Posted in Addiction, adventure, alcoholism, anxiety, Blogging, Depression, faith, family, Goals, Life, Mental Health, Musings, recovery, twelve step

Reflecting on After The Party

party's over

Did you know that I have been writing this blog for 6 years now?

Sure, I haven’t been consistent…I mean, this blog is a lot like my real life in that way. As true to form as could be, I have been sporadic, I can’t follow a theme, I don’t stick to the subject at hand. I guess that is the one way I am consistent- by being totally inconsistent. Well, dammit. Now I’ve said the word “consistent” so many times that it’s started to sound weird to me.

Anyway, here it is. I have pretty much laid out my life and my truth here through a lot of shit over the past six years. I struggled mightily with my addiction, and I kept writing through it. I told on myself, sometimes I tried to make it look prettier than it was, sometimes I thought I’d succeeded, and then…looking back, the truth is pretty clear to me, what a mess I was. I don’t know if I had anyone else fooled. It doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that I kept going. That, throughout all of those years, I never stopped trying and I never lost hope. I was scared sometimes…I lost my mind many times, and lost myself, but I somehow never totally lost hope. I knew that I could do it, I just knew that I could. And look at me now…three years and some change into this latest foray into recovery, here I sit, still clean, still hanging in there.

It looks nothing like I thought that it would. In some ways, it is so much better, and in other ways, it’s just…underwhelming. It’s just life. I don’t wake up every single day ecstatic that I am not using drugs anymore, over the moon that I get to be sober another day. I wake up and wonder why I can’t seem to get my laundry folded, or why “other people” (whoever they may be) have their shit together so much more completely than I do. This is REAL life…and real life is not an Instagram feed or the things we post on Facebook, it’s not even the happy face we put on for the world. Real life is not the highlight reel, it is the piles of shit on the kitchen table, the lost keys, the sitting on the toilet and realizing there is no toilet paper and there’s no one home to yell to for help. Real life is what is happening to everyone, all the time, around and through all the beautiful moments. Because I am clean, I get to be a part of that.

But because I wasn’t clean for so long, I am still, even at 43, even with all this time clean now, adjusting to this reality. I am also dealing with the weird personality tics- such as: low self-esteem, poor coping skills, boundary issues, people pleasing, isolating tendencies, anxiety and probably a little depression thrown in to spice up the pot- that most likely led me to going all in with my addiction in the first place.

Basically, I thought that getting clean would be the solution to all of my problems. What I have learned is that getting clean was the first major obstacle I had to clear to start dealing with a bunch of other problems. My addiction is just a symptom of other, much more deeply rooted bullshit. And now I am trying to fix myself.

This past few years have been HARD. But, on the flip side of that, they have also been, hands down, the best years of my adult life. Easily. I mean, I could just cry thinking about it. I have healed so many relationships that were deeply wounded. I am so close with my mom, and so incredibly close with my daughters. I can look anyone in the eye, at any time, and not feel ashamed of who I am. I have stopped being so angry. I have learned how to hear myself, sometimes even before I speak, and my words don’t have to hurt people anymore. Because I am not in pain on a deep, soul-level anymore, I don’t have to lash out and make sure everyone around me is hurting, too. On the contrary, I spend a lot of my time trying to show the people I love that I love them. I think about ways I can make their lives better. And if you understand addiction at all, if you’ve been there yourself or if you’ve witnessed the destruction wrought by an addict that you love, you understand how monumental that is. I no longer hurt or destroy everything that I touch.

I no longer hurt or destroy everything that I touch…I needed to say that again. Because I don’t ever want to be that person again, and yet, even knowing what I know, I have been STRUGGLING lately. I have wanted to give up. To quit being in recovery, to quit going to meetings, to just have one fucking little drink. Because I want to relax. Because I feel like I need something outside of myself to help me let go a little bit. Because alcohol was never a problem for me, so why can’t I just have a glass of wine? Or a beer? Or maybe a shot of tequila for old times sake? I just want to be NORMAL.

