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Monday, September 30, 2013

Your Addiction My Recovery: Getting Back on Track

Your Addiction My Recovery: Getting Back on Track: The first month of attending a weekly Al Anon meeting, blogging, journaling, talking, facebooking, working on becoming a better me was excit...

Your Addiction My Recovery: Getting Back on Track

Your Addiction My Recovery: Getting Back on Track: The first month of attending a weekly Al Anon meeting, blogging, journaling, talking, facebooking, working on becoming a better me was excit...

Getting Back on Track

The first month of attending a weekly Al Anon meeting, blogging, journaling, talking, facebooking, working on becoming a better me was exciting, to say the least. I felt like I was on a high. Pumped, proud, energized. I stopped putting off the healing process and I was SO ready to begin my journey. I had a bit of a set back when I saw my past that night at my daughter's dance class. Running into a drunk mother of  two little girls with grandparents there to try to keep it all together. It was like I was visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past. It took me to a very sad, dark place. I've struggled with depression since I was in the 5th grade so I know me and I know when I'm needing to give myself time to get out of it however now that I am a mom it's very difficult for me to take the time I need to allow myself to feel sad, work through my pain, and move on. With the responsibilities of my job as a wife and mother I don't have time for depression yet I also don't have time for myself to prevent it.
I remember my last semester of college I took a beginners art class and there was a woman there in her early 50's. On the first day of class we all took turns introducing ourselves and I will never forget her saying how excited she was to be in this class. She said she had always wanted to take art classes, art was her passion, but she wasn't able to until now because she was a mother of two boys who have now both entered college so it's finally her chance to do something for herself. I remember being so happy for her and thought it was great that she was there but I also remember thinking it was kind of sad that she wasn't able to do something for herself until her early 50's. Of course in my mind I thought "I would never do that." But now, I get it. Your priorities shift once you become a parent and it's no longer about you, it's about your kids. In saying that I don't want to put off my healing process until my kids enter college because part of why I want so desperately to do this is for them. The handful of Al Anon meetings I have now attended I have been told numerous times "I wish I would have started my journey at your age instead of putting it off". Last week I had to remind myself of that when I contemplated putting my recovery on hold, indefinitely. I will not wait 18 years to become a better me.
After a week and a half I made myself find an Al Anon meeting. I had every excuse/reason why I shouldn't go but I am thankful I put myself in check and got my a$% to that meeting! I didn't share at this meeting and honestly I didn't have a huge "Ah Ha", life changing moment like I have experienced in the past meetings but I was there and the topic definitely got me thinking. The topic was "you can't force solutions" which of course I can relate to. I try to force my mom to be sober, force her to be honest, to not manipulate, to become independent,  to see things my way, to admit the pain she has caused. The list goes on and on! I've even tried to force my sister be on this journey with me. I can't force anyone to do anything! Everyone has their own journey, who do I think I am? The discussion was also about reacting to others and certain situations. If my mom snaps at me or takes a dig at me I have to learn that it is her issue not mine and I have to know that it's my pride that causes me to react by snapping back. I need the last word, I need to prove I'm right and she's wrong. It's our way of communicating and I'm so tired of the drama! I need to wait, not react until I have calmed down. This will take some practice. Someone said "I can be invited to the drama but I don't have to attend" which I loved that.
I'm feeling better, more level, now that I decided not to give up on myself. It's not always going to be easy to make "me time" but I have to do it. That doesn't help anyone. If mama aint happy aint nobody happy, right!?!?! This mama is happy, in general, and thankful for what I have. In saying that, I do want to be happy in my core. I want to relieve myself from some of that pain I carry.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I saw my past tonight

Tonight I took my daughter to dance class and I ran into an old friend. It was someone I almost didn't recognize for one we were friends in college which, I must admit, was over 10 years ago but also because she looked hard. She walked in and said "Charlie?" After a few seconds I was able to place her. She hugged me and the smell of alcohol was overwhelming. As I spoke with her about our daughters dancing in the same class, she introduced me to her parents who were going to stay for the class because her and her boyfriend had a couple things to do. Her sentences weren't clear. It was obvious she was doing her best impersonation of a sober person but she was no actress! I looked at her 2 daughters with such an ache in my heart. My sister and I were those girls. I saw my grandparents there to support us. I wanted to hug her parents and whisper in their ear to take their granddaughters away, gain full custody unless or until their daughter got sober. I wanted to tell those little girls that they will be ok, I promise. I wanted to hold them and say "You are going to have some challenges but stay in school, continue to be active in dance, sports, student government, music... anything to keep you focused. And most of all I wanted to tell them that no matter how bad it hurts at times, you will survive and be a stronger person because of it.  There will be times you don't believe you will make it through another day but I promise you can and you will." I watched my old friend stumble out the door and I could feel the tension of her parents. I could see the sadness in their eyes yet they smiled through it for those two little girls. I know my grandparents smiled through their pain in front of me and my sis.  I'm having trouble shaking this. I am fully aware it is not my place to say anything to the grandparents nor to the "mom"(unless the kids are in harms way) and I would never say anything to those little girls. I just tried to stay focused on my daughter. My kid's happiness is my happiness so when I found myself consumed by these people and those beautiful little girls, I had to just watch my daughter while she danced and the joy she had. Watching her pulled me out of my past and back into my reality but now my house is asleep and all I can think about is the situation. That "mom", those innocent girls, those broken grandparents.  I know there is a lesson for me in this somewhere but I must admit, right now it's hard to see it. Is this where detachment comes into play? This isn't my problem. I don't know these people so why am I allowing it to consume me? It's just another sign that I need to stay on this road to recovery.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What My Father Taught Me

