The Story of my Relapse

It was two years ago this very day that I relapsed after coming home from rehab. It’s a story I have alluded to on here whenever I talk about my recovery, but I’ve never told the story in full. To anyone really.

I remember so vividly that it was this day for two reasons. Nobody would shut up about how it was Pi Day, and my husband had a very massive surfing accident that earned him extensive surgery and an overnight hospital stay.

The day started off like any other, really. It was a Saturday, the boys and I were having a lazy morning at home. Brien went off early to surf, as he often did.

As I was getting out of the shower, I heard the doorbell ring. At that time, we had a gate on our house and you had to unlock it with a key, or get buzzed in. Brien did not bring his keys with him when he surfed, so I was pretty sure it was him. I told Bowie to let daddy in. Instead of pushing the button upstairs, he decided to go downstairs and greet daddy.

As I was getting dressed, I heard Brien yelling my name. And saying, “Bowie, go back upstairs, it’s too scary.”

I went down there and Brien was covered in blood, and his nose was…not where it should be. “I think I broke my nose,” he said, cool as a cucumber. “I need to go to the emergency room.”

So, off we went. And the boys and I waited in the waiting room for a while after Brien got checked in, eating breakfast from the vending machines. I got texts from him every once in a while with an update, but he didn’t know much. Eventually he told me we might as well go home, it was probably going to be a while.

And then I didn’t hear from him for hours. When he did text he said he needed surgery, he’d text when he was able to again.

In my mind I’m like SURGERY. Dammit. Is my husband ok? How much will we have to pay for this? I was going into what I can now recognize as Panic Mode. A state that, once I am in it, I have a hard time regulating my thoughts and emotions, and I have a hard time coming back down to earth.

Hours and hours later, I still hadn’t heard anything. I took the boys to the park to get my mind off of things. And, I talked myself into having a drink. I figured that rehab had “fixed” me. That it was ok to have a little wine to take the edge off. I went directly to the grocery store and bought a bottle. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Afterward, I regretted it, of course. But I didn’t crave more, so I still thought I was ok. But, I did crave more in the days that followed. Every couple of days I’d have more. Until eventually, I was right back where I started.

My dad and younger sister came to San Francisco for a visit a few weeks later. I drank my way through their visit, using it to “calm my nerves” or whatever nonsense alcoholic thing I was telling myself. Meanwhile I made a fool of myself and ruined their whole visit. I regret it deeply.

My husband and my rehab counselor urged me heavily to return to the rehab house for a short stay, get my feet back on the ground, try some new strategies. I refused. I insisted that I was fine. Everything was fine. Just a slip up from the stress. I was ok.

Except I was not ok. One afternoon, I picked Bowie up from his OT appointment and as I pulled away from the curb and realized I had a flat tire. A totally flat tire, not the kind of flat tire I could have limped home with. So, I pulled over and called Brien to come help me.

I can change a flat tire. I know how and everything. It’s just that…I was in no shape to be changing a flat tire that afternoon. He knew it, I knew it. Bowie’s OT knew it, everyone at Ferris’ preschool knew it, it was one of the lowest and most humiliating moments of my life.

I went back to rehab for 10 days. I was terrified. If rehab couldn’t work on me, then what hope was there? Would I ever be able to get over this? Would anyone ever want to speak to me again? After a few days of drying out, I was able to see very clearly how and why I wanted to stay sober.

Seeing life as it could be, with me feeling happy and strong, and then returning to that dark and awful place, showed me that it was the happiness I wanted. Everything they were teaching me at rehab suddenly made sense. And I finally, finally took the advice of three doctors, two rehab counselors and dozens of friends and accepted medication for my depression and anxiety.

When I returned home, things were very tense between me and Brien for a while. I didn’t know how to interact with my kids. I didn’t know who knew my secrets, who was mad and judging me and who still wanted to be my friend.

But, I got a part time job, and I went to AA regularly, and I soldiered on. Turns out the majority of people didn’t know, and the ones who did know didn’t judge me. The ones who did judge, they were few, and I knew my life would go on without them. I had help, I had support. I made it to a year without a hitch. That day, as many of you know, is April 22.

I would not recommend a relapse to anyone in recovery. The fall is so much harder than the first time around, and the pit is so much harder to climb out of. It is a very, very dark place. You will regret it.

But what I will say is that for me, personally, it was one of the best things that could ever have happened to me. I finally fully hit rock bottom. Before that, I had been hovering just above. I had my eyes opened to the damage my addiction was really making. I was aware of the control that alcohol had over me, and I was determined to regain that control. I finally admitted that maybe my mood disorders were too much for me to handle on my own. And by taking medication and seeking therapy, I was among so many other people doing the same thing.

