Posted in anxiety, faith, family, health, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random

Gratitude, Fear, and Compassion

gratitude in hard times

Here is a question for you- do you think gratitude and fear can coexist? Can they live in the same mind, spirit, body at the same time? If you would have asked me that question two weeks ago, I think my answer might have been different. But today, my answer is yes.

I know this to be true because I am living it right now, right in the chair where I sit. I am grateful, so incredibly grateful, for my health. For the fact that, in a few minutes, it will be time for me to start work and I get to do it in the comfort and safety of my own home, while my daughter sleeps peacefully in the other room. You have no idea what a blessing that routine and normalcy is for me today! I am grateful for the food in my fridge. And for the first time in my life, I have a true sense of gratitude for the people who are keeping our country intact- the nurses, the grocery store employees, the truck drivers, the delivery drivers. I just never gave it much thought before. But today, I am. I am so very grateful for them.

And right beside my gratitude is fear. I am afraid for my parents- my mom, especially, because for whatever reason she just isn’t taking this seriously. I’m afraid for myself and also my daughters, especially the little one who has reactive airways- in other words, asthma when she is sick. Losing all of the things I take for granted, the little luxuries in life like…running to the store, grabbing dinner out, visiting farmer’s market…that is scary, and surreal and weird. The last time I was in the grocery store, I ran through as fast as I could, wanting nothing more than to wash my hands. Counting the days past my last interaction with the world, hoping I don’t start getting a sore throat or a fever. Because it’s just Cam and I in this house, and I need to be able to care for her. This virus is in our community- I think it has been long before we got our first positive test- and I am not ashamed to admit I’m afraid. I think, if you are not a little nervous, you really should be. A little bit of fear, in this case, is healthy.

But from this gratitude and fear, a third thing was born, not just for me but for lots of people all around the world, and this has been the most beautiful part of all. Compassion. Compassion that makes people more generous and giving at once than I have ever seen. We are collecting money for families in need, giving whatever we can wherever it is needed. My sister-in-law started sewing reusable masks yesterday, and I bought a whole bunch from her so that I can give them away. She was making them for free for her family in the medical field, but she’ll need money to buy the stuff and now she’s probably got more orders than she can handle. People are donating blood, fostering animals, checking on neighbors. Giving and giving even when our lives are so precarious.

And how can that be? How is it that two weeks ago, we didn’t have it to give, and suddenly now we do? And I’m sure you gave what you felt you could before, right? I know I did- I gave my donation to the ACLU, to the United Way. I’d throw my extra dollar to St. Jude’s or whatever when I was asked. But suddenly, we are finding ways to dig deeper and give more, right? How is that?

Well, to me it’s pretty clear…when we get a reality check like the one we are getting today, you understand well- it’s people who matter. Our communities matter dearly to us. Our neighbors, our favorite local restaurants, the grocery clerk whose name we never learned- they matter to us. And by extension, their families and lives matter to us. Our protective instinct has been awakened, and though the circumstances are awful, our response is pretty breathtaking. We are remembering how to be a tribe. We are aware that we are a global community- some of us understanding it for the first time ever. What harms our neighbors, whether across the street or across the globe, can harm us as well. We’d do well to remember this when the danger has passed.

And so, as I sit here this morning, a bundle of nerves and love, gratitude, compassion, and fear…I will say to you what I have been saying to everyone lately. I love you all. Please stay safe.

 

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, family, friendship, happiness, health, Holidays, Learning, Life, mental illness, Musings, People, recovery, twelve step

Thanks-Giving

Hi, guys! I started to make this a post for my other blog, but quickly realized this one belongs here, where my story has played out over so many years. I have a different voice, and a different story, and a different history here, and this one should live here. So here goes:

I woke up this morning a little put out that I’d had time to clean the whole rest of my house, but no time to clean my own room- the one place that should be my sanctuary, right? I felt bad that I had put myself at the bottom of my own list. Dumb, but that’s just my brain, trying to find something to be unhappy about. I was feeling a little better about life once I sat down here, in my neat, clean living room, sipping a hot cup of coffee fresh from the sparkling clean coffee pot (I even remembered to run the coffee pot through the dishwasher! I’m so proud of myself!).

