Posted in adventure, Dreams, escape, Goals, Learning, Life, Musings, People, travel

Finally, Boston

George Washington in Boston Public Gardens

It seems crazy that it’s almost been a week since I’ve been home. The funny thing about travelling is that it takes up your mind for so long after you get back. Not to mention how strange it is to have this momentous event in your life and then, suddenly, you are right back in the middle of your normal life, trying to get back in your groove. Maybe seasoned travelers don’t go through that, I don’t know. But for me, it’s been really weird.

On the third full day of our trip, we decided to go to Boston. I am not a big fan of cities, but it did seem like something that I shouldn’t miss, seeing as how I was going to be so nearby. So when my friend Alicia said she wanted to see Boston, I agreed. Boy, am I glad I did. We parked our rental car in a giant garage and took the train into the city. Honestly, for me, this was one of the coolest things ever. I don’t take trains, ever, so I just felt very sophisticated, even if it was kind of nerve wracking trying to figure out how to buy a ticket and which train to get on. Lucky for us, there were no lines and there were signs everywhere that said exactly which train went where. We hopped on with no trouble, and took the fifteen minute ride to the government center stop.

We wanted to walk the Freedom Trail, so we struggled for a minute to figure out where, exactly, that was. I told her to ask the guy dressed in period clothing in the Starbucks where we should go, but she chickened out, so…we were on our own. Luckily for us, it was not hard to find, as it is literally painted and bricked into the ground, so, after chugging down a familiar latte (I swear to God, there are Dunkin Donuts on every corner, but the Starbucks are few and far between) we quickly found our path. But before we could go more than a block, we stumbled across yet another amazing cemetery, and of course I had to go in. This one was tiny, wedged between buildings in the middle of the city, but WOW. King’s Chapel and Burying Grounds is beautiful. We wandered through, reading all the information, and I snapped a few pictures. Then we went inside King’s Chapel, and let me tell you- they don’t make churches like that anymore. The pews were like booths with doors, and from what I understand, you had to buy them? Maybe I’m not getting that right, but there were many placards describing the men who owned them, so…You’ll have to forgive me, I was very, very tired on this final day, and it’s all kind of a blur.

King’s Chapel Burying Ground
Kings Chapel burying ground
Kings Chapel
A typical example of the awesome headstones in New England

After that, we found ourselves at the State House, the site of the Boston Massacre, among other things. The museum inside was well worth the ten bucks, and we really took our time checking it out. I can’t emphasize enough how mind-blowing it was to read about the very early history of the country as we know it while standing in the places where history was made. It kinda…well, it gave me a bit of an emotional moment, honestly. It was just very cool. I’ve been much more interested in American History since I’ve been home, wanting to know more about how those days and years played out.

The State House

From there, we ran through Faneuil Hall, then made our way tiredly to Paul Revere’s old house. Very crowded, but so, so neat! I didn’t take any pictures because it was forbidden, but did you know that Paul Revere had 16 children? Yeah, me neither. Another thing- you can’t walk through that place without the words “The British are coming!” playing on a loop inside your head. It’s impossible.

After Paul’s house, we walked back to the Government Center, which by the way, passes right through what has got to be Boston’s Little Italy-I can’t believe I wasn’t hungry enough to try a legit cannoli. I’m still mad at myself. Anyway, we took an Uber from there to Cheer’s- not my idea, by the way, but…once you see it, it does cause a little nostalgic thrill. For people my age who grew up watching the show, it doesn’t suck. The inside looks nothing like the bar on TV, but so what? I had my Shirley Temple at the bar, and felt like I’d done something cool. Cheer’s is right across the street from the Boston Public Garden, so we strolled around there for a few. They have some serious squirrels in Boston, let me tell you. Fatter and far more spry than any I’ve seen here in California, there were so many of them that it started to give me the creeps. If they ever decide to organize, Bostonians will be in trouble.

Cheers! Or, the Bull & Finch, I guess.

Our final destination on our quick jaunt through Boston was the Museum of Fine Arts, and I am SO glad we went. My one regret is getting there at 3, just two hours before they closed, because you could truly spend an entire day in there. As it was, we saw a good portion, but we had to rush, which wasn’t the best. I was so excited to see Monet’s work in real life, but you know what? That wasn’t even close to my favorite. I loved the Egyptian display- it was thrilling to see things so old and so well preserved- and the Greek sculptures. There was so much more that I wanted to linger over- stained glass and fabulous paintings by who even knows who. My brain was just overwhelmed with the quality of the things in that museum. I learned another thing about myself on this trip-I REALLY love museums! I kind of knew that already, but living in a small town with just a few little museums, it’s hard to comprehend what a large museum is able to show to you. Unbelievable!

