Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, fun, health, humor, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, recovery, spirit, twelve step

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.

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Posted in aging, beauty, family, friendship, inner peace, Learning, Life, love, Musings, People

Beautiful

It’s a beautiful morning here on the peninsula- still, the way only Sunday mornings ever really are, gray, misty, quiet. The only sound I could hear, as I sat out on my front porch with my mug of hot, strong coffee, was the clang of what I believe to be buoy bells- I could be wrong about that, but in my head, that is what those clangs are.

But that is not the kind of beautiful I want to talk about right now. I had an interesting conversation with my mom, yesterday. It probably wasn’t very interesting to her, but it stood out to me. It went like this- we were talking about my youngest daughter, Camryn, and how she is just getting cuter every day. I said something to the effect of, yes, she is just lovely, but it’s her personality that really takes it over the top for me, and my mom says “No, I think she is just beautiful, just a pretty girl.” To which I replied “Yeah, she reminds me more of Aisley (my older daughter) all the time.”  Then my mom says, and this is what got me thinking- “Now, don’t take this the wrong way, but I see a lot of me in her.”

This is Camryn, who looks just like my mom at this age
This is Camryn, who looks just like my mom at this age

Now, why would I take that the wrong way? I was confused, and told her as much- I was honestly not connecting the dots. “Well, ” she said, “I don’t want you to think that I am saying I am beautiful…” And the conversation went on, and then I was in the store, so I had to go, but her words stayed with me.

At first, I was baffled, but then, after a while, I was sad. My mother, one of the most beautiful women out of all of the mother’s I have ever met, doesn’t want me to think that she would be foolish enough to call herself beautiful. More pointedly, my mother doesn’t think that she is beautiful. Now, I struggle with this all the time, and I understand, but when your own mother, who happens to be so pretty that people are constantly commenting on it, says something like this- it really strikes a chord. And I have something to say about it.

This is my mom and I on my last birthday- she is gorgeous
This is my mom and I on my last birthday- she is gorgeous

Listen, ladies, lots of you may know this on a certain level- that there is more to beauty than a flat stomach, and a pleasing face- but when it comes down to it, I think we have a tough time internalizing and believing this truth, as it applies to us. But you know what? Fuck that. You are beautiful.

You look in the mirror, and maybe you see ten or twenty extra pounds, but your mother looks at you, at this person she loves, and she sees you vibrant and healthy, and everything you have ever been, and all of the things you are going to be. She sees you, and you are beautiful.

This is what you see.
This is what you see.
and this is what you are.
and this is what you are.

You see a picture of yourself, and you see gray hairs coming in, or crows feet, or maybe a face you don’t even recognize as your face anymore. But your children look at you, and they see the person they love more than anyone else in the world. They know your soft, cool hands that would soothe away nightmares, and the safety of your embrace, and the way you know what they really need when no one else does, and you are stunning. Nothing in the world could mar that kind of beauty.

we love you exactly as you are.
we love you exactly as you are.

You maybe don’t even bother with the mirror anymore. You long ago lost the idea that anything about you could be appealing or pretty. But let me tell you, your grandchildren? There is no place in the world they would rather be than in your lap, snuggled into your arms. There is no better place they can think of than your presence. You are the most beautiful person in the world.

This is beauty you can't mess with.
This is beauty you can’t mess with.

You may not fit the format that has been laid out before us- maybe you are too skinny, or not skinny enough, not quite there yet, or past your prime, maybe you hate your thighs or suck your stomach in, think your legs are too short or your boobs are too small. Maybe you spend a lot of time wishing things were how they used to be, or just different than they are now. Well, stop it. Because someone, the most important ones, look at you, look into you, and they see all of the things you ARE. Your great laugh, and your sharp wit, your kind heart, your willingness to be there, the ease with which you give.

Gorgeous laughter
Gorgeous laughter

Whoever you are, wherever you are at in your journey through life, you are beautiful. Way more than just a pretty face, my friend. And that includes you, my beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful, funny, strong, mom. I love you. I would be proud to have daughters just as radiant as you are.

My beautiful mother. And me. I'm not so bad, either.
My beautiful mother. And me. I’m not so bad, either.
Posted in family, fun, humor, kids, Life, love, parenting, People, random, relationships, writing

Dear Daughters:

two daughters

Hi! It’s me, your mom- you know, the weird lady who lives down the hall, who yells a lot (so that you can hear me, because apparently, our “inside voices” don’t work around here).  Anyway, I figured I would write to you this morning, since you girls are the center of my universe, basically blocking out everything else, and I have no other material. Not that I am complaining. I feel pretty lucky, I happen to have created not one, but TWO, offspring that I actually like.