I hopped on Facebook to see what I’d missed since bedtime, and I happened upon a post from…the brother of a friend of a friend. We don’t know each other in real life, but we’ve been social media buddies for a number of years, and…over the past couple of years, I have witnessed a slow and steady decline. Posts that are cryptic, yet somehow also overly personal, alarming and worrisome, but no real information being given. About a week ago, he posted a video detailing his woes, and I wondered what was happening. Was it a mental health crisis?

Today, I saw his post and I understood. He wrote about his recent struggles with addiction. He has lost all hope. He feels helpless, lost, alone, worn out, confused about where to turn.

An hour after that post went up, he posted a check-in at a hospital. It didn’t say for what, but I hope that someone there can guide him towards help. Of course, once I knew what was going on, I could no longer just lurk around and keep quiet. I sent him a message, told him I knew exactly how he felt and what he was going through. I encouraged him to find an NA meeting and ask for help. I told him not to believe the things his brain was telling him, but to listen to his heart and soul, because they were crying out for help. And I told him “One year from this day, your life can be completely different. You can be whole and happy and surrounded by family again.” I told him to reach out to me and I would help if I could.

Boy, did that take me back. As much as I try to separate myself from that part of my life, as much as I long to leave the past behind me, it is part of me. My life, those years and years of addiction, were not just a small part of my story. That was who I WAS, that was my identity, for the bulk of my adult life. I was other things, too. But before anything else, I fed my addiction. Before my children, before my family, before my job, before my bills were paid, before I made any other decisions, I fed my addiction. I cannot tell you the number of holidays I missed completely or ruined by showing up. I cannot tell you the number of moments I lost or stole from others. I couldn’t guess.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am to be where I am now. Right here, in my fuzzy pajamas, on Thanksgiving morning, in my own, clean house. My mom sleeping in Camryn’s bed on clean sheets, Camryn sleeping in my bed. And me, clean. Not worrying about how much dope I have left or how I’ll get more or when I’ll be able to sneak off to use more. Not angry for no reason, not making everyone around me walk on eggshells to keep from setting me off. Not making everyone sick with worry, but afraid to say a word.

There are not words to describe to you how grateful I am to be whole and here. I have gotten far enough away from my old life to forget, sometimes, how big of a deal that is. I have wanted to get away from it. But at times like this, when I see that pain in someone else, when I remember precisely how that felt, I am glad to remember. It makes the things I was griping inwardly about seem very small and petty, and shifts my perspective to one of gratitude, intense gratitude, and joy.

It took me a long, long time to get here. I had to work very hard at it. I suffered so many set backs and failures along the way. But I never gave up. I kept trying, and it paid off. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so eager to close the door on the past. Perhaps it is important to remember who I was, so that I can appreciate fully who I am today. Today, at least, this seems to be true. I have never been more thankful to be me than I am right now.

Happy Thanksgiving.

If you are struggling with substance abuse or mental health problems today and need help, you can call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for guidance.

There are also NA and AA meetings in almost every town in the world. You can google “NA world service” to bring up links to anyplace you might be, and you can find hotlines manned by members who can tell you where to catch a meeting today.

Don’t suffer a minute longer than you have to. Reach out. Someone has been where you are and understands. Trust me on that. You are not alone.

Posted in happiness, Life, love, mindfulness, Musings, People

These Little Things

little things

 

The other morning, I was driving Camryn to school. We were stopped at a light, and it was quiet in the car. Out of nowhere, Cam says “I love you, mom.”, and it was one of those moments…I don’t know how to explain it. My kids and I say “I love you” ALLLLLL the time, it’s not a rarity at all. But the way she said it, out of nowhere, in this quiet, thoughtful, sincere voice. As if she’d been studying me without me noticing, and she was speaking straight from her heart. I felt it differently, if that makes sense. “I love you, too!” I said, with tears stinging my eyes.

The next morning I got a text from my mom, out of the blue, at seven a.m. “I love you, Court.”

