Posted in Addiction, Blogging, family, Learning, Life, Musings, recovery

Keys

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This little picture up above is my house. It may not look like much, but I assure you, it is kind of a big deal. First of all, it is all mine- I found it all on my own, I rented it all on my own, I did all the stuff it takes to get into a house all on my own, with additional hoops to be jumped through (as usual) thanks to my checkered past.

In the world we live in, there is a subset of people that live in what is almost an alternate reality: The world of the drug addict. That reality is a place I called home for many, many years, and because of that, I will always look at things a little differently. Because it  was my home for so long, a little piece of me will always remain there. I know this is probably a hard thing to understand- it’s not an easy concept for me to accept, either. Like, if it’s in the past, why not leave it there, right? But if you really examine your own life, can you say, 100%, that the things that shaped you in the past truly remain in the past? We carry our past within us, and we leave little parts of ourselves behind.

In the world of the drug addict, I am a fairy tale ending. I know this sounds nuts, right? I have been out of treatment for a matter of weeks, not for the first time…I have relapsed so many times over the past eight years, I’ve lost count. But I sit here this morning on my laptop writing this to you, and I am sitting in my own house, getting ready to get ready to go to work at a job I have had for many years. In my house, I have furniture- yeah, most of it is covered in laundry that needs to be folded, and the rest is covered in dog hair, but it’s MY furniture. I have lived in places before where it was too much trouble to figure out how to get a couch- all of my energy was used up on trying to figure out how I was going to get my next sack of dope.

In my house, I have two dogs, a cat, and two kittens (let me know if you want one.) that depend on me to care for them, and I do. They love me, and can’t wait to see me, and they celebrate every time I walk through the door- well, the dogs do. The cats are cats, and you know how they are. In this house, there are rooms with electricity and heat, there is a refrigerator with food, there are dishes in the dishwasher and clothes in the wash machine. There are TV’s that are on too much, and a bath tub that always has twenty million toys in the bottom, no matter how many times I pick them up. In my house, the work is never done- I am just realizing that this is a literal cliche. The work really is NEVER done. But I am grateful for each part of it.

The most important thing of all in my house are two beautiful kids, both generally happy (one as happy as a teenager ever really is, the other happy by even a four year old’s standard) and pretty well adjusted.. Both healthy and thriving in their own way. I wake up every day and thank God for them, that I can be their mother, that I don’t have to continue to inflict damage on them today as I have in my active addiction. Every day that I can actually be a mother to these girls is a victory. Every minute of it.

And in my purse, or on my dresser, or somewhere in this place, right now, as I write this, is a key ring. It has a whole bunch of keys on it- two keys for my front door, two keys for the storage’s in the back. There is a key to my car, and a key to my daughter’s car, and a few keys I probably need to toss out because I don’t know what they go to anymore. But for someone like me- a girl who carries the past of an addict at the very surface of her heart, so close it is right there…a girl who lived so long in that alternate reality that it’s still hard to trust herself…those keys mean a lot more to me than they might to the average person. I know what it is like to have no keys to any door at all. Man, am I grateful.

Thanks to mark for inviting me to do the Five Photos Five Series Challenge. Have a beautiful day!

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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! 🙂

Posted in Addiction, advice, family, kids, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random, recovery

Glimpsing The Truth

window

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.

Posted in aging, beauty, family, fun, Goals, Learning, Life, love, Musings, People, random

40 Things for 40 Years

Jack-Kerouac-Life-Vast

Before I go even one step further, I must give credit where credit is due- this idea was actually shared with me by my good friend Jennifer Paddack-Hyde, whom I hope is not angry with me for missing her birthday party (sorry, Jen.) She has been doing this for a while, I guess, and it somehow involves scrapbooking. I am not going to be doing the scrapbook thing, but I am a big believer in writing down specific goals as a way to actually get to them. So, thank you Jen, for the great idea!

Today is the last day of my life that I will ever be thirty anything, the close of a crazy, but definitely worthwhile, decade. I have a lot of respect for what happens during ones thirties- it is a beautiful time for most women. You girls getting close to thirty, starting to panic- don’t! The thirties are like the twenties, refined. All of that leftover teen angst and self-consciousness leaves you, and all of the beauty, most of the metabolism, stays. Do not fear your thirties. They are good. It is with deep love that I bid my thirties farewell. They were good years.

Now, looking ahead, Just at the brink of this next decade, I can tell you one thing for sure- this is not at all what I thought forty would look like. I am more excited than ever about my life, and best of all, that excitement has some experience and knowledge behind it. If my thirties were the time of gaining faith and confidence in myself, the time to learn who I really am and how I operate, I think my forties will be the time of putting all of that knowledge into action. What I feel is true is that there are no limits. That anything is possible. That this is the good part. And let me tell you, this girl is ready to jump in.

So, I have decided to make a list- Forty things I will do while I am forty. Some of them will be harder to achieve than others, but I have tried to stay reasonable. Also, I may only be able to come up with twenty today. I already have several rolling around in my head, but it is five o’clock in the morning. Give me a small break, okay? My intention, of course, is to document them for you here, so that, not only can you live vicariously through me (hahaha), but I can be accountable. Having said that, you all know how my intentions often work out. Shut up. I am doing the best I can. I just cannot seem to stop lying today, can I? Sigh. Okay, I do the best I can most of the time. Some of the time, I am just lazy. Without further ado, here they are:

1) Stop being so lazy ( will figure out later how to quantify and monitor this)

2) Get a real, awesome, professional makeover.

