Recently I found myself sitting in the Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA.
For those that don’t know me, I love coffee, the ocean, sun, sand, fashion and movie stars! When I was young my baby sitter was often, Good Morning America, Matinee Movies, Soap Operas and Entertainment Tonight. This hotel was filled with Starlite Movie Star energy of Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and the like. It was spectacular and I was so excited!
It was Friday night and I was attending a conference. I arrived early, found a row with a good view of the podium and settled into an aisle seat. As I sat in the empty room, I followed my breath as over 500 women spilled into the cool, quiet room raising the temperature and volume. I knew I was about to hear something I could bring to my clients, but I didn’t expect it to touch my heart as it has.
The speaker, Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, Tiny Beautiful Things and Brave Enough to name a few, was introduced and walked on to the stage. All these titles I own and purposefully did not read, I had no knowledge of her nor an expectation of the talk. I was excited to meet her.
Cheryl started to share her story and within ten minutes the tears were streaming my face. Cheryl’s share of her own recovery of the death of her mother and drug use touched me deeply and broke open my heartbroken heart. The loud voice in my head screamed, “its been over 40 years since mom died, why is my heart breaking again?” Today I understand why the tears streamed and why my pain was felt so deeply. Deep love creates deep sorrow and at times I will experience this and miss her like I lost her yesterday. I needed to write and share.
As Cheryl shared about her relationship with her mom, she asked four questions,
“How is my recovery intertwined in my Mom’s story?” (as I remember)
“What was it like for me?”
“How did it feel being trapped in a cycle?”
“What did it take to escape?”
I’ve been pondering and journaling about these questions for more than a week. Struggling to revisit The Story. Wanting to revisit the script of The Story. Praying for the strength, words, and vulnerability to take the risk to write and share. My intention is understand my feelings, be authentic and to move just one person the way I was moved. Its time to re-write my story from this perspective. That cold January night my mom died completely altered my life. I had lived many years ruining myself because of my pain and my broken heart. Today I choose to live my life living out every dream to honor her. On my 39th birthday, I thought I’ve out lived her and today I think she’ll never live to half a century as I have. I will carry this pain and loneliness and I’ve accepted to recover with intention about becoming the woman I’m intended to be. The woman that she would be honored to have as a daughter.
How My Recovery is Intertwined in my Mom’s Story (as I remember) -
Mom was a loving, funny, resilient, and fearless woman. She had many other amazing qualities, but these stand out. During my last 11 years of recovery, these characteristics are helping me change and transform.
Love for myself and those around me. Unconditional God-like Love! That love that has no judgement, just acceptance.
Humor, as my Handsome Husband Hal and I have shared several times this year “let’s throw our heads back in laughter” as we walk in our beloved Calgary and with fur baby Ollie. Deciding not to take life so seriously, but more importantly, ourselves.
Resilience, keep putting one foot in front of the other, do the next right thing, even when I don’t feel like it. Even when my heart was breaking. Even when my dreams and expectations had been shattered. Why, because I had to survive, just like that cold January night she died. When Hal and I suffered our sixth miscarriage, I had to surrender, let go of the expectation I’d have our children. The good (I can say that now) was in the extreme pain of our fifth miscarriage, it brought me to my last drunken alcoholic bottom. I witnessed my Mom’s loss of children and it almost killed her as my losses almost killed me.
Fearlessness, I say “fear, you can come along, but you can’t drive anymore. Your seat is in the back of the car, stay there and be quiet.” As a child I saw moments my Mom was fearless and even free to be herself.
“What was it like for me?” and “How did it feel being trapped in a cycle?”
Looking back with a healthy perspective, she was trapped by her own pain, her own broken heart and possibly in a cycle of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. I saw alcohol become a coping tool for her that kept her in isolation and shame. Ironically, I did the very same thing when I couldn’t cope, turned to alcohol to numb. Feeling shame, not enough, alone and trapped in all that heart ache and pain just as she was.
“What did it take to escape?”
A spring morning in 2007, Hal looked at me with tear filled eyes and said, “I don’t care what you do, I don’t care what happens to you, I won’t watch you do this any more, I’m done and I’m out.”
Hal’s emotional bottom was not the first, but it was the last. I had a moment of clarity and I heard Hal with my heart. That day was the beginning of the journey to escape the grips of my alcoholism. To escape my isolation, my shame. This was my deepest bottom that allowed me to touch the Power that resides deep within me. Is was scary to risk being this vulnerable, but the truth was, I had so much relief. In the relief, was fear but is was in the back seat and this Power had the stirring wheel.
So, when the conversation in your head says you're not enough, when the shame is unbearable and you’re full of fear, how can you remind yourself to…