Posted in Addiction, adventure, faith, friendship, happiness, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random, recovery

Leaving Here a Different Person

I moved into this house in February of 2015, at the end of a short but incredibly destructive relapse. I believe it lasted about four or five months, that last little run. It felt like a million years. I didn’t know it was the end, of course. How I was able to sweet talk my way into this place, I still don’t know- I had horrible credit and was in the midst of bankruptcy, strung out and about to be homeless. I pulled up in front of this place in my little beat up Santa Fe, and I knew this was the house I wanted. When the landlady was hesitant, I wrote her a letter assuring her that I would always make my rent my top priority, that I would take care of the place. Whatever I said worked, and though at the time I was just saying whatever I could to get my foot in the door, it turns out I kept my word.

In mid-March of that same year, I finally reached my breaking point. Of course, it was awful. I had a terrible screaming match with my sister and my daughter one night, followed by a sleepless night and then a breakdown at work…and that was it for me. That was all she wrote. March 16th, 2015 was my first day clean.

From that moment forward, I began to change in ways both visible and not. To be honest with you, I feel like I have almost nothing in common with the girl who walked through that front door for the first time almost six years ago. And yes, I was a 39 year old “woman”, but let me assure you, I was really just a girl. Lost and scared, angry and sick. I had really begun to lose all hope that I would ever, ever break free of my addiction.

And when I did, it was so…uneventful. I mean, after all that fighting and panic, the despair and the fear, it was just easy. That life had become so fucking exhausting, it was a relief to let it go.

Listen, I don’t want to constantly harp on that part of my life at all. As far as I’m concerned, it’s in the past and I’d like to leave it there. But there is no way to celebrate where I am now without mentioning where I was then. Five years and eight months ago, I was as far from okay as I could possibly be. Today…well, today things are light years away.

Tomorrow, I will walk out this front door for the very last time. My landlord is sad to see me go. My neighbors have stopped by to tell me they’ll miss me, that I’ve been a good neighbor. I was a good tenant, a good neighbor.

I’m going to tell you something about myself that I probably imply sometimes, but I don’t think I’ve ever really said it outright- I harbor a stubborn belief that I am actually a terrible person. That if people really knew me, the REAL me, they would be horrified. This is such a deeply rooted belief that it is hard for me to even accept evidence that proves otherwise. I’m sure there are many reasons why, but most of them are because I really did behave terribly for many, many years. I was mean, and loud, and I hurt a lot of people. I wasn’t a good friend, a good mother, or a good girlfriend. I certainly wasn’t a good neighbor or tenant.

But you know what? You know what never occurred to me until like a week ago and I am not even kidding? That person was not me. That person was a version of me with a chemically altered brain. Druggy me is NOT WHO I AM. Those behaviors I exhibited do not represent the person I have always been on a core level. Can you imagine that I never understood that until almost six years after getting clean? That I have still been walking around thinking I am just a giant piece of shit because of the life I lived in my addiction? I am far enough from it all now to feel…just so, so sad for that girl who existed in such misery for so long. I am far enough now to wish I could help her. Which, of course, I did. I saved her life, actually.

So, here’s the thing- I am going to leave this place a different person than I was when I left. When my landlord says I have been a good tenant, it’s not because I fooled her- it’s because I paid my rent on time and never gave her any trouble. When my neighbors say they’ll miss me, it’s not because I fooled them, it’s because they like me. When my friends come by to help me wash blinds and scrub walls, it’s not because they think I’m someone I’m not- most of them have known me for twenty or thirty years! They KNOW me. And they love me, even so.

I am moving all the way across the country, leaving behind a lot of things- my safe haven, my comfortable routine, friends that are family to me, the town where I grew up in more ways than one. But the best thing I am leaving behind is the idea that I am not a good person. I will never be perfect, but I am good. I am good enough. I am strong and smart and loving. I am driven and funny and unique. The good things that happen in my life are not a mistake, I am not pulling off some kind of cosmic, karmic heist. It’s all a result of my choices and effort and maybe a little luck. And I am pretty proud of myself today.

Anyway, I’m off on this adventure. I’ll catch up with you when I get where I’m going. Wish me luck!

Posted in adventure, family, fun, kids, Life, motherhood, Musings, People, random, women

So Many Breakdowns, So Little Time

The range of emotions I have been grappling with over the past several days has been pretty astonishing. On Saturday, I had a yard sale- maybe the third one I’ve ever had? I remembered that morning, as I was making my ten billionth trip from the back yard to the front, exactly why I had only had two others before. Because they SUCK. I don’t like sitting around, waiting for people to show up. I don’t like haggling single dollar amounts over my belongings. I don’t like feeling judged when people slow down in their cars, look at my stuff, and then drive off. And it’s boring. And it was HOT. And my back hurt. Yep, on Saturday, I was a full-on whiner.

