Down, but not out.

Over the last week, I have started this post several times, only to end up deleting it.  Some of the drafts just sounded too depressing because I’ve had a rough month.  Some I thought seemed flat, like I just didn’t have anything good to say.  And one draft just sounded angry, and that’s not how I wanted it to come across.  Today, I realized that the whole point of my blog is to express my feelings – whatever they are.  So, I’m not going to delete this one, I’m going to put my feelings down and get them out of my head.

May has not been a great month.  At the beginning of the month, my estranged daughter celebrated her 17th birthday.  Not being able to be with her was heartbreakingly painful.  I wrote an open letter to her, and while I had no expectations of a response (I don’t even know for certain that she reads my blog, but I know that other family members do), I think I was holding onto a little bit of hope. But I heard nothing, good or bad.  Then, just a week later I had Mother’s Day to deal with.  I was sad to not be spending it with my daughter and with my own mother.  No matter what my relationships with them are like now, I still miss them.  In recovery, I have gotten better about accepting the past for what it is, but on days like Mother’s Day, there is still a part of me that longs for a different past.  I know it’s an impossibility, but I still wish for it, especially on days that I am already in the dumps.

As if that wasn’t enough to deal with, last week we lost a member of our home group to his addiction.  He was a handsome young man who had been in and out of the rooms for a couple of years. He was intelligent and friendly and had a smile and a voice that lit up the room. My husband took an instant liking to him and talked with him at length on several occasions. The last time I spoke to him, he was headed back to treatment and he sounded hopeful. He did not die sober. It was a drug overdose that took his life. He was only 18 years old.  That’s where my now deleted angry post comes in.  When our friend’s death was announced at our morning meeting, some of the comments from old-timers majorly pissed me off.  Before I knew it, I had written a long rant about how some old-timers forget what early sobriety is like, and that their self-righteousness will, more than likely, send newcomers back out the doors that they only just worked up the courage to walk through.  The comments that were made were enough to offend me, even if I hadn’t known the young man who died.  When you add the shock and grief of losing someone who you care about, it makes it all the harder.

The first three weeks of May have mostly sucked, and I’ve been feeling depressed and sad and discouraged.  What have I been doing with all of these negative feelings?  Nothing.  I’ve let them be.  Now, if I were to play Monday-morning quarterback I could list the things I should’ve done that I didn’t:  I should’ve talked to my sponsor more, I should’ve finished working on my 4th step (I’m in the process of re-working my steps), I should’ve practiced more of my Healthy Habits, I should’ve journaled more and written more posts.  But, until today, I just haven’t felt like doing many of those things.  So instead I’ve been binge-watching Nurse Jackie, crushing candy like a crazy woman, and taking 4 hour naps on my days off.

So, where exactly is the silver lining in all of this, you may ask?  Here it is:  even through my blues and self-pity, I was able to remember that “this too, shall pass.”  I was down, but I didn’t despair.   I didn’t isolate (much), I went to meetings, I talked about my feelings when I needed to, I honored my commitments even though I didn’t feel like it, and I took care of myself.  And the icing on the cake was that I didn’t drink.  I didn’t even want to.  That’s huge.  It’s a fucking miracle.

I’m happy to say that I think I am coming out of my funk, and while I didn’t do everything right while I was down, I did what I needed to and I remembered that feeling bad wouldn’t last forever and I made it through.  I learned that my emotions won’t kill me and that I don’t have to try to avoid or numb them.  I also learned that I am stronger and healthier than I thought before this period of melancholy.  That’s some pretty shiny silver lining, if you ask me.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go finish my 4th step, do some yoga, and de-clutter something.  🙂

 

 

 

 

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My Life in Six Songs

Hey Everyone,

Head over to Running on Sober to check out Life in 6 Songs.  It’s an awesome series of posts that Christy, Michelle, and Jennie have put together, where they challenged their readers to come up with a playlist of 6 songs that told the story of their life.  It was difficult to narrow my list down to just six songs, but I did it and my playlist is posted today.  Click on the link above, or here to see it.

