Category Archives: friendship

What I’ve Learned, Lately

lessons

I don’t care how old you are, life is nothing if not a constant set of lessons. I am going to share with you some of the things I have learned, lately:

1.) I am better off if I don’t react to my first impulse, no matter what the situation. Unless, you know, something is on fire or something.

I am a very emotional person. I almost always have feelings about things before I have many thoughts about them. What I have learned is, the best possible outcome is usually achieved when I allow myself some time to think things through before discussing anything. When I am very heated about a situation, attacking it on the spot is generally just that- an attack- and it tends not to end well. This isn’t exactly rocket science, but it’s truly a new thing for me…I am the queen of the knee jerk reaction, always blowing up before I have any business opening my mouth.

2.) When you overreact to something, it winds up being about your behavior, rather than the thing you are objecting to.

Say your boyfriend cheats on you. That is a really terrible, painful thing. So, when he comes home at two a.m., and you rush outside as he is getting out of his car, and he jumps back in his car and locks himself in, just in time to avoid getting a concussion with the bat you are swinging at his head, and you proceed to beat his car until it can’t rightfully be called a car anymore…when the police come, and all of your neighbors are outside watching you get handcuffed, guess who this about now?

Okay, this was a terrible (but super fun) analogy, but you get what I’m saying- when you go over the top in your response, and behave badly, it almost inevitably turns into a situation where you are left feeling bad about how you handled yourself, and whatever it was you were objecting to gets lost in the mess.  Try to keep some dignity, whatever the cost. If that isn’t possible, seethe in silence until you calm down a little- and you will calm down. Which leads me to:

3.) Feelings Change.

This is closely linked to number one, but not the same. In the first instance, I recommend waiting to react, at least outwardly, and thinking. But here, what I have learned is that, not only should I wait, and think, but I have discovered that when I do this, a lot of times what I thought I felt wasn’t true at all. Give yourself a minute. You will be surprised at how different your feelings are after a good nights sleep or a weekend off. Shit changes, and fast.

4.) Having said all of that, I have also found that dealing with things directly, no matter how awkward it might be, is exactly the right thing to do.

A few months back, I decided to get a roommate, who is also a friend of mine. I was smart enough to know that I have a hard time living with people, and so I told her that we should aim for six months, and if that went well, then, no longer than a year. Within two months, I started to feel overwhelmed and less excited about the whole thing- but it was a really hard subject to broach. I didn’t want her to think I didn’t like her, or that she had done anything wrong, because that wasn’t it. I simply don’t like having roommates. But I didn’t say anything, because I thought maybe I was just adjusting and I would get over it. So, I went to Hawaii, and while I was there, I thought a lot about it. I still wasn’t really sure, though, until I was turning the corner to my house on my way back home, and suddenly, I was just bummed out that I had to face people in my home when I returned. I KNEW in that moment that I had to talk to her.

I waited until the moment seemed right, and I sat down, and we talked about it. I was nervous as heck. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but I knew that, in this situation, I needed to be true to myself. I told her we should plan on sticking to six months, and I told her that the reason I was letting her know so soon was because I didn’t want her to miss out if she found something else in the meantime. I also let her know that I hoped she stayed the whole six months, but I would not be mad if she didn’t. And that if she had a tough time finding something by the end of the six months, it was okay to take a little longer.

I’m sure she wasn’t thrilled. But you know what? I knew that I had done the right thing, in the right way, and I had been direct, and kind, and as thoughtful as I could be…and because of that, I never had to feel bad about any of it. And I had said what I needed to say, which meant there was that much less weight on my shoulders.

5.) Pick your battles.

Okay, so this isn’t an original thought. Not by a long shot. But, for someone like me, who is always ready to cop a resentment about nearly any fucking thing, this is a huge breakthrough for me. You mean I don’t need to correct every little thing I view as wrong? You mean I won’t die of keeping my mouth shut? You mean I can have feelings about things that have nothing to do with me and I don’t have to share them? WOW.

So, I have learned, lately, that not only will I not die of letting things go, but I can achieve quite a bit of happiness and peace this way. Simply by not saying every single thing that I think. Simply by letting people be their irritating selves, they become less irritating. Who could have known this? I mean, besides most people?

So, this is my list of interesting life lessons for now. I hope you enjoyed them. And if you didn’t, I hope you are smart enough to Pick Your Battles.

Have an awesome day!

 

One Awesome Mutha’

mutha

This is where I write the obligatory Mother’s Day Blog. Only I don’t want to write something perfunctory and average, that is never my goal. If my heart isn’t in it, I just don’t want to do it. So I thought and thought all day long, and this is what I can tell you from my heart:

1.) You may think you know how much your mom loves you, but, until you are a mom yourself, or a dad, I suppose, although I have no idea if it works the same way- until the day that you become a parent, you have no clue. I hate to break this to you, but the kind of love you have for your children sort of makes every other kind of love look sort of…not as important. I mean, God, some of you people are going to get all butt-puckered over this (predictably), and defend the kind of love you have for your dog, or your girl, or whoever. I know, I know. I am not trying to say that certain kinds of love are better. All love is important. But the love I learned about when I held my first child in my arms (okay, after, like, a few days- she kind of freaked me out at first) was so much more vast, and pure, and unconditional. It kinda blew my socks off. So trust me when I say: Your mom, as annoying and nosy and cringe-worthy as she may be? That woman would jump in front of a truck for your grown ass without even hesitating. Take your love for her and multiply it by about a thousand, and you might be in the ball park.

