Posted in Dreams, Goals, happiness, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, mindfulness, Musings, People, random

Acceptance

So, I have been writing on this blog since 2012- that’s eight whole years. In that time, I have written close to 600 posts. That’s a lot! That’s so many posts that, even when I don’t write for a very long time, I get visitors to this site every single day. I don’t really pay attention to which posts they are viewing. About once a week, someone new will discover this place and go crazy, reading thirty or forty posts in a row. I like it when that happens, I’m not gonna lie. There’s some validating feelings that emerge when I see that go down.

But I have changed a lot in that time. So much, in fact, that sometimes I think about going back and getting rid of some of my older posts. Although I can’t recall everything I’ve written here, I know some of it would be embarrassing to me now. I know I have overshared and said things that no longer represent the woman I am today. But…you know, I’m not gonna do that. If you read through my posts from start to finish, I think…I hope, anyway, that you would see the slow evolution of a human being who is trying to find her way. I think you would see a lot of growth, even if it was painful and awkward sometimes. Even if there were lots of “one step forward, two steps back” situations. Slowly and steadily, I have progressed.

I believe, when I started all of this, that there was some part of my subconscious mind that thought I would eventually “arrive” at a place where I would be complete. I would know it when I got there, right? It would be a place where I was generally happy and joyful, my relationships would be easy and healthy, I would be mature and confident, and all of my laundry would be done. My mismatched sock basket would be empty, my bathroom counters would be wiped down at all times. I would know what we were having for dinner for the entire week ahead. Basically, I thought I would be perfect.

Not only was that vague idea incredibly far off the mark, but…it was harmful. Harmful because I didn’t realize I was reaching for perfection, a thing that doesn’t exist, and trying to get there was making me feel like a failure. I have been in so much pain because I couldn’t manifest perfection. I have resented my beautiful life because it didn’t match up to my idealistic daydream.

The chaos and tumult of the world since the beginning of this pandemic has thrown me headfirst into the chasm where my shadow dwells. Already halfway submerged when all of this started, I found myself very quickly sucked under. For a good while, I was afraid that I would drown. I didn’t know what that would look like, exactly, but I won’t pretend I wasn’t afraid. “I shouldn’t be feeling this way!” I kept telling myself, “Look how good I have it, I should be- (enter whatever shiny adjective caught my eye at the moment)” As my old sponsor would say, I was “shoulding all over myself”.

A few things transpired in the past few days that have opened my eyes. One was the word “acceptance” which kept popping into my head. I am not sure, but I’d be willing to guess, that I’ve written on this topic before. Smart as I am, it takes me a while to understand things, though. Sometimes I think I get it, and I will keep thinking that until I REALLY get it. Sometimes your understanding just deepens over time.

Here’s the thing- I’ve been wanting to do all this stuff! Move across the country, maybe for a year, maybe forever. Buy a house- maybe in Maine, but also maybe somewhere closer, for just a while, until I can work out how to get to Maine. But I also want to keep my job, and finish a book, and make money from that, while I work on my mental health, my spiritual life, getting my house together. I was flopping around like a fish on a line. Then the pandemic hit. All my tentative “plans” got blown away, who knows how far. No travel, no freedom, no reprieve, even, from my beloved daughter. Just her and I, this house and work, day in and day out, at this computer. My need to bolt became frantic, the shedding of tears became a daily event, and every single one of my worst qualities came raging to the forefront.

That’s when “acceptance” showed up. Not the act, the word, in my head, over and over, until I decided to examine it. Here is what I discovered: My desire to be different than I was, to have a life I couldn’t have right now, to be someone I am not, was the root of the problem. This is who I am. This is where I am. This is how it is. Be here, embody it, feel it, accept it.

