Tag Archives: choices

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!

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. 🙂

Almost Half-Way Check In ( 40 Things in my 40th Year Update)

So, I sat down this morning to check out my progress on the whole “40 things in my 40th year” list…and discovered, much to my horror, that A) I haven’t written a blog in TWO MONTHS?! I knew it had been a while, but not two months! That is really, really bad. I don’t even have an excuse. I just haven’t been writing. Lame. B) That October is five months since my birthday, which means almost HALF my year is gone! Holy Shit! Where the hell does time go? and C), worst of all…I haven’t done nearly as much from the list as I thought I had.

There is some good news though! I have actually accomplished a few of the things on my list, and several more are on the horizon. Let’s run through the list real quick like, shall we? Okay, here goes:

1.) Stop being so lazy: I think I may have actually overcome this life long demon of mine. Look, I will never be the most clean, neatest of the neat, girl on the planet. That just isn’t who I am. But I have made some real strides. I also got a roommate who does dishes, so this helps. But my overall laziness does seem to have improved, judging by the way I seem to run my ass off from the moment I wake up in the morning until the moment I collapse into bed every night, anyway.

2.) Makeover, as in, get one: I can’t decide if I did this or not. Technically, I did not get a makeover. I did, however, have some extremely awesome pictures of me taken that make it LOOK as if I did have a makeover, so I feel as if I satisfied that requirement. If the opportunity comes up for me to have a real makeover, I will jump on it. If it does not, I am not going to worry about it.

3.) Essay published in the Sun: This one would be so much easier to accomplish if I were actually writing. Which I am, right now, obviously, but this is the first time in a good, sad, while.

4.) Mud Run: I am doing this next weekend. I am so excited! If you have a second, check it out- it’s called the “MS Muck Fest” and it is a huge, muddy, fun obstacle course! Yay!

5.) Meet Justin:  Don’t get me wrong, I still would love to meet Justin…and his lovely new girlfriend, LOL. And I would LOVE to go to Canada. But this has fallen lower on my priority list. You know how it goes.

6.) Get a literary agent:  Sigh…again, I am so removed from my writing right now. I have had so much work to do in other areas, but I need to make time for this. It’s what feeds my soul.

7.) Go to a literary convention: I’m sensing a theme, here.

8.) Visit Glass Beach in Ft. Bragg: I actually  did this one! Can I just tell you something? That beach is TINY. The glass is incredible, but the beach is the size of a large-ish living room, and it is FULL of people. I didn’t find one memorable piece of glass there, sadly enough. I would still go back, but definitely NOT on a weekend. 🙂 Done, and DONE.

9.) Alcatraz:, 10.) Dance Lessons, 11.) Passport: Not Yet, Nope, and NO.

12.) Finish all Twelve Steps: I am still on step one. But I am working on it!

13.) Foodie Event, 14.) proposal for non-fiction book, 15.) hypnotism, 16.) writing class, 17.) jewelry class, 18.) hike soberanes, 19.) surf, and 20.) Hot springs : Nope, not even close, still possible, no, looked into it, but class was full, totally going to happen, not yet, and totally forgot about this, respectively.

21.) Camping, 22.) quilting: No to camping, and it doesn’t look too good at this point. And quilting? Hey, that is still possible!

23.) Leave California Twice, preferably from different directions: Well, I am going to Hawaii next month, so that is one. I just need to squeeze in one more trip, which shouldn’t be too hard!  Maybe I will finally make it to Oregon to see my buddy Brian.

24.) Ferry Ride: How hard could this be? If I can’t get this done in the next seven months, I am truly hopeless.

25.) Attend a live sporting event: I don’t even know why I added this one to the list. I don’t care about sports at all…although, honestly? I wish I did.

26.) Meditation: I have improved leaps and bounds in this one. I am so comfortable with meditation now, and can see the difference in my life when I am doing it consistently. However, this being a “practice”, not sure how I can ever complete it. Lets say my goal, while ongoing, has been a success!

27:) Treat my body kindly: Well…tomorrow, I will have not smoked a cigarette in 100 days! And I am watching what I eat, and I hired a personal trainer. I meet with him weekly, and hit the gym 4-5 times a week. I am weight lifting, and doing something active almost every single day. So, yes, while I have a ways to go, still, I am definitely doing what I set out to do here. Mission accomplished!

