Posted in adventure, Blogging, Life, photography, random

Snapshots of My Life

Here are my favorite photos taken this past week:

This is Camryn, standing on a cliff, high above the beach. Doesn’t it look like she is right on the waters edge? I love this picture!

This one was taken from the balcony of a hotel room in Cannery Row-Aisley, my older daughter, was getting dressed for a modeling shoot and I was visiting with the photographer, Jamie MacIsaacson, a super nice guy, and his wife Amanda.

As an aside, it’s beyond scary to meet with photographers you don’t know for the first time, because…well, people can be weird, and creepers exist. Which is why I tag along to most of Aisley’s shoots, and carry a stun gun in my bag. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I seriously almost zapped myself digging around in my purse yesterday. Luckily, these people were amazing and operation “yell like banshees and stun anyone who moves” did not have to be initiated. Speaking of Aisley, here’s a photo for you:

It was FREEZING outside, and she did jumping jacks between sets to keep warm. But she never complains, and I am always so proud of her!

The beach down the coast towards Big Sur. It was so windy!

And finally, my favorite, the Calla Lily. This is how you know Spring is here, on the Central Coast. They pop up everywhere and they are so beautiful!

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Posted in advice, anxiety, Blogging, family, Learning, Life, motherhood, parenting

An Uncomfortable Post- I Need Your Advice.

help

*Although this post does mention I am not a Trump supporter, it is not really about that. Please hang in there. I am super nervous about posting this, but I really need some perspective.

I feel like I need to preface what I am about to say with this- I am about as Liberal as they come. I was one of those that were devastated and flabbergasted by Trump’s election. I don’t even really know what else to say about it, other than I’ve sort of accepted the reality of what is happening, and, finding no other real viable solution, I’ve taken a massive step back from all things politics. I know this is rather cowardly of me, but what the fuck am I supposed to do, when I truly believe nothing I do can have any significant impact at this point? I stay away from the news. I don’t keep up. Every time something filters through to me, it’s awful and goes against what I believe to be the right way, and it’s like a punch in the gut. So I retreat. For now, until I can cast my next vote. So, there you have it.

I understand that I exist in a world where I am going to come into contact with many people, every day, who believe in different things than I do. That is fine. This is America, we still have the freedom of choice. I don’t walk around waving a banner with my political leanings, ethical and moral code, and specific belief system. It’s kind of like the old “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” thing from the military, except not about sexual preference. It’s about not getting into something intense and upsetting in an inappropriate setting. Unfortunately, sometimes this shit comes to you, and no matter how hard you try to sidestep that shit, it keeps coming.

Oh, you guys…listen. I can handle lots of stuff, I really can. But this has got me SO upset. I recently became reacquainted with a guy I knew somewhat, years ago, because our kids are in the same class. There is absolutely NO reason why I should have to know anything about his political belief system, except for he is one of those who REALLY wants to bring me over to the other side. You have to believe me when I say THAT WILL NEVER EVER EVER EVER HAPPEN. And I just don’t think this is something I should have to be subjected to in the few minutes after school, while just waiting for the fucking bell to RING, already. But whatever. I can just deflect, ignore, or even say “Yeah, I don’t support the (insert whatever insane thing it might be), and there isn’t enough time to get into it.

Then, one day, I innocently asked this person how work was going- I thought this was a safe topic, right? I still want to be friendly, I just don’t want to talk about making America great again. And that’s when the first incident happened. He rolled his eyes and said “Pssh, those fucking Mexican’s on that job…I ought to call ICE on them.” And I felt my soul shrivel up inside my body. It was one of those awful moments where I was so shocked by what he had just said, and my eyes darted around to see if any of the other parents milling about had heard him, and I just wanted to stand up and say “I am not that kind of white person! Eject, Eject!” But I didn’t know what to do, so I just said “That is awful!” And then he said, he said!!! “I know, tell me about it!” But I had meant that what he said was awful, not that I was agreeing with him! Oh my God!Β  But the bell rang, and I high tailed it right the fuck out of there.

Another day, he reported gleefully that ICE was doing raids all over California, deporting illegal immigrants. I just said “Yeah, I don’t support that.” My standard refrain, to which he replied “Why? What about all of us who worked so hard to be here legally?” And I thought ‘who the fuck is he talking about? Did he immigrate here? Am I missing something?’ But again, bell rang, I ran. I mean, this is no way to live, but I guess I was just too chicken shit to stand my ground. Not only was I starting to dread these interactions, but I was growing to loathe myself for being so unable to speak my own truth back at him.

