Posted in adventure, advice, aging, happiness, Learning, Life, Musings, People, women

The Best Part

the best part

There’s this funny misconception about aging that has infiltrated basically every nook and cranny of our consciousness. I mean, it is pervasive. I see posts all the time in different groups I am in, women who are paralyzed with fear because “I’m already THIRTY and I’m still single!” or “I’m 27 and I still have no idea what I am doing with my life!”

Yes, I know- it’s weird to me, too. But in all fairness, most of us have been conditioned to believe that there is a formula of sorts to follow- a path we should take, reaching certain milestones along the way: 18, graduate high school, attend college. By 24 or 25, nail down a career, maybe settle down with someone. 27-29, we are thinking about marriage, children, all that jazz. Our 30’s are devoted to what? Saving, buying a house, raising kids, building our empire, investing in…whatever people invest in, I don’t know.

I don’t know because I didn’t do ANY of this shit. I did graduate from high school, albeit in a somewhat roundabout fashion. I basically dropped out somewhere along my sophomore year (laws were less restrictive then, and I had way too little supervision, quite frankly) and went back towards the end of my senior year to adult school, plus took the GED for high school credit. I am proud to say I got the highest score on my GED that they had ever had at that time, and I was 100% stoned out of my mind when I took it. So that was surprising. I didn’t get to walk with my class, but that was okay since I didn’t technically have a particular “class” to walk with. I spent nine months at one school and maybe four at another, so I didn’t exactly form life-long friendships. I have never been invited to a reunion, which is kind of sad, though.

Immediately after high school, I enrolled in community college, went twice, then sold all my books back for beer money and dropped out. At 24, I was one of the only one of my friends with a kid (she was two) and the thought of a career never entered my mind. By 29, the only thing I was thinking about was the fact that I was making really poor life choices and maybe I needed to figure out how to be less gross. What I’m trying to say is that I made some impressively bad decisions, followed absolutely no kind of path at all- unless you consider the equivalent of running blindfolded and naked through a forest a “path”, and you know what?

I still turned out pretty great. Yeah, I suffered a bit more than average, and yes, most of it was ultimately at my own hand. Sure, I had moments where I felt woefully behind, and definitely heard my share of “spinster” and “cat lady” jokes. But in all honesty, I have had a freaking incredible life. Even the shitty parts. My life has not been boring. I have LIVED it. Every stupid thing I did, every bad relationship, every relapse and stumble and heartache, gave me something invaluable: Wisdom.

At 44 years old, I have weathered a lot of stuff, and that stuff made me smart. But I didn’t just go through stuff and do nothing with the pain- as many of you know, I got help. I went to rehab (twice), I devoted myself to recovery and did ALL the stepwork. I might not be in recovery anymore, but I still learned so much about myself and how I wanted to show up in the world because of it. I went to therapy- I STILL go to therapy and probably always will. I learned about meditation, about diet and exercise, parenting and running a household like a responsible adult. Learning how to run your own life well is honestly a lot of fun.

There have been many times when my friends have sought me out for advice, and I love nothing more than getting to mull over an issue with them. Perhaps I am not the one to come to if you want sugar-coated bullshit, but if you want the truth, I will try to find a nice way to give it to you. Honestly? I really enjoy getting to share my hard-earned knowledge with someone who is ready to hear it. Not only does it make me feel like maybe I am helping, but it also makes me feel grateful for the things I have learned along the way.

When someone asks how they can get their boyfriend into recovery, I can tell them point blank “YOU can’t. Only he can do that for himself. Don’t take that shit on, because if you start now, you are going to get mighty resentful real quick.”

Yesterday, a girl I do not know posted something anonymously saying she was sure her boyfriend was up to no good- he basically slept with his phone in his pocket and never let it out of his sight. She went on to say he’d cheated in the past, etc., etc. Everyone who answered her seemed to be giving her tips on how to play detective, how to find out what was up.

Dude.

She hadn’t even tried talking to him about it honestly.

Lord have mercy. I told her to think about the bigger picture! This was her one precious life! Is this how she wanted to spend it, sneaking around, trying to gather information on a person she didn’t even trust? How would that benefit her in the long run? In my opinion, even confronting someone you don’t trust is a waste of time because you aren’t going to believe anything they tell you. At that point, it’s really already over. Yeah, with lots of work from both sides, you might have something salvageable. Maybe. But is “salvageable” really the way we want to describe our love lives? Ehh…I don’t know about you, but that’s not the stuff for me.