Two days in a row, I got hit with little love bombs, during a time when I needed them quite badly…and there is no way either my mom or my daughter could have known that. I’ve been struggling a lot, but I certainly try not to let my eight year old see it, and I hadn’t spoken much to my mom about it, so…it meant a lot to me.

Friday, the tall, dark, handsome man I’ve been seeing (although I’ve been seeing him so little lately that he’s almost a tall, dark, handsome stranger at this point) called me and asked “Are we still going out tonight?” (translation: “Are you going to cancel on me again?”) “Of course!” I replied (translation: “I am trying very hard to not let this funk I am in destroy our relationship, let’s pretend I am normal, okay?”) “Where would you like to eat?” he asked. I felt my soul wither. “Can you just figure it out?” I asked, “I can’t deal with thinking right now.” “Absolutely. I’ll take care of everything- don’t worry your pretty little head about a thing.” (He actually said that. LOL.)

A few minutes later he texted that dinner was at seven, and he wouldn’t say where. He took me to a Greek restaurant owned by a friend of his, and he’d even ordered some flaming cheese dish ahead of time to cheer me up. We had the best table, right at the front window, and…I just really appreciated the effort he put in. He recognized that I needed a little extra kindness, and rather than be put out by that or turned off, he leaned in and did more, just because he felt like it.

It sounds like such a basic little thing, but it isn’t. It matters. All of these little things matter so much to me. I have been down and hurting lately, and we all know that people are not easy or fun when they are like that. After all, we have our own shit, right? It’s so easy to just get frustrated, or say “You know what? This is not what I signed up for- I have to think about my own peace of mind, sorry.” And in our current culture, this is not only acceptable, it’s kind of encouraged. But he didn’t do that at all. He went out of his way to make my life easier and happier, and I am so grateful for that. So touched by it. I am so grateful and touched by the loving gestures from my family, too.

So now, I’m paying attention, right? Yesterday, my daughter, who is at her dads for the weekend, came home so that I could wash her hair- she had a birthday party to go to, and she needed some help getting ready. I mentioned briefly that I’d forgotten to pick up my bubbly water (you know, the fancy carbonated La Croix that are all the rage now? Yeah, I have an embarrassing addiction to those.) when I was at the store. I washed her hair and got her ready to go, and about an hour later, I took a nap. I woke up hours later and thought I heard someone saying “Mom!”. I was confused, but I listened, and there it was again! I got up, and ran to the door in my underwear…and there she was, with two cans of La Croix she’d smuggled out of the party for me. “I thought you might want these.” She said. She’d made her dad bring her by just to give them to me. Like, how sweet is that?

At the beach yesterday, my dog, Lucy, lost her ball. She spent a good portion of our walk down the beach stalking other dog owners with balls, and I had to keep explaining that she’d lost hers, sorry, sorry, sorry. On the way back up the beach, I passed a man I’d had to apologize to earlier. “Hey! I found your ball!” He said. He’d picked up our dirty old tennis ball in hopes that we’d cross paths again. He didn’t have to do that, but he did, just to be nice. My dog was thrilled, and so was I.

Yesterday, I dropped off two big bins of sea glass to a friend of mine, for a friend of hers who needs it for a project she wants to start. This morning, I sent my brother a book from Amazon-it’s a really long, really involved fantasy series, and if he likes the first one, I’ll send him more. When I’m done with this, I’m going to write him a letter, too.

Because I’ve come to realize something over the past few days- big things are great! Grand gestures and big to-do’s are wonderful things. But it is the little things- the “I love you”s  for no reason, the extra effort, the small kindnesses…they are so powerful. When someone is feeling hopeless and spent, a small gesture is a really big deal. A kind word means everything. Unexpected sweetness is sort of a miracle. Being nice just to be nice, being thoughtful, doing a little more than you need to…it’s just everything.

Today, I ask that you pay attention to the kindness you see in the world around you, and that you receive any that comes your way with the gratitude which it deserves. I hope that you can find a way to do a little more for someone than they expect, so that you can feel your own burdens suddenly become lighter. These little things carry a startling amount of love inside of them, and you cannot really know how much that love might mean, how much it might matter, to someone.

