Self-Care

Why I Love Libraries

books

Things have been…good. Calm. Just what I need.

One way I take care of myself is by volunteering. I always loved the idea of volunteering but I never took it too seriously. Probably because I was too busy destroying my life.

Back when I got my DUI, one of the things the court required me to do was community service. When presented with my choices, I chose to serve at my local library since I’ve always been an avid reader and writer and had a fondness for libraries.  Setting everything up to complete the community service was personally humiliating for me. It was not the way I had envisioned my philanthropic efforts to really begin to bloom.

I followed every rule and caught on quickly at the library. I spent as much time as I could there to complete the required amount of hours.  As I did so, I found a peace there. I hadn’t stopped drinking at this point, but when I was volunteering, I felt so at ease and my soul felt so good to be giving back, even though it was court mandated service.

While I was completing my community service hours, I also got to know the staff and other volunteers. I didn’t open up much at first because I didn’t want anyone to find out that I was a mom and a teacher and that I had gotten a DUI. No one seemed to mind though. I came and did my job and I learned about everyone else while they didn’t poke too much to find out about me.

While it may seem cold of them to have not inquired more about who I was, it wasn’t like that at all. I could tell they just sensed that I wasn’t ready to open up and they weren’t going to push me. No one asked why I was there or how I got started volunteering. They just let me be while making me feel welcome and loved when I felt so unlovable.

In less than two months I finished the required hours of community service. As I was getting my official court documents signed by the head librarian, I hesitantly asked if I could keep coming back to volunteer.  Without missing a beat she exclaimed that of course I could and they were all hoping I would! She even told me that I’d make a wonderful librarian if I ever decided to go that route. I nearly cried from all of the grace and love I felt from these wonderful people.

So I kept going back. For two to four hours a week you can find my volunteering at my local library. I’ve done so for the past year and will continue to do so. And to this day, none of the librarians have asked me about how I got my start as a volunteer. It hasn’t mattered to them.

Other volunteers have joined us who have community service hours to complete and when they do, I remember the grace and patience I was shown and I now show it to them. Every time I walk into the library, even now at a year later, I immediately relax and am filled with a joyful peace.  I am part of the family there and they have welcomed and loved me (and my kids!) with open arms.  It has been a truly beautiful experience.

I have often thought that maybe the whole DUI and community service part was a blessing in disguise for this opportunity at the very least. I was happy just to continue giving back to my community and those who have helped guide me when I’ve been lost without a court requiring me to do so.

Then today happened. The head librarian asked to speak to me in her office. I was slightly nervous – did I do something wrong? Had I messed up somehow? No, not at all. She offered me a paid part-time position for the summer.

My heart soared.

I have gone from court ordered community service to volunteering to now a paid position. The librarians think enough of me, the girl who got the DUI, to offer to pay her to work for them. I am in awe.

Life is certainly so much sweeter sober.

alcohol · Holidays

This Amazing Gift

beach1

On Monday I returned from my first sober vacation…still sober.

There were a few instances in which I felt a little anxious about not drinking but with a few deep breaths and thinking about what awful things would probably happened if I picked up a drink, I was able to calm myself and even have fun.

Friday was spent traveling to the beach and then having lunch once we got there. I was probably the only one there who noticed that no one ordered alcohol with their meal. We grabbed a few groceries, dropped our belongings off at the beach house and then headed to the sand. We had a late dinner Friday evening followed by a short trip to a bar where the bartender kindly gave me my non-alcoholic beverage for free. He had a look in his eye that he understood and for that I was grateful.  My friends and I spent most of the evening laughing harder than we have in a long time. And I was sober.

Saturday morning three of us woke early and walked to a nearby Dunkin Donuts for coffee and conversation. What a blessing to wake up refreshed and with a clear head to be able to do that. Then I made breakfast for everyone and the majority of the day was spent at the beach. We went to a well known restaurant for dinner and then a night club.  I WAS SOBER IN A NIGHT CLUB.  This is unheard of for me. The unbelievable (for me) thing was, I was stone cold sober and yet I laughed and danced and sang along with the music and enjoyed every second.

Sunday morning I made breakfast again for the group and then we spent part of the day at the beach. I was burnt by this point and decided to go back to the house alone.  On my walk back, I stopped at the Dunkin Donuts and treated myself to an iced coffee. I read a book this day and we went to dinner again and then took a short trip to the boardwalk.  By evening, I was ready to head home the next day as I really missed my babies.

