Category Archives: relationships

Learning how to Love

anger chinese proverb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Facebook Fast, Day 7

facebook

 

You might have noticed that I have been posting a LOT this week. I think I published three blogs more than I intended to, but…well…you see…the truth is, I think I may be suffering a little bit from Facebook withdrawals. I don’t think I mentioned here that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to do a detox from the social media site so many of us love to hate. So, starting December 31st, I have been FB free.

The first few days didn’t bother me a bit- to my surprise, I hardly even thought about it. If anything, I just felt relief, and maybe a sense of freedom. By day five, the relief felt more like emptiness- I had the nagging sense that I was supposed to be doing something, but I couldn’t remember what it was. “What IS it?” I kept thinking to myself, wandering around the house, looking for the…the thing, whatever it was that was missing.

Yesterday was rough. It was Saturday, and I had a lot of free time- more than usual, actually, since I am kind of on a self imposed quarantine. Not because I am sick, but because pretty much everyone else here on the peninsula seems to be. I didn’t go to my Saturday morning meeting, I didn’t go to the gym…come to think of it, I didn’t even leave the house once yesterday. Whoa. Anyway, I was home, alone aside from a seven year old who just wanted to be left alone with her Roblox game (I think that’s what it’s called), with a lot of time on my hands. This would be the time when I would normally jump onto Facebook and start scrolling away.

Okay, wait, I just lied. The truth is, there was never a time when I wasn’t jumping onto Facebook, scrolling away. That was part of the problem. The thing is, and you may not agree, but remember, I am talking about ME right now- the thing is, my addictive behavior can manifest itself in a myriad of ways. It goes WAY beyond drugs, into all sorts of compulsive BS. Listen, not only was I blessed with the gift of addiction, but I am also a genuine, medically diagnosed ADHD “sufferer” (I say this only because I think the people around me suffer from my ADHD way worse than I do!), with the added bonus of not being able to take medication for it because…well, because the medication they give you for ADHD is a LOT like the “medication” I had a big problem with. To put it mildly.

So Facebook lights up all the synapses for me- I can satisfy compulsions, it’s fast and sort of gratifying, I can go back to it again and again and again, I can post funny little snippets of my life and get the reward of “Likes” and comments, kudos and agreement. Yuck! Definitely an element of narcissism in there too, isn’t there? Yeah, it just started to be bad for me. No, it was bad for a long time, actually. Not only was it bad for me in that way, but it really fired up all my character defects, too. I judged the fuck out of everyone on there- for their level of interesting (“Oh God, you are so boring, no one cares!”), for their number of selfies (I literally have NO BUSINESS saying shit about this one- didn’t stop me from thinking it, though), for their “If you agree, type AMEN” posts (Um, no.), and for their spelling. I mean…how do you mess up so badly when spell check exists? Look, we all make mistakes at times, but I have seen posts that were indecipherable, and I don’t get it. Facebook started to make me feel bad every time I went on, and I went on about a million times a day.

So, I stopped, and yesterday was the first time I missed it, but then I realized something. I didn’t miss Facebook at all, not really. What I missed was the false sense of connection, of involvement in people’s lives, that it gave me. Yes, this year, one of the things I am striving for is connection, but not like that. Not pretend connection, and me sitting at home, judging the spelling and choices of others. I want real connection, with people in real life…and I think I may have forgotten how to foster that. I was actually a little bit lonely yesterday- that’s what was going on.

Today, I am going to practice reaching out- I have been doing that a little bit lately. I left an incredibly awkward voicemail message for my friend recently, and I can’t help but laugh just thinking about it. He still hasn’t called me back, either, the jerk, but he’s an old friend, so I’m not worried. It’s kind of weird even picking up the phone and calling someone these days, in this world of texting as the main form of communication. But this year, I want to hear voices, and see faces. I want to get together IRL, you know?

Oh, and the Facebook Fast is only supposed to last through January, but who knows? Maybe I’ll keep it up even longer. Then again, maybe I won’t last the month.

No, I totally will. Thanks for putting up with all my chatter this week! I’ve found a lot of new blogs to follow, and have connected with a few new bloggers, which is great. I’m really curious what your experience and habits with Facebook are like, so please feel free to fill me in in the comments!

