Posted in faith, family, kids, Life, Musings, People, random, Uncategorized

Discord and Darkness

I’m struggling with my work today, and it’s due to a sense of increasing overwhelm and despair. A friend of mine died yesterday, ANOTHER friend of mine, and he was way too young. There are children being torn away from their parents in my country, which is currently being run by what seems to me like the Antichrist himself, and all of the many minions an Antichrist could ever need. On social media, people are either heartbroken and sickened over the direction our country is headed, or defensive and sickening. Discord is everywhere. Things are Not Good.

I think a lot. Probably too much. But some of those thoughts are helpful, and those are the ones I want to share today.

1.) Save your outrage. Save it up for something worthwhile. I figured out a while ago that it might feel good to get it all out on your Facebook page, but it doesn’t do any good there. Find a place to put it where it helps. Email your state representative (I did this today, and it was super easy), find an organization you can align yourself with, donate money or time. Channel that outrage into something productive.

2.) Step back. You can only know so much before it’s too much. At a certain point, you may find yourself reading the same bad news four or five times, or a slightly different version of it. I decided today that it’s time for me to get off the social media circus for a while, maybe even just for the rest of the day, maybe longer. My energy is not needed there. It helps no one, and it hurts me. I am not strong enough to not read the awful comments, I’m not smart enough to know when to shut up. So I need to be in charge of myself, and step back.

3.) This one is the most important: Love your life right this very second. Love that you are upright and breathing, and love every part of you that works. Love your shitty car, and your too-round middle, and your dog who thinks the bathroom garbage is his personal snack tray. Love your irritating kids and your boring job, find something to love about every part of your beautiful life. Because we are truly blessed, to live in this time, and to have what we do. And one day, it’s all going to stop. One day, there will be no more of any of it. And we don’t get to know when that day is. So fill your life with all the joy you can muster, right now. Don’t wait.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again- this world needs all the light it can get. Shine as brightly as you know how.

Advertisements
Posted in family, kids, Life, love, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People

Horror Story

If you were to ask me what role in life I most closely identified with, out of all of the roles I play, day in and day out, I would always say being a mother. I am not pretending that I am the best mom, or the most patient mom, or that I even do the very best I can all the time at it- hell, sometimes I’m just phoning it in, trying to make it to bed time. But I will tell you this- my love for my children is fierce. I have gotten out of bed in the middle of the night to rescue my eldest, I have witnessed her drunk and ridiculous and held my tongue until a more appropriate time, I have failed utterly as a mother in my addiction, but I always, always kept us together. With my youngest, I have sat up all night beside the bed, listening to her asthmatic breathing, waking her when it was time for another treatment. I have raised hell and hurt feelings in order to keep her safe. I would go to any lengths to keep my children out of harms way. Any lengths.

Without question, I would give my life for either of them. When I do not hear from my 20 year old for too many days, or when my youngest is not where she is supposed to be…the panic that comes over me is unbearable. And for me, those times are usually very brief, resolved within minutes or hours (with the older one, it can be hours or a day) and then I get to go back to normal, worrying about average things.

And then we have these families, fleeing the horrors of their homes south of the border, and these mothers and fathers being separated from their children indefinitely. The parents go to jail, and the children, some of them babies, go to…wherever they go. Detention centers. Military bases. Foster homes.

I don’t understand politics, and I hate writing about political things because of my ignorance. I do understand the difference between right and wrong, cruelty and kindness. I am 100% sure that there is a better solution available than this nightmare going on right now, like…I’m just spit-balling here, but how about keep the families together? For the children’s sake, maybe. I don’t know any of these unfortunate people myself, but I’m willing to bet, if given a choice, they would choose to be incarcerated together rather than ripped apart and scattered. I think this is just cruelty, plain and simple.