Wanna know how I arrived at this conclusion? Scroll back through my blogs to the very beginning, I’m sure you’ll find something. But if you can’t, I’ll just tell you- I lived it. I was that girl. And it sucked, it hurt, it drove me insane. I lived through it, I learned from it, and I am healed now. It took a long time.

Here’s the thing- I would not trade the experience I’ve gained for anything. My life was a colossal mess. Sometimes it was so bad, it hurt so much, that I didn’t think I could survive it. I didn’t follow the rules. I messed up a lot. I’ve still never been married or bought a house or even finished college. But I’m happy, and I’m secure, and I know myself. Once upon a time, the thought of relying on myself terrified me. Not anymore. The idea that I can depend on myself today is empowering and reassuring.

At 44, I like myself more than I ever have. I think this might be the very best part of my life so far. I am truly grateful for everything that shaped me into the woman I am today. And that really is the best part of all.

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Posted in advice, happiness, Life, Musings, People, social media

You’re Allowed to be Happy

okay to be happy

The other day I was just brimming with happiness- I am sure you know what that feels like, but I want to tell you what it is like for me, in my wacky little ADHD brain, so indulge me, won’t you? I have what my therapist likes to call “BIG Feelings”. I get really, really excited, super bummed out, terribly disappointed, extremely angry, and incredibly happy. Even when I am feeling just blah, I am the most monotone blah there is…in other words, I’m a lot. One might even say I’m what the kids these days call “extra”. Except, not for, like, my nails and clothes and shit like that. Just emotionally.

So, much as I try these days to keep my personal life to myself on social media (excluding my blog, obviously, which I only occasionally post links to on Facebook, depending on the content), on this particular day I was just bursting-out-of-my-skin happy, and I wrote a vague-ish post about it. It said something like: “I know the world is weird right now, but I am happier than I’ve been in…I don’t know if I’ve ever been this happy, honestly. Like, Disney Princess happy. Not one part of my life is acting up right now and I am just so grateful.”

That was it, that was the post. I want to tell you that I hesitated before I hit “post” because…well, because I felt a little bit guilty for being happy. I mean, the state of things here in the US are NOT GOOD. Mass shootings. Mass deportations. Children sobbing for parents that have been rounded up and shipped off like animals…you’ve seen the videos, right? Then the comments. Oh, fuck, the comments make me sick with outrage. Accusing the kids of acting (I’m sorry, I have an 8 year old daughter- I know the sound of a heartbroken child.), saying how the parents “should have thought of that, it’s their own fault.”, or just plain cruelty-“Oh well”, “too bad”, etc. I don’t get it. I don’t understand people like that. And then there are the people still in cages, thousands of them. The corrupt government. Trump. God, he’s a nightmare. Climate change. Racism. Even the goddamn social justice warriors on the internet that jump down everyone’s throat the minute anyone says anything, however innocently, that might be the palest shade of offensive. I mean, I am on THEIR side and I find them intolerable. It’s just a big fucking mess here these days. I could go on and on.

But I posted it anyway. It was how I was feeling, with my big, big feelings, and I HAD to get it out. My friend Jen commented “I’m glad you posted this- I was feeling the same way today, but I felt weird posting about it with everything going on in the world. I’m happy for you.”

So, I wasn’t a weirdo, at least, for my strange guilt about feeling good in spite of the troubles in the wider world.

Then, another friend responded with “I’m glad you are happy. But I’m afraid you are not paying attention.”

Man…wow. Sooo…I am not allowed to be happy while there is chaos and tragedy unfolding in this world, is that it? Because that’s what I took from that. If that’s the case, I suppose I better forget about being happy ever again, because, as humans, the one thing we are really excellent at is inflicting misery on one another.

