Posted in Life

Jump Anyway

It’s almost five in the morning, and I’ve been up for around two hours already. Despite the fact that I didn’t go to bed until later than usual last night, I still woke up extra early. My bottom right eyelid has been twitching for about two weeks now- not constantly, thank God, but often enough that it’s starting to make me feel like a cartoon character that is on the verge of a breakdown. Oh, and I’ve been straight-up spamming you all with my endless parade of blog posts. I mean, you don’t have to read them if you don’t want to…although I’m glad you are. Sincerely. But mostly, I just need a place to unload and sort through my current tangle of feelings. Because…I’m scared. I’m not ashamed to admit it.

I’m a person who is always reaching a little higher, and this has served me quite well over the years. If it wasn’t for that determined spirit, I doubt I would be where I am right now. Perhaps I would’ve stopped trying to get clean after the first dozen failures. Maybe I wouldn’t have enrolled myself in technical school while I was still drowning in addiction, promising myself that I’d be clean by the time my classes started- a promise I kept, by the way, for quite a while at least.

In early 2008, I was living in Sparks, Nevada, in a small apartment with Aisley, who was nine- coincidentally, the same age Camryn is now- and life was a struggle. I was clean, and had a decent job, a bank account, a shitty little Nissan Altima, and not much else. My boyfriend at the time was awesome, but had no interest in moving things to the next stage, I was broke all the time, and I was homesick. I wanted to be back near the ocean, I craved the green trees and damp air after so long in the high desert. My job at the time had some design on promoting me once I had passed my coding exam, and had offered to pay the two hundred dollar fee for the test.

But my longing was too much. One day, I walked into my boss Rosa’s office, my stomach in knots, and I said “I can’t let you guys pay for my test. I think I want to move home.” She took it much less personally than I expected, and eventually, she told me they would like to pay for my exam anyway, even knowing I was leaving. Just because. I could go way off course here with stories of things like this happening for me- examples of over the top kindnesses shown to me beyond anything I would ever have dreamed of or expected, but I won’t. I’ll just tell you that there have been many. This was a big one.

And so, I took the damn test. One year of full time night classes did not adequately prepare me for that damn test. It was HARD. I didn’t know a lot of the answers. But I did my best, and guessed a lot (thank God for multiple choice) and at the end, I exited the exam room feeling defeated. “How’d it go?” the proctor asked me. “It sucked.” I replied, very professionally. “Huh…well, at least you passed.” She said. “What? I did? Are you sure?!” I demanded- I was so certain I had failed, that I made her double check her work. “Yep. You passed.” She assured me.

Holy hell! I left that place so excited and elated that I felt as though my blood were carbonated. I polished up my resume, adding my new credentials to the rather meager little thing, and I faxed it (this was 2008, remember? Faxes were still king.) to every hospital in Monterey County. I even sent one to my dream employer, sure that it was a long shot, but hey! A girl can dream, right?

So imagine my surprise when my dream employer was the first to call me back. Almost immediately. We had a phone interview, the HR person asked me to update my resume again to include something I hadn’t thought important enough to list, and then she called me back for an in-person interview in two weeks.

And this is where I really got risky. I gave up my job, my apartment, and my relationship, and I moved into my friends living room on an air mattress…for an interview. I didn’t have a backup plan. There was no plan B. But something was pulling me so hard in that direction that it almost felt like it wasn’t a choice anymore. Everything was pointing me this way. My interview went off without a hitch, the job paid me double my highest ever wage from day one, and within three months I was living in a cute little place on a forested hill where I could see peeks of the ocean from the deck. For the first time in my whole life, I could buy groceries without keeping a running tally in my head of what I could spend. I had followed the signs, and they did not lead me astray. Even though it looked like a huge gamble, I really don’t know if it was. I think I was supposed to do exactly what I did.

