Tag Archives: growing up

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.

 

 

Advertisements

Chasing Waterfalls

waterfalls

 

My Beautiful Daughter-

Ever since we talked, yesterday, I have been walking around with this terrible ache in my heart. When you told me, weeks ago, that you were planning on moving hundreds of miles away from me…well, honestly? I dismissed it as a flighty, temporary, whim of yours. I didn’t worry, because I didn’t think it was real. But yesterday, when you told me it was happening, that you were leaving in a month, it really started to sink in.

I’m sorry if I seemed angry. I know I pointed out all the reasons it was a terrible idea, when all you wanted was my blessing. My support. I guess the truth is, I was never really angry…the truth is, I am sad. You are so much more than just my kid. You are also one of my favorite people on the planet, and, besides your sister, the only family I have here. The truth is, I will just miss you terribly.

That isn’t all of it, though. The bigger truth here is that it is selfish of me to withhold encouragement, to squelch your excitement, when you are doing exactly what a girl your age should do, in my opinion. You are spreading your wings, finally, being the brave girl I have always known you to be. I am so proud of you for that.

Here’s another thing- you don’t need my approval. You are an adult now, and you are free to do whatever it is that you want to do. I might not always like it, but I will always, always, always love you. So don’t worry about how I feel about things. Just know that I will come around, if I can, and even if I don’t, I am still your mom. I will love you fiercely.

I’m sorry for telling you that you were making a huge mistake. The fact of the matter is, I have no idea if that is true or not. That was just my own fear talking, and I hope you never avoid doing what you love out of fear. That is no way to live. You know what? A huge part of what makes life great is taking risks (you know, reasonable risks) (Okay, that was just scared mom again) and seeing what happens. Making mistakes is also a big part of living a wonderful life…it means you are trying things. I don’t want you to live a boring little cookie cutter life. I want you to do exactly what you are doing. I really do.

I was listening to the old TLC song “Don’t go Chasing Watefalls” on my way home this morning, and I realized something. I DO want you to chase waterfalls. You absolutely should NOT stick to the rivers and lakes you are used to. What fun would that be? Just, you know, wear good shoes, and maybe a life vest. That’s all I’m asking. See the world. Have fun. Dream big. LIVE big. You deserve the big WOW that life can be.

The most important thing of all for you to know is this: No matter what happens, I am here. And I love you. And you can always, always, always come home. That offer will never expire.  I will always pick up the phone when you call. I will be here when you need me. I will leave the light on for you.So go out into the world and do great things. I will be here, cheering you on.

Love, Mom

Another Epiphany

realization

You know what the problem with being a grown up is? It’s fucking boring. I mean, you work your ass off to get to a position in life where you aren’t constantly eaten up with the worry about surviving, you settle into a safe little routine, and little do you know…you just auctioned off a piece of your soul to the lowest bidder. Eh. Or that is how it feels, sometimes, anyway.

I have not lived a boring, mundane existence- not by a long shot. Whatever else you can say about being a drug addict, your life is never boring. It’s chock fucking full of excitement- just not exactly the kind of excitement you ought to be looking for. Unless paranoia and the ever present possibility of being jailed on felony charges rings your bell. It never really did much for me- not that it ever slowed me down, either. The best part of being in that mess, though, was getting out of it. When you are that far down, it’s super easy to feel like you have accomplished a lot, just by doing normal stuff, like paying a bill, or getting a job. Or vice versa.

I upped the ante a little when I found myself with this big old career that pays a lot of money- boy, did I think I had shown the world. And, I suppose, in a way I had. I know lots of people, addicts and not addicts, who would trade spots with me in a heart beat. I do have a pretty decent life. But you know what I miss? I miss the thrill of the unknown. I miss the excitement of not knowing what opportunity might be around the next corner, what adventure might be on the next horizon. I miss flying by the seat of my pants.

But it just struck me- you know, I can’t sit around and wait for adventure to fall into my lap. I don’t know where I got the idea that I was supposed to. It came to me that maybe I have been living passively all this time, just waiting for stuff to happen to me, when I could be out there, actively creating whatever type of life I wanted to have. Well. That is quite an eye opening thought. I’m not sure if I am excited, upset, or a little of both. I mean, I’m 40. I could have used this insight a little sooner. But then again, maybe I wasn’t ready for it then. And God knows, I’m in a better position than I have ever been before to go out and grab the world by the balls.

