Be here with me now.

 

“Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be set free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.” -Chuang

 

I can’t sit still. My mind is always going at full speed into a million different directions at any given time. I could be cooking dinner for my kids and my brain will be thinking about what color backpack I should get them next year and when was the last time that the lawn was mowed.

8936BB3B-F1DE-46EE-A2C9-0667F28B3FD2My mind is loud and reckless. It’s distracted and random at best. I spent about a decade trying to quiet the damn thing down by smiling hard and guzzling wine.

Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.

Please.

I found it very easy and simple to shove it all down with one substance or another. Feelings are dumb. Don’t have the feelings. If you have too many feelings you might end up on the Dr. Phil show.

Distraction works as a defense mechanism. Instead of being present and taking life one day, one minute, one second at a time, I’m over here planning my three year old daughters wedding several decades from now instead of working through my own relationships in life.

Even without a hefty amount of toxins in my body I found the act of being present in my life was a challenge.

Here’s a quick example: I don’t have time. Time for what? Time to read the description of a television show called, “Unsolved Mysteries” on Netflix. I am a true crime junkie. I live and breathe for documentaries I can watch when the kids are asleep. I became emotionally invested in the entire first episode. On the edge of my couch, I counted the minutes. I realized that the show was more than half over and the audience was no where near knowing what happened to this poor guy. I waited and waited…

 

WHO SHOVED THIS MAN OFF A ROOF?

Did his coworker kill him? Tell me! Details! Now!

Then the screen went black and at the bottom there were a few lines saying, “If you have any information about what happened to so and so, please call this number…”.

ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?

The show is called Unsolved Mysteries. UNSOLVED. I must have just skipped right over that first word before starting the series. I couldn’t even take the time to pay attention to what was playing right in front of me.

Typical.

EEE16D89-13CF-437D-BDD0-A0E5865EAB11There have been so many moments in my kids life where I couldn’t or wouldn’t be present for them. Sober or not. When I was drinking, the alcohol came before everyone and everything. When I realized what I was doing and how I was missing precious moments with my kids, I chose to drink even more to not have to feel the guilt or shame. Even in sobriety, being present for others and myself hasn’t been easy. My daughter is always asking me to play with her. Let’s play ponies! Let’s color! Let’s go outside!

 

Sure! Sure. Yes. Absolutey. I would love to do those things with you, but first just let me finish folding the laundry, chopping the veggies, sweeping the garage, feeding the cats, charging my iPad, stare blankly at the wall while I forget which task I was supposed to do next, all the while missing out on moments that would have been memories. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into the mens restroom in various gas stations, because I wasn’t paying attention.

I have never once left my house with everything I was supposed to bring with me. I’ve forgotten diapers, pants (MY OWN PANTS), wallet, phone, children…you name it.

I try my best to not spend all of my days drowning my sorrows, worries, hopes, fears, dreams, reality, or broken heart in a bottle. I slow down. I pause. I pray. I talk. I listen. I make progress, not perfection.

BBD40C79-2B4B-4F74-9C7D-7462BEC5235DA few months ago my mom filled me in on a little secret. She told me that she had started meditating and it was helping her with stress. I can’t remember my exact response but I’m sure it went something along the lines of “That’s cool, but that sounds like some hippie dippie shit.”

New Age Bullshit.

Well, maybe those hippie dippie people had a point. I was introduced to meditation in a group setting. I hadn’t intended on spending my evening with a bunch of people meditating in a room together. I just walked in the room. I saw some familiar faces. I made eye contact and realized I was fucked. I had to stay. Leaving would be rude, and my mama raised me better than that.

I sat in an uncomfortable chair, listened to the instructions, sat up straight, closed my eyes and promptly heard a familiar voice in my head that has always comforted me over the years.

Britney Spears.

 

I wasn’t exactly sure where my brain was going with that, but I think we can all agree that the Queen of Pop has changed all of our lives with her #1 hits over the years. So, if my brain wanted me to hear the classic early 2000’s hit “Lucky”, I didn’t question it.

I was told to let my thoughts happen, whatever they were. Good or bad. Just let them come and go.

C1B9573C-DC7F-419B-88C1-0F625EDC29A5The waves in the ocean, crashing with impact and then pulling slowly back with the tide, making room for the next. Over and over.

Ten minutes later I felt like a completely different person. I couldn’t explain it. I couldn’t understand it. I just knew that something had happened. My damaged heart started to open, the light that I had been avoiding came through the cracks. My mind allowed my heart to feel gratitude in a way I had never felt before. My eyes started to water, because the peace I felt in that moment was a gift. The tiniest amount of serenity left me with an awakened heart and mind.

