Maybe the Stove Won’t Burn me This Time

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on me.

Fool me three times…I must be the loved one of an addict.

Haven’t we all been there? We keep reaching back to the hot stove even though we know we are going to get burned?

Not this time! We tell ourselves arrogantly. Our loved one won’t let us down. They are strong enough to make it through the graduation party. They know better than to show up at a kid’s party hammered. They love me enough to get through this for me.

We are partly correct but mostly stupid in that thinking. They are strong enough to get through things and they do love us but that doesn’t mean it is enough to stop them. Addiction is strong. Addiction is really, really strong. They aren’t choosing their drug/alcohol over us. The addiction is choosing the substance over us.

I know, that sounds like we are taking responsibility off of them but honestly, that concept has brought me so much peace.

I know my mom loves me. I know she wants to be there for those events. I know she doesn’t want to be blackout drunk. I know she hates the feeling of being hungover because with that comes a heavy amount of shame. I know she doesn’t enjoy those moments of people spewing hate because she ruined something. I know that she doesn’t drink to have a good time. I know she doesn’t drink to hurt me. She is drinking because she is addicted to drinking.

I get disappointed and I get angry and I have every right to feel that way but at the end of the day, I am tired of being angry all of the time. I am tired of the disappointment I cling to as a security blanket. When I get tired of my anger weighing me down, I do one of two things:

  • I step away. I remove myself from my family. I put in huge boundaries and barriers to communicating with them so I can have a little peace. This past weekend, I went to the mountains with my in-laws and didn’t talk to my family. It was wonderful. I let my family go and focused on enjoying myself. I needed that. It isn’t selfish. It was self-preservation.
  • I accept it. I give in to the fact that this disease that has taken over my mom’s brain is that, a disease. She needs help but I can’t cure her. I just let it go.

I love my mom. I tell myself that every time she messes up, even when she messes up big time. I think that is so important to remind ourselves that we love this person who keeps hurting us.

That doesn’t mean we have to keep letting them hurt us, it means we love them in spite of it. We may have to love them by not paying their bail, not inviting them to the next family event, or simply telling them no. But we have to remind ourselves that we love them.

My heart had been filled with so much hate. I was so angry with my mom and my family that I forgot how much I loved them. I put my love on the back burner. My anger was more important.

I hate when I do that to myself. I feel it gnawing away at me. I see it in how I treat others and how I treat myself. It doesn’t make me feel better and it doesn’t help them get sober. So why do I do it? Why do I keep burning myself?

Why do I keep holding my mom to the standard that she will be sober for every event? Why do I get my hopes up? Why do I keep burning myself?

Why do I push my family away when I need them most? Why do I keep burning myself?

Because I am human. I make mistakes just like she does.

But I will tell you one thing, my hand has calloused over and each burn hurts a little less. I get stronger every day. Every mistake I am making is leading me to a better place so I don’t regret any of them…well not all of them 🙂

If you are angry with yourself for how you are responding to your loved one, cut yourself some slack. You’re hurting. Let yourself hurt and learn from the pain.

Thank you for reading! If you think this would help someone, please share it. You can follow me on Instagram at @grumpy.sunshineblog or find my Facebook page at Grumpy Sunshine. Subscribe if you’d like to read more!

-Grumpy Sunshine

The Domino Effect

Image result for domino

It only takes one person, one conversation, even one comment to start a movement…

Someone comes up and starts talking with you about the holidays. You put on a smile. You nod and laugh as they share their silly stories about Uncle Billy dropping the casserole, little Susie getting into her presents early, and Grandma for falling asleep at dinner. You laugh. You feign interest. You want to kick them.

No? Just me?

I have written about the holidays in the past but as they are now approaching, I find it an important time to remind others to be sensitive about the holidays.

I know, I know, another Millenial requesting that people be sensitive. Can’t we just suck it up?

That’s what I have been doing. I have been sucking it up for decades. I have listened to your stories about decorating ornaments, I have shared family traditions, I have hummed along to the work Christmas Carol, and attended the party with your terrible eggnog. I don’t want to do that anymore.