Talk to you soon! (You can pretty much bet on that)

Surfacing

surfacing by chuck aves
art credit: Chuck Aves

I decided I better write this out before I do my usual blog reading session this morning, because I know there will be a million stories from my fellow writers about the year behind and the year ahead. I want my words to at least feel original on their way out! So here we go:

2017

This year has been one of the best years of my entire life, and I am not exaggerating. It has been a year of incredible self examination and change on a deep level. I am not the person I was 365 days ago, and I like this version of myself so much more. I put another year between me and the worst of my past, and so much of the fear and doubt and self loathing that I didn’t even know I was lugging around with me for so long, it has diminished. I am ending this year so much lighter than I started out- both lighter, as in carrying so much less, and lighter, less covered in darkness.  This year has been HARD, but it was work I needed to do, and I’m glad that I did. There is a calm place inside of me that I can almost always reach now, and there is a brake to slow me down where there never was before. I don’t have to escalate. I can hear myself. I am learning to mind my responses, that I don’t always have to react.

I lost someone that I love this year. It has been four months and four days since he died, and I think about him every single day. I thought about him every single day when he was alive, too. I don’t know what else I can say about this that I haven’t already written about here or here . A little bit of my heart, the only one who shared a lot of my favorite memories, and a really valued friend left the physical world, and I miss him. But I survived it, I stayed clean, and I learned how to grieve deeply, and that you can grow that way, too.

I feel like in 2017, I dived into the depths, and did some much needed exploration and learning. I brought light to places that had been dark for so, so long. I found places that had been forgotten, and brought them back into order. I have seen parts of myself I didn’t know existed, and know myself so much better now. I can look at myself from a different and kinder perspective, and it’s such a relief. But you can only stay under for so long.

2018

Surfacing. Open. Curiosity. Interest. Joy. Inspiration. yes.

These words are the theme I have chosen for the year ahead. Of course, these words are MY choice, which means, if I get a vote, this is what mine will be. We don’t always get to choose.

If I do get to choose, however, I will have a year that is mostly lighthearted, and filled with love. I will have a year filled with appreciation of all that I have already, and all of the new things that will come into my world. There will be road trips, and plane flights, friendship and laughter. I am open to the possibility of love (you guys don’t even know how embarrassing that was for me to write. Definitely need to do some work in that area!) if it is easy and it fits- and if it is not easy, then it has to be worthy of working for.

My choice will be a year of connection, and togetherness, and bonding. I feel like I did so much solitary work this past year- it was good, and it SO needed to happen. But I am ready to venture out into the light of the great big beautiful world, and learn how to play with others. I want to go hiking, and to the flea market, and on day trips and weekend trips, play board games, get dressed up for dinner, and sit around in living rooms that aren’t my own, maybe, laughing until my sides ache. That is the kind of year I see for myself.

Now, don’t get me wrong- I have all of the usual resolutions, and maybe I will write more about them tomorrow. But today, I needed to state my intentions for the year to the Universe.

Last year was amazing. This year will be the best one yet. Happy New Year’s Eve, everybody.

The Best Christmas Yet.

the best christmas yet

 

In the 42 years I have been on this planet, I have had all kinds of Christmases. I have had magical ones- lots of those, thanks to my mom, who REALLY pulled out all the stops every year to make it special for us kids. I have had terrible ones- I remember a year, when Aisley must have been about seven, when I had stayed up partying all night, and all of her presents were from the dollar store. Also, a guy I didn’t know was passed out on my living room floor, left there by his friend the night before when we couldn’t wake him up. We just stepped over him. That’s the kind of life I have lived.  I have had angry Christmases, and lonely ones, Christmas days filled with too much driving, too much fighting, and too much wishing I was somewhere else.

But I have never, ever, had a Christmas day when I was so overcome with gratitude as I listened to the sound of my family- all the people I love most in the world- chattering away and laughing in the living room behind me, that I broke down in tears. Not just a pretty little drop or two as I brushed garlic butter onto bread, but full on, “Oh shit, Courtney, this is not the time for a breakdown” kinda tears. Sobs, you might even say. I don’t know how to describe it to you, the way I was feeling, except for that worn out word, grateful. So, so, so full of gratitude that it hurt a little bit.