On Sunday, I let people come over and pick through the remains for free. I put up a post on Facebook marketplace, in several groups I’m in, and said “It’s all free, don’t message me about specific items, don’t make a mess, and just let me know you are on your way over please.” Guess how many messages I got about specific items? Like thirty. And people are so RUDE. Messages that just said “Address?”- no hello, no good morning, nothing. Honestly, I would rather drive my crap to a donation station than give it to a rude person. So, I ignored those ones and only replied to the polite people. On Sunday, I was petty.

Yesterday though…yesterday was special. In the morning, I had a panicked fit because my ex, who has been my literal savior throughout this whole moving process, had the audacity to choose employment over helping me for free. I know, what a jerk, right?! Hahaha! I kept stopping mid-breakdown, as I shrieked the list of all the things I needed to do but wasn’t going to be able to accomplish without help, to announce that I wasn’t actually mad at him, I was just freaking the fuck out. But I could tell he felt guilty anyway, because, you know…I’m his assigned human in distress. Poor Devon. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know we’ve had a rocky, hard relationship. When we fight, which is not unusual, they are big fights. We put up with a lot from each other, but we help each other a lot, too. So, Monday morning, I was ridiculous.

Later Monday morning, I realized that when I’d rented the AWD car to drive cross country, I’d forgotten to specify the cross-country part. Which is why it was such a reasonable price. I had to fix that, obviously, and found myself about fifteen hundred dollars lighter as a result. Five minutes later, the guy at Uhaul told me my trailer hitch hadn’t arrived and they had no ETA on it, either. So that’s bad. Later Monday morning, I was a lunatic.

Monday afternoon, I flooded the laundry room. It has happened two other times since I’ve lived here, but never to me- a point I’d taken great pride in. I was smart enough to never leave anything in the sink the washer drains into. Well, until yesterday, that is. On the plus side, the floors underneath the washer and dryer are super clean now. On the down side, the litter box was basically poop soup. I still haven’t dealt with that. On Monday afternoon, I was defeated.

Monday evening, I realized that both of my children were ungrateful sociopaths, and that it was probably my fault because I am a terrible mother. On Monday evening, I was resentful. And hurt.

And those are just the highlights, my friends. I didn’t even mention the guilt I felt while looking at my cats who are clueless about what next week holds for them. Or the part where I was laying in bed, wondering if it would be weird to change my mind…or if I even could at this point! I mean, I signed a lease. I forked over the cash. It’s too late…right? Or even the part where I imagined my future self lonely and full of regret, comforting my sobbing child as she begs to go home to California. There’s more, I’m sure, but I’ll spare you. I think you have a pretty clear idea of my mental state by now.

You know what’s missing, though? Gratitude. Excitement. Joy, elation, the awesome sense of adventure that fueled this fire in me to begin with. I will give myself a pass at the moment, simply because…a move of this magnitude is hard. And doing it in this short of a time is really hard. But I will get it done, just like I get everything done- maybe not perfectly, but well enough.

In a little more than a week, I will set off for Maine, yowling cats and all, and this chapter will be done as another begins. I’m going to do the best I can to enjoy the journey through the country while keeping my expectations low. As long as we get there alive and in one piece, I’ll be happy. In the meantime, I’m hoping today won’t hold too many surprises…or if it does, let them be happy ones.

Posted in adventure, fun, Goals, humor, Life, Musings, People, random

Crazy Busy Ostrich

It is 6:45 on a Friday morning. I have 12 days left before I leave this house- 11 before I need to be completely packed, stored, cleaned out and polished. Yesterday, I mailed off the check for my new place. I drove it to the post office and put it in the big blue box myself, just to be on the safe side. Not that I don’t trust my mailman, I do. I’ll miss that guy. But…I just wanted to see it off myself, I guess.

I start work in 15 minutes- thirteen now, so I guess this will be quick. I am…well, I’m just gonna be honest here, I guess; I am WAY behind. Aside from three absent bookshelves, my living room looks the same as it always does, only messier. I haven’t packed dishes or cleaned out the fridge. I haven’t packed clothes or…much of anything really. We took one small load of stuff to storage so far, and that’s it.

I know I have so much to do. What I don’t know is why the hell I haven’t been doing it! Like seriously, what the hell is wrong with me?!

I mean, for sure, I like my comforts at all times. I refuse to be without my TV or my coffeemaker, all that good stuff. I won’t do it for more than a night. But for the love of God, I could at least sort through the piles of paperwork, do some filing, make some phone calls.

