Posted in family, kids, Life, love, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People

Horror Story

If you were to ask me what role in life I most closely identified with, out of all of the roles I play, day in and day out, I would always say being a mother. I am not pretending that I am the best mom, or the most patient mom, or that I even do the very best I can all the time at it- hell, sometimes I’m just phoning it in, trying to make it to bed time. But I will tell you this- my love for my children is fierce. I have gotten out of bed in the middle of the night to rescue my eldest, I have witnessed her drunk and ridiculous and held my tongue until a more appropriate time, I have failed utterly as a mother in my addiction, but I always, always kept us together. With my youngest, I have sat up all night beside the bed, listening to her asthmatic breathing, waking her when it was time for another treatment. I have raised hell and hurt feelings in order to keep her safe. I would go to any lengths to keep my children out of harms way. Any lengths.

Without question, I would give my life for either of them. When I do not hear from my 20 year old for too many days, or when my youngest is not where she is supposed to be…the panic that comes over me is unbearable. And for me, those times are usually very brief, resolved within minutes or hours (with the older one, it can be hours or a day) and then I get to go back to normal, worrying about average things.

And then we have these families, fleeing the horrors of their homes south of the border, and these mothers and fathers being separated from their children indefinitely. The parents go to jail, and the children, some of them babies, go to…wherever they go. Detention centers. Military bases. Foster homes.

I don’t understand politics, and I hate writing about political things because of my ignorance. I do understand the difference between right and wrong, cruelty and kindness. I am 100% sure that there is a better solution available than this nightmare going on right now, like…I’m just spit-balling here, but how about keep the families together? For the children’s sake, maybe. I don’t know any of these unfortunate people myself, but I’m willing to bet, if given a choice, they would choose to be incarcerated together rather than ripped apart and scattered. I think this is just cruelty, plain and simple.

I don’t care where you are on the political spectrum- right, left, somewhere in the middle. Imagine for a second that you are desperate to make a better life for yourself- so desperate that you are willing to flee the only home you have ever known, to a place where you know you probably won’t be welcomed with open arms, a place where you might not even speak the same language. Imagine, then, that you are even willing to break the law for the chance to leave a place that has become too dangerous to survive. And then imagine that you arrive there, only to have your children torn away from you, to God only knows where, while you are locked up, unable to speak with them, unable to even know where they are. I want you to REALLY imagine that for a second- locked up, in a cell, in a strange country, with NO IDEA what has happened to your children. Now imagine your child, locked up in a cell (for all intents and purposes) crying until they are sick from terror and panic. YOUR CHILD, not some strange child you do not know. YOUR CHILD. How does that feel? Because it makes me lose my mind. It’s so goddamned horrific I can’t even stay with it for too long.

But it’s happening, right here, in OUR country, right now. On a grand scale. Right this minute, while you are reading this, it is happening. I don’t want to hear about “The law” because you and I both know this is unnecessarily cruel. This is cruel on purpose. This is about sending a message, and it’s wrong.

I want to hear about what we can do to make it stop. What we can do to help. I don’t want to make a sign and protest, I want to know how people can come together on a massive scale and say enough is enough. Because this is just too far, for me. This is not the way we treat innocent children. I am so disgusted by this country right now.

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Posted in Addiction, family, kids, Learning, Life, love, motherhood, parenting, People, relationships

The Best Thing I Ever Did

everything

I have been a mother now for almost half of my life. I have forgotten so many things- my daughter will say “Do you remember that time…” Or “Remember when we…” and I feel terrible about it, but nine times out of ten, I have no idea what she is talking about. Sometimes I secretly think she is just making stuff up to torture me. But for all the things I have forgotten, I will never, ever forget the day that I became a mother. I remember being in labor all night, by myself, timing my contractions, and sleeping between them, and writing them down on a little paper bag that had held a greeting card (I still have that bag, taped inside my daughters baby book). I remember the ride to the hospital, and the giant men’s flannel shirt that I had taken to wearing because it was pretty much all that would fit me at that point.