2.) Having said that, not all moms are created equal- not by a long shot. I have friends who changed their lives completely the minute they gave birth, and took to mothering like a duck to water ( I am assuming they do this immediately, right? Ducks? If not, please replace that last remark with something that means, like, right away, and naturally. I am on a roll and cannot be bothered to go google what baby fucking ducks do). I have friends (me) who do okay. I have a maternal instinct ( I am not kidding you, I almost just wrote “maternal extinct”. Er…Freudian slip?) but it seems to have a short. It can work just peachy for a while, and then all of the sudden, it starts throwing sparks, and I turn into Joan Collins, only less classy. Like just now, for example, when my four year old asked for food, and I got mad at her for being hungry while I am busy writing. How DARE she? But I try. I try REALLY hard, most of the time. It just doesn’t come totally easily to me. Then, I know people who are about as attached to their kids as cats are to their kittens- they do great for a few months, but then it’s “see ya! It’s been real, thanks for the stretch marks!” and off they go. These types, I do not understand at all. You would need a crow bar, a tranquilizer gun, and several strong men to keep me apart from my babies. Apart from this anomalous few, I promise you, we do the best we can. Again, until you have walked a mile in our shoes, please do not judge or condemn us. Trust that our love is as real and true as any other- we are all doing the best we can.

Having gotten that out of the way, I have some special Thanks to dole out, here.

* My mom- What can I say, mom? I love you with all of my heart. You sure got screwed in the kid department. If it weren’t for my fantastic self, you would only have had Casey to love, and, well…need I say more (you had that coming, Casey. I am totally moms favorite, she tells me that all the time. hahaha). For real, though, mom. I have a lot of respect for the life you have carved out for yourself, even more so now that I am a mom, myself. This is not the easiest of jobs for us wild, gypsy types. Thank you for never giving up on me. I love you.

* Single moms- you are the bravest of the brave, doing the work of two people with aplomb. Please do not be hard on yourself for falling short. Repeat after me: “I am one person, doing the job of two. I fucking rock this shit every single day. I am Superwoman.” Make this your mantra. Single moms can carry in all of the groceries in one trip, unlock the front door while carrying a carseat full of infant, talk the people at PG&E into one more day for three months, and make a life of lemons into the best lemonade you ever tasted- and just might share it with you if you are worthy. Single moms do not have time to fuck around. We are serious, and our love for our children is the fiercest of all. It has to be. They are OUR babies, no one else’s. If you know a single mom (and of course you fucking do) you want to tell her how much you admire her for holding it down. Those words mean a lot.

* Married or otherwise Partnered Moms- I know what you are thinking…these ones have it easy, though! Right? Well, clearly you have forgotten how hard it is to raise kids in the confines of a relationship. All the compromise, all the extra BS, all the disagreements about right ways and wrong ways. Yes, there are benefits to having an extra set of arms and ears and eyes- as long as those parts are working in harmony with yours. When they aren’t, well…lets not pretend we haven’t all wished for a little time alone with the kids to whip them into shape. Daddies rule, but they can also be a big pain in the butt. The kids usually like them more, because, you know, chocolate for breakfast. You feel like the household villain. And, unlike the single mom, you find yourself having to work on your marriage (or whatever kind of thing it is) on top of everything else. Really, all you want to work on is a nap. It’s no walk in the park, and you rule, married mom.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is, if you are out there, in the motherhood trenches, doing the deal- you deserve a day of honor. If you work, if you stay at home, if you don’t vaccinate your kids (although I think you are kind of an idiot) or you do, if you are organic mom, or McDonald’s mom, whatever kind of mom you are- Thank you. Thank you for pouring your heart and your soul into the little people in your life. Thank you for doing the very best you know how, at least 75% of the time. This is the hardest job any of us will ever do, and we all, somehow, seem to do it just fine. Against all odds, they turn out pretty great in the end.  Good job, moms.

Happy Mother’s Day.

The Tangled Web We Weave…is Actually Pretty Rad.

tradition

So, the other day, I went on my first date in…I don’t know, like, forever. It was super casual, an afternoon, after the workday but before I pick up the kids kind of date. We took a walk together, got some ice cream, walked back, chatted. Oh yeah, and I met his ex-wife and all three of his kids. Yeah, that happened. It could have been awkward- I’m not going to lie, there was an element of awkwardness pervading the scene. Here we are, innocently chatting in line for ice cream, and first one, then two, then three of his kids barrel into him, followed by, in a much less (thankfully) exuberant manner, his wife. I mean, ex-wife. Thankfully. Anyway, as usual, my desire to end awkwardness at all costs won out, and I found myself chatting with his ex about places my older daughter could start modeling locally, and I was showing her pictures, and we were the next best thing to chummy by the end of it all. Okay, maybe not that, but it wasn’t awful, and it could have been. It’s not the best situation for starters, but we did great with it.

Then, last night, I went out for appetizers and drinks (my drinks were Shirley Temples, of course) with my sisters…except, they aren’t REALLY my sisters. They technically belong to my ex, many times removed, also referred to as my daughters father, or “baby daddy” number one. Yeah, they are the siblings of my first offspring’s spermatozoa contributor, and I just sort of barged in and snapped them up. He has seven brothers and sisters, and I couldn’t decide, so I hogged them all. I love these people as much as I love my own people, and there is no distinguishing that love from the love for my “own” family. We have so many memories, and so much history, I feel confident in claiming them as family.

