Posted in adventure, faith, happiness, inner peace, Life, magic, meditation, Musings, People, random, spirituality

The Walk

I just glanced at my phone and realized that it is already the last day of the month. It struck me that I am ending this month as a completely different person than the one I was when it started. Well, pretty different, anyway.

I never imagined that having a past life regression would begin a chain of events that would change everything for me. I honestly just thought it would be a really cool experience. Now here I am, getting lost in books about hypnosis and where our souls go between lives, learning about how to do hypnosis myself, thinking very seriously about going back to school in the fall for massage therapy…it seems like a legit way to start out a journey into healing others, don’t you agree? I would not stop there, of course, but something about it has always appealed to me. My browser history is filled with questions for google like “What does a spiritual awakening feel like?” “What is the ego?” or “What happens when you become aware of your ego?”. To be fair, there are also things like “45 easy, healthy, sheet pan dinners” and “Weather in Salem in June”, so it’s not ALL related to spiritual stuff. It’s all about balance.

But it’s the content of my life that is most different. The thoughts I think, the new awareness I have of those thoughts. Thankfully, the initial rush of it all has slowed down to a bearable rate, for the most part- for a while there, I felt like I was barely hanging on as my thoughts exploded in my brain. Did I tell you that when I went to see my therapist, she started asking me suspicious questions like “How is your sleep?” and “Are you eating?” and finally, “Would you say you are having racing thoughts?”. I started laughing and said “Cori! I’m not manic, for Pete’s sake!” She admitted later, on our walk back out of the office, that she knew I would know what she was getting at since I work in the medical field, but she had to ask. I admitted that I would have to categorize my thoughts as racing, but I didn’t feel they were racing in a manic way. And I was still eating and sleeping just fine, thank you.

Either way, the thinking has slowed down. My morning prayer and meditation has become the most beautiful communion with…whatever is out there. I am a big sucker for ritual, and I light my candles each morning, light my incense, and sit down on my big red cushion to settle in. For several days in a row now, I have slipped into deep meditation in the middle of my prayers, and this is very new to me. I have always done guided meditations, and I still do, but I no longer believe it is necessary for me- just nice. Especially if there is a particular thing I want help with, guided meditations are wonderful. But finding I can access that meditative state without guidance, and without even trying- wow! It’s incredible, and easy and natural. I also have this experience of energy flowing through me during meditation that is so intense, it’s almost uncomfortable. I have to try very hard not to shy away from it, but to open to it instead. It’s not something I can explain, but it is intense. I just remind myself that none of this is bad, or scary, or dangerous, and try to relax into it. It is just unfamiliar to me- these are they types of things I would normally scoff at when reading books about other people’s spiritual experiences, and now it’s kind of happening to me, in real life.

But it follows me off of the cushion and into the rest of my day as well. Yesterday, I took a break from work and decided to take Lucy on a quick walk, as we often do. I grabbed her leash and my sunglasses and headed out the door, and from the minute I left the house, it seemed like all my senses were wide open and time almost slowed down- it was the craziest thing. The same walk I’ve taken hundreds of times was completely different. I was aware of the feeling of warmth on my legs from the sun. I could smell every flower and green thing that grew along the way. The colors of every plant, every flower, every leaf, seemed a hundred times more vivid than normal. I could see the bay off in the distance, the white buildings along the curving edge of the ocean, the white sail of a sailboat bobbing along. In the other direction, I could see the rolling hills and the lingering clouds that nestled into the dips of the higher mountains. This vista I had seen several times a day for four years appeared as if brand new to me! I stopped to watch three small birds chase each other from a nearby house to just over my head and then back again. They swooped joyfully and glided and dipped, and I just stood there, smiling like an idiot, watching them. One of them got very, very close to me many times, as if it knew how much I enjoyed watching them and was just showing off. As I rounded the corner to head back down the hill towards my house, I could smell the ocean in the cool air as it blew across my face, and still feel the warmth of the sun on the backs of my legs, I could see all the beauty I described above stretching out all around me, and I just drank it all in. I enjoyed every step I took on the way home, not rushing, just taking it in. I even stopped to smell a big pink rose that hung over the fence of someones yard. Only 15 minutes, but 15 minutes of pure bliss. How often do we get that? I don’t know about you, but for me, not often.

I arrived home with the crazy idea that if I keep heading down this path I find myself on, those moments will grow. If I keep looking for these moments, I will continue to find them. And this idea is pure relief to me. The idea that I can stop participating in the chaos and bullshit around me and connect with something better, something real and beautiful and worthwhile…I mean, it makes me want to cry.

There is so much more I want to share, but here we are, a thousand words in. I’ll save what’s next for another day. Have a beautiful day, and remember, wherever you are, whatever you find yourself caught up in- if it doesn’t feel good to you, there’s another way. It’s probably right in front of you, and you can’t see it. Keep looking.

Posted in happiness, inner peace, Learning, Life, love, meditation, Musings, People, spirit, spirituality

Spiritual Meltdown

This is now my third attempt at this post, and if I make it through this one without spinning off into incomprehensibility, it will feel like a win. Here’s the deal- I am not well versed in the language of spiritual experiences. I can create a vulgarity-laced diatribe so naturally that it is impressive…I mean, almost poetic sometimes. I have made combinations of dirty words so offensive that even I have been shocked every now and again. I am literal, and matter-of-fact, and, though I love the idea of magical, mystical, whimsical things, I am practical enough to take things with a grain of salt.