~Jami

 

 

 

A Mother’s Love…and Loss

I wrote this post last year. Today, on Mother’s Day, I wanted to repost it as a cautionary tale to those mothers out there that are struggling with alcoholism or addiction. I know that addicts aren’t usually successful at remaining clean and sober when they are trying to do it for someone else (otherwise I would’ve gotten sober long before 17 months ago), but sometimes remembering the negative consequences that are looming, just waiting for that first drink, can help us not to pick up.
I hope that all of you mothers out there have a blessed and joyous day and that you never take for granted that your children will always be in your life.

Sober Grace

The last few days I have debated with myself whether or not to post about this.  Actually, I’ve been thinking about it since I started this blog.  Since I couldn’t make up my mind, I decided to think about the pros and cons of writing about this subject.  The pros are that it will probably be cathartic for me, that I often get clarity about things when I write, that I might get some support by writing about this, and that I love the feeling of liberation I get when I am honest about myself and my feelings.  The cons are that it will bring up a lot of emotions, that it will be difficult to write, and that I honestly don’t even know if I know enough words to really express how I feel about it (not an ideal feeling for someone who just started blogging).

I think the pros…

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Healthy Habit #5 – A month of decluttering (and an update on kindness)

 

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In my ongoing attempt to learn some healthy habits this year, I have decided that for May I will try to develop the habit of decluttering.  While we are not hoarders in the reality show sense of the word, my husband and I do live in a small apartment along side a lot of junk. and I think that it’s time to start getting rid of some of it.  I did some reading about decluttering, expecting to find a bunch of how-to’s, and I was surprised to find out that there are some real psychological benefits to sorting, and organizing, and eliminating the extra stuff we keep around.

I read this in one article:

Did you know that clutter can have negative psychological effects on you?

Have you ever wasted time looking for things? Or feel stressed by the visual chaos around you? Maybe you have a closet door that doesn’t quite close because there’s too much stuff in it. Maybe it’s your kitchen counter, office desk that is crowded with items, leaving you with no room to properly “use” the surface in question. These everyday sightings suck away your energy and weigh on your mind.

Experts even go on to say that all this clutter can leave you feeling edgy, unhappy, rushed and unproductive. I think they are on to something.

Decluttering can even create more space for your mind. It can generate fresh energy and help you let go of negative vibes you have been holding on to. Some people live with clutter (at home and at the office) because they need to. Clutter plays a role in their life. There may be a strong emotional connection to the clutter. For some, the clutter has gone out of control. We all know a hoarder or two. It’s actually scary, but it helps to understand that they need this clutter as it provides them a sense of security and comfort. And asking them to declutter can have the same effect as if someone asked you to cut off your right arm. It can be traumatic. Some people hoard because they are afraid to throw away something that is useful. (There are other reasons, but I digress). Let’s get back to our average clutter.

If you are like most people, you could probably use a good cleanup, create more space, feel energized and actually breathe better.

As you declutter, you will also realize just how much you have and this leads to a feeling of abundance, which leads to gratitude, which leads to happiness. Apparently, the outer order creates inner calm.

I would love to have the feeling of inner calm that decluttering can provide.  My closets are all packed full of things that I no longer use or wear, my kitchen has too many ‘junk drawers’ and all of the rooms in my house (except the living room, we have people who visit that room, for crying out loud) have nice, neat, organized (at least that’s what I tell myself) piles of stuff that I have no idea what the contents are.

So, for the month of May, we will be decluttering our home.  I’ve enlisted the help of my husband, because it’s his junk too, after all.  I will take some before and after pictures of the areas that we work on.  I will also follow the advice of a professional organizer whose tips I read online:  I will save big, time-consuming projects for the weekends, and I will work on smaller ones for 30 minutes a day during the week.  I will work with 3 piles as I clean – throw away, give away, and keep.  And I will either throw away or give away the things that I have not used for over a year.

I feel excited and happy about getting started on this month’s healthy habit…let the decluttering begin!!

