Recovery, Like Life, is a Circle

Recovery, Like Life, is a Circle

Thank heavens for Rose. If it weren’t for her, my blog would be nonexistent. I just have not felt like writing in quite some time (which is super sad and probably means there is internal stuff I need to work on). Rose’s post speaks to me so much right now – I feel like the same stuff pops up in recovery and life. Maybe it’s time to listen?

By Rose Lockinger

I was told an analogy when I was first getting sober that made sense at the time but only in a theoretical sort of way. Someone told me that our character defects are like a Whack-a-Mole game. When you hit one down another will pop up. This person went on to say that we go around whacking them down only to have old ones that we thought we had already dealt with pop back up again, and this goes on for the rest of our lives or until we have thoroughly learned the lesson that we need to learn.

I remember thinking at the time, ‘yea that sounds about right’, but I didn’t really understand exactly what this meant. I didn’t realize that it meant that I would be continuously faced with half-Déjà vu moments, where after dealing with some issue or concern of mine, I’d realize, I’ve been here before, but just from a different angle.

That is one of the things that I’ve come to realize during the course of my sobriety; that recovery, like life, is a circle of lessons that come back around to teach you again and again.  It also is a venture down the road of progress not perfection early on in sobriety this was a mind boggling concept.  It can still be challenging at times as I try to grasp control of things I cannot control.  

circleAt first, I remember this was kind of daunting and I’d get a little upset because each time a lesson came back around, it’d remind me that I still had a lot further to go in my spiritual quest for wholeness. I’d get annoyed because I’d think, ‘didn’t I already learn this lesson’ and I’d also get down on myself for not being further along, whatever that means. But as time progressed I realized that this was the wrong way of looking at the circle of lessons that recovery brings and that I should be grateful that I even have the opportunity to learn and grow today.

I just want to say flat out that this is my opinion and I am in no way, shape or form a guru of anything, but I believe that the lessons of recovery come in circular waves for two reasons: to remind us of lessons we are beginning to forget and to show us more of the picture that we couldn’t see the first time around.

My ego has a tendency to rebuild itself and when it does, I can begin to unlearn some of the hard-won truths from the past. For instance, I learned fairly early on that humility and honesty were essential for my recovery. This lesson was hammered into me and given the state I was in when I first came in, being humble and honest weren’t really that difficult. I felt empty on the inside and felt as if I had nothing to offer in the way of staying sober, so I was open to learning and open to listening.

 

As time went on and I started to feel better there were times when I started to feel like I got this, or I’d start to think that I had done most of this on my own. When this started to happen I would notice that certain aspects of my life began getting out of whack. I would say something that I immediately regretted or I just wouldn’t feel the calm that I had when I was being honest and humble, and so as life has a propensity of doing, it showed me how I’d gotten off the path and gave me a nice little reminder to get back on the path.

It is interesting because when you start to live a spiritually based life, depending on God for guidance, you can be both aware and unaware that you are moving away from him. There is always a little nagging feeling that you might be moving in the wrong direction and if you’re lucky and open to life showing you the way, then this nagging voice will eventually become overwhelming and you know that you have to change course. Since I am human and prone to error, this will continue for the rest of my life, and the circle of lessons will continue to come back around whenever I start to lose my way.

However, life lessons don’t always come back around in order to remind us of something that we forgot. They sometimes come back around in order to show us a deeper meaning or give us a better understanding.

Most people that I meet seem to struggle in one particular area of their life, more so than in others. I would say that a good portion of the people that I have met in recovery struggle with relationships in one form or another and to watch them over the years repeat the same mistakes over and over again seems like madness, but it isn’t really. If you take the time to talk to them, you’ll realize that they learn something new from each of these repeated situations, something that they couldn’t have learned the first time.

I remember I once heard a woman say in a meeting, ‘If I knew everything that I know about myself now when I first got sober, I think my brain would have exploded.’ I remember that I laughed when she said this because it is so true. God and life will not give us more then we can handle and so we experience a repetition of lessons in order to understand more and see further inside of ourselves.

