A Good Man Is Hard to Find

Five days ago I celebrated eight years of sobriety. If I’d known eight years ago that my life—more importantly my outlook—could change so dramatically I wouldn’t have believed you. That being said, I’ve been feeling down lately. A lot of different things have been going on, and even before all this happened I was feeling blah for no discernible reason. Last night after class I wanted to cry, and I wanted to cry again when my friend Kevin came over and joked about how long dinner was taking me to cook. Let me rephrase that: I didn’t want to cry so I held it in. Not healthy but I just didn’t feel like it, not in front of anyone.

Class yesterday left me with an old feeling of deep-rooted insignificance. Invisibility, without a voice, unimportant, unheard, silenced. It probably wasn’t my classmates’ intention—certainly it wasn’t Rochelle’s, because she’s the sweetest, most compassionate student in the class, and I don’t know the other guy in my group very well but he seems nice—yet I felt… swept aside. We had to do a case study together on a guy who sounded just like my dad, so I felt like I knew just what to do with this guy. My group had a different, more extreme approach, so my suggestion was outvoted. I just don’t think you can take a person who’s used to eating Philly cheesesteaks every day and tell him he can no longer eat any bread, sugar, fast food, or processed and refined or packaged foods on Day One. The person they described is a heavy drinker with type 2 diabetes. Yet when I suggested abstinence for the client’s third month, the guy in my group was like, Whoa there. Let the guy have his drink. He’s human. The health problems that this guy had, and the effect of alcohol on someone with diabetes—it’s just dangerous. And the way in which this client drinks coupled with the fact that he has a family history of alcoholism suggests he’s a problem drinker, possibly an alcoholic himself. As medical professionals we have a responsibility to tell someone their drinking is dangerous to their health, and that if they’re having trouble drinking they should consider treatment. It pisses me off when students gloss over someone’s drinking because of how acceptable—and not only acceptable but encouraged—drinking is in this country. To have one or two drinks is one thing, but when a person drinks so much their judgment is impaired and they’re causing damage to their health, taking dangerous actions, driving drunk, destroying relationships… Ugh! I just want to scream! I know. I have been that person.

But it’s such a touchy subject, especially as someone in AA. It’s not my job to preach to the world about how they should all be abstinent. For one, most people don’t need to quit entirely. For another, most people—especially those who have a problem—don’t want to quit. But would you tell someone who’s a hundred pounds overweight with high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and high blood sugar that it’s okay for them to continue eating fast food? Would you tell someone who’s allergic to bees that it’s okay if they stand next to a beehive as long as they only do it once a day?

The thing is, if a person has a problem, they’ll quit when they’re ready. No one can make them quit. To harass that person about it won’t help, and in fact can cause more damage. But what you can do, as a medical practitioner is inform them that their drinking habits are unhealthy, dangerous even, and suggest that they cut back, and if they can’t cut back, then suggest that they consider treatment. Then it’s up to them to decide what to do with it. And if you’re a friend or a family member of someone who drinks too much, let them know you’re worried about them and suggest they try cutting back, and if they can’t but want to, then suggest treatment. If they don’t want to, that’s on them.

Enough on that soapbox! Thanks for letting me share. Lol.

The thing is, I felt ignored yesterday. I suggested what I wanted to do for a diet plan with this client, and my classmates were like, Well this is what we’re gonna do. It touched a nerve, because the one guy in my group was informed about what deficiencies the client had based on his symptoms, rattled off something about the different metabolic pathways, remembered a bunch of science-y stuff from biochemistry, and my fear is that I won’t retain this information nor will I remember it if I do.

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The day before I’d gone on a date with a guy working on his PhD in molecular biology working on cancer research. I didn’t understood much of what he said when he discussed his work, and when I’d mentioned a few things about nutrition, he replied with his point of view as if they were facts, as if he’s the one not just studying nutrition, but having already studied it and become the expert. He mentioned he’d been commissioned as an officer, and I had no idea what that meant. Turns out he’s in the Commission Corps, which I didn’t know existed. All of it left me feeling small, stupid. Apart from his work he didn’t have much to contribute to the conversation, and afterwards he sent me a text telling me I’m beautiful and sexy, and has since sent me several texts referring in some way to sex. He’s 33 years old and told me he likes older women because they’re better in bed. I told him the same is true of older men.

I’ve decided not to reply any more to him or the guy I had a date with after class yesterday. That guy was nice but something about him came off as inauthentic. He was almost too nice. His mom died about 10 years ago of cancer, and the conversation about our mothers’ deaths didn’t go in a way that felt right to me. In other words, I am following my gut feeling and leaving these two guys alone.

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Ditto for the guy I had a phone conversation with last week. I also met him through Match, and he was funny, but I just had this gut feeling something wasn’t right. He seemed like someone I’d have drank with back in the day. And that’s a red flag.

A couple of weeks ago my closest guy friend “in AA,” Spencer, decided he couldn’t talk to me anymore because he wants more than a friendship. I use “in AA” in quotes because he doesn’t really practice the program or go to meetings that much, and although I’m bummed, it’s a relief too. For one, it’s difficult to try to be a flotation device for someone who’s drowning, particularly when you aren’t the best swimmer yourself. And another, maybe it’s just not right to be friends with someone who wants more. This was one reason I didn’t have close male friends before Spencer and my other friend Kevin. Kevin also wants more, but says he’s okay with just being friends. I don’t want to cut off the friendship because he’s a good friend but at the same time, am I doing him a disservice? If I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t even hang around a guy who I liked for more who didn’t reciprocate the feeling. This is why it’s best for us girls to just stick together.