I mean, yes, you have your less awesome moments. Like Camryn, when you want me to pretend to be a vampire or some other scary, imaginary creature, and I do, and then you get too scared, and punch me in the mouth with your tiny little fist. It’s hard to believe how much your bony little knuckles can smart, but you always seem to catch me in the exact wrong spot. I know you feel bad about it, and I am likewise ashamed of my (clearly too) believable portrayal of a blood sucking demon of the night. I don’t think I want to play that game anymore. And Aisley, thanks to our much lengthier history, I have a wide assortment of complaints I could lodge against you, anything from vomiting in my shoes, to taking my thong underwear to school for show and tell, all the way up to sneaking boys in the house (which I actually found more amusing than anything, because any guy who still likes you after being covered in your dirty laundry deserves whatever he gets). Despite all of that, however, you are both my favorite people in the whole entire world.

There is probably something wrong with me. But, I am not alone. Most moms feel pretty much the way that I do, just loving the shit out of our disgusting, embarrassing children- lucky for you. I am sure it is just some built in safety feature that keeps us from eating our young, or leaving them out on the side of the road when they become too screamy. Nope, most moms still don’t do that, even now, in these crazy times. Not that it doesn’t cross our minds occasionally. There was actually a full year, Aisley, when you were about thirteen or fourteen, when my dearest fantasy was to…well, it wasn’t kind, lets just say that. But in my defense, you were barely a human being at that age. I think it speaks volumes of both of us that no one was jailed. For long.

I can assure you, before you were born, I had never been peed on. Not even for fun. I had never been vomited on, at least not by the same person more than once, ever. I had certainly never been able to continue to tolerate anyone who wet MY bed on a regular basis. I am pretty sure that before you guys came along, no one had ever used me as a Kleenex, although that is one of those things you can never be totally sure of. I had never been expected to comfort and soothe someone who obviously hated me, I had never had so many doors slammed on me, so much change stolen from me, and so much of my stuff haphazardly destroyed. Before you were born, my main job was keeping myself alive, and I was not very good at it- mediocre, at best. After you were born, I was suddenly promoted to keeping alive small humans who couldn’t even hold their own heads up. Do you know how fucking terrifying this is? You both had mushy spots on your HEADS where the effing SKULL hadn’t finished growing. I just wanted to point that out, for the next time (or in Camryn’s case, the first time) you want to tell me what a terrible mother I have been. I managed to not let your giant heads snap off at the neck, and I kept things out of your soft spot. Cut me some slack.

In spite of all of that, I find that I can still look at both of you, at times, and feel the kind of love I have never felt for anyone else. The kind you read about in overly dramatic romance novels, only without the creepy parts. You both make me weak and stupid with love, like, my heart pounds and I get all choked up, and ALL of that. It’s embarrassing. But you are both SO lovely, and so funny, and so full of life and outrageous personality. In a MILLION years, if I had been able to hand pick every single aspect of you, to make a perfect child for me…I never, ever could have gotten it right. No one could ever be better, more perfect, in my eyes, than you are. You beautiful girls make me laugh every single day. I keep going because of you. I try harder because of you. I may not always get it right, but please believe, I never, ever stop thinking about you. And I love you both more than I could ever have imagined loving anyone, and that will never, ever change.

I just wanted to let you know.

Love,

Your mom ( the crazy lady down the hall)

Posted in advice, humor, Life, People, random

How To Survive Your Disastrous Life

Hi guys! I never got around to writing anything today, but I do have this little “draft” that’s been hanging out here forever- please note, this was prior to my “little episode”, so if you hear a distinct, biting undertone to my writing, don’t worry…I’m not backsliding, just posting old stuff.  Enjoy!

