Tag Archives: change

The Fleeting Nature of Life

I have changed by leaps and bounds over the past two and a half years. Some of it was just by nature of staying off of drugs and letting my brain heal, but a lot of it was intentional and through hard, hard work, deep soul-searching, and honest reflection about the kind of person I am and who I want to be.

I am doing the recovery stuff- working with my sponsor, doing step-work, going to meetings. I am doing spiritual stuff- daily prayer and meditation. I have a therapist, I pay attention to my behavior, and try to reign it in when the way I am acting doesn’t jibe with the person I know I can be.

But nothing- and I mean NOTHING- can shake you up, nothing can clear the cobwebs out of your eyes, like the sudden loss of someone you love. I have never been more heartbroken in my life than I have since last August. That was when I lost my friend Joe, whom I loved so much more than I can even begin to explain, and even if I did, it wouldn’t make sense. That’s okay, though. Love doesn’t need to make sense, right? I always think about the way that most people get on my nerves, their frail human side is always coming to light, ruining everything. His never did. He never got on my nerves, like, not ever that I can remember. I am not trying to say that he didn’t have a bad side, that he never disappointed me or hurt my feelings, because he definitely did. He was just so easy for me to forgive. I wish I could love more people that way, but I haven’t yet (aside, of course, from my kids, but that is a different kind of thing altogether).

Anyway, he died. And it was one of the hardest days of my life, one of the worst phone calls I have ever survived. I remember that my knees just buckled, and I fell on the floor, the tears came in a torrent, and the grief was immediate and overwhelming. There have been lots of tears since then, and lots of times that I am totally fine. I can think of him or talk about him, and it makes me smile or laugh, no tears at all. As long as, you know, I don’t think too hard about what I am saying.

But what has happened as a result of him dying is, I have changed. I thought he was invincible. I know how stupid that sounds, but if you’d ever met Joe, you would understand why.  So, now that he is gone, I guess I view everything with more urgency, through the scope, I suppose, of someone who understands that life as I know it could change in an instant.

You might think that this would make me fearful, or hold on even more tightly to everything than I already do, but no…in a way, it has been a gift. Because I have had to face the fact that there is absolutely nothing I can do about some things. When it is your time, it is your time, plain and simple. Rather than making me cling to everything, I find myself learning to let go. Life is short. You had better enjoy every beautiful moment that makes itself available to you. Tell people you love them. Dance, be present, look up at the stars and the moon in the beautiful sky. Slow down. Say yes when you want to, and no when you should.

Don’t waste a bunch of time on petty anger, rushing through your day, always trying to get to the next thing, the next thing, the next thing. Take a moment to realize that this, right now, is your life. It is happening NOW. Maybe you are lucky, like me, and you are still relatively young, and your whole body works the way it is supposed to, and you can basically do anything you want to do. Do you realize how lucky that makes you? Don’t waste it. Don’t waste a single minute of it.

And that is all I have to say about that today. Carry on.

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It’s ALL in Your Head

its all in your head

 

I’m just going to go ahead and warn you right now- if you are not in the right place to hear what I am about to say, it’s going to irritate the piss out of you. It has been my experience that, when I am being negative as fuck, the last thing I want to hear is someone telling me that maybe I should change my attitude. Also, if you are suffering from legit mental illness (and really, aren’t we all, to some extent), I mean, severe depression, etc., then you are excluded. But for the rest of us, the whiners, complainers, procrastinators, and the “I feel fucked over” population, this is for you. For US, actually, since I am right there with you most of the time.

I don’t know exactly when it started for me, but I suspect it was somewhere in my mid-30’s, when I began to feel this sort of pervasive dissatisfaction with my life. Weirdly enough, if I had to point out a distinct portion of my life as the beginning, it would be around the time that everything settled down for me and stopped being so completely chaotic. You would think, wouldn’t you, that once things stopped being so messy they started feeling better, right? Not in my case. Perhaps I was so used to the chaos and upheaval that, once the dust settled, it didn’t feel very exciting anymore. I think I have written about this in the past, the way I love a good challenge, and overcoming obstacles is so gratifying for me. I have dubbed it “The Phoenix Syndrome” because I get off on rising from the ashes.

But you can only burn your life to the ground so many times before it becomes exhausting. I am 42 years old now, and the thought of starting over, picking up the pieces after wrecking everything myself- it holds a lot less appeal to me. I have evolved into this strange creature who pays her bills on time, and watches carefully her processed food intake. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that I used drugs made partially from Drano, for Pete’s sake, and now I worry about the saturated fat content in a burger. Sigh. I am laughing about this now, but only because it’s true, and super weird.

So, my life settled down, and my mind began to change, and somewhere along the way, instead of just enjoying all the blessings of this incredible life I was living- clean, employed, blessed with a beautiful family, a nice house, enough of everything I needed- a little voice in my head started bitching, complaining, and feeling put out about everything, and it’s tenacity is astonishing.

