Posted in happiness, inner peace, Learning, Life, Musings, random, spirit, spirituality, Uncategorized

Rivers

the way you carry it
Here’s a good summary of what I was trying to say, except it took me like a 1000 words. Sigh. 🙂

In my mind, there are several rivers of thought-distinct rivers all travelling in the same direction, with miles of space between them. In one river are all the earthly thoughts about who I am- the criticisms, the judgments, the pain, the memories, and all the debris and murkiness picked up over a lifetime of living. In the next river, there is the brisk and frigid water of this modern life- societal expectations, the stress of keeping up, the teeming rapids of work, sleep, tasks…the rush of one day careening into the next as time rushes by faster and faster while months and years pass. The third river of thought is older than time itself, much older than the other two. You can tell because it is neither muddy nor rushed, but it flows downstream peacefully, knowing it will always arrive where it is meant to be, that nothing can stop it. Though this river has always been here, it is hard for me to get to. I have spent most of my time being swept away by the other two, and by countless other streams and puddles and creeks that branch off of them. I find that the third river is difficult to reach sometimes, and though I love it most of all, it’s the hardest one to stay at. I am forever being pulled away, sucked back into the muddy waters of one, or the furious pace of the other.

I am not judging this experience, I am simply explaining it in a way that makes sense to me. Have you observed something similar in your own life? Because this is the best illustration for the layers of my unfolding life that I can come up with. There is the emotional and mental aspect, there is the physical, human aspect, and then there is the eternal, spiritual aspect.

In my short-sighted, human way, I have been struggling against the same exact issues since the very beginning of this blog. I suspected that was true when I started questioning the originality of my posts lately. It was confirmed when I took a little walk down memory lane this morning, and saw myself writing about the same feelings, the same moods, the same ideas- with slight variations, of course- over and over. The reason I find this more funny than alarming is a direct result of this spiritual hurricane season I have personally been going through, trying, inadequately, to convey here.

You see, I have been afraid and resentful of the muddy river of my emotions. I have allowed myself to get beat up by the debris of bad memories and sucked under by the weight of my own judgement. I’ve struggled to swim against the current, trying to go back and make sense of it all, not realizing that none of it matters, the past is GONE. This water only goes one way, and all along it’s been trying to move me forward, farther and farther away from those things. I’ve been fighting so hard in this river when all I ever needed to do was let it move me along. All I ever needed to do was let go.

And this cold river over here? The one that sounds like a thousand clamoring voices and all their opinions and expectations? I have been right out in the middle of that river, tumbling end over end, but no matter how fast I went, I never got anywhere. I can’t really get out of this river, not completely. But you know what? I found out that I can stay out of the middle where the rapids are, and along the edges, things move more slowly. I don’t have to keep up with anyone else to be happy- in fact, the opposite is true. The more I focus on just my life, and the people in it, the better I feel.

River number three, that nirvana where we all come from? We aren’t supposed to live there, I don’t think. Not all the time, not while we are earth-bound in these skin suits. That would be nice, but it wouldn’t teach us nearly as much about being people as the other two rivers (and all the other figurative bodies of water we cross, tides we get swept away in, currents that pull on us) do. We all have our own rivers. We all have to learn from them.

I have spent the bulk of my life in these waters and never named them or saw them for what they are. And because of that, I have fought and struggled and nearly drowned, yet never gained an inch. Every time my head breaks the surface and I get to take a breath, I’m in the same spot. I know this sounds grim, but I’m smiling as I write these words. I can break this cycle now and move on.

As long as I am a human being, I will continue to have human issues. I am here for a reason. I have been through what I’ve been through for a reason. The people in my life are here on purpose. That is all I need to know, which means the past can be forgiven, the pain can be released, and I can let go. I don’t need to be afraid.

As long as I need a roof over my head and food in my cupboards, I will have to participate, at the very least, in my own survival. But I don’t have to throw myself into the chaos completely. I do have some say in how much I allow myself to be swept up in the craziness. I can turn off the news, step away from social media, keep my consumption of bullshit low. Listen to my own voice, and let it guide me.

Releasing my fear of the first river, and learning to find my place in the second, I expect that there will be much more peace, much more time that I can choose to spend contemplating river number three. Who knows? Perhaps one day I’ll find the place where they converge. Now wouldn’t that be something?

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Addiction, anxiety, Depression, faith, family, happiness, inner peace, Life, meditation, Mental Health, mental illness, People, spirituality

Did…did Oprah Just Change my Life?

