Category Archives: family

Mementos

letters

I spent a good portion of last weekend cleaning my house. It needed to be done, and it always feels great having order restored, however temporary that order may be. But, when I found myself house-bound with a sick child both Monday and Tuesday, I was sort of at a loss for what to do. I could have folded the three loads of laundry that are sitting in a basket on my couch, but for whatever reason, I just can’t quite bring myself to deal with that. I did my normal avoidance routine, consisting of screwing around online, and binge watching yet another show (Mom this time, on Hulu- if you haven’t watched it, check it out. It’s pretty hilarious.). Eventually, though, I had to do something else, something productive, and I knew it was time. Time to deal with The Closet.

The Closet is in the hall, four doors, two on the bottom, two on the top, and I have been avoiding it for three years. Well, three years in March. That’s when I moved into this house, and that’s when I shoved The Closet full of bags and boxes of paperwork and keepsakes and God only knows what else, and left it to rot. I was still getting loaded when I moved into this place, and to be honest, I’ve been a little afraid of what I might find if I went poking around in there.

But on Monday, I put my big girl pants on and started digging- one bag and box at a time. There was a lot of junk, sure…things I should have thrown out eons ago. Printer cartridges for printers I don’t own anymore, file folders full of bills that no longer exist, insurance information for cars I no longer own. I filled up my recycle bin in the space of a few hours. I didn’t find anything to be ashamed of, though, and certainly nothing that put my recovery in danger. So that was a relief.

And then…and then I found some other stuff. I’ve kept boxes for each of my children- those fancy, pretty banker boxes- not the plain brown kind, but the ones you can buy at Marshall’s or Target with the beautiful designs on them? I’ve kept them for my kids and for myself for quite some time. I never really thought about how long I’ve kept them, and I don’t know if I’ve every thoroughly, soberly, gone through them since I started, but…I’m really glad I did.

Although I am working hard on my opinion of myself as a mother today, in the present, my opinion of the kind of mother I have been in the past has become rather concrete. I was a horrible mother, I decided, with no redeemable qualities, and my daughter would have been better off with anyone else. I was heartless and unloving and drug addicted, and I can rarely think of a time when I didn’t suck, heartily, at the task of parenting my eldest child. But her box of mementos tells a different story. I have every art project, every note to Santa and the Tooth Fairy, every report card and hand-made note she ever made for me- so many that I might need a bigger box. This “horrible mother” wrote things my daughter said to me on sticky notes and kept them, all these years. There are pictures of us that I had forgotten about, and we are laughing and playing, and clinging onto one another with love. My mind, my awful, lying mind told me a story and I believed it, and I have carried it around with me for all these years, without question. The things in this box tells me that maybe there is more to that story, more that I need to remember.

In my own box, I found cards and letters- real, hand written letters- from people whom I love, and who love ME. Letters from my best friend Grace, and letters and cards from my grandparents and mom, and a whole bunch of letters from Joe, my friend who died in August. You can’t imagine, you really can’t begin to imagine, how much that meant to me. Reading through all of those words from people who cared so much about me, not just when I was clean, but throughout the worst parts of my life, reminded me that I still had value, I was still worth so much, even when I believed myself to be worthless. I may not have been well, but I was loved, and I was worth something to all these people.

It blows my mind that living the crazy, chaotic life that I lived for so long, having lost nearly everything I owned on more occasions than I can remember, I managed to save these amazing items. I lost households of furniture and closets of clothes, but I have the discharge papers from my daughter’s birth in 1997, and all the cards from the people who visited me at the hospital. I lost everything, except the most important things of all- the slips of paper, the glossy cards, the letters that could fill in for me the memories I lost along the way. The story of a girl who wasn’t all dark, who always had a little light, a little more worth, than I could have remembered on my own.

The Closet is nearly done now- just one more shelf to go, and it will be neat as a pin. I put those boxes away after shedding a few tears, and I sat down on the couch full of wonder and feeling so much lighter. I am not exactly who I thought I was, and for once, I was so glad to be wrong…and anytime I start to forget, or start listening to the lying voice in my head, I know I can just pull one of those boxes down out of that closet, and find all the evidence I need that I’m not all bad. That there was something worth saving in me all along.

