quality to quantity

This year my family and I would like to attend the Life Is Good Unschooling Conference in late May, 2012. The cost for the conference is $175. The cost for the hotel is $90/night, and we would like to stay the full week. This would officially be the longest “vacation” our foursome has ever had. If we do take it.

~$900 (not including meals away from home) is a very high pricetag indeed for us Hogabooms.

At this point it is kind of a pipe dream that we may even be able to go.

Any donation is helpful. I have had some incredibly wonderful experiences in generosity and support from my readers. If you click the link “What’s all this, then?” below the big pink donation button to the right —>, you can read a bit more about ways other than cold hard cash to support myself, my blog, my writings, my work, and my family.

Thank you very much for being the most lovely readers and commentariat a woman could ask for.


So, I’ve been elbows-deep in Recovery work the last couple days and I’ve just about fried my brain. Running from doctors’ appointments to feeding and picking up kids, cleaning up around home, meetings and one-on-one help, answering phone calls from people who, if they don’t get help, well, they could die a horrid death. Plain and simple. I know it’s not my sole job to keep other people alive nor sober, as my own sobriety is enough in my hands, but it’s just the truth, people die, so calls I get are pretty important.

Today at the Treatment Center the topic is Anger. This is a good one. Hands-down the most honest conversations I’ve been exposed to have been in the rooms of Recovery. Never have I seen personal responsibility taken to the utmost level; never, concomitantly, have I seen the ugliness of the human condition, the kinds of depraved creatures we work ourselves into. Later in the day I’m laughing in a new cafe with two friends; my mom brings the children along to join us. During lunch I drink an espresso doppio. I’m pleased there’s a new place to get a great sandwich. It’s rainy and shitty and blowy outside.

More phone calls; more work. At the end of the day I’m so spent that if I could literally have any wish for myself I wouldn’t know what to wish for. This is not a good sign. I am completely tapped out.

I move through a small subsistence of activity. I show the children how to make an incense offering. Daily I teach my children a little more about housekeeping life (Phoenix recently learned how to clean the bathroom sink with Borax), and they apprentice with a willing spirit. A friend of Nels’ comes over and the two boys rough and tumble. Phoenix puts her arms around me and kisses me and whisper-snuggles, “I love you.” I wash, dry, fold and put away clothes. I take the lemon tree in for a long drink in the shower, and I clean the table. I pick up Ralph’s guitar and figure out a song. I haven’t played in something like twelve years.

Tomorrow I wake up a bit early to get my work done and head out to donate blood. At all places, the winery in Westport. I haven’t been there yet, although I remember biking past it on our camping trip a few summers ago. I hope the roads are good, and I hope my energy returns. I haven’t sewn in a few days and I feel a bit sad.

a setting on the dryer

I’m not sure at what point my day, and my mind, asploded. I worked hard in the home and on an art project, much to my satisfaction. I had a tense discussion this morning with my husband, but that seemed to resolve okay. (Other peoples’) kids came and went through my house and we fed one or two and kicked another one out to have a meal, just the four of us. Friends were over, another friend canceled a dinner date with us. I helped at a Recovery function and paid for a couple plates of spaghetti and salad for those who might not have the suggested donation.

I met a few new people today too, including a man who reminded me of my father so much it hit me like a physical blow, he had the same earring and trained into electronics in the military, in Vietnam, and I listened to him talk and stared and thought of my father, too tired to even feel the sting of missing him. I met a few new people today, including a man who cried talking about the people who surrounded and loved him and got him help when he needed it most, this was over ten years ago and he still had tears in evidence. I met a few new people today, including a nice young man recently released from incarceration and (more shockingly to my provincial mind) who related his experiences divorcing from in-house White Power groups (I talked to him a bit later, as he’s newly a mechanic of a type I could use).

At some point I guess I started to feel some kind of intense spiritual or emotional or mental fatigue, although I didn’t recognize it until later during volunteer work. Maybe my brain went *click* into exhaustion hearing the fourth young person say, “I’m _________, heroin addict,” and so on. Or maybe it was investing myself in yet another story filled with more hate and sorrow and abuse and neglect, stories so incredibly personal yet now stunningly familiar, and yes there’s triumph and courage and tremendous love and affection and salvation and gratitude, but still I have the visceral image of a young man left to cry himself to sleep night after night in the back of a car while his parents went into the bar to drink, a boy then a teen then a man who learned to never let those feelings show for many many years but now they’re coming up. More tears.

