Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I remember my first AA meeting.

I was 18 at the time, and at the urging of some friends who were growing weary of my booze-induced antics, I grudgingly let a friend's mom, who had been enjoying the benefits of sobriety for decades, take me with her one night.

We made our way through a quiet Orange County neighborhood, and as we turned onto a street named New Hope, the irony eluded me; I was too busy seething in self-pity and anxious to get the stupid meeting over with, so I could, you know, go out and get a drink
Clenching my jaw, I prepared myself for a night of lectures. I was surprised when instead, I ended up captivated by at least a half a dozen or so stories; stories of pain, stories of loss, stories of recovery and redemption and possibilites.

There were young women who had already been in prison, or lost their children in a custody battle. Some were on their third DUI, some still smelled like liquor, and still others were perfectly coiffed and manicured, professional women, doctors, lawyers, a woman who sang in her church choir and brought freshly baked brownies to the meeting. Once strangers in the outside world, now within those walls, they, we (though I wouldn't have admitted it then if you had held me at gunpoint) were all equally diseased, each one of us in various stages of its manifestation.

When we got back in the car, my friend's mother asked me what I had thought about what I heard that night.

"Some of those women are really screwed up! I've never been arrested, or taken to jail. I've never cheated on anyone or lost my entire family."

"Yet." was all she said to me.

On June 9, 2006, I downed my last beer, the shame and denial coating my throat for the last time. I was a month shy of my 29th birthday.
It's not hard to do the math.

Over a decade after walking into my first meeting, I finally had had enough.

It didn't matter that my family, my loved ones, had had enough many years before me.

Nothing was going to change until  I. Was. Done.

And that night, or more accurately, that next morning,  I. Was. Done.

Last night I had, as I have been for the past week or so, another drinking dream. In these dreams, my conversations are blurry, my tongue is fuzzy, I stumble past people I do not know and avoid the ones I do. I am a liar again, and it feels so easy and familiar and I'm always missing something; my wedding ring, an article of clothing, the way back home. I wake up in a haze of doom and relief and it always takes a few minutes to sort out what is real and what has once again, been imagined by a subconsious rife with stress and anxiety. I don't know why they happen and truthfully, I don't really care.

The only thing that really matters is that each day
I am given another chance
to wake up in a reality that doesn't include the lonliness, the guilt, the self-hatred anymore
Each time I awaken from one of these dreams
and realize that I didn't drive drunk again
or break a promise again
or break my husband's heart again
I hold onto the peace that floods over me
the serenity that surrounds me despite the chaos of the outside world
I try to count my blessings but there are so many and I have to get breakfast on the table
and as I bathe myself in gratitude
I surrender myself once again to the simplicity of it all

the comforting knowledge

that this time, it was  Just. A. Dream.

that i am still just one drink away

from my


*What?  You didn't know that I'm a recovering alcoholic?  Where have you been?  Read my very first post about it, the one that gave me thousands of pounds of relief, here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Co-Dependency is Contagious

Growing up my sister and I were surrounded by family members that loved and adored me us very much.  One such particular family member, our mom, was so demanding of our time and attention full of love for us that often times we felt....really freaking annoyed. 

"Girls, are you ever coming back?  I miss you like crazy!  I don't know how much longer I can wait to hug you in my arms again.  It's just not the same without you!"

"Mom.  We're just on the other couch, we can see the tv better from here."

"I know.  And it hurts so bad!"

Psychologically, the dependency on us could have and probably did stem from many reasons, not least of which was a fierce and protective love for the fruits of her loins (I actually mean my sister and I.  My mom didn't have some weird fondness for mangos or grapes or anything, though I wouldn't say that she had some strange aversion to them either.  I think, for the record, she rather enjoyed most fruits, except for apples.  Yep.  Apples were not on the top of her "My Favorite Fruit of All Time" list).

But the truth was, that love was quickly turning into a ginormous pain in our little tushies (yes. there was a time that my tushy was in fact little).  So much so, that going anywhere without her was becoming increasingly impossible.

