Tag Archives: truth

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?

Advertisements

Glimpsing The Truth

window

I have been sort of coming up empty handed when it comes to stuff I feel like writing about lately. I have been working on some other, non-bloggy, stuff. And there have been at least two blogs I WANTED to write, and that you all really would have enjoyed, but nevertheless, these blogs would have caused me deep shame later, so I opted out. I am trying not to be an asshole, no matter how satisfying being that person is at times.

Today though, as I was driving, and, as so often happens when you are driving, I was nowhere near my laptop, I was struck by inspiration. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time unconsciously making plans for my imaginary life. What I mean by this is…well, my thoughts go something like this “When I am my perfect self with a perfect life that is perfectly organized and totally “normal”, and my house is always clean and I have awesome, perfect, friends whom I invite to perfect dinner parties, then I will…” Fill in the blank with whatever thing my imaginary self will then do in my imaginary life. Now, of course, I don’t actually compose this entire mess of run-on sentence in my head. It’s more of just an implied personal nirvana life, you understand.

Anyway, you ever have moments when the veil of your perception lifts, slightly, just for a moment? You ever get just a tiny little glimpse of the truth, and it leaves you completely thunderstruck? Well, this happened to me today. It suddenly occurred to me that- hold onto your pants, now- that perfect life, that perfect me? It doesn’t exist. Now, I am not saying that I could not be a better me. I fully believe, and expect, that I will continue to see all kinds of versions and levels of a better me, as time goes on and I continue on this path. But the perfect me? No. Not only can that not exist for me, but it doesn’t really exist for ANYONE.

And that, I think, is the real issue here. I forget that what I see, the surface part of peoples lives, the  things they show to us, are not their reality. I am basing my ideals for myself on the selected portions of life that other people decide to share with the world, the part they are comfortable with showing. Jesus, to be quite frank with you, were you to scroll through my Facebook timeline, you might think I was a pretty together chick. I don’t even LOOK like ninety percent of the pictures I post of myself. Hahahahaha!

I am not always thoughtful, or funny, or cheeky and positive. I am not any of those things most of the time. I am just a normal, middle aged (and goddammit, I AM middle aged, I am 40!) single mom. I have kid problems and man problems and a mole on my chin that three hairs grow out of (two black, one grievously gray) more rapidly with each plucking. I can’t seem to keep track of my socks, I am generally behind on laundry, and I hate washing pots, pans, and my dogs. And if your life IS perfect? I don’t even want to be friends with you. Who needs that kind of pressure?

But I will tell you what I do have, right now, today: I have a little house with a big yard, and an outstanding view. Inside this house are two beautiful daughters who love me more than anything- one who tells me everything I never wanted to know because she trusts me, and one who still thinks I can do anything, because she is four. I have two dogs, and one cat, and more love than these walls could ever contain. We have food in the fridge and the lights are still on, somehow. We are doing alright.

Maybe the truth is, this is my perfect life. Maybe it doesn’t get any better than this.

You Are Right Where You Are Supposed To Be.

Image

 

You may absolutely disagree with me. You may think- “You don’t even know me! This is not where I am supposed to be! This is not at all where my life was supposed to end up! I don’t even know how the hell this happened to me! Shut up!”

My annoying response is this- “I don’t have to know you, I promise you it is, you would know if you took a minute to think it over, and you better figure it out because time is a-movin’ along. Oh, and NO. I won’t shut up. This is my blog, I can say whatever I want to.”

Seriously, though, the way I look at it, there are no mistakes. Wait, scratch that…yes, we humans make mistakes, but are they REALLY? I mean, look back at your life, especially at the worst, most awful, gut-wrenching things. I don’t know about you, but it was those times specifically that lead to the greatest changes for the better. Romantic train wrecks made me so much wiser about love…losing friends and loved ones to the great big eraser in the sky made me appreciate the ones who were still around, or even my own life a little more. Health scares, both real and imagined, made me take better care of myself. We grow because of our trials and tribulations. My theory is, trials and tribulations are the precise reason we are here.