I’m having a yard sale tomorrow- already a horrible idea in the middle of a pandemic, but kind of necessary considering the mountains of shit I own that is too nice to give away but not nice enough to sell online- and do I have those things organized, or even have a vague idea of what I want to do to set it up? Of course not. I suppose I’ll just wing it? That sounds awesome, right?

Thankfully, my little daughter is going out of town with her dad this weekend, so I can be free and clear to work on things. And I won’t have to work my normal job on the weekend, either, so that helps. But I swear to all that is holy, if I catch myself resting on my laurels, pretending that I’ve earned yet another break, I’m gonna kick my own ass. I don’t know how that is physically possible, but I will find a way.

You know, I talk a lot about the good stuff here, and all of the things I am pretty decent at. But I have talents I never mention, too. Bad talents. Things I am amazing at, except they are terrible things. No one talks about their dark side skillset. One of mine is avoidance. Writing this blog while I have mountains of crap to deal with is a pretty good example, actually. Waiting until the last second and then freaking out because I chose to pretend like I had things totally under control all along.

Laziness is way up there, too. I’ve found work-arounds for that one along the way, as one does in life. But in this case, there is no shortcut, really. I’m not rich, and moving across the country is expensive! If there is stuff I can do, I have to do it. Otherwise, I would have just hired a moving company and been done with it. But that wasn’t in the cards this time, and that’s okay.

Or, it will be. As long as this crazy busy ostrich pulls her head out of the sand pretty quick and gets some stuff done.

I swear, I’m gonna whip this place into shape this weekend. I mean it.

Oh God. Help.

Posted in adventure, faith, Goals, Life, manifestation, Musings, People, random

Rollercoaster

My life is an awful lot like a trip to an amusement park right now. And no, I don’t mean crowded, expensive, chaotic and filled with terrible, overpriced food.

Well, actually…never mind. That is also accurate. But the angle I was going for was more the rollercoaster thing. You wait in line for eons, inching forward a few steps at a time. Bored, but trying to make the best of it. You get closer and closer, but you aren’t sure how close you are to your turn because the way the line is set up, you can only see so far ahead. Next thing you know, you’re being waved through, rushed into your seat, the bar slams down across your chest, and…suddenly you aren’t so sure you want to do this anymore. But before you can say a word, off you go, shooting forward, then up, up, up! Way too fast, and way scarier than you expected, but there’s nothing you can do except hold on and hope for the best.

Yep, that’s how my life has felt the past two weeks. Except it’s a daily event and I am on this ride alone, and no one is manning the controls. The me that hoped and planned and prayed so desperately for all of the things I was handed seems to have wandered off into the ether somewhere, leaving in her place the version of me who keeps asking questions like “What the fuck?” and “Why are you doing this to me?” (and yes, that is me asking myself, in the most accusatory voice possible, why I am doing this to me. I’m not making this up, this actually took place inside my head.)

It’s like I lost the thread. The one that connected me to my reason for wanting this, and wanting this badly. Suddenly it seems like this is too much, it’s too far, and there are too many unknowns. I am worried about being lonely, getting sick, dying alone, and not knowing how to get to the grocery store in the snow. In my current mindset, these things all seem equally likely and equally horrible.

Lucky for me, I know that this is nothing more than my fear taking control of the wheel. Although I didn’t anticipate it, I should have. After all, my anxiety loves nothing more than taking an adventure and trying to turn it into a horror show.

To be fair, this is more of an undertaking than I had expected. The logistics alone of moving two cats, a dog, and two people 2700 miles away are…kind of nightmarish. If I had unlimited time and money, it would be a totally different story, but I don’t. I have a cap on both, and a lot of stuff to deal with in a short time frame even before we start the actual move. I could also really use a truck right about now. Of my own, so I don’t have to ask for help constantly. Right now, I have 21 days to button things up here. I also have a LOT of anguish.

You know what else I have? Faith that it’s all going to work out. And that’s the truth. I’m not just blowing happy smoke up your backside. At the center of it all, I still believe that this will be an incredible thing, an adventure that enriches our lives. I believe it is absolutely meant to be. Something wonderful will come of this, mark my words. I don’t know what it is, but I know what I feel.

I can know that, and still be afraid. Still have moments of doubt and hesitation, still cry my eyes out for the safe little life I am leaving behind. I have room for all of those things.

I just cannot allow them to hold me back or keep me stuck. They can be here, but they can’t get in my way.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go clean out the cupboards. I only have 21 days left!

Posted in adventure, faith, family, Goals, happiness, inner peace, Life, magic, manifestation, Mental Health, Musings, People, random, travel

Where Do I Even Begin…?