Honestly? I’m glad that person responded the way they did. It revealed to me how absurd it is to believe that anyone should feel guilty, ever, about being happy simply because unhappy things are going down in the world. It doesn’t mean we are happy about the tragedies and wrongdoings going down. Of course it doesn’t. But you know what? You sure can deal with a broken world more effectively from a place of love than from the dark. I can find the right words to speak to someone with an opposing view point far more easily when I am happy than I can when I am simply angry. I have access to empathy and kindness and gentleness when I feel good about my life, and can therefore find words that might make someone hear me. I don’t have to resort to insults and mud-slinging as I might when I am down.

My point? If you are happy, share it with the world. We need to find happiness in these bleak times- like attracts like, right? Contribute something useful, say something kind, do not feel guilty about feeling a glimmer of hope, or shining your light, or sharing your joy. Up the vibration. Find the good. Create some if you can’t find any. This world needs it more now than it ever has.

And when someone else shares their happiness out loud, for Pete’s sake, don’t knock them for it. Be happy for them- then you have a little happiness, too, for yourself. And that’s all you need to get started.

Posted in advice, Goals, happiness, health, inner peace, Learning, Life, Mental Health, Musings, People, relationships, women

To Health!

to health

Everyone wants to be healthy, right? I mean, isn’t that true? When we talk about any aspect of our lives that we want to change, what we are really saying is that we want to see that area in alignment, we want it to be balanced, we want it to be healthy. We want healthy finances, healthy relationships, a healthy mind, and most of all, healthy bodies.

But have you ever stopped to think about what that might really look like? In some areas, it might be more easily definable than in others. Healthy finances, for instance- depending on where you are in life, this could mean anything from being able to pay your rent and bills on time without having to ask your parents for help, to building savings, improving your credit score, and having enough to take a nice vacation once a year. Hell, for me in my early thirties, I just wanted to have enough money that searching the couch cushions for spare change wasn’t something I had to resort to on a regular basis. (For the record, this level has decidedly been reached for me. Thank God.)

Still…even with wishes that are more quantifiable, we often remain oddly vague about what it is we are really after. I know I do this, anyway. I’ve had the same job for eleven years now, and it wasn’t until about two or three years ago that I started to formulate an actual plan for my money. Before that, it was just a wish. I “wished” I wasn’t broke all the time, I “wished” things were less scary, less scarce, and less overwhelming. One day, I made a decision that I was fed up with my money problems, and I wasn’t going to live like that anymore, and TA-DA! That’s when my financial problems went away. I wasn’t making more money, I wasn’t working more. I just stopped wishing and started taking charge. The more involved and aware I became, the easier it was to deal with, and the better things got. It wasn’t the money that was the problem, it was my feelings about money…especially my fear of not having enough of it.

I think the same can be said for whatever area of our lives needs improvement. Wishing things were better is not very helpful. Figuring out what is out of place, and how to resolve it, is.

When I put it like that, it sounds super easy, doesn’t it? Well, let me be clear about that: IT IS NOT EASY. It’s not easy to face your issues, it’s not easy to own your shit, and it is not easy, or quick, changing. I have spent the past five years (Oh, I so wanted to use the word “tweaking” here, but quickly realized how bad that word choice would be in my case. LOL.) doing so many different things, trying so many paths, just so that I could feel comfortable in my life. The financial part was the least of it! My mental health, my spiritual health, my relationships, my body- everything needed an overhaul. There were days when I thought it was useless and I might as well give up. There were days when I felt so good that I thought I would never get off track again.

I was learning, through all of it, what “healthy” looked like to me. Along the way, I have been lucky to learn that my new idea of what healthy is for me was not at all the crazy, unattainable picture in my mind that I started out with. That’s the great thing about taking charge and leading your own journey- you get to reevaluate and adjust your goals as you grow and learn.

Today, my ideal healthy body doesn’t require a pair of size five jeans to fit perfectly, and it doesn’t require a flat tummy, or even a particular number on the scale. My ideal healthy body is…confident in clothes or out. Strong. Sturdy and capable. I know that last part sounds a lot like a help wanted ad for a farm hand in 1890, but it’s true! I just want to keep working on how my body feels, because when my body feels strong, I feel pretty good about it. I’ve been 120 pounds and felt terrible in my skin because I was so unhealthy. Today, I eat pretty good, I move a lot more, and I feel proud of the changes I’ve earned.

