So, today is a big day for me.

Today is huge for me. But in order for you to understand why it’s such an important day, I have to let you in on a little secret.

Today I have been sober for one year.

I’ve kept it from you guys for some reason, but the truth is, I’m a recovering alcoholic.

I don’t know why I’ve kept so mum about it on here. I guess I was feeling ashamed? Even though I’ve spent the better part of the last year learning how not to be ashamed of it.

It has been a long, hard road, but I’m so much happier today than I was a year ago. Alcoholism is a scary thing. Always feeling alone, lost, ashamed. Wondering why you can’t just stop. I wanted to stop, but I didn’t know how. It took rehab and a lot of support from my family to figure it out. To figure me out again.

Some of you may judge me, I get that. It’s hard to understand addiction if you haven’t been there. It’s hard to know why someone becomes addicted, it’s hard to know how out of control they felt.

Things all started to go downhill for me 5 years ago when I had my miscarriage. When I had the miscarriage, it was like somebody turned out the lights. I didn’t know what was happening, and I didn’t know how to put one foot in front of the other. Instead of reaching out and finding help to get the lights turned back on as it were, I decided I could fumble around in the dark on my own and figure it out. Throughout the recovery process, I have learned about myself that I often don’t ask for help when I need it. And this was no different.

And I managed for a while. But then stuff started piling up on me. A cancer diagnosis, my 20 year old cat dying, having a blog post go viral (which essentially is a good thing, but still very stress-inducing) my mom and stepdad getting divorced, being forced to move out of our house, it was just a long, terrible couple of years. And I was still trying to do it in the emotional blackness I had been wandering around in. I was already a very anxious person, but all of this took my anxiety to new, unbearable heights.

At first I just drank in the evenings. Just to give my mind a little rest. Then the day drinking crept in. At first, one day a week, I’d start at noon. Then a couple days a week. It didn’t help that they serve wine at the museum and zoo and there was wine at playgroup, and pretty much everywhere. This is California, after all. Eventually it felt like I couldn’t go an afternoon without it. At at the very end, it felt like I couldn’t bear any moment of my life without it. I was trying to drink away all the feelings of sadness, loss, frustration, fear and anxiety. And it worked, for like five minutes. But those five minutes were all I needed to think that alcohol really was the answer to all of my problems.

It was a couple of years ago ago that my husband asked me to cut back. And then eventually asked me to quit completely. And I had some minor success. But I always kept falling back into my old habits. It was about a year and a half after those first conversations we had that I finally made the choice to be sober. I knew I had a problem, but I didn’t know how bad it really was. Only an outside observer can see an alcoholic’s problems for what they really are. I thought I was fine. I thought I had it under control. But I really didn’t.

In January 2015, I checked into an in-patient rehab home. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. To admit that my problem was so bad that I needed their help to get better. And to spend 30 days away from my husband, my children and my home. I kept a calendar in my journal at rehab, and it was the most satisfying feeling to put a big X over each day in the evening. Another day gone, another day closer to being back home.

When I got back home, things were really awkward. I had to learn how to fit back in to my own family’s dynamic. They had gone on living their days while I was gone, and learned how to do it without me as a part of it. Now we all had to learn how to be together again. And the people who knew where I had been those 30 days didn’t know how to act around me. I had the big scarlet A for Alcoholic on me.

Shortly after my return home, my husband was in a serious surfing accident, and had to have his nose reconstructed. It was one of the scariest days of my life. And my alcoholic brain tricked me into thinking that because I had been to rehab, I was all fixed, and I could have some wine to take the edge off, and it would be no big deal. Which kick-started another awful month of drinking.

I went back to the rehab house for 10 days, and basically said, throw everything you’ve got at me. I need to make this work. That was April 22, 2015.

The past year of my life has been the most difficult on record. I’m finally in a place where not drinking is not such a big deal. Most days, I don’t think about it at all. I can’t even believe who I was a year ago, I’ve made such a change. I couldn’t have done it without my rehab counselors and psychiatrist, and the support of my family. Asking for help is so hard for me for some reason, but I’m so glad I finally did.

Only one thing still scares me: the future. There’s so much unknown in the future, so much we don’t know is coming. And I hear so many stories from people at my AA meetings about having years and years of sobriety under their belt, only to relapse and have to start all over again. My addiction is something I have to keep in the forefront of my mind every day. Every morning when I wake up, I have to remember that I’ve made the choice not to drink ever again, and if I’m not careful, alcohol can creep back in and take hold again. I don’t ever want to go back to that place, but I have to stay on my toes.