My amazing sober buddy checked in with me daily while I was away. I took deep breaths. I stayed in the present. I intentionally looked for the blessings that my sobriety brought:  early mornings with NO hangovers, feeling present, being able to make breakfast for my friends, knowing that I and the people I love were safe because I was the DD, fully enjoying the sunshine without the haze of alcohol, no shame or guilt, and I remember everything. EVERYTHING.

There were so many moments on this trip that I wanted to fall to my knees and thank God and the Universe for this chance to change my life. I’m choking up now just thinking of this. Nearly 6 months ago when things fell apart for the final time while I was drinking, I didn’t think life could be like this. I was so miserable and lost. When I decided on December 18 that I just could not have another drink and survive, I thought I was walking from one miserable life right into another miserable life but in that moment, in my mind, anything would have been better than continuing to drink.  At that time, sobriety meant no fun, no friends, isolation, anger and sadness. I was so focused on what I was having to give up that I couldn’t see what I might gain.

It is by the grace of God that I pushed through all of that and kept going. And there are no words to describe how grateful I am that I’ve made it to this point. Now I can see that what I gave up was not fun and friends. I gave up being controlled by alcohol, I gave up shame and guilt, I gave up self-destructive choices, I gave up completely ruining my children’s childhoods, I gave up running from all of my problems. I gave up faking who I was and what I wanted from my life.

I gained the ability to feel everything, good and bad, an appreciation for the here and now, and the chance to strengthen and deepen relationships that truly matter. I gained an appreciation for how strong I truly am.  I gained a sense of self that I had no idea was available to me. I gained the knowledge of beginning to figure out who the authentic me is and what she wants from this life. Sobriety has brought me to a place of self-love that I never knew existed.

I read stories from others who are on their own recovery journey and before when I would read things like, “sobriety is such a gift,” I had no real understanding of what that meant. But now, today, I do. I get it, I really get it. Even on the bad days, sobriety is so much better than where I used to be.

So if you’re reading this and you’re not quite there yet, have faith that it can happen for you too. You are not alone. So many of us have been there but you are strong and you are worth it. You will not regret giving yourself this beautiful gift.

Life is so much sweeter, sober.

beach2

Holidays · Mental Illness · Self-Care

My First Sober Vacation

beach

Guess who is going on her first sober vacation tomorrow? THIS GIRL!

Four other lovely ladies and myself will be heading to the beach a few hours away for a 3 day get away and I’m super excited. Let me be clear though – it wasn’t always this way.

When we first began to plan the trip a few months ago, I was very early into my recovery. The thought of going to the beach with some friends and NOT drinking gave me major anxiety. Apparently, the thought of going to the beach and my drinking gave some other people anxiety too.  Another friend decided not to join us thinking it would be a crazy, wild weekend courtesy of yours truly and she didn’t want any part of that because she had witnessed it enough times before to know that it was not fun. Truthfully, I don’t blame her. It’s embarrassing for me to know that my drinking is the reason she passed on a fun weekend away but I get it.  When I first learned of this (because she gave me a different excuse but then told others her real reason for staying back – me) I felt awful. I was humiliated and filled with shame, guilt and anxiety for around 2 weeks. I had to sit with that and own it. I’m not proud of who I was, but I know who I am now and I am incredibly proud of that woman.  Also, when we were planning this trip, not everyone knew that I had stopped drinking at that time and those who did didn’t think I was that serious about it. They were wrong.

As time has passed and I approach the 6 month sobriety mark, everyone who is attending the trip knows that I am sober and very serious about my recovery. Everyone is okay with that of course and frankly, I don’t think they really care as they all have their own problems and issues to worry about.  Funny how that works isn’t it?

Now I’ve gone from being anxious about not drinking to being anxious about being away from my kids for 3 and a half days because I’ve never been away from them for that long. And because I’m just an anxious person in general, so if I stop having anxiety about one thing, I just seem to find another to latch on to!

I know better than to get complacent though. That’s when, for me, I know a relapse could happen. I still remember how horrific it felt to wake up filled with shame and guilt and panic over not remembering what I said or did the night before.  The humiliation of having someone fill in the gaps for me, often angrily or disappointed. I remember how much I hated myself…how self-destructive I had become and how little I cared. I never, ever want to go back to that. So for today at least, I choose not to pick up a drink.

