Posted in Addiction, faith, family, Goals, inner peace, Learning, Life, living, love, Mental Health, mindfulness, parenting, People, recovery, relationships, spirituality

Learning how to Love

anger chinese proverb

Of all the things I have struggled with since I have been clean, practicing loving kindness is highest on the list. I know, I know- I don’t think I come off as someone who has a rough time with something like this. For sure, I know the appropriate way to act, and how to say the right thing, the thing people need to hear, most of the time. But there is a difference between how we intentionally show up in the world and the way we act, react, and even the way we think, when it’s only us alone with the chosen few who live their lives closely entwined with ours.

In other words, sometimes- too much of the time- I am an impatient asshole to my ex, who lives in close quarters with me ( supposedly a win-win for all parties, but in practice, not always the best), to my friends, and worst of all, to my kids. I struggle to be nice. I have a hard time keeping my temper in check. I yell too much. I say things I regret- if not immediately, then eventually. I hurt the people I care the most about, and it’s crazy because, you might recall from some of my earlier posts- this was one of the main reasons I wanted to get clean in the first place. I wanted to stop hurting people, especially the people I loved.

Well, here’s a news flash: You Don’t Get Better Over Night. Look, I am nowhere near as bad as I used to be, but I am also not the same person I used to be. The person I am now has a different tolerance for pain- because believe me, if I am hurting people with my behavior, I am suffering too. As a matter of fact, it has come to my attention that it’s possible I might beat myself up much harder than I do anyone else. But my truth remains the same- these are people I love, I want to treat them that way. Period. Without fail. And I could do better…in my head, I can almost always see where I went wrong, when I should have walked away, where I could have taken a breath, how I could have chosen to say nothing. Why? I ask myself all the time, Why couldn’t you have done better?

I think I know at least part of the answer- Anger has been a huge defensive tool for me for so much of my life. Anger kept me safe, kept people at arms length, kept questions from being asked that I didn’t know how to answer. When you are a volatile person, people tread lightly around you. Walk on eggshells, even. When being vulnerable is the thing you most fear, anger is a heady drug.

And there is the whole matter of habit- all those pathways burned into my brain, all the things that I let make me angry for all those hundreds or thousands of days in a row. Any switch I had lead to anger, because it was safer. Safer than being unsure, safer than being hurt, safer than being afraid. Anger is big, powerful, and much easier for me to deal with than the “softer” options, such as crying or, I don’t know, admitting that I messed up, that I am in deep trouble, that I need help.

But that was me BEFORE. And this is me NOW. And the woman I am today cannot tolerate the way it feels to behave this way. This morning, when I prayed my daily prayer, I asked sincerely for help- “Look God, I am serious, I NEED YOU to help me with this. Please, please, pretty please. I can’t do this on my own.” And then I said the rest of the stuff I said, and moved on to the meditation practice part of my morning. I had to smile when the theme of the day was “loving kindness”. My God does not mess around.

I have been deliberate with my words and actions all day today, trying to be gentle with myself, because I am growing, and because I am still starting out on the path to who I want to be, and because I just deserve it. And I have been gentle with others, because it has been easy to- it’s when things get rough, or I am tired, or overwhelmed, when it gets hard.

But I believe that when we truly want to change, we begin to change. And that when we sincerely ask God for help (again, feel free to exchange the word God for whatever word you feel comfortable with), help comes. We must do the footwork. We can’t just say “help me!” and then keep going on like we always have. You show up, and the benevolent forces of the Universe show up with you.

I am trying so hard to be someone who knows how to love other people in a way that is beautiful, rather than damaging, and I know it won’t happen over night. But I also know that it has to start somewhere. Why not here?

Posted in Addiction, beauty, Goals, inner peace, Life, love, People, writing

So, This Girl Walks Into a Ballroom…

I’m just going to stop right here and congratulate myself on the title of today’s blog. Pat-pat-pat, okay, that’s better.

This is the actual ballroom I was in!

I want to tell you guys a little bit about the adventure I have been on lately- I think it started with that nervous breakdown I had a few months ago that landed me on leave from work, pinging around my house like a rogue pinball for weeks. After I had burned up all that crazy energy and finally took a nap, I started to feel better. I started to do a lot of important work on myself. I thought I was just trying to get back to “normal”, but God had some other stuff in mind for me. He let me believe whatever I wanted to, of course, because it kept me out of the way of all the important stuff he was putting in place in my life. Then, when it was time for me to go back to work, to rejoin the “real” world, he let me have it.

“Voila!” He said, like a chef revealing the gorgeous meal he’s prepared, whipping the big, shiny, metal dome off the whole thing. But, of course, instead of food, it was my purpose that I found…though I suppose it was more of a re-discovery, than an actual revelation. See, I have known about my love affair with words since I was three-that’s right, THREE- when I started to read. If you would have asked me at age seven what I loved more than anything in the world, aside from my mom and my stuffed monkey, Jo-Jo (shut up), I would have told you “Books.”. In the fourth grade, I was reading at a college level. This is one of my favorite things to brag about, besides the whole reading at three thing.

Because of my love of reading, of words, and being given an imagination of epic proportions, the next natural step for me was writing. Had my life followed some other course than the one it had, I may have published my first novel in my early twenties and been outrageously wealthy by now. But my life took the course it did, into drugs and disarray and sorrow. I never stopped writing, but it was only my love for it that propelled me- there was no hope for publication, no dreams of success in a career, a craft, that I loved desperately.

Fast forward many years, to now. Okay, now rewind a couple of days…yep, right there. See that girl, well…that woman, really. The one over by the door, in the lobby of an enormous building in downtown San Francisco, waiting to ride up to a party full of other writers just like her? Does she look a little nervous to you? Heck, no. ┬áIf she does, you are looking at the wrong girl!

So I went to this party thingy called the “Night of Writing Dangerously” in SF on Sunday night. It was amazing. It was Noir themed, so everyone was dressed up in these beautiful outfits, and, being that it was a writing event, we all had our lap tops. There was an open bar, and waiters walking around with giant trays of bacon wrapped shrimp, and skewers with all kinds of things on them. Then, they let us in the ballroom, and let me tell you…it was really the most elegant, amazing, fun, NOT boring thing I have ever been to.

My point is this- it stuns me, my reality now. How did I get from where I was, to where I am? I have said it before, and I will say it again- there is no logical path here. There is no freeway from the depravity and sickness of drug addiction to a girl in a ballroom, surrounded by everything that she loves in the world. Except, there is a way…there must be, because there I was. Here I am. Do you know how radical that is? Do you know what that means? That anyone, at any time, can change course, can start over, can get back to where they belong. ANYONE.

You know what else? Had my life not taken the path it did, I don’t know if my appreciation for where I am right now would be nearly as deep, nor would I be nearly as grateful. I have seen the other side of life, and THIS is sweet. Do you see how this is all connected? My past, my present, my future? My dreams and my reality? My mental state, my spirituality, the shape of my life? The necessity of all of this, all along? Every minute of it makes sense to me, right now. I am on the right path, on my way.

So, this girl walks into a ballroom…and she walks out, and she knows that this is where she was supposed to be, all along…but she could never have been here before now. I hope that makes sense to you. It makes perfect sense to me. Have an amazing day!