We are constantly in a state of change and transition. Nothing is permanent, I’m learning. . . slowly. One could argue that a Cirrhotic liver feels pretty damn permanent, but I’m certainly not going to last forever, so I suppose that ultimately proves my point. These last four years have been miraculous, challenging, and exhausting. So much work and effort has gone into my sobriety, and I’m mostly proud of all that I’ve accomplished, once I allow myself to actually feel some pride, instead of just shame and embarrassment over the shit show that I allowed my life to become because of my alcoholism. I assume that’ll be a work in progress for some time.
This weekend a milestone occurred in my household, in that we are now the proud parents of a college freshman, who left Saturday for her out-of-state scholastic adventure, many miles from home. This is my husband’s daughter and my oldest stepdaughter, and I’m beyond thrilled for her journey and truly, only a smidge jealous. I’m exhausted by my college memories, what memories there are of those years, anyway. College, you see, is where my drinking career effectively started. I was a stringent rule follower and a bit of a goody-two-shoes in high school, and college was my first opportunity to really spread my wings and express myself, and BOY DID I SPREAD THEM OH SWEET BABY JESUS DID I EVER.
But this ain’t about me – not yet, anyway. Saturday we packed her up and I as waved goodbye as the car backed down the driveway, I felt my throat swell and tighten, and tears rolled down my cheeks. Let’s back up a smidge; I’ve often remarked over the years about my severe and utter lack of maternal intuition and instinct. If you and I are barreling down a country road, and a fucking elk darts in front of my Jeep and I slam on my brakes, I can almost guarantee you that your skull will hit my windshield because I don’t even possess that minimal instinct where your right hand flies over to the passenger side/seat for protection, like REAL MOMS DO. Just know that if you’re riding shotgun with me, you’re possibly gonna require stitches, I’m just sayin’.
So, it’s been well documented that I never really wanted to be a Mom, and I have been pretty open over the years about my struggles with accepting an instant family. Having said all that, I’ve been joking for the last year about this day, this morning of her launch, with anticipation and excitement for her journey and for her life ahead. And in the interest of absolute transparency, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’d been gleefully awaiting BOTH of their departures one day into adulthood, and into the world outside of my personal habitat/cleaning jurisdiction. Two teenage girls, y’all. When the second one leaves I’m simply putting a FOR SALE sign on the house, rather than clean her bathroom, and I am only sort of kidding.
So naturally, I was surprised by my ambush emotional reaction to her departure. Suddenly I felt regret and loss, all at once. Shame for not being the adult when I was supposed to be, and guilt for not being there at all. All of my recovery pride disappeared and waves of remorse showed up instead. I know, it seems super typical of an alcoholic to make everything about them, but thanks to my program I was able to stop the shame spiral before it took me down with it, and I know this will continue to happen as my recovery grows and changes and shifts and transforms. My sober perspective on life now (often) affords me flashbacks with blinding pangs of heartache and embarrassment, and I find myself cringing and/or crying at a blurry regrettable memory. There’s only so much I can do and how many ways I can find to forgive myself, and sometimes I’m not entirely sure its possible, so what I’ve decided to do is give myself a break.
I’m sober now. I can be of service, now. I can only move forward. “When you know better, you do better”, as Oprah wisely says.
So, I’m going to stop tripping over my past – it just doesn’t serve me anymore and truthfully, it’s tiresome and unhealthy. I suggest you do the same if you find yourself obsessing and spiraling and repeating the SAME NARRATIVE in your head over and over. Nothing is permanent and we are all beings of constant change and evolution and I think that acceptance and appreciation comes naturally to most, with age – however, for us drunks it can be a hard lesson. WE DO NOT CARE MUCH FOR CHANGE THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
But like everything else, I’m finding, you gotta face it head on and barrel right through it. You have to be brave with your life or before you know it, you don’t have one.
And it’s all change, all the time. It’s constantly shifting and evolving and transforming and that’s how it’s SUPPOSED to work and we just have to try to wear life like a loose garment and JUST FLOW WITH IT. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an empty room in my house that I think would make a lovely yoga studio.