Posted in Addiction, adventure, alcoholism, anxiety, Blogging, Depression, faith, family, Goals, Life, Mental Health, Musings, recovery, twelve step

Reflecting on After The Party

party's over

Did you know that I have been writing this blog for 6 years now?

Sure, I haven’t been consistent…I mean, this blog is a lot like my real life in that way. As true to form as could be, I have been sporadic, I can’t follow a theme, I don’t stick to the subject at hand. I guess that is the one way I am consistent- by being totally inconsistent. Well, dammit. Now I’ve said the word “consistent” so many times that it’s started to sound weird to me.

Anyway, here it is. I have pretty much laid out my life and my truth here through a lot of shit over the past six years. I struggled mightily with my addiction, and I kept writing through it. I told on myself, sometimes I tried to make it look prettier than it was, sometimes I thought I’d succeeded, and then…looking back, the truth is pretty clear to me, what a mess I was. I don’t know if I had anyone else fooled. It doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that I kept going. That, throughout all of those years, I never stopped trying and I never lost hope. I was scared sometimes…I lost my mind many times, and lost myself, but I somehow never totally lost hope. I knew that I could do it, I just knew that I could. And look at me now…three years and some change into this latest foray into recovery, here I sit, still clean, still hanging in there.

It looks nothing like I thought that it would. In some ways, it is so much better, and in other ways, it’s just…underwhelming. It’s just life. I don’t wake up every single day ecstatic that I am not using drugs anymore, over the moon that I get to be sober another day. I wake up and wonder why I can’t seem to get my laundry folded, or why “other people” (whoever they may be) have their shit together so much more completely than I do. This is REAL life…and real life is not an Instagram feed or the things we post on Facebook, it’s not even the happy face we put on for the world. Real life is not the highlight reel, it is the piles of shit on the kitchen table, the lost keys, the sitting on the toilet and realizing there is no toilet paper and there’s no one home to yell to for help. Real life is what is happening to everyone, all the time, around and through all the beautiful moments. Because I am clean, I get to be a part of that.

But because I wasn’t clean for so long, I am still, even at 43, even with all this time clean now, adjusting to this reality. I am also dealing with the weird personality tics- such as: low self-esteem, poor coping skills, boundary issues, people pleasing, isolating tendencies, anxiety and probably a little depression thrown in to spice up the pot- that most likely led me to going all in with my addiction in the first place.

Basically, I thought that getting clean would be the solution to all of my problems. What I have learned is that getting clean was the first major obstacle I had to clear to start dealing with a bunch of other problems. My addiction is just a symptom of other, much more deeply rooted bullshit. And now I am trying to fix myself.

This past few years have been HARD. But, on the flip side of that, they have also been, hands down, the best years of my adult life. Easily. I mean, I could just cry thinking about it. I have healed so many relationships that were deeply wounded. I am so close with my mom, and so incredibly close with my daughters. I can look anyone in the eye, at any time, and not feel ashamed of who I am. I have stopped being so angry. I have learned how to hear myself, sometimes even before I speak, and my words don’t have to hurt people anymore. Because I am not in pain on a deep, soul-level anymore, I don’t have to lash out and make sure everyone around me is hurting, too. On the contrary, I spend a lot of my time trying to show the people I love that I love them. I think about ways I can make their lives better. And if you understand addiction at all, if you’ve been there yourself or if you’ve witnessed the destruction wrought by an addict that you love, you understand how monumental that is. I no longer hurt or destroy everything that I touch.

I no longer hurt or destroy everything that I touch…I needed to say that again. Because I don’t ever want to be that person again, and yet, even knowing what I know, I have been STRUGGLING lately. I have wanted to give up. To quit being in recovery, to quit going to meetings, to just have one fucking little drink. Because I want to relax. Because I feel like I need something outside of myself to help me let go a little bit. Because alcohol was never a problem for me, so why can’t I just have a glass of wine? Or a beer? Or maybe a shot of tequila for old times sake? I just want to be NORMAL.

But you know what? I am not “normal” in the way I think of normal being, and I know this. I know that if I have a drink, it might be just a drink for now…but eventually, it would turn into something far bigger than I could even try to control. And you know, next time, I might not be so lucky. I might not make it back. So, here I am, reminding myself of one of the overused but oh-so-appropriate NA sayings…just for today. Just for today, I can not drink, right? I don’t have to think about forever, or even tomorrow. Just today. I know I can do that.