A healthy mind and spirit doesn’t require me to spend hours on self analysis or aura cleansing or prayer and meditation. I just need to keep an eye on the content of my thoughts, be gentle with myself and others, and keep doing the things that have eradicated my anxiety (miraculously!) for the past few months. Healthy relationships? Well, I’m still learning here, but…basically, what works best for me seems to be just not being a grouchy asshole. Be nice. People just want to be treated nicely. Oh, also- pick the right people! The wrong people will be much harder to be nice to.

I guess my point is, yes it’s been hard. And even though I’m still evolving, as I’m sure I always will be, in the big picture five years is not all that long. Also, most people don’t start from where I started- I was really, really behind and really, really messed up. So, it might be easier for someone else. I like where I am in life, and I like who I am for once- I like who I am a lot. I mean it. That wasn’t something I could have said even a year ago. I might have tried a lot of stuff that ultimately didn’t pan out, but it all led me here, so…it was worth it.

Today is a great day to examine the parts of your life you’ve been avoiding, stop wishing it was different, and start taking steps to make it better. I promise you, you won’t regret it.

 

Posted in advice, family, Life, Mental Health, mental illness, Musings, People, random, social media

If You See Something, SAY Something

Last Sunday evening, I was sitting, sun burnt and happy, in this very chair, scrolling through Facebook when I saw an alarming post in a women’s group I’m in. “There’s an active shooter at the Gilroy Garlic Festival-local birds, please check in so we know you’re okay.”

I thought surely there must be some mistake. I mean, that is twenty minutes away from my house! I had almost gone this year for the first time ever, but we opted not to for whatever arbitrary reason. I quickly jumped onto a local news site, and sure as hell, it was true.  Right here, practically in my neighborhood.

It was just a short time ago that I was frantically messaging my friend Stephanie in Virginia Beach after a man there opened fire in a government building where he worked. That was right there, right in her town. She couldn’t believe it was happening in her hometown.

Yesterday, I was at Jiffy Lube, getting my oil changed, when I was alerted that there was a mass shooting in a busy Walmart in El Paso, packed with families getting back to school supplies. The stories I read were from people who were just grabbing unattended children and running for their lives…There was one other man in the waiting room at the oil change place with me. “There’s been another shooting.” I said, “In El Paso.” “Huh.” he said, and went back to his magazine.

This morning, I woke up to find there was another shooting, this time in Ohio. I haven’t read the news about it yet. I will, but I don’t really need to. I can make an educated guess that it was a white male, most likely in his late teens or early 40’s, though not always. He probably doesn’t like people who aren’t the same color as him. Maybe I’m wrong, but probably not. Chances are, he’s been posting something somewhere- maybe Reddit, maybe Facebook, Instagram, or some other, less well-known, more “white nationalist” flavored site. This will come out after the fact, as it always does.

I’m not even going to go into my feelings about how our current administration (and by that, make no mistake that I am pointing directly at the so-called leader here) is fueling the fires of racial tension with his behavior and words. If you can’t see that, I won’t be able to convince you otherwise.

What I want to talk about is this: Right now, there is going to be an upsurge in the same outcry we have heard time and time and time again- GUN CONTROL! We need GUN CONTROL! When are THEY going to DO SOMETHING?!

Kids, I hate to break it to you, but “They” are clearly not gonna do shit. We are on our own here. It is you, and your neighbors, and your communities full of people you love, children, elderly, families, teenagers, outcasts and recluses- all of US, against a few bad and dangerous, sick, volatile few.

It is up to US.

If you see something, SAY SOMETHING.

If someone you know posts something online that could be a joke, but also might not be- it is your responsibility to bring it to the attention of someone who can help.

If your SON is troubled and you worry about what is going on with him, maybe he says things you don’t support and he’s a little more angry than usual, but he’s your son, and you know he would never…it is your responsibility to step in.

It might be nothing. You might feel stupid, and like a snitch, and worry about making trouble for someone for no good reason. With nothing but love, I tell you this: Fuck that. This is no time for giving people the benefit of the doubt. Innocent people are literally being gunned down while they eat calamari at food festivals, while they wait for the next band to come on, while they buy their kids wide rule paper at Wal Mart. If there is even one billionth of a chance that you could somehow prevent the next slew of pointless deaths, you better jump on it.

