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Dose of Happy: This Year, I Will Invest In Myself

I graduated from college with a bachelor of science in psychology in August, at the tender age of 38, with a goal of going to grad school.

Don’t read this and think that I’m some kind of weirdo with lots of self-confidence, because I’m really not. I studied, I worked, I did the whole parenting thing, and I commuted, and I graduated.

If that’s where my academic career ends I will be okay with it.

Sort of.

You see, I want to help people.

I’ve always been a helper and I see no reason for that to change now.

This time is different because this is like a real, adult career move. I want to be a Marriage and Family Therapist. When I look at society and all the things wrong with it, to me, it comes back to familial problems. And I want to help.

So, I asked for help (look at all the adult skills I’m using! give me a gold star!).

I asked a professor, a boss, a co-fish at the Band, and Aunt Becky to write my letters of recommendation. I’m going to frame them. (For real, if you ever wonder how others see you, ask them to write a letter like this for you, you will feel so damn good.)

And with those in hand, I hit submit.

On January 24, I received a call saying that I had earned myself an interview at said school!

And I am thrilled! And terrified!

But thrilled!

And if I don’t get in, that’s okay. I will continue to help, and I will continue to find other ways to grow. Maybe I’ll become a yoga instructor. Or a professional chef.

Maybe I’ll go back to college and get a whole different degree in something completely different. I have no idea.

And I’m happy with that.  Tell me some way you’ve challenged yourself to grow recently?

Love,

Stacey

Dose of Happy: Lucky Number 7

I DID IT!!!

Today I am SEVEN YEARS sober.

<SIGH!>

Inhale that amazing feeling and take a moment to recognize the struggle, perseverance, diligence, and SUCCESS.

Deep breaths!

Years: 7
Days: 2,555
Hours: 61,321
Minutes: 3,679,302
Seconds: 220,758,226

This fight with addiction, the stigma of addiction... it’s a THING – with a capital T H I N G – and it can be beyond exhausting some times. I’m reminded on a daily basis (second by second?) that I don’t have the luxury of “just one sip” to ease my anxiety, celebrate an accomplishments, or escape the day’s troubles.

This is a forever journey. I’ve fought for every single sober second I’ve experienced. I’ll continue to claw and scrape forward to battle the sirens call to take a wee sip of that burning rum again and I will be victorious.

I’ll come out on top because I’m learning how to love myself again. I’m worth it. I’ll win because there’s nothing more important to me than my children and family. Their love and support humbles and grounds me. I’ll be victorious because of the hard work I do EVERY! SINGLE! DAY! to make myself a better person as I try to ensure those around me feel loved, heard, and respected.

I may not feel presentable to the outside world, but I promise you this: I will never stop pushing myself to be more grateful, more loving, and more empathetic towards myself and others in my *most imperfect, messy, unique, authentic way*.

Honestly, I’ve already tried living the lie of perfectionism and look how that turned out for me? Instead I actively chose to see how embracing my truthfully messy life goes.

Cheers to another 7 years of sobriety, fought for one moment at a time.

If you or someone you know needs help with alcohol dependency or addiction, please contact the National Drug & Alcohol Treatment hotline 24/7 at: 800.662.HELP (4357).

#recovery  #sobriety  #BB2G

Dose of Happy: Baby Olive’s Mom

If you’ve not heard of Baby Olive’s Mom, please read this post here (there are mentions of baby loss and suicidal ideation), so do be careful with yourself.

I promise, this will make it worth it all:

Dear Becky and The Band,

I am unsure of where to begin.

Reading back on my post, I realize how disturbing it was and that my judgement on that night was wrong.

However i do thank you for the support. This was the first time that i reached to such a low level emotionally and the holiday blues just made it worse for me.

However, it did help so much seeing all my loved ones again during the holiday season because my work is of such nature that it requires me to be away from home for long periods at a time. There are currently no construction / mining projects with open positions close to home and our project has a lot of shift changes according to project scope changes.

Due to that, i have isolated myself for a few years not realizing the emotional damage i caused.

However after my post and reconnecting with my friends at home during the holidays i realized that there is so much beauty in healing too.

When i came back i also started being more social and involved in charity events, small talk to fellow neighbors and joining the church again – which I have not done the past couple of years.

The blog made me realize that it is important to realize your weaknesses and pain to be able to adjust your lifestyle more for improved mental health and to help you heal and use the life experiences you went through to help others in need  – even though it might not be directly linked to your own pain.

Since i started healing from my pain, i have grown to be such a better and kinder person and although it has only been just over a month i am exited for my life ahead and it feels full of purpose again.