This little voice never wants to do anything, and I mean anything- except of course, the opposite of whatever it is I happen to be doing at the time. If I am sitting on the couch, blissfully indulging in a Netflix marathon of Ghost Whisperer, the little voice is haranguing me because I really ought to be doing: The dishes, the laundry, or some type of meaningful interaction with my kid. Okay, so maybe the little voice is right. However, should I give in to the little voice, here is what inevitably happens: As I do the dishes, or the laundry,  the little voice will then say something like this: “You spend your whole life doing things you don’t want to do- when is it time for YOU, Courtney?” Or, in case I am playing Go Fish with the spawn, it says “You should really move this along. You could be doing something productive right now.”

In short, the little voice’s mission seems to be to make me as miserable as possible, no matter what I am doing. And, check it out, I am not talking about a psychotic break here. These are not disembodied voices that are barking directions at me. No, this voice sounds an awful lot like me, and I am nothing if not convincing. Much of the time, I buy into that shit, 100%.

And that is too bad, you know? Because the truth is, I deserve to enjoy my life. Every one of us do, to be honest. It is our God given right to be happy in this lifetime, however that looks to you. But every single time we listen to that shitty voice in our heads, we are bound to feel the opposite of happy.

So, what are you supposed to do about it? Well, this is the tricky part where I start trying to give advice about something that I haven’t mastered expertly just yet. I do well for a while, and then I backslide a little, start listening again. But I do know a little bit. Like, for instance, start noticing it. Start really paying attention to the thoughts in your head, hearing the critical voice when it starts talking. Because when you are aware of it, you can have a conversation with it. Your mind may say “You are so lazy. Everyone else keeps their dishes done, what is wrong with you?” And you can say, “I work my ass off all week long, I am the furthest thing from lazy, I am dealing with the loss of Jim right now (Ghost Whisperer reference, sorry), go away. I will deal with the dishes later.” You are allowed to defend yourself, even to yourself. My only advice to you here is that you have this conversation internally, unless you are home alone. People do tend to become concerned when you are having frustrated, one-sided conversations with yourself out loud.

Another thing you can do to combat this is to notice the tone of your thoughts, and, when they are negative and critical, redirect them. This happened to me yesterday, actually, when I was faced with the task of working in my enormous, weed filled yard. It was hot, and there was so much work to do, and I am not a big fan of manual labor of any sort. I started thinking about how much I wanted to be inside, doing nothing, and how shitty it was that I had to work all week and then spend my time off doing something I hated. And THEN, I looked around me. I was spending a sunny afternoon in my own yard, and people who loved me gave up time out of their busy lives to come help me, for free, clean up my yard. There was music playing, and kids laughing, and we got so much done! Suddenly, as I stood there, bent over at the waist, shoes and gloves full of fox tails, I broke through the spell that negativity had cast on me, and I could see the truth.

I was actually having a perfect day. I just had to be able to see it. Changing the conversation we have with ourselves, in our heads, is not easy, it is not quick, and it is not permanent. Like everything else worth achieving in life, it takes a lot of effort. But there are days now when I can nip it in the bud the minute it starts, and I always, always end up having a better time. I would guess that 90% of our experience of life is in the way we view it. If you let that little voice have too much power, you will not be able to enjoy anything. You could win an all expense paid, ten day trip to Disney World, and spend the whole time upset by how long the lines are for the rides, or worrying about your dogs back home.

So, basically- Pay attention to your thoughts. Listen to the way you are speaking to yourself. If your thoughts are lame, change them- you are not only allowed to do this, you are the only one who can. If the way you are speaking to yourself is shit, correct it. Don’t let your head talk to you in a way that you would never tolerate another person to. Remember, you are in charge of which thoughts you believe- it may not seem like it, but it’s true. The more you redirect yourself, the easier it becomes.

That’s it, that’s all I’ve got. Have a wonderful day!

 

Two Years Later

butterfly

 

No, this isn’t a reference to how long it’s been since the last time I posted, although it does seem that way. I just checked, and my last post was a mere four months ago. It was about election related stuff, though, and unrelated to what my primary goal of this blog claims to be- stories about a woman with a drug problem, trying to get her shit straight. If you go allll the way back to the beginning of this blog (I’m not recommending you do this, there is a lot of embarrassing stuff in there that I don’t even like to read) you will see that I have had lots of struggle with addiction, times when I had the upper hand, and times when drugs were kicking my ass. It’s all there. One thing no one can accuse me of is shying away from the truth. What I can almost always guarantee you is that.

