Shadowboxer

Shadowboxer:
intransitive
:
intransitive verb: to box with an imaginary opponent especially as a form of training


The greatest thing that I’ve learned thus far is that I know nothing. 

Absolutely nothing. 

I spent most of my life trying to be the ringmaster in my own personal chaotic circus. I thought I could train the people in my life to play different roles for me, to perform different tricks. I may have needed you to be the tightrope walker. Perhaps I needed you to be the knife thrower or the clueless clown. I could have asked you to be the juggler or the lion tamer. Whatever it is I needed you to be in that moment, you would have to play along or you were of no use to me. It was my own masterpiece, and I enjoyed being the puppet master. 

Until you told me that you wouldn’t be willing to fulfill that role anymore. 

Then you became useless to me and I would have to fight to find a new person to replace you in my distorted reality. I have found myself constantly fighting, Not in the sense of a verbal or physical fight at all, but in my mind I couldn’t let my guard down. I had to be prepared for everything and anything, I had to practice over and over. No one could hurt me if I was strong. If I was capable. If I was in control. I became an olympian shadowboxer. 

Training for a knock-out. 

Fists up. 

I came to win. 

Punching the air, ready to attack the enemy. 

I won’t be hurt again. 

I won’t. 

I attended twelve-step meetings and heard over and over again how I needed to rely on something bigger than myself to help me cope with life on life’s terms. I nodded my head. I said proudly that I had turned my will over to this Higher Power of mine, but in reality I was lying. Mostly to myself. 

I had no problem being transparent and honest with others, but I spent most of my time telling myself lies that I thought would help me get through the day. I thought I was doing the right thing. I told myself that the daily exhaustion and emotional blackouts were due to other factors, They had nothing to do with the constant war in my mind that told me I wasn’t good enough, no power in the world could protect me from reality and my solution was to tighten my fists and stand on guard at all times. 

My thoughts would spiral. My mind was cramped with the “what-ifs” and “ I can do this, i should be strong enough to do this.” 

I was two years sober and absolutely miserable. I felt fatigue in a way I had never known possible before. I wanted my divorce to be over. I wanted my kids to be happy and adjusted. I wanted a boyfriend to fill the hole from my empty marriage. I wanted to go above and beyond for my kids, not realizing they didn’t need a super mom. 

They just needed me. 

I laid in bed every night feeling like I had ran a marathon. Every cell in my body just wanted to rest. I couldn’t figure out how to let shit go, trust that everything was going to be ok, or actually use the tools I had been so freely given from other alcoholics. Every once in awhile I would experience a brief moment where I could let my guard down and rest. This usually happened in a room with a bunch of other drunks. I heard them talk over and over how it worked for them. Their experiences, their strength and hope. A little lightbulb would turn on in my head briefly to hear the message- if I wanted to live a life worth living I had to let go of the control.

Turn it over. 

Pray. 

Alcohol no longer controlled my thoughts or actions, but my alcoholism refused to let go completely. I thought it was my job to heal my heart alone. I thought it was my job to make sure my kids never experienced life on life’s terms. I thought my terms were a better bet. I wanted to be successful, in love, and filled with peace.

That’s the insanity.

If I just unclenched my fists and opened my heart, if I could just have faith that things didn’t have to be so hard. I didn’t have to sucker punch the shadows lurking inside in order to survive. 

I had to stop fighting and go with the flow.   

Time to rest.

Time to retire from my former job title as “ Coordinator of Chaos”.

Day by day I started to notice the changes within myself. We’ve all heard the phrase, “ You can’t control people, places, or things.” It takes up so much energy to try to change a person who isn’t you. It takes less energy to see my capability to change myself with the help from a God of my understanding. A few weeks ago, I was driving from Illinois to Connecticut with my three little girls and sister. My brain was all over the place. I was consumed with the stress of driving, stress of keeping kids entertained, and trying to make sure that my sister was ok with the three squealing children in the back seat. I put my earbud in and listened to some recovery podcasts and tried to pray. I prayed for patience and peace. At some point during the two day trip I felt a shift. I had been trying so hard to put my guard down and trust that things would be ok.

All of a sudden, I knew things were ok. I knew I would be ok. I knew my kids would be ok. I knew that the sudden peace and calm that hit me like a freight train happened in that moment for a specific reason. Moments pass, but the clarity stuck. I had been hiding behind the fear of change for over a decade. I had to walk through that fear not only for myself, but for my kids. I had to surrender and go with the damn flow.

The flow led to an opportunity to move back home after seventeen years. I made the decision. I got a job. My family opened up their homes and hearts for us. I would be naive to say this was some sort of easy process. It was excruciating and painful for everyone, especially the other side of my daughter’s family. But- I never faltered. I had been given the grace from God to know that I can get through pain. Pain is necessary sometimes for growth, and it had been a long time since I’d had a growth spurt. For the first time in a long time, I can provide for my kids, have a roof over our heads, and embrace the love and stability my family has showered us with. 

It’s crazy. 

A year ago, or even six months ago, I would have laughed in your face if you told me that I’d be moving back to the area I grew up in with three daughters, a dog, two cats and a job. But- here we are. Home at last. 

This has been one of the hardest things my kids have had to experience so far in life. They are moving across the country from a family that loves them unconditionally and will miss them terribly. I knew that I would not be able to give them the kind of life and home they needed if I didn’t take this leap of faith. 

We are still a family. 

Home is where the heart is, and our hearts are here, there, and everywhere. 

I don’t have to throw punches to protect myself life. I just have to let it go and follow the flow.

Me.

Peace, she supposed, was contingent upon a certain disposition of the soul, a disposition to receive the gift that only detachment that only detachment from self made possible. – Elizabeth Goudge

Self-love, or lack thereof, has been the largest stumbling block of my life. I have constantly viewed my outside as too much and my insides as too little. If only I could shrink my physical size and grow some smarts on the inside, maybe I would like myself. Maybe you would like me too.

