Thursday, December 22, 2011

Things I Love Thursday - Part 20

Today I love being able to say NO.  Not only saying it, but meaning it and standing behind it.  You people pleasers out there know exactly what I'm talking about. 

Oprahisms out there tell us about "the year of yes" and just say yes to everything.  I read a book called The Year of Yes and it's about a woman saying yes to every man that asks her out and just saying yes to the opportunities in her life.  What I'm talking about here is different than being open to new experiences.  That kind of saying yes is about overcoming fear and just diving in to new adventures.  There are so many ways I say yes.  In healthy ways.  In exciting ways.  In ways that enrich my life.  That is a whole different thing. 

No as defined by
no adverb, adjective, noun, plural noes, nos, verb

1. (a negative used to express dissent, denial, or refusal, as in response to a question or request) Example: Anyone: "Katy will you get a grip?" Me: "No."

2. (used to emphasize or introduce a negative statement): Not a single person came to the party, no, not a one. Example: Katy: "Story of my fucking life."

3. not in any degree or manner; not at all (used with a comparative): He is no better. Example: "Not one fuck was given that day." 

4. not a (used before an adjective to convey the opposite of the adjective's meaning): His recovery was no small miracle. "Example: Statistics say she had NO chance at recovery, and yet here she is 10 years fucking sober."

Let's talk about the "year of no".  Which is something I had to crash land into when I got into my halfway house for 6 months when I first got sober.  It's the first time learned about co-dependency and being a people pleaser and all that BULLSHIT.  Seems like a simple little word and yet SO MANY OF US struggle with saying no and sticking with it.  I had no idea about these silly self help terms because I sprinted away from anything that would help me do any self discovery for the first 28 years of my life.  I stuffed.  And stuffed and DRANK.  I drank every single feeling away.  And it worked for a long time.  Until it didn't.

I can capably say no today and stand behind it and for that, I am grateful.  It was my people pleasing nature that got me into so much trouble when I was younger and not confident enough in my own judgement to say no to someone.  "LOVE ME LOVE ME LOVE ME!"  I just needed people to tell me I was good and that equalled I was loved. 

Today, saying no is one of the healthiest things I can do.  It is a skill and a behavior that I had to learn and it's not easy.  My gut today still leans toward "yes, I will do whatever you want me to do so you will like me", and yet, when I pause, and take a breath and think before responding, I can do what is best.  I still fall victim to saying yes when every part of me knows I should say no.  My husband is quite good at saying no and meaning it.  And he helps me with it when I need helping. 

Such a simple little word, no.  And yet, I know many of you reading this have problems with living the principle of no.  All the bullshit jargon of self help and 12 step programs is enough to drive you batty.  Until you reach that point of going, "you know what, this shit really fucking works".  And then you practice.  Over and over and over until you can confidently say "NO!" and really mean it. 

No matter how guilty your dad tries to make you feel. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's the Young Jonathan and Katy Awkward Variety Show!

Here we go Divers!  Just for you an interview with Young Jonathan, my co-worker and pain in my ass.  But really just makes my days so much more fun.  I am so very awkward and bouncy and nodding like a total spaz and say "nice" 800 times.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Original Joanie Holloway

Meet my Grammie.

Let's talk about how fierce this is.  Name on desk, working woman, smokes and IN CONTROL.  Sounds like another fierce 1960's icon I know and love.

There is a reason I am so enamoured of Joanie Holloway Harris here, of Mad Men.  It is in large part that she reminds me of my Grammie.  I feel a deep dark love hate and sorrowful yearning for both these woman.  Grammie died a few years ago.  Crazed and alone, save for our little immediate family.  And yet, there was a time, when she was the Norma Desmond of her world.  And anyone who had the good fortune of entering into it. 

I am pasting some old writing I did about Grammie here.  Those portions will be indented, written by me around 2004, and I was really angry with her.  She didn't approve of me getting sober.  She just didn't understand it and gave me a hard time about it.  My perspective about her today is so different than it was almost a decade ago. 

