Posted in advice, alcoholism, Blogging, faith, inner peace, Learning, Life, recovery, twelve step

The Courage to Face Yourself

courage

I remember the exact moment that it hit me. The moment when I realized that the only reason I was still using every bit of energy I had, every resource I could scrounge up, to come up with some pittance of dope day after day. It wasn’t to get high- I couldn’t get high anymore if I wanted to, that ship had long since sailed. It was to keep myself one step ahead of what was constantly nipping at my heels. The truth. The truth about who I had become, and what I had made of my life. The truth about the wreckage I had caused, and the collateral damage…the pain I had inflicted on everyone around me.

I was in my living room, in a shitty apartment in Reno, Nevada, and I was stalking around the way I always did- restless, agitated, trying to figure out my next hustle. Half out of my mind from lack of sleep and fried brain cells, and it hit me. A moment of clarity that I really wasn’t looking for.

“You’re going to have to face yourself, eventually.” The thought came out of nowhere, and it was one of those weird moments where it sounded like my own voice in my head, but it didn’t feel like it came from me. I didn’t want to hear it, but I couldn’t help it. I remember that I stopped my pacing, and considered what my head had just told me. I wasn’t ready yet, not at that moment, but something had happened. A seed had been planted, blown into me from somewhere- maybe it was God, maybe it was just my own desperate psyche, trying to save me. I don’t know.

After that, weird little moments kept cropping up- I would be in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, and catch sight of myself in the mirror, and find myself thinking “Can I even get back to the person I used to be? Does she even exist anymore? What if she isn’t real? What if all I am is this nightmare of a human being?” Or, at two in the morning, I’d find myself nodding off on the couch, thinking “What if I can’t change? What if this is just who I am?”

I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, I can see that all those questions were more than just idle thoughts. They were the very beginning of my escape plan. The very idea of doing something different was so absurd, so foreign to me, that at first, all I could handle were these tiny little thoughts. Eventually, they grew and grew, until I had worn myself out enough that I had no choice but to drop from exhaustion. My first surrender was pure exhaustion, so complete that I couldn’t even wave a white flag. I just gave up because I had nothing left in me to keep going.

My first spin through recovery was more of a reprieve. I made it two years, I relapsed for one day, then made it another year. I went through the motions, learned all the acronyms, went to meetings, thought I was getting somewhere. But after all that time, when the opportunity to use came along again, I jumped at it, and it wasn’t long before I was right back where I’d been before, with the exception that I was now employable, responsible, and really good at faking my way through life. In short, I was a functioning addict now as opposed to the totally dysfunctional one I had been before. Progress, right? Yeah, I don’t think so.

When I got clean again almost three years ago, I had no idea how different this time would be for me. I had no clue that I was finally ready, and that the work I was about to embark on would be painful, hard and the most life-changing thing I could do for myself. Thank God I didn’t know! If I had, I never would have had the courage to start. I have unearthed things I never wanted to look at again, I have told the truth about things I hadn’t even known I was lying about all my life. It has been gut wrenching and frightening at times- to see myself in the most unflattering of lights, to realize what a mess I made, not just of my own life, but of the lives I was responsible for. My kids definitely carry the shrapnel of my battles in their skin. There are some things I will never be able to fix, unless someone figures out how to build a time machine.

But even so…what could I do? My past mistakes are so intrinsically linked to the joys of my life, they could never be separated. I had to be who I was to make the choices I made to get to exactly where I am. If I went back in time and changed one thing, I would not be this person sitting here, writing this, right now. The framed pictures of my children that I can see would not be there, because they wouldn’t be here, none of it would.

So, if I couldn’t change any of it, and if it was so painful to face, why do it at all? You might ask. Why not just leave the past in the past and move forward, leave all that shit behind you. The only thing I can tell you about that is, there is no peace in burying the truth. The moment I found the courage to face the ugly truth, the moment I took responsibility for who I had been and what I had done, the past lost its power over me. I still have moments, nearly every day, where I feel remorse or regret over something that happened long ago. But they are just twinges now, they don’t feel like a punch in the gut anymore. And that really IS progress.

