Tag Archives: gratitude

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.

 

 

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What I’ve Learned, Lately

lessons

I don’t care how old you are, life is nothing if not a constant set of lessons. I am going to share with you some of the things I have learned, lately:

1.) I am better off if I don’t react to my first impulse, no matter what the situation. Unless, you know, something is on fire or something.

I am a very emotional person. I almost always have feelings about things before I have many thoughts about them. What I have learned is, the best possible outcome is usually achieved when I allow myself some time to think things through before discussing anything. When I am very heated about a situation, attacking it on the spot is generally just that- an attack- and it tends not to end well. This isn’t exactly rocket science, but it’s truly a new thing for me…I am the queen of the knee jerk reaction, always blowing up before I have any business opening my mouth.

2.) When you overreact to something, it winds up being about your behavior, rather than the thing you are objecting to.

Say your boyfriend cheats on you. That is a really terrible, painful thing. So, when he comes home at two a.m., and you rush outside as he is getting out of his car, and he jumps back in his car and locks himself in, just in time to avoid getting a concussion with the bat you are swinging at his head, and you proceed to beat his car until it can’t rightfully be called a car anymore…when the police come, and all of your neighbors are outside watching you get handcuffed, guess who this about now?

Okay, this was a terrible (but super fun) analogy, but you get what I’m saying- when you go over the top in your response, and behave badly, it almost inevitably turns into a situation where you are left feeling bad about how you handled yourself, and whatever it was you were objecting to gets lost in the mess.  Try to keep some dignity, whatever the cost. If that isn’t possible, seethe in silence until you calm down a little- and you will calm down. Which leads me to:

3.) Feelings Change.

This is closely linked to number one, but not the same. In the first instance, I recommend waiting to react, at least outwardly, and thinking. But here, what I have learned is that, not only should I wait, and think, but I have discovered that when I do this, a lot of times what I thought I felt wasn’t true at all. Give yourself a minute. You will be surprised at how different your feelings are after a good nights sleep or a weekend off. Shit changes, and fast.

4.) Having said all of that, I have also found that dealing with things directly, no matter how awkward it might be, is exactly the right thing to do.

A few months back, I decided to get a roommate, who is also a friend of mine. I was smart enough to know that I have a hard time living with people, and so I told her that we should aim for six months, and if that went well, then, no longer than a year. Within two months, I started to feel overwhelmed and less excited about the whole thing- but it was a really hard subject to broach. I didn’t want her to think I didn’t like her, or that she had done anything wrong, because that wasn’t it. I simply don’t like having roommates. But I didn’t say anything, because I thought maybe I was just adjusting and I would get over it. So, I went to Hawaii, and while I was there, I thought a lot about it. I still wasn’t really sure, though, until I was turning the corner to my house on my way back home, and suddenly, I was just bummed out that I had to face people in my home when I returned. I KNEW in that moment that I had to talk to her.

I waited until the moment seemed right, and I sat down, and we talked about it. I was nervous as heck. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but I knew that, in this situation, I needed to be true to myself. I told her we should plan on sticking to six months, and I told her that the reason I was letting her know so soon was because I didn’t want her to miss out if she found something else in the meantime. I also let her know that I hoped she stayed the whole six months, but I would not be mad if she didn’t. And that if she had a tough time finding something by the end of the six months, it was okay to take a little longer.

I’m sure she wasn’t thrilled. But you know what? I knew that I had done the right thing, in the right way, and I had been direct, and kind, and as thoughtful as I could be…and because of that, I never had to feel bad about any of it. And I had said what I needed to say, which meant there was that much less weight on my shoulders.

5.) Pick your battles.

Okay, so this isn’t an original thought. Not by a long shot. But, for someone like me, who is always ready to cop a resentment about nearly any fucking thing, this is a huge breakthrough for me. You mean I don’t need to correct every little thing I view as wrong? You mean I won’t die of keeping my mouth shut? You mean I can have feelings about things that have nothing to do with me and I don’t have to share them? WOW.

