I just wanted to pop in here real quick and let you guys know that I am in the process of setting up a whole new WordPress blog! I am still trying to iron out all the kinks- the set up has changed a whole lot since I started this blog a million years ago, and it is making me feel like a goddamn dinosaur…maybe I should enlist the help of my 8 year old? She’s basically a part-time coding expert, thanks to countless hours of Roblox and freaking…what’s it called? That other one all the kids are gaga over? Anyway, whatever.
So, this will be something different for me! You know, my life has changed so very much over the past five years. I’ve grown up, finally, in so many ways. I will always still come here, to After The Party, to share parts of my life. But I am wanting to try something new, and I thought “Why not?”
For the longest time, every morning, before I would pray and meditate, I would read a…well I guess you could call it a devotional? Those short little daily readings to sort of set the tone for your day? I had trouble, eventually, finding ones that resonated with me. Too Christian, too cheesy, too out there. So I just stopped looking.
Well, lately, I have been keeping this running Word document where I would write (for myself) a little nugget of inspiration that sort of filtered into my brain from the ether. Sometimes it happened during or right after my prayer and meditation, sometimes it just popped into my head randomly out of nowhere, but whenever it happened, I knew that was the one- that was my idea for the day.
So, I’d run over to my desktop and pull up the document, and flesh out the little sliver I’d been given. I found that I was suddenly able to keep things relatively short and sweet (which you all know, if you read anything I write here, can be a bit challenging for me) and get to the point pretty easily. I’ve been collecting them for a while now.
They aren’t doing me any good just sitting in my computer. Well, they might be doing me some good, but I’m all about sharing. Plus, what a great way to make sure I write something daily, right?
So PLEASE, keep your eyeballs peeled for the updates, and follow my new blog when I post a link, if you feel like you might get something out of it…even if it is just a laugh. Look for “Notes From Elsewhere”. Coming soon to a WordPress site near you. 🙂
Today is the last day of my life that I will ever be 42. Forty-fucking-two, you guys. Holy shit! Tomorrow, I will be FORTY THREE. I honestly had no idea that in your forties, you could still feel the exact same way that you did in your 30’s and even in your 20’s. Maybe just a little more cautious, and a little less willing to paint your own toenails or pluck your own eyebrows- this is the luxury of having a bit more financial stability and less of a desire to stay up past nine in the evening, meeting friends for expensive drinks. You can pay someone else to groom you. I am only half way joking- this is one of the most enjoyable things about getting older for me. That, and getting to enjoy the full scope of Amazon Prime. I love that shit.
Anyway, for some reason, I always thought that 42 would be this landmark year for me. I actually looked forward to it for a really long time, and now, here I sit, almost done with the age…and nothing pointedly significant is jumping out at me. I didn’t get an agent (nor did I try, so that might be part of that problem), I didn’t have a New York Times best seller (also, didn’t finish my novel yet, so that could be why), and I am not rich beyond my wildest dreams (although this has been a great year for me, financially, so…). So what does that mean? Has this year been a failure because no giant big deals are jumping out at me?
Nah. This has been the best year of my life so far. I’m still clean. My mental health is outstanding- like, I am probably more stable now than I’ve ever been. My physical health is incredible. My parenting game is top-notch. My bills are all paid. My recovery is strong. I am closer with my family than ever, and I have some wonderful friends. My life is in really good shape.
But the best part is the ease of it all. What I mean is, I’m not afraid of living anymore. Like, I finally learned how to stop trying to make everything turn out exactly the way I wanted it to, and let whatever is supposed to happen, happen. And this small thing, when someone is the caliber of control freak that I am, is not really a small thing. Do you know how exhausting it is to constantly try to manipulate every possible outcome in your favor? If you do, you really need to hear this, because…I think I finally figured out the solution. Just let go. Let go of the outcome, and enjoy the ride. You don’t have to insert yourself into everything, you don’t have to put up a false front, you don’t have to do anything…just let things go how they will go. It’s literally the most magical thing ever.