In this weird era of disconnection from not only our neighbors but our loved ones- often loved ones living under the same roof- I think all this violence is a very good reason to reacquaint ourselves with our surroundings. Check up on your adult children. Make sure they are doing okay. Sit down with your high school kids, find out what is going on- REALLY going on- in their lives. Reach out to your neighbors. If you are like me, you probably know three or four people on your block, and only remember one of their names. We need to be better neighbors, better parents, better friends, and better community members. Because we are the eyes and ears. If we paid attention, maybe we could slow down these events. If we used our voices, if we spoke up when something made us worry or didn’t seem right, maybe we could save some lives.

I’m not placing the blame on anyone for these things except for where it belongs- squarely on the shoulders of the people shooting these guns. Ultimately, they are responsible. But the things THEY have heard and the way they interpret that information matters. And the people surrounding them, the people who know them, who read what they write and hear what they say, they matter too. Do not be afraid to speak up.

If you fucking see something, SAY SOMETHING. No one is coming to save us.

Posted in Dating, entertainment, friendship, fun, happiness, humor, Learning, Life, love, Musings, People, random, relationships, women

Quirks, Baggage, and Funky Thoughts

baggage

If you are single, and you think you have resolved nearly all of your issues and have arrived at some plateau where the dilemmas of the common man no longer ruffle your feathers, I highly recommend you run out and get involved with someone. Especially if you want a good laugh. Because I PROMISE YOU, the minute you add that new person to the mix, along with a good dollop of whatever emotions happen to tag along, you will be just amazed at the weird acrobatics your brain can (and probably will) do.

I want to preface this by saying that the man I have had the absolute pleasure to find myself spending time with is incredibly attentive. He keeps in touch, he is basically an open book, and he is kind. All of these are things I doubt I would have been able to tolerate at any other phase in my life- I mean really, nothing ever turned me off more than a man who liked me back. You know the old story about how “men like the chase”? Well, I guess I am a man, then, because that was always my M.O. I loved the chase. One might even say I went out of my way to find unavailable men just to up the challenge a little bit.

As a matter of fact, I worked so very hard at that chase, and at convincing (or trying to) the man that I was perfect for him, that very often, I forgot to check in with myself to see if I liked them. Like, really liked them, beyond the thrill of the conquest. As you can imagine, this has created some problems for me. It has also created weird dynamics in relationships that lasted far longer than they ever should have. I have a lot of “go away, I can’t stand you…wait, come back, I love you!” situations under my belt. I didn’t understand it when it was happening, but I knew it was unhealthy and weird. I don’t really understand it now, and I don’t think it matters. I just don’t want to do it anymore. I’m too old for that shit.

But I do still have some things to deal with. I am so lucky that I am older, wiser, and totally hip to what is happening in my thought process while it is happening. That doesn’t make it any more pleasant of course, nor does is make the feelings any less real, but…at least I can see my thoughts for what they are- made up scenarios in my brain- rather than believing them to be the truth and letting them run rampant through my life, wrecking everything.

A perfect example is this recent non-event that my brain made into a big old deal: We had tentative plans to hang out at my house one evening while Cam was gone. We never hang out at my house, by the way- I don’t know why…okay, that’s a lie, it’s because my house is a freaking mess, that’s why. Anyway, due to circumstances beyond our control, we couldn’t nail down anything ahead of time, and were playing it by ear. No biggie, right? I had a text at 7:40 in the morning saying “I’ll let you know soon.” And that was it. Normally, I get a call or text midday, at least. This particular day, nada. Okay, fine. That’s fine. By three in the afternoon, I’m getting worried. I refer back to previous texts to see if I said something unreasonable? Pushy, maybe? I begin to over-analyze everything, all the while telling myself I’m being ridiculous. At four, I send out an exploratory text. “Hi. How’s your day? I’m almost off work.” HINT FREAKING HINT. Thirty minutes crawl by, then “Busy. How about you?”

Sigh. Men. You gotta be direct sometimes. But I wasn’t there yet. “Same. Got a lot done, though.” Annnnnd…nothing.

