Each morning as long as I can remember, I’ve had an apple with breakfast. Each morning since these babies could wrap their gums around them, I’ve given them applesauce or an apple. There is so much I cannot control but an apple a day is a thing I can do. I feel better when I have an apple each day, and if that’s something I can give these kids, well, I’m glad to have them in this habit.
When you’re in 12-step recovery, the first step is admitting powerlessness over your drug of choice, and well, I am. Once I start, I cannot stop. But at this point in my recovery, the feeling of powerlessness is bigger. It encompasses a general fear of all the what ifs each and every day when we wake up. I am powerless over so much, I cannot control much but there are some things I can do.
I cannot control the negative messages that may pop in my brain when I look at my body sometimes, but I can control the narrative around my body and the way my kids perceive my view of my body and theirs. My kids asked the other day, “Would you love us if we had big fat tummies?” and my immediate almost vomitous reaction was, “I will love you no matter how you look because no matter how you look you are perfect.”
I cannot control other people’s behavior, but I can control my reaction.
I cannot control all the awful injustices happening in the world, but I can control not contributing to it further. I can control combating it by resisting. By doing kind things and responding with grace instead of violence or hatred.
I cannot control the urges I have to run, to escape, to drink – but I can control how I respond to those urges.
I cannot control the sheer force with which everyone is getting older. Parents and kids. All our loved ones. Myself. Time is moving so quickly and I am powerless against it. But I can control how I spend my time and who I spend my time and energy on. I can control being present in those moments and do my best to separate thoughts and worries in my head so I don’t miss this. My parents are visiting this week from Arizona and with every trip they make here, I have this ticking clock in the back of my head that they will only be able to make these trips for so much longer. They never want their kids to worry about them, but the lifetime of worry they’ve done for us is worthy of turnabout. It’s mostly gratitude for all they’re able to and want to do for us. Mostly it’s gratitude for them. Just them.
I cannot control homelessness or addiction or national disasters or children getting way too sick, but I can control spending some time volunteering to help those who need it most.
I cannot control some of the judgmental thoughts that still come into my head about people, but I can control how I turn that around and try to give folks the benefit of the doubt instead of going on the attack.
I cannot control what is in the news or on the tv, but I can control the messages we give to our kids – even when it’s really impossibly hard and through gritted teeth – we can say that hate is not ok and that everything is temporary. This too shall pass. Even when it’s hard for me to believe, I have to believe in the goodness of people. I have to keep choosing that hope every single day and do my best to pass it on to these kids. I truly and with all of my being see these kids growing up today as the hope we need and if we are raising them with the right messages, with the right values and with all the smarts they need to know that science isn’t just a belief, it is fact, they are going to do great things. All these kids.
2017 was a year of righteous anger. I don’t say that often because in a program of recovery, we aren’t supposed to say we indulge in anger. We are told it can harm our recovery. But I’ll tell you my recovery has been CHALLENGED this year and my righteous anger helped me get through it.
I cannot lie down and take this dumpster fire of an administration and all it’s destruction. I am FURIOUS. But I am still incredibly hopeful, as I’ve never in my life watched people collectively use their voices (in any form) to resist and come together. It seems when the goal was to divide us, we’ve become stronger. I feel confident that the collective we is more powerful than the dark side. We care about each other. We care too much. We care the appropriate amount. I will fight for you and I see you fighting for me. We care about the future generations, we care about us. I found a voice in 2017 that I didn’t know I had. It manifested in the way I present myself to the world, to my kids, and I will absolutely continue to embrace that version of myself. For this I am thankful.
I’ve gained wrinkles and weight this year. I can’t drink, so I ate. And I worried and got angry. I listened. Then I listened more. I keep listening and not “but but but-ing” when people were telling me their experiences. Then I tried to turn that energy into words and action. I will continue to do that in 2018 and hopefully for the rest of my life. I’m incredibly grateful that so many of us have had this same awakening this year as it can only serve us well. I am thankful to walk among you. As we begin a new year, we’ve all gained much knowledge and empathy and had many wake up calls and know that we need to remain firm in our resolve to carry on in love and hope, sprinkled with anger and resistance.
I cannot control what’s popular in fashion or music, but I bid on and won a pair of pewter doc marten boots on ebay, my hoops keep getting bigger, and I’m wearing lipstick named chocolate something. I’ve lost all track of days and decades apparently. The lipstick is Wet n Wild because it’s 1995. I can control what feels good and what feels good are Pewter Doc Martens and stretchy pants and flowery skirts with short bleached hair.
It is possible to feel so many feelings all at once, and this year I feel them all. Depression, anger, anxiety, gratitude, joy. So much joy. I can be laughing and loving on my kids and still feel outrage at how people of color are treated today. In 2018. It makes me FURIOUS. I fully recognize my privilege. And yet I can still feel joy. I’m allowing myself to feel all these feelings and not punish myself for feeling any of them.
I am in recovery after this incredibly trying year when so many have gone back out or not made it at all. That is the on-going miracle. I see all of you wherever you are on your path. I am always holding space for you.
I am thankful for the bumpy, vomit-inducing, raucous laughter producing roller-coaster ride my husband and I take each day, and yet we keep asking for another go round. I am incredibly thankful for all the moments I’ve had with my kids this year, with my incredible job and all it affords me in time, identity, and financial independence. I get to spend so much more time with my kids than I ever thought I would being a working mom, and I’m thankful every second I’m with them for that. Without writing, I would be lost. Thank you for reading my words. Maybe 2018 is the year I finally finally get serious about this book I’m writing.
My husband took the kids out to breakfast so I could write this. I’m going to go make myself some breakfast now. There is so much I cannot control but an apple a day is a thing I can do. If I look at each little act I perform each day in this way, one thing at a time, it makes me feel as if I can make some change. I cannot get too far ahead of myself or the gloom and doom will win out. I cannot let that happen – you cannot let that happen. Even if it’s repetitive and seemingly unimportant and boring, I can control some things. An apple a day is a good starting place.
Happy New Year, my friends. We are in this together, don’t you forget that. I’m so thankful you are here. I wish you health, joy, wealth of spirit and the ability to feel all the feelings.
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