So, I have learned, lately, that not only will I not die of letting things go, but I can achieve quite a bit of happiness and peace this way. Simply by not saying every single thing that I think. Simply by letting people be their irritating selves, they become less irritating. Who could have known this? I mean, besides most people?

So, this is my list of interesting life lessons for now. I hope you enjoyed them. And if you didn’t, I hope you are smart enough to Pick Your Battles.

Have an awesome day!

 

Keys

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This little picture up above is my house. It may not look like much, but I assure you, it is kind of a big deal. First of all, it is all mine- I found it all on my own, I rented it all on my own, I did all the stuff it takes to get into a house all on my own, with additional hoops to be jumped through (as usual) thanks to my checkered past.

In the world we live in, there is a subset of people that live in what is almost an alternate reality: The world of the drug addict. That reality is a place I called home for many, many years, and because of that, I will always look at things a little differently. Because it  was my home for so long, a little piece of me will always remain there. I know this is probably a hard thing to understand- it’s not an easy concept for me to accept, either. Like, if it’s in the past, why not leave it there, right? But if you really examine your own life, can you say, 100%, that the things that shaped you in the past truly remain in the past? We carry our past within us, and we leave little parts of ourselves behind.

In the world of the drug addict, I am a fairy tale ending. I know this sounds nuts, right? I have been out of treatment for a matter of weeks, not for the first time…I have relapsed so many times over the past eight years, I’ve lost count. But I sit here this morning on my laptop writing this to you, and I am sitting in my own house, getting ready to get ready to go to work at a job I have had for many years. In my house, I have furniture- yeah, most of it is covered in laundry that needs to be folded, and the rest is covered in dog hair, but it’s MY furniture. I have lived in places before where it was too much trouble to figure out how to get a couch- all of my energy was used up on trying to figure out how I was going to get my next sack of dope.

In my house, I have two dogs, a cat, and two kittens (let me know if you want one.) that depend on me to care for them, and I do. They love me, and can’t wait to see me, and they celebrate every time I walk through the door- well, the dogs do. The cats are cats, and you know how they are. In this house, there are rooms with electricity and heat, there is a refrigerator with food, there are dishes in the dishwasher and clothes in the wash machine. There are TV’s that are on too much, and a bath tub that always has twenty million toys in the bottom, no matter how many times I pick them up. In my house, the work is never done- I am just realizing that this is a literal cliche. The work really is NEVER done. But I am grateful for each part of it.

The most important thing of all in my house are two beautiful kids, both generally happy (one as happy as a teenager ever really is, the other happy by even a four year old’s standard) and pretty well adjusted.. Both healthy and thriving in their own way. I wake up every day and thank God for them, that I can be their mother, that I don’t have to continue to inflict damage on them today as I have in my active addiction. Every day that I can actually be a mother to these girls is a victory. Every minute of it.

And in my purse, or on my dresser, or somewhere in this place, right now, as I write this, is a key ring. It has a whole bunch of keys on it- two keys for my front door, two keys for the storage’s in the back. There is a key to my car, and a key to my daughter’s car, and a few keys I probably need to toss out because I don’t know what they go to anymore. But for someone like me- a girl who carries the past of an addict at the very surface of her heart, so close it is right there…a girl who lived so long in that alternate reality that it’s still hard to trust herself…those keys mean a lot more to me than they might to the average person. I know what it is like to have no keys to any door at all. Man, am I grateful.

Thanks to mark for inviting me to do the Five Photos Five Series Challenge. Have a beautiful day!

Flight of Fancy

daydream

I considered the shit out of this blogs title before I decided to go ahead- so much so, in fact, that it no longer makes a whole lot of sense to me. Flight of Fancy? Is that even right? I mean, what the hell does that even mean? Oh God, now I’m going to have to look it up. Hold on…

Okay, okay, apparently it has two meanings. One of them is basically “pipe dreams”, which, while ironic to MY particularly sarcastic mind, is not appropriate. The other, “a soaring of the imagination”, is on the money. See, one of the very best things about getting my life back (by which I mean, being sober, having my wits about me) is that I begin to dream again. When I am in my other state, there is no dreaming, other than the dream of being myself again. And that often seems quite far-fetched.