But you know what? I am not “normal” in the way I think of normal being, and I know this. I know that if I have a drink, it might be just a drink for now…but eventually, it would turn into something far bigger than I could even try to control. And you know, next time, I might not be so lucky. I might not make it back. So, here I am, reminding myself of one of the overused but oh-so-appropriate NA sayings…just for today. Just for today, I can not drink, right? I don’t have to think about forever, or even tomorrow. Just today. I know I can do that.

I started this blog because I wanted to write something funny and relate-able and real that other people in my position could find themselves in. I wanted it to be a success story, and an inspiration, and most of all, I wanted to be honest. I think I have done that. I’m not about to stop now, whether 500 people are reading, or only two. My life isn’t always pretty or fun, but I can promise you that it has been much, much more meaningful after the party ended. And let’s be honest- the party was over long before I ever found my way home.

 

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Posted in Blogging, fitness, Goals, health, housekeeping, Life, mindfulness, People, random, Weight Loss

March 31st

goodbye march

Another month in the books already? Wow! I can’t believe it’s nearly April, and then on the other hand, I can’t believe we’re only heading into the fourth month of the year. What a crazy few months it has been for me! 2018 so far has been the most intentional year I have had in recent memory. I know it has a lot to do with me blogging. This little act of sitting down here to write about my life regularly helps so much to keep me focused and on top of things. It’s like magic.

Did you know that I haven’t had a dirty dish in my sink in well over a week? My landlady finally came over yesterday, and she thought the house and yard looked good- all of that stress and worry, for what? In the end, I pulled it together, like I needed to. And it’s not just the sink that’s stayed clean- I’ve devoted some time every day to picking things up and doing tasks that need to be done, and the end result is a home I am much more comfortable living in. Should someone drop by, I wouldn’t be mortified, or suddenly aware of how messy my house is. I would be proud of my home- something that is definitely new for me. One down side to all this neatness, though, is how crazy I get when Cam drops wrappers casually on the floor, or leaves her clothes in a puddle in the bathroom. Suddenly, these things make me very angry- “Don’t you see how hard I’ve been working around here?” I’ll snap, “Go pick that stuff up!” Poor thing. She’s never learned any good habits because I never showed her the way. I need to be patient, not one of my inherent qualities. Eh, I’ll get there. We both will.

As exciting as me droning on about my housekeeping habits probably is for you, I’d like to move on to something else now. As you may have gathered from other posts, I really like to be working on things in my life- the way I live, the way I am, the way I operate. It keeps me interested, and it keeps me motivated. Today is the last day of my (mostly) meatless March, and I don’t have any idea if I will go back to eating meat or not. It was REALLY easy, for the most part, not to eat meat. And to be honest with you, the thought of eating it now kinda grosses me out. I can’t even believe I am saying that, but it’s the truth. I did eat refried beans twice, forgetting that they are made with lard, and that baked potato dip with bacon bits in it (I didn’t realize it until I had already eaten half and then ate the other half anyway). Either way, going without meat was not hard, but I learned you can still eat pretty terribly without any meat at all. Which brings me to my goal for the next month:

Move Your Ass April! I have gone to the gym only TWO times in March. Not only does that mean I will have to pay full price for my March gym membership (if I go ten times per month, my work pays half of my fees) but to be honest, I don’t feel that great. I don’t know about you, but the less I exercise, the less I want to exercise, and the slower and more sluggish I begin to feel. So, for the month of April, I am committing to my original goal of going to the gym 3 times per week, and hitting my step goal 6 out of 7 days per week. I would say every day, but there is inevitably one day where I just can’t do it. I am also going to concentrate on eating sensibly, since I majorly fell off that wagon this month, and keeping track of my calories. Do I want to lose weight? Yeah, of course I do. But more than that, I want to feel good about myself. My house being neat makes me feel good. Exercise and eating right, both make me feel good. To be honest with you, everything I do is an effort to feel good. It’s kind of my favorite thing.

