Posted in Addiction, adventure, faith, friendship, happiness, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random, recovery

Leaving Here a Different Person

I moved into this house in February of 2015, at the end of a short but incredibly destructive relapse. I believe it lasted about four or five months, that last little run. It felt like a million years. I didn’t know it was the end, of course. How I was able to sweet talk my way into this place, I still don’t know- I had horrible credit and was in the midst of bankruptcy, strung out and about to be homeless. I pulled up in front of this place in my little beat up Santa Fe, and I knew this was the house I wanted. When the landlady was hesitant, I wrote her a letter assuring her that I would always make my rent my top priority, that I would take care of the place. Whatever I said worked, and though at the time I was just saying whatever I could to get my foot in the door, it turns out I kept my word.

In mid-March of that same year, I finally reached my breaking point. Of course, it was awful. I had a terrible screaming match with my sister and my daughter one night, followed by a sleepless night and then a breakdown at work…and that was it for me. That was all she wrote. March 16th, 2015 was my first day clean.

From that moment forward, I began to change in ways both visible and not. To be honest with you, I feel like I have almost nothing in common with the girl who walked through that front door for the first time almost six years ago. And yes, I was a 39 year old “woman”, but let me assure you, I was really just a girl. Lost and scared, angry and sick. I had really begun to lose all hope that I would ever, ever break free of my addiction.

And when I did, it was so…uneventful. I mean, after all that fighting and panic, the despair and the fear, it was just easy. That life had become so fucking exhausting, it was a relief to let it go.

Listen, I don’t want to constantly harp on that part of my life at all. As far as I’m concerned, it’s in the past and I’d like to leave it there. But there is no way to celebrate where I am now without mentioning where I was then. Five years and eight months ago, I was as far from okay as I could possibly be. Today…well, today things are light years away.

Tomorrow, I will walk out this front door for the very last time. My landlord is sad to see me go. My neighbors have stopped by to tell me they’ll miss me, that I’ve been a good neighbor. I was a good tenant, a good neighbor.

I’m going to tell you something about myself that I probably imply sometimes, but I don’t think I’ve ever really said it outright- I harbor a stubborn belief that I am actually a terrible person. That if people really knew me, the REAL me, they would be horrified. This is such a deeply rooted belief that it is hard for me to even accept evidence that proves otherwise. I’m sure there are many reasons why, but most of them are because I really did behave terribly for many, many years. I was mean, and loud, and I hurt a lot of people. I wasn’t a good friend, a good mother, or a good girlfriend. I certainly wasn’t a good neighbor or tenant.

But you know what? You know what never occurred to me until like a week ago and I am not even kidding? That person was not me. That person was a version of me with a chemically altered brain. Druggy me is NOT WHO I AM. Those behaviors I exhibited do not represent the person I have always been on a core level. Can you imagine that I never understood that until almost six years after getting clean? That I have still been walking around thinking I am just a giant piece of shit because of the life I lived in my addiction? I am far enough from it all now to feel…just so, so sad for that girl who existed in such misery for so long. I am far enough now to wish I could help her. Which, of course, I did. I saved her life, actually.

So, here’s the thing- I am going to leave this place a different person than I was when I left. When my landlord says I have been a good tenant, it’s not because I fooled her- it’s because I paid my rent on time and never gave her any trouble. When my neighbors say they’ll miss me, it’s not because I fooled them, it’s because they like me. When my friends come by to help me wash blinds and scrub walls, it’s not because they think I’m someone I’m not- most of them have known me for twenty or thirty years! They KNOW me. And they love me, even so.

I am moving all the way across the country, leaving behind a lot of things- my safe haven, my comfortable routine, friends that are family to me, the town where I grew up in more ways than one. But the best thing I am leaving behind is the idea that I am not a good person. I will never be perfect, but I am good. I am good enough. I am strong and smart and loving. I am driven and funny and unique. The good things that happen in my life are not a mistake, I am not pulling off some kind of cosmic, karmic heist. It’s all a result of my choices and effort and maybe a little luck. And I am pretty proud of myself today.

