Thank You, Jenny

Bigotry, in all of its forms, is a learned behavior.

This thought weighs heavy on my mind today in thinking about *Jenny, a person who worked with the Kid’s Orchestra program last year at the K-8 public magnet school my children attend.

Jenny looked like she may have been transitioning from male to female, and I liked her immediately. She was the one to call me one evening when my youngest, then 5 years old, got sick with a stomach virus during Orchestra practice. At first I was taken aback when I met her, mostly because this is the Deep South and the LGTBQIA (I hope I did that right … I’m awkwardly stumbling through educating myself on these issues, so that I can hopefully educate my children and show them how to be an ally) communities are seriously underrepresented in these parts.

I noticed Jenny mostly because she was different, but I didn’t say anything about her until one evening at Orchestra pick up when all three of my kids piled into the car laughing about something.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

They were laughing about Jenny. The children in their Orchestra classes couldn’t figure out what gender she was, and it sounded like they were making fun of her.

It was mid-winter, and the sun dipped below the horizon. And while the thermometer told me that it was only 57 degrees, I could feel my body heating up, smoldering with an emotion I couldn’t immediately identify. I slowed down, pulled over onto the shoulder, and rotated my entire self so that my children had a clear view of my face.

I kept my voice low and even.

I asked how they would feel if Jenny heard them talking about her right now.

I asked how they would feel if they felt different inside like Jenny, and overheard their friends referring to her or her appearance in a negative manner. What would it feel like, I wondered out loud, to know that you are different but to be told by everyone around you that “different” is bad or shameful?

My kids looked at me with wide eyes.

I wasn’t mad at them. I wasn’t mad at the other kids from school who were talking about Jenny. I was mad at the lack of education these kid’s PARENTS have experienced. Ideas about other people — color, sexual identity, religion, even political affiliation — are largely based on nothing more than asinine assumptions and a significant lack of education.

So thank you, East Baton Rouge Parish School System, for fostering a diverse learning environment for my three children.

Thank you, Target, for hiring LGBTQIA employees.

Thank you, Kid’s Orchestra of Baton Rouge, for hiring Jenny. Having her in my kid’s lives opened up an extremely valuable, powerful conversation in the car during our drive home. Because when you know better, you do better.

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* Not her real name.

We Got A Puppy

A new school year begins tomorrow, and as usual, I am ill-prepared.

My sons don’t have the new belts I promised them. My daughter has a fever and will be at the pediatrician’s office in the morning, rather than taking first day of school pictures with her brothers. Also, the bottom of her hair looks like something chewed on it but we had to cancel the appointment I’d made for her trim because of the aforementioned fever.

The state of Louisiana changed the car seat requirements and two of my children are to travel in booster seats that we do not have yet because I haven’t had time to go to the store and buy them because WE GOT A PUPPY.

A PUPPY.

I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m like 99% sure it was a horrible, horrible mistake, but her name is Daphne and she’s really cute. It feels like I have a lot more kids now, which isn’t really the life I was hoping for when I agreed to this. I honestly had no idea how much work a puppy would be. Holy shit. Literally.

Every summer with my kids feels like the longest stretch of time imaginable until it is over and I have time to reflect on how little time we have left before childhood ends and adolescence — the Wild West of parenthood — begins. Maybe I got a dog because I’m subconsciously not quite ready to not be needed anymore, despite what my conscious tells me every time I find a new puddle of pee.

Tomorrow I will send a 6th grader and 3rd grader off to school while I cart my 1st grader to the doctor. I am not ready. I am never ready. The difference this time is that I’m not punishing myself for it.

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When Good Things Are Scary

When something bad happens, everyone waits for an alcoholic or addict or anorexic or cutter to relapse. The people who care about the person in recovery hold their breaths and pray, fingers twisted behind backs. They whisper and they watch.

Will this be it? Is this the last straw?

More commonly though, and perhaps less understood, is how recovery can become equally tenuous when good things happen. I am as terrified of success as I am of failure. I purposefully aim low because underachievement feels safer somehow. If the stakes are low, the return is low, and most importantly, so are the risks. Keeping the world at arm’s length means that I never have to FEEL anything, like disappointment, embarrassment, or sorrow.

Holding people at arm’s length means that I never have to be hurt by them or have my trust broken. My life-long fantasy is to envelop myself in a cocoon where I never have to feel any kind of discomfort ever, ever again. For a long time, alcohol did that. It was a blanket fresh out of the dryer, coating me in warmth and the illusion of safety, all while it slowly destroyed my life.