Even surrounded by all sorts of this kind of stuff I can’t entirely say I’m depressed or brought down. Humbled is a better word. I used to feel separate from these concerns or maybe I had no idea how much suffering there was, right where I could reach out and touch it, or maybe I would have considered some people “really sick” or thinking I was, essentially, better, or better off at least, than they. But today there is nothing that separates me at all from all of this, and I feel floored as if an ant with a large boot to crush me to Nothing, because in fact we have all the same affliction, and at the risk of starting controversy it doesn’t have much to do with the use or non-use of chemicals and if you can’t see it you’re just not seeing what I’m seeing.

Tangentially I have also discovered all the aspects of my best alcoholic behaviors, well I have them today in sobriety and they are some of the qualities that make me a rather terrific parent. Example: we have $11 in the bank and out of nowhere this afternoon I tell the kids, “Let’s get a tree!” and of course I mean one supporting our locals at the Market, not the cheapest tree at all. And when we get there they are just closing up but a nice older man lets us tree-shop and we find a brilliant noble fir, I’d never noticed how pretty they are. And the nice fellow helping us out, I see he’s also a Santa-for-hire (there’s a flyer) and I say, “Oh you’re Santa,” then after he tells me a bit I laugh, “We’re a no Santa household,” and he says, “Well okay!” Ralph “ropes” the tree to the top of my car and in the parking lot we see a lone purple ornament rolling around and we pick it up to hang on our tree.

And the kids are One Hundred Thousand Percent so happy to see Ralph bring in the fragrant greenery. “That is a beautiful tree, mom. Good job!” my oldest tells me. The kids get to decorating it and I’m happy to see the tree develop in the way it was in my family of origin, not an Avon-perfect or shopping mall tree but the ornaments handmade, many of them gifts from others, handstitched and glued and pasted and lovely, and the kids and the cats are simply delighted. The children go about their painting and drawing and reading and when they ask for my attention I turn and give it to them as best I can,

as fierce I can.

I come home and bathe and wrap myself in a blanket and sit quietly by the family, who likely have no idea how much it hurts sometimes. My daughter told me she stared at me today, and she says “because you’re so beautiful”. And I think I know what she means and today, that’s pretty good.

innocence does not find near so much protection as


I’m gonna cut straight to the chase here as I have company over any minute and need to get to a few details:

I had an entirely new strain of Mommy Guilt after a little bit of time sober.*

I worked on it as best I could. I prayed about it. I confessed it. I journaled it. I cried over it. I talked to people about it, very specific people, and larger support groups. I meditated on it. I discussed with supportive and awesome people, people including my mom and Ralph who are my most fierce and loving supporters and would forgive me any damn thing and go to any length for me, and whose love sustains me in important ways. And of course I talked to my children, but cautiously, as they don’t need to (continue to) be innocent victims of my difficulties.

I did all this because I was That Serious about getting over this guilt, which has never helped me in any way – but has kept me from getting better. I did all this because I couldn’t live that way any more, and I knew enough to get help from others.

But it didn’t go away. Not too quick. The guilt. Little tiny pieces got clinked off here and there, gradually melting like the soul-sucking ugly dirty icy soul snowball it was, but that dingy core remained, deep down inside.

Until. I don’t know. Something this morning. I was thinking about all the mistakes I’ve made, which I’m happy to tell anyone in detail if they want to IM or DM or Chat or text or call or write or email, but I won’t elaborate right here right now, and in the back of my mind I recognized how tired I was of it all, the Guilt, the feeling so so bad over things I can’t change, things that others have forgiven me, including the relevant parties, but I seem to not be able to Let Go.

And what I thought was, one thing I’ve realized is through the whole business, this nine-plus years of being a mother, is I did actually learn something about being a skilled and loving mother. This whole time.

