The Truth Behind My Gym Clothes

And, the hits keep coming on the health front around here. I’m convinced this is God’s way of reminding me that this is not my eternal home and complacency is not what this life is all about. Just when I thought we were out of the woods (no pun intended) after Tyler’s surgery, the tables were turned.

Okay, so admittedly, I ignored some symptoms that I shouldn’t have – lesson learned. I was so focused on Tyler’s surgery and recovery that I put off going to the doctor when I really should have. So, after a routine annual exam with my doctor last month, I was referred to not one, but two specialists. Over the past three weeks, I have had a pelvic ultrasound, abdominal CT scan and blood work. I have been to my OBGYN, a rehab specialist (for my neck) and a urologist. All of this has confirmed that I have two kidney stones, a faulty seal on my ureter (I didn’t even know that word existed before all this), a uterine polyp and a messed up neck muscle. In two weeks, I start PT for my neck and in a few weeks I’ll have a double whammy surgery for the stones, seal and polyp. And, ironically it will all take place at the same surgical center where Tyler had his neck surgery. Really?!?!

And, of course, all of this is happening in the last few weeks of school and t-ball season. It’s times like these, I look at Tyler and say, “Okay, what gives?” And, it’s also times like these I have to put it all in perspective. None of it’s life threatening and in the grand scheme of things I’m still pretty healthy. And, despite it all I can find the humor in it – thank God for the gift of laughter!

Speaking of finding the humor in things, there’s nothing like sitting in the waiting room at the urologist’s office. As I looked around and observed the 70+ couples sitting together, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “So this is what Tyler and I have to look forward to. Morning dates at the urologist’s office. Perfect.” Sitting there in my gym clothes (aka I’m too lazy to get dressed in real clothes), I have to admit I felt pretty good about myself considering my fellow patients. Well, the joke was on me, because once I sat down in the young doctor’s office and he started talking about broken ureter seals, kidney stones and oh by the way, do you run? And, I say no because I have bursitis in my knee and my neck’s messed up, and oh can you remove the stones while my OBGYN is removing my polyp – yeah, I realize that the gym clothes are a total mask to how I’m really doing inside. Ugh. Another lesson learned…again. Looks can be deceiving.

Driving home, I flashed back to my drinking days and I was reminded how my gym clothes were always a great cover up when I was drinking. Because, really, anyone who’s in decent shape and wearing gym clothes could never be an alcoholic, right? Um, wrong. Those of us who try to cover it up are sometimes the worse.

So, now I’m just laying it all out for you. No more hiding behind gym clothes or anything else. This is it. Life goes on and we deal with those struggles and obstacles that pop up along the way. We don’t drink; we don’t hide; we just take it one day, one minute and sometimes even one second at a time.

Today, I am SO (scream it on a mountain top) grateful to be sober and to have a faith in a God who will always carry me on His shoulders through it all…until I reach my eternal home.

 

 

 

 

When Nothing Makes Sense

Give Me Faith

I’m sorry if this post seems disorganized and rambling, but I’m feeling a need to purge my thoughts and sometimes they’re not such a tidy, pretty little package (as much as I’d like them to be). It’s like diarrhea of the mind, with thoughts firing back and forth until my head feels like it’s going to explode (sorry for the visual).

My hope is that I can empty it all out and make room for more peaceful, loving and kind thoughts. Thoughts filled with faith and hope, especially during this first Lenten season that I am participating.

What’s on my mind? Grief. The loss of people I love, people who are no longer here; my husband’s upcoming back surgery that puts a desperation and fear into my thoughts that I’ve never experienced before; my own mortality and what that looks like; the recent tragic death of a woman from our church who served on the Pastoral Council with my husband who was shot and killed by her 17-year-old son; the fear when I think about the world that my children are growing up in and the desperation I feel to change it, to do SOMETHING to make it just a little bit better.

My husband called me yesterday afternoon while I was shopping in Portland with my five-year-old son to tell me about, Michelle, the woman who had been killed by her teenage son. Not only did he kill his mother, but he attempted to kill his father who remains in critical condition. As I drove the hour home with my son sitting behind me playing his Leapster, I wondered how such an innocent child could grow up to do something so horrible and inconceivable. Yes, these things happen all the time, but WHY? What happened to that young boy to make him do such a thing? As with so many families and children, everything seemed fine on the outside. Yet, obviously, there was something horribly wrong on the inside.

It’s times like these, I look up and want to scream to God, “Why?!” My husband who just turned 40, who has been the epitome of health his entire life, is having major back surgery in two weeks. I have watched him suffer silently over the past five months, in chronic pain from the shooting pain and numbness that has taken over the right side of his body. A man who has always been afraid to take more than two Advil at a time who is now taking heavy pain meds throughout the day, barely masking the intense pain. My husband who has been a pillar of strength for me throughout our entire marriage who is now the one in need of my strength. His humbleness is beyond anything I could ever hope for myself.

Yes I am worried; yes I am fearful; yes I want to know why. But, I know in my heart of hearts that there’s no answer.

You know, my entire life up until I got sober I was a glass half-empty type person. Ask anyone. I always feared the worse. I always expected the worse. I always admired those glass half-full people. How could they be THAT positive? I know now. I know they had a faith that I never had. A faith that, despite the pain and suffering, it would be okay. It might not turn out how they expected or how they imagined it would, but it would be okay in the end.

I know that family who has just experienced the most horrific tragedy imaginable will continue to suffer greatly. But, I know because of their immense faith in a loving and just God that they will be okay. They will go on and inspire others with their strength and determination.

I know the next two months will be challenging for our family as my husband goes through surgery and recovery. There will be days of immense exhaustion and frustration, but it will be okay. It will be okay because, together, our faith will be stronger than any feelings of desperation and fear that attempt to bring us down.

