Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, family, kids, Life, love, motherhood, parenting, recovery

The Best Things…

I Love You quotes for Daughter Mother daughter quotes at www.bmabh.com

It is Tuesday morning, and my house looks like a cyclone hit it. To my left, the couch is covered in jackets, napkins, pillows, a purse, and a discarded bra. Under my chair is an empty sparkling water can that I keep forgetting to pick up, and next to that is my seven year old’s backpack.

There are no dishes in the sink because we haven’t eaten a meal at home in DAYS. There is, however, a garbage can full of empty take out containers, and one half eaten box of carne asada fries on the microwave stand. The bathroom floor is covered in clothes abandoned pre-shower, and left there until someone (me) picks them up. The counters are littered with expensive make-up and hair products. The front porch? Oh lord, I was out there this morning, and there are puddles of spilled coffee all over the place, a dead giveaway that my older daughter is home. She loves coffee, but doesn’t metabolize caffeine very well in her tiny little body.

And in each of the beds in both of the bedrooms, my daughters lay sleeping. My mom always says she sleeps so much better when her kids are home, and I get it, I really do. The past three nights since my oldest has been home, I’ve slept with my bedroom door open, and slept more soundly than I have in weeks. Just knowing she is right there, in the next room, and my littlest one is sleeping beside me…it’s like heaven.

You have to understand, my daughters and I…we are the closest of the close. Aisley, my oldest, we have been through hell together- most of it my doing, of course, but she…I’ve always said, she’s the reason I am still on this earth. I don’t know what would’ve happened to me if she hadn’t come along. We are more than just mother and daughter, we are each other’s core family, the nucleus, the main event. We grew up together. Which means things can get weird, and roles can be confusing- sometimes I try to be the mom, and she doesn’t want it. Sometimes I’m more like a sister, and she needs a mom. We have struggled with boundaries, and with communication, and with our expectations of each other. We’ve healed a lot since I have gotten and stayed clean. I think she finally trusts that I am serious now, that I’m not going to fuck this up. She doesn’t look at me with that suspicion on her face anymore, and I never want her to worry about that again. I don’t really ever entertain the idea of getting high anymore, but the odd time that it idly crosses my mind, I imagine what it would do to my children, and I know it’s not worth it. Not even close, not ever.

It was always Aisley and I, the two of us, and no one else. By the time Camryn was a toddler, Aisley was off living her life, in high school, running around with her friends. So I basically have two only children. Now it is Camryn and I, and Aisley has moved away. But sometimes, for brief times like this, I get to have them both, together, sleeping under the same roof, and I can breathe again. The worry I didn’t realize I was holding, I can set it down for a few days.

I am so blessed. That my life turned out the way that it has, that my children still love me, that I get to be their mother, and that I am better at it than I ever dreamed I could be. Not perfect, I’ll never be perfect. I might not ever even be great. But I’m so much better than I ever thought I was capable of. And honestly, for now, that’s all I need.

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Posted in alcoholism, family, kids, Life, motherhood, parenting, recovery, twelve step

Watch and Learn

watch and learn

For the longest time, I think my life was in a sort of holding pattern- at least, when it came to my interactions with other people. As you may or may not recall, the theme that I chose for this year was basically to ease up on the “going within” thing, and start widening the scope a bit, to include more socializing, more friendship, maybe dating. In my enthusiasm to let bygones be bygones, and to start fresh with my new, more evolved mindset, I did something that I am really good at doing, and chose to make a familiar mistake- I let my ex move in with me. This wasn’t a romantic strategy by any means- he was having some trouble getting on his feet (this is ongoing), I was reeling from the loss of a beloved friend and feeling exceptionally tender-hearted and sentimental, and I honestly thought it could be a win for both us and our daughter. She gets more time with her dad, I get more time by myself, and he gets a safe place to stay and unlimited access with his daughter. What could go wrong, right?

