The Parking Lot of Pain

So. I had a session with my therapist today and she (as per usual) had some fantastic nuggets of wisdom for me. I read ‘Visiting Day’ to her. Her immediate question when I finished was, ‘Does the pain really still feel that big to you, even now?’ My answer was, ‘Yes.’ I wish my answer was something different, but as of today, it’s not.

I then told her about a dream I had the night before I wrote the post. In it, I was walking through a huge parking lot. A Target style lot. Rows and rows of empty spaces on either side of me. The air was humid, saturated with moisture and very close. My clothes clung to me like barnacles. I was pushing an overloaded shopping cart. I had no idea what was in it, only that it was cumbersome, heavy and difficult to navigate. I was trying to get to my car as quickly as I could because of the heat. I loathe the heat. But because of the damn cart I wasn’t covering any ground. It was almost like the pavement was half melted and the wheels of the cart were forever getting stuck, twisted and off course.

I glanced behind me and saw a group of five 13 or 14 year old boys following me. They had an intense ‘Lord of the Flies’ energy about them; all charged up on primal testosterone-fueled anger. Their faces may have even been painted and they were literally carrying spears. They were gaining on me because of my snail-like pace. I could have left the cart and started to run. This idea didn’t occur to me. I just dug in my feet and continued to push. Before I knew it, the leader of the pack starting whooping, ran at full speed toward me and smacked me square on the ass – HARD. He said, ‘Get the FUCK out of here!!’ I felt the slap, but not in the good way. It Hurt. And then I woke up.

I didn’t think of it again until I was in session with my therapist today. Right away, she knew what the dream was trying to slap me (literally) with. The pack of boys represented my brother and his tumultuous existence. Their anger was Tom’s anger. It was my anger too. All my anger directed at myself. She reasoned that the parking lot represented my pain. Big. Suffocating. And she went further still saying that the boys were trying to literally kick me out of my pain. They wanted me Gone from that giant lot. Disappeared. Never to return. It was like they wanted to be left there in peace. I had been overstepping my welcome for far too long and they were just plain done with me. Done.

And holy shit. The boys in my dream and my therapist were both SO right. I feel this pain of mine too much. I turn it over and over in my hands. I gaze at it. I worship it. My Precious.

Putting the tribe of boys in my dream together with what’s been going on in my life, (e.g., drinking daily, not exercising, feeling stuck as fuck) was exactly what I needed. My eyes opened and it clicked – I’m stuck in my pain. I’m addicted to my pain. It’s like I’ve been laboriously pushing that damn cart up and down the rows, looking for a car that isn’t there (and probably never was) since 1997. It’s a fruitless and tremendously exhausting endeavor, one I’ve been trying to perfect for years.

And I don’t have to stay stuck there. I can give up the search for my non-existent vehicle and simply walk away. First I have to let go of the shopping cart. That has to stay in the lot. I know it.

All I have to do is….Let………Go.

It’s so simple.

Mindfulness and awareness have always been my biggest allies. Both have helped me immensely to foster change in my thinking and behaviors in the past. Remaining aware and mindful is where I struggle; it’s oh so easy to fall off the wagon.

But nowadays I have a blog. I can come back to this and re-read it any time I need a reminder of what I already know. I have friends who check in and can help me remain accountable and blissfully aware. I do not have to do this alone. That’s one prime piece of knowledge I want to remain especially mindful of.

I am not alone.

 

 

 

 

 

Security Blanket

I have so many thoughts and emotions skittering around in my head today, so hang in there with me if this post turns out to be really scattered and/or emotional as fuck.

I sit here, in a blissfully air conditioned Starbucks eavesdropping on a couple behind me who are clearly on a first date after connecting on an online site and while I’m amused and inwardly smiling at their banter and completely feel their awkward pain, I’m also feeling incredibly adrift in a sea of emotions. Most of the things I’m feeling are familiar. Most are old hat. I know them well, I have walked these halls before; I know what the fuck I am doing in them. But there’s so many offshoots in the halls and I can’t decide where to go. I’m feeling lost today. That’s what I don’t know what to do with. I’m basically overwhelmed. And triggered. Triggered like whoa.

