Last night I shared a quote in moon circle that I am completely in love with. “Discipline is the highest form of self love.” I shared it because there was a woman in the circle who needed to hear it. There were probably others who needed to hear it as well. I need to be reminded of it constantly. Someone recently commented on one of my FB posts that I am so disciplined. And I loved that she saw me that way. It’s more true than not. I am all about self love. I am all about naps, and eating to nourish my body, writing in journals and big fat bubble baths. With snacks. Self love can look like that. Self love can also look very different. I once had a therapist tell me I had to learn to love myself enough to tell myself no. I have no doubt that I was filling her ears with all sorts of nonsense that was going on in my personal life. I got away with ridiculous things because nobody ever told me no. Nobody ever told me I couldn’t/shouldn’t do a thing that was obviously harmful. In fact, I talked most people into doing those things with me. I had some pretty unhealthy habits going on at the time. Loving myself enough to tell myself no wasn’t one of them. This was just one of many things she told me that I paid no attention to. Because it was all bullshit. I really could not fathom living a different way. Until I did. I stopped drinking before I wanted to. It was a have to. Looking back, I realize that giving up alcohol was a radical act of self love even though it felt like the exact opposite. Self love is also saying yes to the things that are good for us. I had to say yes to AA because that’s where I was going to meet sober people. Sober people didn’t exist in my world. I had to go to the weird meetings with “those people.” I wasn’t like those people. I was different. Special. That therapist assured me that I was not special. Just like that. “You’re not special.” Asshole. I was pretty sure she was wrong about that one. I was pretty sure she was wrong about most things. But, here’s the truth. I’m not special. None of us are. And we all are. We are all humans doing the best we can with what we have to work with. Back then, I didn’t have a lot to work with. But I have had some amazing teachers on this path and I am a completely different person than I was 6 years ago. Because I pay attention. This morning I sat down to write about Discipline, but I hadn’t yet been on my mat and I just couldn’t bring myself to write about something I wasn’t practicing. So I got up, went down on the dock and practiced yoga. Because I love myself enough to do the things I know are good for me. I love myself enough to pursue the things that are going to lead to my ultimate happiness even when they aren’t necessarily the things I feel like doing. My alarm is set for 4:30 am. On weekdays, I wake my children around 5 am. This gives me 30 minutes to myself. I use this time to meditate and write. My preference would be to drink coffee and scroll on my phone. I’m not perfect and sometimes that is exactly how I spend my quiet time. That is NOT what nourishes my soul. I don’t wake up at 4:30 excited to write and sit in silence, but I do it because I know it keeps me sane. It keeps me connected. I’m not telling you to wake up at 4:30 am. In fact, every evening before I fall asleep my mind begins to tell me all of the reasons I can’t wake up in the morning and do what I want/need to do. If I listened to this voice, I would never practice in the shala because Wilmington is too far to drive. I would never get on my mediation cushion because I have chores to do. I would never sit down to write because someone, somewhere, needs me to do something for them. There are always reasons that I shouldn’t wake up early for my morning practices. They are all very believable reasons. The little voice in my head throws them all at me when I set my alarm and get in bed. That’s my self sabotage voice. This voice will have me wasting my time, sitting on my ass, drinking coffee and scrolling on my phone. Really. That voice will have me wasting entire days if I let it. I don’t have that kind of time because there are so many things I want to do. Don’t get me wrong, I really do need days that are quiet and restful. Recovery time after big “extrovert events.” I need solitude. We all know I need my naps. But, I also need to do the things I know are good for me. Especially when I don’t want to. I only dread these things until I get started. And then……then comes the sense of accomplishment. The good feelings. The joy. I have been practicing this lifestyle for quite a while now, and I know the practices that keep me centered. I am not a runner, but I am willing to bet that runners don’t jump out of bed eager to go running every day. I also imagine the people who hit the gym every day don’t always feel like it. Artists probably don’t want to create every day. I could go on and on, but you get it. Everything we do is a practice and being disciplined is no different. Discipline is loving ourselves enough to say no to the things that aren’t good for us and loving ourselves enough to say yes to the things that are. It’s dropping the distractions to focus on what truly needs our attention. It’s picking up our tools when we are having a shitty day and using them when we want to wallow in misery. It’s keeping the promises we make to ourselves. Discipline really is the highest form of self love.
