Posted in Blogging, fitness, Goals, health, housekeeping, Life, mindfulness, People, random, Weight Loss

March 31st

goodbye march

Another month in the books already? Wow! I can’t believe it’s nearly April, and then on the other hand, I can’t believe we’re only heading into the fourth month of the year. What a crazy few months it has been for me! 2018 so far has been the most intentional year I have had in recent memory. I know it has a lot to do with me blogging. This little act of sitting down here to write about my life regularly helps so much to keep me focused and on top of things. It’s like magic.

Did you know that I haven’t had a dirty dish in my sink in well over a week? My landlady finally came over yesterday, and she thought the house and yard looked good- all of that stress and worry, for what? In the end, I pulled it together, like I needed to. And it’s not just the sink that’s stayed clean- I’ve devoted some time every day to picking things up and doing tasks that need to be done, and the end result is a home I am much more comfortable living in. Should someone drop by, I wouldn’t be mortified, or suddenly aware of how messy my house is. I would be proud of my home- something that is definitely new for me. One down side to all this neatness, though, is how crazy I get when Cam drops wrappers casually on the floor, or leaves her clothes in a puddle in the bathroom. Suddenly, these things make me very angry- “Don’t you see how hard I’ve been working around here?” I’ll snap, “Go pick that stuff up!” Poor thing. She’s never learned any good habits because I never showed her the way. I need to be patient, not one of my inherent qualities. Eh, I’ll get there. We both will.

As exciting as me droning on about my housekeeping habits probably is for you, I’d like to move on to something else now. As you may have gathered from other posts, I really like to be working on things in my life- the way I live, the way I am, the way I operate. It keeps me interested, and it keeps me motivated. Today is the last day of my (mostly) meatless March, and I don’t have any idea if I will go back to eating meat or not. It was REALLY easy, for the most part, not to eat meat. And to be honest with you, the thought of eating it now kinda grosses me out. I can’t even believe I am saying that, but it’s the truth. I did eat refried beans twice, forgetting that they are made with lard, and that baked potato dip with bacon bits in it (I didn’t realize it until I had already eaten half and then ate the other half anyway). Either way, going without meat was not hard, but I learned you can still eat pretty terribly without any meat at all. Which brings me to my goal for the next month:

Move Your Ass April! I have gone to the gym only TWO times in March. Not only does that mean I will have to pay full price for my March gym membership (if I go ten times per month, my work pays half of my fees) but to be honest, I don’t feel that great. I don’t know about you, but the less I exercise, the less I want to exercise, and the slower and more sluggish I begin to feel. So, for the month of April, I am committing to my original goal of going to the gym 3 times per week, and hitting my step goal 6 out of 7 days per week. I would say every day, but there is inevitably one day where I just can’t do it. I am also going to concentrate on eating sensibly, since I majorly fell off that wagon this month, and keeping track of my calories. Do I want to lose weight? Yeah, of course I do. But more than that, I want to feel good about myself. My house being neat makes me feel good. Exercise and eating right, both make me feel good. To be honest with you, everything I do is an effort to feel good. It’s kind of my favorite thing.

In closing, I will say this- I know for sure that nothing like perfect balance is ever going to happen. Not in my life, or in anyone’s life. That just isn’t a thing. The best we all can do is strive to do the best we can on any given day. Despite all the struggles and ups and downs I so readily admit to, my life is good. And it’s good because I never stop working on it, no matter how hard it might be at the time, no matter how ill prepared I might feel. This is the only life I have, and I’ve decided that I want to get the most out of it that I can. Starting exactly where I am at.

 

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Posted in Addiction, Depression, Goals, health, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, recovery

The Upswing

the upswing
Picture found via google images- I wish I knew who to credit!

Last week, I struggled through some uncomfortable and unwelcome feelings. I wrote about them, the way I write about everything, and I said I knew that what I was going through was just part of life, and that I would feel better soon, the way I always do. But the truth is, every single time I go through those down times, I worry that I am going to get stuck there and that I will feel that way for a long time. Maybe forever. I don’t know why I think that however I am feeling at any given moment is how I always feel, and will always feel, but I do tend to believe this on a certain level. It’s weird. I think I should know myself better by now, but I do need to remember that I am not quite three in recovery years, so I am still figuring out how to operate this life and this person.

