The family was gathered in the kitchen, cooking, laughing, dancing then I woke up Some of us moved away to make new lives for ourselves, we called each other to check in then I woke up I call my Mama every Sunday for a chat then I woke up My sisters, brother and our children, along with grandchildren are planning our next family vacation then I woke up We are listening to each other with empathy then I woke up I hear a little voice calling “mama” then I woke up
A friend on social media posed a question: “Tell me how the past year has irreparably broken your spirit?” The responses were many, varied and poignant. Here’s my response: The injustice that has reared it’s ugly head this year has broken my heart, caused me to reflect, go into action and accept some of what is. In research I’ve discovered shameful acts of my Southern family, my grandfather declared a black man insane for trying to enter a white southern university and had him committed. My family of origin’s dysfunction has created a chasm that may be irreparable. Tribalism is creating a divide. We are forgetting we are all connected. It breaks my heart everyday, especially this past year.
I’d love to hear your response.
“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” Ernest Hemingway
Happy three year sobriety birthday to me. To what do I owe this sobriety? As they say, definitely something bigger that me, AA, dear friends (it doesn’t hurt when one of your best friends has been sober for 20 something years), lots of therapy, and Neurofeedback.
My father was an alcoholic, went to treatment maybe five times. A couple of times he went to Hazelden. When I was around ten years old, my three older siblings and I attended a family week at Hazelden. I loved it and learned a lot. I really got that alcoholism is a disease, it’s not the person. It can be treated as most medical conditions can. Any idea I had that I could get my daddy to quit drinking went away. I learned that was not in my control.
I began drinking in high school. Drinking was kinda a social norm in the group I ran with. It was definitely a social norm for my parents and their friends. Drinking was our fun time, ha. Water skiing with Gar and snakes on the Pearl River was the other fun time. I drank to excess. Not daily. I did have some blackouts. Attending the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss, a derogatory name that should not be used) was like going to the country club, it was one big party. My boyfriend, Tayloe, was a Pike, a Pi Kappa Alpha. I was initiated as a Pike little sister. It may have been the number one party fraternity on campus. I hardly remember attending classes. Passing grades would show that I did though.
When my high school, college sweetheart, Tayloe and I broke up, I moved to Missoula, MT where my brother taught at the University. I finished college there. Excited to actually be studying. But yes, continuing with the party mode, finding the right friends to continue that habit with. That’s how I met my daughter’s father, partying. I got pregnant, we married. We moved to the east coast with no stability in our relationship, jobs, etc. That didn’t last long. The final straw was when my then husband, went out to a party with friends and volunteered me to stay at home with their kid and ours. My reaction helped fuel the premise he liked to claim about me, that I was crazy.
My two year old daughter and I went back to Mississippi. I realized my drinking was problem. My parents agreed to take care of my daughter while I went to rehab at the Mississippi hospital program right in Jackson where we lived. It was a really good program. When I got out, AA was my life. My daddy and I shared some good talks and of course he was supportive. Truthfully, I can’t remember when I started drinking again. It was sometime when I was working at Lemuria Bookstore and met my next husband to be. He was a good drinker, charming and a good dad to my daughter. Later, I discovered what it’s like to be married to someone who is passive aggressive. That made for a good reason to drink during our marriage! No one “makes” you drink, but as an alcoholic without good coping skills, it was easy to give in to drinking. After 11 years together, we divorced. I was blamed for asking for the divorce and breaking up our family. His love affairs outside our marriage and lack of taking responsibility for anything that might make him look anything less than a nice guy had nothing to do with our failed marriage! He did a great job of playing my daughter against me. All this was even more reason to drink and to attempt suicide. Hence, my second period of recovery and abstinence. I was sober for many years. Started to drink again, and again don’t remember exactly when or why. This go around, I drank alone, not all the time. When sadness struck, such as a failed attempt for my daughter and I to enjoy each other, it would send me to the bottle. That would be a wine bottle or two. Many didn’t realize I drank, some were probably highly suspect that I did. Once my daughter cut me off completely and I lost contact with my grandchildren, the sadness came often. After a night of drinking, alone, I impulsively poured a bottle of Xanax down my throat and woke up to a handsome paramedic standing over me.