Recovering Out Loud
I have ALWAYS been out loud about my recovery. I was out loud in my drinking, so I found it necessary for my own recovery to not be anonymous in sobriety. When I was drinking, I was sure social media was all about taking photos of everything I drank and every drunk thing I did. Including posting photos from the back seat of police cars and hospital rooms. Being social media sober seemed like the natural follow up to that. It’s a tool I have used since day one to help keep myself accountable. Getting sober was HARD. Staying sober is easy. I have so many resources and tools available to me. Really, it’s just not difficult today. Because I have tools and resources. I live in an alcohol free home with a very supportive husband. We used to drink together. A Lot. When I made my first few attempts at getting sober (there were many), my husband thought it would be fine to still have a 5 pm Scotch or two or maybe three. It was not fine and I ended up right there with him and I kept right on going long after he stopped. I could never have one or two or even three. It never even occurred to me that I was supposed to drink with any other intention than to get completely hammered. Because that’s where the fun was. Or so I thought. I’m sure it started that way. It certainly didn’t end that way. After a few failed attempts at getting sober which included trips to hospitals, Psych wards, detoxes and rehabs, my husband came to understand that if I was going to get sober in our home, there could be no alcohol around. Even when I didn’t want to drink, I always managed to. I didn’t like Scotch so that “shouldn’t” have been a problem. But as soon as something didn’t go my way and I was upset that Scotch of his was good enough to do what I needed it to do. Numb my overwhelming emotions. I was convinced he was an alcoholic and that it really wasn’t fair that I was the one getting sober. Truth be told, he was a little concerned about this too. We were in the habit of drinking together. As it turns out, he was able to leave it. He didn’t have a drink anywhere near me my entire first year sober. He rarely drinks today, and when he does, he doesn’t get wasted and it’s just not an issue. He’s one of “those” normal drinkers. Normal drinkers are cool, I’m just not one of them. When I got sober, I had to unfollow a lot of my friends on social media. I saw them partying and having fun and not inviting me. I felt left out. I also appreciated the fact that I wasn’t invited so I didn’t have to say no, but still…I felt left out. Lonely. A constant theme in my life. I remember calling a friend one evening and as she answered the phone, I could hear her scrambling and banging and making all sorts of racket. She was in the middle of a party and tried to get into her bedroom where it was quiet so I wouldn’t hear what was going on. Sweet and hilarious, because believe me, I could hear exactly what was going on. The more sober I got, and the more practice I had with handling my emotions, the less those things bothered me. It still hurt my feelings that most of those friends fell away and didn’t invite me to do things, but I am sure I made them uncomfortable. The majority of them don’t socialize without alcohol (and lots of it). No judgement, it’s just not where I am today. And since I’m not invited, it’s not an issue. Drinking people are not a problem for me. Drunk people are. It’s not a fun space to be in. In all fairness , when I was drinking I didn’t want to be around people who weren’t drinking either. So I got used to missing out. Eventually that “fear of missing out” turned into the “joy of missing out.” I slowly got comfortable in my skin and began to enjoy my time alone. My family got me back and I like to think they enjoy having me, fully present for them. I know I sure enjoy spending time with them. Since I had no friends that wanted to do the “weird” things I wanted to do, I had to learn to do things alone. Most of the “weird” things I wanted to do were in groups, so I wasn’t even alone, I was just on my own. In a group. This is how my world slowly started to expand. I began meeting people who liked the weird things I liked. Weird = Spritual. So, not really weird, just different than what I had been doing my entire life. And it was ALL new to me. Today I have friends everywhere. Sober friends. Goddess friends. Yogi friends. Meditation friends. Old friends. New friends. Internet friends that I haven’t met yet. Family friends. And I am a friend to myself above all. That’s a big one. I have a huge outer circle and a small inner circle. I have people I can count on. Sober me is super lovable. Drunk me, not so much. I have extra appreciation for those who loved me through that and stayed. The girl who doesn’t get invited to parties went to four parties in the last two weeks. One of them was mine, but still. 