Life Goes On

It’s a ride, this life of mine. I am only thirty-two, but I feel as if I have lived through a lifetime of events. College, jobs, marriage, alcoholism, recovery, relapse, home ownership, car ownership, parenthood, divorce, selling real estate, bankruptcy, and now I’m moving back home with my mother. I’m finally in a healthy relationship with a real partner that I truly love, and although finances have hit the fan, the future looks bright; building from a clean slate with many lessons learned.

Last Sunday my realtor and her family came over for dinner. We all know each other and by the end of dinner, the kiddos had ripped every pillow off the bed and engaged in one epic pillow fight. This week was stressful and physically demanding due to necessary last minute home repairs and cleaning, but somehow we managed to pull it off. The condo is officially listed today, and we already have four viewings scheduled. I’m so grateful for such a wonderful realtor and new friend, as well as a super supportive partner without whom I could not have done this.

My ex is still who he was, but I’m learning to handle his behavior in a healthier way. It is nice to not constantly be at war. I would have never thought we could sort everything out like this. To be real, I am doing everything, with much help from wonderful people, and he is just not resisting and going along with it for the most part. That is the best I could have hoped for, and I’ll be satisfied with it. With the help of my sponsor, another amazing person in my life who deals with an alcoholic ex-husband, I am learning to set healthy boundaries. I’m learning how to not be surprised by his behavior, because he has always been like that. What should I expect? I am grateful for the ability to get less rattled and be far less sensitive to his provocations. Sometimes, still, I fail myself by reacting poorly, but I am doing a hell of a lot better than I used to.

Getting back into AA was awkward at first. It didn’t come with the pink cloud it did for me like the first time. I felt like I was returning the disappointment of a potential success story. I hate feeling that way. Perhaps it is a completely self inflicted perception. I wouldn’t put it past myself to dream it up, but that’s how I feel among my old friends. So, I’ll make new friends, and keep in touch with old ones. I don’t regret coming back into the program for a second. I’m just trying to find my groove in this place again. I supposed all expectations must be left at the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work in Progress

So, on Monday I started writing a post about how overwhelmed I was with everything going on in my life. I was focusing on all the negative stuff. I got about three paragraphs in, wiping away tears, and decided writing about things wasn’t helping. Who wants to listen to me complain about my problems anyways? A novel idea hit me. Why don’t I just tell my partner I’m overwhelmed, directly, instead of indirectly pour out my feelings in a blog post?

From an analytical standpoint, reaching out and saying I need help seems like a common sense thing to do when I’m overwhelmed. That is not; however, how my mind works. For many years, be it from my mother or ex-husband, when I have reached out for help it was under the assumption of me “owing” or being indebted to that person. The scales of power shifted against my favor, and I thus tried to avoid it at all costs.

Prior to these past few years, I tried to make everything happen on my own. When things went wrong, I blamed someone else. When things went right, I thought, “see! I can do this all.” I prided myself on saying I put myself through college, and I did for two years at community college. But when scholarships and a student job didn’t cover rent and tuition at WIU, I relied on my father and my boyfriend at the time to help me pay for things.

I have always been a bit of an impatient opportunist. Once I graduated, I grabbed what I could from my apartment in Macomb, IL and never went back. I jumped from one unhealthy relationship into another; seeking greener grass and a brighter future. I pushed to get married, to buy a condo, to get a new car, and all of these things manifested. But I was not happy. I sought escape, comfort, and oblivion every day in a bottle, can or glass. Nothing made me happy, and I never asked for help.

So what is the point in saying all of this? Today, I am divorced, filing for bankruptcy, and moving back in with my mother, but I am happier than I have ever been. How is this possible? Well, I have an amazing partner working the program with me. I have learned to ask for help and not try to force everything to be how I want it. I don’t blame other people for EVERYTHING (most of the time,) and try to accept things as they are. Despite all the pain and misery of the last ten years of my life, I have the three most important things I care about; my sobriety, my partner, and my son. I have everything if I have these things. I don’t care about my car. Having to sell my condo is stressful, but doesn’t destroy my inner peace (for long.) Filing for bankruptcy I see as a new start.

The future is limitless, and I get to share it with the people I care about most. I may be broke as a joke right now, but I don’t feel poor. I am truly happy. It’s something I was never able to find on my own but am so very grateful to have today.

 

 

 

 

 

Trudging the Road

I am tired. The divorce is finalized, but my work is far from over. I have to file two years of back income taxes, file for bankruptcy, put my condo up for sale with in 30 days, and find some place to live once it sells. I am working 9.5 hour days to make up for missing work for court on Tuesday, and I’m just completely drained.

I am still making five meetings a week, talking to my sponsor daily, reading daily, praying daily, listening to speakers in my car on the way to work, and soon I will need to get to work on my second 4th step. I am not looking forward to it. The first time around, I was happy to do it. I wanted to unload all the demons of my past. This time around, I feel like I should have known better. I knew I was an alcoholic. I knew there was a solution, and I knew how to stay sober. Still, I said “I’ve got this,” and proceeded to royally screw up my life. I used and hurt people, stole, lied, and drank my way to oblivion.

After my first fuck up, I tried to go back to AA as usual. I got a new sponsor and pretended nothing happened. Every second in every meeting I felt like a fraud. I stayed sober for some time, but it was easier to fall away from AA the second time. I never felt like I really came back anyways. I wasn’t honest and was pretending to be something I was not.

I got wrapped up in a new and exciting love at the same time my entire world changed. I filed for an order of protection, bought a car, got a fulltime job, put my son in daycare, and then filed for divorce all in the span of a month or two. I got busy, and my sparse free time was completely ear marked (by me) for time with new love. I stopped going to meetings, and eventually was left, yet again, defenseless against that first drink.

