Moving to Georgia has been hard.
We pulled up to Sweet River, our new home, grateful and curious. The kids ran around laughing. The truck came, our house filled up with boxes, and I got to work. I stacked plates, organized books, admired long-lost treasures, and commissioned my husband to spend his weekends hanging pictures.
It took a long time. I pushed. I got really tired.
One night my husband was talking about where to host the Fantasy Football Draft. I tuned out. He asked me some question and I put down my drink, slammed my palm on the couch, and huffed, “It’s not happening, hon! You can’t do Fantasy Football in Illinois! We live here now. Come on! It’s over! It’s dead. Let it go.”
It was quiet after that.
Chris followed me into the kitchen and I started vigorously scrubbing some dishes. He asked, “Are you ok?” And I huffed, “No. I’m not! I’m exhausted! [scrubbing] But this is what we signed up for. Just gotta get through it.” He said, “That doesn’t really sound like a plan, babe.” I shrugged.
The hot Georgia summer days kept coming. I would lay in bed as long as possible before taking the kids swimming, sweat the whole day and count the minutes until the kids were in bed. Then I would have a drink. Maybe another one. And some chips. Maybe the whole bag.
I’d wake up exhausted, sick, and headachy thinking, “Well, I feel crappy. Moving sucks. Time to do this day. Maybe tonight I’ll have a G&T with those limes I got…”
Then my back went out. I laid flat on the hard floor watching movies with the kids and ordered take out. And maybe had a glass of Chardonnay at 2:30pm, because, well, pain, summer vacation, the move, you know.
I read Micah J. Murray’s We’re Going to Have a Problem post in bed that week. (Please read it here and come back.) I laid there at 1:30am wondering, is this about me? Am I having a problem? Am I drinking too much? Am I on a bad path? But then I fell asleep and woke up with another headache and a bigger belly and just felt mad again.
I thought about Micah’s post all week. That weekend I grabbed my dusty journal, nostrils flaring, to have it out with God. I scribbled lots of accusations and rhetorical questions. I wrote an invoice for my woes and disappointments. Then I got to my fears. Then the pain.
I let the months of hard weeping goodbyes surface. I saw the ragged weeks of trying to start this new life. I remembered the times I snarled at Chris when he asked for some of my chips. I saw myself licking my lips preparing to have a drink by myself. It was hard to look at. It was heavy to hold.
I think I tried to have one of my conversations with God, but I was still trying acknowledge that I was angry, sad, lonely, depressed, anxious, plump, and drinking too much.
Late that night I reached for Chris’ hand in the dark.
Me: “I have some questions to ask you. It’s going to be hard. Please tell me the truth.”
Chris: “You’re safe.”
Me: “Do I, um, drink too much?”
Chris: “You do have a glass of wine with dinner every night now. You didn’t used to do that. You used to drink for events, or when we had people over. Now you’re just kind of drinking.”
Me: ” [long pause] Oh.”
Chris: “I don’t think you’re an alcoholic, but you are drinking a lot.”
Me: “[long pause] Ok. [long pause] Do you think I eat too much?”
Chris: “You kind of just eat whatever you want, whenever you want.”
Me: “Ok. [long pause] I don’t know how to stop that. [long pause] Do you think I spend too much?”
Chris: “We had a list of stuff to get for the house, and we had a plan, but you just decided to buy everything we were going to get all at once.”
Chris: “It’s ok. We’re not in debt, but it’s just been kind of weird intense shopping.”
Me: “Yeah. It has been weird. [long pause] Um. One more: Do you think I swear too much?”
Chris: “Yes. You swear all time now. You swear in front of the kids. I don’t think you even know you’re swearing anymore.”
Me: “Really? [long pause] I’m sorry. I don’t know how I got to this place. I knew it was going to be hard, but I thought I was handling it. I’ve really gotten lost.”
Chris: “Aim, I love you. You’re good. You’re safe. It’s going to be okay. Let me know what I can do.”
Me: “[long pause] I don’t know. [long pause] Can I have a hug?”
I decided for the month of August that I wouldn’t have a single drink and that I would not eat anything after dinner. It was tough. Full bodied Cabernet is delicious. Salt and pepper kettle chips with thin slices of Jarlsberg Swiss are perfect. I salivate here just thinking about it.
At 9:24pm when I found myself holding the pantry door, biting my lip, scanning the shelves, I had little conversations with myself,
Me 1: “what’s up?”
Me 2: “looking for snacks.”
Me 1: “what are you feeling right now?”
Me 2: “tired, a little sad.”
Me 1: “but not hungry?”
Me 2: “oh, i guess i’m not actually hungry.”
It took a few weeks more to get to the place of slowly saying, “God, I’m feeling like I really want a Mule tonight, with this sharp ginger beer, in this cold copper mug. But I think I really just want to feel like everything is going to be okay instead.” I would turn around and leave the kitchen.
A couple weeks after asking myself those questions and telling God how I felt, I slowly, indirectly, started asking Jesus if, Kintsukuroi style, he would fill in those empty places with himself. Exchange my worry and anger for his peace. I think he’s been doing that.
This is far from over, though. I’m going to feel these holes in my heart for a long time. I’m already wanting/planning to eat an entire bowl of Chris’s perfect popcorn, with some goat cheese, and a few glasses of Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc on Friday night. I can’t discern if that pain/loneliness fueled, or if that’s the best we can do for Date Night when we don’t know any sitters.
Maybe it doesn’t need to be all or nothing? Maybe I will ask if I’m actually hungry for those things. And if I want to drink wine because it tastes great or because I want to zone out. If I’m seeking to hide alone or connect with Chris and/or Jesus. That certainly doesn’t sound as fun, but it does sound like Surrender.
I am unfolding the idea of Surrender throughout the month of October.
For more about my move and my version of Surrender you can read: Held, Food Poisoning, My Surrender Begins, A Gentleman’s Invitation, A Little Note About Anxiety, and Kintsukuroi – I Guess We Have to be Broken.
For more about our shared spiritual journey and questions, you can read here: Soul
© Aimee Fritz and Family Compassion Focus, 2015.
BIG BIG BIG hug from here, Aimee. my husband went through this realization just before i met him and had been in AA for 6 months when we began our relationship. he knew what he knew, even if no one else would validate it. that’s what the Spirit does–remind us of truth. moving is H.A.R.D. you left a HUGE, intensely loving community, and yet God was there all the time when you were experiencing that. in my case, He had to remove me from those i was using to substitute for communion with Him in order for me to know Him better. i still want time with my friends, but i know i can thrive without them. i only know that because i have been pursued by the Lover of my soul. keep asking the hard questions to the safe ones.
you are LOVED with an Everlasting Love, and underneath are the Everlasting Arms. you are NOT alone.
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Thanks, Jenn! I believe this story will end well. It’s going to take a while.