Friday, May 4, 2018

Chaotic Ramblings


Discombobulated. That's where I am. An emotional roller coaster, lost in the onslaught of memories as I break down the glorious walls I built to protect myself. Eff this noise. One foot in front of the other. One day at a time becomes one moment, one breath.

10 FUCKING MONTHS SOBER.

This is it, I have now reached the point where I have been without alcohol (or drugs...but that’s a different story) for the longest stretch since I first got drunk at 19. Yup. 10 months. Excuse me while my brain throws it's monthly tantrum over me still being in the thick of this shit.

Therapy has gotten shitty. We see 3 therapists: one each and a couple's guru. They are simultaneously amazing and HARD. Holy shit it's hard. We are both working through our own stuff and then we pile on the stuff we do together once a week too. Now seems like the perfect time to go through it all, right? Amidst parenting, trying to grow our business, barely making ends meet. Sure thing. Let's do it all right now.

Vomit.

But this is where we are, and it is fugly and exquisite all at once. I cry a lot. I want to tell you how awful that is, and I can't quite do it. Some days I am not sure who is running the show, 15 year old Jessica or 35 year old Jessica. They are both pretty stellar, but damn. Most days end with the same thing: a prayer to the universe, I call her Goddess...because of course. It usually goes along the lines of "I don't have a fucking clue what I am ding, so I am hoping my connection to the infinite is guiding me somewhere right." This is a long way off from how I was taught to pray, but it feels a lot more authentic.

Where am I going? What are we doing? What do I want to do with my life?

Progress is so slow sometimes as to be nonexistent, but I see it. Sometimes I feel it. Ok, that's a lie. I ALWAYS feel it, sometimes I still have to numb those feelings by ignoring them or eating chocolate. 

I know what I want, deep down. I want connection and I want space. I want to grow. As a person and as our business. I want to reach more people and convince them ALL that movement is the answer. Moving better leads to wanting to live better, leads to confidence, capability, comfort, health, ALL THE THINGS. Mindset is altered as our physical perception shifts. We become more present in our lives as we sink deeper into our own bodies. How do I share this? 

I don't know. So, I keep putting one foot in front of the other. Doors open, people reach out to me, connections are made, ideas shared. So many things to consider that I feel myself slipping back to my old self, shrinking. Taking up less space. Letting others speak over me. I get frustrated but I can’t voice that. I don't even know how to say it aloud to myself most days.

Why? What good does it do to not feel? Not react? Not have those fiercely human emotions? Sometimes it hurts so bad that you need to scream and cry. That's ok. Sometimes it is so fucking amazing that you need to jump and dance and laugh out loud. Sometimes you need touchy-feely moments, sometimes you need space. What would happen if we chose to live our lives based on what we needed in each moment? Fully experiencing? What would happen?

I know how hard it is. I spent years boxing up my feelings, and then inevitably they would implode from the pressure. We aren't meant to hold all of that in. I never learned to experience and release, in each moment. I held tightly to it all. Afraid someone might see. And plenty did see, when it all blew up in my face. When I was rocking myself in the dark contemplating why I was still here? Failing at my self-control. But it wasn't self-control, it was isolated containment. It was hell. It is still hell some days, right now...many days. 10 MONTHS. And here I am. Being vulnerable with myself. Being vulnerable with you. Once you hear about vulnerability y'all, it ill haunt you. Don't believe me? Start right here with Dr. Brene Brown. She will school you.

Feelings are hard, y'all. They suck. They are glorious. They are big, they are tiny. Feelings are a hot mess and a beautiful necessity. But feelings are not meant for boxes, or closets, or anywhere that they are not in full view of others. They are meant to be experienced, shared, and remembered.

Feelings are what make you human.
Be human.
Feel.



Thursday, December 28, 2017

To HELL with Resolutions

I've never believed in new year's resolutions. Sure I made them, but like everyone else...by February they were a long forgotten concept.

This year was a little different. As we near the end of another year I still balk at the idea of resolutions. But I find myself caught up in the whirlwind of reflection.

This year has been HARD. Yes, we have had other hard years as a family.
2017, it was a bitch of a year.
This year has been hard PERSONALLY.

This was the year that I became sober. July 5th, 2017. Almost 6 months ago.
This was the year I found my own role in our business, not just as CEO, but as an educator.
This was the year my life partner and I owned all the shit we have never worked through.
This was the year we lost our last old fur baby, and welcomed in a new one.
This was the year our kids transformed into big kids. One finally weaning, the other riding a bike with no training wheels.
This was the year I chose me first.

Y'all, it has been a year.

