Tag Archives: fear

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!


An Uncomfortable Post- I Need Your Advice.


*Although this post does mention I am not a Trump supporter, it is not really about that. Please hang in there. I am super nervous about posting this, but I really need some perspective.

I feel like I need to preface what I am about to say with this- I am about as Liberal as they come. I was one of those that were devastated and flabbergasted by Trump’s election. I don’t even really know what else to say about it, other than I’ve sort of accepted the reality of what is happening, and, finding no other real viable solution, I’ve taken a massive step back from all things politics. I know this is rather cowardly of me, but what the fuck am I supposed to do, when I truly believe nothing I do can have any significant impact at this point? I stay away from the news. I don’t keep up. Every time something filters through to me, it’s awful and goes against what I believe to be the right way, and it’s like a punch in the gut. So I retreat. For now, until I can cast my next vote. So, there you have it.

I understand that I exist in a world where I am going to come into contact with many people, every day, who believe in different things than I do. That is fine. This is America, we still have the freedom of choice. I don’t walk around waving a banner with my political leanings, ethical and moral code, and specific belief system. It’s kind of like the old “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” thing from the military, except not about sexual preference. It’s about not getting into something intense and upsetting in an inappropriate setting. Unfortunately, sometimes this shit comes to you, and no matter how hard you try to sidestep that shit, it keeps coming.

Oh, you guys…listen. I can handle lots of stuff, I really can. But this has got me SO upset. I recently became reacquainted with a guy I knew somewhat, years ago, because our kids are in the same class. There is absolutely NO reason why I should have to know anything about his political belief system, except for he is one of those who REALLY wants to bring me over to the other side. You have to believe me when I say THAT WILL NEVER EVER EVER EVER HAPPEN. And I just don’t think this is something I should have to be subjected to in the few minutes after school, while just waiting for the fucking bell to RING, already. But whatever. I can just deflect, ignore, or even say “Yeah, I don’t support the (insert whatever insane thing it might be), and there isn’t enough time to get into it.

Then, one day, I innocently asked this person how work was going- I thought this was a safe topic, right? I still want to be friendly, I just don’t want to talk about making America great again. And that’s when the first incident happened. He rolled his eyes and said “Pssh, those fucking Mexican’s on that job…I ought to call ICE on them.” And I felt my soul shrivel up inside my body. It was one of those awful moments where I was so shocked by what he had just said, and my eyes darted around to see if any of the other parents milling about had heard him, and I just wanted to stand up and say “I am not that kind of white person! Eject, Eject!” But I didn’t know what to do, so I just said “That is awful!” And then he said, he said!!! “I know, tell me about it!” But I had meant that what he said was awful, not that I was agreeing with him! Oh my God!  But the bell rang, and I high tailed it right the fuck out of there.

Another day, he reported gleefully that ICE was doing raids all over California, deporting illegal immigrants. I just said “Yeah, I don’t support that.” My standard refrain, to which he replied “Why? What about all of us who worked so hard to be here legally?” And I thought ‘who the fuck is he talking about? Did he immigrate here? Am I missing something?’ But again, bell rang, I ran. I mean, this is no way to live, but I guess I was just too chicken shit to stand my ground. Not only was I starting to dread these interactions, but I was growing to loathe myself for being so unable to speak my own truth back at him.

Then, yesterday, something really awful happened. He very kindly, and without me asking him to do this, brought my daughter’s backpack by my house that she’d forgotten at school. His daughter had come here for a birthday party, which is why they knew where I lived. I went outside to say thanks, and out of nowhere, he brought up another little girl in the class who was good friends with his daughter, and how she was Muslim, and he started GOING OFF about Muslim’s and how their “bible” encourages raping white women (I am not making any of this up) and about genital mutilation and on and on…and his daughter was sitting RIGHT THERE. Listening to every word that came out of his mouth. When I looked at her, she looked mortified. I put my hands over her ears and I said, as gently as possible, “Do you really think you should be talking like this in front of her?” He would not be dissuaded. He kept going off. It segued into this whole thing about Trump, and I tried, I really did, to diffuse the situation, but he was kinda freaking out, and I was super caught off guard, and it just wasn’t good.