You cannot heal and hide at the same time. Anyone can run away from the truth, or bury it- but you can’t bury it deep enough to keep it away. The truth ALWAYS finds a way back to the surface. The most courageous thing I have ever done in my life wasn’t getting clean- it was inviting the truth up to meet me, seeing it for what it was, and finally, setting myself free.

via Daily Prompt: Courage

Advertisements
Posted in advice, aging, family, inner peace, kids, Learning, Life, living, love, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, relationships

Letting Go of Old Resentments in Favor of Love:

God, it’s been so long since I have sat here and tried to write anything, that I almost don’t know where to start. I got stuck on the “Title” space for such a long time that I decided to just write first, and see if something came to me. In case you are curious, I will tell you that over the past two months, while I haven’t been writing, I have been doing a lot of work on myself. Trust me, there was plenty of stuff to work on, and plenty left to do…I’m not one to just leave myself be. Oh, if only I could. But that will never be me. Anyway, I thought about writing a lot, but I just didn’t have anything I wanted to say, here…then, the past few days, the urge started coming over me again. If you write, you know what I mean- little ideas start tickling the back of your mind. Nothing too pressing. Then, this morning came, and I knew it was time.

resentment

This morning, a friend of mine lost her father. He was in hospice, and so it wasn’t unexpected, but…she fell asleep beside him, holding his hand, and when she woke up, he was gone. She is devastated. Last week, a friend that I work with lost her mother. Like my other friend, she was there with her, right to the very end. We talked for a long time about it, and I told her that when I found out her mom had passed, I tried to imagine what it would be like to wake up in a world where my mother no longer resided- I really did this, at home, alone, trying to put myself in my friends place. Because, you know, I have never done that. No matter what kind of relationship I have with my mom- and it goes through phases- I have always had the assurance that she was there. I have taken that for granted every single day of my entire life. Imagine what it would feel like for that not to be true. Of course, if you have already lost one, or both, of your parents, you already know…but for the rest of us, it bears thinking about.

Now, think for a second about the resentments, big or small, that you carry around. Are they worth the price they will cost you if they are holding you back from fully loving someone that gave you life? This is a question I asked myself, and it may be worth asking yourself, as well. I am not saying that just because someone is your parent, anything they have done should be forgiven- I know there are horror stories of abandonment and abuse, and I am not talking about that. I am talking about things…well, I guess I am talking about the things that I have carried around, that hold ME back. I suppose what I am saying is that I have chosen not to love as fully as I could, maybe not consciously, because of my own resentments…things that belong in the past, to people who don’t really even exist anymore.

We grow up- children are not the only ones who grow up, who change. I certainly have, and I know my parents have, too. I want to love them with my WHOLE heart, and that is what I hope to do. Because they are still here, and I am a lucky daughter, indeed. I look at how strained my relationship is with my mom and dad at certain times (whether they know it or not) and I hope more than anything that my kids don’t ever have that kind of resentment or any of those kinds of feelings about me. But, boy, I have sure given them plenty of good material to use.

Here’s the thing- my parents are human beings, and human beings mess up. I know they had the best of intentions, like every one of us do, and they did stuff they regret anyway. I know this to be true, not just because I lived through it but because they’ve told me. With their own mouths, they have said to me:  “I wish I would have done things differently”. My mom has beat herself up for years over things she cannot change, decisions she made, that, at the time were the VERY BEST she could make from the options she had. And you know what? We are okay, anyway. My brother and I love her, we go to her with all of our stuff…but in my heart, I know I have held myself back. She can’t go back in time and change anything, anymore than I can go back and give my daughter a happy childhood with a mother who was not on drugs, not abrasive and full of rage. I can never, ever do that. But I hope she forgives me. I need forgiveness, too.

Today, I am letting go of that shit- those old resentments I have carried for far too long. I am going to love my parents fully, both of them, because they deserve it. They have loved and forgiven me for a lot of stuff- it’s time, for all of our sakes, that I leave the past in the past. I am so glad my mom and dad are still here, that I can pick up the phone and call them just to say “I love you.” And maybe this blog didn’t make a lot of sense to you, but my heart sure needed to puzzle this out. Thanks for reading- hope to see you again here, soon.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Oh, You Guys…

I know it has been a really, really, really long time since I have written. It’s been about as long since I have had the desire. But yesterday was my birthday, and I’ve been doing some things to better myself, and I guess it was a good combo, ’cause here I am.

This past year has been horrendously hard. I have struggled, as quietly and privately as possible, with my issues with addiction, with my unhealthy relationships, with heart break and heartache and stuff you can’t even begin to imagine. Stuff so hurtful I couldn’t even write about it.

I woke up this morning, and the pain was still there. But I found that it is further away, and that I am wrapped in something softer and sweeter, and I think it may be the grace that comes with time and forgiveness, and a clear head. I am so grateful for the raw pain to be less than it was, for the glimmer of hope, the idea that maybe, even if my life does not end up the way I wanted it to be, maybe it will still be good. I am more grateful than I can express for that tiny little hope.

