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.

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Posted in Addiction, advice, alcoholism, Goals, inner peace, Life, mindfulness, Musings, recovery

Radical Change

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I’ve been extra quiet, here lately. I have been working hard on my novel, and it’s nearing the end, which is incredibly exciting for me- I had planned to be done with it months ago, but that just wasn’t how it panned out. I find it a little harder to blog on days when I am also working on my book, and I have been working on my book every day, but also…I just haven’t had a lot to say. Everything comes and goes in cycles, and in this cycle, the blogging aspect has been less active. And I am not overly concerned about any of it.

I am not overly concerned about anything, to be honest with you, and that…that is not like me at all. But MAN, do I appreciate it. I am just sort of rolling with whatever, happy to float along. It’s funny, though- one of the sharpest tools in the box of every addict is control. It’s very important when you are in your addiction, to be able to control every conceivable aspect of your life so that you can manipulate the outcome in your favor. It’s a necessity, almost. Or at least, it feels that way. The idea of letting go of the end result is totally foreign, and completely unacceptable. I don’t know, maybe normal people experience this as well? I have never been one of those, so I don’t know.

What I do know is that lately, I have made a conscious decision to stop fighting everything all the time, to let things go the way they are going to go, and see what happens. More than just a conscious decision, because decisions are one thing, but action is where it’s at! I’ve made a conscious effort to redirect myself often so that I stay on that path. What I mean is, my habit is still to control things and so, when I feel myself getting bunched up and frustrated because things are not going the way I expected, I take a deep breath, and get back with the program. I let go. I step back. I redirect.

Here’s the thing- I didn’t get clean so that I could just get by. In my heart of hearts, I have always believed I could have this big, beautiful, amazing life. I won’t settle for a life of struggle and mediocre happiness. That’s not what I am after. And I didn’t get clean so that I could find a whole new set of reasons to be unhappy and dissatisfied with myself. I want to love myself and love my life, and love all the people in it properly. But in all those years that I was using, I created a carefully crafted persona- someone sarcastic, tough, invulnerable and sharp, and that is my default now. I am having to learn how to disassemble this person I spent years and years putting together. It won’t happen overnight, but I know that is not who I want to be.

So every morning, I make up my mind that there is a lot to be excited about today. I think about how grateful I am for the life I have, and I imagine myself just being happy. I imagine it so well that I start to feel excited and happy and as if it is going to be a really good day. This may sound incredibly dumb, but it works! And throughout the day, when I feel my attitude slipping, I try to pull it right back to where I want it to be. It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it works a whole lot better than when I don’t try at all.

A long, long time ago, when I was still very messed up, I remember driving down a street in Fresno when the thought popped into my head “Attitude is everything”. I remember it because it was such a weird thing for me to be thinking at that particular time, as I was in quite a state. I don’t remember what the thought was even in response to, I think it literally just randomly appeared in my head. But I believe that to be true with all of my heart- Attitude really is everything. I happen to know two different people that have recently gone through the exact same loss of a limb. Their attitudes about that loss could not be more different. One of them is thriving and full of gratitude about being alive, and the other has basically given up. It’s the exact same thing, two different attitudes. Our perspective on our own lives has everything to do with how our lives function. Everything.

So today, I have a plan of action for my own attitude. Love my life. Love the people in my life. Be grateful for everything. Love myself, everything about me. Do not think ugly thoughts, do not say ugly things. Find the blessing in every situation. Take a nap or eat a snack if any of the above gets too hard. Take a deep breath. Start over. Hug someone. Smile at everyone. Pet my cat, hug my dog, do the dishes, take a walk…whatever I need to do to keep the good energy flowing, that is my goal. And beyond that, be okay with whatever else happens. If I can’t be okay with it, let that thing go. I think there is always a way to have peace in our lives, if we have peace in our hearts, right?

