Tag Archives: narcotics anonymous

The Best Christmas Yet.

the best christmas yet

 

In the 42 years I have been on this planet, I have had all kinds of Christmases. I have had magical ones- lots of those, thanks to my mom, who REALLY pulled out all the stops every year to make it special for us kids. I have had terrible ones- I remember a year, when Aisley must have been about seven, when I had stayed up partying all night, and all of her presents were from the dollar store. Also, a guy I didn’t know was passed out on my living room floor, left there by his friend the night before when we couldn’t wake him up. We just stepped over him. That’s the kind of life I have lived.  I have had angry Christmases, and lonely ones, Christmas days filled with too much driving, too much fighting, and too much wishing I was somewhere else.

But I have never, ever, had a Christmas day when I was so overcome with gratitude as I listened to the sound of my family- all the people I love most in the world- chattering away and laughing in the living room behind me, that I broke down in tears. Not just a pretty little drop or two as I brushed garlic butter onto bread, but full on, “Oh shit, Courtney, this is not the time for a breakdown” kinda tears. Sobs, you might even say. I don’t know how to describe it to you, the way I was feeling, except for that worn out word, grateful. So, so, so full of gratitude that it hurt a little bit.

Because that, that feeling that I had, that sent tears pouring out of my eyes, and my mother rushing to hug me- that, my friend, is what recovery is. All the meetings that I make and the stepwork that I do, all the self reflection and correction and digging deep and starting over, forgiving myself, forgiving others, all the TRYING. All of the never taking anything, no matter what- THAT is what I have been searching for, and striving for, and wanting in my life and heart all along. That feeling of peace. That feeling of love, and belonging, and contentment and family. I have been really working a 12 step program for two and half years straight, but I have been trying to be where I was yesterday my entire adult life. My whole life.

If you are reading this, and you are new in recovery, I want to encourage you to stay the course. Don’t give up. There were times in the beginning when I was more miserable than I had been when I was using. I had zero coping skills, nothing left to take the edge off, and my brain was fucked up, even if I couldn’t come to terms with that at the time. My temper was as short fused as ever, and goddammit, I got clean so that I could stop being so hateful, but it didn’t seem to be working. If this sounds familiar, just wait. Just find whatever small improvements you do see, and hold onto them. Know that it will change.

When I had about a year clean, I got really mad at my mom, for a good long while. She didn’t do anything wrong, and I didn’t understand it- I hated it, actually. I was afraid that I was going to stay mad forever, and it scared me. But I had faith that I was working through old shit, feeling feelings that I should have felt a long time ago, and I held on. I kept pushing forward, inch by inch. One day, I looked for the anger that I had almost gotten used to lugging around with me, and I found that it had faded. Day after day, it lessened, leaving me surprised by what took its place- love, warmth, affection, acceptance. Yesterday, I can tell you, I did not have one single weird feeling where my mom is concerned. I never felt judged or criticized, picked on or even remotely insulted. The reason I am telling you this is because relationships change in recovery. You will change, and they will change.

Every single person in my house yesterday has been hurt by me in my addiction. Every. Single. One. I just now realized that. Wow. How blessed am I, that I get to make a living amends to these people? That they have forgiven me? That they still love me, that they are so proud of me? I literally would not have ANY of it if I wasn’t clean. I wouldn’t have it, and I wouldn’t even know that I wanted it. I would still be trying to fill that hole in my spirit with all the wrong things, wondering why everything hurt so much.

Listen, I want everyone to be able to feel the way I felt yesterday. If you have reached the end of your rope, and you need some help figuring out what to do next, shoot me an email. I will try to help you figure out a solution. Clduncan1@outlook.com, or just message me here.  And again, if you are new in recovery, I promise you- the pain will be worth the gain. It will be worth every second.

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Reinvention

reinvention

 

I have had the best week ! I got all of my laundry done- not just washed and dried, but folded and put away, too- do you know what a big deal that is? Maybe you don’t, because you are one of those freaks who does this regularly (not that I am judging you, I’m trying hard not to) so allow me to tell you- it’s monumental. I actually asked several people for socks for Christmas, believing that mine had all mysteriously disappeared…well, SURPRISE! I was wrong. My sock drawer is now so full of matched (you heard me, MATCHED and FOLDED NEATLY) socks that I can barely close it. I’m going to have to throw some of the old ones out after Christmas if my wishes all come true.

Okay, enough about laundry, though. I also had a super productive week at work, I have almost every bit of my Christmas business tied up, I managed to pray and meditate every day this week, and I have eaten like a reasonable person, rather than say…Jabba the Hut. I also made time to exercise every single day. Even hit a few meetings so far. What, what?! ‘Who is this person?’ you may find yourself wondering. I know I may have wondered myself a little bit.

I didn’t just come here to write about what a great week I have had. I wanted to share a couple of things with you about why I am here now, and I wish I could say “Oh, you know, I sat down one evening with a pen and paper, and took an honest inventory of some things that needed fine tuning in my life. I made a list of pros and cons…” NO. That would not be what happened, nor what has EVER happened for me. The way my life works, I change things when I am truly miserable, and usually not before. Being the addict that I am, and will always be, I can be pretty devoted to my discomfort- until it gets too bad, and then I say “Okay, enough is enough.” I did it with drugs, I did it with cigarettes (not quite as cleanly, but still), I have done it with relationships, and I do it again and again with things in my life that are not working. The pain of staying the same becomes greater than my fear of change, and I jump.

