What I’m listening to!

Thanks to my 1.5+ hours of commuting round trip to work I have plenty of time to listen to great stuff. These can all be found through Apple Podcasts and I’m sure other platforms.

@forever35podcast is all about self care with quirky hosts and great guest interviews.

@cscdanmason hosts Life Amplified. I was introduced to Dan through @elvisduranshow and then within a listening to a few episodes I knew he was the guy to hire as my life coach. I love both his interviews and solo podcasts.

@aliontherun1 hosts a running themed podcast that covers all aspects of life including her life as a new mom. She has tons of awesome interviews and I went to college with her!

@acquiredtastepodcast is hosted by a current and former @elvisduranshow ladies. I appreciate their real talk and they are also I quirky duo I love!

I don’t have a lot of bandwidth to add to this roster because I also listen to @elvisduranshow through the iheartradio radio app, but any must listen to episodes of podcasts for me to check out?

12 Steps

Joining a 12 Step program 18 months ago was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. You get out of it what you put into it, actually I get even more. Everyone is those rooms comes to be vulnerable and talk about things that can sometimes be unspeakable, but also so relatable. I am always moved by the shares of others, it’s so powerful and healing. If you’ve ever thought about attending a 12 step meeting or even if you haven’t but if there is a meeting that matches something in your life. GO. No one talks about going, but I know how many people I see in the rooms I go to and the others meeting rooms that I’m sure are hosting other groups. Here’s a non-exhaustive, but robust list of 12 Step programs, a quick google can lead you to find a local meeting.

ACA –Adult Children of Alcoholics
Al-Anon/Alateen (for friends and families of alcoholics)
CA –Cocaine Anonymous
CLA –Clutterers Anonymous
CMA –Crystal Meth Anonymous
Co-Anon (for friends and family of addicts)
CoDA –Co-Dependents Anonymous (for people working to end patterns of dysfunctional relationships and develop functional and healthy relationships)
COSA (an auxiliary group of Sex Addicts Anonymous)
COSLAA –CoSex and Love Addicts Anonymous
DA –Debtors Anonymous
EA –Emotions Anonymous, for recovery from mental and emotional illness
FA –Families Anonymous, for relatives and friends of addicts
FA –Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous
FAA –Food Addicts Anonymous
GA –Gamblers Anonymous
Gam-Anon/Gam-A-Teen (for friends and family members of problem gamblers)
HA –Heroin Anonymous
MA –Marijuana Anonymous
NA –Narcotics Anonymous
N/A –Neurotics Anonymous (for recovery from mental and emotional illness)
Nar-Anon (for friends and family members of addicts)
NicA –Nicotine Anonymous
OA –Overeaters Anonymous
OLGA –Online Gamers Anonymous
PA –Pills Anonymous (for recovery from prescription pill addiction)
SA –Sexaholics Anonymous
SA –Smokers Anonymous
SAA –Sex Addicts Anonymous
SCA –Sexual Compulsives Anonymous
SIA –Survivors of Incest Anonymous
SLAA –Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous
SRA –Sexual Recovery Anonymous
UA –Underearners Anonymous
WA –Workaholics Anonymous

Measuring Monday:

18 months ago this week I went to my first ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) meeting. My success in this program helped give me the strength to handle a long weekend at home for my Grandmother’s funeral services. I only learned about ACA in December 2016 from a book, about 6 months before I started attending meetings at an early suggestion of a counselor I was seeing to deal with my workaholism. The book Perfect Daughters is about adult daughters of alcoholics which was the first time I even heard of  the term “adult children.” In reading that book I learned that less than 20% of children grow up in a household where only the mother is the alcoholic. Alcoholic fathers are most common followed by homes where both parents are alcoholics. It was only in late 2016 that I was able to even verbalize that my mother is an alcoholic – also common for daughters in situations like mine to be in denial about it or make excuses for their alcoholic mother.

