Posted in family, kids, Life, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, relationships, women

Unconditional

unconditional

It is 4:42 a.m. and my eyes pop open. I bring my wrist to my face and squint up at the green numbers on my Fitbit, then slide awkwardly towards the foot of my bed to exit, grabbing my phone from the charger as I go. There’s a child sleeping beside me that had not been there when I went to sleep, and I don’t want to risk waking her. This is as much for my sake as her own- maybe more for my sake, honestly. These little hours of the morning are the only ones that are truly mine, and I am not willing to share them with anyone.

Camryn, though, is not the child that sleeps lightly. Aisley was the one I had to tiptoe around to keep from waking, the one who would always wake simply because the warmth of my body was missing beside her. From the moment she was born, she lived her life perched in the crook of my arm, balanced on the side of my hip. She slept pressed against my side, curled herself into my lap as we watched TV. Camryn was different- she wanted to sleep near me, but not too near. She wanted down, she wanted to explore, she wanted to do it herself. I told myself it was a good thing, her independence. It meant she felt safe, that I was doing something right. The truth is, I missed all the cuddling, and it probably had nothing to do with me. Children, in many ways, are born with personalities intact.

Last night was a rough night. Though there is nothing I love more than my daughters, and having them both home, under the same roof, brings a peace to my heart like nothing else, my girls are…polar opposites. Like two ends of a battery, they go together, but they are not the same. Positive and Negative. Cam is happy and hyper, kind and silly. At the far end of those things, she is obnoxious, relentless, impulsive and incapable of pumping the brakes. Aisley is…quiet, calm, practical and sensitive to her environment. The darker side of her is moody, agitated, intolerant and…unhappy in a way that you can feel, even when she is silent.

Her sister gets on her nerves. I can feel the tension building, and it affects me, too. Cam is bouncing off the walls. Aisley is stewing. I am in the middle, trying to warn them both “She’s only eight, be patient.” and “Camryn, you need to settle down.” “Settle down.” “Camryn, THAT IS ENOUGH!” Poor Cam, thinking she can crack just one more joke, and everyone will laugh and be happy, not realizing that every time she opens her mouth, she’s pushing both her sister and I closer to the edge. It ended with me losing my cool, Aisley jumping in, and Camryn in tears, feeling (rightly) that she’d been ganged up on. My poor little peanut.

I apologized, but was not granted permission to hug for several hours. I explained to Aisley that, though it isn’t her intention to do it, her moods are contagious for me. They always have been. I’ve always been pretty empathetic, but with her it’s next level. I’m like a little sponge, soaking up her vibe. All I really want is to be happy with my kids, to treat them kindly, to feel good about our time together. I didn’t feel that way last night. I felt terrible, actually, and ashamed at losing my cool. I went to bed early just to be done with it.

Today is a new day, though. I ran to the store at 6 to buy sugar, and the streets were deserted, the sky still dark as night. At the stop sign down the road, the twinkling lights of Monterey spread out across the bay, and the heaviness in my chest leftover from last night lifted. It’s still early. The possibilities are endless.

It is 7:17 now, and my daughters are still sleeping- the big one in the little one’s bed, and the little one in my bed. I wonder if they know, if they will ever really know…how much I love them? Exactly as they are, whoever they should become, no matter what they do. My love for them is…profound. It is the definition of unconditional. No hormonal “I hate you!” or “You’re a TERRIBLE mother!” could penetrate or even disturb the fortress wall that is my love for them. As a matter of fact, the cruel things said, the unintentional slights, the outright insults? They slide right off that wall, forgotten almost immediately. Ironically, Aisley cries to me sometimes about terrible things she said to me when she was younger that I don’t even remember. It means nothing, I tell her. I forgave you before the words left your mouth.

I am proud of them. I am proud of them, and in awe of them, and amazed by the people they are, knowing it has nothing to do with me. They are their own little souls, forging their own paths in life, separate from me, but entwined also. Most of all, I just feel so incredibly lucky to know them. To get to have a hand in any of this. To have had my life so enriched by loving them, and getting to be part of it all. I mean, I feel so privileged.