I started this blog because I wanted to write something funny and relate-able and real that other people in my position could find themselves in. I wanted it to be a success story, and an inspiration, and most of all, I wanted to be honest. I think I have done that. I’m not about to stop now, whether 500 people are reading, or only two. My life isn’t always pretty or fun, but I can promise you that it has been much, much more meaningful after the party ended. And let’s be honest- the party was over long before I ever found my way home.

 

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Posted in Blogging, faith, family, Life, mindfulness, Musings, random

Tired

tired

Just a super quick check-in post to let my wordpress friends that I am doing okay, despite my silence these past few days.

Mother’s Day, my last post, was an emotional one for me. I spent a good chunk of the morning crying over years that I lost, and trauma I still carry in my heart. Most of the time, I don’t carry those things so close to the surface, but sometimes they emerge, and I deal with them as best I can.

This has not been the best week ever. I am dealing with some things that make me feel uncomfortable, angry, and scared. But I know that I am growing, because I grow the most when I feel the worst. I have every reason to believe that I will come through these current trials stronger than ever, but for now, I have to be okay with sitting with my discomfort. It’s just part of life. You can’t just stick your head in the sand forever, and ignore your problems- that’s the way they grow bigger! I am still learning, and even though this is a lesson I have learned before, I guess I didn’t learn it well enough because here it came again.

Thankfully, my mom is still in town, and I got to spend a really nice evening with her last night. This has been a rough few years for us- me working through a lot of stuff that happened a long time ago, and her trying to be patient with me, and trying to understand. There was a time, not too long ago, that I worried our relationship would never be okay again. But I realized this morning that my fears were unfounded- I felt exactly the way I want to feel with my mom last night: Safe, loved, understood. We laughed and visited and just hung out, and it was so nice. Now she is getting ready to head home, and I find myself wishing she could stay here forever, so that I could see her all the time. I really love my mom.

To sum it all up, I’m just tired this morning. The kind of tired that comes from being bombarded with too many feelings, too fast. It drains you, doesn’t it? But I know it is only temporary, as everything always is, and that I am truly doing everything that is within my power to fix what is broken. No matter what the end result is, I will know I did my very best. That’s really all you can ever do, isn’t it?

 

Posted in Addiction, advice, alcoholism, Goals, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, mindfulness, People, random, relationships

Let Go of Everything

breathe

Today is the last day of my life that I will ever be 42. Forty-fucking-two, you guys. Holy shit! Tomorrow, I will be FORTY THREE. I honestly had no idea that in your forties, you could still feel the exact same way that you did in your 30’s and even in your 20’s. Maybe just a little more cautious, and a little less willing to paint your own toenails or pluck your own eyebrows- this is the luxury of having a bit more financial stability and less of a desire to stay up past nine in the evening, meeting friends for expensive drinks. You can pay someone else to groom you. I am only half way joking- this is one of the most enjoyable things about getting older for me. That, and getting to enjoy the full scope of Amazon Prime. I love that shit.

Anyway, for some reason, I always thought that 42 would be this landmark year for me. I actually looked forward to it for a really long time, and now, here I sit, almost done with the age…and nothing pointedly significant is jumping out at me. I didn’t get an agent (nor did I try, so that might be part of that problem), I didn’t have a New York Times best seller (also, didn’t finish my novel yet, so that could be why), and I am not rich beyond my wildest dreams (although this has been a great year for me, financially, so…). So what does that mean? Has this year been a failure because no giant big deals are jumping out at me?

Nah. This has been the best year of my life so far. I’m still clean. My mental health is outstanding- like, I am probably more stable now than I’ve ever been. My physical health is incredible. My parenting game is top-notch. My bills are all paid. My recovery is strong. I am closer with my family than ever, and I have some wonderful friends. My life is in really good shape.

