Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, anxiety, family, Life, recovery, twelve step

Things I Forgot to Remember

Death has been an unrelenting presence in my life over the past year, which is very, very unusual for me. Beginning with the loss of my beloved friend Joe in August of last year, then his dear friend Che, just a few weeks ago- Che, who spent countless hours on the phone with me after Joe’s death, listening to all of the stories I have to tell about Joe, that I suddenly needed to re-tell to someone who knew him… and sharing his own with me. Then, in the late hours of July 5th, or perhaps the very early hours of July 6th- we don’t know for sure yet, but oddly enough, every member of our family found themselves awake at 3:30 in the morning on July 6th- my darling uncle, Louis Earl Fulton, passed away. His life was not an easy one. One day, I will tell his story properly, but I want to do it right, and I want to have all of the facts straight first, though I will tell you this- due to an accident with a drunk driver when he was just starting out into adulthood, his lot in life was hard. He suffered, for the bulk of his years on earth, with a busted up body and what I would guess as being trouble from a traumatic head injury. Over the past several years, his health seriously deteriorated, and he had many falls, broken bones, and other injuries. He suffered from seizures, and I think he even had a stroke recently, but honestly, there was so much going on that I would have to ask my mom to be sure. The fact is, he wasn’t doing well. So you would think that his death would be less of a surprise, and maybe in some ways it wasn’t shocking, but…when someone just dies at home, and they haven’t been in the hospital or particularly sicker than usual, it really is a shock.

This blog is not going to be about him, because like I said, I would rather honor him by writing his story correctly, and I can’t do that without getting some help from my mom-she was alive when his accident happened, and I was not yet. I will tell you this- his given name was Louis Earl, but I haven’t heard anyone call him that since my grandmother was alive. His nickname (one of them) was Fizzle, because he was born on the 5th of July (get it? He fizzled out! My grandfather had a strange sense of humor) and, coincidentally, he died, near as we can tell, on the exact same day, many years later. There will never be anyone like him- there will never be anyone like any of the people I have lost this past year- and nothing I know brings a person into sharper focus than their death. And nothing slaps you out of your own miserable funk like the loss of a life that belonged to someone precious to you.

For the past month, or maybe even longer than that, I have been struggling like crazy with myself…upset about things like: hating my job because it is boring, hating myself (low-key) because I am not perfect, wishing I had better friendships, wondering why I am still single, wishing I could connect in a more meaningful way with my youngest daughter, and…this is the one I didn’t even want to write about or admit out loud to anyone who could talk some sense into me…wanting to quit being in recovery. I wanted to quit. I wanted to start drinking again, and I was really, really close to throwing the towel in. Closer than anyone but me knows. I felt like I was missing out on something. That my life wasn’t fun enough because I couldn’t go out and have a drink. That maybe it would be easier for me to deal with men if I could just relax a little bit, like everyone else does.

My uncle died on the day that my daughter was going out of town with her father for the first time in over a year- so I was already incredibly anxious without the addition of a death in the family. I took the rest of Friday off, and I cried and cried and cried. I cried so much that by the time I went to bed, my head was pounding. I woke up on Saturday morning with eyes that looked like they had been bitten by mosquitoes, or injected with saline. But I had made plans with a girlfriend earlier in the week to go hiking and hit a morning meeting, and she is notoriously hard to pin down, so there was no way I was cancelling. I pulled myself together, worried that I would be too somber to be any fun, but I went anyway. I needn’t have worried. We had a nice hike, and plenty to discuss, and it was just what I needed. We almost didn’t go into the meeting afterwards, but we did, and again, it was perfect. I came home afterwards, ate a massive amount of food, and fell asleep the way you can only when you are grieving and exhausted- face down on the mattress for four solid hours. When I woke up (which took a good hour of just sitting, staring into space) I knew instinctively that being still would be a bad idea, so I grabbed my dog and went for a long walk on the beach. That night, I went to another meeting.

Over the course of my 48 hour weekend, I managed to hit four meetings, hang out with two good friends (one of them twice), go to the beach two different times, and take two solid naps. I did something I had never done before in the course of my recovery- I doubled down on what was good for me, and sidestepped an almost inevitable relapse. I was reminded that both life and recovery require my active participation in order to work the way that I need them to. I can’t just sit here and cry about what isn’t working- or, I can, but it isn’t going to do me any good at all.

I’m sorry if this is sort of all over the place- I don’t feel like I am explaining myself well at all, but there is so much to what I am feeling, and it’s all jumbled up. The bottom line is, my uncle’s death helped me to remember what I had forgotten- that life is so precious, that while I am here, I need to rejoice in the gifts that I have been given, and they are many- my health, my beautiful children, my job which provides so well for me, and my recovery which is the only reason I have all of the other things. I will not dishonor myself or my wonderful life by giving up on that. I have all of the ingredients, but it is up to me to make something worthwhile out of them. Today, I will choose to do just that.

