Don’t Say It, Don’t Say It …

amor conexion… Don’t say it.    

The Wednesday night mantra. And like any good irritant the issue and the mantra rolled right into Thursday morning. God must have been on hiatus when the vote came in to let me parent. I am confident, at these overly charged moments, that someone should have vetoed my right to parent. At the very least made me take a class. Geez, I was only prepared for the birth and ‘the first years’ and even at that I wasn’t too celestial. I found sobriety when my kids were three and one. Me thinketh they got the short end of it, because I didn’t find me until a few years into my sobriety. (And honestly, some days I am still unfindable.)

So here I am trying to:

  1. Make a living amends because I have that Forever Indebted to My Kids’ Syndrome.
  2. Forgive myself for all that I could not (or refused to) see while actively drinking and actively getting sober.
  3. Set boundaries when I have no idea what I will use to build the palisade, let alone where I should erect it.
  4. Bring Love wherever I go in the conversation, because I want to boot Love right out of the room and take charge of the situation—alone.

And all of this races through my fragile, yet arrogant, mind in a matter of seconds.

Some days I am merely trying to accomplish the smallest of feats: Not say what wants to come screaming out of my lungs, my body, my head, my mouth. It’s zero to eighty in four seconds—I need to keep it in neutral.

As I have learned from a wonderful organization, my only defense comes from a power greater than myself.  It is a power that lives in me. It is an Energy for anyone that chooses it. It is there to help me, but it is not there to interfere or make decisions for me. It is there to assist me … should I call it forth.

It is also accepting of my right to not choose it.

This, this is my black hole. Once the words have been unleashed, I am never getting them back. Not only are they un-deletable, they are permanently seared on my children’s ears. My anger, disappointment, stubbornness, and judgment suck the air from the room. I leave the scene toxic. Only time can purify my raged landscape. I know this to be true. Just like I know I cannot have one drink.

So I chant, and chant, and chant.

I feel, and feel, and feel.

I learn:

  1. My son is learning the same lessons I am learning. There are causes and effects. He is responsible for his choices. An owed apology is for him to give. It is my job to teach him.
  2. He is learning to forgive himself for his less than behavior. I deprive him of this vital skill when I try to control his behavior. I rob him of seeing his role when I unleash my feelings instead of letting him feel the consequences of his actions.
  3. Loving silence can be a boundary. I love you and I need to walk away from you right now. I’m not leaving, I’m just letting go of your drama, your story, your anger.
  4. When I call forth Love I stay peaceful. I do it for me, not for him, not to change him. He needs to choose peace for himself. He can choose it if he no longer wants to experience the feelings he now possesses.

Who knows, maybe God didn’t make a mistake after all. I’m getting there.

One thing is certain, I am not having a cocktail on the way.


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A blessed two year sober anniversary to my beautiful friend Dina. Another sober mom. I love you.


17 Responses to “Don’t Say It, Don’t Say It …

  • God doesn’t make mistakes like that. He put your kids right where they are supposed to be.

  • Hi Lisa,

    First, best wishes to Dina, 2 years is an amazing accomplishment, one I hope soon to achieve, thanks for inspiring me to continue on the journey of sober parenthood!

    On to the meat and potatoes of the post: this is a subject to which I can relate intimately, passionately and regularly. Finding the balance between teaching my children and letting them learn through experience, between establishing basic familial expectations and controlling their every thought and action, is an issue that challenges me (along with every parent on the planet, I imagine) daily.

    Just last night I chanted your mantra. We were heading out to celebrate the birthday of my daughter’s grandfather, she is wearing short shorts with outlandish stockings underneath. It is November on the East Coast. After chanting the mantra (several times) I took a deep breath and politely asked, “You don’t think you’ll be cold?” She replied that she was fine, and I let it go. Every bone in my body was protesting this decision, but I. Let. It. Go.

    There are no easy answers when it comes to parenting, that’s for sure. My husband and I have very different styles of parenting, and I find myself in a constant state of wondering who is right, and who is wrong. In the end my prayer is that somehow his good balances out my “areas in need of improvement,” and vice versa.

