I’m Mad.

I found out yesterday that a friend in recovery died. He relapsed, and was found in his car, covered in vomit, in the fetal position. Dead.

I know this is not how you start a blog post. I guess. But I don’t really care.

He was young, and he had boys, and he had a smile that lit up the room.

And he’s dead.

Last Sunday I was helping in the yard, and it was hot. I had been working with the hubs and the boys for hours. The sound of the lawnmower hummed in the background as I pruned and weeded and raked. It was a glorious spring day.

And I was mad. I was mad at the grass and the fact that it made me itchy and that we had run out of bags and that my rose bushes had the audacity to have thorns.

I was mad at our blackberry vine because it needed to be cut back and I was mad at it for that. I was mad at my boys for giggling.

I was mad at the sun for being so hot.

As it happens, others around me felt the madness. This is always the way. Mad doesn’t like to be quiet or sit by itself, so, logically, I got mad at Brian.

I think it was because of the way he asked me about lunch. His tone was wrong and I got mad about that. And he blinked at me a bit which also made me mad and then I stomped inside because I was also mad, it seems, at the ground.

And then I did this:

I said, through gritted teeth: “God I don’t know why, but I am TICKED OFF. Please. Help. Grant me the serenity, Ok? Oh, I don’t even WANT to say the rest of it! I’m SO MAD.”

And then I stood there and waited for some sort of God miracle of goodness and light to come fix it. No such miracle. My dog circled my feet a few times but I felt no better. Still mad.

“Fine. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the FREAKING DIFFERENCE I AM STILL MAD.”

And, as usually happens after the serenity prayer, I stood still with my feelings, and turned them over in my hands, just for a moment. And as I turned them, I saw what I was mad about.

I wanted to take my husband a beer.

Back in the olden days, when I drank, on hot summer days I used to always take the hard working yard husband a beer. This meant, I was a good wife.

It also meant I was ok with beer- it was a harbinger of good will and slaking thirst after hard work in the sun. It was like all those Bud Light commercials with hikers enjoying a beer at the summit because beer is the next thing to Gatorade. It’s got wheat in it. IT’S GOOD FOR YOU.

And that beer that I brought to the husband also meant, evidently this past Sunday, that I was still very much an alcoholic. Because? It had taken up a whole lot of head space and had drug along with it a whole lot of negativity and emotions that don’t really belong anywhere near me anymore.

So, I realized all that in the kitchen on a hot Sunday. And I had to smile because every once in a while I try to tell myself that I am really ok. That surely I’m not an alcoholic. That I’m probably just fine… And that memory of that beer made it all very clear.

I walked out to the husband who was now trying to fix something broken in the garage. I stood in front of him, and said, “I’m sorry.”

He tilted his head to side, all labrador retriever-ish, and said, “Why? What did you break?” And I thought, he doesn’t even realize I was being a putz earlier. I should leave now.

But instead I said this:

I wanted to bring you a beer. I remember how I used to do that. And a part of me wishes I could still do it. We used to do fun things like that.

And he said,

Well,  I miss it too, a little. But not all that much. And we do lots of other fun things now, that we never could have done before. So that’s better.

I totally don’t deserve him. Also, he will make me mad again and he won’t nearly be as cool about it as he was in this post, I promise you. But for now, he said the perfect thing.

I hugged him, and spoke into his sweaty tshirt that smelled like cut grass, “I am so an alcoholic.”

He didn’t answer because I think he was realizing this was one of those Dana moments where it is very very much about my self-therapy, but I’m pretty sure he was thinking,

DAMN STRAIGHT YOU ARE.

So there was all that therapy last Sunday. Because of the sound of a lawn mower and some sun rays.

And then my friend, Jesse dies.

And I guess? I am still mad. Not mad anymore at the wrong people or the memories of long ago, or my own tangled brain.

I know who I’m mad at now. And today my anger feels like a loaded gun.

I hate you, alcohol.

That’s all. Thanks for listening.

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While Dreams of Martinis Danced in My Head.

Y’all. Christmas used to mean drinking.

It meant Bailey’s Irish Cream. And mulled wine (totally gross, and it involves the extra step of actually heating up the alcohol, which, if you think about it… why not just throw that stuff in the microwave if you must, but without the cinnamon sticks). It meant eggnog and rum. I think this is perhaps the most heinous of Christmassy drinks, but it was all “’tis the season” this and “let’s raise our glasses” that and I usually had my one cup of tricked-out eggnog and then just headed for the wine, like normal people do.

Anyhow.