Yesterday, Camryn and I walked the whole length of a long beach at low tide early in the morning. There was only us and a few surfers, a couple, and a dog or two running around. Camryn didn’t want to be there, but she had no choice. By the time we made it to the tide pools, she was the happiest she’d been in weeks. We saw starfish and countless sea anemones, pelicans, sandpipers and one very excited sparrow. Camryn, in that moment, was a perfect example of acceptance. She rode the figurative wave, and, after a moment of resistance, she stopped fighting what she couldn’t control, and guess what? She enjoyed the moment. So did I, a reminder that no one is forcing me to stay inside my house. There are still things I can do, places I can go to escape and to breathe. It’s not really my life that is giving me trouble, it’s my attitude about my life. It’s my fear and my grasping.

And finally, sometimes…there’s this weird thing that happens. Someone will ask a question and when you answer it, you realize it was an answer you’d been trying to come up with for yourself. A truth you didn’t know you knew. Someone asked why she used to be so happy in her twenties, but now, in her thirties, she just didn’t feel so joyful all the time. I explained to her that as you get older and wiser, you view life through different eyes. The rose colored glasses come off, and you see more truth and nuance, more depth. Fighting to return to a place in time that is gone, and a person who has evolved, is futile and painful. That’s what I told her. And then it hit me. That also applied to me! I can’t go back. I can’t jump ahead. All I can do is be here, where I am.

Acceptance does not mean I am giving up my dreams. It just means I can stop trying to force a change that isn’t ready to occur. I can relax and quit flopping around at the end of the line I am caught on, wearing myself out. I can stop pulling so hard at the hook in my cheek, stop making the pain so much worse. I can rest. I can gather my thoughts and my strength, so that when the time is right, I will be ready to set myself free. Today, right now, is not the time for me to move forward.

That is acceptance. That’s my take on it, anyway. This time around. Stay tuned, who knows what my take on it will be next time. Hahaha! Happy Sunday. Stay well.

Posted in Life, living, Musings, People, random

Burnout

You ever just get sick of yourself?

C’mon, you can tell me. I promise I won’t tell anyone.

Guys, I am SICK of myself. I need a break from me. I honestly can’t take another moment of being cooped up in this damn house with my unpredictable mood swings. I’ve had it.

Which is why I am going to go see my daughter today. If anyone is the queen of socially isolating, it’s her- she was doing it way before it was asked of us- and I just need a change of scenery. Badly.

Oh, and also my water has been shut off since Friday evening, because the main water line exploded, so…no showers, limited flushing, no laundry, no dish washing. This is not the best. Especially right now when I know how badly we need to be washing our hands. Ugh. I would ask if things could get any worse, but…we all know they could.

I am so ready for life to return to some semblance of normal. And not the “we’re gonna pretend it’s normal because we want it to be normal” thing we just did last month, either. We all saw how great that worked out. No, I want real solutions and a REAL return to normal. I want farmer’s market and dinner out with friends. I want to run to the store without it being a big deal. I want to be able to make plans for the future again.

I want to feel safe in the world.

I just needed to let that out. Thanks for listening.

Posted in anxiety, escape, family, friendship, happiness, health, Life, Mental Health, Musings, People, random

Interesting Times

Hi! Since the last time I showed my face around here, I have: turned 45, tried and fell very short when helping my child with distance learning, lost both my bras for weeks at a time. I’ve- stopped shaving completely, then really regretted that when I made myself start again; resumed some weird, nervous habits that I thought were related only to my drug use, but I guess not. I have wondered daily if I were completely going off the deep end, or if…you know, my feelings were warranted, based on the information I had.

I have vacillated almost comically between wanting to make the best of things, and wanting to just throw the freaking towel in completely. Sometimes several times within the same day. Things are hard. They are weird. They are scary.

It doesn’t matter that I’m one of the luckier ones whose life hasn’t even changed all that drastically, really. I still work from home. Cam would have been off school anyway, it just happened a little sooner. It’s the way it feels. I can’t just go do whatever, whenever I want to- well, I can, I guess, but not safely. Even when the restaurants here were open for a few weeks, there was no way in hell I was going out. I knew that it was too soon, and I knew exactly what would happen. It gives me no pleasure to find I was right. Now everything is shutting down again, and this virus is worse than it has ever been here.

It feels like I am in limbo, because I am. Everything is uncertain and on hold. I catch myself holding my breath. A lot. Nothing about this feels good to me, I don’t like it, and…there’s not a single thing I can do about it. Other than keep soldiering on, trying to do my best.

