Posted in family, Life, love, Musings, People

Lucky

I’ve always thought of myself as one of the luckiest people alive. I know that might sound weird, considering…well, you know- I was a raging drug addict for a bazillion years. Sometimes I was homeless. I couldn’t keep a job for very long, my love life has been pretty disastrous, etc., etc. Where is the luck in that, you might wonder?

Well, I didn’t look at it like that, to be honest. I always thought how lucky I was that I didn’t die, or worse, look really ugly as a drug addict. (I’m kind of joking here- I mean, I did get to keep almost all of my teeth, which really is lucky, but I thought I was cute as hell. I have some pictures that say otherwise, however). And yes, I might have technically been homeless, but I didn’t feel homeless- I always had a place to crash, and friends who helped me out. I never had to sleep in my car, when I had a car. So that was lucky. Maybe I couldn’t keep a job, but I could always get a job, so it wasn’t bleak. And my love life? I didn’t view it as disastrous- it was just exciting, that’s all.

So perhaps I wasn’t super lucky, or perhaps I was. The important thing is how I looked at it. If I looked at my life as blessed, even when it sucked pretty majorly, it still felt blessed to me. When I gathered with my family on Saturday evening to honor the life of my Uncle who passed away recently, along with many, many of his friends from as far back as his childhood, it came to me why I might feel as lucky as I do.

Man, I have a GREAT family. Normal? Hmm-mm, not really. I would say, if I had to describe my family in terms of a color scheme, they would be considered BOLD. Big colors. Loud. We talk loud and laugh loud and even our lives are above average messy, but, and this is important- above average awesome, too. We make big mistakes, and learn from them big-time, and go on to have large amounts of success and happiness. It’s heartening to know that I belong to this bunch. I feel lucky to have been born into my family.

On first glance, you might not think that my Uncle fit into that bold category, but I can tell you that he did- maybe more than any of us, honestly. His life was marked by tragedy at the age of 21 when he was nearly killed by a drunk driver, and he survived. He didn’t just survive, though, he beat the odds. He had a five percent chance of surviving, a broken back, brain damage, blindness in one eye, and was paralyzed on one side of his body. So you know what he did? He took a job as a ranch caretaker and went on to write music and play guitar in places all over his hometown and beyond. He loved everything about Native American’s, and he read hundreds of books about their lives and cultures. He was adored by so many people. His life could have been sad and depressing, but he chose to feel lucky. He chose to be happy. Oh, he was one of the funniest people around, too- you know, humor helps so much. Anyway, at the end, it was harder for him- his body was harder to cope with, and he was frustrated and angry after dealing with it for so many years, but…he still made room in his heart for the people he loved. He still treated me with so much kindness and love whenever we spoke. It was crazy how much love I heard in his voice when he spoke to me.

Sitting in our family home, the home that my grandfather built, and the only place I have consistently called home since the day I was born, I felt not just his loss, but the loss of my grandparents so deeply- it was like losing each of them all over again. I told my mom I could close my eyes and swear that my grandpa was in his room, taking a nap, and that grandma was fussing around at the coffee pot, while my Uncle was outside with the dogs or something. I mean, I could FEEL it, like it was real. I have memories that are so ingrained in me, so much love in them that I can’t describe it to you, that I can barely contain it all…

How lucky am I? How lucky is that, to have known so much love and joy and laughter and happiness? No matter how far off the path I ever wandered, I have had that love inside of me, anchoring me to what matters in life. I always knew there was a better way because I had seen it with my own eyes. What a gift these people gave to me. That even now that so many of the important ones are gone, it lives on inside of me. I feel them still.

I’d say I’m pretty lucky, indeed.

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Posted in fun, funny, humor, Life, Musings, People, women

The Hormone Weasels Have Come to Roost.

pms

I don’t have much to offer beyond that title, there…just a brief note to let you all know that, much like every other month of my life, my body has been taken over by high levels of the unfriendly variety of hormones. I should probably know more about what they are, but to be honest, women’s bodies are incredibly complicated and difficult-even for women- and even though I’ve read all about all of the particulars of what we grossly call the “menstrual cycle” (admit it, that is such a gross word), I can’t retain that kind of information. It just flows in one ear and out the other. Pun intended.