I don’t care where you are on the political spectrum- right, left, somewhere in the middle. Imagine for a second that you are desperate to make a better life for yourself- so desperate that you are willing to flee the only home you have ever known, to a place where you know you probably won’t be welcomed with open arms, a place where you might not even speak the same language. Imagine, then, that you are even willing to break the law for the chance to leave a place that has become too dangerous to survive. And then imagine that you arrive there, only to have your children torn away from you, to God only knows where, while you are locked up, unable to speak with them, unable to even know where they are. I want you to REALLY imagine that for a second- locked up, in a cell, in a strange country, with NO IDEA what has happened to your children. Now imagine your child, locked up in a cell (for all intents and purposes) crying until they are sick from terror and panic. YOUR CHILD, not some strange child you do not know. YOUR CHILD. How does that feel? Because it makes me lose my mind. It’s so goddamned horrific I can’t even stay with it for too long.

But it’s happening, right here, in OUR country, right now. On a grand scale. Right this minute, while you are reading this, it is happening. I don’t want to hear about “The law” because you and I both know this is unnecessarily cruel. This is cruel on purpose. This is about sending a message, and it’s wrong.

I want to hear about what we can do to make it stop. What we can do to help. I don’t want to make a sign and protest, I want to know how people can come together on a massive scale and say enough is enough. Because this is just too far, for me. This is not the way we treat innocent children. I am so disgusted by this country right now.

Posted in faith, family, friendship, Goals, inner peace, kids, Life, mindfulness, Musings, parenting, People, relationships

Remember Me

IMG_8230
The harbor, last night.

Two thoughts have made their way into my head lately, and they are having a kind of profound effect on me. I don’t even remember where they came from, whether I read them somewhere or they just occurred to me on their own, but I can’t seem to shake them. The first one, I’m pretty sure I read it in a blog somewhere, and essentially it is “How will people feel about you long after you are gone?” Like, what is your emotional legacy, the emotional “fingerprint” you leave on the people you love and care for? The second one, which goes hand in hand with that is really random, but…it popped into my head yesterday, and I keep going back to it, and here it is- no one really knows whether they have more of their life ahead of them than behind. Well, I guess some people do- for instance, if you are 93, you can can be pretty sure you have more of your life behind you than ahead. But for average, healthy people, the point is, you don’t really ever truly know when it’s your time, or how much more time you have.

I am not particularly afraid of dying, and that’s not really what this is about, but for me, dying is not something I get too worked up about. I am not religious, but I have a lot of faith, and some pretty comforting beliefs. What I do worry about is dying before I am ready, before my children are grown enough, and before I’ve had time to become the person I want to be remembered as. And that’s where things get troubling for me, that last part- being the person I want to be remembered as- because…well, what in the world is stopping me from being that right now? If I really don’t know (and hardly anybody does) when this whole life of mine is going to end, then why am I not just being the person I want to be right now? Because it doesn’t cost money, and there doesn’t need to be a different set of circumstances for that to happen. It’s not about any of that at all.

What it is about, and what I’m learning that everything is really about, is my own behavior, my own attitude, and my own willingness to engage in my own life and the life of the people I care about, on a deeper level. How hard is it, really, to respond more lovingly? To have a bit more patience, to answer with a nicer tone, to treat someone a little more kindly? Well, when your deeply ingrained habit is to be terse, irritated, impatient and sarcastic, it can be pretty challenging, I can vouch for that. But challenging is not the same as impossible. Do I want my children, friends, and family to look back on all their memories of me and laugh about how difficult I was? Well, I mean, that ship has kind of sailed if I die tomorrow, but…it’s not too late to temper that with better things. It’s never too late to get better. I should know! I’ve been slowly improving all the time in these past few years.

But there is always more that you can do. If you are lucky enough to live to be 100, there will always be another thing to work on, another thing you can improve. It never ends. I have been actively trying to spend more time with the people who matter to me, in ways that THEY enjoy, and as a bonus, I try not to whine about it the entire time. What I am finding out is that I can enjoy myself quite a bit when I stop listing all the reasons why everything is stupid and sucks, even if I’m only doing it internally- so if you do that, just stop it. Just relax, just go with the flow, just see what happens. Because guess what? No one ever died from doing something they find mildly unpleasant, and when you keep an open mind, you might even (gasp!) start enjoying yourself.