Posted in adventure, advice, aging, happiness, Learning, Life, Musings, People, women

The Best Part

the best part

There’s this funny misconception about aging that has infiltrated basically every nook and cranny of our consciousness. I mean, it is pervasive. I see posts all the time in different groups I am in, women who are paralyzed with fear because “I’m already THIRTY and I’m still single!” or “I’m 27 and I still have no idea what I am doing with my life!”

Yes, I know- it’s weird to me, too. But in all fairness, most of us have been conditioned to believe that there is a formula of sorts to follow- a path we should take, reaching certain milestones along the way: 18, graduate high school, attend college. By 24 or 25, nail down a career, maybe settle down with someone. 27-29, we are thinking about marriage, children, all that jazz. Our 30’s are devoted to what? Saving, buying a house, raising kids, building our empire, investing in…whatever people invest in, I don’t know.

I don’t know because I didn’t do ANY of this shit. I did graduate from high school, albeit in a somewhat roundabout fashion. I basically dropped out somewhere along my sophomore year (laws were less restrictive then, and I had way too little supervision, quite frankly) and went back towards the end of my senior year to adult school, plus took the GED for high school credit. I am proud to say I got the highest score on my GED that they had ever had at that time, and I was 100% stoned out of my mind when I took it. So that was surprising. I didn’t get to walk with my class, but that was okay since I didn’t technically have a particular “class” to walk with. I spent nine months at one school and maybe four at another, so I didn’t exactly form life-long friendships. I have never been invited to a reunion, which is kind of sad, though.

Immediately after high school, I enrolled in community college, went twice, then sold all my books back for beer money and dropped out. At 24, I was one of the only one of my friends with a kid (she was two) and the thought of a career never entered my mind. By 29, the only thing I was thinking about was the fact that I was making really poor life choices and maybe I needed to figure out how to be less gross. What I’m trying to say is that I made some impressively bad decisions, followed absolutely no kind of path at all- unless you consider the equivalent of running blindfolded and naked through a forest a “path”, and you know what?

I still turned out pretty great. Yeah, I suffered a bit more than average, and yes, most of it was ultimately at my own hand. Sure, I had moments where I felt woefully behind, and definitely heard my share of “spinster” and “cat lady” jokes. But in all honesty, I have had a freaking incredible life. Even the shitty parts. My life has not been boring. I have LIVED it. Every stupid thing I did, every bad relationship, every relapse and stumble and heartache, gave me something invaluable: Wisdom.

At 44 years old, I have weathered a lot of stuff, and that stuff made me smart. But I didn’t just go through stuff and do nothing with the pain- as many of you know, I got help. I went to rehab (twice), I devoted myself to recovery and did ALL the stepwork. I might not be in recovery anymore, but I still learned so much about myself and how I wanted to show up in the world because of it. I went to therapy- I STILL go to therapy and probably always will. I learned about meditation, about diet and exercise, parenting and running a household like a responsible adult. Learning how to run your own life well is honestly a lot of fun.

There have been many times when my friends have sought me out for advice, and I love nothing more than getting to mull over an issue with them. Perhaps I am not the one to come to if you want sugar-coated bullshit, but if you want the truth, I will try to find a nice way to give it to you. Honestly? I really enjoy getting to share my hard-earned knowledge with someone who is ready to hear it. Not only does it make me feel like maybe I am helping, but it also makes me feel grateful for the things I have learned along the way.

When someone asks how they can get their boyfriend into recovery, I can tell them point blank “YOU can’t. Only he can do that for himself. Don’t take that shit on, because if you start now, you are going to get mighty resentful real quick.”

Yesterday, a girl I do not know posted something anonymously saying she was sure her boyfriend was up to no good- he basically slept with his phone in his pocket and never let it out of his sight. She went on to say he’d cheated in the past, etc., etc. Everyone who answered her seemed to be giving her tips on how to play detective, how to find out what was up.

Dude.

She hadn’t even tried talking to him about it honestly.

