Tag Archives: faith

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. 🙂

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!


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 Sarenity , 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.  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!

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.

Are You Going To Have Faith, Or Not?


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.  🙂

You Are Right Where You Are Supposed To Be.



You may absolutely disagree with me. You may think- “You don’t even know me! This is not where I am supposed to be! This is not at all where my life was supposed to end up! I don’t even know how the hell this happened to me! Shut up!”

My annoying response is this- “I don’t have to know you, I promise you it is, you would know if you took a minute to think it over, and you better figure it out because time is a-movin’ along. Oh, and NO. I won’t shut up. This is my blog, I can say whatever I want to.”

Seriously, though, the way I look at it, there are no mistakes. Wait, scratch that…yes, we humans make mistakes, but are they REALLY? I mean, look back at your life, especially at the worst, most awful, gut-wrenching things. I don’t know about you, but it was those times specifically that lead to the greatest changes for the better. Romantic train wrecks made me so much wiser about love…losing friends and loved ones to the great big eraser in the sky made me appreciate the ones who were still around, or even my own life a little more. Health scares, both real and imagined, made me take better care of myself. We grow because of our trials and tribulations. My theory is, trials and tribulations are the precise reason we are here.

Right now, I am in a great phase of my life. Two months ago, that was not the case. Two months ago, I would have just as soon not read any cheery, spiritual drivel such as this- and I would not have hesitated to tell you exactly where you could go, and how you could fuck yourself, thank you very much. I was not feeling very in touch with my spiritual side…except, of course, during those two a.m. prayers of desperation to God (they call those “foxhole prayers” for a reason) when I was fairly certain I was going to die, go to jail, lose my job, or rather spectacularly, all three, in whatever order was most humiliating. I am smart enough to understand that I will encounter periods of unrest again, in the future. What I am learning, though, is I do have a little control over just how bad things get.

What I believe to be more true than anything else, and only because I have seen it proved to me, time after time, is this: You may not like where you are at. You may think it is unfair, unwarranted, unbelievable, even. But you are exactly where you need to be right now, in order to get to the fantastic place the Universe is hoping to take you- now whether or not you arrive there at all depends more on you and the choices you make than anything else. Just because the Universe WANTS the best for you does not mean it can control what path you take…my goodness, I hope this makes sense. 

Here’s the deal: If you sit back on your ass and do nothing but cry all day, only God himself could scoop you up and sit you in the good and happy life that is your birthright. Trust me, God has got his hands full with far more pressing things than whether or not your lazy, whiny behind makes it to the house with the white picket fence.And if he did, do you think you would really be happy? Isn’t part of the joy of getting somewhere or achieving something, the work it took to get there? You need to earn it to appreciate it, right? There are all kinds of forces at work, cheering you on, loving you, protecting you, wanting the best for you. BUT YOU HAVE TO WANT IT TOO! There is work to be done. There are no shortcuts, man. Get up, get busy, get moving- see what is out there waiting for you. Wherever you are, however far astray you have gone, you can turn it around.

Now excuse me, would you? I am on my way to another big adventure…actually, I just need to wash my dog, but that sounds so boring after my big speech, doesn’t it? Hahaha! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

2012- It’s Been Quite a Year!


I’ve been seeing all of the lists and reviews other folks have been making about their year, and decided I wanted to play, too. At first, I thought I didn’t have a lot to say about this year, other than I can’t believe it’s over already. I mean, that crap they tell you when you are a kid, about how much more quickly time goes by when you are older is NO lie. You just get accustomed to writing down one year and then it’s already another one. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that all kinds of stuff happened in my life this year. Here are some of the more interesting ones:IMG_0442

