Archive | May, 2015

Attitude of Gratitude

23 May

This is a very bittersweet weekend for me. Memorial Day weekend was the last time I drank, three years ago, on a girls’ trip to NYC. It’s the kickoff to summer, and right now the sun is shining brightly and it’s beautiful outside. Last night as I drove kids to various activities, I couldn’t help but notice all the people in our neighborhood who were sitting outside, enjoying the evening with a nice cold beverage. Visiting with neighbors, coming out after a long, cold winter. There are certainly going to be challenges for me this weekend. But I’m so much stronger now than this same weekend one year into my sobriety, even two.

For some reason, anniversaries of sobriety are hard for me. I get very anxious and squirmy. I’ve written about that on my one-year and two-year celebrations of my recovery. There’s great potential for “stinkin thinkin” as they say. Potential for me to think that I’ve made it this far and that now I would be okay “just having one drink.” Or potential to say that I’ve made it this long, that’s enough. Vivid memories of all the fun I had in NYC that weekend come rushing back. But so do the haunting visions of my hands shaking at lunch until I got a glass (or six) of wine in me and nearly throwing up on stage at a Broadway show (a story for another day). And I’ll never forget sitting on the street corner in New York, at four in the morning, finally admitting to my friend that I was an alcoholic. That same friend hasn’t missed a single day, now three years later, with the same text every morning checking on me. That’s pretty high up there on my gratitude list.

Other friends have continued to hold me up, support me and carry me when times got tough and the power of this cunning, baffling disease tried to overtake me. They wouldn’t let it. I’m grateful to them and especially to my sponsor, who is even able to simply sense when I am having a difficult time and shows up at my doorstep. And it goes without saying (obviously not if I’m saying it) that I couldn’t do this without the love and support of my family. To have my thirteen-year old daughter tell me that she’s proud of me means the world to me. Can you say gratitude?

Thanks for the comments on my blog pieces, the pats on the back and the kind words. And special thanks to the friend who pulled up yesterday while I was walking my youngest home from school and handed me a big, beautiful bouquet of flowers from her garden and a lovely handwritten note (yes, people actually still do that) of congratulations and encouragement. It meant a great deal to me and I’m very grateful for caring friends.

So I won’t lock myself away in my bedroom this weekend, pulling the covers over my head to avoid all the temptations. I’ll celebrate my son’s birthday today present, clear-headed, not hungover, and at peace. And I’ll remember it when I wake up tomorrow morning too.

Most of all, let’s not forget what this weekend is all about. A heartfelt thank you to those who have served our county and humbled remembrance of those who gave their lives. Freedom is way up there on my gratitude list too. Happy Memorial Day.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” — John F. Kennedy

Poor Me Some Whine

21 May

I went into downtown Washington, D.C. today to have lunch with three women I worked with nearly 25 years ago. I still can’t get it through my head that I can say I did anything as far back 25 years ago. (Yes, I worked when I was five years old). I hadn’t seen them since I “came out” about my alcoholism. I know they read my blog so they are aware of my sobriety.

We met at an old favorite Mexican restaurant and I watched the waiters bringing margaritas, cold beers and shots of tequila to other diners. The cold beers looked really good. So did the margaritas. The tequila shots seemed a bit much even for me, an alcoholic, on a normal Wednesday afternoon. I thought about how in the old days, pre-sobriety, I would have been knocking back margaritas without giving it a second thought. But my friends all ordered non-alcoholic drinks, as did I.

I used to drive into DC from Northern Virginia every day when I worked as a lobbyist. Today, I felt like I was driving to Mars. Driving in the city brought a tsunami of memories as I passed bars I frequented, restaurants where I wined and dined colleagues and offices I visited for meetings, usually hungover. The liquor store near my old office was still there. Always a convenient place to pick up bottles of wine for Christmas gifts for others, or bottles of something stronger for Hangover Thursday gifts for myself.

The memories were both good and bad. Certainly many laughs and lots of good times. But also lots of mistakes and escapades I’d rather forget. The flood of memories came just after a string of several big disappointments the past two days. Suffice it to say that I had gotten my hopes up for a few things only to be slammed back down. In addition, a friend relapsed. And I have a nasty sinus infection. And none of my summer clothes fit. So my point with all this whining is what you ask?

