Posted in Addiction, advice, family, friendship, Goals, inner peace, Learning, Life, People

Starting Again

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There is a little plaque hanging on my kitchen wall that says “Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.”. This is a sentiment that resonates with me, especially because, looking back at my life, I see that my guilt and shame over how I had chosen to live the perfect, blessed life I was lucky enough to be born into, kept me sick for a lot longer than necessary. Ironic, right? I felt so bad about my choices that I chose to continue making poor choices. You know, thinking about all of that, it makes me tired, and it makes me sad, and it makes me feel yucky. It’s a feeling I’d like to wash off of me forever.

But it’s a part of who I am, and if I ever forget, (as if that were possible) I’d be in danger of repeating those mistakes, I think. That is one thing I can say about my life, at least. Once I got clean the first time, through all the relapses that eventually followed, I never made the same mistakes. I did the same drugs, and I lived the life sort of, with one foot in and one foot out the door. I literally lead a double life. I kept my job and tried to maintain the facade of a “normal” life. What I learned there was that, for me, the misery created by living a lie was even greater than just being an all out, bottom of the barrel, dope fiend.

Eventually, I reached the point we all have to reach before we decide that a change is worth making. Usually, it is when everything becomes so painful that we cannot make it through a day without crying like a baby. I have been there many, many times. I don’t want to go there again, but if and when I do, I really hope it is for some other reason. If I have to be miserable, let it be a new misery. I know that if I am clean, I will be able to deal with it so much more capably.

The first part of this “return to earth” is intense. Our bodies are depleted, and our souls are just overflowing with the feelings we have been busily anesthetizing for…way too long. We are tired and frazzled, moody, and terribly afraid. I am thinking of my little brother who is in treatment now, as I write this. He has had such a hard time. When he called to tell me he was headed off to rehab a week or so ago, I was so proud of him. It is so goddamned hard to admit that we need help, especially if it isn’t the first time. May you never know the way that feels. I was too afraid, myself, but boy did I need help. I was afraid of losing my job, my kids, my house. I didn’t want anyone to know what a spectacular failure I was. I was so concerned with how I looked to the world that I actually preferred to continue killing myself rather than surrender, to admit that I was not doing well.

Thankfully, it has worked out alright. I have so much gratitude for everything good in my life right now. I want so much for everyone I know, and everyone I don’t know, even, who is caught up in the the madness of this spirit consuming disease to find what I have found. Some of them definitely will. Some of them won’t, not ever. And that is their own personal path, I know that. I understand that some people I can love, but I have to do it at a distance. I have finally learned that in this way, I must put my own best interests first. It is an incredibly delicate balance.

It is 6:22 in the morning, and I have been up since a little before five, like I am almost every day now. I am close enough to my latest disasters to still feel overjoyed by my relatively unscathed escape. I regret being angry zombie mom to my kids, angry asshole daughter to my mom, angry negative Facebook poster to my friends. I regret being a fake ass liar to the people at work. I am sad that I can’t really even tell them the truth now, and ask them to forgive me. All I can do is be this girl, today, and make a silent amends…make my life an amends, even, by being the best I can be at all times.

And when I mess up, I start over. Mess up, start over. It doesn’t have to be a backslide or a disaster, another sad chapter in my life. It’s just a little misstep, and then a correction. Have a beautiful day.

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Posted in Addiction, beauty, family, inner peace, kids, Life, love, People

The Beauty of a Checkered Past

Courtesy of Graphicsfactory.com
Courtesy of Graphicsfactory.com

There are times when I have a lot of regrets about the way I have lived my life. The entire decade of my twenties is pretty much a blur, my memories sacrificed to the volcano God of my addiction. There are things I am tired of thinking about, memories I DO have that I wish would fade, others I would give anything to have back. I couldn’t tell you a lot of entertaining stories about things my older daughter did or said as a toddler, for instance- I just don’t recall much. THAT breaks my heart.