I would like to think that this phenomena I am experiencing in my life is a wonderful side effect of the breakdown of the traditional family unit. Perhaps it took a while, I don’t know. I don’t see the same things playing out in the lives of my mom (who is not friendly with her husbands ex-wife, to say the least), who modeled her life very much after the traditional family that she had with her folks- I’m not saying it worked out very well, I’m saying that is what she was going for. However, I do see it playing out in a myriad of ways in the lives of those around me. The ability to let go of the ideals we may have concerning what makes family family, and choose to love one another, and accept one another, instead. I cannot see the down side of this. I don’t know where I would be without my stolen brothers and sisters, and I don’t even like to think about it.

Last night, at dinner, I listened to one of the girls talk about how she went bra shopping with the current girlfriend of her daughter’s father. “I just love her!” she said. How can this be bad for anyone? The other day, my daughter and I were talking about a man we know who is raising his girlfriend’s son as his own, which isn’t all that unusual, except that he was the product of what you might call…a pause in their relationship. Yeah. Say what you want about it, I think that is the most noble and loving act I have ever seen. How awesome that he could swallow his pride completely and raise this boy with all of his heart! That, to me, is what love is all about.

A couple of days ago, I had this bright idea to set my brother up with this girl I adore- she is smart and artistic, one of those bubbly people that you enjoy encountering. No big deal, except that she is also the girl that my ex had an affair with years ago. Oddly enough, we have this bond now, forged through confession and pain, and finding out that, whatever else may be wrong with that dude, he has EXCELLENT taste in women. It didn’t happen overnight, that is for sure…but here I sit, trying to finagle her a place in my family. Hahaha!

I am not saying that everything about having a traditional, well functioning family is bad- far from it! If you can achieve that, Jesus, good for you! I know how hard it is. What I am saying is, if things have to be the way they are, what a wonderful discovery we have made around that fact- that the truth is, love is more prevalent than ever, even in these fractured and confused roles we play. That we are not bound by some imaginary sense of honor, or by pride, to disdain those that we may very well come to love. And that family is, really, more than blood. They are the people that you choose along the way, or that choose you, and how you nurture one another. I don’t see anything wrong with that at all.

Have a lovely Sunday. 🙂

On Despair

despair

Well, this certainly isn’t the topic that has been rattling around in my head for the past week or so. It is, however, a subject with which I have become rather unfortunately familiar. Still learning about, but definitely familiar.

When I was younger, I used to get so angry with people when they would say “Life is hard!” as a way of explaining the choices (mostly poor) that people make sometimes. “It isn’t hard!” I would argue, “Or, at least, it doesn’t have to be! It’s the stupid things you do, the choices you make, the people you surround yourself with, that make life hard. Goddammit, people just need to be smarter, and don’t allow things to get them down!” (For some reason, ironically, I recall saying something very similar to these very words, while sobbing on the phone to my mother. Hmm…) Anyway, I would proclaim this, and things such as this, with the absolute conviction that all twenty somethings, with very little actual life experience, possess. I mean, it FELT like I was right, totally.

Fast forward a bit, to my early thirties. By that time, I had definitely had some harrowing experiences in life, I was early in my recovery (Well, when have I NOT been early in recovery?) from drugs, and, as had usually been the case for me, life was going pretty darn well. I was clean, I had a great boyfriend, a bank account, a job, great friends. I still wore single digit jeans. Life was looking up in a major way. I remember that a woman I knew only casually- VERY casually- had relapsed, and couldn’t seem to get clean again, after having been in a twelve step program for many, many years. It had just gotten out that she had killed herself, and I believe that one of her young daughters had found her body, and I was very angry about this. I recall telling my then-boyfriend how selfish I thought this person was, to have ruined so many lives by ending her own- I said “You know, once you have kids, suicide is not really an option anymore. It’s off the table, man.” And again, I said this with the conviction of one who really believes their words to be the obvious truth, having never experienced true, gut wrenching, despair, even then.

I will never forget the words he said in response to my outrage. “Courtney- try to imagine how much pain she was in, to think that was the very best option.” Oh. Oh, wow. I don’t remember if I argued with him, or what I said after that, but I have never forgotten what he said. Imagine the amount of pain someone must be experiencing, to believe that death, uncertain and unknowable as it is, is a better option than this. Better than breathing this air, and kissing your babies, better than watching the sunrise, and laughing with friends, and reminiscing with your brother at Thanksgiving about your childhood. That must be some kind of pain, man.

Lets move forward through my life a little farther, now, to my mid-thirties. On the outside, I have everything a person could want. I have two beautiful daughters, a person to love, an amazing career, a home in one of the most beautiful places in the world. What the world sees of me is what I want them to- a bubbly, pretty, outgoing woman. I laugh a lot, and make other people laugh a lot. I am always (in the public eye, anyway) friendly and engaging. There is NO WAY you could have guessed, unless you knew me very well, the kind of agony I was in. My life was a nightmare, from where I sat. I could barely fumble through work without breaking down. I was totally strung out, again, and in fear of being found out every single day, and of losing it all. I was broke, and miserable, disgusted with myself. My relationship was in shambles, my bills were out of control, and nothing seemed bearable anymore. My older daughter was out of control, in trouble all the time, and my little daughter preferred her traitorous father (not hard to see why, looking back) over me. I cried so much every day that no one even noticed anymore. It got to the point where I rarely left my bedroom, let alone my house. I felt like my life was completely out of control (it was) and the worst part was that I knew the only one who could save me was me. This terrified me. Because I wasn’t sure I could do it, nor that I wanted to.

