Posted in Addiction, family, Holidays, kids, Life, motherhood, parenting, People, recovery, relationships, women

Trying Times

I’ve been avoiding trying to post anything here for the past little while, as I am slogging through a whole bunch of uncomfortable life stuff, and can never trust myself to not say too much. I can’t guarantee that I won’t do that now. So to preface whatever comes next, I would just like to say this: This is my experience, this is my space, and this is my truth. Okay, lets get on with it.

After this many consecutive days, months, and years in recovery, I figured life would get easier, my close personal relationships would be healed and warm, close and vibrant. I really thought that if I could change myself enough, that would change everything. The truth is, changing myself only changed ME. I am the one actively working on myself, and due to that, sometimes it seems like it’s actually caused more trouble than ever before. Why? Because I have some respect for myself, and therefore, I expect other people to as well. Because I am cognizant enough to see clearly when someone else’s behavior is not okay, but smart enough now to know when I might as well keep my mouth shut about it. It seems like I am having deep issues with all the people I love most in my life, and I’m not going to lie, it hurts.

It’s made especially bad because it’s Christmas time, and this cheery little tree all lit up in my living room seems like it’s mocking me. I don’t have tons of Christmas spirit on my best days, and these are far from my best days. But I do have a happy little eight year old who deserves to feel all the magic of Christmas, so I will do my best to plaster a smile on my face and keep things light.

I also have a twenty-one year old daughter who isn’t speaking to me right now. She blocked me on social media, and told me she wants nothing more to do with me. And, listen, I know…I know that, chances are, she’ll get over it soon enough. I also know that her anger, though she might disagree, is misplaced. There are times when you have to draw the line and let people know you mean business, for REAL this time. I drew my line. She doesn’t like it. And that’s okay. She has to go about this business of growing up on her own, and sometimes that means learning some hard lessons. This is how we figure things out, most of the time. Through stark reality and pain. I wish it could be some other way, but I feel deeply that I need to step back and let her find her way on her own.

Still…it hurts. It hurts a lot. I’m sad, and angry and worried sick. I’m mad that things feel so uncomfortable. I blame myself, knowing I didn’t raise her the right way, and I have so much guilt, guilt I don’t think I will ever be free of. And it hurts like a motherfucker that I can’t even talk to my own mother about these things that are causing me so much grief, because she simply will not hear me. She has made it very clear that she just can’t handle it. So…what in the world do I do?

Well, I guess I write this. I tell the truth, and wait it out, hoping for the best. I put a smile on my face and go ice skating, telling myself that things will surely get better. They always do. And most of all, I let myself feel all these feelings: Anger, sadness, disappointment, fear. I’m lucky to get to have feelings I can name today. For so long, I didn’t feel at all, and when I did, I couldn’t trust those feelings.

Doesn’t mean I have to like them. But I can at least recognize that knowing myself, and knowing how I feel- I can see that having boundaries and holding fast to them- all of this is progress. Even when it feels like the worst thing in the world.

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Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, anxiety, Goals, inner peace, Life, living, mindfulness, People, recovery, twelve step, women

Peace

peace

This morning, when I took my dog Lucy to the beach, I made a conscious decision to leave my phone in my pocket. I didn’t want to be taken out of the moment by my urge to take the perfect Instagram picture and then cross-post it to Facebook, and subsequently spend the rest of the day compulsively checking for likes. I grow tired of that cycle, but the truth is, it isn’t easy to stop. But I did it- left my phone in my pocket, resisted the urge. Picked up a shell or two, and enjoyed just throwing the ball for my dog. I also met a few fellow beach strollers- something much easier to do when you are looking up, being present.

After the walk, I dropped Lucy off and decided to hit a meeting. I’m embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t been to one in nearly a month! It was just what I needed today. I saw my sponsor, and a few core people that I really love and respect. What a message of hope you can find in those rooms sometimes…it really is amazing, when you think about it. Escaping from the life of depravity that is addiction is such a freaking miracle. If you know, you know. It’s incredible to me that I have somehow managed to stay clean, that I somehow have made a success of what was once a very sad, broken life. I’m very proud of this life I have given myself. I forget sometimes.

