Tag Archives: healing

The Courage to Face Yourself

courage

I remember the exact moment that it hit me. The moment when I realized that the only reason I was still using every bit of energy I had, every resource I could scrounge up, to come up with some pittance of dope day after day. It wasn’t to get high- I couldn’t get high anymore if I wanted to, that ship had long since sailed. It was to keep myself one step ahead of what was constantly nipping at my heels. The truth. The truth about who I had become, and what I had made of my life. The truth about the wreckage I had caused, and the collateral damage…the pain I had inflicted on everyone around me.

I was in my living room, in a shitty apartment in Reno, Nevada, and I was stalking around the way I always did- restless, agitated, trying to figure out my next hustle. Half out of my mind from lack of sleep and fried brain cells, and it hit me. A moment of clarity that I really wasn’t looking for.

“You’re going to have to face yourself, eventually.” The thought came out of nowhere, and it was one of those weird moments where it sounded like my own voice in my head, but it didn’t feel like it came from me. I didn’t want to hear it, but I couldn’t help it. I remember that I stopped my pacing, and considered what my head had just told me. I wasn’t ready yet, not at that moment, but something had happened. A seed had been planted, blown into me from somewhere- maybe it was God, maybe it was just my own desperate psyche, trying to save me. I don’t know.

After that, weird little moments kept cropping up- I would be in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, and catch sight of myself in the mirror, and find myself thinking “Can I even get back to the person I used to be? Does she even exist anymore? What if she isn’t real? What if all I am is this nightmare of a human being?” Or, at two in the morning, I’d find myself nodding off on the couch, thinking “What if I can’t change? What if this is just who I am?”

I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, I can see that all those questions were more than just idle thoughts. They were the very beginning of my escape plan. The very idea of doing something different was so absurd, so foreign to me, that at first, all I could handle were these tiny little thoughts. Eventually, they grew and grew, until I had worn myself out enough that I had no choice but to drop from exhaustion. My first surrender was pure exhaustion, so complete that I couldn’t even wave a white flag. I just gave up because I had nothing left in me to keep going.

My first spin through recovery was more of a reprieve. I made it two years, I relapsed for one day, then made it another year. I went through the motions, learned all the acronyms, went to meetings, thought I was getting somewhere. But after all that time, when the opportunity to use came along again, I jumped at it, and it wasn’t long before I was right back where I’d been before, with the exception that I was now employable, responsible, and really good at faking my way through life. In short, I was a functioning addict now as opposed to the totally dysfunctional one I had been before. Progress, right? Yeah, I don’t think so.

When I got clean again almost three years ago, I had no idea how different this time would be for me. I had no clue that I was finally ready, and that the work I was about to embark on would be painful, hard and the most life-changing thing I could do for myself. Thank God I didn’t know! If I had, I never would have had the courage to start. I have unearthed things I never wanted to look at again, I have told the truth about things I hadn’t even known I was lying about all my life. It has been gut wrenching and frightening at times- to see myself in the most unflattering of lights, to realize what a mess I made, not just of my own life, but of the lives I was responsible for. My kids definitely carry the shrapnel of my battles in their skin. There are some things I will never be able to fix, unless someone figures out how to build a time machine.

But even so…what could I do? My past mistakes are so intrinsically linked to the joys of my life, they could never be separated. I had to be who I was to make the choices I made to get to exactly where I am. If I went back in time and changed one thing, I would not be this person sitting here, writing this, right now. The framed pictures of my children that I can see would not be there, because they wouldn’t be here, none of it would.

So, if I couldn’t change any of it, and if it was so painful to face, why do it at all? You might ask. Why not just leave the past in the past and move forward, leave all that shit behind you. The only thing I can tell you about that is, there is no peace in burying the truth. The moment I found the courage to face the ugly truth, the moment I took responsibility for who I had been and what I had done, the past lost its power over me. I still have moments, nearly every day, where I feel remorse or regret over something that happened long ago. But they are just twinges now, they don’t feel like a punch in the gut anymore. And that really IS progress.

You cannot heal and hide at the same time. Anyone can run away from the truth, or bury it- but you can’t bury it deep enough to keep it away. The truth ALWAYS finds a way back to the surface. The most courageous thing I have ever done in my life wasn’t getting clean- it was inviting the truth up to meet me, seeing it for what it was, and finally, setting myself free.

via Daily Prompt: Courage

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Laughter

laughter

 

I gave up laughter for years.

I mean the good kind, the kind that rolls out of you uncontrollably, the kind that makes you double up, the kind that makes you cross your legs so you don’t pee your pants. The best kind- the laughter that comes out so hard that it makes no sound, just your big open mouth, your shaking shoulders. I can’t even think about that kind of laughter without smiling.