Right now, I am in a great phase of my life. Two months ago, that was not the case. Two months ago, I would have just as soon not read any cheery, spiritual drivel such as this- and I would not have hesitated to tell you exactly where you could go, and how you could fuck yourself, thank you very much. I was not feeling very in touch with my spiritual side…except, of course, during those two a.m. prayers of desperation to God (they call those “foxhole prayers” for a reason) when I was fairly certain I was going to die, go to jail, lose my job, or rather spectacularly, all three, in whatever order was most humiliating. I am smart enough to understand that I will encounter periods of unrest again, in the future. What I am learning, though, is I do have a little control over just how bad things get.

What I believe to be more true than anything else, and only because I have seen it proved to me, time after time, is this: You may not like where you are at. You may think it is unfair, unwarranted, unbelievable, even. But you are exactly where you need to be right now, in order to get to the fantastic place the Universe is hoping to take you- now whether or not you arrive there at all depends more on you and the choices you make than anything else. Just because the Universe WANTS the best for you does not mean it can control what path you take…my goodness, I hope this makes sense. 

Here’s the deal: If you sit back on your ass and do nothing but cry all day, only God himself could scoop you up and sit you in the good and happy life that is your birthright. Trust me, God has got his hands full with far more pressing things than whether or not your lazy, whiny behind makes it to the house with the white picket fence.And if he did, do you think you would really be happy? Isn’t part of the joy of getting somewhere or achieving something, the work it took to get there? You need to earn it to appreciate it, right? There are all kinds of forces at work, cheering you on, loving you, protecting you, wanting the best for you. BUT YOU HAVE TO WANT IT TOO! There is work to be done. There are no shortcuts, man. Get up, get busy, get moving- see what is out there waiting for you. Wherever you are, however far astray you have gone, you can turn it around.

Now excuse me, would you? I am on my way to another big adventure…actually, I just need to wash my dog, but that sounds so boring after my big speech, doesn’t it? Hahaha! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Rest Until You’re Ready Again.

hurt

 

I wrote a blog last night. It was really long, and I was really tired. I decided not to post it, but to read it over in the morning…I am very glad I showed some restraint, there, because I surely did not in what I had written. I know you are dying to read it now, but you will just have to wait until either I am dead, or someone hacks my WordPress account. And let me just say, how bored would THAT person have to be? Also, it was a bit hard to read, as I changed the subject about twice a sentence. Yeah, not everything I write is fantastic- unlike this little gem is already proving to be. Ha!

So, let me tell you about my week- the one that just passed. My older daughter got thrown into Juvenile Hall, I have probably removed five years from my life thanks to my blood pressure remaining around stroke levels for a record amount of days due to seething rage and hatred, and, the tattered remains of the “relationship” I was hoping to salvage, were found to be utterly unsalvageable. I say “relationship” because, truly, it has been less than that for longer than I care to admit. Way longer than I was willing to stop pretending. Plus, we do not relate to one another in ANY manner, so how can it be called a relationship? I think what we had was more like a fiascoship, or a nightmareship, or something. Okay, I better stop, or I won’t be able to post this one either.

You know what? I am fucking exhausted. I am tired of working like a crazy person to keep so many things going, for so many people, and getting very little appreciation for it. I am tired of defending myself to selfish teenagers and selfish men who couldn’t make it a day in my shoes. I miss my daughter like crazy, and I wish that she were home, but it would be pretty nice to have her treat me kindly when she didn’t want something from me. I tried as hard as it is possible for me to try to make things work with the little one’s dad, and I know I did. I also know that there are no more ways I can trick myself into thinking I have found a solution, a way for us to soldier on until a more permanent fix is found, down the road.