28.) Going outside in inside clothes: I have tried, I really have. But I am not going to lie…I am that girl. I will go to Save Mart in the clothes I slept in if I am out of coffee mate. I just don’t see what the big deal is. Sorry, Holly. 😦

29.) Go to Gilroy Gardens: Okay, so I totally did this, AND I bought season passes, thinking I would be saving big. The only problem is, I only went once. I Still have a month left on my passes, but next year? Yeah, I’ll just pay as I go (if I do…it really is pretty great, though. And beautiful!)

30.) Halloween Tour at Point Sur Lighthouse: I forgot that I wanted to do this, and I am going to look into it right now! So excited!

31.) Five Museums:  This is still going to happen.

32.) Write EVERY DAY: OKAY, ALREADY. Listen, it is just stupid that I am not doing this. I really can’t get around it. The remainder of this year, my writing will be first and foremost. It may not all be occurring here, but it will be occurring, this I swear.

33.) Connect with family: This is a funny goal, not very specific. I will tell you this- the work I have been doing on myself has allowed me to make great strides in my relationships with the people closest to me. Especially my mother and my older daughter. I am experiencing much less friction in my relationships with the people who know and love me most, and that is huge. Perhaps now the circle can begin to widen.

34.) Kindness, Empathy, Non-judgement:  I am getting better. This will be a life long effort. I am good with that.

35.) Garden: There is still time. I didn’t hit it last spring, but I can do it next one…and I will!

36.) Make my Home look Inviting and Good:  I would say that, yes, this has happened. Did I mention I got a roommate who does dishes? She’s amazing! The house looks great!

38.) Have a party!: This happened. Last weekend. And it was a HUGE success, if I do say so myself. I had at least 30 people here, not counting kids. It was a blast. 🙂

39.) Learn to BBQ: I am beginning to lose hope, you guys. I mean, I am a native Californian, who lives by the beach, no less, and not only do I not know how to BBQ, I don’t even own a grill. I feel like my card is going to be revoked.

40.) Say Yes More: I am not sure in what way I meant this when I wrote it originally. But knowing me, I meant saying YES to life, and to new experiences and new ways of thinking. Saying yes to vitality and joy. Yes, Yes, Yes! And you know what? I think this has been a wonderful year for all of those things so far.

So, this is where I am so far. I hope to keep plowing through. I hope that I can mark them all off…but even if I can’t? Hey, at least I am working towards a life filled with great experiences. At least my mind is working on some goals.  And knowing where I am now, I can really fine tune and focus on what is ahead!

I hope to see myself here much, much sooner…it’s been too long! Have a wonderful Sunday

Reservations (I’m not talking about dinner).

reservations

Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted- I mean, everyone I know pretty much did, but I hear there are people out there in the world who can use drugs “recreationally”, which means, I guess, in a fun way. Weekends, holidays, or something like that. These would be people that do NOT trade their family’s good silver and sexual favors for a twenty bag, I am guessing. I mean, not that I ever did anything like that, of course. My family never even had any good silver (that I am aware of. Good job, mom.) And I wasn’t smart enough to think of the sexual favor thing until I had already given it up, anyway. I never was very good at the whole hustle aspect of drug use. I basically just worked at a job so that I could buy myself whatever I needed, or I wheedled it out of people. I was a wheedler, not a hustler. Anyway, I have learned, even more thoroughly from being in a drug treatment center that caters to a…I want to say, more heavily insured group of people…that the “hitting rock bottom” thing that is talked about in the world of recovery looks very different for people who have a higher expectation of what their life should look like.

I mean, don’t get me wrong- there are people there that were living on the streets when they first came into the program, but it was more a matter of choice, meaning they had other options, than solely a consequence of their lifestyle. Like, help was available to them should they want it. Then, there are those who took their drugs as prescribed, but they felt their doctor was overindulging them and they felt terribly bad about this. My point is, only YOU know what the bottom looks like for YOU. I wasn’t really that messed up this time, by my standards. Not even close. But I can tell you this- I was tired as hell of living a double life. The burden of being that person was just no longer bearable. I sought help this time because I was too weary to keep going on anymore. It was not dramatic, there was no intervention- a lot of people didn’t even know what was going on with me. A LOT of people. You reach out for help when it is bad enough for YOU. And that is where it starts.

