They Follow … If I Lead

duckliingThe removal of anything offensive in my life is but the beginning of the journey. Not the end. Alcohol is not the problem. Drinking alcohol is not the problem. I am the problem. And because I am the problem I am also the solution.

How is it that I am 49 years old and this has yet to get programmed in my little brain? I am (again) confronted with the ways I escape life in the absence of my vices. It has been a crazy three weeks of bad-food-detox. Who would have thought so much drama could or even would arise from the absence of cookies in my house?

This is so like the alcohol removal. If I get rid of the booze, everything will be fine. Not. If I get rid of the sugar, everything will be just fine. Not.

Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to be (what I consider) long-term sober. It is a wonderful gift to myself and my family. Yet I want more, more for me and more for those I love. I see that unhealthy food is interfering with this more.

I was a horror when I got sober. Many days I wasn’t even sure who was living in my body. I was shocked to see that it was me—only me. This was the way I behaved without booze in me—or forthcoming. My goodness, no wonder I drank. I couldn’t deal with me. I couldn’t deal with my world.  Same goes for my food-detox. When I am on my healthy beam, my kids are aggravated and I’m aggravated that they’re aggravated. I see many similarities in these two different detoxes.

  • They are pleased for me, but resentful at what they are now given to eat. They like it the old way when I wasn’t paying close attention. They like the pre-packed food. They preferred one vegetable at dinner, not two, or (heaven forbid) three. When I drank I ate very little. I also paid very little attention to the balance of their diets.
  • No quick treat after school means mom is now preparing a midday snack. Now I am the resentful one, why can’t they get a healthy snack? Answer: I never taught them to. How can they know something they have never known?
  • Everyone is agitated from sugar withdrawal. Sugar has been our family heritage. I don’t like dealing with my kids off sugar. I don’t have the patience to walk them through what I am trying to walk through myself. Yet, I must. Just like alcohol, I liked it the old way and I hated it the old way.
  • Sugar is like anesthesia. It is our go-to drug of choice. It makes all the good choices better and all the bad choices bearable.
  • I am facing me and the choices I have (or have not) made during my sober years.
  • I am seeing where I gave up my power in the situation only to be resentful that my power was gone.
  • Lastly, I’m begrudgingly getting to own it all.

It’s not that everything will be better today … or even soon for that matter. It’s that I’ve set in motion something that is important. Like the alcohol, I don’t want to be a hostage in my own body. And I don’t want to teach my kids this either. So for now, we’re staying the course. We’re toughing it out— agitation, aggravation, mood swings, and all. I’ve found the strength to accomplish many things and I can find the strength to keep this moving too.

I don’t believe I am alone. I have a God who loves me and wants the best for me (and if that includes some suffering to grow, so be it). I am finding strength in Spirit because I see how weak I am when disconnected from It. It’s in the moments of discomfort that I am growing the most. I am forced to see me, raw and unaltered. Whether I like what I see or not, I only have the power to change it when I can own it.

I can’t own it as long as I am pretending it’s not there. Love comes wrapped in the hardest lessons. I’m so glad I’ve learned I don’t need to feel good all the time.

I just need to feel.


No Responses to “They Follow … If I Lead

  • I not only liked I loved this post! Your ending is once again old wisdom and terribly powerful.
    I quote: I’ve learned I don’t need to feel good all the time.I just need to feel.
    The time you are going through reminds me so much of mine without the gift of expressing it as brilliantly as you just did.
    My kids still rebel against my healthy food but I have to admit it’s the older ones who appreciate it the most.
    It is true, the weaning off is very hard but they are much calmer without the sugar once their body is cleansed and they catch much less, the viruses going around.
    All in all it demands a lot of courage to go on such a path and if we are not gifted with awareness as I wasn’t, there are many pitfalls…
    I personally don’t have the ups & downs I used to have, but I remember how frustrated I was for doing the same mistakes over & over again and having found my path so late in life (I’m four yrs older) which felt like a huge waste of time but I’ve learned to accept this was the time intended for my salvation and not a second sooner.
    Thanks so much for reminding me the path I took and the luck I have to be where I am today.

    • I love when you share about your kids and your path. In many ways you mentor me. I feel connected because I see that you have done it. It’s doable! I’m less of a trail blazer than I think. I realize I like to follow the leader. Not far in the back, up close, but nonetheless, follow. I am seeing this as a strength, not a weakness. I don’t need to reinvent, only be willing to observe, grow, and stay close to people who support and inspire me. That’s you.

      • Wow! That’s a massive compliment, thanks! But a chunk of that knowledge comes from my sponsor 🙂
        I do not feel in the least a leader but I get your point. I tended to see it as a weakness too in the past, not today anymore.
        It is our strength, our tool for change…
        There is a French saying that goes… “Qui se ressemble s’assemble” and the literate translation is “He who resembles assembles” which is in English
        “Birds of a feather flock together” and that’s what we do, find those who resembles our new aspirations in order to get those positive energies influencing us.
        We usually attract those who are our alike anyways without deliberately choosing their company.
        Your posts are brilliant and practically always inspire me so it goes two ways 🙂

  • Super, super inspirational. Your “before” describes the way I feed my kids to a “T.” Balanced in the barest sense of the word, looking the other way when they add too much snack to their bowl (after all, who am I to say anything?). And my kids are sooo much easier to deal with when they are eating what they want (like their mother)!