Wrong. It wasn’t a total scream fest, at least, not like it was when we lived together and were still trying to stay in a relationship. But what didn’t work were a few key elements that are pretty significant. One was that he is an addict, much like I am- the main difference being that I choose not to use drugs, while he does (I obviously didn’t know he was still using when he moved in, for the record). If you were to ask him about this, he would of course deny it, although I was left in the unfortunate position of finding actual drugs in my home twice while he was here. I don’t care how long it has been, or how strong your recovery is- when you are faced with your drug of choice unexpectedly, you have a very visceral reaction. My stomach clenches and my heart pounds and I just overall felt sick, as I listened to him yammer on about how he didn’t know where it came from and it must have been packed in his stuff, it was old, it was…blah blah blah. Personally, when I got clean, the first thing I did was make sure to be rid of all things related to my drug use. I mean, this is a no brainer, right? So, you know, I should’ve put my foot down then and there, but…being the good control freak codependent that I am, instead, I made some new rules for him to completely ignore. My bad. Obviously, bringing drugs- hard drugs, mind you- into a home where a seven year old lives should be an automatic dismissal, right? Bringing drugs into the home of someone who is in recovery and is kind enough to extend the olive branch to you one more time, you might think twice about that, right? Except you probably aren’t on drugs, and that’s the thing- people who are don’t think the same way people who aren’t do. It’s just part of their lives. I forgot because I’ve been clean for a while now.

So then I missed a court date. I didn’t miss it because I’m irresponsible and forgetful, I missed it because I never received my summons in the mail. The mail that I get here at my house, generally every day. I only found out about the court date I missed because of the phone call I got from the lady at child support- oh yeah, did I mention it was for an ongoing child support case? No? well, that’s kind of important. It’s important because my ex knew about it, and he went, but he “forgot” to mention it to me- me, who somehow never received the notice to appear…so…I’m not saying he stole my mail, but…I’m not saying he didn’t, either. I’m not mad anymore, but at that moment, I felt that deep betrayal I’d experienced in our relationship so many times. I understood that I was dealing with someone who operated in a way that I would never be able to grasp, that I wasn’t capable of predicting, and that I certainly couldn’t help. So I told him it was time to go. I didn’t even ask for rent for the last month, because I knew he needed the money to find a place.

He moved out on April 1st. He still hasn’t found a place to stay. We had another court date, and I won my child support case. As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t ask for back support, just current, beginning this month. I have been more than fair, I think. Now here’s the thing- he still wants to see his daughter, and I still want him to. I am grateful that he has to spend time with her at my house because I don’t ever know if he’s using or not and I don’t want him taking off with her if he is. I know he would never intentionally put her in harms way, but when someone is using they may not have the ability to judge what is wise and what is not. So for now, he comes here to see her. This is literally the ONLY TIME I get to do anything on my own if I want to do so.

Saturday, he was supposed to come watch our daughter while I drove out of town to pick up my older daughter. I needed to leave by 9:30 in order to arrive on time. By 9:45, he still hadn’t shown up, so…I didn’t call, I didn’t yell, I didn’t do anything. I just left, and brought our daughter with me. At 9:55, he called me, yelling and blaming me for all his problems in life BECAUSE HE WAS LATE and somehow it was my fault for not waiting? Hmm. Yesterday, I was planning on going out to dinner with my mother and my older daughter, and thought maybe Cammy would rather stay home with her dad than endure another long dinner out. Her dad had been at my house for hours hanging out with her, when, at four, he had to leave to look at an apartment. Fine, that’s great, whatever. The minute he left, I had Cam start getting ready to go with us, just in case. He knew we were eating at 6. At 5:50, he sent a text asking what time were we eating? He was far away and was just leaving…sigh. The good news is, Cam was great at dinner.

