selfless love

“Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act” (Romans 6:17ish, The Message).

Recently my pastor spoke on the topic of worship. At the time I felt like I was fighting myself, feeling out of sorts about something, but not quite able to place my finger on it. I was angry about anger, and discouraged that I still couldn’t seem to get a grip on my rage.

As he talked about worship, he also talked about idols – those things we worship in place of Jesus. He probed with questions, getting to the heart of what is most important to us. One question I remember in particular is, If you could be anywhere else on Earth, where would you be?

I’ve actually answered this question several times over in my mind. When stressed, when overwhelmed, when feeling the weight of responsibility, I dream of moving to Cape Cod. When I can’t face my life anymore, all I want is to lay on the beach all day and tend bar all night. Alone.

I even have a postcard I’ve kept since my 20’s. It’s an aerial view of Cape Cod – desolate, protruding into the ocean in all its isolation. Below it is a quote, “One could stand and have the whole Earth behind him.”

This has always been my secret dream, to be alone with the whole earth behind me.

My struggle with anger all these years really boils down to the fact I am worshiping my own agenda in place of Jesus. As I thought back on all the times I’d lost it, I realized my rage was most fierce when my agenda was interrupted.

I wasn’t getting mad when my kids disobeyed or were hurtful or mean, I was getting mad when they got in my way.

It seems so simple. And silly. And quite frankly, embarrassing to admit. But truly, I am a selfish ass. When things don’t go my way, I get angry, and whatever or whoever gets in my way, pays the price.

In addition to Philippians 1:9, since this realization I’ve been meditating on this passage:

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition (jealousy, perhaps?); all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. (Galatians 5:19-20, The Message. Bold and Italics added.)

At times I am overwhelmed with discouragement. At times I feel like I will never change. But then, I read this passage and I am reminded how simple change can be: stop worshipping myself and my own agenda, and start worshipping Jesus.

know thyself

For more than a week I’ve been a blithering mess of tears, a knotted fist of anger, an empty bucket of failure. During this time I drafted one or two essays describing just how far beneath the dust of the earth my worth is – the kind of stuff that prompts emails from strangers begging me to go back on anti-depressants.

But I refrained from posting these essays, feeling a hunch that my plunge was either due to processing through spiritual rebellion or my out of control premenstrual hormones.

And? I this morning I started my period (sorry, guys, for the lack of warning on that one). It’s always a relief to know you are not crazy, at least not THAT kind of crazy, or at least not as MUCH of crazy as you originally thought.

flourishing love

“So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well” (Philippians 1:9, The Message).

I haven’t been able to shake these words all week. During a season when I feel particularly mean and selfish, Paul’s prayer is like a speck of clear blue sky on my dark and stormy heart. In my darkest moments, loving much and loving well feels about as plausible to me as a rainless winter in Seattle.

While I’m aware of the great changes taking place in my heart – changes that have brought more peace to my home and marriage – I still feel tight fisted anger inside me, my knuckles wrapped tightly around me, my way, and my time.

I read Paul’s prayer, caressing it like a postcard from a warm and sunny place. “Wish you were here,” it taunts me. But I am not. I am here, feeling dark and twisty.

It is as if I am enslaved to my own selfishness and anger – held, clenched, captive, to my own desires. Romans 6:17 in The Message says, “All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do…” And this is where I find myself: I’ve let sin tell me what to do. I’ve said, “fuck you!” to my new master, Jesus, and listened to the old one: myself. As I wrestle with this issue, more and more I realize how much my actions give Jesus the finger.

I find this both discouraging and hopeful.

Discouraging because this is the thread, the root, that weaves in and out of all my past and current depression and rage issues (with the exception of the postpartum depression era). I feel as if my ongoing struggle with this indicates a failure on my part for my inability to fix it or get over it or move on. Only recently have I come to realize my error in this line of thinking, which I will get to in another post.