    You are my hero, Lisa. When I grow up (if?), I wanna be just like you!

    • You are kind to me. Sometimes I think I’m just falling apart over here. Then I see I am really falling together. There is plenty,plenty of room to improve. I think that’s what I love about my thinking today. I don’t need to get it ALL RIGHT today. Just do my best and forgive my shortcomings. Be good to you. You, my friend, are doing amazing. I was no where near where you are at this time in my sobriety. So, suffice to say, I wanna be just like you too.

  • Really love this Lisa, you are such an inspiration to me. You are evolving and becoming and ever closer to actualization and serenity — and you are helping others learn to follow their own paths.

    Not every day is all rainbows and unicorns. But those days help us appreciate the good ones. Those are the days we grow.

    Keep shining! xoxo

  • Oh man, leading by example. There’s nothing easy about that, especially since we often think that means only the positive examples. The truth that you’re living right now, Lisa, is that you’re leading by the in-the-trenches example, not just the pretty example that we usually want our kids to see. I like the idea of only showing my kids the calm, controlled mom who has all the answers (does she exist?) but I’m pretty sure the most impactful lessons are the ones where I’m impatient and apologize, struggle and persevere, and when they see me raw and unaltered. Your words remind me that I need to be THAT mom. You’re a role model for me!

    • Karen, Your comment is so beautiful. I love that we share the “mom” thing in sobriety. Raising the kids has been my greatest challenge. There’s always a mirror. Just like you said, the good and the bad are what they see. Yet, in my mind I thought I was going to be “better” than this. Sobriety seems incredibly precious to me as I raise the kids. I’m so glad I chose this path. So glad you did too. You teach me a lot too.

  • You cannot grow straight until your wayward limbs are pruned. Being in God’s garden is wonderful.

  • I’ll be honest – I have a hard time picturing you agitated, aggravated or annoyed…with your usual eloquent and resonating words and that smiling picture there of you :). But we’re alcoholics and sometimes that just ain’t purty, even in recovery (or maybe I am just projecting here? ha ha). Regardless, I watch and read with even more zest and zeal your journey, as I see myself in where you are at now…in terms of what I expect to feel when I get there (I am still experiencing powerlessness over the sugar). And what I do see in you is the honesty and power and struggle that comes from a true spiritual challenge and growth spurt. “Love comes wrapped in the hardest lessons” – what a beautiful and stunning thought and expression. And also so very true.

    Sometimes I want to skip that love, skip the hard lesson too, and live in the muddly middle there, comfortable and not engaging in anything that would cause me to get outside my little box. But hell, that’s what I did for 25 years in my drinking – escape, do whatever I want, avoid anything that challenges. And of course, wondering why I feel outside of life. You bring this to light, as I read your post again, and I thank you for that. What a message you carry here…and inspiration indeed (as the other astute commenters mentioned).

    Another nourishing plate for the mind and soul here, Lisa. Loved it.


    • Talk to my husband about that not “purty,” …he will definitely confirm the madness. Definitely!
      I find it incredibly interesting that alcoholics (in general) have this ideal of everything turning up “perfect” on one specific day and then freezing there. It strikes me that “happily ever after” is so deeply ingrained as ‘happily ever after ~ without any obstacles.” I am guilty of this mentality. (I still chase it.) But now I have glimpses of seeing that the day is just perfect, warts and all. You always seem to write to that in your posts. I see the perfect in the imperfect. I see the joy in entertaining the idea to try something new. It’s the seed of potential planted, not a new tree planted. I want to plant a new tree. I have learned I only plant the seed. I am very excited to see you journey because whatever happens you are growing and me too. And I love that we support each other.

  • You’ve given me a lot to think about, Lisa. I’ve made an effort recently to cut back how much junk I bring into the house “for the kids” because a) it’s not good for them…at all and b) I eat it too! And this is HARD, I know I don’t need to tell you. They do not like it, so I’ve caved more than a few times. So I admire what you are doing here, for enduring a hard time for their long term well being. The lessons they learn now have a better chance of sticking with them in the future.

    • Just this morning my daughter was drinking her “Green Machine” (AKA juiced fruit and vegies) I think it was the first time the whole year that she didn’t complain. I don’t want to think I’ve “arrived” or anything, but I do take it as a small victory. We’ll see how the summer goes. I’m planning on slicing fruit and veggies for the frig. (again, we’ll see how it pans out) No doubt you’ll be hearing about it. You’re stuck with me. I finally get all those parenting sites that talk about “fun” ways to feed your kids. I just realized I’ve been so stuck on me that I left them behind. I’m learning. xox

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