This morning, I am supposed to be doing other things. I promised a counselor that I would work on some other writing she wanted me to do, which just seems a million times less appealing because a) I’ve done it at least seven thousand times already, and b) it was assigned. I did, however, do some penance in the form of other horrible paperwork. I jumped through some hoops on a supplemental insurance website, and filled out the painstaking little bubbles on my disability paperwork. I experienced a brief and unkind rush of joy when I realized that the bulk of the bubbles needed to be filled in by a doctor. The rush was further flushed out when it occurred to me that I have an appointment with exactly the correct doctor at ten this morning. Neener-neener, doc.

But my head keeps wandering off to dream about the life that is still laying itself out before me. I don’t know what, really, will become of me. I do know that nothing is promised. I am trying, still, to make the very most of this day. But what is the harm in dreaming? I think it is valuable, really.

I am dreaming a lot, lately, of going to Hawaii with my oldest daughter. Now this is her dream, really, more than mine- but do you know how flattering it is to have a kid who wants her travelling partner to be you, her MOTHER? Yesterday, we had a little spat, where she basically said (while I was in the midst of doing something for her) that she hates my personality- at least, that is what I heard. After much filler (meaning I hollered about a lot of things that were more acceptable than telling her why I was really upset) I was able to see, and to tell her, that she had hurt my feelings. That I felt like she hated who I was, which sucked, because I didn’t know how, nor do I really want, to be someone else. The big miracle was that she actually heard me. She said “Mom, you are my best friend. You are the one I go to with everything. I wake up earlier in the morning just so I can have coffee with you, and talk. But that also means you get on my nerves sometimes.” Well. That is…that is a pretty hefty compliment, don’t you think? I am a very lucky woman. I guess maybe I am not quite the horrible parent I feel like sometimes.

So, I have been dreaming about going to Hawaii with her. Also, I have been dreaming about my future life. The way I would love to live on an island (not really a tropical one, although that is open for discussion) that people must Ferry out to see me on. Wouldn’t that be cool? I know that I am not a city type girl, although I would love to be familiar with at least one big city, so that I felt comfortable while wandering its streets. But when I think about my future life, it is always nature and a quite place, a slower pace, that I see for myself. My future holds lots of mornings, and, I hope, days, like this- full of writing, and peace, books, coffee, beautiful surroundings, peace in my heart.

I hope there are many long, meandering walks in my future. Lots of stargazing, lots of sunrise watching, many, many walks on familiar beaches. I hope there are good, kind, people there. Friends who know me and love me, friends who will tell me the truth when I need to hear it. I hope there is big, big love there, too, someone I can admire and adore and feel safe with, AND challenged. Definitely someone with a sharp mind, who can keep me on my toes. Someone who reads. That is a must.

The future in my mind is shaping up into a beautiful picture. This is not something I could have said a few weeks ago. I am so blessed, as I often say, and so, so grateful. But I do have to get that damn paperwork done. Have a beautiful day.

I Have a Bad Gratitude

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I woke up pissed off this morning. My dog, who has probably a few fleas, but a major dollop of nervous doggish-ness, sat next to me on the floor and scratched, ALL NIGHT. ALL FREAKING NIGHT. I can’t seem to stop being all sweaty, and my sleep, with these two elements in full force, made my night suck balls.

Also, my oldest daughter decided she wanted to move home, so while I was gone, she switched our bedrooms…sort of. What I mean by this is, half the stuff that was in each room is now in my living room. The living room, by the way, being where I slept last night, because when we tried to put the TV in my “new” room, the cable doesn’t work in there. It took me forty five minutes on the phone with comcast to figure this out.

So, I woke up pissed off. My house is a mess, and my life is turned upside down, and I don’t like it.

Except, I realized I am looking at it all the wrong way.

1) I have a dog that LOVES me, and, in spite of her misery, sat next to me all night long to protect me.