Anyway, generally I know what is coming down the pike for me because I wake up just really unusually angry. Even if I don’t know that I am angry, maybe Camryn can’t find her shoes in the morning, or maybe the dog looks at me wrong, and all of the sudden I am just furious. Stupid little things really set me off. That’s my first clue. After that, well…for instance, my boss said something jokingly to me at work today, something I would normally have laughed at. Today, I seriously considered quitting my job. I literally stopped, dead still, and thought “I’m walking out.” That was my second clue. Later on, I started crying over a loving family scene while watching a rerun of 90210- the WORST show ever in the history of ever (I don’t know why I’m watching it , it makes no sense at all) and I was about to breakdown because Brenda and her family shared a hug. Or maybe it was David Silver and his grandparents. Either way, give me a break. Finally, I was just sitting here, minding my own business, when out of the blue I became very, very upset by how fat and ugly I felt.

I’m pretty sure I’m no fatter or uglier than I was this morning, but it’s this awful feeling…unless you have ovaries, I just don’t know how to describe this sudden gloom of body dysphoria that descends from nowhere. But it’s a SURE indicator of trouble on the hormonal horizon.

I’m going to go take a bath, wash my hideous face, and hide my bloated body beneath a sea of bubbles and essential oils, taking solace in the fact that this will all be over soon. Of course, what comes next is no picnic either, but…this is not the blog to speak of such things.

Have a lovely night. I’m going to rustle up a salty chocolate snack of some sort before submersion.

Posted in Blogging, fun, humor, Life, Musings, People, random

Work (yuck).

work

I had a funny thought yesterday- I was thinking, as I often have, about how bizarre it is that people spend most of their waking hours away from their families, working at jobs where they are basically forced to conform to weird rules (did anyone ever really die because someone was one minute late to work? No? Then WHY is it such a horrible big deal?) and bite their tongues when their “superior” acts like an asshat- I’m lucky that I happen to adore my boss, but I have had plenty of jobs where I was forced to nearly swallow my tongue in order to keep from losing my ever loving shit. Anyway, no matter how you crack it, I think our entire society is set up wrong, but… that being said, my dreams of travelling the country like a vagabond, with not a care in the world, well…basically ALL of my daydreams involve me not having to work. While also being independently wealthy. Which is why, of course, they are just daydreams. Yes, people wander off and live their dreams all the freaking time- of course they do! But they still have to plan, and save, and figure stuff out. And they also have to live with the repercussions, such as possibly having no health insurance, running out of resources, or realizing that they are really, really bad at being stuck in a small RV with a fourth grader. I mean, I’m sure at least a couple of people have come to this realization a few months too late to take it back.

My point is, unless we hit the powerball or invent something amazing or are born into big money, and maybe even then, work is part of life. Where in the world did I get the idea that I shouldn’t have to work? I don’t know. I am guessing it grew from the depths of my lazy nature, and morphed into some kind of belief that I was being screwed by “the system”. My brain is tricky like that.  It was just funny, because in all of the years I have bitched, internally (and sometimes externally, too) about how unfair/weird/terrible/cruel it is that I am “forced” to work, it never occurred to me until yesterday that perhaps my thinking was flawed.

Sure, I could be doing something different- something I love more, something that feeds my spirit. I have choices. But I have it pretty good, honestly. I love the people I work with, and the hospital I work for, and four days a week I can actually sit right here, in my pajamas, and work from the comfort of my own home. If I wanted to change all of that, I totally could- but that would also be work. I’d need to go to school (which I still will probably do) and give up time with my daughter, and jump through a whole lot of different hoops to get somewhere new. No one is forcing me to stay here, and no one can force me to change. So to complain, when the choice is really mine, is just plain silly. Part of life is work. There will always be a job to do.

Yet another lesson I am learning a little late in the game. Yet more evidence that my thought process can be very skewed, indeed. Sigh. What in the world am I going to do with myself?

Posted in Blogging, Dreams, funny, humor, kids, Life, motherhood, Musings

8 Solid Hours (is that too much to ask?)

no sleep

I just looked at my watch- it is now 3:45 a.m., and I have been up for fifteen minutes. I finally waved the white flag of surrender, after fighting with sleep ALLLLL night last night. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I value sleep above almost everything else, and normally, sleep and I have a really happy relationship. But every relationship has ups and downs, and last night we were really duking it out.

Here is how my night went:

8:30- I start making noise about getting ready for bed. But we are watching an unusually interesting show on Disney XD, so I am dragging my feet. I get my coffee set up for the morning. I decide against washing my face, since I didn’t wear makeup anyway yesterday, even though I know better (this, more than anything else, is a clear indicator that my happiness levels are dangerously low- I know it sounds insignificant, but washing my face at night is a big deal, and this is a red flag. Must get my life together.)