Here is the deal- I believe in my true heart that the man I spent the past five years of my life with is a really messed up person. I know he reads this, and I’m sorry if this offends him, but he really is. The level of deceit that goes on in his daily routine, and the volume of negative, unhealthy energy he carries around with him is so unusual that I honestly couldn’t come to terms with it. The ONLY thing I have seen him do well is be a dad, and even then, that extends only to our child together. His other kid, who is really a great person, has been mostly out of sight for FIVE years. So I can only wonder how our experience will go. I have never before felt the way I do when I am around him- like I could really harm him, or anyone foolish enough to upset me further than he already has- and I never, ever want to again. I don’t like myself at all when I am near him, ninety percent of the time, and I don’t want to continue to be with someone who I can’t like myself around. My kid, I can’t get rid of ( and I love her, I really don’t want to), but I don’t have to do this anymore.

I know that I need to start making better decisions. I knew this a long time ago, when I kept choosing to stay when, inside, I KNEW it was a bad idea. I didn’t understand how high the stakes would end up being- now we have a kid, and I am older, and I am scarred from all of this shit. Not to mention, I have plenty of my own issues to deal with, aside from this. Ack! I am getting overwhelmed just talking about this, right now…which brings me to my point:

I spend a good portion of my day, every single day of my life, questioning myself, condemning myself, and doubting myself. I worry that I am not a good mother, that my kids will grow to hate me, that I do everything wrong, that I do not love them enough, or let them know how loved they are. I worry about my job, about not liking my job, about losing my job even though I don’t really love it, I worry that I don’t deserve my job. I worry about this relationship bullshit- that he’s right, and it’s me, that I am too harsh. That I have stayed too long, given up too soon, that I am making a mistake. I worry that I will be alone forever, and that I might have to go through this again. And those are just THREE parts of my life! Can you imagine?

I am going to try to be kind to myself. After he leaves, I generally have this wretched feeling of mean-ness and failure, and this is no different. I am not going to allow myself to continue punishing myself for where I am. I didn’t want to be here, but it’s where I am. I need to be okay so that I don’t have to stay here, right? I am NOT going to think about what’s next, nor dwell on what has happened. Today, I am just going to do what I told my toddler to do, yesterday, when she was getting frustrated, trying to learn to hop on one foot-“Rest a minute ’til you calm down- just rest until you’re ready.”

Dilemma

now-what-slideI haven’t felt like writing, the last couple of days. Or, I haven’t felt like writing the stuff I want to write about. Okay, that makes no sense…I guess I don’t feel able to write about the stuff that would make the most sense for me to write about right now, because it is personal, and writing personal stuff has become an issue. Not for me, though- I have no problem with it at all. It’s that, unfortunately, my personal problems nearly always involve at least one other person, and that other person, no matter who it is, gets upset at me for writing about them. My mother thinks I portray her as a horrible person. My best friends somehow interpreted a blog about them as me calling them alcoholics (I re-read this very carefully, and there is no credence to this whatsoever). And of course, the man with whom I share my most recent child…he gets very upset.

The biggest issue he has seems to be that I do not fairly represent his perspective…well, yeah! Most of the writing I have done about him has been in moments of anger, despair, and frustration, and most of the time I was utterly baffled by his behavior. Kind of hard to describe a point of view you are incapable of seeing. Lots of times I wrote as a means to give order and sense to a confusing set of circumstances. Or just to blow off steam. That’s how I always wrote before I had a blog, for the same reasons. I realize that this is a public forum, and if I wasn’t such a praise junky, I’d have made it anonymous and kept my stuff somewhat private…but I am, and here we are.

I resent having to censor myself. Part of me thinks people should just act right and then they’d have nothing to worry about, right? Part of me thinks people are overly-sensitive and not very honest with themselves about what is and is not true about their character. Most of me just feels frustrated that I am worried about speaking my mind, and allowing this to affect my writing, the one thing I have one hundred percent freedom with. A small part of me thinks I would not like someone else writing about me. Ugh.

I could write it out in a private word document, but what would be the fun in that? I am hooked on hitting the “publish” button, then checking my stats every three minutes for the next 24 hours. WordPress has ruined me.