Kevin hurt my feelings last night, joking about how long it was taking me to cook dinner, as we often do with each other. We always joke in that mean sort of way, like the characters on “It’s Always Sunny,” or my dad and his friends, insulting each other, and while this wouldn’t work with my female friends, or maybe it would now depending on what and how it was done, it’s hilarious to us. Until last night when I thought he was for real. I was already feeling sensitive, wanting to cry, but I didn’t want to cry in front of him because I just didn’t feel like going there. The problem with that is this is how you develop closer friendships. By opening up and letting yourself be vulnerable. I don’t know if that’s a good idea with Kevin given that he’s interested in dating me, so I’ll let myself off the hook.

Another mental note I made for myself was the two times I went out with the two aforementioned guys, I was in an awkward position of saying yes because it’s my default reaction to be a people-pleaser. The PhD guy asked at the end of the date if we could go out again and I just said yes. How does one say no in that situation? Then the second guy asked if I wanted to continue the coffee date by going somewhere else to eat, and I said yes even though I didn’t want to. I decided if these kind of situations come up again I’ll say, “I really had a good time but I’d like to talk to you on the phone a couple more times first,” or “I have other plans,” or “I’ll be in rehab for the next year,” etc. Anything. I could tell the guy I’m alcoholic and I’m twice divorced. That I have explosive diarrhea and need to go home immediately. Lessons to be learned, my friends. Note to self: be prepared to say no.

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To top it all off, as soon as this semester ends I’ll be flying to Georgia to take my 95-year-old whippersnapper of a grandmother to Albuquerque to see my sister and her kids. Y’all, this trip is gonna be like an updated version of “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” (by Flannery O’Connor) except hopefully no shooters (didn’t the Misfit have a gun?). Hence, I am stressing.

Also, my ex-husband texted to say he’s in DC this week for work and wanted to know if I wanted to hook up with him. Lord help us all. There’s a man out there who I will love and who also loves me for me and doesn’t think of me as a good piece of ass. I just haven’t met him yet.

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St. Patrick’s Day has had me thinking about the last time I drank, in Savannah with my second husband and his parents, when I got so drunk I felt like I’d die the next day. I’m so glad those days are behind me.

Off to work now but first I want to say that I’m grateful for the life I have today. I’m glad to be sober, to be dating, to be attractive to guys, to be able to choose, to have an opportunity to take my grandma to New Mexico.

Peace and love,

TCH

Online Dating, Baby Goats, and Just Being Yourself

During each painful setback comes a more beautiful opportunity for growth. The combination of self-care actions I’m taking are working, and I feel so… enlightened and at peace.

This past week I’ve been meditating each morning, and have worked up to eight minutes at a time (can’t quite make 10…it’s progress though, y’all!). I’ve been reading Sharon Salzberg’s book, Real Love which is incredibly helpful, and I highly recommend it.

This online dating thing has been a fascinating learning experience for me about myself. Maybe the best part about it is that I’m in no hurry, and I don’t feel desperate or eager to jump into a relationship with anyone–though I ain’t gone lie, ladies (and gentlemen, and everyone else). I do get excited when I meet someone who seems interesting. The most recent guy is 6’6. Good. Lord. That’s more than a FOOT taller than I am! I immediately connected with him after he mentioned that his dad died suddenly five years ago. My SOUL mate! Another orphan like me! He gets it! He’s part of the club! The club no one wants to be in but everyone joins at some point if you live long enough.

Just kidding, btw. I don’t really think he’s my soul mate just because he’s also a partial orphan, but it was nice to connect with someone on a deeper level and have a more human interaction, as much as can be done via email. The other guy I’ve been talking to texts me each day but never really says anything of substance, so I don’t know yet if he’s bad at texting or if he’s just super boring. I do know that I’m in love with his dog though. I would talk to this guy on the phone but I ain’t got time for that, folks. This girl right here is incredibly busy with school, work, AA, and my friends. More on all of that in a bit. And it’s not that I don’t want to talk to anyone, but I figure I already paid for this service and I assume it will take a long time to find someone–if I find anyone at all from there. The beauty of it is that I get to decide. And I get to learn from it.

So I want to tell you how I’ve been able to watch my mind throughout this process so far. So the orphan dude—we’ll call him Goliath—sent me an email and mentioned his dad in it, and instantly my mind was off Jay and onto this new guy. I thought of how nice it was that someone was connecting with me. Jay’s dad died years ago too but he didn’t talk to me much about it (or anything else), and that’s just not the kind of guy I want. So it’s already like, Good riddance. I really do not need or want that in my life. My goal is to be more emotionally open—I’ve already lived most of my life the other way and I don’t want to go back there.

What bothered me was how quickly I shifted from obsessing over Jay to obsessing over Goliath when I know damn well that love can only be found within me. Thursday I talked to my therapist about it, and she told me something that I finally believe, and feel so grateful to have heard from her, which is this. She said, “You’re very normal.” I was like, “Are you sure, or are you just saying that because that’s what they tell you in therapy school to tell your clients?” She said, “I promise you.” She said, “The only thing about you is that you worry too much about being crazy. You’re no more crazy than the next neurotic person.”

Hallelujah! I’m no more crazy than the next crazy person! See? We’re all nuts in our own way, but at the same time we’re not unique in our craziness. If that makes sense.

It’s dawning on me that she tells me this every time I talk to her, in different words. Usually it’s something like this, “You’re fine,” or “That’s a normal reaction,” or “Of course you felt that way, anyone would.” It’s always so reassuring.