Recently, I cleaned off the catch-all surface of my kitchen table, and started insisting that Cam and I sit down at it at least a few nights a week to eat a meal together. At first, she was confused and upset by this-“But WHY?! And why does the TV have to be off, I’ll be BORED!”- but now that we have done it a few times, I think she kind of likes it. It’s just the two of us, sitting face to face, eating dinner and having no choice but to talk to each other about…whatever. Sadly, at first, it was a little awkward- I mean, the first five minutes, but still, it seemed longer to me. All I could think to ask was “So, how was school today?” A question that all kids in every part of the world just relish being asked, you know. But really quickly, we forgot that this was different for us, and we just started being our normal selves, and now we both really enjoy it. It was important to me to do this thing with her, this normal, family thing, and now we are doing it, and it is nice. Little changes, big rewards. This is something that she will remember.

Every morning, before she wakes up, and every day before I pick her up from school, I have a little talk with myself. I remind myself to be patient, kind, and loving, and to treat her in a way that will make her feel happy and loved. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but for me, someone who’s natural state is a little more snappy and self-absorbed, this is important, and it helps. Last night, I was craving a dark chocolate pecan turtle, and I asked her if she wanted to go down to Fisherman’s Wharf and visit the candy store and maybe take a walk around after dinner. Of course, she was into it, so after we sat together and had dinner, we did just that. It was a chilly, overcast day, but we got our candy, and we wandered around in the shops, and then we took a little walk down the bike path and watched the otters play and the seals zip around in the harbor. We took lots of rests, because she is not much of a walker, but it was okay, we didn’t have anywhere we needed to be. And on the long walk back to the car, she held my hand and gave me a million hugs, and told me what a fun time she was having. It wasn’t a big night I had planned- it was just a dumb thing I thought of last minute, a tiny outing. But it was a happy moment, and we were happy in it together. These are the things I want more of in my life. This is the way I want to be remembered.

IMG_8224
Camryn, lost in thought
Posted in Blogging, faith, family, Life, mindfulness, Musings, random

Tired

tired

Just a super quick check-in post to let my wordpress friends that I am doing okay, despite my silence these past few days.

Mother’s Day, my last post, was an emotional one for me. I spent a good chunk of the morning crying over years that I lost, and trauma I still carry in my heart. Most of the time, I don’t carry those things so close to the surface, but sometimes they emerge, and I deal with them as best I can.

This has not been the best week ever. I am dealing with some things that make me feel uncomfortable, angry, and scared. But I know that I am growing, because I grow the most when I feel the worst. I have every reason to believe that I will come through these current trials stronger than ever, but for now, I have to be okay with sitting with my discomfort. It’s just part of life. You can’t just stick your head in the sand forever, and ignore your problems- that’s the way they grow bigger! I am still learning, and even though this is a lesson I have learned before, I guess I didn’t learn it well enough because here it came again.

Thankfully, my mom is still in town, and I got to spend a really nice evening with her last night. This has been a rough few years for us- me working through a lot of stuff that happened a long time ago, and her trying to be patient with me, and trying to understand. There was a time, not too long ago, that I worried our relationship would never be okay again. But I realized this morning that my fears were unfounded- I felt exactly the way I want to feel with my mom last night: Safe, loved, understood. We laughed and visited and just hung out, and it was so nice. Now she is getting ready to head home, and I find myself wishing she could stay here forever, so that I could see her all the time. I really love my mom.

To sum it all up, I’m just tired this morning. The kind of tired that comes from being bombarded with too many feelings, too fast. It drains you, doesn’t it? But I know it is only temporary, as everything always is, and that I am truly doing everything that is within my power to fix what is broken. No matter what the end result is, I will know I did my very best. That’s really all you can ever do, isn’t it?

 

Posted in Addiction, family, kids, Learning, Life, love, motherhood, parenting, People, relationships

The Best Thing I Ever Did

everything

I have been a mother now for almost half of my life. I have forgotten so many things- my daughter will say “Do you remember that time…” Or “Remember when we…” and I feel terrible about it, but nine times out of ten, I have no idea what she is talking about. Sometimes I secretly think she is just making stuff up to torture me. But for all the things I have forgotten, I will never, ever forget the day that I became a mother. I remember being in labor all night, by myself, timing my contractions, and sleeping between them, and writing them down on a little paper bag that had held a greeting card (I still have that bag, taped inside my daughters baby book). I remember the ride to the hospital, and the giant men’s flannel shirt that I had taken to wearing because it was pretty much all that would fit me at that point.