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Month of Kindness update:  April was the month that I decided to develop the habit of being kind to people throughout each day.  I found that how easy or hard it was to maintain the level of kindness that I wanted to was directly related to the mood I was in.  When I was in a good mood, being genuinely kind, whether it was just by smiling at stranger, bringing lunch to share with a friend, or making a birthday cake for a coworker, was easy.  Seeing the happiness and gratitude on other’s faces made me feel truly blessed.  On the days when I was not in such a great mood, being genuinely kind was harder.  I could still “appear” to be kind, but when my heart wasn’t in it, it felt more like an obligation than a blessing.  Still though, even when I wasn’t being completely honest about my motives (my month of kindness, as opposed to true, altruistic kindness), the responses that I received from others did make it worth it.  I just think that it’s better to be kind for the right reasons, instead of being kind because it’s the right thing to do.

One thing that I did notice about kindness this last month is that it’s contagious.  I found that often times, when I was kind to someone, I later saw them being kind to someone else – paying it forward.  I don’t think that it was a conscious thing, it seemed almost like perhaps people have just forgotten that it’s nice to show kindness, and once they saw it, they remembered.  I loved that.

Overall, I would say that my month of kindness was a success.  I liked what I saw, heard and felt during the month, so I plan to make this a habit that sticks!

An open letter to my daughter

To my daughter on her 17th birthday:

Happy Birthday!  Seventeen years ago I was in the hospital at this time, waiting for you to make your entrance into the world.  I was filled with hope and excitement and  little bit of fear, as I think all new mothers are at that point.  Mostly, though, I was filled with love.  It was the only time in my life that I felt such overwhelming love for someone who I had not yet met.  I couldn’t wait to be able to hold you in my arms. Now, seventeen years later, I still feel that overwhelming love, and I am still filled with hope.  And once more, I can’t wait to be able to hold you in my arms again.

I would so love to know you as the young woman who you are now.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been so long since I’ve seen you in person.  When I last saw you, you were still a little girl.  A little girl who was hurting and was scared, one that had already had to essentially say goodbye to her father, and that was now losing her mother too.  That is way too much for a young teenager to have to deal with, and I am so sorry that you had to go through that.

I want you to know that I don’t blame you for the choices you made.  I can’t even imagine what it’s like to watch your mother sink into alcoholism like a rock in the ocean.  You were so strong to be able to make the decision to remove yourself from the situation, and I know that you were doing what I wasn’t able to at that time – taking care of yourself.  And that meant getting away from me.  As hard as it is to admit, I think you did the right thing.  It just never occurred to me that our separation would go on this long.

Being away from you these last few years has been the hardest thing I have ever gone through.  When I was newly sober, and trying to get my life back together, I didn’t have the emotional strength to reach out to you, to try to rebuild our relationship.  My thinking still wasn’t quite right, and I had convinced myself that I would be doing you more harm than good by trying to reconnect with you.  I wish now that I had made a different decision.  I wish that I had inserted myself back into your life, whether you liked it or not.  But my guilt and shame wouldn’t allow me to do that, and things became what they are today.

As you celebrate your birthday today, I hope you know that I am thinking about you.  I am remembering all of the good times that we had as you were growing up.  I hope that your memories of those times are as happy as mine.  Now, I hold onto those stories in my mind like a child holds onto a security blanket.  They remind me of what it feels like to be mother, and even though it hurts to know that I lost that privilege some years ago, I love remembering the feeling.

Please know, today and always, that I love you.  I miss you so much that I sometimes feel like my heart might stop beating from the pain.  I think about you all the time, wondering how you are, what you’re doing, if you are happy.  I truly hope that you are.  Your happiness, with or without me in your life, is so important to me.  It is what I hope and pray for every day.

I also pray for reconciliation for us.  I want that more than anything, but I am willing to wait until you are ready.  Just know, that all you have to do is say the word, and I will be there with open arms.  Until then, I will love you from a distance.

Happy birthday, sweet girl.  I love you and miss you terribly.

Love,

Mom