Now, almost thirteen years later, I am finding myself being swept into that current once again. When I started this post, I was going to say that the main difference is that I have so much more to lose this time…but that isn’t true. I’m not in danger of losing anything. I am actually in much better shape this time around. I have the blessing of my job of twelve plus years, a massive safety net that I didn’t have before. I have really good credit. And I have accrued some wisdom in the past decade or so. When I put it like that, it seems pretty simple. This morning, I was thinking to myself “What if this is a huge mistake? Like, what if I get there and I’m miserable and I have to come back here in six months and admit it was a bad choice to uproot my life and move almost three thousand miles away?”

And you know what that little voice in my head said?: “So what? So what if it is, so what if you do? You aren’t allowed to mess up? You have to do everything perfectly, all the time?”

Well. I didn’t think of that.

“And besides,” the little voice said, “You’re focused on the few things that could go wrong. But there are a million things that could go right, too. You have no idea. The possibilities are endless.”

Listen, I don’t know who that little voice belongs to- if it’s part of me, or if it comes from some other, smarter, more evolved being…but it has a point. And I think the point is, in order to live life to the fullest, sometimes you have to take risks. Sometimes you have to be okay with knowing there is no guarantee that things will work out. You have to make your peace with other people not understanding your choices. You have to be afraid and ask anyway, try anyway, jump anyway.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a rental agreement to sign.

Posted in Dreams, family, Goals, happiness, kids, Life, love, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, relationships, women

Telling On Myself

I wrote a post yesterday. Ever since I posted it, I’ve been annoyed about it. You want to know why? Good, ’cause I’m gonna tell you- I’m annoyed because, though there were a few grains of truth in there, it was really a fictional account of how I want to feel; it had nothing to do with how I actually felt right then.

Do you want to know how I actually feel? Good, ’cause I’m gonna tell you that, too. I am scared. Scared half to death. And also, in case you were uncertain, I want you to know that I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. Like, I mean, I guess I kind of know, but what I mean is…I’m not really sure I should be the one in charge of making big decisions around here. I’m not nearly as confident as I probably seem. I often feel like a very young woman in a middle-aged woman’s body, baffled by life. I frequently wonder if I deserve the good things that happen in my life, and then I feel guilty, which is weird.

I want very much to be positive, but there’s a fine line between positivity and being disingenuous. Yesterday, I was having a really hard day and in an attempt to bolster myself, I wrote a post that was utter bullshit. I’m telling you this because honesty is so important- now more than ever, in my opinion. When I tell the truth here, when I am really open about my feelings and struggles, I know that someone will read my words and feel less alone. I know, because it’s happened time after time. I put my real feelings into words, and someone says “Oh my God, I thought it was just me, thank you for saying that.”

We don’t tell the truth about human stuff, and then we suffocate on shame. As they say in recovery, we compare our insides to other peoples outsides. And that’s not a fair comparison. Social media makes it so much easier to do that, because we post the best pictures, and the funny moments, and we leave out the personal stuff that makes us real people. Well, guess what? I’m a real person. Flawed as can be.

Yesterday, I had a terrible realization. I realized that I have made the last ten years about my kids (that isn’t the terrible part, stay with me), and the past five I doubled-maybe tripled- down as a parent. But I did it wrong, I think. I gave these girls the impression that I lived only for them, to serve them and save them and give to them, even if that meant overlooking myself. And now, when I have this amazing thing happening for me, I am being met with open resentment. I am selfish, I have ALWAYS been selfish, I don’t deserve help, I don’t deserve appreciation…UNLESS I am doing what they want me to do. It occurred to me yesterday that I kinda have no one who is really in my corner. And man, that makes me sad. Like, really, really sad.

Do they love me? Oh, without a doubt. That’s not it at all. It’s the lack of boundaries with them, the path I laid out that is the problem. I gave as much as I could in some areas to make up for what I perceived as shortfalls in other areas. And now I find myself in a lonely place because I devoted myself to people who are ultimately supposed to grow up and go off to their own lives. Obviously, my nine year old is still dependent on me, but she’s spoiled, too. And that is my fault. But my eldest is PISSED, and cannot see beyond her own needs right now. Needs that are, I might add, not mine to meet. At all. She’s 23.