For the first time in my whole life, I looked around me, and I thought-“You know, it would probably be for the best if I just wasn’t here anymore. I am terrible for everyone I encounter. My family would be so much happier if they didn’t have to deal with me.” And I BELIEVED this to be true.

That is what despair is, my friend. True despair is the voice in your head telling you to give up, already. That you are so much trouble, and you are so damaged, that the people who love you desperately would be far better off without you around. It makes you believe that things will never be any better than they are right at this moment, and it makes you believe that all the happiness you remember was a lie. It shrouds the light so that it cannot get to you, and it shrouds the truth, that you are so loved, and so necessary, to the people in your life. So loved that almost any of them, from your lover to the neighbor across the street who’s last name you don’t know, would talk you down from the ledge you are standing on, if only they knew. But sometimes they just don’t know how close you are to the edge. I am so glad I made it down okay.

i found out last night that a friend of mine from high school didn’t make it down okay.This beautiful girl, who I will always remember as seventeen, with the biggest blue eyes-bigger than mine, even- and I thought she was so pretty, And she was. She was still very, very pretty. She was having a hard time of it, over the past few years- though I had no idea how hard, We chatted on Facebook occasionally, but it’s been a while. Yesterday, at the urging of a friend we have in common, I sent her a message- “Hey, you. I was thinking about you, wondering how you are. Hope all is well.” I noticed that her last post was Friday, and it said something about her intentions being good, and her heart pure. It was one of those posts we put up when we want to say something to someone without saying it to them directly. I don’t know who she meant it for. I do know, however, that she died that day. That for her, the pain was too great. My heart goes out to her, and to her children, and family, all the ones who loved her. Who would have gladly done anything to keep this from happening.

I have learned along the way that life IS hard, and it gets harder the older you get, because you grow tired of the struggle, tired of being hurt. Tired of carrying around the damn burden of who you are, and all the things you have done, the ways you have been. But I have also learned that it all comes back around, over and over and over, enough times for me to be sure- the light does get in, eventually. The joy returns, again and again, and the pain recedes. That is how it goes.

Don’t ever give up. Find one shred of hope, however small, and hang on to it, because it will get better. I promise you, it will. If the voice in your head is telling you that the world would be better off without you and all your misery, you tell someone, and you let them tell you that it is a lie. Because it is a lie. Please wait it out. Please.

That’s all I have for today. Rest in peace, my beautiful friend.

Beautiful

It’s a beautiful morning here on the peninsula- still, the way only Sunday mornings ever really are, gray, misty, quiet. The only sound I could hear, as I sat out on my front porch with my mug of hot, strong coffee, was the clang of what I believe to be buoy bells- I could be wrong about that, but in my head, that is what those clangs are.

But that is not the kind of beautiful I want to talk about right now. I had an interesting conversation with my mom, yesterday. It probably wasn’t very interesting to her, but it stood out to me. It went like this- we were talking about my youngest daughter, Camryn, and how she is just getting cuter every day. I said something to the effect of, yes, she is just lovely, but it’s her personality that really takes it over the top for me, and my mom says “No, I think she is just beautiful, just a pretty girl.” To which I replied “Yeah, she reminds me more of Aisley (my older daughter) all the time.”  Then my mom says, and this is what got me thinking- “Now, don’t take this the wrong way, but I see a lot of me in her.”

This is Camryn, who looks just like my mom at this age
This is Camryn, who looks just like my mom at this age

Now, why would I take that the wrong way? I was confused, and told her as much- I was honestly not connecting the dots. “Well, ” she said, “I don’t want you to think that I am saying I am beautiful…” And the conversation went on, and then I was in the store, so I had to go, but her words stayed with me.

At first, I was baffled, but then, after a while, I was sad. My mother, one of the most beautiful women out of all of the mother’s I have ever met, doesn’t want me to think that she would be foolish enough to call herself beautiful. More pointedly, my mother doesn’t think that she is beautiful. Now, I struggle with this all the time, and I understand, but when your own mother, who happens to be so pretty that people are constantly commenting on it, says something like this- it really strikes a chord. And I have something to say about it.

This is my mom and I on my last birthday- she is gorgeous
This is my mom and I on my last birthday- she is gorgeous

Listen, ladies, lots of you may know this on a certain level- that there is more to beauty than a flat stomach, and a pleasing face- but when it comes down to it, I think we have a tough time internalizing and believing this truth, as it applies to us. But you know what? Fuck that. You are beautiful.

You look in the mirror, and maybe you see ten or twenty extra pounds, but your mother looks at you, at this person she loves, and she sees you vibrant and healthy, and everything you have ever been, and all of the things you are going to be. She sees you, and you are beautiful.

This is what you see.
This is what you see.
and this is what you are.
and this is what you are.

You see a picture of yourself, and you see gray hairs coming in, or crows feet, or maybe a face you don’t even recognize as your face anymore. But your children look at you, and they see the person they love more than anyone else in the world. They know your soft, cool hands that would soothe away nightmares, and the safety of your embrace, and the way you know what they really need when no one else does, and you are stunning. Nothing in the world could mar that kind of beauty.

we love you exactly as you are.
we love you exactly as you are.