You can’t see me, I know, but after I wrote the title, I sat here wide-eyed with my hands out, palms up, in the classic “WTF?” pose. For two days, I have been ignoring my desperate need to get this all out, commit it to the screen and perhaps untangle even a small corner of the mess that is spreading into every corner of my brain. Even my sleep isn’t safe anymore, my dreams just one more running commentary (albeit, a very abstract commentary) of the chaos within and around me.

But where do I start? Should I dive right in? The last time I posted was like July, I’m pretty sure, on a day where I felt peaceful and was yammering on about acceptance. Then I went quiet for a while. Stuck in the weird global pandemic time-warp where every day blends into the next and you’re just treading water, waiting for something to change. The only thing that changed was things looked like they were going to get better for a minute, so I went into the office for the first time since March a total of two times, and then…the shit hit the fan in a big way here in California, and they told us to stay home again. Thank God. Then the entire west coast caught on fire for months- pretty sure there’s a bunch of it still on fire, though I’ve honestly stopped keeping track- and the pervasive feeling of doom just crept closer.

In August, during the two minutes when things appeared to be returning to a more normal routine, I had booked a flight and Airbnb in Maine. By the time my trip rolled around, I wasn’t sure if I should go or not. And maybe it was selfish and stupid of me to follow through with it, but my mental state demanded that I feed it some type of happiness before it fell into a pit of despair, so…off I went for a Covid swab and a plane ride across the country.

There were 72 people on our flight, including the crew. Rows of empty seats following the fastest TSA check in line I’ve ever experienced- and that includes me having to go back through the detector thingy three times AND get patted down (Still no idea what the hell was setting the thing off). Everyone wore masks and gave each other as much space as they could. Mostly, I tried not to think about it.

Maine, once again, exceeded my expectations. I was in Mid-coast Maine this time, in Bristol, near Pemaquid Point. Trust me when I tell you, if you are looking for a socially distant vacation, this is the place to be. The cottage looked directly out onto the water- I could throw a rock and hit the inlet if I’d wanted to. But mostly, I just wanted to look at it, the old Atlantic ocean…it really does feel older to me than the Pacific, for some reason. Older, more serious, more magical. At night, you can see the milky way with your eyes, and more stars than you even believe can exist. There is no light pollution, no sound to interrupt the wind in the trees and the rhythmic pulse of the water on the shore. For the first time in months, I could breathe again. The worries of the world- the pandemic, politics, distance learning, tragedy and mayhem…they faded into the background, where they belong.

And while I was there, something pretty incredible happened…but I’m out of time, so dammit! You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear the rest of the story. My apologies, I really want to tell this the right way!

Posted in Addiction, adventure, faith, happiness, inner peace, Learning, Life, living, Mental Health, Musings, People, recovery, spirituality, women

1,825 Days

On this day, five years ago, I woke up and chose to stop putting drugs into my body. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it both is and isn’t a simple thing. You have to understand, and I know it’s hard if you haven’t lived it, but…when you are deep in the throes of addiction your brain tells you stories, and, because it’s your own brain talking to you in your own voice, and because you are very sick and things aren’t right inside of you, you no longer have the discretion to discern the truth from the lies. Your brain tells you that you can’t just stop on a dime- you have to plan ahead, you need to wait for the weekend, you just need to finish off the rest of the dope you have. You’ll have to call in sick, you need someone to help with the kids, tomorrow would be better, next month would be better. It’s going to be so hard. It’s going to feel so bad.

The truth is, you only need to be ready. Before you are ready, nothing will make it work. And nothing can force you to be ready until you arrive there on your own. That place looks different for everyone.

I want to share a part of my story that I’ve been reluctant to speak about for a couple of reasons; I am not in recovery, not in the traditional sense, anymore. One year ago in February, I made the decision to leave the 12 Step world and live life as a free agent. I was terrified, honestly. I had found myself thinking, for quite some time, that I wasn’t comfortable with defining myself by my addiction anymore. I was tired of rehashing the sordid details of my former life in order to identify with the newcomer. Healing from something while reliving it constantly began to feel counter-intuitive. I had done everything that was asked of me, all of it. Service work, step work, meeting attendance, and I felt I was at a crossroads- it was time for me to start sponsoring women or time to move on. I agonized over this decision. I worried that my brain was lying to me again, that I would leave and somehow, though it seemed impossible to me, wind up on drugs, right back where I’d started. But I knew that in order to sponsor women in their most vulnerable time, I had to be committed. I had to buy what I was selling 100%. Lives were at stake. And that made my choice pretty easy. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t tell someone there was only this one way to live for the rest of their lives because I no longer believed it was true. So, I left.

At first, it was really weird. But, once I found my footing, I realized this choice was the right one for me. I thought I was endangering myself by walking away, but what I did was…I set myself free, and gave myself permission to live my life the way I chose. I trusted myself to make good decisions. And it was the most loving thing I have ever done for me.

