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 I know I have overshared and said things that no longer represent the woman I am today.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 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, anxiety, faith, happiness, inner peace, Life, love, meditation, Mental Health, Musings, People, spirit, spirituality

Turning Toward the Pain

If you have been following along on this scribbled down leg of my life’s journey with me, then you know that I have been through some STUFF. Since I started this relationship with WordPress years ago, I have shared my stories of addiction, recovery, relapse, and more recently, my exit from recovery. I have talked about guilt, shame, parenting fails, anxiety, depression, and probably a trillion other things I couldn’t possibly remember right now. I have talked about God, about my spiritual life, about my desire to evolve, be better, do better. I write a lot about the times I get up, and I probably write a lot more about the times when I feel knocked down. These are the things I need to speak from my heart more urgently. These are the things I feel called to share.

If you have ever thought “Man, this poor girl can’t catch a break- it’s always something!” I want to be clear that there are always times when I could choose to take a time-out. There are probably months worth of posts where I have been gliding along, feeling peaceful, overflowing with gratitude. But it is my nature to seek. I feel in my soul the urge to grow and change and untangle the knots of who I am. It is inherently part of what makes me me.

This latest little series of posts is no different- although, of course, it is different than anything else I have been through. It’s just a new set of interesting things I am sorting through and figuring out. I am not lost, I am not in over my head, I am not losing my hold on reality. I do not need to be fixed. I am not broken. To the contrary, I am strong, resilient, capable, and independent to a fault.

On that note, I want to tell you that it is entirely possible to be strong, resilient, capable and independent, and still be a walking vessel for fear. I am still afraid, all the time, about things I can’t control. Most, if not all, of them are made up scenarios in my head that I dream up to torture myself. Why do I do this? I couldn’t say. Perhaps I spend too much time alone and have a bit too much going on in the imagination department. If my life were a TV show,  the scenes unfolding in my head would be hilarious. Unfortunately, this is real life, and they aren’t funny in the moment.

I am going through a little phase of this right now. My anxiety is flaring up, my imagination is firing on all cylinders, and the fear is revving its engine, just waiting to tear off down the track, dragging me behind it. And you know what? WHATEVER.

That’s the word I’ve chosen to deal with all of it. WHATEVER. Okay, brain, fine, do your worst. I’m just gonna hang on and let this thing play itself out. I can survive it. I’ve done it a million times before. I have done therapy, read books, reasoned with myself, tried distraction, prayer, meditation…you name it. So, fine. If I insist on continuing this way, then whatever. I accept it.

No, you know what? I more than accept it. This feeling in the pit of my stomach, the harbinger of nerves to come? I embrace it. This feeling comes from a place of deep, if misguided, love. And how lucky am I to love so much that sometimes it hurts me? I wish that my relationship with love didn’t hold so much fear, but right now it does, and while I am working on a solution, I want to take a moment to acknowledge how brave my spirit must be…to be so afraid, and still be able to love the way I do. At least when it comes to my children, I am an open channel of never-ending love, and it is terrifying, but it is also the best, most beautiful part of my life.

So today, rather than admonish myself for my inconvenient feelings, I am going to turn towards them. Turn towards the pain and the fear, and say “I see you. I get it. I understand why you keep showing up.” Maybe I just need to learn to sit with it, instead of always running away. Show my fear, and the pain it causes, some tenderness and understanding, because it’s a part of me, and it comes from a place in me that is hurting. I am not broken. But there are depths I have not explored and places inside that I keep locked away, even from myself. I’m getting closer, all the time, to letting the light in.

I think it’s pretty human to want to get away from things that don’t feel good. Whether it’s a bad pair of shoes, or feelings that make us uneasy or cause us distress- pain, fear, worry, jealousy, anger, sadness. We always want the sunny ones, but the darker ones we feel the need to change, resolve, hide, analyze, fix. But there is value in the painful stuff. There’s a reason, and there’s growth there…painful feelings are trying to tell us something we need to hear. Sometimes it’s just hard to listen because we can’t be still with them. I’m going to try really hard to listen this time.

Feeling less than okay is okay. Today I give myself permission to feel my feelings without judging them or trying to change them, with no expectation of a different outcome. I just want to see how it feels to do something different. I want to see where this path leads.