But the best part is the ease of it all. What I mean is, I’m not afraid of living anymore. Like, I finally learned how to stop trying to make everything turn out exactly the way I wanted it to, and let whatever is supposed to happen, happen. And this small thing, when someone is the caliber of control freak that I am, is not really a small thing. Do you know how exhausting it is to constantly try to manipulate every possible outcome in your favor? If you do, you really need to hear this, because…I think I finally figured out the solution. Just let go. Let go of the outcome, and enjoy the ride. You don’t have to insert yourself into everything, you don’t have to put up a false front, you don’t have to do anything…just let things go how they will go. It’s literally the most magical thing ever.

I don’t mean stay in your pajamas and stop showing up for work. You still have to show up. But some things you don’t have to do? Okay, well- you don’t have to suffer fools. Let them go…show them the door, even. You don’t have to keep anyone in your life that doesn’t deserve to be there. You can definitely let go of people that suck. You don’t have to explain yourself, either. If you are done with someone, chances are they know exactly why you feel the way you feel, so BYE. You don’t have to apologize for your feelings. You don’t have to beat yourself up for being human. You don’t have to let anyone make you feel bad about yourself. You don’t have to let YOU make you feel bad about yourself.

And here are some things you can do: You can love yourself, exactly the way you are. You can love yourself, and still want to change a few things. You can let people into your life that make you happy. You can let those people go, if they want to go, and it doesn’t have to mean anything is wrong with you. You can be proud of yourself. You can tell that mean voice in your head to shut the fuck up. You can decide you are pretty fucking great, and defend that decision as if your life depends on it, because it kind of does. You can just be who you are, and relax.

I may not have done all of the things in the past twelve months that I expected of myself, but I did a lot of things that will help me get to where I want to be. I did some deep, deep, inner work, and it has given me back far more than I invested, honestly. Sitting here, writing this, I have so much peace in my heart. I am so okay with who I am. Flaws and all. It’s been a pretty outstanding year.

Posted in Addiction, faith, inner peace, Life, Musings, People, random, recovery

Strength

strength

I have always thought of myself as someone who is strong- not physically strong, although I’m no slouch in that area, either (being a single mother for most of your life will help you develop muscles, trust me) but resilient, tough, capable, able to lift myself out of difficult times and situations.

Yeah, but… I’m just sitting here this morning thinking- if I created all of the difficult times and situations in my life, does that really count as being strong? I mean sure, I eventually got myself out of them, time after time after time, but…what does that say about my character, that I created so much drama and strife and upheaval? Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of myself for never giving up, for always trying to fix whatever I had broken. And I realize that I had issues that had issues, that with all the shit I was hauling around inside of me, there was no way I could have been any other way than I was until I got help. Still…

I view strength very differently now. It is no longer necessary for me to aggressively assert my “strength” by acting out or being demanding or dominating the conversation (although I do still get carried away when I am talking sometimes). I have kids, so I still raise my voice a little more often than I would like, but I don’t feel the need to when I am speaking to another adult. As a matter of fact, when my temper gets away from me these days, I feel the opposite of strong- it makes me feel diminished and weak. Funny how we change over time, isn’t it?

You know what I see as my strengths now? My ability to keep showing up, even when I am so tired of it all that I want to throw the towel in. Strength is knowing that I am just having a moment, and it’s going to pass.  Strength is taking a deep breath or five before I speak, because I know I am too angry to be reasonable. My greatest strength lies in my consistency, and I am reaping the rewards every day because my life, finally, is not an uphill battle. The decisions I make now are generally made more with the future in mind, rather than for instant gratification. And because I have made a lot more good choices lately than poor ones, I have the added and unexpected bonus of being able to trust myself. I can’t think of anything more bad-ass than feeling confident in your own capabilities. It feels really, really good.

Two years and 341 days ago, I was a very different person. I knew I was a mess, but thankfully I didn’t know how much of a mess I was. It would have been overwhelming, and I don’t think I would have been willing to face all of it. But in a perfectly timed fashion, each new layer of bullshit was revealed to me just as I was ready to see it. I am not done yet, but I am much, much better off than where I started. The strength to stay in recovery, to keep going even when I really just wanted one fucking little…whatever was available to just make me RELAX already…that has to be the single most important show of strength that I have ever displayed. Without that, none of these other revelations would have even been possible. This entire journey has been fueled by my recovery, and that is the truth.