I hate Pi Day, for what it represents for me and my family. It was a dark, scary day and I have a lot of bad memories of all of it. And worst of all, I caved to my addiction, which I still feel pretty ashamed of, even though they all tell me not to be.

I learned a lot from the whole situation. I’m not proud of it, but I also can’t discount the benefits it created, ironically. They say that relapse is the rule, not the exception. Not to condone relapsing, but to remind those of us who have relapsed that we are still ok, we can still beat our addiction, we are still worthy of recovery and still worthy of love.

I’m lucky to have been surrounded by an extremely supportive community, and to have a team of people working with me. Some are not so fortunate, but you can be an advocate for someone who is suffering. You can’t force anyone to recover, they have to be ready to do it on their own, or it won’t work, it just won’t. But, you can let them know you’re there for them. Millions of other addicts have gotten better. There is help out there.

Unpredictable

Life can be so weird sometimes. And often, when we get to a place of comfort and normalcy, something drops in our laps. Something we never saw coming. Something we never even imagined might happen.

Thanksgiving week, I found myself fainting while I did yard work. And peeing constantly. And the official nail in the coffin: not getting my period.

I took a home pregnancy test and got a very faint positive. I took another test: another faint positive. I started wondering if any of my medications might cause a false positive, but Dr. Google seriously let me down. As you can imagine, there was very conflicting information, and nothing regarding my specific medications. So anyway, the next day I took 4 more tests (just to be sure) and got 4 positives. Four.

And I commenced to freak the hell out. And then I had the unbridled pleasure of making my husband freak the hell out right along with me.

I was on the birth control pill. No one saw this coming. Not me, not him, not my gynecologist. We had two boys. We were done. This was it. This was our family, this was our future.

I mean, we had certainly discussed the possibility of adding one more little one to the mix. But, with all the struggles I had been through, and then with the move to a new city and purchase of a new home, we just decided that it wasn’t a good time, and that by the time it was a “good” time, it would probably be on the later side to be contemplating such a thing. So, no more kiddos.

And suddenly: baby.

I’m going to be a mother again. I’m going to go through 9 months of pregnancy. Again. I’m going to have to go through labor and delivery. Again. I’m going to be changing diapers. Again. And when I’m 40! Unless this is a super genius baby who will by potty trained by then. Finger crossed.

I wasn’t thrilled when I found out, but I also wasn’t disappointed in any way. It was a shock, and shock takes some time to wear off. I went through all the stages of grief (grief for my no-diaper, big-kid mom life) and ended up here, at 15 weeks, feeling…ok. Just ok. Which in turn makes me feel guilty. Shouldn’t I be over the moon about this? Babies are a blessing, and all of that? What’s wrong with me?

And the fretting, oh my word the fretting. I was a basket case when I was pregnant with Ferris, because he was my post-miscarriage baby. My rainbow baby. I was a nervous wreck with him. But this time, it’s so much worse. I am going to be 38 in a few weeks. That’s oooollllldddd according to the OBGYN. And everything that can normally go wrong, can really go wrong. There’s Down’s syndrome and zika and heart defects and my lord, a million other things I can’t even think of. We didn’t plan for this baby, and the prospect of something being wrong is too much to bear. I’ve been plenty reassured that the odds are in our favor. And our chromosomal testing came back totally and completely normal. But, that still doesn’t calm an anxious mind.

Oh, and then there’s the fact that we don’t have any stuff. We have NO. STUFF. No crib, no changing table, no carseat, no stroller, no high chair, no swings, no carriers, no bibs, no blankets, no clothes, nada. We were done. We gave it all away. Which I had heard is a surefire way to get yourself a surprise baby, but I just chuckled at it. Let me be a PSA for you here, don’t get rid of the baby stuff until you go through menopause. Just to be sure. Thankfully, what we do have are plenty of friends and family with small children who have lots of goodies to pass along to us. I’m so grateful for the kindness of our “village” right now.

And the real kicker: it’s a girl. A GIRL. No more Boy Mom Dot Com here. I mean, a girl is wonderful. So exciting. I’m happy about it. But, with boys, I knew what I was doing. I have no idea how to raise a girl. Especially in these crazy times we live in. Thank goodness for the big, wide Internet parenting community.

But anyway, it’s happening. I have definitely felt pregnant. Mega morning sickness, the worst of all my pregnancies. I was showing by 8 weeks, so fun when you’re not ready to tell people yet. You just look like you’ve been hitting the chocolate Hostess Donettes too hard. Which I had. So, fair enough. I have also been so tired, I nearly nod off at red lights. And gassy. GOOD. LORD. I have made a lifestyle out of crop dusting entire aisles at Target.