You maybe don’t even bother with the mirror anymore. You long ago lost the idea that anything about you could be appealing or pretty. But let me tell you, your grandchildren? There is no place in the world they would rather be than in your lap, snuggled into your arms. There is no better place they can think of than your presence. You are the most beautiful person in the world.

This is beauty you can't mess with.
This is beauty you can’t mess with.

You may not fit the format that has been laid out before us- maybe you are too skinny, or not skinny enough, not quite there yet, or past your prime, maybe you hate your thighs or suck your stomach in, think your legs are too short or your boobs are too small. Maybe you spend a lot of time wishing things were how they used to be, or just different than they are now. Well, stop it. Because someone, the most important ones, look at you, look into you, and they see all of the things you ARE. Your great laugh, and your sharp wit, your kind heart, your willingness to be there, the ease with which you give.

Gorgeous laughter
Gorgeous laughter

Whoever you are, wherever you are at in your journey through life, you are beautiful. Way more than just a pretty face, my friend. And that includes you, my beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful, funny, strong, mom. I love you. I would be proud to have daughters just as radiant as you are.

My beautiful mother. And me. I'm not so bad, either.
My beautiful mother. And me. I’m not so bad, either.

But You SEEM Fine…

depression

I’m going to switch gears today, and be a little more serious. At least, I think I am. It’s actually a little hard for me to tell how things are going to come out until they have started coming out, but the subject matter is certainly a little more serious. I want to talk about depression. Have you ever been depressed? Like, REALLY depressed, not “OMG, I am so depressed, those shoes that I wanted at Kohl’s were totally sold out by the time I got there” depressed? I am talking about “Holy shit, I forgot to take a shower or change my clothes for like four days” depressed. (See, I am trying to be serious, and I am still so darn funny! What the hell?) And you might be thinking “I have never been depressed, but I have seen my mom-best friend- husband- sister go through it…” Well, that is awesome, and we have all seen someone go through it, but let me tell you, unless you have gone through it yourself, you have no idea. Because, even when you HAVE gone through a bad bout of depression, even knowing what it’s like, when you see someone else going through it, you still want to say stupid shit to them like “You need to get out and get some exercise!” or “You just need to do something fun, and you will feel better!” or “Try to look on the bright side.” And that is how the person you are talking to knows you have no fucking idea what you are talking about. It is also when you better be glad they are so depressed and lethargic, because otherwise, they would be kicking your ass right now, or stabbing you in the neck with a pencil. Then, they would no longer be depressed, they would be exhilarated, and Voila! You just helped make a serial killer! I hope you are happy. Just kidding. My point is, people that are legitimately depressed already know they would probably feel better if they got up and did stuff, it’s just really, really, hard- if not impossible.

See? My problem with depression is exactly that, what I just did in the paragraph above- I make jokes about everything, and I laugh, and other people laugh with me, and then they can’t possibly take me seriously. I mean, funny people aren’t depressed, right? I don’t want to be a total downer here, but I would like to point out that Robin Williams was pretty fucking funny. I’m not saying I am that funny, I’m just saying he was, like, THE funniest- and we all know how that turned out. My point is that, if you look at just the cast of Saturday Night Live, historically, funny people are some of the most depressed, most mentally ill, most fucked up people out there. And they have a really hard time with it. I can still be funny, and be doing less than well. Clearly, I also have a bit of an ego problem, (you must be thinking, as I just compared myself to the Gods of funny-ness) but that is a blog for another day.

I am trying really hard right now to organize my thoughts so that I can fit everything in here in a cohesive manner, but I get excited about what I am trying to say, and I don’t want to lose anything…hold on. Okay. So, here is what I think: I think there are all kinds of levels of depression. For instance, after I had my last baby, I experienced horrible post-partum depression, and it blew the socks off of anything I had known before or since. Like, I was so depressed, forget about showering or eating, altogether- my biggest concern was the fact that , not only could I never imagine feeling happiness or joy ever again, I believed that all my memories of being happy were completely made up. So, I was so depressed that it even affected my belief that happiness ever existed. That is pretty scary. That is, like, Top Shelf Depression. The depression issues I have dealt with since then have all been drug related, or at least, interfered with, if not caused totally, by my out of control drug use. So the easiest way to “cure” those episodes was to quit using drugs. Easy-peasy. (not really, but you get my drift)

This time is different. I am not using drugs, so there is no quick fix. Further complicating the issue- I won’t take anything pharmaceutical. I might if this gets really out of hand, but I am definitely not to that point yet. There is something called “Post Acute Withdrawal” that is a fun little issue unique to recovering drug and alcohol users that basically means you are a total mess for up to two years after getting clean, and I have considered that this may be part of what I am experiencing. For the record, I was calling it “Post Traumatic Withdrawal Syndrome” until my neighbor pointed out that it was “Acute” and not “Traumatic”, and I feel my title is more accurate, but whatever. So, there could be an element of that, for sure.

The weirdest part of all, this time, is that I could feel the depression coming. Thanks to my clear head, I didn’t just come to one day with the overall sensation that mankind is doomed, and that everything in life is pointless, I could feel the subtle changes within me that said “Ugh, something sure doesn’t feel very good here.”, and I was nervous that those feelings would grow, and they have, and here I am. Now, my big question is- what can I do about it? I won’t take anything (right now) and I am not just going to let this dark cloud descend…so what do I do?