But more than anything, I remember the moment that my daughter arrived in this world. I remember the doctor holding her up, and the way that time stood still as my eyes beheld her for the first time, the way that something inside of me shifted, and the way my heart changed, in an instant, to something so much bigger than I had ever known it was possible to be. For the first time in my life, I loved someone else more than I loved myself. It pains me to admit how selfish I was until that moment, which is not to say that I immediately was redeemed as a human being, but from then on, I learned a lot about guilt, lets put it that way. But that moment, the moment I met her, was so pure. I remember thinking “Please don’t ever let me forget this.” And I never have.

It’s impossible for me to remember that day without thinking about all the ways it went wrong after that. I wanted so badly to do it right, to be the best mom, but I didn’t stand a chance. My addiction and my immaturity saw to that. I know there were happy times, but it’s so much easier for me to remember everything I didn’t do, and all the things I did wrong. It honestly breaks my heart. Knowing the kind of life my daughter deserved to have, and understanding what I took from her. Knowing that is one thing I can never, ever fix. You can’t give someone back the time you stole. And I know that for her, that’s just what she had, so she doesn’t look at it the way I do- she doesn’t know any different. But for me…how can I not see all that could have been, how can I ever possibly be at peace with these things? How can I ever truly forgive myself?

I still don’t have an answer for those questions. But I can tell you this: From the moment she came into my life, I never stopped wanting and trying to be better. I failed, over and over and over again, but goddammit, I wanted it so bad. And it wasn’t for me, which might have been my first mistake- no, at a certain point, I really began to despise myself for my weakness- it was always, forever, and only for her. And because I kept trying, I managed, somehow, to keep us together (although I’ve often wondered if she would have been better off with someone else), and I managed, somehow, to keep our heads above water, just barely. Sometimes things were really, really bad. I have memories that I would love to banish from my head, and yet I cling to them like a penance. How dare I try to forget?

But sometimes things were good and sweet- her tiny feet in footy pajamas. The way we would sleep curled together, two peas in a pod. Riding in the car together on a beautiful summer day, all the windows rolled down, singing along to “Cowboy Take Me Away”. The fierce love she inspired in me, the deep connection I had never felt before for another human being. She was, and is, my world. I just didn’t know how to do it right. I just couldn’t get there in time. She was all grown up by the time I finally figured out how to do this job. Talk about heartache…you have no idea.

Now she is almost 21, and she has a little sister who reaps all of the rewards of my experience. I do homework and read stories, and worry about shit like too much screen time, and processed food, and nitrates in hot dogs. I pack her lunches, and make sure her hair is brushed, and I would never send her to school with a backpack that reeks of cigarette smoke. I try hard not to say things I will regret later, and I try even harder to say things that let her know she is loved. But most of all, my youngest daughter has had the luxury of a safe life. Things are never up in the air, and we always have a home of our own, and everything is consistent and routine. She will never know what it is like to have the ground beneath her feet shifting constantly. I am so glad that this is true. But I wish I could have given this to both of my children, not just one of them.

The wonder of it all is that, despite everything, my daughter- the 20 year old- loves me more than you can even imagine. You know what she tells me? That I am the only one who was ALWAYS there for her, that she looks back at her life, and the only one that she sees in every memory is ME. She remembers the closeness. She remembers the good things. She is the one who reminds me that is wasn’t all bad, that there were plenty of happy times- Like sliding down the snowy Reno streets in our fake Ugg boots, and laughing so hard our sides ached. And sitting in our car, sharing terrible lemon chicken and chow mein on payday, even though we couldn’t afford it. To her, I am just her mom, and she just loves me.

So today, even though she will probably never even see this, I dedicate this post to my daughter, Aisley. The best thing I ever did, and the person who made me a mother. I love you so much, and I’m grateful every single day that God saw fit to give me you.