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

Messy

messy

On the peninsula where I live, September and October are the most beautiful months of the year. We get these gorgeous, sunny days and the evenings and mornings are crisp and cool. It’s not like autumn anywhere else that I’ve lived, but it’s lovely nonetheless. I might be imagining it, but it feels like there is a quality to the light, too…it feels more fall-like, and I just love this time of year. My body seems to sense the difference, and I become more relaxed and languid. I want to be with my family even more than usual.

It’s a good thing, too. My daughter (who will be 21 in just a couple of weeks!) and her boyfriend had to move back in unexpectedly, just temporarily (we still haven’t pinned down exactly what “temporarily” means to them, but trust me, that conversation is coming), so I have a full house right now. They brought with them their cat and dog, and the cat is currently running around behind my chair, trying to play with/provoke her own murder with my cats. My cats are mostly just ignoring her.

So, my younger daughter is sleeping with me (nothing new about that), and my older daughter is in her sister’s room, and I…well, I’m happy. I’m sorry, I know I’m just one of those moms who sleep better at night when I know where my kids are. And the thing is, I ADORE my daughters. I sit here in the morning, and I think about how crazy it is, how lucky I have been, to have gotten the kids that I have. That I grew them in my own body, that they exist at all. It blows my mind. Of all of the ways I ever imagined my life turning out, there’s no way I could have expected this feeling of love. It is truly everything.

Don’t get me wrong- it’s not always sunshine and butterflies. The older one has mood swings that are unpredictable and incredibly swift, and the little one cries about thirty times a day for almost any reason you can imagine. They are people, not just little extensions of me. Which means they have minds of their own, and reactions I don’t expect, and feelings about things that are different than my own. But this is also what makes them so wonderful. I love their differences. I love them exactly as they are. I enjoy their company. Which makes me very, very lucky and blessed. And super grateful.

I have not always been a “good mother”, whatever that might mean to you. By anyone’s definition, I would have pretty much sucked. But more and more lately, I feel like I am doing it right. At least when it comes to them, at least in that part of my life, I feel capable and competent. And that makes me feel really good. Because when it comes right down to it, what else could matter more in my life? The way I loved my children has got to be right up at the top of the list.

My life is messy. I can’t ever seem to get a handle on my home, I can’t stick to a routine to save my life. I struggle to like myself, I’m harder on me than anyone else has ever been. It’s a challenge for me to just lighten up a little bit. But you know what? That is just LIFE. This is just who I am, and I’m working on accepting myself, warts and all. (for the record, I don’t actually have any warts. That I’m aware of.)

And there are some things I’ve gotten right- these beautiful, funny, smart, big-hearted young ladies that I get to call my own? I hit it out of the park in the kid department. They are part of the mess, I suppose. Which makes the mess a lot easier to love.

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, anxiety, Depression, health, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, misinformation, People, recovery, twelve step

Fear, Shame, & the Stigma of Addiction

stigma

Something I am really riled up about right now is the stigma and shame around drug addiction. SO MANY people do not understand what it really is, what it is really like, and how it feels when you are in the grips of it. They get upset that it is classified as a disease, and they say that it is a choice…which…I mean, even drug addicts themselves feel guilt and shame around this. Trust me, I was one of them. For a long time, I thought it really was my fault, and I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just quit, why I insisted on making my life so much harder than it had to be.

Well, news flash! It might start off as a choice- a BAD choice, obviously- but lots and lots of young people experiment with drugs. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that a really healthy chunk of the population has, at one time or another, tried drugs. Lets not forget that alcohol is prevalent almost everywhere, and it is one of the most highly addictive and destructive drugs that exist- why do you think AA started WAY back when? It wasn’t just a friendly, old-timey social club. Anyway, not everyone gets addicted. But for some of us, for whatever reason, our brains get a little hit of that euphoria, and from that moment on, we just want MORE. To our detriment. As our lives crumble, as our dreams wither up, as our families cry and beg for us to change. And we promise to try, we promise to pull it together, we want to get better, but…

It’s not a choice anymore. Something has us in a grip so massive that we can’t stop killing ourselves. So maybe it isn’t a disease the way that cancer is. I will give you that, if it hurts you to think of it that way. But what about OCD? Bipolar disorder, or other mental illnesses? Would you judge someone harshly for having something like that? Because to me, addiction is a mental illness (and usually not a stand-alone one, either) and it’s no more my fault than it would be if I had…say, an ulcer. Or maybe diabetes that I controlled with my diet and lifestyle. Other people might do the same things that I did, and be okay. But some people aren’t, because something inside of them is different.