Cravings have been coming and going. Previously when I’ve been pregnant, I’ve avoided lunchmeats and fish totally grossed me out. This time? Give me all the sliced turkey and fish you’ve got. I know, I know. But I’ve been craving protein like mad. And turkey sandwiches were all I could stomach for several weeks. Cravings for sweets come and go. With Bowie and Ferris, I couldn’t stop with the sweets. It was all I wanted. This time, meh. Food turn offs include anything lemon flavored (but oddly not lemons themselves) and French fries (I KNOW!).

So, I’m 15 weeks and doing fine. Except for the occasional freak out about doing this all over again. And having more kids than parents in our house. Stick around, because it’s about to get very exciting over here!

 

 

 

Us vs. Them

When I was a teenager, one of my favorite sayings was, “Stand for something, or step aside.” It gave me a powerful image of what it meant to be alive on this earth right now. The problem was, most of the time, the ideas and opinions I had, the things I wanted to stand for, were in direct opposition to most of the people around me, and so I kept them hidden. I was not standing for anything at all, I was stepping aside. No, even worse, I was standing there while they walked right over me.

I’ve always known I was different from my family, and from a lot of the people I grew up with. From a very young age. Before I knew why, before I could articulate any of it, before I knew it was ok to forge my own road. I just knew, on some level, that I didn’t quite fit in.

It started becoming more apparent sometime in my teens. When things that people said in church didn’t make sense. When the things we did in church didn’t make sense. And no one had a real answer for me. I started to feel I didn’t fit in the way that they expected me to.

And around this time, I started to have close friends come out to me. And I had a group of people over there telling me I needed to turn my back on those friends. And me not understanding, and not wanting to. And I wasn’t sure I wanted to fit in the way they expected me to.

When I started to mature and move into adulthood, and I found myself wondering why expectations were so much lower for women. Why women seemed to get the raw deal on a lot of things. And the people I knew and trusted told me that was just the way the world worked. Men were stronger, smarter, more trustworthy. They belonged in the positions of power. This was a message that was actually conveyed to me as a young woman. And it was not the 1950s. I knew on a gut level that it wasn’t right.

And after I moved out on my own, and started to see the real world with my very own eyes, without this sheltered cover of everyone else’s opinions over everything, I felt like I was finally seeing clearly, and I could finally form my own opinions, and feel and think however I wanted to. I started getting answers to my questions. Answers I hadn’t expected. Answers I knew I couldn’t go and tell those people from my past, it would only make them turn away from me more.

Of course, the Christian guilt lasts for a long time. A very long time. It never goes away, truthfully. So, I still have a pretty difficult time, even now, actually voicing those opinions, making them clear to anyone. I feel that the burden is on me to keep the peace, not hurt anyone’s feelings, not start any trouble. I know I have every right to my opinions, but I’m never made to feel that way, by the people who are supposed to love me. I’m sitting in a mini panic attack right this very minute at the thought of publishing this piece. The backlash that will follow.

And while this election is not the first time I’m feeling completely shunned from just about everyone I knew and loved growing up, it is certainly becoming the worst example and the most hurtful situation.

Everyone has taken to social media in the new year like a dog foaming at the mouth, and posting all kinds of hateful, divisive (and often inaccurate and false) statements, messages and pictures. I have purposely avoided posting this sort of thing myself because a) there’s no actual point to it, and b) it only serves to hurt, divide, enflame, incite. I don’t believe in doing any of those things. Ever. It makes me realize I’m not getting the same respect and dignity I so often give to everyone else. I don’t treat your political opinions like a pile of poo left by a puppy, and rub your nose in it until you feel awful for just…being. But, I do feel like that’s what keeps happening to me.

I was browsing Facebook the other day, and unfollowing people who posted these sorts of things. And I found myself unfollowing people I didn’t want to. And lots of people. And I didn’t want to unfollow family, or have my feed turn into one big echo chamber of all the people saying only the things I wanted to hear. I want diversity of opinion in my feed. I want good, healthy discussion. But…where has it gone? Where has civil discourse run off to? Are the days gone where we could just state an opinion and it wouldn’t get much more attention and response than a couple of thumbs up?

I urge you to stop and think before you say something or repost something. Who is on the other end of this? Who will see this? Do I have friends or family members that might be hurt by this? I’m not talking about “offended” here. Being offended is typical of most of the people who will disagree with you. Being offended is a fleeting feeling, and can be solved by answering back with your own opinions. Being offended is fixable, and often it passes on its own.

No, I’m talking about real, actual emotional hurt. Knowing that a member of your own family, who knows you and knows what you’re about, would go ahead and post something anyway, something that insults you personally. It’s about people like you, and whether they intended to or not, it was aimed at you.

I urge you to watch yourself more carefully. Watch what you say, watch what you post, think about what you are saying actually means, in a big picture sense. I don’t just mean people who think differently than I do, I’m talking about everyone, even those who agree with me. This goes both ways. There are ways to have opinions, express those opinions, and still be tactful, civil, and kind.