It isn’t as if I don’t know how to do it all.

When I got that little moment of clarity, things got simple. I finished tidying up the house, had an early-morning bath with my son, tucked him under blankets and cuddled him every time he asked, and took him out to breakfast (he wore his kitty costume) where he charmed the diner owner into a chocolate chip pancake (not on the menu) and got a chocolate shake, yes this for breakfast, but I just let him order what he wanted, and I drank a glass of water and some meh-coffee and just enjoyed my time with him.

I remembered that my job is to help my kids when they need it. Not be a Good Mom. No one else’s fucking business except me, and the kids.

Nels couldn’t finish his breakfast and wanted to give the other half to his sister; I took the food home and kept it warm / cold and when Phoenix woke up she said, “Mom I still feel a little sleepy – can I have breakfast in bed?” And I put down what I was doing and said, “Absolutely.”

Then later before I went to an appointment we talked about their plans while I was gone, and I said, “When I get home I’d like you to help me get the house cleaned up a bit.”

And when I got home I nicely asked them if they were ready, and they were, and we cleaned up together and did all that stuff. It didn’t take long. Dishes, laundry, cleaning their room, stripping the beds, feeding the kitties and the gecko. I wasn’t rude to the kids, and I told them Thank You for their help.

And I sat and listened to them any time they wanted to sit on my lap and talk to me.

This is all stuff I’ve known how to do and learned and have done through their childhood. Even while I made a lot of mistakes, big and small. I still learned a lot, all that time.

So today what I realized is, I know how to do this, I know how to take care of them. Thank sweet baby Jesus in his Golden Diapers for that.

Oh, and this morning? When I gave Phoenix her tray in bed, she said, “Did I mention that you’re the best mom in the world?”

Both kids say that, or the equivalent, a fair bit.

And I’m no longer going to argue with them outloud, or even (this is harder) in my own head.


* P.S. Mommy Guilt ≠ Parent Guilt or any other kind of guilt for that matter, if you don’t know what it’s like, consider yourself blessed!

nature red in tooth and claw

About twelve hours ago while I washed dishes and sipped coffee and got ready for my day, I received a text from the friend my son was visiting. “Nels says, ‘Mama I want you more than anything. You’re the best mama in the world.'”

Loving and demonstrative their entire lives so far, my children have been telling me these things even more often. “You’re the best mama.” “I love you.” “I want you.” “Cuddle me.” The other day in Happy Teriyaki, my daughter tells me as we walk to the loo to wash our hands: “Mom, you’re the most tender person in the world.” And, sadly, I reflexively responded to her lived reality with a cock-block of negatory logic, “No, I’m not.” I recognized my mistake immediately, of course – let’s hope one day my heart can outrun my mind which in turn will outrun my tongue.

I’m glad my children hold me dear.  I’ve not been holding myself in the same light. Self-criticism is not a worthwhile practice; after all it is no virtue but rather still staying in the Self, where we suffer much and don’t do others many favors either (I can quite picture what Thich Nhat Hanh means when he calls our condition “the corpse-like state of self-absorption”). And since I grant a great deal of importance to the gift of life, if there’s one thing I think I might look back on and regret, a forerunner in the race would be not giving myself a break. In fact a spiritual mentor recently spoke this phrase when I asked about the experience of Guilt for our past (and present) poor behaviors: “We can only live starting this moment, so maybe let’s give ourselves a break,” spoken softly and punctuated naturally with the most easy and simple and gentle smile.

I’m going through a lot right now so perhaps I can “give myself a break” that I produce few results, for instance the grand event yesterday was taking a walk and getting tacos, or that a few days previous I succeeded in the dubious accomplishment of watching an entire season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in one day (most of the ladies were deserving of the title but frankly I was arsed at the finale – hence my new tattoo JUJUBE 4 EVA!). The sudden change of season to the cold and dark has typically been difficult for me emotionally, and this year seems little different. I’m in my first year of Recovery, and now I have a (possibly) chronic medical condition and face, very shortly, (what occasionally seems like a torturously arbritrary choice to have) surgery.

These things, on top of the rest of Life, might not be a big deal to others. But they are a Big Deal To Me, and at least today I know that matters.

