Summer is Finally Here

It’s funny how life changes. When we were kids growing up, we got so excited about summer. No more homework. No more early mornings. No more class everyday. We could usually just hang out with our friends, go to the pool, maybe the lake if we were lucky, and every few years we got to see the beach. Yeah, summers as a kid were amazing.

Enter parenthood…

Now, I look forward to summer break because we won’t have homework; no more early mornings; we can have play-dates with friends; we get to go to the pool; maybe we can have a lake day if we’re lucky; and maybe we’ll get to see the beach one of these years.

So, wait, what has really changed?

Well, for starters I have to keep these 3 tiny humans alive all summer. That’s definitely new! But also I get to watch the magical times of summer through the lens of a parent. Yes, the days pass by quicker for me than they do for the kids (whose hours and minutes drag along at a snail’s pace during the summertime – I do remember that), but I get to be part of new adventures in my kid’s lives. I get to partake in endless hours of board games, water fights, zoo trips, and maybe even a cool museum or two.

So, why am I sharing this?

Because I wouldn’t be able to do any of this with my kids had I not stopped drinking. Sure, I could still go to the pool, the zoo, the lake, the beach, or wherever the destination may be, but how can I be responsible for these little people when I can’t even responsibly take care of myself?

These trips would probably still be fun as I chased down chardonnay after chardonnay, but then who drives us home responsibly? Who takes us to the urgent care when someone falls at the pool? Who is able to care for my babies when they are solely in my care daily this summer?

Me…this sober mama right here will take pride in being able to do all of the mundane and sometimes boring things I’ll be doing this summer. I’ll do them with pride. I’ll do them with perspective. I will gladly play monopoly so many times my head will explode! Because I get to…

Coming Out of the Alcoholic Closet

“Some people may not understand. What if those people judge me? How else can I explain why I’ve blown them off on their annual social event? What if they find me out anyway? Will they tell other people? Will they judge my husband and I as being different?”

These are some of the irrelevant but very real fears I’ve had when thinking about telling a close friend of mine about having a drinking problem. I still don’t feel like I can justify telling my husband’s story to someone else, but I can own my story. Except, I must admit, it still feels really awkward sometimes.

I know I shouldn’t care what someone else thinks about my situation, but when it’s a close friend and not just an acquaintance I may only see a few times a year, the game changes a little bit. I want to share who I am with this person, but how can I do that while not lying or completely scaring them off? (I have some pretty outrageous stories from my past, as I’m sure we all do.)

Here is my advice, you’ll know when it’s time. You’ll know who is worthy of your story, and it’s not everyone. You’ll know if you should finally say something, or if you should even bring up the subject at all.

When it comes to your story, you are the one holding the pen. You are the one crafting the pages of your life, not someone else. If you feel the need, then jump in and tell your audience (your friend or family member) how your story really unfolds. If they won’t appreciate the intimate details of your life, then they don’t deserve to hear your story in the first place.

8 Years Ago Today

When I was 22 years old, I was pregnant in a college town and surrounded by people who had their lives ahead of them while I thought I had effectively ruined mine. It turns out that our first son saved mine and my husband’s life. We didn’t just wake up one day and decide to be saintly people who never made any mistakes anymore, but we sure didn’t want to continue down the path we had set in motion.

Looking back at how 8 years can change a person, I honestly don’t even recognize the woman I see in pictures from then. She was overweight, trying to figure life out, and totally confused on where she was going to end up. If my time machine worked (maybe it will one day), I’d go back to tell her that everything works out.

We still aren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we are happy. We are no longer co-dependent parents in a toxic relationship. We are healthy, contributing members to society.  We don’t party like we used to. We are nicer to one another. We are overall pretty decent human beings.

If you would have told me 8 years ago today that everything would be okay, I still wouldn’t have believed you. But here we are today. Everything is okay. It’s more than okay. We aren’t just surviving anymore. We are thriving!

Working Up the Courage to Say No

When I first quit drinking, I thought I was going to be bombarded every day by people offering me a drink. It was an irrational fear or mine I had for a few weeks until I realized the world doesn’t revolve around me anyway. (Who knew, right?!) I had this whole speech planned out in my head just in case I was caught in a situation where I would have to explain myself. The truth is, when you don’t surround yourself in situations where you have to explain yourself, you often don’t have to say anything at all.