Well, the first thing I am going to do is talk to my therapist about it. I have an appointment tomorrow, and I am going to sit close to a box of Kleenex and let it all out. Then, I am going to ask her what ELSE I can do to nip this in the bud. She is super cool, and, even though she is younger than me, I totally like her. She always gives me photo-copied lists of information when I see her, and I joke that she is only encouraging my hoarding tendencies. I like, though, that she sees through my joking to what is beneath it. So I will talk to her. And hopefully, we can come up with a plan.

And this morning, I am going to try to look on the bright side, and take my dog for a walk, and hide the body of the person who suggested it. Just kidding.

The Family Dinner

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Last weekend, I made dinner for my “little” family, (Vegetable Lasagna, in case you were curious, and YUM) which consists of my 17 year old daughter, Aisley (which we pronounce i-lee, because I wasn’t hip to Gaelic pronunciation way back when she was born, though we found out later that it is supposed to be pronounced Ashley- but at a certain point, it just isn’t realistic to change the spelling and/or pronunciation of a person’s name), my 3 year old daughter, Camryn (because it looks more feminine, that’s why) and basically, Dylan, who is Aisley’s boyfriend, but you rarely see one without the other. Thankfully, I like him, or this could potentially be a nightmare.

It was wonderful. While we ate, I thought about how nice it would be if there were people there (besides Dylan) that I didn’t actually give birth to, people that were, you know, around my age. Or at least were required to love me due to our long, complicated histories…you know- FAMILY. The main problem with this idea is that I don’t have any actual family here anymore, if you go strictly by the “Sharing DNA” rule. Thankfully, I do not subscribe to all that hooey, and have a vast number of slightly younger people to whom I have insinuated myself into their family via breeding. I know this sounds weird, but it’s basically the truth- I never married Aisley’s dad (My spell checker keeps telling me I have spelled my daughters name incorrectly, and last time I almost believed it. Damn it.), but I did marry (in my heart) his gigantic gaggle of brothers and sisters. I lived with them when I was pregnant with Aisley, and at that time, there were still six of them at home, not including the two parents. Yes, SIX. At HOME. There were actually two more that were old enough to leave, one of them being Aisley’s dad, the other being the aforementioned Andrea, with whom I am privately very competitive with.

In that crazy house lived Matthew, Meghan, Amanda, Hannah, Noah, and Zane. Their parents, who I grew to love like my own folks, were Jim and Valerie. I had spent the bulk of my growing up years in a tiny and tense family consisting of my mom, me, her insane ex husband, and my little brother. Then, when they split up, my brother was only three, and he lived with with his dad part time. Eventually, and much to my mother’s horror, he went to live with his dad full time, leaving just her and I. Of course, by the time I was 15, I was rarely home- and by rarely home, I mean, I would run away for weeks at a time, being as how I was the WORST teenager in the history of the world. Sorry mom. My point is, by the time the Davis family got me, I was totally unused to things like: Noise, chaos, yelling, massive food shortage’s, group sleeping arrangements, and families that throw up a lot. I also came to them fully able to go to the store on my own, and left there with a compulsive need to take someone with me everywhere I went. But they welcomed me into their family with open arms, and very few questions, and I was 21, scared to death, very pregnant, and alone. They were exactly what I so desperately needed. They accepted me as I was, they made me feel safe, and they came to love me. That’s not the kind of thing you just forget.

So, when I moved in, Matthew, the oldest, was a junior…maybe a sophomore in high school. Meghan was in middle school, and the rest were in elementary school, still. Zane, the baby, was only six. He towers over ALL of us now, but he is only a few years older than my oldest daughter ( how weird is that?). My point with all of this is- if that is not family, I guess I don’t know what is. These are the people who have shared years and years of my life. I have watched them grow up.

So, I invited all of them to come have dinner at my house last night. I was feeling isolated, lately, and I wanted that family connection. I posed the idea to them in our secret Facebook group, and everyone (well, lots of them) said yes. So, I went and bought a deep fryer and decided on fish tacos, and…Well. In my head, it looked slightly different. In my head, I warmly invite them into my spotless home, where dinner is totally prepped, and the taco garnishes are displayed artfully in bowls on the table, near the freshly cut flowers.

What actually happened, though, is that, for some reason (see yesterdays blog to help clear this up) I totally procrastinated until like one in the afternoon, which was four hours before dinner was set to start. I wanted to get started, I really did- mentally. Physically, I just wanted to watch TV. I think I need to get rid of my cable. But anyway, at one, I started cleaning my house in earnest, not realizing until then just exactly how filthy it really was. I managed to finish it with an hour to spare, which I spent frantically chopping up cabbage that no one really gives a shit about putting on their fish tacos anyway. Live and learn.

By the time Terry and Meghan got here, I was pretty much done. Except for the part where the fryer was still in the box. And I didn’t know how to use it. And I forgot to put on make up or comb my hair, and my clothes were covered in batter, sweat, and bits of cabbage. So Terry fried the fish for me, and I heated up tortillas old school (on the open flame of my gas stove), and pretty soon, my house was filled with Matt and Jenny, Kiera and Taj (their beautiful kids), with Meghan and Terry, and their lamp-eyed, gorgeous baby, Maverick, and then Noah came with his beautiful wife Ali (and I am not just saying that because she brought a huge platter of homemade peanut butter chocolate cookies and then LEFT THEM HERE, either.) And it was loud, and the kids were watching Frozen, and Taj, who is six, pretty much wanted to be anywhere else, but he was a good sport about it, and everyone laughed and told stories…and it was GOOD.

