This month I celebrate ten years of emotional sobriety. A triumph I had never allowed myself to dream of. It’s because of my struggles that I began to grow up when I finally learned to do it differently.
“Choices” noun~ “a range of possibilities”~
I never knew I had these in my possession. As a child I watched both my mom and grandma endure the obstacles life handed them. The message I received while observing them was, we are all dealt a set of cards and to accept them with grace. This is ones lot in life, make it work. There was no opportunity to lay a card down, ask the dealer to hit me and hope for a better hand. So, life continued to happen.
While others were seemingly happy, I was constantly trying to figure out where I fit in. I certainly wasn’t an outcast, a geek, homely or even, God forbid, a cheerleader. (no offense to any of the aforementioned, just painting a visual of self) I simply lived a day-to-day existence.
Home was a typical string of dysfunctional events. This was excruciatingly normal to me, but still I hid behind my four walls of shame. It was safer than explaining to friends why mom was always drunk and the creepy stepfather just seemed inappropriate with his leering ways and oh so subtle innuendos. I did well in school by my standards, but far from it for that stepfather. I had friends at school and stayed away from home as much as possible by getting a job as soon as I was old enough. I began counting the days until I could move far away from these crazy people who made my life miserable.
Then the day was here, one month before I graduated from high school. Ironically it was Mother’s Day weekend, I picked a card from my deck, packed my things and left my home. It hurt my mom, this I know, but at seventeen my pain was more important to me than she was. After all, she constantly “chose” that man over her children for twelve years. That resentment laid the weakest foundation for an already broken, wounded, young lady.
With holes in my heart and no direction of what to do with my life, again I pulled a card from my hand and played it into the next chapter of what was finally my own life. I tried to break up with my high school boyfriend, but instead I succumbed to peer pressure and stayed in that abusive relationship for two more years. Alas, my white knight did come to rescue me. I could escape the evil that I’d suffered with for so long.
The cards were dealt, what else could I do? So I accepted things as they came, just as my first two teachers taught me. At least this guy appeared to be a man. He didn’t hurt me and I could ignore his occasional pot smoking, snorting of some white substance accompanied by a 40 ounce. Deep down I knew he’d quit, for me.
Denial kept me safe, so I just ignored my reality. If I didn’t look at it, it wasn’t real.
Three years later we were married and within six years we had three beautiful sons. They became my reason for living while their father climbed farther into the bottle. By then I had turned over my third card in my hand of five. I held tightly to my last two for fear of losing everything. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. My course was set, but I lacked the willingness to participate in this thing called life. Still in survival mode, my sons were growing up so fast and I was missing it. My focus remained on the insanity which came with the alcoholism I married into. I couldn’t help but hover over my children. I was hell-bent on protecting them, unlike what my own mom allowed, they weren’t going to know pain. Oh but they did. I was not that protector I set out to be.
Sixteen years later, I was forced to play card number four, only this time it felt different. When my sons father bottomed out, so it’s said, I already had both feet out the door. I had finally found that place I had been seeking for a lifetime. I felt a sense of belonging from the first time I walked through the door. The spiritual rooms of recovery, “for those who’s lives had been affected by others addictions”. It became my safe haven where I found hope, peace and serenity. That was the day I heard for the very first time, “you have a choice”! I laid card number five on the table and never again picked up a new deck. Instead I chose to live one day at a time.
This reflection comes every year at this time as not only my belly button birthday approaches, but my serenity birthday as well. Today my life is filled with blessings from my obstacles I’ve walked through. I have gone from not feeling worthy of love, to learning how to give and receive it. My expectations ride on low while my gratitude is on high. Regret and remorse are no longer welcome. Anger has been replaced by detaching with love. Courage gives me strength and hope gives me breath. Each day brings a new beginning. I cherish every moment as I string them all together in this new-found way of being, I now call life! I welcome myself to mine…