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.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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.

4912D1C6-2647-439A-8441-1B2831DC4AC2

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.

 

0A9577C7-2286-4EAC-BC42-B2B4E813EDA5

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*

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.

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.