When I think back on the way that we lived, that kid and I- lots of times, everything we owned was in my car and we slept on couches and in spare rooms for months at a stretch, with no place to call our own- I shake my head in horror. I could never even imagine raising my little one that way. I can’t imagine having her in that environment for a single day, let alone growing up that way. Even though, as I have said before, I have not been perfect in my abstinence, the change in me from who I was to who I am today has been so dramatic…it would be like comparing an earthquake to the rattle caused by a truck passing by, or a tsunami to a choppy sea on a windy day. Two different things entirely. Do I ever long to go back in time and fix what I did, or wallow in the bone deep sorrow of regret? Of course I do. I am human, I am a mother. That is my penance. I try not to beat myself up, I realize it is over and useless to cry about. But make no mistake, I think I should feel a little bit bad. I think it’s okay to be sorry for dragging an innocent human being through the fucked up wasteland of your own drug addiction. If you don’t agree, well, you either don’t understand, or you are sugar coating it to make yourself feel better. Don’t get stuck in it, by all means, move forward armed with enough knowledge to not do it again…but yes, you can feel a little shitty about it for as long as you need to. It’s okay.

Yet, at the risk of completely contradicting myself, I wouldn’t change it, either. Had I not been who I was, I could not be who I am today, nor where I am. There is a chance I would be somewhere better, SOMEONE better, I know. But were it not for my past, I would not have the two beautiful daughters I have today- the very reason I ever decided to try to get my shit together in the first place. For all I know, I would be far, far worse off. It was the birth of my little girl, nearly sixteen years ago, that ignited the spark of desire to change. That led me to question if perhaps the way I was living was not really so great. Yes, it took me a long, long time to actually take any steps to change things, but the important thing is that I did. It was not perfect, but neither am I, and it ended up being pretty great.

There are other things- because I spent my entire life, into my thirtieth year, relying totally on others, the sweetness of relying only on myself, finally, was beautiful. I will never, ever forget what it felt like, when Aisley was eight years old and I found us, on my own, a two bedroom apartment. It was kind of a dump on the outside. Okay, the inside wasn’t what you might call spectacular, either. But it was clean and roomy, and it was OURS. The best part was that Aisley had her own room, for the very first time in her entire life. For other people, normal people, this would maybe not have been a huge victory. For me, every day in that house was a gift, because I did it all myself.

Even now, looking at Aisley, who will be sixteen in September, and is, therefore, what you might call “slightly insane” and a “little” difficult to live with…I feel nothing but gratitude for her entitled manner, her wastefulness and the way she takes stuff for granted. You know why? Because that is the mark of a normal teenager. Do you know what a miracle that is, that my kid is as big of an ass as any other kid? I am mostly kidding, but you catch my drift, right? She made it through OKAY. Thank God.

When I wake up, as I did today, and sit out on my front porch with my coffee, contemplating the gray sky before me, listening to the roar of the surf behind the other sounds of the world waking up, and I smell the ocean, and I have that utter peace and contentment in my heart…well. Can I tell you that THAT feeling, a feeling some people have always had, maybe, or will never get to know- my circumstances, MY checkered past, gave that to me. I have seen, breathed, lived the other side and I would not trade what I have now for anything.  All those years, I was chasing after something to make me feel good, and when I finally stopped running, I found it.

I am grateful for my past. Have a beautiful day.

Posted in aging, family, Goals, kids, Life, Uncategorized

Time Flies By…

Hellloooo! Man, if I can’t manage to finish and post this blog, then I give up. I have been trying for what seems like a very long time to blog about SOMETHING…but for one reason or another, I either couldn’t finish it, and/or decided not to publicize my most private goings-on. I’m fairly certain my life is pretty averagely dysfunctional, but it really makes me wonder about the secrets within families and between people who are closely bound in ANY kind of relationship. I used to talk about everything with anyone, and I still do talk very openly about a lot of stuff-most stuff, even. But time and experience taught me (the slow and painful way, naturally) that some things are not open for discussion. If you discuss something, you are inviting the opinion, advice and judgement of the person you are confiding in, and you just never know who you can really trust 100%. I used to have the biggest mouth in the entire world- I didn’t mean to, and when I said I promised not to tell, I meant it. But even when I tried my hardest, I’d let some small detail slip, and then get so nervous trying to backtrack that eventually, I’d just miserably repeat the gossip, verbatim. Now, I’m older, and not only do I have more self control than I once did, but I also don’t care nearly as much about other peoples issues. That sounds mean, but it’s at least a good indicator that I’m trustworthy. By the time you finish telling me your secret, I’ve already forgotten the first part. Also, if someone wants to know something I don’t want to tell, I just say “yes, I know, but I’m not telling you, so quit fucking bugging me.” which was hard for me in decades past. Ahh…the finer points of growing up.