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Posted in Blogging, Dreams, funny, humor, kids, Life, motherhood, Musings

8 Solid Hours (is that too much to ask?)

no sleep

I just looked at my watch- it is now 3:45 a.m., and I have been up for fifteen minutes. I finally waved the white flag of surrender, after fighting with sleep ALLLLL night last night. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I value sleep above almost everything else, and normally, sleep and I have a really happy relationship. But every relationship has ups and downs, and last night we were really duking it out.

Here is how my night went:

8:30- I start making noise about getting ready for bed. But we are watching an unusually interesting show on Disney XD, so I am dragging my feet. I get my coffee set up for the morning. I decide against washing my face, since I didn’t wear makeup anyway yesterday, even though I know better (this, more than anything else, is a clear indicator that my happiness levels are dangerously low- I know it sounds insignificant, but washing my face at night is a big deal, and this is a red flag. Must get my life together.)

8:45- On commercial, I let Cam do one sparkler, of the many we have left over from the 4th. While we are outside, someone nearby sets off an illegal firework. I literally yell “The fourth is over, asshole!” into the night air. Realize I am outside playing with sparklers. Feel stupid, but I am so, so tired.

9:00-Make my bed. Crawl into the sanctuary of my covers. Try to stream Phineas and Ferb, one of my top shows to fall asleep to, only to find that season four is no longer available on demand. What the fuck? Find that season three is still ready to roll, so I find one I haven’t seen (not that it matters, because I’ll be asleep in five minutes anyway) and quickly doze off.

9:10- my cat starts scratching on my door. I try to ignore him, but he won’t stop. I yell at the door. He adds meowing to the mix. I huffily throw the covers off of me and jump out of bed, yank the door open and stomp into the living room, opening the front door so he can go out for the night. He stands on the threshold, considering his options. “Get out.” I snarl- I don’t have the patience for this shit. He doesn’t want to go out now. I close the door. He starts crying and scratching again. I open the door and try to set him outside. He runs backwards into the house and glares at me. I glare back. Fine. I’ll just sleep with my bedroom door open so he doesn’t get trapped inside and have an “accident” like he did the other night, but he doesn’t get trapped outside, either, and decide to scratch at my door all night. Fine. That is fine. Just let me sleep.

9:25- my dog, Lucy, wakes me up this time- She is barking like crazy, with a much scarier than normal bark, out into the hallway. This is, like, there’s an intruder, or a wild animal loose in the house kind of bark. I am instantly awake and out of bed. “What?!” I ask her, “What’s in there?” But she just does that weird dog dance, and keeps barking, then runs into my daughter’s room. Luckily, my daughter is in my room with me (or at least it seemed lucky at that moment) because I am terrified to go in there. I sneak my arm in and turn on the light- there is nothing there. I check the backyard, the front yard, and everywhere else. There is nothing there. I go back to bed, but this time I close and lock my bedroom door. The cat can just deal with it.

10:00-Lucy wakes me up barking furiously again. I don’t care anymore if someone is in the house. They can just kill me. I’m going to sleep, period.

10:30- I hear the distinct rustling of the giant cat food bag in my room. I just know Lucy is getting into the goddamned cat food again. I wake up already yelling at her to knock it off. Instead, I find that it is my seven year old, who has decided she would be more comfortable sleeping in the dogs bed, and she is whacking the cat food bag with her leg. “What are you doing?” I ask.

“I just want to lay down here.” She says, “I can hear my videos better.” I look at the dog, laying forlornly on the floor next to her own bed.

“Get your ass in bed, and don’t wake me up again.” I say kindly. I’m back asleep before I remember to tell her to put her stupid Kindle away. My mistake.

1 fucking 30 in the goddamned morning: I am jolted awake by the sound of laughter in my pitch black room. I whirl around, trying to get my bearings, and find my child, pressing her Kindle face down into the mattress so that I can’t see the light coming from it. I can still hear the sound however. She does this in such a smooth, skilled manner that I can’t help but wonder how many times she has practiced this maneuver in the past. The voice of Satan seems to issue forth from my throat-“Give me the Kindle!” I fling it to the floor (only because it has a child proof case, and I know it will simply bounce- I’m mad, but I’m not an idiot) and tell her she must immediately vacate the premises and go sleep in her own bed. I can’t take it. We both know I don’t mean it though- there is possibly an intruder sleeping in there, anyway, or at the very least, a family of raccoons. She starts crying, which means I’ll NEVER get to sleep…so I turn the TV back on. But I make sure it’s  a show she hates, because I’m evil when I’m tired. I fall asleep to the sound of my child wailing at the injustice of it all.