If you are worried about someone offering you a drink in a bar, don’t go to a bar! If you are worried that happy hour may too tempting, skip out on it! If you are consumed with the idea that someone may offer you a drink you can’t refuse at the reception, don’t hang around where the drinks are being served!

I know a lot of this is easier said than done, especially for someone in those first few hours, days, and weeks of sobriety, but it is doable.

I have also found it easier to say “no” to other things now that my need to please people has been thrown out the window. Accepting everything invitation to volunteer for this or that at my kids’ schools has been replaced with only the things I really want to do. Raising my hand to handle all of the family functions for the year has been replaced with bringing something to the potluck.

When we can say “no” to the simple things, it makes it easier to work up the courage to say “no” to the hard things too. You can do it…I believe you can do it!

Because, Well, You Know Me

I had a friend I recently visited with whom I hadn’t seen in years. We were very close growing up and she’s probably known me since I was 8 or 9 years old. She saw the wild and reckless teen I was growing up. She saw the crazed college student who was out of control. And now she has seen me attempting these wife and parenting roles in my life.

We started catching up about what has been going on with each of our families and she mentioned something about going out or having a drink or something in the coming few weeks. I let her know I don’t drink anymore. Since she knows me so well, she immediately asked, “Why!?” And for the first time in a really long time it felt good to say, “Come on. You know I needed to stop being so wild and crazy. I mean, because, well, you know me…or how I was!”

She almost laughed at me, I’m sure reliving some of our past partying memories, and said, “Yeah, that’s probably not a bad idea.” It felt good to explain myself to someone who “got it.” Not a stranger who I have to feel awkward about because they don’t know my past because for one, I don’t want to bring it up. And two, I don’t want others placing judgement on me immediately without knowing my whole story.

This girl, well woman and fellow mom now, knew me in my past and she now knows who I am today. I feel much better about who I am today than who I was in the past. I feel more honest with myself and honest with other people. I feel like I’m not constantly trying to escape, a feeling I felt a lot when I was drinking still. I feel like I can just be me now.

I hope you have people in your life who help you just be you. Even better, I hope you have people in your life who help you be the best version of you!


What’s Up With That?

I know I’ve discussed this before, but I tend to run the gamut of emotions when it comes to figuring out sobriety, in myself and others. I go from being totally supportive and encouraging to impatient and frustrated within seconds.

Can I get an Easy Button already?

Really, I thought so much of this was supposed to be “figured out” once we decide to be sober. All of our problems will melt away, I told myself. So why do I keep having to remind myself it doesn’t work that way? Why is my mind so childlike sometimes that I have to be reminded how life gets messy?

Maybe it’s a romantic dramatization of everything. We want a Hollywood story that ends with a fairy tale ending and all of the pieces of the puzzle put back together. Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but life doesn’t work that way. We have to work through the messy crap. We have to deal with the emotional strife. We must overcome obstacles.

I know all of that sounds exhausting, but man, it’s so worth it too!

So if you’re struggling today to keep trudging through the muck in the trenches, remind yourself that you can do it! You’re not fighting hard to get a fairy tale ending; you’re fighting for your own life!

One day at a time…

The Right Plan

Do you ever step back, take a look at your life, and wonder if you’re headed in the right direction? I’m not even talking about heading in a destructive direction. I’m talking about after you’ve set your compass and recovery has already began. Even after you decide to change your life and be sober, you will still feel lost sometimes. That is what I’m talking about.

I thought for a long time that we (my husband and I) simply needed to quit drinking and all of our problems would go away. They would magically disappear into thin air and we would *poof* become the people we were always meant to be. Well, I hate to break it to you, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.

There were times when we both felt lost, worried, and indecisive about our future. “Is that what we need to do right now? How do we know it will all work out in the long run? Are we sure we want to make this huge move?” These are only a few of the questions we constantly asked ourselves when making any larger decisions right after sobriety.

The truth is, you may never know if you’re headed down the right path until you have your “aha” moment. (I’m still waiting on ours.) The Right Plan may mean sobriety. It may mean spending more time with your kids. It may mean volunteering for an organization that is really making a difference. It may mean giving back to people in some way that have helped you.

I don’t think The Right Plan necessarily has to have an end destination pin and once you’ve arrived, you’re done. I believe leading a fulfilled and well-rounded life is more important than making sure you followed the right directions.