It’s time for a gratitude list. It is wayyyyyy over due. I’ve had a rough month or so. I guess in the game of life they are what I would call “first world problems”; but man I couldn’t catch a break. I was drowning in self pity and anxiety. I knew it was just a matter of time before my demon would sense my guard was down and attempt to take over my world and destroy all I have worked to become over the last 4 plus years. That’s the thing about addiction, it’s always on standby, ready to pounce, the moment I dont keep myself in check, it will attack.

I managed to wake up every morning after crying myself to sleep, and look in the mirror and say I have so much to be grateful for and had faith that things would get better… I had hope. (Still do).

Within the last 2 weeks some pretty amazing things have been happening in my life, and while I dont want to get into the details yet, I truly believe in Gods’plan for me. Forcing things to happen ain’t gonna work. Lord knows I have tried that multiple times in the past, and have not been successful at it.

If I just keep going one day at a time, keep the faith, and keep doing the next right thing, I’m gonna be ok….

So with out further ado. My gratitude list:

1. Sobriety: always my number 1! If I dont make it my 1st priority I can kiss my life goodbye.

2. M&M: the loves of my life, they are my everything. They make me want to work harder and be a better person. I am so proud to be their momma.

3. My mom: (she is tied with M&M). Cathy is my rock, my biggest supporter. She has never given up on me, even when I gave up on myself. Love you mom.

4. My job. It is my passion, even on the most frustrating of days. My hilarious co workers rock too! What happens in the infusion suite, stays in the infusion suiteπŸ˜‰.

5. My sister Beth, hands down my biggest cheerleader. She has my back, I have hers.

6. My bestie Kerry. You know exactly how I feel about you.

7. Summer days and nights. Love the sunshine. The pool & beach. The heat. Ice cream. Driving in the car with the windows down, flip flops. Sundresses, bonfires, & smores.

8. Door Dash & grocery delivery.. ( always have to have a silly one). I mean, I never have to leave my house ever again, besides for workπŸ€·β€β™€οΈ…life changingπŸ˜‰.

9. New friends.

10. New beginnings.

My story is far from over.

😊❀✌

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The Talk

This weekend I got one-on-one time with my 11yr old daughter. It doesn’t happen often, so I relish the time when we do get it. Saturday afternoon we were out and about, windows down, jamming to some pop song that I only know half the words to, but pretend to know them all, because I’m a hip cool mom. (Although I think by saying that takes away my coolnessπŸ™„).

Life is good. It’s at this moment that M suddenly says, “Mom, my friends & I heard that Kate Spade died by hanging herself with her own scarf, and that some famous chef did the same thing yesterday(Anthony Bourdain). Why?… They are rich and famous. Why would they want to die? Isn’t that a mean thing to do to their families they left behind?”…..

Silence on my end, while I collected my thoughts. Sure, I was planning for this topic to come up sooner than later, but not today, I was caught off guard. Yes, I myself had been reflecting on the deaths of these 2 successful individuals, particulary Bourdain. I was (still am) a huge fan; followed him on social media read his book, and watched his TV shows. I felt a connection to him, perhaps because he too, was an addict. That automatically puts us in a club together, that only club members understand. That being the demon (addiction) holding you hostage, creating despair and anguish, and wanting you dead.

It had been my personal experience with the demon that M&M would be better off if their mom wasnt around. At the time, I struggled to find a reason to live. I didnt feel worthy enough, I hated myself, the shame was greater than love (in my mind), and death seemed to be the only answer. The addiction was feeding my depression. I was utterly hopeless at one point…

Did I want to get this brutally honest with my 11 year old?? She has had to deal with adult situations since a young age and fortunately has been actively seeing a therapist who we have come to admire and respect whole heartedly. She has taught M life skills. Along with that, my alcoholism and recovery is not a taboo topic, and I welcome open and honest conversation. But on this day, the task of talking about suicide, and mental health seemed daunting and scary.

I decided to go for it, especially since she brought it up. We talked about what depression is. We talked about how all the money, success, friends, and family someone has, does not equal happiness and self love, that it must come from within. I stressed that depression is an illness, a disease, and that unfortunately our society still considers it taboo, and there is a definite stigma attached to it. Too often an individual suffering from depression is told to “think positive” or “buck up, things will get better”… If only it was that easy…..

