Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Secret. And my struggles

i gained back five pounds. That's no secret and has nothing to do with anything. but it does.

to begin, the secret. i stole an ambienCR from my sister-in-law and took it yesterday. i haven't decided what to do -- to tell her, to pray that she doesn't notice, to try to get more. i've actually taken (there's an easy word) four from her over the last month. she'll probably notice. this was the first in a while, and the first since my rehab. usually, i'd just get my own from a local doctor from very rare time-to-time. but that's no defense. here IS one defense -- i have asked her many, many times not to leave her Ambien in her bedside drawer, because it is such a lure. that doesn't quite take away the fact that I, a 44 year-old woman, am going into her drawer in her home and stealing sleep pills.

ahhh, what a sleep i slept and how great i felt today. cheerful, rested and upbeat. not sedated and nauseous like i do on the stuff they let me take. the extreme lethary and nausea have been concerning me, but there's really nothing else that doesn't mess with your brain and doesn't make you addicted. it all stinks!

it also stinks that most people seem able to drink moderately. And some people can just stop drinking whenever they feel like it, and it's a not problem ---yes, i do mean you Boyfriend.

we have my sister who's in town (more on her natural skinniness later), and that one wine or glass of champagne she sips and sometimes doesn't finish, throughout the meal. (let's not forget the dessert she has no interest in, et. al.) to her left sits my brother-in-law who grew up wealthy in Europe and pairs his two glasses of wine to the food. he's drinking for the taste! my brother who likes diet coke with his six courses and coffee with sweet-in-low with dessert. and to his left, i give you my sister-in-law on her fourth beer, getting a little red and a little nasty. i resent her too -- no one's telling her to stop drinking. and she gets to drink so much.

i resent everyone who's not me. i want my wine!!!! hello.

it's been a hard holiday season, but it's winding down. i don't want to see a glass of wine for a long, long, long time.

on christmas eve, we went to the Boyfriend's family's. his brothers and sisters-in-law drink for utter recreation on the holidays. his sister-in-law was taste-testing wines. his brothers mixed decadent cocktails all evening. his father (from the old country) did shots. the Boyfriend didn't drink, but he didn't care.

i had no clue what to do with myself, especially when they all spoke Ukranian for the grandparents, aunt and uncles sakes. they've all known each other all their lives. the grandparents met when they first got to the US, and all the kids and their wives went to nursery school together.

usually, a couple of glasses of wine put me at ease. instead, i ate a lot (back to those five pounds.)

thursday, i met a friend at our favorite bar where we know some of the customers. i had diet coke, she had one glass of wine, at my insistence. usually, we'd drink quite a few together. i don't think the bar life is for me now. i was dying of "thirst".

saturday's party was better than expected. most folks didn't drink, but once again, i ate way more than was comfortable.

sunday, monday and tuesday, my brother, his wife and i ate with my sister's family in very (too) expensive beautiful restaurants in manhattan. again, i longed for wine and ate like a super bowl champ. what's with all this over-eating?

my sister's in from pittsburgh. she hasn't gained weight since she had her last kid 13 years ago, and even then, she looked great in a tiny bikini a month later.

i've been jealous since the day i was born, eight years after she. my sister was my EXACT oppositive. she was pretty, never needed braces or glasses, didn't have zits, she was a cheerleader and popular. and always thin. naturally. with no addictions. none.

my sister married a lovely doctor who came from great wealth, and they bore the two greatest kids in the world (i swear, i'm not subjective!) she hasn't worked in eighteen years and takes a lot of french and dance classes. and i can't forget all her charity work.

they travel constantly, often to monaco, where his dad lives. it's a great life.

Sis scratch bakes and cooks and cleans. her home is exquite. grrr.

i have other issues with my sister, which are harder. when my mom was ill, my sister only came at christmas for the final five years. she lived an hours flight, and she didn't work. one year, they took four holidays but refused to visit my mother, because they didn't want to put the dog in the kennel one more time.

my mother begged her to come and to bring the beloved grandchildren, who ADORED my mother. my sister refused, saying she was being guilt-tripped into visiting. she talked to my mom all the time on the phone but wouldn't come from pittsburgh to nj. when she did make that once a year visit, her family would spend all their time in NY while my mother was bedridden in NJ. do i sound a little bitter?

