Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Five years of sobriety - a check in


Monday marked five years sober for MFD. He knows four dates: his sobriety date 11-12-13, his birthday, my birthday, and our anniversary. His sobriety date is most important. It is the bedrock of everything else and takes priority over everything else. That's how vitally important sobriety is to his existence and our existence together.

Six years ago, if you told me we'd be here, I would not have believed you. Six years ago I was preparing myself for divorce. Five years ago I was certain I was headed for divorce. But the days went on and MFD worked his program with commitment I had not seen from him before. I offered no encouragement. I sat back. I waited.

About six months into his sobriety, I kept my eye on the door and waited for the other shoe to drop. Nine months in, I exhaled. A year in, I felt my shoulders move down from around my ears. Five years on, we have problems and challenges, of course. Everyone does. But nothing like we did before. Five years of sobriety for MFD is a good place for us to be, marriage-wise. He is as committed today to maintaining his sobriety as he was then, and know that it is a daily commitment. I don’t worry about it because I have always known that it is up to him and him alone to grab it, live it, and maintain it.

People do recover.

Five years of sobriety is also a weird place to be. The weird place has to do with external forces entirely: people making light of something our life is contingent upon, most of them probably not even realizing they’re doing that. Our life, in the sense that there is no marriage without his sobriety. His life in the very real sense that he'd likely not still be alive or living outside of prison if he didn't get sober five years ago. That’s how serious this is. I’ve come to understand that people who are not sober or close with someone who is are unfamiliar with what sobriety is and what it means.

I distinctly remember someone many years ago telling me he was sober and me being like What? Oh. Okay! Well if you change your mind, there’s beer here. I cringe when I think of that now. I was an idiot who still thought drinking was part of life and everyone did it some just more than others. I didn't understand sobriety and how much it meant to someone to say they were sober, to live that. How hard it is for people to get to that place and then to stay there. How sacred sobriety is. 

I never fully understood what it meant and the commitment it took to be sober until MFD got sober. I'm sharing it with you so you also know and maybe won't respond like I did once upon a time - like it was no big deal or an option that could change day to day, minute to minute. When we ourselves don't have a problem with substances, it can be hard to understand that there are people who do, and that it is a big fucking deal. It is life or death to them. 

Five years in, people have started offering Michael drinks, like they forgot he is sober for a reason. Lots of sober people are private about it. He is not, so it's not like it's an unknown thing. This summer someone who has known us for YEARS implied Michael got sober five years ago and became religious so he could use it as his political background story, that he didn't really NEED to be sober and was just doing it for attention. And then my favorite, the people who talk about how much more fun MFD was when he was a drunk, usually said in an effort to shut him up on something he's passionate about.

Yes, tons of fun...to everyone who didn’t have to deal with the fallout of someone systematically destroying themselves and your life as an unfortunate side effect to their struggle. If anyone who has ever said anything like that lived through some of the nights I've lived through they would know saying he was more fun when he was a drunk is less a knock on him and more wishing direct harm on me. Five years on I still feel like tearing people from limb to limb when I hear it, it's that visceral of a reaction.

These comments roll off of MFD - his sobriety is his responsibility to maintain. Someone else's opinion of it simply doesn't matter. He doesn't get upset or angry with people. That's all me. Some things don't change. I am 100 times more protective of our life post-sobriety. If you knew how hard I’ve fought to keep things together through everything, you just would never.ever.ever be so casually cruel.

I think it's easy for people who aren't living right up against substance use disorder to make thoughtless comments. I’ve been that person. Once you live inside the belly of the beast, you're not so flippant. If your life depended on your sobriety, it would never be a joke to you or a remark you'd toss out. When you do, you’re not just slagging the person who has this issue - you’re invoking harm on everyone close to them who is an innocent bystander if things fall apart. We’ve been through enough, trust me.

Yesterday I read something Glennon Doyle wrote and it struck me. 


When I first wrote about addiction, I realized it couldn't be off-limits anymore because we can't end the stigma of addiction if we don't talk about it, all of it, including old behaviors and attitudes that aren't something to be proud of and what it’s like to live with it from a family perspective. I want to be really clear that when I write about this (it's only the second time in over seven years, but I am planning on not avoiding it anymore) it's not a look at what he's done/look how strong I am/ look what we've made from a pile of shit - this is a we're here, with you, you're not out there alone if you have this in your life, no matter where you are in the spectrum of addiction. It's not shameful and it doesn't have to be isolating. And since it's me and not MFD writing, it's specifically about being a loved one who has been through this. This is a huge part of my life, so not writing about it because it’s not “mine” is not showing myself. It’s not letting people fully see me so they can be less afraid if they feel alone in this. Anyone out there living with or closely related to an active substance abuser, I see you. I was you. You are not alone down here. People living on the other side of it, I’m here with you now. All of us: we can talk about it. This is the substance abuser’s story, certainly, but it is our story too. If you want or need to be heard, I will listen. 