So, I am not going to tell any of you anything. At least not about this, not right now. I will do what the other 98% of the world does when something is eating away at them-keep it to myself, stew, take it out on innocent bystanders. Have some road rage. Take Ativan on a weekend morning, in protest of my insufferable thoughts, and as a flagrant act of passive-aggression. Can’t piss me off if I’m unconscious, that’s my motto. Eh, if only I still had some Ativan…

I’m unhappy. I was so happy just recently, and so this unhappiness is unexpected, and doubly upsetting. I know how to be happy, but I don’t like thinking about what I must do to get there. But the answer has always been the same, I just keep finding new ways to side-step it. I think I am out of ideas. If that is not vague enough to make you want to throw a shoe at me, I don’t know what could be. And I’m sorry. One more thing I just don’t know how to get around right now. Goodnight.

Obamacare: What you think, what you know.

obamacare-passed-what-means-you.w654

About a month ago, I was lucky enough to sit in on a monthly “Employee Forum” at the hospital where I work. It’s just another way that my employer makes an effort to keep the lines of communication open, address any fears or rumors, and find out how they can keep their employees happy. I am a lucky girl, I know. All of the top dogs are in attendance at these meetings- the CEO, the heads of every hospital department, and we sit with them, at one big table, and eat lunch. After lunch, we take turns asking any questions we have, or that have been sent with us by the people in our departments. These questions run the gamut from “Can we please get better toilet paper in the public restrooms?” to “Why are we supporting this health care reform act?”

As I told my cousin, on our way to dinner last night, this last question made me a little nervous- it was asked in the voice of one who was not at ALL of a mind to support this whole “Obamacare” bologna. The summarized answer he received was this: “We have already seen a good deal of benefit from the parts of this initiative that have been implemented, FOR our community of PATIENTS. We recognize that it is not a perfect plan, but if we wait until it is perfect, we will be waiting forever.” In other words, my employer has decided, as a whole, that we can get behind what supports our community, because we, ultimately, are all about caring for our community. And we are willing to work with what we are given, focusing on the positive.

Another, very enlightening, fact that was presented to us was this: 70% of people, when asked if they support the healthcare reform from our current President, vehemently say NO! Yet, when those same 70% are asked whether or not they support the individual key points set forth within the act, they overwhelmingly are in support of those ideas…hmm. What this tells me is that there is an enormous amount of fear and misinformation surrounding this thing, and public education for EVERYONE needs to be undertaken to stop the circulation of far-fetched horror stories. At the end of the day, some people are not going to like it, maybe…but it is designed to make health care accessible for everyone, not a luxury for the lucky. I STRONGLY believe that everyone, no matter what their situation, deserves the help they need to care for themselves, period. They deserve to have one doctor who knows them, and follows them, and is therefore able to make the correct conclusions about this persons appropriate care.

Under this act:

Dependents can remain on their parents insurance plan until age 26: No one is saying they have to, or even that they should- but they can, that is all. Which has made a huge difference in millions of lives, already.

Your insurance cannot drop you if you get sick, or because you made a mistake on your paperwork: My daycare provider just told me that she lost her insurance coverage because, after getting cancer, her premiums skyrocketed, basically making it impossible for her, a self employed person, to afford.  They may not have dropped her, but they definitely impeded her ability to stay insured.

You cannot be denied coverage for preexisting conditions, nor can your children; Say for instance your company changes insurance companies- the new company cannot exclude you because you have health issues, or if your children do.

I think the people who are really running scared right now are the insurance companies- and they should be! The structure of the big insurance companies is being threatened with exposure, and the end result is that the general public will learn how messed up the whole system really is. Why is it that insurance is so expensive that most people can’t purchase it for themselves- so expensive that many businesses can’t purchase it for their employees? When the majority of people ARE NOT sick, or injured, or spending a great deal of time hospitalized? Why is it so hard to get a claim paid? What about the denials and BS explanations for why perfectly reasonable things are not being paid?

Here’s the deal, guys, and this is the truth- People with insurance are much more likely to have a primary care doctor, and use him. People that are using that doctor are going to have routine blood work and tests done. Those tests are going to detect illnesses such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and many things much sooner, making treatment easier, and often preventing any need for hospitalization, or greatly reducing the number of hospital days…which reduces the financial impact on the insurer, which reduces the financial impact for EVERYONE.

