It’s ALL in Your Head

its all in your head

 

I’m just going to go ahead and warn you right now- if you are not in the right place to hear what I am about to say, it’s going to irritate the piss out of you. It has been my experience that, when I am being negative as fuck, the last thing I want to hear is someone telling me that maybe I should change my attitude. Also, if you are suffering from legit mental illness (and really, aren’t we all, to some extent), I mean, severe depression, etc., then you are excluded. But for the rest of us, the whiners, complainers, procrastinators, and the “I feel fucked over” population, this is for you. For US, actually, since I am right there with you most of the time.

I don’t know exactly when it started for me, but I suspect it was somewhere in my mid-30’s, when I began to feel this sort of pervasive dissatisfaction with my life. Weirdly enough, if I had to point out a distinct portion of my life as the beginning, it would be around the time that everything settled down for me and stopped being so completely chaotic. You would think, wouldn’t you, that once things stopped being so messy they started feeling better, right? Not in my case. Perhaps I was so used to the chaos and upheaval that, once the dust settled, it didn’t feel very exciting anymore. I think I have written about this in the past, the way I love a good challenge, and overcoming obstacles is so gratifying for me. I have dubbed it “The Phoenix Syndrome” because I get off on rising from the ashes.

But you can only burn your life to the ground so many times before it becomes exhausting. I am 42 years old now, and the thought of starting over, picking up the pieces after wrecking everything myself- it holds a lot less appeal to me. I have evolved into this strange creature who pays her bills on time, and watches carefully her processed food intake. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that I used drugs made partially from Drano, for Pete’s sake, and now I worry about the saturated fat content in a burger. Sigh. I am laughing about this now, but only because it’s true, and super weird.

So, my life settled down, and my mind began to change, and somewhere along the way, instead of just enjoying all the blessings of this incredible life I was living- clean, employed, blessed with a beautiful family, a nice house, enough of everything I needed- a little voice in my head started bitching, complaining, and feeling put out about everything, and it’s tenacity is astonishing.

This little voice never wants to do anything, and I mean anything- except of course, the opposite of whatever it is I happen to be doing at the time. If I am sitting on the couch, blissfully indulging in a Netflix marathon of Ghost Whisperer, the little voice is haranguing me because I really ought to be doing: The dishes, the laundry, or some type of meaningful interaction with my kid. Okay, so maybe the little voice is right. However, should I give in to the little voice, here is what inevitably happens: As I do the dishes, or the laundry,  the little voice will then say something like this: “You spend your whole life doing things you don’t want to do- when is it time for YOU, Courtney?” Or, in case I am playing Go Fish with the spawn, it says “You should really move this along. You could be doing something productive right now.”

In short, the little voice’s mission seems to be to make me as miserable as possible, no matter what I am doing. And, check it out, I am not talking about a psychotic break here. These are not disembodied voices that are barking directions at me. No, this voice sounds an awful lot like me, and I am nothing if not convincing. Much of the time, I buy into that shit, 100%.

And that is too bad, you know? Because the truth is, I deserve to enjoy my life. Every one of us do, to be honest. It is our God given right to be happy in this lifetime, however that looks to you. But every single time we listen to that shitty voice in our heads, we are bound to feel the opposite of happy.

So, what are you supposed to do about it? Well, this is the tricky part where I start trying to give advice about something that I haven’t mastered expertly just yet. I do well for a while, and then I backslide a little, start listening again. But I do know a little bit. Like, for instance, start noticing it. Start really paying attention to the thoughts in your head, hearing the critical voice when it starts talking. Because when you are aware of it, you can have a conversation with it. Your mind may say “You are so lazy. Everyone else keeps their dishes done, what is wrong with you?” And you can say, “I work my ass off all week long, I am the furthest thing from lazy, I am dealing with the loss of Jim right now (Ghost Whisperer reference, sorry), go away. I will deal with the dishes later.” You are allowed to defend yourself, even to yourself. My only advice to you here is that you have this conversation internally, unless you are home alone. People do tend to become concerned when you are having frustrated, one-sided conversations with yourself out loud.

