5/20/10

Untwisting

You know that rumbly sound of slurping the last of your drink through a straw?

I can't decide if I love or hate that sound.

Maybe I should decide to like it because it's a satisfying sound of finishing, being sure to get every last drop of something tasty. And maybe I should hate it because it's a belchy kind of irritating satisfying sound.

I feel this way about sobriety. Some days I'm absolutely in love with its satisfaction, and other days (ahem, yesterday) I hate the itchy irritation of it. When I was drinking I was trying to take the edge off. What I'm learning is that it wasn't working, not at all. My edges are more rounded now than when I was pouring glass after glass night after night. I'm softer and lighter and different.

The thing is, sober or not, alcoholic or not, life is covered in itchy irritation. So when I'm hating sobriety, it isn't even really sobriety that I'm hating. And therein lies the beauty of remaining alcohol-free. It's just right. It fits, even if a bit tightly at first.

And I see it as a gift. Because I don't know how to answer you when you ask, "but what if I feel like you were feeling and I'm not an alcoholic?"

"What if your journey and your struggle resonate with me and I don't drink? How do I change?"

I've gotten so many emails like that, and I just don't know what to tell you. I really wish I did. Sometimes it feels really selfish to be wading through my issues, taking so much time away, an hour at a time, many days, to work on me, to stay sober. But I have to. I have no choice. So in a way, I wish every one of you, especially the mothers who write to me, could be given that. Time away to remain victorious over it, whatever your it may be.

Here, leave the house, sit and talk and just be. Do it or you will self-destruct. Here are some tools, use them. Here is a list of numbers, dial them when you feel lost or lonely.

I wish every woman, every mother, could be given that permission. To go and seek and learn what it is that makes her tick or keeps her all tied up in her own head. To heal and cry and grow, rounding her edges. To maybe take a good look at her hard truths, the ones we all have, the things that we need to give up, to rid our lives of so that we can breathe. Selfishness, over-eating, booze, vicodin, yelling and screaming, too much TV or Internet time, whatever! Usually we are upset and twisted up inside because we have no time to be honest with ourselves about what needs to go. Resentments? Anger? Habitual lying? Self-deprecation or hatred? Guilt?

You know what it is for you. Maybe only you know. If you could stand in front of the mirror, staring straight into those eyes of yours, refusing to look away until the truth has set you free, you would see that you know. And as painful as whatever that truth can be, looking at it is the only option on a road to freedom.

It will make that slurpy and belchy sound and panic will rise in your chest, but you will start to untwist. And you will look around and say, Oh God, what do I do now and then you will tell someone who loves you dearly and you will say I have to do something about this. And sometimes that means getting help, so you will ask someone to help you get help and then you will do it. Because realizing you are powerless over whatever you are carrying and pushing and pulling and wearing, it just becomes what you have to do, once you stop running from it.

I am sitting in a coffee shop with all the windows open and a breeze is blowing over my sandaled feet and I'm wondering, who am I to say these things? What do I know?

But I wanted to answer your questions, while I hear the slurping sounds of finished drinks from tables around me. I wanted to tell you that I'm sorry I can't give you steps to overcoming the way you feel, you who is maybe not an alcoholic but you who still wants to know what's wrong with you.

Friend, those people, other mothers or just any person, who seem so happy and content? Maybe they aren't. Maybe they're just like you and like me. And if they are truly peaceful, even serene? I'm guessing they gave something up. Because if we're telling any kind of good story at all with our lives, we've sacrificed something to win something better, you know? Every good story (as it says in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years) is about wanting something and overcoming a great obstacle to get it.

Not every obstacle is a bold addiction. But maybe it's more of a way of thinking or living or dealing, a way that just doesn't sit right in your heart of hearts. What we're all seeking so much of the time (aside from spiritual things) is balance. Every mother, every person, knows that balance is at times completely impossible because life just won't allow for it. But I want to tell you that I am closer to it than I have ever come and only because I took something out of my life that would make balance impossible, leaving me reeling and twisted.

I'm still twisted up a whole lot of the time, but not in such a shackled way. New days abound in which I start again and feel renewed. When I was drinking, there was no such thing as true renewal.


I am four months sober today, and that's all I know.

(And I hope I don't sound like a big bossy know-it-all jerk. I promise I'm not one in real life.)

37 clicked right here to comment:

deb said...

Fabulous, Heather.
Fabulous. And congratulations.
love to you

Meredith said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I love that you make your path so relateable. I love that when you talk about it, you find the way to talk about what's going on underneath it, and it's the same thing that is going on with all of us in different forms. It's the ache and the uneasiness and the agitation and the itch. Congrats on 4 months.

