Snowed in and Sober

It’s snowed twenty inches between last night and this afternoon. 

My three year old joined me outside before heavy blizzard winds made even small stints outside dangerous. I pulled him on a toddler sled up and down the empty white streets— the snow silencing the neighborhood like a noise-cancelling blanket. I remember thinking that this should be enough; this is all I need.

Yet a thought persisted. A thought that seems to plague us as a social-media culture: How did I forget my phone? Why didn’t I bring my camera? If things aren’t digitally captured, we are inclined to not count them as happening, like the twisting of a great philosophical thought suggests:


If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to tweet it, does it make a sound?


This line of thinking makes the moment inadequate. I was angry that this great time with my son would be somehow incomplete without documenting it, as if all posterity passes through pixels.

This is familiar thinking. Long before I took my first drink, I felt inadequate. I can recall at nine years old (or so) walking down the street and longing to be someone else. If only I were someone else, I would know how to think, what to do, how to feel—whether it were a bum on the street or the president of the United States. There was a handbook on life I never checked out, that everyone else did.


It felt as if life were a changing room, and nothing that I tried on would fit.


I’ve heard others share of this same sentiment in meetings. It seems a common problem that drinking provided a common solution for: drinking was a social comfort that promoted a sense of belonging.

Sobriety has given me a new sense of belonging, and a self-acceptance I’ve never felt before. I’ve felt the momentous moment of things. The great fourth dimension of existence, where my presence is so perfectly acceptable, I could dissolve into the expanding universe.

It is well put by Eckhart Tolle in his book The Power of Now, on page 27:

The pain that you create now is always some form of non-acceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgement. On the emotional level, it is some form of negativity. The intensity of the pain depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment, and this in turn depends on how strongly you are identified with your mind.”

When we stop (or have God remove) this persistent resistance to what is around us and in us, we can feel peace, serenity, and completeness.

I need the constant reminder that who I am is who I should be, and that if do nothing more than stay sober today, I am doing enough.

My son made his first snow angel and snow ball. He was giddy, a smile of wonder frozen on his face. We are capable of recapturing this same wonder for ourselves.

I wrote a poem after the sight of a thousand forest leaves blowing in unison stopped me in my tracks one day. In the pink-cloud of early recovery, with the wreckage of my life clearing away, it felt like the first time I had ever seen a leaf twist in the wind.

13 Responses to “Snowed in and Sober

  • Did you ever see the movie, “Sister Act”? There is a line in the move when Whoppi Goldberg’s character is asking the youngest nun why she became a nun. The young nun replies.
    “It’s that my whole life everybody seems to be doing or catching on to things a second faster or better than me…”
    I cried when I first heard that because it seemed to sum up my own life. From a young age it seemed everyone surely had a life handbook and had read it, memorized it and knew just what to do in every situation. I remember going to college to become a Home Support Worker and walking into class. I thought everyone had known each other for years. They all were laughing and joking together. No, they had all just met. I was left standing there, scared, awkward and confuse, as I had always done in most situations.
    I don’t feel that way anymore. I embrace my brokenness. I love my vulnerability. I nurture the little girl and young woman in me that is scared, awkward and confused. It isn’t easy. The old me wants to fit in and know why everything works the way it does Daily Mindfulness and Self Compassion for myself and just stopping all the Trying has been the secret to me living a love of peace.

    • Wow! I can relate so closely to your comment. I felt often utterly alone in a crowded room of friends. I’ve heard things like “the one-liness of loneliness” and “terminal uniqueness” and I can relate to that feeling. I also don’t feel that way anymore. I certainly don’t need a drink or drug to fake that feeling of acceptance. Thanks for commenting.

  • Oh I love this post, I love Birdies comment….and isn’t it something that MOST people feel this way but no one ever admits it, until something awful happens, they break down in some way and they are stripped of their facades and forced into living an authentic life….if they are willing. That is one thing I am so grateful for the rest of my children. The effect of addiction on our family has stripped us of our facades and the need to be perfect. I call our family “my perfectly imperfect tribe.” We are a broken bunch and it is so freeing to be able to look at that and love each other and know that most of the rest of the world is right here with us, even if they don’t know it. LOL I also loved the idea of you and your 3 year old out in the snow Mark. 3 year olds are amazing little free beings. You are so blessed to get to have one on a daily basis in your life. Those years were the most wonderful of my life…..when I was the parent of littles. Not when I was a little. lol Gosh, I am so glad you are here with us!