At five thirty, Cam is long gone with her dad, my house is more spotless than it’s been since I moved in, and I’m laying on the couch, half sulking, half convinced that it’s over, he hates me, I did something wrong, I…wait. Wait, wait, wait. What in the hell is going on here? I sat up, paused the TV, and took a good hard look at my crazy ass thoughts. First of all, I’m ashamed to admit that it got that far in the first place- this is a perfect example of old behaviors and baggage floating to the surface like the bloated corpses of relationships past that they are. Secondly, if I needed an answer about something, it was my job to ask- why was I pussy footing around? I quickly sent out another text- “Hey, I need to know what we are doing so I can plan my night- you coming over or not?” Easy. Third of all, had there been any indication whatsoever that this guy was the kind of person who would just ghost me on a whim? Absolutely not. So why was I not giving him the benefit of the doubt? And why was I literally just sitting there, waiting for him to call me? Jesus Christ, I’m a fiercely independent, self-sufficient, forty four year old WOMAN.

So, I got up, threw my shoes on, and headed out the door to get some frozen yogurt as a reward for all my hard work on the house. When I got home, I realized I’d left my phone on the charger, and sure enough, had missed a call from him and several messages. He’d had a busy day, he was sorry, call him back, he was getting in the shower and heading over. So…all of those mental theatrics were for NOTHING. An utter waste of my time and energy. I laughed (worriedly) at my own ridiculousness, and carried on as if nothing had happened, because…nothing had happened. Lets see how long I can retain that lesson.

It hit me, though, how much I still have to mature in this area. I have never been very good at it, relationship stuff. It scares me more than anything. At the same time, I realize how lucky I am to get to be here right now, in the midst of all these heady feelings. I’ve waited a long time for this, not even realizing that I was waiting for it. So why not enjoy it? Why not recognize that every time I start trying to plan it or place expectations on it, it doesn’t feel good anymore, and when I just let it unfold, it does? Because the truth is, I can’t say what will happen or what comes next- really, no one ever can. But I can squeeze every bit of joy out of what is right in front of me. And that in no way involves me sulking on my couch, waiting for my phone to ring. It means trusting that, no matter what happens, I’m capable of being happy…and that means it’s safe to relax and enjoy the good things in my life.

 

Posted in Dating, friendship, happiness, inner peace, Life, Musings, People, relationships

Spectacularly Exhausted

Spectacularly Exhausted

It is 5:50 a.m. on Sunday, and I think I had about 45 minutes this morning where I felt like ‘oh, I finally got enough sleep! Today is going to be great!’ Before the (now familiar) veil of exhaustion tumbled back down over my head.

Honestly, I don’t know what is wrong with me, but I’m beginning to wonder if maybe there is a Deer Tick stuck to my scalp, or in some nook or cranny that I can’t see, sucking out my blood while simultaneously infecting me with Lyme’s Disease? Seems far fetched, but…Jesus Christ, I’m beat.

As I sit here, contemplating my lethargy, it occurs to me that my legs and hips are sending little pain-signals up to my brain, my knee muscles hurt, and even my feet are a little bit sore. The feet are truly the least of it. My lower back has also been a bit…I don’t know, it feels crooked or something…since I woke up. I can attribute that, at least, to a night of sleep that more closely resembled death (I imagine) as I do not think I so much as disturbed the covers last night. Although I did wake up on my back, and I know I never, ever fall asleep that way, so…I must have moved at least once.

The rest of it, though? Well, I can place the blame evenly in three places. One would be the trampoline. Despite the fact that I absolutely qualify as a middle-aged woman at this point, I cannot seem to resist the call of that damn thing. My daughter always wants me to come watch her jump (kids need an audience for EVERYTHING, don’t they?) and despite my protests that “this time, I am only watching!” I can never make it more than five minutes without joining in. It’s just so much fun! So much fun, in fact, that I can’t even recognize it as exercise. Oh, but it is! If you don’t believe me, ask my knee muscles- not my actual knees, but the little muscles around and behind them- that is where the pain is. Perhaps it is low impact, but that’s not the same as no impact, and again, I’m kinda getting old, you know? Still, I highly doubt I’ll be stopping anytime soon.

