Tag Archive | support

Having My Baby—I Started My Book!

As a writer, I am not the most disciplined person in the entire world.  I need to ruminate a lot before I write.  I need to think and think and think and then, when I have finally thought enough, I sit down and the words just flow out of my fingers like water.   I have been waiting to start writing my book and have been being nudged gently, and not so gently, by a lot of people.  This book is my baby.  It has been in my head for over a year now, but there have been a lot of distractions, and a lot of thinking, and a lot of fear.  Yes, sissy girl here has had just enough self-doubt overriding my inner knowing of the greatness of this book to hold me hostage for a long time.  I am no sissy, but I am as vulnerable to fear and self-doubt as anyone.  Over the weekend, I got enough encouragement and a big enough kick in the butt to finally do it.  Yesterday morning, I started my book.

Yes, I grew each one of these people in my body and gave birth to them all, one way or another.

For me, writing is like giving birth.  Because I have given birth to seven children, and am a retired midwife, the analogy of having to be pregnant and then labor in order to finally give birth is what best describes exactly what writing is like for me.  I will walk around for quite some time knowing that something big is coming and that it is going to change my life and that it is going to be something good.  This is a very thoughtful period, pregnant with possibilities as yet unknown.  It is a time of dormancy, but not inactive dormancy, for there is a lot of internal planning and preparing going on with in me.  During these periods, I tire more easily, and I might get a little irritable at times, as well.  Being pregnant is hard work and whatever is needing to be birthed just keeps getting bigger and bigger to carry within me.

Now, I am not going to tell you that I had terrible, days long, labors with my real, human children, because I just did not.  I think my longest labor was about six hours long, because I do not consider it labor until I am really feeling it, and really having to concentrate and breathe.  The labor period may be short, but I also go nearly completely within myself during this time.  I do not want to be touched or spoken to.  I am in my own little world for that short period, and that is exactly where I need to be, too.  Do not fret.  I am not there too awfully long.

Then transition hits and things get serious.  I am beginning to feel like I need to push, and even if it is not an actual child that needs to be pushed out, but an idea, I will still often feel a physical sensation to push.  During transition, I can get a little lost, and more than a little scared.  I might be tempted to run.  I had a planned home birth with my sixth child.  He was born in July and I was so hot that I had the air conditioning set so low that all of those present for the birth had to raid my closet for my winter sweaters.  At one point during transition, I got up off of my bed and began to walk towards the bedroom door.  My labor and birth support team asked me where I was going.  I told them that I was getting the hell out of there.  I would come back tomorrow and finished it up then.

Not one drug involved and yet I thought if I just walked out of the room that the pain would end and I could come back when I was ready.   I guess that I thought if I went outside and hoisted myself into my Chevy Suburban and went and got a chocolate malt at the Dairy Queen and maybe had a little nap that I would be ready to finish up the job in a few hours.  Much to my chagrin, they guided me back into the bedroom and I popped the kid out on the bathroom floor about 30 minutes later.

Over the past weekend, I was in transition and I was scared.  I felt stuck and lost.  I knew that I could not go on as I had been, not having the courage to begin to push my baby of a book out into the world, but at the same time, I just really wanted a rest and a chocolate malt from the Dairy Queen.  I would come back and do it when I was ready, and yet I knew it was time to push!  Thank goodness, I had a good labor coach along side of me over the weekend.  She said all of the right things.  She held my hand and listened to my internal wailing, and she understood my fear, and she encouraged me a lot.  She gave me the courage to begin to push and even promised to edit the book and lined up a totally awesome beta reader to join her as part of my team.

Yesterday morning, I woke up and felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off of me.  I had such a burst of happiness and energy.  I was ready to push. I sat down at the computer and opened my word processor and typed the words: Chapter One.  And then, just as I described above, the words just flowed out of my fingers like water.  Apparently, the quality of the water is high, as well, or so I have been told.  I can taste the water myself and know that it is pure and it is the kind of water that is so good that people will want more.  People will pay money to drink this water–well, that is my hope, anyway.

It was not easy, those first few  paragraphs, because it is not easy stuff to give birth to, but it feels so good.  Once you stop fighting the irresistible urge, and you actually start to push in earnest, it feels so good.  I have a lot more pushing to do, and I suspect there will be more pregnant pauses, and more labors, and more periods of transition, but this baby is going to be gorgeous.   This baby is going to light up a lot of lives.  This baby is going to release so much from within me, and so much into the world that I can hardly wait to see what she looks like.  She does not have a name yet, but she will.  This beautiful, hard-fought for baby will have a name well suited to her before she enters the world.

So, if I am a little more quiet than usual in the months to come, or more irritable, or suddenly absent for a bit, please know that I am giving birth to my book and that it is hard work.  You are all my labor coaches and my cheerleaders and I hope that you will all be around to celebrate this baby when she enters the world.  She is my gift to all of you.

Helping someone newly sober…what you can do.

