"Just as drinking pervades our culture, it diffused into my personality. I grew into my abuse, like the occasional tree you can find on a nature walk, its roots spilling over both sides of a boulder like outspread fingers, in spite of the rock's lack of soil, moisture, and stability. To see it only at the height of its maturity is to wonder: Why build on that?" ~ Koren Zailckas, Smashed

This blog is one of my many recovery efforts to uproot my damaged foundation and cultivate the right conditions for blossoming.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

my hometown hurricane heartbreak

My childhood neighborhood is ravaged.  As typical bulldog new yorkers, most of my family and friends refused to evacuate despite living steps from the ocean.  Growing up in long beach during the 70's and 80's, I saw quite a few hurricanes.  This one, sadly, is like no other.  The ocean and bay met and just covered the town.  Five feet of waves rolling down the main streets.  Despite a zillion efforts, my mother would NOT leave the house to stay with me in brooklyn, where I live on super high ground.  They got through the storm but now another mandatory evacuation is in effect because of contaminated water, no power, etc.  Days of checking in with everyone, keeping track of who is going where, hearing from more and more friends that have lost everything, and being trapped without subway access... well, I am just so exhausted.  Maybe this doesn't seem like it has anything at all to do with recovery, but it does.  I am present for this and feeling everyone's pain which is just so exhausting (in case you haven't felt another's pain in a while, check out videos/pics of the breezy point fires which destroyed 80 homes. So awful).  So, I haven't gotten to any meetings and have just started to realize I'm not handling this well and needed to share with a group of like-minded, like-spirited people.  Love to all...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Craving simplicity

So the job interview went well... and I walk out of it totally freaked out and wanting nothing more than to work in a coffee shop.  Although, I'm pretty sure making a venti decaf skinny macchiato would stress me out as much as "attaining the outcome-driven results in alignment with both state targets and private sector/donar goals to vastly increase the college going rate of low SES students from low performing schools."  So meaningful.... but so terrifying for someone who can barely make it to work five days a week without being derailed by major mood fluctuations.  Ugh what to do?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Another sober first (in other words ~ omg i am scared!!!)

As much as I love being a sober alcholic ~ yes, so reflective of every single flippin thing I do, so mindful of every fluctuation of my crazy-ass moods ~ sometimes I fantasize about what it must be like to be, oh, a normal person. 

You know, one of those people who seem to just float through life without giving things much thought.  New job?  Okay, sounds great.  New home?  Sure, just box things up and pop right in.  That's just incredible to me.... but yeah, so not my life.   I am constantly amazed at how much mental energy I have to expend just to get through even the simplest of days. 

To the outside world, I look pretty high fuctioning.  Seemingly decent job in a huge university system, two graduate degrees, bread-winner for my family, super-lovely little home, uber-fabulous son, lots of stamps in my passport, dedicated runner of many races (even nabbing some medals in my age group these days ~ whoo hoo!).  But on many, many days, I am absolutely paralyzed with uncertainty about things like what earrings to wear, when to open the mail, how to answer the phone, what to really do with my life.  Seriously, when my moods are off (hey, bi-polar disorder ~ do you really have to be such good friends with alcholism?  ugh.), the wrong earrings, a misplaced magazine, an overpacked pocketbook, a missed subway, or any other random thing can derail me into a completely nonfunctional state.  For days.

Okay, so why write about this now?  Because as much as I've complained endlessly about my current job, it has given me the enormous flexibility I needed to get sober.  I have had to force myself on so many occasions to express any kind of appreciation for the fact that it has enabled me to support my family during a crazy economic time, but I never really felt the gratitude because it's really such a toxic workplace.  It truly is.  But what has it given me?   Pretty much everything someone in recovery needs. I can go in late, I can leave early, I can work from home, I can take "wellness" days when I need them, I can take a lunch hour every day to attend the AA meetings that are fully responsible for getting me sober.  Reader, this job has been my rehab.  And it looks like it may be time to transition into the normal working world.

Tomorrow morning, I have a second interview for my dream job.  Let me amend that ~ it's the dream job for the very sober, non bi-polar version of myself.  The "well" lulu can do this job. She is made for this job.  She is destined for this job.  But the lulu who is barely four years sober... the lulu who is making valient yet exhausing efforts to manage a serious mood disorder without medication... the lulu who is still just beginning to deal with all the damage of being raised in a wildly alcholic and mentally ill family... oh, that lulu isn't sure she can do this.  Be responsible, be accountable, be proactive, be a grown up?  Not sure at all.

Somehow, I built a decent career while destroying myself with raging alcholism.  Isn't is odd that it's only now that I'm sober that I can't imagine how to keep it together?  Perhaps before this, I just didn't let myself feel the stress.  I was either too looped or too hungover to care about the risk of failure and the pressure of success. 

