I definitely needed a bit of a break, so thanks for bearing with me while I was on sabbatical.
Today is my belly button birthday! I had never heard this term until I had gotten into AA. When you celebrate sobriety milestones, they are called birthdays, so you learn to differentiate a sobriety birthday from a belly button birthday.
Belly button birthdays used to be my thing. I would make a big a$$ deal about me. Of course, every day I would make a big a$$ deal about me, to be honest. Now? Sure! I love celebrating my belly button birthday; however, my sobriety birthday (11/16/17) is way more meaningful to me.
I think I’ve used the term “born again” in one of these blogs and I’m sure I’ll use it again, but it is true. I genuinely feel like I have been given a whole new lease on life. On more than one occasion I’ve gotten a little too close to dancing with death. While my last drunk wasn’t one of these times, the appreciation for being given a chance at sobriety has really made me cherish it.
The “firsts” that I’ve talked about over here are still happening. Watching myself do these things and really start living life has made me recognize all the years that I had didn’t do anything except waste time and braincells. This used to make me feel very depressed. Especially early in sobriety. Now? Now I’m grateful for where I am today. There’s no sense in wasting time on the past when I can’t change it. The only choice for me today is to move forward.
Today I’ll make a gratitude list for my belly button 37th birthday:
I am grateful to be sober today. Without sobriety, the rest of this list would not be possible.
I am grateful for my family – my parents especially. They watched me run straight into hell and today I have thankfully come out smiling with only a few scars from the journey.
I am grateful for a couple of days off work to spend time with people who I truly love and care about and know they feel the same about me. But also, to spend time with just me and my cats because this is something I was never able to do before.
I am grateful for a job that keeps me on my toes despite wanting to scream every once in a while. This job affords me my beautiful home and wet food for me and my kitties.
I am grateful for having loved a significant other in the past. Actually, I truly have loved both of my husbands and all of my ex-boyfriends. I may not have a person in my life right now, but I’m grateful for the fact that I have loved and know that I have the capacity for it and have been able to take down my walls of resentment for if/when someone comes into my life.
I am grateful that most of the days I am able to look on the positive side. Not always, as I think you all may have noticed, but for the most part I am able to flip the script when I need to.
I am grateful for every good, bad and ugly life experience I have had. Without them all, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. And I think that person is pretty f**king awesome.
My birthday wish is that everyone reading this has an awesome day today! If you have a significant other, hug that person and kiss them and tell them you love them! If you have kids, do all of that too! If you have fur babies, force snuggle them with all of your might! If you’re hanging out and it’s just you, go walk into a room with a mirror and stare straight into your eyes and tell yourself, “YOU ARE A F**KING ROCKSTAR!!”
Every day isn’t puppies noses and kitty toesies, but every day is a gift. You just have to figure out where the end of the bow is to start peeling the wrapping off of it.
Editor’s Note: Please note the cat pictures throughout this post. This was literally what I was dealing with while I was writing. ♥
I’m really glad I didn’t pull yesterday’s post. Thank you all for commenting! That made me feel even better about not pulling it.
Every day is not all sunshine and rainbows or puppy noses and kitty toesies, but so far, I have not touched one drop of alcohol to my lips in the last 630 days. In fact, the only alcohol I’ve even touched is rubbing alcohol and handing a beer over to a former coworker at his goodbye happy hour. Which was funny because most everyone knew I was sober before I got there and I think everyone did know by the end of the night. One of my work friends saw me with it in my hand and scolded me for it. I just giggled and handed it over to its proper home (which was amazingly not my mouth).
Sobriety is not always a good time. The worst part about sobriety for me is that real life still happens. It always did before, but either I ignored it due to the mental fog I was constantly in or I managed to let someone else deal with it somehow.
Today I have magically inherited all of my problems back and then some. The difference is that I am dealing with them instead of sitting on them until it’s too late. All the while, 630 days in, I’m still learning “my new normal”.
I’ve been tending to have these freak out moments probably every other month. I don’t always explode as terribly as I did last night, but I have to say that even for as bad as I felt yesterday was (and that was mostly due to taking it out on my parents because I tend to show the worst sides of myself to the people who care most about me), the recovery time was much quicker and the duration of the “fit” was much shorter. So, I see it as a step forward. The fact that I called them back within 30 minutes to at least apologize for yelling was much faster than the day(s) it used to take. That is, if I apologized at all. A lot of the times, I would lift up the proverbial rug and sweep, sweep, sweep it under with my ever growing pile of regrets and resentments. I may not have been in good spirits yet when I called back and I was definitely still ugly crying, but I knew that I needed to apologize for taking out my frustrations on them when they had absolutely nothing to do with the problem.