I spent a LOT of time writing through the bad times, but for some reason, I slowed way down when things got better. I have been thinking lately that that isn’t fair. Everyone who struggles with addiction knows how it feels to struggle. Not everyone knows what life on the other side of that looks like. Here, I have the perfect opportunity to share my story with people, and I have been keeping it all to myself. Maybe no one gives a shit, I don’t know…but maybe one person will read this and feel a little more hopeful, and a little less like giving up.

After years and years and years of yo-yo recovery (she’s clean- nope, she’s relapsed…wait, clean agai-noooope, etc.), this past May, I picked up my two year coin. Over the past two years, I have struggled with many things, but the desire to use drugs has never been one of them. I have thought about drugs- I think about them in a myriad of ways, probably daily- but I have never wanted to use them, not once. I am going to just go ahead and admit right now, though, how little this has to do with my likelihood of using them. Many times I have relapsed with zero desire to use, but, finding myself in a particular state, gripped by the need to feel something other than the way I currently felt, I have, against my own will, gotten high. I know how crazy this sounds, but that’s kind of how you know you’re an addict. Your whole life is a series of events where you keep doing shit you have no desire to do, or even a burning desire not to do them. That’s just another fun filled day in the life of an addict.

So, as relieved as I have been to no longer have the desire to use, I had to change a lot of other stuff so that I didn’t find myself in that particular state that made me likely to use against my will. What are the things I had to change? Oh, just everything I hated about myself. No big deal. With no idea how to go about it, or even what it was, exactly, that I really hated. I had a few things to go on- one thing I finally realized the last time I got clean was that my behavior towards others, and even towards myself, was keeping me sick. Every time I screamed at my kids or tore down my ex, every time I looked at myself with such loathing, I was perpetuating a terrible and negative cycle that was keeping me sick. I wish I could say that I had this epiphany, and BOOM! I changed over night. That isn’t really how this works.

What I did do was, I stopped giving up just because I “failed”. Can you imagine if everyone gave up on everything the first time they didn’t get it right? Yeah, that’s not how most humans operate. Except, I’m an addict, always looking for immediate gratification, so this did not come naturally to me. But I kept at it. In the beginning, to be honest, there wasn’t much improvement besides the fact that I wasn’t high as a kite anymore. That’s because my drug of choice is a neurotoxin, and my brain was…how can I put this delicately? Fucking fried. I was still yelling at my kids, finding it hard to cope with life, unable to manage my finances, overwhelmed by things that came easily to other people. But I had hope, and I kept trying. Eventually, I started to be able to hear myself, and catch myself, and stop myself before the trouble started. Let’s not get the wrong idea, here. I still have a temper and a mouth that is faster than my rational brain, but it’s much, much better.

It took the better part of a year- maybe longer- for my brain to heal adequately so that I could relax and start really enjoying my recovery. Of course, I felt incrementally better month after month, I didn’t wake up one morning and discover I was human again. Recovery, in whatever form you do it, takes time. During that time of learning to manage my behavior, I was also dealing with the immediate wreckage my drug use had caused in my life and the lives of those I loved. Rebuilding trust with my kids. Dealing with my own guilt and shame. Learning how to move forward in spite of the pain I carried- and maybe will always carry- around with me.

But there is more, and I suspect, there will always be more. You clear away one layer of debris, and there is so much more work to be done, a whole new layer underneath. The most significant change in all of this was my attitude. Because I learned, through trial and error, and through working with my sponsor, that it feels so good to deal with the issues popping up- I find myself willing and eager to keep at it.

In the past year, I have started dealing with other things- my finances, my credit, my household, my parenting skills. I am learning how to have boundaries, and how to respect myself. I have even finally learned, at 42, how to take care of my body (not, like, shower. I have always done that, thank you), as in eating healthily, and exercising. I continue to work on my meditation practice, and pray daily. I go to meetings, and I have a support group I can turn to outside of meetings.

I could not have imagined, at the beginning of all of this, that I could have come this far in just two years. When I finally waved the white flag the final time, all I wanted was to stop hating myself, to stop letting that hatred spill out on the people around me. That was it. What I wound up getting was so much more. I might not always adore myself, but I am certainly not ashamed of myself on a daily basis. I don’t lay in bed at night filled with regret over everything I said and did in the day behind me. I am more loving, more patient, more aware of what I am putting out into the world.

So, if you are just starting out, keep going. Two years is not that long, in the bigger picture, to get your life back and then some. And the journey is amazing. Keep going. As they say- Don’t leave five minutes before the miracle happens.

Starting Today

women

 

It has been 87 million years since I have written a blog, mostly because I have been busy living my life, and Facebook has satisfied my need for attention and approval in a more immediate way. Ha! Also, ever since my brain has kind of healed from all the drugs I damaged it with, I find that I don’t feel as compelled to use my blog as therapy the way I once did. I have an actual therapist for that. But, this past few weeks, I’ve been itching to write a blog, and this morning, I almost had no choice.