I need you to like me.

Please like me.

Once we’ve got that covered I’m going to need you to tell me exactly how much you like me several times a day. I’m not going to actually tell you that, I’m going to assume that you can read my mind.

Communication seems to be an on going issue as well.

Insecurity is as much of a part of my DNA as the color of my eyes. It’s been with me always, that loud voice screaming , “You will never be of any value.”

I remember as a child staring at my left arm and feeling embarrassed about the splotchy birthmark that spread out over top of my arm all the way down to my pinky finger. An older neighbor told me that it looked like a map of the world once. I wanted to cut my arm off right then and there. I didn’t want a map on my arm, I wanted a skinny arm. Thin. Long. Skinny.

I was six years old.

I remember learning about birth defects in 10th grade biology and suddenly realizing that this thing on my arm made me defective. My high school boyfriend traced the outline of it with his finger, saying he loved it. It was part of me, and he loved all of me. When he broke up with my shortly after to head to Boston for college my first thought was that he was probably the only man who would ever love me with this defective arm.

Defective and dramatic. Tragically dramatic.

Years later when I gave birth to my youngest daughter I did the same thing I did with the older two when they were born. I counted ten fingers, ten toes, and made sure I saw no birthmark. No daughter of mine would suffer the way I did. So much suffering.

For what? An arm? An arm that works perfectly well. An arm that has carried textbooks and children. An arm that hugs the people I love. What else matters?

When she was two weeks old, a red dot showed up on Lucie face. I asked asked the dr, I asked the nurse, I asked family members- Is that a birth mark?

Wait.

Is that one of those birthmarks that grows and grows and disfigures poor innocent babies all over the world?

Yup.

I watched day after day as it grew and grew. I cried at night when I was breastfeeding her, holding her hand, knowing that people would ask her, ” What’s that thing on your face?”. I imagined all the kids in school who would point fingers and laugh. I took my over dramatic personal experience with birthmarks and marked my daughter with a bleak future of isolation and insecurity.

Her birthmark stopped growing pretty fast. It was dark red and shaped just like a heart on her lower left chin. She was born on February 10th, and her sisters thought it must be shaped like a heart, because her birthday was so close to valentines day. She’s four now. Her birthmark is 99% faded, no one ever made fun of her, and when people asked what it was, it was never a big deal. She’s fine. She was fine.

I wasn’t fine. I was projecting my insecurities on a newborn. I hate that those thoughts ever crept into my mind. If her birthmark hadn’t faded, she would still be the beautiful, crazy, sweet girl that she is. Her birthmark has nothing to do with who she is or who she will become.

When I was in high school I used to spend hours on my Dell computer pretending to do homework. Instead, I was instant messaging this guy I thought was cool. He use big words. He talked about math and space. He quoted historians and famously dead musicians. He was interesting. I was boring. I would type out a message to him and before sending it, I would do spell check, use the thesaurus and double check to make sure I sounded witty enough. I signed up for dictionary.com daily emails so I could pull out a new word to spice things up if I started to sound too basic.

I’m not as smart as you. You probably think I’m dumb. Dumb and fat.

Even after treatment at fifteen for an eating disorder, even after countless appointments with therapists, all I saw was a stupid girl who still doesn’t have a thigh gap. I once dated someone who told me he liked having a little something extra to hold on to at night. I interpreted that as to mean he liked to spoon my belly rolls. Needless to say, we never snuggled again. Later in life, I spent hours on the couch of an older man talking about anything and everything. I felt understood, I felt smart, I felt appreciated and I felt worthy. I figured if this man thought I had something of worth to give to the world, I should start to feel that way too. That was all fun and dandy until he cracked a joke about me still carrying the baby weight from my last pregnancy several years before.

The hate just boiled and boiled until it became too much and the only thing I could shut it up with was a drink. Not one. Not two. No three. As the wine started to do its job, I started to feel better. I began to feel pretty and witty. I would look into the same mirror I had just been staring into crying and see a confident, beautiful, engaging woman who could do anything she wanted.

Get ready world, because here I come! Well, just wait a sec, let me finish this Pinot first.

I wanted more, more, more, more, more to feel less, less, less, and less.

Next came the tears and the blackout. The self loathing would continue to grow evry morning when I couldn’t remember what I did or said the night before. My pounding head would quickly remind me that if I pounded another drink with the sunrise, I would be able to reach that euphoric feeling of self worth, if only for a few minutes.

The same cycle over and over.

I’ve been sober for a few years. Sobriety has given me my life back. Sobriety allows me to be a present mother. Sobriety gives me a healthier perspective on how to cope with hard times. Sobriety has given me friends and love. I surround myself with other sober people and make a conscious effort to work on growth in my sobriety every day.

It’s a beautiful thing.

So, how come I still don’t feel beautiful or worthy? My entire outlook on life has changed, just like they promised it would. I have experienced happiness, tragedy, divorce, death, love and heartbreak with such a different perspective than before. I am the happiest I have ever been in my life even though some stuff really sucks some days.

When I sit down to write, I always hope that my experience may be able to help someone else. I write a lot about the positive changes I have experienced due to my sobriety. I do my best to make sure that the message I want to convey includes the miracle of sobriety.

This post is a little different. This post has been in my heart for so long, I just didn’t know how to share it. I have to be transparent and I have to be vulnerable to allow change. I know that things take time and every single moment of every single day is exactly how it should be. I know that I am not in control. I know that there’s something far larger than myself guiding me on my journey.

And yet- I still don’t know how to love myself.

I still want to apologize for being me.

Where does self love begin? How do I get there? The simple answer is prayer.

Someone out there must feel this way too. Perhaps just knowing that you’re not the only one struggling helps. By sharing this, I wanted to remove myself from the isolation in my mind that I have experienced with this.