Another thing you can do to combat this is to notice the tone of your thoughts, and, when they are negative and critical, redirect them. This happened to me yesterday, actually, when I was faced with the task of working in my enormous, weed filled yard. It was hot, and there was so much work to do, and I am not a big fan of manual labor of any sort. I started thinking about how much I wanted to be inside, doing nothing, and how shitty it was that I had to work all week and then spend my time off doing something I hated. And THEN, I looked around me. I was spending a sunny afternoon in my own yard, and people who loved me gave up time out of their busy lives to come help me, for free, clean up my yard. There was music playing, and kids laughing, and we got so much done! Suddenly, as I stood there, bent over at the waist, shoes and gloves full of fox tails, I broke through the spell that negativity had cast on me, and I could see the truth.

I was actually having a perfect day. I just had to be able to see it. Changing the conversation we have with ourselves, in our heads, is not easy, it is not quick, and it is not permanent. Like everything else worth achieving in life, it takes a lot of effort. But there are days now when I can nip it in the bud the minute it starts, and I always, always end up having a better time. I would guess that 90% of our experience of life is in the way we view it. If you let that little voice have too much power, you will not be able to enjoy anything. You could win an all expense paid, ten day trip to Disney World, and spend the whole time upset by how long the lines are for the rides, or worrying about your dogs back home.

So, basically- Pay attention to your thoughts. Listen to the way you are speaking to yourself. If your thoughts are lame, change them- you are not only allowed to do this, you are the only one who can. If the way you are speaking to yourself is shit, correct it. Don’t let your head talk to you in a way that you would never tolerate another person to. Remember, you are in charge of which thoughts you believe- it may not seem like it, but it’s true. The more you redirect yourself, the easier it becomes.

That’s it, that’s all I’ve got. Have a wonderful day!

 

Two Years Later

butterfly

 

No, this isn’t a reference to how long it’s been since the last time I posted, although it does seem that way. I just checked, and my last post was a mere four months ago. It was about election related stuff, though, and unrelated to what my primary goal of this blog claims to be- stories about a woman with a drug problem, trying to get her shit straight. If you go allll the way back to the beginning of this blog (I’m not recommending you do this, there is a lot of embarrassing stuff in there that I don’t even like to read) you will see that I have had lots of struggle with addiction, times when I had the upper hand, and times when drugs were kicking my ass. It’s all there. One thing no one can accuse me of is shying away from the truth. What I can almost always guarantee you is that.

I spent a LOT of time writing through the bad times, but for some reason, I slowed way down when things got better. I have been thinking lately that that isn’t fair. Everyone who struggles with addiction knows how it feels to struggle. Not everyone knows what life on the other side of that looks like. Here, I have the perfect opportunity to share my story with people, and I have been keeping it all to myself. Maybe no one gives a shit, I don’t know…but maybe one person will read this and feel a little more hopeful, and a little less like giving up.

After years and years and years of yo-yo recovery (she’s clean- nope, she’s relapsed…wait, clean agai-noooope, etc.), this past May, I picked up my two year coin. Over the past two years, I have struggled with many things, but the desire to use drugs has never been one of them. I have thought about drugs- I think about them in a myriad of ways, probably daily- but I have never wanted to use them, not once. I am going to just go ahead and admit right now, though, how little this has to do with my likelihood of using them. Many times I have relapsed with zero desire to use, but, finding myself in a particular state, gripped by the need to feel something other than the way I currently felt, I have, against my own will, gotten high. I know how crazy this sounds, but that’s kind of how you know you’re an addict. Your whole life is a series of events where you keep doing shit you have no desire to do, or even a burning desire not to do them. That’s just another fun filled day in the life of an addict.

