“When your mind is besieged by some inauspicious thoughts, you can bring the sunshine into your life by staying calm!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

Well, I tried to post last night and the saving button spun and spun and no draft was saved. So, rather than freak out, I went to bed, slept a good night’s sleep and figured I’d start fresh today.

Yesterday marked Day 60 for me. I live in the Midwest, so as a winter storm raged outside- wind blowing, snow drifting, ice covering anything in its path, I stayed inside, warm, drinking chamomile tea and watching my “inside life” unfold. 

The “outside life” is symbolic of my drinking days.  A constant storm. I lived as a victim never knowing what was happening due to my drunkenness, my lack of desire to care, or my want for chaos. My feelings inside me mirrored the weather: cold, uncaring, futile. But like with any blizzard, at some point the deep thaw must begin.

For me, that thaw began some 60 days ago. No longer satisfied with living as a bystander, I determined to live my life no matter how hard without the crutch of alcohol. A typical evening/night would look like this: Me pulling into the garage frantically thinking of what to throw together for dinner, tearing through the kids’ book bags so homework would be complete and I could sign any papers while my eyes weren’t blurred, and then spending the next several hours literally dashing about the house doing laundry, cleaning up the kitchen, wiping down counter tops, scouring the bathroom..anything to avoid being in the moment. Oh did I forget something? Of course, all the while, I was slamming down Captain and Coke so I could “deal” with my working mom, hectic life. After all, didn’t every mom get sauced every night to help cope with the trials and tribulations of daily life? At bedtime, it was further chaos- get the boys upstairs, brush teeth, lay out clothes for the next day, pray, lights out. I had a drink waiting for me downstairs after all and I couldn’t just pour it down the sink! God forbid someone would call; it was an intrusion on MY time. Texting was much better; then no one could hear me slur my words and I could reread what I wrote in the morning to recall the conversation. Genuis. Hours later I would pass out feeling justified in my tornado because I “deserved” it.

Older friends would tell me, “Enjoy the time you have with your kids while they are little. It goes so fast and someday you’re going to miss this.” My cynical self would reply in my head, “Yeah. Bullshit. Like I’m going to miss the crying, the running around, the busyness of life, the fevers, the sleepless nights, the laundry. The interruptions of MY time.”  On and on the storm would brew in my head. I was NOT going to miss this.

Fast forward to this Christmas break. Two weeks including three full weekends home with my kids. Previously, I would have approached this break with dread and anger. But, I have changed my thought process. Being sober has afforded me the opportunity to spend quality time with my children, my husband, my extended family and friends. We colored, painted, made a volcano, a small windmill, took a three-day ski trip, built snowmen, played board games (formerly called “bored” games because it was too hard for me to drink and play), made fires in the fireplace, danced to bad 80s music. All sober. My life has slowed down considerably despite the activities I have engaged in. Ironic, eh?

I have learned that by taking care of me, I can take care of others. I can move the old thoughts out of my head and replace them with new, healthy, calm ones. I find myself breathing more, deeper, and with a sense of clarity. And while I think back to two short months ago, I reevaluate what it was I wasn’t going to “miss”. 

For one, I won’t miss the pounding headaches from hangovers, the undeniable fatigue I felt on a daily basis, anxiety I felt in fear of saying, doing, or being something I regret. I won’t miss the tactical – not to mention exhausting- planning it took to figure out how, when, and where I could drink next. I won’t miss anymore time with my kids because I chose alcohol over them. I won’t miss date night with my husband because I am too drunk to go out. I won’t miss my mom’s phone calls because I am afraid I will be wasted and she will hear it in my voice. 

No, I won’t miss a lot of things.

Has it been easy? Flawless? Without temptation? No. It hasn’t. In fact, it’s been damn hard. Somedays, I am so frustrated and I want to take a hike. But, I want to take a sober one and that’s different. Yesterday, all I wanted was thirty minutes to myself so I could pray and get myself “on square” for the day. My boys were up right behind me. I snapped. Their being awake with me wasn’t part of my plan for the day. I got angry.

But, I left the room, took a deep breath and came back in and apologized to them. I explained that I was fussy because I wanted to have some quiet time to pray before my day got rolling. They looked at me and said, “It’s okay. No one is perfect.” My little guy even went so far to say, “So, when Mommy prays in the morning, her day is better? Calmer?”

Yeah, buddy. Mommy’s day is calmer when she takes a step back, breathes, prays and asks God to help her through this. So while the storm rages on outside, i have the choice today to keep my inside calm.


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