I usually don’t reblog the posts of my friends, but in this case, I’m making an exception. My dear friend Thom is an amazing writer and sharer of his conciousness. I get so much from reading his work, and thought you might too! Please consider giving him a follow. ALL of his content is amazing!
As a kid one of my favorite TV shows was Dark Shadows. It was a soap opera set in Collinwood Manor, a creepy old estate owned by the vampire Barnabas Collins. It was for all intents and purposes the Twilight series of my generation. But it was just a half hour television program. Today, I want to talk about the real dark shadows we all have.
Shadows. We certainly are all familiar with them. We may have enjoyed resting in the shadow of a tree on a hot summers day. Or perhaps we enjoyed playing shadow puppets on the wall when we were younger. At some point we became aware that we also are able to cast a shadow and no matter how hard we may try we can never free ourselves of our shadow while we are standing in the light.
Thank you for making me a mom – it’s been my greatest and most challenging role.
When each of you were first born, you wouldn’t cry on your own. Because of my condition, your births were unsafely fast. Neonatal doctors were called in to resuscitate you, and it was then I had my first taste of sheer terror and first fervent Mama prayer.
Your cries were the sweetest sound.
When you were babies, I nursed you for what may be considered a “long” time, and I wore you in baby slings all the time.
We co-slept because it felt natural – it WAS natural – and I didn’t take one second for granted. “Remember this,” I would say to myself all the time. “Remember the way the nape I’d get neck smells. Remember how she plays with your hair while you’re breastfeeding. Remember these peals of laughter that sound like a thousand angels playing bells.”
When you were in your terrible twos (and then threes,) it became so apparent that you were your OWN people, not extensions of me at all (and boy am I glad of that!)
Peeling you off the floor of the grocery store, where you’d decided to tantrum hard core over God only knows what minor disappointment, I told myself to remember that, too. “Someday, you’ll look back in this and laugh,” I said to me. And without fail, when your tears were dry, you’d crawl up in my lap and say “I love you, Mommy.” And all was right with the world.
In your elementary school years, you were all about learning. Some of our best times were going to museums, and art festivals (and of COURSE cultural fairs!) Witnessing the unfolding of your minds was one of the greatest pleasures of my life. So bright! So eager to learn about the world.
Then you became ‘tweens and Lord have Mercy, Katie bar the door! All of the sudden, my mom confidence plummeted.
I no longer felt like I knew what I was doing at all, but I faked that I did.
You were morphing into beautiful, opinionated beings of light with penchants for drama.
And even in the midst of arguments, I still told myself, “Remember this…” When the squalls passed over, we were all three right as rain again.
These were the years I welcomed my Bonus Daughter, not by birth, but by grand design. I’m grateful. God must really love me or something.
In the blink of an eye, you girls were in high school. My babies not so much babies, but spitfires unafraid to assert themselves and their ideas.
Your ideas were certainly not my ideas, nor my beliefs yours. But oh my God how proud I was that you had that crazy zeal for life, and in your quest to figure it all out, we became actual friends.
There have been many moments of sheer terror in being a parent. And many, many more fervent prayers. And I still try not to take one moment for granted, even though we don’t always see eye-to-eye.
I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.
Always my babies, now you are almost 26 and 29.
You’ve given me stretch marks and gray hair, and the greatest joy I’ve ever known.
When we spend time together, there is still a piece of my mama heart whispering, “Remember this.
Remember laughing so hard that we peed a little.
Remember her face when she accomplished that goal that she worked to hard to achieve.
Remember all of the difficult times, but especially remember the beautiful breakthroughs.”
I’ve been looking through old pics because Mother’s Day makes me melancholy.
Part of it is the necessarily severed relationship with my own mother, and partly because my kids’ childhoods were a time I actually felt competent in a way I haven’t since.
When they were littles:
I could make their food with my body (for 4 1/2 years out of my life between the two of them. I was virtually the Dairy Queen!) It was the purest experience of my life.
I could hit up every library in Raleigh so they didn’t miss one single “Toddler Time” program in town.
I could teach them how to read and to ride their bikes.
I got endless snuggles.
I could wipe every year and kiss every booboo.
I got to choose their friends.
And celebrate their every accomplishment and victory.
But best of all, I got to see the world through their eyes.
And my arms were always full with children.
I figure the picture I’ve chosen for this blog is probably the most accurate candid shot, and utterly relatable to other moms who are willing to say the truth: Parenting is not easy.
All we see on social media is Insta-worthy, misty watercolored perfection. We use filters. We want the world to see how perfect our kids are; how stellar we are parenting.
The problem with that is that they aren’t perfect, and I’m not a perfect mother. (PS…perfection – even filtered – is an illusion.
I remember this picture because my friend was taking pictures at the preschool that morning and she snapped this one. I hated it at first. But now I kind of love it.
A harried, overwhelmed mother of two littles, trying to pick up one child from preschool while running late for the other’s dentist appointment.
I wish I could go back in time and tell myself it will all be ok. I wish I could tell this young mom that one day she will be able to handle the chaos and unpredictability without alcohol. I wish I could tell her YOUR BABIES WILL BE OK. They will not escape childhood unscathed. And YOU will not escape it unscathed.
