Posted in advice, anxiety, Goals, Learning, Life, Musings, People, relationships

Know Your Worth

know your worth

My anxiety is at an all time high this morning. I have tried everything I can think of to bring it down a notch, but nothing is helping…and the thing is, I know why.

I woke up this morning with the full weight of my truth weighing me down. Here’s what it is: I KNOW MY WORTH.

The minute you become aware of your worth, placing yourself in any situation where you are not receiving exactly what you deserve becomes incredibly uncomfortable. It can manifest in so many different ways, I could sit here at this keyboard for the next three days straight giving you examples. I don’t have that kind of time, and neither do you. So here’s the condensed version:

When a little voice in the back of your mind whispers “I don’t know about this…” Girl, listen.

When your gut is all knotted up and you feel nothing but hesitation, pay attention.

When every single little thing about a situation is problematic, that is the Universe, my friend, letting you know that THIS IS NOT FOR YOU.

If you do not know your worth, you need to figure it out. Ask yourself what your priorities are, what you value, what you want in your life. Imagine yourself in your happiest scenario, and start laying down a path towards that. Because if you don’t know, if you aren’t aware, then you are going to become a victim of your own poor judgement, and base some important life decisions on a weak foundation. Think harder, look closer, dig deeper.

Above all, remember- this is your one precious, beautiful life. Be careful about what you allow in, and vigilant about what you allow to go on within it. Don’t be afraid to have standards, boundaries, and a real healthy relationship with the concept of “Nope!”. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, worry about what YOU think. And never be afraid to change your mind, or admit to yourself that you made a bad call. You don’t have to stay committed to a bad idea.

That’s my little smidgen of advice for the day. Carry on. πŸ™‚

self worth

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Posted in Addiction, anxiety, faith, inner peace, Learning, Life, Mental Health, recovery, spirituality, twelve step

In The Middle

the middle
Photo courtesy of Google and Simplereminders.com

In April of 2015, I unwittingly started out on a journey. I thought that I was just getting clean- that I would stop using drugs, get right in the head, and live happily ever after. I could foresee nothing but sunshine and better days ahead of me, and I blindly forged ahead, completely unprepared for what I was getting myself into.

Don’t get me wrong, I am 100% sure that I am right where I am supposed to be, and that I have never done more important work than the work I am doing on myself today. But I am right in the middle of it right now, and it is hard. I am tired. I have peeled away so many layers that I spent years and years building up, all to protect this fucked up little heart of mine, and now I feel…over it. I want to retreat. I don’t want to use, never that, but I just want to go back. I want to go back to being oblivious and unaware of myself, back to just living my life and not thinking so hard about who I am, why I am the way I am, who I want to be.

I had no idea what a mess I really am. None. I didn’t know I was insecure, I didn’t know I didn’t love myself, I didn’t realize I was constantly seeking outside approval to feel validated. I didn’t know how much of my self worth was wrapped up in my appearance, I didn’t know that I had no idea how to exist in a healthy relationship, and I didn’t know that I was so terrified of being vulnerable that I had essentially cut myself off from everyone who tried to get or stay close to me. I thought I was a really awesome girl who just had a drug problem.

So this is the hard part. Now I know all of those things, but I haven’t figured out how to fix them just yet. I have to sit here, with all of this painful knowledge, and I haven’t learned yet how to heal, how to repair it. My suspicion is that it is a process, and that it will take time to get to a place where I can feel okay again, and this is the worst news possible for someone who loves instant gratification as much as I do. When something is uncomfortable for me, I will go to great lengths to feel better again- which might be why I poured drugs into my system for such a long time. I didn’t know it was a band-aid over a gaping wound. I didn’t even know I was doing it to hide a problem. I thought the drugs WERE the problem, and that the problem just happened to make me feel really good. For a minute, anyway.

I have heard people talk about the agony of waking up to the truth, and I thought they were being dramatic. I thought the truth they were talking about was something else- the way the world around us is, or something…else. But waking up to who you are, who you REALLY are, is terrifying. I mean, unless you somehow managed to make it through life without hiding parts of yourself away and losing other parts, and realizing you missed some pretty important bits of information. If that is who you are, this blog probably won’t make a lot of sense to you. And I realize that not everyone has to tear themselves down to the dirt and start over. But I had to. And right now I feel pretty raw, pretty exposed.

