Transitional Willingness

I’m starting to accept that my career path is about to change. I’ve been ‘Annie the Nanny’ for almost 12 years now and for a long time, that was a huge part of my identity. I was the woman whom other women could depend on to help raise their children. I was their ‘go-to gal’, and Man Alive, did I love that shit. I loved that the kids would run to hug me when I walked in the door at 8am. I loved that the moms felt comfortable and confident leaving the precious little lives of their offspring in my extremely nurturing and responsible hands. I loved the freedom of not having another adult around watching my every move (there was a HUGE downside to that when the only interactions you’ve had during a 10 hour day were based on playing ‘dragon mommy’ with an extremely imaginative 5 year old girl and all you wanted was an empty chat about the new Starbucks latte coming out with a GROWN UP). I loved that I got paid to laugh Every. Single. Day. And truth be told, I still love that about my job. I got paid to take a 45 minute walk with a puppy today. I got paid to sit on my ass and watch 2 episodes of Walking Dead on Netflix too. Even though I am ready to move on from this line of work, there really are things about it that are priceless.

That said, the priceless moments of down time and exercise – while great in the health and relaxation department –  are making the very real fact that my brain and spirit have no real room to grow at my current job very, very apparent. The old me would sit on this realization for months and months, hemming and hawing and bemoaning the idea that yet another change was about to set its’ sights on me. The old me would wait until the job I was unhappy in started to suck my soul out. The old me would wait for it to get unbearable – loss of sleep, copious amounts of tears, general resentment throughout each day, anger…you name it –  before making a decision to really take some action.

Since I’m big into this whole Evolution of Annie right now I will say that the old me isn’t in charge anymore. The old me had the mentality of a 17 year old. She didn’t accept that change is a very real and manageable part of being an adult. She only saw change in black and white. Alive and dead. So, to her, a change meant the end of something….the death of something…or someone. That’s understandable. I get why that part of me viewed change in that way. I forgive her for that. I just can’t give her any more room to blow off steam.

I have been deep in the transition from the 17 year old I have felt like for the last 19 years to who I am today – the extremely capable, battle-tested, beautiful woman sitting at my laptop in my boyfriend’s house while he works on a music project downstairs (God, I love him) – and I’m facing this new professional pivot in my life with next level courage and awareness. I’m not cowering in a corner, eating or drinking myself into a numb haze to avoid what I know to be true. I’m talking about it. I’m writing about it. I’m reading about it – ‘Transitions’ by William Bridges. I’m giving myself time to work it out in my head before I make a plan to move forward. And I will move forward, I just have to reconcile the internal identity change first. I’m such an emotional creature; always in tune with what’s going on in my mind and heart. That’s gotten my into trouble in the past because my emotions are big, loud and over-fucking-whelming. But I have a better safety net for them now. My emotional barometer is solidly reliable. I can filter and interpret my giant emotions. I don’t let them own me and take over like I used to.  A helpful reminder from my gorgeously kind mother was – This too shall pass. Too true mama. Too. True.

Something major shifted over the last year and a half. I have started to give myself a chance. I have begun the journey back to my true self (my therapist would be so fucking proud) and I honestly can’t wait to see what a healthy dose of self love, patience and consistency will yield. I’m going to come into my own…what that looks like, I still don’t know…but I’m willing, oh, so willing to find out.

Such a fucking revelation.

In and out goes the tide…

Yesterday was my birth mother’s birthday. I met her for the first time shortly before she turned 50. She just turned 52. For years, I would have given anything required of me to know that piece of information. Any knowledge about my birth mother held an elusive and seductive power over me for most of my life and I would have willingly paid the price. In many ways, I have.

Two years ago, my birth father and I organized a surprise lunch for her. He told her that he was taking her out to lunch, just the two of them. But, unbeknownst to her, he and I planned for me to be waiting at the restaurant. When she saw me, the look on her face was priceless and she started to cry. I was elated to be able to share a moment like that with the woman I never thought I would know. I keep the memory of that day in my heart.

Last year, when she turned 51, I texted her and said something like: ‘Happy Birthday ___. I hope all is well with you.’ And her response, hours later was: ‘Thanks, kid.’ That text was the first contact I had with her after our major falling out, 7 months prior. From surprise lunches with tears to a vague text….the tide comes in…then it goes out.