But more than anything, I remember the moment that my daughter arrived in this world. I remember the doctor holding her up, and the way that time stood still as my eyes beheld her for the first time, the way that something inside of me shifted, and the way my heart changed, in an instant, to something so much bigger than I had ever known it was possible to be. For the first time in my life, I loved someone else more than I loved myself. It pains me to admit how selfish I was until that moment, which is not to say that I immediately was redeemed as a human being, but from then on, I learned a lot about guilt, lets put it that way. But that moment, the moment I met her, was so pure. I remember thinking “Please don’t ever let me forget this.” And I never have.

It’s impossible for me to remember that day without thinking about all the ways it went wrong after that. I wanted so badly to do it right, to be the best mom, but I didn’t stand a chance. My addiction and my immaturity saw to that. I know there were happy times, but it’s so much easier for me to remember everything I didn’t do, and all the things I did wrong. It honestly breaks my heart. Knowing the kind of life my daughter deserved to have, and understanding what I took from her. Knowing that is one thing I can never, ever fix. You can’t give someone back the time you stole. And I know that for her, that’s just what she had, so she doesn’t look at it the way I do- she doesn’t know any different. But for me…how can I not see all that could have been, how can I ever possibly be at peace with these things? How can I ever truly forgive myself?

I still don’t have an answer for those questions. But I can tell you this: From the moment she came into my life, I never stopped wanting and trying to be better. I failed, over and over and over again, but goddammit, I wanted it so bad. And it wasn’t for me, which might have been my first mistake- no, at a certain point, I really began to despise myself for my weakness- it was always, forever, and only for her. And because I kept trying, I managed, somehow, to keep us together (although I’ve often wondered if she would have been better off with someone else), and I managed, somehow, to keep our heads above water, just barely. Sometimes things were really, really bad. I have memories that I would love to banish from my head, and yet I cling to them like a penance. How dare I try to forget?

But sometimes things were good and sweet- her tiny feet in footy pajamas. The way we would sleep curled together, two peas in a pod. Riding in the car together on a beautiful summer day, all the windows rolled down, singing along to “Cowboy Take Me Away”. The fierce love she inspired in me, the deep connection I had never felt before for another human being. She was, and is, my world. I just didn’t know how to do it right. I just couldn’t get there in time. She was all grown up by the time I finally figured out how to do this job. Talk about heartache…you have no idea.

Now she is almost 21, and she has a little sister who reaps all of the rewards of my experience. I do homework and read stories, and worry about shit like too much screen time, and processed food, and nitrates in hot dogs. I pack her lunches, and make sure her hair is brushed, and I would never send her to school with a backpack that reeks of cigarette smoke. I try hard not to say things I will regret later, and I try even harder to say things that let her know she is loved. But most of all, my youngest daughter has had the luxury of a safe life. Things are never up in the air, and we always have a home of our own, and everything is consistent and routine. She will never know what it is like to have the ground beneath her feet shifting constantly. I am so glad that this is true. But I wish I could have given this to both of my children, not just one of them.

The wonder of it all is that, despite everything, my daughter- the 20 year old- loves me more than you can even imagine. You know what she tells me? That I am the only one who was ALWAYS there for her, that she looks back at her life, and the only one that she sees in every memory is ME. She remembers the closeness. She remembers the good things. She is the one who reminds me that is wasn’t all bad, that there were plenty of happy times- Like sliding down the snowy Reno streets in our fake Ugg boots, and laughing so hard our sides ached. And sitting in our car, sharing terrible lemon chicken and chow mein on payday, even though we couldn’t afford it. To her, I am just her mom, and she just loves me.

So today, even though she will probably never even see this, I dedicate this post to my daughter, Aisley. The best thing I ever did, and the person who made me a mother. I love you so much, and I’m grateful every single day that God saw fit to give me you.

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 Blogging, faith, family, inner peace, kids, Learning, Life, love, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, relationships

My Girls

daughters

One thing in my life that it is never hard for me to be grateful for- even on the very worst days- are my daughters. Man, I hit the jackpot when it comes to kids! My girls couldn’t be more different…not only are they 13 years apart in age, they are just completely different personalities, and yet I relate to them both so much, in separate ways.