The other day I had an epiphany. Really it was something I already knew but failed to give credit to, and it came to me when I was meditating. The meditation was to recall an experience in which I’d said or done something that left me feeling guilty or ashamed, and of course I thought of the words I’d said to Steven that caused him to drive me home in the middle of New Year’s night to get all my stuff out of his apartment and out of his life forever. For months I’ve been beating myself up for saying that to him. Why would I say such a foolish, unwise thing? Why imply or insinuate that there’s something sinister behind his love for his daughter, when I know that’s not true, and I know I don’t believe that about him. I had that unhelpful feeling of What’s wrong with me? So the meditation exercise is to recall a situation in which I felt regretful for, and to then to mentally say the words I’d say to a friend:

You did what you knew to do at the time. You were at a difficult time in your life. You were devastated by your mother’s loss and you felt isolated and afraid. You didn’t get that kind of love from your father so of course you felt jealous. You felt ignored during that time so of course you felt jealous.

And here’s the biggest one of all.

Of course you had that thought because you have that fear about everyone.

These are all things I knew about myself, but somehow they hit harder yesterday. Because here’s the thing: throughout my life I have often find myself wondering if there was some kind of seedy underworld that was really going on that I just don’t know about yet but which everyone’s participating in. Over the past several years I’ve gotten much better about it, and thought I was over it completely, but from what I hear in CODA, it never goes away completely. It makes so much sense. If you grow up in a chaotic household in which things happen that aren’t supposed to happen and your trust gets broken at an early age, you might grow up suspicious too. What I knew was that I loved my stepbrother deeply, but he was not a good guy. Or maybe he was, and he just didn’t take good actions. But no one had told me that. I found out by eavesdropping on my sister and my mom. So it was confusing.

In Real Love, Salzberg writes about “reframing the story.” She grew up in a broken home and felt victimized for years. But here’s the thing: we do not have to live in that story. If you believe that you create your own reality, which I do, you get to decide what your story is, or how you look at your story, rather. That doesn’t mean bad shit didn’t happen, but it doesn’t mean I had no love or happiness, because in fact, I had lots of love and happy times with my mom, my sisters, and even my stepbrothers who were both very sick. One of them committed suicide when he was 28, and the other—my favorite—is a fugitive today, if Google is correct. It doesn’t matter, because that’s in the past.

Today I have two wonderful sisters and a niece and nephew, and I have my dad, my stepdad. My brother-in-law. And let’s don’t forget all of their sweet pets.

The point is, we got through it. And we can choose what to focus on from our past. Some of my favorite memories are of the times I’ve had with my sisters. And they make me laugh so hard. And now my sister’s kids and my brother-in-law makes me laugh. When I went to see the eclipse with my dad and his wife, I was able to appreciate him for who he is. He too is a quirky, endearing guy who was so delighted to see this once in a lifetime event. He was out there with his maps, examining his solar glasses, surveying the area, making sure we were in just the right spot. It made me want to hug him. And other people just came up to him and talked to him, as they often do. People just like him. He doesn’t put forth any pretenses. He’s just himself, and I think that’s what everyone really wants from each other.

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The above image was taken from this blog.

This morning I have a date with a guy I met from Match, and I hate to say it, but I don’t even want to go anymore. I’ve kind of already decided I should’ve marked him off when I found out he had a grown daughter who lives in the house with him. But at the same time I want to keep an open mind. My sister suggested maybe I find a guy who doesn’t have kids, which I took offense to at first, but I think she’s right. I want a partner, and not to feel like I’m second or third in someone’s life.

The good news is that it’s at a place I’ve been wanting to go, a nature center where there are butterflies and orchids. My therapist said one of her friends went on Match and found that if she just made plans to go for a walk with the guy, she wasn’t wasting her time if it didn’t work out because she was going for a walk anyway. She needed to get her exercise, and she wanted someone who’d go on walks with her. So if the guy wasn’t interested, then that was it. I’m thinking that’s a darn good idea.

I do have a loose “no-kids” rule but I think it’s unrealistic to expect it since most people eventually have kids. At the same time, less people (Americans anyway) have kids these days than, say when my parents were young.

The key to online dating is not to get hung up on any one guy. It’s been a few days since I wrote about the extra tall guy and he hasn’t responded to my latest email, in which I asked him how important it was that his partner attend sporting events with him. Because that’s just not my thing. I love the outdoors, but I am not one to freak out over football games, or games of any kind. Maybe he was hoping for someone to go to games with, and that’s not me. And you know what? That’s fine with me. I’d rather find someone who wants to go hiking and biking.

Already I feel the same about Jay. Mostly I was interested in the fact that he had a boat and motorcycle, and we could have fun together. But after a conversation with a friend about how old that would get after a while, and the drawbacks to it, I got real with myself and realized I don’t care that much about that stuff. Because nothing is as important as connecting with someone on a deeper level, to just have fun no matter what external things are around to entertain us. The last time I was on the boat with Jay I got motion sick because of all the sharp turns, and the boat smells like gasoline because it’s in need of repair. And the last time I went tubing they didn’t have the tubes with the bottoms in them, meaning you had to float with just your ass in the water. And I’m not a big fan of getting my private parts in river water, folks. Nor do I like getting my head underwater with water getting all in my eyes and ears and nose. I’ll do just about anything once, but let’s be real here.

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(I’m dating myself with the above meme that I found from this site; my younger readers may not have any idea what that’s in reference to? Oh man, I’m getting old.)

And at the time I felt sad about my ex and jealous of Jay and Yvonne because they had what I’d wanted (or so I imagined), which was a deeper love and commitment to each other, and I left that for what? For Jay? I didn’t have to tell Steven I was dating other guys, and I didn’t have to date Jay.

(For anyone new to this blog, Steven asked me over for dinner several months after we broke up, and I said sure but I’m dating other guys, and he said pah, nevermind.)