Because that, that feeling that I had, that sent tears pouring out of my eyes, and my mother rushing to hug me- that, my friend, is what recovery is. All the meetings that I make and the stepwork that I do, all the self reflection and correction and digging deep and starting over, forgiving myself, forgiving others, all the TRYING. All of the never taking anything, no matter what- THAT is what I have been searching for, and striving for, and wanting in my life and heart all along. That feeling of peace. That feeling of love, and belonging, and contentment and family. I have been really working a 12 step program for two and half years straight, but I have been trying to be where I was yesterday my entire adult life. My whole life.

If you are reading this, and you are new in recovery, I want to encourage you to stay the course. Don’t give up. There were times in the beginning when I was more miserable than I had been when I was using. I had zero coping skills, nothing left to take the edge off, and my brain was fucked up, even if I couldn’t come to terms with that at the time. My temper was as short fused as ever, and goddammit, I got clean so that I could stop being so hateful, but it didn’t seem to be working. If this sounds familiar, just wait. Just find whatever small improvements you do see, and hold onto them. Know that it will change.

When I had about a year clean, I got really mad at my mom, for a good long while. She didn’t do anything wrong, and I didn’t understand it- I hated it, actually. I was afraid that I was going to stay mad forever, and it scared me. But I had faith that I was working through old shit, feeling feelings that I should have felt a long time ago, and I held on. I kept pushing forward, inch by inch. One day, I looked for the anger that I had almost gotten used to lugging around with me, and I found that it had faded. Day after day, it lessened, leaving me surprised by what took its place- love, warmth, affection, acceptance. Yesterday, I can tell you, I did not have one single weird feeling where my mom is concerned. I never felt judged or criticized, picked on or even remotely insulted. The reason I am telling you this is because relationships change in recovery. You will change, and they will change.

Every single person in my house yesterday has been hurt by me in my addiction. Every. Single. One. I just now realized that. Wow. How blessed am I, that I get to make a living amends to these people? That they have forgiven me? That they still love me, that they are so proud of me? I literally would not have ANY of it if I wasn’t clean. I wouldn’t have it, and I wouldn’t even know that I wanted it. I would still be trying to fill that hole in my spirit with all the wrong things, wondering why everything hurt so much.

Listen, I want everyone to be able to feel the way I felt yesterday. If you have reached the end of your rope, and you need some help figuring out what to do next, shoot me an email. I will try to help you figure out a solution. Clduncan1@outlook.com, or just message me here.  And again, if you are new in recovery, I promise you- the pain will be worth the gain. It will be worth every second.

This Christmas…

 

Christmas

I am sitting here, at 5:24 a.m. on Christmas Eve, full of excitement and nerves. In just a little while, my oldest daughter and her boyfriend, who may as well be my third child, are going to be here to spend the night and wake up on Christmas morning with our little family (EXCITED!). Tomorrow, my mom, stepdad, and uncle are coming here, to MY house, to spend the day and have Christmas dinner…HERE. With ME! (NERVOUS!)

I am going to have a house full of the most important people in my life, and I could just cry over how happy it makes me. Every single year before this, I either had to drive three hours to spend a hurried Christmas at my late Grandparent’s home, or I opted out, and stayed home, missing everyone. I know that not every year will be this way- sometimes I am going to have to go to them. But this year, I made my mind up to stay home, and I wasn’t going to budge. And I am so happy that everyone is coming here. My uncle never goes ANYWHERE, so this is a really big deal!

I want to make it as special and warm and happy as I can for everyone, and lets be real- I am not exactly the hostess of the year. I’ve been known to run and hide in the bathroom when someone unexpectedly shows up at my door. Or stay very, very still until they go away. So I keep finding myself getting bunched up with anxiety, worried about the state of my home (i’ll be cleaning like crazy for most of today) or how small my house is, or how shoddy and fur covered my couch is, or…but you know what?

None of that stuff matters. If it matters to certain other people (cough-my mom-cough) then I need to remember that that is her shit, not mine. My job is to do the best I can, but more than that, to enjoy my family. So that is what I am going to do. I have managed, for the first time in my life, to make it through this hectic season with love in my heart and a smile on my face. I have been as generous and thoughtful and kind as I know how to be- even when no one was around to witness it. I have kept my program of recovery in mind, and tried to behave accordingly because I want to be a good example- this one fell flat many times, but the point is, I am trying. REALLY trying. Because I want so much to have a happy life, not just a happy Christmas.

But really, what it comes down to is this: I have decided I WILL have a wonderful Christmas, so that is what I have set about creating. I can’t absolutely control the outcome- first of all, no one ever can do that, and secondly, control is the very thing I am working on relinquishing- but I have done all the things I can, both inside of me and out, to invite the best outcome. And I have made up my mind to enjoy whatever comes.