I’ve been reading up a lot on other women’s journeys through their drinking days and how they proceeded bravely into sobriety. I am deeply envious of these women. I am truly inspired by their courage and dedication to living again. I read their words, feelings and experiences and I am in awe. How do they do it? How did they dig deep enough? How?

I know it’s coming – my own sobriety. I know it’s going to happen for me, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to write the way I have been. I would avoid the subject of my drinking like the plague that it is. Also, I would still be going out all the time, drinking myself blind and making out with married men. Yup, I’ve done that a few times. Get me drunk enough and I have no regard for another woman’s vows or security in her marriage. I want what I want in the moment. Consequences be damned. Her husband is the one out late with a strange woman. The problem lies in his decisions, not mine. Right? Right?

Obviously, I am wrong to think this way. However, that’s usually the booze talking. It’s not really who I am at my core. If I was sober I wouldn’t think or do things like I just described. I am a good person. I have things to contribute to this life. I want to do more than drink and think and bemoan and drink and overthink and lose myself. I want to do more than numb and actively avoid feeling anything and wonder why it’s so fucking hard for me to simply live and be. I don’t want to stay drowning in the stew of my emotions. I don’t. I don’t. I don’t.

Why isn’t the fucking fact that I don’t want this to be my life enough to make me stop? Why can’t I just let go? I suppose the answer to that is simple; I’m holding on to it. This habit that helps me not feel. I’m holding onto it like a little girl with her security blanket who is spending the night away from home for the first time. Terrified to let go. I’m still holding onto the lies the booze tells me. I’m still adhering to the horrible and sometimes horrifying inner dialogue of my overtired mind and living according to what it says (You’re too FAT. You’re worthless. You’re disgusting. You’ll never be able to get through this. Your life is meaningless. Even your friends hate you now. You’ve pushed them away and you have No One. You should just fucking end it.)

Mostly I’m scared. That’s basically the bottom of the barrel. I’m scared. The fear makes me think these things. The fear keeps me in the bubble of not wanting to live without alcohol. It’s quite the cycle I have going for myself. Quite.

But that’s ok. I’m not upset with myself for being scared as I normally would be. I’m adjusting to the fear. I’m trying to settle down with it, to go with it. The energy it takes to go against it is tremendously draining. So, more and more I’m looking at my fear. The more I do that, the more I see that letting fear run the show is the silliest solution I could have ever come up with. C’mon woman! Get your head in the game. You matter. You are important to everyone but yourself. Stop that! Stop devaluing yourself because of your past! Just stop. Change your ways, change your thinking, change your life. Let’s fucking go!

Yes.

My sobriety is on its’ way. I feel deeply and I think too much. These two things have always been my downfall. I’ve always allowed the things that have happened to me to write my story. I’ve let the hard times design the landscape of my life. I can’t allow that to happen anymore. I have to get on my team. I have to be on my side. I have to take care of myself first. If I don’t, I will be – and, sadly, have started to become – absolutely no good for anyone.

*deep breath*

I fucking got this. I got this. I got this.

Yes.

 

The Good Girl Addict vs. Reality

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Hands down, this has been true of my life experiences. Everything I have been through has in some way, felt like either Too Fucking Much or Never, Ever Enough. Where did the happy medium go? Whatever happened to balance? Sometimes I think that I never learned how to balance. I never learned to pace myself.

Once I found something that helped me feel less unsure, less lost, less neglected that was it. I wanted that thing over and over. I would consistently search for whatever high I had managed to find the previous time. I felt alive when I could feel that high. It awakened a need within me and I began an endless search for something else to make me feel like my life was worth something.

A sugar high from candy when I was growing up; the very first signs of my addictive personality. Or when I was in my early 30s, it might be a self-esteem high from winning the temporary and extremely drunken affections of a stranger in my bed. Feeling a man’s body poised over mine, about to enter me gave me a thrill I didn’t think was possible.

