Posted in Addiction, anxiety, Depression, faith, family, happiness, inner peace, Life, meditation, Mental Health, mental illness, People, spirituality

Did…did Oprah Just Change my Life?

Glennon

(This is longer than usual, I apologize. But I needed to tell this story)

As you all know, I have been struggling like crazy (no pun intended) with my mental health recently, specifically an anxiety cocktail that includes obsessive thoughts, hyper focus on far-fetched illnesses, and catastrophic thinking. I would not recommend this cocktail to ANYONE.

I would like to announce that I had a little breakthrough yesterday. It actually started out to be a terrible day. I woke up anxious already, but I couldn’t figure out about what. I felt shaky and nervous and weird, and all I’d done was wake up. So of course, my anxiety is looking for something to hitch its wagon to. I see my brain start searching it’s data banks for the nearest fear it can blow out of proportion.

And let me tell you, I am just fucking sick of this shit. Pardon my language, but my GOD, this gets soooooo old. So, I sit down to pray and meditate. I send up an urgent prayer to God- please take this, please help me, HELP ME. And then I choose my meditation for the day- I love the calm app, and if you struggle to meditate, I cannot recommend this app highly enough. Guided meditations for every conceivable thing, plus you can choose your music, and the woman’s voice is incredible. Anyway, I chose one I’d never seen before…I just had to look it up, it was called “Investigating Anxiety” and let me tell you, it was one of the hardest 13 minutes I’ve ever sat for. She asked me to call up my anxiety, to feel it in my body, to sit with it. It was like opening up a fire hydrant and just letting it blast you in the face. But I did it. I sat there, with the knot in my gut and tears rolling silently down my face, and you know what…it didn’t kill me. For that time, it was just a very uncomfortable feeling. For some reason, I feel like that limbered me up a little bit- like I was looser, and less clenched, and so what happened next was able to get in, I was able to hear the message I was meant to hear.

Let me explain what I mean: I have noticed, throughout my life, that when I am desperate and asking God for help, God is listening to me. But I need to be open to the answers. Until I am open to the answers, I am not going to be able to receive the help even when I am begging for it. When my anxiety is full throttle, I am so shut down, just trying to make it through every minute, that short of appearing in the flesh in front of me and shaking me, I am not picking up what God is laying down- and for the record, if the idea of God makes you uncomfortable, just fill in that space with whatever word you use. (WOW that was a run-on sentence. My apologies) I really don’t think it matters.

Anyway, I was feeling a little less knotted up after my meditation, and when I returned home after dropping Cam off at school, I started listening to Oprah’s Super Soul Podcast. I started last week, and had moment of clarity listening to Brene Brown, which was so funny as I have struggled to get through her books…but something about hearing her speak got the message through. Anyway, yesterday, I trusted that I would find the right episode and chose Glennon Doyle, whose name I’d heard, but knew nothing about. She said some stuff about addiction, that it is a place where sensitive people hide because they learned early on that the cost of love and pain were too much. It blew my mind. Wow. There was more, but trying to convey it all here would be impossible- I didn’t take notes, I just let the message into my heart. After that, I listened to two episodes with Iyanla Vanzant- again, heard the name, know nothing about her. Let the message flow into me.

I couldn’t tell you the exact things I heard, but I can tell you this- I remembered a few things that my anxious mind was keeping from me. Things like, oh yeah- I believe in a benevolent universe, and I have a God in my life who loves me. That you can’t bank worry to keep you from future pain- it doesn’t work like that. And that sometimes bad things do indeed happen, but that is true whether you choose to live in fear of them or not.

But it wasn’t exactly what was said, I don’t think, that really got me. It was more like…my mind and my heart opened up because I was thinking in a different way.  The guests and the questions and the stories were like WD-40 for my mind, helping the wheels to start turning, getting me thinking again. And right in the middle of all of it, I opened up a notebook and wrote a letter to myself. I’m not going to share it with you here, but my therapist had asked me to write a letter of self-compassion last week, and I balked like no one has ever balked before. Just, YUCK. No. But lo and behold, I pulled it off yesterday. It didn’t even start off that way, but that’s where it ended up.