Here’s another thing- people with insurance do not have to go to the ER for ear infections, colds, breast lumps, eye infections, stomach aches, migraines, bronchitis, chronic illnesses and refills of prescriptions. Right now, this is what they do, and they do it every single day, hundreds of times a day, just where I work alone. We see every one of them, because they are humans who deserve to be well. But when they cannot pay for their treatment, what do you think happens? The prices for services begin to rise for all of the folks who do have insurance.

This is not an easy dilemma, and perhaps it is a flawed initiative. But concentrating on keeping people well by providing them insurance and physician care to avoid illness, and making insurance companies be responsible, accountable, and humane, seems like a good start. We need to take a page out of my employers book, and work with what we are given. And if that is not good enough for you- this is America, after all. Educate yourself and make some changes!

My Name is Courtney, and I am an addict

I am not proud of this. In fact, it is a truth that has plagued my life for such a long time, I am pretty sick of it. I have written about it before, but I always wrote about what it WAS like for me, in the past. Today, I want to talk about what it has been like for me, presently.

I am clean now, but the past few years have been a roller coaster ride of relapse, recovery, the highs of beating down my affliction once again, and the lows of allowing myself to get caught up, yet again. In Narcotics Anonymous, and more and more in the medical world, they consider addiction a disease. This has been a struggle for me to accept completely because I know wholeheartedly that there is an element of free will involved. At least, at first there is. After a while, saying no and stopping is much more difficult, but still possible. So the conclusion I have come to is that it is a disease of the spirit, because that is what addiction seems to paralyze- your essential spirit, the great stuff that makes YOU who YOU are.

When I am using, I do not write on this blog. So you can probably go back and, just by seeing when I was writing and when I was not, get a pretty fair idea of how often I have been clean. Now, don’t freak out- I also sometimes stop writing just because I am busy or I have gotten out of the habit of it, so it’s a FAIR representation, not exact. I have struggled with the idea of writing this particular topic for a while, but I want, more than anything, to tell the truth (because it is liberating) and to let other people know, maybe, that they are not alone, or that what their family members go through, perhaps, is not as easy as you think it ought to be. If you are a non-addicted person looking at an addict that you love, you may wonder why the hell they don’t just knock it off. Well, they don’t know either, but I can promise you, their lives are a kind of hell you do not know, you cannot see from where you sit. What goes on inside of a person in the midst of their addiction is a suffering that reaches every place. The thing is, only that person can make the decision to pull themselves out. And what I have learned is that sometimes, that is a decision you have to make again and again. If we knew why, the puzzle would be solved, wouldn’t it? Then we could tell the world, swallow a pill or whatever and be cured. It doesn’t work that way.

When I am using, I won’t talk to my mom. If my friends ask me if I am getting high again, I lie. I don’t want to lie, but I don’t want to tell the truth either. When I am using, I live in fear every day of losing my job, my kids, my mind. I have come precariously close to losing my job and my mind, not so much my kids (Thank GOD.). BUT…when I am using, I am not a good mother. Even when I do every single thing the exact same way that I would do any other time, there is a disconnect there, and a sharpness about me that takes away the softness that being a mommy brings.

I am clean now. I have been for a while, but as I said, it has been hard to hold onto. In my mind, I made it a lot harder to get to than it needed to be. So if you are in the midst of that hell right now, I encourage you to push yourself a little to get out of the mess you are in. If you can survive weeks, months, years of misery with drugs, surely three or four miserable days, or weeks, without them, knowing there will be the reward of your life back at the end, is doable, right?

And if you are not someone who has never  been through this- or even more so, if you are someone who HAS, and who has become intolerant because you have forgotten the reality of what that pain is like, I would just ask that you practice patience and tolerance. This is not an easy road, and most of us would not have taken it, had we known. We would have gotten off if we’d known how.

This was not easy for me to write, and it won’t be easy to post. So please…just be kind. Thanks.

