Posted in Addiction, escape, Goals, inner peace, Life, Musings, People, recovery

Time for Change

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On Monday, I was feeling grouchy and restless, like a caged animal after sitting here working all day long- that’s one of the drawbacks of working at home; when I worked in the office, I couldn’t wait to go home at the end of the day. When you work at home, all you want to do is go somewhere else when you clock out…except, if you are me, you are probably still wearing sweaty-ass yoga pants, no make up, and hair that looks like you stuck your finger in a light socket. So, I either have to summon up the energy to make myself look slightly less homeless in order to leave my house (how funny) or, give in to the beckoning call of inertia and flop on the couch to watch TV which will ultimately do nothing but make me feel even worse.

On this particular day, though, Camryn suggested we go to the library. We had books that were a week past due, and I really did need a change of pace, so I agreed. Plus, bonus- you don’t have to look nice at all to go to the library! After settling part of my outrageous overdue book fees, Cam got herself a drawing book, and grudgingly trailed after me as I wandered up and down every single aisle in the downstairs section of the Monterey library. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I hoped to find something inspiring and uplifting- something to shake me out of the funk I had been going in and out of for the past…I don’t know, 40 years or so.

I grabbed a stack of books, and we checked out and headed home after a quick stop at Trader Joe’s for some chocolate and blueberries, among other snacks. Soon as we got back to the house, I pulled out one of the books and started reading it. It was called “Martha’s Vineyard- Isle of Dreams”, and at first I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get through it- it’s written in handwriting-like script, and there are hundreds of quotes and watercolor pictures throughout the book, so at first it’s a little jarring, as it doesn’t read like the books I am used to- books that have very few, if any, quotes, and generally no pictures at all. But within a few pages, I had forgotten all about the strangeness of it and was totally sucked in to the story.

Oh, and it’s not a story-story, by the way. It’s a biography of sorts, the true tale of a woman named Susan Branch who “accidentally” moved to Martha’s Vineyard and bought a house in the woods, after fleeing California when her marriage ended. She was looking for a house to rent, short term, and wound up buying a little house after being there for three days or something like that. The whole story takes place in the 80’s, which doesn’t matter other than the fact that you probably can’t buy a house there super cheap anymore, and anyway…I just fell in love, you guys. The way that she describes the changing seasons, and the beautiful simplicity of her life- her garden, and her walks in the woods, the ocean, the seasons, the quiet. Just talking about it right now makes me want to cry. It stirs such a funny longing in me. And it really makes me think, very hard, again, about the way I am living my life.

I have only been clean for a little more than three years. Which means that I am just now, at 43, learning about what kind of person I am, and trying to figure out what sort of life the person I am truly wants to live. I sort of woke up right in the middle of a life that I had stumbled into, and it is a GOOD life. I have this career, and security, good health insurance, stability…all of these things that people want, right? So when I think to myself “this doesn’t feel like the right life for me”, it is scary and I feel guilty, as if wanting something different makes me ungrateful. I am not ungrateful. I’m just…wondering. Wondering if I could survive, or thrive, or be wildly, giddily, in love with a different kind of life. And I shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to be happier.

I checked out the book on Monday evening. It is now Wednesday morning, and I have finished it. It was 368 pages, and I worked all day yesterday, so when I tell you that I did a lot of reading, you have to believe that I did. Because of this book, I made a batch of blueberry muffins with Camryn, from scratch, yesterday after work. Because of this book, after my meeting last night I went by myself to the beach, and sat on the rocky sand, as evening descended, and just soaked in the salty air, watched the choppy, steel-gray waves crash on the shore, and relished the cold. It really got me thinking.

I need to slow way down. Like, way, way down. Be outside more. Be quiet more. Be on Facebook WAY less. Read more books and watch less TV. Cook more often. Talk to actual people, rather than scroll past their faces online, clicking like instead of having conversations. I don’t have to- and I shouldn’t, I know this- uproot my life on a whim and move across the country to “find myself”. But I do need to examine these feelings, and see what I can do to honor myself, and my one precious life. I have faith that I will find the answers, that they are already there, just waiting for me to discover them. I have to stop losing sight of what really matters, and every time I check out- on the internet, or by binge watching twelve seasons of some stupid TV show- I am doing just that. Losing sight of what really matters. Checking out. No wonder I feel so restless…my spirit is trying to get my attention, and I have been ignoring that.