I gave it up, and I didn’t even realize it. Which is weird, because I love to laugh so much! I didn’t stop making other people laugh- I have always been really good at that, and it is an excellent way to distract people from what is wrong. When you can make people laugh, it’s easy for them to assume that you are okay, that you are happy, right? Happy people make other people laugh. I don’t think that is true at all. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I adore making people laugh, but…it’s a show you put on. A friendlier way than my other go-to of crazy anger to keep people at arms length. To keep them from asking too many questions, or seeing me too clearly. Deflect, distract, confuse. Another tool in my arsenal.

I don’t remember doing too much laughing myself. At least, not the good kind. The sad fact is, when you are deep in addiction, you don’t have much to laugh about. It’s not fun. It’s a life in survival mode, just barely keeping your head above water.Then, if you are lucky, and if you work really hard at it, you get clean and shit gets REALLY real. If you are doing step work and working with a sponsor, things come up. Feelings you didn’t feel ten years ago clamor to be felt. You deal with anxiety, remorse, shame, regret, depression, elation, joy, love, relief, exhaustion and peace. But what you might find little room for in your life, while dealing with all this other stuff, is silliness. And silliness is a big ingredient in laughter.

For me, at least, it was a long, long time before I stopped being so tense. I had been so on my guard for so long, so careful in the way that I lived my life out of fear of being found out, that it was a long while before I trusted myself to keep going. Believe me when I say that I am not some paragon of ease- I can’t see that ever happening. I am a little tightly wound, as friends and family will attest. Lately, though, I have found myself able to breathe. To be in the moment, to let go, to have fun.

And I have been laughing so much. So much that it has caught my attention several times over the past few weeks. My little daughter, the one I am with the most, has noticed too. She’s the one I’ve been cracking up with the most, and it’s like some kind of medicine, I swear. We laughed our way through Target the other night, being silly as hell, and causing people to stare at us as we giggled and swerved our cart through the aisles. I am not lying when I say that several children looked at us with longing, wishing they were having as much fun as we were.

We’ve been laughing in the car, and laughing in our house, laughing in the morning when I wake her up, and laughing while we brush our teeth. We almost died laughing during a dance off we had in the living room the other night.

I’ve been laughing at work, and laughing in meetings. Last night, at my critique group, it felt great to laugh with my writer friends about writer stuff. And yesterday, when I was complaining about my sudden acne outbreak and my friend asked me why I thought I was breaking out, I pointed to my face and said “Hemorrhoids” when what I meant to say, in fact, was “Hormones”. I literally almost peed my pants. Come on, that’s freaking hilarious.

I missed laughing so much. If you are just starting out on this journey, I promise you, the day will come when your heart and spirit have healed enough to let your guard down. You will trust yourself again, and you will find, without even realizing that it’s happened, you are whole. You will find that you can breathe again, you will find it easy to smile, and I promise you, you will laugh.

The good kind of laugh.

Down the Rabbit Hole I Fell…

rabbit hole
courtesy of pinterest

I woke up this morning in a fine mood- excited to be going to spend the day hiking with my older daughter, looking forward to doing something different and fun. Then I grabbed my phone off the charger, and was met with this all-too-familiar warning: “iphone storage is full-manage storage in settings.”

Well, shit. I would like to first say that I have just about had it with this stupid phone. I don’t know what is going on between my phone, my laptop, and my cloud. I don’t even think I really understand my cloud at all, to be honest. But with previous phones I’ve had, and previous laptops, you can upload all of your photos into your computer and move on with your life. I don’t know why, but my photos on my phone don’t want to go onto my computer. It’s a whole thing, and it pisses me off, and I just can’t deal with it.

Anyway, I knew I was going to want to take a lot of pictures today, and there is nothing worse than grabbing your phone to snap a shot and getting that stupid message about not having space on your phone. Ugh. So, I tried messing with my cloud. I tried figuring it out, tried seeing where the hell my pictures were going. I backed up my phone. I went through my phone and manually deleted about three hundred useless photos- horrible selfies, pictures of food, pictures that are already on Instagram. Then, I went into my Kindle and deleted books that I have already read. I went into my podcasts, and deleted downloaded episodes. I cleaned my phone. I deleted a couple of apps that I never use- literally, a couple. I use all of them, daily.

