Posted in adventure, escape, family, kids, Life, People, travel

Into Massachusetts!

I have been the absolute worst about following up since I have been home, and there is really no reason why, other than my work schedule has changed and adjusting is always hard for me. So please, accept my apologies, and enjoy these photos from the last leg of my trip to the East Coast!

So, we took our time on our way to Massachusetts- got lost on a few detours to find bathrooms, and ended up having the best time on the winding little roads past beautiful homes interspersed with amazing houses, and of course, the requisite cemeteries every few miles. I am endlessly fascinated with the graveyards on the East Coast, and could spend days just reading the headstones. I know that sounds morbid, but really it isn’t. I love the history and the artwork on the stones, and…well, I’ve always loved cemeteries. They are peaceful and beautiful, and the ones in Maine and Massachusetts are super cool.

I think this is in Kittery?

There are woods like this everywhere!

Another beautiful graveyard!

From Maine to our place in Rockport, Massachusetts, was only about an hour and a half drive! For me, a born and bred Californian, this is mind-boggling. It takes hours and hours to get out of California, but on the East Coast, I was in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts all within the span of a few hours! I was trying to take a picture of some river or another and missed the New Hampshire sign, which bummed me out, but oh well!

Me, missing the New Hampshire sign.

The little air bnb that my mom rented in Rockport was just perfect. We both felt like it was the most comfortable little house, as if we’d been there a million times already and were just returning. It felt like going to grandma’s house, if you know what I mean. That first afternoon, we dropped off our stuff and strolled into Rockport. The funny thing is, I’d been there only eight months before, but somehow missed a ton of the town. In my defense, it was freezing cold when I had been there in October, and we were on the opposite side of town searching for beanie’s to warm our frozen ears, so we weren’t really strolling very much.

Our little rental house. It was perfect!

Rockport is incredible in cold weather, but it is PERFECT when it’s warm. We spent some time on the little beach right before town, then wandered around Bearskin Neck (pretty sure that’s what the street is called, for some odd reason) and looked in the shops. Eventually, we were starving to death, so we decided to eat at Roy Moore’s Fish Shack, mostly because they had items other than seafood on their menu- at that point, I was sick of seafood and needed something else! I had a BLT, Cam had her normal cheeseburger, and my mom had the lobster mac & cheese. I was all lobstered out. 🙂

Our first foray into Rockport.

To be honest with you, the next few days are all kind of a blur to me now. We did spend one afternoon in Salem which was cool! Funny thing is, I loved Salem so much the first time I was there but it was too crowded for my taste in October- going back in June, it was much less crowded, but after seeing so many beautiful places in the preceding days, it wasn’t as awesome as I remembered. Maybe it was the Fall magic that was missing? I did get to visit the Salem Witch Museum, which was very cool, and Camryn REALLY liked it there. We also visited Salem Willows, a super old-timey park with old rides and an arcade. I got sunburned like crazy that day, and we were very tired by the time we headed back to the house. I believe Cam and I stayed in that night playing dice while my mom went to town and ate dinner alone.

All Salem & Salem Willows

We spent a lot of time just driving around, looking at houses, to be honest. I’m really glad my mom was into that, too, because it’s just so much fun back east. Even though it’s all in the USA, it couldn’t be more different than California- and that’s what makes it so incredible!

You can’t get a bad shot in Rockport. It’s beautiful.

We never made it to Boston, and we didn’t do the walking history tour at night in Salem like I’d hoped, but I was more than willing to let those things go just to enjoy the little town where we were. We walked so, so much and just did a lot of sightseeing, and I couldn’t have been happier with the way it all worked out.

Before I knew it, it was time to head home. I was glad to be back, but I will always, always love New England- and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if one day I called it home.

Cam took this one. Headed home!
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Posted in advice, alcoholism, Blogging, faith, inner peace, Learning, Life, recovery, twelve step

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

Posted in family, friendship, fun, kids, Life, love, parenting, People, random, relationships

The Family Dinner

family

Last weekend, I made dinner for my “little” family, (Vegetable Lasagna, in case you were curious, and YUM) which consists of my 17 year old daughter, Aisley (which we pronounce i-lee, because I wasn’t hip to Gaelic pronunciation way back when she was born, though we found out later that it is supposed to be pronounced Ashley- but at a certain point, it just isn’t realistic to change the spelling and/or pronunciation of a person’s name), my 3 year old daughter, Camryn (because it looks more feminine, that’s why) and basically, Dylan, who is Aisley’s boyfriend, but you rarely see one without the other. Thankfully, I like him, or this could potentially be a nightmare.