Just a few of the amazing sights at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

After a slow ride back in another Uber, through terrible rush hour traffic, our driver deposited us safely back at Faneuil Hall so that we could grab a few last minute gifts before catching the train back to our car.

The thing you learn on your first trip somewhere is how to spend your next trip there, right? I know now to never visit Salem in October, and that if I ever go back, I should give myself a few more days to spend on the things I love- namely, museums and exploring the little towns along the coast. But there are so many places I still want to see, not only in my own country, but in the world- who knows if I’ll ever make it back there? Seriously, though…I have a strong feeling that I will.

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Posted in adventure, escape, fun, Goals, Holidays, Learning, Life, People, travel

Salem (My Trip, Part 1)

salem
Not my photo. I was not in the sky on this trip.

I’ve been home less than 24 hours, and I’m not (very) ashamed to tell you that I am still wearing the clothes I flew home in. In my defense, I wore stretch pants and a t-shirt, so they are kinda like pajamas anyway, PLUS…oh dear lord, I was so tired when I got home that I felt kind of drunk. We got up at 3 in the morning, which would be 12 midnight here, so that we could catch our flight on time, so the long and short of it is…I am all kinds of screwed up right now. It’s barely 4 a.m. and I’ve already been up for an hour. I have no experience with jet lag or time zone weirdness, but I’m learning fast. I got home yesterday, handed out gifts, hugged my children, ate some food, and passed out. I meant to shower and change, but I slipped into a coma instead, and that was that.

I’m going to break this down into three posts, since each segment was such a totally different experience, and I thought I’d start at day one- Friday- which was my first little taste of Salem. Little did I know it would be the most sane part of my visit to that particular town. Anyway, we flew into Logan, grabbed our rental car- I was expecting a Jetta, but apparently, a Charger is about the same thing (NOT), and either way, that’s what we got. My dear friend Alicia volunteered to drive, thank God, and we headed out of Boston to Peabody (pronounced Pee-biddy, apparently) where our lodgings were. After dumping our stuff, we hightailed it toward Salem, in search of food. Along our route into town, we saw a place called Kings, advertising the best roast beef sandwiches AND lobster (lobstah) rolls- two things I wanted to check off my list. Let Me Tell You Something!! That lobstah roll was good, no doubt, but the roast beef sandwiches on the east coast?! Holy smokes! I will be dreaming about that super thin, super rare, tender, delicious beef for years to come. Oh man. SO good! You know that feeling of disappointment when you realize you are going to be too full to finish your dinner? That happened. But the super friendly guys running the place wrapped it up for me, and I was able to have a little midnight snack later. It was still delicious the next day.

Best roast beef EVER!

Oh, that’s another thing I don’t want to forget to mention- the people we met, and I mean almost without exception, were the friendliest, chattiest, funniest, warmest people I’ve ever run into. I was in seventh heaven, as my chatty game is on point. I felt like I’d found my people. Anyway, onto Salem…

I do not know this man, but proof that people are extra friendly!

So, on Friday night, we made it into downtown Salem just in time for the end of the night market- I think this is a thing they do only in October. There were booths selling all sorts of Halloween or dark-themed items, and we wandered around, noting stores we wanted to return to the following day. We didn’t stay too long- it was already past nine and we wanted to be well rested for the next day, so we were in and out, after some oohing and ahhing over the amazing architecture and cobbled streets.

First evening in Salem

Saturday morning, we decided to Uber into Salem since we were worried about parking. The plan was to get there, Uber back in the afternoon, and then head back over in the evening for a ghost/history tour. What ended up happening, however, is that we decided to stay, from like 11 in the morning until around 10 at night.

Everyone said it was busy in Salem in October. I am not pretending like we were not forewarned. But “busy” isn’t exactly the right word for what we experienced. “Pandemonium” would be better, or “utter fucking chaos” even. It was intense. We couldn’t get into the restaurant we wanted to eat at, we couldn’t find a place to go to the bathroom, we couldn’t get into any of the stores we wanted to shop at. I mean, we could have done all of these things, but only if we wanted to wait in line for at least 30 minutes for each thing. I am not even remotely exaggerating. Even the stores had bouncers outside, letting in small amounts of people at a time. It was crazy.