Sure, now that I know better and I have it under control, I can manage it by avoiding the things that would make me sick again, and by taking my “medicine” (meetings, therapy, watching what I eat and how I behave and paying attention to my thoughts and feelings). Just the way someone with diabetes has to monitor their diet and their glucose and all of that. I know that if I don’t do those things, I am putting myself in danger of a relapse. I am now responsible for my continuing health. But I was not responsible for the way my particular body reacted to the substances I foolishly tried.

Here’s the thing, though: People get sick and they aren’t afraid to go to the doctor and ask for help. They are not judged by their doctor when they show up sick. They don’t generally fear repercussions from their employer if they are ill. But do you know how many people walk around every single day, desperate for help with their substance abuse problems, but terrified to reach out because of what might happen to their lives? Not all addicts are the people you see on the streets, acting crazy. It isn’t always that obvious. Many of us are high functioning professionals with a LOT to lose. And asking for help is terrifying.

I stayed sick for a really long time because I was afraid to tell the truth, afraid of what would happen to me, and to my family. I was lucky.  I got the help I needed and I got to keep my job, I got to tell the truth to my boss, and she was compassionate and concerned. That is not everyone’s story.

But I really think it should be. We don’t throw people away like garbage because they aren’t working correctly. You don’t KNOW…you don’t know what kind of beautiful human being is there, underneath that illness. The addicts I have known in my lifetime, and there have been LOTS of them, are not garbage. Not even when they were using. Even the worst people I have known had redeeming qualities, and intelligence, and loyalty, and very, very few of them did not dream of getting better. I can’t think of one person out of hundreds that didn’t want to lead a better life.

We should be able to ask for help when we need it. When someone asks for help, we should help them. When someone is sick, even if it makes us uncomfortable and afraid, we should help them find their way to help. Addiction is stealing the lives of our friends, our family members, and our children, many times over, every day. Addiction is destroying the lives of not only the addict, but the addicts parents, and the addicts children. It is a disease of loneliness and disconnection. It might help a lot to end the stigma and remove the shame. It’s a terrible life to be stuck in. When someone is reaching out, we have to reach out, too.

And that’s what I am thinking about this morning.

1-800-662-HELP is the number for SAMHSA, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Call someone if you need help, or even if you just want to know how to help someone you love.

Posted in aging, fun, funny, humor, Learning, Life, motherhood, Musings, People, random

Thoughts on my former ass, and other things that no longer exist.

my former ass

Once upon a time, I was young. I was so young that I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be thirty, or have stretch marks, or empathy for other human beings. I was so young, I never had weird hairs growing out of my neck or my nipples, but if I had, my sharp young eagle eyes would have caught them before they were long enough to grab with my finger nails.

I miss being that young, sometimes, and not just because of the weird hairs or the funky pair of lines between my eyebrows that make me look angry even when I am not…I miss it because I miss the ignorant, self centered, shallow bliss of being the girl I was.

That girl didn’t even care how stupid she probably looked, always half crocked on something, running around, making a spectacle of herself. She didn’t even know she was an idiot. She thought she was cute all the time. That girl didn’t care about the taxes coming out of her paycheck,  or how stupid all the candidates running for president were. She didn’t get into long, useless, political arguments with her friends on Facebook. There was no Facebook. And it was good.

Even if I didn’t have a parenthood and job induced curfew, I would probably still go to bed before nine. Nothing exciting happens after nine- if my phone rings that late at night, I wonder a) who is drunk, and b) who died. That is what goes through my head when my phone rings after I am in bed. The twenty five year old me didn’t bother going out until after nine- NO ONE was out that early.

The young me didn’t worry about how I looked naked. I wanted people to see me naked. I looked that good. Now? I don’t even like to sneak up on myself naked. I wish I was kidding.

Eh, but who am I kidding? That girl was cute and all, but she was a bona fide mess. And most of the people I let see me naked didn’t even deserve to. Although, I’m glad there are references I can provide who can verify how awesome my ass used to be. Because I was trying to tell my trainer about it last night, and I could tell he didn’t believe me. If any of you have a picture of my former ass, can you send it to me? I need to show him.

Anyway, that is what I am thinking about right now. Aren’t you glad I shared it with you?

 

Posted in advice, friendship, humor, inner peace, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random

What I’ve Learned, Lately

lessons

I don’t care how old you are, life is nothing if not a constant set of lessons. I am going to share with you some of the things I have learned, lately:

1.) I am better off if I don’t react to my first impulse, no matter what the situation. Unless, you know, something is on fire or something.

