Posted in aging, faith, happiness, inner peace, Life, love, Musings, People, relationships, women

Love

love

August 28th, 2017 was the worst day of my life so far. It was the day I found out that the man who stole my heart 22 years earlier had been killed in a motorcycle crash the night before. I took the next two days off of work, and cried harder and longer than I have ever cried before in my life.

Now, lest you get the wrong idea, I want to be very clear here- he and I hadn’t been together for 22 years. If you strung together all of the days we spent together, through the years, it might equal two years, maybe three. But I feel like I thought about him every day. Whether or not that is actually true, I can’t say for sure. But it feels like it is true.

I have a peculiar glitch in my system, I think. When I let someone into my heart for real, there is no backing out. Once I love you, I love you always. It doesn’t matter what transpires, or how our paths might diverge. My heart is loyal to a fault, even when my actions and words are not.

But when I was 20, I fell in love with this man, and I loved him exactly the way a 20 year old girl would- in a crazy, hopeless way. And I am so glad I did. I am so glad I got to experience that kind of love. Over the years, I learned from those feelings the way love can evolve and become something else. Friendship and deep, deep affection. It wasn’t the same at the end, but in some ways it was better, you know? I got to experience this whole spectrum of love with him, and it has never stopped. I love him, still. He might not be here in person to tell it to, but I haven’t stopped talking to him, I haven’t stopped the conversation. Death is no barrier to love, I know that now.

In my last relationship, I learned even more about love- things I didn’t necessarily want to know, but have been valuable lessons just the same. I learned that love is not, in fact, all you need. You need other things, too- things like trust, respect, communication. Without those things, all the love in the world cannot save you. I learned that you can love someone with all your heart and hate the things they have done, and it is a struggle to grasp how this person could be capable of these things. I learned that heartbreak can change you, perhaps for good, and at the very least for a long time. Most importantly, I learned to be careful who I gave my heart to, because I do, indeed, have a particular glitch that makes my love permanent, and the repercussions of that are many.

And now, here I am, doing it again. Right now it’s little baby love, or maybe a precursor to love, and it is…lots of things. Thrilling. Scary. Awesome. Beautiful. Exciting. Worrisome. All of the things. I haven’t talked about it yet. I am old enough to know that time will tell, and that there is no harm in seeing how things unfold. But I love being fully present for all of the unfolding. I love the changes in me that allow me to be grateful and aware of the good things that are being dropped, one by one, like little gifts, into my life. I love having someone to turn to who is also turning towards me. I am on this new, unexpected journey, and I am just along for the ride. I have never done things this way before. It is good.

The thing I love most of all, though, is learning once again of my heart’s capacity to love. No matter how broken or battered it has been, eventually, it is ready to try again. It has room for one more. I can let someone else in, and never lose the ones that are already there. My heart is amazing. My ability to love is amazing. I may not be an expert, but I know a thing or two. And I am learning new things all the time.

In my heart of hearts, I believe that love is the reason we are on this earth. Learning how to love one another, how to treat one another, how to exist in a loving way with all the souls we travel with. I see how my ability to love and be loved has evolved, and I think I am getting better at it. I hope I am. Only time will tell. For now, I am content to continue figuring it out, knowing, as I do now, that I can survive whatever comes. If I survived through August 28th, 2017…I can can make it through anything.

I miss you, Joe. Can’t wait to see you again someday.

Posted in friendship, Life, love, Musings, People, random

One Year, Three Months, Five Days

One year, three months, five days. That’s how long it’s been since you left this earthly plane, on to whatever comes next. Which means that one year, three months and six days ago, you were still doing whatever it was you were doing- talking, smiling, popping up here and there as you were wont to do. No idea that the minutes of your life were winding down, down, down. Oblivious. I think about this sometimes, and it scares me a little bit. It’s a hard truth to swallow, the way we live our lives so blissfully unaware that this might be it- this might be our last day, our last hour.

Anyway, God, I fucking miss you this morning. Grief is a strange thing, isn’t it? Weeks pass, and the pain recedes, and then I wake up one morning, like I did today, and it just hurts, oh so very much. It still seems impossible to me that you are gone.

There is no way for me to describe or quantify or make sense of what you meant to me, how my life was altered because of you, or how it changed when you died. But I know that my life WAS altered, and your death stole something real from me. Because of you, I learned that love can evolve in all sorts of different ways- when you stop trying to fit a relationship into a box, stop trying to label and categorize it, and just let it be what it is, something wonderful can happen. The connection between us spanned decades, and changed many times, ultimately mellowing and becoming something rich, that I cherished. Knowing you were out there, somewhere, knowing that you would be there if I needed you…it mattered so much to me.