The thing is, my anxiety is not really about my fear of something happening to me, or to my children. My anxiety is really about me not being able to forgive myself for my past. It’s about me not thinking I deserve the blessings I have today, because I am just a mean-spirited ex-junkie who just got lucky. It’s me waiting for the jig to be up, for God to take it all away. My anxiety is me, telling me I am not good enough. That there must be some mistake.

But I have worked really hard to get here. I overcame my addiction, and even though it didn’t seem hard to me, it must have been- how many other times did I try and fail? How many years did I sacrifice to that monster? So, yeah, it didn’t seem hard but maybe that’s just because I have a good perspective about it and I chose to see the beauty in it. And perhaps it looks like I have a cushy job- even to me, sometimes. But I show up day in and day out and I try to do my best. I struggle A LOT. The point I am trying to make is that the same brain telling me I am not good enough is the one telling me I just got lucky. Yesterday I saw the flaw in my thinking. I do deserve my life. I do deserve my kids, and the love, and the happiness. And yes, awful things may come. But do I have to ruin all my happiness while it is good? No. No I do not.

I’m sorry this is so long. I needed to get this off my chest. The thing is, I am not magically cured. I just believe I needed to stay with those feelings until I got the lesson, and now things will, hopefully, begin to improve. In the meantime, I am going to keep asking for help and looking for the message, and really try to let go of fear and enjoy my life. So thanks, God. And thanks, Oprah. LOL. You’re the best.

Advertisements
Posted in Addiction, adventure, happiness, inner peace, Life, mindfulness, Musings, People

Changes II

I meant to write this yesterday, but I accidentally spent the entire day in bed, sleeping on and off and watching Ghost Adventures- every now and again, you need a good “bed day”, don’t you think? Also, probably going through some weird mental stuff now that I am not giving my body that little hand-to-mouth-inhaling-chemicals thing it loves so much. I was definitely grouchy yesterday.

Oh, and also…it might be because I am feeling a little weird about a decision I made. I told my sponsor a few days ago that I am taking a step back from meetings. I gave up my service commitment. I ran through it with my therapist, and I spent a lot of time thinking hard about it. I don’t know what it really means yet. I just know that I was listening to the same people say the exact same things over and over and over, I was hearing myself give a lot of lip service with no feeling in my heart, and…my time is so precious. I know this is contrary to everything I’ve always said, and it doesn’t make any of that untrue- NA saved my life. Many times. NA fed me so much and helped me so much and I know myself better now than I ever have. But for now, I’m stepping away.

I don’t want to still be talking about what it was like for me in another 20 years. I don’t want to keep rehashing it. I don’t want to call myself an addict every time I speak. I know who I am, and who I will always be- I don’t need to keep announcing it. Words hold so much weight. That is not my identity. I am questioning so many of the things I thought I knew, and wondering if I even believe them anymore. And you know, this is really upsetting and scary to a lot of people! But I am not going to be afraid of my own thoughts. I am not going to be afraid to question my beliefs. Even if it is upsetting to other people. I might change my mind in a week or two, I might not. I don’t know right now. And that’s okay.

I refuse to speak a bad word about any twelve step program- they are an invaluable resource to anyone who wants to learn how to be clean or sober, depending on which “A” you follow. I think it is a beautiful, life-changing thing. But maybe it’s not a forever thing for everyone. And that is also okay.

Like I said, I’m taking a break. Stepping back. Trying to figure out where I fit in. I don’t know what that means…But I can tell you this: I have not rushed out to chug a beer or snort a line or whatever. That’s not what this is about. I’m simply…taking a breather. And it feels really stinking weird.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to get a little uncomfortable, though. Now I just need to figure out what I’m doing next.

Posted in Addiction, Blogging, Goals, health, Life, mindfulness, Musings, People, random

Changes

change

As I have written, time and time and time again, I am the ultimate creature of habit…the one caveat is that I have the wandering soul of a gypsy, and these two things do not mesh well at all. I long to jump on a plane and fly across the continent, then, when I do, I spend the first few nights homesick and wishing for my own bed. This happens every time. Unless, of course, my kids are with me, in which case- well, home is wherever they are, in my estimation. So, the solution for that is pretty obvious- take the kids with me, right? Right. Problem solved.