One thing I have learned is that I do need to wallow a little bit when I am down. I think everyone probably needs to honor themselves in this way- rather than just power through and act like everything is peachy, go ahead and lay around for a day or two. Spend an entire day watching movies On-Demand, refuse to participate in anything taxing- be that a trip to the beach or a trip to the bathtub, you decide what works for you. Just treat yourself like the unwell creature you are, why not? It might not be the flu, but it’s still a valid thing, that mental bullshit we go through. But I do encourage you to put a timer on this wallowing. We cannot wallow for too long, or it can turn into something else. Something bigger and uglier and much harder to control- at least, that is my fear. I have been legitimately depressed a time or two, and I have a healthy fear of it. I’m pretty sure that if depression were coming for me, there wouldn’t be much I could do to avoid it- it’s a chemical imbalance, obviously, and it happens to people who are doing all the right things, all the time. For me, however, a person who lives entirely too much in her head, I know that my attitude has a lot to do with how I feel. So, I allow myself a brief reprieve, and then I mobilize.

Once I have thoroughly assessed my situation via the wallow, I go into my Handling Business mode. This phase is not the easiest to prod myself into, but once I get started, it’s on like Donkey Kong (do people even say that anymore?). Friday, I decided that it was time to get my shit together, and yesterday was Handling Business day. I went to the gym. I got my eyebrows done (they look amazing, by the way. Seriously, I took a picture of them to show the next girl who does them because I want them to always look this good.) and went grocery shopping, stocking up on healthy foods for the week. I did three loads of laundry, including folding and putting away. I cleaned my kitchen, and my living room, and still managed to take a nice, long, hot bath…I even shaved my legs. That may not sound like a lot to you, but you would think differently if you had seen my kitchen. The stove top alone needed like 30 minutes of attention with a Magic Eraser.

During the wallow, I realized that in just a few short months, I will be turning 43 years old. This past year has been one of my personal best. I have stayed clean, and done so much work on myself. In the past three years, I have gone from total chaos and dysfunction to mostly-pretty-normal with occasional bouts of low grade chaos. I count that as a win. But there is always more to strive for, and I enjoy re-assessing my situation and figuring out where I want to go next. I have my writing habits pretty dialed in at this point, and I plan to keep on going with that. My fitness goals kind of got swallowed up (pun unintentional) over the past month, though, and I am going to get back to that. I’ve decided I want to see a significant change in my habits (honestly, I’d like to see a significant change in my body, but I want to keep the focus on my health) by the time 43 rolls around.

So there you have it- Wallow over, Upswing initiated. There will be moments of both in the months ahead, but I have my eye on the prize. Now, I am off to find some blogs about fitness and eating healthy. I’m sure I’ll find one or two. 🙂

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, fun, health, humor, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, recovery, spirit, twelve step

Laughter

laughter

 

I gave up laughter for years.

I mean the good kind, the kind that rolls out of you uncontrollably, the kind that makes you double up, the kind that makes you cross your legs so you don’t pee your pants. The best kind- the laughter that comes out so hard that it makes no sound, just your big open mouth, your shaking shoulders. I can’t even think about that kind of laughter without smiling.

I gave it up, and I didn’t even realize it. Which is weird, because I love to laugh so much! I didn’t stop making other people laugh- I have always been really good at that, and it is an excellent way to distract people from what is wrong. When you can make people laugh, it’s easy for them to assume that you are okay, that you are happy, right? Happy people make other people laugh. I don’t think that is true at all. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I adore making people laugh, but…it’s a show you put on. A friendlier way than my other go-to of crazy anger to keep people at arms length. To keep them from asking too many questions, or seeing me too clearly. Deflect, distract, confuse. Another tool in my arsenal.

I don’t remember doing too much laughing myself. At least, not the good kind. The sad fact is, when you are deep in addiction, you don’t have much to laugh about. It’s not fun. It’s a life in survival mode, just barely keeping your head above water.Then, if you are lucky, and if you work really hard at it, you get clean and shit gets REALLY real. If you are doing step work and working with a sponsor, things come up. Feelings you didn’t feel ten years ago clamor to be felt. You deal with anxiety, remorse, shame, regret, depression, elation, joy, love, relief, exhaustion and peace. But what you might find little room for in your life, while dealing with all this other stuff, is silliness. And silliness is a big ingredient in laughter.

For me, at least, it was a long, long time before I stopped being so tense. I had been so on my guard for so long, so careful in the way that I lived my life out of fear of being found out, that it was a long while before I trusted myself to keep going. Believe me when I say that I am not some paragon of ease- I can’t see that ever happening. I am a little tightly wound, as friends and family will attest. Lately, though, I have found myself able to breathe. To be in the moment, to let go, to have fun.

