Tuesday, July 31, 2018

I probably should have written about substance abuse before.

But since I haven't, this will be really fucking long.

Back when MFD was abusing substances, or Not the Good Ol Days as I sometimes like to call them, I didn't write about it because I was focused on self preservation and making sure I did not go down with the ship.

When he got sober, I didn't write about it because that was his to deal with and work on. I didn't trust it at first, and when I did I didn't feel it was my place and frankly I wasn’t sure if my place was with him. When he hit a year I didn't write about it. Nor did I write about it at two, three, or four years sober. As he walks day by day toward his fifth anniversary, I can say with 100% certainty that while I have acknowledged it a few times, I never planned on writing about it in depth. It's a million times easier not to write about it.

Maybe I should have.

If I had, maybe I would not have accidentally seen a text that accused Michael of just fucking getting a DUI not REALLY needing to get sober and using this not needed sobriety and spirituality to advance himself politically...over four years later. This from someone who used to be close to us.

If I had, maybe people would realize not 100% bad did not mean secure, safe, okay, bearable, sustainable.

If I had, maybe I could have reduced even a smidge the stigma of addiction and would see much less of the absolutely ignorant shit people say about it that helps no one and hurts many.

If I had, maybe I could have prepared someone else's wife for the gutting path from addiction to recovery, shown her how to coexist without enabling or losing herself and how to prepare to get herself out if recovery never came.

If I had, maybe I could have eased a little of the pain of families who have lost loved ones to this monster, coaxed them out of their secret safe spaces and sat beside them in their suffering.

If I had, maybe I could have peeled back the complicated, nuanced layers of a life lived both with a substance abuser and the life you have to completely rebuild separately and together after that person makes the final choice of sobriety, which is often the only alternative to complete demise.

If I had, maybe someone who didn’t realize how life making or breaking sobriety is would be less flippant about it, would not casually suggest MFD was not still sober, would treat it as the sacred thing it is. 

If I had, maybe plainly acknowledging that maintaining his sobriety comes before everything else, including me, and that I am 100%  supportive of that priority would let people know that his life completely hinges on it.

If I had, maybe I could have helped someone I don’t know who doesn't have the support system I've had, someone who felt like there was no one who could possibly understand the position they found themselves in and felt alone and scared and ashamed. 

But I didn’t. I didn't write about it for a million reasons, most of which start and end with a desire for privacy that is probably not easily understandable given that I’ve put most of my life on this blog. Over the years, the desire to retain a privacy wall on this issue has felt simultaneously life preserving, true, selfish, honest, and deceitful. 

I wanted to stay up on my perch. If I opened the door on this in an effort to achieve understanding and compassion for people who struggle with addiction and the people who love them and for us to talk openly about it, I would also open myself up to disappointment if it only serves a desire for gossip. 

I didn't want to attempt it because it is difficult to write coherently about something you hold so closely to who you are, all the while standing in a hurricane as the ground below you undergoes a seismic shift that will change the landscape of your life permanently.

I didn't want to get close to it. I spent a lot of years separating myself from this. When he was drinking and doing drugs I separated myself out of self preservation and when he got sober I separated myself because I did not want any credit for his sobriety, which a lot of people wanted to give me. I still don't. It is his, not mine, and he works for it and is responsible to maintain it. He got sober for him, not me, and that's how it should be. When he made the decision to get sober it was with the knowledge that I was not sure if I would stay married to him or not. It had nothing to do with me. How he is and the strength he has shown has everything to do with him.

I didn't want to disrupt what I felt was my hard earned peace. I just wanted a fucking break. A very long fucking break from dealing with issues related to substance abuse. I had been to Al-Anon meetings and read books and talked to MY people about it, but never publicly talked about it. The thing is it never goes away though - you will always deal with it, and seeing it stigmatized and how much that enrages me makes me realize I will have no peace until the stigma is gone 

I didn't want to invite unwanted commentary. I have to acknowledge that we have the most supportive fucking people on the planet in our framily who never wavered one step away from us, even if they were scared or unfamiliar or unsure of how to deal with everything. There is such a thing as loving people through it and they did, a million times over. We also had people we had to shed who made light but meant harm and shot arrows to wound. Even though that was a necessity, it was and is still painful. And those were people we know, not the world at large sitting in judgement, which is what you open yourself up to when you share anything publicly.