No one winds up in a treatment center feeling great and stable and mentally sound. There is no way that is happening. We wind up there after LOTS of suffering, many attempts to fix ourselves on our own, long stretches of battling ourselves, terrible battles, that go in internally. So the relief of finally getting help, of finally finding a safe reprieve from OURSELVES, is indescribable. You get into treatment willing, at last, to do anything to sustain that feeling of relief, of safety. It feels so good to wave that white flag, to surrender.

But, FUCK, we addicts are forgetful human beings. Given a little bit of time, a little distance, and we quickly forget the truth about who we are- who we JUST were. We feel so much better, and we already can’t believe it was that bad. We glamorize our old lifestyles, we joke about it, we don’t want to accept that this is our fate- a whole life without putting any substances, of any kind, in our bodies. Now, right here, for me, what I just wrote- that is how I know I am an addict. If you told most people- “hey, sorry, but you can’t ever drink, or smoke weed, and you should probably be highly cautious about even taking narcotic pain medication, even if you have had REAL pain.” They might balk a little, but, you know, if their doctor was telling them this- they would probably, eventually, shrug their shoulders and go. “Shit. That sucks. Alright, then.” For an addict, for ME, anyway, that is just grim. I get it, but I still have a lot of trouble believing it’s that big of a deal. Despite ALL of the evidence to the contrary, and there is plenty, my friends- I still have trouble accepting this.

Now, don’t get me wrong- I KNOW I can’t do my drug of choice. That isn’t what trips me up. My bigger struggle, the thing I have a hard time giving up, is alcohol. Or, it was hard, anyway. Until I got all sassy last weekend on a date, and drank half of a margarita. First of all, let me explain to you that since the day prior to this date, I was already ruminating, at great length, over whether or not I was going to drink. I don’t think this is something that normal people obsess over, is it? I finally decided I was definitely NOT going to drink. So imagine my surprise when I heard myself order a margarita! I seriously considered tackling the waiter as he walked away, begging him not to bring it. This is also not normal. Then, when it came, I wasn’t NOT going to drink it- it was a twelve dollar margarita, for Christ’s sake! How could I do that to my date, this perfect stranger whose opinion of me mattered far more than my recovery! I mean, that makes total sense, right? Oh, wait, no…it makes no fucking sense at all!

Long story short, I drank half, it was fine, I ordered a cranberry and soda, drank that instead, finished the date, went home, felt yucky, went to bed. Then, I woke up at midnight, chugged ten gallons of water, and lay in bed feeling really sick- almost as if I had ingested some type of poison, some type of tequila, maybe- and wondered what the fuck was wrong with me. But the good news is, that reservation I had, the battle in my head over whether or not drinking would be okay for me, was put to rest. I didn’t get out of control, but my thoughts certainly were a little crazy. Most people don’t get that nutty over a drink. Most people don’t put two days of thought into half a margarita. But more importantly, I didn’t like the way I felt. I am tired of not liking the way I feel. I’ve had enough of that for a lifetime.

There are lots more reasons why it isn’t a good idea for me to drink, but right now, I only need that one- because I don’t like how it made me feel. They talk a lot about reservations in twelve step programs, and why they are dangerous. You have to do what you have to do to resolve them in your own way. I am grateful today that mine didn’t have to be uglier than it was. That is was simple to resolve. Today, I am going to allow myself to remember the truth about who I am, and how I wound up where I am. Because people who forget their own history are doomed to repeat it, right? And that is not something I really want to do. Not at all.

Have a great Thursday! 🙂

A Few Things I’ve Learned in Rehab

group

For the sole purpose of writing SOMETHING, because I just cannot seem to get my inspirational juices flowing, lately (God, that sounds so much grosser than I intended for it to), I figured I would write about my stint(s) in drug rehabilitation centers. You normal folks are probably curious, anyway, so why not? Please keep in mind, due to my family circumstances (I am the primary breadwinner for my kids) I have never been to an inpatient facility. I mean, I have been to them, but never lived there. I am talking about OUTPATIENT treatment centers.