Speaking of which, my birthday is just a few days off- I am blown away that I am turning 37. Not because I feel like I am old, really, but because I can’t believe how insanely fast my life is going by. It feels like as soon as I get used to being who I am, where I’m at, everything changes again…I honestly remember the day that I turned ten years old so clearly; I was, what? Fourth grade? I sat at the very top of the monkey bars and contemplated the fact that I was now a DECADE old. From here on out, my age would have TWO numbers in it. I literally thought about that, twenty seven years ago, in Fresno, California, at Del Mar Elementary school. That same little girl is still right here, as well as the chubby middle school kid, the mouthy teenager who thought she knew it all. That teenager succumbed to a lifestyle that took her away from dreams she never even had a chance to start dreaming, and that teenager gave way to a young woman who was beautiful and insecure and sick, funny, weak, smart and unkind. Lots and lots of things occurred, lots of time went by, and she didn’t go very far. That same, scared, defeated girl is still here, too. I have been so many different women in my lifetime…life is not perfect, but at least today I am not afraid. I am not terrified of tomorrow. I don’t have to rely on anyone else for my life to move forward. Sometimes I forget the difference between FEELING AS IF my life depends on someone else, and HAVING my life rely on someone else. I’m okay with the person I am today. I turned out all right after all!

There were some blissful times in my life where I really kind of had it all…well, not “all” in the sense of tangible, luxurious things. I had none of that. What I actually had was NOTHING. No rush, no worries, no responsibilities, no place I needed to be. I just did my thing, all the time, partying, up for nights in a row, staying wherever I wound up and never feeling like I had anything less than all the time in the world to get down to business.  I dragged that stage out quite a while past where it was appropriate, and it wasn’t the same anymore. I felt time going by, felt the need to be more, have more, see more than I was seeing from that place. So I moved along, finally, and started filling up my life with grown up things. I enjoyed, and still enjoy, the sense of achievement that comes with accomplishing a dream, however small. What I don’t like is the worry and problems that come attached to everything I love or want or value. I worry about my kids, my job, my relationships with people. I worry about money and bills, my car, my phone and my laptop. I worry about my teenager not fitting in, and then about her fitting in too well. I worry about things that happened a long time ago, and things that may very well never happen. I NEVER used to worry about stuff, and now it’s always happening, like background music…I’m humming along, not even aware of the song. Also, I feel stretched a little thin, a lot of the time. These are the things I don’t love about this phase of my life. I want to be calm enough to enjoy all the good stuff that is right in front of me, but there’s so much to do, and so many things going on, and I get that tight, tense, angry feeling…like one little minuscule thing, and I’m going to snap. I don’t like all the chores and rules and activity of being this kind of adult. I feel like I still haven’t quite caught on yet.

Every year, around my birthday, I sort of look at my life and see what’s what, and come up with an idea of where I’d like to go next. Things I’d like to work on, eliminate, think about, and so on. This year, I just want to cut the shit. I want to stop knowing what I need to do, and doing something else instead, and then hating myself for it later. I want to plant my feet firmly on the earth and do what is best for myself, even when I’m scared to death of what that could mean. I want to enjoy the beautiful faces of my daughters, and never forget for a minute how blessed I am or how fast it goes by. I want to find the right words to say to Aisley, to make her softer. I want my Camryn never to have a reason to be so hard. I want to be with people who love me and have my best interest at heart, and I want to recognize when that is not the case. I want to laugh more, cry some, and be angry a LOT less. I want to slow down. I want to stop running, and just slow down. What is the point to this life if I’m too busy to see all of the real and valuable things it contains? I want to remember how much I love, and am loved. That’s my goal this year…and maybe the rest of them, too.

I’m wondering if you guys have that same, surreal feeling about your life ever? Does it seem impossible that you could be however old you are? Are you a worrier, and if so, have you always been, or is it new? Thanks for reading, and I’m so glad to be back!