Alcohol as Mindfulness?

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When I met my biological mom, she was wearing a bathing suit and a skirt. It was 10am and she was clearly drunk and had a beer in her purse. I had been warned that she was an alcoholic, couldn’t function without it in her system, and hadn’t held down a job forever because of the detoxing seizures and her inability to drive.

Last year my biological dad got a DUI, and felt shitty about it because I had recently told him that I was so glad that he was a ‘normal’ grandparent for Brewer. His daily drinking of a few beers was more on par with a blue collar norm than a ‘problem,’ though maybe there’s some justification going on…because anyone can have a problem once and not have an overall disease. But, I digress.

They say alcoholism is genetic.

I didn’t drink until I was 21 because of my ultra religious upbringing and my fear of the adoption unknown. I actually remember telling someone when I was younger that the reason I wouldn’t do drugs or alcohol is because I think I would like it too much. That’s deep for a tween, ya know?

All across time and space, people have been using substances to alter their experience. Beer has been around since cavemen, and has its place historically in so many ways. Little kids spin around and get dizzy, altering their experience, and we daydream or smoke pot or take peyote or chew chat or sniff poppies (yes, I know that’s not exactly how it works) to alter our experience.

And then there’s mindfulness. Meditation. To alter our experience of the moment, our relationship to the future and the past and our thoughts. It’s a mind altering way of being in the world. And one that I really intend to embrace in my life.

But can I be honest here? It’s busy season in the accounting world, and I haven’t seen my husband for close to 8 weeks because of it. He leaves at 6:30 and gets home at 8, except on Saturdays when he’s home by 6. I’m exhausted. And with only 1 kid, and a full-time(ish) job, I am often one straw away from the camel’s back breaking and crumbling all over itself.

The other day, Boof was teasing me about all the mimosas I’ve been drinking. And I got butthurt. Because it’s a sore spot for me. When I started drinking in college I had zero tolerance and would get blackout drunk. But I hated the feeling and so it only happened a handful of times. It’s been years trying to figure out how much is enough to just have a buzz and not obsess about wanting more and more and more.

His comment hit a nerve. I don’t like that I am excited to pour the OJ and champagne on a Friday morning with Potamus. I know enough about mental illness and alcoholism to know that I should be careful. And I am. I think. The nervousness and monitoring of my level of tolerance, desire, defensiveness as a coping mechanism are healthy. But it’s hard. Because alcohol is like mindfulness. There’s that sweet spot, when I haven’t overindulged, and I can focus on the present moment. I tell my students about the ‘beer goggle’ effect, and how more suicides and other issues happen under the influence, because we don’t have the ability to long-range think. But honestly, that’s kinda what I’m going for. Because I don’t want to sit on my couch watching another episode of toddler TV and think “3 more weeks of this.” That’s so fucking overwhelming to me. The fact that he was running 45 minutes late last night was so fucking overwhelming to me.

And mindfulness is good and all, but honestly, alcohol is quicker. Maybe someday I’ll be a mindful yogi who doesn’t have a glass of wine, or a few beers, at night to try and hang on for the next few hours until bedtime and daddy’s home. I know I’ve been there before. I know this is a difficult time for us as a family.

Drinking is a hot topic among the parenting community. Do you imbibe? Know others who do? What influences your decisions to drink or not?

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Gut Punch

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It takes a lot for me to feel safe somewhere, to let my guard down and really just hang loose. Like when you come home from a long day of work, take your bra off and slip into your favorite long-sleeve track t-shirt from high school (so what if it has holes in it?!) and your husband’s oversize hand-me-down sweats. Even better is when you feel so comfortable with someone, that they can come over for a glass of wine and you don’t scramble to put the bra back on, or even contemplate changing back into those skinny jeans you wore all day at work.

So when I’ve nestled in, gotten comfortable, really let myself BE MYSELF somewhere, and then it’s….taken away…it feels like the wind is knocked out of me. Like I’ve been punched in the gut, and I am left wondering, ‘how will I survive this?’ Not to get overly melodramatic (is it my seasonal affective disorder talking?), but it feels like mini-deaths when something changes or goes away. I grieve. I find it hard to put into words. I mope about and scramble to try and fill a void that is my community-hungry heart.

This summer my beloved massage therapist Courtney Putnam took a sabbatical. And when she announced her blissful 3 months off, I knew…the writing was on the wall so to speak, that she’d be gone from the realm of massage therapy. While she has re-invented her practice to encompass many more awesome things (like healing retreats! and art sessions! and growth-coaching!), I am sad that I will no longer be able to afford regularly scheduled massage visits with her. I’ve been going to her since 2007, when I googled ‘body memory’ and found a blog post that spoke to my cell memory from a car accident. And then she happened to be in Seattle. And happened to be a few years older and had gone to my same elementary school, and was a Sagittarius. It felt like the stars had aligned. And now, I’m having to shift my perspective, to reinvent the way in which I want to have healing done, and it is exciting, but also a little bit intimidating. So in the meantime I’m dabbling in psychotherapy with a psychologist through my insurance, and working on some Groupons for massage, and delving into my new found love of bikram yoga.