Ashleigh (Heart and Home) said...

Unbelievably true. And I can say that you are one of the wonderful ones who have helped me to realize these truths.

~she who is learning the "how" of healing

Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

I believe you have just defined what it means to be a "grateful alcoholic."

We are such lucky ones.

Happy Four Months! Outstanding.

Tylaine said...

Hi Heather,

I've been reading your blog for awhile now but have never commented. You are such an inspiring lady and you have a great talent at writing. I feel that some things you said in this post are directed at me and I thank you for writing them. Your blog is fabulous, you are fabulous! Keep writing and congats on 4 months! :)

Kimberly said...

Today was a good day to read this post. To have a bit of a cry and feel renewed like this. For all your own struggles you see so much so clearly. You are amazing. Not just for 4 months of sobriety - though that's wonderful and worthy of celebrating. You're amazing because of the person you're allowing yourself to become. For going through that oh so painful refiner's fire and finding out who you really are. That's hard. Painful. Tiring. But you're doing it, and you ARE giving the rest of us permission. You really are.

Anonymous said...

"And as painful as whatever that truth can be, looking at it is the only option on a road to freedom."

This line (and so much of what you wrote in this post) rings true for me right now. My problems are vastly different from yours, but admitting my own personal truth is painful. Thanks for sharing your insights. (I've been reading for a while, but today I felt compelled to comment.)

love said...

"Because if we're telling any kind of good story at all with our lives, we've sacrificed something to win something better, you know?"

YES, friend. yes, i know. you are so smart. seriously. i am thankful for you. do you know that?! and i'm proud of you. can you hear me cheering you on? i am. even if i happen to not be around sometimes. i am team heather. all the way.

Jan said...

Congratulations, Heather, on 4 months!

You don't know me and I barely know you, but I do know that a lot of what you've written resonates with me and I'm definitely not an alcoholic/addict. I did want to pass on, though, that there's an organization for us -- those of us without an actual addiction but who have somehow managed to begin to be broken in those same ways. CoDependents Anonymous has changed my life. If any of your readers see themselves in you or find themselves longing to have a way to take your journey, I recommend reading the book CoDependent No More by Melody Beattie and/or checking out a CODA meeting. In AA you say the only requirement for membership is a sincere desire to stop drinking. In CODA our requirement is the desire for healthy and loving relationships. Which I have to think pretty well includes everybody!

Kelly Langner Sauer said...

"maybe it's more of a way of thinking or living or dealing, a way that just doesn't sit right in your heart of hearts"

these ways are bold addictions in themselves, as inescapable as alcohol.

how do i begin to comment here when I barely know what to say for myself lately? it is good to read your heart for each of us. what a story God is writing for you...

MidnightCafe said...

Aw, Heather, you could never be a bossy know-it-all jerk. Your words are always so filled with grace and kindness. I think we're all on a journey, and most of us haven't arrived. I know I've identified plenty with the things you've said about recovery. I know there are things that are specific and unique to alcoholism, but there are also so many things that are universal and true that we could all stand to learn and practice. I admire you.

Love,
MidnightCafe

Corinne said...

I think there's a certain type of person that deals with similar issues. The universal issues and questions and troubles. And everyone has different coping mechanisms. Ours (old) favorite just used to be alcohol... and we just happen have a problem with it...
Four months :) wow! Yay for you, Heather!

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Congratulations on making it four months into this journey, Heather. Bravo to you.

And I don't think you are a big bossy know-it-all...not even a little bossy know-it-all. You're telling your truth as you know it. And I know I'm not alone in always being able to pick up big and little bits of grace and wisdom for your words.

Elaine A. said...

I'm addicted to sugar. Is there a support group for that? Seriously (not trying to make light of the support you need). I'm currently trying SO hard to curb those cravings and my first attempt is that I started the South Beach diet on Monday. It's going pretty well but there are times (meaning minutes and even hours) when I want something sweet and it's so, SO hard not to have it. What I'm trying to say, is - I can relate.

And I HAVE to do this, I believe, for my health and wellness. And I have to raise my kids to not eat too much sugar too because it could be detrimental to them as well.

Yep, I can REALLY relate to this post and SO enjoyed reading it. We can support each other, whatever it is that we need less or NONE of in our life...

Thanks for your words Heather. xo

Maggie, dammit said...

You are brilliant.

Anja021netteC_021Restrepo1 said...

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Aging Mommy said...

