Shhhhhh. Don’t tell Leon.

AFD2D825-661D-4A0E-88E2-22B293ECCF28Here’s a little secret.  My husband doesn’t read my blog.  Not regularly anyway.  And I don’t offer it up to him for some odd reason.  Probably because he’s the one who knows me best and sees me every single day.  He doesn’t give a shit about how popular I am on the internet.  He sees the real me.  Every day.  Not just the best photos and the edited words.  He gets the unedited version.   He’s not on FaceBook and he hates social media.  But, he did recently get an instagram account, which I was quick to give him shit about.  Because Instagram is social media.  Now I feel like I have to censor my Instagram posts a bit. Like he’s there to babysit.  Not that that’s necessarily true, but I do get asked who certain followers are.  And since it’s social media, I typically have no idea.  He assures me his life would be easier if I was ugly.   I encouraged him to get the Instagram account because he used to ask me to post pics for him on my page.  I like to keep my page looking a “certain way” which doesn’t include pictures of the fish he caught that day.  Now he has an Instagram and it’s cute and hilarious that he really doesn’t know how to use it.  I post my blog on Instagram and use the standard “New blog post is up, link in bio” caption.  He has no idea how to get to my bio or click on the link.  I showed him how to do it a couple of weeks ago and he sat next to me and read my blog for what seemed like hours.  He went way back…….and I could tell he was upset.  I have suggested to my Mom that perhaps reading my blog isn’t the thing she needs to do.  I am thinking maybe he shouldn’t have read it either.  It hurt him to go back and relive some of it.  I know he also felt slighted because he never saw his name in any of my posts.  I totally understood that too.  I frequently speak about my therapists, past and present.  I write about my “tribe of women” who support me.  I don’t write about my family.  There are a few reasons for this.  The first reason is that believe it or not, I do keep parts of my life private.  My family is the MOST important thing in my life.  I feel like they have their own stories and they aren’t my stories to tell.  But here I am.  Talking about my family.  My husband anyway.   The truth is, I hated him for a few years before I got sober.  He was the enemy in my mind.  He was one of the firsts to point out that I had a problem with alcohol.   I could fool a lot of people, but he wasn’t one of them.  I hated him for that.  He was the person always taking my keys, my wallet and my liquor away.  But he wasn’t sober.  In fact, we drank a together A LOT.  So why was I the one with “the problem?”  Maybe because I was the one who blacked out and did stupid things?  Here’s the reality.   My husband is 15 years older than me.  He rescued me when my marriage to my second husband fell apart.  I didn’t know how to be alone but I also knew I didn’t need to involve myself in a relationship.  I found a man who lived far, far away that would come visit me when I wanted him to but didn’t live close enough to roll up at my house anytime and get too comfortable.  Because I DID NOT want to be in a relationship.  6 months later I moved to North Carolina with my two children to be with him.  That happened so fast.  I had a pretty good handle on my drinking at that time.  I was a “functioning alcoholic.”  Two years later I got pregnant.  I stopped drinking while I was pregnant and nursing (or at least didn’t nurse when I was drinking).  When our sweet Jackson turned two, I weened him (yes, I nursed him for two years).   It was at this point that my raging alcoholism kicked up several notches.  I’m not really sure why.  Other than the fact that once I started drinking, I couldn’t stop, which IS the very thing that makes me an alcoholic.  I drank every day.  At 5:00.  Until the day I discovered that I could drink during the day because I was grown.  That was a game changer.  That’s when the blackouts started coming. The insane behavior and really bad choices started happening more and more frequently.  My husband spent a lot of time on the phone with my family and friends “telling on me.”  I hated him for it.  Today I  know he was looking for guidance and support, but that’s not what it felt like at the time.  I would have preferred it if he had gone to a support group rather than bring all of our friends and family into our mess, but he’s not that guy and it wasn’t my choice.  He spent a lot of time on the phone with my therapist too.  She suggested hospitalization for me.  I hated her for that.  I hated a lot of people for a lot of things.  All things that I was responsible for.   He took drunk me to an AA meeting once and asked “those people” what he should do.  He just wanted someone to fix me.  He was watching the woman he loved, the mother of his children, kill herself.   My oldest two children lost their biological father to addiction.  My husband has raised them since they were tiny and he IS their Dad.  I think he hated me as much as I hated him, but he wanted me to live.  And eventually so did I.  He supported my recovery by giving up alcohol.  It wasn’t a struggle for him and if sobriety was going to work for me, he knew he had to make some changes too.   I had every intention of getting sober and leaving him because he was  a controlling asshole.   But then a funny thing happened.  Not overnight, because that’s never how things work for me.  But, as I began the process of getting sober, along with gaining some emotion regulation skills and a tiny bit of sanity,  he began to seem like less of an asshole. Not because he changed, but because I changed.  Not gonna lie, all of the changes freaked him out too.  I’m not sure either of us knew who sober me would be.  All of the new things I was doing seemed weird to him.  They were weird to me too, but also things I needed to do.  Meditation.  Yoga.  Meetings.   I caused a LOT of damage to our relationship.  Damage that isn’t a secret to our friends and family.  Things that I had to own and walk through.  But, he hung in there and walked through them with me.  He hung in there because he knew I was worth it.  He saw my worth when I didn’t.  And sometimes he’s still an asshole.  But he’s my asshole.  He’s no longer freaked out by the weird things I do and pretty much expects me to come in the door beaming about the new “weird thing” I am currently in love with.   Our relationship isn’t perfect, but whose is?   I’m still trying to figure out what we have in common.  There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot.  But, he makes me laugh and he’s pretty damn cute.  So there’s that.  He’s a safe place for me. He makes me feel secure. He gives me the space I need to grow. He has his life and I have mine and they are very different.  But, we come together every day and share our “seperate lives.”  Every now and then we even do things together.  Like a real couple.  One day, I’ll even go fishing with him.  What I am not going to do, is put this blog in his hand.  He can find it on the internet like everyone else.  Sometimes, I’m an asshole too.  😊