Some days my best looks really great! I get a lot done and go to bed at night thinking “This isn’t so bad!”. Other days, the best I can do is peel myself off the couch and away from whatever I’m binge watching on Hulu long enough to make my kid a grilled cheese sandwich.

All this to say…whatever you are going through, wherever you fall on the spectrum, you are well within your right to be there. I don’t know a single person, not one, who is not struggling in some way. This is the weirdest event most of us have ever, and hopefully will ever, live through. It won’t go on forever. I don’t know what that means right now, but I do know that things will change, because that is simply what things do. They change.

One of the reasons I took a break from all of this was because I was so overwhelmed by the clamoring voices all around me, spouting out their opinions as if they were facts. It got to be too much, and I didn’t want to contribute to that, in case I was making things confusing for other people. I didn’t want to be part of it.

But I do want to check in and tell you all…hang in there. Do your best, whatever that looks like today. One way or another, this will all be behind us eventually.

Until then, I can’t recommend highly enough watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer from start to finish on Hulu. Now that’s what I call a great escape! 🙂

Posted in Addiction, adventure, faith, happiness, inner peace, Learning, Life, living, Mental Health, Musings, People, recovery, spirituality, women

1,825 Days

On this day, five years ago, I woke up and chose to stop putting drugs into my body. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it both is and isn’t a simple thing. You have to understand, and I know it’s hard if you haven’t lived it, but…when you are deep in the throes of addiction your brain tells you stories, and, because it’s your own brain talking to you in your own voice, and because you are very sick and things aren’t right inside of you, you no longer have the discretion to discern the truth from the lies. Your brain tells you that you can’t just stop on a dime- you have to plan ahead, you need to wait for the weekend, you just need to finish off the rest of the dope you have. You’ll have to call in sick, you need someone to help with the kids, tomorrow would be better, next month would be better. It’s going to be so hard. It’s going to feel so bad.

The truth is, you only need to be ready. Before you are ready, nothing will make it work. And nothing can force you to be ready until you arrive there on your own. That place looks different for everyone.

I want to share a part of my story that I’ve been reluctant to speak about for a couple of reasons; I am not in recovery, not in the traditional sense, anymore. One year ago in February, I made the decision to leave the 12 Step world and live life as a free agent. I was terrified, honestly. I had found myself thinking, for quite some time, that I wasn’t comfortable with defining myself by my addiction anymore. I was tired of rehashing the sordid details of my former life in order to identify with the newcomer. Healing from something while reliving it constantly began to feel counter-intuitive. I had done everything that was asked of me, all of it. Service work, step work, meeting attendance, and I felt I was at a crossroads- it was time for me to start sponsoring women or time to move on. I agonized over this decision. I worried that my brain was lying to me again, that I would leave and somehow, though it seemed impossible to me, wind up on drugs, right back where I’d started. But I knew that in order to sponsor women in their most vulnerable time, I had to be committed. I had to buy what I was selling 100%. Lives were at stake. And that made my choice pretty easy. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t tell someone there was only this one way to live for the rest of their lives because I no longer believed it was true. So, I left.

At first, it was really weird. But, once I found my footing, I realized this choice was the right one for me. I thought I was endangering myself by walking away, but what I did was…I set myself free, and gave myself permission to live my life the way I chose. I trusted myself to make good decisions. And it was the most loving thing I have ever done for me.

The reasons I have been hesitant to share this are not far-fetched at all. I would never, ever want to encourage another person to follow me out of recovery. Every one of us is different, and I think that, scared as I was of breaking from the norm, I knew in my heart that I was done with dope. I knew I wasn’t going back to that life. So, I don’t talk about it because I don’t want to give people the wrong idea, you know?