The crazy thing about addiction is that when something amazing happens, at first I experience normal feelings like elation and excitement. But then the dread arrives, like an unwelcome neighbor or member of the family that you wish didn’t know where you live, and proceeds to remind me of every possible thing that could go terribly, terribly wrong.

Fear. That one emotion colors every thought and action unless I bust my ass doing all the things I’ve learned in recovery in order to make that fear my bitch.

Good things are happening that I did not orchestrate and I am terrified. Today I actually laid down on our bedroom floor in the fetal position and stared into space until Robbie asked what I was doing. I mumbled a reply and just laid there, watching his feet move around the room, wondering how he was so calm all the time when THE WORLD FEELS LIKE IT’S BURNING TO THE GROUND.

The world is not burning to the ground.

I eventually got up and forced my body to move around the house as though I am not absolutely, one hundred percent scared out of my mind. Somehow when I make my feet walk and my hands function, the rest of me falls in line after a little while of me pretending to not be freaking the fuck OUT.

Just because good things happen, I do not have to regress into my old patterns of behavior. Drinking a pint of vodka will not make my fear of success or failure any less of a problem; in fact, it would only magnify it. All I can do is step through a door when it is opened, and remind myself that I’m no longer in charge because I was terrible at it (and damn near killed myself).

Harmony is not in charge. The Universe is in charge. Deep breaths. All the cookies.

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That’s When The Magic Happens

You know, for almost 2.5 years I’ve been focusing so intensely on staying sober that I forgot how to blog. Also, nothing was funny in the least and I wasn’t terribly excited about dumping all my dark thoughts out onto the internet for the entire world to see — but I also wasn’t okay with editing myself to make it seem like everything was fine over here.

Everything was so NOT. And I think y’all are smart enough to know when someone is bullshitting you.

So here we are. I have so much to tell you that I don’t know where to start, so in true me fashion, I’ve created a list.

  • A journalist from The Washington Post contacted me several weeks ago. She found me online because I talk so openly about recovery, and we had a nice long chat. A few days later, Pulitzer finalist Edmund Fountain showed up at my door on behalf of The Post to take photos, and now we’re friends. You can read the story in the paper here.
  • To be clear, I don’t understand the “sober curious” movement. I’m an alcoholic. I’ve got no need to be “curious” about abstaining from alcohol — for me, it’s a matter of life and death. However, I’m happy to discuss addiction, recovery, and life as a sober parent all the live long day.
  • KCBS Radio in San Francisco contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to give a live interview in like, two hours. I’d never been on the radio in my life — what could possibly go wrong? (It went great, I’m told by those who listened. I have no idea what the person on the other end of the phone said or what I said in response. It was a total blur.)
  • Two days later, I joined my friend Franz Borghardt, an attorney and sometimes radio personality, on Talk 107.3. We had fun chatting about how weird it is to get sober in a very public way. Also, it’s important to note that it was very early in the morning and I don’t think I’d had enough coffee before I got there. I was concerned about being jittery, but next time? ALL THE COFFEE.

There are other exciting things happening that I’m not ready to share yet, and the reason why I’m bombing you with all of this is simply to say HOLY HELL, THIS IS CRAZY.

***

At the same time all of this other stuff was happening, Health published a piece I wrote; you can find it here. Warning, though: it’s a dark and lengthy read.

The part that isn’t in print is that I started out the summer with my kids feeling extremely swamped and overwhelmed. Poor planning on my part meant that for the first time since I got sober, we weren’t putting any of our kids in summer camp. Now, before you cast judgement, I’d like to point out that two of my children have various forms of ADHD and/or Asperger’s Syndrome, which doesn’t bode well for an unstructured, relaxed sort of summer.

My personality type and the fact that I’m in recovery makes it difficult for me to cope with certain types of stress (read: motherhood). This is not a cop out, it’s almost verbatim what my therapist instructed me to tell my husband when he asks why we’re saving money for next year’s summer camp tuition.

Here’s my 7-year-old, Asher, refusing to walk. He literally scooted on his butt all the way out of the indoor trampoline park, into the parking lot, down the sidewalk, and into our car. This is motherhood.

So far, I’ve managed to make it through this experience unscathed, still sober, and without causing any major damage to anyone in my house. BUT, I almost relapsed. Not on alcohol — on my first love, phentermine.