Today when I realize that I am experiencing a lesson that I may have already learned, I try my best to just go with it. I try not to resist or think ‘poor me, why is this happening again.’ I am not always capable of doing this, but I find that when I allow life to unfold in the way that it is meant to and I stay open to whatever lessons I am being shown, I tend to be happier and I tend to be able to move on quicker.

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rlRose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

You can find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

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It’s Not Just About Accepting, It’s About Letting Go and Moving Forward

It’s Not Just About Accepting, It’s About Letting Go and Moving Forward

A HUGE reason I started this blog was to connect with other women. I was thrilled when my last blog post helped me do just that! Rose contacted me via my Facebook page and we discovered we were a part of the same recovery community (Sober Mommies – highly recommend that group!!!). Anyway, she asked if I ever took guest submissions and I immediately said yes. I’m so happy to share her words here – her message is so important. If you have a story you’d like to share about motherhood, sobriety, or both, shoot me an email: smccallmph at gmail dot com (just to keep scary InterWebs robots from spamming me).

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When I first got sober I was told that acceptance was the key. I was told the only way forward was through the acceptance of my alcoholism, and that once this was accomplished I would then be able to find the life I had always wanted.

I didn’t really have a problem with this idea, because by the time I finally got sober I was ready to accept my alcoholism. I had spent 18 years or so attempting to find other ways around this diagnosis, but came up empty, and so arriving at the last house on the block I decided that it was probably high time I surrendered.  You see, I knew that surrender would provide me with peace it would allow me to finally just be in the moment

Through accepting the fact that I was an alcoholic and accepting what this truly meant, I was then able to work the Steps and seek therapy, which allowed me to accept other things in my life as well.

I was able to accept a lot of the trauma that had occurred during my childhood and I was able to accept the fact that I was not perfect. This one was huge for me because for so long I was driven by this idea that I had to perfect or else I would be unlovable. When I began to accept my imperfections, I began to learn how to love myself for who I was.

letitgo

Most importantly through all of this, I learned the difference between acceptance and letting go. While the two may seem similar, they produce very different results in a person.  What I mean by this is that I learned that just accepting something is not enough, but there must be action that goes along with the acceptance—that action being letting going and moving forward. I can give you a good example from my life in order to illustrate this point.

One of the most difficult things that I have had to deal with in my sobriety has been my relationship with my ex-husband. For the first part of my sobriety, I was a thousand miles away from him, and so I didn’t really have to deal with him on a regular basis. Being away from the situation allowed me to have a sort of faux-acceptance of it because I accepted the fact that he was who he was, and I accepted the fact that he wasn’t apt to change anytime soon.

Since I didn’t have to engage with him that much, this form of acceptance suited my needs for the time and I could freely wash my hands of him, all under the guise that I had finally accepted the situation.  But then I moved back home and I learned that just accepting who he was, was not going to be sufficient for me to actually deal with him.

I began to really struggle with being home and every time that I had to talk with him or interact with him on any level, it would bring about a hate in me I didn’t know I still had. I would relive the years we spent together and become overwhelmed by these feelings, to the point where I just didn’t know what to do. I mean, I thought I had accepted that he wasn’t going to change, so why did I feel so terrible about it?

What I discovered is that while I had indeed accepted some parts of the situation, I had not let it go and moved forward. I had only accepted that the situation was terrible and never thought that it could possibly get better. By doing this I continued to cling to my feelings and let them drive me and because of this, I was completely unable to move forward.

So like with most things in my sobriety, I eventually arrived at a point where the pain was great enough and I had no choice but to surrender it…I mean really surrender it, and ask God to do with it what he will. And then something amazing happened. I actually began to forgive my ex-husband and in turn I actually began to let go of the situation.

I no longer felt angry after I had to deal with him and I no longer hated him when I found out that he was saying negative things about me to our children. I just simply let it go and decided that I was going to move forward regardless of what was going on.