Then I went into my messenger app. This is when all the trouble began. Did you know that you could delete messages in there since forever? I apparently did not know that. I have messages dating all the way back to 2009, and to be honest with you, I wish I hadn’t gone into any of them. I am just sitting here feeling so many uncomfortable feelings right now, thinking about things I haven’t thought about in so long…

You know, my ex, he cheated on me. More than once. One of the things I did to figure out the truth was, I liked to reach out to the women he cheated with and try to befriend them, to get information out of them. I would find out all the awful things he said about me to them, and confirm that all of his lies to me were…well, lies. I would figure out a way to get them to divulge stark truths to me, and it was like a compulsion for me- I needed to know EVERYTHING. What did he say on this day, and where did he take you, and what did you do? I got screen shots of text messages, and full on letters back and forth. I had forgotten about so much of it, and it still really hurts.

I’m not mad at the women- not by a long shot. I am grateful that they shared what they knew with me, not that it wound up helping me very much in the long run. I continued to stay with him, for what reason, I couldn’t tell you. Maybe I have low self-esteem, maybe I needed to prove that I could, that I won, who knows what my reasoning was. I feel a lot of sympathy for that person that I was then- I know she was in a lot of pain, and I know she knew better on a certain level. Leaving was too hard at the time. What I know now is that staying was much more destructive than leaving would have been. I never forgave him, and you can’t make a relationship work when all you want to do is punish the other person. That isn’t even a relationship anymore. It’s something ugly and hard on everyone involved.

Seeing all of this now, it’s no wonder to me that I am hesitant as fuck to start dating again. It’s no wonder I would prefer not to be vulnerable, and just stay to myself. No big surprise that I have no interest in opening up to anyone, that I have real issues where love is concerned. I made some really bad choices, and now I am left with what I have- some serious baggage.

And here’s the funniest part of all- not ha-ha funny, but what the fuck is wrong with me funny…I can’t bring myself to delete the messages. I still want to have proof. Proof that I was right, proof that he lied, proof that love is a gamble I should not take again, maybe. I need to do it, I know. I need to get rid of it, because it’s over, and it’s in the past and it doesn’t even matter anymore. It shouldn’t even matter anymore.

But it does.

Anyway, I have enough room in my phone to take some pictures today. So I guess that’s good. 😦

 

Back To Earth

back to earth

There are signs that I am improving; My internal clock is working again- I go to bed before most of the world, but I wake up before most of the world, too. I am crawling out of bed, pulling myself out of the tangle of sheets, blankets, children, dogs- before the sun has even thought about peeking its glowing face around my corner of the world. I am back to my routine of soaking in lavender scented baths every morning, thinking about nothing. Then, I like to wrap myself up in my robe and sit on my front porch with my coffee, listening and watching as the rest of the world wakes up. The lavender scented water that has gotten in my hair is freezing cold by now, and when it drips down the back of my neck, it feels really good- this robe does not breathe. I need a new one. Anyway, in between the sounds of early morning traffic, way down the hill, I can still hear the pounding of the surf, and the little birds that have made their home in my neighbors attic.

Another sign that I am improving? Yesterday, I bought a book. A real, paper and ink book, which I read this morning in the tub. I don’t read in my other state. And then, there is this, of course. That I am sitting here, writing this, is another sign. Yesterday, I went for a walk with my dogs, one of my children, and a good friend. I wasn’t trying to find anything, I didn’t bring home a pile of garbage and call it treasure. I just walked. Well, I did try to get a library card in a neighboring town…but they were on to me. Jeeze! You don’t return a few measly books thirteen years ago, and you are branded for life. I may never check out books on this peninsula again.

There are other signs (I just accidentally spelled signs “sighns”, how very ironic. Or is that ironic? well, whatever, how funny.) that I still have a ways to go…I don’t really feel like shaving my legs. I haven’t washed my face before bed in well over a week. I cry- like, a lot- about everything. Yesterday, I saw this harassed looking man, walking two dogs while shouting into his cell phone. Trailing behind him was the most sad faced little red headed boy, about four. I wanted to pull over and scream “Hang up your phone, and pay attention to your kid, asshole!” But I didn’t. I just cried the rest of my drive. I don’t enjoy this overly-tender state I am in. It makes wearing mascara treacherous. But this is what happens when I stuff all my feelings for…what, five months, this time? Yep.

So, the crying. The fact that, even after getting a no vote from friends on Facebook last night, I still went to pick up Camryn’s medicine from Rite Aid in my pajamas. I could have at least put on yoga pants. The worst part? They aren’t even cute pajamas- they are super old, faded, purple flannel with big coffee cups all over the legs. You can’t even pretend they are anything other than pajamas. I didn’t care. Well, until after I got there and realized they had screwed up the meds, and I would have to sit and wait for another fifteen minutes. Then I cared. Lesson learned, Universe.

I’m tired. I’m tired of feeling like this. I’m tired of feeling like that. I just want to be okay. But I know I am getting there. Or hope that’s where this road leads. I suppose we shall see.

