Serenity

The way things work out in life are perplexing sometimes. I have carried so much hurt and rage for so long that it was just part of who I was. It took so much energy to hate; to maintain self-justified rage at the wrongs committed against me. Anyone who knows me, knows what I have gone through and that it was not all sunshine and rainbows. My rage and hurt came, perhaps, fully justified, but holding on to it was only hurting myself.

Recently, I keep hearing people talk about the difference between acceptance and approval; that accepting something, good, bad, or otherwise, does not mean I that approve of it. I will never say that the abuse I endured was okay, but I can accept that it happened, perhaps have a little perspective on it, be grateful for the lessons it taught me, and move on with my life. Doing this is easier said than done, but it enables me to take back my power.

For so long, I was powerless in the face of this adversary. I had to rely on the people I love to carry me through it, and at times, I faltered. I tripped, fell, failed, and let people, including myself, down. But today, today I get to walk with a new freedom. I have my power back. I am growing in recovery with my partner and my life has become manageable again. It really is amazing what happens when I get out of the way. When I have my priorities straight, life gets better; everything is easier.

I know that everything can change in an instant, but I am trying to live without the fear of the other shoe dropping. I am trying to live in gratitude and open-mindedness. I want to continue to grow as a person, partner, and mother. I will try to become more solid in my peace and happiness. I will live this amazing, complicated, messy and wonderful life in an ever growing appreciation of sobriety.

Perhaps tomorrow I will not feel so positive. I may be tired and impatient. I may be annoyed or just “hangry.” Whatever the case is, I know I how to get back to this place of serenity… no matter how far away from it I may go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up-side-right

It’s strange to be living this life right now without rage, anxiety, and fear. It’s not bad in it’s strangeness, but it is very unfamiliar to me. In the center of seemingly insurmountable economic destruction, I am calm and grateful not to be my “normal” self right now.

Still, it feels like I’m living in a different universe. Bizarro-Becca casually strolling, almost dancing through a minefield. Normally, I’d be crippled; crawling forward trembling, if moving at all. Instead, I shuffle and twirl sleepily, care free along an invisible path. I have no idea where I’m going, and I am fully aware it isn’t me navigating the mine field.

When did I shove my PTSD and anxiety in a trash bag and drop it in the garbage?And what the hell is it with all this being able to communicate civilly with my soon to be ex husband? Somehow those feeling are just gone; completely evaporated. How the hell did all this happen?

This isn’t me… is it? Internally, I have always been like a rag doll, torn to shreds by the ebb and flow of life on my terms. Now, I am able to separate me for everything else. It’s some crazy Matrix style stop the bullets incomprehensible power. It’s like being inside of a dream where I’m in this bubble. Cars could be exploding a flipping over my head, but I know I’m fine so I don’t even flinch. But how?

The only way this could be possible is if I have ceased fighting everything, asked for help, and learned to accept things for the way they are; Life on Life’s terms. I have a wonderful, supportive partner that I cannot imagine my life without, but until recently I was still very irritable, restless, and discontented in my life. So is the luck of any alcoholic in the throws of their torment. Being able to embark on this journey of recovery together with my partner has been completely transformative. I feel like the luckiest person alive, and I just don’t recognize myself anymore. Really, I’m amazed.

I am not trying to brag, and I certainly have bad days still. Usually, it’s because I’m trying to live life on my terms again, or because I am assuming (feeling entitled to) something of some person, place or thing. My terminal uniqueness comes back, and I start thinking “if you only knew how I felt…” or “don’t you know how rough I’ve had it today?” I heard some really great advice at a meeting last night. Well, two things.

The first, not from the speaker, but rather a share from a fellow, was that “[i]t doesn’t matter how you feel. Emotions aren’t facts. The world is unaffected by how you feel. Rather it is affected by what you do. So what are the facts, and what are you doing about them? I love this sentiment. It sounds so very harsh, but it’s true. As an alcoholic, I make my world, my days, and my entire existence miserable stewing in the steaming pot of shit that is my negative emotions, feeling and thoughts. I make myself miserable, and I’m very, VERY good at it. I have been since 8th grade. Granted, things like mental illness, depression for example, can help contribute to this negative emotion black hole. In this case, unless I treat the depression AND the alcoholism, I don’t feel any better. Steady on the right medication, it so much easier to get out of my old habits of thinking so negatively and just doing the things I should be doing.

