Posted in faith, inner peace, Life, meditation, Musings, People, spirituality

Redefining Holy

Holy

Holy: adjective; Exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness or righteousness.

When I think of the word holy, I can’t help but think of churches. Churches and bibles and the feeling of a big, scary God that I neither long for nor understand. A punishing God with rules I can’t reconcile, who speaks in a language that must be explained to me by someone deemed more worthy. The book they say he left for us is one of the only ones I have picked up countless times, only to put it right back down again. The God I think of when I first hear the word “holy” is a God that leaves me empty and cold. This is a God made by men, in their image, a God of religion, control, fear, money. A God corrupt.

There is another God for me, and he has been with me all my life. I say “he” only because that is how I’ve always thought to call him, but it’s meaningless. The God I know is neither female nor male, he has no face that I have ever seen. This God has filled me with comfort in moments of great despair. He carried me through the battles I fought against myself for all those years. He never left me, never turned his back. If ever he was out of reach, it was because I was closed off, because I had pulled away.

Most of September and some of October were hard for me. Looking back, I see that it was me who caused the shift. I stopped my morning ritual of prayer, I stopped meditating. I got caught up in other things- new relationships, vanity, concentrating on the way things look and not the way things feel. I held steady for a while, coasting on the fumes of all the months of work that I’d put in before. But soon enough, I was empty. Nothing left to give, aimless and unhappy.

I’ve come back down to earth again. Sat on my cushion, day after day, lighting the candles and saying my prayers until the words stopped sounding forced, until I felt like I was being heard again. Eventually, the conversation seemed to flow both ways, although it was only I who spoke. My God speaks directly to my spirit. I may not hear him, but the message gets through, loud and clear. Meditation stopped feeling like a task to be accomplished and became, once more, a slow fall into peace. I often sit long after the bell sounds, reluctant to let go of the soft ebb and flow of my breath.

And just like that, all the things began to fall into place. The pace of my world slowed, leaving time to linger over sunsets, time to gaze at the sky and the moon. Just like that, peace returned and I felt like myself again.

I think I will change what I think of as holy. There is nothing more holy to me than the sacred hours before sunrise, as I light my candles and sit on my cushion, in communion with the God I know. The God who loves me just as I am, no matter who that might be today. The God who reminds me that it is not he who must forgive me, but I who must forgive myself. My God does not recognize sin, does not judge my mistakes, does not leave anyone out. The God I know asks me to be gentle with myself when I have been hard on others, helps me to soften my edges, reminds me who I am- no worse and no better than anyone else.

When I think of what is holy now, I will think of the orange sky and the blazing yellow sun as it sinks into the blue-black sea. I will think of the cold, salty air on my skin and the sight of my daughter picking her way across the rocks back to me. I will think of leaving the sunset behind me and turning a bend in the road to find an impossibly perfect moon hanging before me in the sky. Holy is the warm light of the lamp in my dark living room, the scent of incense, the alter on my shelf of stones and feathers, sage and shells. Above all else, holy is the depth of the peace in my heart as I write this, the certainty that I have returned to myself.

Advertisements
Posted in Addiction, advice, faith, family, kids, Life, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, recovery, women

Trust

I don’t know about you, but trust is a struggle for me. Not so much trusting other people, although lets be real- I don’t do that very well either. Being the control freak that I tend to be, I’ve put myself in a weird position where I don’t generally have to rely on or trust others too much- I just do everything myself.Β  Which then creates a whole different set of problems, because no one can do everything all the time, and when I am feeling down and weak and need someone to turn to…guess what? Little Miss Self-sufficient Pants has made that position in her life obsolete, so…now what? Well, I get sad and bummed out that I am in this all alone, even though I kinda set it up that way.

But what happens when you are a control freak, like I am, and also have trouble trusting yourself? I mean, lets take a minute to look at my track record, shall we? If I’m feeling down, I might choose to overlook the success and triumph, the massive changes I’ve made, and the hard work I’ve put in, and instead focus on the countless mistakes I’ve made, the cruel behavior, the trail of ruined relationships and bad choices. If I’m only seeing the bad stuff because my state of mind is poor, yeah, it’s really hard to trust myself. It’s not so easy to trust your gut when your instincts were once so chemically altered that they gave out on you.

