Sour City

No one wants to be in Sour City.

I ended up there by accident. My happily ever after seemed to be moving along nicely.

The road to Sour City was one I hadn’t realized I was on. The road was paved with apologies and grand gestures made by my addict alcoholic that distracted me from the mile makers (aka red flags) that indicated I was rapidly approaching Sour City.

I was living in an addict alcoholics world, two failed rehab attempts, bootleg suboxzone, drinking day and night while we were raising one very busy toddler, I found myself smack in the middle of Sour City.

It dawned on me as I was pleading, yet again to my addict acholic, “ I don’t want to live like this”. That I’d become sour and worn out. Bitterly unaware that I was just as out of control as my addict alcoholic was. I hated who I allowed myself to become.

I was the Mayor of Sour City and needed to be fired.

All my Moms out there raise your hand if you feel like sometimes your parenting your life partner. So not sexy. We all do it to each other from time to time. It usually doesn’t feel good so we stop. Now raise your hand if you are parenting your life partner who is an addict alcoholic. Now stand up if you can’t make it through an average day without parenting that addict alcoholic. Oh how it burns my cookies to even write that… Welcome to Sour City Moms, the place where we land when there isn’t anything more we can do to “help” our addict alcoholics.

I’m someone who writes stuff down. In an app, a note book, scraps of paper . I’ll write on anything. The urge to write compelles me. It was the reread of my own writing that slapped me with a reality check. I read everything as if I were my friend. Periodically asking myself “If I could help that woman how would I?” My writing spoke of a deep, unforgiving shame, loneliness, and isolation.

So there I was introducing myself to myself and wishing I could help me find my way out of Sour City.

This is the part where I started telling the world my story, even if they didn’t want to hear it. Often I found myself telling myself to stop talking, I didn’t of course. It was like I’d been marinating in Sour City for so long I just couldn’t keep it in anymore. I was a volcano of emotion that had erupted and I needed a safe, judgment free zone to share my story and ask for help. I took my search to google. It was slim pickings for Moms like me who had been supportive, supporting and raising my addict alcoholic. With free time being non exsistant I tried groups, one on one therapy, all sorts of 12 steps. I learned so much that first year. So so much. I also learned folks weren’t always great listeners and they were full of advice that didn’t apply to me. The deep loneliness was still there.

My addict alcoholic was in Rehab in FL, thrid round, when I connected with an acquaintance. As she told me her story I felt this strange feeling of belonging. She spoke of her addict alcoholic as if she was speaking of mine. She had the same battle wounds that had gone unattended because she like me was to busy raising her baby and surviving the day. It was so sad that our shared pain brought me the space I’d been looking for. In the months to come my friend offered up a piece of normalcy I hadn’t felt in my life with my addict alcoholic. That year she changed my life. Having that space I was desperate to find, having a sense of belonging, my loneliness started to let up. It was like being able to take a breath again.

A full, deep breath.

Today I’m passionate about creating a space for Sour City Moms to connect, to be heard, to feel the power of belonging and the potential for their loneliness to subside. And maybe, just maybe find their way back to the sweet life.

I’m Frozen With Anxiety

Today I’m frozen with anxiety. The tricky Part about anxiety is that it started days before it’s paralyzing effects took hold. I’ve lovingly labeled my malfunction as “the melt down”. These past few days I was just to busy to slow down and listen to my body tell me it needed to address something. The result is a full on war. It truly makes it hard to function.

My melt down looks something like confusion to the out side world. I walk aimlessly around my space hoping to find anything to ground my spinning top of a brain. I hold my breath then tap on my chest to remind myself to breath. The tools and techniques I have to bring my anexity back to a reasonable, controllable state are vast, but in the moment I feel alone and terrified. It’s a huge undertaking to talk myself out of the panic my brain is telling my body to feel. It’s exhausting to push back the running commentary that has me thinking of all theses horrible untrue things.

I sat down to write in hopes I’d find why I’m having this flare up, it’s been months since it’s been this bad. As of yet nothing is jumping off the page. Maybe sharing today will trigger an ah-ha moment for me.

Here is my must do, don’t think, list when my anexity takes over.

1. Sit in a chair, feet on the floor, and breath.

2. Drink a glass of water.

3. Write down the first things that comes to mind.

4. Make a plan todo something for myself.

Tonight acupuncture.

I will not let my anexity run my day. It just can’t own me today.

They Stood In The Fire With Me

Walking and talking with two of my favorite humans through NYC was like coming home after a long trip away. There are so few people in this world that I’m one hundred percent comfortable with. The people I connect with in a “let it all hang out” kind of way are the few who have watched it ALL unfold. These are the people who know my darkest corners and still believe in me. They’ve celebrated my best and encourage me to do better. Being with those two that day feed my soul.

It had been a long time since I felt filled up in that way, it was overwhelming (and awesome). It was shear bliss to know that connection was still there. Even though we were discussing some hard things we’d all gone through over the years. It was an honest, real back and forth of thoughts and emotions. What a gift not to use my filter or edit my thoughts. To walk and talk and be filled with belonging and joy. Priceless.

Sitting on the subway chatting about friendships that have left us a Mariachi band starting playing. An eruption of laughter was unavoidable… the timing couldn’t have been better. It was a great add to the moment. A reminder that humor was still at the foundation of our friendship. A friendship that has proven to be a fundamental part of me.

The deep appreciation I share with them has created a safe place for me. They have stood in the fire with me and I’m eternally grateful for their love.

Screaming Profanities

I’m pretty certain the universe was shaking it’s hands at the sky in frustration because I just kept repeating the lesson. I hadn’t realized how quiet and sneaky my ego could be.