My holidays aren’t that peaceful. They can be really scary. Holding my breath coming down the stairs to see if my mom is there, if she’s sober, and if anything is broken isn’t something I look forward to each year. Hoping that when my husband’s family arrives, everyone is functioning is STRESSFUL. I don’t want to pick up my phone when I am with the in-laws in case it is my sister crying because my mom had to “go to bed” at 1:00pm.

Since being with my husband, I do enjoy the holidays a lot more. He really has brought back my holiday spirit that I thought had died years ago. But part of that is because I can be honest with him about my anxiety and my fear. I don’t want to be honest with my coworkers, my friends, or  even my family because one by one, I bring them down like dominoes.

I share that my mom is an alcoholic when Betty from accounting asks what I am most looking forward to and I say that I am just hoping everyone makes it through. Now Betty is depressed and uncomfortable. Now I feel bad for making her uncomfortable. Slowly one by one, I take down people with my negativity about the holidays.

So I don’t do that. I bite my tongue and pretend everything is fine. It’s unfair though. It’s hard to lie. It’s hard to pretend for such a long time. And by me continuing to lie, I am perpetuating another domino effect. The effect of keeping addiction a secret. If I am not willing to talk about it, why would someone else be willing to share later? We are fueling our enemy’s battle, our enemy being addiction, by continuing to stay quiet.

What do I do? Do I share? Do I lie? Do I try to avoid it all together? It seems like such a minor thing but when the holidays come up…Let’s be honest, it gets earlier and earlier this year. My office was talking about Christmas parties in the middle of October. OCTOBER!

Christmas conversations can last up to two months. Because there is the pre-Christmas excitement and then the aftermath conversations. People want to share what happened, what they received, and what they experienced. I don’t mind listening but it is hard for me to contribute. Even when my mom is doing well, I can never stay calm the entire time. I am waiting for the other shoe to drop and chaos to take charge.

So here we are, Thanksgiving upon us, and I am staying away from my family. I am going on a trip with my husband’s family and I am going to turn my phone off. I am turning off my parent’s alcoholism for a few days. I wish it worked the same way with our brains.

What are your thoughts? Which domino effect is less destructive? The one where we share and maybe we spread awareness but we also spread “Debbie Downer Syndrome”? Or is it worse to keep it a secret and continue to show others that we need to be quiet about this disease? I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts!

Thanks for reading! I’d love for you to share this through email or social media! You can follow me on Instagram at @grumpy.sunshineblog or find me on my Facebook page Grumpy Sunshine.

-Your fellow scrooge, Grumpy Sunshine

 

Let Go and Let God

Who wins most dysfunctional family of the year???

Image result for and the winner isMy family. My family wins this week.

Think I am being dramatic? I probably am. I have a flare for the dramatics but it sure feels like my family is in a competition for who can prove to be the most dysfunctional.

In a post from last week, I shared that my mom showed up to the hospital, at the birth of her grandchild, intoxicated. After that, chaos ensued. She felt so terrible about her relapse, she couldn’t stop drinking. She didn’t want to face all of our disappointment and we were scrambling to keep things together.

EXCEPT….Nobody shared their disappointment with her. She didn’t have to face up to anything. My dad didn’t react to it when he came back into town. My sister didn’t mention how hard it was for her to turn away her mother at the hospital from keeping her older children. No one addressed it. It was just another day.

This infuriated me. Why would my mom ever get sober? She never has a consequence. She is the luckiest drunk in the world. Her only consequence is that I am not speaking to her and let’s be honest, she is probably grateful for that.

