It’s the Most Wonderful Time…

“Drink a beer!” At least that’s how my dad used to sing it anyway. He often parodies songs and makes up silly choruses to pop music. (It’s something funny and quirky I’ve always loved about my dad.) But let’s be honest, who here hasn’t had a hard time associating drinking with the holidays?

The commercials want us to do it. “Pair the perfect wine and cheese tray!” The stores cater to us from an early age. A quote from my own son, “Mom, please can we get some of this sparkling juice in the fancy bottle?” (I enjoyed buying that stuff when I was a kid too. Though I’m not insinuating that drinking sparkling apple juice will turn you into an alcoholic.) Our Christmas parties and co-workers are “living it up” at the office party. “Open bar? Yup, I’ll be there!” And don’t even get me started on the crazy drinking situations that happen when people go back to their hometowns for the holidays.

Being a non-drinker during the holidays can be tough if you don’t have a solid foundation of principles and a support system for which you can lean on. I know many of these things aren’t even a figment of our imagination anymore, but you can bet your bottom they were terrifying that first year of sobriety. It’s okay. I think it’s part of the process.

If we didn’t struggle with these situations, how could we help others later who struggle through the exact same thing? So whether it’s your first sober Christmas or your 52nd, I encourage you to be aware of how the holidays make you feel. Maybe there’s someone out there that can learn from your situation this Holiday Season.

 

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Taking Steps to Sobriety

I want to be perfectly transparent here, I don’t follow the Twelve Steps program. I don’t go to meetings regularly. I haven’t check-listed things that I need to do on a personal inventory. Maybe I should, but I haven’t to date.

The reason I tell you this is because I want to be honest here. As much as I speak about recovery and being a better version of myself, I don’t know the ins and outs of the AA program. I know what my husband has been through and what he continues to practice on a daily basis. Other people in the program have also shared with me their life changing stories.

I may not have a first hand testimony of someone whose life was changed from the program, but I guarantee you I am an advocate for AA. There are so many people I know who have been touched by the program that it would be silly not to endorse such a strong recovery organization.

There are also people I know who have entered into rehabilitation centers and saw incredible results. The seclusion from the influence of the world helped them gain the perspective they needed to get sober.

Whatever your need is, or the need of someone you care about, I urge you to look into your options. There is no need to suffer alone. Even if AA or a rehab center isn’t for you, please talk to someone.

One day at a time…

Gifts of Gratitude – Disguised as Bad Service

Let me tell you, finding gratitude when you’re hungry, tired, and impatient is an extremely hard thing to do. How do I know? Recently, I attended a birthday dinner at a nice restaurant (with three kids mind you). The thing lasted three hours, when we could have been in and out of there in an hour and a half! Talk about testing your patience.

There were tantrums, melt downs, complaining about the food not being ready, and those were just from me. The kids really did an excellent job of eating bread and throwing crayons around the restaurant, but I quit caring about forty-five minutes in. It was almost like an ultimatum to the wait staff. “Okay, you get these kids fed or else I’ll be forced to give them each a bread stick and have them reenact a light saber fight by the bathrooms.” Zzzzzsssshhhhhrrrrroooooom….zzzzsssshhhhrrrroooommmm.

Anyway, the point of this whole thing is to say I’m grateful for the people I was stuck with for three hours. There were people I’d never met, people I hardly get to chat with, and my immediate family (minus one brother) was all in one place. I couldn’t think of better people to be stuck with. (Especially the sweet lady sitting next to my son claiming she has six grandkids and she knows how kids are. Thank God for that lady!)

You can find something to be grateful for in every situation. Every single one. You may have to look harder when it’s cold, wet, rainy, and you’ve lost your umbrella. But I promise you they are there.

 

Please Don’t Struggle Alone

A friend recently told me she was struggling with a case of identity. Her sexual orientation came into the conversation. She told me how much she struggled with this aspect of her life, especially with her family.

Some of them know. Some of them don’t. Some have told her to be happy. Some have told her they love her, but it’s unacceptable in the eyes of God. Some may never find out because she’s scared they will completely disown her. This is some deep stuff she’s going through.

But I’ll be honest, I’m overjoyed and honored that she told me.

I can’t imagine carrying that burden alone. Whether you agree with how someone else lives their life or not isn’t the big picture here. The big picture in this scenario is that someone reached out to me and told me they were really struggling.

I would much rather a friend reach out and say that they’re not sure what’s going on in their life or that they are having a very difficult time rather than read about a fatal mistake they made.