Perhaps it is time to start constructing my reality in a completely different way, huh? I’m going to think about this a little more, and let you know what I come up with.

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!

 

That Spark.

spark

I am going to ask you if you remember being young, to which you will reply, “Of course I do!”, and in your head, you will see a snapshot of yourself at seven, the one you hated when you were small because your mouth was closed funny (to hide your missing front teeth), but love now, because your hair was so pretty and your freckles were amazing. I don’t want you to think about that snapshot. When I ask you if you remember being young, I want you to be fifteen again, or sixteen, seventeen, even- whatever that age was when you were in the front seat of a friends car, an hour past curfew (but your parents think you are at her house, and her parents think she is at your house), on your way to a raging party, and your favorite song comes on, and you are singing, your heart is leaping, your hair is blowing around you like you’re in a video, and you feel FREE, finally, totally, irrevocably free! That moment when you realize that you are pretty much as good as gone, one foot out the door of the home you have always known, that foot almost twitching to bolt out into the vast unknown world.

Do you remember being young? That wonderful stretch of time when limits are removed, and choices need to be made…eventually. But nothing, absolutely nothing, is preventing you from doing whatever it is you want to do immediately, which is usually something in a group, probably illegal, and always too much fun to stop until the sun comes up, or everyone passes out. When you are finally eighteen, and that phone there in your pocket stops feeling like a burning lump of coal, weighing you down like a boulder of guilt because you haven’t called home to tell some ridiculously overdone lie. You are an adult-lite: all of the perks, none of the expectations or even the ability to really run your own life yet. You are 18- the only thing you really know how to do yet is mess things up, party, and call home when you need help- which you will probably get, and which is probably more often than you want anyone to know.

Do you remember being twenty one or twenty two, and looking in the mirror before you went out to the bars for the night, and realizing how beautiful you were? How perfect your clothes fit, how perfect your make up was, how amazing your hair turned out…and you walked through rooms oozing self confidence, and you could see the boys checking you out from the corner of your eye. I remember one night, at about twenty two, when a boy- I guess he was a young man, he was a few years older than me- that I had known when I was in the ninth grade (I had a crush…no, I had an obsession with his best friend, which was quite one sided, embarrassingly) ran into me at a popular, packed bar in Monterey. He was walking past me, and I was looking straight ahead to avoid eye contact with any of the oglers, and he glanced at me, then did the most flattering double take I have ever seen. He grabbed my arm and I looked up, seeing it was him, and felt a satisfaction I remember to this day. “Is this really Courtney?!” He said, “Wow! You have really grown up!” Or something like that. The words weren’t nearly as important as the sentiment, and the way it made me feel. As if life was just so amazing, and I was just getting started. As if anything could happen.

That is what it was, I think- the sense that I was just at the beginning of something that would become my life, and the world was my oyster. As if anything could happen. That vast unknown was no longer beckoning, I was out there in it, and I was not afraid in the least. I was far too young and inexperienced to be afraid. I was sure that I would either stay the same forever, or simply grow more awesome.

Do you remember being totally unafraid of what lay ahead? Or, what about this- do you remember the first time you became afraid of whatever was next? I don’t remember either of those things, just like I don’t remember when that feeling of happy anticipation about life started to fade, or when my ability to roll with the punches got a little more prone to avoiding the punches in the first place. I couldn’t tell you when cynicism replaced my unguarded trust in people, or when I began to worry about nearly everything, after having worried about nothing my entire life. I can’t tell you when the changes began, but I can tell you that I felt it. I felt it, and it scared me, until it got big enough that it started making me forget that I had ever been another way.

I have been in mourning off and on for the past few years,and I thought it was my youth that I so sorely missed. I thought it was the perky tits and shapely ass that just grew there, asking nothing of me in return. I thought it was me missing all the heads that turned when I passed, and that I was shallow and vain for feeling so terrible about it. But I think it was so much more than that. I think it was the spark of life that lit me up, day after day, making me feel so alive, and so full of promise, and as if life would never be more awful than I could handle. That I would be able to smile my way into peoples good graces forever, and I would be fine. I missed the feeling of buoyancy, of being full of so much hope that I could barely keep myself from floating away.