I wrote the piece that was published in Health because I HAD TO WRITE IT. If I didn’t, if I kept the thoughts inside and didn’t get them out in front of an audience (even if that audience is just my writing partner, Audrey), then eventually my brain would trick me into doing the exact thing I’ve worked so hard not to do.

The article ran. I hung onto my sobriety. And that’s when the magic happened, as it tends to do when we live authentically. Crazy how that works.

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Summer: All About Acceptance

There’s a passage in the recovery world that I adopted as my own personal mantra almost as soon as I was sober enough to understand it.

” … Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed,
it is because I find some person, place, thing, situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy.
I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world
as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.” 

This summer is turning out to be nothing much more than an endless exercise in practicing acceptance.

For example, I have to accept that all of the neighbors within a 5 house radius can hear me screaming things like “I TOLD YOU, DO NOT PEE ON THE SLIP N’ SLIDE!” or, “I KNOW THAT’S PEE THAT YOU’RE PLAYING IN RIGHT NOW!” or, “YES, IT DAMN WELL IS PEE, I SMELLED IT MYSELF JUST TO MAKE SURE!”

I have to accept that my children sneaked out of the house while I was in the shower and tried to sell sandwich baggies full of chopped up fruit and vegetables — food from our refrigerator that we were gonna eat — to anyone who would answer the door. They were also barefoot in their pajamas, and Asher wasn’t wearing underwear.

When I emerged from my bedroom, the kids were super excited to share with me that they’d already earned $5. Oh, and also that I needed to go to the grocery store because we’re out of food.

I must accept that Maverick sometimes runs around naked and screams obscenities in the morning before his meds have kicked in. I wish he would stop; one day, he might. Until then, I can either yell at him until my throat feels sore, or I can simply accept it and move on. I choose to move on.

I’ve been forced to accept that my husband, who has not exercised ever in our entire 16 year relationship, started working out three mornings a week like six weeks ago and already dropped like 20 pounds. WTAF. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super proud of him and his biceps are really quite impressive, but REALLY? I’ve gained and lost the same 4 pounds for the entirety of 2019.

And so, when my children are outside screaming like they’re being skinned alive for no reason at all and I am stuffing my face with the chocolate-covered Rice Krispie Treats that I swore to myself I wouldn’t touch, I repeat to myself for the fortieth time acceptance is the answer to all my problems and immediately count the days until school starts.

30 days.

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Stories of the Brave

Photo credit: Anthony Pierre, Jr.

When my friend Anthony contacted me and asked if I would be willing to tell my story of recovery for a project he’s doing, my initial reaction was ABSOLUTELY NOT.

But then I sat with it for awhile.

And he kept pestering me.

And my therapist asked me why I was avoiding doing things that would be helpful to other people. She called it what it was: laziness and fear.

Not long after that, a clairvoyant in New Orleans called me lazy.

All these people calling me lazy really struck a nerve; I’ve always prided myself on being a hard worker, a hustler, a woman who gets shit done. Why was I working so hard to avoid sharing my story when all I’ve done for the past two years, 4 months, and 9 days is tell my story?

I finally figured out that my issue was lack of control. As a writer, my comfort zone is writing and publishing, not TELLING OUT LOUD and having someone else write. I lose control over the narrative when someone else creates the words. What if I look stupid? What if I let this person take my photo (he’s talented AF, by the way, and I knew that going in, but still) and I look fat or wrinkly or just plain ugly? What if, what if, what if?

It boils down to this: if I really want to help people, then I’m going to have to get over myself. So I did. I lowered my walls and I got out of my own way and now my story can be found here.

After that, in another, unrelated event, I was contacted by a reporter at The Washington Post. A (Pulitzer finalist, very impressive and legit) photojournalist came to my house and followed me around for almost 5 hours and now there is going to be a story that I did not write and I have not seen the photos for, IN PRINT NATION WIDE on Monday, July 8th. (The online version will be out tomorrow, just FYI.)

I’ve been invited to come down to the radio station at 107.3 and talk about all of it. I’ve never been on the radio before. What if I sound stupid? What if all of Baton Rouge judges how I sound at 6:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning?

To say I’m afraid would not do my state of mind justice.

I’m going to do it anyway. Not for myself — if it were up to me, I’d stay home in bed, stuffing my face with Sour Punch Straws and spiraling into deep self-loathing. I’m going to push myself because my therapist asked me to, because other alcoholics ask me to, because my editors ask me to, because my Higher Power asks me to.