8:45- On commercial, I let Cam do one sparkler, of the many we have left over from the 4th. While we are outside, someone nearby sets off an illegal firework. I literally yell “The fourth is over, asshole!” into the night air. Realize I am outside playing with sparklers. Feel stupid, but I am so, so tired.

9:00-Make my bed. Crawl into the sanctuary of my covers. Try to stream Phineas and Ferb, one of my top shows to fall asleep to, only to find that season four is no longer available on demand. What the fuck? Find that season three is still ready to roll, so I find one I haven’t seen (not that it matters, because I’ll be asleep in five minutes anyway) and quickly doze off.

9:10- my cat starts scratching on my door. I try to ignore him, but he won’t stop. I yell at the door. He adds meowing to the mix. I huffily throw the covers off of me and jump out of bed, yank the door open and stomp into the living room, opening the front door so he can go out for the night. He stands on the threshold, considering his options. “Get out.” I snarl- I don’t have the patience for this shit. He doesn’t want to go out now. I close the door. He starts crying and scratching again. I open the door and try to set him outside. He runs backwards into the house and glares at me. I glare back. Fine. I’ll just sleep with my bedroom door open so he doesn’t get trapped inside and have an “accident” like he did the other night, but he doesn’t get trapped outside, either, and decide to scratch at my door all night. Fine. That is fine. Just let me sleep.

9:25- my dog, Lucy, wakes me up this time- She is barking like crazy, with a much scarier than normal bark, out into the hallway. This is, like, there’s an intruder, or a wild animal loose in the house kind of bark. I am instantly awake and out of bed. “What?!” I ask her, “What’s in there?” But she just does that weird dog dance, and keeps barking, then runs into my daughter’s room. Luckily, my daughter is in my room with me (or at least it seemed lucky at that moment) because I am terrified to go in there. I sneak my arm in and turn on the light- there is nothing there. I check the backyard, the front yard, and everywhere else. There is nothing there. I go back to bed, but this time I close and lock my bedroom door. The cat can just deal with it.

10:00-Lucy wakes me up barking furiously again. I don’t care anymore if someone is in the house. They can just kill me. I’m going to sleep, period.

10:30- I hear the distinct rustling of the giant cat food bag in my room. I just know Lucy is getting into the goddamned cat food again. I wake up already yelling at her to knock it off. Instead, I find that it is my seven year old, who has decided she would be more comfortable sleeping in the dogs bed, and she is whacking the cat food bag with her leg. “What are you doing?” I ask.

“I just want to lay down here.” She says, “I can hear my videos better.” I look at the dog, laying forlornly on the floor next to her own bed.

“Get your ass in bed, and don’t wake me up again.” I say kindly. I’m back asleep before I remember to tell her to put her stupid Kindle away. My mistake.

1 fucking 30 in the goddamned morning: I am jolted awake by the sound of laughter in my pitch black room. I whirl around, trying to get my bearings, and find my child, pressing her Kindle face down into the mattress so that I can’t see the light coming from it. I can still hear the sound however. She does this in such a smooth, skilled manner that I can’t help but wonder how many times she has practiced this maneuver in the past. The voice of Satan seems to issue forth from my throat-“Give me the Kindle!” I fling it to the floor (only because it has a child proof case, and I know it will simply bounce- I’m mad, but I’m not an idiot) and tell her she must immediately vacate the premises and go sleep in her own bed. I can’t take it. We both know I don’t mean it though- there is possibly an intruder sleeping in there, anyway, or at the very least, a family of raccoons. She starts crying, which means I’ll NEVER get to sleep…so I turn the TV back on. But I make sure it’s  a show she hates, because I’m evil when I’m tired. I fall asleep to the sound of my child wailing at the injustice of it all.

1:45-3:30- Horrible dreams about owing people money, awkward confrontations with friends, trying to pee in a bathroom with a big hole in the door and people trying to get in (which, now that I think about it, that probably worked in my favor- the last thing I needed last night was to wet my own bed at the age of 43), having to look for a job and regretting quitting the one I had, and just generally feeling very stressed out and uprooted. These are what I call “worst case scenario dreams”, and I have them fairly often. It’s always nighttime in these dreams.