This happened only recently, like within the past few months, and let me tell you – once again my life has been transformed. I no longer carry around this heavy burden and in this particular case; I no longer suffer from the delusion that I can control it.

Acceptance is in a sense the act of relinquishing control, but once control is given up there must be an action that follows in order for it to truly take hold. For me, the action is that I have to mentally and physically let go of whatever it is that I am holding on to, and then ask God how he would like me to proceed.

I have found that often times, God’s plans for me far exceed my own, but my ability to trust this may waver a lot of the time. Often, I still want to hold on desperately to things that I should let go of, and it is really only through pain that I find I am able to do so. But like the whole situation with my ex-husband, as long as I trust God, continue to stay sober, and try my best on a daily basis, I know that I will be able to let go of whatever comes my way, in due time.

rlRose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children, she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. She is currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing and you can find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram.

Sobriety is NOT that simple

Sobriety is NOT that simple

A huge part of my continued sobriety is reading. I love books. I love learning. My name is Sara, and I am a nerd. I also like inspirational quotes and passages. I get daily emails with motivational wordstuffs around sobriety. Sometimes, they are so damn on-the-spot that I feel like the writer is spying on me (or is that my anxiety?). Today was not the case. Today, my motivational wordstuffs pissed me off:

In the Sixth and Seventh Steps of the program, we become willing to let go of our defects of character – issues, behaviors, old feelings, unresolved grief, and beliefs that are blocking us from the joy that is ours. Then we ask God to take them from us.

Isn’t that simple? We don’t have to contort ourselves to make ourselves change. We don’t have to force change. For once, we don’t have to “do it ourselves.” All we have to do is strive for an attitude of willingness and humility. All we have to do is ask God for what we want and need, and then trust God to do for us that which we cannot do and do not have to do for ourselves.

We do not have to watch with bated breath for how and when we shall change. This is not a self-help program. In this miraculous and effective program that has brought about recovery and change for millions, we become changed by working the Steps.

All emphasis added was mine. The part in red was what, well, made me see red. So you get to see it in red too! #sharedexperiences

Sobriety is not that simple * youareagoodmama.com

ANYWAY, I hate the assertion that sobriety is simple. IT IS NOT. It is 100% not simple and easy to change a behavior that that is compulsive, persistent, and results in brain changes that challenge your own self-control. That’s why so many addicts relapse, and why there are so many different pathways to sobriety. If sobriety were easy and simple, everyone would do it the first time!

Compared to stories I’ve heard, my road to sobriety was relatively easy. I haven’t relapsed since my last drink on September 9, 2006. I haven’t been incarcerated. I haven’t lost my children, my spouse, my family members, or friends due to drinking. I never lost my job or became homeless. I never had to be hospitalized for health reasons related to drinking or detoxing. I don’t list all these things to brag – I’m grateful that these didn’t happen to me because I understand how easily they could have.

Sobriety isn't easy * youareagoodmama.com
I have all this, thanks to the hard work of sobriety

However, it’s not smart to compare your sobriety journey to that of others’. My sobriety journey was not easy, nor was it simple. Also, once I completed the sixth and seventh steps, I didn’t just sit back and let things happen. I continued to work. Instead of making snap decisions based on how I felt at the moment, I tried to consider all consequences that could occur (translation: I cared about how my actions affected others and didn’t just act on whim). I analyzed how I felt, and reached out for help from supportive people if those feelings were too big to handle on my own. Some might call that God working in my life. That’s fine. I choose to also respect the hard work I was doing.

I would also argue that recovery work IS a self-help program. I mean, if I wasn’t willing to admit I was an addict, or seek help, I’d still be blacking out from too many Jack & Cokes on the weekends. Self-help doesn’t have to mean you do it all on your own – it isn’t called All-By-Your-Self-help.