Yesterday, it hit me that I need to take care of myself and show up for myself, especially if I’m the only one doing it. So all this family resistance I am hitting is actually only driving home the point that I have got to do what makes me happy. Because making other people happy is great, but it isn’t getting MY needs met. My kids will be fine. I will always be there for them, but I will also be there for me. As I should have been all along.

So yesterday, I painted a pretty picture that didn’t tell the real story. Today, I am telling the truth. Because you deserve to hear it, and I need to lay it out, too. Life is hard, being a grown up is hard, parenting is hard. For everyone. Most of the time. You are not alone, and I know I’m not either. One thing I wrote yesterday is true, though. Things really do have a way of working out. I’m counting on it.

Posted in faith, happiness, inner peace, Life, manifestation, mindfulness, Musings, People, random

No Complaints Here

When I first moved into this house over five and a half years ago, one of the first things I noticed was the birds. Because I get up so much earlier than most people, I am privy to the quietest parts of the day, when all of the birds are in charge of the world. I am not a bird watcher in the technical sense. I don’t know much about them at all, really, though I can tell the difference between a crow, a gull, and a hummingbird- those are the ones that hang out with me the most. I was just sitting outside, listening to the crows cawing and watching my hummingbirds at the feeder, thinking…I will miss this part. My porch and the birds, and the view from right here.

But it’s time. If everything continues to go smoothly (as smoothly as a move of this magnitude can go, anyway) and I do, indeed, find myself sitting on another porch, overlooking another view, a month from today…then I am at peace with that. And you know what? If everything falls through (though I truly hope it doesn’t) and for some reason I am sitting on the same porch, looking at the same view, a month from today…well, I will be at peace with that, too. Okay, that feels like a lie a little bit, but the point is- my life is really blessed, any way you crack it.

I’ve wasted my time on two long posts that were nothing but stories about stress and worry and complaints, and…you’ll never see them. You know why? None of that shit even matters. All the things I am worried about will fall into place. All of my stress will be for nothing. Complaining doesn’t help at all.

Everything is going to be okay. And when I get caught up in worries, stress, and complaining, I cut myself off from my intuition. Self-doubt garbles the message and makes me second guess myself. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to keep going, step by step, and have faith in myself and faith in the universe.

Things have a way of working out, this much I do know.

I really will miss my hummingbirds, though. Maybe I’ll send the new tenants a feeder and ask them to please look after them. I think I will do that.

Posted in Life

Where Do I Even Begin…? Part 2

Okay, if I can finish part two today (I finished the first part yesterday but forgot to publish it) then maybe I can get the whole story to you in one day. Or, at least, the part of the story that exists so far. If you haven’t read part one yet, you should do that or you might be confused. I’d link to it here, but it’s been so long since I’ve used WordPress that I can’t figure out how to do anything anymore, and I’m running out of time. 🙂

So, you all know me by now. You know I’m big on prayer and meditation. Over the past several years, since I’ve gotten clean and pulled my life together, my inner voice, my intuition, has grown loud and clear. What mucks it up for me most of all is my own self-doubt and fear, which is understandable considering the shit show my life had been up until 2015. Trust is a hard thing to rebuild, even when it’s your relationship with yourself. Perhaps even more so when it’s with yourself; looking back, I’ve had a much easier time forgiving and forgetting with others than I ever have with me, but…makes sense. After all, I wrecked my life thoroughly for many years. But I have to live with me, so I had to learn, slowly, to trust myself. I’m not the person I was before.

But as usual, I digress. I knew there was more to this trip for me than just a breather from my grim reality. This was my third trip back east in as many years, and I knew in my heart this was my deciding trip. If I was still in love with it this time, I needed to make up my mind about moving. Guess what? Not only was I still in love, I was even more in love this time. So, on a sunny September morning in the little cottage that looked out over the Atlantic ocean, I sat down in front of a big window and I prayed for a sign that being there was what I was supposed to do. “And not a hint, either, please.” I said, “I need it to be clear, otherwise I’ll talk myself out of it.”