**Side Bar** She tried to get me to talk with her in a very manipulative way though. She texted me that she had some bad news about my grandfather and to call her right away. Of course, I obliged and she shared he was diagnosed with dementia. I asked when she found out and she told me she learned a little over a week ago…Why did she wait to tell me until now? She was surprised by my question. I already knew the answer. She was manipulating me into talking to her. She could have told me any other time but no. She told me right after she messed up big time to draw my attention away from the pain she caused us. Classic alcoholic. **End Side Bar**

So there she is off being super dysfunctional, driving drunk without a license (due to a previous DUI). Meanwhile, my dad is in and out of doctor’s offices. My sister claims this is why she is not focused on my mom. She is busy trying to make sure my dad is okay.

A few weeks ago, after 1 too many beers, my dad hit his head in the garage. He refused to go to the doctor for weeks. I KNOW. Men…anyway. After being dizzy and nauseous from his headaches, he went to the doctor. His blood pressure was through the roof and they confirmed he had a pretty severe concussion. They were shocked that he hadn’t had a stroke with his blood pressure being that high.

My sister has been pushing for him to go to follow up appointments, as have I, but the one person who hasn’t been pestering him is my mother. Why would that be? Why would his wife of  30+ years not be pushing her husband to take care of himself. I have a few theories.

Theory number one: She knows he won’t listen. He hasn’t been to the doctor in over a decade. When he went to pick up his medication, they had our phone number from our old address…where we lived 16 years ago. Why bother with that uphill battle?

Theory number two: She doesn’t want to make him angry. This is a fair guess. He has every reason to be mad at her for a million other things. Maybe she doesn’t want to push him over the edge…well mom, maybe don’t drink and drive. Take that off your to-do list and perhaps you can get him to the doctor.

Theory number three: She doesn’t want him to get better. While he is dizzy, sick, and out of commission, she has more opportunities to drink. This is a pretty dark thought. I felt guilty for thinking it initially but it started to make sense. If my mom is desperate enough to leave work at 8am, take a taxi to the store, and be blacked out before noon, maybe wanting her husband to be sick so she can drink isn’t completely unrealistic.

With my mom in full relapse, my grandpa’s diagnosis hanging over our heads, my dad out of commission due to his own shenanigans while drinking, a sister swimming in denial, and my brother trying to stay as removed as possible, I feel like my family is gearing up for an eventful holiday season.

What can I do? I can’t force my dad to the doctor. I have tried. I can’t cure my grandfather. We all know I can’t get my mom sober. I can’t make my sister face these problems. I can’t make my brother want to be a part of this when I don’t even want to be a part of it. I can’t make anyone do anything? So what do I do? Nothing.

Let go and let God.

It may sound cheesy but when everything is out of your control and you’re drowning in the dysfunction, there is nothing else to do. He knows my prayers are to keep my mom safe and to keep people safe from my mom, to keep my grandpa in good spirits, to keep my dad motivated to take care of himself, and to find peace in my own heart…and to find the perfect macaroni recipe.

So as the holidays come up and stresses arise, remember you are not responsible for the well being of all. You cannot cure them. You cannot fix every problem. Let it go and let the big guy take care of what you cannot. If you do not believe in a higher power, I admire your strength getting through without relying on one. I truly do. I hope that you can let go and instead of “letting God” you can just let go. We cannot control everything. We can barely control anything except our own responses to situations.

Thanks for reading! Please subscribe if you would like to find more or look for my page on Facebook (Grumpy Sunshine) or follow me on Instagram @grumpy.sunshineblog

-Grumpy Sunshine

What Are You Going to do With Your Anger?

You love someone who is struggling with addiction. You are on a roller coaster of emotions. Some days you are happy because they are doing well and they followed through on a promise. Other days you are heartbroken because they are hurting, they hurt you, or they hurt someone else they loved. The state I get stuck in and I always do/say something I regret is the angry state. We are angry with them, we are angry with the addiction, we may be angry with ourselves, and we start to spiral out of our own control. What do we do with all of this anger? Let me share how I came to ask myself this question.

This week my sibling had a baby. Both parents and baby are doing great and are healthy. Everything went smoothly. Our family is very blessed. What should have been one of the happiest days of their lives, became a chaotic one. My mom, who I shared in previous posts has been a few weeks sober, wanted to take care of my sibling’s older children while my sibling was in the hospital. Since my mom had been sober a few weeks and my dad would be home, my sibling assumed it would be okay.

