Posted in anxiety, Depression, family, happiness, kids, Life, love, Mental Health, mental illness, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, women

It’s Not Just About Me

I come to you this morning with my messy pony-tail and my ratty old robe, having not left this house once since around 3 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon, and only then because I had no choice. I was out of kitty litter, and the house was starting to smell pretty bad. The only reason I even noticed this was because I shielded my tender little eyeballs from the sun and ran a bag of trash out to the cans in another one of my weird surges of efficiency earlier that day. When I came back in, the smell about knocked me over. Apparently, sitting in the reek all day was fine, but discovering it after a brief moment of fresh air was unacceptable. So, to the store I went.

Of course, I went to the store in my beat up old sweatshirt I’d slept in, didn’t bother with my hair, and had a face so free of makeup that it looked as if I’d left my eyelashes at home on the bathroom counter. I have absolutely colorless eyelashes, I tell you. Anyway, it follows that I ran into a “friend” from Facebook in the produce section at Target. I say “friend” in quotations because, although we have interacted quite often, and for some length of time, this was our first time meeting in real life. At least she recognized me. I was about as mortified as I am capable of being at this point, which is to say, not much.

Here’s the thing. My anxiety has been strangled into submission by pure stubbornness, it seems. But left in its wake has been something I can ONLY describe as depression. Like, I have never been so disinterested in everything before in my freaking life. I’m even bored with the idea of being depressed. Like seriously, what the fucking fuck? Can I just pull it together for five minutes or WHAT? I’m sure it has everything to do with my period showing up Sunday, and that the minute my hormone levels start rising or falling or whatever they’re supposed to do, I’ll feel marginally better, but…my God, I’m OVER IT.

I’ve even been grouchy to my pets. It seems like Lucy (my black lab) is forever nudging her head into my lap, probably sensing that I desperately need some kind of support. And I am forever perfunctorily patting at her ears for half a second before pushing her away irritably, telling her “GO!”

I watched this little video snippet yesterday of a mother reading aloud a little thing she wrote about the fleeting nature of childhood- the way our babies turn to toddlers, then children, then adolescents and so on. And how, at every stage, we think we have so much more time…but really, we don’t. Take it from me, with my 21 year old and my 8 year old who were both, somehow, born like a year ago. It feels that way, anyway.

That video jarred something open in me. You know, I’ve been so incredibly busy being self-obsessed, trying to figure out not only what is wrong with me but how to fix it, that I had completely forgotten that I am shaping the life experience of others. Namely, my small daughter and my pets. I wasn’t thinking about anyone else because I was thinking so much about me. You know, I don’t have forever. Camryn won’t be small for too much longer, and Lucy…well, she’s 7 already. For a Lab, that’s up there in years. I may not be Camryn’s whole world, but I’m a huge part of it, and for Lucy, I AM it. I have no right to push her away when she needs a pat or a little reassurance that I’m okay.

So, just like that, I changed my attitude. On my lunch break, when I jumped in bed to take a little snooze, I patted the bed and invited Lucy up there with me- a rare treat- and we snuggled for 30 minutes. It didn’t escape my notice that she yelped a little bit in pain when she attempted to leap up onto the bed. I don’t have forever. I am her person. She deserves my love, even when I don’t feel very loving.

Cam, who’d spent the day with her dad, came home to find a big sign I’d made for her- big bubble letters of her name, decorated with flowers and vines, and various declarations of love. Just a little dumb thing to let her know I was thinking of her.

Here’s the thing- it made ME feel a thousand times better. Loving on my dog, playing with the kitten (who, incidentally, has the best, loudest, juiciest purr you’ve ever heard), petting the more stoic and reserved Frankenstein (my black kitty), taking a moment to do something sweet for my kid…I did it for them, but it helped me. I forgot how that worked. I forgot that when we think of and do for others, it takes us out of ourselves and fills us up with something wonderful.

So, I’m a mess- there’s no getting around that. I’m a mess that is always working towards a solution, though, and I am proud of that. But I figured something out yesterday at least- I’m not going to find happiness searching the very place where all the trouble is originating. That happiness I want is not inside my head. It’s over on the couch as we speak, snoring way too loudly for a dog, waiting for me to stand up so she can follow me anywhere I happen to be going. It’s in the little body in my bedroom, drooling on my pillow, waiting to see what adventures this day holds. Yes, I’m a mess. But I have the best tools in the world to lift me up, out and over. People and creatures who love me far more than I probably deserve.