"Where are you going honey?"

"To pee."

"For the love of God!  Why?!  You were just in there five hours ago!  This is why I bought you those disposable underpants!  And put you on that strict No Liquid diet!  Is this your way of letting me know that you don't want to be around me?"

".........(quietly peeing in my disposable underpants)..........."

What I'm trying to say is that other than her unhealthy need tobethisclosetousatalltimes, my sister and I had a rather fabulous childhood filled with fond memories of............our mom. 
Who was alwaysthisfreakinclosetous.

I vowed that when I became a mother someday, I would give my children all the personal space they needed, and stop the vicious cycle of holding your kids hostage.

What the hell did I know?

I hadn't planned on how completely perfect and wonderful and delicious my own offspring would be.  Why in the world would I every agree to something as stupid as giving them a life of their own when the only thing that makes sense is to suffocate the snot out of them each and every chance I get?


"Yes mommy?"

"You don't really want to go to school, get smart, make friends, build healthy and lasting relationships, excel in sports and academics, eventually graduating from Yale and marrying that two- bit- whore you met in Econ class, who's main goal in this life is to tear you away from me and keep you all to herself, so that you can help her raise those helions she tricked you into having with her just to spite me, do you?  Not when you can stay here with mommy and watch
The Price is Right....................right?"


But I'm doing better.

Why, just today, after hours of pleading and crying and kicking and screaming, I calmed down and dropped him off at school, gave him a kiss goodbye, then came home and had breakfast.

All by myself.


All alone.

Just me and the cats.

And I'm fine.


It's.  All.  Good.

*dialing phone*


Monday, September 20, 2010

A Nightmare of Sorts

I had a dream last night

that you were drowning

as I stood



onshore next to your brother

Your tiny body fighting to stay afloat

in a ruthless sea that didn't give a $#$%

about how much I loved you

or that my world would come to a screeching halt

if you were to be taken from me

and each time i tried to make my way

towards your flailing arms

the water would swell in defiance

the ambivalent wind howling at my back

while I shouted profanities at the little faith in God I had left

wondering which sins I was being punished for

as you were being swept away from me

a fragment of my tattered imagination, I know.

Do you hear me?

I Know

that it's just the subconcious

acting out the fears

of a mother

facing uncertainties about her son's future


I awaken drenched in horror

my eyes fixated on your sleeping profile

my heart and my brain trying hard to reason with one another

because here you are safe and sound, tucked quietly under my shaking arms

yet I am still standing on that rocky shore

watching those ferocious waves

sickening reminders that

you are

not living

your life


Monday, September 13, 2010

This Post Does Not Come with a Photo. You're Welcome.

I did something this morning that made me cringe.

It was awful.
Worse than I could have imagined.

I was miserable the entire time.

This morning, I blow dried my hair. 
In front of the mirror. 

And it wasn't because I was out of towels.

People.  I did it on purpose.

Right about now you may be thinking to yourself, "What the @#%#?."

Me too!

But I assure you (and myself) that my intentions were noble.  I did it because I'm tired of avoiding my reflection each time I go to get in the shower.  Like, I literally will not go near anything that may catch my reflection as I disrobe to bathe.    It's one thing to be fearful of judgment from others;  it's an entirely different beast when you have to shut your eyes, feel your way across the bathroom, and hope you make it to the tub without breaking your neck, or worse, accidentally getting a glimpse of that double decker @ss you've been so generously contributing to. 

So my plan is to desensitize myself by frolicking in the nude in my bathroom a little bit each day in the hopes that

1.  I learn to love, respect, and accept myself and stop all of this negative self-talk that only makes me want another serving of anything


2. my pesky and nosy neighbor will be motivated to take a couple of 2x4's and a nail gun to his always open bedroom window because it's one thing to have to endure my own image first thing in the morning, but I tell ya, there's nothing purdy about a man pushing 60 attempting downward dog while you're taking your 5 am pee. 