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Parenting Fail

parenting

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I have been on a bit of a roll since I decided to pull myself up by the bootstraps and get my life rolling again after a few days of wallowing in my figurative shit. Well, I was so busy conquering the world on Saturday that I left my little one to her own devices- literally, she was on her Kindle the ENTIRE day, which is not something I normally allow. However, I was super busy, and she, like me, deserves a little time to over-do it, right? Okay, who am I kidding- the truth is, I was busy and didn’t really notice until late in the day that she hadn’t gotten out of bed aside from a trip to get fast food with her dad. Who, by the way, was watching her on Saturday, so he gets some of the blame, right?

Anyway, yesterday, I got up bright and early, did my normal morning writing, and headed out to the gym about 8. When I got home, she was still in bed, on that damn Kindle again, while her dad snoozed on the couch.

“Oh, for Pete’s sake!” I griped, “This is ridiculous. Let’s go to the Flea Market in Santa Cruz like we talked about.”

No one really wanted to go- it was getting late, and Cam wanted to stay in bed, claiming she didn’t feel good. I wasn’t buying it. I whined and pleaded and, finally, bribed Camryn with promises of all the good toys she was sure to find at the Flea. That got her moving.

So, off we went, on a beautiful sunny day, a quick 45 minute drive over to SC to check out the bargains. Except…halfway there, I looked back to find Cam, who was uncharacteristically quiet, curled over the armrest with her eyes closed. She looked a little pale.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Yeah, I’m just tired. And my head hurts. And my knee hurts a little bit. And my tummy hurts. And my throat hurts a lot.”

Uh-oh.

In my defense, I really thought she was just tired from laying around too much. I thought once we got her out of the house, she’d perk up. I was kind of right- she did perk up a little, once we were inside the market. There were toys everywhere (much to my relief, because I wasn’t sure there actually would be.) and she scored a bunch of dollhouse furniture straight away, which is like her favorite kind of thing ever. About ten minutes in, however, she was ready to go. I, feeling bad for her, kept compulsively checking her neck and forehead for warmth (she was definitely warm) and nagging at her dad to leave, even though I had basically forced everyone to go in the first place.

We stayed maybe an hour, and stopped for a quick lunch at a little deli nearby- that’s when I knew for sure Cam was sick. She didn’t want anything to eat except for a Snickers, and she didn’t even eat that. This kid LIVES for junk food- to pass on gobbling down her own Snickers is unheard of. The guilt came for me full force.

She slept all the way home, and as soon as we got back, she went straight to bed. I tried giving her some kids Motrin, but getting her to take medicine is like trying to get a cat in the swimming pool- it’s not only difficult, but can be terrifying and dangerous. My normally sweet girl can throw herself into such a state that it’s a little bit alarming. Pair with this the fact that her dad will pop in throughout the ordeal asking me to reconsider whether she really needs the Motrin or not…for God’s sake! YES, she needs it! Suffice to say that by the end of it, she took maybe half a dose of Motrin (not helpful at all), she was upset with me, I was upset with her dad, and who cares who he was upset with.

She rallied enough in the evening to eat a MASSIVE dinner (yay!) and take a long, lavender scented bath drawn by yours truly, after I scoured the bathroom from top to bottom- guilt is a big motivator for me, and I felt so bad for dragging her out earlier in the day. I sat with her while she soaked, and we watched an episode of Bob’s Burger’s on my phone. Not really the most kid-appropriate show, I know, but luckily most of the adult humor goes right over her head.

Finally, I tucked her into bed in her bright pink raccoon PJ’s, and we embarked on a very long night of barely sleeping. She was breathing weird by this point, and definitely feverish, and I just don’t sleep well when my kids are sick. I just wished I knew exactly how she was feeling so that I could judge how worried I should be…

I woke up at quarter to four this morning with one working nostril and a pounding headache. I guess I got my wish. Well played, Universe. Well played.

