I don't wanna be the girl who laughs the loudest

Updated: May 22, 2020

My daughter Bailey just sent me a Snapchat memory from one year ago today. It was one of those reminders that personifies time and made me realize how long and short a year can be. It was her first trip home to Connecticut since being medically discharged from basic training for the Louisiana National Guard. I had gone to Fort Leonard Wood for the graduation ceremony two months earlier to support her broken heart and to see where she had spent the last four months. I loved being able to put faces to the names of everyone she had written about in her letters. It would be awhile before the paperwork for her discharge was processed and I could get her home again. I was sober almost eight months at this point and she had just been through one of the most transformative experiences of her life so we were both pretty raw emotionally but it felt so good to have her home. The empty nest was a full on gut punch for me since day one of returning home from moving her into her dorm at LSU and yet I was and am so proud of her for being strong enough to leave. As a mother and someone who left Connecticut for Texas right after high school, I should have known better. I already knew that I couldn't afford out of state tuition for four years but I was so saturated with guilt and shame about that and so many other things that I had to give her what she wanted. How could I set boundaries for her when I couldn't even do that for myself? How I could I not do any and everything to get her to her dream school. So I borrowed money from my 401K to get her through the first year. She failed three classes the first semester, withdrew from one and failed two the next semester. It was all just too much to be that far away from home with her first taste of independence. I was terrified at the first suggestion of the National Guard but she did all the research and contacted the recruiter herself and committed completely. It changed her and pushed her beyond anything she thought she was capable to do which made it that much more painful when she was injured. I was doing the same thing simultaneously in early sobriety. My last drink was September 4, 2018 and she left for basic training two months later but we had only spent a couple weeks together in the same state. I travel as part of my job (or at least I did before the pandemic) On this day last year I was working in Long Island and decided to take Bailey with me. It was a beautiful day so when I finished work we decided to take the train to New York City to have dinner. Normally at that time people are leaving the city but our train was packed. We figured out along the way that there was a Mets game that night but didn't realize until we got to Penn Station that Pink was also playing at Madison Square Garden. I love Pink, I had been playing her new album Hurts to be Human obsessively. I thought there was no possible way there could be tickets available but looked online anyway and there they were, great seats that were affordable and a once in a lifetime opportunity so we took it!!! It was such a spontaneous gift of a great night and the first time I realized how foreign pure joy was to me. I was fully in the moment and so incredibly thankful to be there with my favorite person but I had to keep reminding myself it was real and I deserved that moment. Chris Stapleton made a surprise appearance to sing their new song Love me Anyway and brought me to tears. She sang Sober that night too. I sang every word. I remember how the truth of those words hit me the first time I heard them twelve years ago "I'm looking for myself Sober" I knew then. I knew I had a problem but it would get worse before it got better. It was no accident that I was at that concert a year ago and it is no accident that Bailey reminded me of that today. I started this website almost a week ago because of a recent growth spurt in my emotional sobriety thanks to Laura McKowen and the The Luckiest Club. This is my first experience with meetings and being able to hear other people's stories. I've been so inspired by everyone. I also feel the need to tell my own story so I literally Googled "How to start a blog" and here I am. The title came to me immediately and I created the page. Unfortunately, old habits die hard and the voice of shame saying "Who do you think you are?" has been sitting on my shoulder for almost a week but I knew as soon as Bailey sent me that memory that today is the day to start. Today is the day to remember that magical night and how much it took me to get there and how far I have come since then. I lost myself as a mother when I was drinking and there are many things that I deeply regret but today I am so very grateful .... for joy, for the closeness Bailey and I shared for being a mother she can depend on, for connecting to a community, and for every sober say. This is day 625. Thanks for reading!!!!

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