And THAT is my recipe for radical change…a whole bunch of little things that add up to me being exactly who I want to be. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Posted in Blogging, Life, motherhood, People, random, writing

Three Things, Late Again

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I can see a bad habit emerging here, but I do have an explanation- I just didn’t feel like writing yesterday. I mean, writing a blog. I worked on my novel some, after dealing with some technical issues (mine, not the computer) with Word in the early morning hours. Not only did I not feel like blogging, I didn’t even check my stats compulsively yesterday, or any of that. First time since December that I can recall just checking out of here like that. I needed a break, I guess. But enough of that- here are my final three things for February:

  1. Housework. I have been really, really trying to keep my house picked up lately, and, at the ripe old age of 42 it finally hit me- you have to do this shit every single day, don’t you? Like, if I don’t pick up the house every single day, it looks like hell again. I am both outraged and saddened by this fact- and I know it to be fact, because I didn’t really pick up the living room last night and, even though it was clean in here yesterday morning, it looks pretty messy right now. There is a giant pile of unmatched socks on the coffee table, next to several pieces of sketch paper abandoned by Camryn, a jacket and a pair of Uggs on the floor, and the “couch blanket” half on, half off the couch. There is also an empty laundry basket, a backpack, and a bathrobe on the couch. I was busy working on the kitchen last night, I didn’t quite make it to the living room. Maybe I should just work in the kitchen? But seriously, I went online, searching for a housekeeper yesterday, then realized I could be saving that money for fun stuff if I just managed to keep the house clean on my own. I mean, it’s never happened yet, but people change. Right?
  2. Worry. I don’t mean to brag, but I kind of consider myself a professional worrier. I am so good at it that when I run out of relevant things to stress out about, I am an expert at making up scenarios in my head in which things could theoretically go terribly wrong, and then I worry about those make-believe things. This morning, I found myself worrying that my tax refund would be intercepted by various government agencies that I owe money to, but don’t remember owing money to. Like, what if there are a bunch of things I have forgotten about, and they all take part of my money, and then I am expecting all this money, and I don’t get any of it?! What will I do then? Well, a) that isn’t going to happen, because it’s a made up scenario, and b) even if it did, I would just do what I always do- keep going. Still, it makes me anxious, just thinking about it. That’s how good I am at worrying.
  3. Gratitude. I think a good way to wrap this up is some perspective on all of the stuff I just wrote. How lucky am I to have this messy little house? How awesome is it that I have any house at all? There was once a time when I would have given anything to have even a crappy studio apartment of my own to lay down my head in at night, and now I have a whole house! With two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a laundry room, a big old yard…it might not be fancy, but it’s a lot more than I’ve had before. It’s a lot more than I should have wound up with, considering my former trajectory. And even if the imaginary government agencies take every penny of my tax return, I still have a great career and a paycheck I can depend on. So I need to be be grateful for all the blessings in my life, rather than feeling overwhelmed or worried. I am going to be okay. I am always okay.

And that is the best I can do for today. As always, have a speedy Friday, and may your weekend go by slow as molasses.

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, faith, Learning, Life, Mental Health, recovery, spirituality, twelve step

Blessings

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I knew, long before I was ever ready to start fighting, what my biggest battle in life would be. I knew that I was an addict when I was still very young, before I could even manage to inflict very much damage on myself, or those around me. I understood, on a certain level, that I “partied” differently than other people- I was already worried about where and how I would get more the moment I got my hands on my particular poison. There was a brief, tiny moment of relief the second the substance hit my blood stream- and then the next second, I was thinking about how I could make it last, how I needed to pace myself, how I could find more, how I would get it, who I would get it from. It was a full time job, my addiction.

I used to think, under a different set of circumstances, I could use happily. If only I could hold a job, and had enough money- if I could be in a different environment, one where I wasn’t just relying on other people to keep my head above water, maybe then I could use drugs and it would be okay. So, God blessed me with that set of circumstances, and I got to see that there was a whole new set of reasons why I couldn’t use successfully that way either. Suddenly, I had the fear of being found out. I had the fear of losing everything I had worked so hard for. I had the shame, now, of living a lie. I actually found myself missing the days when I could just be a bold, in-your-face fuck up. Hiding was ALWAYS part of the deal, but this was a whole new level of fakery. It sucked.