Three Things (it’s still Thursday, right?)

three beetles

I know, I know- I’m super late with this post today. Heck, it’s almost my bedtime, decrepit old thing that I am. But seriously, I am in a HEATED Fitbit challenge right now, currently holding the lead, by a hair, in two very serious battles. Well, actually, I am 14,000 steps ahead in one, so that one is pretty much in the bag, but the other one is anyone’s guess. Which is pretty bad considering I am giving it everything I’ve got and barely winning. Anyway, forgive me, I digress. I am tired as hell.

Alright, let’s get on with this, shall we?

  1. Mommy confession: I freaking hate homework. I’m so glad my first grader only gets one page a night, but to be honest, even that is a bit much for me at times. “For you?” you may be saying to yourself, “But isn’t it your child’s homework?” To which I would answer “Do you have or even know any children?” Homework is a family disease. And furthermore, I think it is mean spirited and cruel to send a child home with more work to do…if my boss asked me to take work home after hours, I would laugh and laugh…and then say “Hell NO.” And perhaps add, more quietly, “I don’t have time. I have math to do. Cam does, I mean.”
  2. I have had a really productive, good week. Some time opened up for me unexpectedly yesterday and today- meaning the plans I had fell through, and I couldn’t be happier. I got the house picked up, making it easier to exist in, and I got to sit down and play Uno with Cam last night, and we read together. That’s the kind of stuff that makes me feel like my life is actually working. Running around every night like a chicken with my head cut off is (please forgive me for the terrible pun that is coming) for the birds. I’m a little punchy this evening.
  3. I want to share with you guys how I am entertaining myself lately (besides the bad jokes, I mean) First of all, I have been binge listening to a podcast called Jim Harold’s Campfire, and it’s a wide range of really interesting ghost stories, visitations from the other side, cryptid’s, and odd happenings, told by the people they happened to. I am really enjoying it. I have been watching “The Last Man on Earth” On Hulu, and it is laugh out loud funny. And I have been reading the Throne of Glass series for months now…such great world building and beautiful writing. I highly recommend all three.

That might have been longer than 15 minutes today. I forgot to look. Oh well. Have a great night!

Goodbye, January! Thanks for the Hot Dog Moon!

blood moon

In case you are wondering what the hell I am talking about, I just woke up my seven year old to come look at the blood moon. At first, she wasn’t having any of it- she was like, “Nah, mom, I’m good. I’m just going to sleep.” So I left her alone. But a few minutes later, she got up and, after wrapping her up in a fuzzy blanket, I ushered her down the steep steps of my front porch, and out beneath the sky. She was appropriately excited about what she was seeing.

“Wow, mom! That’s just amazing! It’s like a deep, burning red! It’s hot-dog colored! How amazing!” This is an actual quote. For a seven year old, that’s downright poetic. Hot dogs are objects of great affection…no higher compliment she could have paid that blood moon.

Anyway, believe it or not, today is the very last day of the month! An entire month of 2018 is already behind us. For me, it has been an incredibly meaningful month, and I truly mean that. Here are some of the highlights of  January for me:

  • I started a critique group for my fiction writing, something I have wanted to do for years. I actually pulled it off! We have met twice already, and will continue to meet every other Friday for as long as it keeps working. It is so helpful, and it feels so great to hang out with other people who love writing as much as I do.
  • I have been growing my blog like crazy! Regular posts and lots of interaction with other bloggers has been so gratifying for me, and I can’t describe how much I’ve gotten back from you guys. It feels so great to be connected this way.
  • I have written massive amounts on my novel. I also cut three chapters, which was painful, but it had to be done. I am in love with the story that is coming out of me. I always feel more like I am transcribing a movie that is playing in my head, rather than actually making something up. I’m just reporting what I see, really. And I love what I have been seeing.
  • I have spent some quality time with my kids, most notably with Aisley, on our little weekend hiking/cabin adventure in Boulder Creek.
  • I have not missed one day of meditation this month.
  • I have still not smoked, not even one cigarette, in 71 days.