The second thing that I heard last night that really resonated with me came from the speaker. He was an old timer who started one of the meetings I went to and frequently goes to correctional facilities to talk. His talk was about service, and he concluded his talk with (paraphrasing) “The main thing I want you get out of this tonight, is that your life isn’t about you, and if you can get that, you’re on the right path.” I love it. As a self-centered alcoholic, this is completely counterintuitive. Hell, as a human being growing up in middle-class America, this seems backwards. But it is right. So very right. I get so much more out of making my son smile, helping someone that can’t help themselves, or even by just not contributing to the negative behavior/emotions of a situation. It’s hard to explain, and even harder to understand. You’ll just have to trust me and go try it out.

So, we’re back to action.  Go do something for someone else. Get out of your head and closer to happiness. What could it hurt?

Freedom

Grabbing a bottle to drown my sorrows is easy. Drinking to fuel the self destructive fire in my heart is effortless. Watching everything crumble around me is surreal yet common place. Living, feeling, and growing; that is hard.

Yet, change seems to happen easily when I am immersed in the program and fellowship of AA. Not being my first time around the rooms, I have the advantage of knowing that it works and have no trust barrier to get over or prejudices to climb free of. I didn’t even know it happened, but I found my strength again. Fear has left me, and I no longer feel like I’m being battered in the throws of life’s current. I’m at peace, sitting in a boat, letting life take me where it will.

I no longer fear my former abuser, and I have no fucking clue how that happened. Going from vomiting when I heard his voice, to being able to carry on a civil conversation about our son face to face in the matter of a month… it’s nothing short of amazing. Relief from that fear and trauma is like setting down a sack of bricks I was dragging around. No, I have not forgotten. No, what happened will never be “okay,” but I don’t have to continue to be at the mercy of that emotional torment. It no longer gets to weigh me down.

I could say I guess “[t]ime heals all things,” but it’s not just time. I have held on to grudges a clung to self righteous indignation for far longer in the past. This is time, growth, and trust in something greater that myself. I am truly amazed and grateful for the relief, freedom, and happiness I get to enjoy today.

Between Life

As a human being, I still feel like a child some days. I can feel like the insecure teenager I was in high school, or the curious and slightly less insecure college student, or the pretending to be an adult “grown up.” As parent, I feel different and much more educated.

I can still remember my two best friends from HS coming to visit in the hospital after I had my son. Paraphrasing one friend, she said “[dude, can you believe you like, made a person!?]” I just smiled and laughed, but my head wasn’t wrapped around the reality of the situation yet either.

One of the most terrifying moments of my life was coming home from the hospital with that little “nugget,” as my friend would call him. I managed to get him in to the bassinet/rocker thing that he practically lived out of the first two months. My husband went out for something (probably a pack of smokes), and I passed out on the couch rocking the tiny human to sleep. I remember thinking I have no fuckng clue what I’m doing here, as I drifted off. He returned about 20 minutes later, and I don’t know why I remember this, but he said the one kind thing I can remember him saying for years before and  after that. He said, “[y]ou’re a good mom,” and he was sincere. I still didn’t have much experience in keeping that defenseless little thing alive, but I felt a whole lot better. I thought, as long as I do my best for him, everything will work out.

About a week later, I broke down in a sobbing lunacy, because I thought I was never going to sleep again. My son never slept well nor through the night until he was at least a year and a half old. It was during this sleep deprived nightmare that I found out I was an alcoholic, and with the turmoil at home (5 hour fight-a-thons), I’m not sure how I survived those first couple years. Yet here we are, and I feel all the wiser for it.  As a mom, I feel like my real age. In regards to anything else in life, this is usually not the case.

I can remember my heart beating over middle school crushes like it was yesterday. Not so long ago I snuck out every night to hang out with my friends. Only a handful of years ago I was thriving in academic glory in college. I’m certain I just got married recently, but somehow I have a 3 and a half year old and am over a year into divorce. When the hell did all this happen?

Now I’m in this weird in between space. I have a not so new partner, but we are evolving and recovering anew in sobriety. I have a young child who is dealing with grown up situations. I have a stable job that I am ready at any moment to leap from to a more enticing opportunity or more fulfilling career path. I have had a home for six and a half years, filled with both horrible and wonderful memories, that I will soon have to leave. My days with this last name are numbered, and I have so much uncertainty about the future that I’d be terrified if it weren’t for the amazing program known (or not) as AA. It is the one constant in my life that will always be there, and as long as I lean on it, I know I will be ok.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eventually Gone

My parent’s got divorced when I was eight years old, and I was glad they did. My dad was rarely home, and when he was, there was always fighting or tension so strong you could feel the weight in the air. My father had wanted a divorce for years. He told me once he stayed married 9 years longer than he should have. Ouch.