Your surprise visits were often the highlight of my week. Just drinking coffee with you out on my front porch, or playing board games with Cam. Getting to hear you laugh and seeing you be silly and playful with my kids lifted my heart. I just enjoyed your company. It had become as simple and easy as that.

I was not blind to your faults. I knew you well enough to worry about what the future held for you, to worry about where your life would ultimately end up. We even discussed it a time or two, with me lamenting what would happen to you when you got old, joking about which girl would end up taking care of you. “Oh my God,” I groaned, “It’s going to be me, isn’t it?” And we laughed, because it seemed far away and preposterous. I suppose it wound up being a useless worry, didn’t it? But for the record, I would have gladly taken on the job. Not that you ever would have wanted to be in that position, of course, but I would have done it. In a heartbeat.

The point is, I guess, that I loved you. I love you still. I used to feel angry sometimes, resentful that I so completely loved someone who could never love me back in the same way. It wasn’t as if I had a choice- we love who we love, and that’s all. But now I’m grateful for all of it, I really am. Because of you, I know I am capable of loving someone unconditionally, exactly as they are, with no expectation and no need for them to do anything to earn it. I realized that long before you died. I know I made it clear to you. I’m so glad I did, and so glad we were friends.

I just really, really miss you today.

Posted in family, Life, love, Musings, People

Lucky

I’ve always thought of myself as one of the luckiest people alive. I know that might sound weird, considering…well, you know- I was a raging drug addict for a bazillion years. Sometimes I was homeless. I couldn’t keep a job for very long, my love life has been pretty disastrous, etc., etc. Where is the luck in that, you might wonder?

Well, I didn’t look at it like that, to be honest. I always thought how lucky I was that I didn’t die, or worse, look really ugly as a drug addict. (I’m kind of joking here- I mean, I did get to keep almost all of my teeth, which really is lucky, but I thought I was cute as hell. I have some pictures that say otherwise, however). And yes, I might have technically been homeless, but I didn’t feel homeless- I always had a place to crash, and friends who helped me out. I never had to sleep in my car, when I had a car. So that was lucky. Maybe I couldn’t keep a job, but I could always get a job, so it wasn’t bleak. And my love life? I didn’t view it as disastrous- it was just exciting, that’s all.

So perhaps I wasn’t super lucky, or perhaps I was. The important thing is how I looked at it. If I looked at my life as blessed, even when it sucked pretty majorly, it still felt blessed to me. When I gathered with my family on Saturday evening to honor the life of my Uncle who passed away recently, along with many, many of his friends from as far back as his childhood, it came to me why I might feel as lucky as I do.

Man, I have a GREAT family. Normal? Hmm-mm, not really. I would say, if I had to describe my family in terms of a color scheme, they would be considered BOLD. Big colors. Loud. We talk loud and laugh loud and even our lives are above average messy, but, and this is important- above average awesome, too. We make big mistakes, and learn from them big-time, and go on to have large amounts of success and happiness. It’s heartening to know that I belong to this bunch. I feel lucky to have been born into my family.

On first glance, you might not think that my Uncle fit into that bold category, but I can tell you that he did- maybe more than any of us, honestly. His life was marked by tragedy at the age of 21 when he was nearly killed by a drunk driver, and he survived. He didn’t just survive, though, he beat the odds. He had a five percent chance of surviving, a broken back, brain damage, blindness in one eye, and was paralyzed on one side of his body. So you know what he did? He took a job as a ranch caretaker and went on to write music and play guitar in places all over his hometown and beyond. He loved everything about Native American’s, and he read hundreds of books about their lives and cultures. He was adored by so many people. His life could have been sad and depressing, but he chose to feel lucky. He chose to be happy. Oh, he was one of the funniest people around, too- you know, humor helps so much. Anyway, at the end, it was harder for him- his body was harder to cope with, and he was frustrated and angry after dealing with it for so many years, but…he still made room in his heart for the people he loved. He still treated me with so much kindness and love whenever we spoke. It was crazy how much love I heard in his voice when he spoke to me.