 

 

5 Sober Years

I love when people reach out to me after reading my blog or a particular social media post that I have written.  I love when people connect to my words.  Last week I wrote THIS post full of “classic one liners” from my old therapist.  A few days later I received this text that’s too good not to share. CB067C8D-AEDE-4A4A-8A18-37C1DCD5BE24.jpeg  I saved this screenshot because it’s THAT awesome and I laugh so hard every time I read it.  It’s become a mantra for me this week.  I often tell my children when they are leaving, “make good choices.”  Well, “don’t fuck the monks” has played on repeat in my mind since I received that text.  It’s the same.  But different.  It’s “Make good choices” for grown ups.   I laugh so hard at the shit that goes through my head.  I even told my therapist “don’t fuck the monks” last week as I walked out of her office.  She loved that so much.  I mean, how could she NOT?

All that silliness aside.

I didn’t write yesterday because I was too exhausted from all of the exciting things happening in the studio and in my life.  There is always something new and exciting coming my way and some days it’s just too much and I crash.  Which is what I needed yesterday.  And I allowed myself to do that.  At the beach.

Last week was an amazing week in the life of me.  I turned 5 years sober 6 days ago.  There was no parade, but you probably saw the sparkly medallion on social media.  What a ride that’s been.  Each year I look back and each year gets better. Year one was all about not drinking.  Anything extra I learned was a bonus.  Each and every day I practiced not picking up a drink and that was enough.  Yes, I meditated and practiced yoga, but the NOT DRINKING was where all of my focus was.  Those other things were simply ways to pass the time and carry me through the day sober.  I’m sure there was plenty of growth involved, but I wasn’t feeling it.  During my second sober year, I began the journey of becoming comfortable in my skin.  I learned how to properly love and care for myself.  I had no idea how good I could feel.  During that year I learned how to fuel my body with nutritious foods.  I kicked up my yoga a notch and began to move my body in new ways.  I always assumed that since I wasn’t overweight, the whole exercise thing didn’t apply to me.  Who knew that Dr’s weren’t just being assholes by suggesting exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.  This girl LOVES some endorphins! Early in my third year of sobriety, I completed my yoga teacher training.  Sobriety introduced me to something I was more passionate about than drinking.  I decided I needed to share that.  I found my light and my purpose.  Not that my purpose is to be the greatest yoga teacher the world has ever seen, because that is definitely NOT it.  But my purpose is absolutely to help others heal.  Teaching yoga has been a launchpad out into the world of helping others find their own light.   Year 4 was my Rebel Soul year!  The best year yet.  I opened the studio on November 6th 2017.  I spent my 4th sober year growing community and growing ME.  I entered therapy (again) last year in November.  Just a few days before I opened the studio.  This time I entered therapy as a strong, sober and healthy woman who wanted support through my journey.  And damn.  There was a lot more to work through than I ever imagined.  From what I can tell, “working through shit,” is a never ending part of life.  That weekly session has been a great resource for me. I have grown more this past year than any previous year. On EVERY level.   This is the year I learned to sing and dance and pray with my words.  That little yoga studio of mine is such a safe space for me to try ALL THE THINGS that bring about a deeper level of healing for me and my community.  So freaking amazing.   To say that I am grateful for my sober life is an understatement.  I talked to my AA sponsor on Saturday and shared with her how magical my life is and how I am in love with every minute of it.  She reminded me of a time, that first year, when she and others were just trying to convince me that things would get better if I stayed sober.  All I wanted in those days was for my life to not suck.  That was it.  I wasn’t asking for joy or magic or anything great.  I just wanted my life to not suck so bad.  Never could I ever have imagined that not only would my life not suck but that I would be happy and that I would wake up excited about life every day.  And really, it happened in such a big way and it happened so quickly.  One skillful choice after another.  In AA they call it “doing the next right thing” however, in my mind it will forever be  “not fucking the monks” one day at a time.  You’re welcome. 😂  If I can do it, anyone can.  I promise.