I've been having a difficult time finding a meeting that fits my crazy life. With a husband who's schedule is ever changing and my kid's school, sports, homework, it's just been tough but I am determined to make 1 meeting a week. I have been to 3 different meetings now and after my second meeting a nice, older man approached me to welcome me and share a little of his story. He wanted me to know the peace Al Anon has brought him throughout his years of attending and hoped I would continue going to meetings. He also suggested that I attend an ACA meeting, Adult Children of Alcoholics, which I had never heard of before. The next day I tried to organize the week ahead then went to my computer to check the Al Anon schedule and see if I could squeeze in a meeting somewhere. It just so happens that the only meeting I would be able to attend was an ACA meeting. I couldn't believe it! I definitely think it was meant to be. As I drove to the meeting I felt confident. Sure I had never been to this meeting before so there were some nerves involved meeting knew people and opening up to "strangers" but it was my 3rd meeting and I had been there, done that so I was anxiety free this time. I walked into the beautiful church and found the room that held the meeting. There were at least 40 people sitting in a circle. It was the most diverse meeting I had been to.  I'd say the age range was mid 20's to early 70's. With all these different types of people we were all there for the same reason, all of our parents were alcoholics &/or addicts. This was also the first meeting where there was a Chair. The Chair, to my knowledge, is someone who attends a particular meeting regularly and they are to lead the conversation. The Chair is to tell whatever part of their experiances they are comfortable sharing and then come up with the topic for the evening. This person, who I will call Mark, was an older man who was extremely successful in his career. He was attractive, educated, and seemed completely put together and here he was talking about his "daddy issues". It really shows that the damages left by alcoholics/addicts can affect anyone and the damage will live on inside you unless you take the steps to repair your soul. I listened as Mark spoke about life as a child with an alcoholic father, he discussed the hardships but also shared what his father taught him and because of those lessons he is the person he is today. The topic came in the form of a question. Mark asked everyone in that room "What did your father teach you?" Mark asked us to think about it as something you gained from having a life with an alcoholic/addict father. For whatever reason, I wasn't expecting that. I don't know what I was expecting really but this was such a positive spin on a dark topic. I instantly began to think of what my father taught me. "Ok he taught me the prayer "Now I lay me down to sleep...", he gave me the gift of creativity (He's an amazing artist), and humor can sometimes get you through tough times." Listening to others share their lessons learned, I found that I could relate to every one of them somehow. I had my hand over my heart listening.  My eyes began to well up. I couldn't control myself. When it came to my time to share I didn't feel like I made a complete sentence. The tears were following and it seemed to take a lot of energy to speak one word. I was struggling to translate thoughts into words because this topic actually related to that exact day in my life. What I hope the people heard through my tearful, broken up words was "Thank you Mark for sharing and for the powerful question!" I then looked around the circle and said "I feel like I can relate to everyone of your stories. I would say the most important thing I learned from having an alcoholic father was what kind of man I wanted for my husband. I knew at a very young age that I wanted to marry someone who would be a great father, a present father. Not having a father figure that was there for all of my life events, both big and small, was difficult (to say the least) so I knew I would do what I could to make sure my children never experienced that kind of pain. As far back as junior high, when I "dated" a guy which at that age meant talk on the phone but not a school because you were too shy and never really going on a date just crushing on each other, I would think of the life I would have with him and more importantly what kind of life would my future children have with him. That's kind of heavy for that age when most girls are just dreaming of a wedding, the big white dress, the fairy tale,  I was dreaming of a father for my unborn children. Every date I have ever been on I imagined what kind of father that man would be and the answer would determine if I went on a second date with him or not." I began to sob at this point with the realization that I did in fact give my children the father I always dreamed for them . I continued "Earlier today I watched my husband teach our son how to ride his bike without training wheels. Instead of me really embracing that moment when my husband was bonding with my son, teaching him how to ride his bike, I questioned him on his teaching technique. I told him he was too hard on our son. I was, of course, cheering on our son and taking pictures but at the same time nagging at my husband. What was I doing!?!" There is truth to sometimes you don't see what is right in front of you. I was focusing on what he wasn't doing (in my opinion) verses what he was doing. The reality of that truly hurt my heart. I told the room I was really hard on my husband. Sure there are times he deserves it :) But not always. Maybe it's my fear of abandonment which causes me to prepare for him to leave so maybe I can help push him out the door??? Maybe it's the fact that in a sick way I am most comfortable in the chaos, drama, being a victim because dammit I am a victim, BUT I can not live a healthy and happy life that way. This meeting helped me see that. I literally have everything I have ever wanted in the man I married but instead of seeing that I tend to focus on the bad which will lead to a looonnnnnggggg unhappy marriage til death do us part! I don't want to sound like I never show my appreciation  for what I have because I do however I think I need to spend a little more time appreciating what I have. After the meeting I was given a list of numbers to all the members that attend the meeting if I ever just need someone to talk to and I had a lot of people hugging me, saying they understood me. Tears literally never stopped rolling down my cheeks. It was a constant flow and I was embarrassed by my emotions but everyone there understood the hurt one feels when you are healing. The pain was both good and bad but I needed to feel all of it. I walked quickly to my car where I sat in the dark parking lot for at least 10 mins sobbing. I mean the ugly cry. Loud, snot, tears, even a little talking to myself! I drove home knowing I was suppose to be at that meeting, that night! I hope to make that my go-to meeting but again with my schedule I might not make it every week but I have to promise myself to find time for me. It's, at most, 2 hours out of the week to better myself and sometimes bettering myself will hurt like hell but that's ok. I'm ready and willing. You better believe I walked into my house that night and hugged my husband tighter than I had ever hugged him before and I apologized for my actions that day. I'm thankful for him. So, my father taught me what I wanted out of a life partner so thank you Dad.