As for me, I still drink, and I think that surprises people sometimes. It shouldn't. I don't have a problem with alcohol. Michael can be around people drinking and not drink - it's a concept that is lost on many because people use alcohol as a social lubricant. He simply removes himself from the situation when he feels uncomfortable or gets tired of it. We don’t keep alcohol in our house but we don’t avoid where it is.

What I don't do anymore is romanticize drinking or elevate its importance. I actually hate when people say they can't get through something without alcohol, like they won't survive the day or homework or an awkward or stressful situation or whatever - because you can, and saying you can't feeds into the drinking culture and there are people out there that will spend years without a drop of alcohol to preserve their very lives, their sanity, their health. THAT is survival. Not clutching a wine glass to make it through new math. You like your wine. You’d survive without it. There’s a difference. That's my thoughts coming from where I am now. Experience and perspective of living with an alcoholic has changed my thoughts on a lot of things related to alcohol.

Five years of sobriety for someone other than myself has been one of the most unexpected gifts of my life. I’m thankful for it daily. As with the first time I wrote about this, if you would like to talk privately email me at lifeaccordingtosteph@gmail.com. And as with the first time, I am okay, I’m just writing. I am happy to help you find resources for support or to just listen and support you in any way I can. 

Happy birthday to Melissa today and happy anniversary to my brother & Aubrey!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Show Us Your Books - November 2018



I don't know about you but I'm happy just to be here today on a Tuesday that is not Election-related and solely SUYB related. I am not surprised that in one of the most stressful months of my life, I read 11 books - books are where I retreat to and where I find comfort. You see only 10 here because the eleventh is a beta copy of Church Kids by my friend Rich from school which was awesome. To read something someone you know wrote is so amazing especially when it's a good read. This was my second beta read from a friend in the past year and I am here for it, people. Send more. 


Here's what I've been reading since the last linkup. 
-Title link goes to Goodreads
-Buy link goes to Amazon and is an affiliate link - pennies that are made from you buying through it pay for the running of this link up and prizes such as these

Engrossing Reads

Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist by Eli Saslow: I wish I could require everyone to read this book. Especially people who cannot see a) any racism on the national stage right now or b) where that came from. This is non-fiction and it is not dry in the slightest. You will read it, you will like the white supremacist as a person, you will cringe over that, and you will cringe even harder over how so many political talking points right now are the results of 30 years of carefully crafted normalization of white supremacy.  Free e-copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Buy kindle or hardcover

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier - Delightfully psychotic. Is that an enticing enough description? Philly library hardback Buy kindle or hardcover

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth - I really liked this. My brain is mashed potatoes, sorry I am not expounding more. But put it on your list. Free advanced copy from Netgalley, comes out April 2019

Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Spera - This book sang my song - three women, stories interrelated but three different perspectives, different hardships, all that jazz. Where the title derives from is also found buried in the book and I love that. Free advanced copy from Netgalley, comes out June 2019

Passed the Time Just Fine

The Girl With No Name (Detective Josie Quinn #2) - I can barely remember this story without reading the description, but it was a crazy month. And in general that is not unusual for me me since I read a lot. I read the first one in this series. Still like Josie & her team but really over her relationship times a million in this one. I hate when women are kickass professionally and then portrayed as stupid in personal relationships. Hey authors: this is not an interesting juxtaposition. Stop doing it. Philly library paperback

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas - Listen. I waited like eight months for this to come in at the library due to some fuckery. Now I wasn't waiting on baited breath, but if I do wait I always hope more that it's good. And it was fine, but not eight months of waiting fine. Philly library hardback

The Ruin (Cormac Reilly #1) by Dervla McTiernan - This is very reminiscent of the Tana French novels, but not quite as slow and methodical. I liked the Cormac character as well as a few others so I'll check out the next. Philly library hardback

Creep (Creep #1) by Jennifer Hillier - I didn't like anyone in this book but I did appreciate the twist. Philly library hardback 