Later today, when Aisley is complaining for the fifteenth time about how much she “just HATES people, I mean, they are EVERYWHERE!”, or Camryn asks me what she can eat for the seventh time in two hours, I will forget all of this. I will roll my eyes, I will sigh heavily, I will probably snap “You can’t possibly be hungry again already! You’re just bored! Go find something to do!” If I’m lucky, I’ll go to bed tonight feeling like I handled things okay, that I did an okay job. If I’m not, I’ll go to bed beating myself up and wishing I’d done better. In short, whichever way it goes, I’ll go to bed feeling the same feelings that mothers everywhere feel- the good days could have been a little better, the bad days are the end of the world. You can’t really win.

But at the heart of it all is this vast and unchangeable love. Perfect, but heavier than the world. It fulfills me in a way that I never expected, and that nothing else ever has. Yet it is also terrifying, the depths of it, the way it matters- I could survive many things, but I cannot contemplate a life without them. Anything but that. Given the choice to live my life over, I know I would painstakingly recreate every moment, every poor choice, every failure, just to wind up with these two girls. It’s not even a question. It’s just a given.

I am many things, but none of them matters more to me than being a mother to them. Nothing else even comes close. I wonder if they know?

Posted in adhd, Depression, faith, happiness, Life, Mental Health, Musings, People, women

Notes on Being Sad (for no Reason)

notes on sadness

September was a hard month. At least, it seems like it was. You know, when things get a little…off course for me, I tend to lose track of time. Everything seems long-interminable, really. The funny thing is, just before this little tussle I’ve been having with myself, I was doing so well! It seems like that is how it goes, though- one week, I’m on top of the world, the house is clean, I’m productive, happy, eating well, having fun, sure that this time I am finally where I’m supposed to be. Feeling so confident that I can’t even imagine how I ever could have felt sad or down before. I look back rather scornfully on my previous self, if I’m being honest- that girl. What was her problem, anyway?

And then that niggling sense of dissatisfaction creeps in- that’s how it always starts. Like I’m searching for something, I need something, but I can’t figure out what it is. I start finding fault with others, and fault with myself. Then comes the internal litany of bullshit- the negative self talk that wears me down, bit by bit. Eventually, I stop washing the dishes, stop making the bed, stop sweeping the floor. I can’t be bothered to wash my face at night. I won’t pick up the phone when it rings, and I cancel plans. Everything feels heavy and sad.

What a lot of people don’t know- I didn’t even know this until recently- is that moodiness and depression are a big part of ADHD. It’s literally part of the deal, part of the chemical function of our brains…or would it be dysfunction? I don’t know, whatever. It’s not imaginary, it’s not a “made-up” disorder. It’s a real, scientifically proven affliction, and they’ve got the brain scans to prove it. It’s a spectrum, as well, so it affects everyone differently. Learning to understand and accept this fact about myself has been far more difficult than I could have imagined.

I have learned there are people who get it and people who just do not. Reciting back to me a list of all the reasons I should be happy does not help. I understand that I have no reason to feel sad…but I feel sad anyway. These feelings cannot be reasoned with. As a matter of fact, telling me all the reasons I have to be happy makes it so much worse, because now I feel guilty about how shitty I feel.

Trust me when I tell you that I would prefer to be happy all the time. That I get no satisfaction from feeling myself sliding backwards into a slump. It’s not a lot of fun to be a person who cannot count on themselves to be steady, at least emotionally, for any length of time. When things are good, they are very good. When things are bad, they are awful.

So, I try. I try really, really hard to slap a smile on my face. To be nice when I want to bite someone’s head off, to temper my tone of voice when I want to snap. I keep showing up, even when I want to stay in my house with the blinds drawn. I try not to try to figure out why I feel the way I feel anymore- honestly, I don’t think there is an outside force at work. I think it’s inside of me, it’s chemical, hormonal maybe…that’s as far as I am willing to go. Trying to fix it seems to only make it worse.