Well, a few hours later, I got a message from a friend I’d known in Reno years ago. He said “Courtney, I see you’re in Maine. I have a friend there who is looking for someone to rent his condo on the beach.”

I mean…it doesn’t really get much clearer than that, does it?

From there, things really took off. I enjoyed the rest of my trip, of course. But in the back of my mind, after speaking with the owner of the condo and understanding that the place was mine if I wanted it, I knew the universe was telling me it was time. Time to take action. Time to take one of those leaps of faith that had always worked out so well for me in the past. Time to stop wavering and make a decision.

Coming home to California was hard. I missed my house and my pets and my normal life, but also…all the traffic and graffiti, all the garbage piled up on the sides of the road through San Francisco and San Jose was jarring after so much beauty. The air was clearer, thank God, but you could still smell the smoke. And being in my house after living in such a minimalist environment for a week made me feel suffocated. I wanted to throw away almost everything I owned.

I got home on a Saturday. On Sunday evening, I went up to my bosses house- she also happens to be one of my dearest friends- and I told her about the condo. I told her that I wanted to go, at least for a year. She told me she didn’t think it was going to happen. She didn’t think they would agree to letting me go. I felt disheartened and a little nervous, but I said I wanted to ask anyway. What’s the harm in asking, right?

So, on Tuesday morning (because I chickened out on Monday) I wrote what might have been the most unprofessional email of my life. Because, see, I wasn’t trying to be Courtney the employee, I was trying to be Courtney, the human being you have known for thirteen years now. I explained a lot of things that were highly personal, including financial stuff. I made it clear that I knew what I was saying was neither polished nor appropriate, but I wanted my reasoning to be understood. I asked my boss to look it over. She said it was terrible and too much. I sent it anyway.

A few minutes later, I got an abrupt response from my director. Maybe three sentences to my three paragraphs. She wasn’t sure, we didn’t really do that, but she’d make some inquiries. My heart sank a little bit. I’d already decided I would graciously accept whatever answer I was given, but…I also knew that whatever answer I got, it was time for me to start getting my ducks in a row. I updated my LinkedIn and began searching jobs. Maybe I couldn’t take this opportunity, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t start looking for the next one.

Then, last week, I woke up one morning with a funny feeling. I felt light and effervescent, kind of, as if my body knew something I didn’t. The thought “Good news is coming!” and “You’re gonna get good news today!” kept running through my head. I had no reason at all to think this, no indication of any sort that things were moving along. Nevertheless, the thoughts kept coming, non-stop. It was weird, for sure, but I swear on my life I am telling the truth.

And then I got the email. “Courtney, I have good news! We do allow this type of employment now.” There was more, but…what?! Are you kidding me?! After sending effusive thank-you’s to both my boss and director, I sat down and tried to finish the workday productively.

In the space of a few short days, I had been given every single thing I had dreamed of over the past few years. All of it. I could move to Maine, I could keep my job, I could save money for a house. I had finally asked, and the answer was somehow yes. It was impossible, I’d thought, yet…here I was, holding it in my hands.

So…why was I completely terrified?

Posted in adventure, faith, family, Goals, happiness, inner peace, Life, magic, manifestation, Mental Health, Musings, People, random, travel

Where Do I Even Begin…?

You can’t see me, I know, but after I wrote the title, I sat here wide-eyed with my hands out, palms up, in the classic “WTF?” pose. For two days, I have been ignoring my desperate need to get this all out, commit it to the screen and perhaps untangle even a small corner of the mess that is spreading into every corner of my brain. Even my sleep isn’t safe anymore, my dreams just one more running commentary (albeit, a very abstract commentary) of the chaos within and around me.

But where do I start? Should I dive right in? The last time I posted was like July, I’m pretty sure, on a day where I felt peaceful and was yammering on about acceptance. Then I went quiet for a while. Stuck in the weird global pandemic time-warp where every day blends into the next and you’re just treading water, waiting for something to change. The only thing that changed was things looked like they were going to get better for a minute, so I went into the office for the first time since March a total of two times, and then…the shit hit the fan in a big way here in California, and they told us to stay home again. Thank God. Then the entire west coast caught on fire for months- pretty sure there’s a bunch of it still on fire, though I’ve honestly stopped keeping track- and the pervasive feeling of doom just crept closer.

