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.

Self-care… wait, what’s self-care?

When someone asks me if I have time for myself, I usually crack up.

 

SELF-CARE? Are you kidding me? I haven’t showered in four days, I can’t remember when I brushed my teeth, I don’t know whose socks I”m wearing. I have three girls under five. It’s a miracle that we even leave the house somedays. I mean, I”ve left the house in my pjs and slippers by accident for preschool pick up once or twice.

 

I like simple things. I don’t have time for some 90 min face mask with cucumbers on my eyes. I don’t have time for massages. I don’t have time for manicures. My time goes towards my children. All day. Every day.

(EXCEPT, when grandparents are in town and I throw my children at them, so I can go take a three nap.)

So, anyway, my friend (Hey, Angela!) asked me if I’d like to try some stuff that I could easliy fit into my crazy ass schedule, and create a even just a bit of me time.

Before, I tell you about this stuff, I want you to know that I’m not selling or pressuring  anyone into buying anything. I just really wanted to share this, because this stuff helped me SO much.

There’s this company called Arbonne. I had kind of heard about it through the grapevince, but promptly forgot because…mom brain. So anyway, I tried a few things out and they were pretty awesome. IMG_1875*I liked the bag…*

The first thing I tried was ” Arbonne Essentials”, it’s like a packet of powder you can add to your water. The reason I enjoyed this was because it didn’t taste like other water enhancers I”ve had. It was great and it gave me a little boost.

IMG_2343*The Goods*

I tried out some of this stuff too. I”m a tea snob, but I liked this tea a lot. I actually made ice tea out of it, beacuse it’s 3,000 degrees outside. I tried the shake too (it also came in vanilla), and I mixed it with water. It was ok, but if I had mixed it with almond milk or something like that, it might have been a little more smooth on the way down.

 

By far, my FAVORITE stuff was this…

This is their anti-aging skincare line, and DAMN did I need it. There’s face wash, toner, night repair cream, intensive serum cream, corrective eye cream and more. Once in the morning and once at night, it took me approximately two minutes to add this into my routine. So that’s pretty rad.

I spend most of my time shocked at how different I look from when I was younger. I stare at my wrinkles. I have grey hair popping up everywhere, and I”m constantly tired. That’s called growing up, I suppose. I’m thirty-two in August and being able to take those two minutes into my day for my own self-care is pretty remarkable for my self esteem.

I didn’t love all the samples that were given to me. I didn’t like the mascara, for me it just clumped up my lashes. But, overall, this stuff is pretty good.

 

So, if you are looking for a super simple, healthy way to get some self-care into your life, I would reccomend Arbonne to you. This isn’t an advertisement, this is just an honest review I wanted to share with my crew.

If you think this stuff sounds rad, you can hit up this lady, Angela at http://www.angelachristou.arbonne.com.

 

WOO!

Sunshine & Rainbows

I have been waking up every day smiling.

 

I shit you not. I open my eyes, look over at my kids who have hogged my bed, and smile. I smile when they ask me for breakfast. Two weeks ago I would have thrown a half frozen waffle at them and said, ” Here. Eat.”. Now, I actually toast the waffles properly and add butter with syrup. Like a real mom.

I smile at my dumb dog when he has go to pee first thing in the morning.

I smile at my husband, which is basically unheard of in this household.

 

I can’t stop smiling. I’m smiling about everything, all day long. I used to believe that the people who were like, ” I woke up with a smile on my face!”, were chipper assholes who needed to calm the F down.

WHERE IS THIS EXTREME HAPPINESS COMING FROM?

That’s easy. I’m sober and I’m finally grateful for every single day. That’s not to say that shit gets hard and I feel like I”m losing my mind sometimes, but I recover from it. I don’t dwell on it. Just keep chugging along. There’s these things, they’re called coping skills, and apparently they work pretty well. Who knew, right?!? Crazy.

 

I keep looking into my kids eyes and it’s like I’m finally present with them. I hadn’t realized how touched out I was before. There was this fog in front of me before. I couldn’t see my way through it, but slowly it’s finally starting to fade little by little.

My dad has a saying that he repeats all the time, “Great to be alive!”. I thought that was pretty corny before.  My sister and I would look at each other and giggle or roll our eyes, but I get it now. I get it. It is great to be alive. It’s great to be present in my own life for once. It’s great to be open and honest. It’s all just really freaking great. GREAT.