I wait for it to pass. It always does. When it gets really bad, I just remind myself that, no matter what happens, I am safe. It sounds dumb, but remembering that I am “a spiritual being having a human experience”, that this is just school here on planet earth, that, even if I keel over dead tomorrow, I’m still going to be okay…at least, the way I think things are, that’s how it goes…well, that honestly helps a little bit.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no interest in keeling over dead. I’m not advocating for that in any way. I’m just saying, it helps to remember that what we humans prioritize, in order of importance, is pretty screwy sometimes…and that being sad, being down, being depressed…those are just feelings. As long as I know myself well enough to know where to draw the line, when I might need a little extra help, I’ll muddle through.

Yesterday, I followed my boss into the office kitchen, and told her I needed to talk to her. “I’m just really sad.” I told her, tears immediately popping into my eyes. “I knew you were, I could tell by how quiet you’ve been.” She said, “What can I do to help?” I shrugged and shook my head. “I just wish I could understand why I get like this.” I told her. “Yeah, but you know that isn’t how you operate, Courtney. For you, it just happens sometimes. Is there anything I can do? Do you need to see someone, or take time off?” She asked. “I don’t know…I just needed someone to know that I was struggling.” I told her.

And just that, just the simple act of telling someone- someone who doesn’t judge me, or try to reason with me, or try to fix it; someone who doesn’t give me a list of reasons why I should feel differently, but instead just hears me, knows me, and treats me with patience and kindness…it really matters. I don’t know how, but it helps.

I came home yesterday and found that whatever this thing was that had been gripping me so hard…it wasn’t gone, but I could breathe at least. There was space all of the sudden that hadn’t been there before. I could see a little further beyond myself, the way you see the forest around you when you turn your brights on in the car, driving down a country road at night. Last night, I made tater-tots and a grilled cheese for Cam- not much of a meal, but I made it happily- I cut it into fourths, and arranged it just so on the plate, piling the tater-tots in the middle, and filling a stolen ramekin with ketchup. I don’t do things like that when I’m terribly sad.

I unloaded the dishwasher and changed the five gallon water jug that has been empty for days. I made my bed and swept the floor. I helped with homework, and Cam and I read together. These sound like little things to anyone who doesn’t struggle with their moods, I’m certain. But those of us who know will get it.

You know, I find it a little embarrassing to tell the truth about this. I sometimes feel like I sound whiny, or I’m being dramatic- when there is so much turmoil in this world, who am I to think my bouts of sadness even matter? But trying to pretend all is well when it isn’t keeps me silent- it keeps me from writing, and it keeps it all inside. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels the way I do. Maybe you can identify with me, and maybe it’ll help you. Who knows?

Here’s to a better day- to people who can meet us where we’re at, bosses who listen, and to telling the truth, even when it isn’t easy. May we all feel just a little better today than we did yesterday…even if yesterday was awesome, but especially if it wasn’t.

 

Posted in adventure, family, kids, Life, love, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, relationships, women

Motherhood

Motherhood- “the state or experience of having or raising a child”. That’s it, that’s the definition. And by that definition, any woman-nay, any person, can be a mother. But for those of us who have experienced it, it is so very much more. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for myself…it has been life altering, to say the least.

I bring this up today because today marks the 22nd anniversary of my life as a mother. That’s right, my daughter turns 22 today.  And on this day, the moment she arrived, a new part of me was also born.

While my daughter was a robust, long (slender, though- a lot like she is now!) and healthy child, born a full five days past her due date, my motherhood was premature. Unprepared for the world I was barreling into, unaware of what I had actually undertaken. I was a mother because I had a baby, but in most other ways I was woefully behind. While some women take up the mantle of motherhood with some innate grace, some primal knowing…I wore it more like an ill- fitting Halloween costume, a child masquerading as a grown-up. A little girl trying to walk in her mother’s high heels.