I’m sure there was an element of that in my drug addiction. You know, they say that amphetamines are not physically addictive…although I can tell you for sure that my body protested every time I quit, it wasn’t the slow hell that a heroin addict suffers through for months on end. More an annoyance than anything. But there is a lifestyle that goes along with addiction- a whole world that exists right under the nose of the “normy”, with its own rules and unspoken laws. That was the world I unwittingly stumbled into so long ago, and where I far overstayed. As much as it was a relief to give all that up, it was hard. I didn’t know how to fit in in the regular world, I didn’t know how to behave anymore. But the idea of going back was so abhorrent, it became easier for me to keep making the right choice. But that change was hard. I left a home, of sorts, and I know I could never go back now…for a while though, it was up in the air.

One of my resolutions this year was to not only stay away from cigarettes, but to give up my precious vape as well. I recognized it for what it was, finally- just another crutch, basically the same as smoking. I would alternate between the two- smoking for a while, then going back to the vape. My vape broke, I’d buy another- 70 or 100 dollars, at least five or six times. The juice you need to fill it runs about 30 bucks a bottle, and I’d go through at least one, if not two a week. So, financially, not quite the win that I thought quitting smoking would be. I switched to no nicotine juice and went back on the patch, and…you see where this is going? Right, nowhere. Still doing the same thing, pretending it’s different.

Yesterday, I just gave up. I put my patch on and thought “I am not going to vape today. I just want to see how it feels.” Guess what? It felt pretty odd. I didn’t get that hand-to-mouth thing that I am so stuck on, and it seemed like every five seconds I had that feeling like I was missing something. That… beginning to reach for something before I realized it wasn’t there. So, I found an old fast food straw that was shoved in my desk drawer and I cut it into three equal pieces. Now, I just compulsively chew it, or, when I’m really wanting to inhale something, I take a nice big hit of oxygen, right through the straw. I probably look like an idiot. But it’s working fine. I’m feeling pretty proud of myself right now. I have been a smoker of some sort for most of my life, and I want to see what it’s like to be tethered to nothing. To need nothing I didn’t come with to get through the day. And yes, I’m still wearing my patch, for now. I’m not a sadist.

But this morning, I woke up knowing I needed to change up my routine a little, to make it safer for me. Mornings are the prime nicotine imbibing time- stores are low, you know. And even though my vape had no nicotine anymore, I still hit that thing hard in the morning. So, I got up this morning, started my coffee, and jumped straight into the shower. I didn’t fool around. I got out, put on my patch, and then had my coffee. Also, I smartly got rid of all temptation-this is quitters rule number one! Gave all my vaping stuff away, so there was nothing to mess with even if I wanted to. But still, I know me- I’m perfectly capable of throwing in the towel while half asleep and running to 7-11 to buy a pack of smokes. But I don’t want to. I want this. I want freedom.

I can promise you this- I have quit all kinds of things in my life that were addictive, from drugs to relationships to bad behaviors. Nothing has ever been harder than giving up smoking. I will stay on the patch for as long as I need to, but I can’t wait to be free of that, too. I just don’t want to kill anyone trying to move too fast- I’m not kidding, nicotine withdrawals are no joke. And I’m kind of evil to begin with, so it’s not that far of a jump for me.

Anyway, there was more to this story, but we’re already at almost 900 words, so…look for “Changes, part II” tomorrow. And have a wonderful day!

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, Blogging, faith, family, happiness, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, motherhood, parenting, recovery, twelve step

Just…wow.

just wow
courtesy of lisalayden.com. 

Have you ever had one of those strange moments where your perspective shifts, and you suddenly…I don’t know…like, see your life? All of the sudden, your own reality hits you and it’s just mind blowing? And not in a bad way at all, but in the most incredible, blessed feeling way? Gosh, I’m getting tears in my eyes just writing this.

That happened to me last night. I was drifting off to sleep, and out of nowhere it hit me that I’m a mom. I have two daughters! And you know, of course I know this- one of them is a legit adult now, the other one is 8. It’s not like it’s something new, but…it just sort of hit me. Wow. I am the mother to these two incredible people, their mother. What an honor that is. How lucky am I?