And again, being the addict that I am, it is generally all or nothing. If I am doing well in one area, I tend to excel in all the other areas as well. If I am doing poorly in one way, the other ways are sure to follow. This can be a double edged sword. I am still a work in progress, trying to figure out how to have big meal, miss a day of exercise, and not let my entire life go to shit over it. I am getting better. All the time, I see proof that I am.

Last weekend, I had had enough. I was eating SO badly- ever since Thanksgiving, really, and I had gained a few pounds, had been “too busy” to get to the gym or make any meetings, was crawling into bed earlier and earlier every night. None of these bode well for me. So, last Saturday, I made a decision- I was going to do better. I was going to make a real effort to correct my behavior this week. And you know what? I did.

That is the most crucial step- putting your intentions into action. Thinking about change, making up your mind to change…none of that means anything without action. So I really put my back into it this week, and I have had one of the most productive, amazing, self-confidence building weeks I’ve had in a long, long time. Will it last? I guess that kind of depends on me. It is always up to us, isn’t it? When you are really on your way, outside issues (and there will always be things that crop up, trying to fuck with your serenity and peace) won’t knock you completely off course. It’s really up to you. Try not to let this frighten you. Instead, when you get rolling, let the momentum of your happiness, your feeling of pride over what you are accomplishing, pull you forward. Let your excitement snowball. It’s a good way to be.

Here’s the thing, and I am speaking to my fellow addicts in recovery here- or even those who may not have found their way there yet; When you get clean, you have the opportunity to reinvent yourself. You can be WHOEVER, WHATEVER, and live HOWEVER you choose to. There are no limits aside from those you place upon yourself. If you are capable of slipping out of the noose of active addiction, you are MORE than capable of having a life far more fantastic than anything your brain can even come up with right now. That’s okay- go as far as you can, the re-evaluate. Two and a half years ago, when I first started this leg of my journey, all I wanted was to stop hating myself, and stop hurting the people I loved.  I just wanted to stop flipping out all the time, and learn how to be “normal”. I know, of course, that normal doesn’t exist, but I’ve gotten so much more, so much farther than I ever dreamed. And I’m still just starting out.

So here’s the assignment: Grasp the idea that you are free to be whomever you wish, and think about who that might be. Start doing the things that will get you there. If it doesn’t feel good, do something else. Never be afraid to change, especially if it is hurting you to stay who you are. I wish you all the happiest of holidays!

 

 

First Times

Nimbus

I think you get to a point in life, a certain age, when you think most of your “firsts” are behind you. At 42, with the life I have lived so far, I certainly felt like that was true. And then something happens, out of the blue, that knocks you right the fuck off your feet, and you realize how wrong you were. How wrong I was, I mean. Yeah.

I’ve started this before, and had to abandon it, because it turned into something I didn’t want it to be. You see, I lost someone I cared about the other day, and it was sudden, and awful, and I was not…because you cannot ever be…ready. I was GUTTED. I couldn’t get my shit together. I have never in my life fallen on the floor because I literally could not stand up beneath the weight of what I had just learned, but I did that, I did it when I heard about this death on Monday morning. I fell right on the floor. The tears did not waste a moment in coming, and the sounds that I made for the next two days were feral and weird and would have been embarrassing if I gave a fuck. Which, by the way, I did not.

I missed two days of work, but I have been checked out all week. I can’t seem to get my thoughts to move too far past this event. “Joe is dead.” my head keeps reminding me, as if I could forget. “Psst- Joe died.”

And here’s the thing: I don’t really cry. It’s been a concern of mine for a while, like- is something wrong with me? Is something in there broken, that I never cry? This has been a real worry I’ve had, one that I have discussed with friends and even with my therapist. I’ve thought about getting acupuncture, or that kind of massage that unblocks your fucked up energy, whatever it’s called. I honestly thought I had problems (Oh wait, I do. But that’s not what I am talking about, thanks). What I had was just a bunch of little shit not important enough to cry over. Because I have cried this week. A lot.

I don’t really want to write about Joe. I just don’t. I will say this much- anyone who knows me well, knows that I loved him. I’ve let a lot of friendships fall to the wayside as my life has changed, but I held onto his. I am having a tough time imagining my life without his visits for coffee, or playing cards with my six year old and I. I liked talking to him so much. He made me feel like I should be proud of my life, as if he were proud of the life I have made for myself. I can’t even put it into words without making it sound so paltry, and it wasn’t, so I’m going to stop. The point is, I will miss him.

Back to first times- so, this is the first time that I have ever tried to go through something like this without putting a drug or a drink in my body to change the way I felt. I have to say, it really sucks. I mean, Jesus, the FEELINGS I have had to FEEL this week. Oh, Lord. It’s like the difference between turning on your kitchen sink, and smashing open a fire hydrant. I realize that if I want to hold onto my clean date, intoxication is not an option for me, but man, a stiff drink would have been really welcome at a few points these past few days.

There is a reading in Just For Today that talks about loss in recovery. I always skip over that one, because it seems so morbid and jinxy to me. I hate that reading. It just came up not too many days ago, and I skipped over it again- such a downer. I think I should probably go read it, now that I am feeling less volatile. What I really feel like is this: I’m glad I got to grieve this death clean. My friend deserved all those tears, and that grief, for the loss of his life. That probably sounds so weird, but I know what I mean. I’m not trying to put down the way anyone else copes with grief, not even. I’m just saying, for me, I’m happy to get to be fully present for it. If it had to be this way, I want to show up all the way.

It’s Friday. I have to go into the office today, and be around people for the first time all week, and I think it will be okay. I think everything is going to be okay. I am just going to keep doing this because that is what we all have to do, right? Life really does go on. The world stands still for a beat…and then it just goes on. Rest in Peace, Joe. I love you.