The second would be the guy…let’s call him Mr. E (get it? Myster-y? Hahaha! I kill me.) for now, shall we? He’s killing me. Like, maybe for real. Yesterday, he took me out to the middle of fucking nowhere in like 90 degree heat for a “walk” through a veritable desert…with NO WATER. “Do you always hike without water?” I asked. “Quit focusing on the lack of water.” He replied, “And yes, I do. It makes it more interesting. You appreciate it more when you get it later.” Okay, first of all? That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Second of all, he probably just forgot the water. He forgot it last time we hiked, too, but I remembered. We ran through two giant bottles of water on that hike, and it was through a shaded forest, so…yeah.

Anyway, I’m mostly joking around. I mean, it’s true, we didn’t have water, and it was really hot, but it was a great walk. I hadn’t been there before, and getting out in the sun really helped the ever present, bone deep tiredness lift for a while. Right up to the moment that I realized I had A.) forgotten to wear sunscreen, and B.) was on antibiotics that specifically instructed me to stay out of the sun. Oops. I remembered about a mile and half in, when I noticed I was…rather pink. “Do I look like I’m burning to you?” I asked. “We better turn around.” was his (alarming) response, once he took a good look at me. I spent the rest of the walk back run-walking from shade tree to shade tree, and there just weren’t that many to be found. “I’m not like other girls.” I reminded him, “I’m like one step above albino.” “Poor little cracker.” He said. (I googled to see if that term was offensive-not for me, I am obviously not offended. But for any of you. I have determined that it really should not be.)

The third bit of blame lands squarely on ME. I have been burning the candle at both ends. I have been going to bed much later, but getting up as early as ever. I have been trying my hardest to plan activities with friends, plan activities with Camryn, to play as much as possible, and have also added an entirely new human to my life. This is most definitely a good thing, but it is also a new thing, and new things in my life are always a bit…challenging for me.

I have been 100% single since sometime in 2014, I believe. Prior to that, I was at least semi-single (still waffling back and forth with the ex) for about a year. So it’s been a long time without…all the stuff that relationships require of us. Just the number of times per week I have to shave my legs now has skyrocketed. The makeup I am applying. The sheer amount of time spent thinking about a person in this way is…kind of hilarious. And freaky, to be honest. And awesome. Really pretty awesome. I spend more time on the phone talking than a teenager…maybe a teenager in 1993. I don’t think current day teenagers actually realize they can use their phones to speak to people in real time.

BUT, and I cannot stress this enough, I am sooooo okay with it. If I have to be tired, so be it. I’m always one jump or hike or conversation away from rallying again. And really? I had given up hope that I’d EVER be here again- I just didn’t think it was possible. I thought I’d have to, eventually, when I really got so lonely I couldn’t stand it anymore, settle for the company of someone who was…so-so. Instead, out of nowhere, I find myself hanging out with this guy who is just…the best. Every once in a while, I can’t help but pause and wonder how in the world this even fell in my lap. And I mean, that’s a pretty good thing to wonder, right? How you got so lucky? Because I feel like I SCORED.

So yeah, I’m tired. I’m wiped completely out. But I’m also deliriously happy most of the time. And I think that’s a pretty decent trade off. Don’t you agree?

Posted in Addiction, adventure, family, friendship, happiness, Life, Musings, People, recovery

Beautiful

beautiful

The past five years of my life have been a trip and a half, honestly.

When I moved into this house, four years and four months ago, I was at the end of the worst relapse I had probably ever had- it only lasted five months, but it was a doozy. So much so that I can’t even remember the sequence of events prior to its beginning. How long was I clean before that? I dunno. It might have been a year? Nine months? Really, I’m just not sure. The years between 2011 and 2015 were a messy patchwork quilt of good days and bad days, struggle and victory, way way up and down down down.

Ugh, I’m so sick of talking about that part of my life. I really am. But, you know, it’s part of what makes my life so incredibly beautiful today, so I can’t leave it out completely. A month after I moved in here- on April 15th, 2015- I used my drug of choice for the very last time. The night before, I’d had a terrible fight with my sister and my daughter, and I knew I was out of control, but I was so fucking angry that I couldn’t seem to control myself. The next morning I went to work and I was NOT OKAY. I remember sitting at my desk, barely holding it together. Someone said something to me- “Not having the best day, huh?” or “Someone’s having a rough morning.”, and I couldn’t, I just could not possibly hold in my tears anymore. I remember crying in the bathroom stall, shaking and trying so hard to get my heart to slow down. I knew I needed to do something drastic, and that it had to be TODAY. There was no more putting it off. The fears I had about being found out were suddenly not nearly as big as my desperation for help.

