Catching Up

family_chickensHey friends! Here we are at the end of 2017 and I’m already making ANOTHER new year resolution to write more here in 2018. Really, I’m going to try hard to make that happen.

I’m not sure where 2017 went, but it flew by! As I write this, I just took my first shower in two days, my face is breaking out (probably too much sugar) and I’m attempting to remain calm and collected in the midst of holiday chaos – easier said than done! However, with all that being said, I’m happy – really, truly happy. Not just, “I’m saying that because that’s what you want to hear.” No, I’m saying that because it’s the honest to goodness truth.

After being on our little farm for over two years now, I can say without a doubt that moving to the country was the best decision we’ve ever made. Not only was it good for our family, but it was good for my sobriety. I feel free here; free to be the person I was meant to be. When people ask me what I’ve gained through sobriety, I will often tell them I gained myself. I’ve discovered what I like and what I don’t like, and I suppose, most importantly, I’ve given myself permission to be honest about those likes and dislikes.

I’ve discovered that I don’t particularly like being in large groups of people or being forced into casual conversation. I don’t like spending time with negative people who leave me emotionally drained. This one’s hard because I really wanted to like it, but I’ve realized that I don’t like entertaining and hosting large groups of people at my home. My home is my sanctuary; it’s my safe place to escape from all the craziness of the world and having other people here often feels suffocating to me. I’ve accepted that I’m more of a one-on-one type of person. I want people in my life who will sit down and have real and honest conversations.

And, what do I like? I like routine. I like my morning coffee with my husband. I like working in my yard and garden while the kids play and laugh in the background. I like the thrill of chasing my chickens around the garden until I’m able to catch one (I know, weird!). I like binge watching historical dramas on Netflix. I like trying out new canning recipes, especially jams and jellies. I like the anticipation of planning my garden for the next spring. And, at the end of a long day, I like sitting around the table with my family, giving thanks and hearing them talk excitedly about their day.

For so many years, I feared living my life based on my real likes and dislikes because I was scared of disappointing or offending someone. These days I don’t feel the need to have everyone agree with me or even like me – they won’t and that’s okay. There is an incredible sense of freedom in letting go of the pretenses and being honest with yourself and others.

Comparatively, my life now might sound boring and uneventful, but I will be the first to lift up my arms and say, “Amen!” Boring? I’ll take it! Uneventful? Even better! Through hell and high water, I have learned that in boring and uneventful we often find the greatest peace and contentment.

Tomorrow, we celebrate my son’s ninth birthday. He was three when I got sober and with every passing birthday, I’m so incredibly grateful that he will never have any memories of me drinking. Sometimes, I try to imagine what my life would be like now if I had never stopped drinking and, honestly, it makes me physically sick to my stomach because I know that I wouldn’t have any of it – this beautiful, flawed, painful yet grace-filled life.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a blessed new year!

 

When We Feel Too Much

Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel so much. I was reminded by my sponsor (again) today that I’m sensitive, emotional and all-too feeling at times. I’m sure there’s a million jokes that could be made about women and emotions, but in all seriousness, it can be devastating for someone like me; an alcoholic who used to drink to escape feeling.

I envy people like my husband who can be sad and empathize with what others are going through without taking on their feelings. Instead, I dive head first and take on their sadness, grief and heartache as if it were my own until it’s no longer about them, but about me (did I mention I can be really self-centered too?). Then, I slowly get sucked into this all-consuming depressive state of mind where everything is wrong and nothing is right in the world. My relationships and my spiritual life suffer. I find myself feeling angry, alone and isolated – the perfect storm for a relapse.

Even though I’ve been sober for a while now, it’s times like these when I know I can’t do this alone. I have to grab onto that life-preserver we call recovery if I’m going to pull myself out of it. Whether it’s going to meetings or meeting individually with my sponsor, I must be reminded on a regular basis that I AM AN ALCOHOLIC and what might seem laughable to some, is no joke for me. Because, that feeling, sensitive and emotional side of me that gets out of control at times could lead me to my death. Is that extreme? Maybe. Real? Absolutely.

Sometimes, it’s as simple as my sponsor looking at me and saying, “Chenoa, you need to put up some boundaries between other people’s feelings and your own.” Just because someone else is experiencing grief, sadness or pain doesn’t mean I have to take on their feelings as my own. I can feel bad for them and reach out to them, but I can’t, under any circumstances, let their experiences define my mood or behavior.

On this Ash Wednesday, I’m feeling renewed; stronger than I was yesterday or even this morning. As I go forward in this Lenten season, I want to focus less on myself and more on my spiritual condition and my relationship with God. I want to step out of myself and what I want for my life, and focus more on what God wants for me. How can I be the best version of myself? And, how can I better serve those around me?

I am reminded, yet again, that this is all part of the journey, and I find peace in trusting that God knows what He is doing and where He is leading me.