My dad ended up being called out of town about two hours before my sibling went to the hospital. My sibling, being smart, decided to have my mom meet them at the hospital to make sure my mom was okay to watch the kids. My mom showed up to the hospital incredibly drunk. She wanted to take the kids home with her but of course my sibling and their spouse prevented that from happening (the older kids never came in contact with her thank goodness). My sibling immediately called me and I drove to town to take care of the older kids. My mom left the hospital before I got there.

I did everything I could to make the day still about the new baby. I got flowers, I didn’t ask about my mom, and I kept the kids excited. My husband stepped up to the plate and went to look for my mom. He found her at home hammered and hid the keys. The following day she skipped out on work saying that “her grandchild was born” and the family “needed her help”. She took a taxi to the grocery store and went back home and drank all day.

I can’t even explain how angry I am. This is such a special time. A new life was brought into the world. This is a time when the “grandma” needs to step up and help. Grandma doesn’t need to show up at the hospital drunk trying to take children with her…WTF? Grandma doesn’t need to lie to her work and use this wonderful news as an excuse to drink. Grandma needs to get it together.

When I shared this in supervision with my direct supervisor, she asked me “What are you going to do with this anger?” Um…try not to explode? I didn’t really know how to respond. I am so filled with this hate towards my mother. I KNOW this is a disease and I KNOW this wasn’t her “choice” but she had been sober for weeks. Any other day would have been better for a relapse. Wouldn’t it be nice if relapses revolved around our own schedule? Ha.

My supervisor then said something that really resonated with me: “I will not be cliche and state that ‘everything happens for a reason’ BUT you can find purpose in everything that happens”. This was an incredible response because I needed to process what I was going to do with this disappointment and hurt, not just for me but for my sibling. My sibling wanted their mom to meet their new grandchild. They were devastated that this is what happened instead. Can you blame them? I am angry FOR them. My heart has been weighing me down. So…

What am I going to do with this anger?

I am going to write about it. I am going to reach out to you all. I am going to continue talking about addiction, alcoholism, and being an adult child of an alcoholic because I know I am not alone. I know other people are angry. I know other people are hurting. We have every right to be angry but yelling at my mom isn’t going to make me feel better. Nobody hates her more than she hates herself right now. She missed the birth of her grandchild. She doesn’t have any pictures with them. She will look back and this will be one of her biggest regrets. Of that, I have no doubt.

If you are angry right now, be angry. But when you are ready, let that anger fuel you to spread love. If you are hurting, be hurt. But know that you are loved, I love you. I truly do. I know it is hard to let go of anger. Sometimes the anger fuels us to move forward because when we let that anger go, we are just so tired. But you are tired because you have been fueled by anger. That should not be the primary force moving you forward. Find the love. Find your strength. You CAN find purpose in everything that happens.

Thank you for reading! If you would like to read more, please subscribe! If you think this would help someone else, share my page. You can also follow me on Instagram (@grumpy.sunshineblog) or like my Facebook page-Grumpy Sunshine! I hope to hear from you soon.

-Grumpy Sunshine

Worst Version of Yourself

“Do you ever feel you’ve become the worst version of yourself?”

-Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) in You’ve Got Mail

I am a sucker for a Meg Ryan romantic comedy. People say this movie was overrated or didn’t live up to the hype but I disagree. This quote from Joe, played by Tom Hanks, has always resonated with me. Is there really a true rock bottom for people? The lowest of the low…that as soon as it is happening or as soon as it is over, you know you have gotten there? I never really felt like I had become the worst version of myself until this weekend.

Some people who grow up with alcoholism in the home refuse to touch alcohol as adults. Some become alcoholics themselves. Others try to drink in moderation. I enjoy a glass of wine with friends or getting a little tipsy at a wedding. I try not to make a habit of it and I never drink when I am sad, stressed, or angry. I, of course, have some stories where I drank too much at a college party before I realized how to drink appropriately. I would never consider myself a partier now though. I like to remain in control of myself. My only dilemma is that I am a little obnoxious when I drink. I think everything I do is hilarious and that can be embarrassing. This weekend was no exception.