    • Thanks Annette. Yes, it’s true. I was that way for so long until I knew what was wrong with me. You don’t know until you know. I just think there’s so much we do culturally to keep us in the dark. And I think for some people it can be deadly, others, it’s like a sleeping pill. So glad to be here!

  • “It felt as if life were a changing room, and nothing that I tried on would fit.” Wow! I love your writing, love your poems – so beautiful, they capture how I feel but cannot express. And as for capturing “the moment”, I am currently sifting through 40+ years of stuff we have accumulated – ton’s of pictures thrown into box after box, and have come to the conclusion that the memories we hold in our minds are so much better! And they take up less space. Time to sort through, pitch and let things go in my humble opinion. Now I just need to figure out how to get them out to the trash without my hubs going through them – ha!

    • Shed the old and make room for the new! I love the feeling of being new. Thank you for your comment, congratulations on your sobriety! And thank you for your blog which I’m following now.

  • I always felt like I was behind a pane of glass. Slightly apart from the group. Never quite accepted.
    My daughter, who is 10, said almost the exact same words to me recently…it scared me. How do I help her?

    For me, embracing the current moment is everything. It allows me to let go of the annoying thoughts of where is the camera, where do I need to go, etc. Instead I bring all my senses back to my immediate awareness.

    Yoga and meditation have helped make this possible.

    I think many people feel disconnected. There is so much fear to show our vulnerable side.
    But there is so much relief when we drop the mask.

    Anne

    • I like the analagy that you are watching the movie of your life, rather than participating in it. I know the ‘pane of glass’ feeling all too well. But I’ve found recovery allows me to participate in my life and live in the moment.
      Unfortunately, there is only so much you can do for someone else, I’ve found. At least, I couldn’t be reached when I was active in the disease. I’m preparing a post now about denial which I will post soon but I was approached about my problem years before I almost lost my life to this thing. Because I wasn’t ready to see the truth, I shut myself off from the help, and actually used what I learned to enable more drinking and drugging.
      I’m on the look out for behavior with my oldest, and he’s only 3.
      I think in general, practicing good habbits of open dialogue between you and your daughter is what is best. As long as she is letting you in, she will be open to receiving help when (I pray she never needs it) she needs it.

  • Your regret that you forgot your phone or camera. That really hit me.

    I spent years behind the lens of a camera. Trying to capture that perfect picture of my cheerful family. I didn’t have that same cheerfulness in my heart but somehow, if I documented it in my childten, I might be able to claim it by proxy.

    Really, they weren’t “family” pictures. I was never in the image – and I was the mother.

    I didn’t know how to join in. I often felt separate and apart so it didn’t bother me except that I did feel lonely. And I felt guilty that I couldn’t or didn’t know how to “be” with my kids who would constantly beg me to join in their fun.

    I look at decades of pictures and I am absent and I am sad. I don’t have memories of making sand castles on the beach with my kids but I sure remember getting pissed off that my camera was getting sandy from their activity.

    • I hate the feeling that I have to get pics or videos of these moments. It just rips the moment apart. Then again, I can’t argue how cool it is to capture something that is so special, and have it forever. There must be a happy medium in there somewhere…Thanks for visiting.

  • My 3 year-old daughter very recently told me “I don’t like being me. I wish I could be someone else.” As a recovering addict, that broke my heart a bit. It immediately had me wondering if she is one of us. I spent the next 10 minutes trying to tell her that she is the most important thing in the world. Pretty much ruined my day.

    • Wow, do I get that. I mean the way you can worry. It’s hard. It certainly was a trait of mine. The self-hatred. That started before I even took a drink. I totally get your concern.

      I watch the way my daughter, who is 2, treats her relationship with her food. My wife always tells me to chill out. But as good as recovery is, I wouldn’t wish this disease on my worst enemy. And I fear for my children all the time.

    • I’m so glad you were there for her to say those things. That’s really special man.

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