Down but Not Out

Fifty five days. I made it fifty five days. Then the itch got me. I have been stressed. I have been bored. Quite honestly, real life isn’t as entertaining as I had hoped. So the thought of beers crossed my mind and I let it. I didn’t fall off the wagon, I took a running leap.

This little disease called alcoholism is a sneaky little bitch. I told myself, even preached to myself that I wouldn’t do this. I cannot drink. Never let my guard down. And then in a tiny moment of weakness, I was fooled. It wasn’t even weakness. Boredom maybe. I didn’t even try to fight it. I bought some beers and did what I have done a million times before, got black out drunk.

I have heard that watching an alcoholic or a drug addict is like watching someone run into traffic over and over again, no matter how bad they hurt themselves. It actually makes sense to me. Once the damage is done, I remember that it hurts me. But at the time, I’m chasing the fun. Chasing the freedom and good times that I used to find at the end of the bottle.  Only once I feel the pain do I remember the pain from the past.

It started innocently enough. Visiting with some friends over beers. Then that turned into drinking and playing darts, then eventually shots of tequila. Not once did I attempt to stop. As usual I don’t remember going to bed. I woke up with a pounding headache. I ignored all the plans of chores I planned to do and laid on the couch. The following day, I was still exhausted. My body hurt. It was not worth it.

In the past. I would have said “fuck it.” I would have justified my actions and continued back down that road. I would have been drinking right now. But this time it’s different. Maybe this is part of my process. Maybe I had to stumble to remember what I am fighting for. To appreciate the true gift of sobriety. I am not throwing in the towel. I messed up. I am not mad at myself. I am not a loser. And I am also not perfect. So now, I will dust myself off and start over again. I will never  give up. I will find my way. One day at a time.

 

 

 

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Lesson on Relaxing

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Letting life happen is not my strong point. It probably stems from my past as a single mother, and my present as a wife and mother of three. I have a hard time sitting back and letting the chips fall, so to speak. I am someone who obsesses. I cannot relax until issues are resolved and I am comfortable with how things are. It is my last thought before I sleep and my first thought when I wake up. It is consuming.Exhausting.

My latest obsession started about a month and a half ago. My 13 year old son approached his father and I requesting to live with his biological mother. It stung at first, how could you not take that personally? But we held our composure and he explained. He has not lived with his mother since he was a toddler and went without seeing her until he was seven. Since that time he has seen her every other weekend and some holidays. He wants to know what she is like.  I can certainly respect his request, and his reasoning is logical.

So now, my obsession begins. Should we? How will this work? Can she do this? I have dealt with his mother outside of his knowledge and she has never been the maternal type to him. She has gotten angry at requests for any kind of help above her legal obligations. I became terrified that I was about to lead my boy right to the lions den and drop him off. I envisioned heartache and mental break downs. This is a child I have loved and raised for the last five years. I have taught him manners and respect. I have disciplined him. I have had long conversations with him about life and legos and video games. l have helped him through medical issues. I have held him and helped him through every time she broke a promise or didn’t show up.

After a lot of thought and discussion, my husband and I decided this should be done. If we don’t let him try, he will resent us. Our concerns would never make sense to him. He sees a woman who welcomes him every other weekend and tell him she would give him the world. We know her as a woman who gets angry when we ask her for help. So it is settled, we will offer her more time. We will start with a month and see how it goes.  We have not agreed to let him move in, just to let her have him more. We have stressed to him that our door is always open if he decides he wants to move back.

I spoke with her about this yesterday. I believe that when you have a child, you grow up with him or her. If you are separated, you stop growing as a parent. I also believe this to be true in this case. I talked to her about how she felt. She told me she is excited to sign him up for lessons and volunteer at his school. Keep in mind, he is in the seventh grade. Both of their expectations are unrealistic.

But what do I do? Obsess over it? Try to tell her what to do? Try to parent him from another house? Honestly, that is my first instinct. But I have to let this happen. I have to relax and breathe and let them figure this out. This is the first time I am not the primary caregiver to my child and I know it is going to be very hard for me to step back. Do I think this will work out?  No. But all I can do is let them attempt this and be here when he needs me. Who knows, maybe she will surprise us all and finally be a good mother to him. Just kidding, I’m his mama.

Wish me luck.

Valentine’s Day

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Jeff and I have spent a lot of Valentines days at the bar. In fact, we’ve spent a lot of holidays at the bar in general.