Some people have no self-respect.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Specialist is Not Another Word for Friend

Having a son with special needs means we've met our fair share of doctors over the past six years.
And, given Andrew's newest set of "circumstances," we're on our way to meeting many, many more.

I've taken to compiling what I consider to be significant scientific data on these "specialists" in order to pass the time during our appointments (because who wants to pay attention when they're busy with their medical mumbo-jumbo talk anyway?), and have come to the following conclusion, based purely on fact and not because I am overly sensitive and want everyone to like me and be my best friend, although quite honestly I find nothing wrong with wanting a little attention and positive feedback every once in a while and maybe even a "My goodness does that top really bring out the green in your eyes Mrs. Ashline"


anyhoo, what my data clearly reflects is that there is a definite Specialization to Ass Ratio, meaning that the more specialized a Dr. is in his field, the greater the odds are that he or she is a giant douche.

I met such one "Specialist" today and during our delightful 3.5 hour appointment , I had the distinct pleasure of trying to hold a conversation with a man whose personality resembled that of a super absorbency tampon.  Of course, when I happened to mentioned that we were devasted by Andrew's latest diagnosis and felt as if we were facing his mortality for the very first time, I felt like he really dug deep and accessed a long dormant sensitive side that was just aching to come out:

"Life is a fatal disease Mrs. Ashline; we're all going to die, we just prefer to pretend that we're not."

Like that.

But in the end, I came to appreciate him for what he is (a man who is brilliant in his field and whose only purpose in our lives is to help us keep Andrew as healthy as possible) and forgive him for what he's clearly not (a human being). 

Plus, I have plenty of friends who were too dumb for medical school.  Which means they specialize in the everyday stuff that helps keep me hopeful and sane.  Like meeting me at starbucks, laughing at my jokes, and telling me (more than once) that my Ann Taylor top makes my eyes hypnotic.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

When Good Deeds Go Bad

Well folks, it happened again.

I left my precious wreath alone, bare and vulnerable and at the hands of a woman weilding a hot glue gun, while on a weekend family getaway.  You'd think I'd have learned my lesson from the last time this happened.

The result?

Is nothing sacred around here?!!

In her defense, my mom is clearly experiencing some sort of psychosis breakdown which manifests itself by assaulting innocent wreaths throughout my house.

This one is a sort of fruit motif, with some plastic grapes, shiny red apples, and of course (because how could it possibly be anything else) a Jesus bookmark.

Today we are leaving for the mountains for four days.

Any remaining wreaths have been put under protective custody at an undisclosed location.

Just in case.

*I love my mom.  So very much.  And also I'm a little afraid of her, so keep this post to yourself, okay?  I know she means well.  Also,please note that you can make fun of the fruit all you want, but Jesus is off limits. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Heaven Shmeaven

Recently I've noticed that I've passed down a lot of wonderful things to my son Ian.

His thick, wavy brown hair

His almond shaped eyes

His sweet tooth disposition

His irrational fear and obsession with death

Wait.  What?

Alas.  It's here.  What I've dreaded but, given his sensitive and emotional nature, easily predicted all along: my son's preoccupation with dying, heaven, mortality, and the bleak and horrifying prospect of the unknown.

Which only means one thing.

He's screwed.

In the past week he's brought up this rather uncomfortable subject matter no less than 243 times.  Given the fact that I myself suffer from this irrational and often times debilitating fear, our conversations tend to go something like this:


"Yes honey?"

"I don't want to die."

"Oh honey.................................neither do I!!!!!!!!!"

I've also tried redirecting the conversation and subtly changing the subject:


"Yes Honey?"

"I'm afraid of heaven."

"Ooh!  Quick!  Look over there!"

So as you can see, I've got a pretty good handle on things, but if you should happen to, say, think of anything that might supplement what I've dubbed my "Avoidance At All Costs Method," for the love of God please help me! I'd be happy to hear your thoughts.  You know.  If you have time.  Or.  Whatever.

On the bright side, I now have a new member for my support group!