One thing I know for sure is that my family has given me the best gift of all just by agreeing to show up. I feel pretty freaking loved.  Which makes it SO much easier to get into the Christmas Spirit, you know? It stopped being about what was under the tree for me a LONG time ago. Sometimes, it wasn’t about anything, and I couldn’t feel much besides stress and irritation, relief when it was all over. But this year- this year is very different. I think for the first time ever, my head is clear enough, my heart healed enough, that I can access the things that matter most of all during the holidays- Love, Family, Peace, Hope.  It’s been such a long road for me, but I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s so nice to be right where I am.

I hope all of you get to have something like this feeling I have today. If not today, then very soon. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.

The Fleeting Nature of Life

I have changed by leaps and bounds over the past two and a half years. Some of it was just by nature of staying off of drugs and letting my brain heal, but a lot of it was intentional and through hard, hard work, deep soul-searching, and honest reflection about the kind of person I am and who I want to be.

I am doing the recovery stuff- working with my sponsor, doing step-work, going to meetings. I am doing spiritual stuff- daily prayer and meditation. I have a therapist, I pay attention to my behavior, and try to reign it in when the way I am acting doesn’t jibe with the person I know I can be.

But nothing- and I mean NOTHING- can shake you up, nothing can clear the cobwebs out of your eyes, like the sudden loss of someone you love. I have never been more heartbroken in my life than I have since last August. That was when I lost my friend Joe, whom I loved so much more than I can even begin to explain, and even if I did, it wouldn’t make sense. That’s okay, though. Love doesn’t need to make sense, right? I always think about the way that most people get on my nerves, their frail human side is always coming to light, ruining everything. His never did. He never got on my nerves, like, not ever that I can remember. I am not trying to say that he didn’t have a bad side, that he never disappointed me or hurt my feelings, because he definitely did. He was just so easy for me to forgive. I wish I could love more people that way, but I haven’t yet (aside, of course, from my kids, but that is a different kind of thing altogether).

Anyway, he died. And it was one of the hardest days of my life, one of the worst phone calls I have ever survived. I remember that my knees just buckled, and I fell on the floor, the tears came in a torrent, and the grief was immediate and overwhelming. There have been lots of tears since then, and lots of times that I am totally fine. I can think of him or talk about him, and it makes me smile or laugh, no tears at all. As long as, you know, I don’t think too hard about what I am saying.

But what has happened as a result of him dying is, I have changed. I thought he was invincible. I know how stupid that sounds, but if you’d ever met Joe, you would understand why.  So, now that he is gone, I guess I view everything with more urgency, through the scope, I suppose, of someone who understands that life as I know it could change in an instant.

You might think that this would make me fearful, or hold on even more tightly to everything than I already do, but no…in a way, it has been a gift. Because I have had to face the fact that there is absolutely nothing I can do about some things. When it is your time, it is your time, plain and simple. Rather than making me cling to everything, I find myself learning to let go. Life is short. You had better enjoy every beautiful moment that makes itself available to you. Tell people you love them. Dance, be present, look up at the stars and the moon in the beautiful sky. Slow down. Say yes when you want to, and no when you should.

Don’t waste a bunch of time on petty anger, rushing through your day, always trying to get to the next thing, the next thing, the next thing. Take a moment to realize that this, right now, is your life. It is happening NOW. Maybe you are lucky, like me, and you are still relatively young, and your whole body works the way it is supposed to, and you can basically do anything you want to do. Do you realize how lucky that makes you? Don’t waste it. Don’t waste a single minute of it.

And that is all I have to say about that today. Carry on.