So I’m telling YOU, Mama. Your babies will be okay.
Y’all, what an odd time to be alive. We want to be seen in our best light all the time, and social media has set this expectation in stone.
But here’s the thing, Moms…
You ARE the light.
You’re doing a great job.
I know my kids have some unpleasant memories. After all, you never know what they’ll remember from childhood. They could recall in detail the time Mommy burnt Thanksgiving dinner and lay on the kitchen floor crying in a heap. Or when she yelled at them for the 10th time in a day. They may remember those near-perfect days in Disneyworld when they breakfasted with Snow White and got to pull the sorcerer’s stone out of Merlin’s rock outside the carousel, ride Big Thunder Mountain twice in a row, and eat churros while perusing Epcot.
It’s a crap shoot, really…. the memories they take away.
I still routinely find myself with the expression of the young mother I once was. Life is confounding and overwhelming.
But look what I have in my arms! Having them is having EVERYTHING. Big kids = big problems. But we still all hold on to each other.
I still celebrate all of their accomplishments and victories. I still hug them every chance I get.
I am still seeing the world through their eyes. They teach me as much as I ever taught them.
So tonight, I have wicked bad painsomnia. That’s (obviously) when you are in too much pain to sleep. In the past couple of weeks, I got some bad news, health-wise. It’s been intense. So I decided to share a little story with my readers, because I can’t sleep and maybe you can’t too. Or maybe in this hostile, uber-political, divisive world climate, you need an uplifting human interest story. I know I do.
Last week, I had to get my second Covid vaccine, and had to go two counties over to get it.
The town I went to has a small little Health Department. They take you in a room and give you the shot, and then they take you to another waiting room, where you are required to wait 20 minutes to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction. You are shuffled into a large room with other people who are also doing their 20 minutes.
The others were strangers to me, of course. About 10 people total in this space. Two of them were having a “private” conversation behind me ( you couldn’t miss it – they were on the loud side, and it was silent otherwise.) The exchange turned to God, and miracles, and answered prayers.
Where I was sitting, I shot my own hand up to the sky. Just couldn’t help it. I felt the Spirit in the room and it only seemed right to acknowledge it. I don’t know if it was years of Pentecostal churching or what, but I couldn’t control my hands. They just raised. And behind me, a torrent of hollering and praising began, until several ladies joined in.
It was such a beautiful thing. I miss that about corporate worship. Finally, being ever-awkward, I simply stated, “God is GOOD!” To which a glorious, unanimous refrain came from every mouth in the room: “ALL THE TIME. “After a minute solid, the love in that room was palpable.
We were not denominations, or affiliations. Ages and races. Republicans and Democrats. Just a bunch of women with sore arms managing to raise them anyway to give God the glory for low-key miracles and ordinary, answered prayers. And I think that’s what Heaven will be like.
God is good ALL THE TIME. Even when our organs are failing and our hearts are breaking. I’m also convinced that a group of strangers finding out that they are actually “family” and sharing it together in a dingy, gray government building is LOVE.
I’m horrible at holding cards close to my chest. I’m awful at stoically handling things “on my own,” privately. I get on my own nerves with my oversharing tendencies sometimes, but I don’t know any other way to get through this life without sharing experiences and gleaning the hope of others’ experiences.
When I was drinking, I was a closeted everything. I had secrets to keep. Nobody knew any of my business because I was protecting my right to cope the only way I knew how. When I got sober 20 years ago, I had to change my ways. I had to seek out others who were battling the same demons, and we held one another up. I never looked back from that lesson – that in order to live in the light, I must live communally.
So that’s why I’m sharing my life with all of you. I pray something I might say will make you feel less alone. This is particularly important in recovery…staying alcohol-free is not a solitary endeavor. I learn so very much from the people who share their journeys with me, and there’s no way I would have survived my circumstances alone.
So I’m going to be sharing a couple of new facets of my journey with ya’ll, dear readers.
Some of you know that I’ve undergone a faith renovation in the past five years or so; one which came about as a result of my dealing with chronic illness and pain. I’ve done some rigorous soul-searching and come away with my fundamentalism in tatters, but my love for Jesus astounding. So I will still be writing about that aspect and all the feelings, musings, and observations that entails.
But I am very recently having to deal with another pretty tremendous blow, and I need to write about my thoughts and fears don’t become a toxic sludge. I don’t know why sharing helps. It just does.
Without going through the litany of health issues I have – which are legion – the latest news is that my kidneys are failing. Failing. I hate that word….failing.
I feel like I am failing at a number of things lately, so it figures. I cannot undo the permanent damage, but I can possibly keep it from getting worse. There are a number of things that led up to this predicament, namely crazy bad diabetes. But there are several genetic factors contributing as well. It’s kind of a perfect storm.
I am having to change the way I do most everything, especially eat and exercise. Eating is my coping mechanism. Or it was.
It’s all connected. All of the systems in our bodies. Every part affects every other. Our faith walk, as it relates to our physical bodies. Connected.
Just like we are all connected.