The final straw for my mother was one night of drunken chaos. They had been fighting for hours. My mother came up from the basement, where he had built his workshop, and she was crying and covered in sawdust. She didn’t say anything, but it was obvious he had pushed her down. She finally convinced him to leave the house and locked the door behind him. He must have changed his mind and came pounding on the door to be let back in. She called the cops, but they didn’t arrive until after he had charged shoulder first through the glass side panel next to the front door. I was standing on the stairs right in his path. I was frozen staring at this craziness. Thankfully breaking through glass isn’t exactly a smooth process like it’s portrayed in the movies. I didn’t know who that person charging at the window was, but I will never forget him. So, the divorce was welcomed relief for us all.

I wasn’t, however, happy when my Dad decided to move to Iowa. It felt like abandonment, and it was. He took me out a couple times before he left. We played mini golf or went bowling, but he always seems tense and distracted.  I didn’t know he was Bipolar at the time or that he was an alcoholic. My mother waited until I was older to tell me. At the time, all that I knew was she hated when he drank, and that he had left me to go start a life somewhere else.

My father did return to the Chicago suburbs briefly when I was ten-ish. Not for me, but for his good friend’s daughter. She was ten years younger than him, but that seemed to just be my father’s taste in women as my mom is nine years younger. He lived with her for about a year, not too far from where I lived with my mom.

During this time my dad got re-married, and so did his new wife’s brother; my ex-step-uncle. I had known him for a long time as my father’s friend while my parent’s were still married. He was the first person to put an electric guitar in my lap, but it was way to big and heavy for me to find any enjoyment in it. I got to video tape his wedding, and I remember very clearly sprinkling salt into my dad’s wine when he wasn’t looking so he would stop drinking it. It didn’t matter as it was an open bar, but I thought is was funny and might ease my mom’s worries, as she had been invited as well. Somehow my mother and I became my wasted father’s early ride home. I vividly remember how he opened the back door, swaying dangerously outside the car hollering “Aunt Clarice!” He then proceeded to pass out. Thankfully we were still in the parking lot, but my mother was visibly upset.

As far as his second wife goes, it was her 5th marriage, #2 for my Dad, and they seemed happy. At least they didn’t fight. Though, she never seemed at ease around me. I felt like an unwelcome invader at her house despite loving it there. They cooked and drank a lot, listened to good music, and I got to watch movies and play video games.

Then he convinced her to move back out to Iowa with him. My father is a very charismatic person at times, and could probably convince someone they didn’t really need both of their arms. They moved out to Perry, IA. Of course I was sad, and I don’t think they lasted 6 months out there.

He dropped of the face of the planet for months in a deep depression, until he found his girlfriend in Fort Dodge that summer. He would never get married again (false) he said, but brought me along to her house when he would visit. She had a daughter my age. We became instant best friends. We’d go see Titanic, too many times, or rent Romeo & Juliet so we could fawn of Leonardo DeCaprio. We went to the “mall” in Fort Dodge, ran around in lightening laden thunder storms, bought candy and Mountain Dew that we ate/drank until we got sick, and got quite the kick out of pretending to smoke our chocolate cigarettes in the bar in Perry when they would come down to visit.

It was a fun time; highly unsupervised. Our parents were always out somewhere and always came back in way too good of a mood. I didn’t know why nor did I care. I was having too much fun.

One particularly hot summer day up in Fort Dodge, I was playing the role of water girl; bringing my dad glasses of ice water as he dug up a giant pine tree out back. I was bored to tears, because my friend was spending time with her dad. I remember handing my Dad yet another glass of ice water and mustering up the courage to ask him if he still believed in God. I was in private school at the time, and the state of his soul concerned me. He thought about it briefly and simply replied “Yes.” That was enough to quell my worries of his afterlife. We went back to Perry later that day. Shortly after, I went home to Illinois to start public school for the first time. I’d never see my Fort Dodge best friend again.