Here we are in November, and I am already thinking about the year coming next- what I want to work on, where I want to focus my energy. The theme going forward is going to be “Making Peace”, and by that, I mean with ME. As much work as I have done on myself, I still carry around a lot of guilt and shame, and so many upsetting memories from the past. I still have a lot of anxiety and worry around the future. The past is gone. The future isn’t here yet. I think I need to forgive myself and focus on today.

I was listening to a TED talk yesterday about how to be happy- I didn’t finish it, but something stuck with me: People are happier when they are focused on what they are doing. It’s when our minds wander that we begin to feel anxiety, dread, and unhappiness. This makes so much sense to me! Since then, I have noted when my mind was spinning off, and started focusing on where I was right in that moment, and I found almost instant relief. I think it’s going to take a lot of practice, but if I can master this one, I’ll be in business.

Anyway, I will not so much be seeking peace as I will be doing the things that I know bring peace to me, and doing less of the things that take peace away. I deserve to feel good about my life, to feel peaceful, content, happy. We all do. I encourage you to really think about the content of your life, what is working, what is not, and what you can do to bring your life closer in alignment to what you’d like it to be. This is not a dress rehearsal, and the clock is always ticking. I’m starting now. How about you?

Posted in Addiction, advice, funny, health, Life, Musings, People, random

Pain: The Best Motivator

dental pain

Pain has always been a great motivator for me- nothing pushes you into action faster or more seriously than pain does, be it emotional, mental, or, as in my current predicament, PHYSICAL. Tooth pain, to be exact. Boy, I forgot what a nightmare a painful tooth can be. It’s been a long time since I’ve suffered through it, now that I’ve had dental insurance for the past decade. Before that, it was something I went through pretty regularly, unfortunately. A combo of bad genes and drug abuse made sure of that. For the past long time, though, I’ve taken really good care of my teeth- regular cleanings, fillings replaced, I’ve done it all.

All except for one thing. I have this stupid wisdom tooth, you see. It has needed to be pulled for at least a year, but…it wasn’t bothering me, so I ignored it. I have nothing against most dental procedures. I’ve even been known to fall asleep during a root canal. But extractions? Dear sweet baby Jesus, no. You would think, with all the advances in dentistry, that they could come up with something a little less…medieval torture chamber, right? It’s just BRUTAL the way they go about it. So, knowing this, and thinking back to my last wisdom tooth extraction, where, I shit you not, I had a black eye afterwards…I’ve been hesitant to pull the trigger. No pain, no point, right?

Oh my God, so wrong! Why, oh why, did I wait? Last Friday, I’m sitting here, innocently sipping my coffee, when all of the sudden, it feels like a high voltage drill is boring into the pulp of my tooth. There was no warning, no hint that anything had changed. Just sudden, shocking, electrifying pain. My hands are sweating as I write this, as I am now permanently braced for the next jolt. I am SO MAD at myself.

But you know what? It motivated the hell out of me, that’s for sure. I have an appointment to get this sucker yanked this Friday, and I’m actually looking forward to it. Funny how pain can change ones perspective, eh? From fear to excitement? You bet your ass. And guess what else? I will not even be awake for the procedure, either. They are knocking me out and when I wake up, one less tooth for this girl.

In the meantime, it’s a steady diet of Aleve and Listerine mouth wash for me, not to mention little pauses while I try to use Lamaze breathing through the pain. Luckily, it only hurts sometimes, not all the time. At least, not yet. Keep your fingers crossed for me. And never, ever wait to deal with your teeth. I promise you, it just isn’t worth it.

Posted in Addiction, adventure, alcoholism, faith, family, Goals, Life, living, motherhood, Musings, People, random, recovery

Looking up

looking up

I went to bed last night feeling grateful for the sleepy little bed-hog lying next to me, even if she was mad at me for cruelly coming between her and her Kindle at the obscenely early hour of eight p.m.- no one ever said being a good mama was always fun. School starts up again today after a week off, and she needs her rest, after all. But I lay there, drifting off to sleep, patting her leg, and I was happy.

I woke up this morning, poured myself a big, strong cup of coffee, and began my routine of letting various animals out and in, and then out again. My cat, in particular, is incredibly indecisive, and we do this little dance about forty times a morning. Anyway, I let Lucy, my big, sweet black lab in, and realized I didn’t so much as acknowledge her existence. Here she is, so absolutely in love with me, and I don’t even look at her when I let her in. How rude. So I sat down and called her over for some love. The goofy little look of bliss on her face as I hugged her and scratched her back was worth a million bucks.

