXPERIENCE and CHERISH the good. This requires slowing down (at least for me) and focusing on NOW. As much as I love and enjoy these new feelings, it is true my standards of tidiness which were low to begin with – have gotten a little lower.