I also have been proactive in how I’m going to handle things on this vacation. I know the girls won’t pressure me to drink because they now understand how serious I am about my sobriety. I’ve already told them that if I feel anxious or don’t feel comfortable going somewhere with them, I’ll just stay back at the beach house.  I think it’s really important that I advocate for myself so I did. I’m bringing several books for the beach and for anytime I may stay at the house and need something to do. I plan on practicing yoga and meditating while away and I’ve made sure to pack my headphones so I can check in with my favorite sobriety podcast, Home. Of course I also know I can always check in here and read sobriety blogs or write if I need to. I also can check in with my wonderful sober friend who helps keep me in check at times if things get difficult.  I feel secure in utilizing these tools so that I never have to feel so hopeless again.

Just writing this out now, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for this beautiful gift of sobriety. Even in the midst of a divorce and still figuring out who I am as a sober person and working through all of the issues that led me to my addiction, I get to wake up sober and I am in awe of how blessed that makes me because I know the dark side of alcohol abuse. The old me would be looking forward to beginning my drinking at 10 am on the beach during this vacation and continuing until I blacked out each night and made a fool of myself.  This new me, the authentic me, is excited to read on the beach, truly feel the sunshine and sand beneath my toes and sneak out to the beach in the early morning to meditate and practice yoga. I only appreciate these small pleasures now because I understand what a life filled with pain is like.

Life is so much sweeter, sober.

Relationships · Self-Care

Update, Update, Read All About It!

thanks

Just in case no one has told you lately, ya’ll are the best readers a girl could have. Seriously. The support I’ve received from all of you has been wonderful. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I got to see my therapist a few days ago and that was so helpful.  As I sat in her office crying and asking why I’m just not enough for anyone, she simply asked, “Well, are you enough for you?” That really made me stop and consider what’s truly important right now.  I certainly feel more enough for myself today than I did 169 days ago.  Some days I feel like I am and some days I feel like I’m not.  What I know for sure is that I want those days that I do feel like I’m enough for me to be more consistent than they are now. So I stay sober and keep working on myself.

At the end of my session I asked my therapist if all of this is normal and am I grieving correctly? My fear is that I’m not processing everything in the right way and will end up making a mess of my life again like I did when I failed to grief my father’s death. She assured me that I’m doing okay and I’m much more self-aware than many people in this situation which made me feel less anxious.

My ex is having a minor health issue but it’s got him pretty worried and I don’t know if it’s that or what but he seemed to have called a truce and we’ve gotten along well the past few days.  Today we had an unexpected conversation concerning our marriage.  It was rational and emotional in that we were both able to admit we just aren’t happy together and in the end we want each other to be happy because that’s what’s best for our kids.  It was nice to feel like we are on the same page again.

So with that being said, I started the divorce process today.  He was going to file the papers, but after meeting with a lawyer last week he stalled. I wasn’t sure why until he filled me in today on some disheartening things the lawyer said.  When my ex walked in and introduced himself, the lawyer introduced himself and informed my ex that his job was to split up families.  This did not sit well with my ex because the one things we have agreed on through this whole situation is that whether we like it or not, the four of us will always be a family and we will do whatever we need to as parents to make sure our kids experience the least amount of stress over our divorce. There were some other things the lawyer said that aren’t in line with the kind of divorce we want to have so my ex said he just couldn’t do it using that particular attorney.  I am so grateful for his judgement on that.  So I took the reins today to get the ball rolling. It will probably be 5-6 months before everything is finalized just with state laws and such but it will end up being an amicable divorce that is on our terms and that is what is important.

As always, I’m continuing to work on my recovery.  It’s even more important for me to do so during difficult times.  I joined a gym and I signed up for a month of personal training sessions to kick start my journey. You see, I recently went to the doctor and when I was weighed, I saw that I had gained 10 pounds since I stopped drinking in December. This is a major red flag for me because I was also a food addict.

When I underwent gastric bypass surgery 10 years ago, I was 24 years old and tipped the scale at 285 pounds. This surgery truly saved my life. I didn’t admit it at the time or even a few years after, but I was a food addict. This addiction clearly transferred to alcohol when the perfect shit storm occurred to pull everything together to throw me right into my addiction to alcohol.  So when I saw that I had gained 10 pounds, I knew I needed to take action now or else my alcohol addiction could end up going right back to being a food addiction. I’ve worked too fucking hard battling both to end up with either one ever again.