This is me now.

I know that if I surrender, if I call myself out, if I stay honest and open- I can get through absolutely anything with a little help from a force larger than myself and the people who have always promised me that with a little work miracles do happen.

I’ve seen it in others time and time again.

I hope that I will see it in myself, with our without that mirror I stood in front of before.

Fear & Loathing

This time last year a lot of us were blissfuly unaware of what lay ahead of us after January 1st. I was adjusting to life in a new town, new state, excited to host Christmas Eve at our house for the first time. New year, new me…right? Let go of the past, march straight into the future with anticipation and hope.

I must have taken a wrong turn, because I marched straight into a tsunami. The sheer depth of the wave stunned me and as the current pulled back from the shore, I watched parts of me drift away. Lost at sea.

I lost friends.
I lost sleep.

I lost weight.

I lost my partner. I mean, he’s still kicking’, he just ain’t kickin’ it around here anymore.

I lost my serenity.

I lost my sanity.

I lost my socks. All of them.

I lost family.

I lost my voice.

I lost my light.

I lost library books.

I lost my patience.

And most recently, I lost my car keys.

Couch diving to find keys…

In the early months of 2020 I had a hard time trying to figure out if I could live through my wreckage. The voice on the other end of the phone repeated over and over that I was crazy. A sociopath. An insecure, jealous, vindictive little girl. My brain tricked me into believe these things were true. I could have let it wash right over me, but my reaction was to make those statements my truth. Night after night screaming and crying in my mind. I am the one who made myself suffer. I could have chosen to pause and breathe. Someone once told me that just because your thoughts are there doesn’t mean you have to listen to them.

I didn’t listen. I started to future trip and let fear take over.

What if my kids grow up to hate me?

These people must think I’m super fat.

Only an idiot would fall in love with me.

I’m a disposable piece of trash.

My daughters would be happier without me.

I believed those things for a long time. I felt like a voodoo doll being poked for pain. I just wanted to be happy, but the negativity was smothering me. At some point I realized that there isn’t a single person or thing that can make me happy. My happiness is my issue, no one else’s. My happiness must come from me.

My happiness is right in front of me.

I let fear creep over and over. I feared what life would be like as a single mom. I feared that my ex leave me and I would never have love again, if I ever had it to begin with.

Fear spreads quickly like cancer destroying your insides before you even realize it. Fear lives in the “What if’s?”. What if I hadn’t walked out? What if I asked for help years ago? What if I raised my hand more during class? What if I hadn’t left home? What if I kept pursuing my dreams of music and theater? What if I had waited to have kids? What if I hadn’t snuck away night after night trying to fix or fill my heart with someone or something else?

What if I had surrendered and let go?

What if I held onto the comfort of late nights and cozy blankets? What if I followed my heart, my gut or whatever you want to call it?

Or- instead of running on the hamster wheel of what could have been, or who I thought I should be and decided to embrace the fear. Push through it and never look back. In the words of Robert Frost, “ The only way out is through.”.

Turn fear into motivation. Turn loathing into action and open up to a new way of life without the weight of resentments and broken expectations. Instead of counting losses, count my blessings.

So grateful for these little weirdos…

There are so many right in front of me. I don’t know what lays ahead, but I do know that it’s not my job to control it. My job is to be grateful for what I’m given, stop whining and start living. Half of the reason I write here is to remind myself of these things when the ghosts of the past show up and try to confuse me into believing I’m weak and disposable.

Children live what they learn. Watching my daughters grow and forge their own path is both inspiring and terrifying. I am inspired by their childlike wonder. They approach things with an unbiased view. Each new experience is an adventure, whether realize it or not. They learn as they go and experience bumps along the way. Bumps turn into life experiences that shape who they will become. We all make choices in our lives, but what if we based our choices without the fear that we’re used to? What if we opened up our our minds and hearts with fearless exploration? Will we still have mistakes, heartache, addictions, sadness and grief? Yes. But instead of it detouring our path, what if we accepted those things as a part of our journey thats led us to where we are now and where we will go? What if we replaced fear with gratitude?

I’d like to find out.

63,072,000

Have you ever closed your eyes while driving? I don’t recommend it if you’re planning on living a long life. But, if you’re a risk taking kind of gal like myself, you might have. It takes less than a second to make an irrational, reckless decision like that. I remember thinking how badly I just wanted to feel alive. I wanted to ride a rollercoaster with my arms up in the air screaming, “I CAN FINALLY FEEL MYSELF LIVING!” or “I’M GOING TO PUKE.” Either of those scenarios would pump adrenaline in my veins forcing my brain and body to snap into the present.

I wasn’t suicidal. I just wanted to feel something, anything, no matter what the risk. The big hole inside of me had spread. I was numb to everything- love, life, sadness, reality, happiness… all of it. It felt like I was being pulled down into the ground by branches and weeds. It felt like I was being covered with dirt and sand, unable to breathe or experience anything, but still hopelessly alive.

92CB02D3-1918-454B-BA2C-6CB396F05092I felt this way right after I got sober. I had already admitted to myself and every person in my life that I was an alcoholic. I cannot drink normally. I’m allergic to alcohol, it makes me break out in stupidity. Saying that kind of thing out loud didn’t really seem all that difficult for me. Yeah- hi, I’m Kate and I’m an alcoholic. Whoopdeedoo. It wasn’t rocket science. Everyone in my family had been walking on egg shells for years wondering when I was finally going to stop.

I stopped. Aren’t you happy with me now?

Aren’t I happy now?

No. Sobriety doesn’t come with a Groupon for instant satisfaction and joy in life. What it does deliver is a swift dose of reality and most of us are very startled by that. What do you mean I have to work on myself? I just gave up my best friend. Isn’t that enough? Are you seriously telling me that I have to show up at these meetings with you random, weird people and tell strangers about my life? What the hell is wrong with you people? I like to air my dirty laundry out on facebook, not face to face. That just sounds savage.