Letting Go of Old Resentments in Favor of Love:

God, it’s been so long since I have sat here and tried to write anything, that I almost don’t know where to start. I got stuck on the “Title” space for such a long time that I decided to just write first, and see if something came to me. In case you are curious, I will tell you that over the past two months, while I haven’t been writing, I have been doing a lot of work on myself. Trust me, there was plenty of stuff to work on, and plenty left to do…I’m not one to just leave myself be. Oh, if only I could. But that will never be me. Anyway, I thought about writing a lot, but I just didn’t have anything I wanted to say, here…then, the past few days, the urge started coming over me again. If you write, you know what I mean- little ideas start tickling the back of your mind. Nothing too pressing. Then, this morning came, and I knew it was time.

resentment

This morning, a friend of mine lost her father. He was in hospice, and so it wasn’t unexpected, but…she fell asleep beside him, holding his hand, and when she woke up, he was gone. She is devastated. Last week, a friend that I work with lost her mother. Like my other friend, she was there with her, right to the very end. We talked for a long time about it, and I told her that when I found out her mom had passed, I tried to imagine what it would be like to wake up in a world where my mother no longer resided- I really did this, at home, alone, trying to put myself in my friends place. Because, you know, I have never done that. No matter what kind of relationship I have with my mom- and it goes through phases- I have always had the assurance that she was there. I have taken that for granted every single day of my entire life. Imagine what it would feel like for that not to be true. Of course, if you have already lost one, or both, of your parents, you already know…but for the rest of us, it bears thinking about.

Now, think for a second about the resentments, big or small, that you carry around. Are they worth the price they will cost you if they are holding you back from fully loving someone that gave you life? This is a question I asked myself, and it may be worth asking yourself, as well. I am not saying that just because someone is your parent, anything they have done should be forgiven- I know there are horror stories of abandonment and abuse, and I am not talking about that. I am talking about things…well, I guess I am talking about the things that I have carried around, that hold ME back. I suppose what I am saying is that I have chosen not to love as fully as I could, maybe not consciously, because of my own resentments…things that belong in the past, to people who don’t really even exist anymore.

We grow up- children are not the only ones who grow up, who change. I certainly have, and I know my parents have, too. I want to love them with my WHOLE heart, and that is what I hope to do. Because they are still here, and I am a lucky daughter, indeed. I look at how strained my relationship is with my mom and dad at certain times (whether they know it or not) and I hope more than anything that my kids don’t ever have that kind of resentment or any of those kinds of feelings about me. But, boy, I have sure given them plenty of good material to use.

Here’s the thing- my parents are human beings, and human beings mess up. I know they had the best of intentions, like every one of us do, and they did stuff they regret anyway. I know this to be true, not just because I lived through it but because they’ve told me. With their own mouths, they have said to me:  “I wish I would have done things differently”. My mom has beat herself up for years over things she cannot change, decisions she made, that, at the time were the VERY BEST she could make from the options she had. And you know what? We are okay, anyway. My brother and I love her, we go to her with all of our stuff…but in my heart, I know I have held myself back. She can’t go back in time and change anything, anymore than I can go back and give my daughter a happy childhood with a mother who was not on drugs, not abrasive and full of rage. I can never, ever do that. But I hope she forgives me. I need forgiveness, too.

Today, I am letting go of that shit- those old resentments I have carried for far too long. I am going to love my parents fully, both of them, because they deserve it. They have loved and forgiven me for a lot of stuff- it’s time, for all of our sakes, that I leave the past in the past. I am so glad my mom and dad are still here, that I can pick up the phone and call them just to say “I love you.” And maybe this blog didn’t make a lot of sense to you, but my heart sure needed to puzzle this out. Thanks for reading- hope to see you again here, soon.

 

 

Chasing Waterfalls

waterfalls

 

My Beautiful Daughter-

Ever since we talked, yesterday, I have been walking around with this terrible ache in my heart. When you told me, weeks ago, that you were planning on moving hundreds of miles away from me…well, honestly? I dismissed it as a flighty, temporary, whim of yours. I didn’t worry, because I didn’t think it was real. But yesterday, when you told me it was happening, that you were leaving in a month, it really started to sink in.

I’m sorry if I seemed angry. I know I pointed out all the reasons it was a terrible idea, when all you wanted was my blessing. My support. I guess the truth is, I was never really angry…the truth is, I am sad. You are so much more than just my kid. You are also one of my favorite people on the planet, and, besides your sister, the only family I have here. The truth is, I will just miss you terribly.

That isn’t all of it, though. The bigger truth here is that it is selfish of me to withhold encouragement, to squelch your excitement, when you are doing exactly what a girl your age should do, in my opinion. You are spreading your wings, finally, being the brave girl I have always known you to be. I am so proud of you for that.

Here’s another thing- you don’t need my approval. You are an adult now, and you are free to do whatever it is that you want to do. I might not always like it, but I will always, always, always love you. So don’t worry about how I feel about things. Just know that I will come around, if I can, and even if I don’t, I am still your mom. I will love you fiercely.