I’m being proactive with the gym membership. I’ve been working on my mental/emotional health the past 169 days but I’ve not really focused at all on my physical health.  That’s okay with me because I know myself and I know that had I tried to take it all on at once from day 1, I would surely have relapsed by now.  But now I’m going to the gym at least 4 times a week at the recommendation of my trainer, doing the workouts he recommended and meeting with him one of those 4 times each week. He kicks my ass but I feel alive afterwards and I know that caring for myself physically will also help my mental/emotional wellness.

I’ve had two sessions so far and while I typically hate working out, especially in front of people who are waaaaaay more physically fit than me, I remind myself of all I have survived so far. I can survive 30 minutes of torture (haha) in order to take care of my physical health. My goal is to eventually lose 43 pounds and get toned up but just like my sobriety, I am taking it one day at a time.

Grief · Relationships

It All Falls Down

heartbreak

So remember how I was all about acceptance about a week ago?

Turns out I’m human. And I’ve kinda been a bitch this past week because I’m human and I’m in pain.

This whole divorce reinforces the unfortunate belief I hold about myself that I’m just not enough for anyone. In some of my less finer moments this week, I begged my ex for an answer to this question. Why wasn’t I enough? He refused to answer because in his words, after 5 counseling sessions, he’s already picked up his pieces and moved forward.

This of course sent me spiraling into feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, hurt and anger. How is this so easy for him? How does he walk away from a 10 year relationship and in a matter of months find it so easy not to speak to the person he spoke to every day for 10 years and went through so much with? How is it so easy for him to stop caring? The only answer I’ve come up with is one that stings – he stopped loving me long ago.

Here is the difficult thing for me to explain and even understand. While the past few years have been less than happy, much of it my own fault I admit, and I knew long ago that things between us were over, I truly still loved him. Even now, I do.

My reasons for loving him are convoluted at the moment. Right now, as I wallow in my feelings of worthlessness, I tell myself that I love him because he is the only one who gets me and I love him for who I made him out to be in my mind.  I love him because he is safe and comfortable. I love him because I need to be loved back and I don’t want to be alone. And that right there says so much more than what I actually wrote, doesn’t it?

My mind tells me daily, these feelings are only temporary, hold on. My mind reminds me that I truly have been more content on my own the past few months. But my heart is broken and screaming, “YOU WERE NOT ENOUGH! YOU ARE NEVER ENOUGH!”

I’m not so sure how to silence this screaming. If I’m honest, it’s a message I’ve told myself since I was very young so I know I can’t quiet it in a day or two. I’m taking life one day at a time, mostly even just one hour at a time. I’m trying to be gentle with myself and give myself time and space to grieve. I’m not typically a woman who cries over much but I actually bawled for two hours straight on Saturday. While in those 2 hours I felt so awful and alone, I just let it happen. At one point when I thought I might die from the emotional pain, I reached out and texted a friend who I haven’t talked with in awhile but who I trust and let some of it out to her.  In the evening I realized that while I didn’t feel amazing, I certainly felt better after that release.

I’m trying to practice self-care and let myself feel and reach out for help when I need it and I really don’t even feel like drinking so I’m still sober but sometimes it all just fucking hurts and frankly, I don’t know how to balance the pain and the healing. Clearly I never learned any healthy coping mechanisms before I got sober. Now here I am trying figure out how to cope with the day to day shit as well as the big life shit and I don’t know if I’m doing things in a “normal” healthy way or if I’m making things worse for myself and my kids. How do people know these things? How do you know if you’re hurting the way you’re supposed to hurt and healing the way you’re supposed to heal? I don’t know and not knowing is terrible.

Self-Talk

Acceptance

I was partaking in some retail therapy this past weekend and lo and behold as I rounded a corner in the department store to check out the racks of sunglasses, I saw this lovely note tucked away:

lovethislife

Someone clearly intentionally put this reminder out to be found. I was the one who needed to find it.

My emotions have been all over the place recently (as if you couldn’t tell, haha!). Obviously I’m working out my grief over the loss of my father 3 years ago, but for whatever reason, my soul chose this past weekend to start grieving the end of my marriage.

Let me be clear – I do not want to continue in this marriage. It has run it’s course. While everyone always has the same question, “What happened?” anyone who has ever had a long term relationship end knows that there’s just not a simple answer to that question.