I’m was willing to kiss Pinot Grigio and PBR tall boys goodbye. Peace out alcohol, this relationship is over. I’m moving on to bigger and better things. I figured that first night that I would go to sleep an alcoholic and wake up to a happier version of myself.

That’s pretty typical of us alcoholics, right? We want what we want and we want it right now. If we can’t get what we want when we want it, we can become slightly…insane. I can’t even count how many tantrums I had when I ran out of wine.

It’s pretty clear that alcoholism is a symptom of something much harder to break. Our mind can be a weapon against ourselves. Our lives are full of self-destructive chaos. We slowly kill ourselves with substances to avoid situations and emotions that cause us stress.

Shortly after I decided to get sober I started to see the real world and it was FUCKING TERRIFYING. I had to tell myself, “Don’t worry, you stopped drinking, you don’t have to feel those things. Alcohol was the problem!”

HA. HA. HA.

Every table I sat at in the beginning was filled with people who had coping skills and they seemed pretty damn happy. I wanted what they had and this time I could get it. Ask and ye shall receive. They told me what to do. They told me I would have to work hard to achieve sobriety and start a better life. They told me to surrender. They told me to pray. They told me to breathe.

F238EE5C-D1F7-4900-8F56-A2BAD60F91E2Breathe. I have always been trying to catch my breath. Trying to run around and search for anything or anyone to fill the void. When that didn’t work I kept running in every other directions until I finally couldn’t.

Sobriety is simple. I have regularly found that I don’t exactly do *simple*. Breathing is also simple. But, I find myself holding my breath. I breathe in fear and let it settle into my core. Instead of living in the moment, I get stuck in the moment. I can’t control anyone or anything but myself. I hold my breath when I’m hurting, when I’m demoralized and beaten with words. I hold my breath as I watch my children grow and worry if they’ll make the same mistakes I have. I hold my breath when I think about the love I have lost and the love I’ll never have.

Sounds pretty sad right? I’ll invite you to my pity party. All of my fears dancing around me taunting me, pushing me, trying to break me into the shadow of my past.

 

Woe is me.

 

Here’s why I haven’t suffocated yet- I drop to my knees and quietly ask God to take over, be my ventilator until I can inhale my serenity and exhale the rest. I reach out to others who have learned to breathe and ask them how. How do they do it? They just do it. They put the time, the effort, and the service to help others and themselves.2A62B932-A96B-4B41-B785-64080836D04B

I’ve been breathing my whole life. When did I complicate it? The answer doesn’t matter, the solution is sobriety. It’s trying to comprehend that this life has not been handed to me, I have to work for it. It’s taking those risks, opening my heart, opening my mind, and asking God to take over. It’s accepting that shitty people, places and things happen. It’s accepting that I have been shitty to people, places and things (… I’ve thrown a good amount of cell phones in my time.) but that doesn’t define me. I define me, and I identify myself as a sober mom just taking it all in day by day. Am I perfect? No (unless you ask my dog, of course). Am I trying? I am.

I’m taking life one day at a time. One minute at a time. One second at a time.

63,072,000 seconds to be precise and a lifetime more to go.

17247AE6-DFBA-46B1-B255-24D2CDDD6C24

 

 

A Womans Worth: A Letter to my Mama

Dear Mom,

I have been sitting on this topic for a few weeks. What worth do we as women have in this world? Do we acknowledge our worth, or do we let others diminish it?  Do we stay silent to hide our strength, because our strength is intimidating to others? A woman can’t be worthy in this world if she’s too much.

Too much or not enough.

Don’t appear too confident, too smart, too brave, too beautiful, too independent, or too successful if you really want to succeed in life and have a great husband.

0-2*Get it girl*

My dear Mama: you have raised me well. Some of the lessons I have learned from you have sat dormant in my mind for quite a while. I ran in the other direction. I made choices that kept me small. I firmly believed that a white picket fence would make me happy. It didn’t. I firmly believed that the only thing I could offer was giving birth to babies and emptying the dishwasher.

Don’t get me wrong- being a mom is the greatest honor I have ever experienced. I have the pleasure of watching these three wild, silly, strong-willed girls grow day by day and I get to be part of that. It’s amazing.

But is that the only thing I can be?

What about my dreams, my passions, my goals? It never occurred to me that I could do those things and still be the badass mom that I am today.

I let men silence me. I let society silence me. I let alcohol silence me. I let myself silence me. 

0

When I think about your life Mom, I hear symphonies instead of silence. You have spent your entire life pushing yourself to be better, wiser and stronger. You worked hard for your education, your job, and your home with a grateful heart.

0-1*

I know that as you are reading this, you are going to be flooded with emotions. I mean, if we’re being honest here, you kind of always have floods of emotion! That’s good. Gotta let it out.

I know that you have spent hours replaying different memories from my life where you wish you could have done things differently or wish you had been at one thing or another. You tell me over and over how sorry you are for missing stuff. I know that your heart broke when I went into labor and you weren’t there. I know that you still carry that guilt.

Let me tell you something. If you had been around, you would have been ushered out into the waiting room as I entered the OR for that damn emergency c-section. You wouldn’t have been allowed in. You dropped a heck of a lot of money to turn around and get on the next flight back to me. Everything was such a rush. The first baby. Total beautiful chaos.

0-13

I remember almost nothing about my c-section.

Do you know what I do remember? I remember you basically sprinting into the room several hours later. You dropped everything and made it back in record time. Maybe you don’t remember this, but by the time you arrived I was tired. More than tired. Emotionally drained and emotionally full.

 

What I’m trying to say here is that I needed a nap. I straight up just needed to sleep for a minute. You have no idea how deep the exhaustion is after birth until you’ve actually experienced it. You came in and walked right up to us. You picked up Fiona and held her to your heart. You sat down in the rocking chair and introduced yourself to her. I said something about being tired, and you told me to take a nap.

