Monday, August 29, 2016

"I am the Master of My Fate; I am the Captain of My Soul.... "

Existentialism - a philosophical theory or approach 
that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free 
and responsible agent determining 
their own development through acts of the will. 

Today marks six months of sobriety for me. I decided to do something very important to celebrate. 

I got dressed up and went out by myself. 

I picked a nice location not too far from the house. 

I went inside, grabbed a seat at the bar, held my head up and... 

I ordered a glass of wine.

And then, I drank it. 

Yep, you read that right. After six months of not drinking, I no longer have a “sobriety date.” And it feels amazing and liberating. 

My life is so, so different these days. I never thought I’d be a mom. I never thought I’d be spending my evenings making baby food and washing diapers. I never thought that the few hours I get after my son goes to sleep would be dedicated to a quick workout at the gym or squeezing in an episode or two of whatever TV show I’m currently into. 

And until just very, very recently, I never thought I could have a healthy relationship with alcohol again. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not planning on having another drink anytime soon. I have no desire to nor do I wish to put my body and mind through all of that again. But sitting down tonight and slowly sipping that glass of wine meant a lot to me. 

See, I didn’t fit well with a 12 step program... because even though I was absolutely accepted for not believing in a god, I was still told that I needed to look to a “higher power” for strength. My “higher power” needed to be something outside of myself. Many Atheists considered the group itself to be their source of strength. One man said I could use my son. But while my son was definitely my motivation to quit drinking and straighten up, he didn’t pull the bottle out of my hand. 

I did. I quit drinking. I decided I was better than the person I was being. I chose to remove myself from an unhealthy relationship and create a new life with my parents and son. The choices I made got me into trouble just like they got me right back out of it. I knew I was fucking up and said nope, that’s not the person I want to be. 

I want to be the kind of person who has control of their life. I am not a victim of my circumstances. Nothing has power over me and my own free will. 

I am a strong, competent and intelligent woman. I answer to one person and she looks at me with my eyes every night through my reflection. No one expects more from me than her and no one believes in me more than she does. 

I’ve never felt so comfortable in my own skin. I’ve never been so confident in what I have to offer and the kind of person I can be to my friends, my family and my son. I’ve never felt more important and more worthy of love and respect. 

I did that. 

I asked my mom if it was okay for this to be the last month that we celebrated by using flowers. Of course she understood and was happy, as always, to support me in my decision. I will always keep these flowers as a reminder of who I was and who I've chosen to become. 

I’ll never be done growing. I’ll always learn more and more about who I am and I look forward to the process. My son teaches me every day how important it is to be patient, to be kind, to be stern and to be loving. 

I will make mistakes and I will have regrets. I will never be the person that gets a tattoo saying the opposite. In fact, I regret most of my tattoos... but I will move forward, knowing that the person I am today is because of every choice I’ve ever made. Good or bad, I will always cherish that. 

I imagine there will be some judgment as a result of this blog. It’s cool. I can handle it. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. I respect that everyone is fighting their own battle and that they may not understand the weapon a person chooses. But at the end of the day, I know I’m winning the war I’ve waged. 

I am not a drunk. I am not defined by a sobriety date. I am not “in recovery”. I do not have a “disease”. I am just a person who doesn’t want to drink. And I’m tired of talking about it.

Thank you, as always, to those who support, those who hate and those who just observe. I learn from all of you and, in my life, knowledge truly is power. 

I am the master of my fate; 

I am the captain of my soul. 

- William E. Henley, Invictus

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Even My Ego Has Sobered Up

A friend of mine had her baby right around the time I had Xander. It was also her first, also kind of unexpected and also frightening for her. We had a lot of good, relatable conversations during our pregnancies. It was nice to be able to connect to someone going through the same emotions I was. 

A couple of months ago, she sent me an email to touch base and see how things were. I explained that while my baby was doing well, I was incredibly stressed and sad because my relationship had failed, he had chosen his addiction and lifestyle over us and that I was moving out. I told her I was confident that we would be able to co-parent pretty well as the love for his son was never in question, he just wasn’t able to make the decision to be sober with me and I knew I could never make it work if he kept drinking. I was heartbroken and worried that my son would resent me for not staying and trying to make it work. But I knew that I wasn’t in love anymore and that it was more important for Xander to be around a positive and sober influence and that hopefully one day he would understand that my choice was because my love for him ran so deep and true. 

