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Month: February 2010

…Like a Handprint on My Heart

…Like a Handprint on My Heart

The worst thing for me to do is to ever regret any friendship.  Every one of them have enriched me in one way  or another.  I had a long talk about this recently with my sponsor and she helped me realize that from the heartbreak of a childhood friendship gone terribly wrong and painful to those lost as an adult.  From friends who have just moved on from my life to those who have been and (hopefully) always will be a part of me.

You all matter.

And just to clear the air, I ask forgiveness for the thing I’ve done you blame me for. (But then I guess we know, there’s blame to share.)  And none of it seems to matter anymore…

Things I Learned This Weekend

Things I Learned This Weekend

This weekend I needed a mental health weekend.  Time to regroup, rethink and reboot.  So to speak.  Here are some of the brilliant insights my brain stumbled upon.

  • Exercise can only get you so far before you have to resort to Ben & Jerry’s.  Which of course will lead to more exercise but at least you will feel the satisfaction of devouring the frozen goodness that is the very definition of awesome therapy in a pint size container.
  • If you lay really still and don’t give in to the urge to move when someone peeks into your room to see if you are sleeping late, you can actually buy yourself some more alone time to check out TMZ, E! and People to see what those crazy celebrities did while you were sleeping.
  • Going to a hockey game really is a great way to release tension.  There is just nothing more beautiful than the sound of a puck (or a hockey player) slamming into the glass.  (I told my husband the most romantic gift he could give me would be a mix tape of checks into the boards, pucks hitting glass and the sound of hundreds of amped up fans cheering when a fight breaks out. Ooooh baby!)
  • Unhappy people make people unhappy.  (I read that on a blog this weekend and for the life of me I cannot find it again.)
  • Old friends can make you laugh like no one else on earth.  Sometimes, just hearing their voice on your voicemail makes your heart happier. Other times, it’s friends who send you smart-ass videos by Pink with notes that call you a dork and thanks you for not being a stupid girl which make you wonder “really is that a compliment or an insult and why would you ever even think of me when  you see that… I just may be insulted by it except that you have me laughing too hard to be insulted.
  • Kids really are resilient.  And?  They have amazing ways of seeing the world.  I recommend spending some time with some if you can.  Even if they include that scary breed of kid known as “teenager.”  They’ll teach you a thing or two.  And really what weekend is complete without being schooled by a teenager?
  • When you put your cold feet on your husband in the middle of the night, using the excuse “But you’ve been in bed longer so you are warmer” doesn’t endear them to your cause.  Or warm your feet.  Oh, and when they are putting their socks on the next morning and wake you up, they will hear you if you mumble something about not deserving socks to warm their feet.
  • The scariest words to write on your first book are not the first ones that start out the story and get your reader involved. They are…the end.  Sometimes even scarier?  To be continued…
  • You have trained your husband and children very, very well when you bitch about needing to get your hair done because “Omigosh how can  you not see that grey?! Look closer!” and they all at different times, without conferring with each other respond, “I don’t see any grey.”
  • Only Oprah can bring Letterman and the NBC “L” guy (who is not Conan but should be) together on a couch for chips.  I bet she could also bring about world peace.  Or at the very least, bring Conan back to my tv!

First you slip, then you fall. But sometimes, love and family catch you before you do either.

First you slip, then you fall. But sometimes, love and family catch you before you do either.

Here it is Sunday night and all I can think is “Oh, please, do not let this weekend end!  I am not ready for Monday!”  I had a great weekend with my family and got a much needed mental break.  Last week was hellacious.  Horrible. One of the worst I have had in years.  I do not want to get into details because suffice it to say that 1) I do not want to relive it and 2) I really don’t want to relive it.

Wednesday was just bad. For reasons I cannot get into (I am just not comfortable sharing since things here have been used against me in my real life), I was thrown into a really bad place.  What amazed me was that a very dear friend of mine hundreds of miles away could tell- with only a few words- how bad off I was.  In fact, she talked to me until I was doing better.  She sent me phone numbers I needed and links to make sure I had some local backup.  After seeing that I was doing better but needed to talk to someone in recovery, she reminded me of a mutual friend of ours that would be there for me in a heartbeat if I called him.  I sent out an SOS message to him and we were almost immediately on the phone.  The timing was not good and I knew he had things to do but he stayed on the phone with me for over an hour just getting me back on track and reminding me of who I am, where I’ve been and how hard I’ve worked.   Together they helped get me out of my own head and back to a peaceful place.  Two friends in two different states who care enough to come to the aid of a friend.