And then there’s the whole “Trust the Universe” thing that I subscribe to so wholeheartedly…as long as, you know, we aren’t talking about my specific painful life issue, whatever it might be. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to take my hands off of everything and let things unfold as they undoubtedly will anyway…it’s just so damn hard! It’s such classic addict behavior, trying to manipulate outcomes in the way I want them to be- in the way I believe they should be- and boy, this shit is ingrained in me, deeply. It’s a LOT of work. It’s a LOT of useless worry, grief, and pain I put myself through, trying to make sure things go “right”. And you know what? It’s all for nothing, really. Because either way, things always unfold the way they are supposed to, whether it’s to my liking or not. My interference may prolong the inevitable, but is that really a win? If something painful or hard is trying to happen, is it better to keep it from happening for a little longer? Or does that make it worse?

Lets take my daughter for example- she is going through the messy, painful business of trying to grow up. I keep running interference for her, saving her from consequences that are her own, but that hurt me to see her go through. So…here we are, down the road a bit, and the same exact consequences are still coming up, despite my previous help. This time, I take my hands off, and allow life to happen for her the way it is trying to happen. My gut instinct kept pulling me back to reality every time I started to panic, started wanting to step in and fix things for her. For one thing, I needed to have boundaries in our relationship, for ME. But more than that, even, I needed her to see that in life, you must provide and think and advocate for yourself, or you find yourself in deep shit. So I listened to my gut, finally. I was prepared for the worst possible outcome. I let her know I loved her, always and forever, but it was time for her to sink or swim.

And guess what happened? Well, for one thing, she apologized to me. For another thing, she is implementing some big changes in her life- in her very own words, she said “I realized that the way I was going was not good, and that I really had no choice but to change or it was going to get worse.” Listen, I am not trying to take ANY of the credit for her breakthrough. All I did was finally get out of the way, and in less than a week, she figured it out on her own. I prolonged the inevitable, and made it far more painful, because I was trying to save all of us from the very pain I was prolonging. The Universe knows what it is doing. My instincts are telling me the truth.

So here is what I am taking away from all of this- let people live their lives. Don’t intervene more than you absolutely need to. Allow people to experience their consequences- that is where we ALL grow. When it comes to people we love- our children especially- seeing them in pain is hard. But if you want that pain to ever end, don’t get in it. I mean, obviously, use your discretion- I’m not going to let my 8 year old parachute off the house no matter how much she insists, but- you know what I mean. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and let people learn how to live. Trust your own wise instincts. Trust the Universe. Trust God, if that is what you do. See what happens when you finally let go.

Posted in Addiction, adventure, alcoholism, faith, family, Goals, Life, living, motherhood, Musings, People, random, recovery

Looking up

looking up

I went to bed last night feeling grateful for the sleepy little bed-hog lying next to me, even if she was mad at me for cruelly coming between her and her Kindle at the obscenely early hour of eight p.m.- no one ever said being a good mama was always fun. School starts up again today after a week off, and she needs her rest, after all. But I lay there, drifting off to sleep, patting her leg, and I was happy.

I woke up this morning, poured myself a big, strong cup of coffee, and began my routine of letting various animals out and in, and then out again. My cat, in particular, is incredibly indecisive, and we do this little dance about forty times a morning. Anyway, I let Lucy, my big, sweet black lab in, and realized I didn’t so much as acknowledge her existence. Here she is, so absolutely in love with me, and I don’t even look at her when I let her in. How rude. So I sat down and called her over for some love. The goofy little look of bliss on her face as I hugged her and scratched her back was worth a million bucks.

I’ve just been noticing, lately, how sweet my life is. Been feeling grateful for the blessings of my children, my pets, my home, my job, and of course, my recovery, without whichΒ  the rest wouldn’t be possible. I wish I could say that it’s just coincidental, or maybe because this new medication is kicking in, but…the truth is, it’s because I’m about to leave all of this behind and fly away on Thursday to the East coast for a vacation all on my own. I mean, I’ll be with my friend Alicia, but no kids, no pets, no job, no nothing. I will be bringing my recovery with me, of course. That goes with me everywhere. But nothing makes me more grateful for something than the idea of being without it, even if it is just temporarily.

I have 100% faith that my older daughter and her boyfriend will take excellent care of my pets and my home while I’m gone. They definitely aren’t the type to throw parties or do anything stupid, so that’s not a concern. I’m like 98% sure that Cam’s dad will take excellent care of Cam in my absence, the 2% basically being that he won’t brush her hair properly or make her go to sleep at a decent hour. But she’ll survive that. I’m about 75% sure that my plane won’t crash, either going or coming home, which is a vast improvement over my previous feelings about flying, where I was 99% sure I would die, so that’s good news. Especially for the people unfortunate enough to have to sit near me on the plane- I could drive anyone to drink with the anxiety that used to pour off of me. I’ve decided to just watch X-files and zone out until we touch down in Boston.