Lord have mercy. I told her to think about the bigger picture! This was her one precious life! Is this how she wanted to spend it, sneaking around, trying to gather information on a person she didn’t even trust? How would that benefit her in the long run? In my opinion, even confronting someone you don’t trust is a waste of time because you aren’t going to believe anything they tell you. At that point, it’s really already over. Yeah, with lots of work from both sides, you might have something salvageable. Maybe. But is “salvageable” really the way we want to describe our love lives? Ehh…I don’t know about you, but that’s not the stuff for me.

Wanna know how I arrived at this conclusion? Scroll back through my blogs to the very beginning, I’m sure you’ll find something. But if you can’t, I’ll just tell you- I lived it. I was that girl. And it sucked, it hurt, it drove me insane. I lived through it, I learned from it, and I am healed now. It took a long time.

Here’s the thing- I would not trade the experience I’ve gained for anything. My life was a colossal mess. Sometimes it was so bad, it hurt so much, that I didn’t think I could survive it. I didn’t follow the rules. I messed up a lot. I’ve still never been married or bought a house or even finished college. But I’m happy, and I’m secure, and I know myself. Once upon a time, the thought of relying on myself terrified me. Not anymore. The idea that I can depend on myself today is empowering and reassuring.

At 44, I like myself more than I ever have. I think this might be the very best part of my life so far. I am truly grateful for everything that shaped me into the woman I am today. And that really is the best part of all.

Posted in Dating, friendship, happiness, inner peace, Life, Musings, People, relationships

Spectacularly Exhausted

Spectacularly Exhausted

It is 5:50 a.m. on Sunday, and I think I had about 45 minutes this morning where I felt like ‘oh, I finally got enough sleep! Today is going to be great!’ Before the (now familiar) veil of exhaustion tumbled back down over my head.

Honestly, I don’t know what is wrong with me, but I’m beginning to wonder if maybe there is a Deer Tick stuck to my scalp, or in some nook or cranny that I can’t see, sucking out my blood while simultaneously infecting me with Lyme’s Disease? Seems far fetched, but…Jesus Christ, I’m beat.

As I sit here, contemplating my lethargy, it occurs to me that my legs and hips are sending little pain-signals up to my brain, my knee muscles hurt, and even my feet are a little bit sore. The feet are truly the least of it. My lower back has also been a bit…I don’t know, it feels crooked or something…since I woke up. I can attribute that, at least, to a night of sleep that more closely resembled death (I imagine) as I do not think I so much as disturbed the covers last night. Although I did wake up on my back, and I know I never, ever fall asleep that way, so…I must have moved at least once.

The rest of it, though? Well, I can place the blame evenly in three places. One would be the trampoline. Despite the fact that I absolutely qualify as a middle-aged woman at this point, I cannot seem to resist the call of that damn thing. My daughter always wants me to come watch her jump (kids need an audience for EVERYTHING, don’t they?) and despite my protests that “this time, I am only watching!” I can never make it more than five minutes without joining in. It’s just so much fun! So much fun, in fact, that I can’t even recognize it as exercise. Oh, but it is! If you don’t believe me, ask my knee muscles- not my actual knees, but the little muscles around and behind them- that is where the pain is. Perhaps it is low impact, but that’s not the same as no impact, and again, I’m kinda getting old, you know? Still, I highly doubt I’ll be stopping anytime soon.

The second would be the guy…let’s call him Mr. E (get it? Myster-y? Hahaha! I kill me.) for now, shall we? He’s killing me. Like, maybe for real. Yesterday, he took me out to the middle of fucking nowhere in like 90 degree heat for a “walk” through a veritable desert…with NO WATER. “Do you always hike without water?” I asked. “Quit focusing on the lack of water.” He replied, “And yes, I do. It makes it more interesting. You appreciate it more when you get it later.” Okay, first of all? That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Second of all, he probably just forgot the water. He forgot it last time we hiked, too, but I remembered. We ran through two giant bottles of water on that hike, and it was through a shaded forest, so…yeah.