Yet here I am, nine days since my regression, and I’m pretty sure I’m in the midst of a spiritual…I don’t know what to call it, honestly. At first it felt like a shift, then I thought maybe an awakening? But now I kind of want to call it a meltdown. I think I’m having a spiritual meltdown, you guys. Oh, and by the way, if you don’t know what in the world I am talking about when I mention my regression, you can read about it here and then the follow-up here.

My head is so crazy with thoughts that I can’t even keep up a little bit. I am no longer even trying to follow along anymore. It’s like ( and forgive me if I’ve already used this analogy previously, I can’t remember) a door was opened up and now all the contents behind that door are rushing out into my conscious mind, clamoring for attention. I feel like I should be carrying around a notebook so I can scribble down the bits and pieces, but I also feel like I would be writing all day long. That’s how nutty it is.

I think, once my head settles down, I might be able to sort through them a bit and make some posts about the important ones, but right now things are so fragmented and scattered that it’s just not possible. If I didn’t know better, I would think I was going crazy, to be honest. If this happened to me without context, I would be very worried. But I can see that my regression experience was some sort of catalyst, and now I am just at the start of something I haven’t dealt with before, so I’m not really afraid. I’m just…hopeful that things settle down soon. I can’t really make use of something that makes no sense.

I’m about 95% sure that I am rambling right now, and goddammit, I am trying hard not to. I am going to try to explain. I thought it would be cool to see a past life, to have that experience, and it WAS. It was so cool! Did I wonder if it was real? Yep, I sure did. I also thought I would do that thing, and then go on with life, no big deal. Instead, two days later, I started seeing parallels between my current life and the life I visited, and realized I needed to pay attention. On the tails of that, I was hit with the realization that my priorities (and those of the world in general) are wrong, my perception of myself was incorrect, and the way that I think is problematic. Simultaneously, I got that judgement (of myself and others- like, my number one favorite thing.) has got to stop, that forgiveness (of myself and others, which I SUCK at) is imperative, and that love is the most important thing, period. Which is great, love is GREAT, but I have these super massive walls in place because I’m terrified of vulnerability, and love and vulnerability are like BFF’s, you know.

So…I mean, WTF?! Not to mention the fact that I have cried, a LOT, every single day since then. I’m no robot, but I have gone years before without crying even once. It’s 6:28 in the morning, and I already ugly-sobbed once today! WHAT is HAPPENING to me? For once in my life, not only are the right words escaping me, but I do not know where to turn for guidance, because I don’t even know what this is. I’ve googled “Spiritual Awakening”, “Spiritual Shift”, “What happens after a past life regression”, you name it, I’ve googled it. There are certain things that fit, but lots that don’t. If you can think of anything, I am listening. Point me in a direction, I’ll do the work.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that work, which is a struggle for me even in “normal” times (whatever normal is in relation to me), has become barely tolerable in the midst of all this spiritual chaos. I have been a little nervous that I would just quit my job due to the pointlessness of it all, though rationally I do understand that having a home and being able to eat are rather important. It just seems so…stupid. Working while contemplating the eternal nature of our souls and our purpose here on earth. It certainly isn’t to memorize diagnosis codes or clear edits for patient billing. Blech.

This morning, when I prayed, I thanked God for this new perspective, but asked if he could kindly slow the whole thing down a little bit for me. Maybe show me one area to think about at a time, give me a place to start rather than a million little hints. What came up in meditation was self-forgiveness, which, as I mentioned above, is rather difficult for me. Forgiveness of all kinds. So, that is what I am going to be try to focus on over the next few days, and see if I can make some progress.

I’ll certainly be back soon. I have so much to say, and just hope I can find the words without sounding like I’ve gone off the deep end. I assure you, I have not. As a matter of fact, as strange as it all may seem, I can’t help but wonder if this is perhaps the most clear sighted I have ever been? I never, ever, not in a million trillion years, would have thought that one regression would shake me up in this way. I have no idea if this has ever happened to anyone else, because I can’t find any information on it. But I’m not sorry. I’m just surprised. I really hope some of this made sense to someone. If not, well…that’s okay, too. I needed to get it out.

Talk to you soon!

Posted in Addiction, Depression, faith, happiness, inner peace, Life, Musings, People, random, Uncategorized

Kindness

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Once upon a time, I was a very, very messed up young lady. Not messed up in the everyday, average, run-of-the-mill way I am now. I’m not talking about depression or anxiety this time, which I seem to suffer from in a very “normal” way, judging by the lives and comments from my friends. I don’t know many people who make it to this age in life without some baggage, vague mental illness, and/or flat out jadedness. I’m not saying this is a good or even acceptable thing, I’m just saying…it’s kind of part of the deal.

What I’m talking about here is my “former life”. The life I began at 19, the part where I wound up on drugs for such a long time. When I tell you that I was bad, I need you to believe me. There were no days off, not if I could help it. I lived, breathed and existed for my drugs. It was my life. I wish that it weren’t true, but facts are facts.

What I don’t often talk about is the kindness that was shown to me through those years. The people who saw something more in me, something good, and gave me chances, reached out a hand, tried to help. There are more kind and giving people in this world than you would ever imagine, if you have never needed help the way I used to.

