Progress—at my house

progressI’ve been deluded by what progress looks like. Clearly, I have been deluded my whole life, by life. I am just now establishing an understanding of what forward truly looks like. It resembles little of my childhood fairy tale world. It continues to not amaze me why I turned to alcohol for relief, comfort, and escape. Most of life was not going the way it was supposed to go. Alcohol took away the disappointment, the expectations, the pain, the guilt, the fear, and the inadequacy of it all. When I finally found the strength to remove the alcohol I was left with my disappointments, my expectations, my pain, my guilt, my fear, and my inadequacy. (And I wondered why early sobriety s**ked.)

Long term sobriety is about dealing with life. It’s about awakening to the fact that what Walt Disney does in 83 minutes, I do in 83 years and there is no orchestra to accompany me through my trials.

We believe drinking is the problem, but if drinking is the problem, not drinking is the answer. Anyone with even a few days, a few weeks, of sobriety knows this isn’t true.

The blogosphere is bursting with posts from people in devastating pain—sober! Days and weeks and years of relapsing. Relapsing because sober was too painful. We have healing to do, big time healing to do, and it’s way beyond not picking up a drink today.

We start (the beginning) by not picking up. We progress (the middle) with continued effort at emotional and spiritual growth. We end (the end) comes when we learn there is no end, there is only NOW. And then we are back to the middle—growth.

So, here’s my parenting progress with my older kid. To the untrained eye it’s appears as no-progress. But to a girl who used to yell, or drink, and/or do it herself it is clear progress. This is, but one, of the miracles of my sobriety.

In The Beginning of Sobriety

In The Middle of Sobriety


Me: Clean your room. Me: Clean your room.  
Kid: Grunt. Kid: Grunt.  
Me: I thought I asked you to clean your room earlier. Me: I already asked you to clean your room.  
Kid: Grunt. Kid: Grunt.  
Me: Please clean your room. Me: Please clean your room. Me: Please clean your room.
Kid: Ok Kid: Ok Kid: Grunt
Me: Why is this room not cleaned?   Me: I love when you grunt.
Kid: Ummm     
Kid: Ok, ok, ok, ok. Kid: Ok, ok. Kid: Ok.
Me: Clean your room—now. Me: Clean your room—PLEASE. Me: Please.
Kid: Grunt… Why? Kid: Grunt… Why? Kid: Grunt… Why?
Me: Because I said so. Me: Clean! Me: Because I asked, and I’m your mom, and you like your room better clean.
Kid: Grunt. Kid: Grunt. Kid: Grunt.
Me: I can’t believe you still haven’t cleaned this room. Me: You still haven’t started?  
Kid: I will. Kid: I will, later.  
Me: Now. Me: When later? I said now.  
Kid: Ok, you don’t have to get so pushy. Kid: Ok, you don’t have to get so pushy.  
Me: I’ll stay till you get started.    
Kid: Grunt, who cares if it’s clean? Kid: Grunt, who cares if it’s clean? Kid: Grunt, who cares if it’s clean?
Me: You better care. Me: Me, I care. Me: Both of us.
Me: It’s about time it’s clean. I only had to ask 100 times.  Me: Thanks for finally cleaning the room. Me: Your room looks great. 
Kid: Grunt. Kid: Grunt. Kid: Grunt.

And I do it all without an orchestra. And this, my friends, is why sobriety rocks. I see the little things. And they are good. And they are progress. And I stay sober another day. And yes, I yell, but the moments are fewer.

See your progress and decide to grow from there—today.


Postcards are coming in. Please participate. I have received many. I am putting them in a box and doing daily meditation for your ability to forgive yourself and move forward with love.

Secret Postcard Campaign

No Responses to “Progress—at my house

  • This gave me such a laugh! When we’re in the middle of life it’s so hard to see the progress but seeing it written out makes a big difference. It’s why I journal. If I couldn’t look back and read about how I felt, I’d think I was a loser. I find it much easier to live in the now if I have a record of the past (journals) instead of my faulty, convenient memory. Also, thank you for the link to my post!