Listen…I don’t care who you voted for, that’s fine, whatever. But this went into a whole different realm of racism and hatred and ugliness. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, and every time I tried to say anything, he yelled over me, and finally I just said “Dude, you need to calm down- you’re going to give yourself a heart attack.” I came inside and tried to calm down, and like five minutes later, he called and asked if Cam could come play with his daughter and I SAID YES. What the fuck is wrong with me? I’m telling you guys, the need to be liked is STRONG with me. It’s a real fucking problem. I actually left my kid there for like 30 minutes before I came to my senses and made up some story about forgetting about some prior thing and that I needed to pick her up. That was a super bad call on my part, and I’m just going to own it.

He asked if they could have a play date today. I said maybe. I talked with Cam’s dad last night and explained what had happened, and he (who by the way does not share my political beliefs at all) said absolutely not. He couldn’t believe I let her go over there in the first place. I’m sorry this is so long, but I am almost done. I woke up this morning, and spent a lot of time researching the Muslim faith, just to educate myself in case this came up again- I already knew that what he was talking about was Muslim extremism, and not your everyday, average Muslim, but I wanted to confirm what I thought. I know that the odds are, even if I do have to be subjected to another meltdown like that, I won’t be able to state my point, or I will be so rattled that I won’t be able to formulate an intelligent sentence. So, I did what I do best- I sat down and wrote him a message outlining how he had every right to think however he wanted, but that I thought it was fucked up to say things like that in front of his kid, and I worried about her repeating those things to her Muslim friend at school. And furthermore, I was worried about what he might say in front of my child, if he had no problem speaking that way in front of his own. I said it as nicely as possible, but you and I both know it’s not going to go over well.

My question to any of you who have made it this far is this- do I send the message? Will it even do any good at all, or will it just make life weird for my kid at school, and me every time I see this person? If I don’t speak up, isn’t that being dishonest? Part of me wants to scream back just as vehemently that everything he stands for makes my skin crawl, and part of me fears that will just add fuel to the fire. I don’t know what to do, or how to handle this.  I do know I have handled it incredibly poorly so far. I am seriously in knots over this. Can I also just add, I realize that not all Trump supporters are like this, this is an extreme situation that goes way beyond that. I do not mean to be divisive, I am just truly upset and looking for guidance here.

Thanks. Sorry again that this is so long.

One Step Closer

one step closer

Yesterday, I went on a gorgeous hike at Point Lobos State Park with a friend of mine from work- I do this fairly often now, go hiking, and I enjoy it so much. I love the exercise, for one thing, the way my legs burn, the rush of endorphins, I love gaining all those steps in my Fitbit challenges (I’m not gonna lie, I have a competitive streak). But I also just enjoy being outside, being in nature, being somewhere beautiful.

After that, we grabbed a quick coffee at Starbucks, and booked a room for our trip coming up in October. We are going to Salem, Massachusetts, just because it sounds like fun, and I couldn’t be more excited! Booking the room makes it feel like it’s really happening! Anyway, I dropped her off at her house, and made a beeline over to my sponsors house, where I finally worked my 10th step and got started on the 11th. When I realized how close I am to actually completing the 12 steps of Narcotics Anonymous, I got a little choked up. I am just so proud of myself for actually putting in this work! And let me tell you, it has really been WORK. When you are doing these steps right, it means something, it changes you. So, that was a pretty cool moment for me.

I went home, feeling a little bit lighter, and a lot more connected to my program, the way I always feel after working a step. I spent a little time picking up my house, and had just settled in to doing nothing when a girl I had offered to take to a meeting reached out to me. I hadn’t heard from her, so I assumed she had decided not to go, and I was fine with that, but…she sent me a text and wanted to go. The meeting I had offered to take her to was in a neighboring town, about twenty five minutes away. I briefly thought about saying no, that I wanted to stay home, that she should have let me know sooner. But of course, I didn’t. I got up, got dressed, and offered to pick her up early and grab a coffee. Which is what we did. The meeting was great, the speaker was great, the whole entire day had been great.