In August, during the two minutes when things appeared to be returning to a more normal routine, I had booked a flight and Airbnb in Maine. By the time my trip rolled around, I wasn’t sure if I should go or not. And maybe it was selfish and stupid of me to follow through with it, but my mental state demanded that I feed it some type of happiness before it fell into a pit of despair, so…off I went for a Covid swab and a plane ride across the country.

There were 72 people on our flight, including the crew. Rows of empty seats following the fastest TSA check in line I’ve ever experienced- and that includes me having to go back through the detector thingy three times AND get patted down (Still no idea what the hell was setting the thing off). Everyone wore masks and gave each other as much space as they could. Mostly, I tried not to think about it.

Maine, once again, exceeded my expectations. I was in Mid-coast Maine this time, in Bristol, near Pemaquid Point. Trust me when I tell you, if you are looking for a socially distant vacation, this is the place to be. The cottage looked directly out onto the water- I could throw a rock and hit the inlet if I’d wanted to. But mostly, I just wanted to look at it, the old Atlantic ocean…it really does feel older to me than the Pacific, for some reason. Older, more serious, more magical. At night, you can see the milky way with your eyes, and more stars than you even believe can exist. There is no light pollution, no sound to interrupt the wind in the trees and the rhythmic pulse of the water on the shore. For the first time in months, I could breathe again. The worries of the world- the pandemic, politics, distance learning, tragedy and mayhem…they faded into the background, where they belong.

And while I was there, something pretty incredible happened…but I’m out of time, so dammit! You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear the rest of the story. My apologies, I really want to tell this the right way!

Posted in Dreams, Goals, happiness, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, mindfulness, Musings, People, random

Acceptance

So, I have been writing on this blog since 2012- that’s eight whole years. In that time, I have written close to 600 posts. That’s a lot! That’s so many posts that, even when I don’t write for a very long time, I get visitors to this site every single day. I don’t really pay attention to which posts they are viewing. About once a week, someone new will discover this place and go crazy, reading thirty or forty posts in a row. I like it when that happens, I’m not gonna lie. There’s some validating feelings that emerge when I see that go down.

But I have changed a lot in that time. So much, in fact, that sometimes I think about going back and getting rid of some of my older posts. Although I can’t recall everything I’ve written here, I know some of it would be embarrassing to me now. I know I have overshared and said things that no longer represent the woman I am today. But…you know, I’m not gonna do that. If you read through my posts from start to finish, I think…I hope, anyway, that you would see the slow evolution of a human being who is trying to find her way. I think you would see a lot of growth, even if it was painful and awkward sometimes. Even if there were lots of “one step forward, two steps back” situations. Slowly and steadily, I have progressed.

I believe, when I started all of this, that there was some part of my subconscious mind that thought I would eventually “arrive” at a place where I would be complete. I would know it when I got there, right? It would be a place where I was generally happy and joyful, my relationships would be easy and healthy, I would be mature and confident, and all of my laundry would be done. My mismatched sock basket would be empty, my bathroom counters would be wiped down at all times. I would know what we were having for dinner for the entire week ahead. Basically, I thought I would be perfect.

Not only was that vague idea incredibly far off the mark, but…it was harmful. Harmful because I didn’t realize I was reaching for perfection, a thing that doesn’t exist, and trying to get there was making me feel like a failure. I have been in so much pain because I couldn’t manifest perfection. I have resented my beautiful life because it didn’t match up to my idealistic daydream.

The chaos and tumult of the world since the beginning of this pandemic has thrown me headfirst into the chasm where my shadow dwells. Already halfway submerged when all of this started, I found myself very quickly sucked under. For a good while, I was afraid that I would drown. I didn’t know what that would look like, exactly, but I won’t pretend I wasn’t afraid. “I shouldn’t be feeling this way!” I kept telling myself, “Look how good I have it, I should be- (enter whatever shiny adjective caught my eye at the moment)” As my old sponsor would say, I was “shoulding all over myself”.