Nels snuggles us in bed while we watch a nature show, some horrible big-toothed fish being dragged out of a river, and suddenly he says, “Gosh!” as if he’s surprised. I look and see he’s holding his underwear, donned only a few minutes ago after his bath, in a ball in his hand, and he’s got his head cocked, posed in a feigned quizzical surprise. Nude and warm under the covers. And I laugh and laugh and laugh.

Children, they’re good for what ails ye. Or at least, me.

nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt

I am supine on the cold table and something is beamed at me and takes pictures of my insides. The technician is very friendly and conversational, quite professional. I am subdued because I have been enduring medications and procedures that are not especially fun, although I am struggling not to retain a poor attitude. My children are in the hallway, clean and neatly dressed, reading to themselves. After I get my pictures taken I dress again, gather the kids up and get them a bubble tea to share before we head to the specialist’s.

After review of my results they tell me a series of little reports, mundane to their field of expertise, but each one a blow which threatens me into a smaller and smaller corner of myself. They recommend a procedure that will involve general anesthesia and intubation, have a device installed within my body, and then wait two weeks where I must rest while likely enduring chronic pain that cannot be corrected by medication, during this time which among other restrictions I am recommended to not lift more than ten pounds. Two weeks of very likely chronic pain. This sticks with me and the fear threatens to consume me. Then after this time, the removal of the device, a procedure which also hurts, lots. When a doctor tells me it hurts, I know it hurts more than they say.

Today I am not in much pain, but I am in some. I am not in as much pain as I will be, so I take that time and enjoy it. But what to say when people say, “I hope you’re feeling better”, and things aren’t better? We assume those sick improve, but not always so. I should know this acutely watching my father go through cancer (and, worse, cancer treatment). Sometimes there is no “better”, or better takes time.

Attending me I have a loving family, competent (as far as I can tell) medical personnel, some medical insurance, and most of all, my sobriety and spiritual practice. Indeed these last two are the only things I can rely on, these practices. I can tell you without them I would be consumed, eaten alive by fear and misery.

“The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.”

what you think you become

Yesterday I spoke to a group about my sobriety. I said, “Every day I make a decision… and not the decision not to drink. I make a decision to have a good day. And I say thank you to God, to whatever, for the day. I’ve heard it said that an alcoholic who isn’t grateful, will drink. I know this is true for me.

This practice has only been with me a little while but it has reaped intense and immediate benefits. This practice does not mean only “good” things happen to me. This practice also has little to do with alcohol, and is not unique to addicts – but it has everything to do with Recovery. This practice will sustain me when all other measures fail.

For me, gratitude is a choice and right effort; it is a practice… but it is also something each of us can atrophy to the point of disability. We do this destructive work with our minds until soon we believe we are our minds, and we live in anxiety, stress, fear, and a perpetual cycle of avoidance and greed. Living this way is why I now know the importance of strengthening my spiritual and ethical practice. As I heard a few friends say over the last few days, “We only have control over two things… our actions, and our thoughts.”

I’ve weighed that sentence a bit over the last few days and realized it’s stunningly true. Many people have very little mastery over their thoughts; their thoughts have control over them. They are overrun with judgment and suffering, at the mercy of feelings and judgments that cause them, and others around them, to suffer.

Living without gratitude was a living death. Like most all persons on the planet, I’ve experienced attraction and giddiness, sentimentality and enslavement. These I mistook for gratitude, but gratitude is more of a decision than a high, more of a practice than a virtue. Faking gratitude or mouthing gratitude is pointless, may fool others but does not fool me, is likely harmful – and I won’t do it.

I’ve written about gratitude before, and very recently. It is a lifeblood to me like food and air and rest.

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.

Today, I truly am thankful.

Ralph just caught this immense, horrible spider out our porch. Happy Autumn, everyone!

Today amongst lots of your typical daily activities most everyone does, I also made time to practice meditation. I held a guided session this morning in my home* while my youngest child slept (my oldest child stayed at her grandmother’s last night). The second meditation practice occurred in a group setting and was mostly silent – my first time in a group, sitting still and without sound for a half hour.

