The Roots, The Branches and The Leaves

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Every tree has roots that hold them to a place in the dirt.  Ever tree has branches or off shoots that showcase buds that turn into leaves.

We often refer to our families of origin as our family tree with branches of members and leaves that off shoot and come and go, change shape and color, and re-budding time and time again.  As we grow up and begin to grow our own family, we begin to plant our own set of roots and those roots begin to burrow onto our fiber and our being.  They hold us to the place, time and people that make up our family.  Throughout my life my family has grown and morphed, by this I mean, my family was sometimes made up more of close friends and their families, other times my extend family of origin and then changing again to my family nucleus made up of my husband, two sons and two dogs.

The nucleus has also included close friends as they have come in and out of our lives over the many years we have been together but nonetheless our party of four plus two fur babies has been the constant for a very long time now making up our immediate family tree trunk and branches.  

Our roots run deep and our trunk although slightly crooked stands tall nonetheless.  Time and awareness can make us either starve the tree of water, prune it too far or neglect it in other ways.  Or you can water, fertilizer and prune the tree so that it flourishes.  

In my case I have waffled on feeding and watering our family tree and at other times starving it causing the trunk to slant and roots to shrivel and loss grip on the earth and place that holds the tree in place.

As the years have gone by and so many things has changed one thing has remained and progressed that has caused the neglect to the tree. The drinking and havoc it has caused.  Although the drinking ramped up there were other things under the soil that kept starving the roots.  The resentment, the depression and the growing belief that the love was gone.  

I can’t say the exact point in time the love seemed to slip away or exactly why.  Perhaps we were never meant to be in the first place but just never took the space and time to examine that.  I know I play a big part in that ambivalence as I have for the vast majority of my adult life.  Always looking for the person who would sweep me up and be the one.  Always moving too fast and never really knowing who I was or what I wanted.  

But in this family tree there really was not an option I felt for walking away or moving away like I had done so many times before.  This time there were other people involved, my boys who so badly needed a sturdy tree that could help them change, evolve and grow so they could be the strong branches and the allow their leaves to continue to bud, grow, change and repeat.

When we make choices to hide or dissolve into our bad habits we leave very little space for those we love or who love us and need us.  I think about my actions, distance and numbness everyday.  I am defiant as a mother due to my own choices and the circumstances I have put myself in.  When the roots don’t hold you or your family to the ground you can falter, making your responses or lack there of worse creating even more distance between you and the ones you love. 

So this where I have the choice to open up for my children and keep the other parts of my sorrow and loveless marriage out of the picture.  Rise up and be present for my family or at least part of it.  There is no real choice to uproot the tree right now as it would devastate the branches and leaves forever.  Instead I need to look inside and be stronger, bring more clarity and peace to my home and not drink.  Remove the fog, the fuzzy head and shame just be real and be there for my boys.  I can take care of the rest later when it is safe to uproot the tree without damaging the branches and the leaves.

I share this here because I don’t want to falter, I will come back when it is tough and read these words so I know to stay the course and remember the to feed, fertilize and water my family tree.  After all it is a family tree, and my family deserves more and better from me.

~K from the Hill Country

Naming the Crazy! Anxiety

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You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you.

— Dan Millman

Yesterday, as I was getting ready to go to my son’s lacrosse game, very familiar feelings started to stir, the nervousness, feeling uncomfortable in my skin, and worry about what others will think of me. The self talk, often negative in nature, about whether or not anyone will talk to me, will the other moms ignore me, will they think I am fat, or not pretty enough, the list goes on and on. Then my mind shifted and I began to change the conversation in my mind. My thoughts were more positive in nature. “I am sure at least a few of the moms will talk to me”, and “I will introduce myself to a few of them so they know who I am”, and “why would they not like you, you are smart, pretty, have a great career and once they know who you are they will enjoy talking with you.” I have to say that is was one of the first times the dialogue in my brain has shifted and it stopped me in my tracks. I finally knew what I have been experiencing for so much of my life, extreme anxiety!