It was so good. And I am so grateful to be lucky enough to be part of it, to be part of their lives. I have watched them grow up, and they have loved me in spite of all of my shortcomings, and my feeble little human problems. Yep. If that is not family, I guess I don’t know what is. I LOVE you guys.

Waking Up Fat and Lazy

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I would like to preface what I am about to write with this other fun fact that just occurred to me as I was dragging my laptop from my bedroom desk out to the kitchen table, since I cannot write with Wonder Pets screeching in the background, and Camryn woke up at four this morning because I gave her her allergy medicine a little bit early by “accident” (in other words, I was really tired and wanted to go to bed, and she had to take it, anyway) last night. Don’t judge me. Anyway, what I realized was, the only reason I can write about half the crap I write about and then willingly post links to it on my Facebook is because I write so early in the morning, I know that none of you people are awake yet. Which makes no sense at all, because you can totally read it when you DO wake up, but by then, for me, it’s already over. This may not be at all logical, but at least it gives you an idea of the kind of person you are dealing with, here.

So, what I wanted to write about was…and I don’t know if this has ever happened to you…but I woke up fat this morning. Okay, first of all, I realize that if I woke up fat, chances are, I went to bed fat last night, right? But I am telling you right now, I went to bed chubby, at best, last night. Somewhere between midnight and four a.m., my metabolism called it quits, and that last slice of Little Caesar’s pretzel crust pizza proved to be one too many. It was the pizza that broke the camel’s back with it’s fat ass. Second of all, for God’s sake, please do not get all up in arms, my lovely lady friends, and tell me how not fat I am. For one thing, you cannot judge me by my pictures on Facebook- do you really think I am going to share the ones that make me look like Jabba the Hut? You all know that we are masters of the selfie, and quite adept at finding the angle that most flatters. For another thing, I am not trying to say that I am obese. I am fat by my standards for me, and that is that. I am not looking for anyone to shore up my flagging self confidence, here, I am fine. I am just really, really, round right now.

Compounding my fattitude is this- I am incredibly lazy, and seem to be growing more so by the day. I mean, this has always been a well hidden feature of my personality, masked by the rapid quality of my speech and my tendency towards animated gestures…but trust me, you can be an energetic communicator and still be lazy as F**K. If you don’t believe me, you can totally ask my mom, who got to see me in (in)action for a little less than half of my life so far. Of course, I also covered up this laziness by my rather prolific use of methamphetamine for all that time…I think I even forgot how lazy I was, what with all the activity, albeit, most of it fruitless, but still. Meth users are nothing if not BUSY, am I right? So embarrassing…anyway, ones true colors always come back to bite them in the ass, only, in my case, they can’t muster up the energy, so…I guess self-deprecating humor will have to serve as my catalyst.

Further complicating the issue is my desire for instant gratification- I mean, it has taken me quite some time to get to my current weight (which I am not going to tell you, and I prefer you not guess) so it stands to reason that it will take time and work, and some sort of ability to be consistent, to get to where I want to be. Which is why I am feeling sort of doomed. I can’t even keep up on my laundry- how the hell can I be expected to follow a diet? I guess it all comes down to what I want more, doesn’t it? Pizza, or a waistline? Lucky Charms with half and half, or less chin-neck? Another day of marathon episodes of Ghost Adventure’s, or a trip to the gym? Oh, these sound like obvious answers, I know, but lets be real, here…how many times have you been all- “I’m going to the gym today!” and MEANT it, then flopped down on the couch “for a second”, and the next thing you know, it’s dark out, and you’re not only too lazy to have made dinner, you are too lazy to throw away the cardboard pizza boxes that were delivered to your door? Fuck, maybe that’s just me, and I have even larger (unintentional pun, there) problems than I thought.

I will tell you two more, no, three more things here, before I am done for the day. 1) On a serious note, I realize that no one can do this for me, and I wouldn’t be writing about it in depth if I hadn’t decided, just this morning, that it is time to formulate a plan, for reals, and start doing something OTHER than making plans, and then excuses, and then feeling all shitty about myself.  2) Because I am competitive in general, but especially, for some reason, with my sister in law, Andrea, whom I love more than anything (and yes, this is totally possible), and she is, like, KICKING ASS, in EVERY area of her life, but currently has turned her laser sharp kick-ass skills to her fitness and weight loss routine, I have decided to use her for an impetus to get off my couch. I have no doubt that it will work, because I am sick like that. She really is RAD though, by the way. And finally, 3) none of this can start though, until tomorrow. Why? Because I just bought a deep fryer, and all of my loved ones are coming over to eat deep fried fish tacos tonight, and I am not skimping. I may, however, go on a walk or something today, just as a gesture of good will towards my future thin self.

As much as all of this has been written in a playful manner, I am serious as heck. Oh, you’ll see. Watch out, Andrea. I’m coming for ya. 🙂

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

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So, the seasons are changing, the nights are getting colder, perhaps fires are being lit in your living room (or if you are super lucky, your bedroom) hearths. Your front step may show evidence of the fast approaching Halloween, little pumpkins waiting to be carved into smiles and grimaces. I even have a scarecrow this year! What better time, then, to bring up a subject that almost everyone loves to chime in on- GHOSTS! If you don’t have a story of your own, you definitely have heard plenty over the years, right?