3:30-Finally throw the towel in. Realize that a bug of some sort bit me several times, on my fingers and my arm. Curse my life, and all of the cowardly bugs who refuse to bite you when you are awake and can defend yourself.

3:45: Decide I should at least write about it, and make it all worth something. I hope you enjoyed my (hopefully) amusing retelling of my night from hell. And for God’s sake, I hope you slept better than I did! At least I won’t be fully awake for work today. There’s always a silver lining!

Posted in anxiety, Depression, Life, Mental Health, Musings, random

Thoughts From a Difficult Brain

I have been having some trouble with my head lately. The last time I wrote, I told you I was feeling restless, and it’s still true- restlessness paired with discontent can quickly boil over into a gummy mess of self loathing. I am trying to avoid that. I’ve sat here and written parts of several posts that I decided were entirely too whiny, and I was too embarrassed to publish them. I have nothing to complain about, really. Or at least, that is what I tell myself- that because I have a particular set of circumstances that might be a little less troubling than the circumstances of “some people” (whoever they might be), I am not allowed to dislike anything about my life.

Although I realize on a certain level that is bullshit- my feelings about my life are absolutely valid, no matter how good I might have it- I also understand that complaining is pretty useless. So I am not going to do that. What I am going to do is tell the truth, and the truth for me is- I struggle with my moods. I am not moody enough to warrant medication, nor is that something I want for myself, but it is a struggle nonetheless. I have a mind that will seize upon an unpleasant thought and spin it into an astounding and terrible scenario, and it can propel me into anxiety the likes of which I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy- if I had a worst enemy, which I don’t think I do. Anyway, I believe this is called “catastrophic thinking”, and it is part of having anxiety, which I thought was something I suffered from occasionally, not something I “had” until I said this to my therapist, and she actually started laughing. I don’t think your therapist is supposed to laugh at you, but I forgive her. Apparently, I’m an anxious person. You know, I masked every single thing about my actual personality with drugs for so long, that I am still figuring out who I really am. Or who I am now, I guess.  So yes, I am anxious. I am moody. I am very hard on myself, most of the time.

But lately, this has all morphed into this weird blah-ness, this kind of “meh” feeling, and it just sucks. Half of me wants to run off and have this big, juicy, adventurous life, and the other half of me is like “Just watch TV, Courtney. There’s no point in having to put on shoes.” And of course, I am making it sound funny so that it doesn’t sound that bad, but in truth…in truth, I am grappling with some dangerous thoughts. Things like quitting my job, which would not be in my best interest right now, and quitting recovery, which might not be in my best interest ever. Sigh. I don’t know what is going on. Perhaps I’m having a mid-life crisis? Is that applicable for women? I don’t want to run out and buy a street bike and date a blonde half my age, so…it’s hard to say.

So, rather than do anything drastic that might shake up my life a little more than I am bargaining for, I am going to go back to the things that have worked for me before. I am going to do the things that make me feel good by default, such as- going to the beach. Going to the gym (it really does feel good after you actually get there). Eating less bacon- I know this sounds counter intuitive, but trust me, too much bacon does not a happy girl make- it’s one of those pleasures in life that needs to be spaced out a little bit. Also, clearing my space- I swear to God, I accumulate possessions at the speed of light. Oh! And that’s another thing- stop compulsively ordering shit I don’t need off of Amazon. It’s just another attempt to self-soothe, I know this, and yet…no, I don’t need anymore books right now!

I am capable of great happiness- I think we all are. But the trick, I think, is realizing that no one feels perfectly happy all the time. And maybe some of us feel the bumps in the road a little more than others, and that’s okay, too. But the big truth is, we are all responsible for creating lives that feel good enough for ourselves, and when life doesn’t feel good, we have a responsibility to ourselves to fix it, or to figure out what isn’t working and make adjustments. I am impatient, so I want everything to be better RIGHT NOW- I want to throw it all away and start over. Oh, I’m having a bad week? Well, obviously, I should quit my job, move across the country, and become a homesteader who makes her own soap, right?

No…no, I don’t think that’s how this is going to go down. I think, today, I will just start with taking a walk, washing the dishes, and being a little more gentle with myself. And maybe tomorrow, we’ll see where I’m at. Maybe tomorrow, it will feel a little better.