Nap.

Nap?

Moms are allowed to nap? I heard that was a myth.

0-12

You rocked that little smooshy face for almost two hours while I zoned in and out of an unusual sleep. You never sleep the same after a human being exits you. You have to be on call 24/7. I remember the wave of calm that came over me when you walked in there and I closed my eyes. I had spent the past several hours absolutely terrified when my *natural* birth plan didn’t work out. I felt guilt, as if my body had failed her. I don’t know how, but your presence helped calm those emotions.

You’re my mom. You knew I needed to sleep. Moms know everything.

Let me repeat that: Moms know everything.

You would have missed her birth if you had been one mile away or across the country. You would have had to sit and wait outside for who knows how long. I was ok. I did it. I had a baby. I needed you, but not right there at that moment. I needed you to come in like Wonder Woman, sweeping the sleeping baby out of my arms and into yours. I felt my shoulders relax. I felt my eyes getting heavy.

You were there when I needed you. I didn’t need you in the OR, I needed you right then and there in my hospital room. That’s what I remember. Not that you left, but that you came in at just the right time. 

We joke around a lot calling you a *workaholic*. You work. You work really hard. It’s easy for me to sit here on this couch and say you do too much. But I wouldn’t have the damn couch if you hadn’t worked so hard to make sure that we all have always had everything we’ve needed.  You work your ass off even when it seems impossible.

0-9

Being a mom is much like walking on a tightrope. It’s hard and almost impossible. People constantly ask, “How do you do it?” And the answer is simple: the love that we have for our children gives us no other choice. If we have to move a mountain, we will move a mountain. Moms are incredible.

0-5

The past year I have heard you say a lot of things about divorce. Your own and mine. At times you seem to believe that if you raised me differently, that perhaps my marriage wouldn’t have ended. You also seem to believe that you have some kind of control over this situation.

Let me tell you right now-You, your life, your family, your everything…not one single part of your past makes you responsible for what I’m going through, or what my kids are going through.

This isn’t your fault. 

You have brought me back from the ledge of the bridge too many times this past year. You have picked up every phone call. You’ve read every text. You’ve let me go on and on about superficial things while you are mourning the loss of your father. You put me first.

A few months back my marriage ended. I didn’t know what to do, who to turn to, how to make it through one more hour of the misery I was consumed with. A few days later you flew out. Dropped everything, got on a plane, and came out to give me a break. My house was flooded with sewage water. It smelled like a porta potty. You took care of everything. EVERYTHING. You changed your flight home, because you knew I needed more time with you.

You put your own exhaustion aside and sat by me when I needed you the most.

We lost Grampie. You lost your Dad. You had to be the one to call me that morning. Your voice didn’t even tremble. You knew you had to be strong for me in that moment.

I hope I can be strong for you too someday. 

Even when circumstances have been less than ideal, you still do what you need to do for us. You don’t give up. You push. You push into the right direction as much as you can.

0-7

I have spent my entire life watching you soar. You aren’t just a mom. You aren’t just a successful business woman. You aren’t just a loving and kind Grammie. You aren’t just the shoulder your daughters cry on. You aren’t just the mom who has pulled her daughter out of financial and emotional ruin. You aren’t just a devoted daughter. You aren’t just a beloved sibling, leader of the pack. You aren’t just a woman who has a deep love of twizzlers and diet pepsi. You aren’t just the mom who has sacrificed sanity to drive across the country with my three screaming kids in the back. You aren’t just the big promotion. You aren’t just the woman who has helped your daughter stay sober. You aren’t just the woman with a new car or a new house. You aren’t just a hallmark movie watching junkie.

You are Susan. 

You don’t have to be anyone or anything else, just being who you are makes your worth in this world and in my heart immeasurable.

You are enough. You are worthy. You are loved.

 

Happy Birthday Mom. I love you.

0-3

On the eve of three.

In the quiet of the night, I sneak into your room. You’re the only one who lets me hold you as you sleep. Sometimes, I feel like the mom in the ” Love You Forever” book. I will love you forever. You were the biggest surprise of my life. I wish I could tell you how overjoyed I was when I saw those two pink lines at 10:20 am on a tuesday morning in May. I felt terror. I felt panic. I felt hopeless. I was deep, deep in the depths of post-partum depression and spiriling into a full blown alcoholic. If I’m being honest with myself, I was mostly upset that I would have to stop drinking again. Maeve was only nine months old. I had done a terrific job of swimming and then drowing in a sea of white wine since her birth.

47E44152-0CF7-43E8-A96C-11986719BD4AAs my belly grew, I would beg for you to kick. Just some sort of acknowledgement that you were there. We were there. We were going to do this together. Forge willfully into the future, whatever that was. I held your sisters as I wept. I didn’t think I was a good mom. I was a mom who would plan naptime and bedtime around how much wine I could consume without getting sloppy with the kids. I didn’t want to play with them. I didn’t want to take walks with them. I just wanted every day to end quickly so I could drink myself into some sort of dreamy oblivion where I was thin, smart, happy and at peace with myself. I never had those dreams. I had nightmares. And panic. I would bolt out of bed hyperventilating. It only worsened as you took up residency inside of me.

I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. No one cares. No one cares. No one cares. I’m a bad mom. I’m a bad mom. I’m a bad mom. Help. Help. Help.

I can’t breathe.

I tried to talk about it. I mostly talked about how I was sure that if I could drink wine throughout my pregnancy that I would never have to experience a panic attack ever again. I counted the days. Nine months. Two-hundred seventy-three days. Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock. Somehwere, buried deep down under my selfishness, there was a little flicker. A little butterfly. The kind of feeling that makes you get goosebumps, but in a good day.

