Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Curse of the Mommy

My mom came to visit me a few weeks ago. It was not our best visit ever. It was certainly not our worst. I only cried like, twice, the whole time she was here. Unfortunately, it was in a very busy restaurant at lunch time, and my make-up was PERFECT-so I spent a lot of time doing that weird, wide eyed, blinky face that girls do when they don’t want to ruin their mascara. Head tilted back, blink, blink, blink, waving your hands like fans at your face in some bizarre effort to, what? Dry the water out of your eyeballs? Anyway…

Something very odd happens to me when my mom is coming for a visit. For about ten days before she arrives, I am very, VERY excited. I love my mom! Everybody loves my mom- she is fun and outgoing, full of energy and laughter and encouragement. She’s quite the little whirlwind, my mom, and I am really and truly a fan. But you know…we all have many facets to our personalities. And she’s MY MOM. So, about four days before she is due to show up, I start to get a little stressed. At three days ’til, I begin to see my home through the eyes of the woman who raised me, and wonder how in the hell I never realized what a pig pen in the back alley of a dump my house is. Two days prior, I start to clean in earnest and simultaneously begin to loathe every living creature that lives in this house with me. Filthy ingrates. Do they think their cereal bowls are going to walk themselves to the kitchen sink? A few more days, and they probably would sprout legs and mosey on out the front door. I mutter a lot of very uncharitable things about the people I am surrounded with, and/or created myself, only kind of under my breath, and they try to stay out of my way.

I wrote something funny about this a long time ago, about how my mom can see dirt that no one else can see- dirt on other planets, even. I still stand by it. I don’t know what happened to me, but I got some kind of recessive slob gene that prevents me from giving a shit about how things look for longer than a few days. I just don’t care. I mean, I care what other people think of me, obviously, or I wouldn’t pick up EVER, no matter who was coming over. But it only bothers me to the degree that I allow myself to even notice. I really, honestly, don’t pay a whole lot of attention-maybe it’s a self-protective, learned behavior that I built up over the years just to keep myself from going nuts in the midst of my rubble. Maybe I’m just gravely disgusting. I don’t know. I do know, however, that in those two days before my mom gets here, those blinders come OFF, and I clean until I am physically incapable of doing one more thing. My mother has a beautiful home now, the latest in a string of beautiful homes she has lived in. I’m not saying they were fancy homes, by any means. But my mom can really put a house together, make it look homey and cozy and comfortable, in like five minutes. We were very poor when I was a kid, but our homes were always the nicest of all my friends.  Not overdone and anxiety provoking, as if putting your hand on the wall would be a fucking catastrophe, but attractive and inviting.  When I was younger, even after I’d gone out on my own, I loved bringing people to my mom’s house-it sort of made me feel like they could see where I came from and think, “oh, this girl is not at all the lame-o she seems to be. Look at how NICE her mother’s house is. She must be a nice girl, coming from such a pretty home.” Of course, I am way too old for that, now. Now the only thing her decorating skills and aptitude for neatness do for me is make me hyperventilate. And clean, really, really well, for two solid days before every visit.

Which, I think, is part of the problem. You see, by the time she comes rolling down my street in her sleek, silver BMW and pulls up with a happy wave in front of my ramshackle little home, I have worked up a serious attitude problem. I am upset that I am so tired, upset that my house is still not perfect, upset that I am upset, again, and also mad that I had to make myself and children presentable  on top of the stupid house. I am no longer ready for company, I’m ready for a stint in a psych ward. Why can’t my mom just love me as I am? Why do I have to work so hard to STILL fall short? Yeah, I go through this every single time.

I want to tell you- she has gotten SO much better in the last couple of years. She tries really hard to not criticize my place or me, because she knows  I will completely freak out, I’m sure. See, I become hyper-vigilant and painfully sensitive to her every comment. I am ready to pounce at the slightest of slights. Last time she was here, after busting my ASS for days, do you know what she said to me that sent me over the edge? She said “Why don’t you wipe down your garbage can, Courtney? Gross.” Hmm…okay, not the nicest comment ever, and probably unnecessary, but worth remembering and rehashing and repeating to my coworkers and friends? Probably not. I believe my reply to her was “Well, it IS where I keep my GARBAGE, mom. Nobody eats out of it.” But I was thinking- ‘two days straight of busting my ass to clean, and she notices the fucking garbage can?’. The minute she left, I scrubbed that bastard, then yelled at Devon. I don’t know why I yelled at him, but it helped.

