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Mean Girls

I have had one of those full-circle moments that I want to share with all of you, I will try to tell this tale as concisely as is possible for me to do (read:  not possible at all, this will in all likelihood ramble!).  So, here it goes:

Yesterday was my birthday, a glorious day from beginning to end.  Lots of well wishes, shopping, eating, merriment, presents.  I couldn’t ask for anything more, and I am one who LOVES my birthday.  A heart-felt thanks to all who helped make it so special.  But, back to the story:  in the middle of the day, I attended a basketball game for my daughter’s middle school varsity team.  I am specifying, because she is also on a travel basketball team, and has been for the past 5 years.  But the team I watched yesterday is a school league, and varsity at that.  So for the non-sports-inclined readers (a club for which I could be the President), varsity teams take themselves very seriously, and if you are not the best of the best, your role will be primarily to sit on the bench and cheer for your team mates.  And so, with the exception of about 45 seconds, I got to watch my daughter cheer her team mates on (to a huge loss, might I add, and I could write a separate post on my opinion of the coach’s decisions).

So, not the most fun hour of the day.  Meanwhile, I sat next to a parent whom I have known for years.  Her daughter, who was very close friends with my daughter in elementary school (please note the tense of the verb in this sentence), falls into the category (at least according to their coach) of “the best of the best,” played the whole time (and, please remember, we had a stunning loss at the end of this game).  By no means would I say that this mother and I are friends, at least not by my definition of the word, but we have always been friendly, and, as I said, we have known each other for years.  She is the type of woman who I like to think of as a “back door bragger.”  What I mean by this is that she is the type to speak in a self-deprecating way, but her real goal is to sneak an accolade in the back door.  For example, she is ostensibly telling the story of how she had to put her foot down with her daughter, but through the course of telling the story she “slipped in” how she stayed for an hour after practice to help decorate the locker of another player.  I’m sure you know the type.  Not really the point of the story, but I wanted to set up the backdrop for what is coming.

At the conclusion of the game for which her daughter played the entire time (And did I mention we had a huge loss?  I’m not sure if I brought that up yet or not), she turned to me and said, “I feel so bad for Reilly (my daughter).  She is certainly one of the better players in the second string, and she just has no one to play to, so she must be frustrated.”

Honestly, I’m not sure what I said to that, in the actual moment.  As I recall the story, it is enshrouded in the red haze of rage, but I’m sure I was polite and switched topics, and we left the game cordially.

I will get back to this, but there is more to tell to get to the full-circle moment.  During my kid’s dinner I am speaking with my daughter, who is understandably frustrated by the coach’s decision not to switch players out, particularly when we are losing so badly.  She remarks to me that had she known it would be like this, she would have quit the team.

Okay, fast forward a couple of hours.  I have what qualifies is my mind as the ultimate in luxurious evenings:  a night out, with my husband, at a romantic restaurant, fireplace roaring right behind us, delicious food, and a couple of hours of uninterrupted conversation.  We got to talk about everything and nothing, and it was glorious.  The kind of night that, had you told me a few years ago would be possible without the aid of a few bottles of wine, I would have thought impossible.  Miraculous!

Through the course of the evening, we are talking about my daughter, and how we worry that her innocence and silliness might be a detriment to her as she approaches High school.  My position is that, although her maturity may be on the lower end for girls her age, why are we wishing it away?  The good far outweighs the bad, at least from the parental perspective.  And I tick off the various ways that we are so blessed to have a child so innocent and pure of heart at the age of 13:  we do not have to worry about alcohol consumption, sexual situations, or any of the other craziness that often comes with the age.  Now, that may all change tomorrow, but for now, why not celebrate the blessings, rather than fret about the possible downfalls?

We move on to my description of the basketball game, and I share the story of what the woman said to me.  My husband knows her just as well, he is the coach of the travel league, and this woman’s daughter has been on this same team with him for the past 5 years.  He is also offended by her comment, and we talk about it at length.

The night moves on, I come home and have yet another birthday celebration with my children, more presents, more merriment.  The night comes to a close, and we go to bed.