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 Addiction, inner peace, Life, love, Mental Health, Musings, People, relationships

A long way to go

long-way-to-go

I have this friend that I met online several years ago on a quit smoking app that I no longer use- I have several friends from this app, actually, and it’s the only one I have ever developed outside friendships from…anyway, that doesn’t matter. What does matter is, this particular friend- an Irish dude, living in Canada (I mean, as far as I can tell, that’s who he really is- for all I know, he could be some weirdo from Indiana living in his moms basement. Hahaha!), we have the best talks. About real shit, sometimes, things that I really need to talk about. Things like the state of my heart, and the hard work of changing for the better. He understands the deep work I have been doing on myself these past few years, the labor that goes beyond 12 step groups and therapy. The time you spend on your own, examining the way the thoughts you allow in your head affect your life, and the wounds you discover that you didn’t even know you’ve been carrying around.

I told him about a realization that I had, just the other day, about how much I struggle with connecting to other people. I had mistakenly believed it was only a problem I had with men, but suddenly, I realized that it is across the board- with other women, with relatives- even with my children. I don’t know how to explain it clearly, but I can tell you that I hold everyone at arms length. That I might hug, confide, and love fiercely, but…there is a hard stop that happens, and it is causing me some pain now. That’s generally the only way I know about a problem- when it starts to hurt. I don’t really think this is a new thing, either. I suspect it’s been with me for a really long time, but I was able to escape the repercussions with sex, or behind my drug abuse. When you are living in survival mode, or in extreme dysfunction, you don’t have time to worry about things like interpersonal relationships, or connecting with others in a healthy and robust manner. 🙂

Anyway, my friend and I talked about this, and about the funny way things go when you are trying to heal yourself- the thing is, it really doesn’t end. You uncover a layer of bullshit, you sort it out, you find resolution, and you sit back for a minute- you get a short break, then- BAM! A whole new layer of bullshit surfaces, and you start dealing with that. There is no end. We are never perfect. Which is why, I guess, so many people just prefer not to get into it- not to gaze into the gaping maw of their brokenness and try to change. It’s just easier not to. Had I known what I was getting into when I started- had I even known that I was starting- I don’t know if I would have wanted this, either. The phrase “ignorance is bliss” could not be more true in this instance. Self awareness is a motherfucker. Some days I am so proud of how far I’ve come, and some days I can’t believe what an ungrateful, whining, entitled asshole I am. It’s quite a ride.

So, I told my friend about this terrible distance between myself and the rest of the world, including those I love the most, and he said “Now that you know about it, change it.”

Well, yes. But how? For a solid 24 hours I pretended that I couldn’t possibly know how to do that, because I didn’t like the answer, but of course I do know. The answer is to allow myself to be vulnerable. To stop being so sassy, to stop laughing everything off, to stop being too busy, too tired, too…whatever, and be real. Admit that I’m afraid of being hurt, of losing what I love, and therefore, afraid of loving altogether. Because that is the real truth- that I have learned, over the course of my 43 years on this planet, that love hurts. That no matter who I love, it always hurts. Within families, people are volatile and selfish and downright abusive, and it fucking hurts. Or they get old and sick, and they die, and that hurts, too. Your children become teenagers, and they hate your guts, and look down their noses at you, and that just sucks, AND it hurts. And men…oh, for God’s sake, no matter what I do, I pick the same one in a different package, again and again, and it hurts like hell. And it’s also embarrassing.

Somewhere along the way, I know that I picked up the fear, and hid it from myself, that this was somehow my fault. That there must be something fundamentally wrong with me if all of my relationships were so fraught with dysfunction and unhappiness. Even now, as I write this, I am considering that there may be some truth to that- that if I were just a better person, I would be more lovable. After all this work I have done, isn’t that the saddest thing ever? I have accomplished so much, I’ve had so much success in my life, despite the obstacles in my path. I have beautiful children, a flourishing career, a spiritual practice. Every day, I try to be more kind, more patient, more loving, and yet…here I sit. With this truth. That maybe I just don’t really know how to love, and maybe that means I am missing that part, and maybe that makes me unlovable.

Or maybe…maybe it just means that I didn’t have the best examples of what love is really supposed to look like. And maybe I took that with me into the world, and that is what I looked for, and found, over and over again. And maybe it finally got too painful, so I stopped trying, and that is when this wall went up, and it protected me for a while, but it also cut me off from the good stuff, too. Except now I don’t know how to get through it, over it, around it. But I think my job now is to try. To keep chipping away at it, feeling around for the edges, for a place where I can maybe slip through, even if it might hurt. There is still so much work to do. Such a long way to go. But in the end, I still believe it’s work worth doing.