So welcome to my raw, gaping wound. In the span of a week since I found out about this latest crisis, I have run the entire acceptance gamut. It’s still sore and upsetting. The only way I know for it to heal is to invite others to join me in making huge changes, venting my frustration, and getting by like I always do; with a little help from my friends.
Okay….maybe a lot of help.
I’ll be writing raw. I’ll be hashing this out with words as I try to figure things out.
If you’ve stuck with me for all these years as a faithful reader, I cannot thank you enough.
It’s the stone-cold middle of the night, or rather the wee hours of the morning. I’ve had a migraine for three days now, you see. It’s making sleep very difficult.
Last week was full of wonders and worries. I received some scary health news and it’s been difficult to digest. It’s given me a fresh excuse to entertain anxiety, and man oh man, am I anxious tonight.
On tap for this evening’s show is General Anxiety, hosted by Exhaustion. Primal Fear makes a cameo as well. Special guests include Low-Simmering Anger, and special guests Frustration and Depression threaten to make an appearance. All from the comfort of my own bed!
No wonder I can’t sleep.
I tell God about my worries. There is much mental hand-wringing and emotional gnashing of teeth. He already knows how I’m feeling but he is patient in listening to my ramblings. To him all my ramblings are valid, because I’m his child.
I would quiet my mind and try to meditate, only to hear the clamor of anxiety approach. I am hearing the far-away cacophony coming closer – all noise and discombobulated chaos. Horns, whistles, drums….all at once. And all on me.
I consider how very much my mental health IS like a one-man band. I’m handling several random instruments at once, playing none of them well, and oy vey! What a racket!
Music, I think to myself. I need music to calm my mind.
So, I popped in my earbuds and started with Tibetan “singing bowls” on Spotify. When I couldn’t get my Zen on with that, I listened to some chill music featuring sounds of nature. You know, like a massage therapist might play to help you relax.
But no. I was too wound to enjoy it.
I know! Georgian chants! My husband got me music at a little monastery outside of Atlanta years ago of monks reciting Georgian chants. Surely that will help get me out of my head and calm the savage migraine beast.
I tried. I gave it a good, long try. But still couldn’t disengage my mind.
So still, I felt yucky. I felt sick from worrying about my family and my health and my diagnosis. And a global pandemic. A world upside down,
“Why aren’t you soothing me, Lord?”
It was an honest question.
But by being with me, he IS soothing me.
I think he wants to BE with me, more than make it al about my obsessions and problems.
I want him to conjure up those pink clouds of blessed assurance. I want to feel delivered. But Instead of having immediate calm and zen fuzzies, I could feel him take my hand and hold it in his, where we sat and sat with each other, quiet as church mice.
And slowly, anti-climactically, I sense a peace come over me. But it’s not the peace of mended bodies, fixed families, answers, or dramatic miracles. Not the kind of peace you get from having crystal-clear resolution.
Nope, it’s a MUCH better peace.
It’s the peace of knowing my God – Creator of the cosmos – will come sit with me in my yuckiness. That’s the place he meets us.
And sometimes that has to be enough.
I can feel the Spirit over the din of the one-man band, and it’s comforting to know I’m not alone.
No chanting of monks, no singing bowls. Just the absolute assurance he is with me and in me and for me. He wants to sit with me in my funk, and he will lift me up out of it in due time.
You’re not alone either.
I pray God himself will come sit with you in the yuckiness, until that dramatic miracle comes.
Hi, my name is Jana and I’m addicted to filters. WHEW! I feel better now.
I often say that filters are the poor girl’s facelift, and it’s true. I love me some filters. It can be good for the self esteem…or is it, really?
Every selfie or picture, I find myself honing in on the smile lines and sun damage, vitiligo, and age spots, and that’s all I see.
All I see is evidence that Father Time is stomping across my face wearing soccer cleats.
Aging is hard, y’all. And the EDS exacerbates it because my collagen is faulty amd mutated, and my skin is stretchy but doesn’t always pop back.
But I’m feeling spry and sassy today. I’m dressed, wearing makeup, and am out of the house. So after filtering the @&$%# out of the first pic, I decided to post one unfiltered next to it, because I earned every laugh line and wrinkle and inch of crepey neck and eyelid.
And while it’s fun to use technology to make ourselves look younger, it shouldn’t make us despair our unfiltered, real image as “women of a certain age.”
We’ve seen some shit and been through a half century of life experience. The tough times didn’t kill us – it made us stronger. And who cares if our faces reflect that?
I do, if I’m honest. But I’m working on self-acceptance.
One of my friends recently said something offhandedly that punched me right in the gut.
“I’m only as happy as my least happy child,” she waxed. Never before has anyone said something more relatable to me.
We live in strange times. Times that can either amp our codependency behaviors, or challenge us to fortify them.
Nobody tells you this, but lean in real close… the age of eighteen is not the “magic” age when your kids get their shit together. I don’t know who the hell came up with that number, but its arbitrary as all get-out. We are here for our kids no matter what their ages.
Children boomerang back. Mine is 28. Two out of three of our adult kids have had to move back home for a spell.
