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

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.