And I have been laughing so much. So much that it has caught my attention several times over the past few weeks. My little daughter, the one I am with the most, has noticed too. She’s the one I’ve been cracking up with the most, and it’s like some kind of medicine, I swear. We laughed our way through Target the other night, being silly as hell, and causing people to stare at us as we giggled and swerved our cart through the aisles. I am not lying when I say that several children looked at us with longing, wishing they were having as much fun as we were.

We’ve been laughing in the car, and laughing in our house, laughing in the morning when I wake her up, and laughing while we brush our teeth. We almost died laughing during a dance off we had in the living room the other night.

I’ve been laughing at work, and laughing in meetings. Last night, at my critique group, it felt great to laugh with my writer friends about writer stuff. And yesterday, when I was complaining about my sudden acne outbreak and my friend asked me why I thought I was breaking out, I pointed to my face and said “Hemorrhoids” when what I meant to say, in fact, was “Hormones”. I literally almost peed my pants. Come on, that’s freaking hilarious.

I missed laughing so much. If you are just starting out on this journey, I promise you, the day will come when your heart and spirit have healed enough to let your guard down. You will trust yourself again, and you will find, without even realizing that it’s happened, you are whole. You will find that you can breathe again, you will find it easy to smile, and I promise you, you will laugh.

The good kind of laugh.

Posted in Blogging, family, Goals, health, kids, Life, reading

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!

Posted in Goals, health, Learning, Life, Mental Health, recovery, writing

Balance or Burn Out

low battery
Literally how I feel right now

13 days into the New Year, and already, I find myself having to give myself a stern little talking to this morning, after seeing how events have unfolded, particularly over the past week. I never really did go into what all of my goals for the year were, at least, not publicly, but loosely, they probably looked a lot like many others goals- eat thoughtfully. Get consistent exercise. You know, take care of myself in all the ways that matter to ME. I tried to be pretty specific, and even wrote out recurring appointments for myself in my planner.

My planner, which I haven’t so much as cracked open in at least the past seven days. You see, my BIG GOAL this year was to focus on writing- ALL things writing, which you have, if you pay any attention to my blog at all (and thanks, by the way, for doing that) probably noticed I have been doing quite a bit of. Anyway, writing was my big goal, and, as I do, I went whole hog into it. Not just blogging- that is more of a secondary interest for me, a way to connect with other writers- but my novel, which is coming along freaking brilliantly. I am not kidding, I am in LOVE with that project right now. I started the month by cutting three finished chapters (which, by the way, was basically like murdering family) that were really not working, and starting over. Best thing I ever did. I got the story rolling again, in a direction that fit much better, and I have really gotten into my writing groove.

Like, really really really gotten into it. To the point of exhaustion. Brutal, terrible, this-isn’t-good-at-all exhaustion. Combine that with my other big goal this year- to be CONNECTED with others (meaning, spend the time I am not writing basically socializing) and already, I found myself hitting a wall. Tuesday night, I ran my women’s meeting, got home, got to bed late. Wednesday, worked all day, got off work, went to an event (which I will tell you all about tomorrow) with a friend in Santa Cruz, got home late, went to bed even later. Thursday, I worked all day, got off work, went to work my other job for a little while, got home, met up with a friend that I am going on a trip with next fall so that we could start planning. Got to bed late again. Friday, I was sitting at my desk at work, and…I kind of lost it. I thought I was getting sick, but I KNEW I needed to lay down. I took the rest of the day off, went home, and didn’t get off the couch again for the rest of the night. Except for when I went to Taco Bell and bought one of everything on the menu. I left the couch for my bed at 7, and slept like the dead. I didn’t even wash my makeup off last night- I barely remembered to remove my bra. I just checked, and yes, I actually slept in my clothes.

I didn’t make it to the gym last week, not once. I ate terribly, at least one really bad meal every day. Oh, and I decided that waking up at five wasn’t early enough, by the way, so I have been getting up around 4:15. Look, you’d have to be blind not to see that a schedule like this is going to lead to burn out. Now, as I sit here in yesterday’s clothes, with yesterday’s mascara clinging to my eyelashes, I am having my come-to-Jesus moment. I can’t do this…not like this. I have to pull back a little bit.

Look- the concept of “balance” is kinda played out, I realize this. The idea of having a perfectly balanced life is utter bullshit. We are messy, fucked up little human beings, and we can’t even find our keys, we have kids who never have any idea where the hell their shoes are, and even when we can find our keys and their shoes, we get halfway to work and realize our coffee, their back pack, etc., is sitting on the kitchen table. Balance isn’t ever truly going to be achieved. It’s a myth. Once in a while, you are going to have a perfect day- enjoy it. That is not how life really is.