I don’t mean stay in your pajamas and stop showing up for work. You still have to show up. But some things you don’t have to do? Okay, well- you don’t have to suffer fools. Let them go…show them the door, even. You don’t have to keep anyone in your life that doesn’t deserve to be there. You can definitely let go of people that suck. You don’t have to explain yourself, either. If you are done with someone, chances are they know exactly why you feel the way you feel, so BYE. You don’t have to apologize for your feelings. You don’t have to beat yourself up for being human. You don’t have to let anyone make you feel bad about yourself. You don’t have to let YOU make you feel bad about yourself.
And here are some things you can do: You can love yourself, exactly the way you are. You can love yourself, and still want to change a few things. You can let people into your life that make you happy. You can let those people go, if they want to go, and it doesn’t have to mean anything is wrong with you. You can be proud of yourself. You can tell that mean voice in your head to shut the fuck up. You can decide you are pretty fucking great, and defend that decision as if your life depends on it, because it kind of does. You can just be who you are, and relax.
I may not have done all of the things in the past twelve months that I expected of myself, but I did a lot of things that will help me get to where I want to be. I did some deep, deep, inner work, and it has given me back far more than I invested, honestly. Sitting here, writing this, I have so much peace in my heart. I am so okay with who I am. Flaws and all. It’s been a pretty outstanding year.
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.)
I have been sort of coming up empty handed when it comes to stuff I feel like writing about lately. I have been working on some other, non-bloggy, stuff. And there have been at least two blogs I WANTED to write, and that you all really would have enjoyed, but nevertheless, these blogs would have caused me deep shame later, so I opted out. I am trying not to be an asshole, no matter how satisfying being that person is at times.
Today though, as I was driving, and, as so often happens when you are driving, I was nowhere near my laptop, I was struck by inspiration. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time unconsciously making plans for my imaginary life. What I mean by this is…well, my thoughts go something like this “When I am my perfect self with a perfect life that is perfectly organized and totally “normal”, and my house is always clean and I have awesome, perfect, friends whom I invite to perfect dinner parties, then I will…” Fill in the blank with whatever thing my imaginary self will then do in my imaginary life. Now, of course, I don’t actually compose this entire mess of run-on sentence in my head. It’s more of just an implied personal nirvana life, you understand.
Anyway, you ever have moments when the veil of your perception lifts, slightly, just for a moment? You ever get just a tiny little glimpse of the truth, and it leaves you completely thunderstruck? Well, this happened to me today. It suddenly occurred to me that- hold onto your pants, now- that perfect life, that perfect me? It doesn’t exist. Now, I am not saying that I could not be a better me. I fully believe, and expect, that I will continue to see all kinds of versions and levels of a better me, as time goes on and I continue on this path. But the perfect me? No. Not only can that not exist for me, but it doesn’t really exist for ANYONE.
And that, I think, is the real issue here. I forget that what I see, the surface part of peoples lives, the things they show to us, are not their reality. I am basing my ideals for myself on the selected portions of life that other people decide to share with the world, the part they are comfortable with showing. Jesus, to be quite frank with you, were you to scroll through my Facebook timeline, you might think I was a pretty together chick. I don’t even LOOK like ninety percent of the pictures I post of myself. Hahahahaha!
I am not always thoughtful, or funny, or cheeky and positive. I am not any of those things most of the time. I am just a normal, middle aged (and goddammit, I AM middle aged, I am 40!) single mom. I have kid problems and man problems and a mole on my chin that three hairs grow out of (two black, one grievously gray) more rapidly with each plucking. I can’t seem to keep track of my socks, I am generally behind on laundry, and I hate washing pots, pans, and my dogs. And if your life IS perfect? I don’t even want to be friends with you. Who needs that kind of pressure?