Today, that is more than enough.

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Posted in anxiety, Depression, family, health, kids, Life, Mental Health, mental illness, motherhood, parenting, People, random, women

Anxiety is Boring

Well, it makes me boring, anyway. Trying to figure out something to write about has been damn near impossible…hence, my longer-than-normal absence from my trusty old blog.

I don’t know what to think, you guys. None of my tricks are working. Now, don’t get me wrong- I have moments every single day where I feel just fine. But when you think about that, it doesn’t seem like a very good deal, does it? I have MOMENTS when I feel okay? As opposed to “normally, I feel fine, but sometimes I do get anxious”. Yeah, basically, I am feeling anxious more than I’m feeling okay, and that is not normal for me. I don’t feel normal. I feel pretty awful, honestly.

It got me thinking about a lot of you bloggers that I follow who struggle with mental illness daily and keep on writing. I have such a huge amount of respect for that, now. Because when you are feeling the opposite of okay, when the thing you are struggling with is the very thing you are thinking with…it is HARD. Much the way chronic pain just wears you down, chronic mental anguish is exhausting. And it’s so weird- even when I am feeling so-so, I’m tensed and ready for the next wave of bullshit to knock my feet out from under me.

I was doing better- as a matter of fact, I had just bravely proclaimed to myself that I was DONE with this anxiety. I yelled at it, out loud, in the shower one morning- had a firm conversation with my anxiety that I was tougher and braver and smarter than it was, and that I would not be falling for its lies any longer. I went on and had a brilliant day, and I thought “Of COURSE I can do this! What was I thinking? I just needed to make up my mind!”

And then Cam came home from school that very afternoon, and she went directly to bed and fell asleep, and…kids get sick, right? But my anxiety saw an opening, and it went in full force. To be honest with you, my hands are shaking right now, and that was Thursday that it happened. She had a slight temperature, and she’s been under the weather since then- not eating much, etc. Last night her ear hurt. Her fever is gone. She is getting better, not worse, but my anxious, fucked-up brain cannot be reasoned with. My logical mind knows that this is cold and flu season. That kids are exposed to every kind of virus and bacteria and nastiness you can think of on a daily basis at school. But my anxious mind flies straight to the worst of the worst. It’s cancer. It’s meningitis. It’s…you fill in the blanks with whatever your worst fear is. It’s all so far-fetched, yet I feel it in my sick little soul.

Sigh…what can I do, though? The only thing I can think of to do is to keep on working through it. Keep on going to therapy and figuring out ways to not let my fear rule my life, or, even worse, freak out my children. It’s hard. I check on her too much. I probably took her temperature about seven times on Friday. And it’s so funny to me- in many ways, I am one of the strongest people. I have lived through so much and come out the other side relatively unscathed. I don’t know why this is happening to me right now, and I don’t know how to make it stop.

But I can promise you this- I will keep trying to figure it out. I will keep working to resolve this knot in my gut, and this mess in my head. I don’t know what other option I have. But any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

Posted in anxiety, health, Life, Mental Health, mental illness, motherhood, parenting, People

A Different Kind of Storm

Another storm came the evening before last, only this time, it wasn’t happening outside of my house, in the sky.

This time, the storm popped up out of nowhere, inside of me, in my head.

I had another panic attack. Another really, really bad panic attack. Over 24 hours later and I am still not myself. My stomach is in knots and I feel afraid and shaky, embarrassed and ashamed of my uncontrollable mind. I had to call off work yesterday because I hadn’t slept at all the night before, and to be honest, I still have barely eaten since this all started.

I am doing everything right. I have been exercising every single day, eating healthy, praying, meditating, working hard and treating myself well. To know that I can go from the very top of my game to an utter shaking mess in a matter of one single, illogical, triggering thought…well…that is terrifying. I don’t know any other way to look at it.

I remembered everything my therapist told me the last time this happened. I told myself all the things I knew, all the logic and facts and practical wisdom I had- I threw all of it at this monster, but it pinged off his skin like nothing and continued to advance. When I am in that state, there is no safe place I can go, no way to escape, because the feeling is inside of me. You cannot outrun yourself.