i visited my mom every holiday, weekend and during the week if need be until the last six months, when i discovered crack and stealing. i can't really talk about this yet. i can't believe i wrote it here.

during that time, only my best-friend and the care-giver we hired saw my mom. my sister still refused, and my brother and she were fairly estranged. sis called me all the time, trying to get me to put down the crack pipe and visit my mother. she even "threatened" to come and get me herself (yeah, right). i told her that the best thing she could do for me was visit my mother, so mom wasn't alone at a time i was too messed up to help her. nope.

i got clean for two months, and my family agreed to let me see my mom (i'd been banned),but she fell and went into a coma. HER LAST DAYS WERE THE HARDEST I'D HOPE EVER TO LIVE, watching this vibrant woman in a coma and holding her while she died.

i went back to crack and things got worse. my sister was furious with me and didn't talk to me for almost another year. now, we're friendly. she has no idea that she might have done anything imperfect.

i work on forgiveness. i will never forgive myself. that's okay. i would like to learn to understand that my sister came from her own weird, weak place. some days are better and easier than others.

on those days that i'm giving up booze and drugs, i'm crankier than others.

i haven't had a drink or klonopin and i told my therapist, my group and you about the ambien. before i wrote, i worried that you'd all think i'm awful. this is where i tell the truth. it helps me get real. thanks for listening.


  1. You needed to sleep, so you did what you had to.

    Any addiction will try to find a river to run into whether it be food, sex, booze, drugs, exercise or housecleaning. It has to find a way out. Don't be hard on yourself. As long as you continue to do your best and accept that sometimes you will have set backs, then you are doing the right thing.

    Your sister may have her own set of problems that you cannot see. Maybe she is so perfect because she thinks she has to be. You can never tell what goes on in the minds of people. And often people put on a front to the world that suggests perfection and happiness, yet quite the opposite is happening.

    Unfortunately, you are burdened with the inclination to have an addictive personality which makes life tougher than average. The fact that you are constantly aware of this, that you acknowledge it and endeavour to try to work with it suggests a level of honesty with yourself that many addicts never get to.

    Do your best to stop looking at the negatives about you. We all have stuff about us that is not the best. Look at the good in you. Don't make comparisons between you and your sister, it is pointless. If she is prettier, thinner and tidier than you, well so be it. She may envy your freedom. Perhaps she is not quite as nice as you are. She may be nicer. It does not matter. In your life, you have to be the number one girl. Tell me, I bet you are good fun, kind, generous and deeply caring. I bet you make people feel they can be themselves without being judged. I bet you are a compassionate person. I bet people feel they can tell you their shit and you will understand where they are coming from. Other things count so much more than being perfect. Hang in there.

  2. You're not awful... you're almost through the festive season and you haven't had a drink!! That's bloody brilliant. You can't do everything at once, you're not superwoman.

    Death and dying, especially the prolonged death of someone close can really make people... well you know first hand... I really hope you will forgive yourself, some day. You were there when she was dying, you were there before the crack, you were more caring than your sister, even with all your troubles xxxx

  3. I agree with the other comments :) You are doing great, despite how cranky you feel (I heart cranky people!). You are not superwoman, and everything you are going through is totally warranted. It sucks to stop drinking when everyone else gets to. My soon-to-be-husband has been sober for some months now, and I feel for him every time there's an occasion involving booze (which, in our society, is like every 2 hours on a normal day). It sucks. Your honesty about it sucking is what will get you through, I think. As far as the sister issues go... I have some of those myself. I think what Linda said is right on -- your sister may have issues that aren't visible to you. Instead of beating yourself up for not having the positive things she seems to have, appreciate the positive things YOU have. You have a wonderful sense of humor and a great inner strength...and I can tell that just by your blog!

  4. You get great advice here. And I think you know in the center of your core of your soul that you're doing the right thing. I say stay with your crankiness as long as you need to. Why WOULDN"T you be ticked? It's all totally unfair. Do it. Stomp your feet. Wave your fist in the air! Pout. Gripe. See how feeling it feels. Good for you. That means you're alive.
    I do hope you can reframe your statement about never being able to forgive yourself.... I know I hardly know you. But I can't imagine you'd EVER say anyone out there deserves lifelong and eternal non-forgiveness. You seem like the type who'd say everyone deserves forgiveness. Newsflash, girl. You're part of everyone.