I am a very emotional person. I almost always have feelings about things before I have many thoughts about them. What I have learned is, the best possible outcome is usually achieved when I allow myself some time to think things through before discussing anything. When I am very heated about a situation, attacking it on the spot is generally just that- an attack- and it tends not to end well. This isn’t exactly rocket science, but it’s truly a new thing for me…I am the queen of the knee jerk reaction, always blowing up before I have any business opening my mouth.

2.) When you overreact to something, it winds up being about your behavior, rather than the thing you are objecting to.

Say your boyfriend cheats on you. That is a really terrible, painful thing. So, when he comes home at two a.m., and you rush outside as he is getting out of his car, and he jumps back in his car and locks himself in, just in time to avoid getting a concussion with the bat you are swinging at his head, and you proceed to beat his car until it can’t rightfully be called a car anymore…when the police come, and all of your neighbors are outside watching you get handcuffed, guess who this about now?

Okay, this was a terrible (but super fun) analogy, but you get what I’m saying- when you go over the top in your response, and behave badly, it almost inevitably turns into a situation where you are left feeling bad about how you handled yourself, and whatever it was you were objecting to gets lost in the mess.  Try to keep some dignity, whatever the cost. If that isn’t possible, seethe in silence until you calm down a little- and you will calm down. Which leads me to:

3.) Feelings Change.

This is closely linked to number one, but not the same. In the first instance, I recommend waiting to react, at least outwardly, and thinking. But here, what I have learned is that, not only should I wait, and think, but I have discovered that when I do this, a lot of times what I thought I felt wasn’t true at all. Give yourself a minute. You will be surprised at how different your feelings are after a good nights sleep or a weekend off. Shit changes, and fast.

4.) Having said all of that, I have also found that dealing with things directly, no matter how awkward it might be, is exactly the right thing to do.

A few months back, I decided to get a roommate, who is also a friend of mine. I was smart enough to know that I have a hard time living with people, and so I told her that we should aim for six months, and if that went well, then, no longer than a year. Within two months, I started to feel overwhelmed and less excited about the whole thing- but it was a really hard subject to broach. I didn’t want her to think I didn’t like her, or that she had done anything wrong, because that wasn’t it. I simply don’t like having roommates. But I didn’t say anything, because I thought maybe I was just adjusting and I would get over it. So, I went to Hawaii, and while I was there, I thought a lot about it. I still wasn’t really sure, though, until I was turning the corner to my house on my way back home, and suddenly, I was just bummed out that I had to face people in my home when I returned. I KNEW in that moment that I had to talk to her.

I waited until the moment seemed right, and I sat down, and we talked about it. I was nervous as heck. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but I knew that, in this situation, I needed to be true to myself. I told her we should plan on sticking to six months, and I told her that the reason I was letting her know so soon was because I didn’t want her to miss out if she found something else in the meantime. I also let her know that I hoped she stayed the whole six months, but I would not be mad if she didn’t. And that if she had a tough time finding something by the end of the six months, it was okay to take a little longer.

I’m sure she wasn’t thrilled. But you know what? I knew that I had done the right thing, in the right way, and I had been direct, and kind, and as thoughtful as I could be…and because of that, I never had to feel bad about any of it. And I had said what I needed to say, which meant there was that much less weight on my shoulders.

5.) Pick your battles.

Okay, so this isn’t an original thought. Not by a long shot. But, for someone like me, who is always ready to cop a resentment about nearly any fucking thing, this is a huge breakthrough for me. You mean I don’t need to correct every little thing I view as wrong? You mean I won’t die of keeping my mouth shut? You mean I can have feelings about things that have nothing to do with me and I don’t have to share them? WOW.

So, I have learned, lately, that not only will I not die of letting things go, but I can achieve quite a bit of happiness and peace this way. Simply by not saying every single thing that I think. Simply by letting people be their irritating selves, they become less irritating. Who could have known this? I mean, besides most people?

So, this is my list of interesting life lessons for now. I hope you enjoyed them. And if you didn’t, I hope you are smart enough to Pick Your Battles.

Have an awesome day!

 

Posted in Addiction, advice, Life, living, love, mindfulness, parenting, random, recovery

Directions for a Better Day

better day
photo credit: thethingswesay.com

Wake up before anyone else. This will give you the time you need to center yourself, to set the tone for the kind of day you want to have. Do whatever it is you need to do to get the ball rolling- rub your eyes, start your coffee, let your dogs outside to pee.