I still miss her so much, but using the pain to help other people in need has changed the experience from a dead end to a positive life choice – without the requiring of medication or seeing a therapist.

I really thank you for that from the bottom of my heart.

And again i really apologize for my post; it was an emotional breakdown of all the hurt of the divorce and her loss that has just smothered me that night, but i am certain that i will never reached that point again.

I have also posted the following to just say thank you for the responses and prayers although I only read it now it has really helped so much and forever!

i can assist your team on helping other women in similar situations or completely other situations i would love to.

Reaching out has helped a lot and i also reached out to a family member.

I am glad that i pulled myself out mentally and i feel like a different person.

I also started by helping others where i can (e.g registering for bone marrow donation and donating blood ). It gives me another reason to hold on as well as spending more time with my two daughters has also cleared my min. This made me realize it is okay to break down for a minute – but it is not okay to leave them behind without a mother.

This blog has also helped me realize that there is so much people with the same pain and that it is okay to open up and that there is support without judgement.

i thank each and every person that shared their concern and opened up about similar heartache it really does make my burden more bearable.

rocks with the word grateful

And another AWESOME update:

As a women in the construction industry and a single mom, I do come across as a very strong and independent women and if my thoughts were shared with my family and friends, I would totally feel ashamed and isolated again, however after sharing my thoughts with you a lot has changed before i even read your posts, but i do feel that your page has saved my life and turned it around completely and here is why…..

I felt a sense of relief that i could open up about my loss for the first time without the judgement of close friends, family, and collages in my personal life so i finally had a go-to safe haven place to deal with my grief. After i wrote my letter, i felt compelled to read other stories on your page (witch made me realize I am not alone with this loss & if they can survive it, I can too).

Then i felt somewhat better and thought hey how can be proactive? have nothing more to lose how about i just check the self help links?

So i did and i realized there is hope. I gathered some tips and gave it a try and I am so amazed by the results.

I don’t only feel better but i actually truly feel like the strong women that i pretended to be for three years.

You may share as much about my letter as you feel comfortable doing as long as i stay completely anonymous, simply for the fact that i would hate to be judged by anyone close to me as i still find myself to be fragile sometimes (not in a suicidal way, more like “i want to eat that whole slab chocolate and cry for a while” kind of way ) but i not ready yet for such a setback.

hence, I have reached out to you.

You are so sincere in your posts and your page is amazing and i believe you have saved my life that night and i can not thank you enough for that.

You gave me a place to go to with all my overwhelmed emotions when i needed it the absolute most.

It was so inspiring that i decided to give back in a way.

I am not a very good writer but I thought hey everyone struggling is in need of something so i started donating blood and registering at SABMR to give back as my general health is at a stronger stage than my writing.

Your are the best.

All my love,

Baby Olive’s Mom

If you are feeling alone, scared, helpless, and suicidal, please contact the National (US) Suicide Lifeline, which provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States. Call 1-800-273-8255.

AT THIS TIME, THE SUICIDE HOTLINE CODE 988 IS NOT ACTIVE. 

If you are not in the US, I have created a list of international suicide lifelines, which can be found here

(apologies for the sporadic posts – we’re getting our ducks in a row)

Dose Of Happy: Oh. There’s No Place Like Home For The Holidays?

dose of happy

Anyone who has had to bear the burden of being married or in a long term relationship has inexplicably been stuck in the same predicament year after year. Who gets you for the holidays or any other day of the year that your family may deem IMPERATIVE that you be home.

I have been blessed with both in-laws and a family who do not become angry if I am unable to make a particular holiday. Neither of us gets outright YELLED at or threatened to be written out of a will or two. No, they’re MUCH more subtle than that. I’ve experienced the passive aggressive, sullen and disheartened,

“Well, ooooookkkkkay, I GUESS it’s OKAY if you don’t make it. Your BROTHER would have made it.”

The Daver deals with the same stuff.

And I have to be honest, I ADORE the holidays.

It’s the most wonderful motherfucking time of the year, after all. There is nothing more magical than the Christmas season, aside from maybe a freshly shorn nutbag, but I digress. The lights, the smells, the sounds, the bells, I love it all. I love shopping for gifts, I love decorating for the holidays; I love that magical first snow of the year.

And I admit that I even love seeing my family and my in-laws. I adore both sides of our family; and I love seeing them for the holidays.

As usual, there is a catch: both sets of parents EXPECT that they are the most important members of the family, and are therefore entitled to certain unalienable privileges. Most of those being our time WHENEVER THEY WANT US TO for the holidays. It isn’t as though I don’t want to see them; I do.

