I didn’t drink, and I didn’t care. There was a dinner out in public with family, and then the Christmas Eve FamJam. During the dinner out I had a Virgin Mary – wow was that good! – and at the FamJam, there was non-alcoholic wine served. I had a glass of that, and didn’t really feel any crusty fingers of desire for real alcohol pulling at my sleeve.
I know for some people with alcohol addictions, the cravings, the need for it are overwhelming. So much so, it’s an all-consuming desire which quashes the festivities terribly, making it more of a stress than an entertaining event. I don’t have it that bad. I wonder why?
Looking back, I know it was easier for me than most. Once I made the decision, chose the day, and handed the wine bottle and glass over to my son, that was it. I never strayed from my commitment (ok one sip of an artisanal beer once, but that’s the culinary nerd in me – I had to test the alleged orange high notes of the drink).
I had cravings; I had the need; I had bad days which caused me to wish I had the relaxing effects of alcohol, but I never succumbed and was, truthfully, in no danger of it either. I had made up my mind, and that was all there was to it.
My doctor is stumped. Some of my friends are too. The suspicion here is perhaps I’m not really addicted, therefore, if I want to drink, I should be able to without negative consequences. Maybe, all these 10 plus years I just drank a lot to cope, as I have admitted, and now I have managed to excise my demons (or at least box them up out of the way – I don’t think they will ever be gone) perhaps I can enjoy a drink as it is intended, in moderation. Maybe. Maybe not.
The question is: do I want to risk it?
The truth is, I like being a teetotaller. First of all: the word “teetotaller” – come on, how nerdy cool is that word? Secondly, alcohol is not good for you, peeps. It kills brain cells, it fucks up the liver and kidneys, it makes you drunk so your fine motor skills turn into play doh, your common sense becomes common nonsense, and it’s bloody expensive.
So maybe I don’t have as big a problem as some addicts; it doesn’t mean I don’t have a problem at all. Or maybe it’s just as big a problem, but I am really, totally, completely, unreservedly stubborn and that’s why I was able to kick it.
I don’t fucking know!
What I do know is: I’m glad I did. I believe I’m healthier as a result, I feel better physically, (mentally, I’m still fucked up, but hey – one thing at a time right?) I really love that I am no longer a booze slave: I don’t have to be home by “wine time”; I can drive after 5 pm if I need to because I haven’t been drinking. I can “buy those shoes” because I don’t have to budget for the “cardbordeaux”. I’m free.
So why would I want to back track and give all that up just to prove I’m not “as addicted” as others? I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, only myself. What I have proven to myself is: the intensity of my addiction is not as important as the intensity of my freedom from that bondage.
I’ve reached a milestone, peeps: Nine months dry and two weeks away from Christmas.
However, this is a nail biter, not gonna lie. Drinking is so much a part of the sociality (is that a word? it is now!) of the season. Food and drink. Eat, drink, and be merry. Christmas cheer. Christmas spirits (pun intended). It was, quite literally, the excuse I used to start drinking a bit earlier in the afternoon, and not just reserved for the Big Day either. All month long: “Well I can have one a bit earlier – it’s Christmas after all!”
I was very easy to convince.
Luckily, I’m not terribly social, Grinch-like in fact, and don’t go out a lot on the party circuit, so I avoid those situations for the most part, but I’m still facing the family Christmas Eve dinner. It’s even more challenging this year because we are celebrating with my first husband’s family. With the recent death of my mother, who was like a mother to him as well, (we go back a long ways) he offered to arrange a venue locally so we could all attend as one big family. This is a wonderful, heartfelt gesture which we all appreciate, and we are really excited about this Famjam – all vegan, all together! It should be a really good – if emotional – time.
And I can’t drink. (won’t drink? can’t drink? shouldn’t drink?)
No pressure though!
Can I have just one? Just to be social? I know I can stop at one (can I?) I have to drive, and I don’t drink and drive. It’s Christmas, after all. If I have one, will I have to start my sobriety-day count all over? Back to Day 1? Because I don’t want to do that. I’m proud of the time I’ve wracked up so far. But will having one. and no more, put me back to Day 1? Will I have to start over? Who’s judging this shit? Who’s judging me?