Here’s the thing- I used to think I needed to yell, to reprimand, to point out the errors he was making in his life. I thought it might actually make some kind of difference, that he might hear me. I know now that it is a waste of my breath and my time to even try. I know that I am the only person I can depend on here, and at the end of the day, the only one Cam can really depend on. It isn’t my job to point out her father’s failings, it’s my job to just protect her from them, and let her be a kid. And it isn’t even right to hope that she’ll see it for herself one day, which I’ve heard a million times- “She’ll figure it out herself one day, who he really is.” Nope. I hope she never does. I pray that he changes for the better way before then so that she can always hold him in high esteem. That is what I truly want for her, and for him. Do I get mad as fuck sometimes? Oh my god, yes. But like it or not, I am linked with this man for at least many more years, if not forever. So it does not serve anyone if he continues to fail at this.

I don’t need to invest myself in his implosion. I don’t need to be part of it at all. I get to enjoy the rewards of my recovery and my good choices, and I have to navigate this one last stretch of rocky road. I have finally learned how to step back from a situation and set my emotions about it aside, just looking at the facts. Watch someone long enough, and you will learn everything you need to know about them. Too bad I’m an incredibly slow learner…but, maybe that will change now, too. Who knows? What I do know is that there needs to be some structure and safety built into our system, and we haven’t done a good job making the rules we establish work. So I am going to need a lot of strength in the next leg of this journey, and I really hope I can get what I need from it- peace of mind, my daughter’s safety, consistency instead of chaos. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Posted in Dating, fun, funny, Life, love, Musings, People, relationships

A Long Time Alone

alone
Seriously, this is so true.

 

I was talking with a friend of mine last night about how hard it is, at the point in my life that I’m at, to meet someone I’d actually like to date. I mean, it just seems like so much work…basically, my best option seems like it is probably online dating sites, which I’ve tried before and it is so incredibly overwhelming that I generally peace out within a matter of days. I’m not good at having more than one conversation at a time, I don’t like it when strangers get overly familiar with me, and it’s very easy to be hyper critical when you have so many choices…and, there is the fact that I have a notoriously bad picker. I will like the wrong guy, Every. Single. Time. I used to joke that if you lined up five equally good looking men, all dressed identically, I would naturally gravitate to the one that is on parole. I don’t know why that is, but I promise you, it’s true.

But you know, a big part of why I have stayed single for so long is that, after going through SO MUCH drama in my last relationship, I finally developed some self preservation in the area of the heart. Emotionally, I’ve just been very, very wary. My judgement failed me so hard this last time, so many times in a row with the same dude…I have to admit, it’s not only alarming, but somewhat embarrassing, too. You know, I had this dream about where we were going, the life we were building, and of course looking back I can see that it was never going to happen, but I believed it for a long time. I think letting go of that dream was far harder than letting go of him. I remember, after I had found out he had been cheating on me since two weeks after our daughter was born- I think she was six months old when I finally confirmed what I already knew in my heart- I remember pulling over in the parking lot of a Round Table Pizza, and just crying in my car. I had no idea what my future was supposed to look like anymore. I thought we were a family, I thought we were heading somewhere, and suddenly everything was gone. It was awful. I just couldn’t get my head around it.

And so, I made the first of many mistakes. I left him for a while, but he kept coming back, and I let him, for a myriad of reasons. I loved him, sure, but I know now I could’ve gotten over that with distance. But also, I had a teenage daughter and a tiny baby, and I needed help. Then there was the fact that I just didn’t want to be alone, and even more emphatically, I didn’t want him to be out there, having fun, while I sat at home miserable. No, he could be there with me, miserable together. It got pretty dysfunctional. I turned into someone I did not like. And I stayed that way for a long, long time. It took even longer, after we finally split, for me to stop being so angry and bitter. I can see now that I had a part in all that happened after the first transgression- I could have walked away and I chose not to. I chose to let the heartache fester and turn into something much uglier.

So I finally broke free. And you know what I did, instead of worrying about men? I went out and I fucking got my shit together. I kicked ass at life. I got clean (again) and I worked on myself, and I worked on myself some more, and I got my finances in order, I became a great mom, I got a routine, I paid my bills, I figured out that I can hold it down…all by myself. And, as I talked to my friend last night, that’s when it hit me- I think, for most of my life, I stayed in relationships because I kind of had to. I truly was in a position, most of the time, where I only kept my head above water by the contributions of my significant other. When that is the case, it makes a lot more sense to keep trying to work it out. Certainly better than living in your car, most likely.