The second reason is…I don’t want to take away from the fact that I have accomplished something fucking marvelous. I know what my friends in recovery are going to think about this, because I thought the same exact way- pretty sure I even wrote a rude blog about it here somewhere: It only counts if you do it THIS WAY. Well, I’m sorry, but that just isn’t true for me. You know what is true? That my life is not ruled by substances of any kind anymore. That I don’t have to hide or lie or feel ashamed of myself because of the way I am living. That, in the past five years, I have made fundamental changes to my life that have allowed me to become the woman I had wanted so badly to become. The woman I was afraid I had lost all chance of ever being.

So no, I am not in recovery anymore. But that doesn’t change the fact that this morning, when I woke up and thought about what that number meant- One thousand eight hundred and twenty five days- I wasn’t overwhelmed with gratitude. I thanked God profusely and sobbed because my life is so incredibly beautiful. The freedom, the healing, the changes…they are so precious to me. The difference between who I am right now and who I was on this very day five years ago is profound.

When I shared that I didn’t go to meetings anymore with a friend of mine a while back, she said to me “Oh, so you’re cured?” in that “tone” one can get when they think they know something you don’t. Today, I would like to say this- I might not ever be cured completely, but I’m closer than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m free. I’m not afraid of myself anymore. I trust me. I’m so proud of myself. And nothing anyone else thinks about the way I move through life can change that.

So, happy anniversary to me.

Posted in family, Goals, health, kids, Life, motherhood, Musings, People, random, relationships, women

When This is Over

this too shall pass

When this is over, I will say yes to everything.

I will never be too tired or grouchy or lazy again.

When this is over, I will have barbecues and parties. I will have friends for lunch and fancy dinner parties for no reason.

When this is over, I will visit when my mother asks me. I will wander through my daughters garden and take my time, listen and look as she points out every flower. I will hug her and not let go for a very long time.

I miss her. I worry, you know.

When this is over, and I can move freely through the world again, I will remember. I’ll remember what it was like to fear the grocery store.

To fear the goddamn shopping cart.

To feel my heart race every time Cam touched a handle or a box.

When this is over, I swear I will go camping with Jen instead of trying to figure out how to get out of it.

I’ll find the time. I’ll make the time.

When this is over, maybe I’ll stop crying every day.

Or maybe I’ll cry for a long, long time.

I just really hope I’m here

I hope all of us are here

When this is over.

Posted in anxiety, faith, family, health, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random

Gratitude, Fear, and Compassion

gratitude in hard times

Here is a question for you- do you think gratitude and fear can coexist? Can they live in the same mind, spirit, body at the same time? If you would have asked me that question two weeks ago, I think my answer might have been different. But today, my answer is yes.

I know this to be true because I am living it right now, right in the chair where I sit. I am grateful, so incredibly grateful, for my health. For the fact that, in a few minutes, it will be time for me to start work and I get to do it in the comfort and safety of my own home, while my daughter sleeps peacefully in the other room. You have no idea what a blessing that routine and normalcy is for me today! I am grateful for the food in my fridge. And for the first time in my life, I have a true sense of gratitude for the people who are keeping our country intact- the nurses, the grocery store employees, the truck drivers, the delivery drivers. I just never gave it much thought before. But today, I am. I am so very grateful for them.

And right beside my gratitude is fear. I am afraid for my parents- my mom, especially, because for whatever reason she just isn’t taking this seriously. I’m afraid for myself and also my daughters, especially the little one who has reactive airways- in other words, asthma when she is sick. Losing all of the things I take for granted, the little luxuries in life like…running to the store, grabbing dinner out, visiting farmer’s market…that is scary, and surreal and weird. The last time I was in the grocery store, I ran through as fast as I could, wanting nothing more than to wash my hands. Counting the days past my last interaction with the world, hoping I don’t start getting a sore throat or a fever. Because it’s just Cam and I in this house, and I need to be able to care for her. This virus is in our community- I think it has been long before we got our first positive test- and I am not ashamed to admit I’m afraid. I think, if you are not a little nervous, you really should be. A little bit of fear, in this case, is healthy.