But I will tell you what I do have, right now, today: I have a little house with a big yard, and an outstanding view. Inside this house are two beautiful daughters who love me more than anything- one who tells me everything I never wanted to know because she trusts me, and one who still thinks I can do anything, because she is four. I have two dogs, and one cat, and more love than these walls could ever contain. We have food in the fridge and the lights are still on, somehow. We are doing alright.
Maybe the truth is, this is my perfect life. Maybe it doesn’t get any better than this.
I am a grown woman. I have been through, and overcome, a lot. I am still not where I would like to be. But today, I am going to relax. I am going to do all of the things I need to do, like I always do, and it is going to be enough, the way it always is. I am going to stop beating myself up, and when the haranguing in my head starts, I am going to shut it down.
I am not even close to perfect. I never will be. Today, I am going to get over it. No one else is perfect, either, and if I ever got to be…well, it would be pretty lonely, wouldn’t it? I am flawed and immature, uncertain and conflicted about what to do next. So what? I am also hilarious, strong, curious and thoughtful. I am pretty great without changing anything. Today, I am going to appreciate my hopes of improvement without being tortured by them. The battle that goes on and on inside of me is wearing me out, so I am waving the white flag. Fine. I’m a fuck up. Whatever. Can we move on now?
Today, I am going to make the most of everything I have, instead of worrying about what I might run out of, what I don’t have, and what I will do in the event that I need something I can’t get. I will enjoy things the way they are instead of being upset that things aren’t going the way I had imagined them. I will like myself, instead of feeling disappointed. I will give myself credit for everything I do rather than scold myself for the things that I don’t.
Today, I am going to stop looking for happiness, and instead, just be happy. Everything doesn’t have to be so HARD. Life can be different, messy, weird…and still be wonderful. How many hours have I thrown away on worry, how much joy has been lost trying to meet an expectation? I am over it. This is the only life I can live right now, and I want to enjoy it.
I am me, this person, right now. There is no way around that. It’s very simple, yet I have made it into something difficult, as I tend to do. Today, I am letting it go, for my own peace of mind. Lets see if the sky falls, or the world stops turning. Somehow, I think it will be fine.
Do you ever have moments of clarity, where the truth about things is so clear to you that it is startling? Or, maybe, the thing that is revealed to you, simple as it is, is not at all the truth you were hoping for? I think it is pretty human, and therefore, normal, to want a certain thing, or things, to be true, to hope for certain outcomes…and it may even be normal to grapple a while with reality before the pain of that struggle becomes hampering, and we can relax enough, usually out of exhaustion, for the true nature of things to be revealed to us.
I don’t know. Every once in a while, I have these reality checks that come floating down from…somewhere, and they invariably tell me some glaring truth that I missed, while I was busy complicating things with my own over-thinking. The latest one was probably the worst so far. “You know,” my head whispered to me, “If you don’t take care of yourself, no one is going to make you, no one is going to fix you, and no one else can save you. If you don’t do it, no one is going to do it for you.” I mean, yeah, obviously, but I don’t think I was thinking that way. I think I was still trying to ride the wave of “Well, I don’t do drugs anymore.” Which I don’t want to downplay- not poisoning myself on a daily basis is, and always will be, a big deal. But it isn’t everything. There are other things that must be tended to.
The fact that I haven’t been tending to those things becomes evident when I start to slip into despair and depression, like I have written about recently. I don’t want to get dressed, I don’t want to get cleaned up, I don’t want to clean my house (well, I never want to do that) or open my mail, or go outside. I know that doing all of these things will make me feel better, but I don’t want to do them. I want to drop out of life. Not die, I am not suicidal, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t want to participate in the parade anymore. Because I am burrowed down into my little “safe” spot, miserable as it is, and it seems like an awful lot of effort to get going, to get up there on the level with you other humans, and stretch my legs, start to feel better again.