Then, yesterday, something really awful happened. He very kindly, and without me asking him to do this, brought my daughter’s backpack by my house that she’d forgotten at school. His daughter had come here for a birthday party, which is why they knew where I lived. I went outside to say thanks, and out of nowhere, he brought up another little girl in the class who was good friends with his daughter, and how she was Muslim, and he started GOING OFF about Muslim’s and how their “bible” encourages raping white women (I am not making any of this up) and about genital mutilation and on and on…and his daughter was sitting RIGHT THERE. Listening to every word that came out of his mouth. When I looked at her, she looked mortified. I put my hands over her ears and I said, as gently as possible, “Do you really think you should be talking like this in front of her?” He would not be dissuaded. He kept going off. It segued into this whole thing about Trump, and I tried, I really did, to diffuse the situation, but he was kinda freaking out, and I was super caught off guard, and it just wasn’t good.

Listen…I don’t care who you voted for, that’s fine, whatever. But this went into a whole different realm of racism and hatred and ugliness. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, and every time I tried to say anything, he yelled over me, and finally I just said “Dude, you need to calm down- you’re going to give yourself a heart attack.” I came inside and tried to calm down, and like five minutes later, he called and asked if Cam could come play with his daughter and I SAID YES. What the fuck is wrong with me? I’m telling you guys, the need to be liked is STRONG with me. It’s a real fucking problem. I actually left my kid there for like 30 minutes before I came to my senses and made up some story about forgetting about some prior thing and that I needed to pick her up. That was a super bad call on my part, and I’m just going to own it.

He asked if they could have a play date today. I said maybe. I talked with Cam’s dad last night and explained what had happened, and he (who by the way does not share my political beliefs at all) said absolutely not. He couldn’t believe I let her go over there in the first place. I’m sorry this is so long, but I am almost done. I woke up this morning, and spent a lot of time researching the Muslim faith, just to educate myself in case this came up again- I already knew that what he was talking about was Muslim extremism, and not your everyday, average Muslim, but I wanted to confirm what I thought. I know that the odds are, even if I do have to be subjected to another meltdown like that, I won’t be able to state my point, or I will be so rattled that I won’t be able to formulate an intelligent sentence. So, I did what I do best- I sat down and wrote him a message outlining how he had every right to think however he wanted, but that I thought it was fucked up to say things like that in front of his kid, and I worried about her repeating those things to her Muslim friend at school. And furthermore, I was worried about what he might say in front of my child, if he had no problem speaking that way in front of his own. I said it as nicely as possible, but you and I both know it’s not going to go over well.

My question to any of you who have made it this far is this- do I send the message? Will it even do any good at all, or will it just make life weird for my kid at school, and me every time I see this person? If I don’t speak up, isn’t that being dishonest? Part of me wants to scream back just as vehemently that everything he stands for makes my skin crawl, and part of me fears that will just add fuel to the fire. I don’t know what to do, or how to handle this.Β  I do know I have handled it incredibly poorly so far. I am seriously in knots over this. Can I also just add, I realize that not all Trump supporters are like this, this is an extreme situation that goes way beyond that. I do not mean to be divisive, I am just truly upset and looking for guidance here.

Thanks. Sorry again that this is so long.

Posted in Blogging, Life, motherhood, People, random, writing

Three Things, Late Again

three flowers

I can see a bad habit emerging here, but I do have an explanation- I just didn’t feel like writing yesterday. I mean, writing a blog. I worked on my novel some, after dealing with some technical issues (mine, not the computer) with Word in the early morning hours. Not only did I not feel like blogging, I didn’t even check my stats compulsively yesterday, or any of that. First time since December that I can recall just checking out of here like that. I needed a break, I guess. But enough of that- here are my final three things for February:

  1. Housework. I have been really, really trying to keep my house picked up lately, and, at the ripe old age of 42 it finally hit me- you have to do this shit every single day, don’t you? Like, if I don’t pick up the house every single day, it looks like hell again. I am both outraged and saddened by this fact- and I know it to be fact, because I didn’t really pick up the living room last night and, even though it was clean in here yesterday morning, it looks pretty messy right now. There is a giant pile of unmatched socks on the coffee table, next to several pieces of sketch paper abandoned by Camryn, a jacket and a pair of Uggs on the floor, and the “couch blanket” half on, half off the couch. There is also an empty laundry basket, a backpack, and a bathrobe on the couch. I was busy working on the kitchen last night, I didn’t quite make it to the living room. Maybe I should just work in the kitchen? But seriously, I went online, searching for a housekeeper yesterday, then realized I could be saving that money for fun stuff if I just managed to keep the house clean on my own. I mean, it’s never happened yet, but people change. Right?
  2. Worry. I don’t mean to brag, but I kind of consider myself a professional worrier. I am so good at it that when I run out of relevant things to stress out about, I am an expert at making up scenarios in my head in which things could theoretically go terribly wrong, and then I worry about those make-believe things. This morning, I found myself worrying that my tax refund would be intercepted by various government agencies that I owe money to, but don’t remember owing money to. Like, what if there are a bunch of things I have forgotten about, and they all take part of my money, and then I am expecting all this money, and I don’t get any of it?! What will I do then? Well, a) that isn’t going to happen, because it’s a made up scenario, and b) even if it did, I would just do what I always do- keep going. Still, it makes me anxious, just thinking about it. That’s how good I am at worrying.
  3. Gratitude. I think a good way to wrap this up is some perspective on all of the stuff I just wrote. How lucky am I to have this messy little house? How awesome is it that I have any house at all? There was once a time when I would have given anything to have even a crappy studio apartment of my own to lay down my head in at night, and now I have a whole house! With two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a laundry room, a big old yard…it might not be fancy, but it’s a lot more than I’ve had before. It’s a lot more than I should have wound up with, considering my former trajectory. And even if the imaginary government agencies take every penny of my tax return, I still have a great career and a paycheck I can depend on. So I need to be be grateful for all the blessings in my life, rather than feeling overwhelmed or worried. I am going to be okay. I am always okay.

And that is the best I can do for today. As always, have a speedy Friday, and may your weekend go by slow as molasses.

Posted in Addiction, anxiety, Life, Musings, People, recovery, relationships, twelve step

Learning to Like Myself

liking yourself

Oh my God, this is so weird. I had to…strike that; I got toΒ buy a new computer yesterday. I had a little incident with my laptop (Best Buy broke it when I brought it in for help with my mouse, and now they are charging me to fix it…I know, I know, don’t even get me started) and I can’t really go without a computer, being as how I work from home. I was going to have to buy a desktop soon anyway, I just wasn’t counting on it being this soon. Either way, here I am, trying to adjust to this enormous screen, and to writing from a different room in my house. Small things, but jarring, just the same.

The thing is, yesterday, when I figured out a way to purchase this (very freaking expensive) computer on my own, when I brought it home and set it up all by myself, I felt like a WOMAN. I mean, yeah, I am 42 years old, so you might assume that I felt this way all of the time…well, you would be wrong. Most of the time, I am still pretty much fumbling my way through life, a teenager stuck in a really unfortunate body. You have to remember, I literally partied my way from 13 to basically 40, with some pauses throughout. I am still figuring stuff out. Yes, I do manage to hold it together pretty well, and yes, I probably don’t give myself enough credit for the things I have accomplished, but…well, it’s hard for me to trust that this isn’t all some fluke, to be honest. That I haven’t just gotten lucky a bunch of times in a row and that’s why things are generally okay.

So when I managed to pull this off yesterday, saving myself from a really difficult week of having to figure out where I could work and when, I felt pretty together. I smugly patted myself on the back and thought “You can do ANYTHING, Court. You are the best.” (I didn’t really do this, but you get the idea.) I went off to my meeting last night feeling tired, but capable and confident.

And then…a person showed up at my meeting last night who knows me only from my active addiction. This person, having lived in close proximity to me, knows intimately how insane I was when I was using. There is no way for me to change that first, ongoing impression that I made. And it makes me feel bad. Really, really bad. I have this crazy urge to prove how much better I am, how different I am, how good I have become. This is really nuts because I don’t really have any type of relationship with this person. I don’t see them on a regular basis, I don’t interact with them on a personal level. What in the world is this about? Even now, while I am writing this, my body feels so uncomfortable.

You know what it is really about? It’s about me needing outside approval. It’s about me needing everyone who comes in contact with me to like me, whether it’s the dudes who work at Best Buy who broke my laptop, or a person who had the misfortune to witness me at my worst. And the reason I need them to like me is because I still haven’t really mastered liking myself- I’m still looking for acceptance from others to feel validated. That really needs to change. Not only can I not control what other people think about me, I have no idea what they think about me- I’m just assuming the worst, and running with it. Most importantly of all, though, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what my old neighbor thinks of me, or what most people think of me, really. It matters how I think of myself. That’s what I really need to work on.