Our business doubled, our logo changed, we changed.
Our car was totaled, yet my daughter and I walked away unharmed.
We struggled financially, and yet grew exponentially.
We asked for help.
We allowed ourselves to receive it.
We journeyed, separate and together.

And on the horizon, on the brink of a new year, big adventures await.

No, I don't do resolutions.
I live.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

There is no ALONE

The days come and go. Some are sweeter than honey, and you swim bravely through, soaking up the joy, embracing the hardships. Then an upset. You put one too many things on your own plate. Maybe you don't even do it, maybe life happens in overdrive all at once...and the overwhelming sets in. Except you don't know how to process overwhelming. There is no enticing liquid courage to help you brave it or ride it out. It just is. The glaring and daunting truth of life. You stand, shoulders squared, face to face against it. You hold strong, until you don't. You crumble under the weight. You failed. Maybe you didn't get that drink, but you feel like you shattered. The tears and feeling of failure simply won't dissipate. 
Why? What did you do wrong? You worked SO hard. You had it.

Or did you?

You worked SO HARD...ALONE. You think you always work so well alone. It's how you do all the things in life. You don't need help. You are strong and capable. Asking for help, having a limit, these are signs of weakness. 
You MUST do it on your own.

Except you cannot.
No one can.

A hand reaches out. And another. The universe shines down on you like a supernova exploding. You are blinded by the many people trying to break through the dark void you surround yourself with in your attempt to do it all alone. Maybe, just maybe, you should listen. Maybe it's not all about not taking a drink. Maybe it really is more than that. After all, does anyone really do it ALL ALONE? 
Look closely.
Do they?

You reach tentatively  Slowly. You are scared. What if they don't really want to help? What if there are conditions? Stipulations? You can't take the disappointment. So you pull back. But they keep coming. Keep pushing.
You break again under the weight of the shit you put on yourself.
Alone isn't working.
You reach out again and grab hold. Tightly.
You hope it's not too tight, but you know that you don't want to drown. 
You hope with the fierceness of the blue scarred hope permanently etched on your arm.
Hope is not without bumps and bruises.
It is simply a choice.
Your choice.
And now you choose faith.
Faith that others will remain steadfast in their strength, so you may once again find your own.

It is here, swaddled in connection, that you finally see.
There is no such thing as alone.
It was a figment of your imagination, a creation you held on to because of fear.
You can still be afraid. You just cannot let it master you anymore.
Connection will win.

You will persevere.

Love to you.
Strength for you.
Tomorrow is a new day.

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Letter to a Healthy Alcoholic

Dear Healthy Alcoholic,

I see you there, sipping your craft beer or bourbon. I see you smiling, enjoying your evening. Tonight perhaps that's your only drink. But tomorrow will come, or a long day, or a setback in life/business. Whenever the feelings begin you will reach for another, and another. Just enough to dampen those feelings, maybe more if you just want to sleep and feel nothing. The hard times call, and damn if there just doesn't always seem to be a hard time. Pour another. You're not addicted or anything. You go days without drinking. Hell, you went 9 months with each kiddo. And what's one or two beers? Sure they are pretty heavy, sure you are a lightweight, but really...what's one or two? That's moderation. You are totally in control. It's not like your weekend binge past times from undergrad and grad school. Football games, nights out, back to the grind and feeling like ass on Monday. No, you don't do that. You have run half-marathons, you have had babies, you are grown up now. Maybe you USED to drink a lot, USED to like being drunk, but not now. No, you are responsible. No one has time for a hangover, just a slight buzz, right?

I see you spend your mornings ramping up your anxiety by recovering with caffeine. From one drug to the next you swing. That one or two drinks just doesn't feel as good without some solid sleep, does it? No sleeping in for you, you are a mom now. I see your lack of emotionality beyond angry or sad. I see your inability to fully feel joy. To fully immerse yourself in any moment, good or bad. That sucks. You know you have this beautiful family and that's something to be happy about. I see your excuses. So many of them. It's always something or someone. But not alcohol. You are a runner, you exercise, you read, you are a good mother, a good person. Fuck, you are really healthy. You do NOT have a problem with alcohol. What's a drink or two? Every mom has a drink to take the edge off, right? It's 5 'o'clock somewhere, or noon. They all understand. Being a parent is fucking hard. It's just one beer, or two. Maybe three tonight. It's not a problem, it's just relaxing. It's your mommy-break. Just a little breather, right?

I see your excuses growing. No, you don't want to run this morning. You're tired. A little snippy at the spouse and kids, but it's just stress. You just need a break. So what if you have had trouble sleeping...you are SO stressed out. Business is hard. Life is hard. It's all so overwhelming and you have to DO IT ALL - RIGHT NOW. There is absolutely nothing to worry about. It's just one drink. Wait, where did half of that bottle of bourbon go? Did you drink it? We just got it yesterday. Weird. You're fine. Maybe just one more, or two. You promise you won't drink for the next few days. Balance, right?