I’m very glad they have somewhere to bounce back to. I did not have a safe place to boomerang home as an adult. Nobody took care of me. I want better for my kids than I had, but I also want them to be fully independent.
Life is messy, ya’ll.
In preparing a room for her, I am also preparing my heart. Because the child who is moving back temporarily can push my buttons.. In all fairness, we both probably push one another’s buttons.
She is scrappy and feisty and “extra,”and I am scrappy and feisty and “extra”. And I don’t know how to “mom” grown children under my roof. I hate conflict, and the more adults you add to your home, the higher the conflict quotient.
Here are some ways in which I will protect my boundaries and actually enjoy the experience of having a grown child back at home:
I will not run interference between other family members.
This is HUGE for me. Keeping the entirety of peace in the house – even in a relatively peaceful family dynamic – is not my job. I will do my part, but I will not clean up after others, literally or figuratively. I hope my husband and daughter get along (as they mostly do), but I will not take ownership of their relationship.
I will set realistic expectations of myself, and of her.
As a disabled person, I sometimes need help. A lot of help. It is okay to ask for it and expect it. (Hear that, self? It is OKAY TO ASK FOR IT AND EXPECT IT.)
I will show grace and respect (and expect respect.)
It’s not the same world it was when most of us were in our 20’s. It’s much more expensive to live on one’s own. As she comes in for a landing, I will remember it’s not her destination flight that brought her home; just circumstances that will improve and allow her to spread her wings. I will try my best to be graceful and patient, while knowing this is temporary.
I will operate from a place of healthy boundaries. I’ve become accustomed to having my own space. And accustomed to meditating and self-care. These things did not come easy, and they did not come until my children flew the nest. I am protective of them.
I can be happy, even if nobody in my house is happy. I tend to calibrate my mood to whomever is feeling any type of way. This includes my husband.
I will not try to “fix”. I am present and available, but must remember it isn’t my job to “fix” anyone. Furthermore, it is an impossibility.
I will keep the faith. I will lean into God and have faith that whatever comes my way, He is only ever good. And I will have faith in my daughter, as I always have. We will get through the bumps in life as a family.
I will find the joy in this – and every – experience.
My daughter and I are exceedingly close. My daughters and I have been through a LOT together. We have legions of inside jokes, the same absurd and silly sense of humor. We talk about deep subjects, even when we don’t agree. We will make memories during this time that wouldn’t be made any other way. I will enjoy the ride!
I don’t know if these points will help you through a trying, temporary time, but writing them out is already helping me. My therapist has been helping me overcome co-dependency issues, and what better time to hone those skills?
I fell like this is not the only area of life I can avoid the potholes of co-dependency. Life is chock full of opportunities to stretch and grow.
I don’t know what age people actually get their shit together is, because I don’t have mine together yet!
And I pray God blesses you and gives you permission to not save the entire world. Because it isn’t yours to save. Life is hard and relationships are hard, and co-dependent behaviors whisper that they will help you get through it, but in reality only make it more difficult.
We are worth the effort of setting healthy boundaries and caring about ourselves and our peace as much as we care for others. I won’t forget that if you don’t!
The big spiritual “thing” I’m doing is really something. And reader…I’m so glad you are sticking alongside me for the ride! I am currently reading Rob Bell’s “Everything is Spiritual,” which is a whole other blog post for another time.
I am also fortunate to be a part of a group of free-thinkers and like-minded Christ-following mystics, and we have been learning about Quantum life, the neuroplasticity of the human brain, the connectedness of each of us with every other, and other lite fare concepts. One of the ideas is that you choose your thoughts. Or at least, which ones to accept.
I have been a victim of my own thoughts all my life. I run on 100% emotions, and ergo…feelings sometime feel like facts. They are very convincing and super sneaky that way.
The idea is that I’m changing my focus from the myriad of negative, self-critical, panic-inducing thoughts I experience on the regular that result in self-flagellating and angst; and instead completely shift my thoughts on – oh, I don’t konw – things that DON’T suck.
On PURPOSE, even.
Part of this is becoming deliberate about practicing meditation and affirmations. Another part is changing my prayer life to be a type of constant conversation with God, and asking him specifically to increase my actual AWARENESS of the quantum world. My awareness of his innate goodness. The awareness of all the little ways God winks at us everywhere at every moment. Because he IS, you know. He is giving us signs and wonders, and “coincidences” and a cascade of pure, ridiculously grace-full LOVE. It’s all around us.
Which brings me to shark’s teeth.
My Beloved and I are enjoying a little weekend getaway at the beach. One of the things we love to do is go beach-combing, always with my ultimate goal being a glistening piece of sea glass or the tooth of a shark.
Any shark. I’m not picky.
The latter has proven to be extremely elusive. In 22 years of coastal living, I have only found one single shark tooth. So on our walk this morning, at this new beach, I felt sure I’d find some.
We roamed that beach for half an hour in 40 degree temperature. I had shark teeth on the brain. The beach here is littered with beautiful shells and various examples of flotsam and jetsam from the sea. Really cool stuff. I have found sea glass many times. But today, nary a shark chomper was to be found.