I’m sure you’ve heard somewhere that alcoholism is a disease. Which is supposed to make you feel better about needing treatment and help. You wouldn’t deny yourself treatment for diabetes or cancer, they’d tell me in rehab. So of course you get treatment for alcoholism. But, it’s a disease with no cure. You can only keep treating it and live with it day in and day out for the rest of your life. So, if you know a recovering addict, have compassion for them and their fight. And let them know once in a while how proud you are of them, because this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and it’s nice when people acknowledge that.

So there you go, Internet. My big secret, out in the open. Thanks for listening, and I hope I didn’t scare you off. I found this great article on Babble that explains how to deal with some of the awkwardness when an alcoholic comes out to you. It’s a great read.

one yar

 

Sore But Relieved

post op

Hey! The surgery went off without a hitch. Well except that I have a huge gash and broken bone in my foot. But, whatevs.

Originally the surgeon thought they’d have to break two bones, and have me in a cast and fully off my feet for 6 weeks.

In reality, I have one broken bone, no cast, and I can walk around. They didn’t even give me crutches! And, it’s not my driving foot, so I am not housebound. I feel like a really big weight has been lifted, now that the procedure is over.

If this turns out as well as the surgery on the other foot, Im’ma be one happy mama. I am sore, but not like I thought I’d be. I am groggy, but not like I thought I’d be. And I’m hobbling around but NOT. LIKE. I THOUGHT. I’D. BE.

I’m like, seriously considering telling my mother-in-law she doesn’t have to come down and help on Monday and Tuesday like we had talked about, because I’m going to be fine! I mean, this is a whole different picture than the one I had set myself up for. Score one for Worst Case Scenario Thinking! But, just the one. Because that shiz is not good for you. No.

Funny story, somehow my cell phone fell out of the plastic PATIENT BELONGINGS bag at the surgery center, and when I got it back it had a bunch of pictures of rando nurses. Apparently the one who found it was trying to look at my pictures to figure out who the phone belonged to, but was actually just taking a bunch of pictures. Both adorable and hilarious.

Thanks, Internet, for being there to cheer me up. Here’s to my brand new foot that might be able to fit into those fabulous boots I found at the Salvation Army that I stupidly tried on with my good foot.

Under the Knife

I am having foot surgery this Friday. I have crazy messed up feet, and both have been operated on once already. The right foot was done in 2009, and has stayed looking and feeling as it should. I call it my pretty foot.

The left one was operated on in 1994, and it did NOT stay how it should, and is getting worse and worse, and it is killing me after a long day on my feet. I call it my ugly foot.

According to my surgeon, the one who did the pretty foot, the doctor who did my left foot didn’t do it properly, and they’re going to have to do some hefty repair work while they are in there. Which means more pain. And more recovery time.

I can’t do my job at the local market for three months. I can’t even walk on the foot for a full 6 weeks, then there’s a “transition period.”

I won’t get the awful type of anesthesia they gave me for my skin excision when I had melanoma, so I won’t feel so sick and dizzy for days after, thank goodness. But, I am still worried about how I’ll do the first few days, pain management and all of that.

Wish me luck. Better yet, wish my husband luck, he’s the one that’s gotta take care of me and all the household duties until I am up to it again. It’s going to be a tough one.

What’s the Haps

Hi all. Now that it’s fall, and the kids are back in school, and everyone is back from whatever fabulous summer adventure they went on, I get asked a lot, “What’s new?” My answer is long and rambly, because there’s a lot of little random new things with me. Thought I’d share it with my bloggy friends too.

1. I got a nose ring. Not really big news. But, new. A modest tiny shiny stone of some sort. Most people don’t even notice it, even people I’ve known for years. When I point it out they say it “just fits your personality.” Which I don’t know how to take, I guess. But, it’s fun, and it’s one of those things I always wanted to do. Actually, when I got my eyebrow pierced 15 years ago (I’ve since taken that one out) I had regrets that I didn’t do the nose instead. So, another one checked off the bucket list. And I love it.

2. I am in school! I’m in an online program with Penn Foster for a vet tech degree. It’s like a nurse but for animals. I’m so excited, and can’t wait to be done and get a fun job. I have always had a love for animals, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized how intensely I love them and I want to work with them. I think it’s a combo of losing my 19 year old kitty recently, and through the magic of the Internet, seeing that there are so many animals that need help. Pets get surrendered at shelters and rescue organizations for the dumbest things, like “he pooped too much.” And all the abused and neglected animals, it just breaks my heart. With my degree I’d like to work with the SPCA or a shelter or rescue organization. It will feel so wonderful to get to work with animals every day, and make a difference in their lives.