So, I did what anyone would do.

I walked out of the room and promptly forgot every single thing I had learned.

But I kept coming back. I keep coming back.

Meditation has allowed me to experience life differenty then before. I can breathe. After all of these years, I can breathe.

2AF2ED41-3568-48B5-B3E1-BD045F6C925ASerenity and peace don’t just fall into our laps. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Yeah. No. That’s not how it works. The only way I can stay in the light is with an open mind, open heart, willingness, honesty, prayer and fellowship with a few like minded people.

048AF1F4-7EDD-4365-AB75-C1A8A7F7218BI sat outside a few days ago surrounded by rocks, paint, glitter and my daughters. I watched them laugh and goof off with each other. I watched them share the paint brushes (for the most part). I watched them show each other each and every stone with pride. I watched them toss glitter in each others hair and dance in the afternoon sun. I sat next to them fully present and grateful that I could be there with them. Right then and there. I could be still without thinking about next weeks dinner plans, if the car had gas in it, how to get rid of cellulite and if I fed the dog yesterday.

6F301EB5-F4F4-48B2-BF8D-ADA7CD7315CDThis moment matters. This singular moment. The moments that follow will matter as well, but I don’t need to worry about that.

I just need to stay in the moment until the next one comes.

There’s a force so much larger than ourselves that keeps whispering in my ear repeating this over and over again-

Be here with me. Be here with me now.

0A1C4AC6-404F-4F27-95C2-8FD36AF0115D

“Breath by breath, let go of fear, expectation, anger, regret, cravings, frustrations, fatigue. Let go of the need for approval. Let go of old judgements and opinions. Die to all that and fly free. Soar in the freedom of desirelessness” -Surya Das

 

 

 

 

 

The Birth of Happiness

I don’t claim to be an expert about much, but I do know a thing or two about being pregnant. There was a period of time where I was just straight up pregnant 24/7. Love your baby? Here! Here’s another one! And so on and so on.

I’m exhausted even thinking about it. 

I’m not one of those glowing, amazing pregnant ladies. When I’m pregnant I turn into a 5″5, 180 lb, hormonal monster from hell.

I throw fits. I cry. I eat a lot.

It occured to me that many of the symptoms I experience during pregnancy have A LOT of similarities with early sobriety. I hit the 9 month mark of sobriety, and I can’t help but to reflect…

IMG_0672

First Month of Pregnancy: Oh, my GOD. I can’t believe this! There’s a tiny life growing inside of me! The future is so bright! I want to tell everyone! I’m scared, but excited. I wish I could have a beer right now.

First Month of Sobriety: Oh, my GOD. I’m changing my life forever. I’m scared but excited about my future as a sober person. There is a hope growing in me that I can have a better life…but if you offered me a drink right now, I’m not sure I could say no.

Second Month of Pregnancy: Yo. WTF just happened? WHY AM I SO BLOATED? WHY AM I CRYING AND THEN LAUGHING AND THEN CRYING AGAIN? WHY CAN”T I STOP PUKING? WAS THIS A HORRIBLE DECISION? Of, course not. It’s the best decision I”ve ever made. I love this baby so, so much. WHY AM I SMELLING MY HUSBANDS FEET FROM UPSTAIRS WHEN I’M DOWNSTAIRS? I HATE PEOPLE! And chicken. I HATE CHICKEN. I’ll never eat chicken ever again.

Second Month of Sobriety: My body hates me. I took away the one thing that made it happy. I’m bloated and gross, because I have replaced alcohol with double stuffed oreos. My ass is fat. I can’t stop crying. I can’t stop smiling. I’m doing this. I’m really doing this. I can hear my husband chewing three feet away from me. EVERYTHING ANNOYS ME, SO STOP CHEWING SO CLOSE TO MY GODDAMNED EARS! I think I deserve an entire bag of twizzlers right now.

Third Month of Pregnancy: How long does this whole pregnancy last? Because, I’m over it. I feel like shit. I hate everyone. I miss my jeans. I miss sleep. I KEEP FARTING.

Third month of Sobriety- YAAAAS! 90 days! I worked so hard for this. Can I relax now? I’m tired. How long do I have to continue going to meetings everyday? Can’t I just stay home and watch Netflix? Look at me. I’m doing it! I didn’t think I could go one day without wine, let alone three months.

IMG_9071Fourth Month of Pregnancy: Am I showing? I’m showing right? That’s not just a food baby, is it? How much weight am I going to gain? My dr said I need to slow down, because I’m eating too many donuts.