🙂 One of them was a party for a dear friend who I love all the world full. My invitation went like this, “Would it be weird to invite you to my margarita bar party?” I think that was the first invitation I have received in 5 sober years. Seriously. Or maybe I am making that up and it’s just the first party I actually went to. I’ve been to Christmas parties. But that’s family, so I don’t think it counts. I am sure my husband has been invited and by default I was invited, but really feel like this was a sobriety first for me. I went to her party that was FULL of people I love, had a bunch of fun and laughed and then laughed some more that I still managed to shut the party down. At 8:30 pm. Because that’s the kind of friends I have. And I LOVE it. Last night I went to my first ever sober party. As in a party by a sober person, for sober people. I didn’t have to worry about taking my own drink. Everyone ate food because that’s what sober people do at a party. I heard hilarious stories that only sober people would think are funny. Sometimes, when I’m around people who aren’t in recovery, I forget they haven’t lived that life. Until the moment I notice sheer horror on their faces. Then I wrangle it back in and explain that THAT is the exact reason why recovery is so important to me. I am reading “The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober” by Catherine Gray and I really can’t recommend it enough. Especially to newly sober people. It takes me back to the early days of sobriety and just how bad everything sucked. Until it didn’t. In recovery circles “the pink cloud” is often talked about. It’s a magical place where some of us find ourselves as the haze of alcohol starts to wear off and we start to find joy in the simplest of things. At 5 years sober, I am happy to report, that I am still riding that pink cloud. I’ve learned to look for joy in the small things. I’ve learned to do things that feed my soul and feel good to my heart. I’ve learned to stay away from things that suck. ALL of being sober is an unexpected joy because I knew when I got sober that fun was no longer a part of my life. My life was over. I could not have been more wrong. We all know the quote “New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” That describes my experience with getting sober perfectly. Best. Decision. Ever.
Tattoos and Freedom
Tattoos tell a story. Ask anyone about their tattoos and you will likely hear the story of their life, or at the very least a very personal piece of their “story.” I got my first tattoo when I was 21. The tattoo that will forever be known as the tramp stamp. Which is total bullshit, but whatever. The low back tattoo that every girl my age got in the 90’s. I wanted to get tattooed as soon as I turned 18, but I spent a few years getting pierced instead and waited for the desire to pass. It didn’t pass. I had that one tattoo for years and years without ever needing or wanting another one. But then I fell in a hole. A hole I couldn’t climb out of. I have lots of mantras tattooed on my skin. Those mantras helped me climb out of the hole and truly represent what it was like, what happened and what it’s like now. It goes like this. Once upon a time, I was a raging, hot mess. I was hopeless. Hopeless is the worst feeling in the world and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I had been exposed to the words hope and faith quite a bit in AA meetings. I wasn’t sober and I had neither hope nor faith in my life. I was also attending group therapy. Dialectical Behavior Therapy. To treat my Borderline Personality Disorder that I don’t actually have. Being Borderline was better to me than claiming alcoholism and having to give up drinking. I rocked that Borderline Personality Disorder too. I owned the shirts and I wore the awareness bracelet. I gave a face to Borderline, “normalizing” it, much like I do today with addiction and recovery. And, I got to keep drinking. The best part of the whole deal. But, I was dying inside. Failing at life in every possible way. Even my liver was struggling. Every day I would tell myself that today I won’t drink and then every day, usually before 8 am, I would be drinking. I HAD to. It was the only way to keep my body from shaking. Every day was the same and every day was awful. I was reading a self help article about Borderline Personality Disorder when I came across the acronym for Hope. Hold On Pain Ends. I fell in love with that idea and knew I needed to carry that with me. My first mantra tattoo. I really don’t remember getting it. Most of those first tattoos blend together in a gray kind of memory. But there it was. On my hand where I couldn’t miss it and was reminded constantly that I could get through this. I was able to get clean from methamphetamine addiction. Nothing could possibly be harder than that. That’s what I told myself. I have since learned that addiction is addiction and it’s ALL hard. I was going to AA meetings regularly, although I still wasn’t sober. I was starting to like the idea of being sober. I kept thinking one day I would be ready and I would just stop drinking. At this stage of the game I was having little spurts of “sobriety.” Or, rather, I was managing a few days in between being drunk. Or, maybe I was just waiting until 5:00. Again, it’s such a blur. AA people use the term One Day at a Time. I always hated that term because I knew it was bullshit. I knew if I committed to a sober life it meant every day for the rest of my life. I was seeing a therapist who was teaching me about mindfulness. She kind of, sort of convinced me that it simply meant living in the moment. I could live with that. My second mantra tattoo is on my foot. One Step at a TIme. That’s how I was going to dig myself out of the hole. I am fairly certain I wasn’t drinking the day I got that tattoo and I probably thought I was done with alcohol. I assure you, I wasn’t done. On another day I was in my therapists office freaking out about something. That was a common occurrence. I had been drinking before