We become heavier, earthbound things, at some point- most of us do. The spark of life and possibility gives the impression of being your inherent nature, but it is burning less brightly just as you hit your stride. It’s like a heat source that propels us, gives us the momentum we need to launch off into our lives. We don’t stay young forever. We have children, and we begin to put someone before ourselves, we learn about love in a whole unexpected new way, as if we have only been using a third of our hearts our whole lives, and now this whole new level reveals itself. But with love comes the worry, and the guilt, and the trappings- responsibilities, no more all night parties, no more spontaneity, no more loud sex or sleeping in. We get jobs and start chasing money the way we chased boys, we start to want things, we start to crave safety the way we once craved freedom.

We bolt the door at night against the vast unknown, and tell our children about the dangers that exist out there. Strangers and weirdos and drunk drivers, people who could harm them. Waking up to the feeling that anything could happen today fills you with anxiety now, instead of excitement. For just one day, you would like NOTHING to happen. Fifteen years ago, a day when nothing happened could send you careening into crushing, life ending, despair. Now, it would be a miracle. You watch your daughter, at seventeen, as she chomps at the bit, one foot in, and one foot out, of the only home she has ever known-whatever place you were, that was her home. She is suffering under the burden of these last few months at home, going crazy because she can’t answer the siren’s call she hears out there, out in the sea of possibility. It seems impossible that she is almost grown, but then you realize how tired you feel, next to her. How crazy everything she says now seems to you. The spark is blooming in her spirit, gathering heat, getting ready to launch this beauty into the unknown.

And now you know the way your mother felt, looking at you. A mixture of pride and annoyance, excitement, hope, and fear. Confused by the swiftness of what had seemed like such a lot of time, but ready, willing, almost, to let you go. Telling you how great you’d be, and crying in the shower every day. This journey is a tricky one, and nothing ever, really, is what you think it will be.  When you are young, you know you will get older, but you don’t really believe it. And when you get older, you know you you were young, but you can’t really remember what it was…can’t forget all you know, and all that’s ben, not even for one second so that you might remember. Bittersweet, each part of life, a loss for every gain, and something left behind with every step.

Restless

restless

 

You know that feeling, that one where you wake up in the morning, already stressing about something that could or could not be happening later that day? Already worrying about that weird, and totally rude, letter you received from the IRS, or about the paycheck that you already spent, even though it won’t be deposited into your bank account for over a week…you know, that feeling? Or how about, even worse, that awful feeling that you woke up in the middle of a life that is a total mystery to you, and you suddenly understand that Talking Heads song, where he’s all “Where is my beautiful wife?”, except you are a woman, so…you get the picture.

I am all about being grateful, you guys, I really am. But there are some days when it feels like there is a very fine line between being grateful and settling, and I think, at least for me, it is hard to discern one from the other. I wake up three hours before I need to start work every day, just so I can be me for a little while before I force myself into my role as a responsible member of the working world. Even with all those hours to myself, I am nearly crushed with despair when I must log in and get started. Like, I literally feel as if I cannot bear to sit and do my easy, well paying, job for the next eight hours. I feel like a trapped animal.

Then I feel guilty for feeling that way. I mean, MOST people would (or at least say, and probably believe they would) love to have my job. I make decent money (not that it matters, it’s so freaking expensive to live where I live, not to mention have two kids and get no child support), I get to work from home, I have great benefits. The truth is, I love the people I work for, and the people I work with. It’s the work itself that is a problem. I am so bored I could just sob. I have tried every thing I can think of to make it interesting, setting daily challenges for myself, taking on different tasks, learning new things. After seven years, I am out of ideas. And I feel really guilty about not being grateful, because, on a certain level, I am. I know without this paycheck coming in, I’d be in big trouble…right? I KNOW it would be hard to go back below the poverty line, after having it somewhat better for all these years. But there is a little part of me that wonders how bad it would really be.

There is a certain amount of sacrifice involved in joining the grown up world. You lose a lot of freedom, the possibility of what may be next dwindles, you begin to worry about what you could lose now that you actually have something. Sometimes, you get everything you worked for, and then figure out that you never even wanted it in the first place. You did the thing that would make everyone else feel better. So,  now your mother is sleeping peacefully at night and you, my friend, are fucking empty inside. Or am I just projecting? ( 🙂 )

As I was writing this, it occurred to me that perhaps I am thinking of this incorrectly, in that black and white manner I have that has no place in reality. Here I am, thinking, “life that is killing me, OR, life of destitution”. Hmm…thoughts like that are the very reason I have a therapist.  The only fact about my thoughts, sometimes, is that they are really, really messed up.  Maybe there is a middle ground? Maybe I could, I don’t know, continue pursuing my other dreams while simultaneously keeping my job? I mean, I’m a writer, it’s not like I need to go anywhere…I don’t even really need to change chairs, to be honest with you.