Posted in adventure, family, friendship, Learning, Life, love, Musings, People, relationships

Best Friends are Forever

I am, despite my hermit tendencies (these have not always existed, by the way- I used to go out almost every single night when I was younger) the kind of girl who is friendly with just about everyone. I live in a smallish town, and lived here throughout high school and the bulk of my 20’s, and, after moving away for a while, I’ve lived here for most of the years after that as well. So I know a lot of people. I can’t really leave my house without running into someone I know, at least marginally. There are no end to the familiar faces around here.

But I have always had a best friend, and that was the friend I could be my realest self with, tell all my dirty secrets to, and be as God-awful as I needed to be, knowing they would still love me. I have been so lucky to have these women (well, they are all women now) in my life, and I can’t imagine what that life would have been like without them. It certainly would have been lonelier, and a lot less fun.

I met Grace when I was 15, on a camping trip that I’m pretty sure I had lied through my teeth to get to go on. I had met this guy, and I really wanted to hang out with him, so I thought that spending the night with him in the woods was a pretty safe bet. Anyway, luckily, there were a lot of other people there, so when he got super drunk off tequila and had a fit because I wouldn’t sleep with him and started chasing me around in the middle of the night, I was able to hide in a car with Grace (She was there with her big sister) and her friend Danielle. I remember they were eating salami and cheese, and I just hunkered down there with them for a while. I don’t remember what else happened that night, but I know that I survived it, obviously.

A few weeks later, I ran away from home (again) and wound up at the home of an older friend named Robert who sort of took in strays- stray people, I mean, not animals. It just so happened that Grace was staying there too, with her sister Mindi, who lived there but didn’t ever stay there, and she offered to let me bunk with her. From that moment on, we became inseparable. We smoked cigarettes together, and starved to death together, praying that Mindi would stop by eventually and bring us Taco Bell. We annoyed everyone around us (we were always the youngest) and we bickered like sisters. Grace once broke up with a guy because he didn’t like me. I named my oldest daughter after her. When she fell in love, finally, with a man that she would go on to have a very long term relationship with, it was traumatic for me…obviously, this did not end our friendship, but it was the first time she had chosen someone else over me, and it was hard. On both of us. Of course, we went on to have many, many other adventures, but things changed, as they do, and so…

I met Vera. Vera was a close friend to a guy I was supposed to be roommates with but ended up hooking up with, and yeah, that wasn’t a total mess. I think I was 25 at the time? Anyway, Vera was (and is) just captivating and beautiful, like, seriously, and the coolest thing about her is that she is incredibly modest about the whole thing. Like, if she knew how gorgeous she was and acted as such, she would be unbearable, but she is totally like “eh, whatever, shut up”.  You have never met a more approachable, accepting human being. She is cool with EVERYONE.

Anyway, one day I got in a terrible fight with the guy I was living with, and I didn’t know where to go, so I went to her house- remember, I didn’t know her all that well, but she knew him, so maybe I was looking for some insight, who knows. She made me feel better, and we just bonded, and once again, after that we were inseparable.

What you should know about me and these friendships is that in both instances, when I say “inseparable”, I mean REALLY. We saw each other every single day, pretty much. Grace and I slept together in a twin sized fold out bed for the better part of a year. Vera was in a serious relationship when I met her, and she got in trouble all the time because we were constantly running around together well into the wee hours of the morning. On the days we didn’t physically see each other, we talked on the phone and made plans for the next day. I’m sure there were times that we got busy with our lives and did other things, but I honestly don’t remember that as much as I remember our constant togetherness.

Eventually, I moved away for a few years, and in that time Vera and Grace became best friends with each other. So when I moved back, instead of it being weird, we all became a little clump of best friendship. And then Vera met someone new, and moved away. Then Grace met someone new, and became very busy with that. And I was sort of left here, with this hole in my life, sometimes missing them so very much, but it wasn’t like we weren’t friends anymore, it was just…life happened.

About three years ago, I met a girl named Cinamon (yes, I spelled it correctly, and yes, this is her real name) at one of my meetings. Let me be clear- this was the first time I had met her, but I had been hearing about her for YEARS. She and her twin sister had run in the same circles as I did, but we just somehow had never crossed paths. When I walked into my meeting that night, I knew exactly who she was and I was like “finally!” because I knew I would meet her one day. She said she took one look at me and knew we were going to be friends.