Really I did it because I had a gut feeling that it wouldn’t work out with Steven regardless, and I took a gamble at something I knew wouldn’t work either, just to confirm what I already knew, which is this: there are so many other fish in the sea. Never was I under any illusion that Jay was The One. But of course I felt rejected when he decided to go back to his ex. But you know what? That’s okay. Good for them. Something else is in store for me. It would never have worked with Jay anyway. Just like it won’t work with me and someone who wants me to go to football games with them. Ain’t gonna happen.

Today I’m more excited about my plans after the date which is to visit a petting farm with one of my friends where they have goats, cows, sheep, and lots of other farm animals who I want to hug and hold, if they’ll let me. They let me hold a baby goat last year! It was such a joyful, precious moment. I’m not sure if any baby goats will be there since it’s fall because I still don’t know a lot about goats but I do know the babies are typically born in spring.

My dream still is to get my own tiny house on a piece of land just on the outskirts of town with my own goats and chickens. In my mind I picture it looking like this (and technically these are sheep but just pretend they’re goats):

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Though in reality it might look closer to this:

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Ah well. One day.

One day.

Until then I can be happy right where I am today.

Peace, namaste, and all that love stuff,

TCH

 

Change the Way You Feel

Change the way you feel.

These are the words that woke me from a dream, words that I slept-talked from a dream that had seared its way into my subconscious, that I’d gotten from Tara Brach’s meditation talk last night about how neurons that fire together wire together, that we were designed to focus on the negative, to have a fight or flight response for survival, but that we can create new neural pathways in our brains (neuroplasticity) to focus more on the positive, on gratitude, on compassion, on love. And to have all of these feelings for ourselves too, first and foremost.

I had a revelation: my life is pretty friggin fantastic today.

Gratitude is the antidote for jealousy. Jealousy–that ugly feeling that there’s a limited pool of opportunity unavailable to me when it lands in the laps of others–it’s is a useless feeling.

It’s my perception of what others have that creates the jealousy; not the truth of the situation. The truth is that I would feel trapped if I were in Johanna’s shoes. She doesn’t make enough money to go anywhere else, she can’t live alone, she has five pets who would have nowhere to go, she’s done nothing with her master’s degree, and she depends on Jay for all of her needs. The biggest “need” (or want) she has—or that I have, really, because I have no idea what she wants–is for someone to take care of me, to have an emotional connection with one person who is my everything. How unreasonable of a demand is that? I want a partner who I share friends with, who entertains me, who supports me financially. And I can have all of that. But at what cost? Her entire sober life has been built around him, as far as I can tell. They started dating when she was new in sobriety about seven years ago, and now she lives in his house, they have the same circle of friends, he supports her, takes care of her dogs, bought her a motorcycle, provides her with entertainment. The one thing he cannot give her is the only thing she needs—or rather, without it I could not have a real relationship–and that is an emotional connection. None of that other shit matters without an emotional connection.

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I have forged my own way through a series of mishaps, bumbling into one mistake after another, distanced myself from my original group, only to float around to other groups and not feel a part of them either. Then I moved back here where I started, this time without the non-AA husband, and instead became entangled with this dude, “Mr. AA” (yeah, right), who’s been around for 27 years, lived in this area for 57, who knows everyone, who’s viewed as the meditation master, and it’s all bullshit.

People like to hang out with him is because he has a boat and can take everyone out on it, and he has skis and tubes and he can provide entertainment for everyone. He’s a nice guy, so that’s not to say people only want to be his friend because of his boat. And he’s not the king of spiritual living just because he has 27 years of sobriety and meditates every day. He’s just a guy, and there are tons of those out there. If I want a boat to entertain my friends on, I can go get one. (Okay, so maybe I’m too poor right now but I am sure I could find one somehow, or borrow the money and add to my debt.) But who wants to deal with the upkeep and financial burden? A friend of mine said the two happiest days of your life are the day you buy your boat and the day you sell your boat.

By the way, this is not to say that no one else has forged their own way through a series of mishaps. I mean, we’re all doing that, aren’t we? Isn’t that just life? And it’s not to say that my perception of their relationship is what’s really going on. Maybe she’s not dependent on him, maybe he offers her emotional support, maybe she really loves him and does not feel trapped by the life they’ve built together, that appears to me to be the life he built for her, but maybe she built her own life. But here’s the thing: it does not matter. What matters is that I be real about how I’d feel if I were in her place, the situation I’m so jealous of. If I truly got all that I thought I wanted, I can guarantee you I’d find something wrong with it. I’d beat myself up for not having done it myself. Honestly, that’s the one thing I’m most proud of. I am my own person. And let me tell you: I did not get here because life was one big carefree, breezy path with no pain. I got here for exactly the opposite reasons.

My friend Kathleen suggested that four of us, without Jay or our crazy friend–the one who had an episode, stole a car, sent disturbing texts to all of us, who needs help we cannot give him outside of being his friend–Kathleen suggested that the four of us get together for a game of cards. She’s dying to play Euchre, and she enjoys our company–she enjoys my company. Personally, I like the four of us better than the six of us myself. Mike is the funny one, Spencer and I have become good friends in the past few months, and Kathleen is fun and sweet. Jim’s another story. My heart goes out to him but I can’t help him. Plus he’s in love with me, and Kathleen thinks he might be a stalker. I think he’s harmless but one can never be too careful. Anyway, there are others in the extended group who hang out with us, who are fairly new to the group, women who are my friends. Now that I think of it, I think I’ll reach out to them more.