The Late Bloomers' Club by Louise Miller - I needed a break from psychosis and murder and enjoyed this book. I liked the town a lot and the characters. It was like a piece of Mayberry in the midst of all of my Nightmare on Elm Streets. Philly library hardback

Not Worth It
Lost Lake (Detective Gemma Monroe #3) by Emily Littlejohn - This is the third in a series and I didn't read the first two but didn't feel like I was missing things, so that's good. The pacing was a little off here, too slow, but it was fine. Not fine enough for me to seek out any others in the series. Free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Did Not Finish
I know this is well loved and critically acclaimed but I did not connect. Maybe another time? OCNJ library hardcover



What have you been reading? 
Linkup Guidelines:
This link up is the second Tuesday of every month. The next linkup is Tuesday, December 112018 and the annual Favorite Reads linkup will be on WEDNESDAY, 12/26
1. Visit and comment with both of your hosts, Jana & me
2. Display the button and/or link back to us on your blog post
2. Visit other blogs who've linked up and talk books as booknerds are wont to do (if you are a late linker upper and I haven't commented on your post within two days, please shoot me a tweet or email and let me know I'm an asshole)






Monday, November 12, 2018

TWTW - the one to reset

Wednesday night I came home from work, threw some clothes into a bag and hoped for the best and got to the shore around 9:30. I fell asleep on the couch and stayed there all night, barely moving when MFD arrived around midnight.


Thursday was a trip to Drip N' Scoop for coffee, reading, a family beach frolic, hot roast beef in the crockpot for lunch, and I ended the night at a Protect Mueller rally a few blocks from our house before I went to get sweets and ate a few different cakes for dinner. 
Friday was sunrise, most of the day reading on the couch or walking around with the dogs, a pedicure (OPI Cute Little Vixen), a trip to the library, and ordering in from Randazzo's. I think I was asleep before 9:30. I don't think we knew how truly exhausted we were for how long until we got an extended time to rest. MFD's movies were Once Upon a Time in America and The Last Jedi.
Saturday sunrise, pork roll bowls, painting my nails (Essie Merino Cool), fixing some things that got Bruced this summer, a very windy trip to the beach, and laying around. I made pork tenderloin in the crockpot and we had Dan come down to stay up in the house for a few days and a visit from Carly who was in town. MFD's movies of the day were Outlaw King, Legend, Night of the Comet, and The Tin Drum.

Sunday We were up to walk the dogs a little after 5 and I went back to bed so I almost missed the sunrise but Bruce got me up for his morning romp on the beach. There was a group of teenagers near his playground pipe and he was furious. MFD left for mummery and I did some purging, reorganizing, and cleaning in between dog walks and reading.
I packed up as the day went on and hit the road for home at 2. I haven't cried a lot the past few months, I've been too overwhelmed and tired to even muster up the energy. But I sure as shit felt like crying leaving the shore Sunday even though I can go back Friday.
At home I made chicken noodle soup, did four loads of laundry, watched The Post, and MFD did some of the zillions of leaves. 

Thank you to our veterans - on the day dedicated to them and every other day. In every kind of weather. Even rain.

Weekly food prep: breakfast is power breakfast muffins and bananas, lunch is PB & J, dinners are soup and probably Mexican stuffed shells from the freezer. 


Today MFD is five years sober. I cannot tell you how life changing that has been for both of us, but I might try Wednesday. 

Show Us Your Books is tomorrow! 


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

No More Tuesdays



This election is over. Mike Doyle's Wife is off duty.

MFD lost. Hope for the best but expect the worst so when I tell you we are okay I mean we truly are okay. I'm not saying that to make it appear that way. We were fully prepared to lose because that is the case with many first time candidates running against an incumbent.

I told you along the way when I was not okay so trust when I say today the overwhelming feeling is relief. I bounced across Market Street towards my office this morning on less than 8 hours of sleep in the past two days smiling at nothing. I feel free. Campaign pace is terrible on the body, mind, spirit, marriage, finances, and life.

Another overwhelming feeling is gratitude - for everyone who donated money, gave time, shared advice, donated something in kind, made phone calls, mailed postcards, knocked on doors, listened to me, listened to him, showed up at an event, shared his page or posts, read any on the campaign trail related posts, made food for campaign events, let our dogs out, bought us a meal, cooked us a meal, understood when we missed an event or were there but not present, helped me with things around the house/in life that I was managing solo for nine months, ran errands, or just fucking showed up for us in any way at any time. We got support from all over and have a few new friends for life. Thanks to everyone for accepting us as we are - real people. We're not trussed up and rolled out as perfect, polished, plastic people for consumption and we never will be because it's not who we are. Fuck that.