I am a late bloomer. I know this about myself now, but I did not realize it then- I didn’t understand anything back then, to be completely honest. I thought, of course, that I knew everything. Which made me the most dangerous kind of person there is- a confident idiot cannot be swayed or reasoned with.

The moment that glorious little girl was held up before my eyes, a feeling swept over me that I struggle to describe, that I still cannot name to this day. Time stopped, and I felt an awe sweep through me, a stunning, heart-stopping, “WHOA!”. I remember praying “Please, please let me remember this forever.” and I have. Not as clearly as I’d like, but clear enough. I must have known, somehow, that that was truly a once-in-a-lifetime moment- that no matter how many children I went on to have, this was the only first time that would come my way. I held onto it, and I am so glad I did.

Right behind that feeling came a terror unlike any I had known before. It was suddenly very clear to me that I now loved someone more than I loved myself, and I sensed that this was a very dangerous thing. I didn’t even know this little furry, brown person. Yet…in an instant, my heart was changed.

I was not good at the job. I have tried to find all kinds of different ways to explain it, but it comes down to that. I didn’t know. I didn’t understand the enormity of the responsibility before me. I didn’t grasp how precious and deserving a child is just by virtue of their existence. I didn’t know how careful and tender and loving I needed to be. I just…simply didn’t get it.

I won’t subject you, or myself, to the well-worn list of “Things I Royally Fucked Up”- quite frankly, this is supposed to be a blog post, not a novel. Besides which, those things are long past, now, and there is nothing I can do to change a minute of it. Forgiving myself, though, well…I’ve come to the conclusion that might never happen, not completely. And that’s okay. Some things are worth being sad about indefinitely.

Instead, let me tell you some of the good things. There was a night, about four months after she was born, that I remember so clearly. I woke up to her, snuffling and wiggling the way newborns do, in the bed beside me. It was about four in the morning, and the rain was pouring down outside the window of the dark room. I picked her up and lay her on my chest, her little downy head warm against my chin, my hands resting on her tiny back as it rose and fell in slumber, and I remember thinking “This is what it means to be content.” To this day, I cannot recall a more perfect moment than that.

I remember so many sunny days, driving in my car with the windows down, singing Dixie Chicks at the top of our lungs.

I remember sliding down the snowy sidewalks of Sparks, Nevada, in our knock-off brand Ugg Boots, early on a winter morning, just laughing and sliding, then laughing some more- until we were doubled up and our sides ached.

I remember endless nights snuggled up in bed, watching Animal Planet or Sponge Bob. I remember innumerable hugs and kisses, and the way that little girl soaked up affection like a sponge. It was the one thing I always had enough of to give, and the one thing she always took willingly.

Today she is 22, the same age I was when she was born, and I am…it is hard for me. It is hard for me to describe for you the heaviness my heart feels when I think back over those years. Not for me- I don’t care about me. For her. The things I should have given her, the things she doesn’t even know she missed, the chaos, the dysfunction. The things I stole from her that I cannot give back-that I didn’t even know I was taking. It’s a hard truth to live with.

I am so incredibly lucky that we survived it all, somehow, pretty much intact. A part of my mind tells me that I have a tendency to recall, with freakish clarity, the bad things  while simultaneously forgetting the million good things that also happened. But when I am feeling this way, it’s hard for me to believe.

I am so blessed and lucky to have the relationship I have with her today. We are the closest of close, and there is nothing we cannot or do not discuss. She tells me often that I need to let it go, that it wasn’t that bad, that she loves me and forgives me, and that she is glad she had the childhood she had. It wasn’t boring, she says. It was always an adventure.

And I look at the way she lives- out in the country, with the same boyfriend she’s had since she was fifteen years old. She loves to cook, she bakes her own bread. She gardens as if it were what she was born to do, raising fruits and vegetables I’ve never even heard of before. She cares for her dog and her cat, and she just wants to be somewhere quiet, somewhere out in the woods, away from the noise and crowds and drama. I look at all of that, and I think…it could have been so much worse. If children want to be different than their parents, if this is how she rebels…thank GOD. Seriously, thank God.

