Zen: (noun) A Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Now where did I put that backbone?

Some of our friends threw us an impromptu anniversary celebration this weekend.  Just two other families and us.  They did all the cooking and cleaning even though it was held at our house.  We had an amazing time.  It was so good to just be together.  We hadn't done it in so long and I was just soaking up being with everyone.  One was a very old friend whose husband seldom accompanies her when she comes over because I'm sober and he's...well...not.  But they came and he relaxed and I loved on him to let him know that I had absolutely no judgement in me at all and I just want him and his family back in my life.

My other friend and I have been having some issues and every once in a while I would catch her looking very depressed.  It tried to make her feel comfortable but I can only go so far.  It was enough to have her and her family there.  For the first time I felt like her fiance really enjoyed himself.  At least his hug was warmer this time which made me feel good.  Plus his daughter didn't want to leave and I loved that.

During our conversation, my one friend reminded me of something I said to her many, many years ago after her first (or was it second) child was born.  She was waffling about where she should go with her career, what she should and shouldn't do and apparently I said, "What's wrong with you?  Did you leave your backbone on the delivery room table?"  That apparently snapped her out of her funk and she got herself in gear.  (I'm so tactful sometimes!)

Well it must have worked because she now a pretty high level executive at my old company and she's kicking ass.  I love that.  In reality she would have done that with or without my big fat mouth but the fact that she remembers it as something significant in her life makes me feel good.  Plus, I'm just so damned proud of her I could bust.

That phrase has been stuck in my head since Saturday night.  I'm not sure if she said it to spur me on (we had just been having a conversation about my career and what I was going to do about it) but that's what it did.  I realized that, somewhere along the way, I'd left my own backbone laying around somewhere.  The fact that my confidence has suffered over the last eight or nine years as my alcoholism got worse and I got sober and into recovery is no secret.  I didn't have the time or energy to worry about self esteem or confidence.  I was too busy digging deep into my psyche to try and figure out why I was the way I was and what I could do about it.  Trust me when I say that it was my full time job for a long time.

But the time for regret and beating myself up about all of the mistakes that I made has got to end.  It's time I collected my backbone, grew a pair and got my shit together.  It's time I took control.

I don't want to go back to being the know-it-all ball buster I was in my past life because I actually like the kinder, gentler self I've cultivated in recovery.  That old person was so full of bravado born of insecurity that she was like a big, ugly McMansion built entirely on sand.  I was always one good hurricane away from disaster. 

Rather, I'd like to dig down deep and grasp on to what little confidence I have left and begin to rebuild the structure.  Not as an ugly McMansion, but as a very sturdy bungelow complete with character, hardwood and granite.  Built on bedrock and beautiful and strong and old enough to be recognized for her period details and all the wisdom that lies within her walls.

Especially when it comes to work.  I'm good at what I do.  I'm a talented learning professional.  I'm also extremely smart.  I'm a great manager and an even better leader.

Maybe this is just another stage of recovery.  Maybe you go through the darkness, find the light and rid yourself of all the ugliness, resentment and darkness that hides in your heart and soul.  Then, and only then, can you let the light fill you up and return you to a better version of who you were in the first place.

Whatever it is, I like the way it feels and I'm moving forward with this feeling.  I feel more in control than I have in a very long time.  It rocks.



  1. "I don't want to go back to being the know-it-all ball buster I was in my past life because I actually like the kinder, gentler self I've cultivated in recovery." I love this..it's so true that being sober does mean being gentler... more low key...more measured... it's an adjustment for sure. I'm not like you.. I wasn't a know-it-all ball buster. I was a don't-dwell, never-naval-gaze numb person who refused to dwell on feelings. But like you I'm growing to like the new version of me better. Love your writing Sherry xxxx

  2. I am loving this new blog. Loving it!!!

    One of my favorite quotes: "Never grow a wishbone daughter, where your backbone ought to be."