Why now? 

Everything is out there with this campaign. MFD is basically running to remove this stigma on addiction, to get healthcare for all especially easier/better/more accessible substance abuse programs and mental health services - and he wants to give back to the neighborhoods where he got sober. He's been open and up front about his past from day one. Even though I  knew it would be free game for discussion, people I don't know nonchalantly discussing and using for political gain (not just on the opposing side of the aisle, either - people who are supposedly allies) or personal amusement what has more than once broken my life in a million pieces over the past 16 years feels like such a fucking gross violation I can’t even describe it. 

Time heals wounds, but re-living it and answering to it years later with people who don't know their ass from a hole in the wall regarding addiction issues expounding on them feels more trying than living it was the first time.

This rolls off of MFD because he has a program that enables that and he works hard at it. The man I thought I was stronger than has proven through his sobriety to be stronger than me.

It does not roll off of me. I worry about the collateral damage to my heart and my marriage as I struggle with public commentary on something I as a private citizen who is not running for office consider to be, you know, private. I lived this shit and it was hard enough the first time, having it all brought up again feels like a punishment for ME - not for him. He is so used to talking about this stuff. But it doesn’t work like that, and by extension it is my problem again too. 

I’ve felt like a stranger in my own body, more like the woman I was 10 years ago than the one I am today - worrying in the small hours, resentful of this intrusion, having to continually shake off those weak emotions I am angry at myself for even entertaining. It’s taken a tremendous amount of my energy this year to battle myself over this, because that's what I'm doing - battling the me from 10 years ago who had not yet learned about it or how to walk away from it. The me from today knows we’ll be fine no matter what because we’ve already lived through hell and come out on the other side. This is just the shitty replay.

Maybe I should have written from my perspective all along, because when your partner (or child or sibling or mom or best friend or you get the picture) is a substance abuser, you are in a club you did not ask to join. Why should I allow people who don’t know jack shit about addiction speak over me? How will people understand they should not be so derisive or casually judgmental about addiction because it comes for everyone regardless of race, class, education, upbringing, etc., if people like me choose to sit inside my own walls? I can’t tell you how many times someone who used to call people junkies sings a different tune when it’s their child with everything going for them who is in need of a lifeline and compassion.

There are things in our life that define us, searing our souls, burning us down and remaking us from the ashes. All of the versions of myself I have been throughout this battle stack on top of each other like layers of clothes the coldest winter temperatures cannot penetrate. I've been forged by fire many times over and risen every fucking time. Sometimes I need to remind myself of that.  

Maybe you needed a reminder too. We have a responsibility to each other as human beings. I have a responsibility from my perspective in dealing with addiction to help anyone I can. That requires pulling back the curtain and putting it out there. It calls for an end to my radio silence. I am happy to listen to any of your experiences and talk with you about this. If you don’t want to leave a public comment below please email me at lifeaccordingtosteph@gmail.com . If you would like some resources or books you can read or groups you can join, I can point you in the right direction. Or just listen. Always, I can just listen and acknowledge what you're going through or went through. 

It wasn't pretty and it rambled and didn't have a good flow but it's done. Thanks for listening. This one cost me. 

I need to add that I am fine and we are fine - this post was a long time coming. We live with the repercussions of this forever, but we don't break under it. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

TWTW - the one that was five minutes long

Felt like it, anyway. To you too?