The reasons I have been hesitant to share this are not far-fetched at all. I would never, ever want to encourage another person to follow me out of recovery. Every one of us is different, and I think that, scared as I was of breaking from the norm, I knew in my heart that I was done with dope. I knew I wasn’t going back to that life. So, I don’t talk about it because I don’t want to give people the wrong idea, you know?

The second reason is…I don’t want to take away from the fact that I have accomplished something fucking marvelous. I know what my friends in recovery are going to think about this, because I thought the same exact way- pretty sure I even wrote a rude blog about it here somewhere: It only counts if you do it THIS WAY. Well, I’m sorry, but that just isn’t true for me. You know what is true? That my life is not ruled by substances of any kind anymore. That I don’t have to hide or lie or feel ashamed of myself because of the way I am living. That, in the past five years, I have made fundamental changes to my life that have allowed me to become the woman I had wanted so badly to become. The woman I was afraid I had lost all chance of ever being.

So no, I am not in recovery anymore. But that doesn’t change the fact that this morning, when I woke up and thought about what that number meant- One thousand eight hundred and twenty five days- I wasn’t overwhelmed with gratitude. I thanked God profusely and sobbed because my life is so incredibly beautiful. The freedom, the healing, the changes…they are so precious to me. The difference between who I am right now and who I was on this very day five years ago is profound.

When I shared that I didn’t go to meetings anymore with a friend of mine a while back, she said to me “Oh, so you’re cured?” in that “tone” one can get when they think they know something you don’t. Today, I would like to say this- I might not ever be cured completely, but I’m closer than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m free. I’m not afraid of myself anymore. I trust me. I’m so proud of myself. And nothing anyone else thinks about the way I move through life can change that.

So, happy anniversary to me.

Posted in adventure, advice, Blogging, friendship, fun, Goals, happiness, inner peace, Learning, Life, manifestation, meditation, Musings, People, spirituality

Hi There!

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Me, excited to share my new endeavor with you all.

I just wanted to pop in here real quick and let you guys know that I am in the process of setting up a whole new WordPress blog! I am still trying to iron out all the kinks- the set up has changed a whole lot since I started this blog a million years ago, and it is making me feel like a goddamn dinosaur…maybe I should enlist the help of my 8 year old? She’s basically a part-time coding expert, thanks to countless hours of Roblox and freaking…what’s it called? That other one all the kids are gaga over? Anyway, whatever.

So, this will be something different for me! You know, my life has changed so very much over the past five years. I’ve grown up, finally, in so many ways. I will always still come here, to After The Party, to share parts of my life. But I am wanting to try something new, and I thought “Why not?”

For the longest time, every morning, before I would pray and meditate, I would read a…well I guess you could call it a devotional? Those short little daily readings to sort of set the tone for your day? I had trouble, eventually, finding ones that resonated with me. Too Christian, too cheesy, too out there. So I just stopped looking.

Well, lately, I have been keeping this running Word document where I would write (for myself) a little nugget of inspiration that sort of filtered into my brain from the ether. Sometimes it happened during or right after my prayer and meditation, sometimes it just popped into my head randomly out of nowhere, but whenever it happened, I knew that was the one- that was my idea for the day.

So, I’d run over to my desktop and pull up the document, and flesh out the little sliver I’d been given. I found that I was suddenly able to keep things relatively short and sweet (which you all know, if you read anything I write here, can be a bit challenging for me) and get to the point pretty easily. I’ve been collecting them for a while now.

They aren’t doing me any good just sitting in my computer. Well, they might be doing me some good, but I’m all about sharing. Plus, what a great way to make sure I write something daily, right?

So PLEASE, keep your eyeballs peeled for the updates, and follow my new blog when I post a link, if you feel like you might get something out of it…even if it is just a laugh. Look for “Notes From Elsewhere”. Coming soon to a WordPress site near you. 🙂

Posted in adventure, family, kids, Life, love, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, relationships, women

Motherhood

Motherhood- “the state or experience of having or raising a child”. That’s it, that’s the definition. And by that definition, any woman-nay, any person, can be a mother. But for those of us who have experienced it, it is so very much more. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for myself…it has been life altering, to say the least.

I bring this up today because today marks the 22nd anniversary of my life as a mother. That’s right, my daughter turns 22 today.  And on this day, the moment she arrived, a new part of me was also born.

While my daughter was a robust, long (slender, though- a lot like she is now!) and healthy child, born a full five days past her due date, my motherhood was premature. Unprepared for the world I was barreling into, unaware of what I had actually undertaken. I was a mother because I had a baby, but in most other ways I was woefully behind. While some women take up the mantle of motherhood with some innate grace, some primal knowing…I wore it more like an ill- fitting Halloween costume, a child masquerading as a grown-up. A little girl trying to walk in her mother’s high heels.