Feed yourself, spiritually. Read your Daily Word, your Just for Today, your 365 days of whatever…say your prayers. Ask God to hold your hand, today, if that is what you need. Ask him to keep a special eye on your kids, and remember the people you promised to pray for. Always pray for the ones you said you would. Really bad manners not to do that. When you pray, why not do it right? I get on my knees, I get SERIOUS. I want God to know I am not messing around, that I mean it. “I need your help today, God. I am impatient, and snappy, and capable of terrible meanness- can you help me with this? Let me be kind, and sweet, and soft, and loving. I am all of these things, too, but I need your help to keep that stuff in the front. Thank you. Thank you for ALL of this. I know I am so blessed, God, but there is always work to do. Amen” Give yourself ten or fifteen minutes more to sit in silence, to just be. Get calm. Get centered.

Wake your children up sweetly. Let the first thing they see be your smiling face, the first thing they feel, your love. Be ready to help them- If they are little, it is your job, also, to know where their shoes are, to know where their jacket is. Get them ready with as much patience and love as you can. You are setting the tone for their day, too.

Give yourself enough time to get to school, and to get to work, without getting angry. And if you don’t give yourself that time, remember- it is not the rest of the worlds fault that you are running late. They don’t even KNOW you are running late. Don’t let your anger get the best of you. Keep your best self at the wheel of your life. Be AWARE of yourself, and be responsible for your actions. Don’t honk your horn, take a deep breath. Don’t tailgate, just slow down. When you want to flip someone off, you shrug and smile instead. We all make mistakes. Treat others the way you want them to treat you. The Golden rule applies at all times.

When you get to work, be grateful for this job. It puts food on your table, and it keeps you out of trouble for the next eight hours. Do the best you can while you are there. Try to remember that it makes you feel good about you to do your best, even if no one else knows or cares. Be a decent human being. It pays off in the end.

Be aware of your thoughts. Are they useful, productive, kind thoughts? The more you are aware of what is going on in your head, the better off you are going to be. Are you judging others? Stop it. You don’t know anything about their life or their situation. Your only job is to be kind, whether it be a smile, or simply sending good vibes. Your judgement serves no one, unless you are being paid to do just that. Try to love the humanness in every person you come across. We all need that so badly. Are you thinking unkind things about yourself? Stop it. You must talk to yourself the way your best friend, your grandmother, the person who loves you most in the world, talks to you. Talk to yourself with the devotion and love and belief you have in your own children. Be your own champion. Be gentler with yourself. Forgive yourself. You are doing the best you can. And, as my sponsor says to me “You are so much better than you can see, but I see it.” Be tender with your beautiful self. You are working so hard.

Be aware of what you put in your mouth. You are going to feel so much better if you eat good stuff. It’s okay to pig out sometimes, but lets make today a better day…eat food that will nourish you. Drink water. Be aware of what your body is telling you. If you are on your feet all day, sit down for a little bit. If you are on your butt all day, take a walk. Get some air. Get some sunlight on your face. Stretch.

When you are done with work for the day, before you see your kids again, ready yourself. If you need to do something for yourself before you can do anything for them, do it. Go to a meeting, if you can. If you can’t do that, or you don’t do that, take a quick walk. Meditate for five minutes in the car outside of the daycare. Go get a pedicure. Park by the beach, or something scenic, and sort your thoughts. When you pick up your kids, they are going to be so excited to see you. You want to be excited to see them, too. Be present. Listen. Interact with them.

When you are home, set aside time for your family and time for your chores. Ask for help. Make time for other things that enrich your life- friends, hobbies, fun. But whatever you are doing, do that. Put your phone away. Look people in the eye. Listen. Be interested. Be interesting. Model the kind of life for your children that you want for them- don’t expect them to know any other way, because they won’t . If you want them to be kind, be kind to them. If you want them to have manners, you must have manners, too. If you want them to be loving, be loving to them. Develop good habits. Have a routine, but don’t fall apart when things happen…because things ALWAYS happen.

Spend at least five minutes every night lavishing love on your babies, while they will let you. Be grateful for them, and tell them how grateful for them that you are. Hold them in your arms, and kiss their faces, nuzzle their little necks. And every night, before you go to sleep, pray again. Thank God for this beautiful day, and for all of his help. Forgive yourself for the parts that didn’t go so well. Let yourself be okay with it. Go to sleep.

