Posted in Addiction, family, friendship, housekeeping, inner peace, Learning, Life, motherhood, People, recovery

Mementos

letters

I spent a good portion of last weekend cleaning my house. It needed to be done, and it always feels great having order restored, however temporary that order may be. But, when I found myself house-bound with a sick child both Monday and Tuesday, I was sort of at a loss for what to do. I could have folded the three loads of laundry that are sitting in a basket on my couch, but for whatever reason, I just can’t quite bring myself to deal with that. I did my normal avoidance routine, consisting of screwing around online, and binge watching yet another show (Mom this time, on Hulu- if you haven’t watched it, check it out. It’s pretty hilarious.). Eventually, though, I had to do something else, something productive, and I knew it was time. Time to deal with The Closet.

The Closet is in the hall, four doors, two on the bottom, two on the top, and I have been avoiding it for three years. Well, three years in March. That’s when I moved into this house, and that’s when I shoved The Closet full of bags and boxes of paperwork and keepsakes and God only knows what else, and left it to rot. I was still getting loaded when I moved into this place, and to be honest, I’ve been a little afraid of what I might find if I went poking around in there.

But on Monday, I put my big girl pants on and started digging- one bag and box at a time. There was a lot of junk, sure…things I should have thrown out eons ago. Printer cartridges for printers I don’t own anymore, file folders full of bills that no longer exist, insurance information for cars I no longer own. I filled up my recycle bin in the space of a few hours. I didn’t find anything to be ashamed of, though, and certainly nothing that put my recovery in danger. So that was a relief.

And then…and then I found some other stuff. I’ve kept boxes for each of my children- those fancy, pretty banker boxes- not the plain brown kind, but the ones you can buy at Marshall’s or Target with the beautiful designs on them? I’ve kept them for my kids and for myself for quite some time. I never really thought about how long I’ve kept them, and I don’t know if I’ve every thoroughly, soberly, gone through them since I started, but…I’m really glad I did.

Although I am working hard on my opinion of myself as a mother today, in the present, my opinion of the kind of mother I have been in the past has become rather concrete. I was a horrible mother, I decided, with no redeemable qualities, and my daughter would have been better off with anyone else. I was heartless and unloving and drug addicted, and I can rarely think of a time when I didn’t suck, heartily, at the task of parenting my eldest child. But her box of mementos tells a different story. I have every art project, every note to Santa and the Tooth Fairy, every report card and hand-made note she ever made for me- so many that I might need a bigger box. This “horrible mother” wrote things my daughter said to me on sticky notes and kept them, all these years. There are pictures of us that I had forgotten about, and we are laughing and playing, and clinging onto one another with love. My mind, my awful, lying mind told me a story and I believed it, and I have carried it around with me for all these years, without question. The things in this box tells me that maybe there is more to that story, more that I need to remember.

In my own box, I found cards and letters- real, hand written letters- from people whom I love, and who love ME. Letters from my best friend Grace, and letters and cards from my grandparents and mom, and a whole bunch of letters from Joe, my friend who died in August. You can’t imagine, you really can’t begin to imagine, how much that meant to me. Reading through all of those words from people who cared so much about me, not just when I was clean, but throughout the worst parts of my life, reminded me that I still had value, I was still worth so much, even when I believed myself to be worthless. I may not have been well, but I was loved, and I was worth something to all these people.

It blows my mind that living the crazy, chaotic life that I lived for so long, having lost nearly everything I owned on more occasions than I can remember, I managed to save these amazing items. I lost households of furniture and closets of clothes, but I have the discharge papers from my daughter’s birth in 1997, and all the cards from the people who visited me at the hospital. I lost everything, except the most important things of all- the slips of paper, the glossy cards, the letters that could fill in for me the memories I lost along the way. The story of a girl who wasn’t all dark, who always had a little light, a little more worth, than I could have remembered on my own.

The Closet is nearly done now- just one more shelf to go, and it will be neat as a pin. I put those boxes away after shedding a few tears, and I sat down on the couch full of wonder and feeling so much lighter. I am not exactly who I thought I was, and for once, I was so glad to be wrong…and anytime I start to forget, or start listening to the lying voice in my head, I know I can just pull one of those boxes down out of that closet, and find all the evidence I need that I’m not all bad. That there was something worth saving in me all along.

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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, advice, family, kids, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random, recovery

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.

Posted in Addiction, advice, Goals, inner peace, Learning, Life, love, People

You Are Right Where You Are Supposed To Be.

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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!

Posted in aging, family, inner peace, Learning, Life, love, People, relationships

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.”

Posted in family, friendship, inner peace, Life, love, People, relationships, Uncategorized

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.

Posted in advice, family, kids, Learning, Life, People, Uncategorized

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!