But I am also hopeful, because if you were to read through my archives from 2005 (the Crazy era) you would find much despair and defeat, but very little hope. And now? I read Paul’s words about loving much and loving well, and though it feels impossible to me, I believe Paul’s prayer can be made real in my life. Loving much and loving well has become a desire of my heart, which is a far cry from where I’ve been.

More later.

On Self Medicating

A year or more ago, I was talking with a friend about how I had taken to self medicating my visits to Funkytown with alcohol. I know that sounds bad, but hear me out. After Thomas was born, which was two months after losing Gordy to cancer, I experienced postpartum depression that was severe enough for me to seek help, and I began taking Zoloft.

After a year on this medication I decided to wean off. I never intended for it to be a permanent solution, and it just seemed like a good time. I should mention that my depression brought out the reality of my rage issues, and during the time I was on medication I was getting some awesome therapy, plus participating in a regular group discussion regarding the same issues. In other words, I was having some very real, very vulnerable, very intimate conversations with others on the State of Jen.

As I continued to work through my issues with rage and what triggers my anger, exercise became a vital element to prevention. So did deep breathing.

When I find myself entering into a rage state of mind, it feels a lot like an anxiety attack. I feel it in my chest – it tightens, my heart is racing, and I’m tense all over. My adrenaline kicks in, and in my attempt to assert my control over the Universe I say and do things that make me feel powerful and others weak.

One day, as I found myself entering into this unhealthy place, it occurred to me there was one thing that would slow the physical aspects of my anger – a shot of vodka. So I chugged one back, and stood in my kitchen breathing deeply. As I felt the warmth wash down through my body, the relief overwhelmed me, and I burst into tears – the kind of tears that come, for instance, after you swerve your car on the freeway express lanes to narrowly avoid a sedan that pulls into your lane from a dead stop, right in front of you.

I came to a screeching halt, just inches from the concrete jersey barrier.

And here began my sporadic self medication. I don’t make a party out of it by mixing it into a cocktail, and I don’t come close to even being tipsy – I simply chug it back like a dose of Nyquil. It takes the edge off, so to speak, so I can get ahead of the physical rage and get to the emotional core of what triggered it.

I know this will cause a low rumble among some, and I’m not saying it’s ideal or even right – though, maybe it’s just fine, and only causes a stir because of America’s unhealthy view of alcohol. I am also not – I repeat, I am NOT – suggesting you do this, or that I think it’s way cool that I can. As a follower of Christ, I know his peace is the answer to all our emotional struggles. As a follower of Christ, I know his blood covers all our sin, and I don’t need anything else to deliver me from anger. As a follower of Christ, I know we are not to place any idols above him.

Yet, at this point in the process it’s the tool I choose to use. I anticipate this will not be the case for much longer – in fact, I can’t really recall the last time I used alcohol in this way.

In a group setting, someone once asked a very wise drug-addict-turned-Christian-therapist what he thought of alcohol consumption. His response was that unless you have a healthy way of working through and getting to the core of your issue, you should really stay away from alcohol.

I think about this often as I drink, both in self-medicating situations as well as social situations. I consider what I may be trying to accomplish, if anything, and whether I am using alcohol to mask or escape. But most of the time it’s just good to enjoy good food and good drink with a friend.

I’m not sure what prompted me to post these long-processed thoughts today, especially since I haven’t once thrown back a shot of vodka during this last episode through Funkytown. I have lost my temper during this time. In fact, I just unleashed an unreasonable verbal tirade on my kids about five minutes ago, and do not feel the need to imbibe.

Perhaps this is precisely the reason: I’ve already outgrown my need to self-medicate, and I want to remember how far I’ve come.


It occurred to me this week that I’ve been in a depressive funk lately. When I sat down and calculated just how long I’ve been saying to myself that I’m just PMSing, it turned out to be several weeks.

I brought this up with Bryan yesterday over morning coffee, and we talked about how much things have changed in this area.

