Finding Nemo Brain: The useless feeling of a stay at home parent

It is absolutely the best feeling to become a mother. The sky looks brighter. The color blue looks bluer. You’re in love deeper and more passionately than ever before in less than a day. Even with some postpartum  that feeling of love shines through.

The next few years you are on lock-down. A good kind of lock-down. The child must be managed continuously 24 hours a day. You rarely shower. You forgot you had friends. And there is no way you feel like getting job. It’s awesome and tiring and beautiful and stressful and you become a person who knows every line of Finding Nemo. And that is your world.

But if you are like me…you eventually want more. But if you are like me…since I could stay home I felt I should stay home because my child needed me around. Basically. I should-ed on myself. We parent tend to should a lot.

And then one day your friend calls. They are talking about this and that. They have a life that is full of fun and work and men and love and active relationships. And you…you can only quote lines from Disney movies. It happens. To all of us. And your friend laughs at you and you laugh back. But, you really don’t find it funny. You find it terribly scary. You lost your brain somewhere between changing diapers and watching Toy Story 3, 2 and one.

You see…you work 24 hours a day but for some reason it isn’t considered a real job. Society tells you should be doing more.  Slowly depression leaks into cheerful playtime and potty-training. You are drained but you feel guilty. “I should be working.”  “We need the money.” “Keep swimming, keep swimming.” Are phrases that pass roughly through your mind.

It is strange that it is so easy to forget about ourselves during this blessed time in our life. I looked at my face and I saw bags under my eyes. I was not as sharp. My brain was fuzzy. My butt was saggy. I started protesting against people who are against “mommy jeans.” Mommy jeans are cool. They are comfortable and I can eat ice cream too. No problem.

But I digress…

The most valuable job in the world is parenting and it is the least appreciated job you will ever have. Dishes, laundry, pee pee sheets, dinner in succession every day. Try it. It sucks. But then you have this wonderful child that is discovering the world and you begin to rediscover the wonders of childhood again. And It is glorious. Why “Yes” I do like to jump rope and hula hoop!!!. I just am not as coordinated anymore. And I love the Science Channel. Did you know it takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds to fly to the sun according to NASA on their New Horizon probe? I didn’t. That stuff is cool. It almost makes it worth it.

So now my son is seven. I have been at home for 10 years total. And I have a job interview. Suddenly, I feel connected to the crowd. I may get a job. And the strange thing is I already have a job but I never feel like I do. And that job remains even after I return to work. But it doesn’t feel like a job it feels like part of life. No more, no less.

In the end, I am happy. But I feel like I should give myself more credit. Does anyone else feel that way? I look at the Supermoms and I am envious. How do they do it all? I can’t even cook the bacon right. Nonetheless, I am a mother. I would never want be anything else. These are the finest days of my life and I must remind myself of this because it absolutely true! Therefore, when I pick the child today from the bus that he insists he must take, I will hug him and get him water WITH ICE as he demands and sit and read “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” to him.  And I shall call my child “Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my Squishy. Come on, Squishy Come on, little Squishy.” and we live happily after, once upon a time.

 

The Glory of Being Fat

I spent the first 30 years of my life enraptured to be thin. In any food container, or drink or anything else, I memorized the calorie count along with all the nutritional value or lack thereof. At 24, my goal in life was to be a personal trainer. I was a glorious 164 lbs and I already worked out two hours a day on top of being a waitperson at a high volume casual fine dining restaurant.

But I never felt thin. I was the type of person where people always commented that it look liked I lost weight every time they saw me. For most women this would be taken as a compliment. But also for most women this might be seen as “so I looked fat before!”

I starved myself, I took up smoking not to eat, I snorted lines of meth amphetamines although I have never been one who enjoyed being awake and I drank black coffee to keep me feeling not hungry all the time. My boyfriend would make marks about pushing my skin together to see cellulite. It seemed. I only felt worthy of love if I was super skinny. I remember seeing an OB-GYN who remarked that I had gained 10 pounds from 15 years of age to 16 and that she was very concerned. But I should note I am 5’11 and I will never be petite…ever…ever.

So when I finally quit smoking after seventeen years of indulging and my father dying in my arms of lung cancer six years prior, I gained weight. First thought PANIC. But more weight came and it did not leave. Within a year, I had the first of seven major surgeries which made my weight plummet far beyond 200lbs. And there was nothing I could do. I was immobile and I had lost the will to starve myself out of sheer boredom of being in bed all the time.