I had another friend before that. She looked like my sister, blond hair, blue eyes and skinny as a stick. I would only get to see her on summers when her mom would ship her off to live with her dad, our neighbor. Her dad was a narcissistic, German, Kiss fan to the extreme who was ALWAYS sipping on a beer. He tanned and smoked too much and was a chronic bachelor. There wasn’t much supervision going on over there either. I only visited a handful of times. She would usually come to my house. But the one time I had been over there, her dad felt the need to let me know that some day I would like the taste of beer because I was 100% German like they were. I thought that was a ridiculous thought. I had tried a sip on my dad’s non-alcoholic beer and hated it. “I’ll never like beer,” I defiantly declared. He just rolled his eyes and said “[y]ou’ll see.” I shrugged him off. I wasn’t even going to have alcohol at my wedding (false). It was my wedding after all, and us Seventh-Day Adventists didn’t drink.

One of the last times I saw her was after the divorce and after we had moved to a more affordable condo. She showed up beyond freaked out, because her dad was drunk and fighting with his girlfriend. I think she got shipped back to live with her mom in Washington state. I never saw her again either.

Everyone, it seemed, left eventually, and my earliest memories of alcohol affecting me and people around me were primarily negative. I lost my best friend in high school for a while, because she had started drinking. I was appalled. Then life happened, and I found myself in her basement sipping on my first drinks. We are still friends today, but we rarely see each other.

So what’s the point of all this? I don’t know. It’s just funny the things I remember at different times and realize how they impacted me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Dark

There are many times in my life when I have felt like I would be swallowed whole by my emotions; fear, rage, loneliness, sadness, etc. Any single one can consume me completely. It’s when they all come at me full force that I become weirdly numb. I can feel the impending self-destruction creeping up my spine. A cloud of black oblivion settles into my mind; an old friend. I know not to struggle. Quietly I tip toe through my day pretending not to notice it; knowing any spark will set it all on fire.

My soon to be ex-husband can now see our son unsupervised, and he is putting on the nice guy act. It pisses me off that he can still affect me. He got my hopes up that just maybe he will be a decent person and help shoulder the work of raising our son. I know it won’t last. I know him. But, fuck if I’m not conflicted that he appears to genuinely want to be a larger part of our son’s life. All I know him as is my former abuser and the shit stain in my life. He was a monster to me. Can monster’s love something/someone besides themselves? I don’t know. It sounds like the shitty plot to a Disney movie.

My Dad is in the hospital, I found out yesterday, and possibly having surgery today. I cannot, however, get ahold of him and am not listed as a contact they can release information to at the hospital. I’m worried he’s pissed at me for giving his cell phone number to his long time friend who he had a falling out with. To say he is one to hold a grudge would be a massive understatement. Just ask 90% of his family who he doesn’t speak to.

So, he could be in surgery as I type, or I’m just blacklisted. According to my Grandma, who just returned home from the hospital for the 4th time this month with congestive heart failure, he’s out with my uncle who he doesn’t talk to buying her new chairs… She’s in her mid nineties, but she has always been strong and sharp. Hearing her say over and over “I’m just so helpless,” and that she “not going to get better,” was hard to hear. She lives 8 hours away in the middle of nowhere Minnesota. I haven’t seen her since my son was one.

My partner is completely unavailable to me right now, and all I want to do is go home and curl up in bed. Instead, I get to go to my FAVORITE Dr. Office after work for a not so painless procedure. I’ll get home late and not have any time to go to a meeting…

…and so I tiptoe around these feelings, moving very cautiously through the black fog, because I know one wrong step means disaster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working Life

No one gets paid to sleep, unfortunately. It seems like that is all I want to do these days. Amid the many stressful circumstances in my life right now, sitting in a cubicle bored to tears all day does not help. I am grateful to have a job, and the benefits are good. Still, I’d be lying if I said I felt stimulated in any way or got a sense of satisfaction from my job. Honestly, I hate it.

I know this job should be enough for me, but it leaves me with hours on top of hours of time to sit here worrying, stressing, and ruminating over all my troubles as I “work” in auto pilot. Medical billing can be challenging and certainly complicated for someone new to it. I, however, have doing this since high school. The work has become mindless.

So I try to think about what I would want to do that would lead to a job I would actually want, and I have no clue. I have a degree in English Literature with which I have done nothing. I thought becoming a personal trainer might be for me, but the same night I passed my certification test, I found out I was pregnant. Personal training has lost some of it’s lure for me. So lately I have been thinking about teaching yoga and/or being integrative health and nutrition coach. Unfortunately again, I am not in any position to pursue this financially, and my “free” time is almost non-existent.

So, I am trapped for now. I have to focus on more immediate concerns like getting through this divorce, finding a new place to live, filing for bankruptcy, and taking care of myself through it all. Hopefully soon, though, I will be able to seek out a new career path that is fulfilling.