Here are some of the things I need to be better about, going forward:

  • I REALLY need to cut back on my coffee consumption. I finally got a decent nights sleep last night, but I think drinking 7 or so cups of coffee daily is a bit excessive. The problem is , I like the taste so much, especially because I doctor it up with so much cream and sugar. Which leads me to the next item on the list-
  • Eating. I mean, I have to eat to survive, but I know I can eat less donuts and chimichanga’s (the dictionary here does not recognize the word “chimichanga” and wants to correct it to “Michigan” which is what I felt like I ate after that deep fried, beef filled tortilla of happiness hit my system, honestly) and a lot less of everything in general, and I would feel better. In February, I hope to get back to healthier eating.
  • Hand in hand with eating goes exercise- I get lots of it, but I don’t think I push myself hard enough. I need to try a little harder.
  • The last thing I am really struggling with lately is chronic over-scheduling- I do not have one night this week where I am just doing nothing, and it makes me crazy. I want to sit down and have a real dinner with my kid, but this week, that isn’t going to happen. The truth is, it’s up to me to learn how to say no, and I haven’t been very good at that lately. I am going to remember what my real priorities are, and why.

And THAT is why my theme for February is going to be Family. Also, because they both happen to start with “F”, but mostly because I really do want to bring my focus back where it belongs. My kids! And myself, because I do consider myself part of my family.

So there you have it! My month in a nutshell. How did your January go? What did you get right, and what needs some adjusting? Thanks to all of you who have joined me here over the past month. You have all added something so cool to my life, and I couldn’t be more excited about being on this journey with you!

 

6 Years Old

6

A few days ago, I received a notification that my blog has been around for 6 years! Oh my goodness, that really is hard to believe- I remember very clearly starting this blog, and what I thought I wanted to write about. Funny how that wound up working out- my writing had other plans, and took me in a very different direction.

Sometimes I want to go back and remove some of the posts I have shared. There are plenty where it is clear to me that I was not doing so well when I wrote them, and it causes me a bit of shame to read the words I wrote when I was not in my right mind. But I haven’t done it yet, and I don’t know if I will- that’s kind of what this blog is; a real life account of an addict, both using and clean. I can confirm that this is true with simple math- the blog is six years old, and I have two years, eight months, and one day clean. There were many small stretches of sobriety interspersed here with other stretches of not-so-much.

There were long periods of time when I didn’t write anything at all- maybe one or two disjointed posts over the stretch of many months. There were times when I promised to write again regularly, and meant it, only for life to show up and take me for a ride in a different direction. There were times when I thought about abandoning this particular project all together, but just…never got around to it. I’m glad I didn’t do that.

I was fooling around with the stats of this blog the other night, and there is a way to see how many other countries have viewed your blog. Let me tell you, in six years, I don’t think there is one country that hasn’t at least popped in. Countries I honestly didn’t know existed have viewed this blog! It blew my mind. There have been thousands and thousands of views, thousands of likes, and hundreds of comments. I mean, that is so freaking cool!

So, happy birthday to my blog, and thanks so much to all of you who take the time out of your lives to read my ramblings, who reach out to me and let me know you are really feeling what I do, and who make me feel like I have something to offer. This has been a wonderful part of my journey.

RLG Family 4

I am happy to report that I am not the same person who started this blog six years ago. I have been through so much, but I have learned from all of it, and I am in a much better place now than I have ever been before. My life is calm (for the most part), my recovery is solid, and my heart has more peace in it than it ever has before. I have learned that I do not have to be afraid of myself anymore- I have learned to trust myself to do the right thing. This is huge. There was a time when I feared that if no one else could save me, left to my own devices, I was as good as dead. I’m so glad to report that I was wrong. Somehow, and with some divine intervention, I’m sure, I became the hero of my own story.

Not only can I depend on myself, but other people can depend on me- my job knows I will show up. My kids know I will be there for them. My friends can call me, day or night. I might not pick up the phone every time, but I will definitely come through as soon as I can (hey, I’m not perfect, give me a break). My bills get paid, and the chores, eventually, get done. My dog gets walked, my cats get…whatever it is that cats need.