Sobriety isn't that simple * youareagoodmama.com

Motivational wordstuffs such as this mean well, but I feel they can be very damaging to recovery work. I could easily see someone thinking, my sobriety wasn’t simple, so what am I doing wrong? It’s dangerous to simplify sobriety work. It isn’t simple. It’s messy and complicated and hard and time-consuming. Is it worth it? YES. Absolutely. Just don’t call it simple.

www-youareagoodmama-com

I Could Be A Child Abuser

I Could Be A Child Abuser

Recently, I attended a work training about how to be a mandatory reporter of child/elder abuse. I’m a registered nurse and an employee of the county health department, so I must report any instance of child or elder abuse that I see or have reasonable suspicion of. It’s a duty I don’t take lightly and one I hope I never have to perform.

Inevitably, the topic of spanking comes up. Is it child abuse? Oregon law says no, unless it leaves marks and bruises on a child. Legal or not – my husband and I don’t spank our children. It was a conscious decision, as we don’t believe it’s an effective form of discipline. I was spanked a few times as a child. I don’t remember the circumstances or the lesson I was supposed to learn. All I remember is it hurting, and being afraid.

There’s another reason I don’t spank my children. It’s because one of my character defects is being reactive. I’m afraid that if I let myself spank them, I’d take it too far in anger. Possibly cross the line into child abuse. And THAT terrifies me beyond measure.

icouldbeachildabuser

 

My children inspire the most intense emotions in me. It’s like everything is amplified – love, fear, joy, and yes – anger. Nobody can make me see red faster than my sweet darlings. I’d wager most mothers would say something similar!

 

I think the similarities end in the reaction. Sometimes when my children upset me, my first instinct is to hurt them back. That’s my anger problem jumping in. It’s such a primal, toddler-like response: You hurt me, so I should hurt you back.

Except the problem (one of many) with that way of thinking is their perception. My boys wouldn’t be able to make the connection of, “Oh, I did that thing that made mommy mad, so she spanked me and I shouldn’t do it again.” They’d think, “Mommy just hit me and it really hurt.” They wouldn’t learn any lesson or change the behavior; all they’d know is mama got mad and hit.

It’s taken me awhile to recognize why I wanted to “hurt” my children in retaliation. First I had to get past the insane amount of guilt and shame (WTF is wrong with me for even thinking about hurting him???). And truthfully, I’m not completely past that. Especially because there have been times when I haven’t hurt my children, but I know I haven’t been as gentle as I should – grabbed an arm, picked them up roughly, etc. I still beat myself up about those times (which still happen – I’m definitely not perfect).

I’ve done enough work on myself that I can now notice the urge as it’s happening. Like today in Target, when Jack was throwing a fit and elbowed me in the throat four times (I now understand why people talk about throat-punching people/things they don’t like. That shit hurts). With every blow to the throat, I thought my heart was going to explode in anger. I could feel the urge to give an “eye for an eye” rising. I had to say the words, “Stop. Breathe.” in my head. I had to walk around, wailing toddler in my arms. I had to speak to him in a flat, calm voice (I’ve read that is a technique for helping children calm down, but forcing myself to speak in measured tones helps me calm down too). I told him he needed to calm down – the message was for me, too. And then when he smacked me again, I had to give him to his father and spend a few minutes alone. I was too far gone in the stress response (plus I legit felt like I was going to throw up because of the throat punches).

My “techniques” aren’t anything special. But, I’m proud of them. I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I used to either lash out in anger or hold it in, stewing about it until I eventually exploded. Sometimes I still hold things in for a little bit, but I’m pretty good about talking about them before it blows up into a bigger issue. I’m very much a work in progress.

Mamas, what do you do when your babes test your patience?

I searched ‘boob sweat’ on Amazon

I searched ‘boob sweat’ on Amazon

Texas summer can suck it. Thanks to temperatures like these:


I now have a serious problem with underboob sweat. Like, serious swampiness under the girls. No chafe yet, thank Jeebus, but with how frickin damp it gets under there it can’t be too far behind.