Grammie brought a party with her everywhere she went. and we LOVED it.
I have her on my heart right now as NOBODY loved Christmas more than Grammie.  She could forget all the terrible facts of reality, largely due to her creating them, and focus on love and abundance.  Her two favorite things. 

There is no easy, understandable way to describe or understand why my Grammie is the way she is. No more than trying to explain why I am or why you are the way you are, however, the impact of her behavior on the people she loves, well, the only people left in her life after a lifetime of loving and pushing away are my immediate family. She was married and divorced four times, twice to the same man, my grandfather, my dad’s dad.

I come from fucking gorgeous yet totally screwed up, alcoholic, Irish Catholic stock.  Only my dad didn't drink.  Went right to me.  I'm grateful I'm the first to get recovery in my family.

My Grammie was as selfish as they come, some of which I know I have in me. She should never have had a child because she was a lonely lost child herself and never could care ultimately about anyone but herself. The reason she would make a “friend” or a lover was strictly about what she could get from them for herself. She was gorgeous, have I mentioned that?
Let's talk about this waist, please.

An absolute beauty – movie star quality - some said Elizabeth Taylor-esque - and men flocked to her. She loved it - loved the attention and the devotion. She grew to expect that devotion and attention from every person in her life. Especially her son. But she left him when he was a small child to move and pursue her own interests. She left him with various relatives and abusive men who hoped to be in her favor. My dad was the only child she ever had and she really wanted him to be a girl. She used to curl his hair and put blush on his cheeks. Although he made a pretty girl, he made an even more handsome boy and grew up relatively unaffected by his unusual childhood.

My dad and Grammie. Totally posed. Wonder where I get it from?

Grammie, for a period of time, lived by herself in a condo on Lakeshore Drive in Chicago.  The Pink Building.  You know it.  And she was a manicurist to the stars, including Frank Sinatra.  Who, let's just say was charmed by her and vice versa.  All while she had a child in the world, who was passed along to relatives to take care of while she lived the high life.  She wanted a son only when it was convenient for her and when it served her purposes.

Grammie and my dad, later on in life, she had to pose as if she was looking at him in every photo. My dad HATED that.

Grammie and baby Katy. She finally got her baby girl. Also, she tried to give me her menagerie of furs through the years. She didn't approve of me being a vegetarian.

Grammie dressed up as a nurse the day my little brother was coming home from being born. She loved making a production out of things. Look how geeked out excited I am about all this.

I don’t know if she ever truly loved, but boy did she lose. She pushed so hard and asked for so much that everyone she had eventually left her. Now she is alone and only my dad and mom go and visit her. 

That was again, in 2003 or 2004.  She was living in a nursing home close to my parents, and was completely out of her mind.  She was ALWAYS delusional.  From the time I remember as a child she brought fun and fantasy and luxury with her.  When Grammie came to visit, it was always a good time.  She and I would go shopping and to lunch and do our nails and she would encourage me to wear make up and dress up at all times.  AT ALL TIMES.  And if I didn't look up to snuff she made sure she let me know.  I can only imagine the hell my dad went through with that superficial bullshit as a child. 

She lost everything. Most of all her beauty and this is what I understand. That is where all this sadness and loss of control for her begins. She lost her beauty, which means she lost the adoration of thousands and then she slowly lost her own money trying to hold on to it and get it all back. Now she is just lonely and sad and mean. She doesn’t want me to succeed and be happy because she is not.

Do I fear losing my looks? You bet I do. I don’t underestimate for one minute how much the way I look has helped me in my life. I know I am smart and capable and all of that other crap, but I am beautiful and in this world of ours, that is what really matters. You may think me superficial, but it is a tool, just like money that can be used to get what I want and she knows this. She knows (or thinks she does) that once I lose my beauty I will have nothing just like her. But that is where she is wrong. I do have more than her because I take the time to invest in myself and in other people. I don’t make friends because of what I can get from them.