Friday I found ways to occupy my time until 8 pm so I could leave for the shore like picking up, putting laundry away, packing, refereeing dogs, and making breakfast burritos. Bruce and I gassed up the car and were at the shore by 10. Carol and Dad left gift cards with what they had at each place which I loved (one from Lucy too, thank you!) and a hamsa necklace that is so me. Bruce and I took a long walk and met Ben and Jerry and Peppa Pig on their late walks too.
Saturday we were at the dog beach by 6 am. I some time talking to guests who were leaving and gladly taking squash and watermelon from their garden. I did the turnover stuff which included de-sanding the driveway and cleaning the window air conditioners, which are typically MFD chores and not my favorite. As a reward I gog to meet up with Jenn from Going the Distance who is in town with her family. Yay blogger friends!  
I left around 5 to go to Frank & Amanda's. I cannot tell you how good it feels to sit around with people we've known forever and laugh and not worry about ulterior motives or guarding our asses. What a relief, as someone slandered MFD in writing, saying he appeared drunk at an event earlier this year (that's on video, and was attended by many who attest that was not at all the case) and questioning the validity of his sobriety. Maybe more on why that pisses me the fuck off this week, maybe not. Definitely a blog from Fronk, because his birthday was yesterday and he always does a birthday blog for me.
We didn't get home until 1, who are we? It was a nice night to be outside and we lingered for the official birthday so slept in until 10 on Sunday, then it was get up and go and let me tell you, I was a prickly motherfucker all day. I encountered traffic problems, got a very shitty coffee, had to check out of Target twice because I forgot the milk, couldn't get parking at my house, blah blah blah. I also did three loads of laundry, changed the sheets, emptied the dishwasher, etc etc. Dan was over to soothe the dogs and we all canvassed for a few hours, then we headed to Aubrey's parents to help eat some seafood they had leftover from Saturday. A spontaneous move for me, just hearing from my brother Sunday morning. When we left to go home my dad and brother left my tupperware and towels on the car. MFD and I got a good laugh out of that.
Weekly food prep: breakfast is breakfast burritos. Lunch is tuna salad over lettuce topped with cherry tomatoes from the farm market. Dinner is pineapple teriyaki chicken over rice with steamed broccoli. I also made mexican sour cream dip
Before I knew it it was 10 pm and I had no idea where the weekend even went. 

How was yours? 

Going the Distance

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Thursday Thoughts - look into the mirror who's inside there, the one with the long hair...same old me again today

1. I went a little zucchini crazy at the farm market so Tuesday night I made zucchini muffins (basically took my power breakfast muffin recipe and substituted two cups of shredded zucchini for the bananas) and zucchini pie. Bruce Springsteen assisted.

2. From the MFD doesn't know where anything goes department:

3. I sent my longtime friend and stylist Kristi at Sensational Scissors a text yesterday too, informing her my hair looked like a straw hobo’s. She fixed it right up for me last night as always.

4. This is how we feel about being without a dryer for what feels like an eternity, but since we were down the shore part of the time has really only been eight days that I've been home. The part is finally in and they're coming today between noon and three to fix it. I'm working from home so I can perform a welcome dance for them. Huge thanks to my Mom who did a shit ton of our laundry and my brother who did shore towels and a quilt yesterday. Praise be, fam. They're the reason I haven't set the entire state of Pennsylvania aflame with my liquid hot magma rage through this edition of first world problems. I deal better with major life or death issues than I do living without a washer or dryer. Life is funny, the things that get to us.

5. Vile piece of utter shit

6. Please read these words by Shaun King and these by Elizabeth Gilbert on the murder of Nia Wilson. Say her name.

7. About that white supremacy - it doesn't stand without white women enabling it. At this point in time, it is not enough to not be a racist. We have to remove our bricks from the pyramid, yes, but we also need to take the bricks away from other people. The only way to topple systemic racism is from the inside. Might I say something or do something that's not helpful even when I think it is and be corrected? Yes. Is that a reason to say nothing? No. We all have a platform in this social media age. Hell we all have a face to face platform and always have. And every one of us has at some point engaged in behavior on this pyramid or excused it in others. We can’t re-write history and be perfect in the past. We can drop the whataboutism and defense posturing and really think about how things actually are for people of color and indigenous people - how they ARE, not how we want them to be so nothing about our lives has to change. We need to do better when we know better. Every minute is another opportunity to know better, do better, and be better. Pick up the hammer and smash this.
Speaking of, PA friends, look out for these people. We have a lot of them.
9. Reminder: Let's remember which pretties matter most. 

10. E-card of the week: Is falling in love with an e-card at first sight a thing? It is now.

Rolling into another weekend like hey ohhhhhh. 


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

You get a prize

Children get rewards for good behavior. If adults did, these might be some of the things we'd get a prize for:

Putting the toilet paper on the roll quietly when someone has left it off instead of screaming WTF!

