Category Archives: Mental Health

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. 🙂

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Life on Life’s Terms

life on life's terms

 

 

I am having the hardest time ever with this post right now. This is the third blog I have started, and I am determined to finish this one, no matter how much I may hate it. Here’s the thing: I am having a shit time right now, for a number of reasons. None of them are big things, but a bunch of little things strung together, causing me stress and a general feeling of unease. I don’t feel comfortable with my life or in my body right now, and it’s bumming me out.

Here’s the thing, though. I understand that this is temporary, just like everything always is. My face has erupted like Mount Vesuvius, but…it is going to go back to normal. Eventually. I had a bunch of unexpected expenses come up all at once, but…they are going to be dealt with. Financial ruin is unlikely. I haven’t had time this week to buy groceries or get to the gym, and it sucks, but I will get back on track. It’s not the end of the world.

In my addict mind (and maybe in normal minds, too, I have no experience with living in one of those) everything is extremely black and white, all or nothing. Every time I get off track, I feel like I have failed utterly, and there will be no coming back for me. Which is ridiculous- I have millions of examples in my own life where that has not ever, not once, been the case. And yet, I persist with this wrong thinking. My mind often works against me, and it can be exhausting.

The solution? I believe it must be to just acknowledge that my wrong thoughts exist, be aware of that, and then work around them. Sometimes, I can think myself right into a corner, wedged so tightly that I can’t even move. Like, moving a muscle seems impossible, seriously. That is when I need to find the strength to haul my ass up anyway, and get some shit done. If I let myself sit in my mess for too long, that is when depression comes calling. And if you’ve ever dealt with depression, you know how hard that can be to get out of, and how scary it feels when it’s breathing down your neck. Inaction is not my friend in this situation.

I keep thinking about how, four days ago, I wrote a post about laughter, and how weird it may seem to any attentive readers that I am now writing about something quite the opposite of that. Maybe you will think I am nuts…hell, maybe I am. But here’s the thing- life doesn’t care how great I felt last week. Life just shows up, and does what it does. What I have learned in recovery is that I am supposed to be living life on life’s terms, meaning I deal with what life serves up, to the best of my ability, without taking anything to change the way I feel. This is harder than it sounds sometimes. Not the part where I don’t take anything, I’ve grown used to that. It’s the part where I cope with it well that eludes me sometimes.

I get nervous. I get scared. I feel like a lot of people depend on me, and I don’t know if I am up to the task. I retreat. I close up. I shut down.

But I always, always, always (so far) pull it together in the end. I always find a way to come out the other side of my feelings intact. I have a 100% success rate so far of not destroying my life completely, as long as I stay clean. I may not be feeling my best today, but tomorrow…who knows? Hell, later today I might feel better. You just never know. My job is just to hang in there, do my best, and wait for things to change. Because they always do, for better or worse.

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.

Is This My Life Now?

insomnia
Literally me

Something you may not know about me is that I am, like, a PRO sleeper. What I don’t mean is that I am someone who is for sleeping- I mean, of course I am, who isn’t? What I do mean is that I am very, very good at it. Or, at least, I always have been until recently. I’m still really good at falling asleep, but…staying asleep? That has become somewhat of an issue.

Last night, for instance, my eyes popped open, hoping it was time to get up. I looked at the clock and groaned in dismay- it was dead-on midnight. 12 on the dot. Nope, not yet. I closed my eyes and fell asleep again, only to repeat this scenario two and half hours later. This time, I turned on the TV (sleep timers are the best!) and let Bob’s Burgers lull me back to sleep. It worked. Well, for like an hour, anyway.

At 3:30, I waved the white flag of surrender, and just said FINE. For three out of the past four days, I have found myself up at what is, for all intents and purposes, the middle of the freaking night. I mean, I have always loved to be up early- my alarm is now set for 4:30, which is still pretty insane, but it gives me the time I need to write daily, and meditate. But 3 in the morning? Give me a break.

frog

I’m not sure what is happening. I’ve tried staying up later (well, nine is like super late for me) but that hasn’t helped. On Sunday, I passed out at 6:30 in the evening (this may have been related to a chimichanga overdose) and I know for sure that going to bed that early isn’t helpful. I drink way too much coffee, that is a fact- but so would you if you were up at three every morning! Also, I don’t drink regular coffee. The coffee I drink is more like espresso, but in very big cups. Maybe I need to look at that.

Sigh. I don’t know. It’s one thing when I am working from home, and I can slip into a zombie-like stupor from about noon onward. But today I have to go and dress up like a professional, and haul my ass into the office for the day. They really don’t appreciate my incessant yawning and heavy sighing for hours on end. Also, they frown on me putting my head down on my desk for a little rest. Picky, picky.

On the positive side, I am getting a lot of writing done. Some of it is even coherent, with a bit of work. I’m certainly caught up on reading my fellow bloggers’ blogs. So I guess that’s a benefit.