So, the other day, I was standing in my kitchen, and that is when I thought that thought- that “Yeah, go ahead and stay in your little hole, but life is going on all around you, and you are missing it. Stay here, but no one is going to drag you out into the light. You have to do it. You have to be responsible for you, and your happiness, and the fact that you are missing out.” It was like my subconscious was giving me a stern talking to. I was not very receptive. I went and lay on my bed in protest, in my pajamas, at four in the afternoon, and drooled into my pillow while watching some horrible reality show on MTV.
But the conversation (that took place only in my head) wouldn’t stop playing over in my head. I knew it was the truth, and at the bottom of that truth was that I was hurting no one more than myself, by refusing to get on the ride. I was missing out. That is what life IS- the motion, the action, the discomfort, sometimes. It brings with it laughter, and joy, and happiness. You can’t just pick and choose which experiences you will have and which you will skip over- that is not really living. By leaving my sweats on for days, and refusing to get outside or do anything, I was refusing ALL of it. Not just the hard, boring, uncomfortable, scary stuff, but the great part, the best parts, too. And it was up to me.
So, I went on a few rather grudging walks. The light started to inch it’s way closer. I took a bubble bath and put on clean clothes. A little closer. I took out the garbage and answered the phone when it rang. I felt better. Then, the day before yesterday, I really WANTED to take my dogs for a walk after work. I couldn’t wait. The minute I was off work, I was out the door, and we walked and walked, and halfway into our walk along the beach, I realized I was doing it- I was taking care of myself, and I felt better.
Yesterday, the need for a nap was, like, gone. I just didn’t need one. Just like I didn’t need a pill, or a therapist (although I do have one, don’t get me wrong) or a cheer squad to get me through it. I had the answer, right in my own head, or heart, or soul- wherever the truth about ourselves comes from- it was in me, all the time. I just needed to be willing to listen. I wish I didn’t need to be in such a sorry state before I can hear my own inner voice, and I guess that is something I will work on. Anyway, I just wanted to share that with you. Now, back to writing the novel. Have a wonderful Friday!
Let me point out now, the title says “The best advice you will never hear“. It doesn’t say anything about whether or not you had been told once, twice, thirty seven thousand times, before those little grains of wisdom finally revealed themselves to be true. Most of the human beings that I know, and certainly the one that I am, do not put a whole lot of stock in the wisdom generously shared with us by others. Never mind that, nine times out of ten, the people who have that wisdom KNOW what they are talking about- we want to figure it out the same way that they usually had to- the hard way. What is the hard way, you ask? The hard way is the exact thing that I am talking about, here- it’s the path we choose when we ignore everything our mom’s, dad’s, teacher’s, and the surgeon general have told us, and we continue doggedly on our way, until finally, disaster, heartbreak and complicated consequences that last indefinitely force us to see our errors. This is when we usually remember those words of advice given to us, long before, and think- “Whoa. Boy, were they right.”
I am going to list a few of my favorites, really universal advice that is true for pretty much everyone, always.
1. My personal favorite, the golden rule: ” Do unto others as you would have done to you.” This is just the crux of life, in a tiny little phrase. You will never regret treating another human being with kindness and respect. Even if they end up being ruthless and spiteful, or just cranky and rude, once you’ve washed your hands of them and the situation, YOU get to look back and know you handled yourself in a respectable, gracious way. Your side of the street is clean (another good one, by the way, “keep your side of the street clean.”) and you have nothing to feel ashamed of. On the other hand, going around being rude, being dishonest, and treating people like crap- no matter what THEY did…that’s going to weigh on you somewhere down the line, I promise.
2. Beauty is only skin deep, or, as my grandma would say “pretty is as pretty does.” This is especially important to understand when you are young, and the way I grasped it, finally, was when a boy I liked chose another girl, in my opinion much less attractive…but she was nice. She was nice, and smart, and not a big hot mess, which could not be said about me at that time. We have all been enamored of someone, only to find out, sometimes right away and others, eventually, that they may be great looking but that just isn’t enough. It isn’t enough to sustain anything, and it isn’t a sustainable thing, either. Beauty fades. Find out what else you have to offer the world.