My mom loves me, I know, more than anyone else in the world. She thinks so much of me and has such confidence in me, she is so sure of my capabilities of world-domination, that I think it is really easy for me to disappoint her. I know for a fact that she does not set out to hurt me- as a matter of fact, I don’t even know if she knows that she does. I act like such an asshole when we are around each other, she probably just thinks that’s how I am now. Actually, she thinks it was all the drugs- she thinks I am stuck in a perpetual amphetamine headlock. I’m not saying there isn’t, maybe, some element of truth in that…I know I am a little high strung (a little?! Ha!). But, HELLO? Where does she think I got it? Ask anyone who knows my mom, and they will be able to tell you, for sure, it was not my dad who could be a little…intense.

Well, I better publish this before I chicken out. If she gets mad at me, I will totally flip out! Just kidding.

Maybe.

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As Promised, Part 2

Hello again…So, this morning I was sharing the first part of something I wrote a few years ago about the end of my drug addiction (hahaha, some of us know that there is REALLY no end to drug addiction, but what I mean is, the end of that very loooong and grueling phase. I call it my twenties.), what it was like and how I felt. I think a lot of times we picture (and I include myself in this as well) drug addicts as unloved junkies and street people, low-life’s and thieves, “bad” people. A lot of times, they are those things. I certainly was. I knew how to behave myself when necessary, but it was hard to pull off a lot of the time. And anyone close to me at all could tell you that I was selfish, mean, manipulative and out for myself, period. I didn’t start out that way, and neither do most of the people that end up in the places addicts end up. We are somebody’s children. We have brothers, sisters, mom’s & dad’s. Friends who miss us, people who worry themselves sick over us, people we haven’t talked to in weeks, months, years. We have children who we lost or ruined or we can’t face. We are people who, in our sickness, walk around with a terrible loathing of ourselves because the only thing wrong with us is a thing we do to ourselves, a thing that is killing us, and we STILL can’t stop. We gave up our dreams, our lives, our health, our futures and we can feel our own lives slipping away, and we can’t just put it down. That’s all that I needed to do-just stop. But I couldn’t seem to do it. Here is the rest.

10/10

You cry for two months solid before you finally give up the fight, before you know with every cell in your body that you just cannot bear one more second of this perverse existence. You no longer even care what is on the other side of where you’re jumping, because it has to be better. Nothing could be worse than this. And so, you jump.

You expect to be bored, and to be boring. You expect to lose your edge, to feel uncool, to never have fun again. You expect to meet nerdy, boring men, get fat and live a mundane and unmentionable life. You believe you have had your fun. But you are so broken that you think that might be okay,  and so you go.

What you don’t expect is for your heart to break open like a flower that has finally found the sun. You have no way to prepare yourself for all the feelings that rush over you like friends who were desperately afraid you would never arrive. You feel full to the brim with hope and ripped in half by guilt, in turns, but you don’t use. It doesn’t even occur to you, for some miraculous reason. You have gotten a taste of something new, something heady, and mysterious, & beautiful, something that lets you rest for the first time in a million years. And you want more. Of course you want MORE!  You are you, after all, but still- this is something altogether different than anything you could have conceived.

The taste of food is like magic all of the sudden. The sun on your skin is to be relished, not escaped from. Your cheeks ache from laughing, your skin becomes rosy, your eyes are blue, and they sparkle. At night, you wrap your child as close as your arms will allow, and you are there with her through the night. You can’t believe how much you love sleeping, and you can’t believe how you fought against it for years, as if it were the enemy. When you wake up in the morning, you are excited about what the day will bring, and when this occurs to you, you press your face into your pillow and you cry. You cry because you forgot what it was like to feel excited about your life, to be glad to be alive, to have hope.  You forgot what it was like to be free, except that all along you had tricked yourself into thinking you were doing what you wanted, partying it up. Funny, not one memory from the past eleven years could match, could even come close, to this eager, happy, hopeful, brand-new feeling you had now. And all you did today so far was open your eyes.