I’m sorry for telling you that you were making a huge mistake. The fact of the matter is, I have no idea if that is true or not. That was just my own fear talking, and I hope you never avoid doing what you love out of fear. That is no way to live. You know what? A huge part of what makes life great is taking risks (you know, reasonable risks) (Okay, that was just scared mom again) and seeing what happens. Making mistakes is also a big part of living a wonderful life…it means you are trying things. I don’t want you to live a boring little cookie cutter life. I want you to do exactly what you are doing. I really do.

I was listening to the old TLC song “Don’t go Chasing Watefalls” on my way home this morning, and I realized something. I DO want you to chase waterfalls. You absolutely should NOT stick to the rivers and lakes you are used to. What fun would that be? Just, you know, wear good shoes, and maybe a life vest. That’s all I’m asking. See the world. Have fun. Dream big. LIVE big. You deserve the big WOW that life can be.

The most important thing of all for you to know is this: No matter what happens, I am here. And I love you. And you can always, always, always come home. That offer will never expire.  I will always pick up the phone when you call. I will be here when you need me. I will leave the light on for you.So go out into the world and do great things. I will be here, cheering you on.

Love, Mom

The Tangled Web We Weave…is Actually Pretty Rad.

tradition

So, the other day, I went on my first date in…I don’t know, like, forever. It was super casual, an afternoon, after the workday but before I pick up the kids kind of date. We took a walk together, got some ice cream, walked back, chatted. Oh yeah, and I met his ex-wife and all three of his kids. Yeah, that happened. It could have been awkward- I’m not going to lie, there was an element of awkwardness pervading the scene. Here we are, innocently chatting in line for ice cream, and first one, then two, then three of his kids barrel into him, followed by, in a much less (thankfully) exuberant manner, his wife. I mean, ex-wife. Thankfully. Anyway, as usual, my desire to end awkwardness at all costs won out, and I found myself chatting with his ex about places my older daughter could start modeling locally, and I was showing her pictures, and we were the next best thing to chummy by the end of it all. Okay, maybe not that, but it wasn’t awful, and it could have been. It’s not the best situation for starters, but we did great with it.

Then, last night, I went out for appetizers and drinks (my drinks were Shirley Temples, of course) with my sisters…except, they aren’t REALLY my sisters. They technically belong to my ex, many times removed, also referred to as my daughters father, or “baby daddy” number one. Yeah, they are the siblings of my first offspring’s spermatozoa contributor, and I just sort of barged in and snapped them up. He has seven brothers and sisters, and I couldn’t decide, so I hogged them all. I love these people as much as I love my own people, and there is no distinguishing that love from the love for my “own” family. We have so many memories, and so much history, I feel confident in claiming them as family.

I would like to think that this phenomena I am experiencing in my life is a wonderful side effect of the breakdown of the traditional family unit. Perhaps it took a while, I don’t know. I don’t see the same things playing out in the lives of my mom (who is not friendly with her husbands ex-wife, to say the least), who modeled her life very much after the traditional family that she had with her folks- I’m not saying it worked out very well, I’m saying that is what she was going for. However, I do see it playing out in a myriad of ways in the lives of those around me. The ability to let go of the ideals we may have concerning what makes family family, and choose to love one another, and accept one another, instead. I cannot see the down side of this. I don’t know where I would be without my stolen brothers and sisters, and I don’t even like to think about it.

Last night, at dinner, I listened to one of the girls talk about how she went bra shopping with the current girlfriend of her daughter’s father. “I just love her!” she said. How can this be bad for anyone? The other day, my daughter and I were talking about a man we know who is raising his girlfriend’s son as his own, which isn’t all that unusual, except that he was the product of what you might call…a pause in their relationship. Yeah. Say what you want about it, I think that is the most noble and loving act I have ever seen. How awesome that he could swallow his pride completely and raise this boy with all of his heart! That, to me, is what love is all about.

A couple of days ago, I had this bright idea to set my brother up with this girl I adore- she is smart and artistic, one of those bubbly people that you enjoy encountering. No big deal, except that she is also the girl that my ex had an affair with years ago. Oddly enough, we have this bond now, forged through confession and pain, and finding out that, whatever else may be wrong with that dude, he has EXCELLENT taste in women. It didn’t happen overnight, that is for sure…but here I sit, trying to finagle her a place in my family. Hahaha!