I am a late bloomer. I know this about myself now, but I did not realize it then- I didn’t understand anything back then, to be completely honest. I thought, of course, that I knew everything. Which made me the most dangerous kind of person there is- a confident idiot cannot be swayed or reasoned with.

The moment that glorious little girl was held up before my eyes, a feeling swept over me that I struggle to describe, that I still cannot name to this day. Time stopped, and I felt an awe sweep through me, a stunning, heart-stopping, “WHOA!”. I remember praying “Please, please let me remember this forever.” and I have. Not as clearly as I’d like, but clear enough. I must have known, somehow, that that was truly a once-in-a-lifetime moment- that no matter how many children I went on to have, this was the only first time that would come my way. I held onto it, and I am so glad I did.

Right behind that feeling came a terror unlike any I had known before. It was suddenly very clear to me that I now loved someone more than I loved myself, and I sensed that this was a very dangerous thing. I didn’t even know this little furry, brown person. Yet…in an instant, my heart was changed.

I was not good at the job. I have tried to find all kinds of different ways to explain it, but it comes down to that. I didn’t know. I didn’t understand the enormity of the responsibility before me. I didn’t grasp how precious and deserving a child is just by virtue of their existence. I didn’t know how careful and tender and loving I needed to be. I just…simply didn’t get it.

I won’t subject you, or myself, to the well-worn list of “Things I Royally Fucked Up”- quite frankly, this is supposed to be a blog post, not a novel. Besides which, those things are long past, now, and there is nothing I can do to change a minute of it. Forgiving myself, though, well…I’ve come to the conclusion that might never happen, not completely. And that’s okay. Some things are worth being sad about indefinitely.

Instead, let me tell you some of the good things. There was a night, about four months after she was born, that I remember so clearly. I woke up to her, snuffling and wiggling the way newborns do, in the bed beside me. It was about four in the morning, and the rain was pouring down outside the window of the dark room. I picked her up and lay her on my chest, her little downy head warm against my chin, my hands resting on her tiny back as it rose and fell in slumber, and I remember thinking “This is what it means to be content.” To this day, I cannot recall a more perfect moment than that.

I remember so many sunny days, driving in my car with the windows down, singing Dixie Chicks at the top of our lungs.

I remember sliding down the snowy sidewalks of Sparks, Nevada, in our knock-off brand Ugg Boots, early on a winter morning, just laughing and sliding, then laughing some more- until we were doubled up and our sides ached.

I remember endless nights snuggled up in bed, watching Animal Planet or Sponge Bob. I remember innumerable hugs and kisses, and the way that little girl soaked up affection like a sponge. It was the one thing I always had enough of to give, and the one thing she always took willingly.

Today she is 22, the same age I was when she was born, and I am…it is hard for me. It is hard for me to describe for you the heaviness my heart feels when I think back over those years. Not for me- I don’t care about me. For her. The things I should have given her, the things she doesn’t even know she missed, the chaos, the dysfunction. The things I stole from her that I cannot give back-that I didn’t even know I was taking. It’s a hard truth to live with.

I am so incredibly lucky that we survived it all, somehow, pretty much intact. A part of my mind tells me that I have a tendency to recall, with freakish clarity, the bad things  while simultaneously forgetting the million good things that also happened. But when I am feeling this way, it’s hard for me to believe.

I am so blessed and lucky to have the relationship I have with her today. We are the closest of close, and there is nothing we cannot or do not discuss. She tells me often that I need to let it go, that it wasn’t that bad, that she loves me and forgives me, and that she is glad she had the childhood she had. It wasn’t boring, she says. It was always an adventure.

And I look at the way she lives- out in the country, with the same boyfriend she’s had since she was fifteen years old. She loves to cook, she bakes her own bread. She gardens as if it were what she was born to do, raising fruits and vegetables I’ve never even heard of before. She cares for her dog and her cat, and she just wants to be somewhere quiet, somewhere out in the woods, away from the noise and crowds and drama. I look at all of that, and I think…it could have been so much worse. If children want to be different than their parents, if this is how she rebels…thank GOD. Seriously, thank God.

I am still not the best mother. I probably never will be. I cuss too much, I yell too much, I tend to treat my children like miniature adults. But I am so much better at it. As a matter of fact, I can say with a straight face that I am proud of the mother I have become. Not just to my little child, but to Aisley, as well. She still needs me- maybe more than ever, actually. Navigating adulthood is no joke. As she has grown up, so have I. Yet another thing we share, another thing that bonds us. As long as I stay a few steps ahead of her, I think we’re doing okay.

So…happy birthday to my sweet little Aisley. And happy motherhood anniversary to me. It’s been a long road, but I think I’m finally headed in the right direction.