Having experienced underboob chafe after my first marathon (it STIIIIIINGS), I’m game for avoiding it. So like I do with almost any problem I have, I turned to Amazon. If you can’t find it on Amazon, you didn’t really need it in the first place. Amazon, of course, did not let me down in the boob sweat product department.

Naturally, there was the usual paraphernalia one might expect when typing boob into a search box: bras, boob shapers, bra inserts, chicken cutlet-looking things, clothing with frat boy type boob humor (like Hello Titty), etc. But then, there were a few items that made me go

dafuq

So if you’ve ever wondered what types of products you’d be offered if you typed ‘boob sweat’ into Amazon, you’re in luck! Here’s a random sampling of the 150 that were returned on my search:

mens shaperThis man-girdle. I can’t decide if it’s PhotoShopped or if the dude is really being compressed that much. Either way – not helpful in my de-boob-sweating campaign.

pudding boobs

Ok, um, WHAT? It’s like, yeah, ha ha, the Christmas puddings look like boobs and OMG they are place where boobs usually are. Super LOL. But WHY does it have to come in kid sizes???

heel covers

I think someone was just trying to make a quick buck. Or just wasn’t paying attention when uploading pictures. Either way, it didn’t impress those 4 customers.

boob schmoozie

There were several different types of liners or inserts one could shove in their bra to combat mucky mammaries, but I liked this one because it was called the Boob Schmoozie. It kind of looks like a twiddly mustache for your boobs.

Boob cream that turns into a powder. And apparently, if a woman has sweaty boob problems, she helpfully thinks of her man and gets him the matching sweaty balls lotion. The couple who de-funks together, stays together.

lady anti monkey butt

What’s not to love about a product with ‘anti-monkey butt’ in the name? Half the reason I chose Boudreaux’s Butt Paste for my kiddos was because of the name. I’ve known for awhile that my sense of humor slides heavily into junior high boy territory, and I’m ok with that. What pissed me off about this product was the description:

Specially blended for women, Lady Anti Monkey Butt Powder is a cornstarch and Calamine based powder you will love for absorbing sweat and staying irritation-free. Satin-smooth and with a pleasant fragrance, this body powder provides long-lasting cooling relief. Apply before spin or exercise class, before long walks or jogs and after showering.

If I may quote my friend Captain Jack Sparrow from above: DAFUQ? Does this company assume women only do these kinds of stereotypically “lady” activities, or is the powder only effective after these particular workouts? Maybe I’ll post that question under the Customer Questions & Answers.

Because I’m super cheap, I decided to come up with my own solution.

The best part? It’s BARELY NOTICEABLE under your shirt. The worst part was my kids bugging me to have the fan back, because apparently the clip-on stroller fan is the most exciting toy ever.

For those days when I can’t pry the fan out of their greedy little hands, I’m going to try sticking some Bamboobies nursing pads under my boobs. They are AMAZING at keeping milk from leaking through a shirt, so I imagine they’d work well for sweat too. I still have a few left over from my leaky days, so I’ll give it a shot and let you know how it works.

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3 reasons to shower with your toddler (and 1 not to)

3 reasons to shower with your toddler (and 1 not to)

When I first started staying home with Jack, the shower became one of our daily activities.

Our morning routine was breakfast, drop off big brother, run, and shower. Jack is an excellent running partner, and has become an agreeable shower buddy. It took awhile, but he doesn’t smack me in the face anymore for putting his back under the shower stream.

Showers weren’t a part of my original Stay-At-Home-Mom plan (because I totally had one of those, right). Using up all that water just to entertain a toddler would be pretty wasteful. But, after running with a stroller for several miles under the Texas summer sun, you kind of require a shower. Like, bad. So that first day after we ran together, I plopped him in the shower with me. I got clean, he had fun, and my house wasn’t destroyed. Win-win-win!

Since running helps me keep my sanity (which can be in short supply when home alone with a toddler), it and the shower became a regular occurrence in our weeks. After awhile, I started to see some real benefits to showering with a toddler.

Enjoy a shower again!