There was a big cookout fundraiser. There were hundreds of people and it was an open bar. My husband and I knew we were probably going to have more than a drink or two so we arranged for transportation (like the responsible adults that we are) and we had a great time. After the event, I told him I needed to go home. I knew my limit. He wanted to go downtown with his friends though so we went. In my usual fashion, I became the clown. My friend’s laughter only encouraged me.

When we got downtown, we were in a parking deck and a car was coming around the corner. I, for some reason, thought it would be hilarious to walk backwards next to the car. The car was going a little fast though so my backwards walk turned into a backwards jog. The people in the car found it hilarious and my friends were bending over laughing. Turns out that I am not very athletic and I fell down. I fell down HARD. I bounced up quickly because I was so humiliated and my friends kept laughing when I assured them I was okay. My husband knew something was wrong though.We went into the bar and I tried to hide how mortified I was.

No one was paying me any attention, thank god, because I started tearing up. I was so embarrassed. Why did I always need to be the center of attention? The group we were out with we had been friends with for years and they knew me and my family pretty well. I started worrying that they were judging me. I thought they were thinking that I was turning out like my parents, drunkenly behaving like a fool. I couldn’t handle it and I started crying. That’s right. I was the girl at the bar crying. My husband immediately ushered me out and we got a ride home. I couldn’t stop crying and I couldn’t even explain why I was so embarrassed, not because I was so drunk but because I didn’t even understand it myself.

My back hurt, my wrist hurt, my butt hurt, and my pride hurt the worst of all. I was better than that. I didn’t need to drink that much. I didn’t need to go to the bar afterwards. I really didn’t need to behave like my parents. My husband kept assuring me it was not a big deal but I felt terrible about myself. I truly felt concerned that I was turning into my mother. I felt in that moment, like Tom Hanks, that I was the worst version of myself.

When I sobered up the next day, I still felt bad. Physically and emotionally. I was embarrassed for falling, for crying, and for leaving so quickly. I was embarrassed that I put myself in a situation that made me behave so stupidly. I had never felt worse about myself. All I could think about was my friends talking about how I was turning into my mother…also that I needed an ice pack and ibuprofen immediately.

My husband, who loves me dearly, said that if my mom wasn’t an alcoholic, this wouldn’t have been a big deal. He said I wasn’t actually “falling down drunk”. I was just being silly and fell. He said it probably would have happened had I been sober. He may be right. I am genuinely clumsy. Maybe I was being too hard on myself? Just because my mom was an alcoholic doesn’t mean I am never allowed to drink or be stupid. I can still have fun nights without it meaning I am turning into an alcoholic. I am genuinely a pretty responsible drinker when I do drink, which isn’t often. BUT I still felt like a fool.

I hold myself to a higher standard because I know better. And my mom IS an alcoholic. That means I am more susceptible to falling into a dangerous pattern. I never want to feel as bad about myself as I did this weekend. I never want to give people the opportunity to say that I am turning out like my mom. It was a big wake up call for me. Then I realized, it wasn’t just the alcohol.

It is my CONSTANT need for attention. I thought I outgrew this in high school but it still bubbles up from time to time. Some flaws we struggled with as kids can reappear as adults when we aren’t coping with our stress. I am so mad at my mom right now because she isn’t addressing my concerns about her. I clearly was looking for attention elsewhere.

I am not going to quit drinking. I do enjoy a wine tasting with my girlfriends for special occasions and I like to have a beer at a cookout with friends. However, I know I am not going to be the crying girl in the bar anymore. I’m not in college. That isn’t cute. I am WAY too old for that. But if you want some unsolicited advice, don’t jog backwards sober or drunk. There are better ways to get attention.