I am not saying that everything about having a traditional, well functioning family is bad- far from it! If you can achieve that, Jesus, good for you! I know how hard it is. What I am saying is, if things have to be the way they are, what a wonderful discovery we have made around that fact- that the truth is, love is more prevalent than ever, even in these fractured and confused roles we play. That we are not bound by some imaginary sense of honor, or by pride, to disdain those that we may very well come to love. And that family is, really, more than blood. They are the people that you choose along the way, or that choose you, and how you nurture one another. I don’t see anything wrong with that at all.

Have a lovely Sunday. 🙂

Dear Daughters:

two daughters

Hi! It’s me, your mom- you know, the weird lady who lives down the hall, who yells a lot (so that you can hear me, because apparently, our “inside voices” don’t work around here).  Anyway, I figured I would write to you this morning, since you girls are the center of my universe, basically blocking out everything else, and I have no other material. Not that I am complaining. I feel pretty lucky, I happen to have created not one, but TWO, offspring that I actually like.

I mean, yes, you have your less awesome moments. Like Camryn, when you want me to pretend to be a vampire or some other scary, imaginary creature, and I do, and then you get too scared, and punch me in the mouth with your tiny little fist. It’s hard to believe how much your bony little knuckles can smart, but you always seem to catch me in the exact wrong spot. I know you feel bad about it, and I am likewise ashamed of my (clearly too) believable portrayal of a blood sucking demon of the night. I don’t think I want to play that game anymore. And Aisley, thanks to our much lengthier history, I have a wide assortment of complaints I could lodge against you, anything from vomiting in my shoes, to taking my thong underwear to school for show and tell, all the way up to sneaking boys in the house (which I actually found more amusing than anything, because any guy who still likes you after being covered in your dirty laundry deserves whatever he gets). Despite all of that, however, you are both my favorite people in the whole entire world.

There is probably something wrong with me. But, I am not alone. Most moms feel pretty much the way that I do, just loving the shit out of our disgusting, embarrassing children- lucky for you. I am sure it is just some built in safety feature that keeps us from eating our young, or leaving them out on the side of the road when they become too screamy. Nope, most moms still don’t do that, even now, in these crazy times. Not that it doesn’t cross our minds occasionally. There was actually a full year, Aisley, when you were about thirteen or fourteen, when my dearest fantasy was to…well, it wasn’t kind, lets just say that. But in my defense, you were barely a human being at that age. I think it speaks volumes of both of us that no one was jailed. For long.

I can assure you, before you were born, I had never been peed on. Not even for fun. I had never been vomited on, at least not by the same person more than once, ever. I had certainly never been able to continue to tolerate anyone who wet MY bed on a regular basis. I am pretty sure that before you guys came along, no one had ever used me as a Kleenex, although that is one of those things you can never be totally sure of. I had never been expected to comfort and soothe someone who obviously hated me, I had never had so many doors slammed on me, so much change stolen from me, and so much of my stuff haphazardly destroyed. Before you were born, my main job was keeping myself alive, and I was not very good at it- mediocre, at best. After you were born, I was suddenly promoted to keeping alive small humans who couldn’t even hold their own heads up. Do you know how fucking terrifying this is? You both had mushy spots on your HEADS where the effing SKULL hadn’t finished growing. I just wanted to point that out, for the next time (or in Camryn’s case, the first time) you want to tell me what a terrible mother I have been. I managed to not let your giant heads snap off at the neck, and I kept things out of your soft spot. Cut me some slack.

In spite of all of that, I find that I can still look at both of you, at times, and feel the kind of love I have never felt for anyone else. The kind you read about in overly dramatic romance novels, only without the creepy parts. You both make me weak and stupid with love, like, my heart pounds and I get all choked up, and ALL of that. It’s embarrassing. But you are both SO lovely, and so funny, and so full of life and outrageous personality. In a MILLION years, if I had been able to hand pick every single aspect of you, to make a perfect child for me…I never, ever could have gotten it right. No one could ever be better, more perfect, in my eyes, than you are. You beautiful girls make me laugh every single day. I keep going because of you. I try harder because of you. I may not always get it right, but please believe, I never, ever stop thinking about you. And I love you both more than I could ever have imagined loving anyone, and that will never, ever change.

I just wanted to let you know.

Love,

Your mom ( the crazy lady down the hall)