Glennon

(This is longer than usual, I apologize. But I needed to tell this story)

As you all know, I have been struggling like crazy (no pun intended) with my mental health recently, specifically an anxiety cocktail that includes obsessive thoughts, hyper focus on far-fetched illnesses, and catastrophic thinking. I would not recommend this cocktail to ANYONE.

I would like to announce that I had a little breakthrough yesterday. It actually started out to be a terrible day. I woke up anxious already, but I couldn’t figure out about what. I felt shaky and nervous and weird, and all I’d done was wake up. So of course, my anxiety is looking for something to hitch its wagon to. I see my brain start searching it’s data banks for the nearest fear it can blow out of proportion.

And let me tell you, I am just fucking sick of this shit. Pardon my language, but my GOD, this gets soooooo old. So, I sit down to pray and meditate. I send up an urgent prayer to God- please take this, please help me, HELP ME. And then I choose my meditation for the day- I love the calm app, and if you struggle to meditate, I cannot recommend this app highly enough. Guided meditations for every conceivable thing, plus you can choose your music, and the woman’s voice is incredible. Anyway, I chose one I’d never seen before…I just had to look it up, it was called “Investigating Anxiety” and let me tell you, it was one of the hardest 13 minutes I’ve ever sat for. She asked me to call up my anxiety, to feel it in my body, to sit with it. It was like opening up a fire hydrant and just letting it blast you in the face. But I did it. I sat there, with the knot in my gut and tears rolling silently down my face, and you know what…it didn’t kill me. For that time, it was just a very uncomfortable feeling. For some reason, I feel like that limbered me up a little bit- like I was looser, and less clenched, and so what happened next was able to get in, I was able to hear the message I was meant to hear.

Let me explain what I mean: I have noticed, throughout my life, that when I am desperate and asking God for help, God is listening to me. But I need to be open to the answers. Until I am open to the answers, I am not going to be able to receive the help even when I am begging for it. When my anxiety is full throttle, I am so shut down, just trying to make it through every minute, that short of appearing in the flesh in front of me and shaking me, I am not picking up what God is laying down- and for the record, if the idea of God makes you uncomfortable, just fill in that space with whatever word you use. (WOW that was a run-on sentence. My apologies) I really don’t think it matters.

Anyway, I was feeling a little less knotted up after my meditation, and when I returned home after dropping Cam off at school, I started listening to Oprah’s Super Soul Podcast. I started last week, and had moment of clarity listening to Brene Brown, which was so funny as I have struggled to get through her books…but something about hearing her speak got the message through. Anyway, yesterday, I trusted that I would find the right episode and chose Glennon Doyle, whose name I’d heard, but knew nothing about. She said some stuff about addiction, that it is a place where sensitive people hide because they learned early on that the cost of love and pain were too much. It blew my mind. Wow. There was more, but trying to convey it all here would be impossible- I didn’t take notes, I just let the message into my heart. After that, I listened to two episodes with Iyanla Vanzant- again, heard the name, know nothing about her. Let the message flow into me.

I couldn’t tell you the exact things I heard, but I can tell you this- I remembered a few things that my anxious mind was keeping from me. Things like, oh yeah- I believe in a benevolent universe, and I have a God in my life who loves me. That you can’t bank worry to keep you from future pain- it doesn’t work like that. And that sometimes bad things do indeed happen, but that is true whether you choose to live in fear of them or not.

But it wasn’t exactly what was said, I don’t think, that really got me. It was more like…my mind and my heart opened up because I was thinking in a different way.  The guests and the questions and the stories were like WD-40 for my mind, helping the wheels to start turning, getting me thinking again. And right in the middle of all of it, I opened up a notebook and wrote a letter to myself. I’m not going to share it with you here, but my therapist had asked me to write a letter of self-compassion last week, and I balked like no one has ever balked before. Just, YUCK. No. But lo and behold, I pulled it off yesterday. It didn’t even start off that way, but that’s where it ended up.

The thing is, my anxiety is not really about my fear of something happening to me, or to my children. My anxiety is really about me not being able to forgive myself for my past. It’s about me not thinking I deserve the blessings I have today, because I am just a mean-spirited ex-junkie who just got lucky. It’s me waiting for the jig to be up, for God to take it all away. My anxiety is me, telling me I am not good enough. That there must be some mistake.

But I have worked really hard to get here. I overcame my addiction, and even though it didn’t seem hard to me, it must have been- how many other times did I try and fail? How many years did I sacrifice to that monster? So, yeah, it didn’t seem hard but maybe that’s just because I have a good perspective about it and I chose to see the beauty in it. And perhaps it looks like I have a cushy job- even to me, sometimes. But I show up day in and day out and I try to do my best. I struggle A LOT. The point I am trying to make is that the same brain telling me I am not good enough is the one telling me I just got lucky. Yesterday I saw the flaw in my thinking. I do deserve my life. I do deserve my kids, and the love, and the happiness. And yes, awful things may come. But do I have to ruin all my happiness while it is good? No. No I do not.