Yesterday, my eldest, Aisley, who is beautiful and complicated, came down off the mountain she now lives on for a short visit. She misses me so much now that we aren’t seeing each other every single day, and it’s been hard on her. So when she does get to come into town, she’s so excited to see me- she wants me to write down recipes for her, and she has so many things to show me and share with me. This daughter has always been my uber-affectionate little bear, and she still wants a million hugs and all my attention when she sees me. Yesterday, she planted a little vegetable garden out in front of my house for me. She put in little stakes with labels so that I would know what was what, and she made me promise to remember to water it. She has my dirty sense of humor, and we always make each other laugh, and I am so glad she belongs to me- that I get to be her mom. I’m so happy to call her mine.

And Cammy, my little one…oh, man. She is so smart and independent, with her giant vocabulary and the biggest heart. One of the great joys of my life is waking her up every morning. I always take a minute to watch her sleeping;  mouth open wide, hair in a big old knot on top of her head. She still lets me haul her into my lap for a quick cuddle most days, even though she hangs over both sides of me by quite a bit, and I can barely pick her up. I smiled this morning as I watched her lurch, half asleep, to her waiting bath, like a little drunk person. I know these particular days aren’t going to be around for too much longer…I am acutely aware of the passage of time, having been through this once already.

That’s all, really. I just wanted to take a minute to speak my gratitude for my children out loud to the Universe. I don’t know how I got so lucky- I definitely got so much more from this life than I probably deserved. But I am so in love with those girls, and feel so blessed to be their mom, still the most important woman in their lives. Every day I pray to be worthy of the task, to be the person they need me to be. Some days I fall short of the mark, but miraculously, they love me anyway. I don’t understand how that works, or why it’s true, but I’m sure glad it is.

Have a beautiful day. 🙂

Posted in Addiction, family, kids, Learning, Life, living, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, recovery, twelve step

Wasted

broken heart

 

There are few things that can bring the past back to me quite as viscerally as music can. Memories I might grasp for another time come sliding back to me, unexpected, with the right (or wrong) song playing in the background.

When you have the kind of past I have, it can be painful, sometimes- even the happy memories. Today, we were listening to the Dixie Chicks, a CD that once had permanent residence in my old Camry’s stereo. Cowboy, Take me Away came on, and I remember driving around, with the song turned up loud, the windows down, the sunlight streaming in- and this little tiny dark headed girl in her car seat in the back, singing along with me.

She’s all grown up now. Our lives were such a mess back then- well, my life was, and hers, by association. Any happy memories I can find, I cling to, because there just aren’t that many of them. It was a dark time for me, and I was very, very deep in my addiction. I didn’t know how to be a mother, or what it meant, or what, exactly, I was robbing her of. Oh, if only I had known. You know, my heart will very probably never heal from that. I know, I know- we are supposed to learn to forgive ourselves, to leave the past in the past…but I think there is a part of me that honestly doesn’t feel like I ought to forgive myself.  Like maybe punishing myself for the rest of my life is my penance for robbing my daughters childhood of the joy that was hers by right. I don’t know, but I do know this: However it is I feel, I won’t be talked out of it. Trust me, it’s been tried.

Heartbreak Town. I remember listening to that on our way to Reno, where I ran off to, to escape myself. There she was again, that little person in the back seat…always in the back seat. If you are curious, I didn’t fool myself into being someone different just because I crossed state lines. I was still me, still sick, still not a mother anyone should have had. Sometimes I try to imagine what it must have been like for her, but when I do, it hurts too much.

It is only recently- maybe just since she has been sort of a “grown-up”, or maybe it is because I am raising another daughter now, in such a completely different way- that I have started to sincerely wish there were some way I could go back, and do things differently. I know that kind of thinking is useless and foolish. I know I would be better off trying to make my amends to her now, by being the best mom I can NOW, and I do that, I do…but still. If I could just go back, just for one measly little day, and be tender with her. Give her my undivided attention. Just hold her, and love her, and do all the mommy stuff I have learned to do now…I would just really like to do that, that’s all.