Anxiety, that is what I have been feeling my whole life. I know what you’re thinking duh! Of course it was and is anxiety, have you been living under a rock? But I was just finally putting the two and two together, and it finally clicked for me yesterday.

So many events, moments throughout my life immediately flashed before my eyes. I have always been a strange mix of shy and out going. Of course over the years, I have used alcohol to move me from one end of the spectrum to the other. I think if you asked most everyone who has known me throughout my life, they would tell you I am an out going, silly, crazy, always talking woman. But that side of me has come from a bottle 98% of the time. The truth of the matter is I do believe I am shy, but more importantly very, very insecure and anxious. I know I am not alone in these feelings, many woman feel this way, but I have definitely used alcohol to cope.

I always pre-partied before the parties in college, I always drank before I went to a party after college, I always drank while getting ready for an event, in when it was at my house! I needed to drown out the voices in my head telling me I was not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough etc. For me the best way to do that was drink, so I would be loose enough to have conversations and not be slipping into panic mode.

Naming anxiety yesterday was important, it was the shift I needed to recognize why I was always on edge before every event, every interaction with other women, other moms. It is important to name things, in particular feelings and emotions we don’t understand, as it helps us to process and make these emotions tangible. Making sense of what the messy, swirly, craziness in our heads is all about it is magical, because when you name that shit, you can start recognizing when it starts, how it starts, and begin to change the narrative in your brain, changing your self talk and behaviors. Yesterday, I named dark feelings and emotions I have endured my of my life, anxiety, and I was able to change my thoughts and actions to push through the major discomfort, to show up in a new way around new people I did not really know. For me yesterday was a major breakthrough!

I have listened to others talk about anxiety for a very long time and even been able to identify it when I see certain behaviors with other including my own two boys. The nervousness, fidgeting, the hypersensitive responses, avoidance, I have watched them move through all of it. Knowing I have had very much the same feelings most of my life. It is confusing at times, because even though I might get nervous about a big presentation or event at work, I also look forward to them. Practicing my presentations, moving so easily through a room full of people I don’t know, greeting them and engaging very easily. Why is it so different in professional settings but so scary and hard when it is just a mom’s night out or neighborhood gathering? Why is so hard and awkward when it is just meeting new moms on a lacrosse field or at back to school night? I am not sure I understand why that is so hard for me but I am going to push through it and work on identifying the emotions and feelings, so I can sit with them and change my patterns. I know drinking is not going to help me anymore. I need to stand on my own two feet.

Wish me luck…because it only took me 48 years to get to this point of understanding and self awareness…sit with for a minute and think about all the wasted years of crazy ass, overwhelming anxiety.

~K from the Hill Country

So Small

I am so small
My world is so small
I live life rolled up in a tight ball 
The space I possession just becomes less and less
My life is a fucking mess


My world is so small because I shut out all
Leaving no space or time for anyone to pay a visit at all
Shutting everyone out except for one who will definitely lead me to fall


I am small because I choose to be 
I was not always this small but my addiction restricted me 
Too small to raise my voice for help
Ego to big to really look at myself


My life is a mess because I gave up
Reigning chaos and letting everything go amuck
Never caring about anyone else, only me and how numb I could get


I am so small because I ignore it all 
Living among the lies that strangle me 
Minimizing my space so there is no way to get free 
Smaller and smaller my existence gets like anvil I can’t get off my chest


My world is so small as I have left room for only drink
I hide away so they won’t see my world is made up of only one thing
All else falls away or gets pushed out, there is no more room in my one room house


My life is small
I am small 
The mess of if all is so big it has devoured me
Small will just have to fit since I am too afraid to set myself free or ask for the key

Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right

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Kids often make very bad choices and do things that are not very smart, especially teen age boys.  This is most definitely the case with my son and he often makes choices that leave me scratching my head for understanding, or just down right angry.