I see you seek help. You are depressed. You have anxiety. It's your hormones. It is definitely not alcohol. You have your life together. Graduate school, mommy hood  owning your own business now. Your husband says you are angry a lot, but come on, it's not easy running the show. Maybe you just don't know how to process emotionality so well, that's a learning thing, work on that in therapy. It's all good. You have all the psych background and psychologists supporting you on this. If only meds didn't suck so bad for you, maybe it would be easier. That's cool though. You have running, and a drink when you need it. Because sometimes you do NEED A DRINK, what's wrong with that? Just one, just taking the edge off a little, just surviving like everyone else. The rough days seem to be progressing, and maybe that was more nights drinking this week than not, but moderation is balance. Next week will be better, right?

I see you made a decision to quit drinking for purely health reasons, time to get those hormones back in control. Good for you! Way to be proactive. 
Wait...what's wrong with you? Why are you crying? It's just alcohol. 

Holy fuck what did you do? Why did we quit? We can't live like this. How will we relax? How will we socialize? How will we LIVE? No, change your mind, I insist. Take it back, you don't mean it. You LOVE beer. You LOVE bourbon. Come on, don't be silly. This is just temporary. You will totally be able to go back to moderation, you are in complete control. Ignore that nagging voice, you are nothing like an alcoholic or addict. NOTHING. Just one drink. Please. Just one. I swear you got this, I can help. We can moderate better together. You NEED this. It's so relaxing and delicious too. What about all that science about moderate drinking and positive health effects? The tears? That's just hormone shifts, not alcohol. None of this is about alcohol. 
JUST ONE DRINK.
~~~~~

I see you clearly now. It wasn't depression, was it? Not just hormones? This is real, isn't it? You mean this. I see. I don't want to, but I do. You are an addict. You learned an unhealthy coping mechanism and it took over your entire life. I changed. I learned that this was the only way, but there is never only one way is there? This happened before, didn't it? No one knew. Maybe we didn't know then. Fortunate circumstances pulled us out, but it came right back in another form. A legal form, a socially acceptable form. 
You are right, it is time. Ok, I concede. We will do this for real. Teetotalers. 
This sucks, ya know. No more pumpkin beer or awesome bars of Athens, GA. Still not sure how we will have fun or socialize with others...maybe we can just fake it? One day at a time right? Those people in those meetings all seem to get it. They have stories like yours. They don't "look" like addicts, whatever that means. They seem completely normal. 
Like you. 

Congrats, healthy alcoholic. You took that plunge into the unknown. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but I guess we are in this together. I think I can be ok with this. But seriously, what's one drink? Yea yea, maybe sometimes I just want one. I get it, there is no half-assing. Terrible idea...

Still seeing you better than you think,
Your brain

***79 days sober***





Friday, September 15, 2017

From Sobriety to Grief...It's been a long few months

I tend to take long hiatuses in writing. I don't know if it is due to the excessive demands of every day life, or if it is the fear of being as authentic as I want to be. Whatever the reason, I am back for the moment.

I have a lot I want to share, and I will get there. For instance, today I am 72 days sober from alcohol. This was a health choice that turned into a HARD lesson on addiction...a subject I know far more about than I should have needed to see it within myself.  A struggle I have encountered before but seemingly ignored due to fear of stigma. I am not afraid anymore. And to prove it I am going to cry and sing in a video dedicated to my big baby pup, Rambo, who we said goodbye to yesterday.

This is a raw message. It wasn't intended to be shared publicly. I have intense fear of singing in public. Yet as I find my voice, as I learn to say what needs to be said, I am also learning that fear only holds as much power as I allow it to. My sweet Rambo wasn't afraid of anything. He was loving, loyal, and never cared how big he got - he was always our lap baby. I may be afraid still, but I won't let it silence me anymore. I have no aspirations of being a vocalist, this is just me jumping off the cliff and trusting I will find my wings on the way down.

Cry with me, laugh with me, sing with me, and join me as I find my words again. One day at a time.




Wednesday, March 15, 2017

feminism

You speak at me, not to me. You use words without meaning.
The emphasis is clear, the respect is absent. 
You are part of a greater collective, yet you claim you stand alone.
No.
No, you are not unique.
You have existed since the beginning of time.
Claiming I am a witch for my thinking and knowledge, you burned me at the stake.
Claiming I was unstable because of my emotions, you institutionalized me.
You saw my body first, so you sold me or bought me and did as you pleased with my body.
I am beautiful, I am ugly. I am too thin, I am too fat. I am too tall, I am too short.