I was homeless, periodically, many times throughout those years. And yet I never once had to sleep in my car- not ever. My friends would take me in for various lengths of time, never asking for for anything in return. I was always fed when I was hungry, I always managed to have a pack of cigarettes, I never remember feeling afraid or having nowhere to go. I was asked to house-sit, invited to stay over. My clothes got washed, I showered. I honestly don’t know how I got so lucky, but I always felt that I was. Even in the worst of times, I recognized that my life could be so much worse.

Did I disappoint people? Oh, yes. Regularly. The remorse I feel for the people I let down is almost a living thing, sometimes. It’s better now that I’ve made something of my life. I don’t feel it so acutely, with the passage of time. When I think about those years of my life, it honestly feels like I am viewing the memories of another person…someone I could never possibly have been, except that I was. I took advantage, overstayed my welcome, pilfered change from pockets, ate food that wasn’t meant for me. I was given jobs that I casually didn’t show up for, and borrowed money I could never pay back. In short, I was kind of a nightmare. Looked like a sweet kid, behaved like a monster.

And still…people helped me. My friend Debbie, who I’ve lost track of over the years, replaced my headlights when she was scraping by on a waitresses salary. The number of nights I spent in her apartment, blasting Aretha Franklin and driving her nuts, I couldn’t count. A lady named Suzi that I worked with asked me to “house-sit” for her every time she left town, knowing what a risk I was. People rolled the dice on me all the time, and I was not a safe bet. But I’ve never forgotten. I have never forgotten the kindnesses I’ve been shown.

One time, I was at the welfare office in Nevada, in a desperate situation. I needed money, I needed food- at this time I had a small daughter, and I had waited too long to look for help. There was no way I was making rent. I had called the Catholic charities, I had tried to figure it out,  but things were dire. It was winter time, I remember that, and things were not looking good in that welfare office. It was harder to get help in Nevada than it had been in California, and I knew things weren’t going to work in my favor for once.

There was a woman working there…she was probably the age I am now, mid forties, a heavy-set black woman. She had this beautiful necklace on- a simple chain with this big, shiny, single rhinestone hanging from it. In the midst of all the bullshit I was spewing, wired out of my mind, I said “I really love your necklace.” Because I did. I will never, ever forget what happened next. She said “You know, I never wear this thing. I felt called to wear it this morning, and now I know why.” And she took it off her neck and handed it to me. She GAVE it to me.

You know, that meant something to me. It might have just been a little piece of costume jewelry, but that wasn’t the point. The point was, she did something incredibly kind in that moment. She made me feel worthy and special and less like that desperate, messed up young woman I was. I don’t know how to explain it. But it gave me a boost that I needed so much right then. I will never forget it. I still have that necklace, and I wish I could find that lady and tell her I turned out okay after all. She might not remember me, but I will always remember her.

Another time, and this story is very strange, I was at the beach- a beach I frequent, even to this day. I was at the end of my last run, really strung out, really miserable, feeling like I had reached the end of my rope. I didn’t know what to do with myself anymore…I had realized that no one was going to come along to save me, that I was going to have to rely on myself, and that thought terrified me. I just remember feeling incredibly down that day. The beach was nearly deserted, and out of nowhere, this woman approached me. She had on a skirt, I remember, a longish skirt, and she seemed out of place. She had a bag of sea glass with her, and she showed me her finds. I would guess she was in her fifties or sixties, and she seemed a little odd, though friendly enough. All of the sudden she told me she felt called to pray over me and asked if it was okay. Normally, this would have been SO not okay with me. But that day…I really needed it. It was the strangest thing. She held my hands, and she prayed for me, right there in broad daylight on that deserted beach. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it. I never saw her again.

I don’t know where I am going with this, except…I’m just really grateful for the kindness I’ve been on the receiving end of over the years. I have hurt people and let them down, ripped them off and fucked them over. Yet I never saw the end of that kindness. It always kept coming, and always when I needed it most. I forget that sometimes- how kind people are when it matters most. Having been self-sufficient for so long now, relying on the news and social media to tell me how the world is, I let myself forget. But that’s not the truth, the things you see online, or on your phone. The truth is, people are mostly good, they want to help. I bet you know this about yourself. I bet you see it in others.

I would not be here without the kindness of strangers, the giving hearts of my friends. I know that much is true. Never stop reaching out, even when you think it’s a lost cause. You just never know the impact you might have on someone.

Posted in Addiction, advice, Life, living, love, mindfulness, parenting, random, recovery

Directions for a Better Day

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photo credit: thethingswesay.com

Wake up before anyone else. This will give you the time you need to center yourself, to set the tone for the kind of day you want to have. Do whatever it is you need to do to get the ball rolling- rub your eyes, start your coffee, let your dogs outside to pee.

Feed yourself, spiritually. Read your Daily Word, your Just for Today, your 365 days of whatever…say your prayers. Ask God to hold your hand, today, if that is what you need. Ask him to keep a special eye on your kids, and remember the people you promised to pray for. Always pray for the ones you said you would. Really bad manners not to do that. When you pray, why not do it right? I get on my knees, I get SERIOUS. I want God to know I am not messing around, that I mean it. “I need your help today, God. I am impatient, and snappy, and capable of terrible meanness- can you help me with this? Let me be kind, and sweet, and soft, and loving. I am all of these things, too, but I need your help to keep that stuff in the front. Thank you. Thank you for ALL of this. I know I am so blessed, God, but there is always work to do. Amen” Give yourself ten or fifteen minutes more to sit in silence, to just be. Get calm. Get centered.