Fallout

Fallout: 2. A secondary and often lingering effect, result, or set of consequences.

THE-PAST (1)

 

I have been dealing, lately, with the next wave of fallout from my choice to end my relationship. It’s weird, because it’s been nearly a year now, and I often think that if I am not totally over it, I am pretty close. Then, something will happen- a song will come on the radio, my daughter will ask me an innocent question, and a wave of grief so startling will roll over me that it is nearly panic. It leaves me questioning my entire set of choices between now and then…which is, of course, ridiculous. Anyone with eyes can see I have been a million times happier since I finally put an end to all of the chaos and fighting, the drugs and the lies, the anger and upheaval.

I am proud of myself for trying so hard, out of real love, to make something difficult work. Sometimes I beat myself up for pouring so much into something that could never have worked, but I didn’t believe that while it was happening, and the truth is, I had to know that I did everything within my power before I walked away. I think before he and I were together, I really believed that if two people loved each other, that was all that really needed to be true for a relationship to work out. I had to learn that there is so much more to it than that- for two people to be happy and healthy together, they first need to be happy and healthy as individuals, and then they are charged with the very difficult task of somehow managing to maintain that, while figuring out how to build a life together. You can love the shit out of each other, and if one or both of you is a mess, or wanting a different version of the same thing, or can’t see eye to eye in certain critical ways, it just won’t work.

I am even more proud of myself for finally finding the strength to get out. It was one of the hardest things I ever did in my life, much harder than the familiar misery of staying together. I was used to hating who I was when I was with him. I was used to being angry, insecure, mean, erratic, volatile, and sad. But it was killing me. I don’t think that when he moved out the last time I really thought it would stick- how many times had we been down that road? But I kept holding out another day, then another and another, until finally I even started believing myself when I would say ” We are never getting back together.” (Credit: Taylor Swift, LOL)

I would not have it any other way, now. As I said in the beginning- I am so much happier now. I could not undo what has been done if I wanted to, anyway. What we were, for better or worse, is over. We couldn’t go back if we wanted to.

But Autumn is upon us- my first one alone in over seven years. I don’t know about you, but Autumn is the season for families, in my mind. Spring and Summer are fantastic times to be single, but the minute Autumn rolls around, I start looking around for my security blanket. In this case, I guess mine is a two hundred pound man. Who knew?

I woke up two days ago, thinking…maybe I am ready to start dating again. Maybe it is time. That night, I was at a meeting, watching the fire crackle in the hearth, and the candles flicker on the mantle, and I thought how nice it would be to go home and crawl in bed with someone…but not really someone. Him.  Yesterday, I was out with our daughter, and I picked up some food and headed to the beach. I pulled into the parking lot just as a song came on that reminded me of him, and some horrible times he put me through. I realized that the beach we were at just then was where he had been working a construction job when we first started dating, and I would bring him lunch, we would sit on the beach and flirt with each other.

We had no idea, then, that seven years down the road we would be this- more broken than we started out. A child between us that we both loved desperately. A mountain of bad choices  and broken promises trailing behind us. A bad taste in our mouths over each other, and two broken hearts. I sat in my car and cried facing forward so my daughter didn’t see me. And I realized that I wasn’t really ready to date, not yet. I am still in mourning for what I gave up, as hard as it was, and as sad as it was, it was still very significant to me, and it was a loss I felt, and still feel deeply.

I certainly will not go back. But I will honor my grief and myself until I am ready to move on.

Seeking…

WhatYouAreSeekingIsYou

 

When you first get clean and sober after a bad run- no matter how many times you do it- there is, for me at least, this stretch of time that is perfect and beautiful. Right after the withdrawals dissipate, and right before reality comes crashing in, with all its boredom and mediocrity. I have been suspicious, for quite some time, that one could actually become addicted to that little space in time, the unadulterated bliss that comes right after another brush with disaster. I have dubbed it the “Phoenix Syndrome”, because it feels so good to rise up from the ashes.

But there comes a time when you just aren’t willing to destroy yourself one more time, even knowing how good it might feel to get back down in your addiction again, and how amazing it feels to get out. Because, here’s the thing- you can’t stop remembering, anymore, how hard it was to get out. How you thought you might never get out, last time. How you barely did. And maybe you just don’t have it in you to live a double life anymore, or have worse than no life at all- just an endless string of days in limbo, years flashing by in a minute. Maybe you just can’t bear the thought of laying waste, once more, to the relationships you have been trying to breathe life back into…maybe you can’t bear the thought of destroying the trust you are finally building, the trust that never should have been called into question in the first place.

