It’s Not Just About Accepting, It’s About Letting Go and Moving Forward

It’s Not Just About Accepting, It’s About Letting Go and Moving Forward

A HUGE reason I started this blog was to connect with other women. I was thrilled when my last blog post helped me do just that! Rose contacted me via my Facebook page and we discovered we were a part of the same recovery community (Sober Mommies – highly recommend that group!!!). Anyway, she asked if I ever took guest submissions and I immediately said yes. I’m so happy to share her words here – her message is so important. If you have a story you’d like to share about motherhood, sobriety, or both, shoot me an email: smccallmph at gmail dot com (just to keep scary InterWebs robots from spamming me).

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When I first got sober I was told that acceptance was the key. I was told the only way forward was through the acceptance of my alcoholism, and that once this was accomplished I would then be able to find the life I had always wanted.

I didn’t really have a problem with this idea, because by the time I finally got sober I was ready to accept my alcoholism. I had spent 18 years or so attempting to find other ways around this diagnosis, but came up empty, and so arriving at the last house on the block I decided that it was probably high time I surrendered.  You see, I knew that surrender would provide me with peace it would allow me to finally just be in the moment

Through accepting the fact that I was an alcoholic and accepting what this truly meant, I was then able to work the Steps and seek therapy, which allowed me to accept other things in my life as well.

I was able to accept a lot of the trauma that had occurred during my childhood and I was able to accept the fact that I was not perfect. This one was huge for me because for so long I was driven by this idea that I had to perfect or else I would be unlovable. When I began to accept my imperfections, I began to learn how to love myself for who I was.

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Most importantly through all of this, I learned the difference between acceptance and letting go. While the two may seem similar, they produce very different results in a person.  What I mean by this is that I learned that just accepting something is not enough, but there must be action that goes along with the acceptance—that action being letting going and moving forward. I can give you a good example from my life in order to illustrate this point.

One of the most difficult things that I have had to deal with in my sobriety has been my relationship with my ex-husband. For the first part of my sobriety, I was a thousand miles away from him, and so I didn’t really have to deal with him on a regular basis. Being away from the situation allowed me to have a sort of faux-acceptance of it because I accepted the fact that he was who he was, and I accepted the fact that he wasn’t apt to change anytime soon.

Since I didn’t have to engage with him that much, this form of acceptance suited my needs for the time and I could freely wash my hands of him, all under the guise that I had finally accepted the situation.  But then I moved back home and I learned that just accepting who he was, was not going to be sufficient for me to actually deal with him.

I began to really struggle with being home and every time that I had to talk with him or interact with him on any level, it would bring about a hate in me I didn’t know I still had. I would relive the years we spent together and become overwhelmed by these feelings, to the point where I just didn’t know what to do. I mean, I thought I had accepted that he wasn’t going to change, so why did I feel so terrible about it?

What I discovered is that while I had indeed accepted some parts of the situation, I had not let it go and moved forward. I had only accepted that the situation was terrible and never thought that it could possibly get better. By doing this I continued to cling to my feelings and let them drive me and because of this, I was completely unable to move forward.

So like with most things in my sobriety, I eventually arrived at a point where the pain was great enough and I had no choice but to surrender it…I mean really surrender it, and ask God to do with it what he will. And then something amazing happened. I actually began to forgive my ex-husband and in turn I actually began to let go of the situation.

I no longer felt angry after I had to deal with him and I no longer hated him when I found out that he was saying negative things about me to our children. I just simply let it go and decided that I was going to move forward regardless of what was going on.

This happened only recently, like within the past few months, and let me tell you – once again my life has been transformed. I no longer carry around this heavy burden and in this particular case; I no longer suffer from the delusion that I can control it.

Acceptance is in a sense the act of relinquishing control, but once control is given up there must be an action that follows in order for it to truly take hold. For me, the action is that I have to mentally and physically let go of whatever it is that I am holding on to, and then ask God how he would like me to proceed.

I have found that often times, God’s plans for me far exceed my own, but my ability to trust this may waver a lot of the time. Often, I still want to hold on desperately to things that I should let go of, and it is really only through pain that I find I am able to do so. But like the whole situation with my ex-husband, as long as I trust God, continue to stay sober, and try my best on a daily basis, I know that I will be able to let go of whatever comes my way, in due time.

rlRose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children, she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. She is currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing and you can find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram.

Sobriety is NOT that simple

Sobriety is NOT that simple

A huge part of my continued sobriety is reading. I love books. I love learning. My name is Sara, and I am a nerd. I also like inspirational quotes and passages. I get daily emails with motivational wordstuffs around sobriety. Sometimes, they are so damn on-the-spot that I feel like the writer is spying on me (or is that my anxiety?). Today was not the case. Today, my motivational wordstuffs pissed me off:

In the Sixth and Seventh Steps of the program, we become willing to let go of our defects of character – issues, behaviors, old feelings, unresolved grief, and beliefs that are blocking us from the joy that is ours. Then we ask God to take them from us.

