Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, Blogging, inner peace, Life, Musings, random, recovery

Guilty

guilty

I’m a guilt hoarder. I just realized that this morning, and of course, as usual, I think it might be the root of all my problems- and maybe yours, too. What in the hell is a guilt hoarder, you might ask?

Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like- I hold onto guilt way past the time when I should probably let that shit go. I’m still feeling bad about things that happened ages and ages ago, and how does this serve me? How does it serve anyone, really? Short answer? It doesn’t. The guilt I haul around with me everywhere is soooo old, it’s as if it belongs to a totally different person (because, honestly, who the hell is the same person now that they were 10 or 20 years ago?), and it adds nothing of any value to my life. I think it’s time I let it go.

Here’s the thing- as I have discussed repeatedly throughout my posts, I started using drugs at a very young age. I really threw myself into that role, my friends. I was dedicated. That was my identity for such a long, long time. During those years, I did a lot of things I am not proud of. I hurt people that I loved dearly. I was a terrible friend. I said awful things, and treated people poorly, in general. Some of the things I did, I might not have done had I been older and wiser and had an ounce of empathy in me- But I wasn’t, and I didn’t, and that is all there is to it. I just did what I wanted to do, and never thought beyond that. Did I have remorse? Yeah, I did. But unfortunately, that didn’t keep me from repeating it all over again. I was incapable of seeing beyond the immediate, and that was how I lived.

That’s a lot of years of uncomfortable memories to walk around with. I’m sure there are people walking around in this very town who think some pretty unpleasant things about me. But guess what? The joke is on them, because they could never, ever, be as hard on me as I am on myself. Neener-neener. And I know more about the true scope of my behavior than anyone else ever could, so, again…in your face, mystery people who walk around hating me.

Oh, also? Those people probably don’t exist. There is no one sitting around talking about what a nightmare I was twenty years ago. This is all part of the elaborate torture-scape my brain has constructed over the years, just to mess with me. People move on. They have their own shit to deal with. They let go of things, eventually.

You know how I know this? Because people have done terrible things to me, too, and I swear to you that not one of them pops readily into my mind as an example. I could think of something if I tried hard enough, but why would I? It doesn’t matter anymore. My friends are still my friends, even when we don’t talk for years, and when I see certain people, I’m not mad at them. I’m happy to see them! I feel joyful about their successes in life, and marvel at the way things have changed for them. Sometimes, I feel a little bit worried that their lives haven’t changed that much, and I hope for better things for them. And honestly, the shitty things that happened? They seem kind of funny to me now. We were kids, and we were all doing the same shady shit, and that is all.

So why can’t I extend this same love and forgiveness to myself? Why can’t I look back at 25 year old me and think “God love her, she’s lucky she made it out alive!” or even “She just didn’t know what she was doing, that’s all- if she had known, she would have done better.”

An even better question would be, why can’t I look at 43 year old me and think “Wow. Look at what you have done with your life! You are not at all the person you used to be. What an amazing person you are!” Man, I wish I could say that to myself and really believe it.

I’m sure that drug addicts don’t own the rights to guilt- although we sure do give ourselves plenty of reasons to load up on it. I’m sure lots of people walk around with this weight on their shoulders.

What I really want to know is, how do I get rid of it? I deserve my own forgiveness, so how do I do it? Is there a workbook I can fill out, or a doctor I can see, is there some magical incantation I can say three times during the full moon while I sage myself? Because sign me up! I will do it.

Unfortunately, I think what I have to do is accept that I cannot change the past, and stop rehashing it. Stop unpacking it. Stop dragging it with me everywhere. Remember that I am no more the wild girl I was at 20 than I am the child I was at 10. Those were parts of my life, no more.

I have a lot to be proud of, and so many reasons to love who I am today. Living in the shadow of memories of the past is keeping me from growing the way I should. Today, I will work on accepting myself, forgiving myself, and loving who I am now.

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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.

Posted in adventure, advice, family, kids, letter, Life, living, love, motherhood, parenting, People, relationships

Chasing Waterfalls

waterfalls

 

My Beautiful Daughter-

Ever since we talked, yesterday, I have been walking around with this terrible ache in my heart. When you told me, weeks ago, that you were planning on moving hundreds of miles away from me…well, honestly? I dismissed it as a flighty, temporary, whim of yours. I didn’t worry, because I didn’t think it was real. But yesterday, when you told me it was happening, that you were leaving in a month, it really started to sink in.

I’m sorry if I seemed angry. I know I pointed out all the reasons it was a terrible idea, when all you wanted was my blessing. My support. I guess the truth is, I was never really angry…the truth is, I am sad. You are so much more than just my kid. You are also one of my favorite people on the planet, and, besides your sister, the only family I have here. The truth is, I will just miss you terribly.

That isn’t all of it, though. The bigger truth here is that it is selfish of me to withhold encouragement, to squelch your excitement, when you are doing exactly what a girl your age should do, in my opinion. You are spreading your wings, finally, being the brave girl I have always known you to be. I am so proud of you for that.