As long as I’m being asked, I’ll show up. That is recovery.

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A Slow Rebuilding

Getting sober fucked me up.

Before I stopped drinking, I wrote prolifically for a number of online publications. I was briefly a staff writer for Scary Mommy, one of the most well-known sites in the parenting world. I was asked to interview for magazines and podcasts.

My essays were published in three actual books. Editors called me on the actual telephone. Being in demand gave me the opportunity to negotiate my rates – and I got what I asked for. I made money, sometimes a lot of it.

And then, I got sober.

Stopping my work in order to focus on recovery is the greatest gift I could ever give myself. Yes, I’m afraid I’ll never be successful again. I’m afraid I’ve lost my edge, possibly forever. There was a very specific drug and alcohol combination that fueled my work – a lot of creatives can probably relate to this – and when that combo went away, so did my inspiration.

The past two years have been full of growth and grief and renewal. I am afraid that I’ll never find my way back to where I was, but also, I also never want to go back to where I was.

Louisiana State Capitol observatory deck, Baton Rouge, La.

School is almost out for the summer, and I will officially have a 6th grader, a 3rd grader, and a 1st grader living in my house. Pepper, who will be 6 years old in a few weeks, was barely out of toddlerhood when I entered recovery. She and Asher, my younger son, were too young to remember what it was like before I got sober, THANK GOD. That just leaves Maverick, who remembers everything.

5th grade awards ceremony.

“Did you drink when you were pregnant with him?” he asked us over breakfast one morning, nodding his head over to his brother.

Robbie choked on his coffee.

For the record, I did not.

***

This is the first year that I’ve had it together enough to order yearbooks for the kids.

This is the first year that I ordered school pictures on time and the check did not bounce.

This is the first year that I’ve taken my children to a school fair. Not only that, but I had cash in my purse to pay for whatever they wanted. A SCHOOL FAIR. BY MYSELF.

This is the first year that I don’t feel crippling anxiety when I see summer break looming over the horizon.

I am learning how to be okay, how to not ruin this moment by obsessing over the future or agonizing over the past. I am present in body and in mind, for the first time in my entire life.

When I say that getting sober fucked me up, what I really mean is that substance abuse steamrolled or exploded or otherwise crushed me into teeny, tiny pieces, and it’s been a very slow, deliberate process to rebuild from almost nothing.

After all, sometimes the best thing to do is to just knock it all down and start over.

Downtown Baton Rouge.

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What Wedding Vows Would Look Like If We Were Really Being Honest

Our wedding day, October 9, 2005.

I feel very fortunate to be happily married to my husband of 13 years, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish I could go back and re-write our wedding vows if I had the chance. When we planned our wedding in 2005, I looked up “traditional wedding vows” and copied what a million other couples have been repeating for hundreds of years. And if I’m being honest, the oaths were junk.

Don’t get me wrong — I meant every word. It’s just that, at age 25, I didn’t actually realize what “in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer” truly meant. In my mid-twenties naiveté, I assumed it meant that if God forbid one of us lost a leg or a lung or something, the marriage wouldn’t automatically dissolve. Sounds great! I’m down.

The thing is, we didn’t have two dimes to rub together when we got married, so agreeing to stay in the marriage if we ran out of funds was no big deal. For richer or for poorer? Sure, no problem.

But over the years, my definition of what marriage really means has changed significantly. If we were to renew our wedding vows today, I’d want them to be much more specific in nature. You know, have ’em get at what holy matrimony really entails.

They’d probably look a little something like this …

I promise to love your family as my own.

Let’s be real: I’m not only accepting this man to have and to hold until the day that I die, but also his FAMILY. That means their congealed holiday recipes, outstanding warrants, biting goats, and religious beliefs. That means I promise to ignore Uncle Jimmy when he pees off the back porch and I’ll turn a blind eye to Cousin Willa Mae’s kleptomania. If you love them, I will tolerate them … I guess.

Sidenote: I got really lucky with my husband’s family. NOT ALL OF US ARE SO LUCKY.

Wedding shower, circa 2005.

I pledge to love you even when you start snoring like a freight train.

If you’re in this thing for the long haul, sleeping in separate bedrooms may be in the cards. I swore we would never be those people, but alas, we totally are. After several sleepless years, my husband was forced (by me) into having a sleep study done and was prescribed a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine to put an end to his atrocious snoring. By this point, I was so desperate for rest that it didn’t matter if it looked like he was wearing a gas mask to bed. As long as the deafening rumbling stopped, the marriage could continue.

