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A year

A very long year. I celebrated my year birthday of recovery in Al-Anon, which is the 12-step program for friends and families of alcoholics and addicts. In our group, when it’s one’s birthday, we give a 5-10 minute talk about what it was like before we began the program, what it’s like now, and share a bit of our hope and strength. Not sure I shared any hope and strength, but I did share. And it’s time to share here because I’m burning up inside.

When I first came into the rooms of Al-Anon, I didn’t know what I was going to find. I’d been dragged to some groups by my mother when I was younger, but as most preteens in alcoholic homes, I was recalcitrant and unwilling, especially since my mother didn’t invite us, she took us. I remember sorrow and gloominess and lots of self-pity. A year ago, I didn’t really care what I would find, I just needed something to give and change.

I was living in a home full of chaos, with a husband brimming with hostility and misery, children who were struggling with seeing their parents unable to navigate a relationship, and I was numb inside and out. I walked through the door and sat down and found myself breathing. Just a little, in case there might be judgment or attack around the corner. A few things are crystallized in my memory about that evening.

I sat across from the woman who would become my sponsor and grew excited as she told me of the night she came to her first meeting, and asked for the workbooks and worksheets so she could DO IT RITE from here on out. Where were the checklists? She was ready to do it differently and WHERE ARE THE MATERIALS that change everything? I waited eagerly to hear her answer, because she spoke the words from my heart. I knew that if I could just get a hold of how to do it differently, do it right, do it THIS WAY, then things would get better. Tears welled in my eyes and in hers in response when she revealed that there is no right way. That there are no workbooks and worksheets and no answers. I may have felt worse in that moment than I had before I came. “Why am I even here, then, if not to get answers for how to fix myself and my family?” I thought.

Another memory from that night – a man sitting next to me silently offered a piece of gum. He slid it into my view and raised his eyebrows. I kept that wrapper for months. It was the first gift I could remember receiving in years that was given freely. It didn’t have any expectations or strings or blowback. It was just a stick of gum, and it wasn’t going to be referenced in a future argument or be held over my head or mentally tallied in his head as $.04 that I owed him.

In the closing statement, the chairperson told me to come back, to attend 4 meetings before I decided Al-Anon meetings weren’t for me. I went back, partly because they told me do but mostly because of that breathing thing. I started to look forward to those weekly meetings and crave that space to sit and not have to meet anyone’s expectations and still feel love and acceptance. No one kept score.

I heard then, and I continue to hear now, about how physically ill so many members were when they first came into the rooms of the Al-Anon Family Groups. I remember thinking how grateful I was that I had gotten into a place of help before I became sick. I knew I was depressed, I knew I was struggling, I knew I was miserable, but I could hold on to the idea that “at least I got here before I compromised my health”. Somehow, that gave me redemption or expunged some of my guilt for what my children were going through.

more to come…

In a text exchange with my dad

damnyouautocorrect

jiggity-jig.

It’s been an interesting, sudden and rocky reentry to the outside. Which is now the inside. Or something. It’s so unbelievably, wordless, powerful, emotional experience to be reunited with my babies. They are reacting well.

One is seeming to be taking it in stride, with lots of questions, mostly of the logical sort. He doesn’t care much for emotion, thankyewverymuch. Two just keeps throwing himself on me at times, beaming and saying, “I’m gwad you’re home.” And Three is busy following me around, mostly afraid I’ll disappear through the door and not return. The times that Two is not begging to be “holded”, Three is usually in my arms. Or on my leg, or grabbing my hand. We’re mostly sleeping in a pile.

The Caddy is alternately solicitous and angry, we’ve been attending marital counseling and had a rotten first session and a better second one today. Maybe we’ll stay married. Our marriage counselor is hilare. And brilliant.

I have moments. Times when I want to run back to the walls of safety, of fresh towels on my bed, of nutters like me who get it. It’s frightening to go headlong into people’s anger, fear, concern, questions. But it’s life, and it’s where I want to be.

Three is Two

Happy Birthday, my sweet precious baby boy.

Sleeping Angel Baby

 

Laughing a Belly Laugh

My baby, Three, turns two tomorrow. Happy second birthday to my sweet boy with precious perfect pink lips and round sweet cheeks and a Buddha belly and silly words and a huge smile and quick humor and a love for cuddles.

I will be deluging you tomorrow with photos.

…awkardly and ironically!

A few nights ago, we had a lovely and kindhearted LARGE group of carolers visit the clinic during our dinner hour. The mean age of the group was approximately 72, they had come directly from a Gaudy Holiday Sweater party, and were Being Very Careful around The Mental Patients.

“How are you?” they asked, with round, wide eyes and nodding heads, hands on their knees as we took bites of our dinner and attemped NOT to look like raving lunatics while answering their questions with our mouths full before they quickly went to the next person to express their sincere desire to know how are they.

Then they gathered in their large number and began singing a mashup of popular Christmas tunes. They ended with, and I shit you not, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”. Need I remind you of the lyrics?

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

REALLY?!

This is a song for you, to carry in your pocket
take all our love with you in all the paths you walk in
I can’t say your life will always go like it should
but I can say that God is always good

and when the cold wind blows like I know it will
and when you feel alone like I know you will
and when the cold wind blows like we know it will

Don’t let your love grow
Don’t let your love grow
Don’t let your love grow cold

- Sara Groves, “Song for my Sons”

I just said good-bye to my babies. Sometimes it’s easier, this was harder. One turns 7 in about 10 days (my New Year’s Eve baby), and he’s really feeling angry and is full of a mixture of glad to see me and really pissed off. When they were leaving, he turned around and pushed Two with all his might. I called him over, he refused to come and I had to pull the Mommy card.

Me: One. Come here now.
One: NO WAY!
Me: I am STILL your mother and you will STILL listen to me and respect me. 1….2….3.
One came over and gave me all kinds of angry face and body. I told him,

Me: I understand that you feel all kinds of stuff – angry, sad, mad, disappointed,  but it is NOT okay to hurt your brother. I love you, and it’s okay that you feel any of those feelings, baby.

He just twisted and pulled away and tried to combust the world with his anger. I grabbed him again and enveloped him a hug, and he fought with all his wiry, long, lengthy and angry might.

Me: It’s okay, bud. It’s okay that you’re angry. I love you. This sucks bad. I’m angry too. This sucks. Say it with me. THIS SUCKS!
One: NO!
Me: THIS SUCKS! I hate this!
One: I HATE YOU! <tries to punch me>
Me: I hear you! It’s okay. You can be angry all you want. This sucks.
One: YOU SUCK! <punches and kicks with all his might>
Me: I love you, and my love is always going to be there, and be bigger than your anger, and I will still be here. I’m not going to leave you. Ever.

And he was gone like smoke.

The mother-in-law came back in, to fetch something One forgot and she had written something down on an envelope, in all her shakey, ragey, terrifed emotion. It said,

Maybe it’s good that you see the pain and anger of your children so you don’t ever do this again.

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