So, as relieved as I have been to no longer have the desire to use, I had to change a lot of other stuff so that I didn’t find myself in that particular state that made me likely to use against my will. What are the things I had to change? Oh, just everything I hated about myself. No big deal. With no idea how to go about it, or even what it was, exactly, that I really hated. I had a few things to go on- one thing I finally realized the last time I got clean was that my behavior towards others, and even towards myself, was keeping me sick. Every time I screamed at my kids or tore down my ex, every time I looked at myself with such loathing, I was perpetuating a terrible and negative cycle that was keeping me sick. I wish I could say that I had this epiphany, and BOOM! I changed over night. That isn’t really how this works.

What I did do was, I stopped giving up just because I “failed”. Can you imagine if everyone gave up on everything the first time they didn’t get it right? Yeah, that’s not how most humans operate. Except, I’m an addict, always looking for immediate gratification, so this did not come naturally to me. But I kept at it. In the beginning, to be honest, there wasn’t much improvement besides the fact that I wasn’t high as a kite anymore. That’s because my drug of choice is a neurotoxin, and my brain was…how can I put this delicately? Fucking fried. I was still yelling at my kids, finding it hard to cope with life, unable to manage my finances, overwhelmed by things that came easily to other people. But I had hope, and I kept trying. Eventually, I started to be able to hear myself, and catch myself, and stop myself before the trouble started. Let’s not get the wrong idea, here. I still have a temper and a mouth that is faster than my rational brain, but it’s much, much better.

It took the better part of a year- maybe longer- for my brain to heal adequately so that I could relax and start really enjoying my recovery. Of course, I felt incrementally better month after month, I didn’t wake up one morning and discover I was human again. Recovery, in whatever form you do it, takes time. During that time of learning to manage my behavior, I was also dealing with the immediate wreckage my drug use had caused in my life and the lives of those I loved. Rebuilding trust with my kids. Dealing with my own guilt and shame. Learning how to move forward in spite of the pain I carried- and maybe will always carry- around with me.

But there is more, and I suspect, there will always be more. You clear away one layer of debris, and there is so much more work to be done, a whole new layer underneath. The most significant change in all of this was my attitude. Because I learned, through trial and error, and through working with my sponsor, that it feels so good to deal with the issues popping up- I find myself willing and eager to keep at it.

In the past year, I have started dealing with other things- my finances, my credit, my household, my parenting skills. I am learning how to have boundaries, and how to respect myself. I have even finally learned, at 42, how to take care of my body (not, like, shower. I have always done that, thank you), as in eating healthily, and exercising. I continue to work on my meditation practice, and pray daily. I go to meetings, and I have a support group I can turn to outside of meetings.

I could not have imagined, at the beginning of all of this, that I could have come this far in just two years. When I finally waved the white flag the final time, all I wanted was to stop hating myself, to stop letting that hatred spill out on the people around me. That was it. What I wound up getting was so much more. I might not always adore myself, but I am certainly not ashamed of myself on a daily basis. I don’t lay in bed at night filled with regret over everything I said and did in the day behind me. I am more loving, more patient, more aware of what I am putting out into the world.

So, if you are just starting out, keep going. Two years is not that long, in the bigger picture, to get your life back and then some. And the journey is amazing. Keep going. As they say- Don’t leave five minutes before the miracle happens.

Starting Today

women

 

It has been 87 million years since I have written a blog, mostly because I have been busy living my life, and Facebook has satisfied my need for attention and approval in a more immediate way. Ha! Also, ever since my brain has kind of healed from all the drugs I damaged it with, I find that I don’t feel as compelled to use my blog as therapy the way I once did. I have an actual therapist for that. But, this past few weeks, I’ve been itching to write a blog, and this morning, I almost had no choice.

