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

 

 

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.

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“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