Returning 2018!

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This year has been one of the best years of my life. That may seem surprising considering how poorly my mother’s sobriety is going (or not going at all). I refuse to let her alcoholism dictate my happiness though. So as I look back over the year, I look back with joy. I attribute that joy to two major things.

1.) I have the most supportive and incredible husband. He is the best part of my day.

He takes care of me. He challenges me. He loves me for me. He loves my family even though they are INSANE. I don’t know what I would do without him.

2.) I started this blog.

This outlet has been the most comforting form of therapy I have found to date. I don’t feel so alone anymore. I feel validated in my anger, sadness, hurt, and triumphs. I have become so much more self-aware of how my feelings towards my mother and my family are controlling and affecting other parts of my life. I have loved getting to know my readers and hearing from people from all over the world! It truly has been a beautiful learning experience. Thank you for being a part of it with me!

I am taking advice from myself and taking a break this holiday season! I will be back the first week of 2018 with I am sure many amusing, and not so amusing, tales from the holidays.

In the meantime, if you have any ideas of things you would like me to write about next year, please feel free to comment below or email me! Some of my favorite posts were suggestions from readers.

Take care of yourself this holiday season! Try to find laughter in the darkest of days and always remember that your life is worth protecting.

I have loved this adventure with you all and I am looking forward to starting fresh with you in 2018!

-Grumpy Sunshine

Follow me on Instagram @grumpy.sunshineblog, Twitter @grumpysunshine4, or on my Facebook page @Grumpy Sunshine.

 

 

Do NOT Eat the Potato Chips!

Have you ever gotten completely upset about the most ridiculous thing? In reality, you  are just not addressing a much bigger issue?

Just me?

Well this weekend, I had my own little mental breakdown over potato chips, barbecue potato chips, just so you have the image in your mind.

My husband and I were watching TV yesterday afternoon and he gets up and goes to the kitchen. He comes back with a bag of barbecue potato chips and starts eating them.

“Sweetie, those are for your lunches. If you eat them all, I won’t have a snack to pack you” I said, hoping he would put them away.

“There is another bag in the cabinet. It’s fine” he said.

A normal response would have been something like…”Okay” or “If you run out, you will have to go to the store this week” or even the deathly “I may have to pack you fruit instead”. However, normal isn’t my style.

My response is to start crying, not just a single tear drop while I quietly wipe it away. Oh no. I burst into blubbery, snot dripping, hyperventilating tears.

“Babe” gasp “If” gasp “You eat all the” gasp “chips” gasp…..”you won’t like your lunches” gasp. Tears and mascara are running down my face. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My face turned bright red. I was seriously sobbing over the fact that he might not have a snack this week.

My husband is looking at me like I have lost my mind (rightly so). He jumps up and puts the chips away and comes and sits by me laughing. He hugs me because he already knows what I figure out after I calm down, that I am upset about something else entirely. I, of course, am even more upset that he is laughing because my heart is aching over the thought of him eating his lunch snacks when it wasn’t lunch.

Am I crazy? No I don’t think so. Was I really upset about the potato chips? No. My husband could survive with some yogurt or grapes that day but I had been holding in that cry since earlier in the week. I wasn’t addressing a much bigger issue and my brain decided I couldn’t hold in my frustration and sadness anymore, to my husband’s expense.

My mom has been lying about having her license. She said the judge gave it back. I had dinner with her and my dad this week and bluffed saying I knew she didn’t have her license because someone had told me. She freaked out but eventually admitted she did not have her license because she had refused to blow when she got the DUI.

We went in circles about why they hadn’t told anybody, how she was getting to work, and why were they lying. Frustrated that she was still lying and that my dad was enabling her lying, I told her that if anyone asked me how she was doing over the holidays, I would be honest. We will be seeing a lot of family and the subject is definitely coming up.

Her response was “Why do you want to hurt people?”

HA! ME???

“I am not hurting people by being honest. You are hurting people by putting yourself and others at risk while driving drunk. You are hurting people and yourself by continuing to drink and not seek treatment. You are responsible for any pain caused.” I said while laughing incredulously. I was so amazed that she was actually trying to blame me.

She shook her head the entire time I was speaking, like she was shaking what I was saying right out of her head. I was so mad. It was like talking to a five year old. She just kept repeating that I was being mean to her and that I was wanting to hurt her. Classic manipulation.