To get to have these two beautiful girls, so unbelievably different, so perfect in their own way. I have one who loves everything that grows- she plucked a giant mushroom out of my garden yesterday, and plopped it down on my butcher block, examining it like a scientist. She broke it apart, leaving a trail of dirt and possibly poisonous spores over every inch of my kitchen…but you know what? I’m so happy that she’s found something she’s passionate about- her seed packets, and all of the knowledge she has about soil and zones, water and sunlight. The way she looks when she is plucking a bean from a vine, or pulling a weed from the earth. As a parent, all you could ever want is for your child to grow up and find the thing they love most, and I think she has done that.

And then there is the little one- tender-hearted, kind, but absolutely self assured. She loves tiny, tiny things, colored pencils, blank pages, pencil sharpeners. She’ll drop everything to give me a hug, but then she rushes back to whatever it is that she is focused on. She’ll give up some of her time for me, but she is pretty clear about needing her own space, her own time. I feel like that will serve her well. She also loves jokes, loves to laugh, more than anyone I’ve ever known…and again, this will help her immeasurably in life.

I LOVE these girls. I love them so much. And it is such a miracle, such an unbelievable miracle, that I get to live this life I am living. For an addict like me to be living a life like this- gainfully employed, a real career, my bills paid, food in the fridge, these gorgeous kids, and I am CLEAN? Are you kidding me? When I think of how desperately I longed for this life, so many, many times. When I think of how little hope I had, how futile it seemed to even think about it. Because I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t stay clean. Except I did. I have. I continue to.

And because of that, I get to feel like this. Like my heart will just burst open from all of the gratitude and love and appreciation I have for my life in this moment. For the mother I get to be because I just kept showing up, day after day, and I stopped trying to change the way I felt by putting drugs in my body. I went ahead and felt my feelings instead. I went ahead and faced the truth about who I was and what I had done. I went ahead and dealt with it. And it was hard- it’s still hard sometimes. I have a lot of painful memories, painful facts about my life that I can never change. But you know what? I’m making a lot of new, really beautiful memories, too. And if I keep it up, someday they might just outweigh the bad ones.

For that, and for so many other reasons, I am deeply grateful this morning.

Posted in Addiction, Blogging, fun, Life, motherhood, Musings, People, recovery, writing

Allow me to Re-introduce Myself

This is my neighborhood.

Okay, I know I said I wasn’t going to start posting every day, and I still stand by that- this has got to be some kind of weird fluke or something. It’s just that I have been having SO MUCH fun here lately! I have been finding all kinds of new blogs to follow, and enjoying so many new posts. Also, I have gotten a ton of new followers and my stats have been robust and incredibly satisfying. You know what I love? I mean, I obviously love having lots of visitors- I’m human, after all. But I love it when I have, say 80 visitors and like 120 views…of course, 900 visitors and 1,050 views would also work, but you get the picture. That means that a few people liked my blog so much that they kept reading and reading and reading. So cool.

I thought it would be neat to just kind of give an updated overview of my life, as it is today, and what my corner of the world looks like. I would LOVE it if some of my blogging friends did the same. It is a bit like travelling without leaving home, getting to read about the homes of others. So if you feel so inclined, please share something about your life in the comments, or write a whole post about it. I would like that very much.

Me, obviously. Being photo bombed by Cam.

So, about me. I’m 43. Chronically and bewilderingly single. I have two children, one an adult of 21, one an adult of 8. Just kidding, but seriously, she’s more mature than I am some days. I adore my kids, but I struggle a lot with my relationship with my eldest. One thing you should know about me is that I am, after a life-long struggle with drug addiction, happily clean and sober. It’s only been about 3.7 years since I’ve been clean. My older daughter lived through some SHIT with me, you see. Parenting is hard under the best of circumstances. Learning to parent a nearly adult child this late in the game, with so much baggage, guilt (me) and anger (her)…it’s rough. I am doing my best. I write about that sometimes. I also write about recovery, how amazing it is to get to be my real self- or learn who that is, sometimes- and lots and lots of other things. I struggle with anxiety and other things, so that makes it in here, and so many other odds and ends. I hope you read something that keeps you hanging around.