Anyway, I’m mostly joking around. I mean, it’s true, we didn’t have water, and it was really hot, but it was a great walk. I hadn’t been there before, and getting out in the sun really helped the ever present, bone deep tiredness lift for a while. Right up to the moment that I realized I had A.) forgotten to wear sunscreen, and B.) was on antibiotics that specifically instructed me to stay out of the sun. Oops. I remembered about a mile and half in, when I noticed I was…rather pink. “Do I look like I’m burning to you?” I asked. “We better turn around.” was his (alarming) response, once he took a good look at me. I spent the rest of the walk back run-walking from shade tree to shade tree, and there just weren’t that many to be found. “I’m not like other girls.” I reminded him, “I’m like one step above albino.” “Poor little cracker.” He said. (I googled to see if that term was offensive-not for me, I am obviously not offended. But for any of you. I have determined that it really should not be.)

The third bit of blame lands squarely on ME. I have been burning the candle at both ends. I have been going to bed much later, but getting up as early as ever. I have been trying my hardest to plan activities with friends, plan activities with Camryn, to play as much as possible, and have also added an entirely new human to my life. This is most definitely a good thing, but it is also a new thing, and new things in my life are always a bit…challenging for me.

I have been 100% single since sometime in 2014, I believe. Prior to that, I was at least semi-single (still waffling back and forth with the ex) for about a year. So it’s been a long time without…all the stuff that relationships require of us. Just the number of times per week I have to shave my legs now has skyrocketed. The makeup I am applying. The sheer amount of time spent thinking about a person in this way is…kind of hilarious. And freaky, to be honest. And awesome. Really pretty awesome. I spend more time on the phone talking than a teenager…maybe a teenager in 1993. I don’t think current day teenagers actually realize they can use their phones to speak to people in real time.

BUT, and I cannot stress this enough, I am sooooo okay with it. If I have to be tired, so be it. I’m always one jump or hike or conversation away from rallying again. And really? I had given up hope that I’d EVER be here again- I just didn’t think it was possible. I thought I’d have to, eventually, when I really got so lonely I couldn’t stand it anymore, settle for the company of someone who was…so-so. Instead, out of nowhere, I find myself hanging out with this guy who is just…the best. Every once in a while, I can’t help but pause and wonder how in the world this even fell in my lap. And I mean, that’s a pretty good thing to wonder, right? How you got so lucky? Because I feel like I SCORED.

So yeah, I’m tired. I’m wiped completely out. But I’m also deliriously happy most of the time. And I think that’s a pretty decent trade off. Don’t you agree?

Posted in Addiction, adventure, family, friendship, happiness, Life, Musings, People, recovery

Beautiful

beautiful

The past five years of my life have been a trip and a half, honestly.

When I moved into this house, four years and four months ago, I was at the end of the worst relapse I had probably ever had- it only lasted five months, but it was a doozy. So much so that I can’t even remember the sequence of events prior to its beginning. How long was I clean before that? I dunno. It might have been a year? Nine months? Really, I’m just not sure. The years between 2011 and 2015 were a messy patchwork quilt of good days and bad days, struggle and victory, way way up and down down down.

Ugh, I’m so sick of talking about that part of my life. I really am. But, you know, it’s part of what makes my life so incredibly beautiful today, so I can’t leave it out completely. A month after I moved in here- on April 15th, 2015- I used my drug of choice for the very last time. The night before, I’d had a terrible fight with my sister and my daughter, and I knew I was out of control, but I was so fucking angry that I couldn’t seem to control myself. The next morning I went to work and I was NOT OKAY. I remember sitting at my desk, barely holding it together. Someone said something to me- “Not having the best day, huh?” or “Someone’s having a rough morning.”, and I couldn’t, I just could not possibly hold in my tears anymore. I remember crying in the bathroom stall, shaking and trying so hard to get my heart to slow down. I knew I needed to do something drastic, and that it had to be TODAY. There was no more putting it off. The fears I had about being found out were suddenly not nearly as big as my desperation for help.

Ask anyone in recovery, they will tell you- desperation is an addicts saving grace in moments like that. Desperation is the friend who helps you find your way out of the mess you are in. And so, just like that, I started over. It wasn’t a new thing- dear Lord, I’d done it a million times before. But this time, it stuck.