  • I got my very first dog. Her name is Lucy, and she is a pitch black Lab mix. I had no idea what the hell I was getting myself into. Do you have any idea how much energy these dogs have, especially when they are puppies? Do you have any idea how badly they are capable of smelling? Have you ever seen how much fur they shed? I must sweep up at least enough fur to create two new puppies every other day. I don’t know how she isn’t bald. On the upside, though, she is the sweetest pup you’ve ever met. The baby could step on her head, and Lucy would only lick her face, lovingly. As we speak, I can see her looking at me through the back window with her big, sad eyes, like “mom…why aren’t we out walking right now? It’s not raining anymore…” And that is another thing I love about her- she gets me out, walking, moving, enjoying the world in a different way. Sometimes it’s a crap shoot, but most of the time, I count her among my blessings.
  • I had a nervous breakdown. Like, a real, honest to goodness BREAKDOWN, requiring me to take six weeks off of work, consider checking myself into a mental hospital, consider killing myself, crying every day, mental episode. Allowing myself the time I needed to feel better, to heal, to get a grip, was probably the kindest thing I have ever done for myself. I learned a lot of things, but number one among them was that I had stopped taking care of myself in any meaningful way, which caused me to resent everyone around me who I was taking care of. During that six weeks, I made some big, important changes in my life (some of which I need to get back to before it leads to more trouble)  and when I went back to work, I felt better than I ever had before.
  • I learned that, no matter what, my relationship with drugs will never, ever change. I cannot do them, no matter what, in any quantity or form, without it becoming a major, life altering problem, period. And that is all I am going to say about that.
  • That being said, I also decided that, for ME, alcohol is not included in that equation. FOR ME, having a glass of wine or a beer is not, and has never been, an issue. So I have had a glass of wine or two, and the other night, I split a fantastic hard cider with my boyfriend that tasted just like…well, cider. I reserve the right to change my mind about this, however, if it does become a little too appealing or lead to other problems- all those years in NA are not totally wasted on me.
  • THAT being said, I am no longer attending meetings. I miss them, sometimes, but I am not following, and not a believer in the rules anymore. And if you can’t do it right, you might as well stay home. So I am. And I am okay with it, totally.
  • This is the biggy. I never, not in a million, bazillion years thought I’d ever,ever say this, but here it is. I became a Christian. I feel funny even writing it down, but you can’t imagine how weird the transformation inside of me has been for me. It just sort of happened. Sorry, mom. (She really has an issue with this). I found a church I love, and I feel awful if I miss, even one Sunday, and it has changed everything for me. I am just not afraid of the word “Jesus” anymore, even if I’m not 100% comfortable with announcing it to the world…there it is. When I go to church, something deep inside of me stirs and it feels right for me to be there, and to apply the lessons to my life out in the world. I feel like I am home.
  • I became more dedicated than ever to my writing. I had my first short story published. I started this blog. I participated in nanowrimo, and went to the Night Of Writing Dangerously. I started a new book. I started working on finishing up my finished novel. I met my favorite writer in the whole wide world. I finally gathered enough knowledge to formulate a logical path to becoming successful with my gift, if it is ever to be. I know that I love writing almost as much as I love my children, so it seems to me that all there is left to do is try to succeed at it, right? Right.

When you look at the things I have listed as being noteworthy, they may seem sort of random to you. But to me, every single one of them tells the story of a woman who has finally grown up enough to begin thinking, and deciding, for herself how her life should be lived. Whether it was getting a dog, drinking a beer, jumping off of the ride when it got too wild, or discovering who it is she truly wants to be-all of the decisions were big, defining ones for me, and I came through it all better for it.

All in all, I’d say 2012 was a year to be proud of. Have a great day, and Merry Christmas!

Dear God

Dear God-

Hi! It’s me again. I’ll tell you up front that I don’t have anything really urgent to talk to you about, so if you are busy, you may want to get back to this later. Not that I doubt your multitasking skills for a minute, I’m sure you’re way better at it than your average human being, but…you know what I mean. I just wanted to check in, let you know I am still here, I haven’t checked out on you. I hope you don’t mind that I am putting you in my blog. I figured I could kill two birds with one stone, you know?