I am still not the best mother. I probably never will be. I cuss too much, I yell too much, I tend to treat my children like miniature adults. But I am so much better at it. As a matter of fact, I can say with a straight face that I am proud of the mother I have become. Not just to my little child, but to Aisley, as well. She still needs me- maybe more than ever, actually. Navigating adulthood is no joke. As she has grown up, so have I. Yet another thing we share, another thing that bonds us. As long as I stay a few steps ahead of her, I think we’re doing okay.

So…happy birthday to my sweet little Aisley. And happy motherhood anniversary to me. It’s been a long road, but I think I’m finally headed in the right direction.

 

Posted in adhd, adventure, faith, Goals, housekeeping, Learning, Life, manifestation, Musings, People, random, women

Something New

Every month, for the past…four years and five months, my landlord comes to pick up rent. And every month, for the past four years and five months, this causes me no end of stress. I don’t know why. Maybe because I have a built in guilty conscience from all the years when I really was up to no good? Maybe because, thanks to my high (and often unreasonable) expectations of myself, I am forever feeling like I could do better at just about everything? Maybe because I am a TERRIBLE housekeeper? Maybe it’s a combination of all of those things. Probably that.

Whatever. I’m not going to sit here and pick myself apart. I’ve done that enough for one lifetime. The fact of the matter is, I have some organizational issues that are shared by many, many people with ADHD, and as much as saying that feels like a total cop-out excuse…it really isn’t. I am successful in life despite this funny little brain difference of mine, but there are certain ways that it plagues me. Keeping house is one of them. Apparently, it always has been- if you don’t believe me, ask my mom, who is my complete and utter opposite in this way. She has spent months worth of time in despair over what a slob I am…and this was in childhood! I grew up in a house that was neat as a pin, welcoming and orderly. All except for my bedroom. My bedroom made my mother cry.

Anyway, there was some discussion yesterday, when my landlord came by, about raising my rent in January- which is more than fair, considering she never has raised it since I’ve been here- and then she mentioned doing an inspection of the house sometime soon, just to see what is what around here.

This is where I balked. Now, I realize this is not unreasonable. I know she is well within her rights to want to see the house she owns. But boy, does it make me uncomfortable. I already feel so judged all the time (99% of it is in my head, I know) that the idea of actually being…well, judged…makes me crazy.  And the funny little blind spot that keeps me from seeing my surroundings has this annoying habit of disappearing when I know that someone will be judging me, for real, on something.

So…suffice to say, I have some work to do around here. Oh, there is nothing too bad. I haven’t harmed the house in any major way. There are no holes in the walls or broken fixtures. The walls need to be wiped down, the bathroom fan needs to be cleaned. The wood floors…well, after four and a half years of us living here, they’ll probably need to be redone when I move out anyway, so I’m not terribly concerned about that. I’ll be wiping down baseboards and fixing little odds and ends, and in order to do all of that, I’ll need to clean and get rid of stuff. Which I need to do anyway, so that’s okay, too.

BUT: I don’t want to live this way. Not just in a borderline hoarding situation, which is also true- who would? What I mean is, I don’t want to live in someone else’s home anymore. I want to live in my own home. I want to buy a house.

I make really good money. I’ve been at my job for a long, long time now- over eleven years. My credit is decent. I know this is a hard area to buy in, but it is my home, and I think I should at least see what my options are. So that is what I am going to do!

I am going to take my current fear and use it as a tool to propel me into change. One of the first things that needs to change is my spending. I love, love, love to shop online. I love it way too much. So, for the next few months, I am going to stop buying and start paying, and get my credit cards paid off. And you know what? I’m excited to do it. None of them are out of control anyway, but I love a good challenge.

For the foreseeable future, if I want something, I am going to have to go to an actual store to buy it, and I am going to pay for it with cash. I bet that rule alone will chop my spending in half- because anyone who knows me, knows I HATE going to the store. Apart from that, I’m just gonna pay the hell out of my bills and watch my balances disappear. I’ve also considered switching to a cheaper phone service and slashing my cable channels. I don’t think I’m quite there yet, though.