I told him how the realization I’m in a funk didn’t cause me to panic or sink deeper into my hole. In fact, I think I subconsciously saw it coming, because in looking back I noticed how I’d changed my schedule around and lowered my expectations of myself, without even realizing what I was doing. I was sluffing off all the extra curricular stuff of my life, and saving all my energy just to get the basics done.

IMG_6376.JPGHaving just gone white water rafting, I was provided with the best visual of how I’m seeing things. As we spent the day on the river, there were many areas of calm water that were almost like a lake. Sometimes we would even jump in and swim. Then as we approached a rapid, we would tighten up a bit on our life jackets, adjust our hats, and wedge our feet into the raft for a better grip.

We could see the rapid coming, and we prepared for it.

Then, after the rush of adrenaline and the squealing and the tossing about, we came out safely on the other side and gave each other paddle high fives as we entered the calm water once again.

It’s no fun to be in the funk I’m in – I struggle with all sorts of issues regarding what a failure I must be for my inability to get the most simple and mundane things done. A clog in my vacuum renders me powerless, for instance – I just don’t have the mental capacity to figure it out.

But knowing this is not likely a permanent state, that I’m just riding the next rapid and will soon come out into the calm waters, this is what keeps me going. If I can just wedge my feet into the boat and paddle like a muthafucka, I think I’ll be okay.

I’m like a freakin’ carnival ride over here…

Yes, I think the sickness got me into a rut. I think the lack of exercise messed with my head.

Bryan had to work tonight, so I took the kids to the park after dinner. Normally I sit on a bench and enjoy the break I get while they run around. But tonight I played with them, chased them, and even made a mad dash to the bathroom with them.

It was invigorating. And suddenly, I felt light and refreshed and energized.

I can’t wait until Monday, when week four of 5k training shall commence!

Getting back into the Everyday…

Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been sick forever, and have grown used to laying around and taking it easy.

Maybe it’s because it’s May, and I’m tired of seeing gray skies and using flannel sheets.

Maybe it’s because I’m so far behind in everything (due to being sick), that I’m feeling overwhelmed and morose.

I don’t know, but I can’t shake this funk. I’m finally feeling better physically, but I feel bored, unmotivated, and lonely – yet I’m not feeling social. I’m tired of these four walls, but I don’t want to go anywhere. I’m sick of this messy house, but I can’t bring myself to clean it. I’m tired of the chaos, but I can’t think to organize.

I have wasted hours this week, sitting in a chair, staring out the window, hitting refresh on Twitter, reading a book, watching t.v. – you name it.

Ugh. I’m kind of done with it. But yet, not really.

My doctor cleared me to go running on Monday, so I’m hoping that by getting back into my exercise routine I’ll be able to shake this funk. Here’s hoping.

Danger: hormonal surges in action. Enter at your own risk.

I’ve had a really shitty couple of days. I wake up cranky, I drink too much coffee, my house is a disaster, I yell at my kids, and I’m behind on everything.


And I can’t say that I have any circumstances to blame this on. Yes, Bryan has been working a lot, and yes, we have some personal stress brewing on the back burner, but in all honesty I can’t really blame it on those things.

I’m just being one mean bitch about everything.

You know how it goes when you’re in this mood: every wrong twitch of an eyebrow, every hesitation in response, every nuance of tone triggers you into a rampage. “WHAT?! WHAT WAS THAT LOOK FOR?! WHAT’S YOUR PROBLEM?! WHAT DID I DO NOW?!”

And the person with the twitchy eyebrow runs for his ever-lovin life.

To punctuate my irrational mood, a bookshelf just fell on me. Yes, a bookshelf. And yes, JUST. All the books fell on me, the shelf hit me on the shoulder, and the lamp broke its fall on my back. It’s not a very big bookshelf, and the lamp didn’t break, and there were only a couple dozen books to clean up, but still.

Even my house is conspiring against my foul mood.

I quit what I was doing and went straight to my computer to complain to all of you about my day being so crappy that even a bookshelf fell on me. And you know what? I’m giggling just a little bit right now, because it’s all so silly, and I’m so incredibly dramatic. And spoiled.