That was three years ago. That’s my story as they say in AA.
I honestly, think and feel that sobriety is going to stick. I say this while remaining humble. However, there is nothing in me that wants a drink. The physical craving is not there as it was before. I think that is a benefit of the neurofeedback. Emotionally, I’ve come a long way, have greater insights and tools. And last but not least, I have surrounded myself with the people who love me and I love them. Many have been there through the thick and thin with me. Thank you, may I be there for you in times of joy and trouble.
Today happens to be Tayloe’s “birth” birthday as well. He is deceased, I think of him often. That’s another story.
Mothers are either glorified or blamed, the job description is almost impossible to live up to, daughters are often angry at their mother and don’t know their mother’s history before they came into the world. It’s hard for daughters to come to a place of compassion, without realizing their mother had a whole complicated life before they came into the world.
What happens without healthy dialog? Stories and diagnosis are often created.
My daughter and family certainly have a story and have diagnosed me. And there is no dialog. I’ve tried, but it seems their story and diagnosis of me is serving them somehow.
We weren’t taught how to have hard conversations, how to listen in order to understand.
This is some of what I gleaned from listening to this conversation with Harriet Lerner and Sheleana Aiyana
Sometimes, I fall asleep crying and wake up crying. I’ve come to accept that and move through it, knowing in another moment I won’t be.
I cry for missed opportunities, family gatherings, my grandchildren turning 6, hearing them call me Gaga, the comfort of family checking in on each other during a pandemic, sisters, nephews, daughter and grandchildren calling to wish me a happy 61st birthday, planning the next gathering, and laughing together.
For reasons, some of my own doing and some I’m not sure of, those opportunities have passed.
I do believe, if we all listened, really listened with the empathy to put ourselves in each other’s shoes, we could grow to understand and forgive. I believe there is a story to be told, one of love and redemption. Fear is erased, holds on control and the need to be right are loosened, and hearts are opened.
But for today, I’m off to Black Lives Matter Rally in Missoula. Black Lives Matter Rally
Showing up to show support, listen and learn.
Side note: the dolphin is running good. I took it to have oil changed at Lube It. The guys there loved it. I love it when whoever is working on it, loves it. Taking it into RV shop on Wednesday to have a few things taken care of. I love it and it needs so much work!
This picture came up as a memory today. Elizabeth has been at the forefront of my mind lately. She raised me from infancy until 6 years of age. We had the days to ourselves in the midst of a chaotic, dysfunctional family. I was the youngest of 4 and there were 7 years difference between me and the next sibling.
Once everyone was off to school and work, she put me on the kitchen counter, served me toast with honey and coffee with cream and sugar. (I’m drinking my coffee with cream and sugar as I write this) I was content as she went about cleaning the kitchen. I was her side kick all day. Life was peaceful and full of love during our hours together.
A friend of mine is doing ancestry.com. I asked her to look Elizabeth up. After no avail, I am going to start my own research on her background. She is who I am interested in. The woman who loved me, sacrificed time with her own daughter and gracefully put on a white uniform, got on the bus and arrived at our house to help make it appear beautiful on the inside and out.
I already know my grandfathers on both sides were corrupt. My maternal grandfather was director of war bonds under President Taft. My paternal grandfather became sheriff in the south during prohibition. He had a check on his desk the day he went into office from the bootleggers. No pride in that.
I’ll let you know what I find out.
Feeling good again after not feeling good for a few weeks. I was tired and sleeping a lot, got an upset stomach for a few days, headache, coughing. Doctor ordered a Covid test last Saturday. The results came back Tuesday as negative. A relief, but not convinced. After feeling good for a couple of days now, I know I had something. Could have been any virus really. Could have been a False negative.
I suppose mainly, I would want to know in order to protect those around me, the cashier at the grocery, the gas attendant, the friend I had a six feet apart lunch with outside in the yard. Meantime, keep washing your hands, keep your physical distance, but stay close in other ways.