And nowadays I’m chasing the perfect floaty, fizzy, tipsy feelings of my 3rd or 4th glass of wine. I feel giggly, worthwhile, sexy and exciting when the wine is invading my bloodstream. I feel tremendously invincible. I don’t feel like anything bad will happen for maybe 15 minutes and then reality inevitably pokes her head through the curtain to remind me that it’s almost bedtime because I’m an adult and I have responsibilities and I have things I have to do other than drink and fuck and eat.

Sometimes I’m glad to hear from reality. Sometimes I’m grateful that I still remember to keep my head on straight and to keep my shit together. Most times actually. More and more as of late I would rather have a clear head. But sometimes I don’t want to fucking hear it from her anymore. Reality is such a bitch and she always wins. No matter what. Sometimes I just want to stay and stay and stay in the haze of floaty, fizzy and tipsy until I forget where I’ve been and who I am becoming. But the longer I stay the more dangerous it will become. Addiction is progressive. Alcoholism is progressive. Over time, you start to need more and more than you used to just to feel a slight, tiny, miniscule buzz. As the great sage and eminent junkie Axl Rose once sang, ‘I used to do a little but a little wouldn’t do it so the little got more and more. I just keep trying to get a little better, said a little better than before.’

This shit is real. This addiction is happening. It has been for most of my life. But I swear to God, the more I talk about it here, the more I know someone else is reading what I have to say, the less this fucking rope around my neck is squeezing the life out of me. It’s loosening. It’s beginning to slip. And I couldn’t be more grateful for that.

Thank you for reading. Whoever you are. Thank you.

Definitions of self

In spite of this problem (my struggles with addiction), I deeply and profoundly love, respect and accept myself.’

It was suggested to me by my therapist to repeat this mantra to myself out loud. She stressed the importance of saying it out loud. By using my mouth to shape the words and actually hear my voice saying the statement, she hoped that something would click so that maybe, just maybe the meaning will stick in my mind and I will believe it.

I have trouble accepting myself. I think a good portion of my ‘stuckness’ around self-acceptance comes from being adopted. I never felt connected to my family while I was growing up. I always wondered where I came from and who made me. However, my parents didn’t use the word ‘adoption’ and they never asked me how I felt about it. I took their lack of openness as shame. I thought they were embarrassed that they had to adopt me. I followed their lead and never spoke about it either. I felt ashamed that I wasn’t truly theirs and I never learned how to talk about it because we didn’t have a dialogue.

I adopted ‘adoption’ as a form of protection. If I kept myself apart by being ‘adopted’ then the confusion and emptiness I felt about my parents’ assumed shame wouldn’t hurt as much. I would think to myself, ‘no one understands me, it must be because I’m adopted.’ Within that word I was safe. Underneath that label I was able to drift away and not feel anything because I had a built-in excuse. I would think, ‘I’m adopted, you’ll never understand who I am or how I feel.’

But now that I’m an adult, I actually found a dialogue about adoption with my mother (and oh my God was I wrong about her feeling ashamed of me. As far as she is concerned, I have always simply and completely been hers) and with that came the ability and courage to actually find my birth parents. I met them. I spent time with them. I met 2 of my 4 half siblings. I hugged my birth mother and my birth father. I engaged with them. I learned from them and discovered with them. Then I lost them to each other (I’ll get into the belly of that beast at some point down the road, I promise). And now, I don’t have anything left to protect myself with. I don’t have the armor I’ve always worn with some sort of backwards pride because ‘adopted’ doesn’t really apply anymore. Sure, that’s how I started my life, but it will not be how I continue or end it.

Now I’m wondering how I’m going to define myself as I move forward. I’m not the tragically lost ‘adopted’ girl anymore. I’ve grown up. I’ve evolved and I am a woman, standing on my own two feet in spite of all the problems that afflict me. I am stumbling, but I’m still fucking walking forward. I’m still excited for my future. I still feel joy and hope in my heart when I think about what my life will look like when I deeply and profoundly love, respect and accept myself (and when I fully immerse myself in recovery). As of today that love, respect and acceptance is not bone deep. And that’s ok. I’m not perfect, but I do love myself. I just need to allow some more healing around that particular area.

With every passing day it gets easier.

