Aubrey Harmon

Centered Heart Coaching

Month: December 2018

Closure

2018 is winding down – only 26 more days of the year. It’s two of the darkest weeks as we move toward the winter Solstice with its shortest day and longest night. The moon is also in its waning crescent phase, leading to the New Moon on the 7th. On a macro-level it’s time to wind down, to let go of the old in order to welcome the new, so it’s oddly fitting that today – after a lengthy four and a half year separation – Tom and I signed our divorce papers.

While our relationship was clearly over at the time we separated, it took us much longer to get the legal side of things completed. The papers will be submitted to the court later this week, and though we won’t get a response for several weeks, once the documents are signed by both of us, the contract is considered binding.

Our mediator didn’t have any openings in her schedule in the North Bay office, so I trekked into San Francisco this afternoon. I don’t go into the city very often now that I’ve moved, and it’s even rarer for me to go to the heart of down town – Union Square. There was traffic, of course, and construction, and so many people shopping for the holiday season. Everything felt grey – concrete, sky, buildings, even the people. 

Tom and I sat across from each other at a conference table much too large for just us. We mostly signed in silence, except for a few awkward jokes. 

“You are sober, right,” I asked as we initialed the declaration that we weren’t under the influence of any mind-altering substance during the signing. 

“Yeah, but I’m getting a beer after,” he said.

The paralegal commented that it was always interesting to hear what people did after the papers were signed. Some went for drinks. Some went home. One client had to rush out because they had a dentist appointment directly after. Sounds like a glutton for punishment, to me.

At one point I realized he and I were in mirrored positions – head on fist, looking down. I don’t know what he was thinking… part of me wondered if his line of thought mirrored mine too  – this wasn’t where I imagined we’d end up, when we got married. I thought we’d be in it forever. I certainly never imagined that I’d be the one who ended it. I couldn’t imagine living without him.  But I had, and here we are.

I came home right after – today was my day with the kiddos.  I made dinner, gave Miriam a shower, made sure Tai practiced his trombone, fed the dogs.  I lit a candle. Now it’s nearly midnight and while I feel a little melancholy for ‘what might have been’ and ‘what I imagined it would be’, I know that I am content. I am fine. I am growing.

Denial

This morning I went to my favorite women’s recovery meeting. It’s a decent sized group – not so big that I feel lost, but also not so tiny that I feel like I have to speak up every time I go. There are women with long sobriety, and also newcomers. It might not have the same edginess and drama as meetings I used to attend in San Francisco, but it shares the same element that drew me in the first place – no matter how I am feeling, there is at least one other woman in the room who has felt that way, too.

For most of my life, I’ve felt different. Too shy, too anxious, too bookish, too awkward. I wanted to fit in, but I wasn’t sure how. I didn’t start drinking to fit in, but when I drank I felt like I did – or at least I didn’t care that I was different. For a while, alcohol worked for me. It worked really, really well. Until it didn’t.

Even so, 90 days sober, there have been many times that I’ve doubted that I’m an ‘alcoholic’.  I’ve had consequences of my drinking, but they all could have been worse. I’ve not lost a job, a house, a relationship, family members. Did I really need to be in recovery?

Today one sentence in the reading stood out to me.  When I enjoyed my drinking I couldn’t control it, and when I controlled it, I couldn’t enjoy it.  A small voice in my heart said ‘yes, this is you.’

Sometimes I drank normally, socially. A beer or two or three with family or friends at dinner. A civilized glass of wine after a hard day. But when I drank the way I felt I needed, I drank to feel the ‘click’ in my head where everything turned way, way down. The anxious voice in my head? Silent. The feeling that there was something ‘else’ I should be doing? Gone. Restless, discontent, lonely? Not anymore!