I’ve just been noticing, lately, how sweet my life is. Been feeling grateful for the blessings of my children, my pets, my home, my job, and of course, my recovery, without which  the rest wouldn’t be possible. I wish I could say that it’s just coincidental, or maybe because this new medication is kicking in, but…the truth is, it’s because I’m about to leave all of this behind and fly away on Thursday to the East coast for a vacation all on my own. I mean, I’ll be with my friend Alicia, but no kids, no pets, no job, no nothing. I will be bringing my recovery with me, of course. That goes with me everywhere. But nothing makes me more grateful for something than the idea of being without it, even if it is just temporarily.

I have 100% faith that my older daughter and her boyfriend will take excellent care of my pets and my home while I’m gone. They definitely aren’t the type to throw parties or do anything stupid, so that’s not a concern. I’m like 98% sure that Cam’s dad will take excellent care of Cam in my absence, the 2% basically being that he won’t brush her hair properly or make her go to sleep at a decent hour. But she’ll survive that. I’m about 75% sure that my plane won’t crash, either going or coming home, which is a vast improvement over my previous feelings about flying, where I was 99% sure I would die, so that’s good news. Especially for the people unfortunate enough to have to sit near me on the plane- I could drive anyone to drink with the anxiety that used to pour off of me. I’ve decided to just watch X-files and zone out until we touch down in Boston.

But one thing I know with absolute certainty is, I am damn lucky to have a life that I love enough to miss while I’m away, and that I will love coming back to. Sometimes I forget where I came from, what it was like for me not so long ago. I get so wrapped up in my head, so tortured by my thoughts, that I can’t see the forest for the trees. I’m glad to have this clarity for once, this better perspective on my life. I’m proud of the woman I have become- one who has healed so many relationships, and grown a life that is more calm and more loving, and more “normal” than I ever thought myself capable of having. And I’m super stoked that I planned and payed for (a whole year in advance, even!) a vacation to a place I have been dreaming of going for the longest time! No way I could’ve pulled this off in my addiction. No. Freaking. Way.

So cheers to that! To me, and to my life, and to my beautiful children. To safe flights and new sights, and the big world waiting to be discovered. To daydreams, and adventures, and the people we come home to. And last, but never least, to the life recovery has made possible. I am truly grateful.

Posted in Addiction, advice, faith, health, Life, Mental Health, recovery, twelve step

Patience in Recovery

meth brain

I was sitting here googling random shit this morning, as one does, and somehow “Why are some people naturally more kind than others?” morphed into “Long term effects of methamphetamine on the brain”, which, in my case, aren’t necessarily unrelated to one another. Basically, I was wondering if my inability to be as kind as I’d like to be could be linked to damage in my brain caused by years of INSANE quantities of meth in my body.

It seems like there is good news and bad news. The good news is that, by now, my brain has mostly healed from all the harm I did to it. There are certain parts of my brain that might never be okay again, but as far as my behavior, moods and that sort of thing goes, it’s all me at this point. As far as “they” know, anyway. The bad news is, this means I am just naturally a bit of an asshole, but I don’t think this is breaking news. And, unlike most of the assholes out there, at least I’m trying to change. Actually, I have no idea what the other assholes are trying or not trying to do, I’m just angling to make myself look good. Shocker. Also, thanks to my years of chemical dependency, I have a higher chance of dementia and Parkinson’s, which I’m not thrilled about, but what can I do?

One thing I did find really interesting, though, is that I now have scientific evidence supporting what I have been claiming for a long time- your brain needs ample time to heal after your cessation of meth. I mean, duh, right? But this is not something anyone was able to reassure me of after I first got clean, and I thought I was going mad. If I wasn’t using anymore, why did I still act so crazy? Why was I still so full of anger and rage? Why couldn’t I control my emotions at all? In short, why was I still exhibiting all of the behaviors I associated with my drug use, but I wasn’t even using drugs?!