Fourth Month in Sobriety: DID YOU HEAR I’M SOBER? BIG NEWS! I’M SOBER. CAN’T YOU TELL? Can you overdose on sugar? Sugar is my main food group. No, I’m not pregnant. No, that’s not a beer belly. That’s my sobriety stomach. Full of brownines and happiness. IMG_7283

Fifth Month of Pregnancy: I think I felt the baby move. I’m tired. I’m excited. I want to buy every single baby thing that ever existed. Are there any other movies about pregnancy and birth on Netflix? I watched ” The Business of Being Born” ten times. I want a natural birth. No drugs. I’m so strong. I’m going to be a mother. Shit, I cant sleep at all. Too much to think about.

Fifth Month of Sobriety: I’m reaching out to others. I want to stay sober and help others stay sober. I”ve watched every documentary on addiction that the internet has to offer. No drinking. No drugs. Every day is a blessing. Ok, not everyday, but I know that I have the ability to make it a good day if I work my steps, reach out to my peeps, focus on myself so I can be the best version of me for my family.

Sixth month of Pregnancy: I had three slushies today from Sonic. Go ahead. Judge me. I dare you. There’s no way I am prepared to be a mother. I don’t think I can do this. I’m not strong enough. I just want to nap and eat chips all day long. What if the baby hates me? I’ve already washed all of her clothes and set up her room 18,000 times. I’m still farting like a champ.

Sixth Month of Sobriety: SIX MONTHS? ARE YOU SERIOUS? WHOAH. That’s a long ass time. I feel alive. Finally. I”m scared. What if I’m not strong enough to do this forever though? I have replaced alcohol with red bull and it makes me gassy. Fart, fart, fart.IMG_7198

Seventh Month of Pregnancy: I’m almost done! I’m almost done! I’m almost…FUCK. I thought I was at 30 weeks. I”m only at 29. I”M GOING TO BE PREGNANT FOREVER. I can’t shave my legs. I can’t see anything past this massive belly. I bought sneakers that you can slip on, because I can’t tie my own shoes anymore. I”m tired dude.

Seventh Month of Sobriety: I’m almost to a year, right? It’s just around the corner! Oh. Wait. I have a few months to go. I shouldn’t be focused on the days or years, because this is my reality for the rest of my life. Not just one year. Not two years. Not just a decade. This is forever. I bought myself new shoes, because I’ve been working so hard at being present and sober, I deserve a treat!

Eighth Month of Pregnancy: Whatever.

Eighth Month of Sobriety: One day at a time.

Ninth Month of Pregnancy: Can I do this? Was I crazy thinking I was qualified to be a mother to someone? What if I screw her up? I can’t do this. Honestly, I don’t care if I have to take tons of drugs or zero drugs during delivery-I just want this damn thing out of me. It could happen today! I could go into labor today. Am I prepared? WHAT AM I DOING? This is terrifying. And exhilerating. I think I’ll eat a cheeseburger. I can’t wait until I can drink champagne again.

Ninth Month of Sobriety: I’m sober. I’m going through a lot right now, but I find strength in my sobriety. I know I’m not alone. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I know that I’m on the right path. Nine months is nothing compared to a lifetime, but it’s still worth celebrating. Every day sober is a day worthy of celebration. I celebrate life, happiness, sobriety, my family, and my friends with copious amounts of carbs and caffeinated beverages. Strangely enough, I don’t want champagne.

 

The miracle of life. The miracle of sobriety. J3TsK%dTSVSS+ljHoOiEvg

Things that go bump in the night…

I remember when I was a kid I was scared that there was a monster under my bed. I was terrified that this monster was going to grab me and pull me under the bed into the land of terrors. I had no idea what a real monster could do. I had no way of understanding that there were monsters in my everyday life. I hadn’t been introduced to alcohol, I hadn’t been told to take this pill or that pill to feel better.

Not yet at least.

 

Fast forward to July 2016. I had just brought home my second beautiful daughter, and life was pretty good. I remember my husband asking me if I wanted a drink or anything. I was so focused on the baby and making sure our eldest felt loved in the midst of all the changes in her life. I told him I was fine. I didn’t need a drink. I was oozing out happiness and bliss from every pore. I made sure I gave myself a big ‘ol pat on the back for turning down alcohol. At the time, I said to myself, ” See! You don’t have a problem. You can say no.”