She had a tiny newborn baby when I met her. By the time Delilah was 4 months old, Cinamon was my roommate, and she lived with me for about a year. Somehow, we not only managed to stay friends through that (I am AWFUL to live with) but we grew even closer after she moved out. She is the person I want to call every time there is anything going on in my life that I want to dish about. She knows exactly who I am, and she still thinks I am awesome. I think she is the most patient, kind, loving human being I have ever met…and she’s still super fun and weird and silly.

The other day, she called me and said she was on her way over, she needed to go through my closet and find a shirt, and it hit me- she filled the spot! How lucky am I? To get to have not just one, but three best girl friends in my life? I may not see Vera and Grace as much as I once did, but you can bet your ass, when we do get together it’s like not a minute has passed. And now I have Cinamon, and I am so grateful for her.  One TRUE friend is worth fifty kind-of friends, in my book, and I get to have three that I would do almost anything for.

I’m really counting my blessings for them this morning. I love you guys. 🙂

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, family, kids, Life, love, motherhood, parenting, recovery

The Best Things…

I Love You quotes for Daughter Mother daughter quotes at www.bmabh.com

It is Tuesday morning, and my house looks like a cyclone hit it. To my left, the couch is covered in jackets, napkins, pillows, a purse, and a discarded bra. Under my chair is an empty sparkling water can that I keep forgetting to pick up, and next to that is my seven year old’s backpack.

There are no dishes in the sink because we haven’t eaten a meal at home in DAYS. There is, however, a garbage can full of empty take out containers, and one half eaten box of carne asada fries on the microwave stand. The bathroom floor is covered in clothes abandoned pre-shower, and left there until someone (me) picks them up. The counters are littered with expensive make-up and hair products. The front porch? Oh lord, I was out there this morning, and there are puddles of spilled coffee all over the place, a dead giveaway that my older daughter is home. She loves coffee, but doesn’t metabolize caffeine very well in her tiny little body.

And in each of the beds in both of the bedrooms, my daughters lay sleeping. My mom always says she sleeps so much better when her kids are home, and I get it, I really do. The past three nights since my oldest has been home, I’ve slept with my bedroom door open, and slept more soundly than I have in weeks. Just knowing she is right there, in the next room, and my littlest one is sleeping beside me…it’s like heaven.

You have to understand, my daughters and I…we are the closest of the close. Aisley, my oldest, we have been through hell together- most of it my doing, of course, but she…I’ve always said, she’s the reason I am still on this earth. I don’t know what would’ve happened to me if she hadn’t come along. We are more than just mother and daughter, we are each other’s core family, the nucleus, the main event. We grew up together. Which means things can get weird, and roles can be confusing- sometimes I try to be the mom, and she doesn’t want it. Sometimes I’m more like a sister, and she needs a mom. We have struggled with boundaries, and with communication, and with our expectations of each other. We’ve healed a lot since I have gotten and stayed clean. I think she finally trusts that I am serious now, that I’m not going to fuck this up. She doesn’t look at me with that suspicion on her face anymore, and I never want her to worry about that again. I don’t really ever entertain the idea of getting high anymore, but the odd time that it idly crosses my mind, I imagine what it would do to my children, and I know it’s not worth it. Not even close, not ever.

It was always Aisley and I, the two of us, and no one else. By the time Camryn was a toddler, Aisley was off living her life, in high school, running around with her friends. So I basically have two only children. Now it is Camryn and I, and Aisley has moved away. But sometimes, for brief times like this, I get to have them both, together, sleeping under the same roof, and I can breathe again. The worry I didn’t realize I was holding, I can set it down for a few days.

I am so blessed. That my life turned out the way that it has, that my children still love me, that I get to be their mother, and that I am better at it than I ever dreamed I could be. Not perfect, I’ll never be perfect. I might not ever even be great. But I’m so much better than I ever thought I was capable of. And honestly, for now, that’s all I need.