No more. It’s time to pay attention. Time to make some changes.

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Posted in Goals, inner peace, Life, love, People, writing

Only You Know The Truth

As you know, a while back, I began the messy process of falling apart. Now, I consider myself somewhat of an expert at this particular activity…only, this time, it was different. Usually, it takes some type of EVENT to start my little disaster a-rollin’, but in this case, nothing had outwardly changed. I still had beautiful, healthy children. I still had my home and my awesome job. I still had a roller-coaster of a relationship with the same guy I’d been riding along with for the past four years.

And yet…day by day, my misery mounted. My moods, at first, were mercurial and alarming, but eventually settled down into “horrible”. For a good while, I soldiered on, putting on my Stepford Wives face for work, then discarding it the minute I got home, locking myself in my room, snarling at anyone who interfered with whatever nonsense I was doing. I withdrew from EVERYONE who loved me, either because I didn’t feel like hearing whatever they had to say, or because I didn’t want to bring them down. I desperately wanted to get better, but I wouldn’t do any of the things I knew I needed to do to get there. I was tired of asking for help, and too stubborn to help myself. In short, it sucked. Bad.

One day, I woke up, andΒ I just could not, under any circumstances, do it for one second more. I could not get up, get dressed, go to work, and pretend I was fine, while in my head I was terrified that, at any moment, I was literally going to run screaming from the hospital. I could not pretend I was fine, period. It was killing me.

So I hit my pause button- stopped everything dead in it’s tracks- and I went out on FMLA for mental health reasons. At the time, I felt like I was a full of shit liar, but HELLO! Why is it so hard to see our own dysfunction while we are in the midst of it? I was off my freaking rocker, and anyone who knows me can vouch for that.

I knew it was pretty bad when I told my mom that I had taken leave from work, and, rather than the scornful scolding I expected, she said “Oh, Thank God!” or something like that. I mean, she lives ten hours away, and she could see how ill I had become.

The first three weeks were not so good. I slept a lot, I ate a lot, I gave in to my depression. I spent a lot of time crying, and the rest of the time trying to figure out what I was going to do. Should I check myself in somewhere? Should I get the hell out of dodge? Should I just go back to bed? I thought I was just spinning my wheels, but I see now that I was doing something incredibly important. I was giving myself some time- a LOT of time- to breathe, to think, to grieve, to fall apart- with no pressure. I mean, what an incredible gift I gave myself…a long chain of days to just feel what I was feeling instead of fighting it and masking it and pretending I was fine.

In the midst of all this, my mom, who is the queen of practical gifts for your crisis (she once, when I was in my early thirties, sent me this package that I excitedly opened, only to find a case of laxative TEA. No shit. Pun intended.) sent me a book called “Finding Your Own North Star” by Martha Beck. I had my doubts, but cracked it open anyway. Have you ever been completely lost in the middle of your own life and suddenly found the exact set of directions you needed to find your way home again? Well, this book was that thing for me. Or the first part of that thing, anyway. It described to me exactly where I was, exactly what was happening, and precisely how to deal with it. I am still reading it, weeks later, bit by bit, but every time I open it up, it assures me, yes, yes, what is happening now is what is supposed to be happening.

You see, apparently, the way I was living was so out of sync with who I truly am, that I was losing my mind. When you are doing what you think you are supposed to be doing ( in other words, what your mom and your boss and “society” thinks is correct) and it is in direct odds with what the REAL you, the one that wants to be a cross dressing ballroom dancer, lets say, NEEDS to do- it can make you do exactly what I did. You can bet your ass you are going to wake up one day and, though that good and obedient, people pleasing you will want to get up and go, go, go, happy to perpetuate the facade of happiness, the REAL you is going to refuse.

So, here I am. Doing what I am meant to do, which is write. I don’t care if I am writing MY truth, as I am in this blog, or writing the make believe story of a make believe person in a novel (which I have done, and will be doing again for nanowrimo, yay!). When I am doing THIS, I feel alive and excited. I feel like what I am saying is important and worthwhile, and I feel engaged and full of that fire that I cannot access any other way. For me, this is LIVING. Β There is more to it, as well, but this post is getting REALLY long, so I will leave it at that.

What is it that you feel passionately about? What path does your heart long to follow? I want to hear your answers, even if you feel stupid and have never told another living soul. Please don’t wait until it goes to hell in a handbasket before you set yourself free. Can’t wait to hear from you!