At this point, I am cold and sandy, with a crick in my neck from scanning the ground. In what can only be described as the Most First World Problem to ever “problem,” I was getting frustrated and perturbed.
But just before we call it, I looked down and saw what appeared to be a little heart…a shell heart. I picked it up and examined it, and it occurred to me that I almost missed it, so single-minded was I. I was only focusing on one thing, when around me is the whole big ocean, and a glorious, hazy sky, and the love of my entire life combing through shells alongside me.
I knew that the little heart was a portent.
I know because I asked for the awareness to see and know and be tuned in more to the Divine.
It sounds silly, but I absolutely knew it was a God-thing. And had I just walked in big circles on an endless beach, eyes downcast and mind focused only on one thing, I’d not have seen it.
Yes, I believe that we live among angels and that we are all connected to one another, and that the Creator of the cosmos would plant a little shell emoji on a wintery beach just to remind me where to keep my focus.
And I thought that was a pretty good analogy for where we put our focus, and how many things we miss by being single-minded. I’m the world’s worst about it.
But in asking our Source to increase my awareness of everything good and true, because I forget to look for it, what with all the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth I inflict on myself.
Today, I hold a God wink in my pocket.
I hope you see a rainbow today.
I hope someone says kind words to you today, and I hope you give others kind words.
I hope you find a flower in frozen ground.
I hope a wave of the peace that passes understanding knocks you down into the Father’s lap.
I hope you see yourself for the magnificent bearer of love that you are.
And that things happen to you that confirm you are made of stardust.
I know it’s hard. I know people are pissing you off. I know we are living in unprecedented times, and are thoroughly sick of doing so. I know we are desperate for someone to fix it – all of it. Our local leaders, our politicians, our President…. somebody, anybody. I know people are selfish and leaning left or right. I know you are tired of America not being what it used to be (which for some people, is a good thing.) But even the lawmakers and keepers don’t have the answers. They never did. If who sits in leadership determines how you represent Christ, please consider that Nationalsim over compassion in history has been a recipe for disaster. From Herod’s decrees to Germany in the 30’s, to even old Mom and Pop apple pie America led by The Greatest Generation, there were citizens of each who benefited from the actions of their leaders, and citizenry who found themself oppressed, or worse. Don’t lose sight. Don’t lose hope. God has not given us a spirit of fear. Yes, even Jesus got angry, righteously….as you may feel your anger is righteous. But he kind of threw a justifiable tantrum and moved on with the business of loving people. He didn’t stew on it for years. The world is a #%@&$ MESS! But it’s the world God so loved. Just as it is. Just as we were. We have all “had it up to here” at this point, but please try not to let it make you bitter. The continual anger will get under your skin and fester, and like an infection, will mostly only affect you, not change the world. It will not affect the people you despise or the state of the country one whit. Jesus was the Prince of Peace. Surely we can shift our focus on all the ways our country and the world are effed up, to loving the least of these? Just some Thursday morning thoughts.
I’m in a terrible mood. Didn’t sleep last night. Shoulder blown out. Systemic pain off the charts. Worried about many things. The next two weeks is a constant treadmill of doctors visits and medical procedures. But God… But God keeps winking at me, in spite of it all. My prayers have become less “God, show me you love me” to “God, increase my awareness that you love me, so I can love others.” The checker at Trader Joe’s this morning could not have known that I’m having a rough time. It was the standard transaction, albeit friendly, as TJ is know for. But then he plopped this into my cart. I was dumbfounded. “Just a little something to brighten your day,” he says. I can tell he is smiling even though he he is wearing a mask. His eyes are smiling. The flowers are beautiful, and even my favorite color! You see, God loves us with kind acts and nature. I felt lighter leaving the store, and popped in a CD because Music is Life. And it was a long lost CD my daughter had made for us after her senior trip to NYC, which I chaperoned. Every song had memories attached to it. Another God wink. God, make me aware of your love, given in abundance. Every kindness perpetrated by others (whether they know it or not) is a message from our Source. Every cell in every flower on every tree (or in every shopping cart) is filled with the blueprint of his love. He didn’t have to make them so beautiful, but he did. He didn’t have to make himself flesh to jump into our pain and suffering so that we are never alone. But he does. Papa God, increase our awareness. Increase our capacity to show kindness. Let us see you in the beauty of your creation, which is really impressive, by the way. It’s good to know our moods don’t get in the way of his love for us. Although my heart still has a remnant of heaviness for the people I love who are going through a difficult life season, my prayer is that God winks at them too. Whatever you’re going through, I know how it feels to be convinced he is not in your corner, if he even exists at all. I get it! But please know you are deeply loved. And the fact that we – in all our messy, chaotic humanity – can be a part of that Vis-à-Vis loving one another? Priceless.
Y’all, I have to share. Just got back from having the shoulder MRI. It required dye and lidocaine injected directly into my shoulder capsule, which I thoroughly did not enjoy.
But the craziest thing happened during the 40 minute MRI. Keep in mind I’m extremely claustrophobic I HATE MRIS.