This is a lot of stuff to carry around inside of one small heart. The memories, and the worry about what you may have inflicted upon another small heart, one that you created. To look back and see all of the time, and the chances, and the love you wasted. It doesn’t feel very good. I’m glad to say I don’t sit in this shit every single day, but when I do, I don’t even try to deny myself the opportunity to cry about it anymore. It’s a sad and terrible way that I chose, and if it didn’t make me cry, I guess that would mean I haven’t changed much, wouldn’t it? But I have. So at least there is that.

Posted in Addiction, advice, Life, living, love, mindfulness, parenting, random, recovery

Directions for a Better Day

better day
photo credit: thethingswesay.com

Wake up before anyone else. This will give you the time you need to center yourself, to set the tone for the kind of day you want to have. Do whatever it is you need to do to get the ball rolling- rub your eyes, start your coffee, let your dogs outside to pee.

Feed yourself, spiritually. Read your Daily Word, your Just for Today, your 365 days of whatever…say your prayers. Ask God to hold your hand, today, if that is what you need. Ask him to keep a special eye on your kids, and remember the people you promised to pray for. Always pray for the ones you said you would. Really bad manners not to do that. When you pray, why not do it right? I get on my knees, I get SERIOUS. I want God to know I am not messing around, that I mean it. “I need your help today, God. I am impatient, and snappy, and capable of terrible meanness- can you help me with this? Let me be kind, and sweet, and soft, and loving. I am all of these things, too, but I need your help to keep that stuff in the front. Thank you. Thank you for ALL of this. I know I am so blessed, God, but there is always work to do. Amen” Give yourself ten or fifteen minutes more to sit in silence, to just be. Get calm. Get centered.

Wake your children up sweetly. Let the first thing they see be your smiling face, the first thing they feel, your love. Be ready to help them- If they are little, it is your job, also, to know where their shoes are, to know where their jacket is. Get them ready with as much patience and love as you can. You are setting the tone for their day, too.

Give yourself enough time to get to school, and to get to work, without getting angry. And if you don’t give yourself that time, remember- it is not the rest of the worlds fault that you are running late. They don’t even KNOW you are running late. Don’t let your anger get the best of you. Keep your best self at the wheel of your life. Be AWARE of yourself, and be responsible for your actions. Don’t honk your horn, take a deep breath. Don’t tailgate, just slow down. When you want to flip someone off, you shrug and smile instead. We all make mistakes. Treat others the way you want them to treat you. The Golden rule applies at all times.

When you get to work, be grateful for this job. It puts food on your table, and it keeps you out of trouble for the next eight hours. Do the best you can while you are there. Try to remember that it makes you feel good about you to do your best, even if no one else knows or cares. Be a decent human being. It pays off in the end.

Be aware of your thoughts. Are they useful, productive, kind thoughts? The more you are aware of what is going on in your head, the better off you are going to be. Are you judging others? Stop it. You don’t know anything about their life or their situation. Your only job is to be kind, whether it be a smile, or simply sending good vibes. Your judgement serves no one, unless you are being paid to do just that. Try to love the humanness in every person you come across. We all need that so badly. Are you thinking unkind things about yourself? Stop it. You must talk to yourself the way your best friend, your grandmother, the person who loves you most in the world, talks to you. Talk to yourself with the devotion and love and belief you have in your own children. Be your own champion. Be gentler with yourself. Forgive yourself. You are doing the best you can. And, as my sponsor says to me “You are so much better than you can see, but I see it.” Be tender with your beautiful self. You are working so hard.

Be aware of what you put in your mouth. You are going to feel so much better if you eat good stuff. It’s okay to pig out sometimes, but lets make today a better day…eat food that will nourish you. Drink water. Be aware of what your body is telling you. If you are on your feet all day, sit down for a little bit. If you are on your butt all day, take a walk. Get some air. Get some sunlight on your face. Stretch.

When you are done with work for the day, before you see your kids again, ready yourself. If you need to do something for yourself before you can do anything for them, do it. Go to a meeting, if you can. If you can’t do that, or you don’t do that, take a quick walk. Meditate for five minutes in the car outside of the daycare. Go get a pedicure. Park by the beach, or something scenic, and sort your thoughts. When you pick up your kids, they are going to be so excited to see you. You want to be excited to see them, too. Be present. Listen. Interact with them.