This is kind of where I am- my feral side straining at the leash of my domesticated existence. It’s not that I want to get high, I don’t. I just want to feel alive, feel lively…and I have never learned, really, how to do this in a way that isn’t destructive. I am not willing to self destruct anymore, I just don’t have it in me. So I am seeking…something. Some new way, some GOOD way, to feel lively. I don’t want to go backwards, I want to be happy.

I suspect that perhaps, I need to change my idea of what happiness is. It doesn’t always have to be wild, and leave you breathless and half crazy. I have seen and experienced for myself, happiness as quiet and peace- the rain on the roof, a baby asleep in the crook of your arm. Happiness as a gray morning, fogging up the windows, and a day with nothing to do.

Perhaps I am just resistant to the changes in my life, and maybe it is because I am afraid. Afraid of the unknown…but it’s really ALL the unknown, isn’t it? There are no guarantees. Maybe it is just in my nature to seek, to always be seeking, though. Maybe that is what I need to do to feel alive, to be lively, huh? And maybe this is not such a terrible thing.

The Truth

prayer2I wanted to share with you a something I wrote weeks before I got clean, not because I think it is so great, but because it sums up perfectly the sense of desperation I experienced in my “before” life. I am so glad that I have written things like this, so that when I grow forgetful, as I tend to, there are reminders everywhere to help me see the light. I think it is remarkable that I am where I am, again, intact, thriving, happy. I am not proud of the things I admit to here, but they are the truth for me- or were. I can’t help but think my prayers were answered. I hope these words find the people who need them most, so that they know they are not alone, and that there is ALWAYS hope. Enjoy:

prayer (1)

 

Today, just a little bit ago, I was coding a chart for the cancer clinic (I am a medical coder, and I work from home 90% of the time) for this man less than ten years older than my mom. This poor guy- he has cancer everywhere. His throat, his bones, his lungs, his liver…it isn’t good. I don’t need to be a medical professional to know that. When I finished with his coding, I stopped, bowed my head, and said a little prayer for him. This is not at all out of the ordinary for me, honestly. Even when I am in the office, if something I see in a patients chart is particularly awful or scary or sad and overwhelming, I will do the work, then pray, and no one is any the wiser. I just feel like it’s what I want to do, they need it, and it certainly can’t hurt anyone, right?

Today, my prayer for this man was simple- Dear God, please take note of this man, he is very sick, and he is probably very scared, he may feel a little hopeless, I don’t know, I don’t know him. But if I were him, I may just feel like there is nothing good left for me, in my fear. Maybe he is not a nice man, and people don’t care about him. Maybe he is a great man, with great faith, and many people love him and have had their lives touched by him. Either way, lord, he is your child and you love him- please put your hand on him today and let something good come into his life, give him hope, or peace.” That is as close to exact as I can get you with my prayers, especially since, I don’t know about you ( how you pray, or even if you pray at all, let alone for random strangers) but my prayers aren’t spoken aloud, they are thought and felt as much as they are spoken telepathically, only inside of my head. So there is quite a bit going on along with the words. At the end of this prayer, though, rather than stop, my prayer pulled a fast one on me, changing direction. Here is the rest:

“Oh yeah, and while you are putting your hand on people, how about reaching out to me, God? I am not doing so well, over here. I realize I have every single thing I need to have a happy, good life, but I need help, God. I need you to pull me out of this sickness causing me to lay waste to every happiness in my control. It isn’t just me, God, I am affecting so many other people, ruining their happiness, changing their lives…my babies, my girls, God. I never want to hurt them, and I can’t stop. Time is going by so fast, and I feel like I am just stuck here. Please help me, God. Please, please do something. Get me out of this. Every single thing I am doing is wrong.”

As I was finishing this prayer, crying like a little scared girl, looking around for a paper towel to mop up my entire head with, the writing thoughts started up. I was annoyed for a second, because I can’t seem to have a meltdown of any caliber anymore without the thought of taking it down “for the book” popping into my head.

Then it hit me. Here I am, sobbing, asking God, PLEASE, for a hand, for help, for a way out…and the answer is always, Writing. Write it down. Put it on paper. Don’t let it slip away, don’t waste it, don’t think you are getting out of this without using it- what do you think you are here for, anyway? You have a problem, a really BIG problem, and you can write about it the way you can talk- so that anyone can relate to you. This is not an accident. If you don’t make this problem a light that you can shine into the lives and hearts of people just like you, or people who love people just like you and cannot understand…well, then what will have been the purpose of all these years? All this heartache? Don’t waste it.

That is, I think, what I am being told, here.