A few things transpired in the past few days that have opened my eyes. One was the word “acceptance” which kept popping into my head. I am not sure, but I’d be willing to guess, that I’ve written on this topic before. Smart as I am, it takes me a while to understand things, though. Sometimes I think I get it, and I will keep thinking that until I REALLY get it. Sometimes your understanding just deepens over time.

Here’s the thing- I’ve been wanting to do all this stuff! Move across the country, maybe for a year, maybe forever. Buy a house- maybe in Maine, but also maybe somewhere closer, for just a while, until I can work out how to get to Maine. But I also want to keep my job, and finish a book, and make money from that, while I work on my mental health, my spiritual life, getting my house together. I was flopping around like a fish on a line. Then the pandemic hit. All my tentative “plans” got blown away, who knows how far. No travel, no freedom, no reprieve, even, from my beloved daughter. Just her and I, this house and work, day in and day out, at this computer. My need to bolt became frantic, the shedding of tears became a daily event, and every single one of my worst qualities came raging to the forefront.

That’s when “acceptance” showed up. Not the act, the word, in my head, over and over, until I decided to examine it. Here is what I discovered: My desire to be different than I was, to have a life I couldn’t have right now, to be someone I am not, was the root of the problem. This is who I am. This is where I am. This is how it is. Be here, embody it, feel it, accept it.

Yesterday, Camryn and I walked the whole length of a long beach at low tide early in the morning. There was only us and a few surfers, a couple, and a dog or two running around. Camryn didn’t want to be there, but she had no choice. By the time we made it to the tide pools, she was the happiest she’d been in weeks. We saw starfish and countless sea anemones, pelicans, sandpipers and one very excited sparrow. Camryn, in that moment, was a perfect example of acceptance. She rode the figurative wave, and, after a moment of resistance, she stopped fighting what she couldn’t control, and guess what? She enjoyed the moment. So did I, a reminder that no one is forcing me to stay inside my house. There are still things I can do, places I can go to escape and to breathe. It’s not really my life that is giving me trouble, it’s my attitude about my life. It’s my fear and my grasping.

And finally, sometimes…there’s this weird thing that happens. Someone will ask a question and when you answer it, you realize it was an answer you’d been trying to come up with for yourself. A truth you didn’t know you knew. Someone asked why she used to be so happy in her twenties, but now, in her thirties, she just didn’t feel so joyful all the time. I explained to her that as you get older and wiser, you view life through different eyes. The rose colored glasses come off, and you see more truth and nuance, more depth. Fighting to return to a place in time that is gone, and a person who has evolved, is futile and painful. That’s what I told her. And then it hit me. That also applied to me! I can’t go back. I can’t jump ahead. All I can do is be here, where I am.

Acceptance does not mean I am giving up my dreams. It just means I can stop trying to force a change that isn’t ready to occur. I can relax and quit flopping around at the end of the line I am caught on, wearing myself out. I can stop pulling so hard at the hook in my cheek, stop making the pain so much worse. I can rest. I can gather my thoughts and my strength, so that when the time is right, I will be ready to set myself free. Today, right now, is not the time for me to move forward.

That is acceptance. That’s my take on it, anyway. This time around. Stay tuned, who knows what my take on it will be next time. Hahaha! Happy Sunday. Stay well.

Posted in Life, living, Musings, People, random

Burnout

You ever just get sick of yourself?

C’mon, you can tell me. I promise I won’t tell anyone.

Guys, I am SICK of myself. I need a break from me. I honestly can’t take another moment of being cooped up in this damn house with my unpredictable mood swings. I’ve had it.

Which is why I am going to go see my daughter today. If anyone is the queen of socially isolating, it’s her- she was doing it way before it was asked of us- and I just need a change of scenery. Badly.

