We're only into the second week of the second month of this year and I already have a ton of stuff going on. I knew this year would be like this and as much as I've tried to prepare myself for the craziness and stress, it's still taking its toll on me. Along the way I've had some pretty incredible revelations.
On January 30 at 11:01 p.m. my sister gave birth to her first child, my nephew Kieran Martinez. A few months back she had asked me to be in the room with her during the birth along with my mom, her husband, and his mom. My first reaction was, "Oh shit." This was a big deal. I was honored that my sister wanted me there for her on such a special day, but I was terrified. Medical procedures like drawing blood, needles, or anything involving bodily fluids generally makes me queasy. I had quite a few months to think about this task that laid ahead of me, but there wasn't much I could do to prepare. I just made up my mind that I would be there for as long as she needed me and do what I could to be there for her in the moment. As soon as I walked into her hospital room she was happy to see me. She was in pain and it was difficult to see someone I love so much in such high levels of pain. My brother-in-law and I took turns holding her hand and coaching her through her contractions as the hours drug on. I tried to apply the tools I had learned in sobriety to this situation.
- I made sure I was present in the moment.
- I knew I had to stay calm and stay strong for my sister.
- I pulled from my knowledge about meditation and breathing to help her release her pain every time she breathed, and to help keep her from pushing until it was time.
- I didn't let her say the words "I can't."
If you knew me over 3 years ago, you would understand why these reflections are remarkable. Had this birth happened when I was still in active addiction, I probably wouldn't have been there, or if I was there I would have been sitting in the waiting room with my arms crossed looking annoyed. I would have told my sister there was no way I could be in that room with her and I would have probably gotten pissed off that it took so many hours for Kieran to come out. But I'm different now. I knew it wasn't about me, it was about her and she needed me. I had to be there for my sister and it didn't matter if I felt uncomfortable or I was grossed out. I had to do the next right thing.
Seeing my sister give birth was the most spiritual and amazing thing I've ever seen in my life. I'm sure there are a lot of mommas, partners, and other aunts out there who know exactly what I mean. I cried my eyes out. I was in awe of how hard my sister worked, the sheer bravery, strength, determination and willpower it took for her to give birth to her son. Wow! Afterwards, my mom mentioned that she enjoyed watching the rapport my sister and I had during her labor. She said, "You were so great. Are you a secret doula?! Where did you learn all that stuff? WHO are you?" I had to laugh and tell her I really don't know. It just came out. The supportive words, guidance, and breathing techniques were just an automatic reaction that flowed at the right place during the right time.
I'm so grateful I was able to be there for my sister, to be present in the moment, to say and do the best things for her at that time. This is huge for me because 3 years ago I would not have been capable of doing these things. I wasn't capable of showing up for the people I love the most. I would have thought selfishly about myself and my time instead of understanding the big picture and being supportive of my sister.
A few days after Kieran came into the world, Fer and I closed on our very first home. We've been living with my parents since we moved from Cancun to Cape Coral in June 2014. We love them very much, but we were dying for our own space. Since meeting, Fer and I have only lived in one or two-bedroom apartments with and without roommates, and most recently in a house with my parents as roomies. We've experienced a lot of crappy landlords, problems with electric, air conditioners that don't work worth a damn, and sharing peanut-sized closets. It was time for this change. We're completely in love with the little 3 bedroom, 2 bath pool home we chose and we knew it from the minute we walked in. We felt home. Embarking on a homeowner's journey has been stressful - a lot of check-writing and big new bills to pay! But knowing that this is will be our home base, where we'll live as a married couple, and raise our children one day, is priceless.
Settling down always scared me. I was most comfortable in the chaos of my addiction, moving from place to place, and never staying in one place or with one person long enough to get attached. In fact, the idea of "regular life" - getting married, having kids, buying a house, terrified me. I thought it meant life was over. I never thought I would crave the monotony of ordinary life. Getting sober and living a life in recovery has enabled me to see the extraordinary in every single tiny moment of my life. I could never be bothered with babies and houses in my past life. Today, these moments fill me up. They bring out emotion and gratitude in me. They make me feel alive. How ironic that I was always searching for that one drink or drug that would make me feel alive, but the answer was right in front of me the whole time. All I had to do was embrace my extraordinary, ordinary life.