3. Be yourself. This one seems like a no brainer, right? But think about how many times you have tried to be or act a certain way to make people that mattered to you think you were good enough for them…lots, right? The truth is, anyone who really loves you in your life, knows you- the REAL you, and accepts you as is. The easiest way to figure out who ought to be in your life is to relax and be yourself. You can save yourself a lot of time and worry by letting things run their natural course.
4. Children learn by what you do, not what you say. Anyone who has a two year old knows this is not exactly correct- they also learn what you say, a fact that was blatantly thrown in my face yesterday when I heard my little one call her older sister an asshole. Oopsie. Clearly, I have some more implementing of this advice to do in my life. Also, you can never start too young with them. If you want your kids to be polite, to enjoy school, to clean up after themselves, well, guess what? That means you have to have manners, you have to be willing to involve yourself in their classrooms, homework, and projects, and you have to keep your house clean. I did none of those things with my teen, and I will do ALL of them with my toddler-because I learned the hard way it was true.
5.Life is what you make it. Truer words were never spoken. Your perspective, opinion, and attitude about things has everything to do with exactly how happy you are at this very moment, and at every other moment in time. No one else is responsible for your happiness but you. Maybe you had a shitty childhood- lots of us did- but it’s up to you to decide to leave that shit behind you, and move on. In life, your heart will get broken, you will be treated unfairly, you will get knocked on your ass more times than you will even be able to count…and you are the only one to decide to learn from it, to let go, change direction, become better. Or, carry around a chip on your shoulder, be angry, lash out at others, choose defeat. It’s totally up to you. And when you are ready to understand THAT advice, it may be the turning point in your life.
There are so many other really great, wise old sayings, quotes, and cliches, I could go on and on…but I won’t! I’d rather hear from others what their favorites are, and why. Can’t wait to hear back!
Hi guys! I never got around to writing anything today, but I do have this little “draft” that’s been hanging out here forever- please note, this was prior to my “little episode”, so if you hear a distinct, biting undertone to my writing, don’t worry…I’m not backsliding, just posting old stuff. Enjoy!
I’ve been ruminating over different variations of this theme for weeks and weeks now (How to live life; Things I wish I’d learned earlier; How to not totally suck at life, etc…), but tonight it occurred to me that the one thing I have heard again and again, from many people, about myself is that I am “strong”. It has been my experience that when all sorts of people who do not know each other tell you the same thing about yourself, there is probably some truth to it. So, though I don’t really feel especially strong, I will concede that I do have certain attributes (both inherent and learned) that have made it less painful to live through the insanity and upheaval I have built my world upon. So, I will be happy to tell you my secrets in case you were considering trading your good credit, security and relative happiness for the bipolar white trash amusement park I call my own. Here goes:
To really flourish in a messy life, the best thing you can do is #1) Be young and be pretty. This will really give you an advantage anywhere you are. It’s not considered “PC” to think this way, of course, but let’s cut the shit, shall we? Young and pretty gets you in the door every time. Unfortunately, most of us don’t realize the power we possess until after we lose it. So the best advice I can give to young, pretty, chaos-prone women is-ENJOY IT WHILE IT LASTS! If you cannot be young and pretty, you need to be able to make people think you are, anyway, by thinking so yourself. I have seen really unattractive women pull this off so well that I forgot how unattractive they were and became jealous of how comfy they were with themselves rather than snarky about their bad luck in the face department. If you can’t pull that off, either, you really need to be willing to do just about anything in bed or clean houses and cook amazing food for free. Disastrous lifers often find themselves without a permanent home, and must rely on the kindness of friends to stay off the streets. Food and the ability to help out inspire that kind of kindness.