The Heart of a Mommy

courtesy of Gail Nogle Photography

I would like to dedicate this post to all the moms I know, but especially to Amanda Davis, and her one month old baby girl, Maxine. I love you with all my heart.

The day that each of us got the news, either from a doctor, or, more commonly, from the stick we just peed on that had the nerve to turn pink, our lives began to change. I cannot speak for everyone, but I know for me, the first few months were a mixture of fear (is everything alright in there? What the hell will I do with a baby!?), excitement, and that weird, buoyant radiance that feels different from any other thing apart from pregnancy. We become so in tune with our bodies, and every day we wake up with a new sense of purpose- to carry this life within us carefully, safely, to it’s fruition. Not everyone of us gets to do this perfectly- I have friends who have lost babies, friends whose babies were born so, so early that they spent months in the hospital keeping vigil at their tiny infants bedside. For many of us, as mothers, this is the first time our lives are every truly hard or scary- it’s like everything before this pain is NOTHING in comparison.

From the time we feel their movement inside of us for the very first time, like a butterfly’s wings fluttering or a flurry of tiny bubbles brushing against us, to the alien rolls and elbow jabs of late pregnancy, we begin to develop a relationship with this little person. Then the moment arrives when they are ready to come out into the world, and time stands still the first time you see this marvelous, beautiful human being for the first time, or hear their tiny, gorgeous voice. There is nothing in the world like this.

You have expectations. What you think they will look like, what you think they will be like. Then, here they are, so different than you imagined- and yet perfect, better in every way than you could ever dream up on your own. A lot of times, we are so busy and caught up in them, these little miracles we get to claim as our own, that we don’t see what is becoming of us. The  biggest miracle of all, for me, was what happened to my heart the day that I began to love my first daughter.

Before she came along, I was very, very self- possessed ( I”m not saying I’m so damned perfect now, I’m just saying you should have seen me before!) and it was incredibly hard for me to be empathetic for others. But the love that came to me with her was so profound, so incredibly pure and perfect, there was no way I could accept that love and not be fundamentally changed. My heart was just laid open, and it changed who I was. It was really the best day of my life.

I was very, very young, and messed up countless times with that child. I will go so far as to admit that she got a bad deal with me. I wish I could go back and change it all, I really do, but you know how useless that is.  But I will tell you this- because of my love for her, I had the good sense to feel guilty about the way I was living, and the desire to change grew from that. Because of my oldest girl, and my love for her, I found my way out of the mess I was living in, and became someone better.

My second daughter knocked out every barrier I had left, allowing light in all of the places I had hidden away for myself. There was no place left in me now that was safe from emotion. My second daughters birth obliterated me with that love, and I was so ready and receptive to it. My heart expanded, making room for both of my girls and so, so much more. You think you know about love before you have kids, and I hope I don’t offend you when I say, with all sincerity, you don’t. You can’t, it’s not possible, it’s different, it’s rare and perfect and amazing. I know you love your dog, you love your parents, you love your husband. But this love, while absolutely worthwhile and good and necessary, is not the wrecking ball love you get with your babies. It destroys you and resurrects you into someone so much better than you were before- softer and stronger, deeper and…just better.

As our children grow, and the time flies by, there comes a moment when you realize that there is a distance growing between you. Then you come to understand that this was always the purpose of all of these years- to raise them and to let them go. It happens so fast. So, so much faster than you would have believed fifteen or so years ago…it breaks your heart. No matter how rotten and selfish and foul mouthed they have become, they are the same big-eyed, sweet smelling, little miracles who latched onto your heart with their sticky hands and kissed you with their runny noses underneath all that teenage loathing, and it hurts to let them go. But that is all you can do.

My advice to you, just starting out, is to relish every minute of it. Every time you start to feel fussier than the baby making you climb the walls, look down into that tiny face, and memorize it, because in five minutes they will be someone else. It goes by in a heartbeat. You cannot love too much, listen too much, be too affectionate, be too present …when they are small. But you can  do and be too little of all of these things, and you will carry that pain with you for the rest of your life-so do yourself a favor, and be the kind of parent you can be proud to be. You will not regret it. Welcome to the mommy club. May the force be with you.