Leaving Target with the things on your list and nothing else

Making dinner instead of ordering food

Putting the laundry away instead of leaving it in baskets

Refraining from ramming asshole drivers

Not eating the entire pan of brownies within 24 hours

Completing daily essential house tasks instead of melting into the couch after work while slovenliness creeps in around us

Using our words to articulate why people suck instead of name calling and middle finger throwing

Finishing an entire season of a show in one week but still managing to maintain work and life status quo

Sleeping through the night

Crossing everything off of your to do list even if you added some things you've already done to start that streak off

Remaining calm in traffic or on delayed/fucked up public transportation

What petty adult thing do you think is prize-worthy?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Writing in a shareable world

You don't have to follow any rules to write things down. They don't have to be good or rhyme or make sense to anyone but you. Just give the things you need out of you a place to go.

Push publish or don't. Say it in a text message to your best friend, an email to your cousin, a private group online, your facebook page, your public twitter or instagram account.

Write it down on paper and burn it before showing anyone.

Don't worry if you don't say it exactly right. If it needs to be said, worry more about saying it.

Monday, July 23, 2018

TWTW - the one that was mostly impromptu

A walk down to 17th & Catherine to see the Marian Anderson art installation after work on Friday.

Then a Subway hop down to the stadiums for an impromptu trip to the Phillies game in my company's awesome seats with my coworker friend. It was a gorgeous night for a game and I had to sprint to get the train that was then...late. We had a great time though.
Saturday I unboxed my gift from Pam that I freaking love and what I got from Prime Day (aside from a camera I can watch my dogs on but we'll discuss that later) then finally used my gift card from Christmas for a manicure and pedicure and picked a few things up from the grocery store (I do eat grocery store sushi and I don't care who knows it) before spending the afternoon with a book and los perros. I also dropped a box off at the post office and did some weeding. Not super fun chores but necessary all the same.
Saturday night vineyard wine concert series with the fam was very fun. The kids were all there too but not pictured. That was also pretty impromptu for me, only figured out I was going a few days before.
Then I got home and Bruce peed on the bed instead of going in the pouring rain. It's fine. I'm fine. The ideal time for your dog to pee through to the mattress pad (pillows included) is NOT when your dryer is still waiting on a part.

Sunday was a slow start for me with no iced coffee in the house and minor rage but then I got some and we hit the ground running with the canvassing. I even saw MFD at the end of the day, which hasn't happened before. People are surprisingly nice at the doors, dems or not. Believe me, going door to door is my worst fucking nightmare and it has not bothered me at all. If you have a few hours to donate to canvass, please get in touch with MFD via his website. If you have a few dollars to donate, please do that there as well. He's got no corporate money. This is a ground game and you need people fir a ground game and money for signs and literature for a ground game.
In between the first and second canvassing sets, Debbie and I dropped the pee sheets off at my mom's (she’s been saving my ass doing my laundry the last week while we wait for the dryer part) and went to the farm market and I made pasta salad. After the second round of canvassing I grilled hot dogs and hamburgers and we had dinner with Dan, Morgan, and Debbie. By 7 pm I was fucking exhausted. We headed to my inlaws’ and got home around 10.
Weekly food prep: breakfast is scrambled eggs and broccoli. Lunch is PB&J or salad. Dinner is leftovers, corn on the cob, tomato sandwiches, and salad. I need to find a minute to make zucchini muffins to freeze too. 

How was yours? 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Thursday Thoughts - I like the way your sparkling earrings lay against your skin so brown

1. Two day work week. I dig it. When I wasn't working this week I was finding complete joy in my goddaughter and of course her parents. We did a stroll on Asbury Ave Tuesday morning and rides and pizza on Tuesday night and I stopped to see them Wednesday night before I left. It's not great to live away from your best friends, but Kim and I text or email pretty much daily. It's harder to live away from their little people who don't do that yet, so it was really nice to see Libby multiple days in multiple moods and I loved all of them.
2. Spending time with my husband where we were both in the same place and awake for more than 10 minutes. It occurred to me the other day that this season in life is so nuts that I haven't even had the chance to jot down any Shit MFD Said notes. These few days were good for our marriage, and we're going to try to do a Monday and Tuesday in early August to do the same and I'm forcing him to take off on his birthday too. He's thankfully very busy right now helping people buy and sell houses and he'd knock on doors to talk to people in our community about why he's running for state rep in November at midnight if they'd let him, so I forced him down here even though he spent much of the time working. He feels like he has to spend all of his time not working to make money for us to live working on this campaign in order to be taken seriously and while I'm not discounting his feelings, the fact that our political system is built that way pisses me off. If anyone thinks he's not serious, please come live in my house for a few days. No, actually, just one day. You just need to spend one day in our life right now to know how serious he is. I saw John Fetterman, running for Lt. Gov of PA, who I love, on the boardwalk before 6 am on Wednesday morning. I wanted to give him a thumbs up and stop him but even more I wanted him to just be able to be a guy finding some peace taking a walk by the sea early on a Wednesday in mid-July.
3. Catching up with my longest time BFF Jen and her husband Neil on the beach, where we talked about hardly seeing each other even though we live close. 

