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

Kindness

kindness

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.

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Posted in Blogging, Dreams, fun, funny, humor, Life, living, Musings, People, random

Bad Dreams in a Cold House

cold
photo courtesy of memecrunch.com- not an actual photo of me.

 

I’m sitting here at my desk this morning, bundled up as if I were about to venture out into a hip-high snow drift (is that even a thing, a hip-high snow drift? I live in coastal California, I don’t know if that was right.) Anyway, you get the picture. Beanie, hoodie, jacket, leggings, fuzzy socks and Ugg boots. So where am I going, you wonder? Abso-freaking-lutely nowhere, that’s where I’m going. My thermostat is pushed over to 80, but the temperature in here won’t move even to 60, and the floors feel like ice. Sigh. It’s just an old house, with no insulation, single pane windows, and mysterious breezes blowing in all over the place.

Lucky for me, we get maybe a month of really cold nights a year- that’s what I keep telling myself anyway. To be honest, I can’t ever remember stuff like that, but it’s got to be in that general amount of time. And I know, I know- this is the girl that wants to move to the east coast, she can’t even handle a morning where the outside temp is 39 degrees (it is, I just checked). Well, again- this is California. I am never expecting to be this cold. Especially INSIDE my own house. There are certain things I feel I deserve in life, in return for working diligently and paying all my bills on time. One of them is not to freeze to death indoors. I don’t think that’s asking too too much. If and when I do move to the east coast, you can bet your ass I’m going to ask about insulation, dual pane windows, if the heater works, how drafty the house is, and whether or not the fireplace works. Oh, and maybe get someone to show me how to use a fireplace. That would be a good skill to have.

Anyway, I’m not sure if it was the cold house that caused my entire-night long bad dream last night or what, but it was really, really bad. It wasn’t a nightmare as in “monsters chasing me and my legs won’t run”, it was more typical of my normal sad, stressful, awful dreams. I get those fairly often. The main difference in this one was a.) the subject, and b.) the sheer scope of it. It was about my mom, and I don’t even want to say out loud exactly what it was, but it was terrible. I will be calling her as soon as it is a decent hour, rest assured. This dream was so long. I even woke up for like 20 minutes to escape it, and when I went back to sleep, it kept freaking going. I couldn’t stop it.

You know, it also might be the nicotine patch. I didn’t think about that. They always give me really vivid, crazy dreams. I bet that’s what it was. I could choose not to sleep with it on, but then I wake up in full nic withdrawal, and no one wants to see that. I haven’t smoked since the New Year started, not that it’s even a big deal when I quit anymore- it’s not even a big deal to me. The main difference is, this time the ONLY nicotine I am getting is from the patch. No other avenues. I had to give up chewing, too. Just kidding! I have never used chewing tobacco. Hahaha! I was vaping with a low nicotine vape but I feel like it’s just as bad as smoking, so. No more.

Before I go, I want to mention this- yesterday was my best day ever for views. EVER, in six years of blogging! I have had so many new followers this week, and I have been trying to engage more and be a faithful reader. I just want to say thanks to everyone who stops by. Trust me, I will slow down soon and post a more reasonable amount. This is just the frenetic energy of the fresh, sparkly new year leaving through my fingertips. I especially want to thank Paul at Captains Speech for his New Years Day post that kinda got the ball rolling for me. Thanks, man! (I did it, I did it! I posted a link!)

Have the best weekend EVER! And try to stay warm. Unlike me.

Posted in beauty, family, kids, Learning, letter, Life, love, Musings

If Only You Were Here…

Lupine-1

Dear Grandma Eileen-

It has been so many, many years since I have heard your voice. Just so you know, I keep a picture of you on my refrigerator door, sitting there, at the end of that big oak table around which we shared so many happy meals, cups of coffee, games of gin rummy. My God, how terribly I miss you. I miss the smell of the make-up on your cheek, the sound of your voice saying “Corty”, or “Sweetheart” while you held me close in one of your wonderful hugs. I miss dialing your number and hearing you answer with “Mmm Yel-low.”

I miss being able to go home to you- I can go to your house any time I wish, but it is hard on me, now. Since you are not there, it just isn’t the same. I miss the way you loved me so much, you could look past the mess that I had become, and still see the sweet little girl inside of me. It is a gift, to be loved that way. I wish I had known it at the time. But I was very young, still, and terribly selfish. I was also very sick, and angry, and lost. I hope you have forgiven me for hurting you, wherever you are now.

I love you, still, and I miss you, always. If I had a magic wand, and I could go back in time, even just for a night, I would choose to go back to when I was a child, before you or papa were gone, just so I could be with you for a little while. How safe I felt then, and loved. I knew that when I was with you, there was nothing in the world that could ever hurt me. I am so grateful that you gave me that feeling, I am grateful for it all the time.

But I don’t have a magic wand. I only have my memories, and I do my best to keep them sharp and clear. I can’t change who I was, or take back my less kind moments, but I can remember the love you gave me, and the way it felt, and I can honor you by trying to love my children in that way. So that is what I do. I am not even nearly always successful, but I hope you can look down on me from heaven, and be proud of me. I hope that more than anything.

I was just thinking of you this morning, and wished that I could talk to you. This is the only way I could make it happen. I hope you are happy where you are, and that you look in on me, from time to time. I miss you, grandma. Thank you for loving me. It changed my life.

Love,

Courtney Loreanne.