Something has happened-you may or may not have noticed- but there is this guy from Celebrity Apprentice taking the place of Obama in the White House. I don’t know about you, but I find this very upsetting. Like, VERY upsetting. Not to mention scary as fuck. But I don’t want to go into all of the reasons it’s upsetting, scary, enraging, fucking backwards, and plain out wrong. If you live near a television, have the internet, can read, and have a whit of sense, you have already figured all that out. If you aren’t scared, upset, and enraged, then there’s no explaining it to you, anyway. Trust me, I have TRIED. And you are probably reading the WRONG fucking blog.

I have thinned out my friends on Facebook, deleting a bunch, unfollowing some that I couldn’t bear to delete. It took me a long time to do this. For a while, I thought I could convince people with facts, appeals to their common sense, or, failing that, their common decency. That didn’t work. So lets not go into how upsetting it is to realize that some people, people I thought were smart and good, kind of shattered that illusion by supporting Trump. Because, I’m sorry…if you support someone who has no respect for women,who is racist, who lies every time their mouth opens, who mocks the disabled, who believes sexual assault is okay, who…you know what? I’m going to stop the list there, and just say, if you support someone who embodies those terrible qualities, you are supporting those qualities. And that makes me think less of you. I can’t help it. But that’s not what I want to talk about, either.

As disgusted as I am over everything that is happening in our government right now, I have had some strange and hopeful thoughts about it, and I want to share them with you. They are sort of new to me, so hopefully, writing them out will help them make more sense to me, too. First of all, I’m kind of grateful for this past election season. It was awful. It made me madder and more disgusted than I have ever been in my life. It was a total shit show. But you know what? I paid attention, I REALLY paid attention, for the first time in my life. And because I was paying attention, I learned. I learned a lot of things, not the least of which was this: I learned what my values are. I learned what really matters to me. I learned that I am a feminist, that I believe in equality, TRULY, and that I am a bleeding heart fucking liberal, and proud of it. If Trump hadn’t run, and hadn’t been such a side show, I might not have ever learned about who I was. So something good kind of came of it, right? I mean, I have talked to a lot of people, and so many of them have learned so much about themselves and their values through this. We have discussed it with wonder on our faces- “Wow. I am REALLY a feminist! Thanks, Trump.” (We don’t say that last part. Give me a break.)

Anyway, my really weird thought is this: What if this is happening exactly the way it is supposed to? We just had eight easy, comfortable, happy, relatively peaceful years with the Obama’s. We could relax, for the most part. We took for granted that our rights were our rights, and no one was messing with anything. Then Trump won. I still don’t get it, but it happened. And everyone freaked out- especially here in California, where I live. I mean, we are pissed off! The world we thought we were living in got shaken to the core. And out of the deep rifts that resulted came a lot of ugly, nasty stuff. Racist, hateful shit popping up all over the country like festering boils. “Oh my God!” we thought, “Look what Trump has caused!” And it would be easy to blame him, because, lets face it, we just don’t like him. He’s a horrible person. But the truth? That stuff has been there, all along. He, much the way a hot compress on a boil brings all the shit to the surface, just brought it out into the light. And you know what happens when you expose the worst things to the light of day? You can deal with them head on.

I have never before been a political person, let alone any kind of an activist. I have learned a lot recently, but not as much as I need to know. I can tell a fake news story from the facts, usually, and I know where to look if I am having doubts. But there is much to learn. Today, I will be taking part in the Women’s March, here in my town, much like women are doing all over the world. And I am stoked to be doing it. But I also want to help in more meaningful ways. I want to protect my rights, and the rights of others, in a more direct way. And I don’t know exactly how to do that. However, I am willing to learn. And I have lots and lots and lots of friends who are just like me- they didn’t know, before, that these things mattered to them, but now they do, and they are pissed off, passionate, brilliant, and full of piss and vinegar. I almost feel sorry for the Trump administration. Almost.

There are a few things that Americans do so well in times of crisis. We come together, and we fight like motherfuckers. Today, I am going out to find my people, and get ready for whatever comes next. Look out, world.

 

28 Day Jumpstart ( Day 8)

fit girls

About a week and a half ago, I was messing around on Instagram (Sometimes I find myself scrounging around there when all the good stuff on Facebook has been exhausted) and somehow or another, I stumbled upon an entry about the Fitgirlsguide plan. Maybe I had seen it before, I don’t know. But on this particular day, I must have been especially bored, because I started searching all the tags for this program, and it must have been early in the morning, because after very little thought, I purchased the “starter kit” plan, the 28 day jumpstart. I generally only impulse buy very early in the morning, or, on rare occasions, late at night. Anyway, if you are curious about it, you can check it out here:

fitgirlsguide 28 day jumpstart

I downloaded the e-book, read through it, and thought “Hmm…I might actually be able to do this.” The more I read, the more I was convinced that this was something that would really help me- and trust me, my own best efforts were falling a little bit short- lose some of the weight I was so bummed out about carrying around. So, last Sunday, I went to the grocery store with my little grocery list (included with the plan) and I bought all the suggested items. I went to the dollar store and bought a bunch of cheap “tupperware” (it’s early, I can’t think of another description except “plastic food container thingies”), and that night, I actually prepped my food.