Only You Know The Truth

As you know, a while back, I began the messy process of falling apart. Now, I consider myself somewhat of an expert at this particular activity…only, this time, it was different. Usually, it takes some type of EVENT to start my little disaster a-rollin’, but in this case, nothing had outwardly changed. I still had beautiful, healthy children. I still had my home and my awesome job. I still had a roller-coaster of a relationship with the same guy I’d been riding along with for the past four years.

And yet…day by day, my misery mounted. My moods, at first, were mercurial and alarming, but eventually settled down into “horrible”. For a good while, I soldiered on, putting on my Stepford Wives face for work, then discarding it the minute I got home, locking myself in my room, snarling at anyone who interfered with whatever nonsense I was doing. I withdrew from EVERYONE who loved me, either because I didn’t feel like hearing whatever they had to say, or because I didn’t want to bring them down. I desperately wanted to get better, but I wouldn’t do any of the things I knew I needed to do to get there. I was tired of asking for help, and too stubborn to help myself. In short, it sucked. Bad.

One day, I woke up, and I just could not, under any circumstances, do it for one second more. I could not get up, get dressed, go to work, and pretend I was fine, while in my head I was terrified that, at any moment, I was literally going to run screaming from the hospital. I could not pretend I was fine, period. It was killing me.

So I hit my pause button- stopped everything dead in it’s tracks- and I went out on FMLA for mental health reasons. At the time, I felt like I was a full of shit liar, but HELLO! Why is it so hard to see our own dysfunction while we are in the midst of it? I was off my freaking rocker, and anyone who knows me can vouch for that.

I knew it was pretty bad when I told my mom that I had taken leave from work, and, rather than the scornful scolding I expected, she said “Oh, Thank God!” or something like that. I mean, she lives ten hours away, and she could see how ill I had become.

The first three weeks were not so good. I slept a lot, I ate a lot, I gave in to my depression. I spent a lot of time crying, and the rest of the time trying to figure out what I was going to do. Should I check myself in somewhere? Should I get the hell out of dodge? Should I just go back to bed? I thought I was just spinning my wheels, but I see now that I was doing something incredibly important. I was giving myself some time- a LOT of time- to breathe, to think, to grieve, to fall apart- with no pressure. I mean, what an incredible gift I gave myself…a long chain of days to just feel what I was feeling instead of fighting it and masking it and pretending I was fine.

In the midst of all this, my mom, who is the queen of practical gifts for your crisis (she once, when I was in my early thirties, sent me this package that I excitedly opened, only to find a case of laxative TEA. No shit. Pun intended.) sent me a book called “Finding Your Own North Star” by Martha Beck. I had my doubts, but cracked it open anyway. Have you ever been completely lost in the middle of your own life and suddenly found the exact set of directions you needed to find your way home again? Well, this book was that thing for me. Or the first part of that thing, anyway. It described to me exactly where I was, exactly what was happening, and precisely how to deal with it. I am still reading it, weeks later, bit by bit, but every time I open it up, it assures me, yes, yes, what is happening now is what is supposed to be happening.

You see, apparently, the way I was living was so out of sync with who I truly am, that I was losing my mind. When you are doing what you think you are supposed to be doing ( in other words, what your mom and your boss and “society” thinks is correct) and it is in direct odds with what the REAL you, the one that wants to be a cross dressing ballroom dancer, lets say, NEEDS to do- it can make you do exactly what I did. You can bet your ass you are going to wake up one day and, though that good and obedient, people pleasing you will want to get up and go, go, go, happy to perpetuate the facade of happiness, the REAL you is going to refuse.