I’m sorry this is so long. I needed to get this off my chest. The thing is, I am not magically cured. I just believe I needed to stay with those feelings until I got the lesson, and now things will, hopefully, begin to improve. In the meantime, I am going to keep asking for help and looking for the message, and really try to let go of fear and enjoy my life. So thanks, God. And thanks, Oprah. LOL. You’re the best.

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, Blogging, inner peace, Life, Musings, random, recovery

Guilty

guilty

I’m a guilt hoarder. I just realized that this morning, and of course, as usual, I think it might be the root of all my problems- and maybe yours, too. What in the hell is a guilt hoarder, you might ask?

Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like- I hold onto guilt way past the time when I should probably let that shit go. I’m still feeling bad about things that happened ages and ages ago, and how does this serve me? How does it serve anyone, really? Short answer? It doesn’t. The guilt I haul around with me everywhere is soooo old, it’s as if it belongs to a totally different person (because, honestly, who the hell is the same person now that they were 10 or 20 years ago?), and it adds nothing of any value to my life. I think it’s time I let it go.

Here’s the thing- as I have discussed repeatedly throughout my posts, I started using drugs at a very young age. I really threw myself into that role, my friends. I was dedicated. That was my identity for such a long, long time. During those years, I did a lot of things I am not proud of. I hurt people that I loved dearly. I was a terrible friend. I said awful things, and treated people poorly, in general. Some of the things I did, I might not have done had I been older and wiser and had an ounce of empathy in me- But I wasn’t, and I didn’t, and that is all there is to it. I just did what I wanted to do, and never thought beyond that. Did I have remorse? Yeah, I did. But unfortunately, that didn’t keep me from repeating it all over again. I was incapable of seeing beyond the immediate, and that was how I lived.

That’s a lot of years of uncomfortable memories to walk around with. I’m sure there are people walking around in this very town who think some pretty unpleasant things about me. But guess what? The joke is on them, because they could never, ever, be as hard on me as I am on myself. Neener-neener. And I know more about the true scope of my behavior than anyone else ever could, so, again…in your face, mystery people who walk around hating me.

Oh, also? Those people probably don’t exist. There is no one sitting around talking about what a nightmare I was twenty years ago. This is all part of the elaborate torture-scape my brain has constructed over the years, just to mess with me. People move on. They have their own shit to deal with. They let go of things, eventually.

You know how I know this? Because people have done terrible things to me, too, and I swear to you that not one of them pops readily into my mind as an example. I could think of something if I tried hard enough, but why would I? It doesn’t matter anymore. My friends are still my friends, even when we don’t talk for years, and when I see certain people, I’m not mad at them. I’m happy to see them! I feel joyful about their successes in life, and marvel at the way things have changed for them. Sometimes, I feel a little bit worried that their lives haven’t changed that much, and I hope for better things for them. And honestly, the shitty things that happened? They seem kind of funny to me now. We were kids, and we were all doing the same shady shit, and that is all.

So why can’t I extend this same love and forgiveness to myself? Why can’t I look back at 25 year old me and think “God love her, she’s lucky she made it out alive!” or even “She just didn’t know what she was doing, that’s all- if she had known, she would have done better.”

An even better question would be, why can’t I look at 43 year old me and think “Wow. Look at what you have done with your life! You are not at all the person you used to be. What an amazing person you are!” Man, I wish I could say that to myself and really believe it.

I’m sure that drug addicts don’t own the rights to guilt- although we sure do give ourselves plenty of reasons to load up on it. I’m sure lots of people walk around with this weight on their shoulders.

What I really want to know is, how do I get rid of it? I deserve my own forgiveness, so how do I do it? Is there a workbook I can fill out, or a doctor I can see, is there some magical incantation I can say three times during the full moon while I sage myself? Because sign me up! I will do it.

Unfortunately, I think what I have to do is accept that I cannot change the past, and stop rehashing it. Stop unpacking it. Stop dragging it with me everywhere. Remember that I am no more the wild girl I was at 20 than I am the child I was at 10. Those were parts of my life, no more.

I have a lot to be proud of, and so many reasons to love who I am today. Living in the shadow of memories of the past is keeping me from growing the way I should. Today, I will work on accepting myself, forgiving myself, and loving who I am now.

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

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.