4. Wearing Bruce out on the dog beach and hanging with the old dogs. When MFD took them home Tuesday night, I realized it was the first time in forever I had been truly alone with not even one dog. It was sort of cool to ramble around on my own schedule without worrying about walks and feeding them.
5. Drinking a lot of coffee and eating fresh tomatoes with a lot of salt, fun plates, PB&J on the beach, fries drowned in ketchup and under the cover of Wonderland so no damn seagulls could get at them, and of course mint julep Kohr Bros.
6. Sorting recycles on my own because our cans were overflowing so I had to go to the recycle place. People. Rinse your recycles. Walking in a soft rain on the boardwalk. Picking up library books and accepting compliments on my Bruce Springsteen shirt. Reading two books and starting a third. Sitting by myself on the beach. Strolling the farmers market. Watching the sunrise. Seeing America the band in concert. Accepting my hair is a fright wig here. Painting my nails (OPI's This Color's Making Waves). Trying belif's pore cleaner bubble foam (I loved it). Paying bills. Scheduling a dryer repairman appointment (home) and water deliveries (shore).
7. When I'm at the shore for more than two days at a time, I really sink into my life there. I slide so completely into the rhythm of it that coming back to Philly feels like being ripped from the womb. It's entirely different from being on vacation where I have in the back of my mind all the time that this is lovely and awesome but temporary. One day this will not be temporary, and my spirit keeps saying when? 

8. I can't even and I'm not going to. I have no kindness left. It's fucked up when people who scream bloody murder about how unpatriotic it is to kneel for the National Anthem to protest injustice in the imbalance of the criminal justice system or how unpatriotic it is to not refer to this treasonous greedy disaster of a president as Mr. President do not consider it unpatriotic for the president himself to be treasonous poison in everyone's water.

9. Reminder:

10. E-card of the week:

Tell me how your week has been. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

TWTW - the one that's still going

Friday I packed shit up and Mae and I took off for a girls only night at the shore. By the time I got everything in the house and settled, it was after 11.
Saturday sunrise and a reminder why it is bad to release balloons - this is the string caught up in seaweed. They get tied up in creatures too.
Lots to do for turnover Saturday, I was a sweating mess by the end and didn't sit down to finish my coffee until 12:45. Mae and I had some walks, I met up with a coworker on the beach, picked up a freaking awesome mug at Hearth & Sole on Asbury then stopped for an iced green lavender tea from Barefoot Market.
I spent much of Saturday night with Kim and Steve and the smartest cutest goddaughter Libby in from Boston. Why has teleportation not been invented yet? I need answers. MFD and the boys arrived around 9:30.
I slept for shit Saturday night, asleep after 1 and up before 6 to walk the dogs. Around 8:30 I rode my bike up to the boards to get coffee at Locals and go for a stroll with Kim, Steve, and Libby. MFD met up a little later in need of coffee and dorky sunglass clip ons. It was a humid sweaty good time. 
I got almost two hours in on the beach before going back to the house for a leisurely Sunday afternoon rest. I finished a book and we took a few walks. 
Steve & Kim made us an awesome dinner and it was so nice to sit outside with my people and also to not leave on Sunday. MFD and Steve went fishing with Jimmy and Kim and I lingered over wine until we yawned each other out at 10. 

Still living the dream at the shore spending more time with Kim & Steve & Libby and meeting up with Jen and fam at some point. Totally out of office and I'll see you back here on Thursday.

Hope you had a great weekend!

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