But one thing I know with absolute certainty is, I am damn lucky to have a life that I love enough to miss while I’m away, and that I will love coming back to. Sometimes I forget where I came from, what it was like for me not so long ago. I get so wrapped up in my head, so tortured by my thoughts, that I can’t see the forest for the trees. I’m glad to have this clarity for once, this better perspective on my life. I’m proud of the woman I have become- one who has healed so many relationships, and grown a life that is more calm and more loving, and more “normal” than I ever thought myself capable of having. And I’m super stoked that I planned and payed for (a whole year in advance, even!) a vacation to a place I have been dreaming of going for the longest time! No way I could’ve pulled this off in my addiction. No. Freaking. Way.

So cheers to that! To me, and to my life, and to my beautiful children. To safe flights and new sights, and the big world waiting to be discovered. To daydreams, and adventures, and the people we come home to. And last, but never least, to the life recovery has made possible. I am truly grateful.

Posted in advice, faith, friendship, inner peace, Life, mindfulness, People, random

Awake and Thinking

trust yourself

Seems like my most clear thinking happens right when I wake up in the morning, somewhere between my first and second cup of coffee. The house is silent, the world is silent, and I don’t have the energy yet to argue with the sensible half of my brain- the one that will tell it like it is.

Some things that came to me this morning, for instance, are that I need to have better boundaries- I mean, at least I have SOME now, which is more than I can say for myself a year ago at this time. But there is a point at which you kind of have to go “You know, this is just more trouble than it’s worth.” and hang it up. I have such a happy, peaceful life. Yeah, that gets boring sometimes- I am, after all, a tried and true addict who once thrived on a full drama diet, but…that’s just not who I am anymore. I don’t want to feel bad or weird about anything I do.

Another thing I realized is that you only know as much about a person as they are willing to show you. There is always, always more to the story. You can count on that. And this is where your gut instincts come in. I can’t recommend anything more in life than listening to your gut. I’m a little slow at processing things for some reason, but eventually I do come around…I’ve never understood this about myself. I consider myself to be relatively quick witted and smart, but when it comes to emotional maturity, I struggle. I really do. This morning, my instincts are talking to me, and I have no choice but to listen. What I will do with that information remains to be seen, but I hope I can make myself proud.

And finally, the thread running through all of these thoughts is just love for myself. What a strange new thing this is- that I can look at myself so lovingly, even when I am struggling to figure out what I’m supposed to do. I have a long history of beating myself up for just being a person trying to live life…to actually maintain some affection for myself no matter what is pretty astounding. I am handling my business with grace, though, and a really level head, and like an adult woman, and this makes me extremely proud of myself. I can be upset and still not be ugly- did you guys know this was a thing?! Because I’d heard of it, but didn’t think it had anything to do with me.

I know this is kind of random, and maybe it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but maybe for someone it will. It does for me. And that’s all I have to say. So just go out and have a wonderful day, would you please?

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, anxiety, Blogging, inner peace, Learning, Life, Mental Health, Musings, recovery

Punishment Enough

punishment enough

I have been cursed with a guilty conscience, thanks largely in part to living a lifestyle for many years where I usually was doing something wrong. I mean, nothing major, for the most part, but generally, just the way I lived, it was all very secretive, very sneaky. I got in trouble with people all the time and it was normally very much my own fault, and so…I developed a habit of feeling pretty bad about myself.

This has not changed, despite the fact that I am very much a responsible, productive member of society these days. What it amounts to is that I tend to be a lot more nervous and worried about making mistakes than perhaps your average person- as a matter of fact, I don’t allow myself any room at all for messing up. When it inevitably happens that I do, I am very, very hard on myself. I expect the worst consequences despite the fact that people have almost always been more forgiving of my screw-ups than I anticipate. Basically, what I’m saying is, I’m kind of a wreck. When things are going smoothly, I am okay. But throw one little issue into the pot, and the entire trajectory of my thoughts goes rapidly down hill. I obsess. I am consumed with worry. I feel really, really bad about myself. And I have had it.