therapy. Another common occurence. She always knew when I had been drinking. Most people didn’t notice strictly because it was my norm. I am sure she yelled at me a bit because that’s who she is. Then she taught me about a practice called “calm abiding.” Calm abiding is a Buddhist practice of stilling the mind of any thought that might arise. I promise you I wasn’t able to reach the place of calm abiding, but I fell in love with the concept and knew that’s what I needed in my life. I left her office and went straight to the tattoo shop and got the word Calm tattooed on the topside of my wrist. Not sure why I didn’t throw in abiding, but there must have been a reason. It’s on my right wrist near my hope tattoo to remind me to be calm and have hope. Not long after that tattoo healed, I was leaving my house to go somewhere, who knows where, and my husband told me to try not to come home with any tattoos. I am sure it wasn’t my intention to get tattooed that day, but those words lit me up. It sounded a lot like he was telling me not to do a thing. In my mind, on that day, it meant I had to get two tattoos. What I recall about that incident is that it started at a local gas station. The gas station was right beside the tattoo shop. I went inside and bought a cup of ice and a can of ginger ale. I came out to my car, where my 1/2 gallon bottle of bourbon was, and mixed myself a drink. As I was mixing the drink there was a knock on my window. I looked up to see a woman I knew from AA. In my mind she was a sober woman. In reality, she was anything but. She was struggling like I was struggling. I had no idea. She got in the car with me and offered up Valium and Xanax. I hadn’t taken pills or any other drugs in years, but I didn’t hesitate for a second. I don’t know what you know about mixing pills and alcohol, but I can assure you, it’s not good. There is not one memory after that, but the two tattoos I got that day are the words “Forgive” and “Love.” Forgive faces away from me, in such a way that I can hold my wrist out and ask forgiveness. I found it easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission in those days. “Love” must have been for me. I am sure I wanted to feel love or feel loved or just feel lovable. I was quite unlovable that day. I was quite unlovable for a long time. That was the longest day that I don’t remember. It’s weird the few things we do remember in those black outs or brown outs. I remember calling my therapist and yelling at her. I was in the parking lot of the hospital wearing one of my shirts that identified me as borderline and realizing that this made me look crazy. I was yelling at her for giving me that label and more than anything for not calling me out on wearing the shirt. Then I woke up in the hospital room. There was a security guard outside of my room and the nurses told me they didn’t know what I had done, but I must have done something bad. They monitored me and they let me go because it’s frustrating trying to treat a drunk person who doesn’t want help. I remember leaving the hospital and walking through the parking lot. I remember the security guards but I can’t remember exactly what they said to me. I do remember that it enraged me and I screamed obscenities at them until they tasered me. I woke up in the hospital room again. This time I didn’t have a security guard. This time I had “a watcher.” The person they place outside of your room to watch and make sure you don’t kill yourself. I must have told them I was going to kill myself or someone else while I was blacked out. I was “a danger to myself and others.” I stayed there for three days, refusing food and anything else they offered me. I was eventually moved to a psychiatric hospital. Every morning in this hospital it was my job to wake up and talk to the Dr on staff and try to convince him that I wasn’t actually mentally unstable. Unfortunately, my actions proved that I was mentally unstable. Also, every other person in the hospital was trying to convince the Dr of the same thing. Some of them had serious mental health issues. A scary situation that lasted way longer than I wanted it to. Eventually I was released into a treatment center and almost got sober. But I didn’t. I was back with my therapist and back in my DBT group. My therapist was pushing yoga on me and teaching me weird things, like how to breathe. I couldn’t breathe. I hated the breathing part of yoga because I felt like the more I was instructed to focus on my breath, the more I couldn’t breathe. It was awful and I clearly needed a Breathe tattoo to help me. I could no longer go to the same place where I had previously been tattooed because my husband made it clear to the tattoo artist that it would NOT be ok to tattoo a drunk me again. I want to say I was sober when I went for the breathe tattoo, but I was not. Had I been sober, I might have thought to put it in a place where I could see it. Instead, it went on the back of my arm, just above my elbow. It happens to be great for people who are standing behind me. I am happy to report that the Breathe tattoo is the last drunk tattoo I have. A few more psychiatric hospitals and a couple more treatment centers where I finally decided I had had enough Hell and it was time to do something different. I’ve been living sober for 5 years now and when I get a tattoo, the whole process has more meaning. My first sober tattoo was “Let it be.” Obviously I would let it go