I wish I could say he is the only one making bad choices but that would not be true. I don’t always do the right thing or make the best choices, and definitely NOT when it came to drinking.  So, maybe I am really not acting any better than he is?  Maybe I am not showing up in a way that is supportive enough for him to feel loved or strong enough to say no to stupid decisions.

It is so easy to say things like, “why would you think that was a good idea?” or “why didn’t you say no I am not doing that?” or “stand up for yourself when you know better!”, but maybe as a parent who drank I should be asking myself the same questions.  I knew better, I knew it is not a good idea to drink too much, and I had to learn to stand up to myself or to others and say no to a drink or drinking too much. I knew I should not be drinking so much in front of my kids or around them like I did for years. I knew I was not fully present when they needed me most so how can I say to my son, “make better decisions!” or “think before you do the next wrong thing!”

When and how did I realize two wrongs don’t make a right? 

The scenario where it really hit home for me was when I was drunk and got a call from the police to come get my son.  My son made a bad choice with some friends on this particular Friday night, the what he did, is not really important, but the state I was in was not good either.  Another red flag I was drinking too much, and my son needed me and I was in no shape or a state of mind to help or support him. 

We get a phone call that he and his friends are being held by the police and we need to come and get him. Well, that was the first part of the problem, second part of the problem was me! There was no way I could drive, I had been drinking and thank God I had enough wits about me to know I could not drive myself there to pick him up.  So, in the Lyft we go and pick him up.  When I get there I am frustrated, annoyed and embarrassed because I am not really in any shape to have a conversation with the police.  All in all, there was not a big incident, but my tone and manner with the police on the scene was harsh, short and clipped, which was probably not required.  Why was I that way? Well, short answer is two wrongs don’t make a right.  1) I should not have been that intoxicated 2) I was totally ashamed and embarrassed about the fact that I was drunk and should have been in a better state of mind, sober enough to help my son which led me to you usual reactive state of defensive and angry.  So my tone was clipped,  I became angry with myself, my son and the fact I was not present enough for the situation or to handle it with grace. 

Every time I reflect on that night I am still embarrassed and angry with myself. Now, you might be saying it was not a big deal. It was a Friday night and you were relaxing at home and had a few drinks that is nothing to feel bad about.  But the reality is that if something bad had happened to my son or the other boys he was with I would have been in no condition to support or comfort him.  How would it have looked if I showed up at a police station drunk? Or the hospital drunk?  That is the story on repeat in my head. I can’t imagine how my son would have felt if I would have had to retrieve him from the police station with all the other parents and I was drunk!  Or if I had to come to the hospital if he got injured or one of his friends would have been injured, I would not have been able to comfort him or care for him in the way a mother is supposed. I can only imagine how the other parents would have reacted toward me and where the blame would have fallen in the mix of the kids and who was responsible? My drunk state would have definitely focused blame toward my son and his home life and role models.

So, believe me when I say two wrongs don’t make a right, and sometimes they can end with two very bad “wrongs” which creates an even bigger mess.  These moments of inebriation and being checked out pile up for me like empty bottles in a garbage can and I am trying to figure out the equation for two rights = love and support. I know always being sober is one of the right things for sure.

Clean

Reflections of Striving for Sobriety During A Pandemic

In these current days and times I have been cleaning more than I ever have out of necessity really, to keep my family safe and healthy.  As I wipe every handle and countertop, I think about the word clean and what it means to me when it comes to my drinking.  I am not clean or sober, but striving for that now more than ever so I can keep my sanity and wits about me.  I am heading into a time where my kids will need to be home schooled and cared for emotionally and spiritually.  I need to be clean or clear minded to do that in an effective way for them.  

I am trying to keep my house in order, putting away dishes, cleaning bathrooms, washing sheets and towels way too often.  Washing clothes and dishes everyday to provide an appearance of a clean and less chaotic environment.  As I do these chores I continue to ask myself, how will you strive to keep your mind and body clean during and after this time?  Well, if I am going to put this much effort and sweat into keeping my house clean, I most definitely need to keep myself sober.  There really is no difference, as I write this entry I am cleaning my thoughts and changing my outlook about myself and my drinking. Learning how to clean up the thoughts, actions that keep me stuck in that mess.  It is truly time to roll up my sleeves and get down on my hands and knees and clean up me and my approach to living a much better life.

