Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, anxiety, Blogging, inner peace, Learning, Life, Mental Health, Musings, recovery

Punishment Enough

punishment enough

I have been cursed with a guilty conscience, thanks largely in part to living a lifestyle for many years where I usually was doing something wrong. I mean, nothing major, for the most part, but generally, just the way I lived, it was all very secretive, very sneaky. I got in trouble with people all the time and it was normally very much my own fault, and so…I developed a habit of feeling pretty bad about myself.

This has not changed, despite the fact that I am very much a responsible, productive member of society these days. What it amounts to is that I tend to be a lot more nervous and worried about making mistakes than perhaps your average person- as a matter of fact, I don’t allow myself any room at all for messing up. When it inevitably happens that I do, I am very, very hard on myself. I expect the worst consequences despite the fact that people have almost always been more forgiving of my screw-ups than I anticipate. Basically, what I’m saying is, I’m kind of a wreck. When things are going smoothly, I am okay. But throw one little issue into the pot, and the entire trajectory of my thoughts goes rapidly down hill. I obsess. I am consumed with worry. I feel really, really bad about myself. And I have had it.

I’ve had it with my attitude about myself. I’ve had it with my inability to just let things unfold, and my refusal to have any faith in myself. I’ve had it with my catastrophic thinking, and more than anything else, I have had it with fear. Even as I write this, I have a little thing hanging over my head that is causing a major disturbance in the force, and my poor fear-poisoned body feels tight and uneasy and anxious. I woke up with that old, familiar heaviness, that sense of dread that I know so well. I’ve had enough. I have to let it go. So, here is what I have to say to myself-

Dear Courtney-

Life cannot be lived while curled in the fetal position, not even the figurative fetal position. You don’t have to be afraid. Everything is going to be okay, even if it doesn’t go the way you have planned. You are safe. You can rely on me. I am not going to let you down. You can’t enjoy the awesome adventure of life if you are holding on so tightly to all of this fear. You can put it down. No matter what happens, you will figure out a way to navigate it. You always find the silver lining, always, eventually. Try to remember that. You are a good mother, a good friend, and a good person. The past is over with. You are allowed to leave it there and move on. Your life was punishment enough. Stop beating yourself up for being someone you bear no resemblance to anymore. That girl was sick and sad and desperate for help…and you saved her life. Give yourself credit for how far you have come. You have been through so much. It’s time to start enjoying the life you have managed to create. So hold your head up, and let the chips fall where they may. And never forget that I love you.

Love, me.

I know that got a little weird, but I needed to say those things to myself. Now it’s public, so I can’t take it back. 🙂

Here’s to lighter hearts and lighter loads to carry. I’m ready to leave some of this baggage behind and skip a little bit. Happy Friday!


I'm a single mom living life fully after years of intense addiction, trying to navigate life with grace-and failing spectacularly, sometimes. Learning to be a grown up In my 40's, without losing my lust for life, or my faith in humanity. Come, watch the antics. It should be fun (for you, at least).

11 thoughts on “Punishment Enough

  1. Tha k you for writing this!!! I struggled a lot when I was younger and was insanely destructive. I carry so much guilt from this that is still eats at me in the quiet. This helps me feel less alone and like maybe I can let go

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, that makes me feel so good! I was a little worried (of course I was) that this would come off super weird. We all deserve to be happy, and to forgive ourselves. I mean…it seems kind of imperative to our happiness that we do forgive ourselves. And see ourselves for who we have become rather than who we were. ❤️ easier than it sounds, but I’m ready.


  2. I loved this post and can totally relate. I love your note to yourself. And ironically my name is Courtney as well and I needed to hear that. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You raise extremely important points. If I might ramble on a bit . . . I would often tell my students that the reason they were in school was to learn and that they were not supposed to know it all, or else they would not be students. At the ripe old age of 65, I still find that to the case for me, as a student in life.

    I had an interesting exchange recently. I did not make PhD dissertation research nearly 30 years ago at an archaeological site in the Midwest. The fellow who was the manager of that site then, still is today. We had our ups and downs over the years, but have become pretty good friends over the past 10-15 years. I visited him in the fall to tell him that I had stage 4 cancer and we visited for a bit. He wrote me a follow-up email that absolutely shocked me. He said that he was very surprised that we had come to be such good friends of late and that I would solicit advice from him about a range of professional issues. He noted that when I was doing my dissertation research, I always came off that I knew it all and did not need to ask anyone any questions. What shocked me so much about that was that even back then, I certainly did not think that was the case. But I was grateful that he showed me how my need for perfectionism was a real issue and how much it had colored my thinking and behavior in the past.

    Today, I am comfortable if I am just putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward – the idea of Baby Steps from that Bill Murray movie What About Bob? I have learned over the years that those babysteps do add up, and certainly is how we all started out our life process of learning and discovery. Unfortunately, for many (most?) of us, that excitement of learning to walk, then run, then fly, got beaten down or dismissed at some point along the way. For myself, I am comfortable spending the duration of my time on earth just continuing to take those baby steps toward a discovery of true self.

    Best to you,

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This was really wonderful. I’m 62, and I just said to my amazing 66 year old girlfriend today, “Isn’t it amazing how much we are still learning, even now??” I never want to stop learning, and I will always look at myself and wonder how I can be just a little bit better today…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I totally understand, I often have the same thoughts and feelings about my own spotty and destructive past. It’s really tough to let all that shit go. It may take time, but I believe that we will prevail.

    Liked by 1 person

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