As I go forward in this Lenten season, I pray that God opens my heart to greater faith, hope, love and kindness.

Let’s all just strive to be kind to each other. I am reminded daily that we never know what someone else is going through. Your words or the way you look at someone could make or break them.

I constantly remind myself of what my sponsor always tells me, “We are all God’s children.”

Peace.

It Hasn’t Happened…Yet

Speak Truth

My voice was shaking as I stood at the podium and stared across the sea of faces. A friend had asked me earlier in the week to share my story as part of a panel at a local recovery center and I was starting to wonder if I had made a mistake. It’s one thing writing about my story from the comfort of my own home, but standing in front of others and sharing the details of my life is a different thing all together. But, at this point in my life and recovery, if something makes me nervous or uncomfortable, it’s usually a sign I need to take the plunge and face my fear – this was one of those times.

As I began to speak, my body relaxed and I continued to share my story with those in the room. I was the first to speak and was relieved when I was finished. As the other speakers followed me and shared their stories, I started to feel a dangerous sense of superiority. Instead of focusing on our similarities, I started focusing on our differences, which is a really bad place for this alcoholic to go. Out of four women and one man, I was the only one who hadn’t spent time in jail or prison; I was the only one who hadn’t gotten a DUI; I was the only woman who hadn’t had her children taken away from her; I was the only one who hadn’t been addicted to pills or meth; and I’m pretty sure I was the only one sitting up there with a graduate degree. So, immediately my mind went to, “Wow, I was never THAT bad,” “Boy, compared to them I really had it together.” HA! And, this people is the crazy, insane mind of an alcoholic! And, with that I found all those old judgments, insecurities, fears and better-than-yous coming back in vengeance – the same stuff that made me drink.

And, from there, for only a slight second, my mind went to that very scary place where I started questioning if I really had been THAT bad. And, then with one quick interaction with the woman sitting next to me, I remembered that, yes, I was THAT bad. During a short break we had started chatting and I joked that my story looked pretty uneventful compared to hers, and she looked at me and said, “But, yours is just as important because not everyone is going to relate to mine.” No, I hadn’t been arrested or spent time in prison, I hadn’t gotten a DUI, I hadn’t lost my children, I hadn’t lost my marriage, I hadn’t been addicted to pills or meth – YET. None of those things happened to me, but my life, as I knew it, had become completely and totally unmanageable because of one cunning and baffling reason – alcohol. And, I’m convinced that if I hadn’t stopped drinking when I did, those things would’ve happened to me – and maybe worse.

As I sat there and looked out at the other men and women in the room with their family members sitting by their sides, I wondered if anyone related to my story. Did anyone see the similarities or were they simply focused on the differences? Because, until we can stop looking at our differences and instead focus on what we have in common, there will be no hope.

After the discussion was over, and I was signing out, two women came up to me and thanked me for sharing my story. They saw themselves in me and could relate to much of what I said. While both older than myself, they found the similarities and it gave them hope.

Despite my initial reservations, I plan to keep going back and sharing my experience, strength and hope.

I’m here because others chose to share their stories with me. It’s my responsibility to pass it on. That’s what we do.

My American Heart

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Like so many of you, I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s going on in our country right now. I’m sad, I’m angry and at times I feel very helpless and hopeless. I worry about what kind of ramifications all of our current problems will have on my children as they grow up and reach adulthood. I see a divide that continues to grow larger and larger between our political parties and those who were elected by and for the people. I see families and friendships being torn a part by opposing political views; each pointing their finger at the other. I see hatred being spewed across social media and people “defriending” each other on Facebook because of what one person supports and what the other doesn’t.

What I fail to see is the common American heart that exists in all of us and the common love we have for our country. The very fact that I can sit here and write this is an AMAZING freedom – one that is denied to many in other parts of the world. The fact that I can sit in my RCIA class at our church on Thursday evenings and talk about God, Jesus and Catholicism would be cause for death in many countries. As a woman, I can wear what I want to wear, say what I want to say and go where I want to go, which is simply unheard of in other countries.

My point isn’t to remind you of all the privileges and freedoms we have as Americans, my point is to ask “What happened? And, how did we get here?” How did we become so divided and so angry at each other? When did the “American Dream” become a bad thing? When did patriotism become something to be ashamed of? Do I agree with everything that happens in this country? No. Is life always fair? No. But,  I do believe that no matter where you are born in this country, who you are born to, what kind of conditions you are born into, everyone and I mean EVERYONE has the freedom and opportunity to achieve a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in their lives.

I can’t help but make the comparison to my program of recovery. When we walk into the rooms of a recovery meeting, we see people of all colors, races and backgrounds. Some were born with a lot, some were born with nothing. Some have supportive families and friends, some have no one. But, we are all there for the same purpose and we are all freely given the same tools to help us recover and achieve sobriety. Some rush out of gate, determined and destined to achieve sobriety on the first try; some take it slower and steadily do the work, eventually achieving their goal; others try and fail over and over again until they finally “get” it; and then, sadly, there are those who never make it despite all the tools and support they are given.

What our leaders (if you can even call them that) fail to remember, is that most of us in our little towns and big cities are just trying to do our best to achieve that “American Dream.” From a small age, we’ve tried to do everything the “right” way. We’ve gone to school, got a job, worked hard, supported our family, loved our children – yet, we are left wondering “Does any of it really matter?”

Yes, it matters! Because, despite the hopelessness I sometimes feel, I am teaching my children that, while not perfect, they live in a beautiful and strong country that will provide them with all the necessary tools to thrive and be successful, caring and empathetic human beings.

Nothing and no one can take that hope away from me.

The Better Mom