She then opened up to me about struggles she was having with her own relationship. However, she was unable to go into detail for fear that he would read her messages. She said that she wasn’t sure they would be able to make it work either. But she was also sad and distraught because she said what kind of man would want to be with her now that she had a child to take care of?

That thought has crossed my mind. However, she is much younger than I am so I can see how it would be more of a concern for her than maybe it is for me. For one thing, anyone around my age that is also in the dating pool (not that I plan on swimming anytime soon) is probably either a parent themselves or at least has experience dating someone with a child or children. 

My first table last night was four guys around my age, all pretty good looking and having a typical “Vegas” time. They joked, flirted and I was happy to have the attention. When one of them asked me if I was married or had a boyfriend, it was strange to say no. I immediately became self-conscious and followed it up with “Guess that means I’m crazy, huh?” and laughed it off. The least drunk of the four asked for my “story” and for some reason, I told it. The Reader’s Digest version, of course. I showed them pictures of my son. They were all very sweet and wished me luck with him. They left me a very generous tip but the flirting ended pretty quickly. Well, except for the drunkest of the four which basically just asked me to have sex with him. It is still Vegas, after all.  

This is about the right time after a breakup where, in the past, I would have been starving for male attention and hitting up bars, online dating sites or past flirts and begging for validation that I was still attractive, still desirable and still worthy of at least a one-night stand. I would be ready to jump into another superficial relationship built on drunken conversation and narcissism. Anything to get away from the voice inside my head reminding me of how alone I was. 

Of course, things are different now. 

I definitely think about what a future relationship would look like for me. I don’t drink because I can’t handle my shit. I live with my parents very happily and willingly. I lost my sex drive a couple of years ago and still haven’t managed to find it. And then the fact that any man who comes into my world from now on will, at best, be the second most important man in my life. Forever. 

It is kind of distressing. I can see why my friend would be worried about it. 

I started to write “no one wants to be alone” just now... But that’s actually not true. I have met many women - and men - that find alone to just be easier. Simpler. Yes, coupling certainly has its perks, but believe me, so does the single life. 

The refreshing part of all this is that I know whatever decisions I make with men from this point on will be made with a sober mind, which I can honestly say hasn’t happened since I started drinking when I was 20. That’s a pretty big deal. And I’m not nearly as hungry for attention as I thought I’d be. Maybe it’s because I get plenty of attention from the only man that really counts. 

A friend at work told me once that she wasn’t able to find the perfect man so instead, she created him. I feel this way sometimes. But I think we all know that the spot a son takes in one’s heart still has a few voids that only a partner can fill. 

I used to think any man I chose to be with would be lucky to have me. Which would then leave me angry and bitter when they decided they didn’t want me enough to change who they were when things got tough. I mean, the nerve! Didn’t they know who I was?? Ha.. Now I know better. The man that comes into my life now and loves me for my imperfections, my struggles, my son, my family and, most importantly, my truths... boy, will I be the lucky one to have THAT man. 

Funny how I always thought drinking made me more confident when, in fact, it just gave my ego the munchies. Now I know how to feed myself and it feels pretty remarkable. 

No shame in my work game though... if a couple of guys from out of town want to flirt with me and then throw down a 35% tip, I’m not gonna argue. Organic baby food isn’t cheap. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Plagiarism is the New Black

My mom has always been a big card giver. I probably have an entire moving box full of cards somewhere in storage that she has sent me throughout the years. A very large percentage of these cards were sent to me when I moved to Los Angeles to go to school. 

Her cards were funny... there was usually very little written inside of them. A lone smiley face most of the time. However, she always wrote on the envelope. A sweet little IMU right where it was sealed. Other times, she would write me a little something, but it would be on a post-it note inside of the card. She said that way I could reuse it if I wanted. And she also didn’t want to mess up the card itself if what she wanted to say didn’t come out right the first time. 