With every post that flows out of me like water it gets more clear that in writing in this candid, revealing fashion, I am doing nothing but loving myself.

I deeply and profoundly love, respect and accept myself.

 

Visiting Day

Today is July 16th.

I saw my brother alive for the last time on this day 19 years ago.

He hadn’t been living with my parents and I for a few years. He wasn’t around much during my adolescence. He ran away a lot. He bought and sold drugs. He tried to kill himself. He spent a lot of time in group homes or juvenile detention centers. In the last few years of his life he was living with his girlfriend. When he did manage to make an appearance at the old colonial farmhouse we grew up in it was always because he needed something.

That day he needed money. I knew he needed money. He came sweeping into the kitchen, cool as a cucumber, ‘where’s mom?’

‘Out’, my curt reply. I was so mad at him. He had caused so much pain and never given anything back. I hated him for leaving me alone with my parents and sick grandmother. I hated him for taking my parents’ attention away from me when I needed it too. I hated him for being so fucking selfish and never asking me how I was. I hated him. I hated myself for hating him.

He showed me his new piercing. Tongue. It looked like a wad of raw hamburger; slick, swollen and red. ‘Wow, gross.’ My second short reaction to my big brother who used to have nothing but my worship when I was really little. Even though I was angry at him and didn’t know how to love him, I was really happy to see him. He would always be my cool big brother. Oh, how I wanted, needed his attention. God.

He shuffled his feet and looked toward the door, ‘Will you tell mom to call me? I need to ask her something.’

‘Sure,’ I said. I watched as he angled his body toward the porch without looking back at me.

‘See you later.’ His last words to me. Ever. I nodded and silently flipped the bird at his back.

I watched him walk back to the car idling in the driveway, his friend who drove him smoking a butt. I could see sweat beaded on his forehead as he sank into the passenger seat. The door slammed with a finality I didn’t yet understand. The car backed up, drove down the dirt packed driveway. Out of my life. Forever.

That was the last time I saw Tom. He died in a car accident the next day, along with another young man. The person driving the car wasn’t drunk or high. Just irresponsible and reckless. Going around a hairpin curve at 70 miles an hour can take lives.

19 years.

I used to think that this pain would go away. I used to assume it wouldn’t hurt as much as it once did. But that’s just not the case. On days like today, when my dreams feature him and his ghost feels so near, the pain is as big as it was back then. The loss doesn’t go away. The grief doesn’t leave. It never, ever stops hurting. All you get is distance from the pain. Sometimes it’s across the country. Sometimes it’s a block away. Other times it’s sleeping in bed with you. And others still it’s in your fucking blood.

Today is one of those times for me. I can hear the songs played at his funeral mass, ‘Fur Elise’ and ‘Every Breath You Take’ as covered by Puff Daddy. I can smell the flowers at his funeral and see the white roses of my ‘sister’s bouquet’ perched amongst the arrangements. I can hear the young girl asking my mother to open his casket so she can see him one last time. I can feel my mother’s kind reaction as she soothes a stranger while her son lies dead 5 feet away. I can feel the humidity of the July air as we buried him. All of it happening in my head in vivid living color.

It will pass. It will lessen. Soon, the pain will click its’ dusty bootheels on the pavement, steadily moving away from me…but it will always come back for a visit. Always.

Open Spaces

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I took a long walk today. I haven’t done that in far too long. There’s a nice little park near my house that has a paved loop to walk on. It’s lovely and lots of people walk their dogs there so I get to people and puppy watch. Double threat. I don’t take advantage of it as much as I would like to, but today it was calling to me. So, when I woke up, I hopped out of bed, ate some breakfast, strapped on my sneakers, threw my hair in a ponytail and I was out the door. The weather was perfectly agreeable for an outdoor walk – nice and mild, cloudy and not overly hot. I was really excited.

I started walking the loop and felt an inner calm wash over me again and again. I smiled at the people I saw. I smiled at the babies in strollers. I even got a little manhandled by a passing husky. He was about 120 pounds and had muddy paws. I got a pawprint stamped across my left breast as he jumped up to lick my chin. No bother, I just laughed, wished his owner a lovely day and walked on.