Isn’t that simple? We don’t have to contort ourselves to make ourselves change. We don’t have to force change. For once, we don’t have to “do it ourselves.” All we have to do is strive for an attitude of willingness and humility. All we have to do is ask God for what we want and need, and then trust God to do for us that which we cannot do and do not have to do for ourselves.

We do not have to watch with bated breath for how and when we shall change. This is not a self-help program. In this miraculous and effective program that has brought about recovery and change for millions, we become changed by working the Steps.

All emphasis added was mine. The part in red was what, well, made me see red. So you get to see it in red too! #sharedexperiences

Sobriety is not that simple * youareagoodmama.com

ANYWAY, I hate the assertion that sobriety is simple. IT IS NOT. It is 100% not simple and easy to change a behavior that that is compulsive, persistent, and results in brain changes that challenge your own self-control. That’s why so many addicts relapse, and why there are so many different pathways to sobriety. If sobriety were easy and simple, everyone would do it the first time!

Compared to stories I’ve heard, my road to sobriety was relatively easy. I haven’t relapsed since my last drink on September 9, 2006. I haven’t been incarcerated. I haven’t lost my children, my spouse, my family members, or friends due to drinking. I never lost my job or became homeless. I never had to be hospitalized for health reasons related to drinking or detoxing. I don’t list all these things to brag – I’m grateful that these didn’t happen to me because I understand how easily they could have.

Sobriety isn't easy * youareagoodmama.com
I have all this, thanks to the hard work of sobriety

However, it’s not smart to compare your sobriety journey to that of others’. My sobriety journey was not easy, nor was it simple. Also, once I completed the sixth and seventh steps, I didn’t just sit back and let things happen. I continued to work. Instead of making snap decisions based on how I felt at the moment, I tried to consider all consequences that could occur (translation: I cared about how my actions affected others and didn’t just act on whim). I analyzed how I felt, and reached out for help from supportive people if those feelings were too big to handle on my own. Some might call that God working in my life. That’s fine. I choose to also respect the hard work I was doing.

I would also argue that recovery work IS a self-help program. I mean, if I wasn’t willing to admit I was an addict, or seek help, I’d still be blacking out from too many Jack & Cokes on the weekends. Self-help doesn’t have to mean you do it all on your own – it isn’t called All-By-Your-Self-help.

Sobriety isn't that simple * youareagoodmama.com

Motivational wordstuffs such as this mean well, but I feel they can be very damaging to recovery work. I could easily see someone thinking, my sobriety wasn’t simple, so what am I doing wrong? It’s dangerous to simplify sobriety work. It isn’t simple. It’s messy and complicated and hard and time-consuming. Is it worth it? YES. Absolutely. Just don’t call it simple.

www-youareagoodmama-com

Sobriety: the best stress reliever

Today is my sobriety birthday. 8 years! Originally I thought I’d do something lighthearted; other awesome things that are 8 or notable stuff that happened today.

But then I had a shitty stressful day. ON MY (SOBRIETY) BIRTHDAY. Here’s the rundown:

Packed up both kids. Drove to grocery store. Unpacked kids. Halfway to store, realized I’d forgotten my wallet. This was me:

 

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Packed up both kids. Drove home, found wallet. Finally back to store. Grocery shopping with two littles is never relaxing, especially when the almost-4-year-old chatters nonstop and the 6-week-old wakes up halfway through and screams for lunch.By the time I got home, got everyone fed, put the baby down for a nap and got the groceries put away, my nerves were shot.

And I was like, What. The. Hell. It’s my (sobriety) BIRTHDAY. I should be relaxing or doing something awesome – not feeling like a stretched-out rubber band that’s two seconds from breaking.

But after eating a bowl of popcorn and watching a few episodes of Agents of Shield, I realized this stress was exactly the right way to celebrate my (sobriety) birthday. The morning was shit, so what did I do with the afternoon? Not get drunk, not make bad decisions, not react and reach for something to numb the frustration. Instead, I ate a favorite food, watched a good show and gave myself time to relax.

Sobriety gave me the ability to do that. Sobriety also gave me the ability to still be a somewhat decent mother when my patience is so thin, it’s transparent. What better way to celebrate my (sobriety) birthday than to utilize the most precious gifts this day have given me?

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Depression is a sneaky bastard

My diseases are liars. When everything is going well, they lead me to believe I’m “fine” or “cured.” If I take my meds for long enough, I start to think I have beaten depression and might be able to live without them. Every now and then, the thought sneaks into my head that my alcoholism is gone and I could handle “just one drink.”