For the past several years I’ve felt nothing for the most part. The anger and resentment would rise and I would stifle it back down (with booze – SURPRISE!).  I didn’t feel heard or appreciated but I sure did feel lonely.

This weekend, maybe due to the flood gates already being opened by grief, I started to feel it all. There was so much pain coming from every direction it felt like.

Then I saw this sweet reminder in the middle of a department store.

I won’t lie, I didn’t turn my life around suddenly and decide to be happy right then and there. That’s not fair to my soul.  That quote from The Fault in Our Stars says it all…”That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.” So I spent the rest of the weekend and some of today feeling it.

Then this evening I was thinking about how miserable I was making myself. I scrolled through my photos and saw this, remembering how I found it.  That’s when it clicked.

It’s okay for me to not be okay concerning the end of my marriage right now. This is uncharted territory for me and the future is unknown.  There are so many questions racing through my mind constantly about what will be.

But I’m here now. I have two beautiful children, a job that I love, a few good friends and I’ve given myself the best gift ever – my sobriety. How could I not “love this life?”

So tonight I put on my big girl panties and I sent my ex an e-mail apologizing for some hurtful things I said over the weekend to him.  Things are not all rosy now between us just because I sent that e-mail but that’s okay. I know I did the right thing and that’s what matters. I know I will try harder to be the best person I can be, even in my dealings with a difficult situation such as divorce.

I have to accept my life as it is now. I have to accept the choices that led me here and how I choose to react to it all. Acceptance is something I know I need to work towards and I’d prefer to get there with some grace and dignity this time around. I’d prefer to get there with a positive attitude.

So that’s what I choose. I choose to own my life and work towards accepting and loving it just as it is because I only get one.

Grief · Uncategorized

No Title Will Do This Justice

image1
Thanks for that reminder, Starbucks.

He died 3 years ago.

Grief is a funny thing and not so much in the haha funny sort of way but more so the oh, isn’t that just so ironic and sad sort of way.

3 years and 4 months ago my life started to spiral out of control, but of course I didn’t know that then. It’s unfortunate that we can’t quite piece together everything until much later when we look back, but it is what it is.

This is when my drinking started to become less fun and more coping mechanism. Each newly discovered tumor, each new doctor’s appointment with more bad news, each day watching him shrink and lose more energy and life became another reason to drink just one more.

My grandparents died before I was born. I had never really experienced a major loss in my life.  But there I was, 31 years old with two young babies, a full-time job and the weight of the world on my shoulders as I watched my father die a little each day.

There are many types of men in this world. My father was an independent spirit, far from perfect as he battled his own alcoholic demons long ago, but nevertheless, a good man. He prided himself on his ability to take care of and provide for himself and his family after growing up with his own alcoholic, dirt poor parents who divorced during a time when divorce was frowned upon.

Yet here he was, at first angry and frustrated as daily he lost his ability to take care of himself let alone anyone else. He died with a grace and acceptance that I can only dream of having when my time comes, but watching the man who picked you up with you fell and tried to give you the world he was never given need his diaper changed and his mouth swabbed with a wet sponge for comfort could break a person.  It surely broke me.

Imbibing a beer or three each night as I returned home from helping my mom and family care for him seemed a small price to pay at the time.  Relief came in the way my muscles relaxed and senses dulled as the alcohol worked it’s magic the way it’s known to do. My mind stopped racing with the “What if’s” and “when he dies” and anxiety over the unknown for just that short time as I drank my feelings away.

This became more of a habit as the end approached. It was easier to drink and forget than feel.  The problem was, I would remember in the morning.

Then one morning, he didn’t wake up.  I thanked God because by this time he was simply a skeleton in that hospital bed in the living room who no long spoke or laughed or hugged me.

So I drank. I didn’t know how else to handle feelings of that magnitude.  Ignoring them and numbing them with alcohol when they became too much to ignore (which was nearly always) was easier and hurt less than acknowledging them and sitting in them. Until it didn’t.

2 and a half years I spent in a fog.  The first few months I didn’t think too much of the drinking, but by the first anniversary of his death, I knew I was getting in too deep. That didn’t stop me though.  Nothing could convince me that truly feeling his absence was worth it. So I kept drinking.