I am really glad I wrote this, this morning. You may not get a damn thing out of it, but I certainly needed to map out some way out of my miserable thinking. Little change of perspective, Court. One foot in front of the other. I may not know exactly what my options are, or exactly how to get from where I am to the life I want to wind up in, but I do know this much- right now, I have a better chance of getting there than I would without ANY resources. I may be restless, but I can deal with that. Restless, with a direction.

Well, I guess I need to start my “real” job now. Say a little prayer for me.

Growing Up.

Image

 

I have spent most of my life terrified of being a grown up. I thought that it would be boring, depressing, lame and embarrassing. If you asked me, the ONLY benefit of being an adult was getting to eat ice cream for breakfast…and maybe the idea that you could have a kitten without begging your mother first. Also, when I still got a tax return, I kind of liked that. Oh yeah, and I did like the whole concept of having a home of my own in which to have sex…not that NOT having one ever did much to slow me down.

I was scared of becoming irrelevant, fat, unattractive, and being forced to drive a mini-van around while young people in Miata’s drove by laughing at my sloppy middle aged pathetic ass. I mean, I thought that just naturally happened when you hit a certain age. Now, here I sit, 38- nearly 39, and it occurred to me yesterday that A) I am an adult, and have been for quite some time, B) Being an adult without being a grown up is at least as sad as driving around in a mini-van, and C) I think I am finally growing up. And I really like it.

Here are a few reasons why I think I may be growing up:

It hit me that the whole purpose of working at a job is SO THAT YOU CAN PAY FOR THINGS LIKE BILLS. I mean, obviously, the hope is that you can get to a spot where you can also buy cute shoes, go out to dinner, and maybe take a vacation once in a while. But when you are a grown up, you pay your bills first and then see what is left. Hopefully, something. Maybe you sock some away into a savings account, maybe not ( I said I was growing up, I didn’t say I was all the way there yet, cut me some slack!). But you don’t go buy the shoes, go out to dinner, and then see what you can to about paying some bills. If you do it that way, you are adding a whole lot of stress to your life. By paying bills first, at least you know that even if you hate your shoes, you’ll have light to glare at them with.  This was a big breakthrough for me.

Another thing- It can take years to reach your limit with misery. My threshold has proven to be extraordinarily high. But once you reach it, maybe go a little beyond it, then finally get the hell out of it…Well, you realize that happiness, YOUR own, personal, happiness in life is THE MOST PRECIOUS thing you have. When I am not happy, there is no way I can make my kids happy, no way I can run my life with any hope for success. So I have become as protective of this happiness as I would if it WERE one of my children. I am not willing to make the kind of decisions I have in the past that led me to misery. I just won’t do it. Which leads me to this:

As a grown up, you learn that you can trust your gut instincts. Looking back over my life, the times I did not do this, things have never gone well. I promised myself a long time ago that once I was free of my last relationship, I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever go against my gut, not ever again. Last week, I chose to honor that promise, and I have no regrets. I am not going to complicate my life until I really think it is worth it, and I am not there right now.

Most wonderful of all of my discoveries, however, is this- Being a grown up can be amazingly fun, and really liberating. You know what? I have gotten a little fat, and I don’t turn heads the way I once did. Big fucking deal! Who needs that kind of scrutiny, anyway? It really bothered me for a while, but (thank GOD) I am so okay with all of it now. I had all that, for a long time, and now it is a younger generations turn. In the meantime, I am getting down to meat and potatoes of life- connecting with friends, taking care of myself, mentally, spiritually, physically, and with great affection and care. I don’t have to spend the time I once did wondering how I looked to everyone else. And I spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about that shit.

I love the knowledge gained with age- that we really are all going to look like idiots at times, and that can be part of the fun. I love finding that growing up can exist harmoniously with having a young, fun spirit. I really love the realization that this world is so big, there are no limits on the adventures and experiences we can choose to have…the only problem I can see now is how there will ever be enough TIME. But I will cross that bridge when i get to it. 

2012- It’s Been Quite a Year!