And then I miss my meds for a few days, and crash into familiar territory. Sad for no apparent reason. Overreact to seeming slights. Take criticism too personally. Irritable as fuck.

(Thank heavens I’ve never acted on the thought of “just one drink,” because Bad Shit Would Happen – worse than what I describe above.)

All it takes is a few days off my meds to knock me back into reality. I can’t live without chemical support. And fuck all if that isn’t really depressing. I mean, I’m not going to physically die without it, like someone with diabetes who needs insulin, but living with untreated depression isn’t really living.

It shouldn’t be a big deal. There are millions of people with chronic diseases who take meds. Most don’t have the shitty stigma of mental health problems, but then I don’t really care if someone disapproves of my Prozac. So I’m really not sure what it is that bothers me. Maybe it’s the long-term nature of it; that I probably will have to take a pill every day for the rest of my life in order to be happy or “normal.” That’s kind of tiresome, especially for someone who sucks at remembering to take pills.

I just hope the drug builds back up in my system quickly. I’m sick of these nighttime downers.

When the past invades your present (parenting)

My son attends a gymnastics class once a week. On so many levels, it’s a good thing: he gets some socialization, gets a chance to learn new skills, gets practice with listening to authority figures, I get an hour to myself (stuck on a hard bench, but still). He enjoys it, and has been exposed to so many different new things. Did you know a 3yo can do the pommel horse, and rings, and high bar (all with assistance, of course)? When I did gymnastics camp in the 2nd grade, we only did floor, vault and beam.

Colt in the swing at gymnastics

So this sounds all find and dandy, right? Last week, I almost broke down in tears watching him. Not from pride or that sentimental “oh-he’s-getting-so-big” crap that frequently pops up. The tears were threatening to spill because I wondered if this gymnastics thing was a big mistake.

Colt is very spirited and independent. Sometimes, he has trouble focusing. This often comes out in gymnastics, when his coaches are asking him to do specific tasks and he just wants to screw around with the other little boys in his group. Last class, I watched the coach put him in a sort of timeout: a few feet away from the other boys, facing away, because he wouldn’t stop messing around while waiting his turn. I think it was the right thing to do (hell, I’d probably do the same), but it still broke my heart to see my boy singled out. When the same thing kept happening at every station, that’s when the doubt started to creep in.

Then I wondered if maybe these feelings were highlighting my own personality or parenting shortcomings.

I try not to be pushy with Colt. I want him to enjoy his activities and not feel like he has to succeed in order to be loved. But there is a part of me that wants him to be the best. I think it’s natural for every parent to have that feeling. With me, I also know I’m very competitive. I was an overachiever growing up and felt like my worth was dependent on how well I did in school, sports, etc. When I got my first B ever in high school, I felt like a complete failure. In sports, I was always second best, the 6th man, the first sub – never the starter, the star. It made me feel less-than, even though I was always on the varsity team and contributed greatly. I just never felt good enough.

I don’t blame my parents for this. They applauded my achievements and encouraged me to do well, but never tied their love to how well I did. I’ve read that feelings like mine are often seen in children of alcoholics, so I’m guessing I developed them as a coping strategy to my dad’s drinking.

I don’t ever want my son to feel that he has to be perfect to be loved. I also don’t want him to miss out on learning opportunities just because I’m afraid he’ll fail, or be laughed at, or feel inadequate. I think it’s important for him to experience these things, so he can learn healthy coping strategies now that will serve him well as he gets older.

There is proof that the gymnastics thing was more about me than Colt. At the end of class, I was waiting for the coach to come over and tell me that Colt was not getting his sucker today because he didn’t listen (this has happened before). Instead, I watched her put her arm around his shoulders and say, “Good job listening today, Colt.” From a distance, I only saw the negative, but up close she saw improvement. When he ran over to me, beaming and saying happily, “I did listen today,” I swallowed the lecture about listening to his coaches, hugged him and simply said, “I’m so proud of you. Thank you for listening to your coaches.” Apparently, Colt isn’t the only one who is learning from gymnastics.

Sobriety Birthday Sounds Beautiful

Today’s post is a two-fer. There are two things I wanted to write about and they actually meld together quite nicely.

SobrietyBirthdaySoundsBeautifulYouAreAGoodMamadotcom

Número UNO: Today marks seven years of sobriety for me. 2556 days since the last drop of alcohol passed my lips. It’s freaking amazing. I wrote about it on my sister-from-another-mister blog Sober Mommies. Pretty please head over there and check out my rumblings about this accomplishment! I’m uber proud of myself. Go read my post here:

http://sobermommies.com/2013/09/10/no-7-year-itch-here/

Welcome back! Because I know you went and read my happy birthday post, right? RIGHT? Ok!

