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.

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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.

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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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The Gift of an Ordinary Life

Do you know what it feels like to regret something with every fiber of your being, but still be incredibly grateful for the lessons you learned from that shameful experience?

I do.

My heart silently aches while it pours out happiness like sunshine.
My stomach churns with equal parts sorrow and joy.
My mind struggles to forget what happened but delights in the place I am today.

I can’t believe that I’m here today. This life that I have now is beyond my wildest dreams. On the outside, there’s nothing extraordinary about it. I’m a stay-at-home mom who takes care of a busy toddler and keeps house for a loving husband. It’s a life that many women live every day.

What’s extraordinary is that it so easily could be different.

I made serious mistakes. The kind of mistakes that change your life. When it came time for the consequences, I had choices. The first choice I considered was ending my life. I thought I couldn’t live with myself, knowing the pain I’d caused my loved ones. A selfish desire to see my son grow up saved me from those thoughts when I was at my lowest.

Once I decided I was going to live, I had another choice. I had to choose how I was going to live that life. Would I continue to live as I had been, ruled by addiction and compulsive behavior? Or would I choose the path of healing? Staying the same would be easier, but I would lose my family. Choosing to heal would involve a lot of pain and no guarantee that I would keep my family.

I chose the path of pain and possibility.

A year later, there is still some painful healing to do, but I’ve come a long, long way and changed drastically as a person. I’ve become someone I can live with, someone I can love and respect. I take responsibility for my actions and I find it easier to choose the next right thing.

And the possibility? It became a reality. My family is intact and healthy. Every night, I get to kiss my boy good night and cuddle him to sleep. I marvel at how easily I could have lost that. Every morning, I get to hug my husband and ask him how he slept. That, too, could have been lost.

My actions almost ended life as I know it, but choosing to turn away from the person I used to be brought me rewards beyond my wildest dreams. I’m not really a Christian, but this Bible passage resonates with my journey:

Ephesians 4:22-24 (New International Version)
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off the old self,
which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

With time, the happiness will overpower the ache; the joy will defeat the sorrow. My mind won’t struggle to forget because forgiveness will have vanquished the shame.

But for today, I will simply enjoy this beautiful gift of an ordinary life.

A post about nothing

So, I have been both unable and unwilling to write for quite some time.

I could blame it on circumstances. I have been busy, after all. We moved into a new apartment. We received our household goods out of storage. We’ve been downsizing our stuff in an attempt to fit a 2-bedroom townhouse into a 1-bedroom apartment (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t really happen). Our family has been doing fun stuff in the evenings and weekends, which was practically unheard of at my husband’s last base. I’ve been trying to find my housewife/SAHM routine so that the house stays (somewhat) organized, healthy food is on the table, the toddler is clothed, fed and entertained and I get my fill of The Sims 3 (don’t be so jelly of my glamorous life). We had a failed attempt at potty training. Oh and I started working out again, too (Thank Jeebus, so tired of feeling like a lardass). So yeah, there’s a lot going on.

But normally, I’d write about all that stuff. So what’s my deal now? I don’t know, it just seems like every time I think about writing, my brain goes, “Hey! SQUIRREL!” and I wander off, distracted by something random. Even now as I write this, I start daydreaming about my Sim’s career or when I should start dinner and kind of have to force myself to finish sentences.

I think I’m getting in my own way. I need this blog for my outlet, but sometimes I get intimidated. I’m part of an amazing group of bloggers who share information and support each other. Some are newbies like me, and some make money and go to blogging conferences. I guess I feel like I need to be up to that caliber. I don’t know if I’ll ever be up there; it takes a lot of time and energy to build a blog like that. I just don’t think I have the desire, but somehow think I have to do it anyway…

Hmm, I’m trying to force myself to strive for something I don’t really want because I think I “have to” for some reason? Hello compulsive behaviors, I wondered where you’d pop up next. I used to do a lot of things compulsively – things I didn’t really want to do or knew were bad, but felt that I “had to” because “someone” thought I should. I’ve weeded out my most harmful compulsive behaviors. However, the compulsive, addictive part of me is going to always be looking out for something to latch on to. Right now it’s writing. Sometimes I get so caught up in whether I’m writing the “right” stuff or if this post will go viral or get published on a bigger blog, that I forget why I write: for me. I don’t write to please people; I write to keep myself sane. Maybe I should get that tattooed on me somewhere.

Or better yet, just get the word THINK tattooed somewhere to remind me to be on the lookout for that sneaky bastard compulsive thinking.

Well, I managed a lot of words about how I can’t write words lately. That’s pretty good. I have some ideas for theme days on the blog, to help me focus my thoughts better. We’ll see how that goes. This blog, like my life, is a perpetual work-in-progress.