This is my life. I have my own friends. Who cares what Jay and Johanna are doing? Who cares if they’ve been in this group for years with deep roots and established connections? I’m in the process of making my own connections, and having fun while doing it. These friends really like me too, if I do say so myself. We all make each other laugh and have fun together. If I get pushed out of the group it will only be because I distanced myself, not because no one wants to be my friend. And honestly? Jay and Johanna are nice people, but in my opinion they’re boring. A boat is fun, but I got personality, my friends. Which means I am judging them as boring people with no personality, and obviously their friends don’t feel that way, which is good for them. But that’s my opinion, and this is my life. They have their lives, and I have mine. I don’t need to worry about theirs. Fuck this whole jealousy thing.

And one more thing is this: if I were in Johanna’s shoes right now, I’d feel incredibly isolated and alone, stuck in a rut. I’d have been friends with all these people for years who might be great but who aren’t fresh and new anymore, and some of whom have moved away, others who I may not even feel that close to, and/or who I’ve had conflicts with, and I’d be thinking, Is this all there is? Even worse is that some other younger woman (only by two years but I look even younger than that), who’s more attractive than her, who’s well-liked by everyone in the group, who’s working on her own master’s degree for an interesting career she’s interested in, that will pay well and be rewarding (we hope all these things are true), slept with her partner of seven years. You think I would feel secure in my relationship and go running back to the dude if that happened to me? Hell no. In that light I feel compassion for her. In most lights, I feel compassion for her. She’s a nice person, though I’d understand if she’s not too nice to me in the future. But they were broken up for eight months, and she had moved out at one point (that had fallen through because the couple whose basement she was living in decided split, and I’d be surprised if it didn’t fall through again for related reasons, because she was going to move back into the same place in September where she’d lived before).

My therapist suggested that it’s possible that this one-eighty happened because Johanna has nowhere else to go. Before I left for North Carolina Jay told me that Johanna was due to move out at the end of the month, and a few days later when I returned, Jay told me that they’d decided to get back together, that it was totally unexpected, but they were going to try to make it work. My response? Oh, good for you. That’s good for you. Y’all have been together for a long time. You’re very lucky. He replied, Are you sure? I said, Well of course I’m bummed but what choice do I have? He said, Yeah I didn’t think you’d be all broken up about it.

I cried for the next few days as though Steven and I had just had a conflict–not like we’d broken up because that was devastating–but I just felt sad. And it was embarrassing because I wasn’t in love with Jay. Friends would remind me, You weren’t that into him. It didn’t matter. No one likes to be rejected. I mean, how dare he break up with me? It bruised my ego.

I don’t need to hide or disappear from my group of friends just because I feel rejected by one guy.

Blessings and prayers to those suffering from the damage caused by Harvey. To learn where to donate, how to avoid donation scams, and links to animal shelters for how to help animals (who couldn’t just get into a car and evacuate), the New York Times and NPR have some articles posted online. Please send money if you can afford it, even if it’s a just a few dollars.

I’ll leave you with this song by Robyn and Royksopp that I find inspiring. My interpretation is that it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. I got my own thing going. My favorite line is this: “Play some kind of new sound / Something true and sincere.”

The F Bomb Post on Growth Through Grief and Heartache

My friend’s dad died last night.

He’d been living in a nursing home, or “assisted living,” as we call it these days, for a while now, and suddenly in the past couple of days he took a turn for the worse. He was barely conscious, barely breathing. Spencer saw him Sunday afternoon and he slept the whole time, but all seemed okay. But when his brother got there yesterday their dad still had not woken up, and when we saw him yesterday he already looked like a corpse, with his mouth is hanging open and his eyes half open. He was unresponsive. He hadn’t eaten in five days, and looked like a skeleton lying there with an oxygen tube across his nose. It was a shock for Spencer to see.

If a person decides they don’t want feeding tubes or IV fluids once the dying process has started, they basically die of thirst. Eventually one or more of their organs fails and that’s it. It can take up to 10 days, maybe even two weeks. This LA Times article describes this process as painless, and the experiences the medical professionals describe seem plausible. Who can really know unless they’re going through it themselves, and if you’re going through this, your body is unresponsive and you’re not talking, so you can’t exactly tell people how you feel. I often wondered how much my mom could comprehend when she lay unconscious in the hospital, hooked up to a ventilator that was breathing for her. Was she in pain? Nevertheless, this article certainly made me feel better; prior to this, I felt uneasy thinking of how we basically let people starve to death. Turns out maybe it’s one of the most peaceful ways to go. This article from pbs.org explains the various life support options for those who are at the end stages of life.

As emaciated as Spencer’s father looked, I knew he probably wouldn’t make it another day. And sure enough he passed last night around 2:30. It comforts me to know that this was (most likely/God I hope) a peaceful process. It was an honor to go with Spencer to see his dad, to be a part of that, and I had a chance to spend a few minutes alone with him, which may sound weird but it was something I wanted to do. Here was a man who was dying, at the end stages of his life, about to pass into the next one, or wherever it is that we go after this. While it may sound morbid, I consider it a privilege to be able to sit with someone going through this process, to get an opportunity to comfort them. I told him what I’d want to hear if I were in his place, which was that he’d be home soon, and it was okay to let go, that he’d had a good life, he’d been a good man and a good father, that he was loved. Our friend Mike had met him before and had said he was a sweet man, and he looked like a sweet man. Spencer told me he’d always done the right thing, he’d been a dutiful man. I held his hand and kissed his forehead, stroked his hair, put my head on his chest—lightly, because he looked so frail. These were all the things I did to my mom, that we all did to my mom, and we told her how pretty she was, we kissed her cheek and her hands. We warmed her feet with our hands, and cooled her arms with our chilly hands. Maybe it all sounds weird, but no one cared. At that point I was beyond caring what I looked like to anyone, or how uncomfortable anyone else may be. They could just get over it.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with death. It’s not for me to judge. I have no idea how I’ll be when my dad dies.