In short, my life has become a safe place to be, and it blows my mind every single time it sinks in. Like, whoa! How did I get here? It is truly staggering, the reality of how I turned this ship around. I am proud of it, sure, but more than that, I am deeply, profoundly grateful.

And I look forward to sharing it all with you, going forward. Thanks for hanging out!

 

Learning how to Love

anger chinese proverb

Of all the things I have struggled with since I have been clean, practicing loving kindness is highest on the list. I know, I know- I don’t think I come off as someone who has a rough time with something like this. For sure, I know the appropriate way to act, and how to say the right thing, the thing people need to hear, most of the time. But there is a difference between how we intentionally show up in the world and the way we act, react, and even the way we think, when it’s only us alone with the chosen few who live their lives closely entwined with ours.

In other words, sometimes- too much of the time- I am an impatient asshole to my ex, who lives in close quarters with me ( supposedly a win-win for all parties, but in practice, not always the best), to my friends, and worst of all, to my kids. I struggle to be nice. I have a hard time keeping my temper in check. I yell too much. I say things I regret- if not immediately, then eventually. I hurt the people I care the most about, and it’s crazy because, you might recall from some of my earlier posts- this was one of the main reasons I wanted to get clean in the first place. I wanted to stop hurting people, especially the people I loved.

Well, here’s a news flash: You Don’t Get Better Over Night. Look, I am nowhere near as bad as I used to be, but I am also not the same person I used to be. The person I am now has a different tolerance for pain- because believe me, if I am hurting people with my behavior, I am suffering too. As a matter of fact, it has come to my attention that it’s possible I might beat myself up much harder than I do anyone else. But my truth remains the same- these are people I love, I want to treat them that way. Period. Without fail. And I could do better…in my head, I can almost always see where I went wrong, when I should have walked away, where I could have taken a breath, how I could have chosen to say nothing. Why? I ask myself all the time, Why couldn’t you have done better?

I think I know at least part of the answer- Anger has been a huge defensive tool for me for so much of my life. Anger kept me safe, kept people at arms length, kept questions from being asked that I didn’t know how to answer. When you are a volatile person, people tread lightly around you. Walk on eggshells, even. When being vulnerable is the thing you most fear, anger is a heady drug.

And there is the whole matter of habit- all those pathways burned into my brain, all the things that I let make me angry for all those hundreds or thousands of days in a row. Any switch I had lead to anger, because it was safer. Safer than being unsure, safer than being hurt, safer than being afraid. Anger is big, powerful, and much easier for me to deal with than the “softer” options, such as crying or, I don’t know, admitting that I messed up, that I am in deep trouble, that I need help.

But that was me BEFORE. And this is me NOW. And the woman I am today cannot tolerate the way it feels to behave this way. This morning, when I prayed my daily prayer, I asked sincerely for help- “Look God, I am serious, I NEED YOU to help me with this. Please, please, pretty please. I can’t do this on my own.” And then I said the rest of the stuff I said, and moved on to the meditation practice part of my morning. I had to smile when the theme of the day was “loving kindness”. My God does not mess around.

I have been deliberate with my words and actions all day today, trying to be gentle with myself, because I am growing, and because I am still starting out on the path to who I want to be, and because I just deserve it. And I have been gentle with others, because it has been easy to- it’s when things get rough, or I am tired, or overwhelmed, when it gets hard.

But I believe that when we truly want to change, we begin to change. And that when we sincerely ask God for help (again, feel free to exchange the word God for whatever word you feel comfortable with), help comes. We must do the footwork. We can’t just say “help me!” and then keep going on like we always have. You show up, and the benevolent forces of the Universe show up with you.

I am trying so hard to be someone who knows how to love other people in a way that is beautiful, rather than damaging, and I know it won’t happen over night. But I also know that it has to start somewhere. Why not here?

Calm Inside the Crazy

be here now

Sometimes I think I just shouldn’t leave my house. Or read the news, like, EVER. Seriously, days like today really bring home the phrase “Ignorance is bliss”.