So what are my problems? P.S. There’s never just one with me. Some of it is frustrations at work; some is the fact that my bday feels like it’s zooming up too quickly and I always get emo around this time; some is this sinus crap I’m dealing with; some of it is still just finding and keeping the contentment of sobriety that I’ve come to love. When it is pulled away from me, I’ve started to learn that my immediate reaction is not exactly the best.
I do not always want to be sober for the sake of having a great life or knowing that this life is so much better than a life with drinking and pills. Last night I was very honest in my reasonings for staying sober:
The only reason I’m not drinking tonight is because I’m afraid of what havoc I will cause. I’m afraid of drunk dialing. I’m afraid of the guilt that will dig my grave for me. I’m afraid of dying and that’s the God’s honest truth right there.
But you know what? That reasoning kept me sober. Maybe it wasn’t for the “right reason”? But it was the right reason for me last nightt.
No matter how you do it, if you’re choosing to stay sober and you’re doing your best at it, then I want you to know that:
I am proud of you.
You are a miracle.
You deserve a f**king trophy. Preferably one with lots of sequins and glitter.
With addiction still being one of those taboo things and with people having such polarized opinions on it depending on which side of it they’ve seen, it’s hard to celebrate the little victories we have that are actually really big victories for us.
I don’t know if I’ve shared this before, but this is one of my all-time favorite sayings:
Don’t quit five minutes before the miracle.
That’s really hard sometimes. Especially when the thoughts are flashing past so quickly that if feels like hours have gone by in a matter of seconds.
If you need someone to believe in you when you can’t, I want you to know that I do. There was a long time when I thought I wasn’t worth sobriety. I didn’t feel like mine was a life worth saving. Luckily for me, that choice isn’t up to me. That’s up to ye olde HP. However, today I do feel that I am worth it – for the most part on most days. The other 5% of the time, I either fake it til I make it or I use my German stubbornness (thanks, Grandma) to push through until the end of the day. Sometimes you just have to press restart and hope for a better tomorrow.
Thank you all again for commenting and not giving up on me when I wanted to. It truly, truly means the world. ♥
Editor’s Note: I really hate posting negative things. I feel like a jackass. But I’m not going to pull this because sobriety is really tough sometimes.
Despite sounding so carefree and jolly the last couple of days, I have been in a piss poor mood. Day after day of holding back tears of frustration or blaming red-ringed eyes on allergies. I’m f**king sick of it. I just screamed and hung up on my parents while I was talking to them on my drive home, so I felt more guilty about that and called them back and apologized and then didn’t say anything because I just don’t have anything positive to say about myself or anything else.
I thought it would be a good idea to go get Thai food today for lunch. While the food is always spicily delicious, I have not been in that restaurant since before the break up. When the f**k are these emotions going to stop? I don’t understand it.
I just want to wash it all away. Just dive way down deep and not come out again. Get lost in this sea of sadness, but no. I’m f**king sober. How wonderful is that? Well, to be honest, I f**king hate it right now. And that’s how real sobriety goes.
Grateful Gertrude I am not today. I’m just trying to figure out when things changed and what changed it for me. I just don’t want to be seen anymore. I just want to be whisked away into a dream somewhere filled with wine and vodka and have my secrets and keep them inside and run away forever. But you can’t do that in sobriety.
Sobriety means you think way too f**king much for your own good. You don’t have a drinking problem, you have a thinking problem. Once you are able to put the plug in the jug, then you have to start working out what is really wrong with yourself.
Well, I’m ready HP. What the f**k is wrong with me?! Yeah. I’ve posted the meme “the teacher is always silent during the test.” Well, consider my pen put down. I’m resigning from this test taking practice. Go find yourself a new student.
The only reason I’m not drinking tonight is because I’m afraid of what havoc I will cause. I’m afraid of drunk dialing. I’m afraid of the guilt that will dig my grave for me. I’m afraid of dying and that’s the God’s honest truth right there.
My parents made it clear to me that I was not allowed to get a tattoo until I was no longer living under their roof. Despite what my siblings may say, I actually followed my parents’ rules (most of the time).