Oh, and also my water has been shut off since Friday evening, because the main water line exploded, so…no showers, limited flushing, no laundry, no dish washing. This is not the best. Especially right now when I know how badly we need to be washing our hands. Ugh. I would ask if things could get any worse, but…we all know they could.

I am so ready for life to return to some semblance of normal. And not the “we’re gonna pretend it’s normal because we want it to be normal” thing we just did last month, either. We all saw how great that worked out. No, I want real solutions and a REAL return to normal. I want farmer’s market and dinner out with friends. I want to run to the store without it being a big deal. I want to be able to make plans for the future again.

I want to feel safe in the world.

I just needed to let that out. Thanks for listening.

Posted in anxiety, escape, family, friendship, happiness, health, Life, Mental Health, Musings, People, random

Interesting Times

Hi! Since the last time I showed my face around here, I have: turned 45, tried and fell very short when helping my child with distance learning, lost both my bras for weeks at a time. I’ve- stopped shaving completely, then really regretted that when I made myself start again; resumed some weird, nervous habits that I thought were related only to my drug use, but I guess not. I have wondered daily if I were completely going off the deep end, or if…you know, my feelings were warranted, based on the information I had.

I have vacillated almost comically between wanting to make the best of things, and wanting to just throw the freaking towel in completely. Sometimes several times within the same day. Things are hard. They are weird. They are scary.

It doesn’t matter that I’m one of the luckier ones whose life hasn’t even changed all that drastically, really. I still work from home. Cam would have been off school anyway, it just happened a little sooner. It’s the way it feels. I can’t just go do whatever, whenever I want to- well, I can, I guess, but not safely. Even when the restaurants here were open for a few weeks, there was no way in hell I was going out. I knew that it was too soon, and I knew exactly what would happen. It gives me no pleasure to find I was right. Now everything is shutting down again, and this virus is worse than it has ever been here.

It feels like I am in limbo, because I am. Everything is uncertain and on hold. I catch myself holding my breath. A lot. Nothing about this feels good to me, I don’t like it, and…there’s not a single thing I can do about it. Other than keep soldiering on, trying to do my best.

Some days my best looks really great! I get a lot done and go to bed at night thinking “This isn’t so bad!”. Other days, the best I can do is peel myself off the couch and away from whatever I’m binge watching on Hulu long enough to make my kid a grilled cheese sandwich.

All this to say…whatever you are going through, wherever you fall on the spectrum, you are well within your right to be there. I don’t know a single person, not one, who is not struggling in some way. This is the weirdest event most of us have ever, and hopefully will ever, live through. It won’t go on forever. I don’t know what that means right now, but I do know that things will change, because that is simply what things do. They change.

One of the reasons I took a break from all of this was because I was so overwhelmed by the clamoring voices all around me, spouting out their opinions as if they were facts. It got to be too much, and I didn’t want to contribute to that, in case I was making things confusing for other people. I didn’t want to be part of it.

But I do want to check in and tell you all…hang in there. Do your best, whatever that looks like today. One way or another, this will all be behind us eventually.

Until then, I can’t recommend highly enough watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer from start to finish on Hulu. Now that’s what I call a great escape! 🙂

Posted in Addiction, adventure, faith, happiness, inner peace, Learning, Life, living, Mental Health, Musings, People, recovery, spirituality, women

1,825 Days

On this day, five years ago, I woke up and chose to stop putting drugs into my body. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it both is and isn’t a simple thing. You have to understand, and I know it’s hard if you haven’t lived it, but…when you are deep in the throes of addiction your brain tells you stories, and, because it’s your own brain talking to you in your own voice, and because you are very sick and things aren’t right inside of you, you no longer have the discretion to discern the truth from the lies. Your brain tells you that you can’t just stop on a dime- you have to plan ahead, you need to wait for the weekend, you just need to finish off the rest of the dope you have. You’ll have to call in sick, you need someone to help with the kids, tomorrow would be better, next month would be better. It’s going to be so hard. It’s going to feel so bad.

The truth is, you only need to be ready. Before you are ready, nothing will make it work. And nothing can force you to be ready until you arrive there on your own. That place looks different for everyone.