What might be bothering you, Courtney? You might be asking yourself right about now. Well, let me enlighten you- In the very immediate sphere of living, we have a massive flu outbreak here in my little corner of the world; yes, I realize it’s probably also in your corner of the world, but I’m not there, I’m here, and I’ve suddenly become very preoccupied with remaining healthy. The flu sucks ass, for one thing. The last few times I’ve had it, it knocked me on my butt, and I HATE being sick. I am such a massive whiner when I am sick, and there is no one around to take care of me, plus I have to miss work, and I am always treading the line of disciplinary action for one reason or another. Aside from me, if my kiddo gets sick, she gets REALLY sick, like, asthma-inhaler-wheezing-no mom anywhere can sleep when her kid can’t breathe- kind of sick. I work at a hospital, and it is banana’s up there, I am not kidding you. We are breaking records, and not in a happy way. So there’s that. (And yes, we had our flu shots, but they are only about 10% effective this year.)

Going beyond that a little bit, we have fucking Donald Trump for president. I still can’t even believe I am typing those words with any degree of seriousness an entire year later. After my hope that our country were smarter than that had been crushed last November, I came up with the paltry little hope that maybe he wouldn’t be able to screw things up that bad- I mean, we have a series of checks and balances, right? This is a democracy! How bad can it get?

The answer to that is still unfolding, but I can sum it up in one word- Bad. Or three words- really fucking bad. I guess before I got my hopes up I should have factored in Twitter, eh? I mean, can we all agree now that this is not going well? Can someone make him stop antagonizing North Korea? Can we please get a grown up with some sense in there to help out? Because I am feeling very, very nervous about things.

I don’t want to get sick. I don’t want to die in a nuclear holocaust. I don’t want to keep reading about the scary, crazy weather happening ALL THE TIME, EVERYWHERE. I’m frightened. I’m frightened, and overwhelmed and pissed off because I have no control over ANY of this shit. None of it.

So what can I do, then? First of all, I can remember that I am here, right now, not sick, not in the middle of a war, and that I am safe and okay, in my own little home. I can be present right now, which is the only time that really exists, right? Deep breath, in and out. I can choose not to look at the news- either on TV or on my phone. Let it go. There is nothing I can do about any of it right this very second.

Most importantly, I can remember that I have faith, not just when things are wonderful, but also when they are scary or dark or weird- you either have faith or you don’t, right? I have to remember that I trust that God, the Universe, whatever you choose to call it- that there is a plan and I don’t have all the information, and that is okay. Whatever happens, I trust in God, period.

And finally, uncertainty is ever present, whether we are conscious of it or not. This only underscores the fact that we need to wake up and be as grateful for our lives RIGHT NOW as we would be if we knew it was all ending soon. How loving would you be, how easily would you forgive, how much more would you savor the small things, if today was your last day? I mean, it changes everything, doesn’t it? And that is really kind of sad, isn’t it?

Sigh…I needed to get that out so badly. Stay healthy, warm and close to your fallout shelters, my friends. Jesus, I hope that last part isn’t necessary.

The Best Christmas Yet.

the best christmas yet

 

In the 42 years I have been on this planet, I have had all kinds of Christmases. I have had magical ones- lots of those, thanks to my mom, who REALLY pulled out all the stops every year to make it special for us kids. I have had terrible ones- I remember a year, when Aisley must have been about seven, when I had stayed up partying all night, and all of her presents were from the dollar store. Also, a guy I didn’t know was passed out on my living room floor, left there by his friend the night before when we couldn’t wake him up. We just stepped over him. That’s the kind of life I have lived.  I have had angry Christmases, and lonely ones, Christmas days filled with too much driving, too much fighting, and too much wishing I was somewhere else.

But I have never, ever, had a Christmas day when I was so overcome with gratitude as I listened to the sound of my family- all the people I love most in the world- chattering away and laughing in the living room behind me, that I broke down in tears. Not just a pretty little drop or two as I brushed garlic butter onto bread, but full on, “Oh shit, Courtney, this is not the time for a breakdown” kinda tears. Sobs, you might even say. I don’t know how to describe it to you, the way I was feeling, except for that worn out word, grateful. So, so, so full of gratitude that it hurt a little bit.