Sitting in our family home, the home that my grandfather built, and the only place I have consistently called home since the day I was born, I felt not just his loss, but the loss of my grandparents so deeply- it was like losing each of them all over again. I told my mom I could close my eyes and swear that my grandpa was in his room, taking a nap, and that grandma was fussing around at the coffee pot, while my Uncle was outside with the dogs or something. I mean, I could FEEL it, like it was real. I have memories that are so ingrained in me, so much love in them that I can’t describe it to you, that I can barely contain it all…

How lucky am I? How lucky is that, to have known so much love and joy and laughter and happiness? No matter how far off the path I ever wandered, I have had that love inside of me, anchoring me to what matters in life. I always knew there was a better way because I had seen it with my own eyes. What a gift these people gave to me. That even now that so many of the important ones are gone, it lives on inside of me. I feel them still.

I’d say I’m pretty lucky, indeed.

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, anxiety, family, Life, recovery, twelve step

Things I Forgot to Remember

Death has been an unrelenting presence in my life over the past year, which is very, very unusual for me. Beginning with the loss of my beloved friend Joe in August of last year, then his dear friend Che, just a few weeks ago- Che, who spent countless hours on the phone with me after Joe’s death, listening to all of the stories I have to tell about Joe, that I suddenly needed to re-tell to someone who knew him… and sharing his own with me. Then, in the late hours of July 5th, or perhaps the very early hours of July 6th- we don’t know for sure yet, but oddly enough, every member of our family found themselves awake at 3:30 in the morning on July 6th- my darling uncle, Louis Earl Fulton, passed away. His life was not an easy one. One day, I will tell his story properly, but I want to do it right, and I want to have all of the facts straight first, though I will tell you this- due to an accident with a drunk driver when he was just starting out into adulthood, his lot in life was hard. He suffered, for the bulk of his years on earth, with a busted up body and what I would guess as being trouble from a traumatic head injury. Over the past several years, his health seriously deteriorated, and he had many falls, broken bones, and other injuries. He suffered from seizures, and I think he even had a stroke recently, but honestly, there was so much going on that I would have to ask my mom to be sure. The fact is, he wasn’t doing well. So you would think that his death would be less of a surprise, and maybe in some ways it wasn’t shocking, but…when someone just dies at home, and they haven’t been in the hospital or particularly sicker than usual, it really is a shock.

This blog is not going to be about him, because like I said, I would rather honor him by writing his story correctly, and I can’t do that without getting some help from my mom-she was alive when his accident happened, and I was not yet. I will tell you this- his given name was Louis Earl, but I haven’t heard anyone call him that since my grandmother was alive. His nickname (one of them) was Fizzle, because he was born on the 5th of July (get it? He fizzled out! My grandfather had a strange sense of humor) and, coincidentally, he died, near as we can tell, on the exact same day, many years later. There will never be anyone like him- there will never be anyone like any of the people I have lost this past year- and nothing I know brings a person into sharper focus than their death. And nothing slaps you out of your own miserable funk like the loss of a life that belonged to someone precious to you.

For the past month, or maybe even longer than that, I have been struggling like crazy with myself…upset about things like: hating my job because it is boring, hating myself (low-key) because I am not perfect, wishing I had better friendships, wondering why I am still single, wishing I could connect in a more meaningful way with my youngest daughter, and…this is the one I didn’t even want to write about or admit out loud to anyone who could talk some sense into me…wanting to quit being in recovery. I wanted to quit. I wanted to start drinking again, and I was really, really close to throwing the towel in. Closer than anyone but me knows. I felt like I was missing out on something. That my life wasn’t fun enough because I couldn’t go out and have a drink. That maybe it would be easier for me to deal with men if I could just relax a little bit, like everyone else does.

My uncle died on the day that my daughter was going out of town with her father for the first time in over a year- so I was already incredibly anxious without the addition of a death in the family. I took the rest of Friday off, and I cried and cried and cried. I cried so much that by the time I went to bed, my head was pounding. I woke up on Saturday morning with eyes that looked like they had been bitten by mosquitoes, or injected with saline. But I had made plans with a girlfriend earlier in the week to go hiking and hit a morning meeting, and she is notoriously hard to pin down, so there was no way I was cancelling. I pulled myself together, worried that I would be too somber to be any fun, but I went anyway. I needn’t have worried. We had a nice hike, and plenty to discuss, and it was just what I needed. We almost didn’t go into the meeting afterwards, but we did, and again, it was perfect. I came home afterwards, ate a massive amount of food, and fell asleep the way you can only when you are grieving and exhausted- face down on the mattress for four solid hours. When I woke up (which took a good hour of just sitting, staring into space) I knew instinctively that being still would be a bad idea, so I grabbed my dog and went for a long walk on the beach. That night, I went to another meeting.