Here goes:

1.) The more money the program costs, the better the food is going to be. My biggest regret over going from full days (what they call partial hospitalization) to intensive outpatient (half days) is that I no longer got to eat the fantastic, gourmet, lunches from my current place. Quite frankly, this could be a trick to get you to stay full days longer. One thing every addict has in common is this: We are HUNGRY when we get off drugs. Starving.

2.) Addicts of every age are generally pretty upset with their parents. This seems to be a common thread among us.

3.) No matter how much you like to talk, you get to a point when you have had ENOUGH fucking talking about your fucking FEELINGS. It’s exhausting.

4.) Even if, somehow, you do not know the Serenity Prayer when you get to treatment, by the end of the third day you will have said it so many times that it has forever lost all meaning to you. You might as well be doing the Hokey-Pokey. It means nothing at all.

5.) There will be at least one person in your group who hates everyone. They don’t really hate everyone, they just really want a stiff drink.

6.) There will be several people in your group who have no idea why they can’t still smoke weed. Weed is not  why they are there. They are there because they wanted to stop snorting Oxy’s.

7.) There will be at least one person there who makes you want to jump out the window every time it is their turn to talk. You get to the point where you start exhibiting odd behavior, such as slapping your hands over your own eye repeatedly, or rude behavior, such as tapping your foot impatiently on the floor, while glaring at them. They will not give a fuck. They will continue to talk and talk and talk, usually about the same fucking thing they talked about yesterday. And the day before that, and the day before that.

8.) There is a reason most outpatient programs are only thirty days. That is the length of time one can tolerate this kind of stuff before becoming increasingly hostile.

9.) Most addicts get really weirded out over discussions about God. This is why we refer to a “Higher Power” instead. It goes down more easily.

10.) There will be one person in your group that doesn’t get that, because he is a total Jesus freak, and he will offend everyone else by quoting the bible and talking about how Jesus Christ is the one truth, etc. Everyone else will offend him by arguing, well into lunch, over this. Your entire next process group will be awkward because the counselors will force you to discuss the “incident.”

11.) “Anxiety” is an addicts favorite word, followed closely by “fuck”.

12.) There is no way to tell, when looking around the room, who will actually make it. The ones you think are definitely going back out are sometimes doing great in five years. The ones who seem to have it all together often don’t last a week.

13.) Heroin addicts think tweakers are the devil. Tweakers think heroin addicts are the worst. We don’t trust one another at all. The funny part is, the end result, all the way down to how horrible one looks, are exactly the same.

14.) Treatment centers are terrible about getting paperwork done.

15.) No matter what I have said in the words above, getting help when you need it, checking yourself into a treatment center, is the best thing you can possibly do. No matter how rough it is, or how annoying, you find out that being in a room full of others trying to get right, you are with your people. You have found your tribe. These people know what you are talking about when you say “I hate who I have become.” or “I feel so ashamed of myself.” in a way that no one else could ever possibly understand.

I am phasing out of my treatment now, and I am ready. Ready to go back out into the land of the living, and actually get some living done. Not that I haven’t been doing that already. Oh, for the love of God, I am just not very entertaining right now, outside of my lists, am I? Oh well. It will come back.

Until then, have a wonderful day. 🙂

One Awesome Mutha’

mutha

This is where I write the obligatory Mother’s Day Blog. Only I don’t want to write something perfunctory and average, that is never my goal. If my heart isn’t in it, I just don’t want to do it. So I thought and thought all day long, and this is what I can tell you from my heart:

1.) You may think you know how much your mom loves you, but, until you are a mom yourself, or a dad, I suppose, although I have no idea if it works the same way- until the day that you become a parent, you have no clue. I hate to break this to you, but the kind of love you have for your children sort of makes every other kind of love look sort of…not as important. I mean, God, some of you people are going to get all butt-puckered over this (predictably), and defend the kind of love you have for your dog, or your girl, or whoever. I know, I know. I am not trying to say that certain kinds of love are better. All love is important. But the love I learned about when I held my first child in my arms (okay, after, like, a few days- she kind of freaked me out at first) was so much more vast, and pure, and unconditional. It kinda blew my socks off. So trust me when I say: Your mom, as annoying and nosy and cringe-worthy as she may be? That woman would jump in front of a truck for your grown ass without even hesitating. Take your love for her and multiply it by about a thousand, and you might be in the ball park.