I’ve been ruminating over different variations of this theme for weeks and weeks now (How to live life; Things I wish I’d learned earlier; How to not totally suck at life, etc…), but tonight it occurred to me that the one thing I have heard again and again, from many people, about myself is that I am “strong”. It has been my experience that when all sorts of people who do not know each other tell you the same thing about yourself, there is probably some truth to it. So, though I don’t really feel especially strong, I will concede that I do have certain attributes (both inherent and learned) that have made it less painful to live through the insanity and upheaval I have built my world upon. So, I will be happy to tell you my secrets in case you were considering trading your good credit, security and relative happiness for the bipolar white trash amusement park I call my own. Here goes:

To really flourish in a messy life, the best thing you can do is #1) Be young and be pretty. This will really give you an advantage anywhere you are. It’s not considered “PC” to think this way, of course, but let’s cut the shit, shall we? Young and pretty gets you in the door every time. Unfortunately, most of us don’t realize the power we possess until after we lose it. So the best advice I can give to young, pretty, chaos-prone women is-ENJOY IT WHILE IT LASTS! If you cannot be young and pretty, you need to be able to make people think you are, anyway, by thinking so yourself. I have seen really unattractive women pull this off so well that I forgot how unattractive they were and became jealous of how comfy they were with themselves rather than snarky about their bad luck in the face department. If you can’t pull that off, either, you really need to be willing to do just about anything in bed or clean houses and cook amazing food for free. Disastrous lifers often find themselves without a permanent home, and must rely on the kindness of friends to stay off the streets. Food and the ability to help out inspire that kind of kindness.

2) Okay, so number one was kind of a joke…although it was also kind of true. That’s not something one can count on for long, though (ever, in some cases) , and it’s really not all that important at all in the long run. #2, however, is for real: Have an amazing sense of humor- how can you tell if this is something you already have? Easy. Do you crack up at your own jokes all the time? Do you sometimes burst into laughter while driving, alone, in your car because you just thought of something hilarious? Well then, you probably do. And really, as long as you think you do, you do. We’re talking about how to survive your own life, so the ability to laugh, especially at yourself, is indispensable. Life is ludicrous and terrible, sometimes. Things go so, so wrong that all’s you CAN do is laugh. Or cry, I guess. Laughing is usually my preference, and it’s way less upsetting to the people around you.

3)Don’t be afraid. I’m not saying be an idiot, either, don’t misunderstand. What I’m saying is dragging your feet and digging in your nails to hold onto your safe little spot (even though we both know it’s just familiar misery) is lame. What are you afraid of? That you might wind up screwing up and letting all of THIS (see above) go for a whole new load of shit? Well, at least it’s a NEW load of shit! You have to keep moving forward. Even if you are afraid, you just do what you think you should do anyway. When I was twenty nine, I loaded everything I owned into my Camry and moved to another state, to a town where I did not know a soul. Was it nuts? Yes. Was I scared? A little, at first. Was it worth it? It may have been the single best decision of my life- I had nothing left where I was living, and no prospects. A bad reputation and a lot of burned bridges. So I bailed. The first year was an eye opener, and I saw how bad life could really get, having a serious drug problem in a gambling city. But I turned it around, and ended up being the best I have ever been by the time I left. So suck it up, and move, already!

4) Never relinquish hope and optimism. I feel like this really goes hand in hand with the sense of humor and ability to laugh. Laughter is nothing more than a burst of joy one can hear, correct? In order to laugh and feel joy, you must have hope. If you can find the silver dollar in a pile of dung, you are going to be ok. I remember having my heart broken when I was still in my early twenties- the pain was so awful that I physically hurt from it. I couldn’t see my way out of that overwhelming ache, but I remember thinking “Today is TERRIBLE. But tomorrow, it’ll hurt less, and it’ll hurt less every day, no matter what, because time takes it away, so I can get through today.”  I really remember thinking that very thought, in my car, in agony, on a gloomy day in Pacific Grove. I had hope. I was optimistic that sooner or later, I’d feel ok again.

5) Another thought I had at that time was “I wonder what I’m supposed to learn from this?” I don’t know about you, but I believe that there are big lessons when we are going through trying times. This belief really helps me put things in perspective, and gets me looking for the point, which makes me feel like there is some order and sense to things, after all. I really believe everything happens for a reason, and exactly the way it is supposed to.

6) Be likable. When you are friendly, outgoing, and happy, people want to help you out. They want to be near you, get to know you, be your friend. You need all the friends you can get in this lifetime, man.

So that’s where I left off…whatever my state of mind, I think it is still sound advice. Tell me what you think! What would you add?