2) I am sweaty because I am sweating shit out of my system, which means I am healing.

3) My daughter chose to come home. She loves me, and she worked her ass off all day long on her day off, to move back home with me.

4) I don’t need cable in my room anyway.

5) I made best friends with the cable lady, and she is sending me five free pay per view movies because she couldn’t resolve my problem on the phone.

6) I don’t have to go to work today anyway. I get to go talk about my mental health with a bunch of like minded people people in a similar situation.

7) my life is pretty darn good. I am done complaining.

So, see what I did there? I turned my bad attitude into gratitude. Not bad for one point five cups of coffee. I am off to shower and meditate. Have a fantastic day. 🙂

PS- I’m going to get Lucy her flea medicine today.

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.

Some More Whining From Me. Enjoy.

Stressed man and laptop

I have been dealing with a lot of anxiety, lately (which probably means I should be meditating rather than writing this, but whatever), and I know I have written about this in the past. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what I wrote, so there is a good chance I will be contradicting myself. If so, please forgive me. I am a really wishy washy human being, and my ideals pretty much change with my mood. This isn’t so bad in real time, but when you write a blog, and state certain things as facts, then forget about them and write something totally different later…you look a little silly. I guess I am alright with that. I mean, I’m not really alright with it, but I simply don’t have time to do the research, and make sure all my stories jibe. I’m not a liar, I’m just subject to my own whims.

Anyway, about my anxiety. Yeah, it sucks. I am having a really hard time at work again, and it seems like I can only hold up for a really short period of time these days, before I am back in the realm of lousy productivity. It’s no great mystery why this is- I am painfully, incredibly, horribly bored. I know I have said this before, too. I don’t know why I would expect it to change. The worst part of all is that I love the place I work for, and I love the people I work with, and I make really good money…wait, maybe that is the best part. What I am trying to say is that there are these great things about this job, but the bigger part is always the work, and the work has become intolerable, and how do I possibly go on? How do I possibly leave? What would I do then? I know so many people who just buck up, knuckle down (is that even an expression? I think it is, but it is still very early, and those words make very little sense to me at this point) and do what they need to do, to the very best of their ability.

I am just lousy for that, though.  I am the kind of person who just fucking suffers when faced with a task that holds no interest for me. It feels an awful lot like lying, which I am also intrinsically untalented at. So, like much of the rest of my life, I am just sort of bumbling along, hoping something makes sense, eventually. I know for a fact that I have said before that happiness is a choice- and I really believe that to be true. But sometimes the choices you have to make to really be happy are not readily apparent, or easy choices to make. The thing is, I don’t want to do what I do, but I don’t know what I do want to do. I mean, writing, obviously, but what are the odds that some magazine or weekly periodical is going to come banging on my email, offering me a starring role in a great new column, because they heard…nothing, ever, about me? And when you are the single mother of two beautiful daughters, you just don’t walk away from THEIR security so easily…if it was just me, I wouldn’t give two thoughts about it, but it’s them, and I like them, and want to keep them, so…so, off to work I go, I guess.

You can see the source of my anxiety, right? I believe happiness is a choice, but I am not happy, so I must be making the wrong choices. I am a huge fan of gratitude, and I am grateful…for some things, but not others, and I feel guilty. I crave security, and I have it, but I can’t stand the price of it. And worst of all, I realize how these are just top shelf problems. I have so much, how dare I whine about it? There are so many people, people I know, who are struggling in ways that I haven’t had to in so long…shouldn’t I be ashamed of myself for complaining? I don’t know. There is a lot to puzzle out here, and I will definitely revisit this until I find an answer.

In the meantime, there is just enough time left for me to meditate before I have to leave for work. Sigh.

Long Lost Sister

sistersMy sister is teaching me what it means to be, and to have, a sister.

“Why haven’t you called me?” She’ll ask.

“Oh, God, I’ve just been so miserable and depressed, I didn’t want to bring you down.” I’ll tell her.