2.) Having said that, not all moms are created equal- not by a long shot. I have friends who changed their lives completely the minute they gave birth, and took to mothering like a duck to water ( I am assuming they do this immediately, right? Ducks? If not, please replace that last remark with something that means, like, right away, and naturally. I am on a roll and cannot be bothered to go google what baby fucking ducks do). I have friends (me) who do okay. I have a maternal instinct ( I am not kidding you, I almost just wrote “maternal extinct”. Er…Freudian slip?) but it seems to have a short. It can work just peachy for a while, and then all of the sudden, it starts throwing sparks, and I turn into Joan Collins, only less classy. Like just now, for example, when my four year old asked for food, and I got mad at her for being hungry while I am busy writing. How DARE she? But I try. I try REALLY hard, most of the time. It just doesn’t come totally easily to me. Then, I know people who are about as attached to their kids as cats are to their kittens- they do great for a few months, but then it’s “see ya! It’s been real, thanks for the stretch marks!” and off they go. These types, I do not understand at all. You would need a crow bar, a tranquilizer gun, and several strong men to keep me apart from my babies. Apart from this anomalous few, I promise you, we do the best we can. Again, until you have walked a mile in our shoes, please do not judge or condemn us. Trust that our love is as real and true as any other- we are all doing the best we can.

Having gotten that out of the way, I have some special Thanks to dole out, here.

* My mom- What can I say, mom? I love you with all of my heart. You sure got screwed in the kid department. If it weren’t for my fantastic self, you would only have had Casey to love, and, well…need I say more (you had that coming, Casey. I am totally moms favorite, she tells me that all the time. hahaha). For real, though, mom. I have a lot of respect for the life you have carved out for yourself, even more so now that I am a mom, myself. This is not the easiest of jobs for us wild, gypsy types. Thank you for never giving up on me. I love you.

* Single moms- you are the bravest of the brave, doing the work of two people with aplomb. Please do not be hard on yourself for falling short. Repeat after me: “I am one person, doing the job of two. I fucking rock this shit every single day. I am Superwoman.” Make this your mantra. Single moms can carry in all of the groceries in one trip, unlock the front door while carrying a carseat full of infant, talk the people at PG&E into one more day for three months, and make a life of lemons into the best lemonade you ever tasted- and just might share it with you if you are worthy. Single moms do not have time to fuck around. We are serious, and our love for our children is the fiercest of all. It has to be. They are OUR babies, no one else’s. If you know a single mom (and of course you fucking do) you want to tell her how much you admire her for holding it down. Those words mean a lot.

* Married or otherwise Partnered Moms- I know what you are thinking…these ones have it easy, though! Right? Well, clearly you have forgotten how hard it is to raise kids in the confines of a relationship. All the compromise, all the extra BS, all the disagreements about right ways and wrong ways. Yes, there are benefits to having an extra set of arms and ears and eyes- as long as those parts are working in harmony with yours. When they aren’t, well…lets not pretend we haven’t all wished for a little time alone with the kids to whip them into shape. Daddies rule, but they can also be a big pain in the butt. The kids usually like them more, because, you know, chocolate for breakfast. You feel like the household villain. And, unlike the single mom, you find yourself having to work on your marriage (or whatever kind of thing it is) on top of everything else. Really, all you want to work on is a nap. It’s no walk in the park, and you rule, married mom.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is, if you are out there, in the motherhood trenches, doing the deal- you deserve a day of honor. If you work, if you stay at home, if you don’t vaccinate your kids (although I think you are kind of an idiot) or you do, if you are organic mom, or McDonald’s mom, whatever kind of mom you are- Thank you. Thank you for pouring your heart and your soul into the little people in your life. Thank you for doing the very best you know how, at least 75% of the time. This is the hardest job any of us will ever do, and we all, somehow, seem to do it just fine. Against all odds, they turn out pretty great in the end.  Good job, moms.

Happy Mother’s Day.