I think I would do well to turn on some lights in this cave, put on some Jesus-is-my-boyfriend music, and pop some vitamin-B pills.

Laughing – even if at yourself – really is the best medicine.


They say depression is anger turned inward, which likely explains the funk I’ve been in. I thought I was coming out of it a few weeks ago, but in retrospect I see it is more circumstantial – as in, if things go the way I want them to I’m happy, and if they don’t, I’m depressed. I have not been very successful in just going with the flow, but rather I’ve had very strong expectations of how I want my day to go and my children to behave, and things aren’t really working out the way I had hoped.

Because, as you know, shit happens that I can’t do anything about.

My heart feels tightly clenched, rebellious, closed. I haven’t been able to write. Little things anger me, and nice people irritate me. Suggestions and helpfulness infuriate me. And in all things that don’t go my way, I am the victim.

Whew. It feels good to get that out – to name it.

I saw my therapist yesterday for the first time in months. I love him. He is soft and compassionate, but still tells me things that are difficult to hear. He counsels with the perfect balance of Biblical truth and therapeutic mumbo jumbo. He doesn’t just tell me to sin less and love Jesus more, but digs in to the very complicated labyrinth of lies I have believed about myself and about God. He understands the context of habitual sin.

I described all the ways in which I felt frustrated as a parent of Ruthie. I recounted scenarios in which I had done all the right things, but was still screamed at. I cried, wondering why God had given a woman like me a daughter like Ruthie. As each story progressed my therapist whistled and shook his head, chuckled, and said things like, “Wow, you’ve got a strong one.” But when I cried about Why, he gently reminded me that God was using my relationship with Ruthie to transform my heart of anger.

More crying. More release. More submission.

I bawled all the way home yesterday. I probably should have pulled over. Never do I nor my therapist imply that Ruthie’s behavior justifies my sinful actions, but the floodgates of my emotions were opened at the reminder that she is… exceptional. It actually reminds me that this is the way she is, and I need to stop wishing she was different. Working with her would be a lot easier than working against her.

I have also resolved that I have done just about all the behavioral modification that one person can do, and at this point it is all about my submitting to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit – which means dying to myself.

I hate this concept of dying to myself because I think my own needs and wants are really really really important. I just want everyone around me to know exactly what their script says so I don’t have to actually direct. It seems so ridiculous that I live like this, but it’s true: nobody in my house is more important than me.

And it’s starting to feel really icky.

[Here is where I usually insert a snappy wrap-up about lessons learned and moving forward and all that. But since I am feeling unresolved, perhaps my writing should reflect that, too.]

Back Again.

I managed to climb my way out of a hole of depression on Tuesday afternoon – and once I did it was as if I’d come back through the magic wardrobe to find everything as I had left it, wondering if what I had experienced was real or imagined. Bryan was a little on edge, wary of my roller coaster emotional breakdowns. But he took it in stride as much as possible, accepting my apologies and not holding a grudge for lost time at work and added stress.

This time, the depression manifested itself in a deep loathing for myself that resulted in making everyone else around me feel as miserable as I did. I kept saying over and over to myself and anyone who asked me that I hated who I was, heaping all the troubles of my children, husband, and the world on my own shoulders as if I had failed everyone catastrophically. I had also suffered some setbacks during this time, sinning against Bryan and my kids with my anger.

A friend asked me if I knew whether my self loathing had precipitated my sin, or was the result of it. It was a good question, and one that I’m not sure I’ve figured out. All I know is that when I finally cracked my Bible and listened to the story being told to me through music, what really convicted me was the weight of an unrepentant heart. I think the situation in which I had sinned against my family came in the midst of a stressful weekend – one in which I was already sliding into self loathing. My actions simply punctuated what a horrible person I was, so rather than accepting the grace of God’s forgiveness, I continued beating myself up until I was drowning in my own hate.

