Sometimes, I forget who I am. I get a little too relaxed. I walk around my home without seeing how incredibly blessed I am to get to live here, in a house I can afford, where my daughter has her own room, and I get to have my dog, and I have a big old yard, and TWO bathrooms. I just get caught up in living my life without seeing how amazing it is. Same thing goes for my career- I can be whiny about my job, I get lazy sometimes, completely oblivious to the fact that the rash decision I made 13 years ago to go to night school, the credentials I gained, and the amazing opportunity I was handed when I was hired at the hospital where I still work today, changed my life. Completely transformed it. I’m not saying this is unusual- no one walks around in a state of constant gratitude. At least, no one I know.
But one thing I would do well to remember is the reason I get to keep the wonderful life that I have. The one thing that would save me, should the house go away, or the job wasn’t mine anymore. That thing is my recovery, and I haven’t been doing much for it lately. I really need to remind myself that if I didn’t have all these days in a row of not just being clean, but being clean and working on the person I am, working towards steadily getting better than I was before, I wouldn’t be sitting here, writing this right now.
Life can and will keep changing right before your eyes, and it is easy to get swept up in this thing or that thing, and let your focus change. I think that during those times, it’s pretty normal to stray from the path and wander off, but…do I think it’s a good idea? Nope. I think, in reality, when you feel yourself getting off track, you need to double down on the things that anchor you. I do, that’s what I need to do. I should be specific here, I am talking about me, about my life right now. I need to be closer than ever to my program of recovery, not just saying the words, but actively.
Listen, I am not in any imminent danger, but…my thoughts have been a little squirrely lately. Which, of course, is how it always begins- right in your head. I have been wishing for something to take the edge off, or blur the edges at least, just a little bit. I want something that will make me less…less worried about how ME I am all the time. Because I am messy and nervous and insecure, I think way too much, and take things pretty seriously, believe it or not. And my brain has been telling me stories about how much more fun I could be, how easy it would be, the exact way that I could lay all this heavy shit down and just fucking relax already.
Thankfully, I know my brain to be a liar. I know my brain, sensing discomfort, will do just about anything to make that feeling go away. I mean, my brain has been lying to me for yeeeaaars. So I don’t have to listen to any of it. I know there are no shortcuts in recovery, and there are certainly no days off. Not even when you could really use a drink or two. As a matter of fact, all these years that I have put in? This is sort of what I’ve been training for- the day when I really longed for an escape, or an easier way. This is the test I’ve been studying for this whole time. I’m not about to fail, not now.
I made a choice, I made a commitment, a long time ago, knowing there would be times in the future that it would be hard to keep that commitment. There have been these times in the past, and I kept at it, and I wasn’t sorry. There are always two paths, and I know where one of them leads me- I’ve been down it about as far as a person can go and live to tell the tale. The other one, well…the other one I don’t know as well. But I have a feeling that the woman I want to be is somewhere along it. So I think I will stay on that path. I think that is the wise thing to do.
Last week was ROUGH. You may have notice my absence here, you may not have. I think I threw out my “Three things” post, and that was about it. I just wasn’t feeling it. I wrote a really angry post on Friday morning, but opted not to publish it, as it just didn’t feel like who I want to show up in the world as. Angry me is not the best me. So I left it. The event that happened to inspire the anger happened, and I can’t change it. Suffice to say that human beings are fickle and misguided sometimes, and they are prone to doing things that will disappoint you. Some humans are more prone to this than others. When you know this about them, it’s kind of on you to proceed accordingly. I forgot that, and I got a solid reminder. I am practicing acceptance, and will try to forgive but stop forgetting. I forget too easily. Sorry for the vagueness- I hate when other people do that shit, and here I am doing it. The sum of the matter is, someone hurt my feelings and went behind my back, and I am trying to deal with the situation with a modicum of dignity and some wisdom, rather than my normal routine of utterly blowing up, seeking revenge, and making everything three thousand times worse. I am trying to change.
In other news, this dance I have been doing with depression- good Lord, it gets old. It’s not bad enough for me to stop showering, but it’s just bad enough where I will skip other little things- I don’t bother putting on lotion, I don’t bother brushing my hair. Rather than dealing with laundry, I’ll just wear the same clothes I had on the day before- it’s not like I did anything, anyway. It’s this weird thing where I am always wondering, am I supposed to lean into it, or do I fight it? Do I let myself feel how I am feeling, or do I “act as if”, plaster a smile on my face, and fake it like crazy? There’s this fear that if I let myself rest here too long, I won’t ever be able to get back up again. It’s hard to know how to care for yourself properly when your instincts are all screwed up, and you aren’t really sure you can trust yourself. So, I have been doing a little bit of both things- resting a little bit more than usual, and as soon as I can, I get up and do as much as I am able to. It seems to be working. I definitely got less than usual done this weekend, but I did get more done than I expected.