The Uglies

medusa

There is this thing that some of us- maybe all of us- have. I don’t know if we are born with it, or if it is something that happens with time, and disappointment- the thoughtless word from a parent, the cruel jibe of a classmate, a build up of these things over the course of years? I don’t know. I am not here to try to figure that out. I do know that some people seem to overcome their tendency towards unkindness over time, while others, it only worsens. I call it “the uglies”. My friends, I suffer with a pretty bad case.

For me, it is like a knotted ball of impatience, anger, frustration, and…well, just ugliness. It sits, this ball, in the center of my chest, and longs to come out, to choke the joy out of the people around me. This is a pretty deep revelation from me, even if, lets say, you know me, and its no surprise to you. I am in NO WAY proud of this, and I am not trying to be funny. What I am trying to do is sort it out, work through it, try to lessen it somewhat.

What I do know is that adding any substance to it makes it worse. If you can’t figure out what I mean, I suggest you go back and read some of my earlier posts, I am not getting into specifics here. When I say worse, I mean, it multiplies the uglies about tenfold. Which could be worse, if it didn’t also put so much distance between me and the people I love the most. The uglies, plus the substances, drive a wedge between me and everything I love about life- so much so that eventually, even a phone call is more than I can tolerate. It keeps me from my friends, and from my family (the ones who are lucky enough to be able to get away from me) and from anything good or fun in my life. I have never, not once, been able to avoid this happening, once I have allowed it to begin.

But I have figured out that I don’t have to let it get so bad. I don’t have to wait until my life is in shambles to wave the white flag. My life is not simple, it is not black and white, it is not that easy for me. I wish it was. Sometimes I like to pretend it is. But that really does no one, least of all me, any good.

I am sitting here, at 5:51 in the morning, sweating in my freezing cold house. I can’t get comfortable, and I can’t sleep anymore. I think I went to bed at six last night. The struggle, for me, is very real. I don’t want the uglies to rule my life anymore. Yes, this battle is ongoing, and yes, it is tiresome. But I have some fight left in me.

What I want to say is that I am sorry. To all the people I wanted so badly to be there for, and I couldn’t, I am sorry. I am SO sorry. For all the phone calls that I couldn’t answer, and the birthdays that I ruined, for all the family gatherings I missed, and all the times I seemed so selfish and uncaring, I am sorry. I love you all more than you could know- how could you know? I am so sorry. For all of you who have had to watch me self destruct over and over again, and all of you who are just tired of it…I really am sorry. I wish I was some other way. But I am not. This is who I am. I wish it wasn’t. For all of you who have been on the receiving end of my sharp tongue, my mean streak, all of you who have gotten a little too close to that ugliness, I am so sorry. For the ones who have seen the best of me, and are so saddened by the worst. To all of you I have hurt, I am sorrier than I can tell you.

I’m starting over again. I don’t know what’s going to happen, or how any of this will go. To be honest, my hopes are not all that hopeful. How could they be? But, as I said, I do have some fight in me, still. I hope it will increase as I grow stronger. I am waving the white flag this time well before it needed to be over. I have just had enough. I’ll keep you posted how it’s going.

Much love,

Courtney

On Despair

despair

Well, this certainly isn’t the topic that has been rattling around in my head for the past week or so. It is, however, a subject with which I have become rather unfortunately familiar. Still learning about, but definitely familiar.

When I was younger, I used to get so angry with people when they would say “Life is hard!” as a way of explaining the choices (mostly poor) that people make sometimes. “It isn’t hard!” I would argue, “Or, at least, it doesn’t have to be! It’s the stupid things you do, the choices you make, the people you surround yourself with, that make life hard. Goddammit, people just need to be smarter, and don’t allow things to get them down!” (For some reason, ironically, I recall saying something very similar to these very words, while sobbing on the phone to my mother. Hmm…) Anyway, I would proclaim this, and things such as this, with the absolute conviction that all twenty somethings, with very little actual life experience, possess. I mean, it FELT like I was right, totally.