It took more and more to get the ‘click’. I was careful not to drink when I had the kiddos, because sometimes the click lead to blackouts. No problem if I’m on my own, but if the kids needed help in the night I had to be available for them. On nights the kids were with their dad, all bets were off. It took a little while to realize, this wasn’t actually working. In the morning all of those crappy feelings were still there, along with some guilt and shame for drinking so much, what I might have done while I was drinking, and an ass-kicking headache too.

Sobriety is a journey and I’m just at the beginning. I’m not making forever statements, but for today, I am not drinking. I’m learning about feeling my feelings and doing things anyway. Learning that we all feel anxious and awkward and weird and that’s fine – just keep moving, keep following our hearts. I’m working on building a community of women who can see me in all of my weirdness and join me with their weirdness. We’re all in this weird world together.

Bittersweet

Having a quiet evening at home, after a day of catching up on chores that I let slide while the kiddos were here. Pups are curled up beside me on the couch, snoring. Candles flicker on the mantel. Classical music is playing softly. The quiet is both a balm, and bittersweet.

I’ve been separated from my ex for four and a half years, and we knew it was over before that. Sharing the kids is nothing new… but even so, coming off a whole week together, I miss them. Not the whining, the arguing and rolled eyes. Not the dulcet tones of Fortnite battles and complaints about having to pick up after themselves.

I miss the early morning snuggles with Miriam when it’s just dawn and we both half-wake up but then cuddle closer and drift off again. I miss hearing her sing to herself while she draws. I miss hearing the conversations between her toys when she plays with the dollhouse. I miss when she reads me a book before bed. I miss Tai’s shouts of triumph and despair when he plays video games with his friends. I miss his boundless energy that fills the house. I miss when he asks me to tuck him in and sit with him until he falls asleep. I miss those minutes when he decides to tell me about how his games were, about what he’s doing at school, bits of randomness until he drops off to sleep. 

Even as I miss them, I relish this time alone, too. I relax into the stillness, take time to read, to write, to think a complete thought without someone asking for a snack, a drink, something to do because “I’m bored!”.  I go to Target and take as long as I want with no one whining that can’t we just gooooo already??  I stay up late watching Netflix and knitting, or falling down a YouTube rabbit hole. I remember what it is to be a woman on her own.

Not Perfect

December 1st already – hard to believe how quickly the year has gone by… though I’m pretty sure I say that every year. Just past Thanksgiving, still a few weeks out from Christmas. Hanukkah starts this Sunday… The holiday season is gearing up. So, of course, is the stress. I need to decorate the house, get the tree, decorate the tree, buy the presents, wrap the presents, mail the holiday cards. Most of all, make memories for the kids. Make it magic. Not too magic, of course, don’t want to spoil them. Just enough, just the right amount. Just make it perfect. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right? You can find perfection on Pinterest and Facebook.

I am not, however, Martha Stewart. My house is loud and lived in. My elf on the shelf is hiding (and I’m hoping to keep it that way, dude is creepy). My dogs sit on the sofa and lick my face. I buy the kids too much and wrap it messily, all thumbs with tape and ribbon and wrapping paper cut too large. I make hot cocoa, the instant variety out of little envelopes. The kids love it anyway. We watch Christmas specials on YouTube, memories of my own childhood. I string the lights on the tree – white, because it’s what I grew up with and what I love – and the kids decorate it. The ornaments are placed haphazardly, clumped in odd array instead of perfectly placed. I annoy them by singing Handel’s Messiah, every part including soprano and bass, too loudly. We balance it out with The Grinch.

It’s imperfect and messy and still magical. When the lights are out and only the tree is shining.  When we’re all cuddled together on the couch. When the kids write letters to Santa. When we drive through the neighborhood to see the lights shining in the long darkness. It is enough and more than enough.  To quote a Tim Minchin song out of context, “It’s not perfect, but it’s mine.”

I don’t want perfection, or the stress that goes with striving for it and failing. (Because, after all, nothing is ever perfect.) I want to enjoy the quiet, the magic, the lights in the darkness. I want to stay grounded and present. Because I don’t want to lose touch with how lucky I am.

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