Without realizing it, you have resumed your conversation with God, one that you had put on hold many years ago. It seems reasonable to you that God has been around the whole time, keeping his eye on you, and that it was your shame that kept you from facing Him. You knew what God had blessed you with, how much you were given, the ease with which you could have moved through life if you had chosen too. You had never really believed in sin, but if you did, then throwing away the gifts that God had bestowed on you at birth, that would be one.

God is cool, though. He understands more than he is given credit for, and he certainly has a better perspective. Maybe you were supposed to go through this, maybe it was a lesson. Maybe it was just a choice. Either way, it’s good to have God around again. So good, actually, that you make it a habit to talk to him daily.

Oh, but there’s more. You meet a guy, and he’s not really nerdy or boring, but he does treat you with respect and consideration. You do something totally out of character, and like him despite all of that.

He helps you navigate this new life, and he is exactly the right person at exactly the right time. There seems to be a lot of that going on lately. You get a real job, and keep it, and keep on keeping it, and you never once call in sick because you can’t bear the thought of facing another human being. You open a bank account- this simple act, nothing at all to most people, has you bursting with pride for days. You are surprised to find that people LIKE you, the REAL you,  almost everywhere you go. What’s more, you find yourself understanding why they do. You laugh easily and often, you are engaging and funny and confident. Why wouldn’t you be confident?If you could overcome THAT, well…the rest is just cake, right?

Hmm…so that is all I am going to share for now.  There is more, but that feels like a really good place to stop. I will decide later if I want to put the rest of it out there or not. Anyway, I hope you got something out of reading this, or at the very least, enjoyed it. I’ll be back soon!

Memory Lane in a BAD Neighborhood

Well, hello, strangers. I haven’t had a lot of time (or the inclination) to write much lately- life has been busy, and filled with a lot of stuff I don’t feel qualified to handle. Unfortunately, there IS no one else, so I don’t have a lot of choice. Work has been insanely busy and I’ve been trying to put in as much overtime as I can (as it turns out, that’s not a whole lot in my case), the little daughter has made it her mission in life to see how many times per day she can come perilously close to killing herself via a multitude of dangerous activities. The big daughter is also trying to get herself killed, only she, it is obvious, wants the old “suicide-by-mom” thing. She is the winner, this week, of the crazy making award. And also, my car is in the shop for a repair that is exorbitantly expensive for a thing that isn’t even freaking broken (timing belt). So I have been reliant on others to taxi me about since Tuesday. In other words, I’ve left my house ONCE.  So, because I’ve been sticking close to home and trying not to kill my children, I’ve had time to dive into the piles of crap I have squirreled away in boxes and bags in every nook and cranny of my home. I went through a small crate and large drawer that were crammed full of notebooks-everything I had written from 1993 forward.  I put my notebooks in chronological order, reading through each one, something I had never done before. What emerged, when taken altogether like that, was a really sad, really clear life story of a troubled, unhappy, desperate girl who has TERRIBLE taste in men. But there was some really great, hopeful stuff in there, too. That’s where I found what I’m posting today, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when I stumbled across it the other day. It’s the story of how I felt when I finally got clean and got my life back. (written three years later around the time I relapsed…again…I must have been trying to remind myself of the truth). I am transcribing it word for word, so bear with the structure and the jumping of tenses-I never dreamed it would ever be seen by anyone but me.

10/2008

Today, it dawned on me that this mental beating I give myself every time I make this choice, it is exactly how I felt almost constantly for the 11 solid years I sacrificed to my addiction. Now, I say “almost constantly” because I do clearly recall having SOME fun, albeit bizarre, times in there. But I knew, I knew, I KNEW, as surely as I knew my own face, that I was doing myself a terrible disservice. The way that I kept on and kept on and kept on living that way, until finally it had been YEARS- I knew I was cheating myself, my mom, and my daughter. Just about every one who loved me, or who got sucked into the abyss that was my life, got the short end of the stick.

At some point, you realize you are using now JUST to stay two steps ahead of your own terrible reality sinking in. When you are already so weakened, so compromised, so ghostly, it is terrifying to entertain the thought of actually turning around & seeing the path of destruction you left in your wake. It’s just too, too much.