Wake your children up sweetly. Let the first thing they see be your smiling face, the first thing they feel, your love. Be ready to help them- If they are little, it is your job, also, to know where their shoes are, to know where their jacket is. Get them ready with as much patience and love as you can. You are setting the tone for their day, too.

Give yourself enough time to get to school, and to get to work, without getting angry. And if you don’t give yourself that time, remember- it is not the rest of the worlds fault that you are running late. They don’t even KNOW you are running late. Don’t let your anger get the best of you. Keep your best self at the wheel of your life. Be AWARE of yourself, and be responsible for your actions. Don’t honk your horn, take a deep breath. Don’t tailgate, just slow down. When you want to flip someone off, you shrug and smile instead. We all make mistakes. Treat others the way you want them to treat you. The Golden rule applies at all times.

When you get to work, be grateful for this job. It puts food on your table, and it keeps you out of trouble for the next eight hours. Do the best you can while you are there. Try to remember that it makes you feel good about you to do your best, even if no one else knows or cares. Be a decent human being. It pays off in the end.

Be aware of your thoughts. Are they useful, productive, kind thoughts? The more you are aware of what is going on in your head, the better off you are going to be. Are you judging others? Stop it. You don’t know anything about their life or their situation. Your only job is to be kind, whether it be a smile, or simply sending good vibes. Your judgement serves no one, unless you are being paid to do just that. Try to love the humanness in every person you come across. We all need that so badly. Are you thinking unkind things about yourself? Stop it. You must talk to yourself the way your best friend, your grandmother, the person who loves you most in the world, talks to you. Talk to yourself with the devotion and love and belief you have in your own children. Be your own champion. Be gentler with yourself. Forgive yourself. You are doing the best you can. And, as my sponsor says to me “You are so much better than you can see, but I see it.” Be tender with your beautiful self. You are working so hard.

Be aware of what you put in your mouth. You are going to feel so much better if you eat good stuff. It’s okay to pig out sometimes, but lets make today a better day…eat food that will nourish you. Drink water. Be aware of what your body is telling you. If you are on your feet all day, sit down for a little bit. If you are on your butt all day, take a walk. Get some air. Get some sunlight on your face. Stretch.

When you are done with work for the day, before you see your kids again, ready yourself. If you need to do something for yourself before you can do anything for them, do it. Go to a meeting, if you can. If you can’t do that, or you don’t do that, take a quick walk. Meditate for five minutes in the car outside of the daycare. Go get a pedicure. Park by the beach, or something scenic, and sort your thoughts. When you pick up your kids, they are going to be so excited to see you. You want to be excited to see them, too. Be present. Listen. Interact with them.

When you are home, set aside time for your family and time for your chores. Ask for help. Make time for other things that enrich your life- friends, hobbies, fun. But whatever you are doing, do that. Put your phone away. Look people in the eye. Listen. Be interested. Be interesting. Model the kind of life for your children that you want for them- don’t expect them to know any other way, because they won’t . If you want them to be kind, be kind to them. If you want them to have manners, you must have manners, too. If you want them to be loving, be loving to them. Develop good habits. Have a routine, but don’t fall apart when things happen…because things ALWAYS happen.

Spend at least five minutes every night lavishing love on your babies, while they will let you. Be grateful for them, and tell them how grateful for them that you are. Hold them in your arms, and kiss their faces, nuzzle their little necks. And every night, before you go to sleep, pray again. Thank God for this beautiful day, and for all of his help. Forgive yourself for the parts that didn’t go so well. Let yourself be okay with it. Go to sleep.

Repeat in the morning.

(This was really for me, but maybe you can get some use out of it, too.)

Posted in Addiction, faith, family, Life, motherhood, parenting, People, random, recovery, twelve step

Are You Going To Have Faith, Or Not?

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For the past month or so, my life has really been sweet. My recovery is good and strong, my life full of all the things I want and need- meetings, and new friendships, movies and walks and books and laughter. My spiritual life felt robust and I felt connected to my God in a way that I hadn’t in such a long time. Meditation was really getting easy and enjoyable for me, and I felt my days slipping by with the kind of grace and ease that I had longed for forever.

Then, last Tuesday, two days before pay day, I found myself completely on empty, driving to my therapists office, with not a single dollar in my pocket. I was flat-ass broke, and I had to figure out how to navigate life for the next two days with no gas and no money. Now, let me remind you all- I am a drug addict! We are some of the most resourceful, crafty people in the world, when it comes to getting what we want, would you agree? And yet, in that moment, on my way to my therapist, and then my favorite NA meeting in the world, I had more than just a moment of panic, more than just worry. I was in full on assassin mode.

What I mean by this is, I was, internally, berating myself for my stupidity. It wasn’t just that I had run out of money two days before payday…it was “How could you be so STUPID? What kind of forty year old person doesn’t have a savings account? Why are you so messed up that you don’t even have a credit card? How can you be trusted to raise children when you can’t even afford to drive?” Yeah, it was bad. And just like that, all that good stuff I had been feeling, all that positivity, that connection I had been feeling…it faded out, like a dark cloud over my world. I was really down.

Now, what you need to keep in mind is- all of this happened in the space of one fifteen minute drive. I can do a lot of damage in a short time, trust me. But then, what happened was, just as I was turning the corner to my destination, this other voice popped up in my head, and it said “Courtney! Are you going to have faith or not? Because you either do or you don’t.” And, because this voice ALSO belonged to me, I knew what I meant- that I had lived through much worse times than this, and that, no matter how many times I had been down, no matter how far down I had been- I had always, every time, without fail, been okay again. Was I really going to let a matter of a few dollars reduce me, and my opinion of myself, to this?