So what, you may be wondering, is the point? The point is, I woke up this morning feeling so blessed, so lucky, so grateful for where I am. Sometimes I get a little disconnected from the program part of my recovery- the part where we attend meetings regularly, work with our sponsor, be of service, help another addict. Writing a blog about the things I have been through and the things I have learned is great, but there is a lot more to it than that- writing this blog is not a substitute for the actions I need to take to keep myself feeling the way I want to feel. The way I feel right now, which is connected, at peace, capable of giving something back. If I don’t do those things, pretty soon I’m not going to have much to write about, because I won’t be adding anything new to my experience.

The other thing I want to point out is this- Holy Shit! I’m a person who goes on hikes now, and loves nature! I’m a person who plans trips, and keeps appointments, and does the right thing, for the right reasons, on a regular basis. I don’t live in fear anymore, and I’m not filled with shame over who I am and what I am doing. It hit me the other day that my seven year old daughter takes for absolute granted that she can depend on me. That she knows, every day, when the bell rings at school, that I will be there, waiting to take her home. She knows that I will be there if she wakes up in the middle of the night and needs me. She knows that I will feed her, provide for her, and do all the things I have always done, because I always have. There is no insecurity, because I have never given her a reason to be insecure. My older daughter told me once that she was always afraid that I wouldn’t show up. I was always the last one there, the after school program was always waiting on me so that they could go home. The feeling I get when I think about this never gets easier. It breaks my heart.

But today, I don’t have to live that way anymore. I am not only one step closer to the end of my stepwork, but I am one step closer to being the person I always hoped I would be someday. There have been times, even in recovery, when I was filled with despair, believing I would never, ever get better. That I was so fucked up, such a terrible person, that I would never be able to change. I kept moving forward because I didn’t know what else to do- I didn’t want to use, but a lot of times I was just going through the motions, sure it was pointless, that I was going to be this miserable, angry person forever. Well, once again, I was wrong. I know for sure there will be hard times ahead, but I am not afraid. I know wherever I am, if I keep moving forward, things will always change for the better.

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. 🙂

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.  🙂

Sometimes, Obstacles are the Best Thing Ever.

Apparently, you can stop without completing the circle. Barely.
Apparently, you can stop without completing the circle. Barely.

I write about all sorts of things on this blog- really, whatever I feel like writing about when it comes to me. I know, now, that maybe that isn’t the best way to approach a “successful” blog venture (whatever the hell that is supposed to be), that if you want to attract a huge following, you should find an angle, find a particular “voice”, and then stick with that. Well, just so you know, I have no intention of doing that, at least, not today, and not in the foreseeable future. I started this blog because I love to write, and I wanted to write about things that I felt like writing about, in a place where I could share those thoughts with other people.

What is funny, though, is that I have been going through something recently that I haven’t wanted to talk about with anyone at all, not even myself. The last two days have been particularly bad, and the last thing I wanted to do was write about it here. Which is ridiculous, because what I am going through is real, and scary, and something that needs to be talked about, because I know that someone out there is going to relate. I haven’t wanted to talk about it because I didn’t want to upset or worry anyone, or have people think I am weak or stupid, or somehow less awesome than I am. But that is foolish, and I am not going on with the charade.