 

I’m here Mama. I’m here.

 

I bounced on that damn exercise ball for hours in labor. Reciting a name over and over. You were a boy. I was so sure of it. It never even crossed my mind that you would be a girl. My girl. You came fairly punctual like your sisters. On your due date. You entered the world confused and screaming, but no one was more confused than me.

Until I took a deep breath, looked down at you and said, ” Hi Lucille. You’re here.”

Your sisters and you are amazing. You all love each other so much. Even when you’re terrorizing each other, I always hear the belly laughs a few minutes later.

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Your big sister decided that we were going to call ourselves the Giggle Girl Gang. Mommy and the three of you. You guys did a lot of giggling. I tried my best, but I rarely giggled. I did a lot of drinking. Chug, chug, chug.

And then the biggest miracle of all happened-

I got sober. I started to see past the fog of insecurity and depression. I saw my daughters. I saw so much I had never seen before. Meanwhile. the three of you will never have  to see me drink ever again. Eightteen months of sobriety later and by the grace of God, I’m still here with you. Sober. I’m not a perfect mom. You weren’t born into a perfect, happy family. You were born into a tornado of us.

But you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing. Those experiences happened for a reason. The reason being that I will always remember what it was like, how awful it felt. Without all of that I wouldn’t have gotten sober. You would have a drunk mom. A dead mom.

9D736614-07FD-48BA-91FA-D189AED90E5FIn sobriety I really got to know you and your two partners in crime. Your goofy dance in the kitchen while we’re blasting Taylor Swift. The sound of your laughter as Maeve and you jump from bed to bed. The way you melt into my shoulder as I carry you from the car to your bed. Your squeaky little voice singing, ” LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS…” over and over and over and over and over again. The way you wake up every morning and demand to know where your sisters are (still asleep, but that’s not going to stop you) because you are ready to play and start the day. You love horses and you watch Spirit on Netflix 80,000,000 times a day. I can recite every episode. Go ahead. Ask me. I”ll do it.E4BF5C6B-D12D-483F-AD8F-39CBA3BF4E0A

I love the super long conversations to yourself and others that makes zero sense, because we have NO clue what you’re saying. I constantly had to ask your sisters to translate for me, because I didn’t speak Lucie. It’s more complicated than French or Spanish. You can’t take a class and learn it.

You’re my daughter. You never stop talking. I’m sure its payback. My own mother used to put the phone down and walk away as I was talking to her on the phone. I talked so much I didn’t even realize. You and I both could talk anyone’s ear off.

When things get crazy and the three of you are demaning my attention, you always run up to me and say, ” MOMMY I TALK TO YOU.” “Fine, I won’t talk to you, relax Goosie Girl.” “ NO. I WANNA TALK TO YOU. I WANNA TALK TO YOU NOW.”

” MOMMY. MAEVE HIT ME. I HIT HER BACK.”

” MOMMY BERRIES. I WANT A BOWL OF BERRIES. NOW. NOW. NOW!”

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A few days ago you were out like a light in the car after we picked up Maeve. I had gotten her one of those weird Kinder Egg things. Maeve tried to crack it open and before she could speak another word, there you were, wide awake…” DID SOMEBODY SAY KINDER EGG?”

You used to swear a lot. Thank God we worked on that before you start preschool. I imagine we would be getting several complaints about the three year old exclaiming,” HOLY SHIT.” all day long.

You like to lick the shopping carts in Target. I tried to stop you once. It didn’t go well.

D6786A90-55E5-4776-9F38-C92C6F52DF07Once, when you were two, we were at the pediatrician for your well visit. You were wearing just a diaper. I tried hard, but I couldn’t get you to stop rolling around, half naked, on the linoleum floor. The Dr walked in, her first response was, ” Oh sweetie, you don’t want to do that. There’s germs. That’s yucky.” She told me I should make you stop. I laughed. There’s no stopping you little Luce. I bent down to pick you up and you ninja kicked my torso. The dr looked at me and said, ” Oh. I see. She’s pretty wild, huh?” I said, “ Yeah- so you want to give it a try? Good luck Doc.”

 

Wild. Silly. Loud. Confident. Loving. Determined. Smart. Snuggly. Adventerous. Independent. Immaginative.

So many wonderful things.

You radiate happiness. You have left such a joyous imprint on my heart. So much so that when you’re with your dad, it feels like I’m missing a limb until you come home. You’ve  taught me so much about my own heart and my role as a mother. You won’t grow up with memories of drunk mommy. You will grow up remembering running in the yard with the dog, You will remember all the secret hiding spots you and your sisters have found when playing hide and seek. You will remember swimming with your cousins and jumping on trampolines. You’ll remember Mommy showing up, being present- loving you inside and out.C80D2E70-A427-4CB5-AA56-CAF1602A2FA7

Last night you fell asleep in my bed. When I was done wrapping your presents, I came in quietly. As soon as I pulled the blanket up, your eyes opened and you said, “Mommy, I hold you.”.

i will hold you forever, my little one.

Happy 3rd Birthday Lucie.

 

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I know you are but what am I?

There seems to be an identity crisis going on here. I don’t know if crisis is the right word to use but, I’m trying to figure some shit out. Some days, I look at myself and the familiarity is comforting. Other times, I yearn for a map to lead me to where I need to be. Where I should be going. A guide out of my own personal hell of self pity and addiction.

Before.

Prior to sobriety I had always hated my body. I’d change my clothes 30 times every morning to try to find an outfit that would make me look skinny. I didn’t have confidence in myself. I thought that it was my job to keep my family and friends happy. If I failed I was devastated. As I got older those things started to haunt me day after day. I hated those feelings. They hurt too much. Fuck that. I wanted to be numb and feel absolutely nothing.

Someone introduced me to alcohol and the rest is history. Alcohol was the solution for everything. I didn’t start off drinking like a fish, that would come later. But the door had started to open and my brain invited addiction in like it was a long lost love seeking shelter.

