I have been reflecting a lot in the past few weeks – so much so that I had to break my one-year blog entry into 4 posts! My last post had a more glum tone, so this one will be more positive: Now that I have reached one year, what have I learned? What have I gained? Here’s a few random thoughts put into a list:
1. I really like myself again. I have that confidence back that I am funny and smart and caring. I know again that I am a good person. I am not perfect and that is OK. If I make mistakes, there is always an opportunity to learn from them. “Do the next right thing” is a great slogan.
2. “Fake it till you make it” made me laugh the first time I heard it on The Bubble Hour. But it really works! Over time, my favorite line to people who inquired about my not drinking was, “Oh, I have discovered I am more fun without drinking.” And as it turns out, I am more fun without drinking! It’s true!
3. I take better care of myself. I really love yoga. And I really love hot showers. Getting enough sleep, exercising, eating right, and showering earlier in the day makes my day better. I am trying to meditate more. I started therapy. I get pedicures when I need some extra pampering. And I have learned that taking better care of myself is better for my whole family and is not selfish.
4. “Sleeping is one my talents” has been a joke of mine for a long time. I really do love sleep. And I am good at it! I do not do well with sleep deprivation. When my kids were babies, the sleep deprivation was the hardest part. When my youngest started sleeping through the night, it was a joyous occasion. I regret ruining my sleep with alcohol for the years just before I quit drinking. How could I do that to my precious sleep? I am so happy now that I am able to put my head down on my pillow every night with full awareness that I have completed my day and it is time to go to sleep. And I sleep so soundly again. (Apparently I snore a lot too now per my husband).
5. My skin is clearer. And when I look at pictures of myself, my smile is wider and my green eyes are brighter. My laugh is hearty and boisterous again.
6. I am able now to address and work on a lot of underlying issues I had and was avoiding – the grief I carry, anxiety in certain situations, insecurities about being a stay at home mom, my tendency to procrastinate and avoid certain tasks until things really piled up and then seemed too overwhelming to tackle. I am developing with my therapist strategies to deal with all of these things. I am also learning so much from the podcasts of Tara Brach.
7. I am loving love again. I look at my husband again with the same attraction I did 20 years ago. He is so cute! At various moments, I find myself just staring at my kids while feeling so lucky they are mine. I hang on my own mom’s words and her voice so often now when we are the phone. I love seeing her smile when she is with her grandchildren.
8. I am experiencing gratitude. Being part of a Gratitude Group has been monumental. I am so very grateful every day to have a loving husband and three healthy kids. I am grateful for our relatives and friends. I am grateful for this amazing life.
9. I am less reactive and more proactive. For example, I don’t panic when it is crunch time in the mornings and we need to get out the door. I stay calm and it helps my kids stay calm. Gone are the days when they enter the school building and I stand in the schoolyard with tears welling up because I am full of regret.
10. I am better at time management and planning out my day (still an area that I am working on though). Also, I have come to appreciate that being punctual is an amazing thing that can really reduce anxiety! And it is considerate.
11. I have learned the amazing power of saying no. I have realized we do not have to accept invitations to every birthday party or other event we are invited to. It is ok to politely decline. And just because I am a stay at home mom does not mean I should feel obligated to sign up for every volunteer opportunity at school. I have learned it is perfectly fine to say no to a volunteer request and not feel guilty about it.
11. I worry much less about what other people think in many areas, and most relevant here, in regard to me not drinking. I have learned (and this is one I really had to learn through my own experience instead of taking other bloggers’ word on this) that 99% of people really do not notice and do not care what I am drinking. They very happily accept whatever pat answer I give in declining a drink. Or they simply don’t ask and it does not come up.
12. I am more present. I am in tune with the goings-on in my extended family without being absorbed by any drama. I am less distracted. I feel more connected with loved ones. I listen better when other people talk. When my kids are talking to me, I try to look into their eyes and listen to what they have to say. I make sure I hug them every day. I don’t even want to think about the time in the future when they are no longer living in the same house as me. So I am going to make sure I do not take it for granted now. Making sure I am truly present for them, and my husband, for as long as possible, is my primary goal.
13. Kindness is powerful. Random acts of kindness and simply being friendly make others more cherry and myself. Also, instead of getting irritated in certain situations, responding with kindness, compassion, and understanding has been magical. If I do get irritable or say something I regret, apologizing is also very powerful.
14. I make sure I get girlfriend time through breakfasts, lunches, walks or coffee. While I isolated a lot in the first few months, I now again love spending time with friends when I can. It’s very important to me. I also make time for other leisure activities like reading.
15. Communicating better with my husband has been so important. I am being honest with him about what I am feeling inside and as of Sunday, Mother’s Day, I filled him on all I have done and all my online tools I have used to get to one year. He generally knew I was getting support online but now he knows the details of the support I was getting. I felt relieved to fill him more on this journey because to him and others, it may seem like it has been easy. And it has not been easy at all. But it has been so worth it. And he told me he is proud of me.
16. I have learned that life is not perfect. It is unpredictable. A great deal is out of our control. All we have for sure is love and today, this moment. Death is part of life. Disappointment is part of life. There are ups and there are downs. Some days are better than others. For some reason, it has taken me 44 years to accept all of this!
My word of the year is Growth. I think I am doing so mentally and spiritually. (Incidentally, after increasing, and then decreasing, my weight is now pretty much exactly the same as this time last year; so at least I am not growing in that area! But it would have been nice to drop 5 pounds in my Year 1. Oh, well – that can be a goal for Year 2!).