That’s not the case anymore. I can let go of all that past shit, because, not only do I not NEED someone, I am not the same person anymore. I think I might even be able to trust myself to choose more wisely, now. So, maybe I will, maybe I won’t. If there were some way to jump from the awkward beginning right to the comfortable middle, where you can just leave your makeup off and hang out on the couch all weekend watching TV together, I would definitely choose that. Like, skip over the hard parts- first kiss, first naked encounter, first nerve wracking disagreement, right into the comfort zone. Wouldn’t that be great?

In the meantime, if you know of anyone great, around 40, good sense of humor, kinda nerdy, kind, and SUPER patient…not hideous is a plus, but I’m flexible- send him my way. I really don’t want to do online dating.

 

Posted in anxiety, Blogging, family, kids, Life, motherhood, parenting, People, random

Conflicted

conflicted
Which would leave me with nothing, unfortunately.

 

 

This seems to be a theme in my life right now, this being conflicted. That weird line between what you want and what you should do. The person you could be, with a tiny bit more effort, and the lazy ass you are- not YOU, I’m sorry, don’t leave. I meant ME, the lazy ass I am.

It’s occurring in all areas of my life right now, and I don’t know what to think about it, what cosmic lesson I am supposed to be learning. I know it will come to me, but right now, it is very early, and I’m only on my first cup of coffee, so even if there was some clarity available I’m not sure I would be able to grasp it just yet.

Here’s a good example: I have court this morning to determine the amount of child support I will be receiving. The judge has recommended a sum of about 600 dollars, which I have thought all along was more than fair- I don’t know how many of you guys raise children, but it’s not cheap. And it’s not just about me buying her clothing, or toys, or outings. Take that stuff out of the picture, and it’s still so. much. stuff. The weird foods I would never buy, the lunches I pack daily, the rent for a bigger house, the laundry, the day to day expense of raising a kid is exorbitant. Jesus, the gas money alone I spend on driving her all the way across town every day to a school that has a better rating! I mean, 600 bucks is fair. To me.

This morning, I woke up and thought for the first time what that would be like for Camryn’s dad. Okay, he is terrible with his money, and he has made some really bad choices in his life in general, but more specifically, he has some tax stuff going on and back child support for his older son. On the other hand, he makes really good money, and I have no idea why he can’t pull it together. Seriously, like what the fuck is he doing? So where is my responsibility in this? Do I agree with a reduced amount because he can’t figure out, at the age of 50, how to run his life? Or do I hold out for what his kid and I deserve, because he is responsible for half of her life and that’s just how it goes? I’m not poor, I’m not struggling, but I have given up ten years of my life with this guy, helped him out, given him chance after chance to pull it together. I just don’t know. I’m very torn. And my hope is that I won’t have to decide, the judge will do it for me.

I wish there was a judge around to help me with these other things that are bothering me. Like, when i’m sitting here right before I’m off work, and I want to go to the gym, but I also want to binge watch The Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix. It would be so great if a judge would bang her gavel and say, “I order you to 90 minutes at the Wellness Center, Ms. Duncan!” And I would have to slink off in shame to find clean gym clothes. Or when I am typing up a really heartfelt but probably damaging text message at five in the morning, before I’ve had a proper chance to wake up and think things through, the gavel bangs and a booming voice fills the room-“I order you to set that phone down and do not pick it up again until noon!” Okay, okay. My finger hovers over the send button a moment longer, then I think of the consequences-how terrible I’d look in an orange jumpsuit, or how people might laugh at me as I picked up trash along the freeway, and I walk away. Wouldn’t that be kind of great?

