Aversion and Acceptance

Spring is here, my favorite season of the year as the days turn longer, flowers start blooming, rain clears the air and warm breezes fill the air. I’ve always had a hard time with Winter because of the colder days that are short in daylight hours but recently have found more beauty in it. As I think about these seasons and how they relate to my own life, I want to talk about aversion and acceptance.

After a turn of events that led Jamie to choose rehab, I had a severe aversion to alcohol. The smell of it coming from a wine glass, walking past it at a grocery store, watching it pass the lips of friends and family all made me shudder and sick with nausea. Big emotions have a physical response. I would tell myself that it was my problem, not theirs. That consuming alcohol is very much a part of the everyday adult life for most. That I too, had just been doing the same thing for many years, even before my adult life as a way to fit in, let my socially awkward guard down. But now the very shield I often used to hide behind, was causing me to become physically ill. It was the cause of my pain, not the suffering of going through this difficult time in my life. It made it hard to let the light of others come in. I was in my own winter. I would often make polite excuses to leave early. While this aversion helped me keep boundaries for myself and for Jamie, I never felt safe in talking to anybody about it. Was afraid that the already declining invitations to hang out or have dinner etc, would be even less.

Aversion, can put you in a lonely place. But during this time, I learned to start listening to my heart, my body, my soul. Slowly as my heart began to heal, I became more comfortable around alcohol. Now I even occasionally drink a glass, I don’t just hold it for appearances.

“Love your suffering. Do not resist it. It is aversion that hurts, nothing else.” Hermann Hesse

I have now fully accepted where I am, where my relationship is, where we are as a family. This of course is dynamic and consistently comes with new challenges.

I can honestly look back and say I loved this time of suffering. I have accepted it fully. And now I am working on continuing to live in the present moment and seeking to strengthen and renew relationships, build new ones and to be my best self, minute by minute, day by day, season by season.

 

 

Repost

Well here we are, mid March and almost at the 1st day of Spring.  The “busy” of the holidays and start of a New Year seem to be settling a tiny bit, or rather I have found my new routine.  I am struggling with finding the time to write.  Often things come to me in the early morning hours while I am running or breathing on the yoga mat.  When I get to my journal later, the words seem to have been lost along the way.  But I am still determined to get in at least 1 post a month.  As my first “shared” post was a magazine article I wrote and the magazine has since been taken down, I thought I would take the time to repost as inspiration not only to others, but to myself to keep on keepin’ on.

“I Do- The Promise That is Tested”

People make promises and then break them all the time.  To keep a promise, you must understand, that it’s not just to someone else, but also to yourself.

“I’ll accompany you, and you’ll accompany me”, is the promise my husband and I repeated to each other on our wedding day over 5 years ago.  A day we stood in front of our closest family and friends as we committed to spending the rest of our lives together.

Little did I know that a wrecking ball was going to come crashing in the window 10 days later, that would test us in so many, many ways. But my husband saved our marriage, by saving himself first.  Huh, you ask? Remember I said the promise is 2 fold, and lucky for me, he realized he had to start with the man in the mirror.

Long story (to be told another day) short-  the man I married just admitted he was an alcoholic, and not only needed but wanted help. At that moment, he didn’t want to be alone for a second, not even in the shower, like he was afraid the world was going to swallow him up.  I was kind of wishing it would swallow me up.  I felt like everything was surreal, like I was watching a movie. Watching someone face their demons head on is certainly scary.  But surely as the sun rises each morning, we found light in our love.  It was as easy, and as hard, as getting up each day and asking, “What can I do to help?”.

Over the next days, weeks, and months, people asked how I managed to continue living life as usual (as opposed to lying on the couch feeling sorry for myself ).  When you love someone, I mean , really love someone- you love all of them.  I believe that we find reflections of ourselves in those around us.  We’re not all that different from each other after all, and realizing that makes life a little easier. I put myself in his shoes everyday. We became better versions of ourselves and grew in ways that only comes from the hard times.  My husband has become the partner, son, brother, and father that he was destined to be because he started with the man in the mirror.  I am so glad I get to look into that mirror and see myself next to him, as the spouse, daughter, sister and mom I was destined to become by keeping my promise.

If you’re lucky, you will let go of those that you know you will not be able to hold true to your promises.  If you are even luckier, you will find the one that lets you make a promise to be your best self every day by being together.

What About Love?