Last week, my friend, El, over at Running From Hell with El wrote a blog post about walking away from a gin and tonic that she saw sitting in HER kitchen on the counter.  It was a brave and honest post and I felt proud and happy for her in the end.  I say in the end, because as I read the post the single thought that kept running through my head was this: “What in the hell was a gin and tonic doing on the counter in her kitchen?”  As an alcoholic in recovery, I was angry for her, and at whoever had made the drink in HER kitchen and left it sitting there.  I was so upset that I almost called her immediately and asked her the question that would not leave me, “El, what in the hell was a gin and tonic doing on your kitchen counter?”  But, I didn’t.  I didn’t want to intrude–her house, her family, her rules.

Today I gave El a call on an unrelated topic.  We talked a lot about writing and then we hit the subject of blogs.  It was at that point that I did ask the question about the gin and tonic.  I asked because El is an alcoholic in early recovery, sitting at about six months, and I remember well what that period of time looks like and feels like.  It is a vulnerable time where sometimes it feels as if you are staying sober minute by minute.  Early sobriety looks and feels a lot different than five years of sobriety does, or ten, or twenty, I suspect.  Early sobriety is a tight wire walk where balance is continuously being reevaluated and reestablished.  It is a very selfish time in a great many respects, because in order to maintain the balance needed to stay sober, we need to ask for help from a variety of different types of people.  The people who we will need the most help and support from are those closest to us…our friends and family.

This can be very hard for many of us to do—to ask for what we need during that first year.  El told me that she didn’t want any booze in her house, but felt she might be asking too much to demand that alcohol not be present in her home.  She is not asking too much.  In fact, by not demanding that there be no alcohol in her house she is asking too much of herself, and too little of those who need to be supporting her.  Alcoholism is a disease and yet so many people see it as weakness of will, or a character defect.  It is a disease just like diabetes, or heart disease.  Most of us would never dream of sitting down and eating a big bag full of candy in front of a friend newly diagnosed with diabetes, especially not his favorite candy.  We would think that rude, lacking support, or just plain disrespectful of his battle, and his feelings.

Likewise, when a person is newly diagnosed with heart disease, the whole family makes changes.  This was certainly the case when my father was diagnosed with heart disease.  My mother kicked into high gear and changed what she cooked and how she cooked it, and she did not just make the changes for my father.  We all had to make the same  dietary changes.  We loved him and wanted him to live, so we didn’t complain.  We just did it.  We didn’t care if we ate chicken every night of the week.  We could get a hamburger somewhere else.  We could not get another father.

Just like diabetes and heart disease, alcoholism, if not treated, is a progressive, fatal disease.  People die every day from alcoholism and addiction.  Also, just like diabetes and heart disease, alcoholism in a family member affects the entire family.  Everyone will need to make changes to support the one who is working to stay well.  Giving up cake, or steak, or a nightly drink is precious little to have to give up if it mean helping to keep someone we love well and making them feel loved, and supported during a time that is stressful by its very nature.  Alcoholism is a chronic disease and anyone living and coping with a newly diagnosed chronic disease will grieve and move through many emotional phases as they find their center again.  In turn, the entire family system will need to lovingly recalculate their choices, behaviors, and roles in the now changed family.  Flexibility, understanding, and love is required of all those involved.

What can you do if you are living with someone in early sobriety?  First off, you can and should give up your nightly drink and keep alcohol out of the house.  If this is a change that you are not willing to make then you need to ask yourself if you might have a problem yourself, of if there is a rather ugly agenda underneath your unwillingness to give up your drink.  It is not uncommon for a partner to miss drinking with his loved one and may, unwittingly or not, seek to have that special bond back.  A relapse would do just that… That is selfishness and it is playing Russian roulette with your loved one’s sobriety and very life.  Certainly, you would never force them to drink, but action do speak louder than words… Oftentimes, a family member may have a hard time dealing with the raw emotions of the newly sober person and might unconsciously want them to drink again so things will go back to “normal.” Examine your own feelings honestly.  Of course, if an alcoholic really wants to drink they will find a way.  I know I sure did, but why place temptation right on the counter?

Also, if you do give up that drink and get rid of the booze in the house, please don’t act put out, as if you’ve made some sacrifice akin to giving up a kidney for them.  Do not talk about “the good times” you had drinking together, and don’t glamorize drinking, or talk about how much you miss booze.  Take the time to educate yourself about alcoholism and addiction.  Read all that you can, and if you need more help understanding, find an Al-Anon meeting and go to it.  Get family counseling, and individual counseling.  Denying this is big for the whole family is a big mistake.

Be respectful of what your loved one is going through–and this goes both ways–and forgive.  Forgive your loved one for being an alcoholic and for causing you to have to give up things that you like, and times you cherished.  Love each other.  Rediscover each other.  Move forward together, gently, respectfully, and with the greatest amount of love and understanding possible.  Be a team because that is what families do.

I know better than anyone that no one ever poured a single drink down my throat when I was drinking, and I am not implying that it is anyone’s responsibility but the alcoholics to turn away from the drink, as El did.  I am saying that if you can make changes that will make it less likely for a person new in their sobriety to have to walk away, then you should do it, and do it gladly, with no resentment.  Over time, things will change and sobriety won’t be as brittle and thread-like anymore.  When that time comes, everyone will know it, but until then, simple changes can make a huge difference, so please make them.  It’s the opportunity of a lifetime to create health for your entire family, and for generations to come.