Three years. Not even three yet, almost three. In almost three years, my life has been completely changed for the better. Do you know how fast three years goes by when you are still getting loaded? In like five minutes, no kidding. So anyway, if you are new to all of this, and you aren’t seeing the results you want, I encourage you to hang on. To really devote yourself to the process of self discovery and healing, and just keep going. The day will come when you are so much more than you ever even dreamed you could be, and it will all have been worth it. Stick around for long enough to see your definition of what strength is be totally, irreversibly changed. It’s a pretty amazing thing.

Posted in Addiction, adventure, family, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random, recovery, Uncategorized

Routine Devotion

 

safe

My daughter, the older one, is obsessed with growing things right now. She moved away, out to the middle of nowhere, where she has to hike a mile just to get phone service, and…I’ll be honest with you- I didn’t think she would last a month. I really didn’t. No Instagram? Ha! That was her life, when she was still in town. Well, that was months ago now, and she’s still there. Instead of posting pictures on an app and trying to get followers and likes, she’s started planting things in the ground and saying things like “germinate” and “zones 4-9” (I’m not fucking around, she actually said “these grow really well in zones 4-9” when I spoke with her yesterday. I don’t even know what that means, but I was too surprised to ask) She has made a dozen raised beds, and every other day I get little seed packets mailed to my house with her name on them. All she talks about is her plants.

I think it is pretty amazing. I’ve only had two house plants survive life with me so far, and one of them my cat used as a litter box, so it actually died. Which I guess makes it one plant. I don’t know what kind of plant it is, but it got so big I finally had to move it outside because I don’t know how to deal with it. So I might be down to zero pretty soon. In any case, my point is, my kid has thrown herself 100% into gardening right now.

Last year, she was 100% into beach glass. Beach glass hunting was always my thing, and I dragged her with me mercilessly when she was little. She hated it, and hated the beach, because…well, because I was so into it that it made it a burden rather than fun for her. So imagine my surprise when she started hitting my favorite spot last year and bringing home stuff that was way better than anything I ever found. Day and night, she was beach glass hunting, bringing home piles of beautiful glass and pottery. For Christmas, I bought her sifters and scoops. About a month later, she was over it.

And I thought oh my God. She is just like me.

I have that, too. That thing where, when I like something, I throw myself into it to the exclusion of everything else. Of course, for me it manifested in some really unhealthy behaviors, but…honestly? It could be anything. I have done it with drugs and I have done it with online shopping. Okay, fine, I still do it with online shopping. But I’m getting better. And I really will read all those books, eventually. I’ve heard people in meetings claim their drug of choice is “more”, and I understand that. It doesn’t have to be a substance, it can be anything you do to excess, which for me can manifest itself as anything that feels good. It doesn’t matter what it is.

So I created this routine for myself. It keeps me on track, it keeps me focused, it keeps me safe. I get up early every day, I write. I pray and meditate. I deal with my job as a mom, and I deal with my job that pays my bills. I go to the gym, I walk the dog, I make the food, blah blah blah. It’s not exciting. But it addresses all the things I need to address, and it’s familiar, it’s comfortable, and it’s…safe. It’s SAFE. Like, who makes that their top priority in life? What happened to me?

I was just telling my best friend yesterday how backwards I am right now because my routine has gotten a little disturbed over the past week or so. My mom has been in town (they are “camping” in the most luxurious trailer I have ever seen in my life outside of TV. I’m not kidding, it’s like a condo on wheels) and I’ve been trying to make sure I see her as much as I can. I have…well, I’ve been…lets just say there are some other things going on in my life. No big deal, right? Except for me, sometimes even little changes, even good things, can be overstimulating and throw me for a loop.

But I’m in such a good place right now that I can see it- I can see what is happening, and why I am feeling kinda off, and so I understand it and can make adjustments- to my attitude, or to my behavior, and know I will be okay. I can choose to be more flexible without losing myself completely in the process. Because I think that is what I am most afraid of, and why I am so devoted to my routine- I’m afraid of losing the rhythm that makes my life work. Because when I have gotten off track in the past, it has been disastrous.