There was no denying that my mom is not well, but she has a lot of problems from OCD to agoraphobia to suspected borderline personality disorder and narcissism so it was hard to bring myself to name any of them. However in late April 2016 on a Friday afternoon, my mom left my sister and I each a “goodbye” voicemail. I called 911 for police to make a welfare check and my sister headed to Long Island from NYC with her boss not knowing what they would find. There’s no telling how serious her attempt was, she was assessed by paramedics, but refused transport. Essentially she was very drunk and took some pills. She has no recollection of the attempt and refuses to accept it was as traumatizing as it was for us, especially my sister. My sister drew a line in the sand that day, but I still took on more of her abuse and added to my self-abuse through workaholism.

Over the last 18 months through attending meetings and working the steps of ACA I’ve set boundaries with my mom. One of our guiding principles is our take on the Serenity prayer “God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage the change the one I can, and the wisdom to know that one is me.” I no longer stay at mom’s house when I’m in NY – I stay with other family or get a hotel. I decide how I want to spend a holiday as opposed to feeling guilted or obligated to be there which is often at my own detriment. I requested we set up weekly calls which helps me mentally and emotionally prepare for a call as opposed to her previous cold calls at odd hours. I do my best to be nice to her and remind myself she is not well, but she also hasn’t been for a long time and refuses to help herself. The worst part of every interaction with my mom is still the not knowing. Am I getting Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde? This trip to NY for my Grandmother’s services was fairly tame and I had my fiance with me as a human shield. We drove her to the church, took her to lunch, and our for a few errands. Lots of small talk and pleasantries, but I guess it’s better than yelling or crying. I’m not sure how the next few days and weeks will play out. Will she find relief from no longer being under my grandmother’s control or will things be bleaker? Either way I am working to release myself from any sense of responsibility to fix things, please her, or be perfect. To quote one of my favorite John Mayer lyrics, “I’m in repair, I’m not together, but I’m getting there.”

Note: Note my 20% stat is of children in alcoholic homes only 20% only have an alcoholic mother. Estimates are that ~45% of the population have been exposed to familial alcohol abuse and more than half of those are children.

The Matriarch

My grandma passed away yesterday at age 90 after quite a few years of failing health. This picture is from my grad school graduation in 2007.

We weren’t particularly close, but she was smart, very educated, belly danced as a hobby (even into her 60s), and taught me to curse in Slovak. But she was a very broken person for reasons she never shared or maybe fully explored, but it manifested itself in many ways. She never said please or thank you, instead she barked orders. She also was one to always remind people that they could lose some weight or had put on a few pounds. She was very critical of how her family did in school and was never satisfied with anything less than an A.

However she was my last surviving grandparent. My dad’s dad died when I was a baby and his mom died in 2001. My mom’s dad died in 1995. She was my mom’s mom and the long reigning family “matriarch.” She was the oldest of 4 sisters and lived longer than all of them. She has 2 daughters and each of her daughters has 2 daughters. However there’s also a long history of emotionally abusive mother daughter relationships which has lead to a very splintered and dysfunctional sorority of sorts.

My fiancé and I are heading up to New York for services which is going to be explosive I’m sure. I’m using this long car ride to prepare mentally. I hope I can get through the weekend relatively unscathed, but I don’t think I’m that lucky. I’m thankful for all the work I’ve done on myself the past 18 months particularly around my mom’s alcoholism and I have the supports to help me process things after this weekend. Thoughts are appreciated.

Get Those Zzzs

Sleep is the 4th aspect of getting on track.

6-8 hours a night is a must for your body.

I had some chronic sleep issues due to high stress and my workaholism (more on that in a future post). I was running off no sleep and felt like garbage. I spent a year working on my workaholic sobriety and starting to notice my phone was becoming a replacement addiction, especially in bed at night.

Since September I charge my phone across the room/in another room and its done wonders for my sleep.

I decided to start 2019 by taking off my Fitbit at night. I was also become too addicting to my sleep analysis. So much so that if I work up feeling well rested and refreshed, but the saw results that didn’t exactly mirror that I would not let myself feel as rested or refreshed.

I have issues I know, a whole giant mountain of them, but this is really the year about putting it all out there.

Getting more sleep each night in a must as well as understanding more about sleep hygiene.