So, here I sit. Tired of feeling all of these feelings, but pretty sure I have to do it. Coming to terms with the fact that the only way forward is through. Trying hard to have faith that I am on the right path, even though it is scaring the shit out of me presently. I can’t un-see what I have seen in myself. I can’t ever go back, so I have two choices- I can stay right here, or I can press on. And the thing is, right here is not sustainable. Have you ever lost a filling in a tooth? You know how it feels when that nerve is exposed to everything, even air? Yeah, it hurts. It hurts so much that you get over your fear of the dentist pretty quick, and figure out a way to get that cavity fixed. Well, that’s a great analogy for my life right now. I dug out that bad filling, and even though I needed it gone, it was making me sick, right now it is painful. I just want to fix it the right way this time.

I am not without hope. I have the benefit of my recovery program, I have a few people who really love me and understand, I have a sponsor who guides me when I let her, and most importantly, I have myself, willing to do the work to get better. No, most importantly, I have unshakable faith that God, or The Universe, or a spectacular combination of all of these benevolent forces, has brought me here for a reason. That there is no way for me to fail at this, but I must be patient. I must be willing to sit here, in this uncomfortable, painful place until I have learned what I need to know. And then, I can begin to put myself back together again…or maybe that is what I am doing. Maybe that’s what all this really is.

 

Posted in adventure, Blogging, family, Goals, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random

The Tide is Turning

challenges

Despite all of my carrying on and whatnot over the past couple of weeks, I want to let you know that there have been some major shifts in my routine over that same time period- the things I have struggled with aloud here have been the very things I have devoted most of my time to dealing with in my real life. A lot of times, when I am writing about my life in my blog, it is a way for me to sort out and work through things on a different level. It’s a great way for me to pinpoint areas where I am not doing as well as I would like to be, and it seems like I just naturally start to resolve things the minute I put them down on “paper”, essentially.

I wrote recently about wanting to feel more confident in myself, and figured that one of the ways I could improve my self-esteem would be to behave in a way that would inspire more respect in myself- in other words, do a good job. Make it my goal to really pour effort into whatever task I am doing, so that when it is done, I know I did my level best. With this spirit driving me, I have had the best couple of weeks at work that I have had, as far as consecutive days go, in probably years. I have made it my business to enforce some self-discipline during my work hours, which is essential (and also incredibly easy to lose completely) when you work from home. I set specific goals for myself, keep track of the work I am doing, and reward myself with a short break every hour, when I’ve reached my goal. I leave the TV off. I open up my blinds to let the light in. I sit down, I listen to podcasts, and I earn my paycheck. At the end of the day lately, I have felt the satisfaction of knowing I did my job well, and it really does feel amazing. Bam, my self-confidence soars.

Side note: My friend Jennifer gave me the book “You are a Bad Ass” by Jen Sincero for my birthday, and I just finally started reading it- well, actually, I’m almost done now. I figured this was a perfect time, when I am pretty open to ideas and help. I have been surprised to find how many of the recommendations in the book are things I already either do, or at least have realized, on my own. Which is not to say that the book is useless- far from it! I think it is just generally a great idea to read books full of positive information that will lift you up, and I have learned quite a bit as well. My point is, aside from what I have gleaned from the book, the realization that I am already doing so many of these things makes me feel like I might be doing better than I thought.

Something big happened after I wrote the post about being lazy- boy, I never would have seen that one coming, but…I’m super glad it did. I want to share with you that the minute I finished that blog, I got up and did the dishes, and I have barely stopped cleaning since then. I’m not kidding! I have not gone to bed with a dish in my sink since that blog was posted. I have been doing laundry nearly constantly, filling bags with Goodwill donations, throwing things away, and sorting out the junk and bric-a-brac that I have allowed to accumulate in small piles throughout the house. I filled a garbage bag just from my tiny bathroom alone- full of old makeup, expired medication, empty cosmetic boxes, and just…shit. Shit that has been cluttering up my life and making me feel bad. Every night, when I finally sit down to relax, I can REALLY relax, because my house, while not yet exactly how I’d like it to be, is already a thousand percent better than it was. And again, I can sit there knowing I worked hard, and did a really good job. Again, major self-esteem boost.