    The best compliment I can give you, Lisa, is this: my husband read your post as well, and we spent time discussing how your insight can improve our parenting skills. So my thank you for this wisdom comes from both of us!

    • Miracles, The interesting side of your comment is taking inventory on who is right and who is wrong. Maybe you both are an you both aren’t. I see, over here, that Paul (my husband) and I both bring a nice balance (pending our ability to not interfere with each other’s style). The best parenting I do comes from the two of us being in alignment with the main objective… raising responsible, moral, loving, and creative children.

      I was so excited that Mr. Miracles read the post. I got all nervous when I read that. I’m like a school kid. Oh I hope he likes me. I want him to like me.

      I especially like that our kids are the same ages, just reversed in gender. I have a few more years until the short shorts start. I’ll be calling you for some words of wisdom then.

  • Oh dear…I can relate to this…and my kids are only 6 and 4 and yet I relate (and to what Josie mentioned too). I am trying to do those first four things as well, and I just don’t know how well I am doing them. Living amends – absolutely. Trying not to control. Trying to come from love. Trying to set boundaries. All challenging things in their own right. I know that my obstacle is to just chill out a bit more. I am so on edge sometimes trying to control the kids that I get anxious or annoyed when they don’t say or do the thing *I* expect them to. And we know what expectations bring. I have one or two ugly scream sessions with the boys and I just wept after them, because of shame and anger and knowing that somehow, like you mentioned, I have put something on them that may or may not harm later. I can’t undo it, as you put it so well.

    I know that this whole parenting thing is teaching me and will continue to teach me things I couldn’t get any where else. I can learn patience in other aspects of my life, but man, there is a whole new kind of patience I learn with the kids. A deep down, hands tied behind my back kind of patience – riddled with fear or love. But I get to choose where it comes from. But I don’t choose well often, and I come from fear and that brings all the things fear brings.

    I love the second list you put together there, and that is something I certainly need to take to heart…and mind. Because there are certain things, like defiance (particularly defiance!) that brings me from 0 to 100 in a white rage second. Why – I have done some written work on this, but not enough to heal whatever it is that brings me full force. I rarely act on that full force, but it gets me in the gut at all times. And when it’s a 6 yr old…man, it digs more. But I aware, and that’s the first stage for me.

    I too thank you for your wisdom on this. This is certainly an area I play newcomer in. I will never stop learning on that one. And I have wonderful mentors and those who have been there before me to light the path. Thank you

    Love and light,

    • It’s so nice to come clean with the parenting (or lack of, in some instances). I remember being about six months sober just raging at my son while he got ready, too slowly, for school. My daughter was hiding in his closet shaking. I turned from his room and walked down the hallway. The only mantra I heard was, Who the bleep is living in my body, Who the bleep is living in my body, Who the bleep is living in my body … I stopped on the top steps, sat, and cried—hysterically. I will never, ever forget that day. It was one of the first days I realized I was a REAL alcoholic. The pain of not drinking was all but paralyzing. Like you and Josie, I’m going to just keep learning and learning and learning. I don’t have to do it perfect. I just have to do my best. And my best always starts with sober.

  • Ughhh…how i needed to read this just in a moment of when I least wanted to read it (i.e. a reality I was actively avoiding by not thinking about it. I am glad you threw it into my face). Parenting is incredibly hard. So. HARD. So very hard. So hard that I find myself failing more often than not lately. I worry I am ‘breaking’ my kids all the time. I worry I am not enough. I worry they deserve more and better than I am ever able to give them. They deserve more than the broken shell I identify with.

    So – thank you for the lesson, the wisdom and the reminder. I needed this so much.

    Love you <3

    • I love that synchronicity. I have often had the same feelings at your blog. (By the way, where have you been?) I would beg to differ on the ‘broken shell’ … for all I am not in a parent, I am enough. So are you! Hang in there. Know that I think of you often. With love, Lisa

      • We are definitely walking the same path more often than we think, aren’t we? I think of you often, as well 🙂 As for my blog…I’ve been writing half-written thoughts and under-developed and incomplete ideas. I’m a little lost right now…and can’t seem to write myself back on track. I’ll be back soon…I’m trying to drop in more regularly. I need to pull on my ‘writer’s pants’ and get back to it.