A small taste of the insanity

Even so, we did have a good time. We had lunch at the Howling Wolf Taqueria, and I tried deep fried avocado for the first time. I promise you, it will not be the last. The service was great, and the atmosphere was happy and fun. We got to see the graveyard where the “hanging judge” John Hathorne is buried, and the graveyards back east are not to be missed.  I tried real hot apple cider and cider donuts, I drooled over the houses and the history and the greenery away from the crowds, and a few times, I managed to lose myself in the merriment of it all.

One saving grace of the day was the Peabody Essex Museum. Not only did it have the most amazing Maritime exhibit I have ever seen- and the east coast has an awe-inspiring maritime history,  let me be clear about that! But-and this is important-for the price of admission, you can come in and out all day, using their clean and uncrowded bathroom as many times as you please. I loved that place.

Stuff from the Peabody Essex Museum

Alas, the museum closed at 5, leaving us to wander the streets like pitiful, tired zombies until our pre-paid ghost tour at 8. So we wandered over to the Salem Commons, and I am so glad we did. We found a tree to park ourselves under and sat and watched the carnival on the periphery, and closer, families playing, and the big trees bursting with fall color. That was a happy moment. We wandered the side streets a little more, taking pictures of houses, and then made our way back into the fray, being swept along by the crowd, which showed no sign of thinning anytime soon. I saw the Bewitched statue, and managed to elbow my way into a store and buy hoodies for my kids. And finally, FINALLY, it was time for our tour. At this point, I had already clocked about double my normal amount of steps on my Fitbit, and I was tired enough to cry, but…

The walking tour was MAGICAL. Seriously, if they offer a walking tour in a town you are visiting, you should take it. You learn so much. Every time I have ever taken one, I’ve been so happy I did. This one was extra cool, though. I wish I could remember the name of the one we did- there are many to choose from in Salem- and I will definitely be doing some research to find out, as I want to give a good review on trip advisor or something. Anyway, our tour guide was a young woman and practicing witch, and she led us through town, telling us all about the history and the legends of Salem. Even as tired as I was, I could have kept going for twice as long just to hear more.

In the end, we made it back to the hotel in one piece, exhausted and definitely overwhelmed by our October Salem experience. I would definitely go back, no question about it. But not in October. No freaking way. That being said…I’m still, oddly, very happy that I had that experience. It was wonderful. I bet it would be even more wonderful in, say, June. Ha-ha!

To see all the pictures from my trip, follow or visit me on Instagram at : https://instagram.com/courtneyloreanneduncan

Posted in anxiety, Depression, health, inner peace, Learning, Life, Mental Health, Musings

CBD’s So Far, and also, my house may be a vortex of evil.

cbd

Okay, so here we go. In my last post, I told you how I was sick to death of struggling with my moods, and that I was going to see my therapist that day but that I was also going to try CBD, since everyone and their mother was talking about how great they are. Well, I did all of those things- I went to my therapist, I cried a lot, I told the truth, and she was eager to hook me up with someone to talk about medication (as if there were ever any doubt that she would be anything less- she’s been encouraging this for as long as I’ve been seeing her. Not in a bad way, though, she never pressured me. Just for the record).

After I left her office, I drove straight to the dispensary- one of quite a few in my neck of the woods- and I found myself feeling a little self-conscious about walking in. It was just really weird, me being in recovery and all, to be strolling into a store filled with weed. I felt I was skulking more than strolling in, to be honest. Anyway, I felt a lot more comfortable after I was safely inside. I actually didn’t see any weed, but of course, I wasn’t looking for it. I did, however, smell it. That didn’t bother me at all- I love the smell of pot, I just hate how it makes me feel. It was set up like a fancy boutique, and the employees were all young and in uniform, with little Ipads and shit. It was like Verizon, only edgier. And you leave feeling happier instead of wondering what the fuck just happened…or at least, I did.