I have come so close to relapsing in the past two days, it is kind of a miracle that I didn’t. I don’t really have any explanation for why I didn’t, other than God must really be looking out for me. That is the only thing I can come up with. I had that anxious knot in my gut that told me I was on the ride now, and I couldn’t get off until I had seen it to it’s logical conclusion- which is always me, getting loaded. I have never before been so far gone and managed to escape without putting something altering in my body. Only this time, I did,

I made phone calls to people I shouldn’t have called. By the time they (invariably) called back, I couldn’t follow through with my mission for one reason or another. I visited places I shouldn’t have gone, and, by nothing other than the grace of God, or someone looking out for me, there was nothing there that I was looking for. I felt sick every time I got in my car, because I knew that I could not be trusted, that I was out looking for trouble, and this time, I might find it. I don’t know how I made it through, I really don’t.

Here is what I didn’t do- I didn’t call my sponsor. I didn’t reach out to anyone in recovery for help. I didn’t go to a meeting. I didn’t use any of the tools that I have learned over many, many years. Because I didn’t want to be talked out of my feverish quest to fuck myself over. I wanted to self destruct. Or, at least part of me did. There was also another part of me that was in there FREAKING OUT, begging me to stop, please, please stop. I wasn’t listening, though.

I want to share this with you now because maybe you can relate- I know people without problems with addiction just can’t get it, and that’s okay. I mean, it even sounds crazy to me, when I am feeling exceptionally well- like “why the hell would you want to mess up everything you have going for you?” I forget just as easily as if it had never been me. Then, one day, you go from going along just fine to total inner chaos. I didn’t want to wreck all the peace and happiness I have found, I just wanted, for a minute, to be who I was. Just for a day. But it is never a day, it is always more, and thank God, I didn’t have to go any further to remember that.

I don’t know if I am out of the woods yet. I woke up this morning just feeling incredibly grateful that the knot in my stomach had lessened, that I was still clean, that I didn’t open my eyes still determined to ruin my own life. I kept thinking “I am going to ruin Camryn’s birthday if I get high, there is no way I can pull this off.” and it’s true- even though her birthday isn’t until Sunday, in my heart, I knew…if I gave in today, Sunday was no longer going to be about Camryn. Nothing was going to be about anything but me, because that is how it goes.

So this morning, I thanked God profusely for the obstacles he put in my path over the past few days. I am so grateful right now for the phone calls that went unanswered, and the returned calls that I missed. I am so grateful that there were no drugs in the places I shouldn’t have been. I am so grateful to be sitting here, still feeling…everything.Thank you, thank you, thank you God. For the obstacles in my path that kept me clean, and for getting me through this. I am more grateful than I can adequately express.

The Writer’s Dilemma…


I have started working on a new story, so what is happening is what always happens- I am finding it harder to come up with the time and energy to devote to this blog. It’s funny, because they are such different things, and both of them give me something I want. Blogging has the immediate reward that I love- I have the ability to see who has read what I have written, who I have reached, who enjoys my writing. I get that immediate gratification that I love so much.

When I am writing a story, though, it is different. The story starts to materialize in my mind before I ever sit down to start sketching it out. It always starts like this- I am washing dishes, or walking my dog, or sitting on the toilet, and my mind goes “what if…say a girl was walking her dog early in the morning, like this, and they were by a cemetery…and the dog dragged her into the cemetery, and she lost the leash, and when she was trying to grab it, she fell…into an open grave…” Or maybe I start to see other parts of the story first, and then that first part comes to me. Eventually, it becomes almost painful not to start writing it out. I don’t get any immediate feedback on it, and most of the stories I have started, I haven’t even finished, for one reason or another. I lose interest, or something happens in my life that takes me away from writing, and when I come back, I just want to start something new.

I want to develop better habits, a solid writing routine, because- I have finally realized- this is everything to me. If I don’t get on the ball now, when will I? When I was very young, I already knew that writing was my calling in life, but I thought I had all the time in the world. I don’t know what I was waiting for. I don’t want to wait anymore. So, here I am, back to getting up at four every morning, so that I can have this time to write. I’m two chapters in on my new story, and I intend to finish this one. I also have decided to finish the editing of my first finished novel, and start sending it off again. I figure one of two things can happen- it will be rejected, or it won’t. I don’t need to get all nutty over it, I just need to do it. If no one wants it, then I will come up with something else. I don’t need to be afraid. I should be more afraid of doing nothing.