Something has happened-you may or may not have noticed- but there is this guy from Celebrity Apprentice taking the place of Obama in the White House. I don’t know about you, but I find this very upsetting. Like, VERY upsetting. Not to mention scary as fuck. But I don’t want to go into all of the reasons it’s upsetting, scary, enraging, fucking backwards, and plain out wrong. If you live near a television, have the internet, can read, and have a whit of sense, you have already figured all that out. If you aren’t scared, upset, and enraged, then there’s no explaining it to you, anyway. Trust me, I have TRIED. And you are probably reading the WRONG fucking blog.

I have thinned out my friends on Facebook, deleting a bunch, unfollowing some that I couldn’t bear to delete. It took me a long time to do this. For a while, I thought I could convince people with facts, appeals to their common sense, or, failing that, their common decency. That didn’t work. So lets not go into how upsetting it is to realize that some people, people I thought were smart and good, kind of shattered that illusion by supporting Trump. Because, I’m sorry…if you support someone who has no respect for women,who is racist, who lies every time their mouth opens, who mocks the disabled, who believes sexual assault is okay, who…you know what? I’m going to stop the list there, and just say, if you support someone who embodies those terrible qualities, you are supporting those qualities. And that makes me think less of you. I can’t help it. But that’s not what I want to talk about, either.

As disgusted as I am over everything that is happening in our government right now, I have had some strange and hopeful thoughts about it, and I want to share them with you. They are sort of new to me, so hopefully, writing them out will help them make more sense to me, too. First of all, I’m kind of grateful for this past election season. It was awful. It made me madder and more disgusted than I have ever been in my life. It was a total shit show. But you know what? I paid attention, I REALLY paid attention, for the first time in my life. And because I was paying attention, I learned. I learned a lot of things, not the least of which was this: I learned what my values are. I learned what really matters to me. I learned that I am a feminist, that I believe in equality, TRULY, and that I am a bleeding heart fucking liberal, and proud of it. If Trump hadn’t run, and hadn’t been such a side show, I might not have ever learned about who I was. So something good kind of came of it, right? I mean, I have talked to a lot of people, and so many of them have learned so much about themselves and their values through this. We have discussed it with wonder on our faces- “Wow. I am REALLY a feminist! Thanks, Trump.” (We don’t say that last part. Give me a break.)

Anyway, my really weird thought is this: What if this is happening exactly the way it is supposed to? We just had eight easy, comfortable, happy, relatively peaceful years with the Obama’s. We could relax, for the most part. We took for granted that our rights were our rights, and no one was messing with anything. Then Trump won. I still don’t get it, but it happened. And everyone freaked out- especially here in California, where I live. I mean, we are pissed off! The world we thought we were living in got shaken to the core. And out of the deep rifts that resulted came a lot of ugly, nasty stuff. Racist, hateful shit popping up all over the country like festering boils. “Oh my God!” we thought, “Look what Trump has caused!” And it would be easy to blame him, because, lets face it, we just don’t like him. He’s a horrible person. But the truth? That stuff has been there, all along. He, much the way a hot compress on a boil brings all the shit to the surface, just brought it out into the light. And you know what happens when you expose the worst things to the light of day? You can deal with them head on.

I have never before been a political person, let alone any kind of an activist. I have learned a lot recently, but not as much as I need to know. I can tell a fake news story from the facts, usually, and I know where to look if I am having doubts. But there is much to learn. Today, I will be taking part in the Women’s March, here in my town, much like women are doing all over the world. And I am stoked to be doing it. But I also want to help in more meaningful ways. I want to protect my rights, and the rights of others, in a more direct way. And I don’t know exactly how to do that. However, I am willing to learn. And I have lots and lots and lots of friends who are just like me- they didn’t know, before, that these things mattered to them, but now they do, and they are pissed off, passionate, brilliant, and full of piss and vinegar. I almost feel sorry for the Trump administration. Almost.

There are a few things that Americans do so well in times of crisis. We come together, and we fight like motherfuckers. Today, I am going out to find my people, and get ready for whatever comes next. Look out, world.