I am not going out of my way to tell everyone how terrible she has been but the least I can do is be honest if someone asks me. Lying for her for years clearly hasn’t helped. She is getting worse so something different needs to be done. I tried to explain this. She refused to see this as her fault at all and it was just me being “vindictive”. Could she be anymore textbook alcoholic?

After my good old potato chip breakdown, I realized I needed that cry. I needed to let out my disappointment and frustration with my mom. My husband is still not touching the chips but I think if he does, I will be able to manage 🙂

I try so hard to show people that my mom’s alcoholism doesn’t affect me. I try so hard to look strong and normal. I try even harder to pretend like everything is fine to avoid making people uncomfortable. I forget to remind myself that I am strong! Verdict is out on normal. BUT there is nothing wrong with being affected by my mom’s disease. We need to talk about things even when people get uncomfortable or nothing will ever change.

Sometimes dealing with the pain right in the moment isn’t ideal but don’t bury it down deep enough that you are sobbing over something insignificant. Don’t let it burden your heart to that point. Be okay with the pain. Share that pain! You are not alone.

Thanks for reading! Find me on Instagram at @grumpy.sunshineblog, on twitter @grumpysunshine4 or on Facebook at Grumpy Sunshine. Subscribe if you’d like to read more and share with anyone you think might benefit from my posts. I love hearing from people!

-Grumpy Sunshine

 

Humor Me

Let us delve into the deep realms of possibility that our loved ones will never get sober…

What would this mean for you to accept that concept?

What would it mean to acknowledge that they may never get better?

That this may kill them?

That their actions could lead to killing someone else?

That this is your life?

Does it mean that you may have to leave them? Does it mean that you have to give up the life in your head that you imagined for yourself? Does it mean you have to give up the life in your head that you imagined for them?

Maybe.

I am not married to an alcoholic, I am the daughter of one. My situation is slightly different from others. I can’t get rid of my mother. I can’t “leave” her. I am a grown woman. I live with my husband away from my family already. I can’t exactly break up with her.

I can set boundaries, absolutely. And I do. I have finally given up enabling the situation but I can’t cut all ties with her and run.

I can accept that she isn’t going to get better. It isn’t out of anger or hurt just being realistic. Accepting that this year was the hardest thing for me to do because it meant a lot of things I had planned were going to change.

My future children will not be babysat by their grandma.

We won’t be taking family vacations together.

My in-laws and my family will never be truly close.

I may be disliked by other family members because of the boundaries I have had to set.

My mom may die because of her drinking.

These are pretty distressing thoughts. These are also self-healing thoughts. Accepting that these things are possible, and most likely probable, has helped me let go of a lot of unrealistic expectations.

My sister, who is swimming in denial, can’t accept these things. For her, it would be too painful. She can’t imagine my mom not in her children’s life. She can’t acknowledge that we won’t be having a normal family one day. She is clinging to that hope/denial. I am not sure what you would call it. Maybe me calling it denial is my pessimism while others would call it hope is their optimism.

For me, letting go of hope…it was incredibly freeing. I cannot control my mom, only my response to her behavior. My sister chose her response to be one of hopeful wishing and I have chosen indifferent acceptance. Neither of us are “wrong” but some days one of us is stronger than the other.

Where are you in your journey? Do you think they’ll get sober one day? Do you think the damage in your relationship can be repaired? I love hearing from people and would like to hear your thoughts on this.

Thanks for reading! Follow me on instagram @grumpy.sunshineblog or find me on Facebook at Grumpy Sunshine. Share this post if you think it would help spread awareness or understanding.

-Grumpy Sunshine

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

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

You’re Still You

When you love someone struggling with addiction, you can feel like you are losing yourself. Your life starts to revolve around their addiction. You feel like the special parts that make you…well you…are slipping away. You used to be the person that always saw Marvel movies the day they came out or you used to always be the last person to leave a party because you wanted to help the host clean up. Things are different now. Who knows when your loved one is going to need you? You can’t see that movie on a Friday, you have to take them to their meeting. You can’t even go to that party let alone be the last person there, the pressures from social anxiety will trigger a relapse. Are you even still in there?

YES YOU ARE! I see you. I feel you struggling. I hear your pain. I went through a phase where my whole life revolved around my mom’s addiction. I lost myself and I was hurting for a long time. I loved me but I changed me to try to be what she needed. I desperately wanted to contribute to her sobriety. I thought if I made choices that would benefit her, she would have to get sober. I know, naĂŻve thinking. I blame it on my youth, my desperation for a sober mom, and the hope that my family could recover from all the hurt.