I explained that there is no shame in asking for help. That just because a friend ‘appears’ happy go lucky, does not necessarily mean that they aren’t hurting or suffering inside. Being aware and being kind is key.

It was at this point I told her my story…… that it was only a few years ago that her mom felt she and her brother would be better off if I was dead…. M was silent….

She looked at me, reached for hand and said, “thank you mommy for telling me, and I’m glad you are here”.

From the mouths of babes….

M and I continued to chat about how I got healthier and that I no longer have these horrible sad thoughts. We also talked about what to do if and when she gets sad, hurtful, thoughts about herself or if she is concerned about a friend..cuz truth of the matter is that in today’s society, preteen and teen depression and suicide is tragically high…

I dont know if our talk will make a difference, I hope and pray it does. I am defintely not nieve to think that this one talk will prevent harm, sadness, or self hatred from my child. What I do know is that knowledge is power. Education and awareness is vital!

To let my daughter, and anyone else who may be struggling that it is ok to ask for help, and that there is absolutely no shame! I am a lucky one, I got the help I so desperately needed because a few individuals who I love dearly didnt give up on me, when I had so clearly given up on myself. They saw that I was in turmoil and that I couldn’t help myself. And for that I am entirely grateful. Today I am gratefully, joyously, blessed. I share my story, my message of hope.

Unfortunately for the 2 celebrities who took their lives this past week, their demons won. I hope and pray that they are now at peace. If there is anything to take away from their tragedies, it is that mental illness does not discriminate! As a society there needs to be more dialogue, awareness, and education. Most importantly, there needs to be no shame in asking for help!

βœŒπŸ’•πŸ˜Š

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline https://g.co/kgs/YhdX5S

Being Honest

I apologize if this post is not up to par with most. I feel the need to write, but haven’t been able to put into words what I want to say. That being said, I’m just writing off the cuff.

I’ve been in a bit of a slump, depressed no, sad and feeling kinda empty and lonely, yes. My introvert-ness doesn’t help. I would rather sit my home for days, keep to myself, run, read, hang out with my kids,(playing lots of uno;), than be social with just about anyone. This seems to be more the norm lately. Thing is, it isnt my norm, I really make a conscious effort to be grateful each and every day, no matter the circumstances. I choose kindness and respect, over judgement and selfishness with just about everyone I encounter, but last few weeks its been difficult to do just that. That wasn’t easy to say…. I guess even the strongest are allowed to have ‘bad’ days, weeks even….

So, if I’m being completely honest as to why I’m feeling this way, it’s because I’m missing something a lot more than I expected. My heart hurts, actually it’s broken. It hurts so much words evade me. I never planned on feeling this way…

That being said, I do have faith that my higher power has my back and knows what is best. This gives me the hope and strength to keep my head up and smile, even in the most difficult hours or days. I am allowed to feel the way I do, I just can’t stay here forever, God knows I don’t want too either!!

I am most grateful for my tools given to me through my recovery program to get me through the tough times. These life saving skills are so much better than picking up a drink ever was or ever could be! I am a truly grateful recovering alcoholic who knows that ‘this too shall pass’…just like Bill and Dr. Bob stated in the Big Book. I will continue to take things one day at a time, for it has proven to be the best and only way for me.

πŸ˜ŠπŸ’•βœŒ

Winks

This right here is what matters most. This keeps me humble, grateful, honest, and sober. This can make me forget, and push past the incredibly shitty week(s) I’ve had. When self- doubt, fear, frustration, and sadness have overwhelmed me, all it took was this simple yet powerful note, to remind me of whats most important, and that I will be ok.

Life is a bit challenging these days, maybe a little more than usual. I’m not gonna get into the details, that’s not what this post is about. This is about how amazing my kids are. This simple note brought tears to my eyes. It was exactly what I needed at the exact right time. This note reminded me that I need to have faith that things will get better. This note reminded me that I am not alone and it’s ok to ask for help and lean on others. This note reminded me that I am so very blessed.

This note was not just from M&M, it was from God…a wink, to say hey, I’m here with you. I know things are difficult right now, but I got your back. Stick with me and you will be ok.