2) Okay, so number one was kind of a joke…although it was also kind of true. That’s not something one can count on for long, though (ever, in some cases) , and it’s really not all that important at all in the long run. #2, however, is for real: Have an amazing sense of humor- how can you tell if this is something you already have? Easy. Do you crack up at your own jokes all the time? Do you sometimes burst into laughter while driving, alone, in your car because you just thought of something hilarious? Well then, you probably do. And really, as long as you think you do, you do. We’re talking about how to survive your own life, so the ability to laugh, especially at yourself, is indispensable. Life is ludicrous and terrible, sometimes. Things go so, so wrong that all’s you CAN do is laugh. Or cry, I guess. Laughing is usually my preference, and it’s way less upsetting to the people around you.
3)Don’t be afraid. I’m not saying be an idiot, either, don’t misunderstand. What I’m saying is dragging your feet and digging in your nails to hold onto your safe little spot (even though we both know it’s just familiar misery) is lame. What are you afraid of? That you might wind up screwing up and letting all of THIS (see above) go for a whole new load of shit? Well, at least it’s a NEW load of shit! You have to keep moving forward. Even if you are afraid, you just do what you think you should do anyway. When I was twenty nine, I loaded everything I owned into my Camry and moved to another state, to a town where I did not know a soul. Was it nuts? Yes. Was I scared? A little, at first. Was it worth it? It may have been the single best decision of my life- I had nothing left where I was living, and no prospects. A bad reputation and a lot of burned bridges. So I bailed. The first year was an eye opener, and I saw how bad life could really get, having a serious drug problem in a gambling city. But I turned it around, and ended up being the best I have ever been by the time I left. So suck it up, and move, already!
4) Never relinquish hope and optimism. I feel like this really goes hand in hand with the sense of humor and ability to laugh. Laughter is nothing more than a burst of joy one can hear, correct? In order to laugh and feel joy, you must have hope. If you can find the silver dollar in a pile of dung, you are going to be ok. I remember having my heart broken when I was still in my early twenties- the pain was so awful that I physically hurt from it. I couldn’t see my way out of that overwhelming ache, but I remember thinking “Today is TERRIBLE. But tomorrow, it’ll hurt less, and it’ll hurt less every day, no matter what, because time takes it away, so I can get through today.” I really remember thinking that very thought, in my car, in agony, on a gloomy day in Pacific Grove. I had hope. I was optimistic that sooner or later, I’d feel ok again.
5) Another thought I had at that time was “I wonder what I’m supposed to learn from this?” I don’t know about you, but I believe that there are big lessons when we are going through trying times. This belief really helps me put things in perspective, and gets me looking for the point, which makes me feel like there is some order and sense to things, after all. I really believe everything happens for a reason, and exactly the way it is supposed to.
6) Be likable. When you are friendly, outgoing, and happy, people want to help you out. They want to be near you, get to know you, be your friend. You need all the friends you can get in this lifetime, man.
So that’s where I left off…whatever my state of mind, I think it is still sound advice. Tell me what you think! What would you add?
Well, hello, strangers. I haven’t had a lot of time (or the inclination) to write much lately- life has been busy, and filled with a lot of stuff I don’t feel qualified to handle. Unfortunately, there IS no one else, so I don’t have a lot of choice. Work has been insanely busy and I’ve been trying to put in as much overtime as I can (as it turns out, that’s not a whole lot in my case), the little daughter has made it her mission in life to see how many times per day she can come perilously close to killing herself via a multitude of dangerous activities. The big daughter is also trying to get herself killed, only she, it is obvious, wants the old “suicide-by-mom” thing. She is the winner, this week, of the crazy making award. And also, my car is in the shop for a repair that is exorbitantly expensive for a thing that isn’t even freaking broken (timing belt). So I have been reliant on others to taxi me about since Tuesday. In other words, I’ve left my house ONCE. So, because I’ve been sticking close to home and trying not to kill my children, I’ve had time to dive into the piles of crap I have squirreled away in boxes and bags in every nook and cranny of my home. I went through a small crate and large drawer that were crammed full of notebooks-everything I had written from 1993 forward. I put my notebooks in chronological order, reading through each one, something I had never done before. What emerged, when taken altogether like that, was a really sad, really clear life story of a troubled, unhappy, desperate girl who has TERRIBLE taste in men. But there was some really great, hopeful stuff in there, too. That’s where I found what I’m posting today, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when I stumbled across it the other day. It’s the story of how I felt when I finally got clean and got my life back. (written three years later around the time I relapsed…again…I must have been trying to remind myself of the truth). I am transcribing it word for word, so bear with the structure and the jumping of tenses-I never dreamed it would ever be seen by anyone but me.