I want to share a part of my story that I’ve been reluctant to speak about for a couple of reasons; I am not in recovery, not in the traditional sense, anymore. One year ago in February, I made the decision to leave the 12 Step world and live life as a free agent. I was terrified, honestly. I had found myself thinking, for quite some time, that I wasn’t comfortable with defining myself by my addiction anymore. I was tired of rehashing the sordid details of my former life in order to identify with the newcomer. Healing from something while reliving it constantly began to feel counter-intuitive. I had done everything that was asked of me, all of it. Service work, step work, meeting attendance, and I felt I was at a crossroads- it was time for me to start sponsoring women or time to move on. I agonized over this decision. I worried that my brain was lying to me again, that I would leave and somehow, though it seemed impossible to me, wind up on drugs, right back where I’d started. But I knew that in order to sponsor women in their most vulnerable time, I had to be committed. I had to buy what I was selling 100%. Lives were at stake. And that made my choice pretty easy. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t tell someone there was only this one way to live for the rest of their lives because I no longer believed it was true. So, I left.

At first, it was really weird. But, once I found my footing, I realized this choice was the right one for me. I thought I was endangering myself by walking away, but what I did was…I set myself free, and gave myself permission to live my life the way I chose. I trusted myself to make good decisions. And it was the most loving thing I have ever done for me.

The reasons I have been hesitant to share this are not far-fetched at all. I would never, ever want to encourage another person to follow me out of recovery. Every one of us is different, and I think that, scared as I was of breaking from the norm, I knew in my heart that I was done with dope. I knew I wasn’t going back to that life. So, I don’t talk about it because I don’t want to give people the wrong idea, you know?

The second reason is…I don’t want to take away from the fact that I have accomplished something fucking marvelous. I know what my friends in recovery are going to think about this, because I thought the same exact way- pretty sure I even wrote a rude blog about it here somewhere: It only counts if you do it THIS WAY. Well, I’m sorry, but that just isn’t true for me. You know what is true? That my life is not ruled by substances of any kind anymore. That I don’t have to hide or lie or feel ashamed of myself because of the way I am living. That, in the past five years, I have made fundamental changes to my life that have allowed me to become the woman I had wanted so badly to become. The woman I was afraid I had lost all chance of ever being.

So no, I am not in recovery anymore. But that doesn’t change the fact that this morning, when I woke up and thought about what that number meant- One thousand eight hundred and twenty five days- I wasn’t overwhelmed with gratitude. I thanked God profusely and sobbed because my life is so incredibly beautiful. The freedom, the healing, the changes…they are so precious to me. The difference between who I am right now and who I was on this very day five years ago is profound.

When I shared that I didn’t go to meetings anymore with a friend of mine a while back, she said to me “Oh, so you’re cured?” in that “tone” one can get when they think they know something you don’t. Today, I would like to say this- I might not ever be cured completely, but I’m closer than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m free. I’m not afraid of myself anymore. I trust me. I’m so proud of myself. And nothing anyone else thinks about the way I move through life can change that.

So, happy anniversary to me.

Posted in family, Goals, health, kids, Life, motherhood, Musings, People, random, relationships, women

When This is Over

this too shall pass

When this is over, I will say yes to everything.

I will never be too tired or grouchy or lazy again.

When this is over, I will have barbecues and parties. I will have friends for lunch and fancy dinner parties for no reason.

When this is over, I will visit when my mother asks me. I will wander through my daughters garden and take my time, listen and look as she points out every flower. I will hug her and not let go for a very long time.

I miss her. I worry, you know.

When this is over, and I can move freely through the world again, I will remember. I’ll remember what it was like to fear the grocery store.

To fear the goddamn shopping cart.

To feel my heart race every time Cam touched a handle or a box.

When this is over, I swear I will go camping with Jen instead of trying to figure out how to get out of it.

I’ll find the time. I’ll make the time.

When this is over, maybe I’ll stop crying every day.

Or maybe I’ll cry for a long, long time.

I just really hope I’m here

I hope all of us are here

When this is over.