    • This post is a direct result of your post(s) on “No Nelling” Since you started the “challenge” it began to sink in how far I had come with some of the parenting stuff. Still plenty of room to grow. but nice to be moving forward with a new starting point rather than the same old “will-I-ever-change-will-I-ever-learn” attitude. Looking back is good for me too. Makes me glad I don’t live there anymore. xox Me

  • “We believe drinking is the problem, but if drinking is the problem, not drinking is the answer. Anyone with even a few days, a few weeks, of sobriety knows this isn’t true.”
    Absolutely. I may not have a drop in me, but I can be crazy as a bat. It’s this journey that allows me to grow and stretch and learn new ways to respond to life and it’s little (and not so little) quirks and stumbling blocks. I love the chart there…I was laughing because I substituted my 3 and/or 5 year old boys in there, and I can see myself in that first and second column. The third one is slowly emerging. As I commented in Karen’s blog, I had an experience recently where I had to re-learn that my tone and volume shapes and causes reactions in the boys. So not only is my own serenity at stake, but how these boys see their father react to situations. My last therapist (!) once told me that having children brings up a lot of things about our childhood – that we get to relive ours as they grow. And I can see that. I have had to confront many things about my childhood as I try to navigate parenting and recovery and how I approach things. It’s challenging at times (as we all know!) but it has also helped me grow in many ways.

    Thank you for illuminating the path, as you always do, Lisa.


    • Everything I never wanted to face in me shows up in my children. They have been my “bestest” teachers. Just yesterday my daughter was in my office at my white board. She has this little pointer thingy and she made a chart on the board and started coaching me on how to be a better mom. Just question after question after question. If it wasn’t so flippin’ cute I think I might have cried; as her assessment of me was spot on.

      What’s that saying? “The truth will set you free, but only after it makes you feel miserable.” Well, you know the one. Or Josie will remember. 🙂

  • I really wish I was video taping myself as I read this post, right up to the last line of the last comment. I was laughing so hard, I pushed back completely from the computer and almost knocked the chair over.

    Here’s why the laughter is so beautiful. I read your post last night, after a less than stellar weekend (I’m sure I will be writing about it at some point today, aren’t you lucky?). So I’m reading it, and, in my supremely self-centered and pissy mood, all I can focus on is how I’m in columns 1 and 2 (and 2 is on my best day). I really did start to comment, but I frankly did not trust my own words, because I was in such a bad head space, so I thought, “You know what? Tomorrow is a new day, I’ll read this again after my meeting, and hopefully I will be in a better frame of mind.”

    So, just now, as I’m walking towards the computer to re-read, I’m thinking about your message, and, I guess because it is a new day, I am in a better head-space, and it is post-meeting, I can think about things in a whole new perspective, and I can see the progress in my own life. So I’m extra excited to re-read, and to comment, and then I read the last line of your comment to Paul… absolutely fantastic ending to this story!

    And you are spot-on with that quote… was it a president that said it? I could research it, but I’m not sure anyone but the three of us would even care!

    As I intimated, this post touched me deeply, so deeply that I needed to sit with it for a while, and I will be linking to today’s post!

    Thank you so much for the reminder that this is a life-long journey, and that the middle is the exactly where I need to be! Sorry for the long comment (and there I go needlessly apologizing again)…

    • Serendipity… I was just over at your blog fussing about not knowing how to reply to the question you posed—last week of all things! (Alas, you will get no apology.) The middle, not black, not white, but gray. I don’t do gray well. But I’m learning. Excited to hear the “meeting post” so get your ass in gear and fill us in. xox

  • mnsmissy
    11 years ago

    “We believe drinking is the problem, but if drinking is the problem, not drinking is the answer. Anyone with even a few days, a few weeks, of sobriety knows this isn’t true.” How I wish everyone else around me could grasp this…not so they’d feel sorry for me, but perhaps so they could just understand why I’m not “all better.” Putting down the drink was just the beginning for me… I believe that many, many people are “addicted” to something—they are running just as hard and fast as I was from their own “devastating pain” or even mild discomfort, but because their drug of choice (exercise, work, TV, computer etc) won’t kill them, there is no immediate, clear cut incentive to take on the work of emotional exploration, healing and spiritual growth. And since they won’t put down their “drink”, they can’t possibly comprehend the challenges we face. I don’t blame them since, as you point out, “We end (the end) comes when we learn there is no end, there is only NOW. And then we are back to the middle—growth.” Ugh! And, ha! Thank you for reminding me that no matter how seemingly small, I am making progress and that this process is ongoing, there is no finish line, there is only today.