    PS- I HATE people that don't like dessert. It's unnatural and wrong. Gobble that sh** up, yo!

  5. Linda: thank you for your insightful words. you're absolutely right. i am who i am. just yesterday, my boyfriend was telling me the reasons he loves me, and right up there -- he can tell me anything and i do not judge, just support. now, that is truly something i could not say about my sister! thank you so much for pointing out the good in me. we don't think about that enough. and a slip is a slip is a lapse -- whatever. time to focus on the two weeks off alcohol and klonopin. time is whizzing by, isn't it?

    Abi: i let my breath out while reading your comments. somehow, i got a little relief. it means a lot to me! it has not been an easy season, but two years ago, both my parents had been dead for just months AND i decided to use again. this is better!!!!!

    Kim: i love cranky people too -- they seem real. you do have a first hand view of sobriety. i would have given anything for champagne last night, but it's better not to be blasted. my boyfriend fell asleep (he did all the party prep), and i cleaned up peacefully, quietly and totally sober. i feel great today -- not hung over and tired. these are really good things, as i'm sure you know.

    D.M.: i'm going to have to think about what you say. re-framing is a good word. i think i can start the process in time. i'm not ready now. it's all too close and too awful. i'll have to keep checking in. it's hard to think about a life lived without forgivness. i will keep checking in. thank you.

  6. Nobody who matters is judging you for your mistakes apart from you. And were they mistakes, as would you be the person you are today had you not made them?

    What you have gone through has made you strong, compassionate, caring of others and blessed with wisdom. If you hadn't have gone through the crack phase, been addicted to other drugs, gone into rehab...whatever...you wouldn't be the Melissa we love, admire and respect.

    I understand how tedious it can be around drinkers when you are off the pop. But I do think you need to be kinder to yourself, Melissa. You don't need to beat yourself up, and nor do you need to justify your tenseness and bitterness to those who CAN drink. Different genes, different tolerances...it sucks, I know...

    We're all dead proud of you - and we're rooting for you immensely. As Linda says, you needed to sleep...and that is a basic human need. And if it is getting this dreadful for you, why not go back to your GP and get Ambien for yourself? As you know, I take this, too, and I don't know what I would do without it at the moment.

    Be good to YOU...xxx

  7. Melissa, I'm very proud of how far you are, and the steps you are taking in your recovery. (crankiness is okay, let it out) Depending on how you feel with your sister, I would tell her, and then ask that she move them from easy access. It is important in your recovery that you have support, its like any other addiction. Let others around you know, so you have that constant support, knowing that others are caring about your needs with this=)

  8. Focus on the victories...no matter the size, they count.

    Forgive yourself, and focus on the facts: you have done something amazing in the past few weeks.

  9. Instead of beating yourself up, commend yourself for the harder struggles you faced and overcame, such as not drinking, not popping the klonopin, and nourishing your body at a time you needed it most.

    As for your sister, she obviously has her own demons that she is unwilling to face. You are at least honest about yours, and girl, you have a HEART despite the monsters you face daily. I'd rather be you any day, than her.

    I'm so sorry about your mom, and the guilt you face for that. I suspect that very guilt is what drives you to numb yourself with other things such as wine and klonopin. Forgive yourself and that guilt will be gone. It is done, and you cannot do anything to change it. Your mother is at peace now, and she would not want you to go through such turmoil, you know that. As for the jealousy of your sisters outer shell? Well, bully for her, she has no heart, and that is something SHE will have to live with.

    Rock on, Melissa, I'm proud as hell of you, it is high time you feel that pride too, instead of eternal guilt and damnation for yourself. You are doing GREAT. Don't forget that.

  10. sarah; i am considering telling my sister-in-law. she's a tough cookie, and i've done this before. i'm going to discuss with my therapist. i must stop doing this. and i do think i need to face the repercussions.

    gaining back my life: i have to start focusing on the victories. i've been so busy just coping. i have come a long way, baby. i think i'll spend some time looking at the good things. thank you for the great suggestion.

    karen; ah, eternal guilt and damnations. your words mean a lot. i have damned myself for my actions. you are absolutely right -- my mother would want me to be happy. she would be relieved and thrilled to see how far i've come. i'm not about to fall off the end of the earth, as i always used to be. i am so happy you pointed that out. my mother would want the best for me and more. i do feel her around sometimes. karen, you're such a great friend.