And finally, remember the post about losing my sense of adventure, and how I was stressed out about my landlord coming and code enforcement and all that? Well, turns out that might have been the best thing that could have happened. As a direct result of the pressure applied to me, I paid someone to haul off ALL the junk in my backyard (a pretty impressive amount, to be honest. I don’t know where all this crap even comes from!) and then I paid someone else to come and clean my massive yard for me. Best money I’ve ever spent. I also called my landlady to find out when this visit is supposed to happen, and learned from that call that she isn’t mad at me at all. She’s actually more upset with the city for bothering me in the first place. So, not only did I feel so much relief from dealing with the issue head-on, but she was thrilled to hear that I had done so much work to make the yard look nice.

To wrap this all up, I want to announce that I am leaving town today, having decided to take a vacation out of town after all. No, I am not going to Oregon- I realized that I didn’t want to risk sitting in the car for a total of 24 hours with a seven year old in what looks like will be terrible weather. I opted instead to head south, to the sunnier portion of California, and I couldn’t be more excited! My kiddo and I have BIG plans for the next several days, and I don’t want to tell you where I am headed because, of course, I am planning on writing about it.

So, just to make a terribly long blog even longer, I want to say how grateful I am that I have this outlet to express myself. It’s exciting for me to be able to share, and discover for myself, the way this blog is a tool I use to work at the knots in my life, and how writing through my struggles actually helps me to resolve them. If all I was doing was bitching about my life, it could be toxic. But this last few weeks has shown me that what I am really doing is figuring out how to be better, and the advice and support I get back has been such a wonderful bonus. So THANKS! I am off to pack for my trip now!

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, anxiety, Blogging, inner peace, Learning, Life, Mental Health, Musings, recovery

Punishment Enough

punishment enough

I have been cursed with a guilty conscience, thanks largely in part to living a lifestyle for many years where I usually was doing something wrong. I mean, nothing major, for the most part, but generally, just the way I lived, it was all very secretive, very sneaky. I got in trouble with people all the time and it was normally very much my own fault, and so…I developed a habit of feeling pretty bad about myself.

This has not changed, despite the fact that I am very much a responsible, productive member of society these days. What it amounts to is that I tend to be a lot more nervous and worried about making mistakes than perhaps your average person- as a matter of fact, I don’t allow myself any room at all for messing up. When it inevitably happens that I do, I am very, very hard on myself. I expect the worst consequences despite the fact that people have almost always been more forgiving of my screw-ups than I anticipate. Basically, what I’m saying is, I’m kind of a wreck. When things are going smoothly, I am okay. But throw one little issue into the pot, and the entire trajectory of my thoughts goes rapidly down hill. I obsess. I am consumed with worry. I feel really, really bad about myself. And I have had it.

I’ve had it with my attitude about myself. I’ve had it with my inability to just let things unfold, and my refusal to have any faith in myself. I’ve had it with my catastrophic thinking, and more than anything else, I have had it with fear. Even as I write this, I have a little thing hanging over my head that is causing a major disturbance in the force, and my poor fear-poisoned body feels tight and uneasy and anxious. I woke up with that old, familiar heaviness, that sense of dread that I know so well. I’ve had enough. I have to let it go. So, here is what I have to say to myself-

Dear Courtney-

Life cannot be lived while curled in the fetal position, not even the figurative fetal position. You don’t have to be afraid. Everything is going to be okay, even if it doesn’t go the way you have planned. You are safe. You can rely on me. I am not going to let you down. You can’t enjoy the awesome adventure of life if you are holding on so tightly to all of this fear. You can put it down. No matter what happens, you will figure out a way to navigate it. You always find the silver lining, always, eventually. Try to remember that. You are a good mother, a good friend, and a good person. The past is over with. You are allowed to leave it there and move on. Your life was punishment enough. Stop beating yourself up for being someone you bear no resemblance to anymore. That girl was sick and sad and desperate for help…and you saved her life. Give yourself credit for how far you have come. You have been through so much. It’s time to start enjoying the life you have managed to create. So hold your head up, and let the chips fall where they may. And never forget that I love you.

Love, me.

I know that got a little weird, but I needed to say those things to myself. Now it’s public, so I can’t take it back. πŸ™‚

Here’s to lighter hearts and lighter loads to carry. I’m ready to leave some of this baggage behind and skip a little bit. Happy Friday!