So, here I am. Doing what I am meant to do, which is write. I don’t care if I am writing MY truth, as I am in this blog, or writing the make believe story of a make believe person in a novel (which I have done, and will be doing again for nanowrimo, yay!). When I am doing THIS, I feel alive and excited. I feel like what I am saying is important and worthwhile, and I feel engaged and full of that fire that I cannot access any other way. For me, this is LIVING.  There is more to it, as well, but this post is getting REALLY long, so I will leave it at that.

What is it that you feel passionately about? What path does your heart long to follow? I want to hear your answers, even if you feel stupid and have never told another living soul. Please don’t wait until it goes to hell in a handbasket before you set yourself free. Can’t wait to hear from you!

In Honor of…Well, Me.

I am a terrible housekeeper. As much as I dislike the mess, I am just not that great at picking up after myself. My mother, who is not only organized and neat but has a home that could be featured in a home decor magazine, does not understand this.

“If you just get in a routine…” She tells me, “It’s really easy.” All the while looking at me as if she doesn’t understand how she could have missed my learning disability all these years. But I am not so clueless that I don’t GET how ridiculous it is for a relatively intelligent woman to be baffled by a pile of dishes in her sink, overwhelmed by DUST, and incapable of remembering to pick up her panties off the bathroom floor before her company arrives.

The conclusion I have come to is that it is easy for HER, and it is hard for me. Sort of like the way being a bleeding heart liberal is second nature for me, but not so much for all the conservative (insert any other colorful descriptives you want) republicans littering our streets. We are what we are, and until it becomes imperative, or really, really important to ourselves that we change, we remain that way. Sometimes, even then, we can only make a fraction of the improvement we wish to.

I am so not saying that people can’t really change- I believe with all my heart that part of our jobs here as humans are TO change. Especially those crappy little parts we keep hidden from all but those lucky folks closest to us. What I am saying is that maybe, instead of focusing a ton of energy on being who other people think we should be (MOM), we ought to save the bulk of the work for becoming super awesome at the best part of who we are. Yes, it is important to live in a home that has some cleanliness and order- otherwise, your children will contract previously unknown bacterial infections that will then be named after you, and that is how you will be remembered for all of time. Lets face it- you don’t want to go down in Wikipedia as the originator of “Duncholera” or “Duncanyllococci” or something, and have school children cutting and pasting your visage into their essays until an antibiotic is found, right? So for me, that means understanding the difference between being lazy and using my ineptitude as an excuse for slobbishness, and making a solid effort to not wind up on the show “Hoarders.”

I think part of what led to my recent descent into the pit of doom and depression was my despair at being unable to adapt the way I thought I should have into my role as the mother and woman counterpart in a family unit.  I felt like I wasn’t good enough at running my household, at getting dinner made every night, washing the dishes, singing the lullabyes, paying the bills and fixing all manner of domestic wrong. And to make matters worse, I didn’t just feel like a failure…I resented and disliked that role as well. Here I had given up everything that made me happy in the world for THESE PEOPLE (i.e., my children and boyfriend) and I sucked at it. Enter all forms of self sabotage and abuse, causing depression and further dysfunction, blah blah blah.

Well, duh. I was trying to do what I thought I SHOULD be doing instead of what was right for me. This morning, I was sitting outside, sipping my coffee, thinking about things, and it occurred to me that my current happiness is directly related to me being excited about my life again. I have plans to head out of town today with my best friend Grace, to go visit our other best friend, Vera, in San Francisco. Next week, I am starting NanoWriMo, this month long writers event, and I’m excited to be attending the first write-in on the first. The day after that, I am going to Reno for an NA convention with some friends.

Every single one of these things feeds my soul, and makes me happy. When I am happy, somehow the dishes get done, the bed gets made and life becomes easier to manage. The baby and I have even found a new way to cope with each other when things start to get a little tense between us- we get into a warm bath together with about a gallon of Lavender scented bath products and we soak until we can stand each other again. There may also be some rubber ducky antics thrown in, just to keep things fun.

Today, I am going to honor and adore who I am, not who you want me to be, who you think I am, not even who I wish I was. Because the greatest service I can provide the universe is to be the very best version of myself I am capable of being. And not to infect you all with Duncholera. Have a fantastic day!