Oh yeah, that would be me.
If I’m asking these question, then I already know the answers.
Those of us with addictions to alcohol (or anything) crave to be a “normie”: someone who can drink socially, occasionally, and never fall back into the pattern of addiction. I would love to be able to have a glass of wine at a special dinner. I love wine: the taste, how different wines pair with certain foods. But wine doesn’t love me. Or rather, it loves me too much, or I love it too much. Whatever. It amounts to the same thing: I’m never going to be a normie.
That fucking sucks.
But then, how important is being a “normie”? Is it going to pay my bills? Will it lend an ear when I need to vent? Will it inspire my creative juices for writing and crafting? Is it going to ensure I remain healthy and live a long, happy life?
Hell no. All it means is I can have a glass of wine or two at a function and not suffer the consequences of addiction.
Well how the fuck important in the big picture is having an occasional glass of wine? Get a grip woman!
What’s important is the whole family getting together to support each other during the holidays, during this critical time of loss and bereavement. What’s important is knowing that despite differing choices and disparate lives, we can all come together as one family, and have fun, learn, and grow, in true Christmas spirit.
It’s going to be a hoot!
But I have to learn to live with the fact that I’m not, and never will be, a normie. I didn’t drink to be social. I drank to cope. That’s the difference. And I was very good at masking that with sociability to justify it to myself.
So no Christmas spirits for me – I will have to be content with the Spirit of Christmas – and ultimately, I’m ok with that.
So, I had a manicure today. Well a fill-in of my gel nails really, but the end result is the same: beautifully shaped, stylish nails. Today mine even got some sparkles and snowflakes – after all, it’s the Christmas Season!
As I was leaving, the proprietor asked if I wanted my eyebrows done. At first, in the interests of budgeting, I said no. Then I thought is something wrong with them? Are they grinch-like, curling up and fanning out? Why would she single me out with that question unless there was some noticeable anomaly there causing me to resemble a Sasquatch?
So I said, “Fuck yeah, I want them done!”
So in addition to sparkly, shiny pretty nails, I now have super sleek, perfectly shaped eyebrows. They are not my usual DIY brows: lopsided, too thin in spots where I over waxed, straight-across because I couldn’t get the arch right. They are perfect! A little pencil and a quick comb-out and my brows would rival the stars’!
I’m now officially “in style”. Woohoo!
Why did it take me so long to discover the wonder of having perfect eyebrows?
It’s no secret I’m not a ‘pamper princess’ – I’m too damn cheap (or maybe broke is the more accurate term?) to spend money on things I can do myself. Facials? Apricot scrub once a week is my go-to; Pedicures? I do my own quite nicely; Back massage? My cats jumping on my back in bed loosen those knots just fine; Cellulite firming? my answer to life: BLACK LEGGINGS!
When I go shopping, I look at outfits and think “$20?? Fuck – I could make that myself for $5! Forget it!” (That’s how cheap I am – $20 is too much!) Thrift stores are my vacation destination: I can get more for less and up cycle old things into new. (I just have to find one with recliner chairs and good-looking long-haired not-gay men serving daiquiris).
My eyebrows are quite forgettable, normally. I mean, I don’t have really bushy ones regularly requiring a trim; I have no unibrow issues; they already had a natural arch, so they never really screamed for attention when I did my makeup. They were just there, like your arms, hanging out, not saying much, not getting in the way, just chilling.
But now…NOW! Well let’s just say now, they are reborn! When I lift my eyebrow in derision now, oooooh buddy, you feel it to your core! If I raise my eyebrows in disbelief, you better believe it’s not believable. When I furrow my brows in consternation, be concerned – be very concerned. Communication just reached epic levels.