I’ve had it with my attitude about myself. I’ve had it with my inability to just let things unfold, and my refusal to have any faith in myself. I’ve had it with my catastrophic thinking, and more than anything else, I have had it with fear. Even as I write this, I have a little thing hanging over my head that is causing a major disturbance in the force, and my poor fear-poisoned body feels tight and uneasy and anxious. I woke up with that old, familiar heaviness, that sense of dread that I know so well. I’ve had enough. I have to let it go. So, here is what I have to say to myself-

Dear Courtney-

Life cannot be lived while curled in the fetal position, not even the figurative fetal position. You don’t have to be afraid. Everything is going to be okay, even if it doesn’t go the way you have planned. You are safe. You can rely on me. I am not going to let you down. You can’t enjoy the awesome adventure of life if you are holding on so tightly to all of this fear. You can put it down. No matter what happens, you will figure out a way to navigate it. You always find the silver lining, always, eventually. Try to remember that. You are a good mother, a good friend, and a good person. The past is over with. You are allowed to leave it there and move on. Your life was punishment enough. Stop beating yourself up for being someone you bear no resemblance to anymore. That girl was sick and sad and desperate for help…and you saved her life. Give yourself credit for how far you have come. You have been through so much. It’s time to start enjoying the life you have managed to create. So hold your head up, and let the chips fall where they may. And never forget that I love you.

Love, me.

I know that got a little weird, but I needed to say those things to myself. Now it’s public, so I can’t take it back. πŸ™‚

Here’s to lighter hearts and lighter loads to carry. I’m ready to leave some of this baggage behind and skip a little bit. Happy Friday!

Posted in Addiction, adventure, Blogging, Dreams, faith, Goals, Learning, Life, living, Musings, writing

Time to Jump

time to jump

 

According to some stats I found on my blog yesterday, this should be about my 210th blog on After the Party. So, there is a good chance that I will embarrass myself by repeating one story or another, or talk about a new goal I have that isn’t new at all. I am not about to go review over 200 blogs just for the sake of originality, no way. So if I am saying something that sounds awfully familiar, please cut me some slack. Chances are, an entirely different version of me wrote whatever you read, and for this version of me, my ideas are fresh and exciting. I mean, to me at least, they are.

So today is the very first day of 2018, and I don’t know about you, but I am EXCITED about the fresh start of a brand new year! It’s kind of a new thing for me to be starting from an already really good spot, and not having any massive hurdles (i.e.: drugs, cigarettes, horrible relationships, etc.) to get over before I can get to the good stuff. I am already ass deep in the good stuff, and just ready to take it to the next level. This is all new territory for me, and boy do I feel good about it. I am so grateful.

I woke up at five this morning, like always, and I sat down and wrote out, by hand, my goals for the coming year. I broke them down into different areas of my life, and then made little lists under each area. Then I busted out my brand spanking new planner (This year it was recommended to me by a dear friend to purchase the Desire Map Planner from Danielle Laporte, so I did.) and wrote in what I knew I would be doing this coming month. Let me tell you, this is not something I have done before, and it feels great. You know what else feels pretty great? I believe I can actually pull all of it off. I feel it in my bones.

On the cover of this planner it says “What I will do to feel the way I want to feel” and, through this planner, as well as a coaching session with my friend Stacey SarenityΒ , I got to learn about what my “Core Desired Feelings” or CDF’s, are. I don’t know too much about all of it, other than it’s a great way to suss out what it is you are truly after by understanding what it is you want to feel like and what your life would look like based on those feelings.Β  Stacey knows all about it, so check out her website if you want to learn more. I, on the other hand, really like the way this planner is set up just based on how much I was able to pull from myself out onto the page this morning. I feel equipped to master the coming year in a way I have not before. I don’t have any of that weird fear I generally associate with change or going after something I want, maybe because I am not afraid of failing. I can’t FAIL- my goals aren’t like that this year, and I am not like I have been any other year. There are good things ahead.

For those of you who don’t know, I am, and have always been, since the moment I knew how to spell my name, a writer. This may seem like a forgone conclusion, given that you are reading a blog I have written right this very moment, but…not all bloggers want to be writers, right? They are writing for various reasons, and don’t have aspirations beyond that. I do. I know I am not in the minority, here, but I just want to announce myself and state my intentions- this year is going to be ALL about writing for me. I am in the middle of a novel I have been working on for months and months- honestly, way too long- and I have given myself a firm time frame for finishing both the writing and the editing. I have short story goals and contest goals and lots and lots of writing goals this year, and you know what? I am going after my dream with gusto this year. I was thinking seriously about going back to school for something totally unrelated to writing- another thing I would probably be really good at, but- and it suddenly hit me; Why in the world would I pursue something OTHER than my dream? How does that even make sense? I LOVE to write, I have since I was seven years old…so why would I consider pushing that aside, yet again, to do something else?