I’ve had a chance to talk to a few different people about the way I’ve been feeling and what I’ve been going through, and each one of them confirmed that they know exactly what I am talking about and have found themselves dealing with the same things- if not right now, then recently. What I got out of that is that maybe this is just part of growing up, growing older. You think things will be a certain way, and they aren’t, and it’s hard on our spirits. I think we have this idea that when we reach a certain age, everything evens out and life gets easy- I know I, at least, always sort of pictured life this way when I was younger; “When I accomplish a), b), and c), everything will be just right…” But that isn’t how it works. There are growing pains at every age, and I think they are made harder by the inevitable cynicism we pick up along the way. Call it wisdom or knowledge if that makes you feel more comfortable, but the fact is, as we age, we learn unhappy truths and it can fuck with feelings of hope and happiness. That can be hard to deal with.
So what, then, are we to do? Well, we just keep going, just like I am doing, and try to deal with our uncomfortable feelings the best we can. Try not to let it shut you down completely. If you just can’t do another thing, give yourself a break and binge some Bob’s Burger, for levity, and recharge your battery. “Act as if” a little, and say “Fuck it all” a little. Take as good of care of yourself as you can, and forgive yourself immediately for what you can’t quite do. But definitely do what you can.
Listen, life is hard sometimes, but it is also beautiful- it can be beautiful and hard at the same time, even. You might have to look a little harder to see it, but it’s all still there. Today, my intention is to push myself a little more than I did yesterday because, so far, I am feeling a little better…but that could change, and I am not going to be mad at myself if things don’t go as planned. I’m going to treat myself like a good friend who is going through a rough time (because essentially, that is what I am) and act accordingly. I am going to look for the beauty. And I am going to allow myself to be this weird little human that I am.
Let me point out now, the title says “The best advice you will never hear“. It doesn’t say anything about whether or not you had been told once, twice, thirty seven thousand times, before those little grains of wisdom finally revealed themselves to be true. Most of the human beings that I know, and certainly the one that I am, do not put a whole lot of stock in the wisdom generously shared with us by others. Never mind that, nine times out of ten, the people who have that wisdom KNOW what they are talking about- we want to figure it out the same way that they usually had to- the hard way. What is the hard way, you ask? The hard way is the exact thing that I am talking about, here- it’s the path we choose when we ignore everything our mom’s, dad’s, teacher’s, and the surgeon general have told us, and we continue doggedly on our way, until finally, disaster, heartbreak and complicated consequences that last indefinitely force us to see our errors. This is when we usually remember those words of advice given to us, long before, and think- “Whoa. Boy, were they right.”
I am going to list a few of my favorites, really universal advice that is true for pretty much everyone, always.
1. My personal favorite, the golden rule: ” Do unto others as you would have done to you.” This is just the crux of life, in a tiny little phrase. You will never regret treating another human being with kindness and respect. Even if they end up being ruthless and spiteful, or just cranky and rude, once you’ve washed your hands of them and the situation, YOU get to look back and know you handled yourself in a respectable, gracious way. Your side of the street is clean (another good one, by the way, “keep your side of the street clean.”) and you have nothing to feel ashamed of. On the other hand, going around being rude, being dishonest, and treating people like crap- no matter what THEY did…that’s going to weigh on you somewhere down the line, I promise.
2. Beauty is only skin deep, or, as my grandma would say “pretty is as pretty does.” This is especially important to understand when you are young, and the way I grasped it, finally, was when a boy I liked chose another girl, in my opinion much less attractive…but she was nice. She was nice, and smart, and not a big hot mess, which could not be said about me at that time. We have all been enamored of someone, only to find out, sometimes right away and others, eventually, that they may be great looking but that just isn’t enough. It isn’t enough to sustain anything, and it isn’t a sustainable thing, either. Beauty fades. Find out what else you have to offer the world.
3. Be yourself. This one seems like a no brainer, right? But think about how many times you have tried to be or act a certain way to make people that mattered to you think you were good enough for them…lots, right? The truth is, anyone who really loves you in your life, knows you- the REAL you, and accepts you as is. The easiest way to figure out who ought to be in your life is to relax and be yourself. You can save yourself a lot of time and worry by letting things run their natural course.