Número DOS: it’s Twisted MixTape Tuesday, which is my new favorite thing. You have to check out Jen at My Skewed View; she always puts together a great mix with songs I’ve never heard of. Plus you can check out tons of other bloggers having fun with music.

So what does Twisted MixTape Tuesday have to do with my sobriety birthday? Jen gave us the theme of beautiful songs, which we get to interpret any way we like. My idea of beautiful songs are ones that tug at my heart strings and make me happysad. You know, where you feel an ache in your chest but still enjoy the beauty of the lyrics and music? And you kind of enjoy the ache? Only me that feels this?

Anyway, that’s how my recovery birthday makes me feel. I’m so happy for what I’ve accomplished, but get a little melancholy thinking of all the damage my alcoholism/compulsive behaviors have caused. So, here goes…

Top 5 beautiful songs that make me happysad, but will probably depress the shit out of everyone else but hey who cares, it’s my sobriety birthday!!!!

1. Babylon by David Gray
This song. The weekend I quit drinking, I was pretty low. Getting raped while blacked out will do that to you. As I was driving home, this song randomly popped up on my iPod and I felt compelled to LISTEN to the lyrics. My Higher Power was speaking to me through this song:
If you want it/Come and get it/Crying out loud/The love that I was/Giving you was/Never in doubt/Let go of your heart/Let go of your head/And feel it now

2. I Wish I Was the Moon by Neko Case
Gorgeous, just gorgeous emotion evoked by this song. This is the tired part of me looking back and going, why didn’t you fix your shit sooner?

3. Good Night, Bad Morning by The Kills
Pretty much sums up my drinking days: nights that I thought were good, followed by mornings full of puke and regret. So glad that’s not my life anymore. This song is the epitome of happysad for me.

4. Let Go by Frou Frou
Learning to live in sobriety is hard. And scary. Especially taking that first step. Imogen Heap’s gorgeous voice helps.

5. Everything In Time (London) by No Doubt
I love Gwen Stefani. These lyrics defined me for so long: I’m feeling lost inside the low. Lost no more. But I still love this song.

And because it’s my 7th birthday, 2 bonus songs! The ones don’t make me happysad. They make me feel joyous.

6. Hang On Little Tomato by Pink Martini
Such a happy, hopeful little ditty. Bonus: PM is from my hometown. Portland represent!

7. Thrash Unreal by Against Me!
Ok, so this doesn’t make me 100% joyous, but I do thank my lucky stars that I’m not going to be the woman at the end of the song, trying to pick up young dudes with my old-ass drunk self.

When “You are your mother’s son” is scary

“You are your mother’s son.”

My husband said this affectionately to our son last night as we left the restaurant. Colt had just told him, “I didn’t do it. Mama did it.” He was referring to how I had picked him up and put him in his seat because he was dawdling too much to do it on his own…30 minutes ago. That greatly upset my very independent boy, so he sat and stewed on it for the entire meal.

Yep, he’s my son. When I got butt-hurt about something, I used to hold onto it and roll it over in my mind for ages. I used to let small misunderstandings ruin my entire day, which would frustrate my husband to no end. I didn’t like doing it, but I couldn’t help it. I was upset, you know, so it was important to chew on it because eventually he would see I was right and he was wrong, right? Right??

Luckily, I’ve since learned the value of letting go of small annoyances and working through larger problems so they don’t get blown out of proportion. But the memory of my past behaviors is there when my son shows signs of my less-than-impressive qualities. And that’s what makes the phrase, “You are your mother’s son,” slightly chilling to me.

WhenYouAreYourMothersSonIsScaryByYouareagoodmamadotcom

What else is he going to inherit from me? Will he be a slave to compulsive behaviors, as I was? Will he feel anxious in social settings because he believes everyone there is better than him? Will he lie and manipulate because he can’t handle the emotions he’s feeling? Will he be an alcoholic or addict?

These fears aren’t new; I’ve had them since before I was pregnant. Of course I only want him to receive my good qualities and I want my bad qualities to be left behind in the gene pool. Truthfully, I want him to be more like my husband. I’d rather Colt had my husband’s cool, calm and collected sunny day rather than my up-and-down emotional thunderstorm. So far, it’s looking like he’s more of the thunderstorm type.

I know it’s not just nature that decides how our life goes. Nurture plays a big role as well. I’m able to calm my fears a little because of the changes I’ve made in my life. I’m no longer the slave to compulsive behaviors, the self-hating girl who lies and manipulates because she can’t handle the emotions of addiction. I can do my best to mitigate the less desirable genes I’ve given him, by nurturing him with love, encouragement, empathy and respect. I am the best person for the job of his mother.

And I’m going to do my best so that when someone tells Colt, “You are your mother’s son,” it’s something to be proud of.

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