How will you rise up and be the best mom you can right now, and be able to hold up over this long stretch of time to enable your family and yourself to thrive? Well, let’s start by not isolating or numbing to the point I can’t remember things.  Breathe through the news everyday, or maybe just turn it off entirely.  Engage with my kids, talk to them about everything that is going on, answer their questions and more importantly comfort them, now more than ever.  Be present for them, help them with their new normal of school work from home, help them adjust to very little interaction with friends, and teach them to be good to each other and others in this very strange time.

I can’t say I have all the answers but little things are shifting for me now more than ever.  Not only caring more about making sure the house is clean and organized, but thinking about the reasons I would drink and deriving a plan for not drinking as things seem to cave in on me.  I am making mental plans for myself, physical plans as well, about how I will move my body more, making choices to spend time with my family versus numbing out to the point of black out and forgetting everything from the night before.  That will not make it better, only worse, as the anxiety and guilty takes over with no where for it or me to go.  I won’t lie my anxiety is very high right now and I have tremendous trouble sleeping but I working the plan to help me sleep like less screen time before bed, eating dinner earlier, mediation before bed as well.  I know these things work because when I have used them in the past and stuck with them for long periods of time I sleep much better and I feel much better.  

Cleaning everyday, is the new normal for me, just as working more solidly on my sobriety is my new normal. They go hand in hand, as a two prong plan.  The more I clean up the outside, I am cleaning up the inside. 

Stuck vs. Stubborn

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I keep asking myself am I stubborn or just stuck? Why can’t I keep going, even when it is going so good? I will get so very far and start diving into “the work” and then it is like a switch clicks and I am back on the crazy train again.

I know better! However, I am trying to assess if this cycle is because I am stuck or just stubborn? If I were stuck this would mean I am trapped and had no way out but I do have a way out.

I know I am not stuck or trapped because I hold the key. I am am the only who can set myself free. Yet even when I do set myself free, I end up locking myself back up in this hell.

So am I just stubborn? Am I determined to not change or refuse to admit this shit is not doing a damn thing for me? Yet I keep drinking. Am I too stubborn to stop because I can’t admit to myself I need to stop. No, I know on every level and fiber of my being I need to stop. I am so stubborn that can’t admit to myself that I can live without this poison? Or is it that I can’t admit I will have to live without it for the rest of my life.

I keep coming back to this question, am I stuck or just too stubborn? But I believe this is just another addicted mind game because I know I am not stuck. I am letting my ego get in the way of my sobriety. There I said it, wrote out right here. I am my own problem. I am letting my ego get in the way. I am too proud to admit I need to give it up for good.

Even when I know how great things are when I am sober, I know I will have to start to examining the things in my life that are causing me to go back to drinking. I don’t use the tools I have acquired, I stack them up, but don’t use them when I really need them.

If I stop and reflect I know my ego is in the way. I know I am being stubborn but not because I refuse to change, it is that I don’t want examine the things in my life that need work or need to change because they are big, scary things that shake me to my core. So instead of using my tools I drink and start the cycle all over again.

I have a choice to make and I know it. With each relapse I become more self aware that I need to use my tools and make progress toward long-term sobriety. I need to stop coasting and start living, hard or not I know I am not stuck and I am somewhat stubborn but my motivations are strong and I will push through this time to get to the other side. I know what is waiting for me there and it so worth it!

One thing won’t fix it all

We are always looking for the quick fix, the instant gratification, but we know it really does n’t really exist.  Most things, almost everything takes work, most of the time hard work.  Fixing things is not always easy and can be messy, frustrating and challenging.  If you are like me you avoid those things by looking for the quick fix or just sweeping it under the rug.  I am speaking to emotional things here not the overflowing toilet or the broken toy for my son.  The stuff we try to fix about ourselves or within ourselves. 