Repeat in the morning.

(This was really for me, but maybe you can get some use out of it, too.)

Posted in Blogging, family, humor, kids, Learning, Life, Mental Health, Musings, parenting, random

Beautiful Human Machines

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I had intended to title this post “Stupid Human Bodies”, to be honest with you. I woke up this morning with only half of one nostril cooperating in my breathing effort. I have the kind of congestion that can be neither blown out, nor, uh…breathed in? I suppose the proper description would be “hocked up”, but that sounds so yucky, doesn’t it? Either way, if you are reading this, then you probably are saddled with one of these disease prone, periodically snot-addled, human contraptions we call “bodies” yourself, so I am sure you understand. The throbbing headache caused by sinuses that are malfunctioning- or is it hyperfunctioning? I am really unsure. The achy skin inflicted with fever. The goopy eyes, runny noses, dry, cracked lips. And this is only when we are dealing with the common fucking cold!

Don’t even get me started on the rest of the insulting things we must suffer through- the flaw in our design that put so many nerve endings in the places where we are most likely to ram them into things (think little pinky toes, my friend), the acne as teenagers (and adults), the metabolism that runs like a dream for so many years, only to leave us high and dry when our terrible eating habits are firmly ingrained in us…leaving us looking, bewildered, at the cellulite on our thighs and the rolls of blubber encircling our middles. Uncomfortably warm, permanent (seems like), hugs from the fat fairy. Yeah, life inside these bone and skin tents can be trying.

I was feeling all kinds of sorry for myself this morning, hobbling around with my achy, common-cold bones, hindered by my fat hug and the insurmountable mucus battle raging in my head…I was feeling whiny and bitchy and all kinds of pathetic. And then my daughter woke up. As you can see from the picture above, whatever is wrong with me is WAY less important than whatever the hell is going on with her. Yesterday, I thought she had a bug bite near her eye causing that swelling. Today, I am leaning more towards some type of cellulitis, perhaps conjunctivitis with a little something extra…I don’t know.

But it’s amazing, isn’t it, how quickly ones perspective can change? First of all, when I got out of “poor me” mode, and jumped into the impenetrable armor I call “Mommy Deluxe” (motto: don’t fuck with my kids, you hear?), my cold symptoms seemed to just float away. But, more importantly, I became acutely grateful for this wonderful machine that house our souls from day one through day…whatever you make it to. Because if this fancy contraption was not SO smart that it could send up distress signals you would need to blind to miss (ie: this eye is swollen even WORSE today, lady, so the Benadryl ain’t working! Help! Help!), how would I have known that something was seriously up with my kid? Answer: I wouldn’t have. I would not have known.

Our bodies are such precise and miraculous little systems. They are so complex, there are things even the most highly trained doctors, the most insanely educated scientists, are still mystified by. They protect us, they wage wars we often know nothing about, they suffer such abuses at our hands, and they still do their job, to the best of their ability, every single second of our lives. How cool is that? They find ways to communicate with us that we can understand, each body learning the language we will hear so that it can tell us how to help. And what do we do? We complain and whine, and get upset when things go wrong…Yet, how often are we grateful for all the many, many things that go right?

Today, I am going to stop whining, and appreciate this marvelous (if a little chubbier and snottier than I feel is totally necessary) temple that has been with me since the moment…no, since BEFORE the moment, even…I was born. Also, I am going to call the doctor for Cammy. That eye does not look good.

Have a beautiful day!

Posted in Addiction, advice, alcoholism, Learning, Life, Mental Health, Musings, People, random

Reservations (I’m not talking about dinner).

reservations

Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted- I mean, everyone I know pretty much did, but I hear there are people out there in the world who can use drugs “recreationally”, which means, I guess, in a fun way. Weekends, holidays, or something like that. These would be people that do NOT trade their family’s good silver and sexual favors for a twenty bag, I am guessing. I mean, not that I ever did anything like that, of course. My family never even had any good silver (that I am aware of. Good job, mom.) And I wasn’t smart enough to think of the sexual favor thing until I had already given it up, anyway. I never was very good at the whole hustle aspect of drug use. I basically just worked at a job so that I could buy myself whatever I needed, or I wheedled it out of people. I was a wheedler, not a hustler. Anyway, I have learned, even more thoroughly from being in a drug treatment center that caters to a…I want to say, more heavily insured group of people…that the “hitting rock bottom” thing that is talked about in the world of recovery looks very different for people who have a higher expectation of what their life should look like.