 

Posted in adhd, adventure, faith, Goals, housekeeping, Learning, Life, manifestation, Musings, People, random, women

Something New

Every month, for the past…four years and five months, my landlord comes to pick up rent. And every month, for the past four years and five months, this causes me no end of stress. I don’t know why. Maybe because I have a built in guilty conscience from all the years when I really was up to no good? Maybe because, thanks to my high (and often unreasonable) expectations of myself, I am forever feeling like I could do better at just about everything? Maybe because I am a TERRIBLE housekeeper? Maybe it’s a combination of all of those things. Probably that.

Whatever. I’m not going to sit here and pick myself apart. I’ve done that enough for one lifetime. The fact of the matter is, I have some organizational issues that are shared by many, many people with ADHD, and as much as saying that feels like a total cop-out excuse…it really isn’t. I am successful in life despite this funny little brain difference of mine, but there are certain ways that it plagues me. Keeping house is one of them. Apparently, it always has been- if you don’t believe me, ask my mom, who is my complete and utter opposite in this way. She has spent months worth of time in despair over what a slob I am…and this was in childhood! I grew up in a house that was neat as a pin, welcoming and orderly. All except for my bedroom. My bedroom made my mother cry.

Anyway, there was some discussion yesterday, when my landlord came by, about raising my rent in January- which is more than fair, considering she never has raised it since I’ve been here- and then she mentioned doing an inspection of the house sometime soon, just to see what is what around here.

This is where I balked. Now, I realize this is not unreasonable. I know she is well within her rights to want to see the house she owns. But boy, does it make me uncomfortable. I already feel so judged all the time (99% of it is in my head, I know) that the idea of actually being…well, judged…makes me crazy.  And the funny little blind spot that keeps me from seeing my surroundings has this annoying habit of disappearing when I know that someone will be judging me, for real, on something.

So…suffice to say, I have some work to do around here. Oh, there is nothing too bad. I haven’t harmed the house in any major way. There are no holes in the walls or broken fixtures. The walls need to be wiped down, the bathroom fan needs to be cleaned. The wood floors…well, after four and a half years of us living here, they’ll probably need to be redone when I move out anyway, so I’m not terribly concerned about that. I’ll be wiping down baseboards and fixing little odds and ends, and in order to do all of that, I’ll need to clean and get rid of stuff. Which I need to do anyway, so that’s okay, too.

BUT: I don’t want to live this way. Not just in a borderline hoarding situation, which is also true- who would? What I mean is, I don’t want to live in someone else’s home anymore. I want to live in my own home. I want to buy a house.

I make really good money. I’ve been at my job for a long, long time now- over eleven years. My credit is decent. I know this is a hard area to buy in, but it is my home, and I think I should at least see what my options are. So that is what I am going to do!

I am going to take my current fear and use it as a tool to propel me into change. One of the first things that needs to change is my spending. I love, love, love to shop online. I love it way too much. So, for the next few months, I am going to stop buying and start paying, and get my credit cards paid off. And you know what? I’m excited to do it. None of them are out of control anyway, but I love a good challenge.

For the foreseeable future, if I want something, I am going to have to go to an actual store to buy it, and I am going to pay for it with cash. I bet that rule alone will chop my spending in half- because anyone who knows me, knows I HATE going to the store. Apart from that, I’m just gonna pay the hell out of my bills and watch my balances disappear. I’ve also considered switching to a cheaper phone service and slashing my cable channels. I don’t think I’m quite there yet, though.

There are two things I know about myself that give me an advantage in every situation: One is that I have never failed at anything that I have wanted badly enough. I have overcome obstacle after obstacle in my life, and I do not give up. Not ever. And two, I have the best luck of anyone I have ever met. I can find the silver lining in any situation (so far, anyway) and I know in my heart that everything will turn out the way it is supposed to…even if that doesn’t look the way I wanted it to. So, I guess it’s part good luck and part good attitude? Anyway, I am saying this now because it helps me feel less afraid. Change is hard for me, and things are about to get real different around here.

Wish me luck!

Posted in adventure, advice, aging, happiness, Learning, Life, Musings, People, women

The Best Part

the best part

There’s this funny misconception about aging that has infiltrated basically every nook and cranny of our consciousness. I mean, it is pervasive. I see posts all the time in different groups I am in, women who are paralyzed with fear because “I’m already THIRTY and I’m still single!” or “I’m 27 and I still have no idea what I am doing with my life!”

Yes, I know- it’s weird to me, too. But in all fairness, most of us have been conditioned to believe that there is a formula of sorts to follow- a path we should take, reaching certain milestones along the way: 18, graduate high school, attend college. By 24 or 25, nail down a career, maybe settle down with someone. 27-29, we are thinking about marriage, children, all that jazz. Our 30’s are devoted to what? Saving, buying a house, raising kids, building our empire, investing in…whatever people invest in, I don’t know.