Although I was seeing some progress in my life in these areas, it was incredibly frustrating how slow it went, and how terrible I felt. I didn’t understand. I thought maybe it wasn’t the drugs after all, and maybe I was just a horrible monster of a person. My doctor strongly recommended that I go on an antidepressant or something, but I was so turned off by the idea of using another drug, even one prescribed to me. I knew that something wasn’t right, but my instincts urged me to wait and see. And so I did.

It took between 18 months and two years before I saw a significant change in my behavior- enough so that I felt passably sane. At 3.5 years, I can tell you that I am probably the best I have ever been in my adult life. I used drugs for most of my entire adult life, approximately 20 years. For someone who did more growing up and less drugs, I expect the recovery time would be shorter.

The point is this: be patient with yourself. Not only do you need time to grieve the time you lost and the damage you did, not only do you have to relearn, or even learn for the first time, how to exist in the “normy” world, but your brain has to heal physically. Meth might not be considered physically addictive, but this does not mean it does no physical, quantifiable damage. It does. Look it up, see for yourself the pictures of a brain six months after cessation of drug use. Actually, never mind, I’ll just post the picture so you can see for yourself.

My advice to anyone in early recovery from methamphetamine is to be patient. The changes will come, but maybe not as soon as you would hope. Commit to stick it out, and before too long, you’ll see the person you had always hoped to be under all the bullshit. With a lot of work, love and faith, it’s never too late to become the very best version of yourself. 🙂

 

Posted in Addiction, Dreams, inner peace, Life, mindfulness, Musings, People, random, recovery, Uncategorized

Bloom Where you’re Planted

bloom-where-you-are-planted

There’s this thing I love to do, where I window-shop for houses on Zillow, almost exclusively in places where I’ve never been. I have this obsession with the east coast, and the idea of seasons- autumn leaves in fall and snow on Christmas, the sweet relief of melting snow in spring and delicious summer nights spent with the windows open. And there is nothing wrong with that, I guess…except that I live here, on the west coast, and this is where my life is unfolding.

I notice that I do the Zillow browsing most when I am feeling the least thrilled with my life here. The cost of living in California is astronomical, and it would be really hard for me to buy a house here on my own, something that has become more and more important to me over the past couple of years.

But it’s more than that, I think. I have always been a daydreamer, but there is this other part to these daydreams- the idea that I could be happier if only I were somewhere else, doing something else. There’s nothing wrong with daydreaming, but it’s the idea that the grass is greener elsewhere that makes trouble. Rather than tending to this lawn right beneath my feet, I’m staring across the country, into the yard of someone who has made it look really pretty for the photos.

And then there is this other part- the part where, and I have learned this lesson already- I will still be me wherever I go. No matter where I am, all my troubles come with me. You cannot run away from your own restless nature. You cannot escape a longing for another place…no matter where you are, that longing will just change direction. When I ran away to Reno years ago, thinking that this peninsula where I sit now was the root of all my problems, I would stand in my bathroom late at night and pretend the cars rushing by on the busy road some miles away were the roaring of distant surf. I just wanted to go home.

I am such a strange human. I long for change and for routine at the same time. I want to travel and still, somehow, sleep in my own bed. I want to start over without losing anything in the process. I want to keep everything I have and have everything I want.

But most of all, I just want to be happy.

And happiness is not a place. Happiness is not waiting for me in an empty house in Maine. Happiness is right here, waiting for me to notice it. I found it yesterday in the most mundane things- a morning spent with my daughter, cleaning out the “linen” closet, which held everything except linen, and packing up seven bags of junk to go to Goodwill. It was in the satisfaction of accomplishing something with someones help, and just being together.

I found it working my 11th step with my sponsor yesterday, and really understanding what this journey of recovery has meant to me, has made of me, over this past few years. I am not at all who I was at the start, although the changes have been so gradual and subtle that it’s hard to notice as they happen. We had to take turns reading because we both kept getting so overwhelmed with gratitude and choked up.

I found happiness standing on the beach yesterday- a perfect late afternoon in early fall. The air was just right- not too cold, not too warm, and my daughter flew a kite with her dad as I tossed the ball for the dogs and just took it all in. I feel peaceful and…full, I guess, just thinking about it.

The grass is not greener somewhere else. Happiness is not a place. I am fine right where I am.