I explained to the girl who was assigned to me what I was looking for, and that I absolutely wanted NO THC AT ALL. I was very clear about this- perhaps alarmingly so. Anyway, she directed me to a tin of gummies, which was the only thing they had with 0 THC, so, because I didn’t want to have to go anywhere else, I just went ahead and bought them. As she rang me up, she reassured me that I would not get high from these, even if I ate them all at one time. I was very nervous.

I was so nervous that, when I got home, I only ate half of one. I wanted to make sure nothing happened. Nothing happened. So, right before bed, I ate one whole one and went to sleep. I can’t be sure that nothing happened since I was sleeping, but I’m pretty sure nothing happened then, either. One thing I can tell you for sure is that those little bastards taste incredible! I got pineapple-coconut gummies, and they were so delicious, it was hard not to just eat them by the handful. But they were very expensive, so that made it easier.

Anyway, Saturday I drove over to see my mom, which was about 3 or so hours away. When I got there, we were outside with my daughter and nephew, watching them play, and I decided to try a whole one during the day to see how it was…I didn’t have to be anywhere, and so, I ate one and my mom ate one, and I forgot all about it. About an hour later, I realized that I just felt…relaxed. I didn’t feel weird in any way, or…it’s hard to explain. There was no extra feeling of anything, it was more of an absence of negative feelings, if that makes sense. I just felt normal. I then got really excited, and ran to the bathroom door (my mom was in there getting ready) and started yelling through the door asking her how she felt. She confirmed that she felt the exact same way- just really normal, not anxious or stressed at all. Just fine.

So, I have been eating one here and there ever since. There is no noticeable added effect, like I said, it is more just the absence of negative feelings. I don’t feel as anxious (or anxious at all, really) and I don’t feel depressed, I just feel regular. Which is kind of a big deal, but…I am also a really gullible little person. A placebo would TOTALLY work on me, I’m pretty sure. So, is this real? Or am I imagining it? I’ve come to the conclusion that it really doesn’t matter, does it? If I think it’s working, then it kind of is working, whether it’s technically doing something or not. And if it doesn’t hurt anyone, and it doesn’t have any adverse effects, what’s the harm?

That being said, after spending a lovely day with my mom, nephew and daughter, spending the night, meeting up with more family for breakfast and then driving home…I realized that the minute I got home, I started feeling like shit again. My body started aching, I felt tired and unmotivated. I found myself sitting here, unable to get anything I needed to do done. I ALWAYS feel like this when I am in this house. I wondered, not for the first time, if this house is just filled to the brim with negative energy. Like, do I need to have it blessed? What the hell is going on here?

I have saged it about a hundred times, but maybe I’m not doing it right, I don’t know. It seems like the minute I pull out of my driveway I feel better, and the minute I walk in, my spirits plummet. So, it seems reasonable to deduce that this house is a vortex of evil, don’t you think? Maybe I should sprinkle all the corners with CBD. Nah…too expensive. I’ll figure something else out.

 

Posted in Addiction, anxiety, Depression, health, inner peace, Learning, Life, meditation, Mental Health, Musings, People, recovery, women

Real, for Real

feel better

Over the past while, for whatever reason, I have noticed my tendency to…sort of be disingenuous a little bit in my writing. I am giving the truth, but maybe not the whole truth, and I don’t know why that is. I think part of it is that I’ve wanted so badly to feel like I am exercising some control over the way I am feeling in my life, and so I will try this thing, and that thing, in an effort to feel better. For example, changing my diet, exercising regularly, meditation, mindfulness- and all of these things are WONDERFUL things, don’t get me wrong! All of them work, too…to a certain degree. And I’ve wanted so badly for them to work, I get so excited when, for a week or two, or maybe even a month, I can do everything perfectly and things seem to be looking up- I am quick to sing the praises of all of these things as a solution, but…the sad truth is, it’s really, really hard to do all of these things consistently forever! And the even sadder truth is, I am finding that even when I am pretty damn consistent, there is still a huge gap between how I AM feeling and how I WANT to feel. I haven’t missed a day of meditation in almost three months, and yet…I am struggling terribly with my mood. I am painfully aware of it, thanks to being so goddamn mindful, but I can’t seem to work through it, accept it, or just allow it…I don’t want to allow that. Why would anyone?!