I’ve been learning how to truly meditate for the last few months, and have been regularly practicing meditation. I was dreading the MRI. Even with noise cancellation headphones, it’s loud af. And such a tight a space.
As I entered the machine, my upper body was smooshed very tight and held in place; I couldn’t move an inch, and I could feel by breath bouncing back on my face, the top was so near my head. I decided to keep my eyes closed the whole time for obvious reasons.
As the machine was turned on, I felt a slight panic attack setting it. But then I figured if ever there was an opportunity to meditate, it would be now.
And hons, it WORKED. I used the techniques and to my GREAT suprise, they worked. They worked SO a well that I very nearly fell asleep in the dern thing! Loudness and tight space notwithstanding. They didn’t even give me a Valium to get thru the test as they usually do. I checked out while the MRI was going.. I went to my happy places in my mind. I floated in space. I reminded myself that I was safe, and that I was getting plenty of air to breathe and was safe. And then I transcended for the first time. My mind – and thus energy – was at Frog Holler in the hot tub. It was in Myrtle Beach with my girls. It was in my husband’s arms. And that’s where I became super sleepy and relaxed.
I have never had meditation actually work using this practical application. For 40 minutes, I was at total peace, my mind visiting all my happy places. IT ACTUALLY WORKED! For the 1st time!
I’m really happy about that! I want to live a transcendent life; one where I am not so reactionary and high strung. The more I practice meditation, the easier it is to “check out” in my mind and experience peace.
Between my anxiety and claustrophobia and ADD / OCD tendencies, I never really believed it would work. Thought it was gooey.
But it DOES! It DOES work!
I’m so grateful. This experience could have been so much worse!
Yesterday, I celebrated my 20th Sober-versary and huns let me tell you … it feels so GOOD. I will write about it soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to share some pictures from the day with my blogosphere buddies.
Thank you for being such an important part of my journey. If God can help me stay alcohol-free, the reality is that he can help YOU atop. There’s a beautiful life waiting for you.
I experienced a strange and new sensation last night, and I think it was invincibility. I’m not sure because I don’t think I’ve ever felt invincible before. But 20 years sober is making me catch ALLTHEFEELS.
I’m sharing this for those who feel getting sober is futile, or too difficult, or just too new and scary. Hons, there is HOPE on the other side of those musings.
I struggle with self-esteem to the point I shit talk myself pretty constantly. I give God all the glory for my recovery, but the truth is that I had a hand in it too. He didn’t do it for me, but with me. And in me. But I white-knuckled every temptation, nurtured every feeling, kept working the steps. And I’m pretty proud of this particular accomplishment because DAMN, a LOT has gone into it.
But I’m not talking about the regular kind of invincibility that manically tells you that you are bulletproof. Not the delusional kind that assures you things will work out as long as “A” and “B” happen as you plan. I had the feeling that I was going to be okay no matter WHAT 2021 OR my health doles out on me. “A” and “B” isn’t happening and probably won’t; it hardly ever does. But I crave a transcendent life, one that rises above circumstance.
I know I can remain sober if I work my recovery, help others find their way, and stick close to the heart of the Universe. That is the recipe for long-term sobriety. It’s not always easy, but it’s tried and true.
I also know that I could lose it by taking just one drink. Because, you see, I know myself. And I’d land back exactly where I was. One is too many, a thousand is not enough.
So on the heels of allowing myself to be joyous about the occasion, I took the time to sit down and compile a list of stuff I’ve survived with sobriety intact, (because it’s a miracle.) I’m as astounded that it stuck as anyone else, but so grateful.
The truth is I wasn’t sure I wanted to live sober. Oh the things I would have missed if I hadn’t chosen the recovery road. Here is a sampling of what I survived without taking a drink:
Went through a nasty divorce. It was traumatic and I’d only been sober a few years. I held tight to my recovery with both hands.
Became a single mom, and worked four jobs to support my kids after being a stay-at-home mom.
Experienced the dissolution of my family of origin.
Was 100% alone, with no outside help, not even from family.
I moved house three times in a short span of time.
Started getting sick – staying sick, and started the journey to try to find out what was wrong with me (it would take several years to get an accurate diagnoses.
Had 8 surgeries in the past 14 years.
A spinal tapand myriad of other invasive procedures.
Received the diagnosis that I have a rare genetic disorder in which my collagen is mutated, and that it would slowly cause me to lose mobility and be in pain almost every single day.
Survived blending a family with three teenage girls. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG? (Everything, that’s what.)
Being sick more often than not, on account of having immune and auto-immune issues.
Recovery can be challenging even under the best of circumstances. But we know that life doesn’t work that way. It’s not designed to be an easy road. But whether or not I drink is entirely my choice. I know also that recovery is community. We need each other.
It’s not just the big things that I stayed sober through, either. There were wonderful things – things that would not have even happened if I’d picked up a drink. I married the love of my life. I have rich relationships with my adult daughters. Life is NOT PERFECT, but it’s good, and I get to BE here for it.
So yes, I know one drink could set me 20 years back, and that’s why I respect alcohol. It tried to kill me once.
But I wear the pants now. “*TeamSoberPants.*!)