And it was a blessing. My addiction, in all of it’s forms, has been a blessing. I was blessed with obstacles, and I was blessed with the ability to overcome them. Because I am who I am, I never would have been able to get to where I am right now if I hadn’t gotten to beat that poor dead horse from every conceivable angle. I needed to run myself into the ground, exhaust every option, until I was able to admit that I had no idea how to master this thing- that it had mastered me. Only then was I able to surrender, and it was the greatest blessing of all- surrender became my only way out, and better than any relief I’d ever experienced from any drug. Better by far.

blessings

I have been blessed to live this life, hard as it was, because it brought me here. That doesn’t mean I don’t have regrets- I do. Oh boy, do I. Every single day of my life, I deal with memories that surface out of nowhere, filling me with the most exquisite shame, embarrassment, sorrow. Things I have said and done to people I barely knew, or people whom I love greatly-they run the gamut from just a little stupid to outright cruel, and I struggle to forgive myself. To forgive that girl- that dumb kid, really, that I was. It’s rough. I didn’t just stay in the shadows of the world during my active addiction so much as I inflicted myself upon people. I was not easy to deal with, to say the least. And I have to live with that knowledge, and the scope of it. I am the only one who knows just how wide my path of destruction really was, after all.

Where is the blessing in that? Well, let me tell you- it keeps me stepping carefully today. Knowing what I am capable of, how sharp my tongue can be, how short my fuse, I am careful. I know well the feeling of regret, and I don’t want anymore. I am learning how to think things through, and how to stop myself, and when I can’t, well…I have learned how to apologize. I am truly a better person today because of who I was in my addiction- and yes, almost anything would have been better than who I was then, but I what I mean is, I have worked very hard to be a good person. Someone who thinks very hard- maybe too hard sometimes- about how I want to show up in the world. I don’t think I would have thought this much about what kind of person I wanted to be if I hadn’t been where I have been. Pain is a catalyst for growth, and I have had a lot of pain. And a lot of growth.

I do not recommend that life to anyone- there is no guarantee that you will ever get to the depths I experienced if you find yourself in that world, but there is no guarantee that you won’t, either. There’s no guarantee that you won’t fall further than I did, and there is no guarantee that you will ever find your way out. But I choose to see that life as a blessing because of what came after it- the love I have been able to experience as a result of my recovery, the way I know for sure that it could be so, so much worse. The way that, even on my very shittiest day clean, I can still stand to look someone in the eye. I couldn’t do that on my best day using. I think that there is a blessing in every cross we bear. It’s just up to us to figure out what that blessing is.

Posted in Addiction, advice, Blogging, family, friendship, Goals, inner peace, Life, People

Simple Pleasures

 

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When I started this blog, I thought that it would be about a woman (me) on a quest to better herself, to stave off the BS that is aging, and how she (I) learned to be, or to stay, beautiful…Man, I could never have guessed how right I was, in some respects, and how misguided I was, in others. I had no idea the battle that lay ahead, that I would be swept back up, on several occasions, pinned back down beneath the tsunami of my own addiction. I could not have guessed that, by the time I got here, to this day, I would be far less interested in the state of my appearance than I was in the state of my spirit. That my crows feet would not even place on the top ten list of my current concerns.

I know I talk about my struggle with drugs a lot, and if that bothers you, I highly encourage you to find another blog to read…because drugs are a huge part of my story, a major contributing factor in the making of me as you know me, a curse and also a blessing. ‘How in the world can you call it a blessing ?’ You might be asking yourself…well, let me explain, would you?

If it weren’t for the drugs, that revealed my illness, that caused all the struggle, the hardship, the bullshit…I would never have known the joy of overcoming all of it. I would never have gotten through it and looked back and thought, ‘Man, you made it out alive, through all of THAT?’ . There are things I will keep to myself, that I will never write about in this blog, or tell my mother, or share with most people, because they just don’t need to know. But rest assured, when I tell you that my life was hard, and sad, brutal and depraved, even- you can trust that I am telling you the truth. I wasted a lot of years on what amounted to very little.

But I learned from it. And because of all of that, my appreciation for what I have in my life today, the simple, little, common pleasures are profound. Last night, I made dinner and watched Matilda with both of my daughters and my older daughters boyfriend, and I realized that even a month ago, I would not have found myself there. No one wanted to be around me, and that was fine, because I didn’t want to be around them either. Now, it is the best part of my day, spending time with people I love. Actually, the whole day is the best part of my day, because at every turn, I am filled with gratitude. And that is why I can tell you that my illness is also a blessing- because the flip side of the coin is a wonderful way to be.