I wasn’t drinking before or during work.  I was high-functioning.  From the outside I’m sure it looked as though I’d dealt with my loss fairly quickly and without much destruction. In fact, someone recently told me just that – “You always seemed so okay.” I was anything but okay but I wouldn’t risk my job so I supplemented my avoidance with men. If I could distract myself with alcohol and male attention, I didn’t have to deal with my truth.

The next year passed and I knew I’d crossed a point of no return.  My brokenness was manifesting itself in every way possible so that others would begin to notice except for the one person who needed to – me. By the end of this year, blacking out was becoming a normal part of my drinking sessions. Drink until you can’t remember. Drink until you can’t feel.

I had attempted the typical relief tactics by this point – moderation, short bouts of sobriety, therapy with a counselor who spent more time judging me than listening to me. Nothing helped. On top of the grief I never dealt with I was filled with shame, guilt and humiliation on a daily basis. So I kept drinking so I could numb it all. It was too much.

Relationships with friends and relatives had been destroyed.  My marriage, while in jeopardy long before this period of my life, was so clearly over. While drunk I lashed out at anyone who was within 50 feet of me. If I had to hurt, I wanted everyone to hurt.

pain
From Pema Chodron’s “Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings”

When the second anniversary of his death rolled around, I knew something had to give and soon. I laid low through the summer but by fall I was back at it.  I was tired of blacking out and feeling like shit all the time so I started having longer periods of sobriety and I found a therapist I actually connected with, one who gets me. I found other ways to avoid my feelings but in the end, for one reason or another, I would end up back with the booze.

On December 17, 2016 I blacked out for the final time. My recovery journey began on December 18.  I could no longer deny or ignore the fact that my life had become unmanageable.

So here I am. Sober for the 153rd day, on the third anniversary of his death and for the first time, finally feeling this grief. Oh, how it hurts. It’s a pain I would wish upon no one, not even an enemy. I understand now though. This pain is so deep, so raw, that I understand why I drank and chased attention to avoid feeling it.  Because it hurts like no other pain I’ve ever experienced. I see now that I did the best I could at that time and for today at least, I forgive myself, because I get it now. I get how much it hurts.

 My heart is broken in a way that it’s never been broken before.  There is an emptiness that I suspect will never fully be filled but that I must somehow learn to accept and live with.  So I take this life, this grief, one day at a time. I pause and breathe and read and write and practice yoga and ask for what I need because I don’t ever want to go back.  For as much as this pain is breaking me, it’s not destroying me the way alcohol did.

I miss you Dad.

Mental Illness · Self-Care

I Sing Alone

canaries

Glennon Doyle Melton has this beautiful analogy comparing the mentally ill/addicts to canaries.  She explains it much more eloquently than I can, but the short version is as follows: Long ago, canaries were taken into mines because of their sensitivities to toxins in the air.  If they stopped singing, their carriers knew they needed to turn back because it would be dangerous to go on.  Addicts and those who live with mental illness are the canaries who are extremely sensitive, more so than others, to all of the world’s bullshit.

I feel very much like a canary today. My emotions are running high and I am picking up on all the other vibes from people around me. My morning started well but then I walked into a room that was clearly filled with tension and negativity.  Anxiety took over my body and mind almost immediately. I could not focus on anything except how awful I was feeling being in this environment. I wanted nothing more than to flee.

I looked around and I could see that most of the people in the room were oblivious to what was happening.  There were two however who were clearly the ones I was picking up the vibes from.  Scowls covered their faces, eyes were rolling and whispers about what a waste of time this was were rampant. My jaw clenched, my stomach did flips and I just felt so WRONG. I didn’t feel like the me I’ve started to get used to – calm, cautious, careful but doing my best to stay positive. I was being consumed by negativity.

I survived this experience but holy shit, was it ever hard. I left feeling angry and hurt that I’d let other people’s negative words and actions affect my attitude for the day. I was barely holding back from letting loose and giving the two people who were just downright RUDE a piece of my mind until finally I was able to leave.  I literally BOLTED out of the room and on to my next meeting.  Other people started texting me and asking where I was and I was in no position to be around others because I knew I would bring everyone else down. So I spent the afternoon working alone because I needed that time to refocus my energy and bring myself back to a place of positivity and peace.