DO have control over is turning that drink down. Alcohol is not the boss of you, I promise. Surviving through trauma with sobriety intact is it’s own glorious reward. And it’s available to you.
So long as we don’t pick up a drink.
God bless you, dear reader. I’m sending good vibes and prayers for you all.
No, I couldn’t think of a better name for this piece, lol. I think it’s because as I approach my 20 year sobriety anniversary this weekend, my mind is alllll over the place. But I want to record these thoughts, both random and cohesive. I made a promise to God while sprawled out on a bathroom floor, desperate and shaking, that if he would help me not drink, I wouldn’t be shy about sharing my story and journey. And I’m not shy about it. Being shy about addiction has helped to keep the good people of Earth sick and stuck for centuries.
Plus, I’m a shoot-from-the-hip kind of girl.
Twenty years ago, I walked into an AA meeting in the town where I lived. I can recall feeling shame that I didn’t make it two days prior and so I’d already blown my big New Year’s Eve target date. It was actually January 3rd when I darkened the door. My heart raced as I pulled the door open and peered inside. It was a particularly sunny day, which should have been foreshadowing of recovery and not what it felt like – intrusive sunshine that irritated my hangover. My eyes had to adjust to the light, so I couldn’t see faces at first.
But adjust they did. I don’t know what I was expecting, but most of the attendees were much older than my 32 years. The place smelled of mid-grade coffee and served in styrofoam cups. It was a tiny community center – a one-room job. Nowhere to run, as they say.
The thing is, I knew when I walked up the sidewalk to the meeting that this would be a life changer one way or another, because once I showed my face at a recovery event, the jig was up. You can’t admit to God and country that you have an alcohol problem in a small town and then pretend it didn’t happen. Anonymity or not.
And the jig WAS up. I had gotten so sick that the whites of my eyes were yellowing. I had a litany of reasons I had no business being there – your garden variety justification.
I live at the beach and drinking is what everybody does.
I’m only 32, I can’t be an alcoholic.
I don’t drink before 5pm most days. Okay, SOME days.
I don’t drink a lot of the “hard stuff.”
And on and on and on, ad nauseum (literally.)
But of course I did need to be there – badly.
The denial wasn’t working anymore. My health told a different story about how sick I was, inside and out. And the toll on my relationships. And my walk with God. And in my Spirit, where it didn’t want to seem to wash out.
So on that January day in 2001, I made a commitment to myself and to my precious children. Mommy would get sober, but she would need God’s help.
God’s help came in the form of sitting down in a metal chair that day, the legs scraping against the linoleum just a little too loudly. I didn’t want to be seen. But I did want to get found.
The old man chairing the meeting started things off with the following admission:
“I didn’t take a drink for twenty years,” he says to nodding attendants. “But on my 20th sober anniversary, I figured I had obviously licked this thing. I proved that I can go without drinking, right?”
I squirmed in my chair, head splitting, arms crossed.
“So I had a drink to celebrate 20 years, and here I am again today, happily pursuing sobriety, and I have six months again. Keep coming back. It works if you work it.”
I remember thinking, “Dude, I cannot make it one day without drinking. Not a single one. Are you NUTS?” Also, YES….you ARE nuts, because how could you possibly have thought it was a good idea to have a drink after 20 years?
I WILL NEVER GET TO 20 YEARS, I thought. And I meant it. There was NO way; I loved drinking too much.
And now I understand what they guy who chaired the meeting means now. I know what he was up against, and I know how much respect my disease demands.
What IS this force we battle? For someone to go 20 years without and then BOOM! Back at square one? That’s the day I figured out that I wouldn’t get a “day off” from recovery. It’s the nature of the beast to convince you it has no control of you. But it DOES. Until it controls everything.
I never in a million years expected my sobriety to “stick;” and frankly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to stick around myself without ever having another drink. But oh honey! The richness that is life without ingesting your own personal poison is INCREDIBLE!
I know it sounds impossible, but I promise your eyes will adjust to the light. And light aplenty there will be, illuminating so many wonderous things. The light vanquishes the dark, always.
I’m a seasoned veteran at recovery, but still (always) ONE drink away from disaster. I STILL take one single day at a time. There are occasions I learn more from newcomers than old-timers. And I have learned to trust God more than I’d imagined was possible.
The life I’ve been given as recompense, Oh MY! It’s a complex, beautiful dance to which I’m only now beginning to truly appreciate.
There is healing for you. Pick up your mat and come along. It’s the story of how my life was saved.
have let my self go. It started with an injury 1 1/2 years ago that resulted in months of PT and taking a break from water aerobics. Then I had old metal hardware coming through the skin of my my ankle, so that necessitated surgery, which set me back more.
So at some point – I’m not sure when exactly – I adopted a “screw it” mentality. Why even bother if I’m just going to have many more injuries? I had my little emotional tantrum that it’s just too hard battling this disease and trying to be as healthy as possible – which actually ain’t even that healthy.