Because that, that feeling that I had, that sent tears pouring out of my eyes, and my mother rushing to hug me- that, my friend, is what recovery is. All the meetings that I make and the stepwork that I do, all the self reflection and correction and digging deep and starting over, forgiving myself, forgiving others, all the TRYING. All of the never taking anything, no matter what- THAT is what I have been searching for, and striving for, and wanting in my life and heart all along. That feeling of peace. That feeling of love, and belonging, and contentment and family. I have been really working a 12 step program for two and half years straight, but I have been trying to be where I was yesterday my entire adult life. My whole life.

If you are reading this, and you are new in recovery, I want to encourage you to stay the course. Don’t give up. There were times in the beginning when I was more miserable than I had been when I was using. I had zero coping skills, nothing left to take the edge off, and my brain was fucked up, even if I couldn’t come to terms with that at the time. My temper was as short fused as ever, and goddammit, I got clean so that I could stop being so hateful, but it didn’t seem to be working. If this sounds familiar, just wait. Just find whatever small improvements you do see, and hold onto them. Know that it will change.

When I had about a year clean, I got really mad at my mom, for a good long while. She didn’t do anything wrong, and I didn’t understand it- I hated it, actually. I was afraid that I was going to stay mad forever, and it scared me. But I had faith that I was working through old shit, feeling feelings that I should have felt a long time ago, and I held on. I kept pushing forward, inch by inch. One day, I looked for the anger that I had almost gotten used to lugging around with me, and I found that it had faded. Day after day, it lessened, leaving me surprised by what took its place- love, warmth, affection, acceptance. Yesterday, I can tell you, I did not have one single weird feeling where my mom is concerned. I never felt judged or criticized, picked on or even remotely insulted. The reason I am telling you this is because relationships change in recovery. You will change, and they will change.

Every single person in my house yesterday has been hurt by me in my addiction. Every. Single. One. I just now realized that. Wow. How blessed am I, that I get to make a living amends to these people? That they have forgiven me? That they still love me, that they are so proud of me? I literally would not have ANY of it if I wasn’t clean. I wouldn’t have it, and I wouldn’t even know that I wanted it. I would still be trying to fill that hole in my spirit with all the wrong things, wondering why everything hurt so much.

Listen, I want everyone to be able to feel the way I felt yesterday. If you have reached the end of your rope, and you need some help figuring out what to do next, shoot me an email. I will try to help you figure out a solution. Clduncan1@outlook.com, or just message me here.  And again, if you are new in recovery, I promise you- the pain will be worth the gain. It will be worth every second.

This Christmas…

 

Christmas

I am sitting here, at 5:24 a.m. on Christmas Eve, full of excitement and nerves. In just a little while, my oldest daughter and her boyfriend, who may as well be my third child, are going to be here to spend the night and wake up on Christmas morning with our little family (EXCITED!). Tomorrow, my mom, stepdad, and uncle are coming here, to MY house, to spend the day and have Christmas dinner…HERE. With ME! (NERVOUS!)

I am going to have a house full of the most important people in my life, and I could just cry over how happy it makes me. Every single year before this, I either had to drive three hours to spend a hurried Christmas at my late Grandparent’s home, or I opted out, and stayed home, missing everyone. I know that not every year will be this way- sometimes I am going to have to go to them. But this year, I made my mind up to stay home, and I wasn’t going to budge. And I am so happy that everyone is coming here. My uncle never goes ANYWHERE, so this is a really big deal!

I want to make it as special and warm and happy as I can for everyone, and lets be real- I am not exactly the hostess of the year. I’ve been known to run and hide in the bathroom when someone unexpectedly shows up at my door. Or stay very, very still until they go away. So I keep finding myself getting bunched up with anxiety, worried about the state of my home (i’ll be cleaning like crazy for most of today) or how small my house is, or how shoddy and fur covered my couch is, or…but you know what?