Spencer’s mother died a couple of years ago. She’d been living in a nursing home and had been given two weeks to live, so she was transferred to hospice. Two days later she died in the middle of the night, and when the hospital called Spencer and his dad, no one answered because they were asleep. They didn’t get the message until the morning, but by that time the hospice had transferred her body to the morgue, and they couldn’t go see her.

How is that even legal? How can someone think that’s okay?

When my mom was laying in the hospital bed there in the trauma unit with a ventilator breathing for her, I did not want to leave her side. I’d been up all night, first to wait for Steven to come get me to drive me down there, then in the nine-hour drive to make it there. It was the longest night of my life. I was so distraught, and everyone in my house was asleep or gone. Of course, the first thing I’d done was check flights to get to North Carolina from Maryland, but by the time I’d get there on a plane I could’ve driven there. I was so full of anxiety and confusion I couldn’t think straight, and my right eye was extremely dry from some bizarre eye infection that I only had then and never again. Even my tears couldn’t keep my eye from feeling like sand, and I had to keep it closed. If it hadn’t been for that eye, I’d have probably driven myself down there. So I just sat in my room vacillating between crying and staring into space. It had taken forever to get Steven to wake up and pick up his phone because he’d recently had back surgery and had taken some pain pills to sleep. And I really, really wanted Steven to be there with me. I did not want to be alone. I thought he was my soulmate, and that we’d be together forever. If I’d known we’d break up a few months later, I’d have just gotten a flight. But at the time I wanted Steven’s love and comfort, which he gave to me, all week, and for weeks and even months after, at least until Thanksgiving, when I think he just got tired of my depression, and thought that it was time I was there for him, to visit his dad in the nursing home with him. He needed something from me that I just did not have to give at that time.

It was hard to be grateful for him being there for me until now, given that he left me a few months later, because at first my memories of my mom’s death were tied up in my memories of Steven with me. How pissed off I was for such a long time that he had the privilege of being there with my family and my mom as she took her last breath. But now, as I’m typing these words, I’m realizing that I often don’t think of him when I think of that week, of her dying—not in a negative way, anyway. I absolutely do think of how heartbroken I was New Year’s and for months after we broke up, and how sad about it that I still am some days. It sounds cliché but how could something that felt so right be so wrong? I’m pretty sure that’s a song.

If everything happens for a reason, maybe the reason I had him was to help me during that time, because he did a lot for me during that week of trauma for me, and for my family. And for months after, until the Thanksgiving incident. His presence alone was comforting. He knew how to say the right words. He gave sweet hugs. He drove me down there and back, and it’s not a short trip. In fact, he drove twice, because he had to go back to work during the week.

But I am so tired of writing about that anymore, and even more tired of thinking about it. I imagine y’all are tired of reading about it. But everyone has their thing, and I guess this just has to be my thing, for a while anyway. This thing has just been going on too long, that’s for sure. Because you think you’re over it, and you have to wonder why you spend more time ruminating over your broken heart than the loss of your mother, the one who brought you into this world. And by you, I mean I. Until someone comes along with a promise to distract you from your broken heart, with all kinds of fun things to do, and a whole set of friends to go with it, who all make you laugh. Deep, belly laughs. And then that same person turns around and says, Nevermind. I’m going back to my ex, who I’ve given everything you wanted from your ex, and I’m doing everything you wanted your ex to do for you, except I’m doing it for my ex and not you.

In the midst of all of my self-pity yesterday, it occurred to me that now is my opportunity to look at this differently. This is the hardest time to exercise this practice, but it’s also the most important, the most effective.

Let’s pretend for a moment that Jay was enamored with me, and gave me the world. There’s one thing he can’t give anyone, and that’s the emotional connection so crucial to relationships. He’s conflict-avoidant, and tells lies to avoid hurting people’s feelings. It takes one to know one, and now I can see how infuriating this approach is. Just tell us our numerous group texts are annoying instead of waiting until someone asks and then giving a lame excuse that the phone hurts your eyes. You stare at your phone the entire time we’re at the diner so don’t pretend the phone hurts your eyes. We’d all much rather you say, Hey I don’t need 55 texts when I’m trying to work. Then we could all have a good laugh and leave you alone. His lack of honesty and emotional connection would never work for me. I’m tired of living my life that way, and I sure as hell don’t want to invite someone else into my life who hasn’t figured that one out yet.

Let’s also pretend that Steven came back to me today. He showed up on my doorstep and said, I’m sorry. Let’s get married. What would change? Nothing. He’d shut me out during his depressive episodes. He’d become angry and resentful when I didn’t provide the response he wanted for whatever situation that may arise. He’d complain about how wrong the world had treated him, how stupid his co-workers were, what assholes his brothers and parents were, how annoying his ex-wife was.

I don’t need that in my life.

Hopefully for his sake he’s found help. Who knows. People can change. He’s only behaving exactly the way I used to behave, and still can sometimes—let’s be real. Isn’t everyone like that at times? But it’s not up to me to try to make someone else be different.

Now is my opportunity to look at reality. This is what has happened. This happens to everyone at some point. Steven is not coming back to me. My mom will not come back to life. Jay is not interested in me. He’s going back to his ex.

The question now is, How am I going to deal with it?

Jay and his ex are just going back to something that did not work. She gets her life back: a home, her friends, someone to care for her dogs and cats… and a man who will most likely never be emotionally available. Steven has to live his life with an emotional disorder that makes relationships even harder for him than everyone else, plus he has to deal with the depression, anxiety, and possible delusions that arise, as we’ve seen with our friend Jim who went nuts this past week and stole a car. Jim clearly has his own issues, and is lucky to have a place to live that’s not jail, and Spencer has to deal with his father’s death right now. Jay has to live his life not understanding why or how to connect to people.