I was laying face up in the dark of night on a sheet of ice in the driveway, wrapped in blinding pain, screaming profanities. I was so pissed at myself. It was my first winter as a single working Mom and a solo homeowner. My ego had stopped me from asking my lovely neighbors on either side of me for help with the plowing, both had offered. Laying there on the ice luge my ego had helped me make, hating the garbage bins for sending me out into the freezing cold, the “what is wrong with me” recording started playing in my head. This time I knew, my ego was on the chopping block. Then the “please don’t let me be hurt” followed. Ego you are so fired this time. Finally the realization, difficult moments like these could be avoided if I just gave up listening to my ego. I flipped onto my belly, commando crawled to the nearest snow bank and made it to my feet. Relieved I was only bruised, stating out loud “must buy ice melt, must ask for help”. I felt a sense of pride, the message had finally clicked.

The next day after work I headed to the grocery, a busy afternoon yielded long lines at the check out. There was a young woman at the front of my line who’d run into a snag. The cashier had never processed a WIC check before.

For those of you who don’t know, WIC is an assistance program for Moms who need help buying food for their children. I know this because I was on the program till Hadley was almost two.

Watching the young women struggle reminded me of the embarrassment I felt using WIC checks. I remembered the stares and the remarks from the folks behind me in line. I hated it.

The big mouth old lady, behind the young woman and in front of me, was letting us all know how upset she was about the form of payment. She repeated several times “don’t you have another way to pay”. I could feel my blood boil. The old woman would not let up. “F off lady” sprung from my lips. “no one wants to hear your mouth” she spun around with a look of disgust. “You want the line to move faster than dig deep for some kindness and pay for the ladies groceries yourself”. Her mouth now wide open, her face bright red with rage. Her hands clinched in tiny fists.

“Did your parents raise you to be this awful?” She growled waving her tiny fists at me. There it was… there was my ego getting in the way. Of course my parents didn’t raise me to swear at folks in the grocery check out line. They did however raise me to be understanding and patient but in this case my past feelings of hurt didn’t allow me to convey my message in a productive, civil way. My ego lead me straight into shitsville. Damn it! Hadn’t I learned anything from my fall on the ice?

I acted like an ass. The night before and that day. For different reasons but both out of ego. Loading my groceries into the car, chuckling to myself about the spill I had taken on the ice. I mentally shook the hand of my ego and told it to head to the back of the line. Good bye ego! When we meet again I’ll be ready and aware.

We Are Both Learning

I’m seated in a very tiny room in front of 6 professionals filling me in on procedure and guidelines. My brain is working hard to comprehend what they are saying. I’m working so hard I can’t even glance to my right to look at Kevin (my super supportive boyfriend).

I’m fighting with my mind not to drift, stay focused, don’t panic. My cheeks are on fire from anxiety. I want so badly to understand whats happening with Hadley at school.

I have several, processing disorders that fall under the learning disability category. Diagnosed in elementary school I was given little to no help. It was the 80’s, enough said. The lack of understanding and empathy from the people in my forty hour school week broke my self esteem, leaving my self worth holding on by a thread. I believed I was stupid, a lazy disciplinary problem. My own family was often frustrated and disappointed in me. My brain doesn’t see numbers and letters like most folks. It doesn’t retain and commit things to memory as an average mind would. Years of hard work with experts (work that will never end) has me living a fully functioning adult life. Exhausted, but fully functioning adult, lol.

My sweet Mo has had a front row seat to the deconstruction of her family. She’s witnessed her father spin out of control with alcohol/drugs. She’s had major surgery (not life threatening). She has felt the harshness of mean people, yes adults. She didn’t back down and still gravitates to kind people. Amazing! She met the challenges she faced while watching her Momma’s heartbreak unfold with curiosity and love. She learned to handle situations that she couldn’t begin to understand, confusing even for grownups, with honesty. I’ve learned many things from watching her navigate our lives.

Resilience. Courage. kindness. Equality. Eight years old, these qualities are the ones she carries with her. These are her foundational pillars she shares openly with others (sometime she shares to much, lol). These are the super powers I know will help her work through the school stuff. School could be the thing to take her out. Self esteem, worthynesss, creative problem solving, are at stake in a system built to help our children grow. Scary stuff.

The massive number of children overwhelming our public school teachers leaves my little lady vulnerable to lossing the part of her she doesn’t know to keep safe. The part of her she should know how to keep safe. That part of me that no one showed me how to keep intact. I’m learning how to show her how to keep her self worth safe and intact. It’s our daily conversation about life that guides me to the things she needs from me.

This meeting has served me up a big ah-ha moment. I’m feverishly writing notes in the meeting. So much information. I write myself a note “rise to be the person who fills in the holes for her. Be the Mom that takes responsibility for the things the school can’t give her. Do what you do best, problem solve, get creative. Reach out to your tribe”. I have the most marvelous tribe.

I’m told she’s struggling in an average second grade way and improving with the extra help. She’s in third grade. It’s my understanding there isn’t a enough data todo a full accessment at this time. Ok. I exhale thank them, say our goodbyes.

Now we wait and see what the next 45 days will bring. They are going to look into it and meet with me again.

I’m sacred. I’m sad. I’m a mother with her hackles up. It’s my job. She’s my kid. I’ve started the conversation with school. Her classroom teachers are champions for her, I adore them. No need to sit on my hands waiting though. If I’m unsure about the way the school is working with her it’s my responsibility to keep her moving forward. So many wonderful people in our school. So many wonderful kiddos, but I’m in charge of just one.

This is another life shift… A life lesson for me. I won’t let this be the hole Hadley trips in on the path of growing up.