The answer was pretty clear. It was because I didn’t believe in myself enough, I didn’t believe I could make it as far as I wanted to, I didn’t think I was good enough. If I went ahead and went after something else, the odds of me finding the time to devote to any writing at all were pretty slim. I’m not okay with ANY of that. Listen, I AM a writer, and whether or not it becomes what I dream that it will be, I have to honor the thing I love, the thing that brings me joy and elation. It would be stupid to continue to turn my back on this thing, right? So I am jumping in, both feet. I am not afraid at all, because I know it is what I am supposed to do right now.

Holy cow, this blog just got long. Well, I have a few other things- I am going to be writing here more consistently, and I will have a rotating format of things I write about. Expect to see more from me on Thursday and Sunday (maybe Saturday, I’m going to see how it feels) and expect to see blogs about recovery, of course, writing, health and/or lifestyle, and probably some personal stuff. I can’t wait to follow more blogs and connect with more of you, and hopefully grow a little in the blogging world.

Sorry this was so long, God! Too much coffee, I guess! Have a wonderful New Year’s day!

Posted in Addiction, funny, humor, Learning, Life, living, meditation, Mental Health, People, random, recovery, twelve step, Uncategorized

Not a Magic Sprinkle Unicorn Kinda Day

angry unicorn

Lest you start to believe that I am some sort of woman on a beautiful island oasis of recovery, meditating peacefully, surrounded by a sea of serenity and singing mermaids, let me clear that shit right up for you; Example one? I give you this day:

-As usual, dragged my ass all morning, screwing around, reading YOUR blogs, judging everyone on Facebook, reading a silly little novel I picked up while Christmas shopping at Target. Then, naturally, go into full on panic mode when the coffee finally kicks in, and I realize I actually have to leave the house in 45 minutes. Which would be fine, if I knew where my pants were, or had, you know, showered. Fuck.

-Pull it all together in decent time, only to find that every single pair of shoes I wear to work are mysteriously missing. I still don’t know where the hell they are. I looked under the couch, under the bed, in the laundry pile, and yes, even in my hell pit of a closet. They are GONE. I finally unearthed some ridiculous spike heeled booties that make my ankles wobble and my feet ache, but at that point I was just grateful to have something to cover my feet.

-Show up for work four minutes late, not because I wasn’t there, but because those stupid shoes are so high, and so spiky, it took me nine minutes to walk through the parking lot and into the hospital. NINE MINUTES. Sitting at my desk, I realize that there is a very real possibility that one of my cats peed on my shoes. Something isn’t smelling right.

-Additionally, on top of all of the shoe drama, I have slammed my knee into a drawer, my face into a door, my fingers into both walls AND my desk, and snapped myself in the face with my scarf ( this hurts worse than you might think). I wore my glasses all day not realizing there was caramel (don’t even ask, because I don’t know) or some sort of candy filling, globbed onto the arm-therefore, it is now in my hair.

-I ate too much cheese over the past few days, and it has now become a whole different tummy issue. If you don’t know, you don’t want to know.

-I didn’t have time to meditate.

-I’m feeling a little grouchy, a lot tired, and I don’t even have anyone to blame it all on, other than myself and just a plain old shitty day.

On days like this, I have a hard time accessing my gratitude. Yeah, I’m not hiding out in my house with the blinds drawn, strung out and paranoid, but it’s really hard to live in constant awe of your beautiful life when you are right in the midst of normalcy. But you know what? That’s okay. I’m as normal as I’m ever going to get, and people have days when everything goes wrong.

Am I going to use over it? Hellllll no. That thought never, ever crossed my mind. It sure would have, once upon a time. Any excuse to throw the towel in, and I was all over it. But that is not who I am today. I can have a bad day- a day WAY worse than this one- and I can survive it. Today, I know I can. And I have enough days in a row behind me that I can say, with confidence, that tomorrow I’m going to make it too. Even if it’s worse than this stupid day.

Although I REALLY hope it isn’t. Now excuse me, I need to go change my shoes.