I am very thankful for a patient husband, a longsuffering Savior in Jesus, and a community of friends who speak words of encouragement to me and get me out of the house when I can’t get myself out.

Things in my head today

I’ve been in a hole of depression the last couple weeks and haven’t been able feel much but utter contempt for myself. Today I began to see just the tiniest sliver of light in my very dark world – light that came through song, and scripture, and a trip to the beach with friends. In no particular order, these are the words that are telling me a story today.

I bought a crap detector
Emptied all my savings
It’s got a hair-trigger feel for the slightest provocation
Not there to spill blood or judge out of line
It’s just a modern convenience to save you some time

Why is joy something I must steal?
Starving skeletons looking for a meal
Out in the graveyard, church bells peal
Earth has no sorrow heaven can’t heal
– Bill Mallonee

Have you gotten what you came for
Did you ever feel ashamed for
Criminal is the name for…
what you’ve done to me

Did you shoot down what you aimed for
Did you ever take the blame for
Criminal is the name for…
what you’ve done to me
– The Call

A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.”
– Proverbs 28:13 (The Living Bible)

There was a time when I wouldn’t admit what a sinner I was. But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration. All day and all night your hand was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water on a sunny day until I finally admitted all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, “I will confess them to the Lord,” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
– Psalm 32 3-5 (The Living Bible)

For God was in Christ, restoring the world to himself, no longer counting men’s sins against them but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others.
– 2 Corinthians 5:19 (The Living Bible)

You were dead in sins, and your sinful desires were not yet cut away. Then he gave you a share in the very life of Christ, for he forgave all your sins, and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of his commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross. In this way God took away Satan’s power to accuse you of sin, and God openly displayed to the whole world Christ’s triumph at the cross where your sins were all taken away.
– Colossians 2:13-15 (The Living Bible)

So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus.
– Romans 8:1 (The Living Bible)

Days Like This
Van Morrison

When it’s not always raining
there’ll be days like this
When there’s noone complaining
there’ll be days like this
Everything falls into phase
like the flick of a switch
Well my momma told me
there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need to worry
there’ll be days like this
When noone’s in a hurry
there’ll be days like this
When you don’t get betrayed
by that old Judas kiss
Oh my momma told me
there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need an answer
there’ll be days like this
When you don’t meet a chancer
there’ll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle
start to look like they fit
Then I must remember
there’ll be days like this

When everyone is upfront
and they’re not playing tricks
When you don’t have no freeloaders
out to get their kicks in
When it’s nobody’s business
the way that you wanna live
I just have to remember
there’ll be days like this

When no one steps on my dreams
there’ll be days like this
When people understand what I mean
there’ll be days like this
When you bring out the changes
of how everything is
Well my momma told me
there’ll be days like this

Oh my momma told me
there’ll be days like this
Well my momma told me
there’ll be days like this
Oh my momma told me
there’ll be days like this
Oh my momma told me
there’ll be days like this

How much of this was meant to be
How much the work of the devil
How far can one man’s eyes really see
In these days of toil and trouble
– Bill Mallonee

When I’m broken, see what happens
Arms wide open, see what happens
When I’m broken, see what happens
See what happens to me.
– Bill Mallonee (of Vigilantes of Love)


I tried to write a post today, but all that was coming out was yucky stuff that will really drag a person down. And on such a nice sunny day, I just couldn’t do that to The Internet. Plus, Ruthie has turned into a flakey napper, and now I am dealing with my bitter disappointment that I’ve had less than an hour to myself, which hardly seems enough to recharge me during such a shitty week.

The Crazy has officially entered the house, and The New Jen is nowhere to be found. I must find my sword to fight the good fight.

Pray that I clearly see my enemy, and leave all innocent bystanders in peace.

Endings and Jump Starts

My Recovery Group is winding down. In fact, we are heading out on a little retreat this weekend and hope to wrap up the last portion of the curriculum. It’s been a looooong two and a half years with stalls and detours, but it has been a life-changing experience. I hope to write more on that in the future as time allows.