        Love you <3

  • My kids were 13 and 8 when I got sober. They are now 23 and 18 (in a couple of days time – not that she is keeping on about it!!!).

    I was out of control when my son came along – it took me nearly 14 years until I finally stopped. He was just getting to the point of pushing back on me as he’d seen through it all and was not going to play ball. If I hadn’t sobered up I doubt I’d have seen him graduate last summer or been asked to help him move into his new flat. I doubt I’d be going to my daughters 18th party this weekend.

    I make a continual amends on a daily basis by not drinking, then I can be there for them and try to help them and support them and be a Dad. But I have to not be drinking first.

    Second I did say sorry.

    With my daughter that only happened when she was 16. We were talking, it just was the right time that day. I said I was really sorry for all that happened. She replied “it was ok Dad you weren’t that bad”. My ego soared I wasn’t that bad etc. Then she told me how she used to lock herself in the bathroom a little girl shaking with fright while I raged about the house and her big brother would quietly come and ask how she felt. I felt so devastated for how I’d treated her. Again how can I ever put that right? Simply all I can do is work hard so it never happens again.

    • I love hearing these stories. It is a sweet reminder that sobriety comes first. Without it I won’t have any kids to discipline, love, nurture, or teach. Happy 18th to your daughter. I’m sure it will be a wonderful weekend. Lisa

  • This post has really stuck with me. In some ways, I feel like I’m a much calmer, less-reactive parent compared to 2.5 years ago. Many times I’ll catch myself before I say something negative or hurtful. I’ll find a more constructive way to say it or I’ll (miracle of all miracles) let it go. Many times, but far from all of the time. I hadn’t taken into account that my parenting style actually prevents my kids from learning some things on their own. I know I can be a control freak, but I always thought I was helping them and this is a new way of looking at an old problem. So thank you for your honesty and insight…and finally, congratulations to your friend with 2 years!!

    • bbb,
      This post brought about some interesting comments and emails. The longer I am sober the more I see that my kids’ learning is parallel to my own. Even though the situation are different I can’t teach them a tool/technique until I have learned it for myself. Inevitably, once I have a sense of learning a new principle a situation arises to see if I will apply the newly learned principle. As of late, the issue of making apologies for my son’s behavior has crept up on me. In this particular situation the carpool for school was at the door but he was not ready. I forced myself to stay out of it and not clean it up for him. I even had him call the mom and apologize. I cannot tell you what an impression this lesson made on him. He’s made a 180 degree shift in his attitude about going to bed earlier and getting out of bed when the alarm goes off. (My teenage son … who would have thought) Could I have taught him this lesson any earlier? I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m sober, I’m learning to let my kids grow. And all of it will be gone if I take a drink.

      Wow, that was a mouth full. Thanks for letting me share that. Your comment has lingered in my mind all day.

      with love, Lisa

  • I feel everything in this post but especially your reply to Paul (who the bleep is living in my body?). Those moments of anger and frustration where I feel like I’m not me are scary and I can only imagine how frequent they’d be if I was still drinking. I had a revealing moment yesterday when a woman rudely honked her horn at me. I wanted to retaliate somehow but I didn’t because my 5 year old needed to see what it looks like to have your feelings hurt and not lash back. As we talked about what I was feeling, I began to feel better. He told me, “That lady is probably nice inside.” I thought to myself, she’s no different than me. I learned more about the power of my reactions from this experience than anything else so far. Now I just have to let it change me.

    • Karen, TY. For what it’s worth it is changing you … that we can even observe these moments, questions these moments, articulate in writing about these moments, is what creates the change within. I absolutely love your son’s reaction. You taught him that. You taught him to see the beauty within despite the moment of ‘rude’. Side note: I absolutely love having you for a sober girlfriend. It warms my heart that we can share sober parenting (the parenting of the kids and the re-parenting of self).

  • billbouchard
    9 years ago

    Words to live by!

  • Don’t say it, says it all. You are so brave – to admit it and to write it!

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