BUT: You (and I mean “I”, obviously, as well) do have to try to take care of yourself in the basic ways, the ways that fuel and tend to your body. And I have not been doing that, not by a long shot. I haven’t slept enough. I haven’t eaten right. I literally drank maybe two glasses of water all week. Now, I am paying for it. After all that sleep I just got, I could still crawl back into bed and sleep the day away.

So, what is the solution? Well, I am NOT going to allow myself to sleep all day, because that won’t help at all. What I will do, however, is drink some water today. Hit the gym. Pick up some groceries and make sure I have healthy options available this week. And I will get to bed at a decent hour tonight, knowing I will be right back at it at 4:15 tomorrow. It’s great to have goals, and drive, and I love the passion I have for my writing, but…what’s that saying about the marathon and the sprint? Yeah, it’s the longer one of those. Yawn.

Posted in Addiction, faith, friendship, Goals, health, inner peace, Life, living, Mental Health, People, recovery, spirituality, twelve step

Committed

committed
found on Pinterest

So, I walked into my Tuesday night women’s 12 step meeting uncharacteristically late, just as the group was trying to coerce one of the regular girls into being the Secretary. ( I just want to stop right here and let you know that it is so early right now, and I have had so little caffeine, that I have been unable to spell both “Commitment” and “Secretary”. That’s pretty bad.) Anyway, you could see that this poor girl was NOT into it, and as I rushed through the crowded room to my seat, I heard someone go “I’ll do it!”.

Apparently, it was me. If I could, I would insert an eye-rolling emoji right here. The current Secretary was stoked, they did not follow protocol and vote me in, and by the time my butt hit the chair, I found myself with a new service commitment (neither of these words are getting any easier for me, dammit.)

For those of you unfamiliar with 12 step recovery stuff, first of all- congrats on your normalcy, hahaha! Secondly, in every meeting there are certain service positions that must be held- treasurer, coffee maker, bigger meetings might have greeters, and there are other roles, too, but the secretary (ha! I did it on the first try that time!) runs the meeting. They show up early to set up, run the whole thing, then pack up everything at the end and shut it down. It’s not hard or scary or even unfamiliar to me- I’ve held this position two other times at this very meeting over the past several years.

But it is a big commitment. And I had no intention of signing up for anything when I left my house on Tuesday night. Yes, my darling sponsor told me months ago that I needed to find a position, but I ignored her, as one does when it is something one is not interested in. And I am busy. Overextended. I have my irons in too many fires. I am busy working, and writing and planning my two upcoming vacations, building this blog, and going to the gym, and…and…and…

And God had other plans for me when I walked into that meeting Tuesday night. AND I wouldn’t be so busy, would I, if I didn’t have this gift of recovery…right? I probably wouldn’t have my job, I certainly wouldn’t be planning any vacations, or going to the gym, or writing anything I was proud of.

Do you know that when I wrote out my list of resolutions this year, I committed to writing, to my meditation practice, to my home life, to caring for my body, to building my relationships with friends- but there was not one word written down about how I would commit to my recovery. It never even crossed my mind, and that is troubling. Because the person I am RIGHT NOW, this woman who I really like, I mean, I LOVE myself- I was created, at least in part, in that very room full of women. They let me cry, they listened to me go from a scattered, broken, angry, loud mess to someone so much better- admittedly, still pretty loud, but I’m a work in progress.

I guess it’s okay though, because my God has got me- he puts the words in my mouth so that I can blurt them out; “I’ll do it!”, and of course, I will. Every morning, I pray (so sorry if this makes you uncomfortable- it used to make me kinda wiggly too, when people started talking about God, and prayer. My best advice to you is just, you know, get over it. I’m not trying to convert you. This is just my deal. 🙂 ) for God’s will to be done in my life, rather than my own. He took me up on it this week, for sure.

I was remiss in not adding my recovery to the list of things I will commit to this year, for without it, I wouldn’t have anything else, and I know this to be true because I have lived it. When drugs are in my life, they are ALL that exists. My program saved me, gave me almost everything I needed to find my way out of the darkness, and showed me that there was still something good, something worth salvaging, inside of that darkness. I will commit to my recovery this year. It’s time to give back.

 

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, family, health, Holidays, inner peace, Life, living, Musings, People, recovery, relationships, spirit, twelve step

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.