I am amazed at how much more quiet and calm my mind can be these days than it used to be. Meditating, I soon find myself in a semi-trance, not sleepy and not unaware. As long as I make myself physically comfortable, I do not resent the time sitting. So far I am relatively successful at dismissing the part of the mind that attempts to call this practice a waste of time. I can collect myself from whatever I was doing and relax into, and enjoy, the practice. This is relatively new. It’s pretty wonderful. In moments during a guided meditation the experience feels like work; while I illuminate the “inner enemies” I can feel weary and tired and sad. But finishing the process (which includes the fire of meditation and eliminates these burdens), I have a great deal of energy afterwards. Energy to take care of others, to serve, to be kind. To be patient. Joyous, loving, and free.

Or more specifically, to clean the bathroom, finish the laundry, practice asana, make snacks for children, bake bread for my family and for friends, drive my son out to a playdate, return phone calls, sew, pick up my children and then play with them, fix food and clean up after, mail a letter, drive and sing happily to music, pick up coffee, give a ride to someone who needed one, buy groceries (and help my daughter in learning how to shop), ask my husband about his day and really listen, assist with dinner and cleanup, and listen to and talk wtih a friend regarding a recent personal setback.

In between my meditations and while doing these other things, the mind occasionally attempted to make this a bad day. The mind also tried to tell me I Wasn’t Good Enough (oh… that old chestnut! I’m almost starting to feel fond of it!). The lowest point: In the midday I tried to do some work and found I was very tired and had little energy for the task. I felt angry and ashamed of myself – and anxious, as the work I wanted to do is something I need for the weekend. But I accepted my situation and sat down and watched a bit of an entertaining-enough film (hint, Hugh Jackman taking a shower outside) and, as I couldn’t quite accept a total resting moment, I knit. But I promise, I knit in as relaxed a fashion as possible. When it was time to rise up again, I was ready.

And now? It’s just about time to lay down. After a slice of that pan de los muertos. Which turned out perfectly – and was a joy to make.

Life is pretty good.

* I have been using Harshada Wagner’s classes; his teachings and meditations have been incredible gifts.

Beware! I bear more grudges / Than lonely high court judges

Today I had the opportunity to learn a few lessons about myself – lessons I am sick and tired of having presented to me while I remain stagnant. I realized after a lengthy conversation with friends that I have been stuck on a particular issue for quite some time. The issue is more personal than I will write about here. At root – of course: fear. My fear of being noticed in a particular way, and of being infringed upon. Some part of me that still lives in reaction to things long past, events that no longer threaten my safety today.

Anyway, It’s old stuff and an old familiar way of life: Why can’t the world play according to my rules? Why can’t people stop asking certain things of me? As you may imagine, it’s a horribly precarious and pinched way to live. It leaves me less than whole, less useful to others, fragile and unappealing – and taking myself way too seriously.

As I’ve said, the awareness came after a conversation familiar to me – and a discussion with people I care about. I dislike (inadvertently) exposing my sick traits to friends and family that I love, but sometimes I can’t stop running my mouth while this happens. Comes down to it, I worry these loved ones will tire of my imperfections and sicknesses and leave me. I worry they will seize onto that seed of self-loathing I have deep within, and of course they will leave because that self-loathing is right, I really am not worthy.

But ultimately, when I think this through, I realize I have been abandoned many times in my life and I’ve lived through it. So while I would like to be a better friend, and I would like to be less sick than I am, I must accept who I was today. I would also like freedom from the obsession on my character defects. I would rather cultivate some gratitude upon the discovery that Yes, I am stuck, I am in this place.

A close friend told me the other day I have a martyr complex, and that I hadn’t fed it in a while and it was hungry. “It’s going to die of neglect.” She also told me, if I understood her correctly, it would grab onto anything it could eat. I sense this is true. It is highly unflattering to realize the extent guilt and shame has played in my life but this does not make the reality any less true. It isn’t a pretty picture. However I can’t be any more well than I am. I brought my best Self to today, and tomorrow is a new day.