For the next several years, and you know this already if you’ve been following along for a while- I went through some intense shit. I had no idea at all what a “normal life” was supposed to look or feel like, I had no idea how to function as an adult woman. Everything from the way I paid my bills to the things I understood about relationships was dysfunctional and…for lack of a better description, fucked up.

Even though I was clean, my life did not magically improve overnight. Lots of things in my life got better and easier, but I did not stop using drugs and voila! – life was suddenly perfection. Nope. If I’m being honest, if anything, it kinda got worse. It’s sort of that thing where, when you are deep cleaning your house, and you’ve been at it for a while, you’re getting tired, and you look around only to find that it looks about ten times worse in the middle than it did when you started. You’ve dragged everything out from the cupboards, closets, under the bed. It’s discouraging, right? But anyone who has done this a time or two knows that it always looks worse when it’s getting better. That’s how it was with my life. I dragged alllll the stuff out into the open, and I was dealing with it. It SUCKED. It sucked so hard sometimes that I am sure the only reason I kept going was because I didn’t know what else I could do. The idea of using again never occurred to me- that door was firmly shut. So, I soldiered on.

Therapy and twelve step meetings, self-help books and more introspection than anyone should probably ever subject themselves to- that was my life. But it HAD to happen that way, I am sure of it.

In January, I did something that freaked everyone out, including myself. I quit recovery. I dropped out of NA, and decided I didn’t want to live by those rules anymore. I haven’t said much about it here for a few different reasons. In the beginning, it was mostly because I didn’t know what was going to happen to me and I was scared- after all, I have spent the last twenty or so years of my life being told that there is no middle ground for someone like me. Jails, institutions or death. Recovery or relapse. Once an addict, always an addict. But I didn’t want to be sitting in those rooms twenty years on, talking about the sad shit that happened in my old life. I didn’t see the value in it anymore. It seemed…kinda weird. And I had a hard time believing that it was wrong of me to say “I’m done with that life forever.” when I knew it was true, FOR ME. I started to wonder if constantly discussing the life I’d lived before was…like poking a wound, keeping it fresh instead of letting it heal. It seemed counter- intuitive to me. So I stopped.

I am happy to report that, as of this writing, I am doing just fine. In truth, I am doing better than I ever have in my life. I am happy and whole and healthy and free of all the prepackaged ideals I leaned on so heavily in the beginning. I’m not saying they weren’t useful or important or really good for me at some point, because they were! I would never fault anyone for sticking with what works for them. But THIS is what works for me, and I am so glad I took a chance and struck out on my own.

What works for me has nothing to do with what might work for you- this was the other thing that made me keep quiet about this leg of my journey. I would never recommend to another recovering addict to try another way of life. This was an extremely personal, and risky, decision that I made that happened to be right for ME.

I have spent this summer hiking in forests and playing in rivers, jumping on our trampoline, and watering my garden. We’ve flown on planes and played on beaches on both sides of the United States. I’ve laughed with friends, eaten dinners with ocean views, gotten butterflies in my stomach and remembered how to kiss. I’ve gone to parties and picnics, seen movies, gone bowling. I’ve had sun-tan lines and dirty feet and wild hair, and probably gotten about a thousand more smile lines around my eyes. And you know what? I’ve never felt more beautiful in my entire life.

Because I’m living my life the way I have always wanted to- by my own rules, not because anyone else has told me how it should be, or how it should look. And for the first time ever, living my life the way I want to doesn’t come with a cost or with terrible consequences. It comes with a feeling of peace, happiness, and contentment. That is the most beautiful thing of all, I think. I am so grateful that I was brave enough to make it through those hardships, strong enough to do the work that needed to be done, and confident enough to believe I could get here…to exactly where I am, right now.

 

Posted in adventure, happiness, inner peace, Learning, Life, manifestation, Musings, People, spirit, spirituality, Uncategorized

Two Days Later

It’s been two days since my regression, and…I thought it was all over with. Cool experience, some doubting that experience, gleaned some interesting insights, obviously cannot stop thinking about it.