When I take walks outside I always feel free. I feel like my breathe comes easier and my mind feels more clear. My entire body knows there is actually room to breathe and responds in kind by releasing endorphins. I feel good when I’m out like that. I don’t get out enough. I don’t put myself out there enough. And today, I realized what that reason is….fear. Plain old stupid FEAR.

I’m scared to be out in public sometimes. I assume and believe that other people judge or hate me because I am overweight – or as my 17 year old self would say, because I am FAT, disgusting and worthless. I hesitate to participate in my own life because when I step outside my comfort zone I leave myself vulnerable to judgment. What I forget is most people are wrapped up in their own agendas, worries and fears. Why would perfect strangers take time out of their own thoughts and plans to silently and hatefully judge the overweight woman in her 30s who is walking along, minding her own business? And even if they do, their judgment or distaste has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them. Why do I think they even care what they think? Could it be that I’m a little narcissistic, yes? Or, it could be that I’m hyper aware of my body shape and I’m overly ashamed of it. I think I deserve others’ judgment somehow. I deserve to be hated because I am disgusting. I am FAT.

Well, so fucking what? Lots of people weigh more than they want to. Lots of people aren’t perfect physical specimens. I’m not alone in this. I’m not the only one who is tragically unhappy with her body. I’m not the lone FAT girl in a sea of skinny ladies with perfect, undimpled, unstretched skin. I put so much of my value into the minds of other people. My confidence lives in the supposed judgment of strangers. It’s ludicrous. It’s a completely insane thought pattern that keeps me prisoner.

But I had a freeing moment on my walk today….

I usually wear baggy tops or hoodies when I walk or workout. I can’t stand the thought of someone else seeing how out of shape my body is, so I hide it. Hoodies are the best because they are meant to cover. Unfortunately, it’s summer (my least favorite season because the weather requires me to wear less clothing….) so a hoodie is out of the question. I had to wear a t-shirt today. It would have been too hot otherwise.

So, I’m walking along and a breeze starts blowing in my face, cooling the sweat. Lovely. The breeze also pushes my t-shirt against my entire front, putting my misshapen, roll-filled body on display. Unacceptable. I normally lift my hands up and pretend I’m adjusting my top to cover myself and avoid prying eyes seeing anything I can’t bear them to see. But today, for maybe the first time ever, I thought, ‘why am I making myself do this every single time? This is silly. I deserve to walk comfortably. Who gives a fuck what this passing person thinks of my body?’ And I kept my arms by my sides and walked along. Head high, looking at the trees and smiling.

I felt free of my own destructive Inner Dialogue for the first time in years. And it didn’t matter what the passersby thought because I was gone from their view in seconds. And I felt good. I felt confident. I felt at home within myself.

Please, please let this mean I’m finally waking up.

The Lighter Side

My drinking pattern seems to go through phases. Sometimes all I can think about during the day is when I can leave work, walk in the door at home and pour. And once I’ve poured all I can think about is when I get to do it again so I can feel that unaware sensation. So I can feel floaty and fizzy and tipsy. Sometimes I can’t wait to legit get fucked up.

When I’m boozing it up on this side of my spectrum I feel guilty, ashamed and generally asleep while awake. Does this make sense? I feel like I’m walking through my days without a clear sense of actually living them. Sure, I’m alive. I’m breathing. I’m talking. I’m doing all the biological things required of me as a human, but I am not living. It’s a cloudy fog that I walk through when I’ve been drinking heavily for many days in a row. I don’t feel connected to anything but alcohol. I don’t want to engage with anyone or anything except alcohol. This is when I can and do become depressed. I’ve been told I may need medication. I refute this advice every time. The last thing I want is to take something that might make me feel ever more unbalanced than I sometimes already do. Even if said imbalance may only last a couple of weeks, I want nothing to do with it. So, I continue to drink. And drink some more.

The other side of my spectrum is when I stop the evening binges for a short time and come back to myself a little. Last night I drank one glass of wine. I did not get floaty or fizzy or tipsy. I was too tired to even try to get there. Instead I told myself, ‘you are going to enjoy this one glass and then be all done.’ And it actually worked. For last night.