It’s easy to have an opinion. It’s even easier to state it in a way that’s completely insensitive and insulting. And it’s even easier still to shut down someone who might try to discuss it with you. We have to try harder. This is how we’ve gotten where we are today as a country: completely divided, almost exactly in half. No one can side with anyone else on any issue, no real problems will actually get solved, if we can’t learn how to discuss things, and find a middle ground.

I have felt the hurt a little more each day since inauguration. I have had to go entire days without using Facebook at all (which isn’t a difficult sacrifice, but I did used to enjoy keeping in touch with family and friends) because my anxiety was spiking, I literally couldn’t take it.

I hope it gets better soon, and social media can be fun again. But, the way things have progressed, I don’t see it happening. Unless we consider our actions before acting out, ponder our words before saying them. Unless we choose to do something, it will only get worse.

Happy New Year

So. 2016. What can I say? It was long, it was complicated, and it more or less sucked.

“But you bought a house!”

Yes, we did. Which is pretty cool. But I’m full of all kinds of feelings about that one. We have a mortgage now, which is indeed better than paying rent, and our monthly payment is far less than our rent was. But having a mortgage feels heavy. Important. So adult.

And in order to buy this house, we had to leave my beloved San Francisco. Tucson is perfectly lovely, but it’s very different. I’m still getting used to it. And I don’t think I’ll ever feel so fulfilled in any other city ever. San Francisco was just so me, so wonderful. I fit in, and it was home.

Alas.

Like I said, Tucson is perfectly lovely. We have met some great people. And the cost of living just can’t be beat. There’s so much to do and see in the desert. And coyotes! In our front yard! The wildlife here is amazing, and it’s at your front door, sometimes literally. It’s good here. And someday, when I see a nice sunset or look down on a lovely cactus-dotted valley and smile, maybe my brain will stop saying, “But it’s not San Francisco.”

And you know what else? This house started falling apart on us almost immediately after we moved in. The plumbing needed a complete redo. There are leaks in the roof, there’s tons of water damage in the walls of the master bathroom. The fridge is probably 20 years old and it leaks. The weeds in the yard are out of control in the summer. Some itty bitty piece on the heating system broke on the coldest weekend of the whole year. Home ownership has its pluses, but damn it’s hard too.

“You celebrated a full year sober in 2016!”

Yes, yes I did. In April I celebrated one year sober. But again, mixed feelings. Sobriety is hard. Not super hard, and not hard all the time. There are peaks and valleys. But after going through all the difficult stuff I did this year, it has become painfully obvious to me that it’s a wet piece of paper towel between sobriety and falling off the wagon. It’s so tough. In a way that I won’t ever expect a non-addict to understand. I’m confident in my sobriety, and so happy to be sober, but, as a woman once said at an AA meeting, “Some days I feel 51% like not drinking and 49% like drinking.” And I think that sums it up perfectly. It’s a tightrope we walk as sober addicts. It’s a difficult existence. I’m not still riding on that one-year glee train, because I’m too focused on making it to two years and beyond. And “living life on life’s terms,” a common AA phrase. It just means confronting all of your problems, coupled with anxiety and depression and any other baggage you may carry, and just facing it head on. Taking a big bite out of it. Kicking its ass. It’s difficult all of the time, damn near impossible most of the time, and painful. So painful.

Ok. I’m bumming you out. I don’t mean to do that, ugh, sorry. So, 2016 wasn’t all bad, right?

Good stuff that happened in 2016:

  1. We got a kitten. And he’s adorable. He’s a handful, but he’s adorable.
  2. I grew stuff in my garden. I’m still figuring out the climate here, but I had some peppers, tomatoes, herbs, a cantaloupe and an acorn squash.
  3. The Cubs won the World Series! THE CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!
  4. My brother-in-law got married. And it was a wonderful celebration. And his new wife is just the best.
  5. We have made some new friends in Tucson, friends I think we will have for a long time.
  6. We participated in some fun neighborhood events. The 4th of July parade and picnic was really fun. Halloween is a very big deal in our neighborhood. And I made about $100 at the craft fair!
  7. Both boys love their schools and are doing very well. I was very worried about how they would transition, what the schools here would be like, and how Ferris would feel about mom and dad not working at school. But, things have been even better than my most optimistic thoughts.
  8. I’ve had a bunch of nothing-to-report dermatologist appointments. In March, I will be 4 years post-op, making it just one more year until the magical 5 year mark, when you can finally declare yourself “cancer-free.”
  9. No one in my family died this year. I know there are a whole bunch of folks out there, some I know personally, who can’t say the same thing. I need to remind myself more often that this is an amazing gift to be given: more days with people I love, more time to make sure they know I care about them. This cannot be taken for granted. The older I get, the more I’m realizing this.
  10. We had a great Thanksgiving and Christmas. We had family visiting for both, and celebrated with friends too. We hosted a big meal for both holidays, and it helped make this house feel just a smidge more like a home for me. As one of those weirdos who generally doesn’t enjoy that time of the year, I enjoyed this year’s festivities more than usual. Quite a bit.