 

My kids are still going to poop on me, my dog is still going to pee all over my house, my husband and I are going to fight about something dumb, but we get through it. It’s not an excuse to drink anymore. It’s an opportunity to deal with whatever is going on with a clear mind and heart.

 

As I’m typing this, I”m like, ” Who the hell is this person writing this?”. I sound like a cheesy life coach or something. But I don’t give a f***. At all.

It’s sober life baby, sober life. It’s not all sunshine. There aren’t unicorns barfing up rainbows (although, that would be fun.), it’s life. A life worth living. A life worth smiling about.

 

YASSSSSS QUEEN.

Twelve steps to happy hour…

Habits are hard to change. They become imbedded in our bodies. Muscle memory. That’s just how it is. My habits were out of control.

Cooking dinner? Here! Have a glass of wine!

Putting away laundry? Here! Have two glasses of wine!

Cleaning the house? Here! Have the whole damn bottle!

 

I was cooking dinner the other night and I had the strongest urge to have a glass of wine. I felt like I didn’t know how to cook without it. I was folding laundry and my body just ached to get buzzed so it wouldn’t suck so much.

 

Bad habits are incredibly hard to change. I decided to quit drinking and go sober for one month. My relationship with alcohol had become incredibly desperate and dangerous. I could make up a reason, any reason at all, why I deserved to have a drink. It was easy. I could have a glass and block out my postpartum anxiety like magic.

 

It was very easy to slip and slide into self medicating mentality. It starts with one glass.

 

But it’s never just one glass, is it?

 

I don’t like committing to things at all. I like to have excuses. I like to have a way out if I need one. I need to be in control. But, by my second day of sobriety, I realized I couldn’t do this on my own. I couldn’t commit to making this change all by myself. I needed help. I didn’t even realize how much help I needed, but holy shit did I need it.

My husband half jokingly asked me if I was going to start going to AA meetings. Normally, I would have laughed. I did not laugh this time. Only two days into this whole sober living thing, I realized that my relationship with alcohol was toxic. Slowly turning me into a shell of a human being, hiding behind drunken smiles and laughter.

I couldn’t do this on my own.

So, seven days ago I walked into a room in a local church, scared shitless. I was scared to know that I was going to have to face my demons right then and there, without the cozy warmth of a buzz. As I walked in, a woman rushed over to me and asked me if this was my first meeting. Still skeptical, I said yes. She immediately hugged me and told me how proud she was of me. A woman that I had never met before opened her arms and heart up to me. The tears started pouring out of me. It didn’t stop with her. Every single woman in that room introduced themselves and hugged me. I felt wrapped up in the love that was being poured all over me. I felt something else too.

Support. I felt supported.

Within that first hour, I cried, laughed, listened and embraced the women who had just opened up their lives for me. I walked into that meeting thinking that I was just going to see if I could gain some insight so that I could have a healthier relationship with alcohol. Because, apparently I believed I could have a nice, clean relationship with booze. I figured I would learn a few tips on how to stop drinking after two drinks, and gain some control back in the relationship. I had no idea that I was going to fall to my knees in humility and admit that this wasn’t just a bad relationship.

This is an addiction.

 

For the past five years, I’ve jokingly portrayed myself as the wino mom. Almost every single night I would open up a new bottle of wine and drink the whole damn thing. No problem. I told myself that I could stop whenever I wanted to. I told myself I had a high tolerance. I told myself that it was normal to buy extra wine and hide it in random places throughout the house. I had hundreds of excuses as to why this was normal and that I deserved it.

When I was pregnant with my first kid, I told my birth doula that I couldn’t wait to have champagne after the baby was born. She said, ” You could probably have one glass if you really wanted one.” I replied, ” No. You don’t get it. I don’t want a glass, I want the entire bottle.”

That was the beginning down the path I’ve been drunkenly crawling through for years.

 

As I listened to these women share their stories of sobriety, accomplishments and failures, I could feel my guarded wall slowly breaking down. Slowly but surely. I related to these stories. I have felt the same things.

I found more than just a meeting of women discussing their sobriety, I found a community. A huge, unwavering, welcoming, understanding community. I didn’t even realize how long I had been searching for the peace I felt while sitting in that meeting. The weight of the world was finally off my shoulders.

I could finally admit that this is a huge problem in my life. I could finally admit that I had been lying to myself for years. I could finally admit that I couldn’t do this on my own.

Complete strangers were willing to tell me their deepest, darkest secrets to help me realize that I wasn’t alone. My heart was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. After everyone else had spoken, they asked me if I wanted to share anything. My heart was racing, because I knew exactly what I needed to say.