I really haven’t wanted to listen. I wanted to tell this story when I was well, rather than in the midst of the worst, sickest part. It would be an easier story to tell from there, and easier to hear. But maybe I can’t help anyone well, not yet. Maybe you need to see the whole picture, this feeble, frightened woman who still feels like a little girl most of the time, a girl who hates herself- loathes herself, pretty much, for what feels like weakness. Weakness, selfishness, greed, compulsion, darkness. All of those things are present. Callousness, cruelty, rage, impatience. Side effects. Mercurial, unpredictable, inconsistent, confusing- all accurate. Sad, broken, desperate, scared, helpless, despairing. Yes. Completely fucking out of ideas, frozen in place, terrified to ask for help? Oh yes, all of those, also. And in quiet terror, I watch the years fly by, and me, still here, missing all of the things that make up a life. Here, but not here. Present, but detached, missing all of the happiness and tenderness, forfeited to the tyranny of my mental illness or whatever it is, turning every thought into one about me- “ do you think anyone is noticing me acting weird? Am I acting weird?” “Why is she talking to ME like that, I’m fucking here, aren’t I? why are they singling me out?” “No matter what I do, it isn’t good enough.” “Oh my gosh, when can I get out of here, I need to figure out where I can do this at.” Every thought in my head, obsessing over myself. Rushing through birthday parties, ruining Thanksgiving, never letting anyone see me for long enough to talk too seriously, keeping my kids from ever relaxing or getting to know their aunts, uncles, cousins. But, you know, they have their whole lives…I mean, plenty of time, right? I’ll be better way before it even matters. Right?

But I haven’t been better. And now Aisley is sixteen. Do you know what that means? That means I waited her whole life, her entire childhood, hoping something would change, and I would get better. I stole every single chance for normal memories of her childhood, memories that even I have, in my screwed up childhood. Memories that I CHERISH. I love my daughter more than anything, but I could not refuse myself, even briefly, to give this to her. There is something so brutal and awful about that. No wonder I despise myself.

I am in a battle for my life every minute of every day. You may not know it by looking at me. I have mastered, or at least become skilled at, putting my best face forward for you. I will smile and look you in the eye, and try really hard to keep my word, show up on time, be fair and honest and decent, because that is who I want to be, and the way I want you to think of me.

I don’t want you to know that I have been a drug addict since I was nineteen years old. That I have seen and done and known about things that would horrify the average person, but don’t even surprise me anymore. I would die if you knew how unhealthy the way I live, the way I treat myself, is. I would be so embarrassed if you saw how I behaved, sometimes, towards my children, or my mother, who have done nothing but love me. I would be so ashamed if you knew how poorly I treat my job, that gives me every tool imaginable to live a prosperous life. I would be mortified if the people I work with, my friends and respected peers that have shown me such kindness, so much love and support, knew the truth. I don’t want anyone to know the real me. And it is making it so hard to ask for help, that I don’t know when all this will end. I live in constant fear of being found out, and what the repercussions of that would be. I am terrified of that, but finding the courage to get help seems almost less possible to me most of the time. The rest of the time, I am just continuing on, not improving or worsening, steady in my pursuit of…nothing. More of this. More misery and emptiness and shame.

 

I guess I need to tell this story. I don’t want you to know me this way, but you are going to have to, if I am ever going to get better. And I HAVE to get better, I HAVE to. I can’t bear thinking of what my regrets will look like if I have to look back at my whole life, and see nothing but me standing in a wasteland, refusing light years of love being handed out on a silver platter. What a fool. What a sad, terrible fool. Please, God, please let this help. Let this be the start of a tunnel out of here.

Thank you.

Rediscovering Hope

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My cat does this thing where she meows pitifully to come in, then, when I open the door, she just looks nervously in as if a pack of wolves could be standing just beyond her sight, and hesitates until I get impatient and shut the door in her face. Why, you may wonder, do I not just scoop her up and make her come in? Well, because if I do, she will just stand there looking terrified and cry until I let her back out again. Then she runs away and won’t come back until way later, even though she is probably starving to death.

This is a really good analogy for my behavior over the past…oh, Jesus, entire adulthood, I guess. Specifically, me in my addiction. There I am, at the door of everything beautiful in life, whining and crying for Gods help…for him to please let me IN. Except that He is always there for me, always opening the door, His patience is eternal. But I hesitate at the entrance, and for all of my howling, I am not really ready to come in. I perceive that the door is shut, but it is always open. I stand there, terrified when I can see that it is open, and heartbroken when I think it is closed, and I struggle to take that first step in. And God, or whatever power you choose to believe in- the Universe, lets say- knows better than to scoop me up and bring me in before I am ready, because I will bolt, and it may be a really long time before I come back to that doorstep.