Over the course of my 48 hour weekend, I managed to hit four meetings, hang out with two good friends (one of them twice), go to the beach two different times, and take two solid naps. I did something I had never done before in the course of my recovery- I doubled down on what was good for me, and sidestepped an almost inevitable relapse. I was reminded that both life and recovery require my active participation in order to work the way that I need them to. I can’t just sit here and cry about what isn’t working- or, I can, but it isn’t going to do me any good at all.

I’m sorry if this is sort of all over the place- I don’t feel like I am explaining myself well at all, but there is so much to what I am feeling, and it’s all jumbled up. The bottom line is, my uncle’s death helped me to remember what I had forgotten- that life is so precious, that while I am here, I need to rejoice in the gifts that I have been given, and they are many- my health, my beautiful children, my job which provides so well for me, and my recovery which is the only reason I have all of the other things. I will not dishonor myself or my wonderful life by giving up on that. I have all of the ingredients, but it is up to me to make something worthwhile out of them. Today, I will choose to do just that.

Posted in faith, family, kids, Life, Musings, People, random, Uncategorized

Discord and Darkness

I’m struggling with my work today, and it’s due to a sense of increasing overwhelm and despair. A friend of mine died yesterday, ANOTHER friend of mine, and he was way too young. There are children being torn away from their parents in my country, which is currently being run by what seems to me like the Antichrist himself, and all of the many minions an Antichrist could ever need. On social media, people are either heartbroken and sickened over the direction our country is headed, or defensive and sickening. Discord is everywhere. Things are Not Good.

I think a lot. Probably too much. But some of those thoughts are helpful, and those are the ones I want to share today.

1.) Save your outrage. Save it up for something worthwhile. I figured out a while ago that it might feel good to get it all out on your Facebook page, but it doesn’t do any good there. Find a place to put it where it helps. Email your state representative (I did this today, and it was super easy), find an organization you can align yourself with, donate money or time. Channel that outrage into something productive.

2.) Step back. You can only know so much before it’s too much. At a certain point, you may find yourself reading the same bad news four or five times, or a slightly different version of it. I decided today that it’s time for me to get off the social media circus for a while, maybe even just for the rest of the day, maybe longer. My energy is not needed there. It helps no one, and it hurts me. I am not strong enough to not read the awful comments, I’m not smart enough to know when to shut up. So I need to be in charge of myself, and step back.

3.) This one is the most important: Love your life right this very second. Love that you are upright and breathing, and love every part of you that works. Love your shitty car, and your too-round middle, and your dog who thinks the bathroom garbage is his personal snack tray. Love your irritating kids and your boring job, find something to love about every part of your beautiful life. Because we are truly blessed, to live in this time, and to have what we do. And one day, it’s all going to stop. One day, there will be no more of any of it. And we don’t get to know when that day is. So fill your life with all the joy you can muster, right now. Don’t wait.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again- this world needs all the light it can get. Shine as brightly as you know how.

Posted in friendship, Life, love, Musings, People, relationships

Most of the Time…

miss you

 

I am fine, most of the time.

And then, some days, like today, I miss you. I miss you being in the world, and I miss knowing you will be by, eventually, to check in on me. To check in with me. I miss the possibility of you. I miss that so much that it feels like the wind has been knocked out of me, and I want to double up and protect myself from the hurt, the physical pain of your absence.

I feel guilty for missing you so much. I have lost grandparents and friends, and I miss them all, of course I do. But this longing has legs, and it keeps creeping back up on me. You were…you were YOU. There is no one else that I looked at the way I looked at you, and I can’t help that. I’ve never known what to do with that information, not when you were alive, and even less now that you are gone. My love for you was almost embarrassing while you were here, and it is inescapable now that you’ve died. I keep bumping up against the truth of it, the way my heart won’t allow me to deny it, not to myself, not now. You may be somewhere else, but this weird relationship lives on. Not that it feels unusual for me to be in it alone- I spent a lot of time this way. But you always showed back up, always. Not this time.