In closing, I will say this- I know for sure that nothing like perfect balance is ever going to happen. Not in my life, or in anyone’s life. That just isn’t a thing. The best we all can do is strive to do the best we can on any given day. Despite all the struggles and ups and downs I so readily admit to, my life is good. And it’s good because I never stop working on it, no matter how hard it might be at the time, no matter how ill prepared I might feel. This is the only life I have, and I’ve decided that I want to get the most out of it that I can. Starting exactly where I am at.

 

Posted in adventure, Blogging, family, Goals, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random

The Tide is Turning

challenges

Despite all of my carrying on and whatnot over the past couple of weeks, I want to let you know that there have been some major shifts in my routine over that same time period- the things I have struggled with aloud here have been the very things I have devoted most of my time to dealing with in my real life. A lot of times, when I am writing about my life in my blog, it is a way for me to sort out and work through things on a different level. It’s a great way for me to pinpoint areas where I am not doing as well as I would like to be, and it seems like I just naturally start to resolve things the minute I put them down on “paper”, essentially.

I wrote recently about wanting to feel more confident in myself, and figured that one of the ways I could improve my self-esteem would be to behave in a way that would inspire more respect in myself- in other words, do a good job. Make it my goal to really pour effort into whatever task I am doing, so that when it is done, I know I did my level best. With this spirit driving me, I have had the best couple of weeks at work that I have had, as far as consecutive days go, in probably years. I have made it my business to enforce some self-discipline during my work hours, which is essential (and also incredibly easy to lose completely) when you work from home. I set specific goals for myself, keep track of the work I am doing, and reward myself with a short break every hour, when I’ve reached my goal. I leave the TV off. I open up my blinds to let the light in. I sit down, I listen to podcasts, and I earn my paycheck. At the end of the day lately, I have felt the satisfaction of knowing I did my job well, and it really does feel amazing. Bam, my self-confidence soars.

Side note: My friend Jennifer gave me the book “You are a Bad Ass” by Jen Sincero for my birthday, and I just finally started reading it- well, actually, I’m almost done now. I figured this was a perfect time, when I am pretty open to ideas and help. I have been surprised to find how many of the recommendations in the book are things I already either do, or at least have realized, on my own. Which is not to say that the book is useless- far from it! I think it is just generally a great idea to read books full of positive information that will lift you up, and I have learned quite a bit as well. My point is, aside from what I have gleaned from the book, the realization that I am already doing so many of these things makes me feel like I might be doing better than I thought.

Something big happened after I wrote the post about being lazy- boy, I never would have seen that one coming, but…I’m super glad it did. I want to share with you that the minute I finished that blog, I got up and did the dishes, and I have barely stopped cleaning since then. I’m not kidding! I have not gone to bed with a dish in my sink since that blog was posted. I have been doing laundry nearly constantly, filling bags with Goodwill donations, throwing things away, and sorting out the junk and bric-a-brac that I have allowed to accumulate in small piles throughout the house. I filled a garbage bag just from my tiny bathroom alone- full of old makeup, expired medication, empty cosmetic boxes, and just…shit. Shit that has been cluttering up my life and making me feel bad. Every night, when I finally sit down to relax, I can REALLY relax, because my house, while not yet exactly how I’d like it to be, is already a thousand percent better than it was. And again, I can sit there knowing I worked hard, and did a really good job. Again, major self-esteem boost.

And finally, remember the post about losing my sense of adventure, and how I was stressed out about my landlord coming and code enforcement and all that? Well, turns out that might have been the best thing that could have happened. As a direct result of the pressure applied to me, I paid someone to haul off ALL the junk in my backyard (a pretty impressive amount, to be honest. I don’t know where all this crap even comes from!) and then I paid someone else to come and clean my massive yard for me. Best money I’ve ever spent. I also called my landlady to find out when this visit is supposed to happen, and learned from that call that she isn’t mad at me at all. She’s actually more upset with the city for bothering me in the first place. So, not only did I feel so much relief from dealing with the issue head-on, but she was thrilled to hear that I had done so much work to make the yard look nice.