For me that is drinking, to start anyway.  I kept telling myself if I fix that everything, else will fix it’s self.  Really? How could I be so naive to believe that if I stopped drinking my marriage would magically get better or my relationship with my children would just instantly be perfect like Leave it to Beaver?

The things I drank over were vast, motherhood, relationships, shame, inability to be perfect, worrying about how other people would treat me or my family, sports, childhood disagreements for my kids, the list goes on and on. But these things to drink at and my feelings were so much deeper I just never took the time to look at them, I would just observe them and then drink them away.  Well, at these that is what I thought. These feelings and worries never went away in fact they began to amplify, and over time become overwhelming to the point I would have so much anxiety It was hard to breathe and I shifted to a shell of myself and a dark place that just kept getting smaller and smaller with what felt like no escape. 

I never really realized that I was drinking to avoid, numb or just live in denial about how things were transpiring in my life and how things were becoming messier and messier due to my drinking and checking out.  I did not really fix things.  I denied they existed, got defensive about them and when asked or confronted I would fly into a rage. I often cried in secret when it all became too much and about what a failure and fuck up I was as a professional, wife, mother and friend. I would drive home from work in the dark and scream at the top of my lungs because I had no outlet accept to drink. Those primal screams were terrifying, crazy and I seriously believed I was starting to loose my mind.  My reality was slipping away and I knew the curtain was coming down on my reality, soon I would truly be found out or I was going to go some place very dark that I was not sure I would be able to come back from.  

When I finally realized that drinking too much was going ruin me and that I was using drinking as way to not really address anything I was terrified of. By that time it was getting out of control and manifesting in very bad ways. Resentment, shame, anger, fear, and failure, worry and most important I think a lack of love or caring about myself or some of those close to me.  The resentment and shame made me more anger, which in turn meant many outbursts, lashing out, blaming others, being mean and hateful. 

My ability to love my boys and husband was getting further and further away from me and I was both terrified and ambivalent at the same time.  Who had I become or should I say who have I always been, this scared little girl who hid from everyone and everything, never letting anyone in so they could not hurt me.  There were moments in time I would have been happy to walk away, free myself from all of their shit and lack of respect for me.  But there was the other side that I knew if I turned my back, I would lose myself forever and devastate the people I loved.  

I stopped drinking twice now for good stretches of time, not years but 3 and 4 months chunks of time and many things changed for the better but new things emerged or became more clear which also terrified me.  

In these periods of time, I became more engaged with my boys and talked with them vs. yelling at them and being impatient.  I could rationalize with them and discuss things to work through them versus huge blowouts and long stretches of hatred and shame.  I would listen to them, most importantly vs. talking at them.  I spent more time with them and was more available. 

Those were the good things.  The other things that emerged were how much I was resentful of my husband and how much I very much hated the way he talked to me and treated me at times.  The verbal noise and disrespect was blurred and far away when I was drinking or caused reactions that were not healthy but when I was not drinking I was able to see things clearly and my responses were not combative or childish.  They were mature, thoughtful and came from a place of clarity and strength.  I would shut down arguments and call him out when he was creating stories or future tripping where before I would spiraled with him and been overly anxious and always worried about why people did not like me, why I was the problem, why I was weak etc.

When I stopped drinking I would be able to shut down unproductive conversations.  I would simply walk away after it had started calling out the fact my husband was telling himself stories or calling him out on his behavior, including a rationale explanation for why it was not right and I wouldn’t stand for it anymore.

I started questioning what I was doing with my life.  What I really wanted to do, who I wanted to be with and how or if I should make different decisions for the future.  I was starting to dive into how I go to this place, how I was not the mother or in the relationship I wanted to be.  You see it all stems back to the things we don’t want to fix or take the time to learn how to fix.  We just look for the quick fix which in my case became drinking. When I was younger I would just pick up and move so I did not have deal with the mess I made in my currently world. I would run away from everything and everyone.  I would blame everyone else and never examine myself.  In all honesty, I did not even know how to look at myself or my behaviors or that learning to love yourself was a thing.  I was what everyone else wanted me to be.  I would move, I would switch jobs, friend groups, anything I could to escape myself but you know the old saying “no matter where you go, there your are looking back at yourself in the mirror.”