 

Wasted

broken heart

 

There are few things that can bring the past back to me quite as viscerally as music can. Memories I might grasp for another time come sliding back to me, unexpected, with the right (or wrong) song playing in the background.

When you have the kind of past I have, it can be painful, sometimes- even the happy memories. Today, we were listening to the Dixie Chicks, a CD that once had permanent residence in my old Camry’s stereo. Cowboy, Take me Away came on, and I remember driving around, with the song turned up loud, the windows down, the sunlight streaming in- and this little tiny dark headed girl in her car seat in the back, singing along with me.

She’s all grown up now. Our lives were such a mess back then- well, my life was, and hers, by association. Any happy memories I can find, I cling to, because there just aren’t that many of them. It was a dark time for me, and I was very, very deep in my addiction. I didn’t know how to be a mother, or what it meant, or what, exactly, I was robbing her of. Oh, if only I had known. You know, my heart will very probably never heal from that. I know, I know- we are supposed to learn to forgive ourselves, to leave the past in the past…but I think there is a part of me that honestly doesn’t feel like I ought to forgive myself.  Like maybe punishing myself for the rest of my life is my penance for robbing my daughters childhood of the joy that was hers by right. I don’t know, but I do know this: However it is I feel, I won’t be talked out of it. Trust me, it’s been tried.

Heartbreak Town. I remember listening to that on our way to Reno, where I ran off to, to escape myself. There she was again, that little person in the back seat…always in the back seat. If you are curious, I didn’t fool myself into being someone different just because I crossed state lines. I was still me, still sick, still not a mother anyone should have had. Sometimes I try to imagine what it must have been like for her, but when I do, it hurts too much.

It is only recently- maybe just since she has been sort of a “grown-up”, or maybe it is because I am raising another daughter now, in such a completely different way- that I have started to sincerely wish there were some way I could go back, and do things differently. I know that kind of thinking is useless and foolish. I know I would be better off trying to make my amends to her now, by being the best mom I can NOW, and I do that, I do…but still. If I could just go back, just for one measly little day, and be tender with her. Give her my undivided attention. Just hold her, and love her, and do all the mommy stuff I have learned to do now…I would just really like to do that, that’s all.

This is a lot of stuff to carry around inside of one small heart. The memories, and the worry about what you may have inflicted upon another small heart, one that you created. To look back and see all of the time, and the chances, and the love you wasted. It doesn’t feel very good. I’m glad to say I don’t sit in this shit every single day, but when I do, I don’t even try to deny myself the opportunity to cry about it anymore. It’s a sad and terrible way that I chose, and if it didn’t make me cry, I guess that would mean I haven’t changed much, wouldn’t it? But I have. So at least there is that.

This Might Actually Be Fun

courtneylovesher40s

Good morning, and Happy Wednesday! The second best thing about a three day weekend is the shortened week, if you ask me. Not only do you get an extra day off, but you get one less day of work. I took Sunday off from exercising, pretty much, but on Monday, I was forced against my will to pile into the car with various dogs and kids, and take a walk on the beach. I had been feeling achy and depressed, a side effect, I’m sure, of the shitty gray weather we’ve been having here. I just wanted to stay in bed and watch HGTV (this is my new obsession- watching home renovation shows. It makes me feel like I am doing something, even when I clearly am not) but my ex, who was here hanging out with our daughter, insisted that I get my ass in gear.

I’m glad he…

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Week One Recap: The Good, The Bad, & Movie Theatre Popcorn — courtneylovesher40s

I can’t decide if I did pretty great last week, or if I completely failed…Of course, this is not very surprising, considering my all or nothing thinking. I have exceedingly high expectations, and set lofty goals, so- although it is often difficult for me to achieve what I set out to do, in this […]

via Week One Recap: The Good, The Bad, & Movie Theatre Popcorn — courtneylovesher40s