Showers are one of the first things to go when you have small children. The risks of death, destruction, dismemberment, or just general mayhem are not worth the benefits of clean pits. Solution: bring the toddler with you! You’ll never wonder what your little angel is destroying and/or eating, because he’s right there. Throw a few toys in the mix, and you should be able to have a decent shower. Bonus points: if you time it for after a meal, you can clean two people with one shower!

Comedy gold

My son is hysterical in the shower. He makes the funniest faces when water sprays his face (I may or may not be involved in this). He has tried to punch the shower stream for getting water on him (true story). Pouring water on Mom induces fits of giggles.

Skin-to-skin time

The benefits of skin-to-skin are well-documented for newborns, but I believe older babies/toddlers benefit as well! Jack is always on the go, so I cherish the times he wants to cuddle. In the shower, I’ll hold his chest against mine and let the water fall on his back. He’ll put his head on my shoulder or press his silky-soft cheek against mine. We’ll stand there like that for a minute or two, and it’s so relaxing for both of us.

One drawback to the shower

Any breastfeeding mom will tell you that seeing a boob will remind a nursling that he/she NEEDS to nurse. NOW. And the older the nursling, the more insistent he/she is. There were a few times our shower ended abruptly because Fuss McGuss just could not handle being around a bare boob without nursing. I didn’t want to be stuck in the shower for an undetermined amount of time, so I wouldn’t let him latch. He’d pound my chest, yelling “Nuh!” I’d answer calmly, “We’re not going to nurse right now.” Repeat until I could get all the soap off us and turn the shower off. This usually occurred when the shower was close to naptime, so that may have played a role. But just beware – if you shower with a breastfed toddler, there is a good chance he’ll want to nurse!

he won...post-shower nursing
he won…post-shower nursing

Sometimes, it’s better with him.

Sometimes, it’s better with him.

Picture this: you’ve been terrorized by a miniature version of yourself all morning (in other words, a normal Friday). The typical pattern is toddler asks for something (Waffle! Bite! Milk!), and when given said item, vehemently denies ever wanting it and punishes you for your insolence with assorted fussy behaviors. This pattern continues until toddler finally, blessedly, falls asleep.

 

Jack sleep
only someone with real cojones takes a flash picture of a sleeping toddler.

Picture this: house is silent. Toddler is crashed out in the bed. You slip out and quietly fist pump over the specter of Free Time. You never know how long this toddler-free time will last, so you intend to use it wisely (HA). It’s time to recharge the batteries, bring the patience meter up from negative 47, restore calm. You browse Facebook, check your email, and revel in the fact that there aren’t any sticky little fingers trying to turn the laptop off. You decide it’s time to dust off the old blog and start writing again.

Yes. It is definitely You Time.

dance
Source: http://giphy.com/gifs/JltOMwYmioVrO

Until…

A subtle change occurs in the atmosphere. You glance down the hall and see a little face quietly peering at you around the corner. The toddler has woken up and silently come to find you. He creeps over with a look of complete joy, like he’s just been given carte blanche to write on all the walls and climb on all the tables.

Jack table

So much for You Time.

But instead of getting frustrated, you welcome him. He crawls into your lap and asks to nurse. You oblige. He nurses for a few minutes before drifting off to sleep.

Jack nurse

You could get up and take him back to bed. You might be able to scrape out a little more You Time, maybe even craft that blog post that’s suddenly percolating.

But instead, you let him sleep in your arms. You smile at his little baby snores and memorize his sleeping face. He must have known you both needed this. The two of you sit silently on the couch, his little body sprawled out over your arm and lap, while you type your thoughts on your phone instead of the laptop.

Sometimes You Time is better with him. Sometimes what you – I – need isn’t time without him; its peaceful time with him. I need the reminder that it won’t always be like this – the good and the bad. He may always drive me nuts in one way or another, but he won’t always be able to snuggle into my lap for a midafternoon nurse ‘n nap. So for today, I welcome him into my You Time.