It was exactly one year ago, that I decided to take Jeff on a Valentine’s day adventure. We were hungover, but we got in the car and left. We ended up in a Livingston, MT. I lived there before I met Jeff. I took him to my favorite pizza place and spent way too much on a motel room because it was walking distance from the bars. We went to a little bar that neither of us had ever been to. As I said, we were hungover so we had to drink extra just to try to feel normal, then we would work on getting drunk. We were taking shots of fireball chased by vacations. If you don’t know what a vacation is, it is light rum, sprite and orange juice. I cannot remember the exact amount, but I know we each had at least seven rounds.

We sat in a booth, listening to music and drinking. I was with the man I love, on Valentines day. It was awesome, and we were happy. We paid our tab and left. And that’s all I know. I don’t remember walking back to out hotel, or going up the stairs and into our room. I don’t remember getting into bed. I just remember waking up to a pounding head and the need for water.

And that’s the part that sucks. It started off good. We were having a good time. We were happy. And then I gave my night with him to booze. I am the one who should have ended the night with him, but I blacked out as usual. I didn’t kiss my husband good night on Valentine’s day. I should have spent every minute I could have with him.

So this year is different. No bar, no booze. We didn’t even leave the house. We hung out and relaxed and cuddled. We watched TV and ate some food. And it was amazing. Because we kept this one for ourselves. We didn’t give our time together to booze. We spent the entire day coherent and in love with each other. And I am grateful for this day and for the many more days we get together.

Happy Valentine’s Day

The Itch

The itch is what I have always called an intense need to drink. An obsession. It was a terrible itch that only booze could scratch. I could not focus on anything except getting some booze. At one point, the itch would come often and strong. If I had a bad day. Or a good day. If it was warm out. To celebrate. If I was sad, or crabby, or bored. Any reason was a reason to drink. And as all alcoholics are, I could manipulate anyone, even myself that that itch needed scratched, regardless of the consequences.

My decision to stop drinking was not a sudden one. It took a lot of wanting to quit drinking before I actually did. It got to a point where it wasn’t fun anymore. I was beginning to not like who I had become and I certainly didn’t like the drunk version of myself. I was sloppy. I fell off of bar stools. I always blacked out. I was that girl. I hated that I went from tired to blacked out. I hated being in a constant state of hung over. I hated not knowing what I did the night before. I hated that I gave so much of my time and money to booze. So towards the end, the itch lessened for me. I hated living that way so for now, the itch is gone.

My husband and I did however deal with our first case of the itch since we decided to go sober. It was February 2, his birthday. The first birthday he has been sober for a long time. The itch was strong for him. I considered it. I thought about getting some beers. I even had a plan. We can always start over. But he knew that he shouldn’t. He knew that we would regret it. He fought off the itch. We spent his birthday sober, eating cake and watching The Walking Dead. Dodged a bullet. Then that weekend we went away. We stayed at a hotel, with a bar. We went to a casino, with free drinks. The whole drive over, I was anxious that the itch would come back. It didn’t. And we had a good time.

But here is the part that is scary, to alcoholics and the people that love us, the itch will come back. It always comes back. You see, sometimes we forget what our drinking is like. We remember it as fun. Getting loose. Having a good time. Because, that is what it was like in the beginning. That is what we kept chasing. I never drank to become the type of drinker I became. I was just looking for that good time. Right now, its easy. I am well aware of how it ended and how I don’t want to go back. Time will pass, I will forget. Trust me, I know, this isn’t the first time I’ve tried this. I have to keep my guard up all the time. I always have to remember and be alert. Because when that itch comes back, if I keep scratching it, it will kill me.

My Son

I didn’t meet my son, Logan, in the traditional way. I  did not give birth to him. I never nursed him or changed any diapers. I didn’t see his first steps or first words. I met him when he was seven. I had been dating his dad and they decided to come over to my house and make me dinner.

The cooking was done mostly by Jeff. I sat out side with this eclectic little boy who wore moon boots despite the fact that it was the end of July. We got to know each other in the style of a child; favorite color, favorite food, how old are you, etc. Him and I sat on the porch while his dad cooked and just like that, our bond began to form.

That summer, my work schedule left me in charge of taking the kids while Jeff worked. It was perfect, it gave us time to get to know each other. The girls and him had similar histories. All of their parents made terrible decisions that ended in a fear and pain that none of them quite remember.  They all have one parent that disappeared from their life. And they all had one parent that stepped up and decided to improve themselves and the lives of their kids, something Jeff and I are still working on.

Initially, I stood in the background. I knew that Logan had a mother that was not me, and if a woman tried to take my role, it would not end well for her. But as time moved on, I could see that me stepping into that role was vital. I remember then first time he called me mom. We were camping and I had given him a beer to give to him dad. He handed it to Jeff and said “Mom told be to give you this.” Everyone stopped and looked at him, to which he replied, “what? Shes my mom too.” And then he was so. I grew a love for him as deep as I have for my own girls. I have always raised him as if he were my own. I take him to the doctor when he’s sick, I discipline it when he needs it, I have helped him through issues that have come up, and I have always tried to show him I love him.