2012

I’ve been seeing all of the lists and reviews other folks have been making about their year, and decided I wanted to play, too. At first, I thought I didn’t have a lot to say about this year, other than I can’t believe it’s over already. I mean, that crap they tell you when you are a kid, about how much more quickly time goes by when you are older is NO lie. You just get accustomed to writing down one year and then it’s already another one. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that all kinds of stuff happened in my life this year. Here are some of the more interesting ones:IMG_0442

  • I got my very first dog. Her name is Lucy, and she is a pitch black Lab mix. I had no idea what the hell I was getting myself into. Do you have any idea how much energy these dogs have, especially when they are puppies? Do you have any idea how badly they are capable of smelling? Have you ever seen how much fur they shed? I must sweep up at least enough fur to create two new puppies every other day. I don’t know how she isn’t bald. On the upside, though, she is the sweetest pup you’ve ever met. The baby could step on her head, and Lucy would only lick her face, lovingly. As we speak, I can see her looking at me through the back window with her big, sad eyes, like “mom…why aren’t we out walking right now? It’s not raining anymore…” And that is another thing I love about her- she gets me out, walking, moving, enjoying the world in a different way. Sometimes it’s a crap shoot, but most of the time, I count her among my blessings.
  • I had a nervous breakdown. Like, a real, honest to goodness BREAKDOWN, requiring me to take six weeks off of work, consider checking myself into a mental hospital, consider killing myself, crying every day, mental episode. Allowing myself the time I needed to feel better, to heal, to get a grip, was probably the kindest thing I have ever done for myself. I learned a lot of things, but number one among them was that I had stopped taking care of myself in any meaningful way, which caused me to resent everyone around me who I was taking care of. During that six weeks, I made some big, important changes in my life (some of which I need to get back to before it leads to more trouble)  and when I went back to work, I felt better than I ever had before.
  • I learned that, no matter what, my relationship with drugs will never, ever change. I cannot do them, no matter what, in any quantity or form, without it becoming a major, life altering problem, period. And that is all I am going to say about that.
  • That being said, I also decided that, for ME, alcohol is not included in that equation. FOR ME, having a glass of wine or a beer is not, and has never been, an issue. So I have had a glass of wine or two, and the other night, I split a fantastic hard cider with my boyfriend that tasted just like…well, cider. I reserve the right to change my mind about this, however, if it does become a little too appealing or lead to other problems- all those years in NA are not totally wasted on me.
  • THAT being said, I am no longer attending meetings. I miss them, sometimes, but I am not following, and not a believer in the rules anymore. And if you can’t do it right, you might as well stay home. So I am. And I am okay with it, totally.
  • This is the biggy. I never, not in a million, bazillion years thought I’d ever,ever say this, but here it is. I became a Christian. I feel funny even writing it down, but you can’t imagine how weird the transformation inside of me has been for me. It just sort of happened. Sorry, mom. (She really has an issue with this). I found a church I love, and I feel awful if I miss, even one Sunday, and it has changed everything for me. I am just not afraid of the word “Jesus” anymore, even if I’m not 100% comfortable with announcing it to the world…there it is. When I go to church, something deep inside of me stirs and it feels right for me to be there, and to apply the lessons to my life out in the world. I feel like I am home.
  • I became more dedicated than ever to my writing. I had my first short story published. I started this blog. I participated in nanowrimo, and went to the Night Of Writing Dangerously. I started a new book. I started working on finishing up my finished novel. I met my favorite writer in the whole wide world. I finally gathered enough knowledge to formulate a logical path to becoming successful with my gift, if it is ever to be. I know that I love writing almost as much as I love my children, so it seems to me that all there is left to do is try to succeed at it, right? Right.

When you look at the things I have listed as being noteworthy, they may seem sort of random to you. But to me, every single one of them tells the story of a woman who has finally grown up enough to begin thinking, and deciding, for herself how her life should be lived. Whether it was getting a dog, drinking a beer, jumping off of the ride when it got too wild, or discovering who it is she truly wants to be-all of the decisions were big, defining ones for me, and I came through it all better for it.

All in all, I’d say 2012 was a year to be proud of. Have a great day, and Merry Christmas!

The Trials of Motherhood

If you know me at all in real life, you may have heard me express out loud (one or two million times) my aggravation with people who compare their dogs with children. It is no coincidence that the people who do this generally do not have actual children-I understand, yes, there is a great bond between a dog with whom you have lived and loved for many years and yourself. However, I will say here what I have often said to these “dog-moms” when they say “I have no kids…but I have two chihuahuas that are JUST like my babies.” 