This has been a sluggish week. I have felt dark and irritable, tired and unmotivated. I look at the dishes, the laundry, the mess on my dining table, and I just. don’t. care. All I have wanted to do is lay in bed, which the kids and I actually did for most of Monday. I postponed get-togethers with friends. We didn’t go anywhere in the car until Wednesday, and even then we were back in our pajamas as soon as we returned.

I contemplated not going on this retreat. I contemplated having Bryan and the kids drive me out in the morning. But Thursday felt a little brighter in my head, so I became optimistic.

I don’t fully understand depression, or depressed states – when they happen because of hormonal imbalances and when they happen because of situations. I’ve felt a little out of whack since I recently started my cycle again after being pregnant and then having an IUD for so long. But I don’t really care to figure it out anymore or over analyze. I prefer to just ride this wave, make the best of it, and tread water until the blues pass.

I’m not afraid of it anymore, and I don’t feel overwhelmed. It just is. Like money. It’s not good or evil, but what you make of it. And I consider it a small victory that I have not thrown my children under the bus this week just because I’m feeling blue.

As I write, just a few hours before leaving for the weekend, all the laundry is done, the kitchen is clean, and the clutter is picked up. I survived the week and managed to put everything back together again within the last 24 hours.

Not bad, I say. Not bad.

The Level Ground

It’s interesting to me how many areas of my life are intersecting during this season – one of the side effects of so much introspection, I suppose. I’ve been reading a book that Kristin recommended, Writing from the Inside Out, by Dennis Palumbo. As a former Hollywood screenwriter and current psychotherapist, Palumbo has a unique insight into the writer’s life, and I have found this book very useful on many fronts.

He talks a lot of going the distance with writing, of not being in it for the rewards, but rather, for the craft itself. In a section he titled, “Inspiration,” Palumbo paraphrased author George Leonard from his book, ‘Mastery’ –

Leonard contends that the peaks of achievement, whether in the arts, sports, or any area of endeavor, come from a love of the day-to-day practice of the thing. Because the truth is, in any consistent endeavor, you spend most of the time not on the peaks but on the level ground, where you rarely see any noticeable improvement. If you just live for, or get pleasure from, the peaks, you never grow. Love the craft, the practice of your art, and the peaks will come.

There are many monotonous aspects to being a stay at home mom. Many days my time consists of coloring, cartoons, time-outs, and poop – things that don’t exercise the brain, but definitely exhaust it. Sometimes – even though there are more bright moments to being a mom that I can count – it’s difficult to stay motivated under piles of laundry.

Three weeks ago I wrote about a new routine I was trying out, and so far it’s been going well. I think it’s the perfect ratio of tasks to white space, because I’ve had busy days where I’ve had to shuffle things around but I’ve still managed to get it all done by the end of the week. Busy days and projects are my biggest distractions to the mundane tasks because I’d rather re-organize a closet than wash that same damn pair of pants again.

When I read the above passage in Palumbo’s book, it resonated strongly with me concerning the day to day chores of my life as well as with my writing life. It is true that life is lived on the level ground. Sometimes we despair, and sometimes we soar, but we always come back to level. At least we hope.

Having my work defined has freed me to live more in the moment, to have fun, and to adjust for spontaneity (yes, Bryan, I can hear you laughing from the basement – you can say you told me so). It has even allowed me to find a little bit of joy and sense of accomplishment in the mundane. Having a vacuumed rug, a clean bedroom, and a pleasant smelling bathroom is very rewarding.

And it means that when Ruthie, who has turned into a chatterbox overnight, relays stories and memories of her trip to the children’s museum on a bus with Bryan (because she sees a bus driving in the lane next to us), I am amused and in awe of her memory and vocabulary and ability to communicate her thoughts and make connections. I don’t turn up the radio and ask her for quiet time, but I engage. Because I’m learning to embrace the level ground, I am discovering peaks in places I once dreaded.