When I bike with a handful of other grownups I feel like a bike gang, kinda West Side Story all snapping our fingers and a little bit silly. Wednesday, G. is wearing a garbage bag as a simple poncho/windblock, having donated his jacket to J. once the night got gold. We stop at the AM/PM to get air and the two of them service my bike like a personal pit crew. I tell them thank you and then we’re back on the road and it’s perfect and simple like when we were kids.


I have always enjoyed this turn of the season. Today walking home with Nels, his hand in mine, I sensed the experiences and feelings of my childhood, good experiences. Yes, they’re in there, deep inside! I perceived my son feeling the same way, shuffling through the first of the fallen leaves and with the crystal-clear sky and neighborhood kids hailing him. I love it when the kids put their hand in mine. I don’t know how many more times I will experience it. It is really an amazing gift.

only puts in motion what has been locked in frost

First Day Of First Grade

My first day of school, first grade
Taken in the bus we lived in

The family I grew up with until about age eight, my maternal family, mostly what I remember was a messy and boisterous tribe who started childbearing a bit later in life, consumed spirits by the case (or in the instance of wine, the box or gallon jug), smoked a fair degree of pot (some of them way more than others), and mostly wanted to eat and drink and have a good time and certainly never wanted that to end. The parties around the bonfire singing and playing music (old stuff from the sixties mostly), must have been fun for many but I grew them into a resentment. Most everyone worked hard and drank hard too, although a few members dropped out of much employment. As far as I know, I’m the only alcoholic in the family, but it seems like there sure are a lot of drunks.

In my memory my grandmother never much quit smoking cigarettes her whole life even though she ended up needing a breathing apparatus and assistance. She died of alcohol- and smoking-related complications but to my knowledge the family didn’t name it thus. You know, just a mystery stroke I guess. I got to be there for her death – myself, my husband, and the start of our own family: our four month old daughter. Many sorrows were ahead for my husband and I along the lines of our family inheritances, but at the time we didn’t know this.

My childhood experiences contain many hurtful memories, although in that family it was requisite we describe ourselves and our relations as “warm and loving”. Despite this mythology, I perceived I was only enjoyed and loved when I was being adorable – or a Good Girl, or both. I was told girls were supposed to be beautiful, and certain girls in the family were praised as such, and since I wasn’t, at least I knew where I stood on that count. At the same time I remember at a very early age believing there wasn’t any adult I could count on to choose me and my brother and our sense of safety, over their drinking and drugging. Since I was so little I was powerless to change any of this.

In addition to the drinking and drugging, which invoked a fair degree of fear as years went on, there was just daily life. The adults in my life changed, like chimera, during the day and as evening wore on. I rarely knew what was expected of me, only knew if I was meeting approval or not. One minute they’d be mostly tending to their work or the kids – or, as is more likely, ignoring us – the next they’d be overly sentimental, lachrymose, and effusive – or toxic and full of venom directed at little Me, their faces flushed and hardened into set-jaw choler beneath small angry eyes. My character defects and my errors, my objections to unfairness, any assertion of my own will counter to theirs, and my crudely-expressed desire to be treated with dignity was not ignored – it was punished. By age two the family called me “Little Hitler”, and later cited this as funny, good thing I straightened myself out, I was such a willful child.  Later an adult from this family would tell me it was okay for me to lash out against my own children. “They have to understand that you have feelings too.”

Oh, I made sure my kids understood I had feelings alright. Just the way I had done to me. As a mother I was Feelings ran rampant.

But, that was later – my own family.

Back to my childhood: relatively early in life I discovered I was capable at succeeding in school, and this performance placated these adults and put me in a category convenient for them. I wasn’t the beautiful one or the good one – I was the smart one.

I certainly wasn’t in a position to perceive that these people were sick and suffering in their own ways, and coped via chemicals and Authoritarian parenting and gastronomical excess et cetera, simply to manage their own pain, stress, confusion, depression, excitation, and suffering. They did the best they could with what they had. In this way my story is hardly unique, nor is my family.