I mean, don’t get me wrong- there are people there that were living on the streets when they first came into the program, but it was more a matter of choice, meaning they had other options, than solely a consequence of their lifestyle. Like, help was available to them should they want it. Then, there are those who took their drugs as prescribed, but they felt their doctor was overindulging them and they felt terribly bad about this. My point is, only YOU know what the bottom looks like for YOU. I wasn’t really that messed up this time, by my standards. Not even close. But I can tell you this- I was tired as hell of living a double life. The burden of being that person was just no longer bearable. I sought help this time because I was too weary to keep going on anymore. It was not dramatic, there was no intervention- a lot of people didn’t even know what was going on with me. A LOT of people. You reach out for help when it is bad enough for YOU. And that is where it starts.

No one winds up in a treatment center feeling great and stable and mentally sound. There is no way that is happening. We wind up there after LOTS of suffering, many attempts to fix ourselves on our own, long stretches of battling ourselves, terrible battles, that go in internally. So the relief of finally getting help, of finally finding a safe reprieve from OURSELVES, is indescribable. You get into treatment willing, at last, to do anything to sustain that feeling of relief, of safety. It feels so good to wave that white flag, to surrender.

But, FUCK, we addicts are forgetful human beings. Given a little bit of time, a little distance, and we quickly forget the truth about who we are- who we JUST were. We feel so much better, and we already can’t believe it was that bad. We glamorize our old lifestyles, we joke about it, we don’t want to accept that this is our fate- a whole life without putting any substances, of any kind, in our bodies. Now, right here, for me, what I just wrote- that is how I know I am an addict. If you told most people- “hey, sorry, but you can’t ever drink, or smoke weed, and you should probably be highly cautious about even taking narcotic pain medication, even if you have had REAL pain.” They might balk a little, but, you know, if their doctor was telling them this- they would probably, eventually, shrug their shoulders and go. “Shit. That sucks. Alright, then.” For an addict, for ME, anyway, that is just grim. I get it, but I still have a lot of trouble believing it’s that big of a deal. Despite ALL of the evidence to the contrary, and there is plenty, my friends- I still have trouble accepting this.

Now, don’t get me wrong- I KNOW I can’t do my drug of choice. That isn’t what trips me up. My bigger struggle, the thing I have a hard time giving up, is alcohol. Or, it was hard, anyway. Until I got all sassy last weekend on a date, and drank half of a margarita. First of all, let me explain to you that since the day prior to this date, I was already ruminating, at great length, over whether or not I was going to drink. I don’t think this is something that normal people obsess over, is it? I finally decided I was definitely NOT going to drink. So imagine my surprise when I heard myself order a margarita! I seriously considered tackling the waiter as he walked away, begging him not to bring it. This is also not normal. Then, when it came, I wasn’t NOT going to drink it- it was a twelve dollar margarita, for Christ’s sake! How could I do that to my date, this perfect stranger whose opinion of me mattered far more than my recovery! I mean, that makes total sense, right? Oh, wait, no…it makes no fucking sense at all!

Long story short, I drank half, it was fine, I ordered a cranberry and soda, drank that instead, finished the date, went home, felt yucky, went to bed. Then, I woke up at midnight, chugged ten gallons of water, and lay in bed feeling really sick- almost as if I had ingested some type of poison, some type of tequila, maybe- and wondered what the fuck was wrong with me. But the good news is, that reservation I had, the battle in my head over whether or not drinking would be okay for me, was put to rest. I didn’t get out of control, but my thoughts certainly were a little crazy. Most people don’t get that nutty over a drink. Most people don’t put two days of thought into half a margarita. But more importantly, I didn’t like the way I felt. I am tired of not liking the way I feel. I’ve had enough of that for a lifetime.

There are lots more reasons why it isn’t a good idea for me to drink, but right now, I only need that one- because I don’t like how it made me feel. They talk a lot about reservations in twelve step programs, and why they are dangerous. You have to do what you have to do to resolve them in your own way. I am grateful today that mine didn’t have to be uglier than it was. That is was simple to resolve. Today, I am going to allow myself to remember the truth about who I am, and how I wound up where I am. Because people who forget their own history are doomed to repeat it, right? And that is not something I really want to do. Not at all.

Have a great Thursday! 🙂