    • You caught me off guard with this comment. I love everything you said. I have felt this way for about the last five years of my sobriety—everyone has addictions. You addressed this beautifully—they just don’t understand and how can you blame them? I love (now that I’m on this side of the fence) that I have (and continue to) face my defaults (character defects) and step into a better version of me. I almost feel blessed that I have this “alcoholism” thing because it did/does force me to continue to look at me. I know that I must continue to grow if I want to continue to stay sober. I’ve seen many people with “sober time” under their belt go out and drink again. I never want it to be me. There are so many places where I don’t see that I’ve made progress and I start to get down on Lisa. Not a safe place for this alcoholic to be—in self-criticism. I do what you said. I just see that I am growing, stay in the now, and move forward from there with forgiveness.

      I’m glad you commented, you made my day. I love how we support each other. xox Me

      • mnsmissy
        11 years ago

        I do hope that some day I am able to say that I am a “grateful alcoholic” and “blessed” to have this “thing” — I do believe that it is possible, whereas almost 21 months ago, when I would hear people say that in meetings, I didn’t think there was ANY way I would EVER feel that way. It was like nails on a chalkboard! I am clear that today, as you mentioned, self-criticism is my single biggest challenge. Those nasty voices are VERY loud and so I greatly appreciate you shining the light of a different possibility for me and so many others. Your post broke the cycle for me today, thank you.

        • When is your sobriety date? I’d like to mark it in my book? 21 months is incredible. I remember feeling like maybe my “day 1” was truly gonna be my “day 1”

  • Love the progess conversation, I think i need some more patience!

    • What a joy and honor to see you here. Somehow I imagined your patience cup to always be full. Alas, my heroes are human.

  • Being in the now means pain sometimes, that’s why I choose to not be in the now, but being somewhere else is also painful, aaah! Also, progress, just what we talked about the other day :). I enjoy your stories so very much, Lis my dear! The one where your daughter taught you how to be a better mom is just so damn cute.
    Love, love, love you. Thank you.

    • Yes, Sometimes progress is saying “no” 99 times rather than 100. And you are accurate. Both can be incredibly painful, but one of those moments of pain actually get us somewhere. xox

  • I have been trying to stay clean and sober for 2 years. I go several months and relapse. I don’t go to AA. I know I should. Just don’t feel it’s for me. I am a better parent when I’m sober no doubt. When I drink I do it in secret. So no one knows. My husband thinks I’ve been sober for 2 years. I feel awful after I do it. But I do it anyway. I have issues from my childhood I have never dealt with. Mostly with my mother. And now she is doing the same stuff to my daughter and its bringing up those emotions that I drank away for so long. I could go on and on. But I just needed to get that off my chest. Thanks

    • Glad you got it off your chest. Do you know why you are reacting so strongly? How did your mom’s behavior play out in your sense of self? What (inaccurate) identity did you take on? For what it’s worth your daughter may or may not respond the same way. You healing/releasing from your pain will unquestionably help you stay clean. It’s so tough hiding our drinking. It’s a full-time job keeping two identities going. Blessings. You will be in my thoughts. Thank you for having the courage to comment. I am touched that you shared. Lisa

  • Hi Lisa, great post. You are so right, if it was just as simple as not drinking we’d all be fine wouldn’t we. The bigger issue is finding a different way to deal with life. And boy as a parent even small steps need to celebrated! I’ve noticed (and maybe I’m alone in noticing this) that I’m a lot more tolerant of the general noise, havoc and destruction that two and sometimes three boys bring to my sacred zone of serenity aka as my home. Take care, Paul.

    • Yes, small steps, unrecognized, can often appear as No progress being made. When I got sober I was tolerant for a period of time in early sobriety, but it didn’t take me long to realize I had not cultivated the quality of patience. I feel, now, that I have reached a nicer place with self and can actually be patient, despite what my first thought can be. I am so happy to see you celebrate an anniversary. It is a big accomplishment.

Trackbacks & Pings

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.