The Flood

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Do you ever have those memories that sometimes blindside you? The ones where you are just going about your day with your menial tasks and BOOM, one knocks you on the side of the head. Except that these are drinking memories I’m referring to so it’s more like they knock on your heart instead of your head.

I had one of those this week. I was in the bathroom doing bathroom things (not that, I’ll spare you). We have one tiny bathroom in our house of four and it was built in the 60s and has the typical 60s aesthetic: pretty green tile, tiny wooden drawers and cabinets (in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint), laundry shoot, built-in shower/tub. The sharp memory I had was one of flooding that tiny bathroom, not one, not two but three different times. I can’t remember why I’d start the sink water and walk away but I can deduct a few other variables from the context to sort of piece it together.

Each time it was in the evening and to be so out of touch that I would flood the bathroom meant that I’d really tied one on and to really tie one on in the evening meant my husband was most likely out of town which meant that I was really tying one on while I was home alone with my children.

I know, shame.

There’s a part of me that wishes I could put these especially horrible memories in a drawer, shut it, lock it, throw away the key, set the thing on fire. It’s different now. I know better, I do better. But doing that would feel like an attempt to rewrite history and I can’t, it happened. That specific, painful memory is right there nestled with other memories, tucked away and waiting for their moment to ping my heart when I need to remember what it was like. If I can’t remember what it was like, I can’t remember why I quit and if I can’t remember why I quit, I’m very likely to go back to that old story, pick it up where it left off, me cleaning up a water-soaked bathroom again, kids no longer wondering why Mommy flooded that bathroom again, but now knowing exactly why Mommy flooded the bathroom again, knowing the bathroom sink wasn’t the only thing neglected under this square roof.

I carry these memories inside of me for other women too, to open that drawer and let them take a look, to let them pull them out, try them on and say, Oh this fits me too and thank God I’m not the only one.

Eight Weeks

Hi.

I am eight weeks from three years of sobriety, and yes, I know this is breaking the one-day-at-a-time rule, but let's just go with it (*cough*rulebreaker*). Because I am fast approaching the date, I've been thinking a lot about what it was like. In the first six months of my sobriety, I journaled almost every day, pen to paper, not because I was told to but because I felt compelled to. I didn't know what else to do and my brain felt like it may explode on the daily, so I got it down. I'm so glad I did. About a year ago, I went through that journal and made color-coded note cards, like a good nerd, and separated my journal into categories. I thought for the next eight weeks I would expound on a card I pulled from the deck. I was one lucky and determined chick from Day One and was immediately blessed with the Feel Goods, so the thoughts from this deck are more about epiphanies than a daily, internal struggle. I hope they will help someone reading this, while helping me remember.

Many of these thoughts or epiphanies had to do with old stories, things I had always thought and because I had always thought them, they must be true. So here is one. I always thought that if you didn't have some damage, like some sort of dysfunction, subversion or demon, if you were not flawed or fragmented, that you were just boring. Some of this story still stays with me and reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by the Lutheran minister and theologian Nadia Bolz Weber, "If you don't have any demons, I don't really want to have coffee with you." That resonates. The thing is, I only associated this subversion with drinking, like you had to be drunk to be any of those things. 

The association made sense. It was the only time I had those cut-to-the-chase deep conversations, where you told your deepest secrets, rehashed that shameful event, exposed your soft underbelly. It was the only time spontaneity happened, the middle-of-the-night-three-hour roadtrips, the Jackassery antics, the naked full moon raft trips. Subversion and raw, guttural vulnerability only happened in the middle of the night, surrounded by empties. I had no idea there was any other way to connect, like really connect.

Where did this story originate? I always surrounded myself with people that were smarter than me, funnier than me, more talented than me, or at least that is what I projected. Perhaps it was my own feelings of unworthiness as I trodded through young adulthood. Perhaps it was aspirational of me, hoping some of them would rub off? I know that alcohol was the only thing that seemed to make me funnier and less self-conscious. With the magic of hindsight, reality would argue that alcohol made everyone funnier and me only the more self-critical. And we know how this story ends, the introspection later would turn to guilt, shame and self-deprecation that eventually ended with the most miserable girl on the planet. Now that sounds like a party.

"Below the anger is fear."--Robin Williams

I think you could substitute the word anger for sadness, shame or self-sabotage, and it all comes back to fear. It took a very long time for me to see that the scale was tipping, to see that my coping strategies were backfiring and I could no longer deny the noise. And when you become more afraid of life, of exposing your insecurities, vulnerabilities, struggles, demons, than you are afraid of death, that is the ultimate in self-destruction. 

So I've come full circle. People that are striving to glue the pieces back together are way more interesting to me now, charging a way more subversive act. Exposing demons, unguarded is way more punk to me now. Do you have to get sober to do this? No, maybe not, but I think you have to be willing to change something drastically in your life that isn't working anymore and in doing so, you have to be willing to take a good, hard look at your ancient stories.

Evolve.

Do you pick a word for the coming year? For 2015, I didn't officially pick a word but it picked me and kept showing up in my life over and over. That word was THRIVE. For the first time in a couple of decades (yes, decades), I really feel like I did more than survive, I thrived. I started things that I wanted to start, I did things, actually followed through with action, I joined some amazing communities, in person and on-line and I tried to just raise the tide so others could rise with me. It's really been an amazing year and it's been so long since I've said that. I am marveling at the fact that I can reflect back on an entire year and see every ebb and flow with such clarity. There are no gaps, no missing weeks or entire months gone. I can see it all, big, wide and open. I am in awe and it is nothing short of a miracle. 

In picking a word for 2016, I got a little more intentional, so much so that I thought Intention would be the word. There was also Abundance and that wasn't so much as to manifest abundance but to acknowledge the abundance that already exists in my life. Then there was Supernova! That came to me from Rob Brezsny's astrology forecast for the 2016 Gemini. I could just visualize 2016 blasting the brightest light as my old stories and fears burned out to make way for a new star.  Great imagery, right? And then I went hiking with my family a few days ago at one of my favorite places in Texas. It's called Enchanted Rock and it holds my spirit, this place. We found a butterfly in a grassy enclave in the granite and she chose my word for me. I think she was dying and she was beautiful.

Evolve. Evolve into this new star, this next, new layer of life. Evolve to my better, best self. Evolve this site, the stories I want to share, the community I want to build. 

How will you evolve? Do you have a word for 2016? Comment away!

And if you want some brass tacks, some tactical information, intention and purpose, here it is: I will be adding more consistent content and creative ideas to the blog. I will be featuring more stories in the Meet the Unruffled section, which bytheway, if you know or happen to be someone in recovery who relies on your creative pursuit to guide your journey AND you live in TEXAS (sorry, this is my baby *cough*controlfreak*cough* and for now, I'm the sole photographer) and you want to be featured, please contact me! And I will be adding art/product from featured Unruffled artists in the Marketplace. You will also be able to find more essays from me over on the Since Right Now/Recovery Revolution's amazing site and I'll be on the podcast next week (Ackkk! first of the year, no pressure, right?). Love these guys, love their work, check them out if you haven't. And more, MORE. Big, wide, open, blessed and lucky. Happy 2016! And if you need help recovering, please reach out, you don't have to feel this way ever again. If you extend your hand even one inch, I promise I (or someone) will grab it. Big love.