Oddly enough, it was my little experiment this past week- let’s see if I can go 24 hours without yelling, remember? That pushed me into reevaluating my situation. The fact of the matter is, I couldn’t do it. I tried really hard, but I found myself doing okay the first day, and utterly failing on the second and third day. The yelling, though- I know this is just a symptom of a bigger issue, and that issue is that I am constantly battling with low level depression, an onslaught of negative thoughts about myself, and just generally clinging to a shred of debris that keeps my head above water. The tricky thing is that I don’t feel like this every single day- some days I feel great, and when that is true it’s hard to imagine that I ever feel so badly. But I’m here, right now, telling you that I do. More and more often lately, I feel far less than good. I used to have lots of good days punctuated by spells of shitty ones. Now it seems like the opposite is true. And I am out of tricks. The vitamins, the clean eating, the exercise, the meditation, the journaling- it just isn’t enough. And I refuse to live this way. I will not subject my child or anyone else I love to my bullshit behavior anymore- I got clean because I didn’t like myself, I am sure as shit not going to be a sober person who is still an asshole.  And listen, I am not just being mean to myself. I realize that I can’t really control my behavior- there is something wrong, and that isn’t my fault. Just like the fact that I am an addict is not my fault. But, just like my addiction- it is MY RESPONSIBILITY to fix it.

Yesterday morning, I made a decision. I have an appointment with my therapist today, and I am going to talk to her about getting an appointment with a psychiatrist, because it is finally time to discuss getting on some medication. I have tried for almost three and half years to fix myself, and if I am being 100% honest, I haven’t gotten very far. Lots of things in my life have gotten better, but the way I FEEL has not. I am less frantic, maybe, and able to be more calm, but this is just the benefit of not ingesting a metric ton of methamphetamine, I’m sure. The way I feel is still suffering. And, though I am really nervous about taking a prescription drug- I’m worried that I could feel worse, or have weird side effects, or gain weight- I’m more worried about the fact that there might be a solution and I’m over here just struggling every day for no reason. So I am going to start that ball rolling today.

This morning, I made another decision, and this is a big one- I decided that, because I know it will be weeks until I can see a psychiatrist, and I want to start feeling better yesterday, I am going to try CBD. I have been doing a lot of research about it, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, so why not give it a shot? If I can find something natural, with no side effects, that will work? Hell, that sounds great to me. My hope is that it will work so well that by the time I get in to see a prescribing doctor, I won’t need a prescription anymore.

I would really love to hear about anyone else’s experience with CBD- and remember, this is the NON THC version I am talking about. Not only am I in recovery, but I HATE the way being high feels. A funny thing for an addict to say, I know, but no thank you. Not my kind of high, anyway. Have you tried CBD? Did it help? Do you know anyone who has tried it and liked it? Tell me EVERYTHING. I will be visiting the dispensary today, so hurry up. And for the love of God, have a good day, will you? The world needs all the happiness it can get.

Posted in adventure, Goals, Learning, Life, living, Musings, People, random, recovery

Restless Feelings

It feels like I return, over and over again, to these restless feelings- like I carry them around with me always, only sometimes, I can hide them for a while by throwing myself into something new and interesting. Most recently, those things have been working on my novel and learning the tarot. Over the past several years, I have run from the restlessness by focusing on recovery, educating myself about nutrition and exercise, trying to quit smoking…repeatedly, and binge watching seven million shows on Netflix. Social media and outrage over politics have also been a band-aid I have used.

Some of these things have been more beneficial than others, obviously. But in the long run, none of them have been able to satisfy what is ultimately a much deeper issue- I am not living the life that my heart wants to live. I have this great career, but it is not the right career for me, and I KNOW this, but I am terrified of what comes after that knowing. I don’t want to sacrifice all of this comfort and security for some unknown thing…and that’s the even bigger problem. I know I’m not living the life I want to live, but I have no idea what it is that I DO want.

There are little flashes of insight, of course. Ultimately, I would love to just be able to write full time, but I don’t think that is the next step. If I am just going on what my intuition has to say, I can tell you that that might be down the road a ways, but it is not next. I feel pretty strongly that I am supposed to go back to school, and at the age of 43, this seems very daunting. I have a lot of friends around my age who are in school now, and the amount of stress they are constantly venting on Facebook is enough to give me serious pause- like, is that what I really want?