Since I have been sober, I have learned the hard way that friends and family are the most important and enduring relationships I have and without them, I have nothing. I don’t have to be beautiful on the outside to be fulfilled on the inside. Does it help? Sure, am I going to fade quietly into non-prettiness? No way, I like being pretty. It is fun and it is what came naturally to me. I don’t abuse as I used to though. And it is not all I have.

I hate my Grammie. As much as I feel that hatred for her I feel love and sadness and understanding for her more than anyone else could imagine. The reason for this is that she and I are so much alike. Or we used to be. Our relationship has changed forever since I got sober and learned how important people’s insides are. She never learned that lesson and now, I don’t think she ever will. She used to love being with me because we were two gorgeous ladies against the world. We could both wield our feminine wiles and the men would flock. Well, I don’t work like that anymore and she doesn’t like it one bit.

One of our last pictures together.

I don’t hate my Grammie. I hope that before she dies she finds some kind of peace and gratitude for what she has had in her life and not to just keep asking for more, more, more. Sometimes there just isn’t any more and we just need to be grateful for what we have.

She’s going to be a selfish bitch until her dying day, but at least I understand why she is that selfish bitch. I’ve learned a whole lot about young beauty and how that inevitably fades. What we are left with is what we have inside and those we have surrounded ourselves with. What a lesson you have taught me Grammie, I don’t want to go out like you. Alone and lonely because of pushing people away. Thank you for showing me that.
Interesting how perspective changes after years go by. Now, I really only remember the good stuff. The fun Grammie stuff and not the abusive way she talked to my dad and then to me. I am not mortified as I used to be when she got arrested when I was just 16 and we were at a shoe store and I had to call my dad to bail her out for shoplifting.
I feel so much compassion for her today. She was so lonely and filled with longing. Talk about a hole in the soul. She depended on men and their attention for EVERYTHING. She relied on sex appeal and charm for everything, much like our girl Joanie Holloway. They were both so much better than that. Partly due to the times, and partly due to low self esteem, these women relied on men for everything.

If Grammie only knew how valuable she was in teaching me these great lessons, completely different lessons than she meant to teach me, she would probably be horrified and say, "no no no, that's not what I meant!". I watched and I learned Grammie. I learned what not to do and what to do as a smart and capable woman. You taught me to love and appreciate luxury and beauty. And I miss you right now at Christmas. Terribly, actually.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Things I Love Thursday - Part 19

Knowing I will not make a complete ass out of myself during the holidays.  Well at least not from drinking.  You see, I was that girl.  The drunk girl who fell into the Christmas tree at the Holiday Party.

You know who doesn't like approve of this nonsense? 

Two years in a row.  Two different companies.  Two different crowds of co-workers thinking it was funny, and others thinking it was profoundly sad and pathetic. 

While I can laugh my ass off at this today, when it was happening it was terrifying.  I knew I was out of control.  I knew I couldn't stop drinking and yet I didn't know what to do about it.  I mean, I had to drink, right?  I drank all the time.  Around the clock.  I was constantly drunk.  The only varying factor was how drunk I was.  Was I shaking and needed more or was I in that sweet spot of feeling OK without being too out of control and did I remember what happened the next day.  I didn't get hangovers because I drank all the time.  See what I'm saying here?  What else was there?  What would my life look like without alcohol?

And so, on this Thursday pre-Schmolidays, I LOVE LOVE LOVE that I am sober today and don't dread what will happen.  I love that I will be incredibly awkward and probably spend the whole time wanting to get out of there because that is what I do, but there will be some part of me that will just be saying THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU that I am sober for this. 

No horror shows, no blackouts and having to piece together what happened and who I talked to about god knows what, and best of all, no regrets. NO REGRETS.  About anything.  If I make a fool of myself, I live through it and it's OK.  If I say something stupid, I know it and can deal with it and even apologize if necessary.  These things seem like they should be common knowledge for most people, but I never had the luxury of these every day gifts until I got sober.  Where I work now, they all know I'm a drunk.  I don't hide it from anyone.  I don't scream it out, but it comes up.  And, they have never seen me drunk.  I would like to keep it that way. 