Now, here I sit, a week later, and I want to tell you a little not-really-a-secret secret: It was actually pretty easy. And I lost a little over four pounds. In a week. Did I mention it was easy? I’m not sure how much about the plan I can actually reveal, as it IS a pay for the info kind of thing, but here is what it consists of- a healthy, yummy, easy to prepare, weekly menu. The aforementioned grocery lists. Daily home (no gym required) exercises. And lots of sound advice about attitude, drinking water, loving yourself, and having fun while changing your lifestyle, rather than viewing it as a horrible consequence of enjoying food.

Here is what I have learned in the past week:

  • I eat a LOT more often than I am hungry, just because there is food available. I snatch bites from my kids plates because it looks yummy, or finish their food because it’s there. I sample whatever is on the counter in the kitchen at work brought in to share. I eat when I am bored. I eat when people I am visiting with are eating. I eat because food tastes good and it is there. I was eating WAY more than I realized before.
  • It doesn’t take as long as I thought to prepare healthy meals for myself. As a matter of fact, if you have all of the ingredients on hand, it’s cheaper, faster, and leaves you feeling MUCH better than running to McDonald’s for a double cheeseburger.
  • I DO feel like an idiot working out on my living room floor, but much less so on day seven than I did on day one. And there is something very gratifying about knowing you are doing something about your weight, no matter how stupid you feel.
  • Not only was I eating much more than I realized, but my eating choices- even when I thought they were good- were much worse than I realized. I wasn’t eating the correct portions, and was allowing myself WAY too many extras. Hence, the reason I wasn’t losing weight the way I thought I should be.

Having said all of that, I will tell you a couple of other things that happened last week. One of them is that I didn’t follow the meal plan exactly- the first three days I was perfect with the food, but on day three, I was supposed to meal prep again, and I just didn’t want to. So, instead, I prepared either the exact meal, or a variation of that meal each day.  I made the shocking discovery that a sandwich can be absolutely fantastic without mayo! Who knew that? Not me. A little whole wheat pita with mashed avocado and turkey, onion and tomato? On POINT. So delicious.

I stayed with the basic ingredients I had purchased, I stayed within the basic portions recommended, I continued to track my calories on Myfitnesspal, and I did the exercises, every single day. Most days, I even did extra. And the results have been fantastic!

The only thing I found I could not, would not, did not want to do was this: I am not giving up the cream and sugar in my coffee. I tried it for one day, and all I can say is- Fuck that. No. So I compromised by drastically cutting back on coffee, adding only two tablespoons of fat free half and half per cup, and one tiny teaspoon of brown sugar. Because, lets be real here- I’m trying to be healthy, happy, and lose weight. Giving up my yummy coffee would not make me a happy girl.

So, that’s the scoop! The plan costs only about 25 bucks, and the groceries (for one person) have cost me about 70 dollars a week. This is a GREAT program for anyone who needs a little structure, and who is just learning about eating healthy, correct, portions and proper exercise circuits. I have learned more for this 25 bucks than I have learned in six months (and way, way more money) from my personal trainer at InShape. He and I are going to have a few words tonight!

Check it out, kids! I will post again about this next Monday. Have a great week!

Chasing Waterfalls

waterfalls

 

My Beautiful Daughter-

Ever since we talked, yesterday, I have been walking around with this terrible ache in my heart. When you told me, weeks ago, that you were planning on moving hundreds of miles away from me…well, honestly? I dismissed it as a flighty, temporary, whim of yours. I didn’t worry, because I didn’t think it was real. But yesterday, when you told me it was happening, that you were leaving in a month, it really started to sink in.

I’m sorry if I seemed angry. I know I pointed out all the reasons it was a terrible idea, when all you wanted was my blessing. My support. I guess the truth is, I was never really angry…the truth is, I am sad. You are so much more than just my kid. You are also one of my favorite people on the planet, and, besides your sister, the only family I have here. The truth is, I will just miss you terribly.

That isn’t all of it, though. The bigger truth here is that it is selfish of me to withhold encouragement, to squelch your excitement, when you are doing exactly what a girl your age should do, in my opinion. You are spreading your wings, finally, being the brave girl I have always known you to be. I am so proud of you for that.