I chose the college I attended in order to help my dad more with my mom’s “episodes”, I got a job at the church my mom attended so I could stay in the loop, and I dated someone I knew would never leave our hometown so I wouldn’t have to risk the threat of “abandoning” my family. These are BIG life choices that weren’t even based off of my own wants and needs. The person I was dating was nothing like me. I became more like them and a stranger to myself. The college I attended, worked out for the best in the end, but it took a long time to get me out of my comfort zone. My part-time job kept me engrossed in my mom’s drinking. All I was doing was getting myself more involved in my mom’s alcoholism. Spoiler alert, that didn’t get her sober.

It took years of my adulthood to realize that I was just staying in the storm instead of trying to get to shore. I was in a perpetual state of drowning and I didn’t even care that people were constantly throwing me lifelines. I was content staying in that horrible state.

It took me moving an hour away from my family to realize how desperately I missed myself. Within the first few weeks living away from my family, I could tell I was getting healthier. I was sleeping better, I was doing things for myself, and I started taking care of my body again. My friends could tell I was happier. My supervisor could tell I was less stressed about work anxieties. My husband reminded me that I was getting less headaches. I was being silly again. I started reading for pleasure. I started caring about my friends more than my own problems. It was amazing. I hadn’t been this “me” in years.

Even though this is WONDERFUL it shows how weak I am. I had to MOVE away in order set my own boundaries. I completely lost myself in my mom’s addiction. How do people manage who still are living in the home? How do you be yourself? How do you take care of yourself? How do you not lose yourself in the disease? Addiction isn’t just suffered by the addict, the whole family is affected.

I was in a lucky position where I could move away. I don’t know if I would have found myself if I hadn’t gotten that distance. If you aren’t in that kind of position and maybe you don’t even want to, that’s fine. But take time to be you. Find a time or a day where your needs are the one on the forefront. Do something that only you would do. Go see that Marvel movie. Go to that party and be the helpful guest. Go to a magic show. Watch an old musical. Find a way to the parts of you that you have always loved. The parts of you that people say “That is so Jane/John.” You deserve that! We deserve to be selfish and to meet our own needs. If our own cup is empty, we can’t pour into other’s.

The best learning experience I have had is that when I left, nothing changed. My dad and sister made me feel guilty because they are still living in that storm but my mom didn’t get better or worse. She’s still an alcoholic. She’s still getting arrested from time to time. Our family is still embarrassed. And I now KNOW that me living there isn’t going to change that because it didn’t. I lived there for 20+ years and she didn’t get sober. I would hate if something happened to my mom but I cannot get her sober.

I am happy now. I have a life. It doesn’t revolve around her drinking. It revolves around me, my friends, my husband, my nieces and nephews, etc. It revolves around life. Fight to have your own life! It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

-Grumpy Sunshine

 

 

Setting Boundaries

If you were raised by an alcoholic or if you love someone suffering from addiction, at some point you have struggled with boundaries. Why? Because an alcoholic or an addict crosses boundaries all the time to get their fix. They can be manipulative and even downright cruel if they are craving badly enough and they don’t mind hurting your feelings or the feelings of loved ones. You in return cross boundaries to try to save them, to try to protect them, and to try to protect others. It’s a boundary nightmare.

I have come to find that boundaries are one of the most important aspects in any relationship, even those without addiction. I learned this the hard way over and over again until it really sunk in that I needed to set boundaries not only for myself but for the people I love as well.

First, there are the boundaries we break with the alcoholic themselves. Mine has always been the fact that I tried to take care of my mother constantly. I started cleaning the home more so she wouldn’t be stressed about it. I would do things only she wanted to do so she would stay in a good mood. I would protect my dad by covering up when my mom did something embarrassing and we had guests over. I wanted to remove all triggers from my mom and I wanted my family to be happy. My heart was in the right place but I was still doing the wrong thing.

I could not become the mother to my own mother. You cannot mother the alcoholism out of a person. You cannot remove all triggers in life. You lose yourself in the process of not having those boundaries. It was unfair that the youngest person in the family stepped into the role of the matriarch to keep the peace. My mom took advantage of all of those situations though and I would let her. We had no boundaries with each other because she knew I would try to do what was best for the family and I prayed she would get sober if she saw me trying so hard. That’s how I learned if you are working harder than the addict on getting them sober, they will never be sober.