The truth is, however, being a step parent can be a thankless job. He loves me, but his young mind and heart idolize him biological mom. I understand, but it is frustrating. I have been the one who has held him when he has cried because she didn’t show up. I have heard him get excited so many times about her promises only to find out that they aren’t going to happen. It gets to see her every other weekend, providing she doesn’t have other plans or gets sick. He used come home crying because he missed her. I attempted to involve her more, she was not interested most of the time.  At times I asked for help financially. This always ended in a tantrum and her accusing me of wanting all of her money. I guess her thirty some dollars a week in child support should cover it. At one point, she told Logan that they could not do anything because she had to give his dad all of her money.

Over the years, we have gotten two sides of Logans mother. One that was reasonable and seemed to put him first. The side that he has seen more often, the one that loves him and claims to have the desire to do anything for him. And there is the side that Jeff and I see more often. The selfish, narcissitic side. The side that loves him at her convience. The side that has told me that she only wants to see him twice a month. The side that is detacthed and only seems to know him as the three year old little boy that she left behind. This is not an easy thing for me to accept or understand. I could never imagine treating my kids the wasy she treats him and it infuriates me.

But the truth is, she is a huge part of his story. I respect that. I have to appreciate the gift that she has given to me. She has let me be his mother and love him like my own. I have always called the shots and she has allowed it. So while she has frustrated me by how she treats him, she has stood back and allowed me to fill the void. I don’t know if its because she cannot do it, or doesn’t want to. It doesn’t matter, all that matters is that I love that boy and I will do anything I have to do for him. I will teach him to be a man, protect him and keep him safe. I know at some point, his maturity level will pass hers. I know that someday, he will see her true colors. I know that she could break his heart into a million pieces. And that will be a terrible thing to see him go through. But like every other time that boy has needed his mama, I will be there. And he will survive and become a better man for it.

 

My Sweet Baby

Once my divorce was final, I found that moving on wasn’t as easy as I anticipated. I was a beat down woman, running on fumes, terribly depressed. Plus, I was now a single mother. In a lot of ways, I was always a single mother, but now it was official. I worked nights, and on the nights I didn’t work, I would put the girls to bed and drink a bottle of wine, or three. I would drink by myself and listen to music. Sometimes I would drink with one of my single mother friends over the phone. Sometimes my girls would go to grandmas and I would go to the bar.

Eventually, I started healing from the relationship I ended. I read a lot and talked to people who have been where I have been. Its funny to me how humans are so text book, so predictable. If you were in an abusive relationship, read a book about it. You’ll think it was written about you. Same with any other disorder or addiction. I read so many books and did a lot of soul searching. I never quit drinking, but I wasn’t always drunk with these thoughts.

After two years of being single, I decided I was ready for a relationship. I had a decent paying job and just bought my first house. My girls and I were good. But I was lonely. After I put them to bed, there was nobody to talk about the day or watch a movie with. Just me. I also set myself some ground rules. I would accept nothing less than perfect. If I decided to have another man in my life, he respect and love me. He would treat me like I deserve to be treated. He would value me and never, in anyway, be abusive to me. And, most importantly, he would love my girls as his own and raise them with me.

So, I joined an online dating site. If this is something you are considering, do so with caution. I definitely met a few major douche bags. But on my last effort, I met Jeffrey. We texted for about 2 weeks, learning about each other. We were both so honest with each other. Probably because we didn’t expect much from online dating, and if the other was crazy we could just stop. But the more we texted, the more we found we had in common. We were both single parents, we liked the same things, same sense of humor, been through similar things. After two weeks we decided to finally meet.

For our first date, in the summer of 2010, we met at a parking lot and planned to go on a hike. He showed up with a weird, long goatee and a fanny pack. And I still agreed to go with him. I instantly felt safe with him, we had already connected. I wasn’t nervous. He made me feel comfortable. We went for a hike and sat on a rock and split a six pack of Dragons Breath. We talked, then we went to the river and sat and talked more. We ended the night with a drink at the bar. We played a game of pool, which I suck at. He won, then he kissed me. We hung out for a few more hours, then I went home. I was in love with this man. We spent every possible minute together, and have ever since. He moved in within a month and we were married in a year. We have had our moments of driving each other crazy and pissing each other off. But, I kept my promise to myself. The perfect man that I was looking for was amazing, but my husband blew that guy out of the water. My Jeff is not perfect, and neither am I, but we are so perfect for each other.