Posted in adventure, happiness, inner peace, Life, Musings, spirit, spirituality

Back to Earth

What a crazy, strange, and indescribable past two weeks it has been. I mean, really- I have done my very best to put into words the experiences and feelings I have been having recently, and I know that I haven’t even come close to doing it justice. I have added at least five or six unpublishable posts to my “drafts” folder here, mostly because they sound like the ramblings of a mad woman.

Finally, it occurred to me, in the midst of my utter frustration yesterday, when failing again to convey what it is I am trying to share with you all…maybe I’m not really supposed to. Maybe parts of this experience are meant just for me, and the reason I can’t outline them adequately is because that’s not what this is for. Perhaps, sometime down the road, if and when I have integrated some of what I’ve been shown into my life and seen some change because of it, then I will be able to. Maybe I never will. Either thing is okay.

What I can share for sure is this- life does not end at death. We go on. Where we go after is a bit of a mystery, but who we are, our souls, continue. And while that is fascinating and wonderful, and such a relief…the fact remains that I am experiencing THIS life in THIS body as THIS person currently known as Courtney. So, where do I go next?

Well, one of the things I know for sure is that I must do my very best to fill this life with as much joy and love and fun as I can. This sounds like it should be easy, right? But I have all these bad habits and barriers I’ve built up over time…ideas about who I am that need to be dealt with. It will not be an overnight process, but at least I can see the next few steps I need to take. That’s really all we ever need to see- the next few steps.

Today, I am going to try very hard not to judge myself for where I am at right now. I am where I am, and there’s no point in being mad about it or bothering with regret. I am going to clean out my fridge and fill it back up with healthy foods- I know this sounds trivial, but nourishing this body I’ve been given seems important to me. I’m going to take my daughter and my dog for a walk on the beach. I’m going to leave my phone in the car. I’m going to invest myself fully in the present moment, and try very hard to not think about tomorrow or yesterday.

Knowing that our souls are eternal does not diminish the fact that all that truly matters in this lifetime is right now, right where we are. Everything else can be dealt with in its time.

So, here’s to living in the moment. Let tomorrow be dealt with when it gets here.

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Posted in adventure, anxiety, faith, happiness, inner peace, Life, love, meditation, Mental Health, Musings, People, spirit, spirituality

Turning Toward the Pain

If you have been following along on this scribbled down leg of my life’s journey with me, then you know that I have been through some STUFF. Since I started this relationship with WordPress years ago, I have shared my stories of addiction, recovery, relapse, and more recently, my exit from recovery. I have talked about guilt, shame, parenting fails, anxiety, depression, and probably a trillion other things I couldn’t possibly remember right now. I have talked about God, about my spiritual life, about my desire to evolve, be better, do better. I write a lot about the times I get up, and I probably write a lot more about the times when I feel knocked down. These are the things I need to speak from my heart more urgently. These are the things I feel called to share.

If you have ever thought “Man, this poor girl can’t catch a break- it’s always something!” I want to be clear that there are always times when I could choose to take a time-out. There are probably months worth of posts where I have been gliding along, feeling peaceful, overflowing with gratitude. But it is my nature to seek. I feel in my soul the urge to grow and change and untangle the knots of who I am. It is inherently part of what makes me me.

This latest little series of posts is no different- although, of course, it is different than anything else I have been through. It’s just a new set of interesting things I am sorting through and figuring out. I am not lost, I am not in over my head, I am not losing my hold on reality. I do not need to be fixed. I am not broken. To the contrary, I am strong, resilient, capable, and independent to a fault.

On that note, I want to tell you that it is entirely possible to be strong, resilient, capable and independent, and still be a walking vessel for fear. I am still afraid, all the time, about things I can’t control. Most, if not all, of them are made up scenarios in my head that I dream up to torture myself. Why do I do this? I couldn’t say. Perhaps I spend too much time alone and have a bit too much going on in the imagination department. If my life were a TV show,  the scenes unfolding in my head would be hilarious. Unfortunately, this is real life, and they aren’t funny in the moment.

I am going through a little phase of this right now. My anxiety is flaring up, my imagination is firing on all cylinders, and the fear is revving its engine, just waiting to tear off down the track, dragging me behind it. And you know what? WHATEVER.

That’s the word I’ve chosen to deal with all of it. WHATEVER. Okay, brain, fine, do your worst. I’m just gonna hang on and let this thing play itself out. I can survive it. I’ve done it a million times before. I have done therapy, read books, reasoned with myself, tried distraction, prayer, meditation…you name it. So, fine. If I insist on continuing this way, then whatever. I accept it.

No, you know what? I more than accept it. This feeling in the pit of my stomach, the harbinger of nerves to come? I embrace it. This feeling comes from a place of deep, if misguided, love. And how lucky am I to love so much that sometimes it hurts me? I wish that my relationship with love didn’t hold so much fear, but right now it does, and while I am working on a solution, I want to take a moment to acknowledge how brave my spirit must be…to be so afraid, and still be able to love the way I do. At least when it comes to my children, I am an open channel of never-ending love, and it is terrifying, but it is also the best, most beautiful part of my life.

So today, rather than admonish myself for my inconvenient feelings, I am going to turn towards them. Turn towards the pain and the fear, and say “I see you. I get it. I understand why you keep showing up.” Maybe I just need to learn to sit with it, instead of always running away. Show my fear, and the pain it causes, some tenderness and understanding, because it’s a part of me, and it comes from a place in me that is hurting. I am not broken. But there are depths I have not explored and places inside that I keep locked away, even from myself. I’m getting closer, all the time, to letting the light in.

I think it’s pretty human to want to get away from things that don’t feel good. Whether it’s a bad pair of shoes, or feelings that make us uneasy or cause us distress- pain, fear, worry, jealousy, anger, sadness. We always want the sunny ones, but the darker ones we feel the need to change, resolve, hide, analyze, fix. But there is value in the painful stuff. There’s a reason, and there’s growth there…painful feelings are trying to tell us something we need to hear. Sometimes it’s just hard to listen because we can’t be still with them. I’m going to try really hard to listen this time.

Feeling less than okay is okay. Today I give myself permission to feel my feelings without judging them or trying to change them, with no expectation of a different outcome. I just want to see how it feels to do something different. I want to see where this path leads.

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, 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.  If 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!