I am not my past, though. And life isn’t supposed to be all about following a routine, and being safe above everything else. If the things that keep you safe also keep you from people you love, or from doing anything new, are you even really living? This week I am going to trust that I can still do all the things I need to do to keep my life running smoothly, and make room for all the things that make life worth working so hard for. And I’m going to enjoy every second of it. So there.

 

Posted in adventure, Blogging, family, Goals, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random

The Tide is Turning

challenges

Despite all of my carrying on and whatnot over the past couple of weeks, I want to let you know that there have been some major shifts in my routine over that same time period- the things I have struggled with aloud here have been the very things I have devoted most of my time to dealing with in my real life. A lot of times, when I am writing about my life in my blog, it is a way for me to sort out and work through things on a different level. It’s a great way for me to pinpoint areas where I am not doing as well as I would like to be, and it seems like I just naturally start to resolve things the minute I put them down on “paper”, essentially.

I wrote recently about wanting to feel more confident in myself, and figured that one of the ways I could improve my self-esteem would be to behave in a way that would inspire more respect in myself- in other words, do a good job. Make it my goal to really pour effort into whatever task I am doing, so that when it is done, I know I did my level best. With this spirit driving me, I have had the best couple of weeks at work that I have had, as far as consecutive days go, in probably years. I have made it my business to enforce some self-discipline during my work hours, which is essential (and also incredibly easy to lose completely) when you work from home. I set specific goals for myself, keep track of the work I am doing, and reward myself with a short break every hour, when I’ve reached my goal. I leave the TV off. I open up my blinds to let the light in. I sit down, I listen to podcasts, and I earn my paycheck. At the end of the day lately, I have felt the satisfaction of knowing I did my job well, and it really does feel amazing. Bam, my self-confidence soars.

Side note: My friend Jennifer gave me the book “You are a Bad Ass” by Jen Sincero for my birthday, and I just finally started reading it- well, actually, I’m almost done now. I figured this was a perfect time, when I am pretty open to ideas and help. I have been surprised to find how many of the recommendations in the book are things I already either do, or at least have realized, on my own. Which is not to say that the book is useless- far from it! I think it is just generally a great idea to read books full of positive information that will lift you up, and I have learned quite a bit as well. My point is, aside from what I have gleaned from the book, the realization that I am already doing so many of these things makes me feel like I might be doing better than I thought.

Something big happened after I wrote the post about being lazy- boy, I never would have seen that one coming, but…I’m super glad it did. I want to share with you that the minute I finished that blog, I got up and did the dishes, and I have barely stopped cleaning since then. I’m not kidding! I have not gone to bed with a dish in my sink since that blog was posted. I have been doing laundry nearly constantly, filling bags with Goodwill donations, throwing things away, and sorting out the junk and bric-a-brac that I have allowed to accumulate in small piles throughout the house. I filled a garbage bag just from my tiny bathroom alone- full of old makeup, expired medication, empty cosmetic boxes, and just…shit. Shit that has been cluttering up my life and making me feel bad. Every night, when I finally sit down to relax, I can REALLY relax, because my house, while not yet exactly how I’d like it to be, is already a thousand percent better than it was. And again, I can sit there knowing I worked hard, and did a really good job. Again, major self-esteem boost.

And finally, remember the post about losing my sense of adventure, and how I was stressed out about my landlord coming and code enforcement and all that? Well, turns out that might have been the best thing that could have happened. As a direct result of the pressure applied to me, I paid someone to haul off ALL the junk in my backyard (a pretty impressive amount, to be honest. I don’t know where all this crap even comes from!) and then I paid someone else to come and clean my massive yard for me. Best money I’ve ever spent. I also called my landlady to find out when this visit is supposed to happen, and learned from that call that she isn’t mad at me at all. She’s actually more upset with the city for bothering me in the first place. So, not only did I feel so much relief from dealing with the issue head-on, but she was thrilled to hear that I had done so much work to make the yard look nice.

To wrap this all up, I want to announce that I am leaving town today, having decided to take a vacation out of town after all. No, I am not going to Oregon- I realized that I didn’t want to risk sitting in the car for a total of 24 hours with a seven year old in what looks like will be terrible weather. I opted instead to head south, to the sunnier portion of California, and I couldn’t be more excited! My kiddo and I have BIG plans for the next several days, and I don’t want to tell you where I am headed because, of course, I am planning on writing about it.