I will cherish you in ugliness AND in beauty.

I look like an entirely different person at bedtime. I remove my contacts, don coke bottle glasses, pop in a mouth guard, insert earplugs, cover my eyes with a mask, and smear goop all over my face. Basically, everything about me says “KEEP OUT.”

Robbie didn’t marry this version of me — the person he married would barely allow him to see her without a generous coat of concealer and mascara on. But this is what marriage has done to me. It’s made me comfortable. I literally let it all hang out, and that’s not a bad thing … it just needs to be addressed in the vows.

Present day shenanigans.

I’ll honor our vows even when I regret marrying you in the first place.

Because trust me, that day will come. It might be a fleeting thought that pops in and out of your mind, or even something you allow yourself to dwell on. The point is, I made a commitment, and “for better or for worse” is directly referencing the fact that I routinely find toenail clippings on the floor. There’s also the pressing matter of who forgot to write “coffee” on the shopping list. YOU SAW THAT WE WERE OUT, ROBBIE. You know I cannot function without at least two cups — are you trying to kill us all?!

I will love you even when you suck.

Sometimes I burp a lot. I cover all the bathroom counter space with random products that are supposed to make me more beautiful. I made fun of him after his vasectomy and later on found out that he really did have a complication that was not funny at all. He’s fine now, but I still felt like a jerk.

I narrowly avoided rehab in 2017. I dragged him to multiple counseling sessions. I blamed him for things that were clearly my fault. I nagged, manipulated, criticized, and eye rolled him. I took the last cookie so many times, and also broke into his candy stash (and blamed it on the kids).

All of this is basically what it means to be married, but this is the kicker: he continues to love me in spite of me.

So yes, I will take Robbie to be my lawfully wedded husband, until death do us part. He is the only person on this planet who knows what I truly look and act like in the morning and he still chooses to live here.

“A partner who supports your dreams and your healing is a priceless gem, a heaven in human form.” – Yung Pueblo

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Teaching My Kids How To Be An Ally

(This piece originally appeared here, written as part of an anti-bullying initiative for Disney/ABC.)

Parent-teacher conferences are right around the corner, and to be honest, I’m not sure what I’m going to discover.

Are my kids measuring up to their potential (whatever that is)? Is my 5th-grader showing his work on math tests? Is my kindergartener learning how to hold her scissors properly? Does my 2nd-grader assert himself?

But most importantly: Do my kids stand up for others?

I was picked on a lot as a kid. Almost everyone is, at one point or another, which is the main reason why I’d never want to relive my childhood if given the chance. But this is why issues of bullying are never far from my mind.

Looking back, it wasn’t so much the bullies that hurt my feelings the most — it was the kids who stood by silently, complicit in the act. The kids who saw what was happening and could have stepped up and said something — anything — but chose not to because my pain wasn’t worth risking their own.

Of course, now that I’m older, I understand why. I’ve certainly been silent and complicit before myself. It takes courage to speak up, especially when doing so might jeopardize your social status. Staying quiet means staying on the bully’s good side; being loud will only draw attention. There’s always a feeling of relief when you aren’t the one being called names in the lunch line, and when it isn’t your backpack being thrown into a lake.

The thing is, there will always be bullies. There aren’t always allies.

Being an ally requires more than just empathy, and I want my kids to know this. It means being willing to be brave, to act with and for other people simply because it’s the right thing to do. In large and small ways, I try and instill in my kids the value of fighting for justice. I just hope these lessons stick.

In our house, there is a combo of neurotypical and neuroatypical children. Our oldest has ADHD, anxiety, and high-functioning autism. Our younger two are not officially diagnosed with anything, but each have their unique sets of challenges and eccentricities. My husband is a rumpled, absent-minded mathematical mastermind, and I’m a recovering alcoholic, neurotic writer.

Basically, our entire family is quirky, and none of us pretend to be perfect. As a result, our day-to-day existence revolves around kindness, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, and the ability to say “I’m sorry” whenever it’s warranted.

My kids have grown up intimately aware of the fact that there is always a lot more to people than what we can see on the outside. They know that sometimes, what people need most is a big hug or a super comfy bed to take a nap in, but also, sometimes people don’t have access to either of those things, and it’s our job to understand that.