4. Children learn by what you do, not what you say. Anyone who has a two year old knows this is not exactly correct- they also learn what you say, a fact that was blatantly thrown in my face yesterday when I heard my little one call her older sister an asshole. Oopsie. Clearly, I have some more implementing of this advice to do in my life. Also, you can never start too young with them. If you want your kids to be polite, to enjoy school, to clean up after themselves, well, guess what? That means you have to have manners, you have to be willing to involve yourself in their classrooms, homework, and projects, and you have to keep your house clean. I did none of those things with my teen, and I will do ALL of them with my toddler-because I learned the hard way it was true.
5.Life is what you make it. Truer words were never spoken. Your perspective, opinion, and attitude about things has everything to do with exactly how happy you are at this very moment, and at every other moment in time. No one else is responsible for your happiness but you. Maybe you had a shitty childhood- lots of us did- but it’s up to you to decide to leave that shit behind you, and move on. In life, your heart will get broken, you will be treated unfairly, you will get knocked on your ass more times than you will even be able to count…and you are the only one to decide to learn from it, to let go, change direction, become better. Or, carry around a chip on your shoulder, be angry, lash out at others, choose defeat. It’s totally up to you. And when you are ready to understand THAT advice, it may be the turning point in your life.
There are so many other really great, wise old sayings, quotes, and cliches, I could go on and on…but I won’t! I’d rather hear from others what their favorites are, and why. Can’t wait to hear back!
I would like to start by saying “Hi!” to all of you. I miss you guys when I haven’t been writing, and I really haven’t been writing with much consistency lately, for many (lame) reasons (excuses). So, I am being honest when I say I think about the little blog community I am getting to know when I am nowhere near my computer, and I think that’s cool. I also want to say “Hi” because my next statement is going to be a little (lot) negative.
2) My computer is a f***i**g piece of S**T! I am losing my mind on a daily basis (at least) now due to whatever issue it is having. It appears to have caught some type of unknown virus, probably the computer version of AIDS back in 1983. No cure, no hope, prognosis terrifying and grim. Geez, I am so off track here.
3) I hate to waste more time talking about this, but # 2 is a total lie. I actually have a really great laptop, but I don’t know very much at all about maintaining a computer. I do what I know how to do, and I have some program that is scanning stuff every forty-five seconds (it seems like) and I guess I’ll have to get with it, because this is really slowing me down. It has totally hindered my writing, of all types.
Okay, FINALLY, that is done with- can I PLEASE tell you the main thing now? So, as many of you know from either knowing me in real life, reading my blogs, or both, I have been having a pretty tough time with my oldest girl for a while now…like, maybe since birth, but until this past six or seven months, there were still good times, too. A lot of good times, and despite all the bickering, we were always very, very close. Not anymore. She really, really hates me. She’s done some pretty despicable things to me recently, and out of pure maliciousness, stuff I would NEVER have dreamed of doing to my mom. Not in a million years.
Sometimes it hurts my feelings pretty bad- the other day when we were fighting on the way to her school and I was trying to tell her that had she missed the one hour class that is required of her that day, she would have to repeat 8th grade instead of moving on to HS. She said “I don’t care.” Which frustrates me, because if SHE doesn’t care, why the hell am I doing all this stuff for her?! But I said to her in reply “If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t be crying right now.”
“I’m crying because I hate your guts, and there is nothing I can do about it! You are a mean bitch. I have ALWAYS hated you.” She said.Yikes. That one really hurt, somehow, and I don’t know why, because she has said much meaner things than that to me. Maybe it was because I kind of believed her, that that is the way she felt. That she HAD always hated me. I’m the first to admit, I am totally hateable sometimes, and the more I love you, the worse I can behave. Which puts her, my child, in the number one spot. The number two spot would be held by my mom. These are the two people I want to mainly talk about right now.