So life could be much worse for me today.

Right now I’m doing the hard work. I’m getting through school, working. Going to meetings, talking to my friends, writing, praying. Getting through it. One foot in front of the other, and it gets easier every day. Some days are harder than others, like this distraction with Jay, who may be a wonderful person but who sure as hell is not worth what precious time I have in this world, time that can be spent on loving and being loved by others who are willing and able to share their love with me. I have a lot to offer, and if he and Steven can’t see that, there’s nothing I can do about it. Someone else out there can and will, but when they do, I’ll get to re-learn that that won’t save me either. The only thing that can save me is faith. Call it faith that things will work out, if you want; I call it faith in God. And knowing I can have an attitude of kindness and helpfulness when I go in to work today, and I can be there for my friends. There’s so much to be grateful for. Why waste what little time I have on this earth pining over men who clearly don’t give a fuck about me? I am worth much more than that. I have friends and family who love me, and who I love. I have a friend grieving the loss of his dad, and I get the opportunity to be there for him. What more can I ask for? That’s what life is all about. Being there for each other.

And I also have the chance to build a life for myself, which I am doing. Right now. On my own.

How empowering is that?

Let me tell you: it’s pretty fucking empowering.

I have a lot of love in my heart right now, and no way am I keeping it to myself. You get more of it by giving it away. And so that’s what I’ll do at work today, and afterwards at the diner with my friends, and eff Jay if he feels uncomfortable or doesn’t go because I’m there. I can be kind to him but I sure as hell don’t need him in my life, as my boyfriend. So there.

My favorite part of this song starts around 3:15, and ends with these lyrics (written by someone in the Evangenitals, not sure exactly who–maybe Juli Crockett?):

Fuck em when they tell you that you gotta go to work
Fuck em when they tell you that you’ll always be a jerk
Fuck em when they tell you you don’t make enough money
Fuck em when they tell you that your jokes aren’t funny
Fuck em when they tell you that you gotta get a girl
Fuck em when they tell you that you’ll never see the world
Fuck em when they tell you that you don’t know shit
Fuck em when they tell you that you’re never gonna get it

What I like about this song is that it expresses a determination to prove the naysayers wrong. Those naysayers could easily be the negative voice in my head that tells me I won’t make it. But guess what? I’m going to make it. I am making it.

And you can too.

Love and peace,
TCH

PS: My apologies to anyone who doesn’t like gratuitous f-bombs. I think of my niece and nephew when I write this. Who are actually probably dropping f-bombs all over the place themselves right now. But I have decided, fuck it. These are the words that express my emotions in this moment.

Twerkin, Butt Graves, and Getting Right With God

Jay left me for his ex-girlfriend. If you could call what we had a relationship. Nevertheless, it hurts. The old me would’ve felt sorry for myself, wondered when do I get my piece of the pie, when do I get a man who’s done what he’s done for her: he gave her a home, rent-free, took care of her dogs, built a life for her. He gave her everything but his emotions, which he can’t give anyone, and so she left him. But now, for whatever reason, she has decided she wants him back. It’s coincided with the time she was supposed to be moving out a second time, and she had a hell of a time finding anything in the first place, eight months after their break-up.

I’ll be honest: the old me is still here.

None of that really matters, all the stuff about why she left or came back, except that I often wonder what makes people tick, and what changed for her. Did she really love him and want to make it work? Or did she settle, telling herself she’d accept him for who he is, because she’s poor and has no place to go, no job that pays well enough, and no way of keeping her dogs without him.

I cried. A lot.

All I kept thinking was, Why? Why did Steven leave me. Why did I have to say those words that hurt his feelings so badly. Why did that have to happen that way. Why could he not be there for me when I needed him, when I was grieving the loss of my mother.

Because this is not about Jay. If Jay was a choice, I might have taken him, even as an emotionally unavailable partner (even though I found him hard to love because of that, but remember: I’m codependent and extremely adaptable), if I believed he loved me. But he told me from the start that he was unavailable, just a distraction, that he didn’t want to get married or live with anyone, and I believed him and decided I felt the same.  Sort of. Steven had told me that too, and I’d hoped he’d change, though I became willing to live apart as long as he could commit to me emotionally, which he could not do.

The new me is trying to break free from the prison I’ve lived in. Feeling sorry for myself because I’ve worked my ass off my entire adult life with no sugar daddy or parents to bail me out of whatever bad financial decision (a master’s degree in creative writing, anyone?) I’ve made, no one to give me a car, or a motorcycle, or my own house, to walk my dog when I had one, to take me out boating. I opened my heart to someone who couldn’t commit to me, and then I opened my legs for someone who wouldn’t commit.

The old me says, Eff them all. Figuratively speaking. This heart stays closed, and no one’s getting sex from me, ever. Celibacy is what this woman right here is all about right now. I can’t WAIT for menopause. I am so DONE with men. And I ain’t interested in women either.

The new me knows this is not the answer, but I sure as hell don’t know what the answer is. I know that I’m building a life for myself. But it’s fucking painful.