 

” Hi. My name is Kate and I’m an alcoholic.”

I let out a deep, long breath and felt lighter than I have felt in years. The first step.

I left that meeting with a new sense of purpose, a new reason to be honest with myself and others. The next day I decided to go again. And again. And again. Pretty soon the women started joking that I really got around the block, with all the meetings I was attending. In truth, admitting that I’m an addict was the absolute hardest thing I have ever done. But, attending those meetings made me feel so happy and so alive. I started to look forward to it. Every day around five pm, I start counting down the minutes until my next meeting. My happy hour. 

 

I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I can only handle one day at a time, but instead of handling it with a box of wine, I’m handling it with faith, strength, and sharing with others. I know that I could very easily fuck this up. I’m very aware of that. It isn’t easy being sober, it’s a constant battle. I am ready for the fight and I know that I won’t have to fight it alone.

I left that first meeting as an entirely different person. There was the wine drinking, shit talking Kate from before, and now there’s the sober, but still shit talking, Kate.

It feels amazing. This is my new normal. I’m fighting for myself so my children have a mother, so my husband has a wife, so my parents have their daughter back, and a million other reasons. This is probably the best thing I have ever done for myself. I’m going to fight this shit day in and day out, but I’m gaining the skills to kick the hell out of it.

 

One day at a time.  Serenity.

Sober.

This past weekend was a blast celebrating St. Patricks Day.

 

Or, what I should say is, I think it was a blast, because I can’t remember a damn thing. It’s a miracle I even made it home. Sunday morning I woke up just filled with dread. Absolute dread. I’m a 31 year old mom of three amazing kids, and I decided to get black out drunk? What if something had happened to me? Some sort of switch just went off in my brain and I realized… This has to stop.

When I became a mom I would spend hours looking at peoples instagram accounts with funny jokes about moms, coffee, and always wine. It seemed obvious that all moms need coffee in the morning and at 4 pm switch to wine. That’s just how you get through the day right?

 

So, I bought into this. I became a wino. I loooooooove wine. LOVE. Love, love, love. It was fun at first, drinking wine while cooking dinner for the family, or sipping some on my back porch with my friend at 2 pm on a Wednesday. I thought this was normal and cool. I thought I could handle it. But, it didn’t take long for one bottle of wine to turn into two and so on.

 

I realized that I was drinking way too much. Too many glasses while prepping dinner. Too many glasses at kids birthday parties. Too many glasses at family gatherings. Too many too often.

 

That’s not me. That’s not the kind of person I want to be. Alcoholism runs in my family, I have always been hyper aware of that fact. So, this past weekend my mom asked me if I thought I could just stop, and my answer was yes. Absolutely.

 

So, that’s what I’m doing over here. Taking a break. I never could connect the dots together before, but drinking certainly has not helped me climb out of the darkness of my postpartum depression, anxiety and ocd. In fact, I’m pretty sure it made it significantly worse. I feel like I’ve been wearing beer goggles for five years and I finally took them off.

 

I don’t know how long I’ll do this break. Maybe a few months. Maybe a few years. Maybe never again.

I’m not sure how this is all going to go. I just want my body, mind and heart to be healthy.  I want to remember all the moments with my children day by day. Maybe this is the kick in the ass I needed to finally start taking care of myself. I’ve put everyone before me for so long (because, duh that’s what moms do), it’s time for some self-care.

Sober self-care. I’m excited about it.

Part of the reason that I’m sharing all of this with you, is that I need to hold myself accountable. My family will read this. My friends will read this, and I need people to call out my bullshit when it needs to be called out.

 

Life is so beautiful. We’re only here for a short amount of time. I’d rather live in these moments. Instead of  living with my head in the toilet after a night of rough drinking. Maybe someday I will be able to just have one glass of wine. Maybe I won’t. Who knows? But, I’m giving this all I’ve got, because my family deserves it. I deserve it. 

I poisoned my husband, and I think (hope) he still loves me.

I don’t claim to be a master chef or anything, but I really enjoy cooking. It started with an obsession for baking, which I’m actually pretty horrible at. I just liked being in the kitchen. Once we had a wedding shower, I was gifted a few cool cookbooks. I started experimenting, and began cooking some good (mostly good) stuff. There’s a lot of really good cooks in my family and I felt like one of them.

 

This didn’t happen overnight. If you had asked me to cook something for dinner twelve years ago, I would have laughed at you.