What can I say? That you never had any business messing with me? I was so young, and you should have known better? Yeah, it’s true, but…I’m so glad you did. Should I say that I am sorry that I loved you, and I feel so bad for the hurt my loving you caused? I am. I’m sorry for the hurt I caused, but I’m not sorry that I loved you. I will never be sorry for that. I have so many regrets about my life, but that has never been one of them. I have loved others after you, and I will probably love others still…but I know that I will never love anyone the way I did you. You only get one love like that.  And besides, I will never be a nineteen year old girl again, able to love with reckless abandon, able to invest so much time in her devotion. I wouldn’t want to.

All these memories I have…you were the only one who knew, besides me. The way we would laugh about the crazy, stupid things we did. I never thought when I was with you, I was never afraid. I just knew you’d keep me safe, and you did. Now I remember alone, and it’s all tinged with sadness. What fun are memories you can’t share with the person you made them with? It’s just me, crying like a dummy in her kitchen, running to change the song that popped up on shuffle because it hurts too much right now to hear it.

I’m sorry it’s over. I know your life was not what you imagined it would be, and I know it wasn’t how you wanted it, and I know you wanted to change. I’m sorry you didn’t get what you were after. I hope wherever you are, you are happy and peaceful, and with your mom and dad, your sister. I hope you hear me when I talk to you, and that you know that I pray for you every single day. I hope you don’t get annoyed when I am weepy, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

And I’m so glad I chased after you, the last time you visited, and demanded one more hug. I don’t know why I did, but I was just so happy to have seen you. It was a good hug, and the expression on your faced stayed with me- amused and maybe a little baffled, like you wondered why I still liked you so much, after all these years. The answer is easy…because you were you.

You were you, and tonight I really miss you.

Posted in Addiction, advice, friendship, Life, love, Musings, recovery, relationships

The Fleeting Nature of Life

I have changed by leaps and bounds over the past two and a half years. Some of it was just by nature of staying off of drugs and letting my brain heal, but a lot of it was intentional and through hard, hard work, deep soul-searching, and honest reflection about the kind of person I am and who I want to be.

I am doing the recovery stuff- working with my sponsor, doing step-work, going to meetings. I am doing spiritual stuff- daily prayer and meditation. I have a therapist, I pay attention to my behavior, and try to reign it in when the way I am acting doesn’t jibe with the person I know I can be.

But nothing- and I mean NOTHING- can shake you up, nothing can clear the cobwebs out of your eyes, like the sudden loss of someone you love. I have never been more heartbroken in my life than I have since last August. That was when I lost my friend Joe, whom I loved so much more than I can even begin to explain, and even if I did, it wouldn’t make sense. That’s okay, though. Love doesn’t need to make sense, right? I always think about the way that most people get on my nerves, their frail human side is always coming to light, ruining everything. His never did. He never got on my nerves, like, not ever that I can remember. I am not trying to say that he didn’t have a bad side, that he never disappointed me or hurt my feelings, because he definitely did. He was just so easy for me to forgive. I wish I could love more people that way, but I haven’t yet (aside, of course, from my kids, but that is a different kind of thing altogether).

Anyway, he died. And it was one of the hardest days of my life, one of the worst phone calls I have ever survived. I remember that my knees just buckled, and I fell on the floor, the tears came in a torrent, and the grief was immediate and overwhelming. There have been lots of tears since then, and lots of times that I am totally fine. I can think of him or talk about him, and it makes me smile or laugh, no tears at all. As long as, you know, I don’t think too hard about what I am saying.

But what has happened as a result of him dying is, I have changed. I thought he was invincible. I know how stupid that sounds, but if you’d ever met Joe, you would understand why.  So, now that he is gone, I guess I view everything with more urgency, through the scope, I suppose, of someone who understands that life as I know it could change in an instant.

You might think that this would make me fearful, or hold on even more tightly to everything than I already do, but no…in a way, it has been a gift. Because I have had to face the fact that there is absolutely nothing I can do about some things. When it is your time, it is your time, plain and simple. Rather than making me cling to everything, I find myself learning to let go. Life is short. You had better enjoy every beautiful moment that makes itself available to you. Tell people you love them. Dance, be present, look up at the stars and the moon in the beautiful sky. Slow down. Say yes when you want to, and no when you should.

Don’t waste a bunch of time on petty anger, rushing through your day, always trying to get to the next thing, the next thing, the next thing. Take a moment to realize that this, right now, is your life. It is happening NOW. Maybe you are lucky, like me, and you are still relatively young, and your whole body works the way it is supposed to, and you can basically do anything you want to do. Do you realize how lucky that makes you? Don’t waste it. Don’t waste a single minute of it.

And that is all I have to say about that today. Carry on.