It was wonderful. While we ate, I thought about how nice it would be if there were people there (besides Dylan) that I didn’t actually give birth to, people that were, you know, around my age. Or at least were required to love me due to our long, complicated histories…you know- FAMILY. The main problem with this idea is that I don’t have any actual family here anymore, if you go strictly by the “Sharing DNA” rule. Thankfully, I do not subscribe to all that hooey, and have a vast number of slightly younger people to whom I have insinuated myself into their family via breeding. I know this sounds weird, but it’s basically the truth- I never married Aisley’s dad (My spell checker keeps telling me I have spelled my daughters name incorrectly, and last time I almost believed it. Damn it.), but I did marry (in my heart) his gigantic gaggle of brothers and sisters. I lived with them when I was pregnant with Aisley, and at that time, there were still six of them at home, not including the two parents. Yes, SIX. At HOME. There were actually two more that were old enough to leave, one of them being Aisley’s dad, the other being the aforementioned Andrea, with whom I am privately very competitive with.

In that crazy house lived Matthew, Meghan, Amanda, Hannah, Noah, and Zane. Their parents, who I grew to love like my own folks, were Jim and Valerie. I had spent the bulk of my growing up years in a tiny and tense family consisting of my mom, me, her insane ex husband, and my little brother. Then, when they split up, my brother was only three, and he lived with with his dad part time. Eventually, and much to my mother’s horror, he went to live with his dad full time, leaving just her and I. Of course, by the time I was 15, I was rarely home- and by rarely home, I mean, I would run away for weeks at a time, being as how I was the WORST teenager in the history of the world. Sorry mom. My point is, by the time the Davis family got me, I was totally unused to things like: Noise, chaos, yelling, massive food shortage’s, group sleeping arrangements, and families that throw up a lot. I also came to them fully able to go to the store on my own, and left there with a compulsive need to take someone with me everywhere I went. But they welcomed me into their family with open arms, and very few questions, and I was 21, scared to death, very pregnant, and alone. They were exactly what I so desperately needed. They accepted me as I was, they made me feel safe, and they came to love me. That’s not the kind of thing you just forget.

So, when I moved in, Matthew, the oldest, was a junior…maybe a sophomore in high school. Meghan was in middle school, and the rest were in elementary school, still. Zane, the baby, was only six. He towers over ALL of us now, but he is only a few years older than my oldest daughter ( how weird is that?). My point with all of this is- if that is not family, I guess I don’t know what is. These are the people who have shared years and years of my life. I have watched them grow up.

So, I invited all of them to come have dinner at my house last night. I was feeling isolated, lately, and I wanted that family connection. I posed the idea to them in our secret Facebook group, and everyone (well, lots of them) said yes. So, I went and bought a deep fryer and decided on fish tacos, and…Well. In my head, it looked slightly different. In my head, I warmly invite them into my spotless home, where dinner is totally prepped, and the taco garnishes are displayed artfully in bowls on the table, near the freshly cut flowers.

What actually happened, though, is that, for some reason (see yesterdays blog to help clear this up) I totally procrastinated until like one in the afternoon, which was four hours before dinner was set to start. I wanted to get started, I really did- mentally. Physically, I just wanted to watch TV. I think I need to get rid of my cable. But anyway, at one, I started cleaning my house in earnest, not realizing until then just exactly how filthy it really was. I managed to finish it with an hour to spare, which I spent frantically chopping up cabbage that no one really gives a shit about putting on their fish tacos anyway. Live and learn.

By the time Terry and Meghan got here, I was pretty much done. Except for the part where the fryer was still in the box. And I didn’t know how to use it. And I forgot to put on make up or comb my hair, and my clothes were covered in batter, sweat, and bits of cabbage. So Terry fried the fish for me, and I heated up tortillas old school (on the open flame of my gas stove), and pretty soon, my house was filled with Matt and Jenny, Kiera and Taj (their beautiful kids), with Meghan and Terry, and their lamp-eyed, gorgeous baby, Maverick, and then Noah came with his beautiful wife Ali (and I am not just saying that because she brought a huge platter of homemade peanut butter chocolate cookies and then LEFT THEM HERE, either.) And it was loud, and the kids were watching Frozen, and Taj, who is six, pretty much wanted to be anywhere else, but he was a good sport about it, and everyone laughed and told stories…and it was GOOD.

It was so good. And I am so grateful to be lucky enough to be part of it, to be part of their lives. I have watched them grow up, and they have loved me in spite of all of my shortcomings, and my feeble little human problems. Yep. If that is not family, I guess I don’t know what is. I LOVE you guys.