I graduated high school in May 2000; started trade school in August 2000; graduated trade school May 2001; and started my first “big girl job” May 7, 2001. It was a big girl job because I was no longer under my parents’ health insurance plan and I got myself my first new cart: a fat a$$ Ford ZX2. Yeah, baby. Silver! Boom yeah! Sexy beast, I was!
My high school boyfriend and I promptly moved in together in June 2001. This was immediately followed by each of our first tattoos. Mine? Yep. Tinkerbell. One of my sisters-in-law said it was absolutely perfect for me. The pose, colors, the fact that it was freaking T-bell and she can go from cute and sweet one second to raging b!tch the next. Yep. That was me. His? A tribal armband with a sunshine in the middle. Yep. We were two cool and rebellious mother f**ckers.
After we got done with our session we were told about the aftercare:
Apply A&D ointment twice a day to keep it moist (hehe, moist). NOT Neosporin.
Stay out of the sun.
Stay out of the water.
Did I mention that we had just booked our first vacation together and we were leaving a couple of days after our tattoo appointment? Heading off to sunny and beachy Puerto Vallarta, Mexico! Obviously, no one had mentioned that tattoos follow the same rules as Gremlins otherwise we would have waited a hot minute before booking this trip. Oh well! I mean… the Gremlins had a happy ending, right?
Before we left for our vacation, I had to show my parents. I can’t remember if I’ve ever mentioned that I can’t keep a secret, but I can’t keep a secret. It tears me up inside. Especially if it’s about a present I have for someone. So I went to my parents’ house and they were sitting around the dining room table and I showed mom and dad with this look of utter joy. Mom didn’t really respond. Dad responded with,”…Well… he did a good job.” And that was how my first tattoo went.
Tattoo number two, my Leo symbol, was a few years later during marriage one. We were on a Domestic Temporary Assignment with our jobs and were currently stationed in Maryland. (neither of us are in the military) We received home trips every couple of months and I took a long weekend to meet up with my parents, see my then psych doctor to check in and, you guessed it, get my Leo done.
So for Tink and Leo, I poured over all that the internet had to offer at the time. Which was like… four pictures for Tinkerbell. Now for Leo, Tattoo Johnny had been invented (I think I had a pink Razor phone by this time) and I actually PAID for the stencil. Obviously, I still had no idea what I was doing when it came to tattoos yet.
It was February 2007ish when I got Leo done. I arrived at the airport, picked up my rental car and headed for the tattoo shop. My parents, my next oldest brother with his wife and their two kids (they now have three) met me at the tattoo shop. It was freaking cold out and my parents kept their earmuffs on the entire time. There was hardly anyone in the shop that day, so it was just me and my entourage.
My mom came back with me and asked if it hurt when the artist got started and I said, “Noooooo!!! Not at all!! A bazillion needles ramming into your skin feels amazing!” I love my mom because her response was, “Huh. Ok.” I had to follow that up with an, “Of course it hurts, mom!” Then she got involved talking to the artist about his tattoos and asked him, “Do you realize how all of those are going to age?” She meant it in the sweetest, straight forward way possible, this I know. Did I mention she still had her earmuffs on? I can’t remember what his response was as I was concentrating on not feeling pain right then, but he understood she wasn’t being intolerant or malicious in her questioning. She was just curious. My mom passed on the ability to act adorable and naïve and yet still know lots of random stuff on to me. Thanks, mom.
Did I mention it was freezing outside and my family up and left me after about 15 minutes getting tattooed to go and get a seat at a restaurant down the street? I had to peg leg by myself to meet them afterwards. Leo is on my right calf.
So yeah. With Tinkerbell, “He did a good job,” to having an entourage. Just wait til mom finally tells me what she really thinks about my Leo, but we have to wait until after my wrist rose for that one. That’ll be Part 5. I wasn’t expecting this to actually turn in to a “Series” and it seems to be doing just that!
From August 2000 to May 2001, I went to trade school. The one thing I knew about myself as a young woman transitioning to adult was that there was no way that I should ever attend a four year college. Why? Because I had already stepped into the beginning of my addiction and the logical side of my brain was saying, “If you end up attending a four year college, you will either end up dropping out or dying due to alcohol consumption.” No joke. Eighteen year old Monica was pretty mature. Well, in that one regard anyway. So I chose to go Hickey College to learn to be an administrative assistant and graduate in eight months.