So what is the truth, then? The truth is, I am becoming someone I can trust. That trust was broken pretty badly, and just like any relationship, when the trust is gone, it takes time to build it back. I am working my way there, bit by bit. The truth is, it is vital that I learn to like myself, exactly as I am, because all of my other relationships depend on me liking who I am. And I should like myself, I am a good person. I try every day to be a good person. Another truth is, not everyone is going to like me, and that’s okay. That’s just life. I don’t need to preemptively defend myself, or prove myself. I just need to keep doing what I am doing, and know that is enough.

Also, I really need to talk to those guys at Best Buy. I’ll let you know how that turns out. Wish me luck.

Posted in adventure, Blogging, Life, photography, random, travel

My Weekend Adventures

Just wanted to share some photos from my hike this weekend, and the beach near my house.

This is Point Lobos, a Little South of Carmel.

More Point Lobos 😍

Slightly more moody shot of Point Lobos.

Here is the beach in Sand City, near where I live. Look at that parasailing dude…I want to try that!

Almost sunset at my neighborhood beach. I’m very blessed and lucky to live in such a beautiful place!

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, Blogging, faith, Goals, inner peace, Life, People, recovery, twelve step

One Step Closer

one step closer

Yesterday, I went on a gorgeous hike at Point Lobos State Park with a friend of mine from work- I do this fairly often now, go hiking, and I enjoy it so much. I love the exercise, for one thing, the way my legs burn, the rush of endorphins, I love gaining all those steps in my Fitbit challenges (I’m not gonna lie, I have a competitive streak). But I also just enjoy being outside, being in nature, being somewhere beautiful.

After that, we grabbed a quick coffee at Starbucks, and booked a room for our trip coming up in October. We are going to Salem, Massachusetts, just because it sounds like fun, and I couldn’t be more excited! Booking the room makes it feel like it’s really happening! Anyway, I dropped her off at her house, and made a beeline over to my sponsors house, where I finally worked my 10th step and got started on the 11th. When I realized how close I am to actually completing the 12 steps of Narcotics Anonymous, I got a little choked up. I am just so proud of myself for actually putting in this work! And let me tell you, it has really been WORK. When you are doing these steps right, it means something, it changes you. So, that was a pretty cool moment for me.

I went home, feeling a little bit lighter, and a lot more connected to my program, the way I always feel after working a step. I spent a little time picking up my house, and had just settled in to doing nothing when a girl I had offered to take to a meeting reached out to me. I hadn’t heard from her, so I assumed she had decided not to go, and I was fine with that, but…she sent me a text and wanted to go. The meeting I had offered to take her to was in a neighboring town, about twenty five minutes away. I briefly thought about saying no, that I wanted to stay home, that she should have let me know sooner. But of course, I didn’t. I got up, got dressed, and offered to pick her up early and grab a coffee. Which is what we did. The meeting was great, the speaker was great, the whole entire day had been great.

So what, you may be wondering, is the point? The point is, I woke up this morning feeling so blessed, so lucky, so grateful for where I am. Sometimes I get a little disconnected from the program part of my recovery- the part where we attend meetings regularly, work with our sponsor, be of service, help another addict. Writing a blog about the things I have been through and the things I have learned is great, but there is a lot more to it than that- writing this blog is not a substitute for the actions I need to take to keep myself feeling the way I want to feel. The way I feel right now, which is connected, at peace, capable of giving something back. If I don’t do those things, pretty soon I’m not going to have much to write about, because I won’t be adding anything new to my experience.

The other thing I want to point out is this- Holy Shit! I’m a person who goes on hikes now, and loves nature! I’m a person who plans trips, and keeps appointments, and does the right thing, for the right reasons, on a regular basis. I don’t live in fear anymore, and I’m not filled with shame over who I am and what I am doing. It hit me the other day that my seven year old daughter takes for absolute granted that she can depend on me. That she knows, every day, when the bell rings at school, that I will be there, waiting to take her home. She knows that I will be there if she wakes up in the middle of the night and needs me. She knows that I will feed her, provide for her, and do all the things I have always done, because I always have. There is no insecurity, because I have never given her a reason to be insecure. My older daughter told me once that she was always afraid that I wouldn’t show up. I was always the last one there, the after school program was always waiting on me so that they could go home. The feeling I get when I think about this never gets easier. It breaks my heart.

But today, I don’t have to live that way anymore. I am not only one step closer to the end of my stepwork, but I am one step closer to being the person I always hoped I would be someday. There have been times, even in recovery, when I was filled with despair, believing I would never, ever get better. That I was so fucked up, such a terrible person, that I would never be able to change. I kept moving forward because I didn’t know what else to do- I didn’t want to use, but a lot of times I was just going through the motions, sure it was pointless, that I was going to be this miserable, angry person forever. Well, once again, I was wrong. I know for sure there will be hard times ahead, but I am not afraid. I know wherever I am, if I keep moving forward, things will always change for the better.