What I didn’t know then that I do know now, is that continuing to claw your way blindly and frantically ahead is not the answer. It is familiar, and how you do it, and strangely comfortable despite how it looks from the outside. When you are in the middle of  addiction, and it is YOUR horrible, bleak life, you are totally in your element. You know many other creatures just like you, in varying degrees, you have a language, a culture, a kind of code all your own, and you have lived in the shadows for so long that venturing outside of your tiny world causes you extreme discomfort. You no longer know how to interact properly with normal folks, you are too loud or too silent, too nervous, too shifty, too angry, too flippant, too self-involved to even notice how out of sync you are half the time. You get irrationally angry and immediately defensive when the slightest threat is even perceived. This is how you keep folks at bay, being short fused. People don’t press when they are afraid of what might set you off. You are moody and unhappy and you hate every single thing that there is, especially yourself. Except for your daughter. When you look at her, you hate yourself more than you even thought possible, but you love her in the deepest, most tender way. That love is like a weight on your back, only you can’t tell if it is making everything even harder, or if it is the sole thing keeping you planted on earth, or both. Maybe it’s both. But you look at that girl and your throat closes, and your eyes burn, and you can no longer escape the cloak of your despair.

Oh, I am so sorry, but I have to start work right now! There is more, and I will just make it a separate post later today. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed this so far…it truly is that way when you are strung out for so long. It’s a nightmare, and you can’t even figure out what is wrong with you while it is happening to you. In case you ever wondered why “those people” are the way they are and do what they do. It’ s very sad. But it CAN get better, and if you check me out later, you can read the rest.

Silly Poem

Twas the eve of my birthday,

I couldn’t care less;

I was too fat to fit into

My little black dress.

And it wouldn’t matter

If it wasn’t so-

For tomorrow is Tuesday-

(A work night, you know)

With no babysitter,

And no outing planned-

I shall simply sit home

With remote in my hand

Thinking of birthdays

From years gone by-

Getting so wasted,

I thought I would die;

Waking up fully clothed

On the floor by the bed

With the phone off the hook

Resting under my head.

Pantyhose off

Make-up still on

The house has been ransacked-

But nothing is gone.

Memorable nights,

I, alas, can’t recall

Too bad, as I hear

That I had quite a ball…

But that was back then

And this is right now-

When that doesn’t sound

Like much fun, anyhow.

Eh! I won’t worry

Or even give thought

To whether I’ll have

A good birthday or not-

Because, after all

I’ve had more than my share

Of birthdays so awesome

It’s not really fair

Besides, I can barely

Stay up ’til eleven;

And nobody’s excited

To turn thirty-seven.

Wow! It’s been a while since I’ve written anything that rhymed, and it was hard. Anyway, that wore me out, so I’m going to go to bed now…but I wanted to contribute something here, today, since I was so quiet for so long.

I hope you all have a wonderful night, I will definitely (try to ) write something tomorrow. Goodnight!

Time Flies By…

Hellloooo! Man, if I can’t manage to finish and post this blog, then I give up. I have been trying for what seems like a very long time to blog about SOMETHING…but for one reason or another, I either couldn’t finish it, and/or decided not to publicize my most private goings-on. I’m fairly certain my life is pretty averagely dysfunctional, but it really makes me wonder about the secrets within families and between people who are closely bound in ANY kind of relationship. I used to talk about everything with anyone, and I still do talk very openly about a lot of stuff-most stuff, even. But time and experience taught me (the slow and painful way, naturally) that some things are not open for discussion. If you discuss something, you are inviting the opinion, advice and judgement of the person you are confiding in, and you just never know who you can really trust 100%. I used to have the biggest mouth in the entire world- I didn’t mean to, and when I said I promised not to tell, I meant it. But even when I tried my hardest, I’d let some small detail slip, and then get so nervous trying to backtrack that eventually, I’d just miserably repeat the gossip, verbatim. Now, I’m older, and not only do I have more self control than I once did, but I also don’t care nearly as much about other peoples issues. That sounds mean, but it’s at least a good indicator that I’m trustworthy. By the time you finish telling me your secret, I’ve already forgotten the first part. Also, if someone wants to know something I don’t want to tell, I just say “yes, I know, but I’m not telling you, so quit fucking bugging me.” which was hard for me in decades past. Ahh…the finer points of growing up.