Everything is a Practice.

I have landed on a consistent, weekly writing practice. I say practice, because that is exactly what it is. The more I show up and do it, the better I get at it. Like everything else we do. We practice. Everything is a practice. That phrase used to piss me off when my once upon a time therapist would say it to me. Because I couldn’t understand what she meant. I would come to her freaking out about something or other and her words to me would be “Remember, everything is a practice.” I am sure my practice at the time was to scream “What the fuck does that even mean?!” at her. She was very patient. Or she wasn’t and she just had really good boundaries and a strong sense of self. I am guessing it’s the latter. My consistent writing practice has been taking place on Sunday mornings as of late, and even though I didn’t write this morning, here I am, showing up for myself. I didn’t write this morning because I went to yoga church instead. Yoga Church is the class that grounds and centers me for my week ahead like no other. It connects me to my past and roots me in my present. The therapist that I had once upon a time, the one who taught me that “everything is a practice” also happens to be my Yoga Church teacher. If you are familiar with my story, you already know I had a love/hate relationship with this woman. I could always count on her to call me on my bullshit like no one ever had. And I hated her for it. But I paid her good money to (in my mind) be mean to me every week. The reality is that she was honest with me in a way nobody else would be. She didn’t sugar coat the truth and wrap it in a pretty package either. I would have certainly preferred that. I have a head full of her “classic one liners” that were absurd and hilarious. But spot on too. Nothing is hilarious unless there’s some truth to it. When I first started going to the Buddhist Temple to look for some peace and clarity I mentioned this to her. She looked at me without batting an eye and said “Please don’t fuck the monks.” In my mind that was absurd, but in reality, I can see why she would say that to me. The me I was on that day anyway. I am sure I wasn’t even truly offended until I got in my car to leave and I am equally sure I called her and let her know how shitty I thought she was. That was the standard procedure. I would spend an hour on her couch. She would piss me off. I would think about it on my drive home and upon my arrival I would call her and yell at her. Or I would call her in the middle of the night, on the office emergency line if need be, because I needed something. Her. I needed her. During the time she was my therapist, I landed in a psychiatric hospital. They have telephones in those places, and I called her. Because I needed her. She reminded me to “practice my skills.” She was referring to the communication, emotion regulation and mindfulness skills that I had been learning in my DBT Group. It seemed a little late for me to practice those skills since I was already in the hospital, but I went with it. I practiced my skills and did what I needed to do to get out of the hospital. But I stopped practicing when I got out. I was an emotional wreck, fueled by alcohol. Within a few months, I landed back in the psychiatric hospital. And I called her. Because I needed her. She reminded me to “practice my skills.” “Everything is a practice” she said. I was so pissed because nothing about anything seemed like a practice to me. This was my LIFE and I was losing. I screamed into the phone “what the fuck does that even mean?!” She simply repeated that it’s all a practice. Life is a practice. I hung up on her. I practiced my skills, did what I needed to do and got out of that hospital a few days later. But when I got home, I stopped practicing. Again, I was an emotional wreck, fueled by alcohol. A month or two later, I ended up in a psychiatric hospital. Again. This time I was committed on an involuntary basis. This was a different hospital. This was a hospital where the steel doors were kept locked and I couldn’t leave if I wanted to. I was “a danger to myself and others.” I saw what real mental illness is in this hospital. I was terrified. I called my therapist. Because I needed her. She did not tell me to practice my skills. She did not remind me that everything is a practice. She said “Oh. You’re in the Ha Ha Hospital. Why are you calling me?” That was not the response I was expecting and I honestly didn’t know why I was calling her. I just knew I needed her. She told me there wasn’t a thing she could do for me. I told her bye and we hung up. She was right. There wasn’t a thing she could do for me. There wasn’t a thing anyone could do for me. I did what I needed to do to survive that hospital. It was not a good experience. Locked up. Terrified. I practiced my skills. I was there for 8 days. I was released from that hospital and eventually I started to “practice my skills” on a more regular basis. I wish I could say this is when I got sober, but it’s not. It took some more terrifying experiences to make me understand that alcohol was not helping me and was in fact destroying my life and killing me. I went back to therapy, and eventually did get sober. When I rooted myself firmly in AA, that therapist let me go. She had given me all the tools she could. She had pointed me in the direction of a skillful path. It was my turn to do the work. I was terrified. And I needed her. But I knew, it was time. I began the long, hard process of becoming a sober person. And it sucked. So bad. I kept in occassional contact with that therapist just to let her know my progress and make sure she was still there. You already know. Because I needed her. Eventually, I needed her less and less, but she was always there when I emailed her, and that helped me let her go. I got sober. I grew. My life changed. Our relationship changed. I don’t need her today, but I am grateful for her presence in my life. She has been a wonderful teacher to me in so many ways. She gave me what I needed at the time even though it was never what I wanted. Today in “yoga church” as she was giving a dharma talk, she made a reference to a scientist who was so ahead of his time, that he was thought to be crazy. Isn’t that always the way it is with scientists? She told the class how this particular man “ended up in the ha ha hospital.”  I almost died. I flashed straight back to the day she said that to me and the way it felt and the person I was. Then I flashed right back to the present moment.  I sat up a little straighter and beamed a little brighter because I am NOT that person today. That one little phrase made my practice that much sweeter. That one little phrase reminded me why I was there. I was there to practice. Everything we do is a practice.