Posted in advice, alcoholism, Blogging, faith, inner peace, Learning, Life, recovery, twelve step

The Courage to Face Yourself

courage

I remember the exact moment that it hit me. The moment when I realized that the only reason I was still using every bit of energy I had, every resource I could scrounge up, to come up with some pittance of dope day after day. It wasn’t to get high- I couldn’t get high anymore if I wanted to, that ship had long since sailed. It was to keep myself one step ahead of what was constantly nipping at my heels. The truth. The truth about who I had become, and what I had made of my life. The truth about the wreckage I had caused, and the collateral damage…the pain I had inflicted on everyone around me.

I was in my living room, in a shitty apartment in Reno, Nevada, and I was stalking around the way I always did- restless, agitated, trying to figure out my next hustle. Half out of my mind from lack of sleep and fried brain cells, and it hit me. A moment of clarity that I really wasn’t looking for.

“You’re going to have to face yourself, eventually.” The thought came out of nowhere, and it was one of those weird moments where it sounded like my own voice in my head, but it didn’t feel like it came from me. I didn’t want to hear it, but I couldn’t help it. I remember that I stopped my pacing, and considered what my head had just told me. I wasn’t ready yet, not at that moment, but something had happened. A seed had been planted, blown into me from somewhere- maybe it was God, maybe it was just my own desperate psyche, trying to save me. I don’t know.

After that, weird little moments kept cropping up- I would be in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, and catch sight of myself in the mirror, and find myself thinking “Can I even get back to the person I used to be? Does she even exist anymore? What if she isn’t real? What if all I am is this nightmare of a human being?” Or, at two in the morning, I’d find myself nodding off on the couch, thinking “What if I can’t change? What if this is just who I am?”

I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, I can see that all those questions were more than just idle thoughts. They were the very beginning of my escape plan. The very idea of doing something different was so absurd, so foreign to me, that at first, all I could handle were these tiny little thoughts. Eventually, they grew and grew, until I had worn myself out enough that I had no choice but to drop from exhaustion. My first surrender was pure exhaustion, so complete that I couldn’t even wave a white flag. I just gave up because I had nothing left in me to keep going.

My first spin through recovery was more of a reprieve. I made it two years, I relapsed for one day, then made it another year. I went through the motions, learned all the acronyms, went to meetings, thought I was getting somewhere. But after all that time, when the opportunity to use came along again, I jumped at it, and it wasn’t long before I was right back where I’d been before, with the exception that I was now employable, responsible, and really good at faking my way through life. In short, I was a functioning addict now as opposed to the totally dysfunctional one I had been before. Progress, right? Yeah, I don’t think so.

When I got clean again almost three years ago, I had no idea how different this time would be for me. I had no clue that I was finally ready, and that the work I was about to embark on would be painful, hard and the most life-changing thing I could do for myself. Thank God I didn’t know! If I had, I never would have had the courage to start. I have unearthed things I never wanted to look at again, I have told the truth about things I hadn’t even known I was lying about all my life. It has been gut wrenching and frightening at times- to see myself in the most unflattering of lights, to realize what a mess I made, not just of my own life, but of the lives I was responsible for. My kids definitely carry the shrapnel of my battles in their skin. There are some things I will never be able to fix, unless someone figures out how to build a time machine.

But even so…what could I do? My past mistakes are so intrinsically linked to the joys of my life, they could never be separated. I had to be who I was to make the choices I made to get to exactly where I am. If I went back in time and changed one thing, I would not be this person sitting here, writing this, right now. The framed pictures of my children that I can see would not be there, because they wouldn’t be here, none of it would.

So, if I couldn’t change any of it, and if it was so painful to face, why do it at all? You might ask. Why not just leave the past in the past and move forward, leave all that shit behind you. The only thing I can tell you about that is, there is no peace in burying the truth. The moment I found the courage to face the ugly truth, the moment I took responsibility for who I had been and what I had done, the past lost its power over me. I still have moments, nearly every day, where I feel remorse or regret over something that happened long ago. But they are just twinges now, they don’t feel like a punch in the gut anymore. And that really IS progress.

You cannot heal and hide at the same time. Anyone can run away from the truth, or bury it- but you can’t bury it deep enough to keep it away. The truth ALWAYS finds a way back to the surface. The most courageous thing I have ever done in my life wasn’t getting clean- it was inviting the truth up to meet me, seeing it for what it was, and finally, setting myself free.

via Daily Prompt: Courage