I would try to change myself, want I liked, who I liked so that I could move forward.  Never stopping to do the work to fix what was really going within me.  I kept jumping into new relationships and looking for those relationships to take everything away, the fantasy of finding “the one”.  

I would go back to drinking during these two stretches only to realize very quickly things would go right back to the same place, no progress to the me I wanted to become. I would go right back to isolation, just not engaging, checking out completely.  Disappearing quite honestly. And that shook me to my core!

Now that I have sober AGAIN for a good stretch of time, I am trying to do the right work with the right tools.  Even if it leads to hard discussions, choices I am facing them.  I will not rush, or move fast but make very solid and investigated decisions.  I will take the time and re-engage, work my way back to who I want to become and how I want relationships to be, healthy, mature, nurturing, loving and open/honest. 

There are no quick fixes, there are no magic spells, there is only the work that makes us stronger, smarter and more alive.  I am in this for long haul and time is important but this is not a race and I am not looking for instant gratification.  Only love and admiration.

Why Ya Gotta Be So Mean!

We all go through life and encounter people who are just not very nice.  It is enviable I guess, although I often wonder why people need to be so mean.  As an adult we learn to understand why people may come across as unfriendly, rude, stand-offish and the ultimate in your face down right mean.  We know these people maybe very insecure, have terrible home lives, are full of shame or just need to make others feel bad to make themselves feel better.

With all those things in mind I am still perplexed and bewildered why adults, who should know better, act like spoiled crazy ass brats! I guess we live in an age where people don’t need to know one another or make new friends.  Everyone judges everyone before they even know anything about them, either by making their own judgements because someone may not look the same as they do, or live the same way they do.  Then, there are those who judge based on what they have heard from others and just want to be part of a click.  Watch out the click is very fast to turn on you if you make a mis-step.

I have really been pondering all the reasons why people are unfriendly and down right rude or mean.  I have seen and experienced this lately with my kids and our family.  I try to be the person who does not judge, or make fast impressions and give people time to warm up.  I am not in race or need to impress others and seek out friendships that are real and honest.  I don’t need to be friends with everyone nor is that my goal as I know it is for some.  Give me a few good friends and all is good!

So how do we maintain good examples for our children when they encounter mean people? How do we stay strong and maintain a good face when adults are mean to us, whether they are judging us or hearing things from others about us.  When people turn their backs, don’t talk to you or wave how do we not get sucked into their swirl? Especially when you secretly drink too much and are riddled with anxiety, shame and self loathing. This combination of hatred from the inside and outside can be enough to send anyone into swirl that may not be possible to get out of.

I am adult women who has amazing career, traveled the world, been a friend to many, a good mom and wife.  I pride myself on helping others and being there for them when they need help or someone to listen.  So how it is that more and more I find people who are not friendly, “don’t need any new friends” and basically don’t care if you exist and make that very obvious. They don’t like you because of jealous about you, kids, kids abilities at sports, or the perception of more money. This list goes on and on.

If I told you that it did not bother me I would be lying. I find it hurtful, mean and so “high school” to be honest.  I will not apologize for not being just like them, or look like them. We all choose different paths in life.  No judgement here I proclaim, but damn people there is no need to make someone feel like dirt or less than because they don’t conform to your made up model! 

When these types of behaviors happen to my children I try so hard to remain strong and help them through “be the bigger person”, “rise above it”, “understand that it really is not about you.”  But damn, I just want to squash those other kids and parents for their mean, hateful and irresponsible behavior.  I am dying on the inside while trying to hold it together for my children who don’t understand what they did wrong or how to maneuver through the mob mentality that is trying to take them down or lock them out.

So how does this relate to the topic of drinking?