Mostly, though, she said she really didn’t know what to say. She liked cards because she could find one that said exactly what she was thinking and she was always able to find the perfect one for any occasion. 

But really, her handwritten IMU on the outside of that envelope was all I ever needed. 

There is a Facebook page that I follow called Word Porn. It is full of quotes and sayings that sometimes make me happy, sometimes make me sad... but mostly, they make me reflect. I can relate to so many. The words come right from my head, before I realize I'm even thinking them. I started saving the ones that meant the most so I could read them later and maybe find writing inspiration. Instead, I thought I’d just post them here.. the ones that really mean something to me right now as I continue moving through this transitional phase of my life. 

Sober. Single. Mom. Three things I did NOT plan on being at 36 years old. I used to be a pretty big planner. Now, I do my best to keep my shit together just long enough so that I can relax in bed at the end of the day and watch an episode or two of whatever random show takes my mind off of everything else. Things aren’t bad... they just aren’t... what I expected. 

Expectations. I guess having them is really where I make all my mistakes. Expecting people to be a certain way. Expecting my life to be a certain way. Expecting events to turn out a certain way. All that seems to result in is constant disappointment. 

As always, I’m trying to live in the moment. I’m trying to look past the world and its sadness, its problems, its despair. I’m trying to look at what’s right in front of me and enjoy it. I’m fighting every day to be the person my family needs, not the self-destructive person that chooses to be numb as a way to make life easier to live. 

Life wasn’t ever supposed to be easy. I want it to be... but that’s just not its design. However, there are some things I can count on... my mom and dad, my natural instincts, and the knowledge that a decaf coffee is truly decaf if the cafe serves it luke warm. Those constants help me wade through all the bullshit of one day and wake up to face the next. 

So I get online, I read these quotes and it tells me I’m not the only one feeling this way. Which is why I started blogging to begin with, so people might find things I say relatable and it might help them connect with their own struggles. 

And in those times when I can’t find the words, at least someone else has found them for me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"I Love Lamp."

I bought a lamp the other day. It wasn’t given to me, I didn’t get it at a garage sale and I didn’t buy it simply because I got a good deal on it. I didn’t even really need it. But I saw it. I wanted it. I bought it. It’s MY lamp. 

I took a break from unpacking the other night and looked around my new room. It’s big. I got the master bedroom. In our new 2,000 square foot house, the master bedroom is almost like a small studio apartment. At least that’s what it feels like to me. Especially since I’ve been sharing a bedroom with my eight and a half month old for the past few months. 

My new room fits my king size bed, my two bookshelves, a DVD holder, a small computer desk and chair, my bistro set with four stools and a bedside table. Even with all the furniture, there is a nice open area where Xander can sit and play. The walk in closet is even bigger than my last one and I feel extra spoiled with the huge bathroom. Actually, a little guilty is what I feel for not insisting that my roommates take the master. After all, they’ve been married for almost 40 years. 

I was talking to one of my co-workers a few weeks ago. She asked me how things were going at home. I explained that I had officially separated from Johnny and that my parents and I had gotten a new house together and were going to combine our resources to take some financial pressure off of both households. She had made a comment that while she doesn’t make a lot of money, she always made sure she had enough so that she would never have to move back in with her mom. 

I wasn't offended or embarrassed. But I get it. 

No matter how I present the information (it’s seriously a roommate situation with bills split and everything), I still “live with my parents”. And while it is definitely an ideal environment, especially having additional help with my little guy, it comes with it’s own set of challenges. The most significant one for me being a feeling of lost independence. It’s hard not to have my own place. In two weeks, I’ll be turning 36 years old and the judge-y little voice that lives inside my head is disappointed that I have not done more to provide my son with everything he needs without having to rely on anyone else. But then, I’ve never lived that kind of life. Just getting by is kind of my thing. 

I know I need to get over it. My parents are amazing. They are great with Xander and have always been supportive of me, even when I wasn’t sure what the hell I was doing with my life. In fact, I’m not sure I could’ve made them take the master bedroom. My mom knows me pretty well and knows I need my space and as much independence as I can get. However, I think even she was a little confused by my excitement over my new lamp. 