I am so upset with myself for things that happened during this episode that I almost wasn’t going to write about it. I don’t want to tell the truth. I am ashamed of it. But I will tell you this- my panic started over a very minor injury that happened, not to me, but to my daughter. It should have been something we put a band-aid on and forgot about. Instead, we made two trips to the ER and didn’t make it home until 5 in the morning. The doctors were kind to me- they could see that I was not okay. But the idea that my panic can spill out onto someone else that way, that frightens me. I didn’t reach out to anyone, didn’t pick up the phone and call a friend, give them the chance to talk me down. I put my poor kid through so much because of MY fear, and that fear was so BIG, I couldn’t help it. I literally couldn’t help it.

And now the question is- how long until it happens again? Because once is an anomaly, once is…just a weird glitch that happened, and whatever. But this is twice now since December and I can’t imagine going through this again. Or regularly. I can deal with, I guess, my average daily anxiety. But this panic- no. I can’t. I won’t. I will find a way to fix it. If I have to just steam-roll it with pure stubbornness, I will.

But today, I am just so tired. I don’t want to feel like this ever again.

Posted in Blogging, family, home, kids, Life, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, women

Real Quick (II)

It’s Thursday, and I wasn’t planning on writing anything this morning, but there are a couple of things I want to share, none of them enough for a post on their own.

1.) I decided, at the end of last year, to try out one of those meal-delivery things- the kind where they send you the food and the recipe, and with a little work, you make the dinner they send you? Well, I landed on Hello Fresh, ( I started with the vegetarian plan with some vague idea that it would be healthier) and I must say, I am kind of digging it! I have made chickpea tacos, a roasted veggie farro bowl-salad type thing, and risotto so far. It isn’t so much that I am wild about the things I’ve cooked, so much as I’m impressed at how easy it is to cook things I’ve never tried making. I am learning a LOT about cooking, and this thrills me. I mean, prior to this past week, I don’t think I’ve ever zested a lemon or a lime more than once or twice…I learned how to make a really easy, tasty salad dressing, and that you can turn sour cream into a fancy crema just by adding some junk to it. Also, risotto is not as hard as everyone whines that it is. My one complaint is this: In the first recipe, it called for an avocado, and the avocado they sent me was harder than a baseball. In the second recipe, they forgot my garlic altogether (luckily, I had my own). The third recipe had everything and it was fine. I think I’ll be trying some of the not-vegetarian ones, going forward, and maybe even some of the other companies out there. There are so many of them! Why not shop around?

2.) Speaking of food- a friend of mine, a male friend, stopped by for a while last night. I fed him some of the dinner I’d made (because naturally, Cam was not interested in either farro or roasted veggies 😦 ) and we just sat around, trying to have a conversation. I say “trying” because Cam was suddenly speaking at full volume, and cannon-balling off the couch, interrupting, and basically being a complete mess. I finally had to get stern with her- she’s pretty high energy anyway, but this was next level. Anyway, he stayed for maybe an hour, and went home, probably relieved to get the hell out of here. This morning I asked her what that was all about. Didn’t she like my friend? “As a friend for you, yes.” I asked if it worried her because he was a boy, and if so, why? I honestly thought she would say she didn’t know, or she wanted my attention for herself. Instead, she said “I worry that you’ll forget about daddy.”

Ugh. One of those heart-wrenching moments when you instantly get tears in your eyes. I was truly thrown for a loop, as her dad and I have been broken up since she was 3 or 4. I just told her that I would never, ever forget about her daddy, and left it at that. But it made me sad. Poor kid. I’ve tried to make things as happy and family-like with her dad as possible. We get along great these days, and co-parent, and I thought it was the best thing for her…now I wonder if I’ve just made her more confused.

Parenting is weird and hard, no matter how you crack it.

Anyway, those are my thoughts this morning. Boxes of food, and my kid. Not all that unusual, really. Now excuse me, I have to take my cinnamon rolls out of the oven. And no, they were not made out of guilt- they were made out of a can, because I promised. And because they are super yummy.

Have a beautiful day!

Posted in Blogging, family, happiness, kids, Life, love, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, random, relationships, women

Babies, Kittens, & Change

they-grow-up-so-fast

So, I guess Camryn has decided to grow up over Christmas break. I mean, I knew it was starting when she would wait for me to leave the room before jumping in the shower. My daughters are both exceptionally modest about their bodies (I literally have no idea where they picked this up, unless it’s just one of those things where they are as opposite of me as possible), but still…she’ll let me come in and wash her hair once she’s in the tub. She just doesn’t want me in the room as she gets in the tub. So whatever, I play along.