IMG_9990.JPG

So here it is, almost Valentine’s Day… and part of my “New Year’s Goals” was to publish a blog a month.  Well life seemed to get a little in the way as the end of one year and the beginning of another tends to be extremely busy at home, at work, and in general.  To save my sanity, I had to prioritize and with this, some of my hobbies took a back seat.  But it doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it, or written little snip-its to use later.  So I was looking in my Notes section of my phone and found a lesson in love I had written down.  A lesson given to me by my 3 year old.  And well, as Valentine’s Day is almost here, I thought this would be a great way to refresh my blog, refresh my heart, and hopefully touch and refresh those around me.  And I hope you enjoy this short piece and stay tuned for more…

Today my almost 3 year old gave me a lesson in love. He told me he loved me after I said the same to him. My heart was of course bursting, as we all want to hear those words especially at those moments when we may least expect it (he used to just smile really big when I told him I loved him). However in the same moment he added, “but not Daddy”. I looked over and saw Dad’s shoulders slump as he was busy cleaning up the dishes among so many of the things he does for our family. I know 3 year olds say things to see what reaction it may elicit, so we didn’t dig further at this moment. And I didn’t tell him he “should” love Dad.  But apparently the lesson wasn’t over.  As I laid him down to sleep, he said it again,  “I love you, but not Daddy.” “Well I love you and Dad,”  I replied.   Then he added, “I’ll love him after I wake up from my nap.” Of course my mind started spinning as I was trying to navigate through this teachable moment. So I asked, “You can only Love one person at a time?” “Yes” he added. And I realized- I was the one who was getting schooled on big emotions that so often come from little words.  I put him down and walked out of the room, processing the conversation.  It hit me- to him, love is such a big (and complicated) emotion, he thought he could only offer it to one person at a time.  Of course we know this is not true, but in his mind and heart, when he “loves” someone it is an action that can only be directed at one person.  This gave me pause… a chance to reflect as I left his room.  It reminded me, that we should do all things wholeheartedly in the moment. Especially Love.

IMG_0044.JPG

Photo Cred: Jessie Lathroum @insidethepaperbox

The ghosts in our closet

So where does it all really begin- the moment I knew I was in love with an alcoholic? Well of course the signs were there, but I ignored them. You could say that I didn’t actually admit my now husband had a “problem”, until he admitted it himself. What can I say, love is blind.

J and I rarely, if ever, argued- but while examining our relationship later, our arguments were mostly centered around alcohol. These escalated after I learned about his first DUI- something I did not know about until well into our relationship. It happened before I met him. He was sent to a “program”, but like most alcoholics, it was not his last as he did not believe there was any need for change. I then helped him cover up his other transgressions (like when he showed up to my apartment after a night of drinking- most likely still drunk, with a big dent in his car for which he tried to tell me was a “hit and run” from another driver). We later argued and I began asking him a question that would later become a regular part of our arguments, “Why do you do this, you know what happens when you drink and drive? Just tell me where you are next time so I can get you, or call a cab”. This was all before the ease of Uber or Lyft, but I don’t know if it would have been different because he honestly could not answer the question- a hallmark of an addict. I should also tell you that these arguments ended in me giving him an ultimatum- “if it happens again, I’m leaving”. Well we’ve been married for 5 and together for 10. Why? It’s complicated of course. But I can tell you about the day I flew back home from a weekend bachelorette party in NYC and he was very quiet as I rolled my suitcase up to the car. The hair started to tingle as I got in the passenger seat and my palms grew sweaty as I tried to flashback to the night before in which, yes, I myself was now suffering a hangover and tried desperately to remember if I called him in my own inebriated state and said something I shouldn’t have. Then he dropped the bomb, “I have something to tell you… I was out at a bar last night watching (insert sport of choice) and was pulled over for driving only 30 in a 40 and refused a breathalyzer so was taken in for a blood test, spent the night in jail, and have been issued another DUI. I understand if you want to leave me.” Well I knew in that moment, I loved this man for better or for worse, and in this worse moment- I was not going anywhere. We told no one and lived our lives as “normally” as possible, until the case was settled- 1 year without a license, community service, and classes for multiple offenders. At this point we obviously had to tell people. His mom of course was silent with anger. His Dad offered to help out and be available to drive him when necessary. The few co-workers he told, was so he could arrange a ride to and from work and to see his clients. My own parents were very supportive from the distance in which they live (my Dad has been known to get behind the wheel himself). I drove him to his community work program every Saturday during this time. We would come back from weekend trips early to get him to his “multiple offender classes”. Oh, and watched helplessly as the 2 cops that showed up at our door 1 day put him in the backseat of their car stating a warrant for his arrest. I called his lawyer, who asked if Jamie had been following his program, which he had. He was released several hours later… apparently a “glitch” in the paperwork they were receiving, or rather didn’t receive from the program so it was thought he wasn’t meeting the requirements. And then, just like the sun rises and sets everyday, that year ended, and we moved on…

J proposed (finally!) and we began planning the wedding of our dreams. We continued to enjoy drinking socially, as most people do, and while certain situations made me nervous (usually a round of golf with day drinking) there were only 2 other incidences that I can recall, where I received the dreaded phone call where he was drunk and I knew he was driving around and I couldn’t find him. I of course would threaten to leave, but we would kiss and make up and there was always a promise to never do it again that I always wanted so badly to believe. And I did try, even as I walked down the aisle into his arms.

Next… the promise actually kept….