Any of these things on their own would be enough to feel like a kick in the stomach, but the perfect storm of crap that has blown in the last few days has me thinking how nice a big (huge) drink would be right now. It’s that swirling around of so many different feelings in my head (much like the swirly margaritas I drooled over today at lunch) that makes it tough as an alcoholic. I used to drink to get all these feelings in check, or, more accurately, to get them to go the f— away. I drank to numb, so I didn’t have to actually feel the feelings. But now I do.

While feeling the bad feelings hurts (immensely sometimes), feeling the good ones can be an inexplicable joy. Memories fall into the same category. And the farther along I get in my recovery, the more memory bubbles that keep popping up. As much as my head hurts at times like this, and I’m not sure what to do with all these feelings since I no longer wash them down with booze, I’d still rather feel the ups and downs than not feel anything.

Yes, I know that life is full of disappointments. And yes, I understand that I just need to suck it up and put on my big girl panties. But sometimes I need to whine. And whining is better than wining. So thanks for letting me.

Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter could be said to remedy anything– Kurt Vonnegut

Summer Is Around the Corner

16 May

It’s that time of year again. Time to sign kids up for summer camps. It’s a love/hate thing. While I love the idea of the kids being at camps and not driving me insane 24/7, the logistics can be a nightmare. Sometimes I think I need an engineer from NASA to come draw me a schematic or flow chart of who is going where and when. And what happened to the good old days when our parents would kick us out in the morning and tell us to come home in time for dinner? A different world, that’s for sure. What happened to kids using their imaginations and creating a space rocket out of an empty, giant, cardboard box? Now they control a space rocket on the screen of some sort of an electronic gadget to destroy alien invaders or to build their own futuristic cities.

These days, if you don’t send your kids to all kinds of different summer camps, it seems like they are left to fend for themselves, with few friends around to play with. God forbid they aren’t entertained every second of the day. There is pretty much a camp for everything too—-boy scout camp, art camp, basketball camp, yoga camp, junior architect camp, sumo wrestling camp… For some parents, camps aren’t enough. They want their kids to be learning during the summer as well, so they register them for summer school or extra classes like Introduction to Swahili or Norse Mythology. Surely those will help Johnny get into Harvard. There are also numerous vacation bible camps, and by August, I am honestly fine with enrolling them in Satanic Cult camp if it gets them out of my hair.

Then there are the carpools. With three kids going in three different directions, these can be more confusing than and about as  f—ed up as Obamacare. Take child 1 to pick up three of his friends and drop them at chess camp, child 2 is getting picked up by another mom to go to frog hunting camp, and child three is still on the computer, three hours later. One child in the carpool forgets his epi-pen so we turn around to get that. Child 2 forgets his lunch so mom has to rush back, cursing under her breath the whole time wondering why he can’t just learn to eat frog’s legs. Hell, it’s a delicacy in some places. Child 3 gets off the computer to get a “snack” and leaves the kitchen looking like something out of an episode of “America’s Test Kitchen Hoarders”. And that’s just the morning.

Pickup in the afternoon is even more of a cluster with the added benefit of sweaty, smelly kids in the car. And even though they were together all day, the must yell at each other recounting the day’s activities and events at the highest decibal level possible. Then, of course, they all start making plans about which house they are going to for the rest of the day. Or the pool, which entails wet bathing suits and pool towels inevitably ending up on the bedroom floors. Whichever house they end up at (hopefully not the America’s Test Kitchen Hoarder’s house), they are all ravenous and go through every industrial sized box of crap that was just purchased on a $350 Costco run.

We live in a neighborhood with a park and a pool. Why can’t kids simply entertain themselves with these things? Or the basketball hoop in our driveway? I’m all for some structured activities but I think today we have gone way overboard. Not to mention the cost. It seems like come April, all I do is open up my checkbook and write another camp deposit check.

Summer also brings with it an endless stream of happy hours and outdoor drinking time. From adult sippy cups at the pool to evenings sitting around the fire pit drinking. Not an easy time for a recovering alcoholic. Just as you have survived and put the tough holiday season behind you, here comes summer with all its temptation. And whether the kids go to camp and you are crazed with the logistics, or they stay home and drive you batty, you’re pretty much ready for a drink at the end of the day. So I’m off to invent some fun summer mocktails that I can spend this last bit of spring perfecting. Maybe that’s an idea for a new camp for junior—-Kids’ Mocktail Bartender Camp.
Summer, turns me upside down
Summer, summer, summer
It’s like a merry go round——The Cars

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