Well, now she is washing her own hair, too. I’m not sure how well it’s being washed yet, but it smells okay. And I’m glad for it, I really am. These are things she should be able to do for herself, of course they are. But now she’s totally sleeping 100% in her own room. Just like I wanted. I’m proud of her, and glad that she just made up her mind and did this thing- this thing that I’ve been complaining about for at least the past year. I really wanted her in her own bed! Except…except last night, I had to threaten to make her come sleep with me if she didn’t settle down in her room and get to sleep. Sleeping with me is now a punishment. Sigh.

And yesterday? Yesterday, I said “Hey, can you do mommy a favor?” to her, and she said “Sure, but can you stop saying “mommy”? “Mom” would be fine.”

Well, shit. Why don’t you just stab me straight in the heart, you little beastie?

Only I said nothing, because she is doing what she is supposed to do- she’s growing up. Not too much, it’s just happening sort of all at once, and it’s alarming, and what’s more, it’s very, very sad. She is my baby. But she is not a baby anymore, and that is a fact. Trying to keep her there would be harmful and wrong, so…I’m just trying to mourn in private, and let her enjoy her tiny bits of independence.

Last night when her dad brought her home, he waited until she was in the other room and he was like “What is going on with her?!” I didn’t really need to ask what he meant. She’s been a little prickly, a little extra…extra, if you know what I mean. I said “Well, she’s growing up a little, and we need to be patient with her, but firm…and whatever you do, don’t tell her she’s a bad kid. Tell her she’s a good kid, and we expect better behavior from her.”

Because I remember being that age- that age where you just aren’t a sweet little angel anymore, and you do have an opinion, and you’re trying to figure out how to have some autonomy…and end up looking like a little jack-ass. The adults in my life were horrified, asking me “what happened to you?” or “This isn’t the Courtney I know.” and reinforcing what a monster I’d become. This was not helpful. I honestly believed the things I heard- and I’m sure no one intended it meanly, but it was how I HEARD it, and internalized it. I thought something had gone wrong with me, and I was a disappointment, somehow. But I was just growing up, trying to figure stuff out. Just like Cam is now. My job is to parent and love her through it, to guide her, watch her, and be firm with her. What a trip to be able to understand what is happening. I hope I’m up for the challenge.

In other news, Milo, the cat who didn’t have rabies, has come over from the dark side. The formerly hissing, spitting, scratching, biting little demon has started sleeping beside me in bed, and purring every time I touch her. She cries when I go outside. Proof that if you shine enough love on the saltiest of creatures, it will eventually get through to them and they will change. It’s easier to do this with animals than people, but it works on both. Just love the grouchy ones…they need it most.

So there it is- babies and kittens grow up and change, and who they become depends a lot on how much and how well they are loved- because you can be loved very much, and still not be loved WELL. Another lesson I’ve picked up along the way. Another thing I wish I’d known sooner. But I know it now, and that will have to be enough.

Have a beautiful day.

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, Blogging, faith, family, happiness, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, motherhood, parenting, recovery, twelve step

Just…wow.

just wow
courtesy of lisalayden.com. 

Have you ever had one of those strange moments where your perspective shifts, and you suddenly…I don’t know…like, see your life? All of the sudden, your own reality hits you and it’s just mind blowing? And not in a bad way at all, but in the most incredible, blessed feeling way? Gosh, I’m getting tears in my eyes just writing this.

That happened to me last night. I was drifting off to sleep, and out of nowhere it hit me that I’m a mom. I have two daughters! And you know, of course I know this- one of them is a legit adult now, the other one is 8. It’s not like it’s something new, but…it just sort of hit me. Wow. I am the mother to these two incredible people, their mother. What an honor that is. How lucky am I?

To get to have these two beautiful girls, so unbelievably different, so perfect in their own way. I have one who loves everything that grows- she plucked a giant mushroom out of my garden yesterday, and plopped it down on my butcher block, examining it like a scientist. She broke it apart, leaving a trail of dirt and possibly poisonous spores over every inch of my kitchen…but you know what? I’m so happy that she’s found something she’s passionate about- her seed packets, and all of the knowledge she has about soil and zones, water and sunlight. The way she looks when she is plucking a bean from a vine, or pulling a weed from the earth. As a parent, all you could ever want is for your child to grow up and find the thing they love most, and I think she has done that.