And as I turned that corner and pulled into the parking lot, the answer was no, I was not. All of my hard work wasn’t for nothing, and my connection to the Universe was still so good, and I was still really proud of myself, and my life was still good…it was just that I needed a few bucks until payday. And I was going to have faith that everything would work out, just like it always does. And it did.

Since that day last week, I have come back to that thought- “Are you going to have faith, or not?” Again and again and again. Today, in just a few minutes, I am going to wake up my beautiful four year old for her first day of school ever. And I am terrified. Excited and thrilled, of course, but mostly, I am terrified. It is my job, as her mother, not to show this fear to her, so I will pull my shit together, pray, and I will choose faith this morning. Faith that God pays special attention to precious children and their crazy mothers, and faith that many other parents are feeling just like me this morning, and they are getting through it, somehow.

So the question for you today, my friends, is this- are you going to have faith, or not? Because you either do, or you don’t. I hope you do. We all need it. Have a wonderful day, and send some good thoughts over to this crazy mom, please.  🙂

Posted in Addiction, Depression, Goals, Life, love, meditation, Mental Health, Musings, random, recovery, spirit

Spiritual Re-set!

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I don’t know about you, but I have to make a conscious effort to incorporate things into my life which actually sustain feelings of peace and well-being. I naturally gravitate towards those little “quick-fixes”, the empty calories for the soul…like Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I am not saying these don’t serve a purpose, or that they are bad…I’m just saying, for people like me, who love acknowledgement, who like that feeling of approval…this can be very tempting, even dangerously so. Now, I am not saying dangerous like it would KILL me or anything. I am just saying- there are other, much more important things I could be doing with my free time.

Not everyone is like me, I know this. I realize I walk a much finer line than some, what with my issues with addiction that cause a multitude of other problems (most of which concern how I am mentally, and how I behave in the world). Maybe everyone doesn’t need to make sure they are centered and spiritually sound before leaving the house every day. Maybe some people don’t have to work very hard to feel satisfied with themselves. But I do. So, knowing this, you would think it would be easier for me to tend to those needs in a fairly dedicated fashion, right? Wrong.

I still struggle with it. I get up in the morning, and the very first thing I do is grab my phone and see what is up on Facebook, Instagram, check my text messages, maybe my email. I grab my coffee and sit outside, scrolling like a crazy person to see who gives a shit about my latest contribution of videos, pictures, quotes and other bullshit. When I get to the end of it, I don’t feel any better…if anything, I feel sort of deflated and empty. It’s like a roller coaster ride- super exhilarating while it’s happening, but over with quick, leaving you looking for the next line to get in.

I have not made time in four days now for prayer and meditation. I may have prayed, but not in my usual manner. I tried a new meditation yesterday, but I was too lazy to turn the TV off, so, yeah…that is not an effort, not really. I can give you so many excuses, really good ones, too, ones that you would have no problem buying. But the truth is, I made time, lots of it, every day, for social media. Why in the world am I not making time for the things that keep me sane? That let me occupy a happy space in this world?

I think, to battle this over-stimulation that can be so alluring to both addicts and “Normies” both, it is wise to do a fast every once in a while. It’s sort of like resetting your metabolism, right? Creating a routine that only includes the “whole-grain” activities that nourish you. It’s like clean eating for your spirit. I think that is what I need to do, maybe for the rest of this week. A way to do this that makes it really simple is just to remove the apps from your phone. It’s hard at first, but it gets easier fast.

For now, I think it is time I attend to myself in the best possible ways…my prayer, my meditation. I have also been easing up too much on my novel writing (why I have been here much less, by the way) over the past several days. Time for a reset!

Have a wonderful day!

Posted in fun, humor, Learning, Life, love, Musings, People, random

Careful What You Ask For…

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Warning: I am going to mention prayer in this blog, so if that makes you feel: Angry, Anxious, Uncomfortable, Defiant, Disgusted or otherwise poorly, you may want to skip this one.

It’s not big news that I believe in God. Not so much the punishing God of some religions, though. I don’t really believe in sin, or hell, or a big man in the sky with infinite eyes, one for each of us, who waits and watches for us to fuck up so that he can whack us one. Nah, that kind of God doesn’t exist for me. What I do believe is that God will listen if we are talking to Him directly, and that He does have a sense of humor.

I was talking about this with a friend of mine last week- both of us, at different times, have prayed for patience. What the result of that prayer was- the answer, I guess,- was that we each found our lives full to the limit of trying, barely tolerable, situations and people. It sure seemed like God was over zealously giving us ample opportunities to exercise some patience that we must already have…

“I prayed for patience a long time ago.” My friend said. “It was horrible. I haven’t asked for anything specific since then- just “Hey man, your will be done in my life, thanks.”

Now, I don’t pray as much as I think I should. For those of you weirded out by this (I told you what was coming, but you didn’t listen, so don’t get all freaked out now) I wish I could explain to you how comfortable I am with my spiritual practices, however meager they are. I feel a real connection to whatever is out there- if you want to call it God, or The Universe, or whatever- when I pray. It helps my meditation practice. It helps me prioritize what matters to me. Prayer is something I can do for other people when there is nothing else. I really believe that something happens when we pray- for those of you who need some kind of proof, I suggest you look up the studies they have done involving prayer over surgical instruments, prayer for sick people who didn’t even know they were being prayed for. Google that shit. It’s real.