This gives me peace. This gives me hope. This gives me comfort. Recovery has given me these gifts, and I was given the gift of sobriety but by the grace of God. And God gave me the 2 best gifts ever when he/she gave me M&M.

I am not alone, no matter how lonely I may feel. This to shall pass and I will rise, stronger and wiser than I was before.

😊❀✌

Gratitude List

It’s been wayyyyyyyyy to long since I have done one of these, and right now I really need one. Life likes to throw curve balls, and instead of walling in self pity and muck, I decided it’s much more beneficial to reflect on all that I have to be grateful for.

1. My Sobriety. I have said before, but I will keep saying it; without it, I have NOTHING!

2. Me, Myself, & I. I’ve had my share of ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change a damn thing! If I didn’t have the trials and tribulations in my life then I wouldn’t be the gal I am today. I am happy, I am proud, I am content. It has taken 30 plus years to learn to love myself and to trust my instincts…better late than never, I guess. I take each day as they come. I really try to make a conscious effort to live in the present. I don’t always like what is going on, but I put my faith in God, he/she knows what is best, and that gives me peace of mind.

3. M&M: There really are not enough words to express how I feel about my kids. I was reflecting on how I wasn’t one of those mom’s who gave birth and immediately fell head over heels in love at first site. It took a bit of time to feel that maternal bond. It has taken me a LONG time to admit this to myself. I know my addiction had a huge effect on my mothering back then. I have carried lots of guilt over this. (That’s an entire separate blog post ;)). Sometimes I become super mom, because I feel the need to make up for the past. Truth is, my kids don’t care. They know me as I am today. The mommy who loves to snuggle, hug, sing obnoxiously in the car, let’s them have ice cream for dinner every once in awhile, insists on reading daily, ‘makes’ them do chores, and loves them to the moon and back.

3. Family: I am incredibly lucky to have an amazing family who stands by me no matter what. In fact they have literally held me up when I couldn’t do it for myself.

4. Friends: A small but mighty group that has put up with me and haven’t given me the heave ho…yet;) some have come back into my life at a time when their support and words of wisdom are needed the most. They keep me grounded. They make me smile.😊

5. Longer days: More daylight!!! I love living in Cleveland, but the long, dark, winters can be unbearable! I pretty much hibernate and become grumpy. Well, it’s now getting darker later, and thanks to seasonly warmer temps, hibernating is now over!!!🌞…side note: it’s Cleveland, it will get cold and snowy at least one more time or quite possibly well into May, but I’m living in the present… 😊

6. My health: I’m an oncology nurse, I deal with terminal diagnoses, death, grief, and fear. Recently, a loved one, not much older than I, was diagnosed with cancer. It’s treatable, but it doesn’t take away the feelings of fear, anger, sadness, and loss of control. I have been saying extra prayers of gratitude for my health and the healing of my loved one. I can’t take my health for granted!

7. Fresh flowers: I LOVE them! And yes, I buy them for myself, often. Nothing super fancy or expensive. Believe it or not, Aldi’ s and Trader Joe’s have amazing flowers for amazing prices. (Can I get a discount for the shout out?;). There is just something about fresh flowers that make me smile.

8. Books: I love to read, and I don’t always get a chance to read like I use too. Any opportunity to read, I grab. Nothing better than a good book.

9. My job: I have an amazing career, fabulous co-workers, inspiring patients, and flexibility that I sometimes take for granted….need a kick in the pants to remind myself just how lucky I am to work where I do!

10. Ice Cream: my most favorite thing in the world! (Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit)….right now I’m enjoying a swirl cone from DQ. YUM! I can always count on it, and it never disappoints! 🍦

Pinky Swear Redux

I got sober when Meghan was 7 years old. During my drinking ‘career’ I selfishly believed that it didn’t effect her. I humbly and remorsefully learned otherwise. Since then, I have kept an open and honest dialogue with Meghan regarding my alcoholism and with alcohol in general. That being said, I was completely taken aback after a recent trip to Costco dredged up horrible memories for Meghan.