Posted in Addiction, beauty, family, Goals, Life, People, random

As Promised, Part 2

Hello again…So, this morning I was sharing the first part of something I wrote a few years ago about the end of my drug addiction (hahaha, some of us know that there is REALLY no end to drug addiction, but what I mean is, the end of that very loooong and grueling phase. I call it my twenties.), what it was like and how I felt. I think a lot of times we picture (and I include myself in this as well) drug addicts as unloved junkies and street people, low-life’s and thieves, “bad” people. A lot of times, they are those things. I certainly was. I knew how to behave myself when necessary, but it was hard to pull off a lot of the time. And anyone close to me at all could tell you that I was selfish, mean, manipulative and out for myself, period. I didn’t start out that way, and neither do most of the people that end up in the places addicts end up. We are somebody’s children. We have brothers, sisters, mom’s & dad’s. Friends who miss us, people who worry themselves sick over us, people we haven’t talked to in weeks, months, years. We have children who we lost or ruined or we can’t face. We are people who, in our sickness, walk around with a terrible loathing of ourselves because the only thing wrong with us is a thing we do to ourselves, a thing that is killing us, and we STILL can’t stop. We gave up our dreams, our lives, our health, our futures and we can feel our own lives slipping away, and we can’t just put it down. That’s all that I needed to do-just stop. But I couldn’t seem to do it. Here is the rest.

10/10

You cry for two months solid before you finally give up the fight, before you know with every cell in your body that you just cannot bear one more second of this perverse existence. You no longer even care what is on the other side of where you’re jumping, because it has to be better. Nothing could be worse than this. And so, you jump.

You expect to be bored, and to be boring. You expect to lose your edge, to feel uncool, to never have fun again. You expect to meet nerdy, boring men, get fat and live a mundane and unmentionable life. You believe you have had your fun. But you are so broken that you think that might be okay,  and so you go.

What you don’t expect is for your heart to break open like a flower that has finally found the sun. You have no way to prepare yourself for all the feelings that rush over you like friends who were desperately afraid you would never arrive. You feel full to the brim with hope and ripped in half by guilt, in turns, but you don’t use. It doesn’t even occur to you, for some miraculous reason. You have gotten a taste of something new, something heady, and mysterious, & beautiful, something that lets you rest for the first time in a million years. And you want more. Of course you want MORE!  You are you, after all, but still- this is something altogether different than anything you could have conceived.

The taste of food is like magic all of the sudden. The sun on your skin is to be relished, not escaped from. Your cheeks ache from laughing, your skin becomes rosy, your eyes are blue, and they sparkle. At night, you wrap your child as close as your arms will allow, and you are there with her through the night. You can’t believe how much you love sleeping, and you can’t believe how you fought against it for years, as if it were the enemy. When you wake up in the morning, you are excited about what the day will bring, and when this occurs to you, you press your face into your pillow and you cry. You cry because you forgot what it was like to feel excited about your life, to be glad to be alive, to have hope.  You forgot what it was like to be free, except that all along you had tricked yourself into thinking you were doing what you wanted, partying it up. Funny, not one memory from the past eleven years could match, could even come close, to this eager, happy, hopeful, brand-new feeling you had now. And all you did today so far was open your eyes.

Without realizing it, you have resumed your conversation with God, one that you had put on hold many years ago. It seems reasonable to you that God has been around the whole time, keeping his eye on you, and that it was your shame that kept you from facing Him. You knew what God had blessed you with, how much you were given, the ease with which you could have moved through life if you had chosen too. You had never really believed in sin, but if you did, then throwing away the gifts that God had bestowed on you at birth, that would be one.

God is cool, though. He understands more than he is given credit for, and he certainly has a better perspective. Maybe you were supposed to go through this, maybe it was a lesson. Maybe it was just a choice. Either way, it’s good to have God around again. So good, actually, that you make it a habit to talk to him daily.

Oh, but there’s more. You meet a guy, and he’s not really nerdy or boring, but he does treat you with respect and consideration. You do something totally out of character, and like him despite all of that.

He helps you navigate this new life, and he is exactly the right person at exactly the right time. There seems to be a lot of that going on lately. You get a real job, and keep it, and keep on keeping it, and you never once call in sick because you can’t bear the thought of facing another human being. You open a bank account- this simple act, nothing at all to most people, has you bursting with pride for days. You are surprised to find that people LIKE you, the REAL you,  almost everywhere you go. What’s more, you find yourself understanding why they do. You laugh easily and often, you are engaging and funny and confident. Why wouldn’t you be confident?If you could overcome THAT, well…the rest is just cake, right?

Hmm…so that is all I am going to share for now.  There is more, but that feels like a really good place to stop. I will decide later if I want to put the rest of it out there or not. Anyway, I hope you got something out of reading this, or at the very least, enjoyed it. I’ll be back soon!