Let’s make 2017 the best year yet. Hug your loved ones. Spend more time doing what you love. We’ll go through it together. Come what may, we have each other.

Writer’s Block. Or Maybe Not.

I’ve been sitting here for weeks trying to suss out a full post on something, anything. There’s a suggestion for bloggers to just write what’s on their mind. But I don’t want to write about Donald Trump, or how much I miss San Francisco, or how much 2016 has sucked and I can’t wait for it to be over. I don’t want to write about how my sobriety has been on my mind more in the past month than in my first 17 months. And it actually gives me anxiety when I go to play a word like “gin” or “wine” or “beer” in Words With Friends. Like, what does it mean? What does it all mean?!

And I already wrote about the Cubs. (Woot.)

So, what else can I talk about?

The boys are doing great in school. Ferris can write his name! We thought we totally dropped a parenting ball with that one. By the time Bowie was his age, he knew his alphabet and was curious about words and loved to read. (I have Super Why to credit with that mostly. But still.) Ferris didn’t know any letters and wasn’t curious and liked listening to books, but wasn’t overall interested. But now he writes his name! And he’s curious! And he has some favorite books! Big relief.

The holidays are coming. It’s not a time of year that an alcoholic necessarily looks forward to all that much, it’s actually the most common time of year for relapses and is just really difficult for a lot of us. Many an AA birthday happen in January, a time of rebirth and resolution. And I’ve never had that soft spot for Christmas that most people have. Last year we never even bothered to put up a tree. Our neighborhood go-to tree lot wasn’t open last year, and we just shrugged and gave up. And you know what? It was fine. Plus we’re not “Christian”, so it’s not like my boys are missing out on something “normal” or whatever. But, I digress. What I was going to say at the beginning of this paragraph is that I’m staying positive about the holidays. It’s our first holiday season in this house. When we looked at the house it was only March, but we could practically see the Christmas lights dangling from the cactus in the front. It’s going to be fun.

My mom is coming for Thanksgiving, and I also invited some friends, and if we want a traditional feast, I’m going to have to figure out how to throw one. My first turkey. I’m anxious about it already. Just thinking about all the details makes me wonder how in God’s name my mother-in-law always pulls it off without a hitch. But we’ll figure it out.

There’s a big neighborhood craft fair in a month. When I first heard about it, I panicked, and decided I wouldn’t join, I haven’t done a craft fair in such a long time, and I didn’t need that kind of stress. But a few days ago, I got a bee in my bonnet and ordered a bunch of candle making stuff online. And in a daze, I emailed the organizer and said that yes, I’d love to join. I have fun doing the fairs (even though the prep stresses me out) and I can get to know some of the neighbors while making a little money. Win-win.

I got a part time job. I went back to Old Navy. I worked there for a few years in college, and I liked it. So, when I saw that they needed seasonal help, I applied figuring I’d be a shoe-in. I’m working mostly early mornings, so I’m done by 9 a.m. and can still take care of the boys and the house and volunteer at the cat shelter and go to AA meetings. It sounds like I’ve taken on a lot when I write it down, but really it’s not that much. No one thing takes up a whole lot of my time, so I have space for it all. It keeps me busy and keeps my mind from going to mush.

Bowie has started piano lessons. It’s been a long time coming. He’s had a few lessons here and there from me, and from his old school, but nothing serious. He was so excited about his first lesson, he told all kinds of people at school about it. And kid loves music, I think he will just bloom. I started when I was about his age and it was always such a wonderful part of my life. I hope he gets that same fulfillment.

I binge watched Friends on Netflix, start to finish. And now I’m alternating between Gilmore Girls and Mysteries of Laura. I keep finding Netflix originals that I adore, but there’s only one season, and grrrl, I can get through that in a couple of days. What old shows to you re-watch? I’m thinking of throwing some 30 Rock in there.

I’m not the world’s biggest Leonard Cohen fangirl, but I certainly did like his music and poetry. Hallelujah is on my list of top 10 favorite songs of all time. Even though it always makes me cry. I’ve been listening to it several times a day since I heard that he had passed. And that SNL cold open where Kate McKinnon sang it…goosebumps.

Peace and love and happy Thanksgiving, friends!

xoxo

World Series 2016

This has been the best, most memorable baseball season of my entire life. I’ve always been a Chicago Cubs fan, and I come from a long line of Cubs fans. This win was HUGE.

And it’s not just about the win. There’s also the love of good baseball, all the memories that come flooding back, and the camaraderie of belonging to a group of fans.