But life goes on right? Went back to work yesterday, had the longest, most painfully awful day…I couldn’t tell you why it felt that way if I tried, but I felt that I was genuinely suffering. Forced myself to run some errands last night, battled with myself the whole way through. Made a nice dinner for Cam and I, stressing throughout the process. Sat down feeling resentful and unappreciated and…just mad. Woke up this morning, rushed through our routine feeling like a frazzled drill sergeant-‘why is she so slow?!’ ‘why does she pull this crap every day?’ ‘I’m so SICK of this shit!’- Basically my internal monologue. Pleasant, right?

I’m honestly in tears right now, writing this out. Because it hit me, like a two-ton weight just now, that I AM DOING IT AGAIN. Just like HER. Petulant, spoiled, determined to grouse and complain and never, ever feel like anything is good enough. I know how crazy this whole thing sounds- I mean, it has to, right? But it feels so, so important and real and obvious to me right now. The clarity with which I am suddenly seeing the parallels…well, I guess I couldn’t have possibly seen them prior to the regression, of course, but seeing it now…wow.

I know I struggle with gratitude. I connect with it at times, but other times- long, bleak stretches of time- I can’t get there. I have an incredible life. I’m not even going to go into all the ways that it is so good, because I don’t want to get bogged down in making a list that I’ve made a hundred times before. It doesn’t even matter. What matters is that I know it, and that I feel it, and that I realize what a goddamn miracle I am. I stacked the odds against myself right out of the gate- I did everything I could do to make my life hard, and I fought myself- not anyone else, ME- to get back on track again.

I have been on the receiving end of more chances, more forgiveness, more blessings and grace and luck than anyone will ever know. I don’t know why, I have no answer for that. But I know that it is true. So how in the HELL am I still sitting here, complaining? Feeling mad? Hating my job that has given me a life I could not have dreamed up because my mind wasn’t capable of thinking that abundantly. Stomping my way through Target on my strong, capable, healthy legs, mad that my beautiful, curious, funny child won’t stop bothering me. Upset because…because why? Just what is it that I want? What is it that is wrong?

I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that. Probably because there isn’t one. There is not one good reason for me to be anything other than content. And right now I am feeling really ashamed of myself. Or maybe that’s not right, either. I think I just feel sad for myself. That I let myself wind up here. After seeing that other life…another blessed woman, another person who couldn’t be pleased. I know how that story ended. I don’t want this story to go that way.

My buddy Cinamon sent me a text last night, after reading my last post. She wanted to know if I thought my life would change now that I had seen what I’d seen. My immediate reaction was “NO.” I didn’t say that, but it’s what I thought. “I don’t need to change, I can’t change, why would I change?” were the defensive, knee-jerk reaction answers that bubbled up. But it isn’t true. I can change, and I HAVE to change, or my life will be sour and empty and sad. I am sure this sounds super melodramatic, but I promise you, it is the truth. You know me here, what I write, what I choose to share. Or even if we are friends in real life, there’s a good chance you have very little idea what my inner life is like. I have made a hobby of dissatisfaction, and I’m so…difficult. Even with myself. The closer you are to me, the more you know I speak the truth. And it’s such a waste of time. It’s so dumb.

I have no idea how to stop being this way. I am pretty sure it’s not just going to go away without a bit of a struggle. But I can’t unsee what my soul chose to show me, and I can’t un-know the truths that are being revealed. I asked for this, I prayed for it, even. It was given to me for a reason…so that maybe I could have a chance to do better this time around. I sure didn’t expect for all of this to come up, but here it is. I guess I have some work to do.

That regression opened up something that wants to stay open. It’s not scary or anything, but it’s pretty fucking real.  Thoughts are popping into my head that are not the kinds of things I normally think…it’s like, my voice, but instructions: “Just do everything with love. Whatever it is, do it with love.” That’s a pretty good one. There are others, but I’ll wait. This is already a lot. If you made it through all this, bless you. I have no idea what’s going to happen next, but I’ll definitely be sharing whatever it is.