Well, think about what happens when you mix the external negative forces with the internal negative forces. It becomes an incredible force that literally traps you in a shame spiral and a state of panic, anxiety, and self hatred. You doubt everything about yourself, you begin to believe you can’t do anything right, you’re so afraid of more daggers being throw in your direction OR that they will catch on to the fact you’re drinking way too much and turn up the hatred and badmouthing.  

Literally, for the past 10 years or more, this has been my life and the absolute pain and isolation that comes with not only the addiction and paranoia. Our addictive brains make these outside forces of the mean and hateful things, so much bigger and all consuming as we can differentiation the reality from our distorted view of what people are doing to each other to earn some perceived space in society.  Bringing everyone else down to raise themselves up.

Now that I am not numbing and hiding any longer, I am facing these bad circumstances and working very hard to be present and provide clear guidance for my children.  It still hurts and my heart gets broken more often than not, but I will take every dagger they throw at me just to ensure I raise a child who can stand own his own two feet and earn his spot in life.  I truly hope our society can grow and move forward to care about each other vs. running over people to get their perceived place in life. It is like my mother always told me, “you never know what goes on behind closed doors.”  

Although I continue to keep my door open even though it exposes me to the draggers of others I am showing my children the right way to treat people.

Such a dark place for children to grow up in these days but at least my children have a sober mom.

No Cool-aid Here!

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a friend to many, daughter, mother, professional, wife. I used to be person with very questionable drinking behaviors. In other words a lush, a person who could not stop drinking, manic and most often bat shit crazy. My life became crushingly small and I began to fade away into a very dim place.

I would crush it at work, fail miserably at home and try everyday to figure out how to make it better. But I continued to drink the cool-aid, just like when I was a kid. Sugary goodness that we all knew was rotting our teeth and making us crazy hyper but we drank it anyway.

Cool-aid was a treat as a kid, then for me wine became the cool-aid of my adult life, it was still sugary and sweet but it was taking more from me than my teeth!

For me “cool-aid” is not just about the wine. It is about all the norms we hold ourselves to even when we know better. How to dress, act, who to be friends with, how to be a mom or the good wife. You name it! I was drinking the Cool-aid about all of it but not anymore.

I stopped drinking and starting thinking about how I needed to find my spark again and stop drinking the god damn Cool-aid!

Come along for the ride on my the journey of sobriety, finding myself (again?) and living life with all the ups, downs and in between.

Fake It To You Make It

Fake it to you make it was a saying my old boss used to say and it always made me chuckle.  The saying was always referring to work and used when we did not know something or total understand something new or different.  We were both obviously very smart people but there were the times when we would have to take on new programs, teams or work that was really new and we would have to work hard  to really understand it to make good decisions.  If I was nervous about it or did not how I would present information she would always reassure me with a quick “fake it to you make it” comment and we would both laugh, lifting the worry or anxiety around whatever it was we were trying to figure out or explain to others.  

We never really meant “fake it” as in just fake what you really know and don’t know.  We always dug in and figured it out. We always took the time to study, learn, interview and dive into the right level of detail to support our people and teams.  It was not a cop out, more of a way to get over the worry and acknowledge we were smart and did not have to be afraid.

I tell you this story because I was faced with an invitation last night to visit with my neighbors, super nice people who are very out going and our sons are very good friends.  We live really close to each other and I wanted to get to know them better.  

We are new to our neighborhood, which is very social, and they know everyone so I thought it a good idea to go over and visit. They asked me over for a margarita.  Yes this is were the puberal needle scratched across the record and brought me to a halt.  CRAP! I want to go! CRAP! I can’t go! CRAP! How will I explain why I am not drinking? CRAP! CRAP!

So I texted her back to say I was waiting for pizza for the kids and one other thing.  Then I started pacing and wondering if I could go over and just not drink? But then I thought what if they think I am a prude, uptight and not “like them”? Would they put me in the “not fun neighbor” bunch?