So, just to make a terribly long blog even longer, I want to say how grateful I am that I have this outlet to express myself. It’s exciting for me to be able to share, and discover for myself, the way this blog is a tool I use to work at the knots in my life, and how writing through my struggles actually helps me to resolve them. If all I was doing was bitching about my life, it could be toxic. But this last few weeks has shown me that what I am really doing is figuring out how to be better, and the advice and support I get back has been such a wonderful bonus. So THANKS! I am off to pack for my trip now!

Posted in anxiety, Depression, faith, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, Musings

Being Human

being human

Last week was ROUGH. You may have notice my absence here, you may not have. I think I threw out my “Three things” post, and that was about it. I just wasn’t feeling it. I wrote a really angry post on Friday morning, but opted not to publish it, as it just didn’t feel like who I want to show up in the world as. Angry me is not the best me. So I left it. The event that happened to inspire the anger happened, and I can’t change it. Suffice to say that human beings are fickle and misguided sometimes, and they are prone to doing things that will disappoint you. Some humans are more prone to this than others. When you know this about them, it’s kind of on you to proceed accordingly. I forgot that, and I got a solid reminder. I am practicing acceptance, and will try to forgive but stop forgetting. I forget too easily. Sorry for the vagueness- I hate when other people do that shit, and here I am doing it. The sum of the matter is, someone hurt my feelings and went behind my back, and I am trying to deal with the situation with a modicum of dignity and some wisdom, rather than my normal routine of utterly blowing up, seeking revenge, and making everything three thousand times worse. I am trying to change.

In other news, this dance I have been doing with depression- good Lord, it gets old. It’s not bad enough for me to stop showering, but it’s just bad enough where I will skip other little things- I don’t bother putting on lotion, I don’t bother brushing my hair. Rather than dealing with laundry, I’ll just wear the same clothes I had on the day before- it’s not like I did anything, anyway. It’s this weird thing where I am always wondering, am I supposed to lean into it, or do I fight it? Do I let myself feel how I am feeling, or do I “act as if”, plaster a smile on my face, and fake it like crazy? There’s this fear that if I let myself rest here too long, I won’t ever be able to get back up again. It’s hard to know how to care for yourself properly when your instincts are all screwed up, and you aren’t really sure you can trust yourself. So, I have been doing a little bit of both things- resting a little bit more than usual, and as soon as I can, I get up and do as much as I am able to. It seems to be working. I definitely got less than usual done this weekend, but I did get more done than I expected.

I’ve had a chance to talk to a few different people about the way I’ve been feeling and what I’ve been going through, and each one of them confirmed that they know exactly what I am talking about and have found themselves dealing with the same things- if not right now, then recently. What I got out of that is that maybe this is just part of growing up, growing older. You think things will be a certain way, and they aren’t, and it’s hard on our spirits. I think we have this idea that when we reach a certain age, everything evens out and life gets easy- I know I, at least, always sort of pictured life this way when I was younger; “When I accomplish a), b), and c), everything will be just right…” But that isn’t how it works. There are growing pains at every age, and I think they are made harder by the inevitable cynicism we pick up along the way. Call it wisdom or knowledge if that makes you feel more comfortable, but the fact is, as we age, we learn unhappy truths and it can fuck with feelings of hope and happiness. That can be hard to deal with.

So what, then, are we to do? Well, we just keep going, just like I am doing, and try to deal with our uncomfortable feelings the best we can. Try not to let it shut you down completely. If you just can’t do another thing, give yourself a break and binge some Bob’s Burger, for levity, and recharge your battery. “Act as if” a little, and say “Fuck it all” a little. Take as good of care of yourself as you can, and forgive yourself immediately for what you can’t quite do. But definitely do what you can.

Listen, life is hard sometimes, but it is also beautiful- it can be beautiful and hard at the same time, even. You might have to look a little harder to see it, but it’s all still there. Today, my intention is to push myself a little more than I did yesterday because, so far, I am feeling a little better…but that could change, and I am not going to be mad at myself if things don’t go as planned. I’m going to treat myself like a good friend who is going through a rough time (because essentially, that is what I am) and act accordingly. I am going to look for the beauty. And I am going to allow myself to be this weird little human that I am.