Having only one glass allowed me to get some actual, real sleep. I woke up feeling my gratitude and life force returning. I woke up feeling optimistic for the day to start. I woke up feeling less like a piece of shit. I didn’t hear the anxious, hectoring Voice of Guilt in my head telling me I’m wasting my 30s and I’ll never lose weight if I can’t get out of bed in the morning to fit a workout in because I spend my evenings drinking myself into not being able to get out of bed bright and early to do something good just for me. I didn’t hear any of that. My head was blissfully…….clear.

I swear, it’s been ages since I’ve felt like this. I’ve been forcing myself to stay on the more destructive side of my spectrum of drinking. Forcing myself to feel that delicious buzz night after night. Telling myself that if I don’t I won’t be able to sleep and all my real emotions will come up and out of me and I won’t be able to handle it and I’ll realize how alone I really am and I will just plain fucking implode. But if I drink too much for weeks in a row, my sleep will be disturbed no matter what. I am depriving myself of sleep when I drink. And I know it. But still I drink. And around and around it goes. I’m an unwilling rider on the carousel of my addiction.

At least I feel good today.

At least I got solid rest last night.

At least for today I feel like myself. I feel peaceful. Unencumbered. Close to something good.

I want to hold onto this feeling and keep it with me when the next round of drinking wants to force its’ way down my throat. I want to hold onto the peace. I want to remember the clarity. I want to remember the depression and resentments evaporating like sweat on skin when a cool breeze tentatively floats by. Without those two vicious distractions I feel capable of anything.

How long can I hold onto the good?

 

Shhh…Just let it happen

I wrote the following two paragraphs about a week ago. I was trying to force my way into my next blog post before it was ready to peek out of the soil. Not the way I want these posts to be born. I would prefer for the words to own me for a time and take over. I want them to bloom on their own. I don’t want to think too much about what I’m saying. That’s usually when I do my best work. But when I was writing the following words I was putting a gun to my head and making myself bleed. (Bleeding is what I have been calling my process ever since I started my memoir. When I write about myself I end up being brutally honest with whoever reads this and with myself and I bleed. All over the page. And damn if that doesn’t feel Good.)

‘Right now I am practically forcing myself to finish a glass of wine. I slept very little last night and drank more than I normally do. I had a busy day at work – I take care of other people’s children and essentially their entire lives to bring home self-respect and money – and I am thoroughly exhausted. I want to go to sleep. I want to rest my weary bones and over taxed body. I want my brain to be quiet. Sleep will be the best remedy.

But here I sit, at my trusty laptop, sipping my second giant glass of white. And I don’t even fucking want it. But I cringe at the thought of trying to lay down to sleep without the numbing agent of my precious elixir.’

It’s not good to force things. I never, ever want to feel forced or rushed in my work life, social life, family life or even in traffic. If I’m going 80 in the passing lane on the highway and some ‘need for speed’ fuckbag comes bombing up behind me and starts to tailgate me I will refuse to move over to the right. I will remain and remain in the passing lane until the fuckbag angrily swerves around me to pass on the right. Fine by me. I might even look over, smile and flip him the bird – I will not be rushed. I will not.

So, when I was rushing myself to write something, anything, I knew I had to put down the pain and walk away from it for a time. I started those almost forgotten paragraphs with the voice of my Addict (17 year old self) in charge. She likes attention. In any form. I didn’t let her take over though. And I’m glad because now my Highest Self is at the wheel and I feel the flow, the words are coming. I feel the satisfaction of purging what is in my mind. Somehow typing it all here makes what I have to say feel less shameful.

I drink too much. Sometimes, as seen above, I force myself to drink too much because the agony of sitting alone with myself in an unblurred fashion is too itchy, twitchy and uncomfortable to even consider. So I don’t. I just walk in the door and pour. I don’t give myself time to think. I want my shoulders to come down and blessedly relax and the only guaranteed way to get there is to sip my beloved wine.