I have to state the obvious here but I really, really do hate addiction.  Here I am  with almost 10 years of hard work and recovery and yet there are times when I am just as vulnerable- sometimes I think even more vulnerable- than I was just 10 months or even 1o days clean.

I woke up feeling better and happier on Thursday.  I had a good day despite a very difficult morning of struggles and that afternoon was so grateful that Gabby and I were able to spend a couple of hours catching up with good friends.  That night it was all throw to hell and everything came tumbling down on my head.

I lost it in a way I have not lost it in years.  It was the first time in many, many years that a situation came along that filled me with such despair, pain and desperation that I feared for myself.  In my head at that time,  I no longer cared about anything but not hurting.  I didn’t care about the 10 years of hard work.  I didn’t care about anything I have accomplished in the past decade.  I didn’t care what it would do to me, my kids or anyone else around me.  All I wanted was to not hurt like I was hurting.  I wanted to drown myself in the momentary release that being high gave me.  All I wanted was to escape.  To get away from the life of hell that was baring down on me and about to swallow me whole.



For the love of all things peaceful, I had to get away from the pain!

I had to let someone know I was going to slip fall hard.

But I didn’t want to say it because right then, right there, I wanted to fall.  I wanted to give in.  Ten years of saying no when I hurt.  Ten years of “talking through it” and “finding alternatives” when I felt horrible.  Ten years of staying strong when I really did not want to be.  None of that mattered.  I was willing to throw it and myself back to hell.

A friend of mine who knew only a third of my story and half of the pain I was in came over and wanted to make sure I cleared out any medications or alcohol in my house.  If she knew only half and knew to just come over and get things out of my house, can you imagine how bad I actually was?

Again, there were phone calls- this time it was Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200, Go Directly to AA.

I talked to people in recovery who got me back on track.  I talked to people who really knew me and spilled it out.  I talked to friends late into the night.  I cuddled up with my kids who saw me almost lose it for the first time ever in their lifetime and let them know I was okay. Cuddled the fear out of them.

I snuggled up with my husband and told him everything.  I felt him tense.  I knew a part of him wanted to bite his tongue and resist the urge to give me advice.  He just listened as I worked through it.  I know how hard it is on him when I hurt and feel so hopeless.  I know it breaks a part of him every time I feel broken.  I know it makes him feel helpless when I let life beat me down and head into a tailspin.  But he always stands by me and loves me.  He listened.  He let me pour it all out.  He didn’t judge (me) and didn’t blame (me) but listened, loved and waited for me to work through it knowing he was standing there as my safety net.

Friday, I woke up feeling like I had gone 10 rounds with a heavy weight fighter.  I guess in a way I did.  I fought my demon.

And I won.

It took a while on Friday to work through things but again, it took talking on the phone with people who really do know me and being with people this weekend who really do accept me for who I am that made me realize that things have to change. For me.  For my family.  For my sanity and sobriety. Things have to change.  And I have hard work ahead of me but I am not alone. I just know things have to change.

In a huge way.

And I have started to take steps to go back to being me and not anyone else’s version of me.

Because you know what?  That person doesn’t work.

Not for me.

Diving off the high dive– One day at a time

Diving off the high dive– One day at a time

“Always do what you are afraid to do.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

There was a time in my life when I was fearless.  I felt almost invincible.  I never feared new situations, new people and loved new experiences.  The only fear I would readily admit to was my fear of heights.  But for the most part, I lived life to the fullest. Fearlessly.

I used to say I don’t know when I became afraid of life but the truth is I can look back and see when it happened.  April 6, 1992.  I was living my fairytale life. I was young, healthy, married to my best friend and pregnant with our first child.   With a picture perfect pregnancy, we eagerly awaited the new addition to our family.  On that day we went to what was to be a typical OB check-up.  But it became anything but typical.  On that day we found out our little boy had died in utero.  My idyllic life shattered.  I was not invincible.  Death could take me by the heart and slam me to the ground.  After giving birth to my son, nothing inside me ever felt the same.  Life scared me.  I knew that everything could change in a heartbeat- or lack of one.