For those of you who struggle with loved one’s addictions, do you drink? Do you ever fear you are turning into your loved one? Are you constantly worried that your behavior reflects your upbringing? I would love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading! If you are interested in reading more, please subscribe! Share my page if you feel it would benefit someone else!

-Grumpy Sunshine

 

Fill Your Cup

Do you ever have that feeling where your cup, your metaphorical cup of kindness, love, patience, and kindness, is emptying? You give and give and give and then you realize you didn’t leave enough love in your cup for yourself. I want to talk about filling your cup but let me first share with you about my own bare glass.

My cup has been emptying for awhile. There is only a tiny sip left. I don’t feel like I have anything left to give. I always know when my cup is becoming desolate. There are telltale signs. I tend to ignore the signs until it is too late however. At that point, my glass begins to fill with things I don’t need. I call this the “muck”. The muck is stress, anger, disappointment with myself, etc. When my glass is filled with this muck, it is even harder to fill it with the love and kindness I need. There isn’t enough room for both.

One sign that my cup is emptying is that I start becoming short with people. I go off over things that normally wouldn’t bother me. My tolerance for inconveniences is very low. I get frustrated when the mail doesn’t come on time. I cuss about Arby’s forgetting my marinara sauce. I start using the word “hate” a lot and I hate using that word (I know, ironic).

Speaking of Arby’s, I also start overeating (my favorite/least favorite coping style). It is like I am trying to fill that metaphorical cup with mozzarella sticks. If only it worked that way! But when I do this kind of eating, I am not coping and I am putting myself in a worse position. My physical health is affected when I start on one of these fast food binges, which then makes everything else more complicated and here comes all the muck.

My cup is currently emptying because I am so stressed about my alcoholic mom. The holidays are coming up and we have the family events on the way. These family events are supposed to be wonderful but everyone is worried that she will show up drunk or that she won’t show up at all. I don’t really know what is worse. On top of that, my sibling is about to have a baby any day now. We want the baby to be welcomed into a loving and wonderful family but we also need to make sure drunk mom doesn’t come to the hospital or try to hold the baby or go missing when everyone is at the hospital.

Add on the regular holiday stress, buying gifts for in-laws, holiday work parties, friends who give you presents that you weren’t planning to get a gift, ordering Christmas cards, etc., and you have one stressful winter season!

So in the midst of all of this, I am trying to be the most supportive sibling I can possibly be. This is a stressful time and they need extra support with a baby on the way. I am trying to arrange all of the gifts for my husband’s family ahead of time so we aren’t trying to pay for the gifts all at once. I am trying to attend all of the holiday parties so no friends are offended. I am trying to think of how we are going to afford going out and seeing family over the holidays. I am tiptoeing around my mother so nothing triggers her. I am praying that she is able to take care of herself because I so badly want her to be there for every event, as long as she is sober.

So here I am with a mucky glass. I am stressed. I am eating so much. I am snapping at people. My glass is looking pretty gross. I want a hug. I want a puppy. I want a glass of wine. I want a punching bag. I want a chocolate milkshake. I want a nap. But what do I need?

I NEED to say no to some things. I need to be honest with my friends why I am saying no without feeling guilty. I need to explain to my family that we are on a tight budget without any expectations that they will understand. I need to stop eating Arby’s (for real).  I need to make Christmas less materialistic. And above all, I need to continue to talk about my mom’s alcoholism.

Starting this blog has been the most therapeutic coping skill I have developed. Every time I write, I feel like I am rinsing my cup and starting fresh. It has given me the courage to be honest with people and to combat the shame I feel that she struggles with alcoholism. It makes people uncomfortable but every time I share, it gets a little easier. I grow a little more confident and I feel great when someone says they understand because they have a loved one struggling too. So this holiday season, expect a pretty active blogger. I need it! And I have no shame in that!

What do you do to take care of yourself? How do you know your cup is emptying? What cleanses your cup and fills it up?

Thanks for reading! Subscribe if you would like to read more. Share if you think someone would benefit from reading this.

-Grumpy Sunshine