I forget if I have told you…. have we had that whole uncomfortable, hey, did you know this little tidbit about me thing where I unload my personal history and tragedy, but in a totally “it’s all cool” kind of way – like if you came bopping up to me and said “Hey! Hi! Cute shoes! Did you know I used to steal cars?”

What I’m trying to say is: My name is Dana, and I’m an alcoholic.

I don’t drink anymore. But Christmas? Christmas is a time that I really remember it all. The insanity. The lying. The situation that somehow I had gotten myself into, me, an intelligent, “had it together” mom of two. Me. Hiding vodka in my closet, tucked away amongst all those cute shoes.

Christmas is for a lot of things. But for me, drinking is no longer one of them. Tonight, Christmas is for sneaking around with wrapping and tape and a La Croix, and lots of whispering and staying up way too late. It’s for eating yummy things and crying while I watch It’s a Wonderful Life. I always cry. It’s the law.

Christmas is all about second chances, after all. George Bailey understands that, I think. So does Christ. It’s his birthday and He is so happy celebrate it with all of us. Christmas is for playing endless board games and making candy and hoping the roads aren’t icy and splurging at the store to buy your kid a ridiculous Pikachu shirt because that odd yellow creature speaks my kid’s love language. I dunno. I don’t get it. But when I was a kid I went nutball for the Superfriends, so perhaps we’re just repeating ourselves.

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Christmas is for seeing how a baby gave us the colossal reset. It’s for taking a breath and realizing goodness and right is still in charge. Still good. Still right.

And still right here.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Mine will be spent playing bingo and eating cookies and probably forty thousand other things, all with family. For those with family far away or an empty chair at the table, I know. And I know for some, hanging up that one thing that plagues you so is still not part of the plan for Christmas. Do yourself a favor. Give yourself the gift of freedom. Set down the glass or the pill or the shopping or the comparing of the gambling or whatever it is that keeps you stuck.

Set it down and enjoy the best gift. Life.

Love you and Merry Sober Christmas.

 

 

Timeout for Mom

Do you know, whenever you look up “Mommy’s Timeout” on the great internets, that this comes up?

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For some, this is good stuff. It’s harmless. It’s even pink!

For me? This is the kinda stuff that snuck up on me, lied a whole lot, tied me up, very tight, and then nearly put me in the ground.

I’m linking up with my favorite people today at Five Minute Friday.

Today’s theme?

 

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Five pm. Did you know, it happens, like, every day?

Seems to me, we need to skip five pm and just go straight to seven thirty. That’s when the babies go upstairs for baths, which is when the angels sing.

‘Course, we do have to eat in there somewhere. Perhaps they can dine while bathing? It could work, right? Barbecue chicken pairs nicely with soap and water. And I can just have Reeses for my supper.

There’s protein in them.

Anyhow.

You know how they say, “It’s five o’clock somewhere”? Well, I was, once, a big fan of those “they” people. They were on to something. A huge tumbler full of boxed Chardonney at my “somewhere” was a solid antidote to the Five O’clocked-ness of the world.

Until it wasn’t. Until, five o’clock nearly killed me.

Now, around that time, I pour about forty La Croix and cut a bunch of limes and wonder,

Why must five o’clock keep HAPPENING. IT’S, LIKE, RELENTLESS.

At times like these, I give myself a mom timeout. No wine.

Five minutes. It’s all the time I have, and it’s good enough.

Five minutes, me on the back stoop, dog sitting next to me. Hosmer quivers as a squirrel races by. And I watch as the squirrel races around the backyard like it’s had too much coffee and not enough brain cells to cover for it.

And I kinda feel for the squirrel.

Let’s face it, sometimes I AM the squirrel.

But, squirrels don’t take timeouts. I don’t think so. And yes, somehow this post has ended up about rodents with fluffy tails, but you know. That’s momsie.

Anyhow, I am pretty sure I have never seen a squirrel pause, put his little scritchy paws on his knees to take a breath, and say,

“I think I’ll just go read a little teeny tiny squirrel book, have some decaf, and take five.”

Five o’clock. Five minutes.

Five extra limes in my swanky sparkling water.

Whatever it takes, mommas. Whatever we need, because it’s a tough gig, momhood. It’s kinda relentless. But in a, soul-stretching, God-leaning, daily-praying, progress, not perfection, kinda way.

For me? “Whatever it takes” means taking my sober afternoons very, very seriously. Just thought I’d put that out there, to battle away the “it’s five o’clock somewhere,” demons. They can be pretty squirrelly.

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