I can tell you this- I am not going to jump through hoops to make someone love me, knowing the love you get this way is never going to be one you can lean on when times are hard. I am going to be who I am, the best self I can be, and try to have faith that this is enough. Something tells me it will be.

And that is all for now. I have a birthday party to get to (at work)!

Posted in Addiction, advice, Goals, inner peace, Life, love, People

Gratitude For Heartache

This is a letter of thanks- to the people who yelled at me and mistreated me, when I was still a little girl. To the girls and boys who were so mean and cruel in middles school. To the friends who wound up not being friends at all. To the men I loved so much that threw that love away and broke my heart. To the drugs that almost took me out. To my own stubborn self, for standing in my way so many times…thank you.

I am not a little girl, not anymore.  I have forgiven you, forgotten you, moved on…but I know now how I do not want to be talked to or treated, and I will not allow it. I had to learn that it was not okay to treat other people the way you treated me, but it was good that I could tell that I was wrong, and why, and now I am a better person for it. So thank you. I hope you have a better life today than you did when I was small.

You twelve and thirteen and fourteen year old little heathens of yore…I get it now. You couldn’t have known about my miserable home life, about how terribly your words hurt me. Not that you would have cared, such is the nature of the beast. But kids are cruel, and you (nor I) were any exception. The ones of you that remember and feel bad have grown up and are probably decent people…the ones who have forgotten are normal. But if you look back and still find your antics funny, you probably have an ass the size of a carport and a rotten life. I will pray for you.

To the friends who were not friends at all- I’ve stood where you stand, and it’s a lonely place. Sorry is not just a word, you know. Sometimes it’s a knock at the door. Life has given me a heart full of compassion and a head full of understanding, and you know, maybe I miss you, too.

Oh, and you men. Yikes. You are my Achilles heel, and I can’t blame you for my reprehensible taste, but still…one thing I am good at is loving you, and you have been disappointing. You know who you are. That first one, who got all of the best love I had, and played me like a hand of cards…like, five hands of cards, actually. So many lies, betrayals, dashed hopes and sleepless nights. But it’s okay, because you taught me a lot- about what I want, what I don’t want, and how to tell when I am heading down a bad road.  So, thanks. Don’t call me or anything, just thank you.

Sigh…the drugs. I can’t leave you out, not if I’m being honest. You were the hurdle I almost couldn’t clear, and I am so glad you are gone. You stole me from my family, my children, my dreams and I almost couldn’t escape. I know you are out there, cruising my street sometimes- when I am hurting or fed up or too sad- just waiting for me to stumble, and I know you have all the time in the world. But I have learned to sit on my hands. I have learned to think about the end result, the inevitable conclusion you will lead me to, and I stay inside until you are bored and move on. I have been someone I couldn’t stand, did things I would never do, gone to places I wish I didn’t know about, all with you. But you made me better than I ever could have been without you. You stay away from me, but thank you.

And stubborn little me…well. I forgive you, and will continue to do so, when necessary. Despite the worst decisions you have made, the repeated wrong turns and backslides, your heart remains good. I wouldn’t change a minute of it.

So, thank you, thank you, thank you- all the heartache life has dropped at my door has made me stronger. I value real love like the treasure it is. I am a fierce and loyal protector of those I love- whether children, lover or friend. I am not afraid. Because of all the bad times, I know I can survive just about anything you throw at me. Because of the good times, I know it’s all worth it.

I am still learning. When to give up, when to let go, when it is not for me to decide.  But I have learned, because of past mistakes, to listen closely to my instincts, to pay attention to what my body is telling me in its own quiet way.  I know that facing the truth now is better than pretending things aren’t what they are indefinitely- you can’t always avoid heartache, but you don’t have to prolong it. I know that actions really do speak louder than words. I know that time really does tell.

I have been let down, let go, locked out, beat up, messed with and leveled along the way. I have cried, a lot. I have had moments where I was pretty sure life as I knew it was over- and you know what? I wasn’t wrong. Because every single time I got back up, pulled it together, sucked it up and decided to persevere, I was better than before. That life had ended and something better began.

Now, here I sit, at 37, and my life is what it is because of all the challenges, the failures, the successes, that shaped me. I know who I am, and I know what I want. I am stronger and better, deeper and more compassionate than I ever thought I could be. I am more capable and less afraid, more certain and more open minded than I believed possible. I am a better mother than I was, more tender, more patient, more aware. I am a better friend than I was, more able to listen, more loyal, more honest, more practical. I am a better woman.

I am not who I thought I would be, but everything I need to be today. And better than I’d hoped, so long ago. So thank you for the lessons that you taught me, that led me here. I am more grateful than you could ever know.