In the past month, i have done more than I have done in the past year, and I am not kidding you. I got my nose pierced with my daughter, I went to the boardwalk, I went to the mall. My sister came to visit me for three days, and I got to show her around town. I went to the lighthouse here for the first time ever. I went to a family barbecue in Palo Colorado Canyon. I painted with my toddler. I went to the library, twice. I read a book, I started writing a book, I wrote a couple of good blogs. I started exercising. I took a Zumba class, and pilates, and body sculpting. I lost five pounds. I hung out with old friends. I booked a vacation. I planned a day trip with some other friends. I went to a street festival. I went to some meetings. I called my mother- a lot. I talked to every person I love, at least one time. And that is just in the last MONTH. My life is so full of good, I can’t really describe it.

So…if you are out there, right in the middle of your own self imposed prison sentence, can you try to put yourself in my place? I am telling you, right now, you can start to turn it all around, you are just like me. Everyone who loves you still loves you. You can have back everything you had in your life…or nearly everything, and what you can’t have will be replaced by something just as good…maybe even better. Just think about it. And that is all I have to say today. :)addic

 

 

Posted in Addiction, beauty, family, inner peace, kids, Life, love, People, random

If The World Ends Tomorrow

If  the world ends tomorrow, there are a few things I’d like to say.mayan-countdown

First of all, I have had a fabulous run. If the world really does end tomorrow, I will leave it clean and sober. I have somehow, out of the rubble of a life I had destroyed, managed to rise up out of the ashes like a Phoenix, weaving something beautiful out of the mess.  If the end is near, my head will be clear, my regrets will be few. I am so grateful to God for giving me the gift of relative speed, when extricating myself from the destruction I have visited upon myself, again and again- if relief had not been swift in coming, I don’t know that I would have hung in there. I am glad and proud to be where I am today, even with as much work as there still is to do. I know so many people who struggle on and on, and have to fight so hard for every little step forward, and I don’t know how they keep on…I don’t think I have that kind of strength. So, if this is it, I am happy with who I have been.

I know I joke around a lot about my mom, and, while I won’t pretend that we don’t irritate the shit out of each other, I will say this- she has been a good, good mother. My biggest fan, my mental twin, she taught me everything I know about pushing forward, striving harder, no matter what. Not only that, but she did it all with a clean house and great clothes, something I fall way short of. The best thing of all about my mom, though, were the holidays- no matter how broke we were, how awful things got, the holidays were magical thanks to my mom. I will never, ever forget those perfect Christmas mornings when, no matter how early I woke up, the tree would be ablaze with lights, music from the Nutcracker would be playing, presents were piled in heaps around the tree, and always, the cookies and milk were eaten, Santa long gone. Without my mom, I don’t know if I would have made it out of the lifestyle I allowed myself to be swept into- I measured myself so much by her approval ( a habit that is no longer very helpful, thanks) that at least I could see how far I had fallen. She never gave up on me. She always saw the real me, under all of it. I love you, mom.

I have the most amazing children under the sun. Aisley, so unlike me and then so similar- she is full of surprises, at such a weird, awkward part of life- fifteen. I wouldn’t go back if you paid me. Yet she handles all of the traitorous goings-on of high school with so much more grace and nonchalance than I ever could have. She is so beautiful and calm, most of the time, haughty and witty, private and contained. I think she will surprise us all, if we make it past Friday. And Camryn, my God! What a blessing and a joy she is. So smart, it freaks me out, so happy and sweet nature’d, charming and  funny. I was so afraid of having another baby so late in life, but it was the best idea I’ve ever had.

If the world ends tomorrow, I can tell you that my life has been breathtaking, full of abundance and blessings, a million last minute rescues, countless good people who have reached out their hands to me, pulling me back when I got too close to the edge. The beauty has been constant, even in the dark times, even when I couldn’t see it. The heartaches have all been worth it. The goodness far outweighs the bad.

If the world doesn’t end tomorrow, I will be glad. I will continue on, as I have been, trying to get better, to be better than I am right now. But if it does, it’s been a wonderful trip. It’s been a marvelous time. I wouldn’t change a thing.