A deadly dance ensued of sober periods followed by deceptive drunken excursions. If it wasn’t such a serious, life threatening disease, I would describe some of the shit I pulled as comical shenanigans. Alas, they were not.

I would quit, start again, quit, start again, and then I got back to that hellish place where I couldn’t stop. I always end up there. All self talk in my head grew very hostile. What the hell are you doing? You know this could ruin everything. You could lose everything. You idiot! What the hell is the matter with you?! All thoughts were quickly dismissed by the obsession of how I was going to get my next drink.

I had been sober since a short stint in the hospital. Then the e-mail came that the judge had set my divorce case to go to trial. I threw my hands up and set my intentions on getting obliterated that night, and I did, bringing my partner along for the ride. I drank a bit the next day too, but something had happened and my partner decided he needed to get to a meeting and it couldn’t wait. So I took him to where I knew there were good people. My birthday was very lack luster this year as it was detox day 1, but that didn’t matter to me at all. We’ve been going to meetings together ever since.

My dilemma now is clearing away the wreckage of the past. My mistake in “coming back” the first time, was not being honest and getting everything out of me. So, I have got to do this 4th/5th step with my new sponsor. But as I said, I am TIRED. Perhaps a bit of self care and a good nights sleep will help renew my zeal to really dig in to my dirt. I suppose we shall see. All I really know is that it is something I absolutely have to do if I want to stay sober and keep growing in the program. And I do want that; more than anything in the world.

MSA

I don’t know how to feel right now. I have to be in court in two and a half hours to submit a marital settlement agreement (MSA) to hopefully avoid a full on trial. All I can really say for sure is that I feel tired. All of this legal crap has been very draining, and I’m ready for it to be over. However, even after the divorce is finalized, my legal journey is not over. I must then file for bankruptcy to wipe the slate clean and try for a new beginning.

I have learned from my mistakes, and I know I am a different, stronger person today. I have the support of a loving partner, my mother, my sponsor, etc. Still I feel alone in this at times like these. I am the one who has to walk the path, and there is no denying that it is scary. I worry that I am doing the right thing filing for bankruptcy. I am scared not knowing where I will be living soon. I am sad for my soon to be ex-husband and troubled by the effect it may have on our son. I do not doubt my decision to get divorce in any way. I remember the hell we used to live in, and divorced parents is a million times better than that. Still, he will be different from his friends growing up. He may harbor resentment, hide his sadness, bottle up anger or who knows?

I would think as a child of divorce myself that I would have the tools already equipped to handle this with my son. The situation; however, is very different. My father never put up any fight for custody, and I was glad when my parents got divorced. I was nine and I hated being around the fighting. They were clearly miserable, and the divorce was a necessary relief to everyone. My son is only three and a half. He has two parents who love him and want to be involved in his life. He probably won’t remember the fighting, hopefully, and may not have perspective on why his parents split up. His father will never say it was his decision; therefore, I will be to blame when my son gets upset about it. What do I say to that little boy? I’m not going to say that his father was abusive and we were both miserable and treated each other poorly. The generic “sometimes mommies and daddies want different things” explanation seems like an insult to his intelligence even at his current age…

But this is all worries about the future, and I know I cannot predict or control it. I know I have to stay in this day, but today sucks. I am scared and sad. All I can do is pray, and hope it goes well and is over with quickly.

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?

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pauses in Between

I never know how to feel on the calm days amid the chaos right now. I’m always waiting for the next problem. I enjoy my “good” days. The good ones are days when I get to do things and spend time how and with whom I want to. On an uneventful, cloudy Monday afternoon, however, I don’t know how I feel. The highlight of my day with be getting to curl up in bed with my partner to go to sleep.

Nothing is wrong, and I am grateful for the peace. I’m grateful for many things right now, but today I’m just off. Though there is a definite benefit to having moments where you can just be and enjoy the moment, boredom and inactivity are states I’m both uncomfortable being in and have concluded are dangerous for my personality type.

If I’m not busy putting out fires,  eventually I’ll start one. I don’t know if I do it consciously or not, but I do know that I do it just to have something to fill the void. I’ll start focusing on something that I declare “wrong” in my life or find something that needs fixing and focus on it obsessively. If I don’t go that route, I start imagining problems that aren’t even real. I start worrying over potential future situations that are not even a reality and focus on that. I grab on to anything that I can keep my mind busy. It’s an exhausting way to live.

The chaos doesn’t relent for long these days. I just got an e-mail from my lawyer, and the allocation agreement is finally signed and to be submitted to the judge this Wednesday. My soon to be ex-husband will have unsupervised “parenting” time with my son for the first time in a year and a half. The order of protection will be altered for pick ups and drop offs, and my son will no longer be listed on it. So, I’ve got something new to worry over now.

My son’s father loves him, I’m sure, in his own way. The thing that scares me about him having time alone with our son is that his concept of love is very skewed and never prevented any of the emotional abuse I endured. I fear for my son, who is completely defenseless against the psychological and emotional manipulation that my husband is skilled in. I never had any intention of keeping them apart forever, but I’m lying if I say I’m anything but terrified he can take him on his own now.

After everything that has happened, he has done nothing to get help or grow as a person. I was fighting in the beginning to get him to go to counseling as a condition of having unsupervised time with our son, but he completely refused. There would have been no harm in it. It’s only a beneficial thing for everyone involved. I had to cave, though, in order to get things moving in this divorce. Now I’m scared I made the wrong decision.

Did I give in just to make my life easier? Have I subjected my son to an emotionally dangerous position just, because I couldn’t financially afford to keep fighting for him? I hate all of this.