Point Lobos, one of my favorite spots to stroll around

I live smack dab in the middle of the West Coast, in Monterey County- home of the famous aquarium and right next door to Big Sur. The cost of living here is outrageous, but it’s home, and I am blessed to call it that…for now. I don’t know how long I’ll be sticking around. I really want to buy a home, and that’s nearly an impossible dream around here. I’m also in LOVE with the East Coast, and will be going to Maine in June to scout it out. I love the idea of adventure and change, though I don’t do so well with either in reality. LOL.

A recent sunset. Ridiculously beautiful.

Monterey is gorgeous. Miles and miles of beaches- any kind you might want. Sandy, rocky, dramatic, calm. Beautiful sunrises and sunsets, fresh air, hiking spots and hidden coves, an endless dream of fog and sunlight. You cannot leave this place without longing to come back. I know, I’ve tried. I’m still holding out hope that I’ll find another place, just as spectacular, that costs a little teensy bit less. In the meantime, I’ll continue to enjoy my days here, sipping strong, strong coffee, and getting up way too early to work on my novel, post here, meditate and daydream.

That’s my life in a very, very limited scope. I hope to learn something new about all of you as well! Have a wonderful, speedy rest of the week. 🙂

Posted in Addiction, anxiety, faith, Goals, Holidays, inner peace, Life, manifestation, Mental Health, mindfulness, People, recovery

With a Grateful Heart

a grateful heart
courtesy of Pinterest and littleleaves.com

I woke up way too early, as usual…but I am not going to get all worked up over it. This is just who I am, and I have accepted it. I’m an early riser who has become a super early riser over the past few months. I think partially it developed as a way to save a few precious hours of peace for myself, while my older daughter and her boyfriend were staying here. This time is so important to me. I’d do just about anything to preserve it, including waking up in what is basically the middle of the night.

I did, however, get to usher in the New Year last night! I set an alarm for 11:55, and Cam and I got up long enough to do the count down, scream “Happy New Year!” once, hug each other, then scramble back to the warmth of the bed. Last night was her last official night sleeping with me. We are both more than ready to go our separate sleeping ways, but with the extra people here the past few months, we didn’t really have a choice. So tonight, I can sleep diagonally, the way I do when she is at her dad’s house. She’s a tall child, and such a bed hog, and I feel guilty for saying this, but I sleep SO much better when she is staying overnight with her father. So, bittersweet though it may be, we are both excited about this milestone. Obviously, she’s way too old to still be sleeping with her mother, and she used to sleep on her own at our old house…not sure what happened. I don’t regret it, though. They are only little for such a short time.

Anyway, I woke up this morning feeling such gratitude for my life. I have such a good feeling about the year ahead. I was thinking about the horrible panic attack and subsequent anxiety I suffered through less than two weeks ago, and I wonder if it was just a giant purge of built up negative energy- shit I needed to get rid of? Because since it faded away, I have been steadily more centered, happy, and anxiety free. Seems like more than coincidence to me- to get to begin a new year wiped clean of the dark feelings that had been plaguing me? Well, whatever it is, I’ll take it. Gladly.

You know…my house is still a mess. I meant to take down my tree last night, and never got around to it. There are dishes in the sink, and…well, it’s pretty much like it always is around here. But for once, none of it is bothering me. Because I have a plan, and I intend to stick to it. Little by little, this house will transform, and be the way I want it to be. By the time I go to bed tonight, those dishes will be gone, the counters wiped clean, the tree gone, ornaments put away. It still won’t be perfect- I doubt it will ever be perfect. But eventually, it will be the way I want it to be. I feel quite sure of that.

The thing is, I have started this year with peace in my heart. I don’t know that I’ve often felt peace like this. It feels solid to me, as if it is not dependent on outside circumstances, but more like it stems from within me. It’s the kind of peace that comes when you have finally started to trust yourself, to know that most likely, you are going to be okay. I’ve survived a lot- I’ve survived MYSELF, which was no simple feat. This is my fourth consecutive New Years clean, and I’ve grown stronger every year. And I am so grateful for that- for the peace, and for surviving myself, and surviving the dark parts of my own mind. I’m so grateful for making it out of that last, awful, dark place, and for the wonderful new spot it wound up leaving me.