Lately, I just cannot think about my daughter and I without thinking about my mother and I. It’s just so strange to me that I am now, basically, standing in my moms shoes, looking at myself in my own daughter. It terrifies me, because I know I can put up speed bumps in her path, but I cannot stop this child. It shames me, also, because I remember being that….just AWFUL, the way girls can be at that age. I had it all figured out, I did not give a shit about how my mom felt (well, sometimes I didn’t) or how my insanity effected her life. You see, I would run away for days on end, never calling, nothing. I just don’t know how my mom made it through those days without losing her mind. I know how lost I feel these days, trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do to help this kid, scared to death I’ll make the wrong choice. There really aren’t too many people I can turn to, because it’s a touchy, touchy subject and I don’t know very many people who could give me any advice I could have faith in. Either their kids are awful, too, or they have never been awful so they have to be guessing. I can’t really talk to my mom about it because she gets too upset, and also because she always blames all of it on me. Which is pretty awful on a lot of levels- I mean, yes, I SUCKED as a mother when she was little. I was as bad as they get. Sometimes. But there were many, many times when I was great, too. I have friends who have known me since before I had Aisley, and were around all the way up until I moved away when she was six. When I came back, at least three of those friends has heard me beating myself up for being the way I was when she was little, and too my surprise, they absolutely disagreed with me. “You were a great mother! You always took good care of that kid. She was with you all the time, you never left her for one night, etc., etc.” So, I guess I wasn’t the monster I thought I was, and I let people make me think- again, my mom and Aisley. My mom was around way less than my friends, so I can’t totally discount what they recall. Also, I tended to act up on the phone with my mom throughout those crazy years, and for some reason, I would say terrible things to make her worry about Aisley. And me. I just tortured that woman. I was so ANGRY with her, and I have no idea why. Maybe because I just wanted someone to fix me, and she wished she could, but she couldn’t.
So, anyway, that’s kind of where I am headed with this whole thing. Aisley is tough, but the worst of it is that I MISS her, the her I held for so long…she is just lost to me, I hope only for now. And I remember my mom saying that to me, that she missed me so much, the me that she loved and knew. You think you have so much time to get it right, to fix things and work it out…when that baby is laying in your arms, eighteen years seems like forever. But it goes by before you even have a chance to figure out what you are doing, and that little brown eyed girl who slept curled up in your arms for way too many years won’t even let you touch her hand. She is only 14, but I know the rest of the time I have with her will be more on her terms than mine. That window was shutting and I didn’t even know. I should have known ,because I was the same exact way.
To my mom, I want you to know how sorry I am. I don’t know why I was so wild. I will never know if anything you did or didn’t do had anything to do with it, but I really don’t think so. I think I just was who I was, and I was drawn to that lifestyle no matter where I went. I really believe that you did the very best you could at least 85% of the time, which is a lot more than most people do. I KNOW you love me more than anyone else does. I can’t imagine…no, I CAN clearly imagine what you went through for ALL of those years.
You see, this evening, I finally had a chance to finish going through a box of miscellaneous notebooks and cards and letters and things that I have been lugging around since the early nineties. I have basically been going through box after box of paper, separating the cards and personal things of mine from Aisley’s, and from my drawings and poetry, and from old bills and garbage. It’s been taking forever, but it’s great to see all this stuff. Tonight, though I don’t usually look at the cards, I did. You know, my mom tried so hard, all of those years, to remind me of who I really was. Every single word she wrote was designed to tell me-“This is not you, Courtney. I KNOW YOU, and I will not let you forget.” I never saw that before, until tonight. Thank you, mom. I am so lucky to have someone love me in such a ferocious way, and to have learned to love that way myself.
And there were so many poems and drawings and letters from Aisley that tell me how much she loves me, and how glad she was that I was her mom. I really needed to see that tonight, because I was starting to believe that things had always been bad, and she had never had a mother she could love. I was questioning my own memories. I was really taking all of her issues as a direct assessment of my parenting. But Aisley is making her own choices now and I am not to blame for that. I have been a MUCH better mom to her since she was seven years old, and that is half of her life now. I have been in her life every minute since the day she was born, too, and you can’t say that about all of her parents. I understand clearly that my mom was just as unsure as I am now, and that she did her best to cope with her child who refused to be parented. It’s hard, it sucks and we are still people- busting our asses, keeping things together, and resentful as hell of this KID who gets everything handed to them and still makes sure we can’t have any happy, stress free time, because they have to act like idiots. My mom deserved a way better deal than she got with me. I love you mom, and I just want to thank you one more time, from the bottom of my heart, for never giving up on me. I know it must have been hard.
And Aisley, I promise you, I will never, ever give up on you. No matter what you think right now about me, no matter what you think about me EVER, my love for you cannot be altered. The years you and I had, just us two, are unique to us. You are the best thing that ever happened to me- if it weren’t for you, I never would have thought I needed to change. I never would have understood love. I never would have become anything. You saved my life, and you are so incredibly special to me. I will always be here for you- you can count on that.
Ugh! I am way bawling, by now. This was so long, I thank anyone who made it through this thing. I’m not even going to re-read it, I am going to leave it be. I said what I wanted to say. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go fetch a roll of paper towels. Goodnight.