And then there is the little one- tender-hearted, kind, but absolutely self assured. She loves tiny, tiny things, colored pencils, blank pages, pencil sharpeners. She’ll drop everything to give me a hug, but then she rushes back to whatever it is that she is focused on. She’ll give up some of her time for me, but she is pretty clear about needing her own space, her own time. I feel like that will serve her well. She also loves jokes, loves to laugh, more than anyone I’ve ever known…and again, this will help her immeasurably in life.

I LOVE these girls. I love them so much. And it is such a miracle, such an unbelievable miracle, that I get to live this life I am living. For an addict like me to be living a life like this- gainfully employed, a real career, my bills paid, food in the fridge, these gorgeous kids, and I am CLEAN? Are you kidding me? When I think of how desperately I longed for this life, so many, many times. When I think of how little hope I had, how futile it seemed to even think about it. Because I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t stay clean. Except I did. I have. I continue to.

And because of that, I get to feel like this. Like my heart will just burst open from all of the gratitude and love and appreciation I have for my life in this moment. For the mother I get to be because I just kept showing up, day after day, and I stopped trying to change the way I felt by putting drugs in my body. I went ahead and felt my feelings instead. I went ahead and faced the truth about who I was and what I had done. I went ahead and dealt with it. And it was hard- it’s still hard sometimes. I have a lot of painful memories, painful facts about my life that I can never change. But you know what? I’m making a lot of new, really beautiful memories, too. And if I keep it up, someday they might just outweigh the bad ones.

For that, and for so many other reasons, I am deeply grateful this morning.

Posted in Blogging, family, fun, funny, humor, kids, Learning, Life, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, women

*Real Quick

sleeping alone
This is not me, but totally how I feel about Cam sleeping in her own bed!

I promise I’m not going to start posting every single day, but just real quick, I want to share a couple of things:

1.) You GUYS!!! Camryn slept in her own bed last night, for the whole entire night! I tucked her in and climbed into my own (large, uncluttered, stretch-out-able) bed, thinking I’d better get some good rest while I could because she’d be crawling in at some point. Well, I was wrong! I got up this morning to find her fast asleep right where I’d left her. It was stunningly anticlimactic. I mean, we just went to sleep in separate rooms. But the truth is, this is a big deal. I will miss her, but boy do I like sleeping alone!

2.) I put a chair together yesterday. This also might not sound like a very big deal, but I assure you, it is. The last time I tried to put something together on my own, it was a bookshelf, and I think it was probably ten years ago? I worked so hard on that sonofabitch, and when it was done it looked like…either it was drunk, or it’d been put together by a very drunk person. Which I was not. I don’t think. Although, it was ten years ago, so I guess that’s a possibility. I am pretty sure I cried with frustration. This time, I also almost cried with frustration, and perhaps had one small moment of blind rage where I briefly had the urge to fling the whole f***ing mess against the wall, hopefully shattering something, but…I did not do that. I did learn that an Allen wrench can be used from both ends. I wish I’d figured that out a little sooner. It would have made those bolts going in a whole lot easier. But the important thing is, my new office chair is amazingly comfortable, my back will be happy, and I did it all by myself. I’m sitting in it right now. It’s my new best friend.

*I was going to post a picture of the chair here but I can’t seem to do that, so just imagine a really squishy, comfy, awesome office chair with tons of neck and back support, and one arm that leans out a little more than it probably should. Pretty, isn’t it?

3.) I have heard a lot of talk about “bullet journals” and I just want to ask…what the hell is a bullet journal? I’m afraid to look it up, because I always want everything, and it sounds a lot like a sneaky planner…is that what it is? Because I have sworn off expensive, complicated planners. In 2018 and 2017, I purchased incredibly expensive, elaborate planners, and both of them have NOTHING written in them past February. It’s not like you can just try again the next year with a planner…if you don’t use it, it’s just a totally useless book. I mean, I’m obviously going to look it up anyway, this bullet journal, so…look out, I’ll probably be on the bandwagon by tomorrow. Crap.

Everything else is going swimmingly around here! Hope the same for you!