At the behest of my therapist and everyone else who knows me well enough to understand the tortured artist inside, I’m finally writing again.
I have a love/hate relationship with my blog. First of all, I’m a writer, not a blogger, but actually that’s not true because I AM A BLOGGER. I HAVE A BLOG, DUH, GET OVER YOURSELF, HARMONY.
Additionally, I am a mommy blogger which is a phrase that literally makes me shudder every time I hear it (blech). And guess who put herself in that category by
- Creating a blog — and,
- Putting “mommy” in the title?
Me! I did!
So, rather than continuing to ignore what is clearly my calling, I’m choosing to lean into it. Here I have a well-documented journey of the past 8 years, the better part of which I thought other people were the root cause of my distress. To be completely honest, I’m embarrassed because now I know better and I want to do better. I constantly fight the urge to go back and edit, erase, and alter the not-quite-right things I said about myself, my husband, my kids, and my life before I got sober.
The thing is, people understood what I said then, and strangely, people understand what I say now. I’m not going to go back and change anything. We are just going to keep moving forward, together.
Speaking of therapy … I need therapy more now, as an almost-39-year-old woman, than I ever did in my teens and twenties, yet this is the time in my life when I have very little free time for anything. Almost everything is like that: ass backwards.
Last year, my therapist gave me an assignment: I was to fill out four sets of questionnaires and bring them back to her. “That’s no problem,” I told her as I gathered them into a stack and placed them neatly in my purse. “I’ll bring them back as soon as I’m done.”
The minute I left her office, picked my three children up from different locations, and arrived home to a kitchen that was still dirty from breakfast 10 hours earlier, I forgot about the worksheets. Motherhood has a way of stomping all over whatever it is that I’m trying to do on the side, not in a mean way, but in a larger-than-life, grimy manner that is actually sort of charming when I’m not busy feeling like I might die trying to keep up with it all.
There’s beauty in the chaos, but I’m neurotic and chaos makes me crazy. Not figuratively. Literally.
A few weeks later, I arrived at my 6:30 p.m. therapy appointment unshowered and covered in whatever popcorn ceilings are made of. My husband and I were renovating his childhood home, a small ranch with dark wood paneling and loads of potential; I’d ducked out early to make it to my appointment.
“I’m sorry I look like this,” I apologized.
“Harmony, you are going to have to learn some self-compassion,” my therapist said. “You are entirely too hard on yourself.”
And that is why I’m in therapy — because I’m too damn hard on myself, because motherhood makes me want to drink and because I’m not the kind of person who can drink a glass of wine and put the bottle away, because I’m an alcoholic and because I can’t do anything in moderation and because if it wasn’t alcohol it would be work and if it wasn’t work, it would be money and if it wasn’t money, it would be fitness or bingeing and purging or something else that would distract me from feeling my feelings and thinking my thoughts.
Some people spend their entire lives running away from themselves. Sometimes, not one other person is aware of their struggle, or maybe everyone is, but no one ever says anything. The real tragedy is the people who never stop running away. They die feeling that unsettled feeling of incompleteness, or blaming everyone around them for their discomfort because they are unwilling to face themselves.
When I got sober, I made the conscious decision to face myself. I stopped running, slowing down to a jog, then to a walk, and finally I just stopped and sat down in the dirt. Therapy is slowly but surely giving me the instructions I need in order to learn how to function without a drink in my hand. I’ve been parenting from a sitting position for damn near two years now, and I have to say, it’s not half bad.
One afternoon, I tackled the pile of mail on the kitchen table, piling bills and things that I needed to take care of on top of my calendar. I made a separate pile of junk that needed to be tossed, and feeling quite proud of myself, I filled out half of the worksheets from my therapist. By the end of it, I was exhausted. Feeling and thinking wears me the fuck out.
My then-4-year-old dragged the kitchen garbage can over for me, and I let her help me throw away the pile of trash.
“I’m big like you, Mommy,” she said, her blue-green eyes wide like dinner plates. “Can I wear mascara now?”
I went to therapy. I have a habit of sitting in the parking lot layering more and more makeup on before I go in. It’s nerves, I think, and possibly a fear of judgement. I want so much not to look like someone who is sitting in the dirt. I want my insides to match my outsides and vice versa.
“Do you have those worksheets I gave you?”
My head snapped up. “The worksheets! I finally filled some of them out,” I said proudly. “I’ll bring them next week.”
When I got home, my husband met me at the door. The boys wanted to kiss me goodnight, they’d been waiting up for me to get home. I climbed into my middle child’s top bunk with him and whispered the Lord’s Prayer. We both like the ritual of it, and he doesn’t ask me deep philosophical questions like his older brother, so it’s easy.
“You look pretty,” he whispered.
I didn’t feel pretty.
Later, I remembered the worksheets. I looked everywhere for them, my husband helping me overturn every drawer, surface and stack that they could have possibly gotten mixed into. I was terrified that my oldest child had found them and read them. I looked in my car, in my husband’s car, in all of my bags.
Then, it hit me.
I threw them away. Or, my daughter threw them away, when she was “helping” me sort the mail. I completed, and then threw away, my therapy assignment. The irony is not lost on me.
The most important lesson I’m learning now is to embrace progress, rather than perfection. Sitting in the dirt is progress. Trying is progress. Sobriety is progress.
Here’s a photo of Robbie and I at a Christmas party. My dress had pockets. He didn’t really say that he wanted to do butt stuff, but I’m almost certain he was thinking it.
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