Beer. Vodka. Tequila. Wine. My new besties.

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*Hey, check out those DEAD eyes… knock, knock! No one’s there. Also, no clue who that blonde was, but she seems to be having a good time* 

 

Alcohol made me feel pretty. My insecurities washed away in a shot glass of whiskey. I felt confident. I flirted with disaster and bad boys. I laughed loud and passed out quick. I took shots of vodka from my water bottle during third period on a Monday. It wasn’t an everyday thing, but the more I drank the better I felt. I invited friends over and raid the alcohol cabinet again and again. I was also pretty dumb, because I decided to replace in the freezer with water. Water freezes. I told my parents it must have been the men outside gardening. They must have come into the kitchen and pounded it all without a chaser.

I used my fake ID daily during my freshman year of college. It was totally normal. I’d start pre-gaming house before the bar or party. I’d put my makeup on while drinking old style. I felt beautiful. I’d dance with strangers and take the shots they offered me.

21370849_10102229351533937_7585698918920757950_n* I’d like to call this my faux mug shot. I’ve never been arrested (Thank you sweet baby Jesus), but I imagine this is kind of what it would be like. There’s nothing behind those eyes*

One night I was talking to my friend and she asked me what I was doing. I replied that I was in my dorm room drinking. She said that drinking alone is the start of something bad.

I stopped telling people what I was doing. I became a masterful drunk. I’d tell my friends how happy I was to be out and drinking beer with them. I’d leave out the part where I had already drank four glasses of wine and two beers. There was also a strong chance that I had popped some random pills too.

Whatever. Didn’t care. I felt wanted, smart, clever, funny and talented. If it meant killing my liver in the process, so be it.

 

The next morning those euphoric feelings disappeared. They were replaced with shame, guilt, confusion, pain, heartbreak and a slew of other horrible feelings. I’d cope with all of that by drinking more. Meanwhile, my self hatred grew and grew. Alcohol fed the beast inside of me.

After becoming a mother my drinking started to spiral. I believed whole heartedly that alcohol made me a better mom. Want to color? Sure! Want to do a puzzle? Sure! Want to bake cookies? Absolutely! In bed at night I’d tear myself down piece by piece. What kind of shitty person drinks to hang out with their kids? Only a piece of shit. I was a piece of shit. I didn’t deserve happiness. I deserved a difficult life (all by my own doings). I accepted that I would never find peace.

17553882_10101959875815437_9215602668637248072_n*Oh, wow look at you, you little emo/moody wino. Still with the dead eyes.*

In the back of my mind I knew that I was an alcoholic. I knew that without a solution that my alcoholism would be fatal. I fully intended to drink my life away until death. I thought my family would be better off without me. I was terrified of messing up my kids. When those emotions crept in I would pick up the bottle again and again.

 

What a hot ass mess.

 

Present

I wake up and fall to my knees. I pray to a God that I had long dismissed as a myth. I ask my God to help me stay sober today and help me follow His will, not mine. I don’t know what His will for me is, but every single day tiny miracles happen in my life. I don’t fear being alone anymore. I just get on my knees and repeat over and over again. I cook my daughters breakfast and we laugh over silly stuff the baby did. I’m slowly learning to love myself. I’m present. I see myself in pictures and I see the face of a girl who finally knows her worth. I know that I deserve happiness, peace and joy. None of that would be possible if I was still pounding drinks every day.

46836961_10102749939970537_4338203563537727488_n*I didn’t get sober for my girls. They inspired me to get sober, but I got sober for me so that they could have the mom they deserve*

All of that shit is awesome, right? Yeah. It’s amazing. I work so damn hard everyday to maintain the serenity I so badly need in my life.

But it’s kinda weird too. I have moments where I miss being a miserable drunk. I know that’s crazy, but getting drunk means I won’t have to feel anything. I’m a lazy ass person. Super lazy. It’s challenging to have to work on myself twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Drunk Kate didn’t have to do anything but sit on the damn couch and watch the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Sober Kate has to pray, read, call my sponsor, embrace the fellowship of others, use healthy coping skills, be present and be accountable. I share my sober story through this blog, because I need to be honest and transparent with others in my life. No more secrets. I mean, I’m probably going to lie to you if you ask me if I’m wearing the same pants that I’ve been sleeping in for four days while at kindergarten drop off.

 

Of course these aren’t the same pants. I’m super mom. I do 70,000 loads of laundry every morning. With a smile on my face. ***** ALL LIES *****

The pants are comfy man, so lay off.

 

I haven’t been sober for years and years. I’m still learning how to navigate life without wine, sometimes I’m pretty good at it, sometimes I suck at it. It’s progress, not perfection. One day at a time. ONE. Not the next 90 years of my life. Just today. This one day.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings, but I do know this…

Every single moment of every day it gets better and better. Every feeling, good or bad, brings me closer and closer to peace. Just by feeling them, staring them in the face, instead of ignoring them with a PBR tall boy.

I still yell at my kids. I still have road rage (bc no one in Michigan knows how to drive apparently…). I’m still selfish and loud. I’m still jerk to the most important people in my life- but you know what? I’m sober. It’s only through sobriety that I can grow and learn to forgive and accept forgivness for my actions and those of others. I pray for complete strangers and I feel Gods presence in the quiet moments of the day.

 

If the old me read this, I would probably laugh. A life without alcohol was not a possiblity. I couldn’t even imagine it.

 

I am so grateful to be able to share this journey with others as I grow and learn to love the new me. We don’t do it alone.

 

One day at a time.