I AM a channel

This morning I found myself reading bible quotes on the internet. This is NOT how I usually spend my mornings and if I am honest, it made me laugh a little. At myself and my openness. I call that smiling out loud. Earlier this week I heard myself use the phrase “I am a channel.” I know I am a channel although I didn’t know exactly what that meant when I said it. This morning I have a full understanding of what that means. It means I am a channel, not a reservoir. This is what I learned from the internet bible. “If you sow abundantly with a good (cheerful) attitude, then God will bless you. Why? So that you can bless others. Being a channel for God’s blessings means passing them on to others.” That doesn’t exactly sound like a direct quote from the bible to me, but I’m not willing to go dig and I am happy with what the internet has to say about being a channel. Makes perfect sense. I am well aware that one of my gifts is my enthusiasm. Remember? Enthusiasm means to be filled with God. I am FULL of enthusiasm and love nothing more than to drag others into that space with me. And I have this wonderful internet platform to do just that. I always think the internet version of me is “my best self.” People love internet me. I have pretty yoga photos and the best inspirational quotes. I can (and I will) write an entire bog about that one day. Back to being a channel. People connect to me and to my words. It’s truly a gift and I am grateful. I am always amazed at the people who reach out to me and ask me about my”story” and about recovery. I am always willing to spend time sharing my “how it works.” Everyone’s version of “how it works” is different, but I can tell you this. Pick a path and STAY on it. The path doesn’t matter and there are a million ways to the top of the mountain. My path seems to be constantly changing and evolving as I grow. There are some constants that keep me grounded. Yoga, Meditation and AA. These are the three that I never stray too far from. But here’s a little secret. Those things aren’t for everyone. Most of the other sober bloggers I read are anti-AA. They either don’t like the idea of calling themselves alcoholics or they don’t like the old school patriarchal feel of the literature. Some people don’t like the idea that they have to go to meetings for the rest of their lives. There have been many times in my sober journey that I have felt like AA isn’t for me. Probably as recently as yesterday. But I also don’t feel like I have to go to meetings. I choose to go. I enjoy being around other people who are “like me.” People who don’t look at me like I have two heads when I talk about that time I wanted to hang myself. Those people have been there and they get it. Also, like me, those people have found a solution and a better way to live. I am all about surrounding myself with positive people. I’m not saying that AA is full of positive people, because it’s definitely not. I have just managed to do that thing they call “sticking with the winners.” I take what I like and what works for me and I leave the rest. Isn’t that how life is supposed to work? We are all different and have different needs. I had no idea who I was when I began my recovery. I am still learning and growing and changing every day. I have no problem saying out loud that I am an alcoholic. I have friends who think I shouldn’t put that out into the Universe because everything is energy and what we put out is what we get back. Being an alcoholic isn’t a negative thing to me. My life has only gotten better since I began affirming to the Universe that I am an alcoholic. The Universe has sent me the tools and people I need in my life to help me along the path. In return, I get to give it away to anyone who wants it. I know what it’s like to struggle. I also know what freedom feels like. It hurts my heart when people reach out to me who are SOOOO close to grabbing a lifeline but are also too scared to actually do it. It’s not my job to save everyone, but it absolutely is my job to be there when someone reaches out. It absolutely is my job to share what works for me and it absolutely is my job to share the things I am enthusiastic about. I AM a channel, not a reservoir.