I also believe we must be careful what we pray for. Kind of like those stories about the Genie in the bottle who gives you your wish so literally that it winds up totally sucking? Yeah, that.

Yesterday, I sent up a rather desperate prayer to God, asking for help with this out of control nicotine addiction of mine. I have gone back and forth so many times, I feel like a slightly manic yo-yo. “God,” I asked, “Please help me with this! I just need some willingness. I need you to take this craving away from me. Please, oh please, oh pleasy-please?” I whined. I should have known better than to get all whiny and desperate, I guess.

I would like to mention that, at the moment of this prayer, I was feeling the picture of health and vitality. Yet somehow, by noon yesterday, I swallowed and thought “Oh, no. I think I’m getting sick.” By six o’clock last night, I was pretty sure I had a fever. By eight last night, I was straight up SICK- in my bed, fever, chills, pretty sure I was a goner. Guess how much I wanted to smoke, though?

“Hahaha!” I muttered, between chills, towards the ceiling- you know, just in case HE really is UP somewhere.

“Who are you talking to, mama?” My four year old asked me, concerned for my mental well being, even at her tender age.

“No one, honey. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, mom. I’m sure going to miss you.” WTF? Yeah, she really said that. Unless it was a fever induced hallucination. Anyway, between that creepy statement and my fever, chills, sore throat and sweating…I didn’t get a great nights sleep. I also could give a fuck less about smoking. Was my prayer answered?

I guess I’ll let you decide that for yourself. I think I’m going to find some tylenol and go back to bed.

Posted in Addiction, family, Goals, inner peace, Learning, Life, Musings, random, relationships, Uncategorized

The Start of Something Beautiful

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The week before last, I quietly celebrated five months clean. This isn’t one of the milestones celebrated in 12 step groups, or anything I necessarily was even that excited about- although, hopefully, it IS my last time celebrating this particular anniversary…But I am watching the time tick by, and I am feeling the changes here on a very deep level.
This is not like any other time for me, so far. The very landscape of my life is changing, and for once, it is me at the helm, directing this change, not just things that are happening to me. I am working hard to become something more, and someone different, than I have been.
This has been a very introspective time for me, as well. I have not been writing for my blog at all, or anything else much, either. I have not been doing a lot of social networking, or networking of any type at all. My phone has been relatively silent. My pace has slowed down. The initial need to go out and grab life by the elbow- to DO everything, to be a whirlwind…I suppose I satisfied that need, for now. I am relishing this quieter pace, and it goes hand in hand with the work I am doing on me.
I have stopped yelling as much, and started listening more. I have learned to see the signs that I am growing impatient, and then what to do to calm myself. The world, and most importantly, the people (and animals) in my home and directly involved in my life have responded to this like I can’t believe. I am so much better at being present for my kids, listening when they speak, and participating fully in my interactions with them. An unexpected side effect of this is that I am learning how to play with my little one again when and how SHE wants to- not just on my crazy, inappropriate (usually) whim.
There is a domino effect going on here- I made the initial decision to get clean, but what I was really saying to the Universe was “I am ready to be better”, and when I continued to stick to my guns, that was my commitment to myself. Since that day, things continue to improve, although there are days where I feel like my footing is not as firm, days when I am still afraid. For the most part though, it gets better and better.
I am getting rid of the clutter around me and the clutter within me. I am getting rid of the excess. There are less things I feel I need to give my time to, and I am concentrating on the things I value most- my home, my kids, myself. I pay attention to the way things make me feel, and I let that be the deciding factor in how much time I am willing to invest in it. If it makes me feel pinched, stressed, obsessive, weird or ashamed- it gets taken off the list. If it makes me feel accomplished, proud, happy, peaceful, calm or content- it goes to the top of the list. Of course, there are always going to be things I HAVE to do that might not feel good, but I am just doing them and leaving them alone, not wasting a bunch of time worrying about it.
I am meditating every day. I am praying every day, more than once. I am not even considering being in a romantic relationship that even approaches seriousness right now- I can’t imagine complicating my life that way at this time, and feel it would be a terrible disservice to me, and to anyone I was with. I want to be with my kids, I want to go to meetings, I want to do step work, I want to enjoy what I have right now.
What I have right now is peace, quiet, calm. I feel like this is the beginning of the whole rest of my life, a life that will be something far greater than I expected, and far different. I’m sorry if I am not describing it very well- I think I haven’t yet learned the language of this experience. It feels like the start of something beautiful.

Posted in Addiction, escape, family, Goals, inner peace, kids, Learning, Life, love, People, random, Uncategorized, writing

The Truth

prayer2I wanted to share with you a something I wrote weeks before I got clean, not because I think it is so great, but because it sums up perfectly the sense of desperation I experienced in my “before” life. I am so glad that I have written things like this, so that when I grow forgetful, as I tend to, there are reminders everywhere to help me see the light. I think it is remarkable that I am where I am, again, intact, thriving, happy. I am not proud of the things I admit to here, but they are the truth for me- or were. I can’t help but think my prayers were answered. I hope these words find the people who need them most, so that they know they are not alone, and that there is ALWAYS hope. Enjoy:

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Today, just a little bit ago, I was coding a chart for the cancer clinic (I am a medical coder, and I work from home 90% of the time) for this man less than ten years older than my mom. This poor guy- he has cancer everywhere. His throat, his bones, his lungs, his liver…it isn’t good. I don’t need to be a medical professional to know that. When I finished with his coding, I stopped, bowed my head, and said a little prayer for him. This is not at all out of the ordinary for me, honestly. Even when I am in the office, if something I see in a patients chart is particularly awful or scary or sad and overwhelming, I will do the work, then pray, and no one is any the wiser. I just feel like it’s what I want to do, they need it, and it certainly can’t hurt anyone, right?