You see, my bed was something I purchased with Johnny. My bookshelves I purchased in Long Beach with my ex. The desk, another ex. In fact, the majority of my furniture reminds me of past relationships. Even a lot of my pictures that I hang carry with them memories of the past. And while I have mostly made amends with my history, a lot of these things remind me of good times turned sour. 

It is, of course, ridiculous to think of getting rid of these things simply because they make me sad. But I was anxious to add something new. Something that would represent a fresh start. Something that could help me hold on to my sense of independence, even if I don’t entirely have it anymore. Something that has only been mine. 

And it’s this. This silly, simple and understated lamp. 

My son is happy with his surroundings. He sleeps well, he seems very comfortable and it makes me feel really good that he has a loving family to grow up around. For these reasons, I know I am doing the best thing for him. This soothes my judge-y voice... even if just temporarily. 

Still dealing with lots of shit as breakups are certainly harder when there is a baby involved. They are even more difficult when dealing with an adult who isn’t very good at adulting. While we will always be in each other's lives, I’ll definitely be thrilled to be on the other side of this initial drama. 

In the meantime, I’m adjusting to my new surroundings, working as much as I can, watching a lot of Netflix and now, enjoying my before-bedtime-read even more. I still struggle to find happiness in every day life, but even I can see that things are certainly looking brighter. 

Pun intended. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Time to Give, A Time to Take

I’m celebrating 90 days of sobriety today. For some reason it feels like a much bigger accomplishment than 60 days. I’m not sure why.. maybe because 90 days might actually be the longest I’ve ever gone without alcohol since I first started drinking. Even when pregnant, I did have the occasional glass of wine... convincing myself it was “good for the baby”. But these days, I’m not even cooking with wine. My how the times have changed. 

I won’t be celebrating my accomplishment with my twelve-step program, however. I’ve decided to continue my journey on my own. Well, not on my own, exactly. I still have tremendous support from my friends and family. And, of course, this little face is my biggest cheerleader, even if he doesn’t know it.

I’m not saying I’ll never return to meetings. I can definitely say they are beneficial and I certainly appreciated the additional support while I was getting the ball rolling. However, there are some things about the meetings that I’m just not incredibly keen on. And believe it or not, it’s not the religious aspect. That’s easy to look over. I mean, shit, I scroll pass tons of “pray for this” and “amen to that” posts on Facebook every single day. 

A woman at one of my meetings shared a pretty humorous story one night. She talked about being out with friends and when the waiter brought over the Rusty Nail someone had ordered, the woman knew immediately that the drink was prepared incorrectly. It was missing Drambuie. She could tell just by looking at it. She then went on to talk about how she used to finish everyone’s drinks at the bar, incredulous that someone would actually leave alcohol in a glass. It was a funny story. Also sad, and very real to alcoholism. It was memorable and a good share.

Two weeks later, at the same meeting, that woman had an opportunity to share again. Without missing a beat, she told the same exact story. Word for word, with the same inflections in her voice, the same pauses for laughter. I subtly glanced around to see if anyone else was visibly reacting the way I think I was. No... still engaged. Still laughing. Did it only bother me? 

In the other meeting I attended regularly, everyone shares every time. One man in particular has been a part of the program for over 20 years. He got sober very young, before he was even legally able to drink. After he shares, he always finishes with the same proclamation: that his life just keeps getting better and better. I remember thinking, when I first started going to this meeting, about how awesome things must be for him. He must have such a wonderful life. Through more shares, I found out that he’s been married and divorced multiple times, he’s lost a child to drug addiction and has another that is currently addicted to heroin. But his life just keeps getting better? I don’t understand... 

The sponsor thing has always been a bit of a hot button for me as well. I was told by someone recently that her sponsor was upset that she wasn't being in service enough. She wasn’t attending enough meetings, offering up herself as a sponsor and, in general, giving enough back to the program. You know what that reminded me of? Church. One of the reasons I stopped attending church was because I was always being asked to “be in service” which I never really liked doing. Okay, maybe that makes me a bad person. A “taker” instead of a “giver”. But are you saying I don’t deserve the benefits of either organization because of it? I mean, there are countless people who can’t wait to donate their time. Is it so bad that I’m not one of them? After all, I thought the only real requirement to be a part of the program was simply a desire to stop drinking. Am I to understand that the longer I attend, the more likely it is that it won’t be enough?