Fast forward a bit, to my early thirties. By that time, I had definitely had some harrowing experiences in life, I was early in my recovery (Well, when have I NOT been early in recovery?) from drugs, and, as had usually been the case for me, life was going pretty darn well. I was clean, I had a great boyfriend, a bank account, a job, great friends. I still wore single digit jeans. Life was looking up in a major way. I remember that a woman I knew only casually- VERY casually- had relapsed, and couldn’t seem to get clean again, after having been in a twelve step program for many, many years. It had just gotten out that she had killed herself, and I believe that one of her young daughters had found her body, and I was very angry about this. I recall telling my then-boyfriend how selfish I thought this person was, to have ruined so many lives by ending her own- I said “You know, once you have kids, suicide is not really an option anymore. It’s off the table, man.” And again, I said this with the conviction of one who really believes their words to be the obvious truth, having never experienced true, gut wrenching, despair, even then.

I will never forget the words he said in response to my outrage. “Courtney- try to imagine how much pain she was in, to think that was the very best option.” Oh. Oh, wow. I don’t remember if I argued with him, or what I said after that, but I have never forgotten what he said. Imagine the amount of pain someone must be experiencing, to believe that death, uncertain and unknowable as it is, is a better option than this. Better than breathing this air, and kissing your babies, better than watching the sunrise, and laughing with friends, and reminiscing with your brother at Thanksgiving about your childhood. That must be some kind of pain, man.

Lets move forward through my life a little farther, now, to my mid-thirties. On the outside, I have everything a person could want. I have two beautiful daughters, a person to love, an amazing career, a home in one of the most beautiful places in the world. What the world sees of me is what I want them to- a bubbly, pretty, outgoing woman. I laugh a lot, and make other people laugh a lot. I am always (in the public eye, anyway) friendly and engaging. There is NO WAY you could have guessed, unless you knew me very well, the kind of agony I was in. My life was a nightmare, from where I sat. I could barely fumble through work without breaking down. I was totally strung out, again, and in fear of being found out every single day, and of losing it all. I was broke, and miserable, disgusted with myself. My relationship was in shambles, my bills were out of control, and nothing seemed bearable anymore. My older daughter was out of control, in trouble all the time, and my little daughter preferred her traitorous father (not hard to see why, looking back) over me. I cried so much every day that no one even noticed anymore. It got to the point where I rarely left my bedroom, let alone my house. I felt like my life was completely out of control (it was) and the worst part was that I knew the only one who could save me was me. This terrified me. Because I wasn’t sure I could do it, nor that I wanted to.

For the first time in my whole life, I looked around me, and I thought-“You know, it would probably be for the best if I just wasn’t here anymore. I am terrible for everyone I encounter. My family would be so much happier if they didn’t have to deal with me.” And I BELIEVED this to be true.

That is what despair is, my friend. True despair is the voice in your head telling you to give up, already. That you are so much trouble, and you are so damaged, that the people who love you desperately would be far better off without you around. It makes you believe that things will never be any better than they are right at this moment, and it makes you believe that all the happiness you remember was a lie. It shrouds the light so that it cannot get to you, and it shrouds the truth, that you are so loved, and so necessary, to the people in your life. So loved that almost any of them, from your lover to the neighbor across the street who’s last name you don’t know, would talk you down from the ledge you are standing on, if only they knew. But sometimes they just don’t know how close you are to the edge. I am so glad I made it down okay.

i found out last night that a friend of mine from high school didn’t make it down okay.This beautiful girl, who I will always remember as seventeen, with the biggest blue eyes-bigger than mine, even- and I thought she was so pretty, And she was. She was still very, very pretty. She was having a hard time of it, over the past few years- though I had no idea how hard, We chatted on Facebook occasionally, but it’s been a while. Yesterday, at the urging of a friend we have in common, I sent her a message- “Hey, you. I was thinking about you, wondering how you are. Hope all is well.” I noticed that her last post was Friday, and it said something about her intentions being good, and her heart pure. It was one of those posts we put up when we want to say something to someone without saying it to them directly. I don’t know who she meant it for. I do know, however, that she died that day. That for her, the pain was too great. My heart goes out to her, and to her children, and family, all the ones who loved her. Who would have gladly done anything to keep this from happening.

I have learned along the way that life IS hard, and it gets harder the older you get, because you grow tired of the struggle, tired of being hurt. Tired of carrying around the damn burden of who you are, and all the things you have done, the ways you have been. But I have also learned that it all comes back around, over and over and over, enough times for me to be sure- the light does get in, eventually. The joy returns, again and again, and the pain recedes. That is how it goes.