Then…after I finally decided to buy clothes that fit me (after two years) I began to soften, literally and physically.  You see I truly believed I would not be loved if I was fat. After many years of special attention from men, I was horrified to give that up and be me. Plus my weight was always a topic of conversation with my father and mother. “Watch the pizza.” “Your hips are widening.” and it went on and on. Guess what? I was growing!! I am a tall woman that needed some weight. Their feedback was rarely met with enthusiasm rather I whispered “Fuck you,” under my breath.

However, one day I was at the deli counter and this guy was very kind to me. I looked behind me to see if he was looking at me. And YES…it was me he was talking to. And for a mere glimpse I saw I was worthy of kindness. I  began to notice other things too. People would open the door for me. Others would make me laugh. And my family and my friends still truly loved me!

What did that love look like to me? Initially, just smiles. But soon, my advice was sought after and then I made it even easier because I was willing to talk my weight with them. Soon “them” became everyone. I did not hide in the Plus Size section. I wandered and chatted. I was not alone in my obesity. There were others too.

Soon, I found that there were far more “real” people than just skinny ones. I stood taller. I chose what I wanted at any restaurant. I tried ice cream, roast beef sandwiches with extra cheese and even candy bars. And what I choose to ate had nothing to do with my worth.

You see the more I owned my weight, the more people found me approachable. And it can be lonely out there in “I am getting skinny again” land. And as my attitude changed, my beauty did too. I am almost positive that people still found me attractive!

Furthermore, I have a very keen insight on the friends I know who still measure their worth by the size of their jeans. In that world, weight means everything and there is no room for wonder, imagination, laughter or peace.

I weigh 273lbs today. I don’t think it is healthy. I will cut back on carbs and simple sugars. But I will do it for so many other reasons than feeling pretty for others. I will do it to live a long life. I will do it because with weight pain surmises. I will do it when I want to and I will not do it when I do not want to.

I own this life and it is a marvelous life. And I am lucky enough to have my cake and eat it too. Are you?

 

How To Spot An Alcoholic

Of course, we all know the easy way to spot an alcoholic: red face, preoccupation with alcohol, unable to stop drinking once started etc etc. But today I am going to share with you some insight on characteristics of an alcoholic you may not know. Keep in mind, that what applies to spotting an alcoholic also applies to spotting a relapse because drinking alcohol is only a symptom of a greater problem inside the heads and hearts of people inflicted with the disease.

  1. Anger and resentment- This is nothing new to someone who is in AA. The whole book is written around this subject. Alcoholics have a pattern of being angry and resentful. Often, if I am on social media and I see someone with hostile posts I instantly become suspicious. Alcoholics are triggered by what they deem to be unfair acts against them especially when it comes to close relationships. The disease makes it very difficult for the alcoholic to not take someone’s actions personal. However, in recovery we learn that even the most atrocious acts of unkindness are not personal and we are taught to believe what other people say about us is none of our business.
  2. Comorbidity- Almost all alcoholics have secondary afflictions of the spirit, mind and body that manifest prior to the age we begin drinking. I suffer from anxiety and depression. Always have. In recovery, we are bonded by identifying in each other the same twisted personality traits. It seems like everything we feel is to the extreme. Alcoholics are extremely sensitive. In alcohol we look for relief in caring so much about anything and everything.
  3. Big Plans but No Follow Thru- The brain of an alcoholic is very different than a person who is not inflicted. The pleasure centers of our brain are not naturally full and it takes action every day to get into a pleasurable space. Alcohol replaces action in a way that we think of a big ideas, sometimes brilliant ideas, that are never completed due the fact that the intake of alcohol gives us the same reward response as if we had actually followed through on goal or a task. For example, when I want to write a book, if I drink I most likely will never write the book because alcohol makes me feel as if I had already done the work. This is why in recovery action is far more important than thought. Someone in relapse will begin slowly not to accomplish anything that is important for daily functioning and in the grander scheme of life.
  4. A Track Record- This is very hard for alcoholics to see. We feel things are happening to us. That we are just unlucky. It is very difficult for an alcoholic to link their drinking as a consequence of what they choose. An alcoholic does not have to be drunk to make bad decisions. Once again, drinking is only a symptom that masks what drives a person to be reckless, irresponsible and sometimes very foolish. And the next thing we know we have multiple situations transpiring at once but cannot figure out why. For instance, we get in fights with significant others, our bills are not paid or we lack money, our health deteriorates and we stop doing things that we usually love all at the same time.  When someone is in their disease it is almost impossible for them to be accountable because their disease wants more alcohol. I know that is hard for a normal person to understand but it true.
  5. Unhealthy Boundaries- I am not sure if our inability to have healthy boundaries starts in the family of origin who is likely full of other alcoholics or if it is just the nature of the disease. But alcoholics do not have healthy boundaries. They are often promiscuous, codependent and often expect others to do for them what they should be doing for themselves. They are abusive and they let themselves be abused. They do not know where they begin as a person and others start. This is very hard to master even in sobriety because our extreme feelings and thinking tend to create scenarios both in our heads and in our lives that cross lines of respectability and human decency.
  6. Great Senses of Humor- Recovering alcoholics know how to laugh at themselves. They are usually very funny with off color remarks and ideas. The way we view the world is quite different than a normal person and we are not afraid to embrace that side of themselves because they are usually rewarded by other people for it.
  7. Moderation in Moderation- Alcoholics are all or nothing thinkers. Balance is just not in our vocabulary. If we eat, we eat a lot, if we exercise,we exercise a lot, if we love we love far too much and we don’t see much reason to change.  We have a history of doing everything in our life to excess. Once again, we have a blind spot. We are unable to match our thinking with our behavior. We do not see the link unless we are practicing being mindful. I do not think being moderate ever becomes easy for someone even they have years of sobriety. That is why it is helpful to go to meetings, have a sponsor and be able to tell on ourselves. Otherwise, we slowly or quickly unravel into some sort of extreme.
  8. A Need to be Special- Alcoholics almost always feel that they do not fit in. Because of this, they have a desire to be more “special” than their peers. They truly believe they are superior because of it. But at the same time, being special creates distance which in turn breeds loneliness. One of the greatest things I learned was to find the similarities I have with my fellows if I want to feel fulfilled in my relationships.