Today, it dawned on me that this mental beating I give myself every time I make this choice, it is exactly how I felt almost constantly for the 11 solid years I sacrificed to my addiction. Now, I say “almost constantly” because I do clearly recall having SOME fun, albeit bizarre, times in there. But I knew, I knew, I KNEW, as surely as I knew my own face, that I was doing myself a terrible disservice. The way that I kept on and kept on and kept on living that way, until finally it had been YEARS- I knew I was cheating myself, my mom, and my daughter. Just about every one who loved me, or who got sucked into the abyss that was my life, got the short end of the stick.
At some point, you realize you are using now JUST to stay two steps ahead of your own terrible reality sinking in. When you are already so weakened, so compromised, so ghostly, it is terrifying to entertain the thought of actually turning around & seeing the path of destruction you left in your wake. It’s just too, too much.
What I didn’t know then that I do know now, is that continuing to claw your way blindly and frantically ahead is not the answer. It is familiar, and how you do it, and strangely comfortable despite how it looks from the outside. When you are in the middle of addiction, and it is YOUR horrible, bleak life, you are totally in your element. You know many other creatures just like you, in varying degrees, you have a language, a culture, a kind of code all your own, and you have lived in the shadows for so long that venturing outside of your tiny world causes you extreme discomfort. You no longer know how to interact properly with normal folks, you are too loud or too silent, too nervous, too shifty, too angry, too flippant, too self-involved to even notice how out of sync you are half the time. You get irrationally angry and immediately defensive when the slightest threat is even perceived. This is how you keep folks at bay, being short fused. People don’t press when they are afraid of what might set you off. You are moody and unhappy and you hate every single thing that there is, especially yourself. Except for your daughter. When you look at her, you hate yourself more than you even thought possible, but you love her in the deepest, most tender way. That love is like a weight on your back, only you can’t tell if it is making everything even harder, or if it is the sole thing keeping you planted on earth, or both. Maybe it’s both. But you look at that girl and your throat closes, and your eyes burn, and you can no longer escape the cloak of your despair.
Oh, I am so sorry, but I have to start work right now! There is more, and I will just make it a separate post later today. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed this so far…it truly is that way when you are strung out for so long. It’s a nightmare, and you can’t even figure out what is wrong with you while it is happening to you. In case you ever wondered why “those people” are the way they are and do what they do. It’ s very sad. But it CAN get better, and if you check me out later, you can read the rest.
Hi! It’s me again. I’ll tell you up front that I don’t have anything really urgent to talk to you about, so if you are busy, you may want to get back to this later. Not that I doubt your multitasking skills for a minute, I’m sure you’re way better at it than your average human being, but…you know what I mean. I just wanted to check in, let you know I am still here, I haven’t checked out on you. I hope you don’t mind that I am putting you in my blog. I figured I could kill two birds with one stone, you know?
I’ve been a little down lately. Seems like no matter how hard I try, things around here stay about the same, if not worse. I know I don’t do everything right, not by a long shot, and I don’t pretend that I have a clue about how to create the family and the results I long to see. I can see the end result in my head, but I don’t know how to get there. Maybe I just don’t have the right personality for domestic stuff. Maybe I just don’t have enough help…it would be nice if all of us around here could pull it together and work as a unit for once. It seems like we all just live together and have totally separate lives. This just isn’t the way I thought it would be.