Measuring Monday: Holidays from Hell

Maybe I’m not a big holiday person because holidays equate with families and I’m not really a family person. Yes, I know (and believe) family can mean many different things, but when it comes to holidays that’s generally the blood-related family time. I saw some of my family at Thanksgiving so we’re staying local for Christmas and we’ll spend tomorrow with my fiance’s family. Most of my holiday memories involve yelling, feeling uncomfortable, and that feeling of sitting on pins and needles. I’ve long established that my mom is a terror, but so is her sister and their mother. The holidays for a long whole meant bringing all 3 of them together and it was just horrific, carnage everywhere.

The mental and emotional trauma of these days will never really be something I think I can totally heal from. From little things like being forced to eat fish on Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house before we could open presents to explosive fights over stuffing at Thanksgiving that resulted in my mom kicking my Aunt and her family out of the house before dinner and then her throwing most of the food she made away while my sister, Dad and I just sat shell-shocked and yet not totally surprised. My “traditional”  holiday task since I turned 18 has been buying my mom cigarettes – Capri ultralights. Mom never lets me drive her car, except to buy her cigarettes. One year I found a local Turkey Trot a few towns over and wanted to run it with my sister, but my mom refused to let me drive her car. I knew there was no winning because she likes to keep control over the few things she has control over, but still, it was a big fight that year. When I was home for Christmas last year fetching her cigarettes was the last request I fulfilled for her – in my car because I can no longer stand to be there without a clear escape option.

My adult years involve finding alcohol my mom hid around the house and trying to dump enough of it that wouldn’t result in me getting lashed out at. I also often spend the holidays get slurred at from my mom about “when does she get to be Grandma,” meaning when does someone else host Christmas since my Grandmother stopped hosting holidays after my Grandpa died when I was 12. For the record, I would LOVE to host a holiday and have offered, but that would involve my mom coming to my house. Which means leaving Long Island and being in a car for more than 40 minutes which are all things she doesn’t do. She came up to my grad school graduation in eastern Connecticut for the day with my grandma in 2007. That’s the last time she traveled for me and she constantly reminded me of what a taxing request it was for her to drive 2.5 hours each way. Aside from that, she hasn’t seen a place where I lived since I was a freshman in college, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.

Social media makes this time of year especially painful because sometimes I like to imagine all families are as broken and dysfunctional as mine, but then I see pictures of family game nights, family Christmas pajama parties, family hat parades, and more. It breaks my heart every single year and yet like a car accident I can’t look away. I get kicked while I’m down during the holidays thanks to the TimeHop app. Here’s a random sample of what popped up today – Christmas Eve:

  • 2017: Pictures of cute Pomeranians on Instagram is my only drug option to keep me sane while at my mom’s house #hour2
  • 2011: Nothing says Christmas like family members screaming at each other on the top of their lungs #crazyfamily
  • 2010: Running errands with my sister AKA getting away from my mom for a few hours
  • 2010: Traditional Christmas yelling is on full effect
  • 2009: True life my mom made me curse in church because she is a crazy biotch

If this is the stuff I felt comfortable posting – crying for help –  via twitter or other social media you can only imagine what I didn’t post. In reflecting on horrible holidays what does it say that Thanksgiving 2007 doesn’t even crack the top 5 of horrible? Let me remind you my Dad died unexpectedly the Sunday before Thanksgiving that year and his wake and funeral were the 2 days after Thanksgiving. Yet I truthfully have had worst holidays. Bah Humbug feels like an appropriate way to end this post.

I’ve done a lot of thinking and reflecting about fear this past year.
Both how crippling it can be and yet how truly irrational most fears are.
FEAR can mean 1 of 2 things:
Face Everything And Rise
Fear Everything And Run
I’m so glad I took 2018 to rise up. 2019 is going to be all about no regrets.
A key part of my journey this year was to face my fears head on.
What will 2019 hold for you?

I’m still reading “The Drama of the Gifted Child.” It’s only 125 pages, but it’s a tough read. This passage really spoke to me today and I thought it was appropriate to share.
Yes, that perfectly sums up how I feeL towards my Mom. I never know who I’m going to get Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. The stress of even worrying about it makes it almost unbearable before I’m in the same room with her.
This year I will be NY for Thanksgiving, but I do not plan to see my Mom. She has rescinded too many invitations over the last few years and I can’t let the dread of seeing her ruin my precious few days off in my favorite city.
I hope I can stay strong and not let guilt take over, this is in best interest of my self care.