Here’s another thing- you don’t need my approval. You are an adult now, and you are free to do whatever it is that you want to do. I might not always like it, but I will always, always, always love you. So don’t worry about how I feel about things. Just know that I will come around, if I can, and even if I don’t, I am still your mom. I will love you fiercely.

I’m sorry for telling you that you were making a huge mistake. The fact of the matter is, I have no idea if that is true or not. That was just my own fear talking, and I hope you never avoid doing what you love out of fear. That is no way to live. You know what? A huge part of what makes life great is taking risks (you know, reasonable risks) (Okay, that was just scared mom again) and seeing what happens. Making mistakes is also a big part of living a wonderful life…it means you are trying things. I don’t want you to live a boring little cookie cutter life. I want you to do exactly what you are doing. I really do.

I was listening to the old TLC song “Don’t go Chasing Watefalls” on my way home this morning, and I realized something. I DO want you to chase waterfalls. You absolutely should NOT stick to the rivers and lakes you are used to. What fun would that be? Just, you know, wear good shoes, and maybe a life vest. That’s all I’m asking. See the world. Have fun. Dream big. LIVE big. You deserve the big WOW that life can be.

The most important thing of all for you to know is this: No matter what happens, I am here. And I love you. And you can always, always, always come home. That offer will never expire.  I will always pick up the phone when you call. I will be here when you need me. I will leave the light on for you.So go out into the world and do great things. I will be here, cheering you on.

Love, Mom

Safety

safety

 

As an addict, no matter what your drug of choice is, no matter whether you are using or not, one of our commonalities is that we generally crave safety. We crave it as much, really, as we crave whatever we are putting in our bodies, or whatever fucked up thing we are doing to change the way we feel. Because any addict can tell you that, eventually, you don’t really get high anymore. Nope, that rush from the beginning flees quickly. What we really want is safety. Distance from our feelings, some space from our self loathing, to shut up the voice inside of us that will not let us be- the one that tells us how stupid, and useless, and lacking we are. We just want some relief from whatever it is that haunts us, and the addict knows the fastest way to get there. Of course, this is WAY oversimplifying it, but in essence, this is the truth- you don’t want to hear about brain chemistry, genetics, and compulsive disorders, anyway, I bet. And if you do, you should probably talk to someone else, as I am just a drug addict with some experience, not a doctor.

Now, I know what I have said- that addicts are seeking safety- sounds completely the opposite of what an addicts life looks like. I realize that. But think about this for a second…all the stories of the way addicts lie, the way they manipulate everything in their environment. Yeah, that is terrible. And by the way, it’s exhausting, too. But what is that really, more than an attempt to create a world where we have some semblance of control over our surroundings? Sure, it is misguided and horrible, but when you are so helpless in every other way, the only thing you can do, out of desperation, is to try to create some type of order out of the chaos. To know what to expect. To have some feeling of safety, we manipulate. You have to remember, an addict in the trenches of their disease is desperate, and desperate people on drugs do not have the ability to see how insane their actions and choices are. They literally are not in their right minds. They just want to survive.

Now, here’s the thing: It doesn’t start off like this. No one starts off in this desperate state. I always, when thinking of my own story, refer to my disease starting up at the age of 19, but that isn’t even true. The truth is, I discovered my drug of choice at the age of 19, but I started putting drugs in my body long before that- sure, it was just smoking weed and drinking, but I was 13. I had low self esteem, I had a weird life, and I just wanted to fit in. The best idea I could come up with, having a limited set of options, was to get high. And it worked for me. I found no shortage of kids just like myself with whom to surround myself, and I created a persona out of all of that, so that I could fit in somewhere. I had no idea what kind of game I was playing. How could I have? And not everyone was destined to wind up like me, either. That’s the funny thing about it- you are rolling the dice, and you don’t even know it. Many of my friends were able to put it down and walk away. But a lot of them- a lot- were not.

Because I was so young when I started down this path, I had no experience with the way “normal” people lived. I didn’t understand how controlling I was, whether I was clean or not, or how emotionally volatile I was. I had no idea that my behavior was a major issue, preventing me from being happy, either on or off of drugs. I can tell you this, though- the minute I realized that my drug use had become nothing more than a symptom of a far bigger problem, my life changed. It took me a really long time to get there. A really long time. I went through treatment, well into adulthood, twice, and had years clean (after which I relapsed again and again) before I got it. On drugs, my behavior was terrible. Off drugs, my behavior was terrible, and it lead me back to drugs, to make me care less about my terrible behavior. I had to come to this understanding on my own. I just wasn’t hearing it from anyone, or any place else. I am not saying it wasn’t taught to me, that no one ever mentioned it. I just wasn’t able to hear it.