Here’s another thing- you don’t need my approval. You are an adult now, and you are free to do whatever it is that you want to do. I might not always like it, but I will always, always, always love you. So don’t worry about how I feel about things. Just know that I will come around, if I can, and even if I don’t, I am still your mom. I will love you fiercely.

I’m sorry for telling you that you were making a huge mistake. The fact of the matter is, I have no idea if that is true or not. That was just my own fear talking, and I hope you never avoid doing what you love out of fear. That is no way to live. You know what? A huge part of what makes life great is taking risks (you know, reasonable risks) (Okay, that was just scared mom again) and seeing what happens. Making mistakes is also a big part of living a wonderful life…it means you are trying things. I don’t want you to live a boring little cookie cutter life. I want you to do exactly what you are doing. I really do.

I was listening to the old TLC song “Don’t go Chasing Watefalls” on my way home this morning, and I realized something. I DO want you to chase waterfalls. You absolutely should NOT stick to the rivers and lakes you are used to. What fun would that be? Just, you know, wear good shoes, and maybe a life vest. That’s all I’m asking. See the world. Have fun. Dream big. LIVE big. You deserve the big WOW that life can be.

The most important thing of all for you to know is this: No matter what happens, I am here. And I love you. And you can always, always, always come home. That offer will never expire.  I will always pick up the phone when you call. I will be here when you need me. I will leave the light on for you.So go out into the world and do great things. I will be here, cheering you on.

Love, Mom

Posted in Addiction, advice, escape, Goals, inner peace, Learning, Life, People, random, Uncategorized

Directions To Happiness

Image

 

Yesterday, I ended my blog by saying something like “If I figure out the directions to being present, I will definitely share them”. Well, I woke up this morning and started really thinking about how I got here, to this place of real happiness, in such a relatively rapid manner. I mean, lets face it- just two months ago, I was a pinched face ball of tension and misery. Now, I wake up every single day feeling like the possibilities are pretty much endless, and even if NOTHING exciting happens, I am good. There’s a weird part of me that is almost a little embarrassed by this, like maybe I am really just having a bipolar manic episode, and everything really still sucks…but, I’m pretty sure that isn’t it. I haven’t decided to go jogging naked or spent my whole paycheck on Coach bags, nor have I started an inappropriate affair with the mailman (Yet, hahaha!). So, I am operating on the assumption that this is my new reality. 

As much as it may feel like I sort of stumbled into it, looking back, I do see that I have done some specific things that have helped me get to this point. A lot of it was just instinctual, and when you are on the right path, it’s like your spirit will pull you towards the things that are best for you, I swear. I know how hokey that sounds, but I think that is one of the catches- you have to have an open mind. So, here are my personal directions to the approximate location of happiness. You may have to tweak it a little to find your best neighborhood. 🙂

1.) You have to decide that you want to be happy. For me, it was more like I was so insanely sick of being miserable…but I did often say the words “I just want to be happy.”. Saying this is not the same thing as making the decision to be happy. We say a lot of things, all the time, and do nothing. This happens inside- it’s a commitment that you make to yourself when you are really ready for change, and usually, things have to suck pretty bad to get there. For me, at least. You may be smart enough to feel some minor discomfort and go ahead and turn it around. I could learn a few things from you, if that’s the case.

2.) Once you make up your mind, you have to stop doing all of the things that are making you miserable. For me, as you probably know, there were drugs, and a really unhappy relationship. You just have to let go of that stuff. I had to do both in order to make any progress- I had tried just giving up the drugs and then just giving up the relationship, but nothing worked until I let go of both. It was hard, and sad, but I was ready.

3.) Definitely Rest, but don’t Languish…does that make sense? What I mean is, yes, you do need some time to recover from the “surgery” (whatever piece of yourself you just had removed, or reconstructed), but don’t just sit around waiting to heal. When my last baby was born, I had to have an emergency C-section. The nurses told me to walk around as soon as I could, that it would really help. I thought they were insane- HELLO? From what I understood, certain vital organs of mine had been PLACED ON TOP OF MY STOMACH to get to my child before being thrown back in…you want me to do what, now? But they were right. It kept me from getting all stiff and full of scar tissue or something, I guess. Same principle, here. You need to keep moving forward. You gave enough time to whatever misery you are escaping.

4.) Take walks. I had put “exercise”, which is also really important, but it isn’t the same thing for me as walking. I get something different out of my morning walks than I do from a trip to the gym. I get to see the world around me in a different way, and I just sort of meander around, doing what feels good to me. So try taking a walk every day, see if it helps.

5.) Think about what you are putting in your mouth. The way I eat has so much to do with the way I feel, it is crazy. If I eat lots of red meat or fast food, I feel sluggish and awful. If I eat food that I cook at home, and lots of salads and fruit, so on, I feel better. Not just in my body, but in general. I am not saying cut out everything you love to eat, just think about what you are eating. Lots of times, i realize I don’t really even want something when it comes right down to it.

Well, I feel really bad about this, but I am going to have to finish this tomorrow! Time got away from me, and I have to head out for my walk or I will miss it, and…well, see number 4. That would just never do!  Have a great day, and I will talk to you tomorrow, I promise.