1:45-3:30- Horrible dreams about owing people money, awkward confrontations with friends, trying to pee in a bathroom with a big hole in the door and people trying to get in (which, now that I think about it, that probably worked in my favor- the last thing I needed last night was to wet my own bed at the age of 43), having to look for a job and regretting quitting the one I had, and just generally feeling very stressed out and uprooted. These are what I call “worst case scenario dreams”, and I have them fairly often. It’s always nighttime in these dreams.

3:30-Finally throw the towel in. Realize that a bug of some sort bit me several times, on my fingers and my arm. Curse my life, and all of the cowardly bugs who refuse to bite you when you are awake and can defend yourself.

3:45: Decide I should at least write about it, and make it all worth something. I hope you enjoyed my (hopefully) amusing retelling of my night from hell. And for God’s sake, I hope you slept better than I did! At least I won’t be fully awake for work today. There’s always a silver lining!

Posted in anxiety, Depression, Life, Mental Health, Musings, random

Thoughts From a Difficult Brain

I have been having some trouble with my head lately. The last time I wrote, I told you I was feeling restless, and it’s still true- restlessness paired with discontent can quickly boil over into a gummy mess of self loathing. I am trying to avoid that. I’ve sat here and written parts of several posts that I decided were entirely too whiny, and I was too embarrassed to publish them. I have nothing to complain about, really. Or at least, that is what I tell myself- that because I have a particular set of circumstances that might be a little less troubling than the circumstances of “some people” (whoever they might be), I am not allowed to dislike anything about my life.

Although I realize on a certain level that is bullshit- my feelings about my life are absolutely valid, no matter how good I might have it- I also understand that complaining is pretty useless. So I am not going to do that. What I am going to do is tell the truth, and the truth for me is- I struggle with my moods. I am not moody enough to warrant medication, nor is that something I want for myself, but it is a struggle nonetheless. I have a mind that will seize upon an unpleasant thought and spin it into an astounding and terrible scenario, and it can propel me into anxiety the likes of which I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy- if I had a worst enemy, which I don’t think I do. Anyway, I believe this is called “catastrophic thinking”, and it is part of having anxiety, which I thought was something I suffered from occasionally, not something I “had” until I said this to my therapist, and she actually started laughing. I don’t think your therapist is supposed to laugh at you, but I forgive her. Apparently, I’m an anxious person. You know, I masked every single thing about my actual personality with drugs for so long, that I am still figuring out who I really am. Or who I am now, I guess.  So yes, I am anxious. I am moody. I am very hard on myself, most of the time.

But lately, this has all morphed into this weird blah-ness, this kind of “meh” feeling, and it just sucks. Half of me wants to run off and have this big, juicy, adventurous life, and the other half of me is like “Just watch TV, Courtney. There’s no point in having to put on shoes.” And of course, I am making it sound funny so that it doesn’t sound that bad, but in truth…in truth, I am grappling with some dangerous thoughts. Things like quitting my job, which would not be in my best interest right now, and quitting recovery, which might not be in my best interest ever. Sigh. I don’t know what is going on. Perhaps I’m having a mid-life crisis? Is that applicable for women? I don’t want to run out and buy a street bike and date a blonde half my age, so…it’s hard to say.

So, rather than do anything drastic that might shake up my life a little more than I am bargaining for, I am going to go back to the things that have worked for me before. I am going to do the things that make me feel good by default, such as- going to the beach. Going to the gym (it really does feel good after you actually get there). Eating less bacon- I know this sounds counter intuitive, but trust me, too much bacon does not a happy girl make- it’s one of those pleasures in life that needs to be spaced out a little bit. Also, clearing my space- I swear to God, I accumulate possessions at the speed of light. Oh! And that’s another thing- stop compulsively ordering shit I don’t need off of Amazon. It’s just another attempt to self-soothe, I know this, and yet…no, I don’t need anymore books right now!

I am capable of great happiness- I think we all are. But the trick, I think, is realizing that no one feels perfectly happy all the time. And maybe some of us feel the bumps in the road a little more than others, and that’s okay, too. But the big truth is, we are all responsible for creating lives that feel good enough for ourselves, and when life doesn’t feel good, we have a responsibility to ourselves to fix it, or to figure out what isn’t working and make adjustments. I am impatient, so I want everything to be better RIGHT NOW- I want to throw it all away and start over. Oh, I’m having a bad week? Well, obviously, I should quit my job, move across the country, and become a homesteader who makes her own soap, right?

No…no, I don’t think that’s how this is going to go down. I think, today, I will just start with taking a walk, washing the dishes, and being a little more gentle with myself. And maybe tomorrow, we’ll see where I’m at. Maybe tomorrow, it will feel a little better.