This is so weird. Sleeping has never, ever been a problem for me you guys. My sleeping has, at times, been a problem for other people. Friends and family have often expressed frustration over my inability to make plans for anything after eight p.m. “Can’t you just make an exception, this once?” they ask. The answer is always no. On the rare occasions I try staying up later than I want to, I’m not what you might call fun. The only thing I am thinking about is how tired I am, and how pissed off I am that I am being kept away from my bed. This much has not changed.

But why oh WHY am I waking up so early? Dear God, any tips and tricks would be greatly appreciated. I guess I better go find a grown-up costume to put on now, and maybe brush my…stuff. May you all have a better day than I’m about to.

6 Years Old

6

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

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

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

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

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

RLG Family 4

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

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

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

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

 

Three Things 1/25

three fingers

It’s Thursday, and you must know by now what that means! I give myself 15 minutes to write about whatever it is I feel like writing about (not including the time I spend googling images to attach to this blog, or the time it takes to think up good tags!) Here are my 3 Things for today:

  1. I was just nominated for an award- The Blogger Appreciation Award, to be precise, by the nonalcoholic student blog, which I have tried and failed to link to here. I will have to get back to that, because, after all, I really only have 15 lousy minutes. I am so technologically challenged, it’s kind of amazing I can blog at all. Thank goodness WordPress makes it easy. Anyway, I am going to graciously fulfill the instructions for accepting this award later, but it feels awfully good to be appreciated. 🙂
  2. I have been writing my ass off- I am super excited to share with you that I have been chosen to contribute content to an upcoming recovery site, with regular contributions to their blog about parenting in recovery. Something I happen to know quite a bit about. So, while I may not have been quite as prolific here as I have been in previous weeks, I am indeed writing lots of stuff, and I will be posting links to their site and my writing as soon as it is up and running, next month. This is really thrilling for me, and I can’t tell you how much it means to me! Especially because I am down to like seven minutes now.
  3. And finally, I am going through some deep changes in my life lately, and I can’t help but think that the catalyst for this was me distancing myself from Facebook. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s true! Letting go of one thing has led to me letting go of several other things that were really weighing me down, and I feel better than I have in years. I think I may be kind of streamlining my life. I will be posting a blog that goes more in-depth about that very, very soon. So look for it!

That’s all the time I have today, kids! I hope to be catching up on some blog reading today, and I want all of you to know how much I enjoy the little glimpses I get into your lives. I hope I provide the same feeling for you. Have a beautiful day!

Down the Rabbit Hole I Fell…

rabbit hole
courtesy of pinterest

I woke up this morning in a fine mood- excited to be going to spend the day hiking with my older daughter, looking forward to doing something different and fun. Then I grabbed my phone off the charger, and was met with this all-too-familiar warning: “iphone storage is full-manage storage in settings.”

Well, shit. I would like to first say that I have just about had it with this stupid phone. I don’t know what is going on between my phone, my laptop, and my cloud. I don’t even think I really understand my cloud at all, to be honest. But with previous phones I’ve had, and previous laptops, you can upload all of your photos into your computer and move on with your life. I don’t know why, but my photos on my phone don’t want to go onto my computer. It’s a whole thing, and it pisses me off, and I just can’t deal with it.

Anyway, I knew I was going to want to take a lot of pictures today, and there is nothing worse than grabbing your phone to snap a shot and getting that stupid message about not having space on your phone. Ugh. So, I tried messing with my cloud. I tried figuring it out, tried seeing where the hell my pictures were going. I backed up my phone. I went through my phone and manually deleted about three hundred useless photos- horrible selfies, pictures of food, pictures that are already on Instagram. Then, I went into my Kindle and deleted books that I have already read. I went into my podcasts, and deleted downloaded episodes. I cleaned my phone. I deleted a couple of apps that I never use- literally, a couple. I use all of them, daily.

Then I went into my messenger app. This is when all the trouble began. Did you know that you could delete messages in there since forever? I apparently did not know that. I have messages dating all the way back to 2009, and to be honest with you, I wish I hadn’t gone into any of them. I am just sitting here feeling so many uncomfortable feelings right now, thinking about things I haven’t thought about in so long…

You know, my ex, he cheated on me. More than once. One of the things I did to figure out the truth was, I liked to reach out to the women he cheated with and try to befriend them, to get information out of them. I would find out all the awful things he said about me to them, and confirm that all of his lies to me were…well, lies. I would figure out a way to get them to divulge stark truths to me, and it was like a compulsion for me- I needed to know EVERYTHING. What did he say on this day, and where did he take you, and what did you do? I got screen shots of text messages, and full on letters back and forth. I had forgotten about so much of it, and it still really hurts.

I’m not mad at the women- not by a long shot. I am grateful that they shared what they knew with me, not that it wound up helping me very much in the long run. I continued to stay with him, for what reason, I couldn’t tell you. Maybe I have low self-esteem, maybe I needed to prove that I could, that I won, who knows what my reasoning was. I feel a lot of sympathy for that person that I was then- I know she was in a lot of pain, and I know she knew better on a certain level. Leaving was too hard at the time. What I know now is that staying was much more destructive than leaving would have been. I never forgave him, and you can’t make a relationship work when all you want to do is punish the other person. That isn’t even a relationship anymore. It’s something ugly and hard on everyone involved.