Speaking of which, my birthday is just a few days off- I am blown away that I am turning 37. Not because I feel like I am old, really, but because I can’t believe how insanely fast my life is going by. It feels like as soon as I get used to being who I am, where I’m at, everything changes again…I honestly remember the day that I turned ten years old so clearly; I was, what? Fourth grade? I sat at the very top of the monkey bars and contemplated the fact that I was now a DECADE old. From here on out, my age would have TWO numbers in it. I literally thought about that, twenty seven years ago, in Fresno, California, at Del Mar Elementary school. That same little girl is still right here, as well as the chubby middle school kid, the mouthy teenager who thought she knew it all. That teenager succumbed to a lifestyle that took her away from dreams she never even had a chance to start dreaming, and that teenager gave way to a young woman who was beautiful and insecure and sick, funny, weak, smart and unkind. Lots and lots of things occurred, lots of time went by, and she didn’t go very far. That same, scared, defeated girl is still here, too. I have been so many different women in my lifetime…life is not perfect, but at least today I am not afraid. I am not terrified of tomorrow. I don’t have to rely on anyone else for my life to move forward. Sometimes I forget the difference between FEELING AS IF my life depends on someone else, and HAVING my life rely on someone else. I’m okay with the person I am today. I turned out all right after all!

There were some blissful times in my life where I really kind of had it all…well, not “all” in the sense of tangible, luxurious things. I had none of that. What I actually had was NOTHING. No rush, no worries, no responsibilities, no place I needed to be. I just did my thing, all the time, partying, up for nights in a row, staying wherever I wound up and never feeling like I had anything less than all the time in the world to get down to business.  I dragged that stage out quite a while past where it was appropriate, and it wasn’t the same anymore. I felt time going by, felt the need to be more, have more, see more than I was seeing from that place. So I moved along, finally, and started filling up my life with grown up things. I enjoyed, and still enjoy, the sense of achievement that comes with accomplishing a dream, however small. What I don’t like is the worry and problems that come attached to everything I love or want or value. I worry about my kids, my job, my relationships with people. I worry about money and bills, my car, my phone and my laptop. I worry about my teenager not fitting in, and then about her fitting in too well. I worry about things that happened a long time ago, and things that may very well never happen. I NEVER used to worry about stuff, and now it’s always happening, like background music…I’m humming along, not even aware of the song. Also, I feel stretched a little thin, a lot of the time. These are the things I don’t love about this phase of my life. I want to be calm enough to enjoy all the good stuff that is right in front of me, but there’s so much to do, and so many things going on, and I get that tight, tense, angry feeling…like one little minuscule thing, and I’m going to snap. I don’t like all the chores and rules and activity of being this kind of adult. I feel like I still haven’t quite caught on yet.

Every year, around my birthday, I sort of look at my life and see what’s what, and come up with an idea of where I’d like to go next. Things I’d like to work on, eliminate, think about, and so on. This year, I just want to cut the shit. I want to stop knowing what I need to do, and doing something else instead, and then hating myself for it later. I want to plant my feet firmly on the earth and do what is best for myself, even when I’m scared to death of what that could mean. I want to enjoy the beautiful faces of my daughters, and never forget for a minute how blessed I am or how fast it goes by. I want to find the right words to say to Aisley, to make her softer. I want my Camryn never to have a reason to be so hard. I want to be with people who love me and have my best interest at heart, and I want to recognize when that is not the case. I want to laugh more, cry some, and be angry a LOT less. I want to slow down. I want to stop running, and just slow down. What is the point to this life if I’m too busy to see all of the real and valuable things it contains? I want to remember how much I love, and am loved. That’s my goal this year…and maybe the rest of them, too.

I’m wondering if you guys have that same, surreal feeling about your life ever? Does it seem impossible that you could be however old you are? Are you a worrier, and if so, have you always been, or is it new? Thanks for reading, and I’m so glad to be back!