My dad used to call me ‘kid’. My heart. It aches.

This year, I didn’t reach out at all. I thought of her the day before her birthday and wondered if I would be able to gather the courage/desire to send another awkward text. Apparently not.

I think about her a lot. I wonder what she’s doing. I wonder if she thinks about me. I fantasize that one day she will reach out and apologize for disappearing and choosing my birth father over me.

I try to hang onto the good memories I have of her – the first time I met her, when she first hugged me and touched my cheek, the day she introduced me to 2 of my brothers and that elated smile when I surprised her. I move forward with the security and peace that comes with knowing (finally) that I have her eyes, her hair, her lips and that for a short time, I had her love.

As much as thinking about her these days makes me sad, I am honestly really grateful for the beautiful pain that comes with having known her. It’s spectacularly complicated but it’s light year better than wondering who she was all those years…34 to be exact. That particular ‘not knowing’ pain was fuel to the fire of my addictions. Never ending fuel.

I miss her. I miss her raspy voice and her no nonsense way of viewing people and their ways. I miss her perspective. I miss the possibility she held. I miss the connection I had with her.

Maybe next year I’ll be able to write about how she and I mended fences and were able to celebrate her 53rd birthday together. Maybe.

 

Let it Begin

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I have been inspired and fundamentally in love with Alice in her Wonderland since I was a little girl. She has a cat (named Dinah (!!)) and a fantastic blue dress (not pink (!!!!)). Those were two big ticket items that I could really relate to. Felines and lack of girlie colors. Sign me up. But the central reason I loved her so much was because she didn’t ever apologize for being herself. She was lost in a world she knew nothing about. She shrank to an eighth of her true size. Then she grew taller than a redwood tree. She was almost ‘smoked out’ and she was thrown out of a garden of very snotty flowers for ‘maybe’ being a weed (bitches). She was constantly confused and led astray by a clever, ever disappearing, floating cat. No one seemed willing to help her in any kind of rational way. Everyone else’s Madness was thrust upon her but she still remained clear headed and strong willed. Surrounded by all kinds of obstacles and unknowns; she was Alice. She is Alice. She will always be Alice.

I dig that. I dig it so much I’m putting it into my blog. Probably more than once. The idea that you are the only you there could ever be is something I find intensely comforting and gratifying. I’m Annie. I will always Be Annie. I’m the one who is in charge of my place in the world. I’m the one who calls the shots. It’s up to me. Same for her. She makes her way through and eventually out of Wonderland. Another reflection of Alice that resonates year after year. The only way out is through. This latest era of wandering around, challenged and alone has nothing to do with anyone but me.

There’s a slogan in al-anon that says ‘Let it Begin With Me’. I never adhered much to that one because I always felt the reason I landed in al-anon meetings (at least in the beginning) lay at the feet of my angry alcoholic boyfriend. My need for community and support did not begin with me. It began with him. I know now that the slogan wasn’t talking about where fault lies, it’s simply saying if you want something to change you have to start with yourself. Look to you and your own behavior and choices first. Period.

It took me years to figure that one out. When I first started going to meetings – the day after I drove my ex to rehab – I was very angry, very afraid, deeply codependent and lost as fuck. I figured, he was the one who drank, so I was the victim. He didn’t drink because of me, I knew that. But he didn’t stop drinking because of me either and I took that very personally. The patterns of his addiction had nothing to do with me, but it intensely affected the fabric of our relationship. It framed everything we did, said and experienced together. It was a part of us as a couple – his drinking and eventually his anger. Whether or not he drank 30 beers and punched holes in walls and broke things and ruined parties and terrified me was where is began for him. Not me. It took me years to figure that one out too.

Nowadays, I’m sincerely my own woman – in many ways, I’m my own Alice – walking tentatively through the jungles of my own Addiction Wonderland. I encounter lots of temptations, lots of triggers, lots of reasons to drink. For now, I’m lost in the thick multi-colored trees of daily drinking, not exercising, feeling burnt out and that FEAR I talked about before. I’m stumbling around blindly right now, but I have not fallen. It’s going to begin with me, Goddamnit. It’s going to. It’s only a matter of time before I figure out how to run with what’s inside my head.

As before…thank you for reading.