We lived in San Francisco for all three of their World Series wins, and that was magical and wonderful, and I loved seeing the city so upbeat and celebratory. But it was different. The Cubs were still my team.

Year after year, we told ourselves, “There’s always next year.” I usually got bored with them by July, knowing the season was not going anywhere. This season, they had more wins than any other MLB team. They were on fire. I knew they’d go far, maybe even make it to the World Series. And when they made it there, that was enough for me.

But the win. YOU GUYS. So huge, so wonderful, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for 2 days. I have so many great memories of watching games with my Dad. I’ve only gotten to be at Wrigley for a game once, and I got to see Sammy Sosa hit a home run.

I had the awkward pleasure of wearing my Cubs gear and going to a game in San Francisco when the Cubs were in town. It was especially awkward, but totally worth it, when the Cubs would win in San Francisco.

I’ve also know some incredibly dedicated and faithful fans who have passed away and did not get to see this win, at least not from our vantage point. I hope that wherever they are, they know that it finally happened, and I hope they’re celebrating accordingly.

I’m super jealous of my relatives who got to attend the parade, I bet that was so fun.

Here’s to my meager 37 years of hoping and wishing, compared to some people who have waited many more years. It was worth the wait, and even more joyous and amazing than I could ever have dreamed it would be.

Go Cubs! Hugs, Chicago! Fly that W!

flythew

 

I am the Face

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. And I always try to write a little something about that. Why do I write every year? Because every day, more and more women experience this loss, and I know that in the early days after my own miscarriage, I was desperate for information and desperate to know I wasn’t alone.

I never considered myself a candidate for a miscarriage. I was incredibly misinformed, and I had already had one normal, healthy pregnancy. I think it’s fairly common for women to not know it’s a possibility, and also to think that it’s rare and that no one wants to hear about it or talk about it.

So, I write. I write to let women know that you’re not alone. You’re not responsible for what happened. And there are those of us out there that are glad to listen and willing to talk. And also to let you know that you are free to grieve for as long as you need, and that no matter what happens, you will never forget the baby you lost. My miscarriage was over 5 years ago now, and I still think about that baby every single day. This is normal, and totally fine. But also, you will learn to move on, to put the loss behind you and live life again.

Take time out of your day today, or any day, and think of your friends who have gone through a loss. Give them an extra hug. And send your most positive vibes out for those women you don’t necessarily know, and those who suffer silently.

iamtheface_boy

Gift Guide 2016 with Uncommon Goods

I have been a fan of Uncommon Goods for years, I buy a lot of gifts for people from them. So when they approached me about doing a post highlighting my favorite items from the site, I jumped on it. I only work with companies that I really like, that I feel are doing something really special. Uncommon Goods is one of those companies.

I like Uncommon Goods not only because they have some of the most unique and amazing products, but because they’re also dedicated to offering products that are sustainable and environmentally friendly, and mostly handmade. And they are also a founding member of B Corporation which helps consumers understand the impact of their purchases from companies like Uncommon Goods. They also give their employees benefits and living wages. They are all-around just a great company. So, you can find wonderful and unique gifts and feel good about the purchase.

This gift guide is not just for the upcoming holiday season (but, by all means, check it out for that too) but just for gift-giving in general. And heck, you’ll probably find something you want for yourself too, I know I always do. Follow the italicized header links below to find even more gift ideas, these are simply my handpicked items, but there’s so much more to discover for yourself on the site.

So, without further ado, Beth’s 2016 Gift Guide in partnership with Uncommon Goods:

Wedding and Anniversary Gifts

Are you going to a wedding soon and have no idea what to get them? Do you know a special couple with an anniversary coming up? Take a look at some of these great gifts for couples.

Personalized Hearts Four-Across Game

connectfourgame

This is what I’m talking about with the uniqueness of this site. What a fun and unexpected gift for any couple! ($75.00)

Custom Love Is Art Kit

artkit

I love this idea! A kit for making a piece of art together. What a way to foster a couple’s connection, and let them share their creativity, and create a piece of art that is unique and is theirs. And they will always think of you when they look at their masterpiece. ($70.00)

Date Night Bucket List

datenight

For the married couples. We all know how beneficial it can be to go out on date night, and sometimes the old dinner-and-a-movie gets stale. But what else is there to do? This cute gift will provide endless inspiration for that special couple in your life. And get another one for you and your S.O. too! ($18.00)

Gifts For Her

Uncommon Goods has a ton of great gifts for that special gal in your life: moms, grandmas, wives, girlfriends. You can find something truly unique and special. Here are some of my favorites.