I’ve been a little down lately. Seems like no matter how hard I try, things around here stay about the same, if not worse. I know I don’t do everything right, not by a long shot, and I don’t pretend that I have a clue about how to create the family and the results I long to see. I can see the end result in my head, but I don’t know how to get there. Maybe I just don’t have the right personality for domestic stuff. Maybe I just don’t have enough help…it would be nice if all of us around here could pull it together and work as a unit for once. It seems like we all just live together and have totally separate lives. This just isn’t the way I thought it would be.

I know I should be grateful, and I AM! I know how lucky I am to have two healthy, beautiful daughters, a fantastic and well paying job that I like, and coworkers who are like an extension of my family. I know how lucky I am to have a house at all, let alone in a safe, pretty town half a mile from the beach. I’m SO lucky to be healthy, to be safe, to be loved. I’m not trying to downplay any of that stuff. I let you know all the time how thankful I am to be where I am in life…I think I know better than some how much worse it could have turned out for me. And I know I will NEVER know as well as others do what it means to really be without. Even at the worst times in my life, I could always count on a roof over my head, food when I was hungry. All in all, I’ve lived a pretty blessed life.

So you’ll have to forgive me for being so selfish and telling you that, still, I want more. Can we talk for a minute about this relationship I’m in, God? I know, I know- I can FEEL you rolling your eyes at me, up there. I know you have much more concerning issues on your hands, like global warming, the middle east in general, and the end of times right around the corner. I get that, in the big scheme of things, my love life is really a non-issue, but humor me. You, he, and I know the whole story of us…you know how hard I have tried, how many things I’ve worked through, looked past, compromised on. You know the doubts I’ve struggled with since the very start. All of that, to wind up here-ambivalent, stuck, distanced. My heart is just out of forgiveness, God, and I don’t know how to move forward from this place. I don’t even want to forgive anymore, and that has been the one thing I had that assured me there was still really love between us. Without it, it’s like my heart is completely closed. I know he feels it, my disconnect, and I don’t want to make it hard on him, but I can’t help it. I’ve got nothing left, and there’s no way I can pretend differently. I start to feel bad about it, then it occurs to me that he absolutely brought this on himself.

Obviously, I can’t go on like this for very long. So the big question is, what now? I know it’s really up to me, that I didn’t seem to ask for a lot of advice when I was making all the decisions that led me to here. I don’t expect a giant arrow in the clouds pointing me to my dream life, or an email with a power point slide show detailing my options and all possible outcomes. Although, come to think of it, I wouldn’t turn that down, either. I guess I would just like to ask for some clarity, soon. If you could please help me pay attention, so I don’t miss possible answers. If I could just have a head that is quiet enough to really think this through.  If you could maybe help me feel certain when I hit on the right idea, instead of doubting myself into inaction like I’ve done so often. God, if you could please  just help me not be afraid. I’m choosing to hold onto unhappiness because I am so afraid of messing everything up.

It seems so wasteful to work so hard for something you thought was possible, only to find that it could never have become that thing, no matter what you did to help it along. I want to be happy, God, and not because everything is perfect and I am so accomplished and polished and wonderful-I want to be happy the way you are when your heart is peaceful, and you aren’t constantly on your guard. I want to relax, God. I don’t care if that means I have to be alone…I will miss the familiarity and companionship, for sure. I will miss having someone that is pulling their share of the weight of this life. But I will not miss hunting for the true story underneath his words. I will not miss the loneliness that comes with loving a man you cannot risk trusting. I will not miss the fear of all of the things I don’t know yet. Every day of our life together, I have felt their presence, a constant undercurrent.

Please help me be strong, sure and kind- help me not let my mean nature complicate things. Help me to remember that he is a good father, a hard worker, that he probably did the best he could, too. He’s just working with a different set of tools than me. If there is a way to mend this, God, I am all ears- I’d like to tell you that I don’t see how, but you’re the big miracle guy, here, so it’s your call. I don’t want to hurt the baby, and she loves us both so much. I don’t want to complicate my life by changing everything, AGAIN, but I believe I am of no real use to anyone like this.

Other than that, God, I think all is well. I am always glad, at the end of a day like this, that things tend to look less impossible in the light of day. Thanks for this beautiful life.