A long time ago, I had this sticker that I loved. It said “Bloom Where You’re Planted”, and I thought that was such a wonderful saying. It was easy for me, at 17, to be happy wherever I happened to be. I think it’s high time I get back to that.

Starting right here, right where I am.

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, Depression, fitness, funny, inner peace, Life, Musings, People, random, Weight Loss

The tale of my accidental class at the gym

gym

My attitude about working out has morphed over the past few years. For a good long while, I was really consistent at the gym- I’d hired a personal trainer, I went to Body Pump classes (which I LOVED, and I highly recommend to anyone, really), and I even worked out at home when I couldn’t make it to the gym. I actually got really strong- surprisingly so! For a little while, anyway.

The thing is, I was mostly motivated by hatred of my poor body, and the few extra pounds I’d put on once I got clean. Anything motivated by hatred is probably not going to be a stunning success, if you ask me. For whatever reason, my stint at the gym fizzled out, and I pretty much stopped going. After a time of inactivity, I came to the realization that I felt better mentally when I was exercising, and so I went back, to a different gym, and started there- but I had a pretty weak little routine, and I certainly never pushed myself in any way.

Throughout all of this, my eating habits have fluctuated between strictly healthy- like, WAY too strict to be sustainable, and disappointment that it wasn’t working, followed by periods of “fuck-it-all-anyway” when I would just eat whatever, because what even was the point of all this torture?! Throughout all of this, my weight stayed roughly within the same ten pound range, never getting much lower, but never getting much higher, either. No matter what new program or routine I was following. I never stuck with anything long enough for it to work, I guess. I just thought it was funny that I never really gained much in my long off periods, either.

For the past several months, I’ve been on a kind of “this is just who I am, deal with it” kick. I’m tired of hating myself for being chubby. There are worse things. Plus, by moaning and groaning about my body, what am I teaching my young daughter? That my entire self worth is tied up in the circumference of my waist? No, thank you. Confidence in queen, is it not? And I have plenty of things to be proud of- lets talk about those things to this impressionable young lady. So, I have been more careful of the way I speak, and I am trying to model some good things, but…

I really needed to get back to the gym. I hadn’t been once this month, and seriously? I am battling this low-grade depression every single day, and it sucks. One of the things that really helps is exercise. I’ve come to a place where I understand that I am still within a “normal” weight range, and that my perception of myself isn’t necessarily the truth. I’ve gotten to a point where I just want to be healthy- mentally and physically- and the hardest part is just making myself do the work. So, yesterday, I decided that I would go back to the gym.

By the time I got off work, I really just wanted to lay down and take a nap. That’s how I feel every day when I get off work, to be honest. But, with all the upheaval in my home lately- my older daughter moving back, and all the new pets, and all the new chaos, I knew I had to take care of myself if I wanted to remain sane. So, despite my longing not to, I went to the gym. I got there, and started digging around in my purse for my phone. Guess what? No phone. I’d left my mother-loving phone at home. This has happened maybe twice in my entire life- that thing is like a part of my goddamned arm, for Pete’s sake! And how was I supposed to do ANYTHING without music to listen to?!

I sat there for a good long moment, in my car, staring vacantly at my daughter in the backseat, trying to figure out if it was just not meant to be, and if I should go home. BUT. There was a class starting in ten minutes that I had been thinking about taking for, I don’t know, like a year now? I mean…what’d I have to lose?

You know what I had to lose? Control of my legs, that’s what. I took the class. I made it through the whole stupid thing. Fifteen minutes in, there was a short break and I used it to run to the front counter to desperately purchase a bottle of water. I barely made it through the gym. My thighs were locking up and shaking so badly that I had to be very, very careful. But you know what? I went back! I went back, and I did the kettle-bell squats and the jumping jacks and the goddamned fifteen minute (maybe one minute) planks, and I finished that sucker. I did it. I got dizzy, nearly fainted, made terrible noises, almost barfed, poured sweat and did some of it with very little movement. But I finished it.

I cannot feel my legs today. I will have to trust fall onto the toilet for probably the rest of the week. It’s so bad that it doesn’t even hurt yet, it’s just…numb. But the truth is, it felt really good to push myself for once. I may have gotten in a little over my head yesterday, but I needed to do it, and I didn’t even know it. I’m still proud of myself this morning. I might feel differently tomorrow, but…I can’t wait to do it again!