I’m starting this shiny, fresh new year with a grateful heart. And I don’t think there is a better place to begin than that.

May your year be blessed, happy, full of hope and laughter. Happy New Year!

Posted in Addiction, advice, faith, family, kids, Life, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, recovery, women

Trust

I don’t know about you, but trust is a struggle for me. Not so much trusting other people, although lets be real- I don’t do that very well either. Being the control freak that I tend to be, I’ve put myself in a weird position where I don’t generally have to rely on or trust others too much- I just do everything myself.  Which then creates a whole different set of problems, because no one can do everything all the time, and when I am feeling down and weak and need someone to turn to…guess what? Little Miss Self-sufficient Pants has made that position in her life obsolete, so…now what? Well, I get sad and bummed out that I am in this all alone, even though I kinda set it up that way.

But what happens when you are a control freak, like I am, and also have trouble trusting yourself? I mean, lets take a minute to look at my track record, shall we? If I’m feeling down, I might choose to overlook the success and triumph, the massive changes I’ve made, and the hard work I’ve put in, and instead focus on the countless mistakes I’ve made, the cruel behavior, the trail of ruined relationships and bad choices. If I’m only seeing the bad stuff because my state of mind is poor, yeah, it’s really hard to trust myself. It’s not so easy to trust your gut when your instincts were once so chemically altered that they gave out on you.

And then there’s the whole “Trust the Universe” thing that I subscribe to so wholeheartedly…as long as, you know, we aren’t talking about my specific painful life issue, whatever it might be. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to take my hands off of everything and let things unfold as they undoubtedly will anyway…it’s just so damn hard! It’s such classic addict behavior, trying to manipulate outcomes in the way I want them to be- in the way I believe they should be- and boy, this shit is ingrained in me, deeply. It’s a LOT of work. It’s a LOT of useless worry, grief, and pain I put myself through, trying to make sure things go “right”. And you know what? It’s all for nothing, really. Because either way, things always unfold the way they are supposed to, whether it’s to my liking or not. My interference may prolong the inevitable, but is that really a win? If something painful or hard is trying to happen, is it better to keep it from happening for a little longer? Or does that make it worse?

Lets take my daughter for example- she is going through the messy, painful business of trying to grow up. I keep running interference for her, saving her from consequences that are her own, but that hurt me to see her go through. So…here we are, down the road a bit, and the same exact consequences are still coming up, despite my previous help. This time, I take my hands off, and allow life to happen for her the way it is trying to happen. My gut instinct kept pulling me back to reality every time I started to panic, started wanting to step in and fix things for her. For one thing, I needed to have boundaries in our relationship, for ME. But more than that, even, I needed her to see that in life, you must provide and think and advocate for yourself, or you find yourself in deep shit. So I listened to my gut, finally. I was prepared for the worst possible outcome. I let her know I loved her, always and forever, but it was time for her to sink or swim.

And guess what happened? Well, for one thing, she apologized to me. For another thing, she is implementing some big changes in her life- in her very own words, she said “I realized that the way I was going was not good, and that I really had no choice but to change or it was going to get worse.” Listen, I am not trying to take ANY of the credit for her breakthrough. All I did was finally get out of the way, and in less than a week, she figured it out on her own. I prolonged the inevitable, and made it far more painful, because I was trying to save all of us from the very pain I was prolonging. The Universe knows what it is doing. My instincts are telling me the truth.

So here is what I am taking away from all of this- let people live their lives. Don’t intervene more than you absolutely need to. Allow people to experience their consequences- that is where we ALL grow. When it comes to people we love- our children especially- seeing them in pain is hard. But if you want that pain to ever end, don’t get in it. I mean, obviously, use your discretion- I’m not going to let my 8 year old parachute off the house no matter how much she insists, but- you know what I mean. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and let people learn how to live. Trust your own wise instincts. Trust the Universe. Trust God, if that is what you do. See what happens when you finally let go.