Don’t ever give up. Find one shred of hope, however small, and hang on to it, because it will get better. I promise you, it will. If the voice in your head is telling you that the world would be better off without you and all your misery, you tell someone, and you let them tell you that it is a lie. Because it is a lie. Please wait it out. Please.

That’s all I have for today. Rest in peace, my beautiful friend.

The Life You Choose.

This may be the best quote ever.
This may be the best quote ever.

Do you ever have moments of clarity, where the truth about things is so clear to you that it is startling? Or, maybe, the thing that is revealed to you, simple as it is, is not at all the truth you were hoping for? I think it is pretty human, and therefore, normal, to want a certain thing, or things, to be true, to hope for certain outcomes…and it may even be normal to grapple a while with reality before the pain of that struggle becomes hampering, and we can relax enough, usually out of exhaustion, for the true nature of things to be revealed to us.

I don’t know. Every once in a while, I have these reality checks that come floating down from…somewhere, and they invariably tell me some glaring truth that I missed, while I was busy complicating things with my own over-thinking. The latest one was probably the worst so far. “You know,” my head whispered to me, “If you don’t take care of yourself, no one is going to make you, no one is going to fix you, and no one else can save you. If you don’t do it, no one is going to do it for you.” I mean, yeah, obviously, but I don’t think I was thinking that way. I think I was still trying to ride the wave of “Well, I don’t do drugs anymore.” Which I don’t want to downplay- not poisoning myself on a daily basis is, and always will be, a big deal. But it isn’t everything. There are other things that must be tended to.

The fact that I haven’t been tending to those things becomes evident when I start to slip into despair and depression, like I have written about recently. I don’t want to get dressed, I don’t want to get cleaned up, I don’t want to clean my house (well, I never want to do that) or open my mail, or go outside. I know that doing all of these things will make me feel better, but I don’t want to do them. I want to drop out of life. Not die, I am not suicidal, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t want to participate in the parade anymore. Because I am burrowed down into my little “safe” spot, miserable as it is, and it seems like an awful lot of effort to get going, to get up there on the level with you other humans, and stretch my legs, start to feel better again.

So, the other day, I was standing in my kitchen, and that is when I thought that thought- that “Yeah, go ahead and stay in your little hole, but life is going on all around you, and you are missing it. Stay here, but no one is going to drag you out into the light. You have to do it. You have to be responsible for you, and your happiness, and the fact that you are missing out.” It was like my subconscious was giving me a stern talking to. I was not very receptive. I went and lay on my bed in protest, in my pajamas, at four in the afternoon, and drooled into my pillow while watching some horrible reality show on MTV.

But the conversation (that took place only in my head) wouldn’t stop playing over in my head. I knew it was the truth, and at the bottom of that truth was that I was hurting no one more than myself, by refusing to get on the ride. I was missing out. That is what life IS- the motion, the action, the discomfort, sometimes. It brings with it laughter, and joy, and happiness. You can’t just pick and choose which experiences you will have and which you will skip over- that is not really living. By leaving my sweats on for days, and refusing to get outside or do anything, I was refusing ALL of it. Not just the hard, boring, uncomfortable, scary stuff, but the great part, the best parts, too. And it was up to me.

So, I went on a few rather grudging walks. The light started to inch it’s way closer. I took a bubble bath and put on clean clothes. A little closer. I took out the garbage and answered the phone when it rang. I felt better. Then, the day before yesterday, I really WANTED to take my dogs for a walk after work. I couldn’t wait. The minute I was off work, I was out the door, and we walked and walked, and halfway into our walk along the beach, I realized I was doing it- I was taking care of myself, and I felt better.

Yesterday, the need for a nap was, like, gone. I just didn’t need one. Just like I didn’t need a pill, or a therapist (although I do have one, don’t get me wrong) or a cheer squad to get me through it. I had the answer, right in my own head, or heart, or soul- wherever the truth about ourselves comes from- it was in me, all the time. I just needed to be willing to listen. I wish I didn’t need to be in such a sorry state before I can hear my own inner voice, and I guess that is something I will work on. Anyway, I just wanted to share that with you. Now, back to writing the novel. Have a wonderful Friday!