The grace of imperfection — reflections on the 24th anniversary of my sobriety, part three
This is the story of my twenty-fourth year of sobriety, told together and in three parts. (You’ll see. There would have been columns, which is infinitely more satisfying to me, but Blogger isn’t set up for binary sophistication. So – the parts go together, even though they look to the naked eye, separate.)
Part Three – the hidden track on the CD
I joke that my son has learned every lesson I have ever taught him, whether I wanted him to or not. So, for all that he has become a champion for kindness, for all that he will act swiftly (if not always wisely) if he sees injustice, for all that he will dive into words and ideas and stories and worlds beyond and worlds that should be, it can be painfully awkward to hear the sharp edge of sarcasm coming from the mouth of a four year old. And that is infinitely more palatable than to see him throw up his hands in frustration and walk away from verbal conflict, shutting down, shutting out, wrapping himself in silence because he learned the lesson of avoidance all too well.
My continued imperfection at life continues to confound me. More, it saddens me profoundly, when I see its aftermath writ so large upon my beloved boy. He is smart and kind and willful and sarcastic and snarky and sneaky and funny and gracious. The other day, I broke down. There is only so much crap I can take at any one time, and I had reached the breaking point. So I cried, and couldn’t breathe for a minute, and had no clue for a longer time than that. I was in full panic mode, Def Con 5. I did this all in front of my son. Not necessarily the right move, but I’d rather he see me be human – emotional, imperfect, sniveling and lost more often than I care to be (and probably should be) – I’d rather he see that than something false and not real.
My beloved boy, who has learned every lesson I’ve ever taught him whether I wanted him to or not, apparently has also learned the lessons I could never quite learn myself but wanted so fiercely to teach to him. “Mom,” he said to me, “it’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s not weakness to ask for help.”
The bountiful gift of grace — to be present for one another, in that moment — any moment, every moment — to grieve and worry and celebrate and love.
Synthesis and gleanings, told with the words I see in my heart, not my head
This was my year, my twenty fourth year of sobriety. It was crappy and glorious, both at once. It was never one or the other thing. There are things that I know to be true, like two plus two is four, or I am powerless. These are immutable facts. There are so many more — life is so very rarely one thing. It is mostly a jumble of everything, and the trick is to tease out a single thread – maybe a couple or five – to see where they lead and what they feel like before moving on to the next thread or two. This takes patience. I am quite imperfect at that. I finally know that it is more important to show up, imperfections blaring and embarrassing and feeling all too large and loud, than to wait for a perfection that can never achieve. I missed so much of my life, waiting for it – and me – to be perfect.
I am so very grateful for my sobriety. I am so very grateful for today. It’s the only day I have – to make much of or to hide from or to fritter away while I busy myself with something else entirely. I have this day because I did not drink. I have this day because there are miracles still, and grace and love. I have this day, crappy, resonant, joyous, humbling, scary, lost, magnificent, because I didn’t drink. I will go to a meeting, talk some, listen more, sing a bit, have a conversation with God, hang out with my son, write and remember to be grateful for the gifts I have been given — the gift of struggle and the grace of imperfection.