And if that change wasn’t hard enough, today I learned rather abruptly, that my absolute favorite parenting community Offbeat Families, is being shut down. The site I wrote into a few times, that has featured my baby’s picture, that has propelled me forward into understanding different parenting topics. Gone. Like that. Sure they give a nice little summary, and it wasn’t good for business, but…as I said on my personal Facebook page:

I guess…I guess I just sorta feel blindsided. Like with the new branding, and everything felt really good, and I know that we readers aren’t entitled to the behind-the-scenes, but it sorta feels like being in a relationship that feels really comfy and good and then BAM one night of fighting they peace out and are gone for good (except they’ve left all their clothes behind, that still smell like them, and you randomly come across that picture of you two on the mantle, etc). I think I wouldn’t feel so freaking sad if I had seen it coming. Like a farewell Montage last week as we’re prepping to close the doors. Or a final blast of birthing posts to get us through the next week. I mean, Mondays are hard enough…

In the grand scheme of things, these are small losses. I will find other websites. I will make other friends, and expand my circle of healing goodness (as well as head back to Courtney for some extra special sessions when I get the cash), and life will go on. But god, in the moment it sucks…when I’m feeling vulnerable and the little losses seem to be adding up to one great big identity and life shift. And, sometimes I don’t want identity shifts. It feels exhausting trying to be all the me’s already.

How do you deal with the “small losses,” of everyday life? The coffee shop that changes their name, or the pizza joint that goes out of business? Or the bus route that gets re-routed or the jeans you wake up to find don’t fit anymore? Or what about when your favorite show ends for the season (or for good) or you put a good book down knowing the author has died and no more books will ever be published? What do you do then? How do you cope?

Student Problem

And we’re not talking about Potamus. No, he remains completely “lovey” free (save his mama’s boobies). Seriously, that kid still won’t take a bottle/sippy cup/paci or hold a lovey. Whatevs. It’s working for him.

No, I’m talking about in my class.

My high-school-dropouts-getting-an-AA-though-my-program-class.

Yeah.

This student is probably 16 or 17, artsy, and has been “unschooled” their whole life. Whatever that means (because when I look it up online it seems to mean a GAZILLION things, much like homeschool, but…more…unstructured?). At any rate, this individual hasn’t gone to school and seems to have been allowed to follow whatever whim and fancy they so desired. As in: no math past 4th grade and never written an essay. That was their self-disclosure in their opening “getting to know me” essay, which is SUPER good information, but leaves me scratching my head like “fo realz? no math? at all? past 4th grade? wasn’t that like…um…10 years ago?”

At any rate, said individual is very knowledgeable and speaks up and often in class, provides good (although sometimes tangential) responses and has a good attitude toward the assignments. They seem like they want to be here to learn. And last week they asked if they could do some sketching in their sketchbook while I lectured. Sure, no prob, I like doodling when I listen to lecture, too.

But, we’re talking full on technicolor sketching with tin of colored pencils and the shebang. Might get distracting, but so far they kept it in check.

Twice today during our activities, which, I’ll admit, did get heated and boisterous, I looked over and sorta made eye contact with this individual…sucking their thumb.

The first time I thought it was surely an accident, or my eyes playing tricks on me, like maybe there was carmel stuck to the roof of their mouth and they were trying to get it off. Or maybe they were biting their nails. Or…I ran out of any good options after that.

The second time it happened it was clear, and they then shyly played with their hair afterward, when they were “caught,” which is exactly like what my son does when he’s about to fall asleep (a little hair twirl by his ear).

While clearly I have to address this somehow, I’m going to talk with my co-teacher, because it’s such a sensitive topic. I’m sure this student knows that it’s socially considered…different…and while we’re a tolerant and open class, perhaps a different coping skill might help them be perceieved differently. But man, I don’t know what to do, really. I mean, they don’t talk about this in grad school. Sure, my elementary school friends have had the awkward 3rd grade conversation about stopping the habit (at least in public), but…17? In college? For reals?

So…advice is welcome on how to broach this subject sensitively…

Love and loathing

Love and loathing must be cut from the same cloth, they are so similar in intensity. I get caught up in the moment to moment of it all and when the pendulum swings to the dark-side, I wonder what the help am I doing in this situation? When did I want to be a mom, and now that I am here, the trapped scrambling-to-escape feelings come rushing back…predictably strong, likeĀ  stormy ocean waves. I am beginning to dread the darkness that falls so early in these winter evenings, as it means feeding on demand in the warm, dimly lit cave of a bedroom with Boof quietly sleeping next to me. The thoughts race again…night has never been my friend, and when I can escape the danger by sleeping I am a good person. And when I am awake, left to my own devices, the thoughts turn dark and scary. And thoughts influence action, and only 16 days into this new relationship, a relationship imbalanced by such brute strength and tiny innocence. He is completely dependent and I both love and resent it. How can I hold such dualities within me? Same how do I keep the shadow-self from hurting my sweet child?