If I left my daughter out in the yard all day with a bowl of water while I went to work, I would go to jail. If my daughter crapped on the floor and I rubbed her nose in it, that would be child abuse. And if I put my kid on a leash for a walk down the block…Wait. People actually DO that, don’t they? My GOD, that is creepy.

That being said, I have to tell you that. maybe I should have looked into dog ownership before I became a mom. Because this shit is hard. Last night, I had to take my oldest girl to the hospital because she had the WORST bloody nose I have EVER seen in my entire life. Why? Hmm…I am not sure whether to laugh or cry about this. The reason she had a bloody nose is because, in the midst of a heated argument about why I had decided not to buy her a new $250.00 smartphone, she got so upset and frustrated with me that words utterly failed her and she tried to blow a snot rocket at me.

I am not kidding you. I am trying to figure out how to explain to you what would have happened to me had I ever tried such a thing with my mother. All I can come up with is this- I probably would not be sitting here writing this right now as I would have suffered a horrible young death. If my mom hadn’t killed me, she certainly would have beat my ass. God, however, works in mysterious ways, and he must have known that this child needed a little shaking up, so he intervened on my behalf.

I have this new tactic that seems not to work very well, but having so few tools in my parenting arsenal, I do the best I can with what little I have. The tactic I am referring to here is what you might call “Calm and Detached.”. I figure it is better than getting down on her level and flipping completely out- except that, when I do this, it seems to make her even more insane. I’m not going to lie, there’s a small, awful part of me that enjoys seeing her buttons get pushed the way she ALWAYS pushes mine. So I was busy being calm and detached when the above mentioned snot-rocket was launched and all hell broke loose. I didn’t even look up from the magazine I was (pretending) reading.

“Mom! MOM! My nose is bleeding!”

“That’s what you get.” I told her.

“MOM! What’s HAPPENING!!??” Okay, so the level of panic in my usually not panicky kid did strike a chord in me as I glanced over. And HOLY SHIT. 

I have never, ever in my life seen blood shoot out of someones nose like that. Trust me, should you ever see blood pumping out of your child’s face, leaving puddles on the floor, you pretty much forget about whatever stupid thing they did to cause it twelve seconds earlier. I tried to stay calm, I really did. It didn’t work, though. I sort of remember yelling at Devon to “CALL 911!”, being mad when he refused, throwing Aisley in the car and rushing off to the hospital. She had blood on her shoes, her pants and her sweatshirt. She had blood covering her hands, her neck and her face. On the way there, she said “Mom, maybe you should drive faster, because I am really scared.” So I did. She’s really not a kid who gets too worried about much-not like me, who will go into blind panic. She stays pretty level headed about these things. On the way there, she started crying. I drove a little faster, still.

It takes about ten minutes to get from my house to the hospital, and by the time we drove into the parking lot, the bleeding had slowed down a lot. We thought about going home, but she said “Maybe my brain is bleeding- we should probably just go in.” And though I doubted it very much, there was a teensey part of me that thought “Well, you never know.”, so we went in.

I’m glad we did. For one, I needed the peace of mind that she was really okay, and so did she. Secondly, it was pretty hilarious making my tearful and blood covered child admit to the doctor exactly how she came to be in this sorry state. (“can I put this in the dictation?” he asked. “Oh, absolutely”, I replied, delighted.) But most importantly of all, because, weird as it sounds, I think we BOTH needed a little fear to shake us out of this funk we have been in. We’ve been living together with this hostility between us for so long, I think we’ve just gotten used to it. Seeing her so frightened and upset reminded me that whatever else is going on, she is still my little girl. I would die, I mean, seriously, I could not go on, if anything were to happen to her.

We came home in much better spirits. She cleaned herself up and actually made her sister a bottle. I could count on no hands the number of time that has happened.Earlier that night, as we sat in the waiting room, I had put my arm around her and tried to pull her close. I tried to tell her that I wouldn’t let anything bad happen to her. I could feel her resistance, and see how afraid she was, and I understood that we have turned a corner somewhere along the way- one where I can’t fix everything, nor can I make her feel safer by pretending that it’s true.

But I can tell you this- I would certainly try. No matter what else is going on in this crazy busy life of mine, if one of my kids needed me, I would be there, period. If all I can do is sit beside them and hold their hands, you better believe I will be sitting there, holding on. I may have to look real hard to see that child I love so much in that fourteen year old, but she is there. And I love her beyond reason. No matter how many snot rockets she’s got up her, er,…sleeve.