Elephant and Her Little Peanuts Necklace

elephant

Mother’s jewelry can feel a little dated and antiquated sometimes. But this necklace is cute and original, and brings a little whimsy to the concept. Any mother would love this necklace to represent her role as mama to her brood. ($90.00-$115.00)

Birdie Bird Feeder

birdfeeder

I just love the simplicity and the beauty of this bird feeder. A winner of a gift for the bird watcher in your life. ($40.00)

Trace Elements Bath Salts

bathsalts

A special bath time treat. Sprinkle in the bath for the healing power of trace elements. Choose from Magnesium, Zinc and Copper. ($24.00)

Tea to Go

teainfuser

I am a big tea drinker, and I love getting tea related gifts. This unique cup allows you to steep loose leaf tea on the go. Simple fill with water, shake to steep, and open from the other end to drink. For any busy tea drinker, this is a great way to get that morning cup of tea on the go. ($28.00)

Gifts for Him

Men are thought of as hard to buy for. But not so, when you can find a beautiful and unique gift. Here are some of my top picks.

Beard Pack

beardpack

Everything he needs to keep his beard and mustache lookin’ good. ($40.00)

DIY Hot Sauce Kit

hotsauce

So he can make it just the way he likes. ($45.00)

Baseball Bat Bottle Openers

batbottleopener

Uncommon Goods has a wide variety of sports-themed gifts, but this is among my favorite. A bottle opener made from an actual bat from his favorite team, you can choose his favorite team. ($115.00-$135.00)

Desktop Skee Ball

skeeball

Everyone’s favorite arcade game, downsized for desktop play. Perfect for the guy who’s stuck in a cubicle. ($35.00)

Personalized Gifts

Personalized gifts are a great way to make the gift-giving process more meaningful. Uncommon Goods has a lot of really cool items that can be personalized. Here are my favorites.

Personalized Cutting Board

cuttingboard

For your favorite couple, new or not. ($159.00-$166.75)

Custom Lake Art Cribbage Board

cribbage-board

Made personal with someone’s favorite lake, or a lake that means something special. ($59.00)

Custom Etched Growler

growler

A handsome, sleek growler, customized with your name or a message. ($85.00)

Personalized My Alphabet Letter Blanket

blanket

For the wee ones. A personalized blanket they can cozy up with anytime. ($75.00)

This is just a snapshot of some of the amazing gifts and home goods you can find on Uncommon Goods for yourself or anyone in your life. If you haven’t seen their site before, I encourage you to check it out. Happy shopping!

[I received compensation in exchange for writing this gift guide. However, although this post was sponsored, all opinions are my own.]

 

 

 

My Meds and Me

This is a topic I’ve been wanting to write about for a long time, but I haven’t been able to figure out where to start. But I was reinspired this morning when I read this piece. A fellow mom in the trenches, chastised on social media for using medication to balance her mood.

I take an antidepressant and, on occasion, an anti-anxiety medication. Which frankly I find harder to admit on here than I did to admit I was an alcoholic. Because that’s just how stigmatized mental illness, and medicating mental illness, is in this country.

Now, anxiety is not a cop out, not some new diagnosis I’m trying out. Some of my earliest memories are of being anxious about something. A thunderstorm, having to hug grown ups I didn’t know at church, the health and well-being of my infant brother, even death. Yes, at four years old, I feared death. I won’t forget this memory. My parents were watching that TV show Fame. And in the theme song, it is declared, “I’m gonna live forever…” Which, of course, they are talking about living forever because they will be famous and therefore remembered forever. But my four year old brain thought, “Can you live forever? You can’t, can you?” And suddenly, my first time struggling with the concept of death.

So, anxiety has always been there. The one constant in my life. And when I got sober, my counselors and psychiatrist worked with me to treat the underlying cause of the alcoholism. Which was mostly the anxiety, peppered with depression to keep things exciting. And I took the medication as a last resort. They kept offering it, and I kept refusing it. But, you might remember from my story, I left rehab and almost instantly relapsed, and I was willing at that point to try any goddamned thing to help. And as it turns out, the medication helps. A lot.

And the medication makes me a better mother, not a worse one. In the article I mentioned at the beginning, the woman got endless negative comments about what a terrible, pill-popping mother she was. How selfish and irresponsible. And I take heavy issue with that. My kids don’t need me moping around the house all the time, struggling to find the energy to take a shower, dropping them off for school and saying goodbye with that hollow, far-off look in my eyes. They need me here, present, happy and capable of my mom duties.

And, as the woman also says in the article, the use of alcohol to “deal” with parenting is applauded and celebrated. You can’t get through one Facebook scrolling session without seeing a half dozen of these memes. “Mommy needs her sippy cup.” “Is it wine o’clock yet?” And the photo I see every mother’s day of a chalkboard sign outside what I assume to be a liquor store, urging patrons to buy their mom a bottle of wine because, “You’re the reason she drinks, after all.” I started collecting screen shots of these memes, to share with this post, but I had to delete them all off my phone, they were making me uncomfortable.