But from this gratitude and fear, a third thing was born, not just for me but for lots of people all around the world, and this has been the most beautiful part of all. Compassion. Compassion that makes people more generous and giving at once than I have ever seen. We are collecting money for families in need, giving whatever we can wherever it is needed. My sister-in-law started sewing reusable masks yesterday, and I bought a whole bunch from her so that I can give them away. She was making them for free for her family in the medical field, but she’ll need money to buy the stuff and now she’s probably got more orders than she can handle. People are donating blood, fostering animals, checking on neighbors. Giving and giving even when our lives are so precarious.

And how can that be? How is it that two weeks ago, we didn’t have it to give, and suddenly now we do? And I’m sure you gave what you felt you could before, right? I know I did- I gave my donation to the ACLU, to the United Way. I’d throw my extra dollar to St. Jude’s or whatever when I was asked. But suddenly, we are finding ways to dig deeper and give more, right? How is that?

Well, to me it’s pretty clear…when we get a reality check like the one we are getting today, you understand well- it’s people who matter. Our communities matter dearly to us. Our neighbors, our favorite local restaurants, the grocery clerk whose name we never learned- they matter to us. And by extension, their families and lives matter to us. Our protective instinct has been awakened, and though the circumstances are awful, our response is pretty breathtaking. We are remembering how to be a tribe. We are aware that we are a global community- some of us understanding it for the first time ever. What harms our neighbors, whether across the street or across the globe, can harm us as well. We’d do well to remember this when the danger has passed.

And so, as I sit here this morning, a bundle of nerves and love, gratitude, compassion, and fear…I will say to you what I have been saying to everyone lately. I love you all. Please stay safe.

 

Posted in advice, faith, family, health, home, inner peace, kids, Life, living, mindfulness, Musings, People, random, social media

Strange Times

It’s been a while, I know…possibly the longest I’ve gone without posting in over a year! I didn’t plan on this long hiatus, it just sort of happened. I got off of Facebook, and the silence and space that created in my life felt so good that it just sort of rolled over into everything else. I suppose you could say I was practicing “social distancing” in a pretty hardcore way before it was even cool.

Seriously, though- I had planned on resuming my posts while I was on vacation this week in Maine. As you can guess, those plans fell to the wayside in the face of the current SciFi movie that is reality right now. I was very conflicted all last week about whether to stay home or go ahead and go. Looks like I made the correct decision. It would suck to be trapped in a hotel room on the other side of the country right now, and that is probably exactly what it would have ended up being. There’s nowhere we can go to escape this thing right now, unfortunately.

That being the case, what we can do, though limited, is pretty simple. We can follow the instructions being given to us by our local officials. And if you feel like your local governing body isn’t quite up to speed, you can certainly take it upon yourself to do your part- stay home, limit contact to those living in your household, limit trips outside the house to necessities. Stop complaining- we all are well aware that the stores are out of toilet paper and pretty much everything else. Suck it up. Freaking out isn’t helping anyone. Be responsible about what you post and put some thought into what you believe- in other words, don’t incite panic in others and check the facts before you assume something is true.

This is a scary time right now! There is no arguing that fact. For sure this is the strangest event I have ever witnessed unfolding in my lifetime. It sure does change things, doesn’t it? I can’t speak for you, but for me…it’s made me realize a few things. One of them is the crazy amount of things I take for granted on a daily basis. I have never not been able to easily get whatever I needed from the store. I have never been told to stay inside, or had to be afraid to run into the grocery store. I have zero experience with being anything less than absolutely free to do as I please, and I promise you, when this is over with, I will view that freedom with a lot more appreciation.

Another thing I’ve realized is…I really want to live. I don’t mean just survive this thing, either, which of course is also true. I mean…holy shit, you guys! Life is finite. Of course we all know this on a certain level, but it seems like I just assume that I have all this time to do whatever, you know? But now…now I just want to gobble up all the experiences the same way I am gobbling up all the food in this house- with rash abandon.

I think we are all getting a very good lesson in living in the moment. None of us know what tomorrow holds- this has always been true, but now the point is really being driven home. So enjoy this day. Enjoy your children’s sweet faces, enjoy your good health, enjoy the quiet world. Take care of yourself, and take nothing for granted. We’ll get through this, one way or another.

Wishing you all safety and good health. Make wise decisions, for yourself and for all of us. Hang in there.