Cooking? No.

Beer? yes.

I was a semi-sophmore/junior in college (five year plan baby, fiver year plan.), and met my future husband at a halloween party where he swept me off my feet.

That’s not exactly how it went. The cops showed up at our underage party in Logan Square, and I raced home like a bat out of hell. But…somehow he found me. He ran from the party too and ended up spending the night on our couch in my very first apartment. I’m sure my roommates were thrilled, but I think my dad would be even more thrilled to learn that I slept in my own bed alone, because I was a lady and he was a gentleman.

A few weeks later, I heard from him again. He wanted to take me out. I had just gotten out of some toxic ass shit, and was not looking for anyone at all. I thought I would try dating casually, because I was nineteen and in college and that’s what you’re supposed to do. He picked me up for our first date in his janky ass car. The muffler was so loud you could here it three miles away. In the city of Chicago. THREE MILES AWAY. Vroom, vroom.

We went to this swanky Lincoln Park pasta place on Halsted & Armitage. I love pasta. Seemed like a good idea. He was nervous as hell. I remeber thinking, “Jesus, this kid is really trying to make a good impression.”

It worked.

We both ordered the same thing. A creamy pasta dish with spiral noodles and grilled chicken. I laughed, I couldn’t believe we ordered the same thing. As the night went on, I could tell something wasn’t right. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but this guy was either REALLY nervous, or something was wrong with him. Hours passed, we watched a movie, hung out at my apartment, and then all of a sudden it all came to a head.

He remembered seeing some of the chicken in the pasta dish didn’t look quite right, but because he was trying hard to impress me, he just ate it. I didn’t notice anything wrong with mine.

Hours later as I clicked the channels on the tv back at my apartment, his face grew paler and paler. At one point he just couldn’t take it anymore. He ran to my bathroom and proceeded to throw up for the next twenty-four hours.

He got food poisoning on our first date.

It’s hilarious to think about now, but in the moment I was like, ” Crap… this is our first date and I have this extremley ill human being dying on my couch right now.” He mentioned his mom was a nurse, and I encourged him to call her ASAP.

He recovered eventually and spent the next thirteen years together after that incident. If I had barfed at someones house on a first date, I”d make sure to never see them again. I would have died from embarrasment.

 

So, let’s fast forward to this past week. I decided to defrost some beef. I do it all the time. I was sick of tacos, sick of meatballs, and sick of shepards pie. I decided to make meatloaf. I should have stopped myself right there, because meatloaf is never a good idea. Ever. As I was prepping the food and veggies, I realized the beef looked…strange.I said, “Whatever!” and went on my merry way finishing dinner up.

It just so happened that my children and I lost our appetites right before we were about to sit down. I don’t know what happened, but perhaps the memory of the weird beef got to me.

…Of course, he loved it. Said it was delicious. Had three helpings. I was rather pleased with myself, because he’s a damn picky eater. Next thing I knew, it was 4 am and the poor guy was praying for Jesus to take him home. The bathroom was a battle zone, his stomach vs the porcielen throne.

I’ll never make meatloaf ever again. 

I’m going to add this to the list of horrifying and yet hilarious stories of our family. You never know how much you love someone, or how much they love you, as when they’re sick puking their brains out. Especially, if you’re the one who has served the poison. It’s safe to say he’ll never eat anything I cook ever again, but we had a good run, you know? Maybe he can survive on Mexican food and Chicago’s Portillos for the rest of his life.

I love you Ryan. Thanks for not divorcing me over my failed meatloaf.IMG_2118

 

Insomnia is the friend no one invited to the party.

I’ve had insomnia for as long as I can remember. SO ANNOYING. I should be sleeping because in about five hours I’m going to have to bring my a-game to the breakfast table with my children. When this happens, sometimes I like to make lists of things that I could do to make me sleepy…

  1. Read a book
  2. Watch the RHONJ because they are BORING AF
  3. Pour myself a large night cap.
  4. Text everyone I know to see who’s still up and wants to entertain me
  5. Sort all of my kids damn socks
  6. Sort all of my kids damn shoes
  7. Spy on my neighbors who are already putting up Christmas decorations
  8. Take Wrigley for a walk… naahh, too cold out.
  9. Clean the food out of the cushions on my couch
  10. Just say , ” FUCK IT!” and open a bottle of wine while I watch Netflix.

 

I’ll let you decide which one I chose. It’s working nicely.