Posted in Addiction, anxiety, Life, Musings, People, recovery, relationships, twelve step

Learning to Like Myself

liking yourself

Oh my God, this is so weird. I had to…strike that; I got toΒ buy a new computer yesterday. I had a little incident with my laptop (Best Buy broke it when I brought it in for help with my mouse, and now they are charging me to fix it…I know, I know, don’t even get me started) and I can’t really go without a computer, being as how I work from home. I was going to have to buy a desktop soon anyway, I just wasn’t counting on it being this soon. Either way, here I am, trying to adjust to this enormous screen, and to writing from a different room in my house. Small things, but jarring, just the same.

The thing is, yesterday, when I figured out a way to purchase this (very freaking expensive) computer on my own, when I brought it home and set it up all by myself, I felt like a WOMAN. I mean, yeah, I am 42 years old, so you might assume that I felt this way all of the time…well, you would be wrong. Most of the time, I am still pretty much fumbling my way through life, a teenager stuck in a really unfortunate body. You have to remember, I literally partied my way from 13 to basically 40, with some pauses throughout. I am still figuring stuff out. Yes, I do manage to hold it together pretty well, and yes, I probably don’t give myself enough credit for the things I have accomplished, but…well, it’s hard for me to trust that this isn’t all some fluke, to be honest. That I haven’t just gotten lucky a bunch of times in a row and that’s why things are generally okay.

So when I managed to pull this off yesterday, saving myself from a really difficult week of having to figure out where I could work and when, I felt pretty together. I smugly patted myself on the back and thought “You can do ANYTHING, Court. You are the best.” (I didn’t really do this, but you get the idea.) I went off to my meeting last night feeling tired, but capable and confident.

And then…a person showed up at my meeting last night who knows me only from my active addiction. This person, having lived in close proximity to me, knows intimately how insane I was when I was using. There is no way for me to change that first, ongoing impression that I made. And it makes me feel bad. Really, really bad. I have this crazy urge to prove how much better I am, how different I am, how good I have become. This is really nuts because I don’t really have any type of relationship with this person. I don’t see them on a regular basis, I don’t interact with them on a personal level. What in the world is this about? Even now, while I am writing this, my body feels so uncomfortable.

You know what it is really about? It’s about me needing outside approval. It’s about me needing everyone who comes in contact with me to like me, whether it’s the dudes who work at Best Buy who broke my laptop, or a person who had the misfortune to witness me at my worst. And the reason I need them to like me is because I still haven’t really mastered liking myself- I’m still looking for acceptance from others to feel validated. That really needs to change. Not only can I not control what other people think about me, I have no idea what they think about me- I’m just assuming the worst, and running with it. Most importantly of all, though, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what my old neighbor thinks of me, or what most people think of me, really. It matters how I think of myself. That’s what I really need to work on.

So what is the truth, then? The truth is, I am becoming someone I can trust. That trust was broken pretty badly, and just like any relationship, when the trust is gone, it takes time to build it back. I am working my way there, bit by bit. The truth is, it is vital that I learn to like myself, exactly as I am, because all of my other relationships depend on me liking who I am. And I should like myself, I am a good person. I try every day to be a good person. Another truth is, not everyone is going to like me, and that’s okay. That’s just life. I don’t need to preemptively defend myself, or prove myself. I just need to keep doing what I am doing, and know that is enough.

Also, I really need to talk to those guys at Best Buy. I’ll let you know how that turns out. Wish me luck.

Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, escape, family, health, Learning, Life, living, Mental Health, Musings, People, random, recovery, twelve step

Safety

safety

 

As an addict, no matter what your drug of choice is, no matter whether you are using or not, one of our commonalities is that we generally crave safety. We crave it as much, really, as we crave whatever we are putting in our bodies, or whatever fucked up thing we are doing to change the way we feel. Because any addict can tell you that, eventually, you don’t really get high anymore. Nope, that rush from the beginning flees quickly. What we really want is safety. Distance from our feelings, some space from our self loathing, to shut up the voice inside of us that will not let us be- the one that tells us how stupid, and useless, and lacking we are. We just want some relief from whatever it is that haunts us, and the addict knows the fastest way to get there. Of course, this is WAY oversimplifying it, but in essence, this is the truth- you don’t want to hear about brain chemistry, genetics, and compulsive disorders, anyway, I bet. And if you do, you should probably talk to someone else, as I am just a drug addict with some experience, not a doctor.