There are two things I know about myself that give me an advantage in every situation: One is that I have never failed at anything that I have wanted badly enough. I have overcome obstacle after obstacle in my life, and I do not give up. Not ever. And two, I have the best luck of anyone I have ever met. I can find the silver lining in any situation (so far, anyway) and I know in my heart that everything will turn out the way it is supposed to…even if that doesn’t look the way I wanted it to. So, I guess it’s part good luck and part good attitude? Anyway, I am saying this now because it helps me feel less afraid. Change is hard for me, and things are about to get real different around here.

Wish me luck!

Posted in aging, faith, happiness, inner peace, Life, love, Musings, People, relationships, women

Love

love

August 28th, 2017 was the worst day of my life so far. It was the day I found out that the man who stole my heart 22 years earlier had been killed in a motorcycle crash the night before. I took the next two days off of work, and cried harder and longer than I have ever cried before in my life.

Now, lest you get the wrong idea, I want to be very clear here- he and I hadn’t been together for 22 years. If you strung together all of the days we spent together, through the years, it might equal two years, maybe three. But I feel like I thought about him every day. Whether or not that is actually true, I can’t say for sure. But it feels like it is true.

I have a peculiar glitch in my system, I think. When I let someone into my heart for real, there is no backing out. Once I love you, I love you always. It doesn’t matter what transpires, or how our paths might diverge. My heart is loyal to a fault, even when my actions and words are not.

But when I was 20, I fell in love with this man, and I loved him exactly the way a 20 year old girl would- in a crazy, hopeless way. And I am so glad I did. I am so glad I got to experience that kind of love. Over the years, I learned from those feelings the way love can evolve and become something else. Friendship and deep, deep affection. It wasn’t the same at the end, but in some ways it was better, you know? I got to experience this whole spectrum of love with him, and it has never stopped. I love him, still. He might not be here in person to tell it to, but I haven’t stopped talking to him, I haven’t stopped the conversation. Death is no barrier to love, I know that now.

In my last relationship, I learned even more about love- things I didn’t necessarily want to know, but have been valuable lessons just the same. I learned that love is not, in fact, all you need. You need other things, too- things like trust, respect, communication. Without those things, all the love in the world cannot save you. I learned that you can love someone with all your heart and hate the things they have done, and it is a struggle to grasp how this person could be capable of these things. I learned that heartbreak can change you, perhaps for good, and at the very least for a long time. Most importantly, I learned to be careful who I gave my heart to, because I do, indeed, have a particular glitch that makes my love permanent, and the repercussions of that are many.

And now, here I am, doing it again. Right now it’s little baby love, or maybe a precursor to love, and it is…lots of things. Thrilling. Scary. Awesome. Beautiful. Exciting. Worrisome. All of the things. I haven’t talked about it yet. I am old enough to know that time will tell, and that there is no harm in seeing how things unfold. But I love being fully present for all of the unfolding. I love the changes in me that allow me to be grateful and aware of the good things that are being dropped, one by one, like little gifts, into my life. I love having someone to turn to who is also turning towards me. I am on this new, unexpected journey, and I am just along for the ride. I have never done things this way before. It is good.

The thing I love most of all, though, is learning once again of my heart’s capacity to love. No matter how broken or battered it has been, eventually, it is ready to try again. It has room for one more. I can let someone else in, and never lose the ones that are already there. My heart is amazing. My ability to love is amazing. I may not be an expert, but I know a thing or two. And I am learning new things all the time.

In my heart of hearts, I believe that love is the reason we are on this earth. Learning how to love one another, how to treat one another, how to exist in a loving way with all the souls we travel with. I see how my ability to love and be loved has evolved, and I think I am getting better at it. I hope I am. Only time will tell. For now, I am content to continue figuring it out, knowing, as I do now, that I can survive whatever comes. If I survived through August 28th, 2017…I can can make it through anything.

I miss you, Joe. Can’t wait to see you again someday.

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.

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.