My eyebrows taught me something: You have to do the things that make you feel good about you. It may only be a small thing, but it could have a very big impact on your well-being. We have to learn to love ourselves. It’s really fucking hard to do, I know that better than anyone, so take small steps, treat yourself, put yourself first occasionally, don’t forget about yourself while making sure everyone else is ok. Get those eyebrows done; enjoy that latte with extra foam; have that piece of cake; buy those shoes! ($20 is NOT too much!)
And so the moral of the story is: until I can find a thrift store with a tiki hut and handsome cabana boys, having my eyebrows waxed now and then will have to do.
You know when you go to a coffee shop with some friends, and someone walks in wearing white shoes and it’s after Labour Day? You give each other the eye, shake your heads. Or when you see a large person eating a triple big mac and oversize fries – don’t the marbles in your head kind of rattle around a bit – just a bit? Or what about the beggar on the corner with an empty coffee cup and a sign reading “Homeless – every little bit helps” with his shiny bicycle and saddle bags parked to one side – don’t your eyes squint up and brows furrow, even as you toss your dashboard coins at him?
Peeps, that’s called judging.
I mean, it’s harmless right? We are just talking amongst ourselves about something that doesn’t seem quite right or that strikes our funny bone. It’s normal. It’s human.
Well I was judged yesterday by a roomful of people, and it broke me.
When I say it broke me, I’m not fucking kidding. I was hurt to the point of devastation; I wept and sobbed all the way home and into my daddy’s arms, and the rest of the night as I tried to relax, I kept seeing their faces and feeling their damning looks.
Those of you who know me, know I have depression, anxiety, and PTSD, (as well as my oft mentioned alcohol addiction issue) and my daughter does too. She also suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder, which is far more complicated than the Bipolar Affective Type II she has in addition. BPD is a behavioural issue which cannot be controlled by medication and generally needs intense therapy to correct, WITH, (and this is key) an acceptance by the afflicted that they have the problem (as they typically believe everyone else is treating them poorly). My daughter has not reached that understanding yet, however, and it’s a daily struggle for me to help her deal with life: from paying bills and handling money, to interacting with people, attention seeking behaviours, and dealing with her emotional issues herself, rather than expecting others to treat her with kid gloves. It’s a struggle which has exhausted me, complicated my own mental health issues, and prevented me from living my life and growing into whoever I should be.
Why? Because even though she is an adult, she is my child. She is in pain, and mothers only want their children healthy and happy. Her pain is my pain.
Well, it shouldn’t be, but it is. And I’ve got to stop this.
Back to my story: I took her to our family doctor for a refill of one of her meds. Now this is the third time I have brought her to the doctor since my mother died 3 weeks ago, on top of twice-weekly group therapies, errands, and other miscellaneous calls for help (which can occur at anytime during a 24 hour period. I’m permanently on call for the slightest panic attack even at 2 a.m.). I even had to take her to the hospital emerg while my mother was in hospital, for something entirely preventable, and tried to get her admitted to the psych ward during this time at her request, which didn’t happen; but all this to say I spent as much time dealing with her emotional issues as I did at my mother’s dying bedside.
This is not unusual. This is daily, weekly, monthly for me. I don’t wake up in the morning and think “oh I’ll work on this and that, go here, go there, just rest, whatever” ….I wake up in the morning and think “what am i doing for her today?” “is it possible I won’t need to go to her place today?” “I will not be able to make the event I had planned because she needs to go here or there”
It’s freakin’ exhausting, both mentally and physically. But I do it, for her. My close friends and family know, and they sympathize. I’ve been advised by our doctor to force her to accept the consequences of her own actions; to stand back and try some tough love. So that’s what I’ve been doing: FOLLOWING DOCTORS ORDERS, PEEPS!
But yesterday, a doctors office full of clients, who did NOT know the story, who did not know what my doctor knows, who did not know what my doctor has told me to do, chose to judge me and call me out on it IN FRONT OF EVERYONE.
I was belittled, stared at, told off, huffed at and generally humiliated – quietly – for being a distant, cruel, uncaring mother, and she, in her dramatic crying and sobbing, basically encouraged them all in that opinion. Then SHE called me out on it in front of everyone!