if I could right? When I let it be, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t bother me or still exist, it just means that I don’t have to let it control me. Whatever ‘it’ is. My next sober tattoo was ‘Learn.” The intention there is to remind me to look for the lesson. The short form or “what the fuck am I supposed to learn from this?” So interesting that after I got that tattoo, I started learning more than I ever imagined about my past. Repressed memories came back and I learned how to deal with that. I am still learning every day in every way. and I know that won’t ever stop. The memories have stopped. At least for now. Maybe I am done with that. Time will tell. My last two tattoos are my favorites. At least they are my current favorites. I have a little Tt “element” tattoo on my forearm that identifies me as a Tee-totalar. This one is not at all original. It’s a movement. A community of people choosing to not be anonymous and recover “out loud.” I love being a part of a community that identifies in this way. I find it’s much better than wearing a Borderline Personality Shirt and identifying in that way. On New Year’s Eve I got my most recent tattoo. It’s a representation of where I am at this moment in my life. “Free.” Along with the word, are little birds flying free. I love it so much. I have found freedom that I never knew was possible. Freedom to be me, whatever that is in each moment. Comfortable in my skin more often than not, and able to deal with being uncomfortable when that happens. There’s a special kind of freedom that comes from living through Hell and coming out the other side. That freedom shows up as gratitude and joy for my life. It shows up when I catch myself dancing to the music at the grocery store.
*photo by Ed Speas*
Beautiful, Brave, Badass
I’ve been avoiding this space for almost an entire month. I have been busy filling my time with things other than being still. I’ve missed blogging and thought about it almost daily. I just haven’t quite been able to sit down with my laptop. Last night I went to the big city of Wilmington for Ecstatic Dance. So. Much. Fun. While I was there, I met a woman who said she knew me. Our mutual friend told her she knew me because I am FaceBook famous. FaceBook famous is our joke. This woman said no, she knew me from reading my blog. Her therapist had sent it to her and told her she should read it. She told me how she knows EVERTHING about me now, which was weird and awesome all at the same time. She said she loves my blog. That was the final push I needed to get my ass back here. I love it here. The last time I was here I shared that I was finished with therapy. I’m sure I called it being kicked out of the nest, because that’s how it felt. It took me a day or two to get over that, but I’m ok. I have all the tools I need. My therapist was right about that. That push may have been exactly what I needed to do the work I had been avoiding with her. I work best alone, but I also want someone to check in with. I still have that support system in a million different ways. The first thing I did was sit on my dock and journal all the feels of “being alone.” Which I’m definitely not. Then I decided the time had come for me to be an artist. I went to Pinterest to compile a list of all the things I would need to start an art journal. The next morning I went shopping. And just like that, I AM an artist. Most of you saw the photos on FB, because you can’t be FB famous if you aren’t posting there. I spent that entire weekend with my head down and ALL IN some art journaling. I’m so grateful that I worked through The Artist’s Way last year, because it really made it ok for me to just do my thing and not judge my work. Honestly, I art like a 5 year old, but I am totally OK with it. I spent that weekend doing the thing that I wouldn’t do in therapy. Writing my trauma story. It was awful and I hated it, but it’s just what happened on those pages. I didn’t buy the journal and art supplies with that intention at all. Once that came up, it wouldn’t stop. The beauty of the art journal was that I immediately painted over those awful words. I covered up those horrible things that I never want to see again. Not that I covered it up to make it look pretty, because that’s not where I was in that process. The act of writing it was huge and something I have avoided since I started dealing with repressed memories resurfacing. It was huge because once I started, it just flowed so fast and wouldn’t stop. I could have left the words in the journal, uncovered, but what would be the point in owning all those art supplies? I can’t quite express how it made me feel to be all up in the art process, but I think that’s why art exists. To express what we can’t put into words. Those pages of paint are exactly that. It was so powerful and so cathartic. Brave. I felt brave sitting through all those emotions as I worked in my art journal. I felt like a beautiful, brave, bad ass. I knew I was going to be crafty, but who knew I was going to be an artist? 