As it stands, all I have to guide me is my conscience and my brain, and we all know none of that shit functions properly. Too much, or not enough…that’s my lot in life. Welp, I probably ought to go start getting cleaned up for court. Maybe I’ll ask the judge if she’ll consider some side work. 🙂

 

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, anxiety, escape, Life, random, recovery, twelve step

Slip Slidin’ Away

slippery slope

Sometimes, I forget who I am. I get a little too relaxed. I walk around my home without seeing how incredibly blessed I am to get to live here, in a house I can afford, where my daughter has her own room, and I get to have my dog, and I have a big old yard, and TWO bathrooms. I just get caught up in living my life without seeing how amazing it is. Same thing goes for my career- I can be whiny about my job, I get lazy sometimes, completely oblivious to the fact that the rash decision I made 13 years ago to go to night school, the credentials I gained, and the amazing opportunity I was handed when I was hired at the hospital where I still work today, changed my life. Completely transformed it. I’m not saying this is unusual- no one walks around in a state of constant gratitude. At least, no one I know.

But one thing I would do well to remember is the reason I get to keep the wonderful life that I have. The one thing that would save me, should the house go away, or the job wasn’t mine anymore. That thing is my recovery, and I haven’t been doing much for it lately. I really need to remind myself that if I didn’t have all these days in a row of not just being clean, but being clean and working on the person I am, working towards steadily getting better than I was before, I wouldn’t be sitting here, writing this right now.

Life can and will keep changing right before your eyes, and it is easy to get swept up in this thing or that thing, and let your focus change. I think that during those times, it’s pretty normal to stray from the path and wander off, but…do I think it’s a good idea? Nope. I think, in reality, when you feel yourself getting off track, you need to double down on the things that anchor you. I do, that’s what I need to do. I should be specific here, I am talking about me, about my life right now. I need to be closer than ever to my program of recovery, not just saying the words, but actively.

Listen, I am not in any imminent danger, but…my thoughts have been a little squirrely lately. Which, of course, is how it always begins- right in your head. I have been wishing for something to take the edge off, or blur the edges at least, just a little bit. I want something that will make me less…less worried about how ME I am all the time. Because I am messy and nervous and insecure, I think way too much, and take things pretty seriously, believe it or not. And my brain has been telling me stories about how much more fun I could be, how easy it would be, the exact way that I could lay all this heavy shit down and just fucking relax already.

Thankfully, I know my brain to be a liar. I know my brain, sensing discomfort, will do just about anything to make that feeling go away. I mean, my brain has been lying to me for yeeeaaars. So I don’t have to listen to any of it. I know there are no shortcuts in recovery, and there are certainly no days off. Not even when you could really use a drink or two. As a matter of fact, all these years that I have put in? This is sort of what I’ve been training for- the day when I really longed for an escape, or an easier way. This is the test I’ve been studying for this whole time. I’m not about to fail, not now.

I made a choice, I made a commitment, a long time ago, knowing there would be times in the future that it would be hard to keep that commitment. There have been these times in the past, and I kept at it, and I wasn’t sorry. There are always two paths, and I know where one of them leads me- I’ve been down it about as far as a person can go and live to tell the tale. The other one, well…the other one I don’t know as well. But I have a feeling that the woman I want to be is somewhere along it. So I think I will stay on that path. I think that is the wise thing to do.

slippery

Posted in Blogging, Dreams, fun, funny, humor, Life, Musings, random

Total Random Nonsense

no point
Seriously, this one goes nowhere. I apologize in advance.

I woke up this morning acutely aware of just how bad too much salt really is for me. Holy bloated frogs! I feel like I aged ten years since I jumped into bed at 8 pm last night- and yes, I went to bed at 8 last night. I was the kind of tired yesterday that is easy to confuse with depression, and I wasn’t sure what was happening, so I figured it would be best just to go to bed and see if some sleep helped the matter at all.

And I think I was on the right track, except…all the salt from the restaurant food, combined with the bizarre nightmare I had all night long sort of worked against me. This nightmare…I woke up at least two times, actually got out of bed and wandered around the house, went back to bed, and both times went right back into the same damn dream. It was a version of a recurring nightmare I’ve had since about five seconds after I gave birth to my first child over 20 years ago. The one where your kid goes missing and you can’t find her? Yeah, except this one was much more creative, involved both of my children, and my ex-stepdad (a true psychopath) who somehow morphed into Donald Trump. He had kidnapped both of my kids, was trying to marry the older one, and was keeping the younger one in a cage at a different location. Also, the younger one had turned into a cat. It sounds funny now, but trust me, it was very unsettling while it was happening.