Posted in family, kids, Learning, Life, love, People, relationships

Arrivals, Departures…

my-children-poem-parents-quote-daughter-son-quotes-family-love-you-quotes-pic-picturesI will try to remember the distance between us- even when you are sitting right there beside me in the car, you are somewhere else, entirely. The world rushing past you is not the one that rushes past me. For you, it is a place you have inhabited but not yet made your own.

I know that this journey is ending…it’s not over just yet, but it’s ending. I know you have roads of your own to explore, hours and years that will take you miles and miles away from this place. I hope you will be my companion, sometimes, ride for a while on the passenger side…I hope you will always think of me when you think about home.

It seems like we’d only just started- but somehow, it’s been all of these years. When you were still small, I thought I had forever, but now, here we are-just like nothing. As quick as can be, you’re grown up, now. You’re the most precious thing entrusted to me, long before I was ever trustworthy…but we sailed, anyway, didn’t we? Together, we made it through storms and rough waters, and eventually, I learned to steer this ship into calmer waters. Now suddenly, I can see land ahead- your destination, darling. I can’t go with you, even though I want to. I can’t hold you here, and I can’t go on with you. I did my job, I got you here safely- now I have to let you go, soon.

I have time, still. So little, it seems almost nothing…and the part that you’ll share with me, even less. The landscape is nothing but change, now. I will try to allow you to savor the first, awesome bits of your freedom. I remember so clearly that anticipation, that feeling that anything, really, could happen. It’s wonderful, being so wild and alive, and with nothing but a wide open road there before you. I want you to have it. It is everything, for a minute, and it never can happen again. I can’t shelter you, protect you, and set you free to live your life, too. And I want you to live.

I wish I could tell you how profoundly you have shaped me. All this time that I spent tending you has completely changed me. It is as if you were a natural extension of me, of my life- a friend I picked up along the way. I have no idea how I will go on without you. It’s been the two of us, always, at the core of things, really, and I don’t remember at all what it’s like without you sharing my space, my home, my life. I know I am being sappy, but none of this is exaggeration- it doesn’t even come near to describing my feelings. I love you. I love no one more.

I look at you, I watch who you are becoming, and I know in my heart you’ll be fine. You have something about you that makes me confident of that. I think you are smart, I think you are quick, and I see you observing what’s laid out before you, adjusting your understanding accordingly. I know you are learning. Much of your life is yours now, and I think you are navigating it just fine…I take no credit for any of the wonderful things you are becoming, either. You are your own girl, through and through.

I just wanted to tell you, I get it. I forget sometimes, but then I remember, and it’s like I’m your age, right there beside you. But just for a moment, enough to remind me- just so that I can be mindful of you. I don’t want to steal this joy from you, I just want to guide you a little. And tell you how loved you are, and how important. I realize the clock is counting down the last, impossibly short years of your childhood. I hope you know it’s been the very, very best time of my life.

Thank you.

Posted in beauty, inner peace, Life, love, People

The Joy of Everything

courtesy of Tony Ludovico

It occurred to me today that there is one thing I value in myself above almost any other thing. It is the ability I have retained since childhood to feel extremely joyful over the most mundane little happenings. The excitement I have about living my life, and where things may go, and what the future holds for me.

Right now, although I am in a sad situation (the end of a long relationship, the feelings of sorrow that I couldn’t pull it off ) I find myself so excited, at the same time, about what is going to happen next. I am scared, yes, that things may be a little harder around here- I won’t have the same income, I won’t have another parent to take over when I am tapped out…but the possibilities of where my life can go are really limitless.

Look, when you are in a bad relationship, when it has gotten to the point where you feel the tension in your body when his car pulls up in front, and every word you exchange with one another is less than charitable or kind, it feels like a weight on your back. That weight has been removed, and, aside from the sadness, I feel incredible.

My dreams have roared to life again. I am making plans and seeing paths I just couldn’t see before, I was so mired in all the negativity and obsession over what was going on with us. Now, I have let go, and all of this beautiful, amazing stuff has rushed in to fill up the enormous space that relationship had taken up. I can breathe freely, now.

Even as I write this, I feel a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, because I’m so, so sad that this is the truth. I would’ve chosen us over anything, and did, for so long. I wanted it to work. It just couldn’t. I just don’t think that love should be that hard, not all the time.

What I see is that our relationship was like a  tumor (God, this is a really insulting analogy, and I’m sorry, I just can’t think of anything more appropriate right now.) blocking the blood flow to some vital organ. Now that it’s been removed, I feel alive again. I mean, you know, when I’m not sobbing uncontrollably. Jesus. I sound so bipolar right now, I hope my shrink doesn’t get a hold of this.

So, here it is. I am sad. I am so happy. I am scared. I am excited. When I am not crying, I am laughing. I am mourning one thing, while beginning something better. I feel peaceful, all of the time. I am not lonely. I am sleeping soundly. I think all of this means that I am healing.

There are moments tinged with sadness. The rest of the time, I am aware of the joy of everything.

That’s all.