This list is not extensive. But it can tip a person off to know if someone has a problem with an alcohol problem. I usually can spot someone right a way. However, it is seldom useful to tell a person that they are alcoholic. An alcoholic usually can figure this out on some level and either desperately tries to hide it or is willing to seek help.

Alcoholism: A fact in my life.

Alcoholism is a disease of apathy. I have always known that alcohol is poison to my body. But the truth is my disease does not care. I can write about my track record pertaining to alcohol. I can talk to sober friends. I can look someone in the eye and admit I still struggle with alcohol but it will never stop me from picking up again and again. It does not matter that I get physically sick or that I embarrass myself. Money is no object because I will find a way. And that is something that I have to live with for the rest of my life.

I remember coming up with this great speech that I would give to young people whenever I had a chance. It goes something like this: Do you know what happens to you when you say you don’t know or you don’t care? The students say no. And I ask again…You don’t know? And they get more interested. And I repeat the question for impact. Do you know what happens to you when you say you don’t know or you don’t care? And then I answer. When you say you don’t know or you don’t care decisions get made for you. You have given up your option to choose. And you don’t even know it. 

But the truth with most issues in life is that we do care. Alcoholics care far more than anyone realizes. We are super sensitive individuals battling a disease with our own mind. And that disease needs to be respected because it is bigger than us, more powerful, cunning, baffling, disruptive and painful than we can humanly handle. And we care. We care that we feel like crap and that our dreams fall to the wayside. We care that we have lost ourselves over and over again. But again and again we lose this battle.

And that is why divine intervention is real. The fact is there will be thousands of days I cannot stop drinking and then one day I ask God for help and I stop shortly after. This is commonly reported by many recovering alcoholics. Furthermore, our problems soften in time and turn into miracles if we stay on task. I am not sure if a “normie” is that lucky. Maybe God allowed a normal person to have many joyous days and we needed the extra help. It seems plausible to me at this point.

Divine intervention has always preceded my ability to live a sober life. When I get out of my way and trust there is something bigger present, my life takes on a new form. Many alcoholics do not like the idea of God. They say that they do not believe it. It doesn’t matter to me anymore if it is true or not. I don’t want to die so I will believe in God. And I cannot do it for someone else. God does not play that game. It has to be for me.

Although, there is nothing better than being in a room full of happy recovering alcoholics. Recovering alcoholics are hilarious. They get each other’s warped minds. We understand that we are isolators, easily resentful, maimed by our own actions. We know the depths of hell each of us has traveled and we are very grateful to be back.We become awesome leaders, lovers, parents and people.

And in a split second we do not care. And the minute we begin to not complete tasks, not show up for commitments, not participate in an active way in our lives we unravel. It doesn’t always pretell a pending relapse but it does say something about the state of mind of the person.

Therefore, my actions must direct my life, not my thinking, if I am to lead a life free from this substance. I do not need to know why. I just need to do it. There it takes great humility in surrendering to this fact. And in humility there is  great freedom. I cannot think of a better way to live than to be free. I could ask for nothing more.

Peace out.