“That’s WHY you need to call ME.” She instructs, “That’s what sister’s DO.”

See, she has had sisters, two other ones, all of her life. As a matter of fact, she had me all of her life, too, except we didn’t know each other. She may have had other sisters, but she never had a BIG sister, which is what I am to her- six years older, actually, although technically, she is several inches taller than me. Still, I am her big sister. I just know nothing about this sister business.

Here’s the story: My mom had me when she was nineteen. My dad (our dad) was also nineteen, and nowhere near as married to my mom as she was to him. Not surprisingly, their marriage didn’t last too long- I’m pretty sure they were on their way to an annulment when my mom found out she was pregnant with me. By the time I was one, my dad was long gone. He popped back in frequently throughout my life, with sporadic little bouts of interest in me…but he wasn’t the kind of dude who would show up for the school Christmas program or who knew any of my friends. He was the kind of dude who liked dropping me off once a year in front of my middle school in his pimped out El Camino blaring Motley Crue. And that was fine with me, I wasn’t heartbroken over it- I had my mom.

Meanwhile, across town, there lived another little girl, sharing half my DNA (and half my child support) that was living without him AT ALL. When I was very little, I remember playing with this little girl (she swears I hit her over the head with my little purse, which sounds about right, although I don’t remember it that way) on the sidewalk in front of a house. One of us was on a tricycle. I had no idea she was my sister. How weird is that? But that is the only memory I have of her, except for this one: When I was about nine, I was at my dad’s boooooring apartment (the ONLY good thing about his place was when he took a shower, I got to sneak peeks at his dirty magazines. Thanks to the ads in the back, I was very confused about whether girls had penises or not. If you have a porn mag on hand, look at the back and you’ll see what I mean.) and I saw a picture in a frame I’d never seen before.

“When did I get that picture taken?” I asked, innocently.

“That’s not you!” he barked. I never saw that picture again. For years, he claimed that she wasn’t his- until her mom had his blood tested and we were .99998 percent sure she was his. After that, there was just no talk of it. Or, if there were, I didn’t hear it, because I just wasn’t around that much. When I was in my twenties, I asked my step-mom about her, and I remember she told me that my sister had a different last name. I looked in the phone book and made a call or two, but got nowhere.

As you all know, I spent a gazillion years being super busy with the pursuit of drugs, so having a sister out there was not on the forefront of my mind. But, when I settled down and life got easier, there was this neat thing call Myspace- you might remember it? Somehow, I actually remembered her last name, after all those years! So, I sat down, did a little search, and found there were several girls with her name. The first one was definitely not her. The second one…my heart started hammering, my hands were shaky. I couldn’t tell you what it was, exactly, because we don’t look too much alike. But I knew. I knew for sure.

I sent her the weirdest message she has probably ever gotten. “Hi. You don’t know me, but I think we may be sisters. If this sounds totally wrong, I apologize. My dads name is blankety-blank. Do you know him?” Or something like that.

It was not long before she replied. “YES! You are my sister! I have been looking for you my whole life!” Or something like that.

We started talking on the phone. It was a little scary- we didn’t know anything about each other, and we were adults who knew how messed up the world can be. Finally, though, we decided to meet. I drove down to where she lives and we met at her apartment. Within minutes, her little daughter, my niece, had uttered a curse word, and I knew we were cut out of the same cloth. We just looked at each other and laughed our asses off.

You would think it would be awkward, right? Uncomfortable, touchy, weird? Well, it has never, not once, been any of those things. It has been easy as pie. Our similarities are outrageous. The lives and struggles we have had mirror one another very closely, and we also both love milk with our dinner, tequila shots, we both are allergic to mosquito bites, and our daughters have insanely curly hair (like our dad). I mean, there’s other stuff, but cut me a break, it’s not even six a.m.

I thought meeting her would be cool. I never dreamed I would love her as easily as if we had been raised together. I never expected to find myself thinking about her, or my niece and nephew, or her husband, as REAL family. But I do. I love them. They have known Cammy, my little one, her entire life-  so her memory’s will not have a hole in them, the way ours do. If only our parents had pushed a little…just think. We could have always had what we have now.