If it is what I want, I have the support of my boss and my employer to do so. They have already told me they are willing to accommodate my schedule (to a point) so that I could go back to school, without losing my benefits. The only problem with this is that I would still be working nearly full time, which means I would have to take less classes, meaning I would probably be in school for MUCH longer. And again, at my age, how long do I want to drag out the schooling thing? And how much time would that mean I would miss with my daughter?

There are so many questions, so many unknowns. Perhaps I am just trying to know too much all at once. I have always liked to know everything that was coming down the pike before I committed to something. I’m not sure I can do that in this situation. I think I might have to begin first, and learn as I go.

I don’t know. I don’t know nearly enough. And yet…I really feel strongly that I need to get started on whatever is next. I feel like it is time. I’ll let you know what I come up with, as soon as I come up with something.

Posted in beauty, Blogging, inner peace, Learning, Life, love, meditation, Mental Health, mindfulness, Musings, People

A Tiny Little Revolution

alan-cohen
courtesy of Alan Cohen. Thanks, mister.

Let me describe my day for you: I woke up at four a.m. and poured myself a cup of fresh, strong french roast coffee, fixing it so that it was creamy and sweet, just the way I like it. I sat out on my front porch and sipped it, listening to the crazy birds singing in the trees- yep, they are singing away even at that hour.

After I had my fill of the quiet and the not-so-quiet, after I had seen enough of the tiny little crescent moon, I came inside and said good morning to both my beautiful black kitties and my sweet black lab. I sat down at my computer and worked through a few lessons on the tarot course I am taking, pausing often to take copious notes. I read through a little of my work in progress. I had some more coffee. I read for a little while.

When the sky started to lighten up outside, I lit my candles and my incense, I got my cushion, and I sat down on the floor to pray and meditate. When I was done, I stretched lazily, grabbed my book, and poured myself a very hot, very bubbly bath. I stayed in there reading until my fingertips did not look much like fingertips anymore. I threw on my bathrobe and jumped back in bed, snoozing for another hour, give or take.

After Camryn woke up, we threw on whatever clothes looked decent enough, and Lucy (the lab), Camryn and I jumped into the car and headed to the beach. We walked and walked, finally stopping at the rocky end, where we lingered for a while, picking up shells, and standing in the gentle, icy water, while seaweed wrapped around our legs. Camryn saw a cairn and asked what it was, and I explained to her that people built one in memory, sometimes, of people they loved. She wanted to build one for my friend Joe, so we did. I was delighted that she thought of it.

On the way home, sandy and salty and filled with the calm of the ocean, we stopped at the best bakery on the peninsula and got a few croissants, a coffee for me, and a coke for her. I am sitting here now, at my desk, as the sun streams through my window, writing this to you. I don’t know how to adequately describe to you the peace inside my heart, the calm assurance, the gratitude. It is at once enormous, and completely, perfectly, normal.

I wrote recently about the shift that occurred for me, the way that I was suddenly able to see my body as something more than just some object to be admired, or, more upsetting, to be judged harshly by the eyes of others- and even more harshly by ME. Suddenly, I saw my body as the vehicle for my soul, perfect even with its imperfections, perfectly functional, ever faithful, strong as could be. From that moment forward, there has been an almost comical domino-effect of changes happening, one after the other. I don’t know the words one would use to describe something like this, and right now I don’t even want to try to find them, but suffice to say…things are…I am…changing on a fundamental level. Some deep, deep shit is just resolving itself. I am just over here, watching it happen. Enjoying it.

So what does that mean? Well, it means that I am pausing, all the time, to search for that feeling of connection to the energy that is just pulling me along, when I am open. It means I have stopped saying anything demeaning to myself, about my appearance, or any other facet of my being. It means I do weird stuff, like close my eyes and feel the sun on my face, and the wind, and smile because I am not worrying about tomorrow or yesterday, I am here, now. It means I don’t always know where my phone is anymore, because I don’t care. It means I am not tracking my food, obsessing over calories, or beating myself up for not being driven enough to work out regularly. Consequently, food tastes MUCH better without the extra guilt sauce, and I have gotten more walking in than I have in months.

I’ve decided to leave myself alone, for once. Just simply live and enjoy my life without the guilt and she really should’s and shouldn’t s. It’s so easy, and so simple, and so kind…and yet it FEELS revolutionary, to me. My own quiet little revolution. A little love affair with myself. How perfect. And now, I’m going to read my book and take another nap. Enjoy your day!

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

The Best Thing I Ever Did

everything

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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