Anyway, I’m off on this adventure. I’ll catch up with you when I get where I’m going. Wish me luck!

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, Blogging, faith, Goals, inner peace, Life, People, recovery, twelve step

One Step Closer

one step closer

Yesterday, I went on a gorgeous hike at Point Lobos State Park with a friend of mine from work- I do this fairly often now, go hiking, and I enjoy it so much. I love the exercise, for one thing, the way my legs burn, the rush of endorphins, I love gaining all those steps in my Fitbit challenges (I’m not gonna lie, I have a competitive streak). But I also just enjoy being outside, being in nature, being somewhere beautiful.

After that, we grabbed a quick coffee at Starbucks, and booked a room for our trip coming up in October. We are going to Salem, Massachusetts, just because it sounds like fun, and I couldn’t be more excited! Booking the room makes it feel like it’s really happening! Anyway, I dropped her off at her house, and made a beeline over to my sponsors house, where I finally worked my 10th step and got started on the 11th. When I realized how close I am to actually completing the 12 steps of Narcotics Anonymous, I got a little choked up. I am just so proud of myself for actually putting in this work! And let me tell you, it has really been WORK. When you are doing these steps right, it means something, it changes you. So, that was a pretty cool moment for me.

I went home, feeling a little bit lighter, and a lot more connected to my program, the way I always feel after working a step. I spent a little time picking up my house, and had just settled in to doing nothing when a girl I had offered to take to a meeting reached out to me. I hadn’t heard from her, so I assumed she had decided not to go, and I was fine with that, but…she sent me a text and wanted to go. The meeting I had offered to take her to was in a neighboring town, about twenty five minutes away. I briefly thought about saying no, that I wanted to stay home, that she should have let me know sooner. But of course, I didn’t. I got up, got dressed, and offered to pick her up early and grab a coffee. Which is what we did. The meeting was great, the speaker was great, the whole entire day had been great.

So what, you may be wondering, is the point? The point is, I woke up this morning feeling so blessed, so lucky, so grateful for where I am. Sometimes I get a little disconnected from the program part of my recovery- the part where we attend meetings regularly, work with our sponsor, be of service, help another addict. Writing a blog about the things I have been through and the things I have learned is great, but there is a lot more to it than that- writing this blog is not a substitute for the actions I need to take to keep myself feeling the way I want to feel. The way I feel right now, which is connected, at peace, capable of giving something back. If I don’t do those things, pretty soon I’m not going to have much to write about, because I won’t be adding anything new to my experience.

The other thing I want to point out is this- Holy Shit! I’m a person who goes on hikes now, and loves nature! I’m a person who plans trips, and keeps appointments, and does the right thing, for the right reasons, on a regular basis. I don’t live in fear anymore, and I’m not filled with shame over who I am and what I am doing. It hit me the other day that my seven year old daughter takes for absolute granted that she can depend on me. That she knows, every day, when the bell rings at school, that I will be there, waiting to take her home. She knows that I will be there if she wakes up in the middle of the night and needs me. She knows that I will feed her, provide for her, and do all the things I have always done, because I always have. There is no insecurity, because I have never given her a reason to be insecure. My older daughter told me once that she was always afraid that I wouldn’t show up. I was always the last one there, the after school program was always waiting on me so that they could go home. The feeling I get when I think about this never gets easier. It breaks my heart.

But today, I don’t have to live that way anymore. I am not only one step closer to the end of my stepwork, but I am one step closer to being the person I always hoped I would be someday. There have been times, even in recovery, when I was filled with despair, believing I would never, ever get better. That I was so fucked up, such a terrible person, that I would never be able to change. I kept moving forward because I didn’t know what else to do- I didn’t want to use, but a lot of times I was just going through the motions, sure it was pointless, that I was going to be this miserable, angry person forever. Well, once again, I was wrong. I know for sure there will be hard times ahead, but I am not afraid. I know wherever I am, if I keep moving forward, things will always change for the better.