Ask anyone in recovery, they will tell you- desperation is an addicts saving grace in moments like that. Desperation is the friend who helps you find your way out of the mess you are in. And so, just like that, I started over. It wasn’t a new thing- dear Lord, I’d done it a million times before. But this time, it stuck.

For the next several years, and you know this already if you’ve been following along for a while- I went through some intense shit. I had no idea at all what a “normal life” was supposed to look or feel like, I had no idea how to function as an adult woman. Everything from the way I paid my bills to the things I understood about relationships was dysfunctional and…for lack of a better description, fucked up.

Even though I was clean, my life did not magically improve overnight. Lots of things in my life got better and easier, but I did not stop using drugs and voila! – life was suddenly perfection. Nope. If I’m being honest, if anything, it kinda got worse. It’s sort of that thing where, when you are deep cleaning your house, and you’ve been at it for a while, you’re getting tired, and you look around only to find that it looks about ten times worse in the middle than it did when you started. You’ve dragged everything out from the cupboards, closets, under the bed. It’s discouraging, right? But anyone who has done this a time or two knows that it always looks worse when it’s getting better. That’s how it was with my life. I dragged alllll the stuff out into the open, and I was dealing with it. It SUCKED. It sucked so hard sometimes that I am sure the only reason I kept going was because I didn’t know what else I could do. The idea of using again never occurred to me- that door was firmly shut. So, I soldiered on.

Therapy and twelve step meetings, self-help books and more introspection than anyone should probably ever subject themselves to- that was my life. But it HAD to happen that way, I am sure of it.

In January, I did something that freaked everyone out, including myself. I quit recovery. I dropped out of NA, and decided I didn’t want to live by those rules anymore. I haven’t said much about it here for a few different reasons. In the beginning, it was mostly because I didn’t know what was going to happen to me and I was scared- after all, I have spent the last twenty or so years of my life being told that there is no middle ground for someone like me. Jails, institutions or death. Recovery or relapse. Once an addict, always an addict. But I didn’t want to be sitting in those rooms twenty years on, talking about the sad shit that happened in my old life. I didn’t see the value in it anymore. It seemed…kinda weird. And I had a hard time believing that it was wrong of me to say “I’m done with that life forever.” when I knew it was true, FOR ME. I started to wonder if constantly discussing the life I’d lived before was…like poking a wound, keeping it fresh instead of letting it heal. It seemed counter- intuitive to me. So I stopped.

I am happy to report that, as of this writing, I am doing just fine. In truth, I am doing better than I ever have in my life. I am happy and whole and healthy and free of all the prepackaged ideals I leaned on so heavily in the beginning. I’m not saying they weren’t useful or important or really good for me at some point, because they were! I would never fault anyone for sticking with what works for them. But THIS is what works for me, and I am so glad I took a chance and struck out on my own.

What works for me has nothing to do with what might work for you- this was the other thing that made me keep quiet about this leg of my journey. I would never recommend to another recovering addict to try another way of life. This was an extremely personal, and risky, decision that I made that happened to be right for ME.

I have spent this summer hiking in forests and playing in rivers, jumping on our trampoline, and watering my garden. We’ve flown on planes and played on beaches on both sides of the United States. I’ve laughed with friends, eaten dinners with ocean views, gotten butterflies in my stomach and remembered how to kiss. I’ve gone to parties and picnics, seen movies, gone bowling. I’ve had sun-tan lines and dirty feet and wild hair, and probably gotten about a thousand more smile lines around my eyes. And you know what? I’ve never felt more beautiful in my entire life.

Because I’m living my life the way I have always wanted to- by my own rules, not because anyone else has told me how it should be, or how it should look. And for the first time ever, living my life the way I want to doesn’t come with a cost or with terrible consequences. It comes with a feeling of peace, happiness, and contentment. That is the most beautiful thing of all, I think. I am so grateful that I was brave enough to make it through those hardships, strong enough to do the work that needed to be done, and confident enough to believe I could get here…to exactly where I am, right now.