My question to you is, do you believe in ghosts? Like, REALLY believe in them? My sincere hope is that everyone reading this will share their stories in the comments below, or on my Facebook page, because, on top of the fact that I LOVE to tell my own personal ghost story, I SO love hearing other people’s personal encounters with the paranormal. Now, I am going to tell you mine, and it is 100% true! If you don’t believe me, you can totally ask my mother, as she was there and lived through it, too. Some of her memories will be different than mine- this all started when I was eight years old- but I can promise you that it was an experience neither of us will ever forget.
So, when I was 8, my mother was pregnant with my brother, and we moved into a bigger house, a pretty nondescript, standard, home at 530 W. Dayton, in Fresno. It was a hideous mustard color, at least when we got there, but it had a huge backyard. Anyway, within our first few days there, the first thing happened, and it is the one that I am the most confident of all of. I was laying on my twin bed in my little room, and my mom and grandma had just walked out a few moments before. I was reading (of course), when suddenly, the top drawer of my dresser, right next to the bed, just slid open, all the way. Quickly, as if someone had yanked it, hard. I remember being SO terrified that I couldn’t scream- I opened my mouth to yell for my mom, and nothing came out. By the time I could make a sound, I felt quite wild and deranged. The women came running back in, and I told them what had happened, but I could tell they didn’t believe me.
Pretty soon, though, my mom and my step dad, and eventually, even my little brother, were quite aware that we were not living in that house alone. There was tons of regular poltergeist activity, ranging from footsteps in the hall, to glasses and dishes rattling in the cupboard, to entire boxes of cereal flying across the room. No Shit. The rocking chair would rock with no one in it, and no breeze to explain it, things would disappear and then show up in impossible places.
If that had been all of it, I think it would have been bearable. But it seemed to escalate, and the atmosphere in that house became truly unbearable. I don’t know how to explain it to you- if you have ever lived in a house with an unhappy spirit, you will know exactly what I mean…I was eleven, and I couldn’t be alone in that house. I would walk home from school, unlock the front door, and try to sit on the couch to watch TV. Most of the time, the feeling in that place was so oppressive, so terrifying, that I would wind up sitting on the front step until my parents got home. I couldn’t even be in there. You were never alone, and whatever lived there, unseen, did not want me there.
My mother was up late one night, and she heard my brother walking ( he was a toddler, then) down the hall towards her room. She was reading, and she didn’t look up until the footsteps stopped at the foot of her bed, and a strange voice said “Mama!”. Then, her head snapped up, and no one was there. My brother was asleep in his bed. Eventually, he refused to go into his room at night, screaming in terror, and pointing into the corners, hysterical. I will let my mom finish that story, though, because I don’t really remember it well.
We later learned, from our amazing neighbors, Jack and Hazel, who had lived there since the beginning of time, that a small child had died of Leukemia or something in our very house. So that explains the little footsteps we heard often, and the voice in my mom’s room. But I have always felt like there was something much older and more negative in that place than any lost little child’s soul could ever be. I will probably never know the whole story, since we moved many years ago…but I have always wondered if the people who lived there after us had any similar experiences.
I have had other things happen in my life, but that one was definitely the longest…and for sure, the scariest. So, How about you? Do you believe in Ghosts? And if so, why? Tell me your story! I am so excited, I can’t wait!
Happy Almost Halloween!

Everything That is Right With Me.

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I’m feeling rather chipper this afternoon, and thought I would sit down here for a second and write. Nothing special has happened, no great new career has fallen out of the sky and into my lap. I’m still chubby. My house is still kinda messy. I am still struggling with these goddamned cigarettes, goddammit.

But yesterday and today, I have really asked the Universe, or God, or whomever it is out there listening to me, to help me be okay with it- “it” being the many, many things that are, whether I have a hand in it, or any control over it, or not. Whatever “it” is, God, can you help me be okay with it? That is the big prayer I am sending up, day after day. And it seems like I am getting my answer.

Because every time that cruel, hypercritical, mean, awful voice in my head starts to verbally abuse me, another, WAY more believable voice says “NO.” This kinder voice shuts that mean voice DOWN. As I am pulling on my jeans, the mean voice goes “What the fuck, porky? Are you kidding me? ” And the kind voice goes “You are beautiful. It’s fine. Go take your walk, enjoy your life.” And the mean voice, it just sort of fades away.

I think to myself “I should really put some make up on before I go outside.”  And this gentle voice pipes up, before the mean voice even has a chance- “Look at yourself. There is nothing you need to cover up…get out there and take in the afternoon.” (in case you are confused, yes, there are three voices happening here- Me, the mean voice and the kind voice. If you can’t grasp that, you are probably a man. So go hug your girlfriend, because she is probably having a hell of a time with HER voices.)

Do you guys have any idea how wonderful it feels to have someone sticking up for me? I mean, even if it is just me, it’s about damn time. Because let me tell you something- I am a pretty good person. I love my kids, I show up every day, I try like hell to do the best I can. I am nearly forty, and my life sure doesn’t look the way I thought it would, but it’s a good life. I am making the most of it, or at least trying to. I sure the heck don’t appreciate this critical voice that no one else hears busting my balls twenty four hours a day. I am tired of it. I am sure I am not alone.

So you know what? I took my walk, without any makeup, and I had a wonderful time. My dogs were thrilled, and no one stopped their car to point at me and laugh. I saw woodpeckers and Monarchs, and stretched my legs, cleared my head.

I have spent years and years beating myself up for my shortcomings- I am far harder on myself than I would ever be on anyone else. That needs to stop…because I am lovely (said the kind voice.)