 

46853629_10102750615506757_2530707130097336320_n* OMG THERE’S LIFE BEHIND MY EYES*

Raising my daughters in the era of #metoo

I wasn’t shocked when the Harvy Weinstein scandal first opened up. Men in Hollywood and every other hood, abuse their previliges and power. They look at women as dissmisive and easy to use. I figured this was a normal kind of thing to go on in the media. Whatever. I’m thirty-one and I live in Michigan, this didn’t affect me at all.

 

Until it did.

 

I remember first hearing about the #metoo movement on the news. I sat down to watch and started to realize this was bigger than me. Bigger than you. So many brave, strong women moved out of their comfort zone and spoke up. They spoke up about verbal, emotional, and sexual assault. Suddenly, the Weinstein started to mean something to me.

I saw my friends facebook and twitter write their own #metoo story and I felt shameful for ever dismissing this epidemic. It reaches women here and there and everywhere. I can’t count the amount of #metoos I saw before I realized this might have happened to #metoo.

I had an experience during my freshman year of college. When I thought about it, it made me feel disgusting. I just pushed it back until I basically stopped thinking about it. I went to a party, I drank some alcohol, and a kind  gentlemen offered to walk me back to my dorm. I had been puking from the party and I was touched that someone cared enough to make sure I made it back ok. He didn’t just walk me back to my dorm, he entered my dorm, uninvited, and tucked me in. Looking back, he did all of those nice things so it would be easier to take advantage of me. He forced his lips onto my lips, and I remember thinking, ” This is not what I want, I’m trapped. I’m trapped.”

He kept pushing and pushing, and eventually I just ran out into the bathroom and violently puked. Puking probably saved me from an extreme sexual trauma, but luckily my body took over. It didn’t go very far, but it still made me feel dirty. I also felt guilty, because I had been drinking at a party. I should have been smarter. We always blame ourselves.

Although my story is very small compared to the stories of rape and abuse, I posted #metoo on facebook.

 

I lay awake at night wondering if my daughters will someday post #metoo. I’m terrified that at some point in their life, they will be hurt or abused. It churns in my stomach, it clenches my fists.

Raising children is the single, most difficult task for many of us. I want to raise them to be strong, smart and kind. I would blame myself if they found themselves in a similar situation. It would break my heart.

I’m doing my best to talk to them about their bodies and their minds. I tell them no one, not even mommy or daddy, is allowed to touch them if they don’t want anyone to. I tell them that they are strong before I tell them their beautiful. I them to value their strength above their beauty. I am trying to arm them with enough self-worth to make it in this sad, scary world that we live in.

But, I can’t protect them forever. They will have to make their own way someday. All I can do is repeat over and over again how much value they are in this world, and that no man or woman can take that away from them.

 

#metoo unites us all in recognizing a problem that stretches over women, chidren and even men. No change has ever happened over night, but we have to keep pushing and educating our children. We have to.

 

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I took a deep breath.

” I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart; I am I am I am” -Sylvia Plath

 

I am blissful. I am beautiful. I am bountiful. I am alive. I am a warrior. I am brave. I am strong. I am loyal. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a daughter.  I am a sister.

 

I am worthy of all the gifts the world has to offer. I am.IMG_2554*I got this tattoo for my 31st birthday to remind myself of all of these things*

 

I am. I am. I am.

 

Struggle.

When I started this blog, I thought I would fill it with funny stuff. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of that. As I continue finding my voice through writing, I find myself leaning towards wanting to share the beauty of motherhood. It’s not always beautiful. Sometimes, it’s scary, it’s ugly, it’s hurtful, it’s lonely, its desperate, it feels like it will break you. It’s also magic. It’s unbelievable. It brought my soul to life. (That’s some really sappy BS, but I’m serious.)

 

My three strong willed daughters test me to my limit every single day. Sometimes, they smack me. Sometimes they poop on me (or in that DAMN BACK PACK). Sometimes, they frustrate me. How freaking hard is it to put on shoes, a coat, and your backpack? It takes 75,000 million hours to try to get to preschool on time. We’re always late. Whatever. Sometimes, they take the entire box of goldfish crackers, dump them on the floor and stomp on them like they’re Lucy and Ethel stomping on those grapes in the wine barrel. Sometimes, they pull each others hair and throw punches. Sometimes, they run down the street half naked trying to follow their Dad’s car to work at 6 am on a Tuesday morning. Sometimes, scream so loud that I’m POSITIVE my neighbors think we are running an insane asylum. (Which, is pretty accurate.)

That’s kid shit though. That’s what they do.

 

My strong willed daughters also shower me with unconditional love. I spent my entire life needed that. Craving that. Searching for that. I know my parents love me. Sometimes, I think maybe my husband loves me. But, this is a different love. My favorite is when Fiona snuggles up with me and says, ” I know you told me, but I want to tell you too that I made you a mommy.”

 

… I melt into a pool of emotions when she says this.

 

When I’ve been out for a few hours talking to my Drs about my crazy ass PPD/PPA, my Maeve girl comes CHARGING through the house to hug me, as if I’ve been gone for a decade.

When Lucille wakes up in the morning the first thing she does is smile, reaches up for you to pick her up, and then nuzzles her sweet face into your neck and gives the BEST HUG EVER. I mean she’s almost nine months old and her hug game is STRONG.

 

All of these things are great, but what prompted me to write this is that the past couple days and weeks have been a little hard over here. Life stuff, you know? There’s always life stuff. But, this morning I felt Fiona crawl into bed with me, she put her arm around my chest, put her nose to my nose, and woke me up with nose kisses.

 

MY FOUR YEAR OLD WAKES ME UP WITH NOSE KISSES.

 

It is the absolute best way to wake up.

 

I”ve been doing a lot of yelling. I’m stressed. It has nothing to do with them and yet all I do is take it out on them. I’m struggling with the anxiety hard core right now. I hate it. It’s all consuming. But, my precious daughter wakes me up with nose kisses and that’s what keeps me going.

 

These kids are alright, you know? They’re worth every minute of it, the good and the bad.

 

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