😉 That’s a new tool for me and I am loving it. After a weekend of intense writing in that journal, I ended the process with a Monday morning dance party in the studio. Such a wonderful way to move through the emotions of the weekend. When I left the studio that morning I felt so much lighter. I’ve been back in the art journal a few times since then and have every intention of sticking with it. The thing about writing a “trauma story” is that it triggers new memories that I get to process. But it’s not all gloom and doom. Some of those pages are pure joy. I just show up to the pages exactly as I am and then it somehow all sorts itself out. Some days I don’t know until it’s on the page. It’s so different than anything I’ve done before. I definitely see the value in it. But it’s messy and not as quick to access or clean up as a journal. I can write anywhere, anytime. And I do. I haven’t had a healing session of any kind for almost three weeks, which is unheard of for me, but guess what? I feel great and I don’t need a thing. Well, I probably DO need a massage and since March is here, I know I have some energy work and “woo woo” appointmens on my schedule. Oh. And there was that Shamanic Journey I went on with Roger the Shaman today. 🙂 I have my meditation practice, I practice yoga, I write, I dance, I take ALL the baths. I go to meetings. I have moon circles and women’s circles of every kind. I was asked to be the speaker at an AA meeting this month and that’s the ONLY thing affecting my mental health. I have anxiety about it already. Oh the irony. My mental health game is strong and if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have left therapy. I know it was time. And now my Wednesdays are open for giant Goddess lunches and cacao ceremonies with circle dancing on the beach. I know how to fill a void. Believe that. I know how to fill it with beautiful and loving things today. ♥️
Hiding from the world.
We are well into Janauary and this is my first blog. I think I’m hiding from the world. In my bathtub. I have been avoiding the process of sitting down to write out of fear of sounding like a whiny baby. But whatever. I have been in a weird space since 2019 started. I know I won’t stay stuck in it, but I have also learned to honor my now and allow myself to be where I am. I’ll tell you where I am. Lonely. I am in a perpetual state of loneliness. Not sad. Not depressed. Just lonely. I’m surrounded by a tribe of amazing people in all of my communities from home and outward into the real world as well as the virtual world. It would seem lonely isn’t something I “should” ever feel. See those quotations around “should?” That’s because I do know should is a bullshit word and my feelings are valid. So there’s that. It seems the more connected I am, the more alone I feel. My brain knows that I am NOT alone. My heart is learning that not all of my relationships are real. I am a sensitive soul and lately my feelings are getting hurt left and right. I’m not exactly sure what that’s about, but I suspect it has a lot to do with actually paying attention to my feelings. That’s therapy working. As of late it’s becoming clear to me that some people want to be around me because they think I can do something for them. Add to their status or popularity. And it hurts my feelings. That seems childish as I read it, but I’m also someone who is learning to tune in and pay attention to my inner child. Again, valid. It’s not such a big deal when it comes from someone I don’t know that well, but when it comes from someone I love, it sucks. What hurts worse is when someone who IS my friend and I know loves me blindsides me with a passive aggressive comment about my happy life. I imagine that happens to everyone? Jealousy? Envy? Those words are hard to say and sound harsh, but I can’t find any other words that seem right. Yesterday I saw my favorite Woo Woo Witch Healer and she informed me that it hurts because it’s opening an old wound that hasn’t fully healed. The wound of being used? Or jealous people? I’ll have to dive into my journal on that one, but I have no doubt she’s right. I learned from trauma informed yoga training that “if it’s hysterical, it’s historical.” If something is triggering us today, it is coming from our past. It seems I will never run out of “work” to do on myself. Soul Detective work. I have put a lot of energy into building a loving and supportive community for myself. In the early days I called this Team Shannon. I still have my team. I have come full circle in that area and now I get to be on other people’s teams. Cheering them on and supporting them. I find that to be meaningful “work.” I love to see others succeed. Seems everyone doesn’t feel that same way. Lately the word “discernment” has been appearing in my life on repeat. This is the lesson I am getting hit with hard this January. Learning how to discern my circle. I have never been that person who needs everyone to like me. In fact, I have been the opposite. Quite content to push people away. That’s the exact reason I don’t have many friends from my childhood or even my life pre-sobriety. I never learned how to build healthy relationships. Sobriety has given me that gift. Sobriety and a spiritual path. I don’t need everyone’s love and friendship. I am not for everyone and everyone is not for me. I’m just trying to figure out who gets to sit at my table. I also know that when I am feeling lonely, it’s the time I most need to be alone. The Divine is present within me and I am NEVER alone. And there it is. There’s my aha moment right there. THAT is the connection I am seeking. Funny how putting my thoughts down in a blog can bring me clarity that a journal can’t always bring me to. Beautiful. And now I’ll just be over here, practicing discernment, connecting with a power greater than myself and finding my way.
