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

Radical Change

change

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.

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Posted in Addiction, faith, inner peace, Life, Musings, People, random, recovery

Strength

strength

I have always thought of myself as someone who is strong- not physically strong, although I’m no slouch in that area, either (being a single mother for most of your life will help you develop muscles, trust me) but resilient, tough, capable, able to lift myself out of difficult times and situations.

Yeah, but… I’m just sitting here this morning thinking- if I created all of the difficult times and situations in my life, does that really count as being strong? I mean sure, I eventually got myself out of them, time after time after time, but…what does that say about my character, that I created so much drama and strife and upheaval? Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of myself for never giving up, for always trying to fix whatever I had broken. And I realize that I had issues that had issues, that with all the shit I was hauling around inside of me, there was no way I could have been any other way than I was until I got help. Still…

I view strength very differently now. It is no longer necessary for me to aggressively assert my “strength” by acting out or being demanding or dominating the conversation (although I do still get carried away when I am talking sometimes). I have kids, so I still raise my voice a little more often than I would like, but I don’t feel the need to when I am speaking to another adult. As a matter of fact, when my temper gets away from me these days, I feel the opposite of strong- it makes me feel diminished and weak. Funny how we change over time, isn’t it?

You know what I see as my strengths now? My ability to keep showing up, even when I am so tired of it all that I want to throw the towel in. Strength is knowing that I am just having a moment, and it’s going to pass.  Strength is taking a deep breath or five before I speak, because I know I am too angry to be reasonable. My greatest strength lies in my consistency, and I am reaping the rewards every day because my life, finally, is not an uphill battle. The decisions I make now are generally made more with the future in mind, rather than for instant gratification. And because I have made a lot more good choices lately than poor ones, I have the added and unexpected bonus of being able to trust myself. I can’t think of anything more bad-ass than feeling confident in your own capabilities. It feels really, really good.

Two years and 341 days ago, I was a very different person. I knew I was a mess, but thankfully I didn’t know how much of a mess I was. It would have been overwhelming, and I don’t think I would have been willing to face all of it. But in a perfectly timed fashion, each new layer of bullshit was revealed to me just as I was ready to see it. I am not done yet, but I am much, much better off than where I started. The strength to stay in recovery, to keep going even when I really just wanted one fucking little…whatever was available to just make me RELAX already…that has to be the single most important show of strength that I have ever displayed. Without that, none of these other revelations would have even been possible. This entire journey has been fueled by my recovery, and that is the truth.

Three years. Not even three yet, almost three. In almost three years, my life has been completely changed for the better. Do you know how fast three years goes by when you are still getting loaded? In like five minutes, no kidding. So anyway, if you are new to all of this, and you aren’t seeing the results you want, I encourage you to hang on. To really devote yourself to the process of self discovery and healing, and just keep going. The day will come when you are so much more than you ever even dreamed you could be, and it will all have been worth it. Stick around for long enough to see your definition of what strength is be totally, irreversibly changed. It’s a pretty amazing thing.

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

Consider the Source

opinions

I’m sorry for flooding your feed with my posts this week- it has never, ever been my goal to write daily, but I guess I’ve just had a lot to say lately. Anyway, this will be another short one (I think).

Riding on the tails of my post yesterday, which you can view here , I have another little tidbit to share in that same area, sort of. Listen, people are going to have opinions about your life- be it the way you choose to live, the company you keep, the fact that you are vegan and it’s so hard to find a place to eat out with you…I mean, you name it, people have an opinion about it. (for the record, I am NOT vegan, I was just using that as a popular example that people have so. many. opinions. about.) They might even have an opinion about the things you write about on your blog, and your experiences, from your own life. Heck, it’s a possibility that they may take time out of their busy day to write a scathing and grammatically horrific response to your blog which, obviously, you know…that would be dumb. But it could happen.

Anyway, if that should ever happen to you- if you find yourself in any situation where someone is putting forth their very best effort to make you feel like shit about your honest feelings, your true observations, or just ANYTHING about you…I urge you to Consider The Source. This is something my mom and her best friend used to say to each other when I was young, and it stuck in my mind…who is the person saying what they are saying, and what is their motivation, and most importantly of all, do you give a single fuck what this person has to say?

If the person voicing their opinion is your best friend ever, and they are motivated by love that is coming out as anger, and you give several fucks about their opinion, then yes, by all means, come back to it when everyone has calmed down.

If the person is someone who is of little to no consequence in your life, has no motivation besides an excess of time or selfishness, and you give minus three fucks about what they think about you, then ding-ding-ding! Source identified! It’s someone who doesn’t matter.