A blanket apology if I missed your birthday, didn't respond to a text or email, or have not been present at any point in the past few months. I've tried but not always succeeded in keeping my head out of my ass.

You run the first time so you can see how many different ways you're going to get fucked by the powers that be around you and how much money they are willing to spend to keep someone who wants to change the system out. Hint: one million different ways you'll be fucked, and money spent A LOT. I need like 400 days in a very scalding shower with lye soap to scrub the dirty backhanded bullshit politics off of me.

We're not going anywhere, of course. Do you know us?

We're still out here, speaking truth to power; encouraging involvement in democracy; saying fuck fascism; calling for criminal justice reform; calling for the 1% to pay their fair share and stop breaking the backs of the middle class and working poor; smashing the patriarchy; working to root out racism in ourselves and our communities and all of our systems; standing with our LGBTQ+ people; appreciating our religious diversity; rejecting hatred and fear of anyone that is "other"; rejecting the demonization of brown immigrants; crushing right to work; demanding healthcare for all including vastly expanded mental health care, immediate and compassionate addressing of the opioid epidemic, fair funding for public schools, a living wage, policies that are pro-working family, common sense gun laws, equality and equity for women, environmental protection and a focus on alternative energy; and a host of other shit that is good for ALL of us but that my brain is too mashed potato-ish to articulate today.

If you're going to put everything on the line knowing you will likely lose, "everything" better damn sure be worth it. It is. All of those things above and more are worth it to both of us.

We are the same people we were on Election Day and the days before that, standing for what we think is right. I need you to keep standing too. There were tremendous wins and tremendous losses yesterday, but if you believe in the things I believe in, we do not stop working because we didn't win it all. We keep going. We keep doing the work. The culture of hate and fear and violence didn't happen overnight and shifting it won't either. We do not have the luxury of fading away into ourselves again. Get over it and get to work.

Don't worry, in the coming weeks I will have ways for you to help change how politics does not work for most of us right now, and how you can help organizations who are trying to change that and how you can best help candidates entering the fray for the first time.

But first for me, four days at the shore starting tomorrow. I want to tune it out and restore some balance. My other plans include drinking the appropriate amount of water, actually sleeping, eating vegetables, quieting my mind, having time off, etc. And then maybe this six months, in silence?
Just kidding, I have to be around next weekend because we adopted another dog and he arrives Sunday 11/18 from Georgia. He was originally supposed to come up 10/21.

Yes, I did that in the most intense months of the campaign and yes, it's fucking crazy. Be honest, you kind of like it.

Monday, November 5, 2018

TWTW - the one before Election Day

Friday was working from home, so before I started I was able to change the sheets and put laundry away and at lunch I got to the post office, library for drop off, and Sam's. I had a hair appointment at night with the fabulous Kristi and she changed up the color and chopped it off. I went to Target in the rain on the way home because I had a freaking lamp that needed to be returned in my front seat. I painted my nails and have no brain power to retain the names (also in an ideal world I'd take the pic after I cleaned them up around the edges but IDGAF right now), did some volunteer work for the campaign, and started a new book.

Saturday MFD didn't tell me I was in charge of snacks for the office so I was back at Sam's by 8 am, then to the office, back home, then out all afternoon with Morgan and Debbie door knocking. I missed my brother and Aubrey and the kids but did get to see Gail and Shawn after our shifts. I only saw my mom briefly as she was dropping off food her and Kate made for the day. Debbie, Morgan, and I went to Panera around 6, back to clean up the office from the day, then Debbie and I watched Heathers and The Breakfast Club.
Sunday I hit the grocery store and Philly Pretzel Factory before heading to the office. I got to see Mark and Sarah before heading out which was great. Debbie, Melissa, Morgan, and I crunched around through the leaves with a fucked up map, knocking on doors. It was nice to be with a fierce lady crew and the foliage was gorgeous.
Also fangirled like mad when Sally Kohn and Dissent Pins shared my posts in their stories on IG.
Weekly food prep: maybe next week? 


I'm off tomorrow to work the polls or whatever I will be doing from 7 am - 8 pm. I'll probably be scarce around here this week but am usually never scarce on Instagram LOL. 

What's your voting plan? When will you go, how do you get to your polling place, and are you taking anyone with you? 


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