Now, I know what I have said- that addicts are seeking safety- sounds completely the opposite of what an addicts life looks like. I realize that. But think about this for a second…all the stories of the way addicts lie, the way they manipulate everything in their environment. Yeah, that is terrible. And by the way, it’s exhausting, too. But what is that really, more than an attempt to create a world where we have some semblance of control over our surroundings? Sure, it is misguided and horrible, but when you are so helpless in every other way, the only thing you can do, out of desperation, is to try to create some type of order out of the chaos. To know what to expect. To have some feeling of safety, we manipulate. You have to remember, an addict in the trenches of their disease is desperate, and desperate people on drugs do not have the ability to see how insane their actions and choices are. They literally are not in their right minds. They just want to survive.

Now, here’s the thing: It doesn’t start off like this. No one starts off in this desperate state. I always, when thinking of my own story, refer to my disease starting up at the age of 19, but that isn’t even true. The truth is, I discovered my drug of choice at the age of 19, but I started putting drugs in my body long before that- sure, it was just smoking weed and drinking, but I was 13. I had low self esteem, I had a weird life, and I just wanted to fit in. The best idea I could come up with, having a limited set of options, was to get high. And it worked for me. I found no shortage of kids just like myself with whom to surround myself, and I created a persona out of all of that, so that I could fit in somewhere. I had no idea what kind of game I was playing. How could I have? And not everyone was destined to wind up like me, either. That’s the funny thing about it- you are rolling the dice, and you don’t even know it. Many of my friends were able to put it down and walk away. But a lot of them- a lot- were not.

Because I was so young when I started down this path, I had no experience with the way “normal” people lived. I didn’t understand how controlling I was, whether I was clean or not, or how emotionally volatile I was. I had no idea that my behavior was a major issue, preventing me from being happy, either on or off of drugs. I can tell you this, though- the minute I realized that my drug use had become nothing more than a symptom of a far bigger problem, my life changed. It took me a really long time to get there. A really long time. I went through treatment, well into adulthood, twice, and had years clean (after which I relapsed again and again) before I got it. On drugs, my behavior was terrible. Off drugs, my behavior was terrible, and it lead me back to drugs, to make me care less about my terrible behavior. I had to come to this understanding on my own. I just wasn’t hearing it from anyone, or any place else. I am not saying it wasn’t taught to me, that no one ever mentioned it. I just wasn’t able to hear it.

This is still a struggle for me. Even knowing what I now believe to be true- that my own behavior can make or break me- I struggle to break the old habits, to find new ways to deal with my feelings, ways that are not so damaging to me, or to others. I spent a lot of years being one person, so it makes sense that being someone else is hard. But I know it is vital that I do. I don’t want to use drugs anymore, but I still behave like an addict sometimes, whether I show it or not. That person is sitting inside of me, commenting on far too many things. I am, and will always be, a work in progress.

Addicts are also very contrary people. We know what we want, and we do the opposite. Our intentions don’t always match our actions. We want to do right, but often find ourselves doing wrong. We have huge egos, and low self esteem. We say one thing and do another. We are often very smart, and live stupidly. We dream of a safe, happy life, and do everything in our power to make sure we never get there. It makes no sense to you, and it makes no sense to the addict who is living it. That is the terrible truth.

Addicts, whether we are clean or not, want what every breathing person wants. To be safe. But our fight is a little different. We carry our biggest obstacle with us everywhere that we go. The face that looks back at us in the mirror is often our greatest enemy. The battle we fight is with ourselves, over and over and over.

You may wonder why I come back to this subject again and again, why I identify so strongly with this part of me. And my answer is- because this is still the biggest part of me. Even though I am clean, the fight is the same. The person I am fighting, and the thing I fight against, and all of the little flare ups I have, they all come from the addict in me. I have a voice, and I want to explain it to the world, so that maybe you can understand an addict in your life, or yourself, a little better. But I am no longer afraid, and I am not sad, and I don’t feel sorry for myself. I feel glad that I have named my enemy, and, even if it is a life long fight…at least I have the tools I need to do my work against it.

And that makes me feel a little safer. I sleep better, knowing that.