Heather, the fact that you can write about this, be so brave as to voice your issues and your courage to deal with it means you are so very much on the right road. As you say, we all have issues, but facing them, determining within ourselves to deal with them is so much more than half the battle. Congratulations

Boy Crazy said...

mmmmuah.

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Heather, nicely said, really. So honest that...how could it not resonate with any one of us reading? I think so many of us have our walls and masks and everyone looks so wonderful and no one wants to admit that inside we are ALL broken. Thanks for bringing it to light here. I'm right there with you. My affliction isn't alcoholism, but that of having been raised by an alcoholic, having been formed to believe that I need to prove myself, that I am less than. Like you, I'm working to overcome all the things that came unraveled that need to be tidied up again. In doing that, I'm moving closer to God, my beautiful Creator, and it's a wonderful feeling. Keep up the good work, even in the itchy moments.

warmchocmilk said...

You wrote this post just for me. You are talking to me, aren't you? It sure seems you are. Perfect. Thank you :)

bennance said...

Hi, Heather.
I've been reading for a while and felt compelled to share how much I enjoy your blog and how moved I am by your writing. It's truly beautiful and insightful.

As wives and mothers, we all need to give up our dreams of the perfect life and accept our own realities.

Sometimes reading blogs can make this harder, as many display their lives through rose-colored glasses (and beautiful photography). I love the raw honesty of your blog and of your writing. Thank you for being a breath of fresh air!

amommymous said...

Wow. I loved this. Have you ever read Chronicles of Narnia? I can't remember the details exactly, but there's a boy who gets turned to a dragon (because inside, he was a dragon all along). Aslan the Lion, the God-figure in the books, comes along and finds him crying his eyes out. He's so sick of being a dragon. And so Aslan takes his big claws and begins scratching away his dragon scales. And it's painful and difficult... but it frees him! His tender and beautiful human skin emerges and he is, once again, a little boy. Thank you for reminding me. I've felt icky and uncomfortable in my own skin lately and I've forgotten to give the mirror an honest look, see what I'm dealing with and start scraping away that dragon skin- painful but necessary.

keli @ kidnapped by suburbia said...

this post is just.so.good.
and congratulations on 4 months!!

Billy Coffey said...

Congratulations, Heather. And you're not a big bossy know-it-all jerk. I think we're all twisted up a whole lot of the time, but I'm thankful you're not shackled.

Kelly said...

"Not every obstacle is a bold addiction. But maybe it's more of a way of thinking or living or dealing, a way that just doesn't sit right in your heart of hearts."

This. So many of us walk around our whole lives feeling inferior or used up, all because we're holding onto things (memories, actions, events, expectations) that hurt us.

Congratulations on letting yours go 4 months ago and continuing to do the hard work of not letting it back in.

AllisonO said...

That other sound you hear? It's me violently shaking my head YES YES YES.

Ryley @ That's My Family! said...

So so good..
You are so right on my friend.

Congratulations on 4 months.. whether you love it or hate it today! :)

Hyacynth said...

Four months. Wonderful. A heart-felt congratulations, Heather. I don't know this addiction, but I know a different one. And I know what you mean when you say some days are victorious and some days simply are not. There's so much to be said for taking the time to heal -- to get alone with God, pour it all out to Him and listen for His voice. It's always His strength that leads me down the path, helps me take the next step.

You don't sound like a big bossy know-it-all either. :)

Kazzy said...

Wow! Four months! You keep going girl.

ZDub said...

Proud of you, love.

Charlotte said...

I love your look on sacrifice and its necessity. It is really hard to change parts of ourselves we know are wrong, but have become a major crutch.

Congratulations on four months. That is an accomplishment worth note.

Pines Lake Redhead said...

Heather, I found you through Motherese. This post resonates so deeply with the depression that I'm currently slogging through. I'm glad to have found your blog. Congrats on 4 months! That's fabulous!
Erica

Soccerbelle said...

Heather,

Congrats on making it four months. That's a third of a year - any very incredible.

One comment you made that I wish I would have known back when I was a young mom - "time away to remain victorious over it". I always felt it was wrong to take time for me. God gave me these beautiful children, who was I to think I deserved time away from them?

The best gift we give our children is a healthy, strong mother. Keeping taking the time you need to be that mom.

Hope said...

Good, good stuff.

ck said...

Congratulations on your four months!

And on your courage and strength and honesty and integrity in writing. Your words are inspiring.

TKW said...

Thank you for these words. I need them today.

xoxo

Anonymous said...

you are so inspiring... thank you!

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