I am not someone who has a lot of friction in my life with many people- most of the time, it’s the same few people, over and over: My ex, my daughter, my mom, occasionally. That’s about it. Lately, though, I’ve had some issues with a handful of people, and it isn’t pleasant. But you know what? I am okay. Most of the people in question are from a previous life, and I truly believe that when we hang onto things we need to let go of, the Universe will intervene on our behalf. I think this is just my destiny, urging me to move on and leave what is over behind me.

I am at peace with my decisions- I need only look around me to know that they are sound, that my life is working quite well. I am actually pretty grateful for the problems I have had with other people recently because it made me take stock of my life, and I have found it to be in better shape than I realized. So I’m just going to keep doing what I am doing.

In the meantime, remember: Consider the source, and, as my friend so succinctly reminded me last night- other people’s opinions of you are none of your business.

shhh

 

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, family, kids, Life, love, motherhood, parenting, recovery

The Best Things…

I Love You quotes for Daughter Mother daughter quotes at www.bmabh.com

It is Tuesday morning, and my house looks like a cyclone hit it. To my left, the couch is covered in jackets, napkins, pillows, a purse, and a discarded bra. Under my chair is an empty sparkling water can that I keep forgetting to pick up, and next to that is my seven year old’s backpack.

There are no dishes in the sink because we haven’t eaten a meal at home in DAYS. There is, however, a garbage can full of empty take out containers, and one half eaten box of carne asada fries on the microwave stand. The bathroom floor is covered in clothes abandoned pre-shower, and left there until someone (me) picks them up. The counters are littered with expensive make-up and hair products. The front porch? Oh lord, I was out there this morning, and there are puddles of spilled coffee all over the place, a dead giveaway that my older daughter is home. She loves coffee, but doesn’t metabolize caffeine very well in her tiny little body.

And in each of the beds in both of the bedrooms, my daughters lay sleeping. My mom always says she sleeps so much better when her kids are home, and I get it, I really do. The past three nights since my oldest has been home, I’ve slept with my bedroom door open, and slept more soundly than I have in weeks. Just knowing she is right there, in the next room, and my littlest one is sleeping beside me…it’s like heaven.

You have to understand, my daughters and I…we are the closest of the close. Aisley, my oldest, we have been through hell together- most of it my doing, of course, but she…I’ve always said, she’s the reason I am still on this earth. I don’t know what would’ve happened to me if she hadn’t come along. We are more than just mother and daughter, we are each other’s core family, the nucleus, the main event. We grew up together. Which means things can get weird, and roles can be confusing- sometimes I try to be the mom, and she doesn’t want it. Sometimes I’m more like a sister, and she needs a mom. We have struggled with boundaries, and with communication, and with our expectations of each other. We’ve healed a lot since I have gotten and stayed clean. I think she finally trusts that I am serious now, that I’m not going to fuck this up. She doesn’t look at me with that suspicion on her face anymore, and I never want her to worry about that again. I don’t really ever entertain the idea of getting high anymore, but the odd time that it idly crosses my mind, I imagine what it would do to my children, and I know it’s not worth it. Not even close, not ever.

It was always Aisley and I, the two of us, and no one else. By the time Camryn was a toddler, Aisley was off living her life, in high school, running around with her friends. So I basically have two only children. Now it is Camryn and I, and Aisley has moved away. But sometimes, for brief times like this, I get to have them both, together, sleeping under the same roof, and I can breathe again. The worry I didn’t realize I was holding, I can set it down for a few days.

I am so blessed. That my life turned out the way that it has, that my children still love me, that I get to be their mother, and that I am better at it than I ever dreamed I could be. Not perfect, I’ll never be perfect. I might not ever even be great. But I’m so much better than I ever thought I was capable of. And honestly, for now, that’s all I need.

Posted in Dating, fun, funny, Life, love, Musings, People, relationships

A Long Time Alone

alone
Seriously, this is so true.

 

I was talking with a friend of mine last night about how hard it is, at the point in my life that I’m at, to meet someone I’d actually like to date. I mean, it just seems like so much work…basically, my best option seems like it is probably online dating sites, which I’ve tried before and it is so incredibly overwhelming that I generally peace out within a matter of days. I’m not good at having more than one conversation at a time, I don’t like it when strangers get overly familiar with me, and it’s very easy to be hyper critical when you have so many choices…and, there is the fact that I have a notoriously bad picker. I will like the wrong guy, Every. Single. Time. I used to joke that if you lined up five equally good looking men, all dressed identically, I would naturally gravitate to the one that is on parole. I don’t know why that is, but I promise you, it’s true.