Last time I was at her house, I was laying on her bed talking to her while she did whatever she was doing. She was giving me a bunch of clothes, and she laughed at how much smaller my boobs were than hers (and can I just say, um, who’s AREN’T, Dolly?), and I wondered if she knew how crazy special she is to me? How big of a deal it is that we have the relationship we have? Because she is, and it is. I thought I better write this to let her know.

I love you, sissy. Thanks for training me to do this job, and just being the cool chick you are. I’m so glad we have each other.

The Beauty of a Checkered Past

Courtesy of Graphicsfactory.com
Courtesy of Graphicsfactory.com

There are times when I have a lot of regrets about the way I have lived my life. The entire decade of my twenties is pretty much a blur, my memories sacrificed to the volcano God of my addiction. There are things I am tired of thinking about, memories I DO have that I wish would fade, others I would give anything to have back. I couldn’t tell you a lot of entertaining stories about things my older daughter did or said as a toddler, for instance- I just don’t recall much. THAT breaks my heart.

When I think back on the way that we lived, that kid and I- lots of times, everything we owned was in my car and we slept on couches and in spare rooms for months at a stretch, with no place to call our own- I shake my head in horror. I could never even imagine raising my little one that way. I can’t imagine having her in that environment for a single day, let alone growing up that way. Even though, as I have said before, I have not been perfect in my abstinence, the change in me from who I was to who I am today has been so dramatic…it would be like comparing an earthquake to the rattle caused by a truck passing by, or a tsunami to a choppy sea on a windy day. Two different things entirely. Do I ever long to go back in time and fix what I did, or wallow in the bone deep sorrow of regret? Of course I do. I am human, I am a mother. That is my penance. I try not to beat myself up, I realize it is over and useless to cry about. But make no mistake, I think I should feel a little bit bad. I think it’s okay to be sorry for dragging an innocent human being through the fucked up wasteland of your own drug addiction. If you don’t agree, well, you either don’t understand, or you are sugar coating it to make yourself feel better. Don’t get stuck in it, by all means, move forward armed with enough knowledge to not do it again…but yes, you can feel a little shitty about it for as long as you need to. It’s okay.

Yet, at the risk of completely contradicting myself, I wouldn’t change it, either. Had I not been who I was, I could not be who I am today, nor where I am. There is a chance I would be somewhere better, SOMEONE better, I know. But were it not for my past, I would not have the two beautiful daughters I have today- the very reason I ever decided to try to get my shit together in the first place. For all I know, I would be far, far worse off. It was the birth of my little girl, nearly sixteen years ago, that ignited the spark of desire to change. That led me to question if perhaps the way I was living was not really so great. Yes, it took me a long, long time to actually take any steps to change things, but the important thing is that I did. It was not perfect, but neither am I, and it ended up being pretty great.

There are other things- because I spent my entire life, into my thirtieth year, relying totally on others, the sweetness of relying only on myself, finally, was beautiful. I will never, ever forget what it felt like, when Aisley was eight years old and I found us, on my own, a two bedroom apartment. It was kind of a dump on the outside. Okay, the inside wasn’t what you might call spectacular, either. But it was clean and roomy, and it was OURS. The best part was that Aisley had her own room, for the very first time in her entire life. For other people, normal people, this would maybe not have been a huge victory. For me, every day in that house was a gift, because I did it all myself.

Even now, looking at Aisley, who will be sixteen in September, and is, therefore, what you might call “slightly insane” and a “little” difficult to live with…I feel nothing but gratitude for her entitled manner, her wastefulness and the way she takes stuff for granted. You know why? Because that is the mark of a normal teenager. Do you know what a miracle that is, that my kid is as big of an ass as any other kid? I am mostly kidding, but you catch my drift, right? She made it through OKAY. Thank God.