Now 11 years old, I will occasionally leave Meghan home alone during the day, while I run an errand close by. This particular day it was Costco. She was busy with homework, and didn’t want to go. So I packed up her brother, said I would be home in an hour, and locked the door behind me. Shopping got done quickly (for Costco), texted Megs to let her know I would be home shortly, and she responded with the thumbs up emoji (typical). While unloading our groceries, I noticed Megs acting uneasy. She wouldn’t talk ( giant red flag), and wouldn’t make eye contact. I persisted and she broke down crying. Through the crocodile tears she told me that when I asked her to go shopping, and responded no, the memory of my last drunk came rushing back to her. That day 4 years ago, I had asked her to goto the store with me, she replied no, and an hour or so later I came home wasted..

I was completely taken aback. I was speechless. All I could do was wrap my arms around my little girl and hold her tight, with tears rolling down my cheek. I’m still a bit emotional about it a few days later……

I looked Meghan in the eyes, and told her point blank I wasn’t drinking, and had no plan or intention to pick up a drink. She was able to tell me that she wasn’t worried about me drinking, but for whatever reason, the shopping trip brought up the horrible memory….. Dagger to my heart…

Truth is; my drinking, my alcoholism my past will never go away. Those I love the most will always carry a memory somewhere within their pysche….and no one knows what or who or when a trigger will drudge this crap up.

I know I can’t change the past, nor do I want too. The best thing I can do is to continue to be open and honest about my sobriety and recovery. I must keep talking to Meghan (and eventually her brother), about alcohol, addiction, peer pressure, and how my drinking has affected them. Knowledge is power.

I know this is what I should do, and I will, but as a mom, my heart aches knowing that I caused my child’s anxiety. No child should have to witness the self destructive behavior of a parent. I have worked to forgive myself, but it only took this seemlessley innocent encounter to rekindle so many miserable feelings of guilt and shame….Fortunately, I know in my heart of hearts that picking up will not make a damn thing better.

4 years ago Meghan and I made a pact, I promised that I wouldn’t pick up a drink, we pinky swore on it. A few days ago we did it again… It’s meaning not lost to either of us.

😊❀✌

4

A new year and more importantly a sober year. I’ve been struggling with what to blog about, putting too much pressure on myself, (no surprise there), attempting to write something profound and deep. I keep expecting a light bulb moment, and for the words to magically transform into a post….if only;) …. So I decided to let my thoughts take over, and speak from the heart, and reflect on the past year.

Like most, I started last year with hopes and several goals: lose weight, eat clean, work out more, be a better mom, daughter, sister, girlfriend etc…write a book, complete a half marathon, make a difference in the world….I’m not knocking resolutions completely, it’s important to have goals, but why do we goto bed new years eve and expect to wake up new years day with a completely new mindset? It’s just another day, a new day on the calendar, but not much else has changed. Am I being too cynical? Perhaps…

The more I think about it, I feel like this mode of thinking just sets me up for disappointment and failure. It’s those damn expecations that cause so much grief. Not too mention, I focus on the negative (not good enough, not fit enough, not engaged enough and on and on), while missing the little moments, the good snipits in life.

One of the biggest and most important aspects of my recovery has been to be mindful, to live in the moment, to be present. Honestly, it has been one of the HARDEST attributes to learn and live in, but is definitely the most rewarding. As a people pleasing introvert who thrives on organization and constantly worries about everything; taking a deep breathe and taking things as they come while not ‘sweating the small stuff’ hasn’t been easy. Quite honestly, it’s a down right struggle. I have had to rely on faith and on God’s time not mine, over and over again this year. My struggles are mine, in some regards I am still “cleaning up the wreckage of my past”, as is stated in the Big Book of AA. But I work my ass off to take it one day at a time, some days I do this better than others:).

I remind myself to cherish each day, the little moments, the mundane moments, they are all important. I find this especially rewarding when it comes to M&M and my relationships with loved ones. I have learned to be more patient, less rushed, and just ‘unplug’ sometimes. It is truly amazing and hard to put into words how being present in the moment and in the lives and relationships of loved ones really feels…

I can only say that it is a miracle and a precious gift of sobriety that I know what and how to be mindful. I am so very grateful to have been bestowed this gift.

So as I embark on year number 4, I hope and pray for continued mindfulness, this is my resolution. Just as I pray and remain entirely grateful for another year of sobriety. For with out sobriety I have nothing.

Joy, peace, and love to you all in 2018.