To wrap this all up, I want to announce that I am leaving town today, having decided to take a vacation out of town after all. No, I am not going to Oregon- I realized that I didn’t want to risk sitting in the car for a total of 24 hours with a seven year old in what looks like will be terrible weather. I opted instead to head south, to the sunnier portion of California, and I couldn’t be more excited! My kiddo and I have BIG plans for the next several days, and I don’t want to tell you where I am headed because, of course, I am planning on writing about it.

So, just to make a terribly long blog even longer, I want to say how grateful I am that I have this outlet to express myself. It’s exciting for me to be able to share, and discover for myself, the way this blog is a tool I use to work at the knots in my life, and how writing through my struggles actually helps me to resolve them. If all I was doing was bitching about my life, it could be toxic. But this last few weeks has shown me that what I am really doing is figuring out how to be better, and the advice and support I get back has been such a wonderful bonus. So THANKS! I am off to pack for my trip now!

Posted in Blogging, fun, Life, Musings, People, recovery

Three Things, Late Edition

three hearts

I tried, I really did, to get this thing written last night, but…unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control ( it was after seven in the evening, and I had eaten peanut butter pie after dinner) I just wasn’t able to form any type of cohesive sentence-like structures for this blog. It’s a little before five now, so I might not do much better, but I am going to take a shot. Here goes:

  1. This has been a weird week. My schedule got screwed up, being basically on quarantine with my sick kid, and I have learned that I am highly dependent on my routine to maintain my sanity. I don’t know when this started- I mean, I lived a life that was the very opposite of “routine” for most of my years on earth, and suddenly, a few days are a little different, and it’s enough to take me down. I want so badly to be the kind of person who just goes with the flow, but I guess that just isn’t who I am. I have to try a little harder- or at least it feels that way to me- than most people to maintain my equilibrium. I often wish I were different…but you know what would also be cool? Being totally okay with who I know myself to be. That would be refreshing! Also, Cam is fine- she had a little cold, aggravated by some seasonal allergies, and now she is good as new.
  2. I wrote a post this week that I am really proud of. I don’t usually do this on my “Three Things” blog, but I am going to this week- if you haven’t checked it out already, I would love for you to. You can find it here . The truth of the matter is, when you are trying to maintain a blog with regular posts, you want to write from the heart all the time, but it can be hard. Sometimes, you just can’t access the deep stuff, it’s just not where you are at. Or sometimes, you are in a funny mood, or just need to share something mundane. But every once in a while, you write something that really means something, and that happened for me the other day. My journey in life isn’t ALL about recovery from drugs, but it is a huge part of my story, and I want to share it with the people who might need to see it. So there it is.
  3. Valentine’s Day happened this week, and I didn’t mention it at all. Mostly because…well, why would I? I have SERIOUS issues surrounding romantic relationships, and overall, Valentine’s Day is just not my thing. But it’s hard not to feel a tiny bit left out when Instagram is basically flooded with lovey-dovey posts and pictures of happy couples. I’m not completely dead inside- I do remember what it’s like to feel that way, and I miss it sometimes. So, by Valentine’s evening, I was feeling a bit…deflated, you might say. Well, my ex showed up with balloons and a card for me, from my daughter, and I thought that was really nice. He also got me a vaguely threatening coffee mug that says “Family is Forever”, but I’ll give him a pass. I’m sure he didn’t mean to freak me out.

And that is it- those are my three things for this week! I will be back here one day this weekend to share something brilliant (or mediocre, maybe) and I hope you all have a fantastic and quick Friday.

Posted in Blogging, Goals, Life, Musings, story telling, writing

The Writing Hour

typing

You’ve heard of the Witching Hour, right? Well, I want to talk about the Writing Hour- the magical time of day when I get to write. I get up at 4:30 in the morning, every single day, just so that I can have this quiet, undisturbed time to write.