So we talk about the fact that everyone has challenges. Sometimes we can’t see them. Sometimes they’re not pretty to look at. Sometimes they’re even uncomfortable to be around.

The important thing is that they are learning to be allies, whether or not they ever call it by that name.

Of course, no parent wants their child to be the bully — or worse, be bullied themselves. But I want to take it a step further and give them the confidence and the tools to step up and stand up for other kids who might not have the same.

After school, I ask my kids if they noticed anyone who seemed lonely or sad that day. When one of them mentions social drama, I ask questions. What did you do when you saw Allie getting picked on? How did that make you feel? Then I use real-life situations to point out ways they can help their peers.

At the end of the day, I try not to put pressure on my kids to solve the world’s problems, because that would be an impossible expectation; but it’s important for them to understand that part of being a good human is helping the other humans within your orbit.

And because I want to raise the kind of people who aren’t afraid to speak their mind, I’ve learned that I have to be willing, as a mother, to let them speak their minds. Frankly, it’s exhausting, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay.

It is my highest hope as a parent that my kids will be gutsy enough to say, “Nope, that’s not okay,” when they spot an injustice. I want them to be friendly enough to say “Hi, new kid, you can sit here,” or “Stop picking on her!”

I want them to understand that saying something can change the course of a person’s day, or even their entire life.

I can’t control whether or not my kids get teased or picked on at school, and the reality of that is painful. But my job as a parent isn’t just to make sure my children know the difference between right and wrong; it’s to make sure they’re gutsy enough to actually open their mouths, speak up, and refuse to be a part of the problem.

If I can pull that off, then my job here is done.

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Things I Would Have Blacked Out Over

I don’t always get the luxury of writing about a profound experience right after it happens. Usually, I’m stuck in traffic or in the middle of an important task and by the time I get freed up to write it down, the inspiration is gone.

Creativity is like that. Elusive. My husband doesn’t understand how I can write prolifically for years, and then all of the sudden arrive at a screeching halt. Believe me, if I knew how to fix it, I WOULD. This is why artists cut off their own ears.

But this morning, I had a thought. Where is my God Box? I really hate the name. God Box sounds like something I might have been instructed to make in my uber conservative Christian elementary school, except that I was taught that we don’t put God in earthly containers. That’s sacrilegious. “Thou shalt not make a box and put me in it.” It’s in the Bible, you heathens.

Nope, the God Box is something I learned about in recovery, an idea given to me either by a sober mentor or my therapist, I don’t remember which, to help me learn in a very simple way how to turn my issues over to a Higher Power. Most of my problems were directly connected to the fact that I didn’t trust anyone or anything to run the shit show I called a life, but in recovery they told me that the reason my life was a shit show was because I was the one running it.

Oh.

I honestly believed that the reason I drank and took pills was because of everyone else. This, I know now, is what every alcoholic or addict believes — that if I just had more security, if I had more love in my life, if I could just lose 20 pounds or erase the wrinkles on my face, if my child wasn’t sick, INSERT WHATEVER THING THAT IS BOTHERING YOU HERE, then I would no longer need to drink.

Bullshit.

So, in order to learn how to turn things over, I needed a box that would be hard to open. I needed to be able to write down a concern, fold it up, and cram it into a locked container. I decided to use a piggy bank. For months, I crammed my worries into that box and felt like an idiot doing it. The thing that kept me going though, was that it actually made me feel better and it’s not like I had any better ideas. Even now, two years into this thing, my default solution is STILL “Your Grandmother died and your family imploded? Let’s get a round of shots!”

I literally have the thought, I let it pass, and then I move on to a second, more sane, idea. That is re-wiring.

I stopped needing the God Box when I successfully rewired my brain to be able to let go of the things I cannot change. I don’t remember when that happened. It was a gradual shift, just like everything else — but this morning, it occured to me that I had no idea what was in that box or where it might be located, and suddenly consumed by the fear of someone in my family finding it, I began a frantic search.

The box was in my closet.

I opened it.

It was stuffed full of scraps of paper.

I pulled out the paper.

I stared at the pile for a very long time.




Every single concern that weighed so heavily on me, things that I definitely would have blacked out over, have somehow been resolved. Not because of anything I have done. Not because of my intense orchestration and manipulation of people and events. Not because of my intellect.

No. My issues got better because I got out of my own way. It’s a gift and a miracle and amazing and I don’t know how any of this works, exactly, but I know that it definitely, totally does.

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