The same goes with someone struggling with addiction. The “easy button” choice is to hide it and not tell anyone there’s a problem. But this decision will only burden us all further down the road. Whether it tears apart our families or the side effects eventually tears apart our bodies, we can never fully be whole again living in secret with such a disease.

Please get help if you need it. Surround yourself with people who will love you no matter what you struggles are in life.

Needing to Take a Step Back

Imagine a woman in hair rollers with her bathrobe on, a glass of whiskey in her hand, and her constantly screaming at her kids. Now replace the hair rollers with a pony tail, the bath robe with yoga pants and a tank top, and the whiskey with her third cup of coffee. What do these two women have in common? They still scream at their kids. To my own sadness, I’ve become the latter one.

I’ve learned to manage a lot of things in my life that I hadn’t been able to control before. My ability to show gratitude, my willingness to help others more, and being empathetic to people going through tough times has dramatically changed my life. But patience and perspective, I still struggle with these every single day.

Sometimes I think, “Maybe I need a shock collar. As soon as I start yelling, I need someone to zap me. That’ll break the habit pretty quick.” This alone is a much bigger improvement than previously thinking the kids needed shock collars. Don’t worry. I never tried it. I knew they would have them figured out in a nanosecond anyway. 🙂

So how do I stop yelling at my kids? How do I forgo becoming this hideous beast of a monster? The answer is simple: take a deep breath. Don’t be so reactive. Don’t say the first thing that pops into your head. Don’t let the kids control your emotions. Don’t let the dog control your emotions. (He gets yelled at a lot too. He’s lucky he’s a puppy and adorable.)

Goal for today and the rest of this week: NO MORE YELLING! Oh wait, sorry. no more yelling. 

Progress not perfection. One day at a time. Deep breaths. Patience, Love and Tolerance. (My mantra I will be repeating anytime I’m about to lose my shit.)

When All You Can Do Is Love Them

I hate it when my husband is right. Not just on big things like financial decisions for our family. Or when he’s right about the time our flight takes off. I get upset when my husband is right about the weather or what day the kid’s book reports are due. (It’s silly, I know.) 

But what I wasn’t prepared for was my husband being right about my best friend’s drug problem. He was simply reading the signs and as an outsider looking in, he saw every single red flag that my emotional attachment blurred out of the picture. He called it. He knew it before my questioning her situation every came into play.

I didn’t want to believe it. He was wrong in my mind. “I haven’t caught her doing it so it’s not happening,” were the words I kept telling myself. He didn’t know her the way I knew her. She’d tell me if she was in trouble. She would reach out to me before she turned to something that toxic.

Only she didn’t. And she still hasn’t.

Apparently, as I’m told by my husband and my other best girlfriend, I am reality to her. She’s not ready to face the one person in this whole world who will tell her what she’s doing may be ruining her life and that she needs to get it together. Maybe she’s scared I’ll be disappointed in her. Maybe she’s afraid she’s let me down. Maybe she’s just too drugged up to even notice I’ve been trying to call her for the past 6 months.

I do want to fix her problem. I want to shake her and make her realize she has so much more potential in life and she needs to stop flushing hers down the toilet.

But all I can do is love her. All I can do is keep trying to check in on her. All I can do is keep praying.

One day at a time…

 

Hurting for a Friend

We all watch people in our lives make bad decisions. Sometimes it’s as simple as them getting a speeding ticket on the way to work. Sometimes it’s watching them stay in an abusive relationship. Sometimes it’s them settling for less than when they could have the life they have always dreamed.

Watching someone we love struggle isn’t easy. Especially when it’s from a distance. Hearing from other people that your friend is known as one of the “druggies” in town doesn’t help either.

I wish I could convince her that she has so much potential! Why does she keep throwing her life away? Why is she hanging around with people that are no good for her? Why won’t she listen to me?

I wish I could sit here and say I’ve been able to say all of that to my friend, but the truth is I haven’t talked to her since May. She won’t call me back. Whether she’s decided I don’t belong in her new life or she truly is busy with other things, I’m scared for my friend.

What I really need is an Al-Anon meeting.

Her decisions are completely out of my control. But still, that’s incredibly hard to accept when you love someone and want to see them happy.

Maybe she’ll wake up one day soon and realize she’s living in a toxic environment. Or maybe she won’t. All I can do is continue to call and check on her, even when those calls are never answered and voicemails never returned.

One day at a time…