Feb. 28, 2016

This Is All I Need For Today

“I need a room and a vegetarian diet, almost nothing more.”  Franz Kafka, Diaries, March 9, 1914

Our needs change.  When I was younger, I wanted excitement, the city, and friends around me.  Even as a young married couple my husband and I enjoyed parties, black-tie affairs and meeting new people.  When our children were born, all I wanted to do was nest.  I wanted to stop everything, but being at home with them.  I remember an acquaintance, also a young mother who continued with her career and social involvement, told me, “Do not lose yourself.”  I thought about it, but I resigned from the ball groups I was involved in, and the only organization I retained was my membership in the Junior League. I did this because at the time a member had to recommend you, then four other members had to sign for you as well.  They were only allowed to sponsor one provisional per year. This was not to be elitist at all but to ensure the provisional member would become a diligent volunteer and representative in the community.  These women had believed in my abilities to work hard and represent the Junior League of Montgomery, and I owed it to them to honor my commitment.  I learned to balance motherhood, being a wife, daughter, sister, friend, volunteer, active church member and have an active social life within this life. Also, I had quit drinking.  I was running every day.  I was 36 years old; I would arise at 5:00 am, run for 3 miles, come home, meditate, and spend time with my husband before he left for work. I did this all before starting my stay at home mom workday. I had an active role in Junior League and my church’s activities.  I hosted parties for my children and their school, we hosted semi-formal dinner parties, baby showers, bunco, couples barbecues, and casual play dates.  I read one book each week, and I was there for my friends and family. This was all I needed.  I even made it through losing two babies in utero in two separate pregnancies while I was in my fourth month as well as another miscarriage at five weeks. I had a clear head, and I had balance.  In 1998, we moved to North Alabama.  We left a life I loved.  But, my husband had a dream, and he deserved to go for it. He wanted to start his law practice.  We left a steady income, a community and life we had built in a town of 200,000 people to settle in a town of 12,367.  1998 records show that there were 12, 371 people.  Our family of four rounded out this number.  Hartselle is a community of wonderful people, but I couldn’t breathe.  I fell into a bad depression, and I drank.  I tried to grow where I was planted, but I suppose I didn’t nurture my soil and I died on the vine. In 2003, we moved to Decatur, Alabama, which is adjacent to Hartselle and thrives with a population of about 60,000 people.  When we bought our home in the neighborhood, we currently live in it was a good move for us.  We were quadrupling the size of our community.  I remember in June after we moved in our home standing in our back yard just taking in my new environment.  My mother had died one month prior in May, and I was adjusting to so many new normals.  I remember thinking this is all I need right now.  I need this new community, more people and this home for my little family.  As always I became involved with my children, their activities, my church, my husband’s law office and volunteer activities as well.  I was content.  I was an avid runner, though I  would drink and then.  I would stop drinking at times because I knew it was hindering my life and I wanted to get my balance.  Like any good alcoholic, I got my balance and felt great, so I started drinking again because “I had this!  I had control of my life!”  But, I did not have control of how I reacted to what was going on around me.  Life is hard for everyone. It has its ups and downs.  It was hard building a law practice and raising children.  I went back to work to supplement our income and continued to support my husband at the office as well as trying to be a super mom!  I did ok, but I had a hard time coping.  Instead of stopping and seeking guidance I moved forward with control.  Failure was NOT an option!  I did not realize that letting go of control is not failure.  Letting go of control is SUCCESS!  So, I drank and I held on tight!  Fear gripped me always.  I entered a 12 Step recovery program in 2004 and had periods of sobriety, but I always felt that I “had this” and I went back to drinking.  Then, I became the alcoholic who drank when It was good, and I drank when it was bad.  The common denominator in my life became drinking. In October 2015 when it became apparent to me that my drinking had progressed to a point that it was going to kill me one way or the other and that my life was unmanageable I re-entered my 12 Step recovery program.  I finally got that the 1st step is the one I MUST do 100%.  I must know daily that I am an alcoholic.  I am powerless over that very first drink of alcohol, and if I drink even one drink, my life will become unmanageable. I still have good times, and I still have bad times, BUT I can cope!  I have a clear head and when fear, doubts or exciting times grip me, good or bad because I am not drinking I can continue to move forward.  Two days ago I was jumping on my bed in this studio in New York squealing like a child, “I can’t believe it!  I am here!  I am living here!  I have some promising prospects on my horizon!”  I was filled with gratitude!  Yesterday, I explored this fascinating city and I was filled with excitement and in constant amazement of the opportunity I am living!  Today I woke up with fear, doubt, sadness and some guilt.  I have friends and family who cannot live this opportunity today, and I felt like I didn’t deserve it.  I wanted it, but I didn’t feel like I deserved it.  I then feared it would be taken away.  My alcoholic mind began racing, and I felt all those old negative thoughts that made me think I couldn't cope.  I began to write.  I prayed.  I meditated.  I used the tools I have learned in my 12 Step program to stop and just be.  Be here today.  Be in this fabulous small studio in Chelsea-Manhattan where on the corner is the bustling of 6th Avenue and when I look uptown I can see The Empire State Building, and when I look downtown, I can see The Freedom Tower all on the corner from my little place.  I have in my refrigerator delicious vegetarian food I bought from the Westside market on the other corner from me on 7th Avenue.  I have a room and a vegetarian diet, and the city I love right outside my window.  I have the choice to attend ten different 12 Step meetings this afternoon and evening all within a few minutes walk from me.  I have a family who is doing well and living their lives, and we are all supporting each other.  I am meeting new wonderful people each day.  If it all goes away tomorrow, I will be ok.  I have no fear today.  I am enjoying this day, this moment, and I am so grateful.  It is easy to be grateful where I am today.  I want to savor each moment and share it with others.  Most of all I am grateful I have no desire to change the way I feel today. I am writing this looking through my glasses which are dotted with marks from my tears which were tears of fear as I began to write, but turned into tears of gratitude as I finish this piece.  My life is about my perception.  I get to choose which tears I cry.