That lasted for approximately two hours. The sun was setting, the house started to quiet down, and bedtime was approaching. I told my husband to sleep on the couch so I wouldn’t wake him when I was up with the baby. Around two am I started to feel like there were bugs crawling up my legs. I couldn’t sit still. I became terrified to close my eyes. My heart started to race, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was dying. I woke my husband up and told him he needed to bring me to the ER immediately. The feeling just got worse and worse. I realized I couldn’t go to the ER, because I would have to take the baby too and she was too little to be surrounded with all of the germs that lurk in an ER.

Instead, I ran out into the backyard hysterically crying. My husband had to hold me super tight, I was scared shitless. Eventually, the feeling left.

Twenty minutes later, round two started. Same crazy feelings, same terror. This time I decided I had to do something about it. If it kept happening I would be exhausted from being up all night panicking or feeding the baby. I had to sleep. I had to turn off my mind to make the panic go away.

Drinking seemed like the obvious solution.

I pounded two glasses of wine. That’s all I needed. My brain started to slow down. Well, if two glasses managed to help, two more wouldn’t be a big deal. I was trying to develop a healthy breastfeeding relationship with my newborn, but I had some formula stashed away. It didn’t matter. I fed her formula as I felt my boobs just straight up fill up with milk that I couldn’t even feed her.

 

As time went on, this nighttime panic bullshit got worse. I started these weird rituals when I could feel the anxiety creeping in. If everyone else in the house was asleep, I wasn’t allowed to sleep. Someone had to be up. I would look at my windows and try to see if any of my neighbors were still up. If they were, then I could go to sleep. If that failed, I would watch infomercials until 3 am when the news came on. If the news came on, I could sleep.

Constant racing thoughts, scared of dying in my sleep, feeling inadequate as a mom, hating my curvy body, worrying that I might trip on the stairs and drop the baby, and so many other intrusive thoughts just ran a marathon in my brain.

 

All of this crap became an excuse. I’m depressed! I have anxiety! I have OCD! Drinking will help. Look- see, I had some wine and now I’m totally functioning! I’m smiling! Alcohol was the solution to all my postpartum issues.

 

Cracking open a bottle of wine at 2 am started to seem more and more like normal behavior. I thought it was helping me sleep. It wasn’t helping me sleep. I was BLACKING out every night. Over and over and over and over. Reality started to become blurry.

“Are there other moms that do this? There has to be. I can’t be the only one. But, just to be safe, I’m not going to mention this to anyone.”

 

Hundreds and hundreds of dollars spent on my ” medicine”.

 

Happy moms drink! It makes us better moms! What a relief! I don’t have to feel anything at all, EVER. AMAZING!

 

It never occurred to me that those rituals that I made up in order to fall asleep weren’t exactly rituals at all. They were excuses that I created in order to feed my monster. The list got longer and longer. It got to the point that if someone even looked at me the wrong way, I would tell myself to go drink.

 

Sure, drinking would knock me out, but over time it made everything worse. My depression was all-consuming. My anxiety started to debilitate me. My OCD was getting worse and worse.

 

The harder it got, the more excuses I made. “It’s noon on a Tuesday and you have to fold laundry? Laundry is stressful! How about I Just start drinking…”

 

I would go in and out of different doctors, begging them to help me. I felt like my mental health was in bad shape. They’d prescribe this and that, never once asking me how much alcohol I drank. And if they did ask? I’d lie, obviously. Only a couple glasses a week!

(um try…four boxes a week…)

Then after a couple years of that shit, something happened. I woke up for a brief moment and looked at my family. I was turning this home into hell for everyone here. The guilt and shame over my selfish behavior pushed me into start thinking about getting sober.

It didn’t happen overnight. It happened after several months after more blackouts. I finally realized I had to kill the monster. This monster disguised it’s self as a friend.  I wasn’t sure how I could live without it.

 

Then this really crazy thing happened. Sobriety. 

The most sobriety I have, the more that extra crap fades away. Who would have thought that alcohol made all of my mental stuff worse? I thought it was helping. It wasn’t helping. It was killing me.

I’m not perfect. I can’t tell you what tomorrow will bring, but I know that I have faced my monster and I kicked its ass to the curb. It will try to creep back in over and over again, but I’m not weak anymore. I’m a fucking warrior and I will beat that asshole senseless before I let myself believe the lies it tries to tell me.

Nighttime isn’t scary anymore. If I can’t sleep I don’t freak out. The exhaustion that came with being a raging alcoholic is no longer there. If I don’t get those recommended 8 hours a night, I get a red bull and I deal. It’s ok to be tired sometimes. It won’t kill me, but drinking will.

I’m happy. I’m healthy. I’m spiritual. I’m all the things that I wanted to be for so long, but could only achieve through sobriety.

The monster doesn’t fool me anymore.