I don’t know because I didn’t do ANY of this shit. I did graduate from high school, albeit in a somewhat roundabout fashion. I basically dropped out somewhere along my sophomore year (laws were less restrictive then, and I had way too little supervision, quite frankly) and went back towards the end of my senior year to adult school, plus took the GED for high school credit. I am proud to say I got the highest score on my GED that they had ever had at that time, and I was 100% stoned out of my mind when I took it. So that was surprising. I didn’t get to walk with my class, but that was okay since I didn’t technically have a particular “class” to walk with. I spent nine months at one school and maybe four at another, so I didn’t exactly form life-long friendships. I have never been invited to a reunion, which is kind of sad, though.

Immediately after high school, I enrolled in community college, went twice, then sold all my books back for beer money and dropped out. At 24, I was one of the only one of my friends with a kid (she was two) and the thought of a career never entered my mind. By 29, the only thing I was thinking about was the fact that I was making really poor life choices and maybe I needed to figure out how to be less gross. What I’m trying to say is that I made some impressively bad decisions, followed absolutely no kind of path at all- unless you consider the equivalent of running blindfolded and naked through a forest a “path”, and you know what?

I still turned out pretty great. Yeah, I suffered a bit more than average, and yes, most of it was ultimately at my own hand. Sure, I had moments where I felt woefully behind, and definitely heard my share of “spinster” and “cat lady” jokes. But in all honesty, I have had a freaking incredible life. Even the shitty parts. My life has not been boring. I have LIVED it. Every stupid thing I did, every bad relationship, every relapse and stumble and heartache, gave me something invaluable: Wisdom.

At 44 years old, I have weathered a lot of stuff, and that stuff made me smart. But I didn’t just go through stuff and do nothing with the pain- as many of you know, I got help. I went to rehab (twice), I devoted myself to recovery and did ALL the stepwork. I might not be in recovery anymore, but I still learned so much about myself and how I wanted to show up in the world because of it. I went to therapy- I STILL go to therapy and probably always will. I learned about meditation, about diet and exercise, parenting and running a household like a responsible adult. Learning how to run your own life well is honestly a lot of fun.

There have been many times when my friends have sought me out for advice, and I love nothing more than getting to mull over an issue with them. Perhaps I am not the one to come to if you want sugar-coated bullshit, but if you want the truth, I will try to find a nice way to give it to you. Honestly? I really enjoy getting to share my hard-earned knowledge with someone who is ready to hear it. Not only does it make me feel like maybe I am helping, but it also makes me feel grateful for the things I have learned along the way.

When someone asks how they can get their boyfriend into recovery, I can tell them point blank “YOU can’t. Only he can do that for himself. Don’t take that shit on, because if you start now, you are going to get mighty resentful real quick.”

Yesterday, a girl I do not know posted something anonymously saying she was sure her boyfriend was up to no good- he basically slept with his phone in his pocket and never let it out of his sight. She went on to say he’d cheated in the past, etc., etc. Everyone who answered her seemed to be giving her tips on how to play detective, how to find out what was up.

Dude.

She hadn’t even tried talking to him about it honestly.

Lord have mercy. I told her to think about the bigger picture! This was her one precious life! Is this how she wanted to spend it, sneaking around, trying to gather information on a person she didn’t even trust? How would that benefit her in the long run? In my opinion, even confronting someone you don’t trust is a waste of time because you aren’t going to believe anything they tell you. At that point, it’s really already over. Yeah, with lots of work from both sides, you might have something salvageable. Maybe. But is “salvageable” really the way we want to describe our love lives? Ehh…I don’t know about you, but that’s not the stuff for me.

Wanna know how I arrived at this conclusion? Scroll back through my blogs to the very beginning, I’m sure you’ll find something. But if you can’t, I’ll just tell you- I lived it. I was that girl. And it sucked, it hurt, it drove me insane. I lived through it, I learned from it, and I am healed now. It took a long time.

Here’s the thing- I would not trade the experience I’ve gained for anything. My life was a colossal mess. Sometimes it was so bad, it hurt so much, that I didn’t think I could survive it. I didn’t follow the rules. I messed up a lot. I’ve still never been married or bought a house or even finished college. But I’m happy, and I’m secure, and I know myself. Once upon a time, the thought of relying on myself terrified me. Not anymore. The idea that I can depend on myself today is empowering and reassuring.

At 44, I like myself more than I ever have. I think this might be the very best part of my life so far. I am truly grateful for everything that shaped me into the woman I am today. And that really is the best part of all.