When you are home, set aside time for your family and time for your chores. Ask for help. Make time for other things that enrich your life- friends, hobbies, fun. But whatever you are doing, do that. Put your phone away. Look people in the eye. Listen. Be interested. Be interesting. Model the kind of life for your children that you want for them- don’t expect them to know any other way, because they won’t . If you want them to be kind, be kind to them. If you want them to have manners, you must have manners, too. If you want them to be loving, be loving to them. Develop good habits. Have a routine, but don’t fall apart when things happen…because things ALWAYS happen.

Spend at least five minutes every night lavishing love on your babies, while they will let you. Be grateful for them, and tell them how grateful for them that you are. Hold them in your arms, and kiss their faces, nuzzle their little necks. And every night, before you go to sleep, pray again. Thank God for this beautiful day, and for all of his help. Forgive yourself for the parts that didn’t go so well. Let yourself be okay with it. Go to sleep.

Repeat in the morning.

(This was really for me, but maybe you can get some use out of it, too.)

Posted in Addiction, faith, family, Life, motherhood, parenting, People, random, recovery, twelve step

Are You Going To Have Faith, Or Not?

faith

For the past month or so, my life has really been sweet. My recovery is good and strong, my life full of all the things I want and need- meetings, and new friendships, movies and walks and books and laughter. My spiritual life felt robust and I felt connected to my God in a way that I hadn’t in such a long time. Meditation was really getting easy and enjoyable for me, and I felt my days slipping by with the kind of grace and ease that I had longed for forever.

Then, last Tuesday, two days before pay day, I found myself completely on empty, driving to my therapists office, with not a single dollar in my pocket. I was flat-ass broke, and I had to figure out how to navigate life for the next two days with no gas and no money. Now, let me remind you all- I am a drug addict! We are some of the most resourceful, crafty people in the world, when it comes to getting what we want, would you agree? And yet, in that moment, on my way to my therapist, and then my favorite NA meeting in the world, I had more than just a moment of panic, more than just worry. I was in full on assassin mode.

What I mean by this is, I was, internally, berating myself for my stupidity. It wasn’t just that I had run out of money two days before payday…it was “How could you be so STUPID? What kind of forty year old person doesn’t have a savings account? Why are you so messed up that you don’t even have a credit card? How can you be trusted to raise children when you can’t even afford to drive?” Yeah, it was bad. And just like that, all that good stuff I had been feeling, all that positivity, that connection I had been feeling…it faded out, like a dark cloud over my world. I was really down.

Now, what you need to keep in mind is- all of this happened in the space of one fifteen minute drive. I can do a lot of damage in a short time, trust me. But then, what happened was, just as I was turning the corner to my destination, this other voice popped up in my head, and it said “Courtney! Are you going to have faith or not? Because you either do or you don’t.” And, because this voice ALSO belonged to me, I knew what I meant- that I had lived through much worse times than this, and that, no matter how many times I had been down, no matter how far down I had been- I had always, every time, without fail, been okay again. Was I really going to let a matter of a few dollars reduce me, and my opinion of myself, to this?

And as I turned that corner and pulled into the parking lot, the answer was no, I was not. All of my hard work wasn’t for nothing, and my connection to the Universe was still so good, and I was still really proud of myself, and my life was still good…it was just that I needed a few bucks until payday. And I was going to have faith that everything would work out, just like it always does. And it did.

Since that day last week, I have come back to that thought- “Are you going to have faith, or not?” Again and again and again. Today, in just a few minutes, I am going to wake up my beautiful four year old for her first day of school ever. And I am terrified. Excited and thrilled, of course, but mostly, I am terrified. It is my job, as her mother, not to show this fear to her, so I will pull my shit together, pray, and I will choose faith this morning. Faith that God pays special attention to precious children and their crazy mothers, and faith that many other parents are feeling just like me this morning, and they are getting through it, somehow.

So the question for you today, my friends, is this- are you going to have faith, or not? Because you either do, or you don’t. I hope you do. We all need it. Have a wonderful day, and send some good thoughts over to this crazy mom, please.  🙂