I have spent months agonizing at this doorway, scared to death to let go of my misery and see what was on the other side. There are a million reasons I used to keep myself sick, most of them somehow relating to how sick I would be ( the irony here does not escape me) before I was better. Well, I am here to tell you, if you are using that excuse yourself, it’s bullshit. Sorry to ruin it for you. At the MOST, we are talking about a little discomfort, a little yuckiness…but here is the caveat- it is discomfort mixed with an amazing dollop of hope that things are about to improve, finally.

As long as you are using, there is no hope that things are going to improve, none. I am not talking about you guys who smoke weed and are okay with it. You know, I am not talking about anything at all that you are totally fine with- if you are really, truly fine with whatever you are doing, then it isn’t a problem for you. It may be a problem for everyone around you, and there’s a decent chance that you are totally lying to yourself, but I am talking specifically about those of us entrenched in our addiction who despise it, despise ourselves, and feel totally beaten, desperate and paralyzed. Scared to death at the thought that we must save ourselves FROM ourselves…I mean, how the hell does that work?

It works when you are ready for it to work, and not a minute sooner. When you are ready, you can do it. That is the truth. Here is another truth- I have memory problems. In my lifetime, I have observed that I am very similar to every other human being in most basic ways, so you may have memory problems too. I forget, over and over, who I am and what my life can be like. So there may be times of forgetfulness and backslide. I have tricked myself into believing that I was well, that I was different, that I had figured out some magic way to avoid getting caught up in the grip of my disease. I am just admitting to this in case you feel like an idiot because this has happened to you, or in case it does.

A few weeks ago, I just changed my mind. I decided I had been terrified and miserable for long enough. I missed my family and friends, I missed ME,  and I was willing to brave the yuckiness to get back to them. And you know what? It wasn’t that big of a deal. Because in the midst of it, I rediscovered hope, and hope makes everything easier to bear. A few weeks ago, I felt like life was closed off to me, and now, literally DAYS later, every door seems open, or at least approachable…and I don’t have to sit outside crying to get in.

Yesterday, I was scolding myself for something I did ( yes, I talk to myself) and I was unable to call myself “stupid”…how do you like that? I was like, “Good one, st…silly.” , and it was so funny, because it was REAL. This morning I woke up, saw myself in the bathroom mirror, and grinned. “I LIKE that girl.” I thought. These are not small things. All I can say is, it’s about time. I wish every one of you the same.

Rest Until You’re Ready Again.

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I wrote a blog last night. It was really long, and I was really tired. I decided not to post it, but to read it over in the morning…I am very glad I showed some restraint, there, because I surely did not in what I had written. I know you are dying to read it now, but you will just have to wait until either I am dead, or someone hacks my WordPress account. And let me just say, how bored would THAT person have to be? Also, it was a bit hard to read, as I changed the subject about twice a sentence. Yeah, not everything I write is fantastic- unlike this little gem is already proving to be. Ha!

So, let me tell you about my week- the one that just passed. My older daughter got thrown into Juvenile Hall, I have probably removed five years from my life thanks to my blood pressure remaining around stroke levels for a record amount of days due to seething rage and hatred, and, the tattered remains of the “relationship” I was hoping to salvage, were found to be utterly unsalvageable. I say “relationship” because, truly, it has been less than that for longer than I care to admit. Way longer than I was willing to stop pretending. Plus, we do not relate to one another in ANY manner, so how can it be called a relationship? I think what we had was more like a fiascoship, or a nightmareship, or something. Okay, I better stop, or I won’t be able to post this one either.

You know what? I am fucking exhausted. I am tired of working like a crazy person to keep so many things going, for so many people, and getting very little appreciation for it. I am tired of defending myself to selfish teenagers and selfish men who couldn’t make it a day in my shoes. I miss my daughter like crazy, and I wish that she were home, but it would be pretty nice to have her treat me kindly when she didn’t want something from me. I tried as hard as it is possible for me to try to make things work with the little one’s dad, and I know I did. I also know that there are no more ways I can trick myself into thinking I have found a solution, a way for us to soldier on until a more permanent fix is found, down the road.

Here is the deal- I believe in my true heart that the man I spent the past five years of my life with is a really messed up person. I know he reads this, and I’m sorry if this offends him, but he really is. The level of deceit that goes on in his daily routine, and the volume of negative, unhealthy energy he carries around with him is so unusual that I honestly couldn’t come to terms with it. The ONLY thing I have seen him do well is be a dad, and even then, that extends only to our child together. His other kid, who is really a great person, has been mostly out of sight for FIVE years. So I can only wonder how our experience will go. I have never before felt the way I do when I am around him- like I could really harm him, or anyone foolish enough to upset me further than he already has- and I never, ever want to again. I don’t like myself at all when I am near him, ninety percent of the time, and I don’t want to continue to be with someone who I can’t like myself around. My kid, I can’t get rid of ( and I love her, I really don’t want to), but I don’t have to do this anymore.