I had a fitful night’s sleep (now this may also have to do with quality and quantity of the celebratory food I ate, but that will have to wait for another post!), and I woke up and recalled the disturbing dreams I had, and I realized that I am really bothered by this whole basketball thing.  So at breakfast I sat down with my daughter and husband, and we talked at length about her feelings of frustration, and I tried to show her a new way of looking at the situation.  Rather than think it’s a waste, see it an opportunity to learn, the physical activity, the team bonding, and the ability to improve her game for her travel team.  My husband speaks more to the competitive side of sports, and points out this is a realistic progression as she gets older.  She leaves for school, I feel better, but still have some low-level agitation.  I speak to my husband about it, he suggests I write about it.  I say, “Great idea, but I need to figure out what I’m upset about before I can write about it.”

So I take some time and sit and puzzle out what’s not yet resolved for me.  And then I have my eureka moment:  what I’m still bothered about is my reaction, or lack thereof, to that woman’s offensive comments.  Why did I not respond in some way to her comments that Reilly is second string?

So I explore further… what did I initially think when she said it?  And the honest truth of it is this:  in the moment, I had an inkling that what she was saying was offensive, but my naive mind thought, “No, it couldn’t be, no one would say anything like that to your face.  You must be misunderstanding.”  Sounds so idiotic, but that’s the truth.  My own “innocence,” as it were, refused to believe that someone would be snarky like that for no real reason.

And I am frustrated as hell with myself that I did not catch it quicker, and did not handle the situation better.  I feel like a chump.

But I can’t write, “I feel like a chump,” I need to find some kind of solution, or at least a different way of looking at things, before I can write about it.  And I get quiet again to think where the progression of this post could go.  And I have my second eureka moment:  I flash back to the conversation I had with my husband last night about my daughter.  How I said that yes, it can be frustrating when she is silly and goofy and immature, especially in comparison to other 13-year-old girls, but the good far outweighs the bad, so celebrate the blessings.

So it is with me.  My naiveté is known far and wide within my circle of family and friends, there are humorous tales of my innocence that have been in circulation for years.  I guess the apple does not fall far from the tree, in terms of my daughter.  So I can get frustrated with myself for not picking up faster that this woman is an adult version of a mean girl, and for not being quicker on the draw with a comeback (or at the very least defending my daughter, but really what I wanted to do was give her a little dose of her own medicine and point out that the first string LOST THE GAME), or I can be grateful that my mind does not work that way, that I am more inclined to think of the good, rather than cynically waiting for the bad.

I am a work in progress on this one.  That last eureka moment only happened a short while ago, and I am already wanting to slide back down the rabbit hole of beating myself up, and coming up with all the zingers I wished I had had at the ready yesterday.  But at least I had the eureka moment, and I can talk back to those insecure feelings!

Today’s Miracle:

That I am blessed with this blogging community, which gives me the ability to work through mental challenges.  If not for this blog, I would still be sitting in agitation, and not have the outlet to work through it!

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It’s All In Your Head

Here are two facts about me:

1.  I am extremely prone to motion sickness.  One of my earliest memories is not being able to stomach a trip to the local mall.  Side note: we had a behemoth 1975-ish Chevy Impala, I threw up, and my two older sisters turned into contortionists… to this day I don’t know how they got so far into the opposite corner of the back seat.

2.  I can be an extremely excitable person, particularly when I believe I am being delivered an injustice of any kind. Smart-alecky friends have been known to take advantage of this fact, and start rumors such as “Josie is the president of the Robin Williams fan club,” just to see me all fired up.

Now, knowing these two facts, imagine how I reacted when my cousin told me I should just go on an amusement park ride, because, “motion sickness is all in your head, and you can talk yourself out of it.”

Perhaps I should take him up on his offer, and allow him to sit beside me as we ride, I’m pretty sure that would teach him!

This glimpse into some banal facts about me is really just a backdrop into the real topic:  how much of what we deal with is “all in our heads?”  Despite my outrage over my cousin’s commentary, I have come to realize that I believe this statement more than I realize.  Except, of course, when it comes to motion sickness.

One example, and I know I am going to raise a few eyebrows with this one, but I personally have a hard time with the disease concept of alcoholism.  I am allowed to say that, since I am an alcoholic, along the same lines as:  I can criticize my family, but you better not try.  I certainly believe that I had an obsession, that, try as I did, I could not expel.  I believe that if I choose to alter my mind again with a substance, that obsession will return, but disease?  That is one that confounds this alcoholic.  I don’t waste a lot of time on it, just like I don’t waste a lot of time wondering when I crossed the line from enjoying a drink to craving one… I just did, that is my reality, and I will, for today, deal with my reality.