I plan on continuing blogging, and actually, I wrote a really good one earlier this week, but decided not  to publish it in the interest of not pissing off everybody in the world who disagrees with me…especially a few particular people whom the blog was aimed at. If they weren’t people I knew personally, I probably would have gone ahead with it, but I am trying to be responsible with my words these days, and not go around stabbing people with my literary sword. Although it sure is tempting sometimes.

I am very interested to hear about your writing routine- are you dedicated to it? Is there a time of day that works best for you? Do you have a hard time blogging when you are caught up in other literary pursuits?

I know this is a short one today, but I really just wanted to check in, let everyone know what is going on with me. I’ll be back before you know it!

Why the World Needs You to be Happy.



Yesterday, I went a little nutty when I found out that a dude from Liberia brought Ebola over here. I went a little nuttier when I found out that he went to the ER and TOLD THEM he had just traveled here from Liberia, and they “failed to communicate” this  to the doctors, who then sent him home with antibiotics, where he exposed a shit load…okay, several, at least- other people to this deadly disease. I mean, I was a little overboard. I was upset that something this stupid happened, I was upset that someone else’s stupidity basically opened up a big can of worms for (what felt like, to me, at that moment) the entire United States. I was upset that we are even allowing travel to and from Africa right now- I mean, it’s kind of a bad idea, don’t you think?  I was so upset, I had to go home and meditate after work before I picked up my daughter, because I knew my turmoil would just color everything I did that night, whatever my intentions.

So, I did that, and I came home, and we had a pretty below average night. I spent most of it reading “Orange is the New Black” (yes, it was a book first, apparently), and being blown away by how poorly the prison system is run. Yet another thing I can do nothing about, at least immediately.

Do you kind of see where I am going with this? There is shit going DOWN in this world, all the time, everywhere, that is OUTRAGEOUS. That is unjust and unfair and horrific, and heart wrenching. Wars and plagues, suffering. Rampant abuse of power. The way that it is presented to us, you would think we live in a totally chaotic and soul-less society, that extinction could very well be where we are headed…and maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. C’mon, admit it- you have thought that, quietly, a time or two, when you watched the news too many days in a row.

I am begging you- don’t buy into that shit. Do not do it. We are all at risk, every single day, when we are bombarded by the stories we hear on the news, and on social media, and plastered all over the internet- even the less reliable stories that are repeated to us in the break room at work, or in our cubicles, or wherever we are. Try to temper it with a bit of your own reality.  Take a look around you, right here, where YOU are, right now. There is still hope. It’s not all bad, man.  Shit has been going on, and going wrong, since the dawn of time- if you let it eat you up, if you let it infect your heart, you are out of the game, and we need you. We need you pretty desperately.

How many opportunities do you have, on a daily basis, to do something that makes someone else feel good? Before you say “Not very many”, think about it. Because I think we have endless opportunities, every single day. I am not talking about huge things, like finding a cure for Ebola (although I would really appreciate that, personally, if you could) or even big stuff, like volunteering, which I am sure we would all love to do, but don’t always have the time or even know how to get started. I am talking about just going out into the world and not being an asshole. Not riding the ass of the car in front of you because you are late for work, but slowing down, instead, and chilling the fuck out. I am talking about holding the door for someone, letting the person behind you in line with one item cut in front of you, not saying “no”, automatically, to the dude with the “please help” sign in front of the store.  I am talking about smiling at someone, paying a totally random stranger a compliment, saying sorry and thank you when appropriate…and even when not really necessary.

I am talking about going home, and insisting that your children spend a little time talking to you over dinner. This requires that both you AND them put your phones and Ipads away. I am advocating creating a small pocket of the warmth and tradition and connection that we all complain are absent from our lives and from the world. It won’t fix everything, but my God! We have to start somewhere, right? And we need to be happier, we need to smile more, we need to have the peace in our hearts that comes from knowing that all is NOT lost, don’t you agree? Because when all of us have lost that…without that…we are truly in trouble, my friends.