All I know is I want to be able to succeed in a job like this new one.  I want to have a meaningful position that has a positive impact on others.  I want this with all of my soul.   But I am worried that as someone with mental wellness issues, I am only capeable of the most basic functioning.  Like working in some lonely little flower shop about ten hours a week.  Really, on many days I am not sure I can do much more than that.  But bigger opportunities are coming my way.  It is a blessing, it is inspiring, and oh my, it is so very daunting. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

chocolate and chick-flicks

Hubby on martial arts biz trip in south america, little one at grandma's for the weekend, and omg i am in our lovely home ALONE! 

I've spent oodles of time alone.  I have travelled alone, lived in many apartments alone, and mistakenly thought this all meant I was good at being alone.  Oh, sure ~ I was the model of independence. Sitting solo in my various urban kitchenettes with a bottle of wine (okay, two) and  journels that never actually got filled with insightful and hilarious words of the next great american novel (surprise, surprise).  I can't believe I always thought I was so content - blissed out, even - in my solitary life while drinking myself into oblivion.  I never had enough un-buzzed time to recognize the perpetual anxiety, doubt, avoidance, and damage that I was pushing down with each sip.

So here I sit, just barely four years sober, and what a different experience.  I can let myself miss my boys and be okay with the feeling of lonliness.  Then I can curl up on the couch with some chocolate (come on, I can't give up everything), watch "The Devil Wears Prada" (yes, I can now admit this without shame!), and feel genuinely happy.  No over-the-moon-wine-fueled euphoria, no raging dispair ~ just normal, balanced happiness.  Who knew how nice an ordinary night at home alone could be?

A sober evening to all... xoxo, lulu

Friday, August 17, 2012

43 is the new 14! (Well, when you were sloshed half your life, that is)

As I type this post, I am half-blinded by my glittery pink nail polish which I snagged for 3 dollars in Forever 21.  Yes, I am a 43 year old mother and higher education professional with multiple graduate degrees, totally blissing out over my sparkly pink nails. 

But the truth is ~ I LOVE my inappropriateness!  During my first year or two of sobriety, I was totally captivated by the theories that you emotionally stop growing at the age you were when you first start drinking alcoholically.  That is just so incredibly true for me.  Yet somehow, like many other alcoholics, I managed to market my perpetual state of arrested development into a charming, quirky character attribute.  Even when it's so glaringly unhelpful.

How fun that at 30 I fled a tentured teaching job to become a part-time pilates teacher!  How free-spirited that I travelled abroad more than once a year on a whim and a credit card when I barely could pay rent!  How hip and cool that just last week I had feathers woven into my hair the day before facilitating an uber-high level technology workshop for university leaders!  Yes, people. FEATHERS. 

What a snooze, it always seemed, to do "grown up things", like learn about personal finance, investing in a home, retirement funds, credit scores, blah blah blah.  What a yawn to do things like, oh I don't know, Open the Mail When It Arrives.  So much more fun to just loll through life with a nice pinot noir and a platform to yammer on about my masters in medieval literature, my yoga certifications, my urban botanical photography, and don't forget my super-spectacular collection of sparkly accessories!?

So rather than be very alcoholic in my thinking and actually slam my frivolous, playful (fine - childish) self, it's only now crossing my slow-to-sober-living mind that there is a middle ground. I don't actually have to replace my "Find Your Inner French Girl" books with "Personal Accounting for Dummies".  I don't have to swap my photography classes for MS Office certifications.  But maybe I can do both.  In small chunks. 

Alcoholism ravaged my potential to develop a stronger life in professional and financial terms.  I know this in my bones.  But learning to build that part of my life now doesn't mean I have to toss the rest.  Right?  I have been SO attached my ENTIRE life to this image of free-spiritedness, but my image was blurry.  Free-spirited doesn't have to mean clueless.  Directionless.  Lost.  I can learn how my taxes actually work while also reading complex literature and wearing my new adorable red velvety skinny jeans, right?

Well, sober living is never dull.  That's for sure. :-)  Have a blissful sober evening, all....

~ Lulu 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My birthday eve is great because...

...I am sober!  How blissful is that?  I'm actually NOT spending a birthday indluging in pseudo-romantic illusions about my life.  Instead, I am just living it.  The difficult parts (Where am I going in my career? How do I create more solid friendships? When will I ever learn how to manage money?!) and the blissful parts (adoring my son, loving my husband, relishing my garden, treasuring my photography, ever and always loving my beloved brooklyn home). 

I love that my 40's are sober.  I am treasuring every minute of this decade (43 tomorrow!) and I am deeply grateful to everyone in meetings, writing recovery books, and creating recovery blogs for inspiring me each and every day...