This is still a struggle for me. Even knowing what I now believe to be true- that my own behavior can make or break me- I struggle to break the old habits, to find new ways to deal with my feelings, ways that are not so damaging to me, or to others. I spent a lot of years being one person, so it makes sense that being someone else is hard. But I know it is vital that I do. I don’t want to use drugs anymore, but I still behave like an addict sometimes, whether I show it or not. That person is sitting inside of me, commenting on far too many things. I am, and will always be, a work in progress.

Addicts are also very contrary people. We know what we want, and we do the opposite. Our intentions don’t always match our actions. We want to do right, but often find ourselves doing wrong. We have huge egos, and low self esteem. We say one thing and do another. We are often very smart, and live stupidly. We dream of a safe, happy life, and do everything in our power to make sure we never get there. It makes no sense to you, and it makes no sense to the addict who is living it. That is the terrible truth.

Addicts, whether we are clean or not, want what every breathing person wants. To be safe. But our fight is a little different. We carry our biggest obstacle with us everywhere that we go. The face that looks back at us in the mirror is often our greatest enemy. The battle we fight is with ourselves, over and over and over.

You may wonder why I come back to this subject again and again, why I identify so strongly with this part of me. And my answer is- because this is still the biggest part of me. Even though I am clean, the fight is the same. The person I am fighting, and the thing I fight against, and all of the little flare ups I have, they all come from the addict in me. I have a voice, and I want to explain it to the world, so that maybe you can understand an addict in your life, or yourself, a little better. But I am no longer afraid, and I am not sad, and I don’t feel sorry for myself. I feel glad that I have named my enemy, and, even if it is a life long fight…at least I have the tools I need to do my work against it.

And that makes me feel a little safer. I sleep better, knowing that.

 

Thoughts on my former ass, and other things that no longer exist.

my former ass

Once upon a time, I was young. I was so young that I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be thirty, or have stretch marks, or empathy for other human beings. I was so young, I never had weird hairs growing out of my neck or my nipples, but if I had, my sharp young eagle eyes would have caught them before they were long enough to grab with my finger nails.

I miss being that young, sometimes, and not just because of the weird hairs or the funky pair of lines between my eyebrows that make me look angry even when I am not…I miss it because I miss the ignorant, self centered, shallow bliss of being the girl I was.

That girl didn’t even care how stupid she probably looked, always half crocked on something, running around, making a spectacle of herself. She didn’t even know she was an idiot. She thought she was cute all the time. That girl didn’t care about the taxes coming out of her paycheck,  or how stupid all the candidates running for president were. She didn’t get into long, useless, political arguments with her friends on Facebook. There was no Facebook. And it was good.

Even if I didn’t have a parenthood and job induced curfew, I would probably still go to bed before nine. Nothing exciting happens after nine- if my phone rings that late at night, I wonder a) who is drunk, and b) who died. That is what goes through my head when my phone rings after I am in bed. The twenty five year old me didn’t bother going out until after nine- NO ONE was out that early.

The young me didn’t worry about how I looked naked. I wanted people to see me naked. I looked that good. Now? I don’t even like to sneak up on myself naked. I wish I was kidding.

Eh, but who am I kidding? That girl was cute and all, but she was a bona fide mess. And most of the people I let see me naked didn’t even deserve to. Although, I’m glad there are references I can provide who can verify how awesome my ass used to be. Because I was trying to tell my trainer about it last night, and I could tell he didn’t believe me. If any of you have a picture of my former ass, can you send it to me? I need to show him.

Anyway, that is what I am thinking about right now. Aren’t you glad I shared it with you?

 

What I’ve Learned, Lately

lessons

I don’t care how old you are, life is nothing if not a constant set of lessons. I am going to share with you some of the things I have learned, lately:

1.) I am better off if I don’t react to my first impulse, no matter what the situation. Unless, you know, something is on fire or something.

I am a very emotional person. I almost always have feelings about things before I have many thoughts about them. What I have learned is, the best possible outcome is usually achieved when I allow myself some time to think things through before discussing anything. When I am very heated about a situation, attacking it on the spot is generally just that- an attack- and it tends not to end well. This isn’t exactly rocket science, but it’s truly a new thing for me…I am the queen of the knee jerk reaction, always blowing up before I have any business opening my mouth.

2.) When you overreact to something, it winds up being about your behavior, rather than the thing you are objecting to.

Say your boyfriend cheats on you. That is a really terrible, painful thing. So, when he comes home at two a.m., and you rush outside as he is getting out of his car, and he jumps back in his car and locks himself in, just in time to avoid getting a concussion with the bat you are swinging at his head, and you proceed to beat his car until it can’t rightfully be called a car anymore…when the police come, and all of your neighbors are outside watching you get handcuffed, guess who this about now?