Today, my prayer for this man was simple- Dear God, please take note of this man, he is very sick, and he is probably very scared, he may feel a little hopeless, I don’t know, I don’t know him. But if I were him, I may just feel like there is nothing good left for me, in my fear. Maybe he is not a nice man, and people don’t care about him. Maybe he is a great man, with great faith, and many people love him and have had their lives touched by him. Either way, lord, he is your child and you love him- please put your hand on him today and let something good come into his life, give him hope, or peace.” That is as close to exact as I can get you with my prayers, especially since, I don’t know about you ( how you pray, or even if you pray at all, let alone for random strangers) but my prayers aren’t spoken aloud, they are thought and felt as much as they are spoken telepathically, only inside of my head. So there is quite a bit going on along with the words. At the end of this prayer, though, rather than stop, my prayer pulled a fast one on me, changing direction. Here is the rest:

“Oh yeah, and while you are putting your hand on people, how about reaching out to me, God? I am not doing so well, over here. I realize I have every single thing I need to have a happy, good life, but I need help, God. I need you to pull me out of this sickness causing me to lay waste to every happiness in my control. It isn’t just me, God, I am affecting so many other people, ruining their happiness, changing their lives…my babies, my girls, God. I never want to hurt them, and I can’t stop. Time is going by so fast, and I feel like I am just stuck here. Please help me, God. Please, please do something. Get me out of this. Every single thing I am doing is wrong.”

As I was finishing this prayer, crying like a little scared girl, looking around for a paper towel to mop up my entire head with, the writing thoughts started up. I was annoyed for a second, because I can’t seem to have a meltdown of any caliber anymore without the thought of taking it down “for the book” popping into my head.

Then it hit me. Here I am, sobbing, asking God, PLEASE, for a hand, for help, for a way out…and the answer is always, Writing. Write it down. Put it on paper. Don’t let it slip away, don’t waste it, don’t think you are getting out of this without using it- what do you think you are here for, anyway? You have a problem, a really BIG problem, and you can write about it the way you can talk- so that anyone can relate to you. This is not an accident. If you don’t make this problem a light that you can shine into the lives and hearts of people just like you, or people who love people just like you and cannot understand…well, then what will have been the purpose of all these years? All this heartache? Don’t waste it.

That is, I think, what I am being told, here.

I really haven’t wanted to listen. I wanted to tell this story when I was well, rather than in the midst of the worst, sickest part. It would be an easier story to tell from there, and easier to hear. But maybe I can’t help anyone well, not yet. Maybe you need to see the whole picture, this feeble, frightened woman who still feels like a little girl most of the time, a girl who hates herself- loathes herself, pretty much, for what feels like weakness. Weakness, selfishness, greed, compulsion, darkness. All of those things are present. Callousness, cruelty, rage, impatience. Side effects. Mercurial, unpredictable, inconsistent, confusing- all accurate. Sad, broken, desperate, scared, helpless, despairing. Yes. Completely fucking out of ideas, frozen in place, terrified to ask for help? Oh yes, all of those, also. And in quiet terror, I watch the years fly by, and me, still here, missing all of the things that make up a life. Here, but not here. Present, but detached, missing all of the happiness and tenderness, forfeited to the tyranny of my mental illness or whatever it is, turning every thought into one about me- “ do you think anyone is noticing me acting weird? Am I acting weird?” “Why is she talking to ME like that, I’m fucking here, aren’t I? why are they singling me out?” “No matter what I do, it isn’t good enough.” “Oh my gosh, when can I get out of here, I need to figure out where I can do this at.” Every thought in my head, obsessing over myself. Rushing through birthday parties, ruining Thanksgiving, never letting anyone see me for long enough to talk too seriously, keeping my kids from ever relaxing or getting to know their aunts, uncles, cousins. But, you know, they have their whole lives…I mean, plenty of time, right? I’ll be better way before it even matters. Right?

But I haven’t been better. And now Aisley is sixteen. Do you know what that means? That means I waited her whole life, her entire childhood, hoping something would change, and I would get better. I stole every single chance for normal memories of her childhood, memories that even I have, in my screwed up childhood. Memories that I CHERISH. I love my daughter more than anything, but I could not refuse myself, even briefly, to give this to her. There is something so brutal and awful about that. No wonder I despise myself.

I am in a battle for my life every minute of every day. You may not know it by looking at me. I have mastered, or at least become skilled at, putting my best face forward for you. I will smile and look you in the eye, and try really hard to keep my word, show up on time, be fair and honest and decent, because that is who I want to be, and the way I want you to think of me.

