This morning we discussed the idea that we are participating in a “New Life” now that we are on the sober path. I relate to this in a huge way. I try to remember – without getting stuck in morbid reflection – of where I was a year ago in my “old life.” By doing so I find I am instantly transported into a place of gratitude for where I am today in my “New Life.” If ever I need a barometer for how well I am REALLY doing in the sober life, I find my teenagers provide me with lots of “testing” ground to measure my reactions – sometimes daily.
Last Monday evening my husband found ourselves relaxing on the couch by the fire after dinner. Honestly, its like my kids can sense when we are in a place of peace and they see it as their personal mission in life to shake things up for us. We had not heard from our son and so began phoning and texting to see where he was. He let us know that he was having some car trouble and would be home as soon as he could. We replied to his brusque statement with, “Whoa, whoa, whoa before you hang up – since it is our car that is having the trouble, we would like some more detail…” Long story short, he had gone off a bank not far from our house and called in some friends to “pull him out.” My husband and literally ran for our coats and keys. When we arrived we discovered our mini-van in a bird sanctuary, slowly sinking into the mud. We had been assured by our teen that he had been engaged in an “avoidance” maneuver when the van – not him – “lost control” and wound up sliding down the bank. As we turned around to head home and call a tow truck, my headlights caught the tire tracks on the gravel where the van had slid off the road. It was clear to everyone in the car at that moment that the only avoidance maneuver our son had been engaged in that evening was the truth. He had been “showboating” – in a mini-van for Pete’s sake – and lost control of the family car. My husband lost it.
We arrived home to call the tow company and I sent my husband to play hockey as he was so mad he was not much help in the situation. As I spent the rest of the evening trying to retrieve the van and bring it home I could feel old reaction patterns fighting to rise up within me. I paused and chose to react in a new way. I asked the question, “What is there to be grateful for in this situation?” and immediately I was aware of many gratitude items: nobody was hurt, opportunity to discuss important character building truths with my son, opportunity to model how to react in high-stress situations, the kindness of the tow truck driver who partnered with me to teach my son some valuable lessons about what could have happened, emotion and compasion flooding my heart as I watched our family vehicle being pulled up an embankment knowing my kid was in there and this could have been so much worse and how many families have had to walk that path… and on and on it went. I was calm. I was grateful. I was capable of handling the situation.
If this had been a year ago, I would not have been able to drive my car to the scene because a bottle of wine would have already been consumed. I would have been beyond angry at a bunch of stuff – yeah the car being driven off the embankment and all that, but super angry that my wine drinking session had been interrupted AND that I was expected to show up as a functioning adult. There would have been raging. There would have been yelling. There would have been lots of self-pity. My husband would not have gone to hockey because I would have been absolutely unable to handle the situation on my own. There would have been no important discussions with my son – he likely would have tuned me out. And without a doubt, there is NO chance that gratitude items would have been noticed.
Damn – I am so much better this way. The woman who showed up for her son, her husband, the tow truck driver – she rocks. She is the one ya wanna call when the shit hits the fan. She is capable. She is compassionate. She can totally handle stuff. Really proud of her and loving my new life…