3. Speaking of animals, we recently got two pet rats. Their names are Laverne and Shirley, after the show, which was a childhood favorite of mine. (The vet called to confirm “Shirley and Laverne’s check up” and I was like wut. Somebody doesn’t know their 80s TV shows.) They are sweet and gentle and wonderful. I was worried that our cat would torment them and stalk their cage. She has a history. But, she seems like she couldn’t care less. They, of course, are terrified of her, but that’s easily solved. They really are a great pet for kids. Better than a hamster or gerbil because they can be easily handled, and smaller than a bunny or guinea pig for keeping in your house. And I have not been bitten once, not even a nip, they’re very gentle. Two more members of the family.

thegirls

4. Ferris turned three! I really should be dedicating an entire post to that, but who has the time? H’s really forming his little personality, and it’s so fun.  He asks for water all the time now. It’s only so he can fake belch, but whatever, he’s drinking water. Favorite phrases: “No.” “I hate it.” “I love it.” “Two minutes.” (As in, I’ll do it in two minutes, a phrase picked up from mommy and daddy.) He absolutely loves miniature people and furniture and animals, so we got him a dollhouse for his birthday. Big hit. And he’s hit the picky eating stage. He used to be my great eater, I bragged about it all the time. No more. In case you were wondering if a kid could survive and grow on milk and white bread, I’m here to tell you yes, it’s possible.

5. Bowie started second grade. His teacher this year is amazing. We are over the moon for her. She was immediately so much more supportive of his classroom needs and tolerant of his issues. I couldn’t be happier. There’s only been one major incident with another child, and even that was mild. This time last year, we’d already had two classroom meetings and a meeting with the principal, and he was back in OT. He’s now not currently in OT and we’ve not had a single call from school. I’m so happy. For me, but so much more for him. He’s figuring it out. I am so glad to see him growing and maturing in this way.

So, there you have it. Lots going on. But life is good. What’s the haps with you?

Happy New Year

second grade

I have a second grader, you guys. A SECOND GRADER. Parenthood is the wildest of wild rides, and the absurdly fast rate at which your children grow is part of that wildness. It’s SERIOUSLY like you give birth, and then you blink your eyes and they are feeding themselves, totally potty trained, reading books, losing teeth, riding bikes, and all the other surprises that lie ahead.

Yesterday was the first day of second grade, and it started off with a bang. Well, a shake. There was a pretty sizable earthquake across the bay, and we felt a little rumble out here at the beach. I was sitting on the couch, trying to enjoy my cup of tea, and I felt the room rumble. I got prepared to yell at my kids to get back to eating their breakfast, and looked at them to find them eating their Fruit Loops like perfect angels.

The day seemed to go pretty well. He was also in an after school program for the first time ever, which has him in school until 6pm, which I worried would be too long of a day for him. But, all things considered, he held up pretty well.

I spoke today with his teacher about his SPD and all of his quirks, and she seemed really positive, and eager to help. So, I’m feeling really optimistic about this year. As you might recall, last year was a total drag and he had a really hard time. We’re hoping things are much smoother in second grade.

SECOND GRADE. You guys.

Silk or Linen

When I look back at myself at 24, I see a naive, doe-eyed, Disney Princess of a child. So sure she had all the answers. So sure adulthood was going to be a breeze. So sure that there were no wrong life choices to be made. And somebody let me get married!

He was just as wide-eyed and princess-like as I was. And in the first few years of our marriage, it was more us clinging to each other for dear life than really embracing each other in holy matrimony. Adulthood came at us fast. And never quit.

Adulthood has changed us so deeply and in so many different ways. And in the past 5 years, our relationship has endured tests that many other couples don’t survive even one of. I don’t even know how we made it through the past year. Except that I do know.

Over the years, the clinging for dear life has turned to you support me now, I’ll support you later. With my husband doing so much of the supporting in recent years, but refusing to keep score. I look back at his patience, kindness and determination to see me happy, healthy and successful, and that’s how I know he really loves me.

Rather than turn and run when things got sad or hard or felt impossible, he stayed. I stayed. We faced it head on. Together. Twelve years doesn’t seem like enough years to house the lifetime we’ve lived together. I love you so much, Brien. Happy anniversary.

 

Working Mom

I recently got a job.

It’s a simple job, cashiering part-time at an adorable local produce market. Here’s me posing in front of my new workplace.

at work

We could use the money, I have child-free hours in my days now, and it keeps my anxious mind occupied. And psst…it’s a little bit fun. My boss is one of the dads from preschool, I love the market and have been a faithful shopper for years, my coworkers all rock, and I cashiered for 10 years in high school and college, so it came back to me like riding a bike.

I haven’t worked outside the home since I became a mom, seven years ago this month. So, I’ve never had to balance a job with kids. Right now, we’re using minimal childcare so as to maximize what my actual take-home pay is.

Before when I would get the “your kid is sick, come get him” call, which by the way has only happened to me twice before, ever, I could just, you know, go get him.