Second, there is the addict crossing boundaries. As I have wrote about before, my mom is a very appealing person. She is bubbly, pretty, and very outgoing. People are drawn to her naturally, which creates problems for her children. My mom started building a relationship with my then soon to be in-laws. This was bad news for me. For most people that sounds like a good thing. You should want the parents of each spouse to get along, right? Sure! When your mom is an alcoholic though and you are still working on building a relationship with your future in-laws yourself, there are more important things than the in-laws getting along for a meal.

My mom started to go to lunch with my then boyfriend’s mother and it drove me insane. I knew that if his mom got close enough, she was going to learn the truth and try to get involved. I didn’t want them in that part of my life yet and my mom had no sympathy towards me. She knew what she was doing. She was building a support team so that when she did something awful, they wouldn’t be mad at her. I begged my mom to step back and she didn’t. She did not care about the boundary she was crossing.

Of course eventually, his mom did find out the truth about my mom and things went haywire. His mom started talking to me about it and it infuriated me. She had very limited understanding of addiction and was already on my mom’s “side” because she had grown to like her so much. I would try to educate her but it would end in one of us having hurt feelings. My boyfriend and I decided that was a subject not to discuss with his family because they wouldn’t understand and they would give unsolicited advice (and if you have read my previous posts, you know how I feel about that). My mom refused to respect my boundaries and I am still dealing with it years later.

Third, there is you breaking the boundaries about addiction with others. I learned that there are friends you can and cannot open up to about your family problems. I have one friend in particular who I had known for years. She was good friends with my now husband and we had spent a lot of time together. At a time when I was going through a hard time with my mom, I shared some of my concerns with this friend. She immediately was uncomfortable and changed the subject quickly. I was hurt and I was angry. We had been friends for years. Why couldn’t she at least acknowledge my pain? It took me quite a few months to accept this because my mom’s drinking was such a big part of my life. I later learned that this is how she reacts when she is faced with sensitive, personal subjects. She is just not the kind of friend you have those discussions with and that is okay. It is important to know your boundaries with those kinds of friends. That doesn’t mean she can’t be your friend but she just is your friend you talk about more shallow things with. Shallow friends can still be friends and that was a hard lesson for me to learn.

Boundaries are important. Boundaries are needed. Boundaries are not cruel. They are self-preservation. If you never learn to say no, you’ll always say yes. That sounds kind of dumb doesn’t it? It’s true though. Until you say no, they will always think of you as a yes man and they will take advantage of it. So say no for your own family, say no to improve your friendships, and most importantly say no for yourself because you are worth it.

One of the best things I ever did for myself was move about an hour away from my parents. It wasn’t far but it was far enough. My dad couldn’t call me to come over to fix things up before we had company. My mom couldn’t ask for rides because she had lost her license. My sister couldn’t ask me to babysit while she took care of something mom had done. I set one big hour long boundary in between myself and my family and it was so refreshing. It was so needed. I started seeing a complete change in myself when I let go of my guilt for not being there for my family. I started eating better. I started sleeping better. I even became a better friend to others.

I received a lot of guilt tripping about this move. I received it from my family. I received it from my mother’s friends. I even received it from my in-laws. People couldn’t understand how I could “abandon” my family when they needed me. That’s when I learned to set boundaries with people on their thoughts about my parent’s drinking. When my sister would guilt me about she being the only one around to help mom, I would remind her that she didn’t have to clean up after mom. When my dad made me feel bad, I would remind him that I am not the caretaker. When my friends would act surprised, I would match their surprise in how they responded. I had to get comfortable with people thinking I was selfish and thinking I was cold hearted.

If breaking away from a family filled with addiction is selfish, then I am proudly an incredibly selfish person. If learning to love myself away from my family was cold hearted, then my heart is made of ice and I can just throw on an extra blanket. Boundaries are not selfish and they are not cold hearted. Boundaries prevent enabling and they protect you. If you got anything from this article, I hope that it is to respect boundaries that others set with you and to set boundaries with others. There are some people you can be completely vulnerable with, my husband is my person for example, but it is unfair to expect that kind of acceptance from everyone.

Thanks for reading! I have received some great suggestions about what to write on in the next few weeks! Thanks for sending them to me. Please let me know if you have any ideas. Subscribe if you want to read more in the future and please share on social media! I want to continue fighting the stigma of what addiction looks like and I hope people get that from reading my stories.

-Grumpy Sunshine