But I can’t say that I enjoy my holidays spent in the car going from one place to another. Although traveling isn’t a problem for us; we like to get going as much as the next person. But spending 7+ hours a day in a car with a small child for a couple of hours with each set of families is going pretty far beyond what anyone else in the famili(es) do.

It only compounds matters exponentially that my parents, living about 1 hour from us, see us far more than Dave’s do, living 3+ hours from us (although, by some untapped miracle Dave claims that it only takes an hour and a half. Aside from teleportation, I have no idea how he gets there with such speed), which makes us feel bad. This, in turn makes us try to bend over literally downward facing dog AND the tree trying to appease whatever holiday requests they ask of us.

But no matter how much we break our backs for the families, no one else will meet us halfway. We get no”Well you came out by us last time, now it’s our turn.” If we cannot attend a gathering, there will be no offer to see us or come out to our house at a rescheduled date. Which would explain why I found a couple of little gifts I had picked up for my in-laws LAST YEAR in my vanity. Just SHAMEFUL.

Let’s compound things once again: I have a child whose father is not Dave, and said father wants to see his child on the holidays, too. So Dave, Ben and I are stuck grappling with the seemingly senseless fragments of 3 timetables from 3 families.

We have to make it to cities, W, X, Y and Z in a matter of 1.5 days. These cities are 1-4 hours apart. So we could alternate the cities based on a number of factors (If we leave for W at 6pm after work, get there at 9, stay til 6am drive 4 hours, arrive at 10:30, open gifts, smile, laugh, eat, leave at 1pm if Ben has had nap, drive another hour, drive an hour back, open more presents, better not nap b/c you’ll look like you’re not having fun, drive 1.5 hours home, utterly exhausted), but it essentially boils down to extra traveling time for us, but not for anyone else.

Here’s my resolution, dear Internet, next year this foolishness will be done, and we won’t exhaust ourselves traveling multiple hours in the car just to appease everyone for the holidays.

Next year, we’re embracing the “N” word.

Originally posted on my blog Mommy Wants Vodka and reproduced with the author’s (HIIIII!!!) permission.

Dose of Happy: Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love My ICD

 

dose of happy

When I was young, I always hated gym. I was never good at it. The running and the throwing of things was just never my bag. I was always short of breath and sometimes even came close to fainting. I always chalked it up to being a fat little kid who was grossly unathletic.

I lived for ninth grade because I only had to take a semester of gym and then it would be over forever, or at least until I got to college. I finished 9th grade and gladly went on my merry gym-free way.

Fast forward to 2007.

I had been out of high school and was in my third year of college. I began experiencing back pain, the likes of which I had never felt. I finally went to the doctor, and while the Nurse Practitioner was listening to my heart, she looked up and asked “You have a heart murmur, don’t you?”

I had never heard such a thing.

After tests, including one where they sedated me, shoved a “probe” down my throat, and looked at my heart (after which I cried for want of a cheeseburger), I was diagnosed with a regular heart murmur with Mitral Valve Regurgitation (which I described to people as “my heart pukes”) and Sub-Aortic Stenosis.

Some time later (2010-ish) my dad, who has CHD, began having Atrial Fibrilation episodes.

He eventually got in to see the doctor his brothers go to, and we loaded up to see if he could fix my dad’s bum ticker.

The next phase of the story I wrote about earlier in this post. During this time I was re-diagnosed with a condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy or HCM for short.

All of the things that I had experienced as a kid, all of the shortness of breath while running, all of the blacking out in PE episodes – they all made sense now (granted, they still don’t account for my athletic abilities or lack thereof).

After my diagnosis, I was scared. I began taking my drugs like a good little girl and prepared myself. I scheduled an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) implantation for July, the month after my dad got his. I recovered just in time to return to work for the school year, and I am feeling better than ever.

After all of that worry and fear I have come to realize some things.

Not every 25 (almost 26) year old can say that she is battery operated.

Before any of this happened, I used to tell my students that I had a plastic heart; now I (sort of) have a metal one.

I tell people that I am part computer, or even bionic.

I make sick jokes about being shocked all the time.

My dad and I even joke about starting a doo-wop group with 2 of his brothers who have ICDs called The Pacers.

I never knew that having HCM and an ICD could be such a source of amusement. I even love to freak people out by letting them touch it under my skin. There is nothing better than the slightly horrified look on someone’s face when they touch the hard, metal rectangle on my chest.

In the end, the laughter and the jokes far outweigh the fear and uncertainty that I had before I got the surgery.

Plus, I hope that in the 6-10 years that it will take for me to need a replacement, they will have integrated an MP3 player into the device.