But I find the “all in your mind” mentality pervades other areas of my life, and I’m wondering if it’s something I need to explore.  Most recent example, and I have been giving periodic updates, but I have embarked on a fitness program.  Long story short, I have gone from zero exercise to considering participating in a 5k. August was to be dedicated to training for this event, to see how much of a 5k I could run (versus walking), and how low I could get my time down.  In my mind, if I could run at least half, and get my time under 45 minutes, I was set to do it.

And then, out of nowhere, I sustained an injury.  I really mean out of nowhere, because I still don’t know what the hell happened.  One minute, I’m jogging, the next minute, I almost fell over, because my leg couldn’t support me.

I could go into boring detail, but who really cares?  I am not a physical therapist, and I have never, and I mean never, been an athletic person, so I have never dealt with a sports injury of any kind.  So I look to my fellow supporters who have dealt with this, and I take every suggesting they give me (except go to the doctor, that is a last resort, and a topic for another post).

After an entire week of resting it, stretching it, icing it, I attempt to resume my training (treadmill this time).  Within 3 minutes, the pain is back, and I am limping again.

Again, long story short, I try everything I can think of, but the minute my legs go into running mode, this pain comes back.  So my husband, quite logically, says, “Well then just walk.”  Sensible, right?

But, and here is the real point:  I can’t wrap my mind around it.  Seriously.  I know it’s ridiculous, but I can’t make myself grasp the concept that I am restricted from the activity of running.  I just keep thinking that I can figure out a way past this injury.

It’s this kind of thinking that reminds me that I’m an alcoholic, and that I will never be “cured” (of the disease that I still question in theory!).  The normal person would just see that running is not working, and switch to another form of exercise.  My thinking?  I can beat this leg injury, dammit!  Nothing so stupid is going to keep me from this goal!

I am off to meet a friend (from AA) for a walk in the same park I sustained my injury.  I am going to explain this thought process to her, and she is (hopefully) going to help me see the error in my thinking.

The progress:  that I know that there is an error in my thinking.

Today’s Miracle:

That I am choosing exercise over sitting around, that I am meeting a friend from AA with whom to exercise, and that I will choose walking over re-injuring myself until I can figure this whole thing out!

Life’s A Beach

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Thanks to my husband for capturing these waves!

 

I would apologize for my absence, but I promised a fellow blogger I was going to stop apologizing for my life, so I will say:  vacation and blogging is like oil and water, in that they don’t mix well.

But, having spent a decent amount of time already on the beach, I’ve had some time to ponder the similarities between the landscape I am presently calling home, and my recovery.  Actually, more than recovery, the similarities extend through life itself.

Sand sculptors abound this time of year, from the amateur (my two-year old nephew makes a mean upside-down bucket sand castle), to the most elaborate (I have seen ornate sand-constructed miniature golf holes that people can actually use).  I have seen the sublime (my daughter’s rendition of a businessman, with tie on, was superb) to the outrageous (my brother-in-law’s mermaid was, let’s just say, generously proportioned).  Here’s the thing about this art:  no matter how perfect, or imperfect, the finished product is, the ocean will have its way with it, and when we come back the next day we will be looking at a blank slate.

Same with recovery, and with life itself:  no matter how perfect or horrific my day is, no matter how accomplished or how unproductive I’ve been, no matter how many accolades I’ve received, or how many nit-picky fights in which I’ve participated, the day will end, and a new one will begin, and I will start all over again.  This can be good news or bad news, depending upon the day I’ve had, but either way, life can only be lived one day at a time, and I start fresh every morning I awaken.

Having many children with us (18 total!) of prime boogie-boarding age, I spend a lot of time standing by the water and doing head counts (and frequently saying to whoever is standing next to me, “I don’t see this one, do you!?!”).  My time in this position has taught me something:  stand still for too long, and I’m going under… the sand.  The longer I stand in the same position, the deeper my feet get buried, which makes me more and more uncomfortable, and becomes more and more difficult to climb out of the hole I’ve created.

And so it is with recovery, and with life:  stand still for too long, and I will stagnate.  The minute I’ve got the idea in my head that “I’ve got this,” recovery-wise, then I am headed for the proverbial fall.  And it’s equally true with life itself.  If I’m not always trying to grow, trying to improve, looking for new experiences, then I am burying myself, and over time it will get more and more difficult to stretch and grow.