I sat quietly, turned to one guy who called me out, and said, “I really hope you are not judging me on this – you have no idea what’s going on here.”
He shook his head and looked away while others snorted around me. I was devastated, peeps. I could feel the tears, but I pushed them back. I had a job to do: get my daughter in to the doctor for her refill and consultation – and then get the fuck outta there.
We got in first, thankfully, and the doctor started to talk to her and address her issues, then she expressed how alone she is, how no one helps her, how she just wants a hug, someone to love her…LIKE I’M SITTING RIGHT THERE, GUYS! I know you’re referring to me….helloooooo. The doctor was very good, his responses were appropriate – no sense getting her riled up feeling more alone and misunderstood.
At that point, I stood up, I looked at her, she said, “why are you mad at me?”
I said, “I’m not mad…wait – yes I am. I’m mad, sad, frustrated, I do everything I can for you, my mother died 3 weeks ago and I haven’t been able to grieve for dealing with your issues. Doctor, I don’t know what else to do for her.” and I walked out.
As I walked across the waiting room, bawling, I stopped and faced all the looky-loos and judgers and I said, “I hope you are never judged the way you did me today.”
I walked out, still crying. And cried the rest of the day.
I know what I do for her. I know how many years (10 years since she was diagnosed) I have tried to help her, all the while going through my own hell with my disorders, jobs, abusive husband, etc. I know what I have sacrificed, what abuse I have taken from her, what sleepless nights I’ve spent. I know how many thousands of dollars I have spent on her of my meagre savings to bail her out of financial issues, pay for food, smokes and gas when her money runs out a week after receiving it each month. I know these things. My friends and family knows these things. My doctor knows these things. They do not. Yet they felt they were justified in judging me that day. Knowing nothing about my life, or hers, they felt fully qualified to establish an opinion of me not just as a mother but AS A PERSON!
If it were just about me wearing white shoes after labour day, I wouldn’t care. We are human; we have opinions and we express them to each other. A little gossip is as natural as cream in coffee, and I know we develop a bit of a thick skin to deal with this kind of thing. No harm done.
But this judgment was the Jack the Ripper of all judgments, slicing through the skin and deep into the organs and entrails, right to my heart. It was cruel, vicious, and just plain inhuman. They had no right. They don’t know me.
Peeps, it’s been a tough go here for the last month. So I’m reblogging this from my paranormal blog not just to share an amazingly beautiful story, but also to explain my recent absence from writing. I’ll be back soon – hope you enjoy!
November 2, 2018 (this month) marks the day my mother passed away: unexpectedly and swiftly, due to an aggressive form of leukemia.
She had a very sudden and brief two weeks of hospitalization before succumbing to a condition no one knew she had. The last three days she had with us were spent sitting with her round the clock, making her comfortable, and spoon-feeding her water while she lapsed in and out of sleep.
We are not really sure if she actually knew she was dying, although we told her, as gently as possible that what she had could not be fixed. She seemed to be lucid one moment, groggy the next. She had difficulty moving: could only shuffle her hands about at her side. We are only relieved she seemed to have no pain until perhaps the very last day.
I typically did the day shift, my sisters, nights…
I thought I would get back to writing much sooner than this but, man, did shit ever happen.
The month of September was pretty much hell on earth dealing with my daughter and her personal mental health issues. When she strikes a low, it’s lower than the lowest low you can ever know. And she drags me into it because a mother hates to see her child in pain of any kind and really only wants to make things ok. But I am learning, sometimes you have to let people, even your own kids, figure shit out on their own, no matter what price they have to pay.
That reached an apex when my mother went into hospital mid October.
My mother went in with some breathing issues, an enlarged thyroid, and swollen abdomen. She was seeing the doctor for tests, but I didn’t feel they were being fast or aggressive enough in their investigation, and when she started having difficulty breathing, I took her to the emergency department. After all, she’s 80, almost 81 – everything is serious at that age!