I don’t want you to know that I have been a drug addict since I was nineteen years old. That I have seen and done and known about things that would horrify the average person, but don’t even surprise me anymore. I would die if you knew how unhealthy the way I live, the way I treat myself, is. I would be so embarrassed if you saw how I behaved, sometimes, towards my children, or my mother, who have done nothing but love me. I would be so ashamed if you knew how poorly I treat my job, that gives me every tool imaginable to live a prosperous life. I would be mortified if the people I work with, my friends and respected peers that have shown me such kindness, so much love and support, knew the truth. I don’t want anyone to know the real me. And it is making it so hard to ask for help, that I don’t know when all this will end. I live in constant fear of being found out, and what the repercussions of that would be. I am terrified of that, but finding the courage to get help seems almost less possible to me most of the time. The rest of the time, I am just continuing on, not improving or worsening, steady in my pursuit of…nothing. More of this. More misery and emptiness and shame.

 

I guess I need to tell this story. I don’t want you to know me this way, but you are going to have to, if I am ever going to get better. And I HAVE to get better, I HAVE to. I can’t bear thinking of what my regrets will look like if I have to look back at my whole life, and see nothing but me standing in a wasteland, refusing light years of love being handed out on a silver platter. What a fool. What a sad, terrible fool. Please, God, please let this help. Let this be the start of a tunnel out of here.

Thank you.

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

Vigil

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I am one of those people who is extremely uncomfortable when flying. There is something about being strapped into an extremely heavy object, in a relatively small space, thousands of feet above the planet where I belong, with NOTHING HOLDING ME UP. Something alarming. Thinking about this while in flight has resulted in some barely contained hysteria (not to mention several passengers around me drinking what seemed like an awful lot of wine), as I try to figure out how the mechanics of flight and the law of gravity could possibly come together peacefully! Luckily, I found a way to deal with it. By sheer force of my will alone, I have carried commercial flights half way across the United States. It is an awful lot of work, and I felt like I needed a serious massage by the time we touched down (Ah, sweet, sweet ground), AND, the armrests of my seat will forever bear the half moon scars of my finger nails…but I was able to pull it off.

I have employed this same fierce concentration while watching Ice skating in the winter olympics, but with much less success, and at traffic lights with hardly any success at all. And now, I have used it on my toddler. Not to break her will with my own, as you might assume. No, I don’t subscribe to that method of parenting (most of the time). This was far more serious…I stayed up the entire night listening to her breathe, cringing as she coughed and tried to clear her throat, using my amazing powers to keep her safe and alive, at least until morning.

I think I have had it with this illness. It was bad enough when I had it a few weeks ago, but it is far worse to watch your normally chipper, cheerful, happy, robust little girl reduced to a limp, hoarse, snorffling, feverish little waif, in a matter of mere days. Now my teenager seems to have yet another version of illness, previously unknown to this household. My resolve to be happy in spite of outside circumstances did not bargain for severely ill children. I’m sorry, my happy has fled the building. I mean, I’m happy that my babies are alive, happy that I can hear Cammy breathing relatively normally right this very second. I’m happy that all three times I lept out of bed and flipped the light on during the course of the night, Camryn wasn’t actually blue faced as I thought. That makes me happy, indeed.

I don’t like my inability to control my fear at all, though. I go from fine to the verge of a panic attack in nanoseconds, and most of the time, it’s in response to nothing more than my THOUGHTS. In other words, not an actual problem I am observing unfold, but an imaginary scenario that exists nowhere but between my ears.  I would like to learn to knock all that off, honestly. You know, I can, for a short period of time…until I forget, and Camryn coughs, or I begin to question my judgement about when, exactly, I should rush her to the hospital…and what if I’m too late?! What if I call 911 and they are all BUSY? What if I misunderstood the doctors directions, and my kid suffers permanent damage from my negligence?! Just writing it down, my heart begins to race. If only I could be calm, cool. collected instead of this hysteria prone, outburst having, raving harpy maniac I morph into. Even my best attempts to restrain or disguise my panic only result in that incredible tension that draws my shoulders up to my ears, cords to pop out in my neck, and anything I say shoot from my lips like poisonous darts or small but devastating bullets. Not to mention a definite forcefield of intensity three people deep all around me. The same forcefield,  I believe, that is strong enough to keep sky vehicles aloft. Or a very close relative.

It’s just that I love my kids SO much. I am so afraid of losing them that it actually nauseates me to consider. I remember when I held my oldest daughter for the first time, when I was just 22, and brimming with that special level of self absorbtion that only a very young, very ignorant girl can be full of. I was not prepared for the ramifications of actual, pure, REAL love in my life- I didn’t even know I didn’t know about it until I looked into that tiny face, and a pair of enormous, wise, brown eyes, fringed in long black lashes, looked back at me. I was like, “Uh-oh.”. I knew then, deep inside, that I was screwed. I now loved another human being enough to see myself and be displeased with things- things that had been totally no big deal a few months back. I now loved a person that wasn’t me, that I couldn’t control, that I didn’t even KNOW. And I was so right. I wasn’t her, I couldn’t control her (not in the ways that I wanted to), and I didn’t know her…not then. It only got worse when, 13 years later, I decided to try it all over again.

And so, I stayed up all night- all but maybe 45 minutes of fitful, jerky, dozing off, I prayed, I talked myself off of the ledge of panic a time or three. I felt my daughters feverish face, worried, watched cartoons that she likes, even though she was mostly asleep. I kept the age old vigil of mothers across time and the span of the world…all of us do it, at least once per child. I studied her face, I smoothed her curls back off her face. I lay my head gently on her chest, and listened to her breathe. I willed her to continue this habit for at least the next seventy years. There really is not sweeter sound, is there?