Like I said, I’m not saying I’ll never attend again. There are things I really, really like about going. I love the support, the camaraderie. I love the sharing, as long as it’s genuine and not scripted or practiced. I love the fact that people have chosen a different path in order to better their lives. I love being a part of that. But I don’t want to sponsor someone. I don’t want a sponsor myself. I don’t want to sit on a committee. I don’t want to show up early to hug everyone as they walk in. And I don’t want to attend a meeting every single day, or multiple times a day. 

I just don’t want to drink. That’s it. 

There is one lady that I met who checks in with me from time to time via text. I guess she’s the closest thing I’ll probably ever have to a sponsor. I hadn’t been to a meeting for a couple of weeks and got a text from her asking if I was staying sober. She was concerned that by missing meetings, I had a higher chance of relapsing, which I’m sure is common and therefore, a genuine concern. I explained that I had surrounded myself with friends and family that were supportive of my goals and that I was focusing on my move and getting the next chapter of my life underway. I also promised that if I felt the urge to drink, if the pull became very strong, I would definitely go to a meeting. And I meant it. 

But here I sit, after packing more boxes for my quickly approaching move, and I’m looking around the room with sadness. I’m getting ready to move me and my son out of the house I brought him home to. Not really “taking him away” from his dad, but taking him to a different home where he won’t be with him every day. While I’m not exactly going to be a single parent, since I know Johnny will still be incredibly active in Xander’s life, we will be co-parents, not a cohesive family unit. We will share decisions, but not each other’s lives. I will live my life and he will live his. And I know it’s the right thing to do. But that doesn’t mean it’s the way I wanted things to work out. It’s not how I pictured things. And it makes me sad, it makes me lonely, it makes me frustrated. However, it does not make me want to drink. 

So, meetings or no meetings, here I am. 90 days sober. I’m waiting for my life to start getting better but as long as I stay the course, I can’t see it getting worse. I don’t miss the drink, I really don’t. But I do miss smiling and the meetings have not brought that back into my life. I hope maybe I can find that somewhere else down the road. Luckily, my sweet boy does plenty of smiling for both of us right now.

I will still celebrate today. It’s still an important milestone. And I don’t ever want to discourage anyone from doing whatever they think they need to do to move past their addictions. Meetings, therapy, exercise, meditation, family, whatever. Everyone’s journey looks different. It’s the end result that is the most important. My new life is more important than my vice. I don’t know if that means it’ll get "better and better"... but it is more important.

And knowing that makes all the difference.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Older I Get, The More I Like The Merry-Go-Round

Today was a pretty productive day. 

Xander actually slept in this morning and since he is my alarm clock, I got to sleep in as well. Unfortunately, it made us late for breakfast plans with friends but luckily, my friends are awesome and waited for us. 

After breakfast, I dropped baby off at home with his dad for a nap and went and got my oil changed. Then, I squeezed in a pedicure and some frozen yogurt. I got groceries and gas and headed home. 

I made lactation cookies and threw together some pasta for dinner. I made baby food for the next few weeks. I did dishes. I prepared dinner for Xander and fed him. He did some house laps in the walker. Afterwards, I loaded him up in the carrier and we took my dog for a walk. We stopped by my parents’ house and visited for a few minutes. 

We got home and I gave him a bath. We sat on the floor in the living room and played with some toys and sang some songs. Then we went in the bedroom, I nursed him and put him in his rocker and he peacefully went to sleep. 

We had a really nice day. 

I’ll tell you what I didn’t do today. I didn’t cry. I wasn’t angry. I didn’t wake up with an anxious mind and stomach. I didn’t stress about my next step in life and I didn’t worry about what I was actively doing to expedite said step. 

I just... lived my life. 

Now, unfortunately, there is a lot of work to do that can’t go ignored. 