Well, because I’m diabetic and aside from taking the medicine for it, I’ve been living like the ‘beetus ain’t even a thang. But in the new year, I have to get it together and lose some weight and build muscle around my crappy, loosy-goosey joints. It means starting all over. Convo between Bob and I recently:
Me: “I’m getting back on the health train January 1st.”
Bob: “Why wait? Why not just now? Why does it have to be a future date?”
Me: “Are you kidding? That’s not how this works at ALL. I need time to mentally train for a certain day. I also need time to go down in a blaze of glory. Like, between now and the 1st of the year, Imma feed my baser instincts lavishly, really blow it out. Eat what I want, with the appreciation and grieving making a huge likfe change entails…”
Bob: “…..blinking and staring blankly…”
Me: “You know how I do.”
When I quit drinking and smoking, and picked out quit dates (Jan. 1st for smoking, and Jan. 3rd for drinking,) None of that “no time for the present” BS. 😂
I went bananarama with indulging in my vices prior to my actual quitting. Like, I chain smoked for 20 hours before putting the cigs down til I felt absolutely sick. And then on Dec. 31st 2006, quit cold turkey, by which time I had allowed myself to really wallow in and accept that the times, they were ‘a changin’, and I was as prepared as I’d ever be – having obsessed about it and pouted about it, I emerged, Chrysalis-like on January 1st as a non-smoker. That’s IT. Bada bing bada boom!
For three weeks, I was MISERABLE and made everyone else miserable, but then the fog lifted, as it always does.
So in conclusion, last night, I ate Ben and Jerry’s Fudge Brownie Ice Cream at 3:00 am. I also had chips. By 4 am, I am sitting bleary-eyed covered in junk food crumbs in my husband’s recliner like some kind of Tudor era wedding feast guest in the literal dark of night. Oh, the debauchery!
All of this doesn’t make sense to My Beloved, who suspects I’m making it harder than it has to be, but Dude, I got a process here.
What looks binging diabetic shoveling Ben and Jerry’s in her gob is actually “spirit work,”my process. My twisted form of self care.
Gotta get a last binge period in before I start watching every single macro and calorie, which I will also do obsessively, HOW DO YOU NOT OBSESS, PEOPLE!?
And because mental health reasons. (I never claimed to have my shit together, lol.)
What is your process for putting down a bad habit and changing your mindset.
This is not a sappy piece about how we can all find the good in a shitty year, and we should all glean nuggets of gratitude (though we should.)
Twenty-twenty can be assessed by “a series of unfortunate events.” It’s a strange year, not just because of the obvious reasons (*gestures wildly), but because we are all having both universal experience AND an individual experience. We are going through much of the same stuff collectively, yet each and every one of us is entrenched in a totally unique experience.
So in other words, we have an opportunity to understand each other as never before, AND it is true to say that nobody understands what we are going through as individuals.
It’s changed me, and it’s changing you.
In the most fundamental way, I feel like we are all sort of victims of the pandemic and the economy, and the election and the drama that surrounds us.
But in another, we get to rise above, if we so choose to. A passel of impassioned victims is a very strong thing.
It’s been a difficult year to stay sober, I’ll be honest about that. But as I approach my 20 year anniversary of being alcohol-free, I’ve noticed a few things. This universally horrible year has taught me more about what matters than probably the last 20 combined.
I’ve learned to rabidly seek out that which makes me laugh.
Laughter is lifeblood. It carries all the things necessary for a good life on it’s coattails. I have never been sillier (albeit, some would question my “maturity,”) and I have no plans to curtail the silliness. Watch the comedies. Make time for your hilarious friends. Imbibe in standup comedy on Netflix (John Mulaney comes to mind,) look at the ridiculous memes and share them. Laugh and the world laughs with you.
Not everything I write has to be the best thing I ever wrote.
*Whines melodramatically*” BUT WHAT IS THE POINT OF WRITING, THEN?”
God I hate this about myself, the “all-or-nothing-ness.” I cease and desist the stifling of my creative flow just because sometimes I’m gonna suck. That primal fear of not being good enough keeps me from sharing at all, lest I not write something profound at every turn. Screw that. I’m a blogger, and bloggers gotta blog. Even if it’s a frothy piece with no deep, spiritual nutritional value.
ALL MY LABELS HAVE GONE TO SHIT, and I’m not even sure I have 2020 to blame for it.
Hooby, I have no idea what I’m doing. And I mean that across the board. I am a writer who doesn’t make a dime writing. I’m a Christian who has blissfully lost her evangelical bent. I’m a housewife whose house isn’t even clean, and who only cooks half the time. I’m a mom whose kids are grown and need her less (and in a different way.) I’m an artist who can’t seem to sell art, and what am I even DOING with my life?
This year has challenged me to question who I am, yet here I am still. And here you are. So in conclusion….
It’s enough to be a person. It’s enough to be a good friend. It’s enough to write for the love of the craft. It’s enough to have a close relationship with Jesus without all the dogma. It’s enough to be a loving wife. It’s enough to be a friend to those I love.
It’s ENOUGH. I’m enough. YOU are enough.
The bulldozer that is 2020 is a leveling disaster, but it’s a disaster that gives us the opportunity to rise like the mother-flippin’ Phoenixes we truly are.