The great news is – it worked. I just needed that time and space to refocus myself.  The strange news is – some people got worried because I “isolated” myself and asked to be alone for awhile. It’s so weird how the world works sometimes. I was just so proud of myself for recognizing how angry and terrible I was feeling and coping by walking away and taking some time to myself to calm down instead of wallowing in it and letting it grow into something bigger. I was proud that I even asked for what I needed and took care of myself.

This is the thing though – people who are not canaries do not understand. Besides the fact that my moods seem to be easily affected by other people’s moods, I feel things so, terribly deeply.  It’s literally indescribable.  This is the sensitivity of the canary.

Perhaps someone who is not a canary would not have been as affected as me by the few negative people in the room this morning, so they didn’t get it.  For me though, I stopped singing.  I was entering dangerous territory and it HURT. I wanted to run, escape, make it STOP because when I feel, I feel SO MUCH that sometimes it feels like I might break.

This is both a curse and a blessing as I’m sure many of those who read my blog will certainly understand.  The positive feelings are amplified just as much as the negative.  When I love, I love with every part of my being.  My joy and gratitude and contentment run just as deeply as my shame and guilt and anger.

I am a canary in this world and some days, like today, I sing alone.

sensitive

Self-Talk

True Things

WhatIKnow
Glennon’s list from Love Warrior.

I recently read Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton and it was a wonderful read. I took away so much from it.  I took a photo (see above) of one page in particular that really resonated with me, one that displays a list of 5 things Glennon wrote that she knows for sure. It’s a beautiful list that I’ve read and reread multiple times since I finished her book to help keep me grounded.

There have been several things that have thrown me off balance over the past few weeks.  Nothing life shattering but enough at once that from time to time I feel shaken.  I think it’s important to have a set of beliefs that you can cling to in these times.  Right now, as I figure out myself and my own beliefs as a sober woman, I’m borrowing Glennon’s list to find my balance again until I am ready to make my own.

The one thing I would add to her list, the one thing I do know for sure to be a true thing at this point is this:

6.  You will survive. You may not want to, but you will and that will be enough.

We may not end up where we wanted to be, but we will always end up where we need to be.

Stigma

Sitting in the Discomfort

found

Life is hard.

My hard might not be the same as your hard but it’s hard. Today several things came together as sort of a perfect storm and I almost drank.

Thankfully during the past 139 days the urge to drink has been few and far between for me and never too strong.  Until today.

However, let me repeat myself. I almost drank. I almost drank.  But I DIDN’T.

I sat feeling all these emotions and I was tired and hungry and my mind was racing and I knew I was not in a good place. So I did the only thing I could think of that might possibly save me (and it did) – I texted a sober friend and word vomited the craziness bouncing around in my head.

I don’t actually know this friend “in real life” – we met through an online community of women in recovery. But holy shit, has she been the best friend and mentor a girl like me in recovery could ask for. I believe with all my heart the universe purposefully led our paths to cross and I will be forever grateful.

She talked me off the ledge and reminded me that while the first 30 minutes might feel nice, it wouldn’t stop at 30 minutes.  She is a big reason I will wake to see 140 days of sobriety tomorrow.

I have a great online community of people in recovery who get it.  People who understand, who love me without judging me and see the good in me – they know I’m more than my addiction or poor choices in the past.

I am angry that the “real world,” including “real” people in my life do not. To be honest, there are people who know I’m sober now without knowing much about why or what happened to lead me here and overall they’ve been great about it.  However, for a variety of reasons, I can’t truly be out and honest about my recovery with people who know me in real life.

This sucks on so many levels.

The one that really gets me though is that I can’t be who I am. I am proud of my recovery and I am learning to own my journey and know that I am truly a good person who has made some mistakes.  I am a survivor, a fighter.  Unfortunately, the world is filled with people who would only see me as my addiction if I were to live my life as authentically as possible.  With two young children to protect, I cannot risk it.

So for now, I am being authentic where I am safe. I dream of a day when we can all just be who we truly are without fear of consequences. When we can make mistakes and still be considered good, capable human beings.  When we can mess up and still love each other through it.

No matter who you are or where you are in your journey, I hope you know that there will always be one person who believes in you and your goodness and that is me. I know you’ve been through some shit but you’re still standing and fighting and you’re here. I am proud of you and I love you.  In case no one has told you that, you need to hear it and I want to be the one to tell you. The world may be full of people who don’t get it but look for us, the ones who do get it – we are waiting for you.  You are safe here.

And thank you to all of you who have kept me safe on this journey.