3) Have essay published in The Sun

4) Do a mud run

5) Meet Justin. I want to see him in real life (no one else needs to understand this, though a few of you might). He can totally wear clothes.

6) Get a literary agent

7) Attend a literary convention

8) Go to the glass beach in Ft. Bragg

9) Visit Alcatraz

10) Take dance lessons

11) Get my passport

12) Work all Twelve Steps to see if anything actually happens

13) Go to a swanky foodie thing

14) Submit a proposal for a non-fiction book idea. The worst thing they can say is no, right?

15)Try hypnotism.

16) Take a writing class for fun.

17) Take a jewelry making class for fun.

18) Hike Sobranes

19) Learn to surf

20) visit the hot springs in Sierraville. Love that place!

Okay, like I said, 40 is a lot to come up with in one sitting. Watch for part two! I have to clean my living room before my beautiful mommy comes over later. Oh yeah! Please, if you have any ideas that you think I might like, please feel free to let me know!

Have a great day!

Posted in family, friendship, Life, love, Musings, parenting, random, relationships

The Tangled Web We Weave…is Actually Pretty Rad.

tradition

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a lovely Sunday. 🙂

Posted in Addiction, fun, inner peace, Learning, Life, Mental Health, Musings, random, recovery

New Things

new things

So, this whole waking up at four in the morning thing- it isn’t really new. It’s new again, but not really new. I guess this is just how my internal clock wants to work. Perhaps it means I should move to the east coast? I don’t know. I’m not ready to do anything that drastic.

But here I sit, it’s six in the morning, and I have been up for two hours already. I am on my third cup of coffee. I will probably want to take a nap sometime today. Whatever. If I lived in a better neighborhood, I would walk my dogs, since the incredible ex is here ( I can hear him snoring away in my room- my room, by the way, being NOT where I slept last night, for you nosier types. No nookie for the ex. Not that I didn’t think about it, its just…not a very good idea, you know?) and I actually have a little freedom.

I am experiencing some new things, however. For instance, I had some people come over and bless my house yesterday. I still smell like a hippie. There was lots of sage, salt, and water involved. I had a pretty creepy dream about demons (which, by the way, I don’t even believe in. But had you had this dream, you would have reconsidered your entire belief system as well) and thought it might be a good idea to have this done. There was prayer involved, and I’m pretty sure some chakra fondling. I learned that I hate the smell of sage. I am, however, very appreciative of the effort, even if I felt a little like a weirdo fake while the thing was happening. I’m pretty sure my neighbors think I am a witch now. There will be many prayers for me in Baptist churches all over Seaside this morning, and probably at least a couple of Catholic ones.

Also, I am probably going to go on a date with a really nice guy this week. He reads my blog, and I hope he doesn’t get a big head over this. I am looking forward to spending some time with him, and getting to know him better. He seems to like food as much as I do, and he also seems to want to be outside, which are both major bonuses. Most exciting of all, though, is that he seems to know how to be a grown up without being a total stick in the mud, which I appreciate. He has been exceedingly patient about waiting for me to get okay with going out, and he has actually seen me in person a few times and STILL wants to go out with me…so that is encouraging, lol.

I hope what I am about to say next does not kill the whole damn thing, but then there is this other guy. I won’t be meeting him any time soon, because he lives in another country. I may never meet him at all. He is…hmm. I don’t know the right way to say it. He piques my interest on many levels, lets just say. He has a very different belief system than I do, but he has a sense of humor about it. He is smarter than hell. He is great to banter back and forth with. We discussed never meeting at all to avoid disappointment (he feels I will be, and I feel he will be. I don’t know why I needed to explain that, since, if it were the other way around, I highly doubt we would continue this…whatever it is) . It is just fun to revel in such an easy, non-threatening, connection. I mean, I am definitely not running into this dude at Rite Aid in my pajamas, you know?  You don’t need to suck in your stomach on messenger. He is helping me find my flirtation legs, whatever the fuck that means.

I am going to meetings again. Somewhat grudgingly, the first one, but I went to one yesterday alone. It was 6:45 in the morning, and it was AA, which I appreciate for their organizational abilities and peacefulness. I like that shit. NA can get a little rowdy and crazy sometimes, but it will always be where I most identify. Drug addicts are my people. So are alcoholics, whether they like it or not. I like the quiet feeling of an early morning meeting.

And I like the quiet feeling in me. I like that I am looking out at the people in the world again, appreciating what is happening all around me, instead of always focusing in, on myself, like I was. I realize the disease of addiction is selfish and self centered, but when you are in it, you forget how true that is. I am looking out again. I feel the light coming back to me. I am happy to be where I am, and who I am. This is a good thing, indeed. A very, very good thing.

I hope you have a beautiful day.

Posted in Addiction, Goals, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, Musings, People, random

Today

today

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.