But you know, a big part of why I have stayed single for so long is that, after going through SO MUCH drama in my last relationship, I finally developed some self preservation in the area of the heart. Emotionally, I’ve just been very, very wary. My judgement failed me so hard this last time, so many times in a row with the same dude…I have to admit, it’s not only alarming, but somewhat embarrassing, too. You know, I had this dream about where we were going, the life we were building, and of course looking back I can see that it was never going to happen, but I believed it for a long time. I think letting go of that dream was far harder than letting go of him. I remember, after I had found out he had been cheating on me since two weeks after our daughter was born- I think she was six months old when I finally confirmed what I already knew in my heart- I remember pulling over in the parking lot of a Round Table Pizza, and just crying in my car. I had no idea what my future was supposed to look like anymore. I thought we were a family, I thought we were heading somewhere, and suddenly everything was gone. It was awful. I just couldn’t get my head around it.

And so, I made the first of many mistakes. I left him for a while, but he kept coming back, and I let him, for a myriad of reasons. I loved him, sure, but I know now I could’ve gotten over that with distance. But also, I had a teenage daughter and a tiny baby, and I needed help. Then there was the fact that I just didn’t want to be alone, and even more emphatically, I didn’t want him to be out there, having fun, while I sat at home miserable. No, he could be there with me, miserable together. It got pretty dysfunctional. I turned into someone I did not like. And I stayed that way for a long, long time. It took even longer, after we finally split, for me to stop being so angry and bitter. I can see now that I had a part in all that happened after the first transgression- I could have walked away and I chose not to. I chose to let the heartache fester and turn into something much uglier.

So I finally broke free. And you know what I did, instead of worrying about men? I went out and I fucking got my shit together. I kicked ass at life. I got clean (again) and I worked on myself, and I worked on myself some more, and I got my finances in order, I became a great mom, I got a routine, I paid my bills, I figured out that I can hold it down…all by myself. And, as I talked to my friend last night, that’s when it hit me- I think, for most of my life, I stayed in relationships because I kind of had to. I truly was in a position, most of the time, where I only kept my head above water by the contributions of my significant other. When that is the case, it makes a lot more sense to keep trying to work it out. Certainly better than living in your car, most likely.

That’s not the case anymore. I can let go of all that past shit, because, not only do I not NEED someone, I am not the same person anymore. I think I might even be able to trust myself to choose more wisely, now. So, maybe I will, maybe I won’t. If there were some way to jump from the awkward beginning right to the comfortable middle, where you can just leave your makeup off and hang out on the couch all weekend watching TV together, I would definitely choose that. Like, skip over the hard parts- first kiss, first naked encounter, first nerve wracking disagreement, right into the comfort zone. Wouldn’t that be great?

In the meantime, if you know of anyone great, around 40, good sense of humor, kinda nerdy, kind, and SUPER patient…not hideous is a plus, but I’m flexible- send him my way. I really don’t want to do online dating.

 

Posted in Blogging, Goals, inner peace, Learning, Life, Musings, random, Uncategorized

New Focus

focus.jpg

This past week has flown by, and, even though I sat here a few times, trying to think of something to blog about, nothing came.

I can share this with you, though- after years and years of being the most chatty, talk-about-it kinda girl you have ever met, I’ve discovered something new about myself: I do better when I work on certain things quietly.

I discovered this by accident, during the long and grueling three years when I was trying to quit smoking. I joined this support group app, met some amazing people that I am still friends with today, and watched as they all successfully added up the days. Me? I would get so far, then cave, then drop off the app in shame, then eventually go back and repeat the cycle all over again. It wasn’t until I got fed up with feeling bad about myself and retreated to do it on my own that I finally got somewhere. Sure, I didn’t get to celebrate my milestones…but you know what I did get to do? I got to mess up. I could be imperfect, and I didn’t have to worry about letting anyone down. It removed the shame from the equation. Eventually, I realized that I didn’t really want to smoke anymore, and it was easy. But I had to take a different approach, one that differed greatly from everyone else that I saw doing it. I am a rule follower, so it was hard for me, but the point is, it’s working for me. Some things I have to do on my own.

And that’s kind of where I am at with this other stuff I am working on. I’m trying to sort through this newest layer of me I am discovering, and the best way I can do that is by retreating, seeing what’s there, and figuring out how best to proceed. I know there was a heart-felt post a week or so ago when I was in turmoil, and that is pretty standard stuff for me- the start of a new endeavor is painful and overwhelming, but then…I get to work, and the pain recedes, and the possibilities start to make themselves known. I’m an active work in progress- these are not just words, I am doing the work, every day, and right now it feels good. When I fully understand what it is that is happening, I know I will share it with you all. For now, I am just discovering. But the fear is gone, the pain is gone. So that is good.