And even now as I’m writing this essay, I recognize the significance of this passage in my Recovery – especially when it says that the level ground is ‘where you rarely see any noticeable improvement.’ It’s like spending every day with your children, not realizing how much they are growing because you have no perspective. Then one day their pants are too short, or you stumble across an old picture, and you suddenly see them differently, and you realize they are bigger.

Recovery is a lot like that. Just when I think I haven’t changed a bit and I will always live in a funk of bitterness and anger, I read an old post or some notes in my recovery journal or a friend reminds me of how things used to be, and I suddenly have perspective. I see that I have changed.

The level ground is where it’s at, people. I’m convinced of it. The sturdier the ground you’re standing on, the stronger the rush when life peaks.

Times of Refreshing

I’ve had a very. bad. week.

The Ya Ya Sisterhood movie comes to mind – the part where Sidda is young and her mom disappears for days on end, blacked out, and wakes up in a hotel room on the coast. This is how I felt yesterday. I felt like abandoning my children just to get away and have to have some time to myself.

My desperation and rage was so intensified I actually called a friend to tell her, just so someone would know. That’s what you learn in recovery – that you are not alone.

This is my afternoon off. I have a babysitter come once a week in the afternoon so I can run errands in peace. But I’ve had such a bad week I decided to indulge in a little free time with my creativity. I am sitting in the coffee shop across the street from my house, with free wifi, sipping wine, and eating goat cheese with honey and walnuts. I feel decadent. Relaxed. At peace.

It disturbs me a little that I am most at peace away from my family. There is an unbalance there. It has me leaning more toward a structured week, one with specific events built in to specific days, though flexible. My kids are not of an age or personality to just play while I clean the kitchen – they must be engaged and refereed. The bad days come when I expect I can do more than I really can. The bad days happen when I pretend my children are not there.

I talked to Bryan today. He is at a conference in Florida. He told me he had eleven hours of sleep last night, and was currently at Universal Studios. I wanted to kick his teeth in, but he was not standing in front of me. I want to be happy for him for getting a day of vacation from his busy work schedule. But I fought with my daughter for an hour and a half last night to go to bed, and she still came into my room at five this morning. I envy Bryan that he is away so much he actually misses this family. I envy that. I look for every opportunity possible to be AWAY from my family. I would feel better if I missed them.

We have a renter now. We’ve always rented one of our five bedrooms to someone, but took a break over the summer for a remodel project. Posha moved in this last week and I think that will help a lot. She is smart, and funny, and understands the recovery process. She can drink wine and watch t.v. with me when I’ve had a bad day. She can stay with the kids in an emergency while I Get Out.

I think one of the things I wrestle with the most is reconciling how Good I’ve got it with how fucked up I am. We can afford to go out a lot, eat fancy dinners, hire a babysitter, see a concert, whatever. But that doesn’t change the fact that I have an anger problem, and a depression problem, and that I am easily overwhelmed. I have become what I have always feared I’d become: high maintenance.

I take solace in the concept of phases. My girlfriend currently has one child in all-day kindergarten, and another in all-morning preschool. This means she has three hours EVERY MORNING all to herself, and the rest of the day with just one child. This gives me hope, because I am not far from that life.

I am not far from having all morning to myself to write or otherwise Get Things Done.

Which leads me to the other thing I wrestle with: the fact that I am a stay-at-home mom with a husband that funds my lifestyle. Because of him, I can sit in my thinking chair every morning, enjoying my cup of coffee. Because of him, I am not also juggling a full time job. Because of him, I don’t have that much to worry about, financially.

So my complaining must be taken in context, I suppose. I am careful to distinguish the struggle of a rageful mom from the struggle of a discontent housewife. In many ways I am fortunate. But in many ways I am special – I can not do things that other moms do. I know this, because I know lots of moms and I see what they do and I am envious. I have limitations.

It is at this point that I realize I am Drunk Blogging and there may not be an end to my lamenting. So I will spare you now and bid you goodbye.