I am too pale or too dark or too loud or too strong or too too too...
No, you have always existed.
But you would not exist save my womb. My vagina that birthed you into this existence.
Perhaps one day you will overcome this and then truly dominate.
It is more likely that I will become stronger.
More resilient.
More capable of standing up for myself.
I will learn to fight...clean or dirty.
I will not back down, shut up, learn my place, close my mouth, quiet down, calm down, or anything else you think I should do simply to make YOU more comfortable.
I am not comfortable.
I am NOT ok.
I am not ok with the belittling. I am not ok with the abuse.
I am not ok with my sisters who are bought or sold, married too young, not permitted to be educated, beaten, raped, ignored, detested, mutilated, forgotten. I am not ok with the abuse on my sisters who may not have been born my sisters, but are now.
I am not ok with your disrespect heaped upon me in words or laws.
You are not new. Nor are you dominant.
You are stagnant.
You are dwindling.
Fading.
You fight louder and harder now for your last stand is near. 
You have lost. We all know it.
Do you?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

With love

The past couple of months have been a whirlwind. No, that's not quite right. Perhaps an F5 tornado is a more fitting description. I could probably write an entire book just on the past few months, but in many ways I cannot for the life of me think of why it would matter. Most of it I have dealt with, some I am still working to understand. But at the core of it all, my base support remains steady. I suppose that sometimes all you can hope for is a strong cellar door to block out the worst, and hope nothing comes crashing through. That door is beat to hell right now, but it held. And for that I am thankful. 

In brief - I ran my first marathon (freaking amazing), turned 34, had a lovely and quiet Christmas with my spouse/kiddos/dog. I missed my NASM cert by one point and I am currently studying to re-take...talk about an ego blow when you have a PhD. Cue eye roll. My tantrum about that lasted a day before I reminded myself that I can do better anyway. My daughter turned 2, where does the time go?  My husband sent me on a solo trip that changed my whole perspective on my role in our business. And while the hell of political turmoil and unrest spins all around I was able to find a small semblance of peace in myself. I am leaving out a lot, I suppose. Like the almost 2 months I have been not really running due to healing from an injury and being a bit burnt out. And the weekly therapy trips to help me find me amidst the rubble left by the roles others have tried to assign to me. 

Yea. Definitely an F5 rating.

I didn't know if I would find my way back to writing. Life overtakes me quite often. I crash into bed some nights thinking 'how will I ever get it all done,' only to wake the next morning and start all over again. Then I felt the pull tonight, and the words just poured out. 

I knew it was coming. I just wasn't sure if I was ready to write them down. 

So I didn't...they wrote themselves.


Loss is hard. Sometimes you just need to accept that, then move on.





with love

The words sit on the brink of my consciousness. 
Waiting. 
Waiting for me to pluck them and assign them as needed. Yet still slightly out of reach. 
They slip right beyond my grasp. Not quite ready, but close enough to feel. 

And how I feel. 

The emotional tidal waves have diminished to more of steady waves on a beach. The tide pools have gathered a few stragglers, and these trip me up every now and then. But more or less I have accepted what is, what will be. 
It is not anything I could ever have anticipated, but it is my truth. 
My reality. 
And ultimately my choice. 
I am no longer willing to accept intolerance, abusive assaults on me or my family, unsolicited and unhelpful advice from those who have painted a picture of me that I am not. I wish they knew me. 
I think I am worth really knowing. 
But I am told that it may be more about what can be accomplished than what is desired. I may have to settle for what is right now. But I shall only do so if I remain protected from the pain of the facade. 
So much pain so thinly veiled. Not my own, but pain that hurts me all the same. 

Each day is another step forward on my journey. 
Mine. 
I find that I am stronger than before, and while the tears came...they did not last. 
I cannot change anyone but myself, and what a magnificent job of that I have done/am doing. I am not ashamed of how I got here. I am not concerned at how long it has taken me to find the bits of me I am currently assembling. I am worth more than the misogyny and hate I have heard too recently directed at me. 
I don't state that as a record of my self-esteem but rather as a fact. 
We are all more deserving of respect from others. 

Now I am simply sad. Sad that others feel the need to project their pain. Sad that they are in such pain. Yet all I can do is bow out of their lives with love. Because it is not on me to heal them. True healing must be found within ourselves. In our decisions to seek help or guidance, in our choices to live better and stronger lives, in our determination to pursue our own dreams...no matter the time or cost. 

May you find your strong one day, as I have certainly found mine.