So, here I sit. Retaining 50 gallons of water, traumatized yet again by Donald Trump, and forcing myself to try to write something entertaining because this is why I wake up at four thirty in the damn morning every single day. So that I can write captivating words such as these. Sigh…is it just me, or is it really hard to keep shit together? Like, I will do really good for a little while with some things, but inevitably then other things fall to the wayside. So, I turn my attention to those things, and the other shit falls off the map. Either I am just a terrible multi-tasker (true) or I am just trying to do too much stuff (also true). No wonder people throw their hands up and settle for less. They get to sleep a little later and accept that there will be no thigh gap again in this lifetime.

Me? I feel sleep deprived, and refuse to accept my thighs even though they haven’t done anything wrong, really, except kindly store the weight that has nowhere left to go. Like, how can you be mad at your body? It’s not my body’s fault. My body didn’t just decide to hoover down a gallon of ice cream. I did that. Poor body. If it had a voice of its own, I’m sure it would have a few choice words for me.

On the bright side, however, I am only working half a day today. I’m taking my mom to get a pedicure and then she gets to go with me to pick Cam up from school, which, you know, that’s a big deal for a kid when some other member of the family shows up at school. I loved when my grandparents would pick me up! It didn’t hurt that they always pulled me out of school early and whisked me away to their house in the mountains. I felt like I was really getting away with something. So I am looking forward to that, and to going to the gym later on. And to drinking a gallon of water to get this salt out of me.

Also looking forward to the day when one salty meal and a bad dream doesn’t completely derail my life, but alas- I do not see that day on the horizon.

Posted in adventure, Blogging, fun, funny, Life, Musings

Closet Drama Queen

drama

Having cut myself off so efficiently from the Young and Restless world around me for such a long time, I’m going to admit that I may have lost sight a little bit of my true nature.

For the past three years, I have been doing nothing but meetings, recovery, prayer, meditation, self-reflection, step work, trying to eat healthy, exercise, rest, and rejuvenation. The only drama in my life has been the tiny bit I can stir up by myself, which isn’t much. I’ve been living in some kind of idyllic little bubble and didn’t even realize it.

You guys, I let the drama in. I didn’t mean to…I was just sitting here, minding my own business, and it came for me. But I invited it in. I could’ve just said “no, thank you.”, but I didn’t. I said “Hey, what’s all this about?” and I rubbed my hands together like the creep I really am, eyes twinkling, mouth practically watering. What the fuck is wrong with me?

Anyway, needless to say, this has to do with men. That’s right. And what I found out was, it’s possible to get yourself into some pretty deep shit without ever really leaving the safety of your living room. In the past week or so, there has been salacious flirting, keen interest, misunderstandings and hurt feelings. I’ve been on a roller coaster.

Part of me longed desperately to just go back to my normal life. I couldn’t take the headiness of these conversations, and plus, in a practical sense, I was just spending way too much time on the phone.

But then there is that other part of me…and she isn’t right in the head. That part really likes that feeling…like you’re just about to bungee jump, and you’re looking down, hoping the cord holds. That’s where I’ve been living for the past couple of weeks.

And you know, I’ve been so good, for so long, that I thought that part of me had died. Imagine my surprise to find that certain parts of me are still alive and kicking, just waiting for me to uncover them again. All the work I’ve done, all the abstinence from all these funky little parts of myself…one exhilarating hit of that drama, and I am off and running. Whew.

I’m back on the earth today. I woke up this morning feeling almost hungover from too much conversation yesterday, much too much. The routine that I was chafing against yesterday looks pretty appealing right about now. I’m just going to put my head down, get back to work, and…

Wait. Was that my phone?