I know that I need to start making better decisions. I knew this a long time ago, when I kept choosing to stay when, inside, I KNEW it was a bad idea. I didn’t understand how high the stakes would end up being- now we have a kid, and I am older, and I am scarred from all of this shit. Not to mention, I have plenty of my own issues to deal with, aside from this. Ack! I am getting overwhelmed just talking about this, right now…which brings me to my point:

I spend a good portion of my day, every single day of my life, questioning myself, condemning myself, and doubting myself. I worry that I am not a good mother, that my kids will grow to hate me, that I do everything wrong, that I do not love them enough, or let them know how loved they are. I worry about my job, about not liking my job, about losing my job even though I don’t really love it, I worry that I don’t deserve my job. I worry about this relationship bullshit- that he’s right, and it’s me, that I am too harsh. That I have stayed too long, given up too soon, that I am making a mistake. I worry that I will be alone forever, and that I might have to go through this again. And those are just THREE parts of my life! Can you imagine?

I am going to try to be kind to myself. After he leaves, I generally have this wretched feeling of mean-ness and failure, and this is no different. I am not going to allow myself to continue punishing myself for where I am. I didn’t want to be here, but it’s where I am. I need to be okay so that I don’t have to stay here, right? I am NOT going to think about what’s next, nor dwell on what has happened. Today, I am just going to do what I told my toddler to do, yesterday, when she was getting frustrated, trying to learn to hop on one foot-“Rest a minute ’til you calm down- just rest until you’re ready.”

For My Baby Brother

Right now, you are high above the clouds, in an airplane. Maybe you are sleeping…maybe you are waking up and wondering how, exactly, your life wound up where it is right now. I’m sure that is a thought that has been coming up a lot in the months, the weeks, the hours that came before this flight. I know when I was in the dark place you have been in, that thought plagued me- how did I get here? And it’s twin-how will I ever get back? They wouldn’t leave me alone.

We have spent years and years in this half-relationship. Some of it because of my addiction, some of it because of yours, and some of it just due to time and distance apart. But that doesn’t erase the fact that I have this great and tender love for you, this burdensome thing-you are one of the only people I have a hard time expressing myself to, and one of the only ones I can’t ever seem to find the right words for. This love for you I carry around, it scares me, if you have to know. It seems like you are one of those people always two steps away from being lost to me forever- first, because of our crazy parents, then to your crazy lifestyle…loving someone like you is a study in vulnerability, and that is one role I don’t play too well.

When mom brought you home from the hospital and leaned down to show you to me for the first time, she said “Isn’t he beautiful?” and I thought, ‘My God, NO, he is hideous.” I guess I thought you would be a little older or something, but you were just this wrinkled up little poo-sack with a rotten stump where your belly button should have been. Totally gross.  Then, months passed, and I remember watching you in the back seat of the car- you looked me right in the eye, and my stomach did little flips, and I started to love you.

I loved you, demonic as you were, with your cowboy boots and your white blonde hair. I loved your big green eyes, and your tough attitude, because I knew it would save you. I loved you because you were in it with me, but I wished that you weren’t. The stuff we had to go through, no kid should ever have to see.

I can’t help but wonder how much of that stuff made you into the person you are today. I know it’s useless and pointless to blame anyone for the way we turn out, but it’s an awful shame when the people who are supposed to protect you fall short of the mark. Grown ups don’t see the way that little kids do…I know I was scared all the time, and you were born into a home full of anger and fear. I wish it had been different. For both of us.

I have watched you falling apart for such a long time now. I have heard all of the excuses mom has made, all of thehope she had and then lost, again and again, and I said nothing to you. Every time you called me, you were three sheets to the wind, anyway. Some of those times, I was okay, and some of them, I was in no position to offer advice, if you catch my drift. But every time I hung up the phone, I knew what you were, and I knew there was nothing I could do to stop it or change it or fix it. All I could do was let you go and hope you wound up somewhere safe.

It looks like maybe you will. I am so proud of you for getting on that plane today. While you are gone, you are going to learn a lot of great stuff about why you are the way you are, and what you can do to be someone else, a better, more well version of you. You are going to get stronger. When you come home, you are going to have some tools to keep you out of those dark places. You don’t ever have to feel the way you’ve felt for so long now, ever again- if you don’t want to.

You will be in my prayers every single day, and in the meant time, I will write your name on this date, on my calendar. Happy Birthday, brother. I love you with all of my heart.