I have been fulfilling my promise to myself for April- meeting my step goal daily, exercising, going to the gym, tracking my food. I have been journaling, which is new for me, but I like it. I have been keeping up on the house, wiping counters and folding laundry, hoping that if I keep at it, it will become second nature to me. And I have been working really hard at my job, being more productive, consistently, than I have been in years. AND, I decided to do Camp NaNo, which is just for fun, but thanks to my competitive spirit, it really does keep me writing daily. So, because I am doing all of these things that are important to me I feel pretty good about myself. It also seems to make more space in my head to think about other things, rather than worrying about the same old shit all the time. It’s nice to be mulling over new shit for once. 🙂

All of this that I have written is just my way of explaining why I haven’t been blogging quite as much. There are only so many hours in a day, and I’d much rather come here when I have something of value to share than just ramble on about nothing like I do sometimes. Life is happening, and I feel like…more and more, I am waking up to it. Today, that seems exciting rather than terrifying. I’d call that a win, wouldn’t you?

Posted in Addiction, anxiety, faith, inner peace, Learning, Life, Mental Health, recovery, spirituality, twelve step

In The Middle

the middle
Photo courtesy of Google and Simplereminders.com

In April of 2015, I unwittingly started out on a journey. I thought that I was just getting clean- that I would stop using drugs, get right in the head, and live happily ever after. I could foresee nothing but sunshine and better days ahead of me, and I blindly forged ahead, completely unprepared for what I was getting myself into.

Don’t get me wrong, I am 100% sure that I am right where I am supposed to be, and that I have never done more important work than the work I am doing on myself today. But I am right in the middle of it right now, and it is hard. I am tired. I have peeled away so many layers that I spent years and years building up, all to protect this fucked up little heart of mine, and now I feel…over it. I want to retreat. I don’t want to use, never that, but I just want to go back. I want to go back to being oblivious and unaware of myself, back to just living my life and not thinking so hard about who I am, why I am the way I am, who I want to be.

I had no idea what a mess I really am. None. I didn’t know I was insecure, I didn’t know I didn’t love myself, I didn’t realize I was constantly seeking outside approval to feel validated. I didn’t know how much of my self worth was wrapped up in my appearance, I didn’t know that I had no idea how to exist in a healthy relationship, and I didn’t know that I was so terrified of being vulnerable that I had essentially cut myself off from everyone who tried to get or stay close to me. I thought I was a really awesome girl who just had a drug problem.

So this is the hard part. Now I know all of those things, but I haven’t figured out how to fix them just yet. I have to sit here, with all of this painful knowledge, and I haven’t learned yet how to heal, how to repair it. My suspicion is that it is a process, and that it will take time to get to a place where I can feel okay again, and this is the worst news possible for someone who loves instant gratification as much as I do. When something is uncomfortable for me, I will go to great lengths to feel better again- which might be why I poured drugs into my system for such a long time. I didn’t know it was a band-aid over a gaping wound. I didn’t even know I was doing it to hide a problem. I thought the drugs WERE the problem, and that the problem just happened to make me feel really good. For a minute, anyway.

I have heard people talk about the agony of waking up to the truth, and I thought they were being dramatic. I thought the truth they were talking about was something else- the way the world around us is, or something…else. But waking up to who you are, who you REALLY are, is terrifying. I mean, unless you somehow managed to make it through life without hiding parts of yourself away and losing other parts, and realizing you missed some pretty important bits of information. If that is who you are, this blog probably won’t make a lot of sense to you. And I realize that not everyone has to tear themselves down to the dirt and start over. But I had to. And right now I feel pretty raw, pretty exposed.

So, here I sit. Tired of feeling all of these feelings, but pretty sure I have to do it. Coming to terms with the fact that the only way forward is through. Trying hard to have faith that I am on the right path, even though it is scaring the shit out of me presently. I can’t un-see what I have seen in myself. I can’t ever go back, so I have two choices- I can stay right here, or I can press on. And the thing is, right here is not sustainable. Have you ever lost a filling in a tooth? You know how it feels when that nerve is exposed to everything, even air? Yeah, it hurts. It hurts so much that you get over your fear of the dentist pretty quick, and figure out a way to get that cavity fixed. Well, that’s a great analogy for my life right now. I dug out that bad filling, and even though I needed it gone, it was making me sick, right now it is painful. I just want to fix it the right way this time.

I am not without hope. I have the benefit of my recovery program, I have a few people who really love me and understand, I have a sponsor who guides me when I let her, and most importantly, I have myself, willing to do the work to get better. No, most importantly, I have unshakable faith that God, or The Universe, or a spectacular combination of all of these benevolent forces, has brought me here for a reason. That there is no way for me to fail at this, but I must be patient. I must be willing to sit here, in this uncomfortable, painful place until I have learned what I need to know. And then, I can begin to put myself back together again…or maybe that is what I am doing. Maybe that’s what all this really is.