I know your are thinking “what the fuck are you doing”? No, is a complete sentence right?  Well, right or wrong, I was not truly thinking of myself but my son.  He is such good friends with the boy next to us and all the other boys they hang out with.  I was worried they would not include him or not invite him or us to parties or boating etc.  I just did not want my “problem” to become his or impede him from friendships or a full life in any way.  I am not saying they would do this at all! It was the story I was telling myself, on repeat in the moment. Whether it was really ever going to come true or not it was the story in my head.

So I started mapping the scenarios for myself about how I could go over and not drink but make it look like I was drinking.  “Fake it to you make it, right?”  Well, I had several scenarios in mind.

  1. Bring a drink with me so I could say, “I’m good I brought something with me”.
  2. Bring a drink with just a tiny splash of something in it just in case they ask what it is and I could feel like I had taken the edge off.
  3. Don’t bring anything and say, “just making a quick pit stop” as the boys are having friends over and I can’t leave them for too long.
  4. If they ask me if I want a drink or a refill I just say, “Na I have to get up early tomorrow to get some work done before the kids get up.”
  5. Just say it is too late tonight and I have kids here but next time for sure.

Ok, you must be thinking that is a lot of time spent on thinking about how not to drink! Yes, it was and I knew it and still know it.  And I know better! I know it should not matter if I drink or not for people to like me. I know I can fake it to save my sobriety and I know I can just say, “No”. No to coming over, no to a drink, no to thinking too much about whether or not I have to drink to be friends with people.  I know all of things.  

There are some many times when we can over think or beat ourselves up about this drinking thing.  I know we need to protect ourselves and our sobriety and make good decisions in order to keep it. 

This story and scenario is real and happens all the time for people new or at shaky points in their sobriety. So what was my choice from the list above?  Not the right one but one I learned a lot from this scenario and how to be stronger, wiser and to fake it until I make it. 

I learned many lessons and better tools from this experience.  I learned to fake it.  I learned I can still go and give myself permission to say no thanks to a drink and to change the subject. “Want a margarita?” “No thanks, hey catch me up on what has been going on with you guys.” “ What’s up with the boys?”  Basically, changing the subject and moving on to a different topic to take the focus off the drink.  Or I can bring my own “cocktail” or cup with fizzy water so they will not even question whether or not you want a drink cause I have one in my hand.  “Want a refill?” “No, that’s ok I have an earlier day tomorrow so I am taking it easy tonight.”  

All these answers and actions are so easy right?  Well, that night I did not use my tools and did not keep to my story I was afraid and anxious they would not like me or my son if I did not come over with a drink – with a splash  in it to take the edge off or have a refill margarita with them.  So I did both of those things.  Both wrong, both I regret. 

I half beat myself up over it and half felt I learned a very great lesson.  I can fake it to I make it and no one will really question me or ask me to drink.  I can show up empty handed or with a drink in my hand that does not have alcohol in it and no one will know the wiser.  I realized they really did not care whether I had a drink in my hand or not.  We had a great conversation with tons of laughter, talked about getting together with our families, all things I wanted to happen.

The peer pressure we have felt while growing up to fit in and be liked does not go away as an adult.  We are creatures that crave connections and for those of us who don’t drink we can give ourselves permission to “Fake it to we make it” in order to learn how to navigate fostering connections.  We can give ourselves permission to pick the right answers from the list above.  Go and bring your own drink without the alcohol of course. Go and just make it a quick pit stop with the caveat you have something going on that you have to get back. Don’t go and politely say next time.  These and many other suggestions can be your choices.  You don’t have to give in like I did because I was wondered about what they would think of me or how much they would or would not relate to me and want to be better friends.  

The point is they will either like you or they won’t sober and you can fake it you make it with no harm, no foul done to move past the initial “get to know you better” scenarios.

I have learned a valuable lesson and added tools to my toolbox from this scenario.  One, I am sure I will face over and over again.  I share this story for those of you faced with similar experiences. Do what is right for you and your sobriety.   “Fake it to you make it” with the definition of I am learning, growing and figuring it out as I go. Or just don’t go.  Just make the choice about you and what it best for you and your boundaries.