I feel I must illustrate that I don’t drink to get drunk. I don’t like being drunk. That feels irresponsible, chaotic and scary. I drink to get floaty, fizzy and tipsy. I drink to let go of the Internal Dialogue that has been judging and criticizing me all the live long day. I drink to disconnect from my reality, just for a short time. That realm feels safer than drunk. I do not give Fuck One when I’m drunk. I think everything is a good idea, everyone is my best friend and that I am invincible.

Drunk is too harsh. Too dangerous. Drunk is when I make even worse decisions than drinking everyday. Drunk is when I go home with strangers. Drunk is when I cry myself to sleep after eating an entire pizza by myself because I ‘need’ something to soak up the alcohol. The morning after being drunk hangovers are the worst in the world. My head feels full of painful, hot liquid and every time I move the liquid moves and I want to die. It takes me a solid 24 hours to overcome that feeling. The hangovers after getting fizzy, tipsy and floaty ain’t no thang. Those I can live through standing on my head. I’m a beast at handling those.

I am beginning to wonder when I am going to start stopping myself from having to ‘handle’ them though. So far it hasn’t happened. I do not want to stop drinking. I like it too much. I enjoy it still…except for when I’m forcing it. That’s when I hate it. That’s when the voice of my Addict (and 17 year old self) won’t take no for an answer. She is incapable of hearing a real ‘NO’. She is spoiled, unruly and incredibly insecure. When she calls the shots I feel powerless. I let her take over far too much. She has never recovered from when Tom died. She never moved out of the home with the angry, drunk ex. She hasn’t even begun to face losing Dad and don’t even attempt to talk to her about adoption or birth parents. Off limits.

When I let her out too much is when I know I really Do have a problem, when I know that something’s gotta give eventually. I know I need to sit down with my Addict (my 17 year old self) and really listen to what she has to say. I have to really let her feel and accept that she may never, ever change. She might simply be stuck. I am starting to realize that I’m the one who has to change. I’m the one who has the power to stop listening when she cries. She deserves my compassion and my understanding, but I can’t keep holding her hand. I might have to let her walk out of my life so she can wreak havoc somewhere else. I might have to let her go so that I can move forward (and away) from all the pain she carries.

I’m getting closer to that point. But today, I still drink.

 

 

Turtle Power

‘Wherever you go, there you are.’

So simple. So wise. My therapist asked me to really think about this quote. She offered the further examination of thinking of it as if I were a turtle; my home always on my back wherever I go. My home always with me. Or better yet, my home always within me. This is something I have struggled with since I can remember. The feeling of home for me was always with my family when I was little. But as I grew and matured and experienced I began to feel that my home wasn’t with them – these biological strangers. If my home wasn’t with the people who raised me, where was it?

When I was 23 I thought my home would be out in California. I followed a man I barely knew out there who was 13 years my senior. I made an impulsive decision and waited for the West Coast to feel like home. It didn’t. A year later, I was back in the home I grew up in and it had never felt less like my home; the misery was palpable.

Fast forward to the age of 25. I thought my home would be with a 30 year old man who made me laugh, took me to Fenway for the first time in my adult life and loved to get a good buzz on. I moved my life in with this man – impulsively – because I was so in love. We adopted cats together and went to the gym and walked around Boston laughed and lived. We drank and made plans for our future. I was thrilled. I thought ‘my life is about to finally begin’. But the drinking for him never stopped. The anger appeared soon after I moved in along with the blackouts and broken furniture. I lasted 4 years in that home. Approximately 2 and a half years longer than I should have stayed.

At 30 I was living alone for the first time in my life. I loved it. I still do. No one to bother me. No one to clean up after. No one to avoid if I just don’t want to talk. I could come and go whenever I wanted with whomever I wanted. And I could drink alone. I loved that too. It was a freedom unlike anything I had ever experienced, but it didn’t satisfy me. I still longed for companionship.

At 33, I fell in love again and asked ex #3 to move in with me. Patterns repeated themselves and as with the drinker, I loved someone broken and lost, someone who made bad decisions and painted himself into corners. I tried to save him and make it easier for him. In turn he got more and more comfortable and accustomed to not having to take responsibility. I didn’t let him drown until he was pulling me under the water with him. I had no choice but to kick him out.