I know I should be grateful, and I AM! I know how lucky I am to have two healthy, beautiful daughters, a fantastic and well paying job that I like, and coworkers who are like an extension of my family. I know how lucky I am to have a house at all, let alone in a safe, pretty town half a mile from the beach. I’m SO lucky to be healthy, to be safe, to be loved. I’m not trying to downplay any of that stuff. I let you know all the time how thankful I am to be where I am in life…I think I know better than some how much worse it could have turned out for me. And I know I will NEVER know as well as others do what it means to really be without. Even at the worst times in my life, I could always count on a roof over my head, food when I was hungry. All in all, I’ve lived a pretty blessed life.
So you’ll have to forgive me for being so selfish and telling you that, still, I want more. Can we talk for a minute about this relationship I’m in, God? I know, I know- I can FEEL you rolling your eyes at me, up there. I know you have much more concerning issues on your hands, like global warming, the middle east in general, and the end of times right around the corner. I get that, in the big scheme of things, my love life is really a non-issue, but humor me. You, he, and I know the whole story of us…you know how hard I have tried, how many things I’ve worked through, looked past, compromised on. You know the doubts I’ve struggled with since the very start. All of that, to wind up here-ambivalent, stuck, distanced. My heart is just out of forgiveness, God, and I don’t know how to move forward from this place. I don’t even want to forgive anymore, and that has been the one thing I had that assured me there was still really love between us. Without it, it’s like my heart is completely closed. I know he feels it, my disconnect, and I don’t want to make it hard on him, but I can’t help it. I’ve got nothing left, and there’s no way I can pretend differently. I start to feel bad about it, then it occurs to me that he absolutely brought this on himself.
Obviously, I can’t go on like this for very long. So the big question is, what now? I know it’s really up to me, that I didn’t seem to ask for a lot of advice when I was making all the decisions that led me to here. I don’t expect a giant arrow in the clouds pointing me to my dream life, or an email with a power point slide show detailing my options and all possible outcomes. Although, come to think of it, I wouldn’t turn that down, either. I guess I would just like to ask for some clarity, soon. If you could please help me pay attention, so I don’t miss possible answers. If I could just have a head that is quiet enough to really think this through. If you could maybe help me feel certain when I hit on the right idea, instead of doubting myself into inaction like I’ve done so often. God, if you could please just help me not be afraid. I’m choosing to hold onto unhappiness because I am so afraid of messing everything up.
It seems so wasteful to work so hard for something you thought was possible, only to find that it could never have become that thing, no matter what you did to help it along. I want to be happy, God, and not because everything is perfect and I am so accomplished and polished and wonderful-I want to be happy the way you are when your heart is peaceful, and you aren’t constantly on your guard. I want to relax, God. I don’t care if that means I have to be alone…I will miss the familiarity and companionship, for sure. I will miss having someone that is pulling their share of the weight of this life. But I will not miss hunting for the true story underneath his words. I will not miss the loneliness that comes with loving a man you cannot risk trusting. I will not miss the fear of all of the things I don’t know yet. Every day of our life together, I have felt their presence, a constant undercurrent.
Please help me be strong, sure and kind- help me not let my mean nature complicate things. Help me to remember that he is a good father, a hard worker, that he probably did the best he could, too. He’s just working with a different set of tools than me. If there is a way to mend this, God, I am all ears- I’d like to tell you that I don’t see how, but you’re the big miracle guy, here, so it’s your call. I don’t want to hurt the baby, and she loves us both so much. I don’t want to complicate my life by changing everything, AGAIN, but I believe I am of no real use to anyone like this.
Other than that, God, I think all is well. I am always glad, at the end of a day like this, that things tend to look less impossible in the light of day. Thanks for this beautiful life.