Finally, we have had a recurring problem with the cyclical currents in the ocean:  right around the same time every day, we have to pull the kids out of the water, show them how far the ocean has pulled them, and instruct them to keep looking at either the lifeguard chair or us as a gauge of how far they are being pulled.  The lecture is effective for about 3 minutes before we have to pull them out and tell the exact same message.

I am certainly not a scientist, but my experiential understanding is this:  there is no fighting the pull of the ocean’s current.  You can attempt to manage it by periodically swimming against it, measuring yourself against a fixed object on the shoreline and adjusting yourself accordingly, but you are going to be pulled whether you like it or not.

I can, and have, lived in denial of my disease called addiction.  I have attempted to figure ways around it, I believed I could find a solution to it, I have even tried to pretend that my addictive behavior was normal.  All that got me was further and further away from my ultimate goal of peace with myself and my place in this world.   Nowadays, I choose neither to ignore it nor to “solve” it.  Instead, I accept it as part of my life, and I manage it as effectively as I can, one day at a time.  Just as I have instructed my children with the current, I have yardsticks with which to measure myself, and on a daily basis I make sure I am aware of where I am on the recovery yardstick, and I make adjustments on a daily basis.

Next post will center around my philosophical musings on the Fudgy Wudgy man who is always tempting my children with his treats.  Until then, I want to say I miss my blogging friends greatly, and I anticipate with relish the idea of quiet computer time so I can “catch up” with all of you!

Today’s Miracle:

Having some alone time to put fingers to the keyboard!

The Higher the Expectations, the Lower the Serenity

Another stellar Monday meeting… 14 attendees, which ties the record!

The beauty of running your own meeting is having the authority to tailor the content to suit your own life circumstances.  I really needed to hear a well-known story in the Big Book, and since this is the first Monday in May, I got to select it.  The image above is an oft-quoted paragraph from the story entitled “Acceptance is the Answer.”

I have written about this story several times in the past 15 months.  When I was just starting out, I attended numerous meetings that featured it, until I finally grasped its importance, and now I only get to hear it when I choose it (which I do, at every opportunity).  If you have a copy of the Big Book, pull it out and read it… it contains a powerful message.

Why is it so difficult to accept people, places and things exactly as they are?  I know, as an alcoholic/addict, that it was in the acceptance of my disease that I found relief, and a solution.  So why is it so tough to use that same formula with the rest of life?

When I perceive that I’ve been wronged, I will lose serenity in an instant, and it becomes astonishingly difficult to climb out of the hole I have dug for myself.  Once in the hole of resentment, I have perfect recall of all past times I have been similarly wronged, and the hole becomes deeper.  I react in kind, believing myself justified because, after all, I have been wronged!  Of course, I am conveniently forgetting the old adage that two wrongs do not make a right… and the hole gets deeper.

So how do I climb out of the hole?  Reading the paragraph in the image above is an excellent start.  When I can truly accept others as they are, and look to what I can change (my thoughts, my actions/reactions, and, consequently, my feelings), I start living in the solution rather than the problem.  And when I live in the solution, rather than the problem, the problem tends to dissipate.

Today, I am starting with the man (woman) in the mirror, and I’m asking him (her) to change his (her) ways!

Today’s Miracle:

Using Michael Jackson lyrics to support recovery is a miracle…

 

Acting As If

Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness. -Earl of Derby

I really hate exercise.  There, I said it.  I hate dressing for it, fixing my hair for it, planning time in my day for it, driving to it (the gym), and even walking up to the elliptical machine.   About the only part I like about the whole process is getting into my car and driving out of the gym parking lot.

But I have been hearing a lot lately about the idea of “mind, body and spirit,” and I know, in my heart, that I am sadly lacking in the body part of it.  But man, just writing this post makes me sigh.  Yet another stupid mind shift I need to figure out.

So I’ve been thinking about how I can apply recovery to the whole physical fitness gig.  And the first thing that came to mind is the title of this post.  Act as if you are into physical fitness.  Another expression is “fake it ’til you make it.”  So, in that regard, I got up this morning, and even though I looked longingly at my jeans and sweater, I instead dressed in gym attire.  And I told my son to ask me if I went to the gym when he gets home from school.  And I acknowledged to my husband that I have about an hour free in my schedule that I could fill with a trip to the gym.  And I’m writing to all of you now.

Accountability.  I really hope tomorrow I write with a happy update…

Today’s Miracle:

Believe it or not, sharing this inner turmoil is a miracle.  I cannot stand talking about the gym before I actually do it, so hopefully this is the mental rearrangement I need!

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