On Monday morning, I was working a simple 9-12 shift, my second week working there, and of course I get THE CALL at about 10:30. Ferris was at preschool, running a fever and refusing to eat.

Now, LUCKILY, the manager totally understood, the shift was half over, there was another cashier there, it was slow. So, I was able to leave and go get him. But, I started thinking, damn. What if this starts happening all the time? What if it happens with the other kid during my next shift?

But mostly, how do working moms do this????!!!! What do you do if you have a much less understanding manager and boss? Do most companies give parents enough time off in a year to deal with this kind of stuff?

I have a few people I can call upon in such times, but they were all busy. I guess I need a few more people. And maybe I just need to break down and find me another good, cheap babysitter. (All the good ones move away. Boo.)

So, I guess I’m just saying, tip o’ the hat to you, “real” working moms. I don’t know how you balance everything. It’s amazing. I hope I can get it all figured out.

Thirty Six

Yesterday I crossed over into my “Late Thirties.” So far, I feel mostly the same. Except that a few nights ago, as I lay in bed unable to sleep, I realized that people born in 1990 are turning 25 this year. And then I felt ANCIENT.

I spent my birthday taking care of my fevery 2 year old, making a trip to Costco with my husband, visiting the Japanese Tea Garden with the 6 year old, talking on the phone with a few extended family members. Quiet, a teeny bit middle-aged-mundane, but I went to bed last night feeling content. Which is all that really matters, right?

At some point along the way, I stopped really caring about my birthday. That’s not the same as not caring about my age. I completely fulfill the stereotype of a woman who cares about her age. Even though nobody else really cares. Even though aging can’t be stopped. I still care. But, I stopped caring about birthdays.

I stopped caring about the fanfare, the attention, the gifts. Which is different from not being grateful for all of it, of course I was and still am. But these days, when the day comes around, there’s always that first person that says, “happy birthday!” (usually it’s my husband) and my response is, “Oh yeah. That. Thanks!”

March is historically a hard month for me, even though it hosts my birthday. It’s a month when, for some reason, the big stuff happens. This year was absolutely no different. Right up there with the “best” years. Generally, I’m pretty glad to see March go. It’s tough to be simultaneously so fed up with life, and also excited that it’s your birthday. Again. 

I think that in general, my life is mostly in a good place. Right now, in this moment, I am in the best place I’ve been in probably 4 years. They were a rough 4 years. But I am finally through to the other side. Or I can at least see very clearly the light at the end of the tunnel. For 4 years now, I have a birthday, and I look back at the past year and think, “How the hell did I survive that?”

I am REALLY hoping that next year the thought is, “Wow, that was a great year. Let’s do that again.”

Some Random Stuff

1. I’m still alive. I realize I haven’t blogged in nearly 4 months. My bad.

2. I’m back now, bigger, better, stronger. I will try not to break the Internet.

3. The sharing article I wrote for PopSugar (YEARS ago) is still making the ’rounds on the webz. While I enjoy a good, open dialogue, and am happy to discuss and answer questions, just know that profanity, insults, and otherwise general harassment will get y’all blocked and banned. Keep it civil, ok? Thank you. *hugs*

4. It’s that time of year again: Season of Scarfing Girl Scout Cookies. Hard. What are your favorite flavors? I’m partial to Samoas. But I do like the Thin Mints too, of course. Who doesn’t? Huz likes the peanut butter chocolate ones, Tagalongs, which are also awesome. What say you?

5. I just got invited to join Ello, and I’m not entirely sure I understand it. Is it for pictures? Is it like other social media sites?

6. Ferris will be officially 2 1/2 mid-March, and I can’t believe how fast he’s picking up on words and phrases right now. His newest gem is, “No more talking anymore!” The Terrible Twos are HERE, folks. HERE. But, somehow, this age is still so fun.

7. Bowie has 3 months left in 1st grade. This is not a year I will miss. (See here.) He’s had a lot of trouble with his sensory issues, and emotional issues, and he’s got a less-than-supportive teacher. But, he’s doing great academically, and I’m focusing on that. Looking forward to some quality time with him this summer, and letting him have some fun in summer camps.

8. Is there a tea you just LUUUURVE and can’t get enough of? Looking to expand my already sagging shelf of teas. I’m familiar with Harney & Sons and Kusmi, let me know your favorite flavors. My every-morning go-to is Stash’s Double Bergamot Earl Grey, what other great Earl Greys are out there?

9. We just joined a gym for the first time, and I always feel incredibly disorganized and awkward as I stand in front of my locker and scramble for stuff. Do you have any tips or handy items that help you stay organized at the gym? Also, what are your favorite machines or activities that your gym offers?

Many thanks for sticking with me through this quiet time. Have a great week!