Okay, this was a terrible (but super fun) analogy, but you get what I’m saying- when you go over the top in your response, and behave badly, it almost inevitably turns into a situation where you are left feeling bad about how you handled yourself, and whatever it was you were objecting to gets lost in the mess.  Try to keep some dignity, whatever the cost. If that isn’t possible, seethe in silence until you calm down a little- and you will calm down. Which leads me to:

3.) Feelings Change.

This is closely linked to number one, but not the same. In the first instance, I recommend waiting to react, at least outwardly, and thinking. But here, what I have learned is that, not only should I wait, and think, but I have discovered that when I do this, a lot of times what I thought I felt wasn’t true at all. Give yourself a minute. You will be surprised at how different your feelings are after a good nights sleep or a weekend off. Shit changes, and fast.

4.) Having said all of that, I have also found that dealing with things directly, no matter how awkward it might be, is exactly the right thing to do.

A few months back, I decided to get a roommate, who is also a friend of mine. I was smart enough to know that I have a hard time living with people, and so I told her that we should aim for six months, and if that went well, then, no longer than a year. Within two months, I started to feel overwhelmed and less excited about the whole thing- but it was a really hard subject to broach. I didn’t want her to think I didn’t like her, or that she had done anything wrong, because that wasn’t it. I simply don’t like having roommates. But I didn’t say anything, because I thought maybe I was just adjusting and I would get over it. So, I went to Hawaii, and while I was there, I thought a lot about it. I still wasn’t really sure, though, until I was turning the corner to my house on my way back home, and suddenly, I was just bummed out that I had to face people in my home when I returned. I KNEW in that moment that I had to talk to her.

I waited until the moment seemed right, and I sat down, and we talked about it. I was nervous as heck. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but I knew that, in this situation, I needed to be true to myself. I told her we should plan on sticking to six months, and I told her that the reason I was letting her know so soon was because I didn’t want her to miss out if she found something else in the meantime. I also let her know that I hoped she stayed the whole six months, but I would not be mad if she didn’t. And that if she had a tough time finding something by the end of the six months, it was okay to take a little longer.

I’m sure she wasn’t thrilled. But you know what? I knew that I had done the right thing, in the right way, and I had been direct, and kind, and as thoughtful as I could be…and because of that, I never had to feel bad about any of it. And I had said what I needed to say, which meant there was that much less weight on my shoulders.

5.) Pick your battles.

Okay, so this isn’t an original thought. Not by a long shot. But, for someone like me, who is always ready to cop a resentment about nearly any fucking thing, this is a huge breakthrough for me. You mean I don’t need to correct every little thing I view as wrong? You mean I won’t die of keeping my mouth shut? You mean I can have feelings about things that have nothing to do with me and I don’t have to share them? WOW.

So, I have learned, lately, that not only will I not die of letting things go, but I can achieve quite a bit of happiness and peace this way. Simply by not saying every single thing that I think. Simply by letting people be their irritating selves, they become less irritating. Who could have known this? I mean, besides most people?

So, this is my list of interesting life lessons for now. I hope you enjoyed them. And if you didn’t, I hope you are smart enough to Pick Your Battles.

Have an awesome day!

 

Over November

november rain

 

I am here, finally, to report that I made it through fucking November. You probably don’t even know why this is such a big deal, and quite frankly, neither do I- all I know is, for whatever reason, November is a HARD month for me. I seem to backslide a lot in November, and if you follow my blog at all, you know what I mean. If you don’t…sigh…I’ll just say it for you, but you really should go back and read some of my other stuff. It’s pretty entertaining. Anyway, I have a tendency to suffer terribly with addiction in the month of November. Actively, if you catch my drift.

Anyway, that didn’t happen this particular month. I think, this time, I was prepared for the weird onslaught of less desirable feelings I am beset by when the days get short, and it gets cold, and everything seems so hard to deal with. I basically gave myself permission to slack off in every other area, as long as I could just get through the month okay. That was my mantra- “Just Get Through This Month”. So, knowing what to expect, and cutting myself some slack, it seemed to do the trick.

It didn’t really hurt that I spent a week of that dreaded month in beautiful Maui, where November, apparently, does not hang out. They just double up on June over there. So I had an extra week of summer, which may have sustained me. I have been trying to figure out how to get back there ever since I have been home. I am not even kidding.

But now, sitting here, safely ensconced in December, I realize that, hard as November may be for me, it has also been a learning month for me. I have finally learned that this month is hard for me, and if I don’t want to be in big trouble, I need to formulate a plan to avoid it. Not the month, the big trouble. I have learned that I need to talk about it to the people I talk to these things about, and recognize the thought processes within me that lead me to dangerous ground.

November is a teacher, and this time I aced my exams. But still, I am glad it is over.

I know it has been a long time since my last post, and I feel really bad about it- especially since writing is, like, the best thing I know how to do. But sometimes, it’s just necessary to do what you have to do for yourself. That is what I have been doing. Hopefully, I am back for a while. 🙂