When I wake up, as I did today, and sit out on my front porch with my coffee, contemplating the gray sky before me, listening to the roar of the surf behind the other sounds of the world waking up, and I smell the ocean, and I have that utter peace and contentment in my heart…well. Can I tell you that THAT feeling, a feeling some people have always had, maybe, or will never get to know- my circumstances, MY checkered past, gave that to me. I have seen, breathed, lived the other side and I would not trade what I have now for anything.  All those years, I was chasing after something to make me feel good, and when I finally stopped running, I found it.

I am grateful for my past. Have a beautiful day.

And Out of the Woodwork, They Come…

courtesy of Francesca Miller
courtesy of Francesca Miller

The bulk of my days, Monday through Friday, are spent working, or getting ready for work, or doing all of the things we have to do once work is over. When I am not doing those things, I am generally doing a short list of other important things that never seem to end, in rotation. Things like: Figure out what to make for dinner; Go to the grocery store because there is nothing to make for dinner and/or we are missing one or two vital ingredients needed to make dinner, and/or we need milk. We always need milk. Clean up the house; Try to spend some quality time with one or more of my children; Try to spend quality time with my dog. Run BACK to the store because we are out of cat food. We are always out of cat food. Try to fit exercise in there, somewhere. Wash some clothes- we are ALWAYS out of clean clothes. Go to bed.

As you can imagine, this doesn’t leave a ton of time for cultivating and sustaining friendships. At least, not the kind you want to have when you find yourself with a sick child in the hospital on a gorgeous day at the end of May. Which is exactly what happened to me the other day. See, my little child has a tendency to react in an alarming way to what would be an inconsequential bug bite on most people- she gets all puffed up and swollen in a way that her infectious disease specialist has succinctly described as “weird”. So, this time, when we went to the ER, they decided that we couldn’t go home, like we usually do. We had to stay, be admitted, get some IV antibiotics into my awesomely brave little peanut.

Which would have been fine…except- I have another child out wandering the world without her cell phone, who had no idea what was going on. Even if she did, I didn’t have anyone to come stay with her, and once I did reach her, she refused to come up and stay at the hospital with me. To make matters even more lovely, I started my period in a heinous way ( need I say more, girls?) which may or may not have contributed to my gloomy perspective on things.  Oh yeah, also, I did not have my phone charger, so my phone went dead in what seemed like a matter of minutes. Well, about five seconds after I posted something like “I am alone in the world. I hate everyone.” as my Facebook status. I know, I know- it even sounds melodramatic to ME, now. But at the moment, that was how I felt.

We were moved from the ER to an inpatient room about seven thousand years later, and we both, baby and I, fell asleep in her big old hospital bed (after she got tired of pressing all of the buttons and beeping the nurses station fifty seven thousand times- sorry about that, nurses!) about seven in the evening. When I woke up in the morning and plugged in my laptop, I was amazed at the number of people who responded to my sad-sack status.  The number of private messages from friends wanting to know what was wrong, and how they could help, was even more staggering.  By nine o’clock that morning, I had two good friends there willing to hang out with my child (who was under quarantine, no less) so that I could go grab some coffee and hide in my car for a cigarette. Before that, I had my boss there, as well as another co-worker on her break, and so many other people who were willing to come if I just said the word. And did I need anything else? Food? Baked goods that were so yummy (thank you for the chocolate banana croissant, girls) they could barely be categorized as food? Then, of course, our beloved Donna, without whom I really don’t think I could survive, came, and I got to go home, shower, grab a phone charger. And that was the other wonder of wonders- when I plugged in my phone, I had alarms alarming and alerts alerting in a way that I can only describe as “symphonic.” That phone beeped and clanged for five minutes after I hooked it up.

I went in to the hospital feeling terribly isolated and alone, and it made me really determined to work harder, to put in the time that good, strong friendships deserve. I left the hospital feeling loved and cared for, and really determined to work harder, to put in the time that good strong friendships deserve…except that now, I know it won’t be nearly as much work as I thought. It will be a great pleasure. And I know just where to put my efforts.

Thank you all so much for your kindness. Every word and gesture meant the world to me.