I had changed.  My outlook had changed.  I was afraid.  Not in ways you could always see but in ways that pulled me deeper inside myself.  Years later after delivering two very healthy babies, I was living life more fully but never to the fullest.

Maybe that inner fear is one of the reasons I fell so deeply into my addiction.  I was a broken, fearful, unhappy woman.  The drugs were just an attempt to mask it all.  Then somewhere deep inside myself I found the courage to admit I needed help.  With a lot of hard work and a lot of help from amazing people who were also beating their addictions, I began to live life more fearlessly.  In fact, for a few months, I was fearless again.

I had looked death in the face and kicked it to the curb.  With my new found friends, I was living life.  I was riding on the back of my friends’ Harleys.  I was going to Karoake with them.  I was meeting people I would never have met otherwise and seeing a side of life I would never have known.  And I embraced it.

A few months into my recovery I became pregnant with my daughter.  There was nothing about that pregnancy that was not filled with fear.  It went as far as being told that she, too, would probably die before birth.

Enter fear.

My daughter was born perfectly healthy.  I searched again for the fearlessness.  I began to find it again.  I tried to find it in big ways.  (I should have been looking for it in small ways.)

When my Mom became so sick and I sat by her side watching her die, Fear took over again.  It completely grabbed me by the throat and choked out whatever fearlessness I thought I had found.  This time, Fear stayed around much longer.  The very core of my being was shaken, tossed around and thrown to the ground.

This year I decided to do something about it.  A project- if you will- began to take root in my mind.

The Project

I decided the only way to conquer living fearfully was to do something about it and begin my path to living fearlessly again.  One step at a time.  One day at a time.  I wanted to see if  I could do it for at least a month before I openly blogged about it.

One year.  A new challenge every day. Nothing huge or outrageous.  Just simple acts that help me move forward in an attempt to challenge myself away from the big and little things that can cause me to withdraw or let fear win.  This is not an experiment in trying to find perfect happiness in a year.  It is just my way of taking small steps, small challenges towards living fearlessly.

Some things will be bigger than others.  Some will be as easy as simple acts of kindness.  Acts that I would normally think about doing but never actually put into action.  I may find inspiration from books, blogs, friends, suggestions, movies, self-help books etc.  But every day I will do something to force me outside of my comfort zone a bit.  And I know there will be many times I will need to explain why a certain act is stepping outside of my personal comfort zone.

I have been successfully doing this for one month.  I have kept a personally diary that I will copy over to the blog as soon as I can so you can follow along.  Nothing huge yet.

Here are some examples:

  • I reached out to a friend from my past where our friendship ended badly and we talked things over. It felt good to let that go.
  • I went to lunch alone without any props (you know: books, phones for texting etc) and just enjoyed being alone and enjoying myself.
  • I called a tech service rep just to tell him how much I know his job must be thankless but how much I appreciate that he is on the other end of the phone when things go haywire. (I didn’t even have a tech problem.)
  • Those of you who know me know I am terrified of mascots in full uniform.  At a recent hockey game when the mascot jumped RIGHT IN MY FACE, I did not scream, run or cry.  I actually reached out and touched him. (I missed the photo op but do have witnesses.)

See?  Simply things.  Small steps.  Hopefully big results when all is said and done.  It may seem crazy but if you know me, that is nothing new.

Learning to find the courage to live fearlessly!
Learning to find the courage to live fearlessly!

I am open to your challenges.  Bring ’em on.  Now, nothing that is illegal or involves nudity.  No ONE wants that.  What do you suggest?  Challenge me.  One thing a day- some big, some small and some just random acts of kindness that we all think about doing but rarely follow through with.  They can even be daily steps towards a bigger goal. (Jogging? Queries? World Domination? Kicking out Leno and bringing back Conan? You get the idea.)

You see, what I hope to find at the end of 2010 as I ring in 2011 is a Jennifer who lives life fearlessly.

Are you with me on this journey? Do  you want to join me on this project as I take a jump off the high dive one day at a time?  I’m climbing the ladder and am ready to jump!

(I will add the link the the daily challenges as soon as I get them all written up from my journal to my computer.  BUT, I will keep you updated here until then.  Just so you can help hold me accountable. Are you in?)