As soon as I turned 18 and was legal in the eyes of my sister state, I went and got my belly button pierced. I grew up in Illinois and you have to be 21 for body modification, so you remember how I said I used to drive to Missouri to get alcohol on Sundays because they started selling earlier? (If not, click here) Well, you also only have to be 18 to get a tattoo/piercing. Thank the HP for living next to the border! I knew I would be going to Hickey College and they had a strict dress code (strict = I wore panty hose every week day for eight months straight and to graduation) where visible piercings and tattoos were unacceptable, so I went with the belly button first.
It was easy. I swear that I didn’t even feel it and it wasn’t numbed at all. Now I have drunkenly pierced a few belly buttons of my own over the years. Not my own, mind you, because that’s just not smart. I would never go to someone who is inexperienced and drunk like I was. The amount of ice we went through was insane and using an ear piercing stud… ehhhhh… Well, we got it through, but it wasn’t pretty. So please, if you’re going to get pierced, please go to a professional!
After the belly button, I started getting the body modification itch and I decided to get my tongue pierced. This was after my then boyfriend had his pierced and it ended up not working out for him, but I figured it was due to the shop he went to and my navel healed perfectly, so I’ll just go back to my shop and get it done there.
It was January 1, 2001 and my boyfriend and I drove down to the shop. I was so excited! I was going to finally be cool! We got to the shop and… it was closed. There still wasn’t a huge internet presence, so I couldn’t just pop on google to see when they opened. I guess I could’ve called prior, but oh well! Too late now! This may have been a “sign” to some people that they aren’t supposed to get their tongue pierced. To me… it was a question of how determined I was.
Winter break was still on, so we drove back the next day. This time the shop was open and not crowded! Double win! I sat down in the chair while the piercer got his tools of the trade out: blue liquid, stainless steel barbell, clamp and long pointy thingy. Uhhhh… what had I gotten myself into? Well, the blue liquid was not only a cleansing, antibacterial mouthwash, but it also had a numbing agent in it. Then he clamped me and used the long pointy thingy and VOILA! Done! Done before I even knew it. I would go into more detail, but I don’t want my poor mom to hurl.
Soft foods were suggested for the next few days, so when the boyfriend and I got back into town, we stopped at DQ and got a blizzard. Please note: do NOT get an M&M blizzard the day you get your tongue pierced. You are not used to having a foreign object in your mouth and you will repeatedly chomp down on the inch of stainless steel now installed in your mouth. And btw, this hurts your teeth more than it does your tongue.
Next step in the process of tongue piercing is learning how to talk without slobbering all over yourself. It is an artform! Also, remember how I told you about the strict dress code at my school? Tongue piercings were part of the prohibited list. So I not only had to learn how to talk without slobbering; I had to learn how to talk without anyone seeing the flash of steel in my mouth. If you were out of dress code, you lost points on your final grade. I would like to let you know that I only lost points one time due to a V-neck that was a little lower than they liked.
I haven’t even mentioned that chewing gum in class was another big no no. Yet one day in English, I found myself chewing gum and getting it stuck to my new tongue stud. There I sat in the back of the classroom hoping no one would see me trying to peel the illegal gum off my forbidden barbell. Somehow I managed to get it unstuck! That’s when I learned that not only is not slobbering on yourself an art, but so is chewing gum!
Fast forward a little bit to my mom, sister and I going together to the Working Women’s Survival Show that year. My parents had yet to find out about this act of rebellion of mine as I lived at school, but mom, with her eagle mom eyes, would soon know.
The three of us rode together in mom and dad’s red Grand Marquis. My sister drove because she was used to driving in the city. Mom was in the front passenger seat and I was directly behind mom so she wouldn’t be able to turn around and see my mouth when I was talking. Now, I don’t know the date, but this is usually happening in February, so I’m going to assume it was then. I was a little over a month in to having my tongue pierced and still learning “how to talk”.
You’re going to have to use your imagination for a minute: Sis parks the car in the parking garage. She gets out on her side and mom and I get out on our side. Mom was facing towards the front of the car; I was facing towards the back. Then I hear my mom say while our backs are still towards each other, “Monica. Stick out your tongue.” Uhhhh… sh!t.
So I sloooooowly turn around to face her and she was facing me and let me tell you, I had a healthy fear of God in me right then. I didn’t now what was going to happen. My mom and I didn’t really get along during my teenage years, but that didn’t mean I didn’t respect her and her opinion. I had no idea what was coming next.
I stuck out my tongue at my mom in that parking garage and she looked at it and said, “Did it hurt?” And I slobbered, “No. They gave me a numbing mouthwash before they did it.” And that was the end of the conversation. Until… we were standing in line outside of the convention center with hundreds of other women waiting to get tickets and she said, “Let me see it again.” So there I was sticking my tongue out at my mom again, but this time… this time she grabbed it! In front of all of these strangers and she didn’t give one rat’s a$$. Apparently she wanted to have a better look and now was as good of a time as any.