As carefully as I’ve laid out my childhood memories, I want to further impress upon the reader that I do not hold resentments over these events – not anymore. In fact, the release of resentments has been the greatest gift I’ve afforded myself, and it was only possible through some measure of divinity (the old adage is true). But I am also not going to pretend these things didn’t happen, or they didn’t hurt at the time. They are simply a part of my history.  I know now that not one of these adults wanted me to feel unsafe, or scared, or sense I was an afterthought running around barefoot and expected to be “good”. As best as they were able, they loved the children in their midst, likely better than they themselves had been loved.

By the time my mother, father, brother and I moved north and away from this family to take advantage of an inexpensive living situation, my survival traits were intractable and reflexive. Seen this way it seems I was doomed to have a love affair with the escape available in alcohol and drugs. I remember my first drink – it was at age twelve and I flew high above those feelings of low self-worth, Unacceptability, embarassment and shame. The history, frequency, duration, and behaviors of my drinking career are details unimportant regarding what I write here, and now.

What matters today is I have a story to share with those who suffer as I did. What matters today is I am responsible for myself and others, and there is no point to shame myself or blame myself – or blame or shame others – for the past. I was gifted something amazing in my Recovery, as I could have lived the rest of my life out as others before me have – or far worse.

Today I live on a knife-edge of amazement, a case of being astounded by what has been given. When I am outside walking and the wind is blowing and I feel clear and alive I am also on the verge of an agoraphobic episode, flying off the face of the Earth into the Great Beyond simply because it is so massive and so much larger than I. “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. I am fearful of God, but not in the way most nonbelievers would think this means. I do not worry God is going to bash me flat like Whack-A-Mole and I do not think there is a vengeful power who holds sway. I am fearful because I perceive the depths and breadths throughout, but I can not understand or grasp it all. I have lived for some little time floored at the life I was given, how incredible and amazing it is. It is such a gift. I do not wish to squander it. I do not wish to forget the gift. I no longer wish to poison it or smash it to bits, or smash at other people.

I want to hold so fiercely to my gratitude and never let it go. To life any other way is, for me, a Living Death.


Found written in a notebook:


Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.

Today I visited my doctor, the one who months ago spoke to me in a way I was ready to understand about the possibility I might be an alcoholic. The next day I had gone to a recommended place and discovered this was a certainty, for me, personally.

The day I knew I was an alcoholic was one of the best days in my life.

So before I talk more about that, well, today – the doctor’s. We reviewed how I was doing. He asked me how the summer went, with all the barbecues and beer and booze flowing. I told him quite honestly it hadn’t been a problem. I talked to him about a few of my concerns. We straightened all that out then he said he didn’t need to see me for another year.

He shook my hand firmly and told me succinctly, “Good job.” I looked right at him and said simply, “Thank you. You can’t imagine how different my life is now.”

And since then I’ve been reflecting how much it means to me, that he thinks I could handily do a year on the track I’ve been on.

I only sat with him ten minutes today. I’ve had so little time with him over all this – the biggest change in my life, besides the birth of my children – and I suppose he’s just another person of many who has influenced me in such a deep-down amazing way – but I wonder if he realizes the gratitude I feel for his assistance, his intervention in my life (although, truth told, I did go see him for help because I wasn’t getting answers elsewhere… and I have followed suggestions every day since). After we said goodbye I walked out to the reception window, made that seemingly way-off followup appointment, then stepped out to the waiting room where my son waited. Then my boy and I went out to lunch together.

I write this out a bit because I am so incredibly grateful for my life today. I’ve come to know entirely new meanings of “help”, and love and care and wisdom. I’ve come to see the folly and death inherant in the myth of self-sufficiency. I’ve experienced serenity for the first time since I was a young child. I’m slowly growing up my emotions and shedding some of those horrible drives I’ve lived with since long before I took my first drink: shame, blame, guilt, remorse. Terror and anger.

I really didn’t know how much I lived with them until they started to slip away. As they say, this didn’t happen overnight, and I say that because if you’re suffering now I want you to know you won’t always be suffering.

I expect to keep growing.

Today was a good day. I went on a wonderful morning run in the fog, I took my son somewhere wonderful in the morning, I had time with both kids separately, I helped a few people and someone who needed support told me I made her day, I made her smile. I stand to have some hot tea with honey and a good rest.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?



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