At 34 and 35 and 36 my home has become mine again. I have reclaimed my space and vowed never to stray into a relationship impulsively again. I have dated here and there, but I remain alone. Unattached. Willing but unable to find the home within the home of myself. My home nowadays is in the bottle. I don’t feel the creeping need for it as I did before my Big Reveal – you know, the actual birth of my blog and sharing my secret to some dear friends, both new and old – now it’s just a staple. An unbreakable habit that both comforts me and isolates me.

How often do I feel unsatisfied or confused or irrelevant or troubled by where I am? Almost every day.

The quote at the beginning has some real truth to it. How do I find satisfaction in the home within me without looking for that same satisfaction elsewhere? How do I stop looking for a home with a man? Or a home with my birth family? How do I look within myself and be sated? How will I ever be enough?

I strangely find a lot of comfort in these questions.

 

No choice

As I mentioned, I am adopted. In 2014 I decided to find my birth parents. I was 34. I found them, met them, fell in love with them and then lost their affections 5 months later. I started writing the story of my life immediately after I met them. I didn’t have a choice. The need to write it was immense. Much like the need to start this blog. Maybe I really am a writer?

I tentatively named my memoir ‘Pandora’s Box’.

I started out with how happy I was to know my biological beginnings – and oh my GOD, was I over the moon to know where my nose came from, to learn that I have FOUR half siblings (!!!) and that my birth parents were always, always, always thinking about me. That was just the tip of the iceberg. I will revisit this topic and talk about it in more posts to come. Don’t you worry.

For now, I just want to share a small excerpt. The beginning of the passage is recalling how I couldn’t save my brother from himself and his inevitable death. Since then, I have always tried to find someone to love who also needs to be saved. Ever the caretaker am I.

I’m nervous about sharing this…but here goes —

‘My mind gave up on trying to reach him at an early age, but my heart. Oh, my heart. She never gave up trying to find someone just like him to love. Relationships. That word carries a lot of weight in anyone’s life. Relationships are complicated. Involved. They take work. Investment. Relationships can be difficult. Beautiful. Fulfilling. Exquisite. They can ruin you. Devastate you. You can completely lose yourself and any sense of who you are in an unhealthy one. Or, you can plant a seed with someone and grow little healthy versions of yourselves that eventually turn into generations of love and memories. It’s always a gamble. A risk.

To commit to someone and say, ‘I am yours, as you are mine, no matter where the course of our lives takes us.’ ‘I am yours’ has fucking consequences. Having someone to call mine has been the biggest thrill of my life. That singularly enveloping notion of ‘belonging’ is my adrenaline rush, my joy, my drug, my biggest challenge, my biggest downfall and my biggest failure. I tend to put far too much energy and emphasis into my relationships. I’m not talking about friendships, or family. I do not mean co-workers, acquaintances or buddies. I’m speaking of boyfriends, potential partners and lovers, all of which have never been able to win me over completely. Not a one. They each ran out of steam in their own way. Blew their load of bullshit all over my gorgeous face. My first boyfriend, with his needy tendencies. The guy in California, with his gaming, physical and emotional absence. The angry alcoholic, with his drinking, anger and mother issues. And finally, my most recent ex, with his immaturity and refusal to grow up. I saw all of these imperfections and flaws. I knew I would be sucked dry by each of them so I was forced to throw in the towel before I was entirely ready to. I certainly loved each of them and they loved me back. The love I shared with each of them just wasn’t enough.

It wasn’t enough because deep down, I really didn’t love myself. I never learned how. I learned many lessons on how to hate myself; not understanding why I couldn’t talk about adoption, not feeling like an important part of my family, hearing my brother belittle me because I didn’t tie my shoes the same way he did, being overweight and finally, at age 15 I was judged 100% on my appearance by someone I thought I was in love with. So, complacent and confused soul that I can be, I continued down the path of least resistance and stayed trapped in my self-hatred. I was too young to see how destructive the easy way would be. And in all honesty, I didn’t think I deserved anything better.’

 

Again and again…thank you for reading.