Don't get me wrong, I can fall into a tree today stone cold sober and wearing flats.  I mean just yesterday I felt off balance because I had gloves on for the first time this season.  I got balance issues y'all.

So, let's all act as if when I do happen to fall into the tree this year, I totally planned it that way.  I have a reputation to uphold.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Schmolidays* are for BonnetHeads**

It's that time.  The time when holidays are crammed into our brains and our faces and our noses and our mouth holes.  It's the Schmolidays.

Like just about everyone these days, I have a love-hate relationship with the Schmolidays.

I love that in Chicago, really the ONLY place to celebrate, it's cold and snowy and beautifully lit.

I love that I am in a loving relationship these days and don't feel lonely or sad or missing out as I used to during this time.

I love that I don't have to go to church anymore.  It's true.  What can I say, my inner heathen has won against the rest of my family's Christian traditional ways of churching on xmas eve.  I am grateful I no longer have to endure that hell.  Partly because my family finally accepts - and quite lovingly stopped harassing me about it - that I'm not a christian anymore (dunked in the river newly baptised at 16!) and also because they moved to Arizona.  They do a good job of loving me for who I am and not pushing me, TODAY.  Obviously, they have been through a lot with me and probably figure as long as I'm sober they aren't going to push it.  My mom used to tell me "I can't stand to think of being in Heaven without you."  To which I replied, "well you will manage somehow and why don't we try to get the most of our time here instead or worrying about some unknown resting place".  My eternal soul will take it's chances living a good and loving life here on earth one day at a time.  I'm not going to rail on my family or Christianity.  I respect my family too much for that. 

So, in light of Jesus being the "reason for the season", I am conflicted.  I celebrate the traditions of this holiday and yet, what is it's meaning for me, really?  I don't celebrate the birth of a baby savior.   What I do know is that it isn't about spending money and material things.  But that is how I live my life anyway.  I love freshly baked cookies and black coffee and kickin' holiday music along with the nostalgic holiday specials we watch year after year.  I love the twinkling lights and the roaring fires and the glorious smell of pine.  I do. 

So how to reconcile that with not believing in the whole basis of this holiday?  As with many things these days, I've stopped fighting it.  I don't have to stand up against Christmas.  It's not my job to declare how I feel about it.  Even though that is exactly what I'm doing in this post, but you get the idea.  I try my damnedest to live and let live.  I celebrate the love and stay away from the dark as best I can.  It's part of how I live the 12 steps. 

The whole debate of Happy Christmas vs. Happy Holidays exhausts me.  Believe whatever you want to.  Just don't expect that I won't do the same.  I want to have a happy holiday.  I want you to have a happy holiday.  I am doing my best not to set foot in an actual store and deal with you.  These seem like opposite notions.  The holidays tend to be when the media tells us to love each other more.  And yet, so much of this season is just gross and ugly. 

This won't shock you.  I want the Plum Creek Christmas.  So badly.  Simple and loving and beautiful.  The Ingalls were so grateful for everything they had and any shitty present they received because they didn't know any better.  I want that gratitude.  I want that pure joy.  I know it's a bygone time and all, but it's what I aspire too.  I even don't mind their stupid little church and stupid little bible stories.  Because it was a simple, non-combative and non-electric-guitar-laser-light-show time of churchiness.

Enjoy this Plum Creek Christmas.  Pa and Ma are waiting for you by the fire with some coffee and pie.  Oleson's Mercantile is open for new stoves  - just don't tell Ma.

these are my definitions, not legal and binding.
*Schmolidays - snarky term for holidays
**BonnetHeads - big geeky fans of bonnets, LHOTP and prairie simpler times.  you remember this one, right? Bring Back the Bonnet!