So, you have your instructions for the day- go out in the world, smile, be happy, don’t be an asshole. Try not to get Ebola. Check back here frequently for further instructions. Thank you.

The Truth

prayer2I wanted to share with you a something I wrote weeks before I got clean, not because I think it is so great, but because it sums up perfectly the sense of desperation I experienced in my “before” life. I am so glad that I have written things like this, so that when I grow forgetful, as I tend to, there are reminders everywhere to help me see the light. I think it is remarkable that I am where I am, again, intact, thriving, happy. I am not proud of the things I admit to here, but they are the truth for me- or were. I can’t help but think my prayers were answered. I hope these words find the people who need them most, so that they know they are not alone, and that there is ALWAYS hope. Enjoy:

prayer (1)


Today, just a little bit ago, I was coding a chart for the cancer clinic (I am a medical coder, and I work from home 90% of the time) for this man less than ten years older than my mom. This poor guy- he has cancer everywhere. His throat, his bones, his lungs, his liver…it isn’t good. I don’t need to be a medical professional to know that. When I finished with his coding, I stopped, bowed my head, and said a little prayer for him. This is not at all out of the ordinary for me, honestly. Even when I am in the office, if something I see in a patients chart is particularly awful or scary or sad and overwhelming, I will do the work, then pray, and no one is any the wiser. I just feel like it’s what I want to do, they need it, and it certainly can’t hurt anyone, right?

Today, my prayer for this man was simple- Dear God, please take note of this man, he is very sick, and he is probably very scared, he may feel a little hopeless, I don’t know, I don’t know him. But if I were him, I may just feel like there is nothing good left for me, in my fear. Maybe he is not a nice man, and people don’t care about him. Maybe he is a great man, with great faith, and many people love him and have had their lives touched by him. Either way, lord, he is your child and you love him- please put your hand on him today and let something good come into his life, give him hope, or peace.” That is as close to exact as I can get you with my prayers, especially since, I don’t know about you ( how you pray, or even if you pray at all, let alone for random strangers) but my prayers aren’t spoken aloud, they are thought and felt as much as they are spoken telepathically, only inside of my head. So there is quite a bit going on along with the words. At the end of this prayer, though, rather than stop, my prayer pulled a fast one on me, changing direction. Here is the rest:

“Oh yeah, and while you are putting your hand on people, how about reaching out to me, God? I am not doing so well, over here. I realize I have every single thing I need to have a happy, good life, but I need help, God. I need you to pull me out of this sickness causing me to lay waste to every happiness in my control. It isn’t just me, God, I am affecting so many other people, ruining their happiness, changing their lives…my babies, my girls, God. I never want to hurt them, and I can’t stop. Time is going by so fast, and I feel like I am just stuck here. Please help me, God. Please, please do something. Get me out of this. Every single thing I am doing is wrong.”

As I was finishing this prayer, crying like a little scared girl, looking around for a paper towel to mop up my entire head with, the writing thoughts started up. I was annoyed for a second, because I can’t seem to have a meltdown of any caliber anymore without the thought of taking it down “for the book” popping into my head.

Then it hit me. Here I am, sobbing, asking God, PLEASE, for a hand, for help, for a way out…and the answer is always, Writing. Write it down. Put it on paper. Don’t let it slip away, don’t waste it, don’t think you are getting out of this without using it- what do you think you are here for, anyway? You have a problem, a really BIG problem, and you can write about it the way you can talk- so that anyone can relate to you. This is not an accident. If you don’t make this problem a light that you can shine into the lives and hearts of people just like you, or people who love people just like you and cannot understand…well, then what will have been the purpose of all these years? All this heartache? Don’t waste it.

That is, I think, what I am being told, here.