And honestly, I think my addiction took such a strong hold because I was caught up in this culture. I thought I was fine because I was just like everyone else. And I bet there are moms out there right now who think the same thing, but really need help.

I couldn’t even get myself to watch that new movie Bad Moms because of the party scene in the previews. I mean, this is the idea of what moms would do if they gave up trying to be perfect? Had a night to do whatever they want? Throw a kegger? The whole idea makes me sad.

I’m not condemning drinking here. Go ahead and have that glass of wine if you want to. But if you feel like you need it, then maybe think twice. And have compassion for those of us who struggle, and leave the picture of the coffee mug that says, “There’s a chance this is wine” off the social media.

And if you think you need meds, if a medical professional thinks you need meds, by all means take them! You will be helping yourself and your sanity, and some of us just need to exist this way. It’s not a crutch, it’s not a fad, it’s not weak, it’s what must be done. And let’s do away with the double standard here. A mom drunk on wine is more fit for motherhood than a mom that takes a Xanax once in a while? I don’t think so. And you know that’s not true, I know you do. So, why all this love surrounding motherhood and drinking on social media?

No, when I was finishing a bottle of wine a night, I was not being fun and blowing off steam and taking the edge off of parenting, I was fostering a terrible habit and putting myself and my children in danger. And when I take my medication, I am setting myself right. I am putting my brain in the right mindset. I am a better person for it, and will no longer apologize for it or feel ashamed for it. The article I read this morning has empowered me to feel proud that I’m doing something good for myself and for my family, and no amount of berating will make me feel any differently.

Take good care of yourself, my friends. If I learned nothing else through the process of recovery, I learned that we have but this one life to live. One chance to do it right. Make good choices, choices you can be proud of. Take care of yourself, no matter what that means. And treat other people with respect and give them their dignity.

Some Tidbits

I couldn’t come up with a whole post, so here’s some Cliff’s Notes on things right now.

1.Ferris is having trouble adjusting to his new school. Every morning at drop off it’s like I’m leaving him forever and moving to Venus. He cries and carries on, and I have to slither out of the gate while a teacher holds him back. It sucks. It has been better lately, but it still sucks. He is used to the co-op where I worked there at least one day a week, usually more, and I’m not there at all now, plus he’s there for twice the amount of time each day than he used to be. I could get him at noon if I wanted to, but I’m trying to be tough, it’s better for both of us. It’s a good school, I know he’s in good hands, and he’s always in a good mood when I pick him up. If we could just get the drop off to go a little more smoothly. Open to suggestions.

2. Bowie was made to leave school early on Thursday because he was gesturing at other kids with scissors and then with a sharpened pencil. So many things about the situation bother me. But mainly 1. While there is no excuse for behavior that puts other kids in danger, I know that often he does it because he is being provoked in some way. And because he is so sensitive, sometimes the provoking is probably pretty subtle, and a teacher doesn’t notice it. But rather than investigate the situation, they just punish him. 2. Sometimes he does this kind of stuff and thinks he’s being funny, and just needs it explained to him that it’s not funny and he needs to be more respectful. And because he was given a warning after the scissors, and then the pencil thing happened, I have a feeling no one sat him down to have a conversation with him. It’s a small school with a bunch of teachers, it can’t be that hard to have someone sit with him for a minute and hash it out. 3. I understand that a school has rules and we all have to follow them, but it is their responsibility to watch after him while he’s there, and I feel like they dumped the discipline on me, and didn’t do a thing about it. As I said earlier, I doubt anyone had an actual conversation with him, it was more of a robotic response. And sending him home in the middle of the day? That benefits no one. Ugh, in the end I know what he did was wrong and rules are rules. But just, ugh.

3. We got a new kitty! As if life around here weren’t hectic enough, we added to our happy family. His name is Wrigley, and he’s 5 months old, and he loves to play, and he follows Coco around like a big sister. He fits in perfectly with our crazy family, and it makes me feel happy to have adopted an animal. My kitty Nashua who passed away in 2013 was a farm cat, a gift from my Great Aunt. And Coco was found in a tree. So I’ve never done the dirty deed of buying a cat, but I had also never adopted before. And he had just recently been surrendered by someone, and I just felt so bad for him, probably wondering why the heck he ended up there. It’s nice to know we’ve given a deserving animal a good home.

wrigley

4. I am getting more and more used to life here. But the weather still eludes me. When it’s hot, it’s so very hot. And when it rains, it pours and floods the city. And now we’re supposed to pay attention to the dew point to figure out when we need AC. The dew point! I don’t even know what that is, but now for some reason I care about it now. And even when it’s not that hot out, the sun still blazes like nowhere I have ever lived before. So, it’s stay inside, or slather myself in sunscreen like I’m going to the beach. Because, well, melanoma.

5. Go Cubs.

Have a great weekend, everyone!