The Work is Never Done
When you are on a “journey to wholeness” the work is never done. (Here. Listen.) That doesn’t mean that I always want to do the work. Because, honestly, some days and weeks or months, I don’t want to. So I don’t. I am rolling into the third week of mentioning repressed memories that just came back to me and I still haven’t done anything about them. My therapist really wants me to write about them to help me process them and move on, but who wants to do that? Not me. Not lately. Plus, I’m a busy person with a life to live, a business to run and a family to take care of. She suggested to me that I am scared to sit down and do it. It would be great if I just used my time with her to do it, but I can’t. I freeze and nothing comes out. That leaves little to work with. And if I don’t do the work on my own, it doesn’t get done. But I’m busy, remember? Also, I really don’t want to. Yesterday, I received a text from a friend. Or, as I like to call it, a loud and clear message from the Universe.
How funny is that? I am surrounded by so many amazing people and I just need to remember that I am never alone in my struggle. None of us are. It sure feels like we are when we are going through some shit, but I have learned that if I open my mouth and speak up, I will find someone who says “Me too.” Always. I live in this world where it’s usually easy for people to open up and share their struggles with me because I am so open about mine. On the internet. If you know me in real life, “I’m fine.” I am always OK. It was only last night while I was journaling that I realized this. I always throw up the I’m fine wall. It’s probably not a secret to those who know me and my therapist will probably laugh that I am just figuring this out. I’m OK when I know I’m not but I don’t take the time to identify what I am feeling. I wrote myself a little “Notice That” with an asterisk in my journal. I guess that comes from a lifetime of numbing myself out. Whew. Always learning. The work is never done. But, now that I have this new information, I can work with it. One would think with ALL the meditation and yoga and “noticing that” I do in my life ALL DAY, EVERY DAY that I would be an expert by now. But, it seems, “notice that” is as far as I have ever gone. Not “identify that.” Identify that could be a game changer for me. I tell my therapist all the time that I may be slow, but I am oh so thorough! And really, what’s the hurry? As far as I can tell, this is a lifetime path. I can be healed and still healing. Someone once left a comment on my blog that I am a “Soul Detective” and that was my favorite thing ever. If it was you, you should tell me so I can hug you. 😊 I am still my favorite project but you should know that if you are on this path, and lean on me for guidance and support, chances are you are my other favorite “project.” I root for you and want to see you win. Complete strangers root for me and it’s the coolest thing ever. Sometimes those strangers become my friends. Have you ever talked to or hung out with someone you know nothing about but knows everything about you? I have and I do often and it’s weird as fuck. At the same time it’s completely liberating to have nothing to hide. Boom. This is me. And you’re still here. It’s our humanness that connects us all. Our “not having it all figured out.” Our “still learning and still growing.” Our struggle really is our strength and when we share that we open the door for powerful connections. And suddenly I am no longer afraid to sit with my deep dark shit and sort it out on paper. I know someone will come hold my hand or just sit with me if I need that. I also know that I know how to take care of ME and that I will feel so much better once it’s done. I’m not saying it will get done today, because I’m busy. Remember? 😂 But I’ll do it. And then I’ll burn that shit.
All the Feels
Shhhhhh. Don’t tell Leon.
Here’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. 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.