I really haven’t wanted to listen. I wanted to tell this story when I was well, rather than in the midst of the worst, sickest part. It would be an easier story to tell from there, and easier to hear. But maybe I can’t help anyone well, not yet. Maybe you need to see the whole picture, this feeble, frightened woman who still feels like a little girl most of the time, a girl who hates herself- loathes herself, pretty much, for what feels like weakness. Weakness, selfishness, greed, compulsion, darkness. All of those things are present. Callousness, cruelty, rage, impatience. Side effects. Mercurial, unpredictable, inconsistent, confusing- all accurate. Sad, broken, desperate, scared, helpless, despairing. Yes. Completely fucking out of ideas, frozen in place, terrified to ask for help? Oh yes, all of those, also. And in quiet terror, I watch the years fly by, and me, still here, missing all of the things that make up a life. Here, but not here. Present, but detached, missing all of the happiness and tenderness, forfeited to the tyranny of my mental illness or whatever it is, turning every thought into one about me- “ do you think anyone is noticing me acting weird? Am I acting weird?” “Why is she talking to ME like that, I’m fucking here, aren’t I? why are they singling me out?” “No matter what I do, it isn’t good enough.” “Oh my gosh, when can I get out of here, I need to figure out where I can do this at.” Every thought in my head, obsessing over myself. Rushing through birthday parties, ruining Thanksgiving, never letting anyone see me for long enough to talk too seriously, keeping my kids from ever relaxing or getting to know their aunts, uncles, cousins. But, you know, they have their whole lives…I mean, plenty of time, right? I’ll be better way before it even matters. Right?

But I haven’t been better. And now Aisley is sixteen. Do you know what that means? That means I waited her whole life, her entire childhood, hoping something would change, and I would get better. I stole every single chance for normal memories of her childhood, memories that even I have, in my screwed up childhood. Memories that I CHERISH. I love my daughter more than anything, but I could not refuse myself, even briefly, to give this to her. There is something so brutal and awful about that. No wonder I despise myself.

I am in a battle for my life every minute of every day. You may not know it by looking at me. I have mastered, or at least become skilled at, putting my best face forward for you. I will smile and look you in the eye, and try really hard to keep my word, show up on time, be fair and honest and decent, because that is who I want to be, and the way I want you to think of me.

I don’t want you to know that I have been a drug addict since I was nineteen years old. That I have seen and done and known about things that would horrify the average person, but don’t even surprise me anymore. I would die if you knew how unhealthy the way I live, the way I treat myself, is. I would be so embarrassed if you saw how I behaved, sometimes, towards my children, or my mother, who have done nothing but love me. I would be so ashamed if you knew how poorly I treat my job, that gives me every tool imaginable to live a prosperous life. I would be mortified if the people I work with, my friends and respected peers that have shown me such kindness, so much love and support, knew the truth. I don’t want anyone to know the real me. And it is making it so hard to ask for help, that I don’t know when all this will end. I live in constant fear of being found out, and what the repercussions of that would be. I am terrified of that, but finding the courage to get help seems almost less possible to me most of the time. The rest of the time, I am just continuing on, not improving or worsening, steady in my pursuit of…nothing. More of this. More misery and emptiness and shame.


I guess I need to tell this story. I don’t want you to know me this way, but you are going to have to, if I am ever going to get better. And I HAVE to get better, I HAVE to. I can’t bear thinking of what my regrets will look like if I have to look back at my whole life, and see nothing but me standing in a wasteland, refusing light years of love being handed out on a silver platter. What a fool. What a sad, terrible fool. Please, God, please let this help. Let this be the start of a tunnel out of here.

Thank you.