None of that stuff matters. If it matters to certain other people (cough-my mom-cough) then I need to remember that that is her shit, not mine. My job is to do the best I can, but more than that, to enjoy my family. So that is what I am going to do. I have managed, for the first time in my life, to make it through this hectic season with love in my heart and a smile on my face. I have been as generous and thoughtful and kind as I know how to be- even when no one was around to witness it. I have kept my program of recovery in mind, and tried to behave accordingly because I want to be a good example- this one fell flat many times, but the point is, I am trying. REALLY trying. Because I want so much to have a happy life, not just a happy Christmas.

But really, what it comes down to is this: I have decided I WILL have a wonderful Christmas, so that is what I have set about creating. I can’t absolutely control the outcome- first of all, no one ever can do that, and secondly, control is the very thing I am working on relinquishing- but I have done all the things I can, both inside of me and out, to invite the best outcome. And I have made up my mind to enjoy whatever comes.

One thing I know for sure is that my family has given me the best gift of all just by agreeing to show up. I feel pretty freaking loved.  Which makes it SO much easier to get into the Christmas Spirit, you know? It stopped being about what was under the tree for me a LONG time ago. Sometimes, it wasn’t about anything, and I couldn’t feel much besides stress and irritation, relief when it was all over. But this year- this year is very different. I think for the first time ever, my head is clear enough, my heart healed enough, that I can access the things that matter most of all during the holidays- Love, Family, Peace, Hope.  It’s been such a long road for me, but I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s so nice to be right where I am.

I hope all of you get to have something like this feeling I have today. If not today, then very soon. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.

Wasted

broken heart

 

There are few things that can bring the past back to me quite as viscerally as music can. Memories I might grasp for another time come sliding back to me, unexpected, with the right (or wrong) song playing in the background.

When you have the kind of past I have, it can be painful, sometimes- even the happy memories. Today, we were listening to the Dixie Chicks, a CD that once had permanent residence in my old Camry’s stereo. Cowboy, Take me Away came on, and I remember driving around, with the song turned up loud, the windows down, the sunlight streaming in- and this little tiny dark headed girl in her car seat in the back, singing along with me.

She’s all grown up now. Our lives were such a mess back then- well, my life was, and hers, by association. Any happy memories I can find, I cling to, because there just aren’t that many of them. It was a dark time for me, and I was very, very deep in my addiction. I didn’t know how to be a mother, or what it meant, or what, exactly, I was robbing her of. Oh, if only I had known. You know, my heart will very probably never heal from that. I know, I know- we are supposed to learn to forgive ourselves, to leave the past in the past…but I think there is a part of me that honestly doesn’t feel like I ought to forgive myself.  Like maybe punishing myself for the rest of my life is my penance for robbing my daughters childhood of the joy that was hers by right. I don’t know, but I do know this: However it is I feel, I won’t be talked out of it. Trust me, it’s been tried.

Heartbreak Town. I remember listening to that on our way to Reno, where I ran off to, to escape myself. There she was again, that little person in the back seat…always in the back seat. If you are curious, I didn’t fool myself into being someone different just because I crossed state lines. I was still me, still sick, still not a mother anyone should have had. Sometimes I try to imagine what it must have been like for her, but when I do, it hurts too much.

It is only recently- maybe just since she has been sort of a “grown-up”, or maybe it is because I am raising another daughter now, in such a completely different way- that I have started to sincerely wish there were some way I could go back, and do things differently. I know that kind of thinking is useless and foolish. I know I would be better off trying to make my amends to her now, by being the best mom I can NOW, and I do that, I do…but still. If I could just go back, just for one measly little day, and be tender with her. Give her my undivided attention. Just hold her, and love her, and do all the mommy stuff I have learned to do now…I would just really like to do that, that’s all.

This is a lot of stuff to carry around inside of one small heart. The memories, and the worry about what you may have inflicted upon another small heart, one that you created. To look back and see all of the time, and the chances, and the love you wasted. It doesn’t feel very good. I’m glad to say I don’t sit in this shit every single day, but when I do, I don’t even try to deny myself the opportunity to cry about it anymore. It’s a sad and terrible way that I chose, and if it didn’t make me cry, I guess that would mean I haven’t changed much, wouldn’t it? But I have. So at least there is that.