Every night, before bed, I set up my coffee maker so that it starts my coffee at 4:15, assuring that it will be ready when I crawl out of the warmth of my blankets way before the first light of dawn. It takes me a little time to wake up- somewhere around the dregs of my first cup, I stop reading and commenting on blogs, and start working on something of my own. Sometimes it’s my novel, and sometimes it’s a blog post- on a good day, like today, I might manage both.

Like many of us, I am an extremely busy person. I work full time, I have a small child (and a not so small child, also), a house full of pets that want my attention. There is homework to be done, and housework, laundry that never seems to be folded, and a million other little tasks tugging constantly on my mind. On top of that, I am in recovery, trying to fit in meetings, and doing all the things that take care of me mentally and physically. Groceries need to be bought, dinners prepared, I have to get to the gym, I have to walk the dog. My God, just writing it down makes me anxious. The list literally had no end- once you complete it, if that ever even happens, you go back to the top and start over.

And that is fine, that’s just the way life is. BUT…doing any of these things at 4:30 in the morning would be pretty unreasonable, if you ask me. The only acceptable thing I can think of to do at that hour, besides sleep, is write. Between the hours of 4:30 and roughly 6:30 in the morning, I am free to indulge myself in whatever form of writing pleases me. I can read blog posts at my leisure, or re-read the latest chapter in my work in progress. I can let my fingers fly over the keyboard as I transcribe the crazy events playing out in my imagination. Not even the sky is the limit. It’s entirely up to me.

Could I use a bit more sleep? Maybe. Would my life benefit at all from me staying up later than 8:30 every night? Most likely. Am I willing to give even an inch on this one thing, and give up my magical Writing Hour? Not even a chance. I’d rather yawn my way through the day and count down the minutes to bed time than give up my writing time.

Happy Friday, and Happy Writing!

Posted in Blogging, family, Goals, kids, Life, mindfulness, writing

Goodbye, January! Thanks for the Hot Dog Moon!

blood moon

In case you are wondering what the hell I am talking about, I just woke up my seven year old to come look at the blood moon. At first, she wasn’t having any of it- she was like, “Nah, mom, I’m good. I’m just going to sleep.” So I left her alone. But a few minutes later, she got up and, after wrapping her up in a fuzzy blanket, I ushered her down the steep steps of my front porch, and out beneath the sky. She was appropriately excited about what she was seeing.

“Wow, mom! That’s just amazing! It’s like a deep, burning red! It’s hot-dog colored! How amazing!” This is an actual quote. For a seven year old, that’s downright poetic. Hot dogs are objects of great affection…no higher compliment she could have paid that blood moon.

Anyway, believe it or not, today is the very last day of the month! An entire month of 2018 is already behind us. For me, it has been an incredibly meaningful month, and I truly mean that. Here are some of the highlights of  January for me:

  • I started a critique group for my fiction writing, something I have wanted to do for years. I actually pulled it off! We have met twice already, and will continue to meet every other Friday for as long as it keeps working. It is so helpful, and it feels so great to hang out with other people who love writing as much as I do.
  • I have been growing my blog like crazy! Regular posts and lots of interaction with other bloggers has been so gratifying for me, and I can’t describe how much I’ve gotten back from you guys. It feels so great to be connected this way.
  • I have written massive amounts on my novel. I also cut three chapters, which was painful, but it had to be done. I am in love with the story that is coming out of me. I always feel more like I am transcribing a movie that is playing in my head, rather than actually making something up. I’m just reporting what I see, really. And I love what I have been seeing.
  • I have spent some quality time with my kids, most notably with Aisley, on our little weekend hiking/cabin adventure in Boulder Creek.
  • I have not missed one day of meditation this month.
  • I have still not smoked, not even one cigarette, in 71 days.