My tongue ring was with me until 2017 when I finally took it out. After 16+ years of having it in my mouth, I had to have a bone and gum graft to replace the damage it had done. I decided to choose to keep my teeth over my tongue ring.
So there’s part 3! I know I said I was going to explain my parents’ change in reactions to my tattoos in part 2, but I think a bit of backstory was necessary before diving in to that. Part 4 is where we shall digging into tattoos!
I’ve been trying to think about how I’m going to organize this series and I could write an outline for it, but what’s the fun in that? Let’s just let it flow and see what happens.
My love for piercings started at a very young age. My sister is 17 years older than me and she didn’t have her oldest daughter until I was 13. For a while I think she used me as her practice child. I mean that in the sweetest, sisterly way possible. How do you develop a relationship with your only sister when you’re essentially an adult when she has just been born? I think this was probably the best way to build that trust.
When sis got married, I was six and the most adorable flower girl ever. It was 1988. I was a tiny, adorable blonde who appeared super timid on the outside, but check out that smile in the picture. Little devious thing, eh?
During summers and holiday breaks, I would go and spend a few days or a week with my sister and brother-in-law who lived an hour away in “the big city”. I loved going to spend time with them. It was always an adventure. I remember one time we went to Showbiz Pizza (now Chuck-E-Cheese) and I was putting parmesan on my pizza… A LOT! And she just looked at me and laughed! She wasn’t my mom, so she didn’t stop me.
I also got to do things that I wasn’t necessarily “allowed” to do at home. They weren’t terrible by any means. Really, mom and dad probably wouldn’t have minded at all, but that’s not the point. It was something that sis and I did together and I think mom and dad knew since we were each other’s only sisters this was our way of developing a relationship.
Well… except for the time when sis went to work and my bro-in-law was in the basement working on a project that required power tools and I made a bad decision which, unfortunately, sis had to pay for… I watched It on VHS all by myself… It really wasn’t that bad! I’ve enjoyed scary movies and read R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps all my life – you know… the whole 10 years of it I had at that time. No big deal, right?! Wrong. Fortunately for her, when I woke her up in the middle of the night because I was scared, there was Jerry Lewis telethon on, so at least she was entertained while I made her stay up with me all night in the living room. She still won’t let me live it down. The funny thing is that now she is the one who’s scared of those movies and she makes me go with her to the show so I can tell her when it’s ok to open her eyes. LOL! We’re anticipating our trip to see It Chapter Two soon.
One of the things we would do while I was visiting was to go to Claire’s or the Piercing Pagoda in the mall and we would get our ears pierced… again. I really don’t know how this all got started, but it did somehow. Since I was going to Catholic school and uniforms were mandatory, jewelry was the only rebellious accessory I had for eight years. And boy did I ever have it!
By the time I was in eight grade, I had four lobe piercings in each ear and a couple of cartilage piercings. I think she had the same. Cartilage was a lot more difficult to heal on me, but I still have two holes on my left side. Of course, the only earring holes I ever use as an adult is the first set.
I don’t know if these piercings were ever discussed with our parents ahead of time, but I never got “in trouble” when sis brought me back home. Of course, they may have been distracted by a new hair cut or perm when I arrived. My sister was also in beauty school, so I became a real-life dummy head. Please don’t ask about the time she hot rolled and aqua netted my hair. I’m still going through therapy.
Our relationship waned as I hit my teenage years, but when I got my first full-time job out of trade school, I worked only a couple of miles away from her and we were able to rekindle it by going to lunch together. Our once hand-written letters we had exchanged when I was in middle school were reignited by the invention of email and occasional work boredom. My sister was my first pen pal and is still one of my favorite people to text.
Somehow after marriage 1 had ended and I had already gotten tattoos 1 – 3, I encouraged her to finally get a tattoo for herself. We have gone to be each other’s support while getting the needle jabbed into us and even share sister tattoos.
To bring this back to sobriety, there is one regret I have… when she got her first tattoo from Jason, I wasn’t there even though I promised to be. I canceled and chose binging over being with her.
We’ll stop there for today and pickup with piercings again on the next post. When I got my tongue pierced, my mom had an interesting reaction in public waiting to get in to the Working Women’s Survival Show in 2001.