Seeing all of this now, it’s no wonder to me that I am hesitant as fuck to start dating again. It’s no wonder I would prefer not to be vulnerable, and just stay to myself. No big surprise that I have no interest in opening up to anyone, that I have real issues where love is concerned. I made some really bad choices, and now I am left with what I have- some serious baggage.

And here’s the funniest part of all- not ha-ha funny, but what the fuck is wrong with me funny…I can’t bring myself to delete the messages. I still want to have proof. Proof that I was right, proof that he lied, proof that love is a gamble I should not take again, maybe. I need to do it, I know. I need to get rid of it, because it’s over, and it’s in the past and it doesn’t even matter anymore. It shouldn’t even matter anymore.

But it does.

Anyway, I have enough room in my phone to take some pictures today. So I guess that’s good. 😦

 

Blessings

rock-bottom-rebuilt-my-life-j-k-rowling-quotes-sayings-pictures

I knew, long before I was ever ready to start fighting, what my biggest battle in life would be. I knew that I was an addict when I was still very young, before I could even manage to inflict very much damage on myself, or those around me. I understood, on a certain level, that I “partied” differently than other people- I was already worried about where and how I would get more the moment I got my hands on my particular poison. There was a brief, tiny moment of relief the second the substance hit my blood stream- and then the next second, I was thinking about how I could make it last, how I needed to pace myself, how I could find more, how I would get it, who I would get it from. It was a full time job, my addiction.

I used to think, under a different set of circumstances, I could use happily. If only I could hold a job, and had enough money- if I could be in a different environment, one where I wasn’t just relying on other people to keep my head above water, maybe then I could use drugs and it would be okay. So, God blessed me with that set of circumstances, and I got to see that there was a whole new set of reasons why I couldn’t use successfully that way either. Suddenly, I had the fear of being found out. I had the fear of losing everything I had worked so hard for. I had the shame, now, of living a lie. I actually found myself missing the days when I could just be a bold, in-your-face fuck up. Hiding was ALWAYS part of the deal, but this was a whole new level of fakery. It sucked.

And it was a blessing. My addiction, in all of it’s forms, has been a blessing. I was blessed with obstacles, and I was blessed with the ability to overcome them. Because I am who I am, I never would have been able to get to where I am right now if I hadn’t gotten to beat that poor dead horse from every conceivable angle. I needed to run myself into the ground, exhaust every option, until I was able to admit that I had no idea how to master this thing- that it had mastered me. Only then was I able to surrender, and it was the greatest blessing of all- surrender became my only way out, and better than any relief I’d ever experienced from any drug. Better by far.

blessings

I have been blessed to live this life, hard as it was, because it brought me here. That doesn’t mean I don’t have regrets- I do. Oh boy, do I. Every single day of my life, I deal with memories that surface out of nowhere, filling me with the most exquisite shame, embarrassment, sorrow. Things I have said and done to people I barely knew, or people whom I love greatly-they run the gamut from just a little stupid to outright cruel, and I struggle to forgive myself. To forgive that girl- that dumb kid, really, that I was. It’s rough. I didn’t just stay in the shadows of the world during my active addiction so much as I inflicted myself upon people. I was not easy to deal with, to say the least. And I have to live with that knowledge, and the scope of it. I am the only one who knows just how wide my path of destruction really was, after all.

Where is the blessing in that? Well, let me tell you- it keeps me stepping carefully today. Knowing what I am capable of, how sharp my tongue can be, how short my fuse, I am careful. I know well the feeling of regret, and I don’t want anymore. I am learning how to think things through, and how to stop myself, and when I can’t, well…I have learned how to apologize. I am truly a better person today because of who I was in my addiction- and yes, almost anything would have been better than who I was then, but I what I mean is, I have worked very hard to be a good person. Someone who thinks very hard- maybe too hard sometimes- about how I want to show up in the world. I don’t think I would have thought this much about what kind of person I wanted to be if I hadn’t been where I have been. Pain is a catalyst for growth, and I have had a lot of pain. And a lot of growth.

I do not recommend that life to anyone- there is no guarantee that you will ever get to the depths I experienced if you find yourself in that world, but there is no guarantee that you won’t, either. There’s no guarantee that you won’t fall further than I did, and there is no guarantee that you will ever find your way out. But I choose to see that life as a blessing because of what came after it- the love I have been able to experience as a result of my recovery, the way I know for sure that it could be so, so much worse. The way that, even on my very shittiest day clean, I can still stand to look someone in the eye. I couldn’t do that on my best day using. I think that there is a blessing in every cross we bear. It’s just up to us to figure out what that blessing is.

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.

Learning how to Love

anger chinese proverb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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