Here are some of the things I need to be better about, going forward:

  • I REALLY need to cut back on my coffee consumption. I finally got a decent nights sleep last night, but I think drinking 7 or so cups of coffee daily is a bit excessive. The problem is , I like the taste so much, especially because I doctor it up with so much cream and sugar. Which leads me to the next item on the list-
  • Eating. I mean, I have to eat to survive, but I know I can eat less donuts and chimichanga’s (the dictionary here does not recognize the word “chimichanga” and wants to correct it to “Michigan” which is what I felt like I ate after that deep fried, beef filled tortilla of happiness hit my system, honestly) and a lot less of everything in general, and I would feel better. In February, I hope to get back to healthier eating.
  • Hand in hand with eating goes exercise- I get lots of it, but I don’t think I push myself hard enough. I need to try a little harder.
  • The last thing I am really struggling with lately is chronic over-scheduling- I do not have one night this week where I am just doing nothing, and it makes me crazy. I want to sit down and have a real dinner with my kid, but this week, that isn’t going to happen. The truth is, it’s up to me to learn how to say no, and I haven’t been very good at that lately. I am going to remember what my real priorities are, and why.

And THAT is why my theme for February is going to be Family. Also, because they both happen to start with “F”, but mostly because I really do want to bring my focus back where it belongs. My kids! And myself, because I do consider myself part of my family.

So there you have it! My month in a nutshell. How did your January go? What did you get right, and what needs some adjusting? Thanks to all of you who have joined me here over the past month. You have all added something so cool to my life, and I couldn’t be more excited about being on this journey with you!

 

Posted in Addiction, Blogging, friendship, fun, Life, recovery, writing

The Blogger Appreciation Award

blogger-appreciation-award

I was excited to have been nominated the other day by The Non-Alcoholic Student for The Blogger Appreciation Award. I needed a few days to properly accept the award, mostly because I am challenged when it comes to things like figuring out how to insert links properly…hey, I’m here to write. The technical aspects can be a little intimidating. However, I did figure it out (it actually wasn’t all that hard), and now here I sit, feeling all appreciated and shit. Thanks for thinking of me, kid! Anyway, you should check out her blog- the title is pretty telling, but just in case you don’t get it, it’s a blog about a University student who is choosing the rare path of not drinking, rather than passing the time as a drunken mess.

Now lets see…what else do I have to do? Let me refer back to the rules…gimme a minute. Okay found them. Here they are:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their site.
  • Write a paragraph on something positive about yourself
  • Nominate and notify as many bloggers as you wish
  • Use the award image

Okay, I think I got the first part out of the way! Now let’s see…something positive about myself.

Well, I’m a pretty decent human being. I’ve been working hard on myself for a while now, and I seem to be making some headway. Having spent the majority of my youth deeply under the influence, it’s been interesting to see who I actually am under all the debris I am slowly clearing away. The answer, so far, is exactly that- a pretty decent human being. I am neither as awesome nor as repugnant as I had imagined. One thing I am continually surprised by is how good of a mom I am! I REALLY love making my kids the primary focus of my life- and yes, I know, that’s how most moms generally are, but…well, I wasn’t always this way. So I am really happy and proud of this. At two years and eight months in, I am still at the very beginning of a journey that I hope will last the rest of my life. I have a feeling that as I evolve, and continue to work hard at bettering myself, I am going to grow into exactly the woman I have always dreamed of being.

There, is that positive enough? Okay, on to the next thing. Nominating other bloggers I appreciate. Man, that is rough…I appreciate all of you guys. So, I am just going to pick three, but please know that you all bring something I love to the table, and that is why I follow you! Here goes:

My True North

Out an’ About

Hurrah for Coffee!

I hope you click on each link and give these bloggers a look! The last part asks that I use the award image- I am going to try to do that at the top of the page. We’ll see how THAT goes. Once again, I am so grateful to receive an award in appreciation of my blog. I pour a lot of my heart into this thing, and it feels great to know I am being heard, and reaching people here and there. I think that’s all any of us really want.

Talk to you all soon!