Here at the hospital, I told her, they would do all the same tests and more, and have them back in hours rather than days.
Two weeks later, she was dead.
She died, peacefully, with all her family around her, taking her last breath in a very deep sleep. Two weeks of testing finally divulged she had a very fast, aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma which did not show up in the blood upon admittance, but which after a few days, as she worsened physically, started to rear its ugly head in further tests.
To say we are in shock is an understatement. We have not quite registered completely the fact we have lost the most important person we will ever know in this lifetime.
Well, we kinda know, but it happened so quickly and unexpectedly we haven’t really processed it yet.
She came to me in a dream last night. It was a really weird dream, very convoluted and made no sense whatsoever except in my dream it was me in hospital and my mum kicking ass and taking no prisoners to make sure I was looked after.
I think she was telling me she is still looking out for me, despite being physically absent. I know she has been with me, for brief moments as I’m sure she is busy wherever she is: catching up with loved ones in spirit and getting used to no longer having a body to lug around.
And I’ve decided I’m going to live my life as I want to – something she always wanted to do herself but always felt bound by convention and habit and fear. She’d like that, I think. (She’d also like me to stop swearing too but that shit ain’t gonna happen! haha ) She told me quite often it was time for me to live now, and let others make and live their own choices, and I think she’s right.
I believe there is something to be learned from every ordeal we experience. I know I learned that life can change so quickly. I mean, you always hear about it, all that “live for today because tomorrow is not promised” crap – but guys, it’s no lie! We are living proof!
Two weeks ago I had a mum; now I don’t. Just like that.
Peeps, I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while, but I have been battling a “man cold” and just haven’t felt up to it.
No, I’m not a man. But this is no normal cold. You see, I haven’t been ill: really, truly, ‘kleenex stuffed up each nostril’ ill in four years. Yes, believe it.
I put it down to being so pickled with wine that any germs entering the blood stream were immediately killed (alcohol kills germs, peeps, we all know that). I just never got sick, and I began to think I was invincible.
But then I stopped drinking, and gradually, the alcohol anti-bodies dissipated. Six months in, I encounter the Rambo of all viruses and he is armed and taking no prisoners.
I toughed it out the first few days, pretending I didn’t feel the tickle in my throat and the pressure in my head; pretending I wasn’t actually chilled to the bone and it was just cooler fall air. But last night, I succumbed. I had to accept my fate. I had picked up a cold. The dreaded man cold.
This is no ordinary cold, peeps. I said it’s the Rambo of viruses and I’m not lying. And Rambo is a man, quite manly in fact, so yeah, it’s all pointing to the man cold.
So, last night, I went to bed with Rambo. And let me tell you, he is a jerk.
I had my cough drops, my heating pad, my fluffy housecoat, my water, a brand new box of kleenex, my laptop and my animals. I tossed and turned and coughed and hacked and sneezed – and peeps, things aren’t quite as water tight as you get older, so I sprung a few leaks on top of it all.
Well as Rambo says: “To survive a war, you gotta become a war.”
So, I’m at war. I have fun shit coming up this month, I’m not letting a stupid man cold bring me down. I’m getting the tumeric tea, taking the cold meds, staying warm, and not doing a fuckin’ damn thing this week. (Or at least as little as possible)
So forgive me if I am not as regular in my posts for the next week, I’ll be saving all my strength to kick this man cold in the ass. I didn’t come this far in my sobriety journey, and reach a point where I start to fulfil my goals and dreams just to have some man cold bring me down. There will be time enough to rest when I’m dead – and I may feel like it, but I’m not dead yet!
So I’m just gonna shuffle my fluffy housecoated self into the kitchen to make a tea, blowing my nose into my kleenex in the box that matches my decor, wearing my hand knitted socks, which are actually too big and floppy because I can’t get the tension right, then plop myself down on my heating pad to watch paranormal ghost hunter shows on you tube while knitting another pair of too-big socks and fight the good fight for my life.
Rambo, I usually root for you, but not this time buddy. Not this time.