Some Days Are For Wising Up



I’m just going to come out and say it- yesterday was tough. The previous two days, Saturday and Sunday, were a blissed out, low frequency hum, slow and indulgent. All about naps and walks and peace and quiet. Then, Sunday evening, all hell broke loose…oh, brother, my inability to be less than honest will not allow me to stick by those words. The truth is, two things happened: 1) my older daughter went behind my back and obtained a Chihuahua with issues off of Craigslist- after months of arguing, I might add, because I could not imagine yet another pet underfoot, here. Especially a neurotic, yapping, nervous wreck of an animal like a Chihuahua. I mean, step on Lucy, my Black Lab, and you move on with life; step on a Chihuahua, you’re a murderer. Then, Camryn came home. I was already kind of freaked out about the new dog (her name is Honey Bee, by the way), now imagine the sound of a very excited three year old hyped up on junk food and just released from a car after driving for three hours. Imagine that, mingled with a nervous puppy, a very excited lab who thinks she is the same size as the Chihuahua, an irritable teenager, an upset mom, and a very angry, overweight house cat. Yeah.

So, we went from the slow, indulgent, low frequency hum to a discordant death-metal riff screaming through really good amps in like an hour. I’d hoped that the next day (yesterday) would be better. But instead, I woke up to about three minutes of privacy. Both of my kids were up and about. All of the animals were running around. I didn’t get to meditate, I wrote something half assed, I never went for my morning walk. This was not a good way for my day to start.  Then I remembered that my daughter had an appointment with her probation officer (don’t ask), and my little one wasn’t feeling great…So, off we all went, to the courthouse, at seven a.m.

I was in a less than sparkly mood. I was rude to the lady at Juvenile Probation, to the point that she actually asked me if I was sick! I snapped at my daughter’s intolerance of her little sister, then I snapped at my little daughter for being a pest. On the way home, I bought donuts, thinking that would somehow make things better…it didn’t. Crappy food is like putting a used band-aid over a new cut- a recipe for disaster. 

Things didn’t get better from there…the poor little dog my kid brought home had been weaned early from her puppies (she, at ten months, is still a pup herself) and her teats were terribly engorged. By yesterday, they were much worse. I had already called in at work because my little one was feeling sick, so I took the puppy down to my vet. The bottom line? Honey Bee needs surgery this Thursday, period. So that’s what we are going to do.

The rest of the day just carried on in the same fashion. Lots of noise, lots of snapping at each other, even meanness coming out that had been absent for so long. I felt full of shame at my impatience and inability to take any of this in stride. Not only was I not happy, I couldn’t even fake like I was. It felt really, really bad. By 6:30 in the evening, I was so wiped out, my three year old and I lay down to watch cartoons, and both of us just passed out.

This morning, I woke up feeling nervous and angry about the previous day. I have worked so hard to get to a spot where I am okay, that I am afraid of losing it. The truth is, if I have to be angry, fearful AND clean…I wasn’t sure I could do it. Then, while I was trying to figure out how to write about all of this, this morning, a pattern emerged. And it hit me: Yesterday hadn’t been about me helping me. It had been about me being there for others-others who really needed me. 

Think about it- This little dog, she needed a loving home, and people who could give her the love and help she needed. Without us, she would have gone to the pound, and very likely been put to sleep. As a matter of fact, the lady at my vets office made a point of telling us “You have saved this dog.” And my older daughter, who is asleep right now, cuddled up with her new pet, maybe she needs this little girl, more than I realized. Also, I told her she has GOT to get a job now, if she wants to keep her dog, because I simply cannot afford to care for another pet. My daughter is painfully shy, but she pushed through that yesterday to go check back on an application she put in at a restaurant down the street. The look of pride on her face when she came outside, just because she had overcome her anxiety to accomplish something, was priceless. 

The moral here is this: Yes, it is important that I take care of me- every day, I know what to do to make sure I am okay. It is my job to find a way to squeeze that stuff in with whatever time I have. But not every day is about me taking care of me. Perhaps the Universe has decided I am well enough now to start giving back a little of the love it has shown me. My job is to do this as graciously as possible. Yesterday, I fell a little bit short. I forgive me. Today, I understand- challenge accepted. I am a work in progress, for sure. But I know I am up to the task of sharing some of what I have with whoever needs it. I know I am.

Now, it is time for my walk. I don’t want to take any chances.