My parents and I have decided to pool our resources, move out of our small and pricey homes and move into a larger, more accommodating home together. For so many reasons, I am excited about this decision. 

I’ve lived with my parents a few times throughout my adult life, but in the past, it’s because I was sucking at the whole adulting thing and needed help. Now, we are both making a conscious decision to share space, picking a house together and setting up a new life where we can all be a little more comfortable and more available to support each other’s goals. 

Sounds great, right? 

Well, between dealing with flaky realtors, ridiculous application fees, credit challenges, high deposits, houses renting before we can even get call backs, crazy work schedules, family troubles, continued relationship stress, more credit issues, thousand dollar vehicle repairs and finally, a clogged milk duct (which, thankfully, did not turn into mastitis), my parents and I can’t seem to catch a break. 

It’s enough to drive a person to drink! 

(Too soon?) 

We are handling it all, of course. I mean, what option do we have? Run away and just hide from everything? Ha! 

(We totally considered that.)

I like to think that all of these challenges are just so when things do start going our way, we can appreciate them more. But really, I think it’s just Life being a super dick and my best bet is to try and not lose my shit before something positive finally fucking happens. 

So besides the occasional wave of loneliness, I really enjoyed my nice day today. Thank goodness for my baby as he definitely keeps me grounded and sane. I smiled when he tried peaches for the first time, I felt success as we nailed a back carry and I laughed out loud as he tooled around the house in his little bare feet. For me, it’s good to have something as important as him to care about so that I don’t spiral too much into the land of negative thoughts. 

And now I’m off to bed. I'd like to wake up to some good news tomorrow although these days I’m prepared for anything. What’s that saying that keeps popping up? "I never said it was going to be easy. I said it was going to be worth it." Here’s hoping there’s some truth to that. 

Because I'm a little over this roller coaster.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

"You Must Have Chaos Within You, To Give Birth To A Star"

There is a scene in the movie Watchmen that keeps coming up for me as I go through a pretty turbulent time in my life. 

Spoiler alert. 

Dr. Manhattan has left Earth and is establishing a life on Mars. He no longer cares what happens to humans because their recent behavior has shown him that their lives don’t matter to him anymore. The new Silk Spectre (Laurie Jupiter), Dr. Manhattan’s ex-girlfriend, is trying to convince him otherwise. He tells her she doesn’t understand and she asks him to show her. 

The original Silk Spectre, Laurie’s mom Sally, had an altercation years prior with another vigilante called The Comedian. After a photo shoot, The Comedian follows Sally into the room where she is changing and attempts to rape her. She fights him off and then others hear the scuffle and come in to help her. Years later, she ends up sleeping with The Comedian after all. Let’s just say that their relationship is... complicated. 

Through this discovery, Dr. Manhattan shows Laurie that her father is The Comedian. A man she has grown and been taught to hate. She falls to her knees and sobs. It is this, and only this, that gives Dr. Manhattan his epiphany. 

My life is a little chaotic right now. Johnny and I have decided to separate and I’ve asked him to move out. He is handling his struggles the way he always has - with alcohol - and it is making an already difficult situation even more stressful. Especially as I continue on with my sobriety. 

So many of my relationships have begun or been maintained through the fog of alcohol. I could look back and have so many regrets. I mean.. I DEFINITELY have some regrets... but when I look into the eyes of my sweet boy, I know that even though it hurts me to see another relationship end, the two of us needed to come together at this time in both our lives to create this perfect little person. And it's impossible to have regrets when I look at this. 

Of course I wish the perfect little family was there as well. But it’s not. So it’s my responsibility to make sure my baby never wishes things were different. I hope that Johnny will come around and be the dad I’ve seen before and know he can still be. But I can only control my actions so that’s what I’m focused on. And since I’m making these important decisions with sound body and mind and not after another week-long bender that ends in heartache and tears, I feel more confident that I’m finally making moves in the right direction. 

I’m pretty frustrated that life has to suck so much sometimes. But like attracts like and I’ve done my fair share of making irresponsible and chaotic decisions, leading to erratic and stressful situations. I’m hoping that my new choices will help bring positivity and happiness to me and my son. He deserves it. We deserve it. 

I deserve it.