Meanwhile one of my friends went nuts, stole a truck, got thrown in jail, then to the looney bin thanks to his bipolar disorder, a relative who’s a cop, and a new county ordinance in which mentally ill people get put in psych wards for rehabilitation instead of jails where they just learn to become violent criminals. This particular friend was a member of my group of friends who I was having so much fun with until Jay decided to spit on the heart that Steven had ripped out of me. We’ll call him Jim. Jim started sending bizarre group texts that only I seemed to understand because I speak the language of crazy. Here’s what the first text said:

“Commander C: what is it with your default morbid reflections grotesquely Southern twerkin’ butt positions aerial reconnaissance photography? I command that thou’st, after 3 or 4 or 5 mea culpas, watch Harold and Maude 16 times in reverse. And remember: I’m much better looking than Maude. And unlike Harold I have tried to hang myself at High Noon only 19 Johnny Unitas times. Or maybe we should kill them all. Report back before midnight or I’ll commit you to Section 8 with me forever. PS: did you know that Hemingway his own self was a spy himself in some previous war or another? Unlike the us he didn’t have a problem with evil. He just hated Fascists, whoever those sorrybastards might be. Again the midnight oil burns bright in Washington, Land of the Free. Amen.”

Let me translate for you, my dear readers.

Commander C is his nickname for me.

I’d taken this photo at Harper’s Ferry and sent to the group a week or so earlier, with this caption: “Here lies Butt.” My inner 12-year-old found it hilarious. My apologies to anyone out there with the last name “Butt.” If it makes you feel any better, people make fun of my last name too. A lot of jokes are and have been made with my last name: Honeycutt. Honeybutt. Honeyslut. Honeycunt.

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A month or so ago, Mike told us about how he’d gone to the restaurant we frequented one night and much to his horror, people were twerking to some loud music that was playing in our normally quiet and sleepy Mexican restaurant, where the loudest noise came from our laughter.

Harold and Maude is a cult film about a young guy who falls in love with an elderly woman and tries to commit suicide several times over her.

For my international readers: Section 8 is the “Housing Choice Voucher Program” in which private landlords rent decent homes to poor people at a lower cost. It’s not easy to get. I’ve tried. In the counties surrounding the DC area, you get put on a waiting list and then you hear nothing unless your name gets drawn from the lottery. My name never got picked so I don’t know what happens then, ie, if you get the place you wanted or a place that was chosen for you.

The rest of Jim’s text is irrelevant. But here was my response:

“I’m not sure what you’re trying to say there but I try to take people at face value and to communicate the same myself. I hope you won’t try to commit suicide a 20th time, I won’t be killing anyone–on purpose and hopefully not by accident–and my plan is to buy my own tiny house. And I’ve already seen Harold and Maude. Your text would make a good short story or film. To answer your questions about Butt graves and twerking: I thought it was funny, and Mike brought up twerking at Villa Maya.”

In short, I won’t be participating in or encouraging homicide or suicide in any way shape or form, no matter how casual the reference, nor will I be moving into any kind of housing with anyone else, certainly not Jim.

Soon after Jim called me from the psych ward and told me his roommate had given him Devil’s Claw, an herbal supplement for pain relief, and it put him into a manic state, after which he stole a truck and wound up in jail and then the hospital. Somehow he managed to get out of the hospital and has since been sending dozens of bizarre group texts that I haven’t responded to. I spoke to his brother who told me he’d told him that we were in a relationship and had gone for coffee together, both of which are untrue, and I’d told Jim before that I was seeing someone. His brother told me he has bipolar disorder and has done this before and they’re just glad he’s safe and he’s sorry Jim bothered me. What I want to know is why the psychiatrist thought it was okay to let Jim out, and how it is that he’d committed a felony and isn’t in jail.

Regardless it gives me a good reason not to hang out with the group anymore. No one needs to know about my brief saga with Jay, and I can and will make friends elsewhere. I’ll miss these particular friends—though not Jim because now I’m freaked out by him—but the rest of them were fun and I had a good summer. I’ll probably spend more time with other women and focus on my sobriety, spirituality, and school, and let these other women deal with these asshole men who don’t deserve my time.

My time with my family this week was surprisingly wonderful, and I’m grateful to have had that time with them. I had a good day on the eclipse, which marked one year since the day my beloved beautiful mother died. More on all of that later.

I’m off to work now, and I’m grateful to be working with my boss-friend who I love, and who’s going to the Tiny House Expo with me in October. We both have a dream. And it will come true one day.

I’ll leave you with a common theme you see along the roadsides in the South. Can I get a amen?

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Respect Yourself

There comes a time in a person’s life when you have to say enough is enough. We can talk about forgiveness and apologies and keeping an open mind all day, but when another person shows absolutely zero respect for you, you’ve got to show love for yourself, and walk away.

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(The above quote was taken from this website.)

After the meeting the other night, at which a new attractive young woman showed up, the first thing the guys set in on was, “WOW. What a knockout!” By the guys, I mean Spencer. He went on about how hot she was and the first thing Jay says is, “What I want to know is how you get a rack like that.”

That’s when I snapped.

“Well that’s a shitty thing to say,” was all I could say, because I was so flabbergasted. In what universe did it seem okay to talk like that around me? But I figure I’m going to stay quiet because otherwise I’ll just look jealous, while Spencer goes on about how smart she was, she seems to have her shit together, she’s on her way to Syracuse, she’s visiting friends in Rockville, blah blah yada yada. But Jay’s comment was seared into my brain, and Spencer really could’ve shut the hell up then and there but nope, he kept going. So then I really snapped.

“Why don’t we keep talking about Bob?” That was her name, unfortunately for her. Not really, because this is an anonymous blog, but very close. I went on: “Let’s talk about how big her tits were, how pretty she was…” and then Jay interrupted me: “Oh, she was pretty? I didn’t see her face. I was zoned in on her tits.”

WOW.

I totally lost it then.

I didn’t learn until later when I talked to Spencer about it that he thought I was joking at first. I think the guys were surprised by my reaction. I don’t think they expected nice little people-pleaser me to spew forth venom like that. But let me tell you, I let them have it.

I showed my anger, and anger, my friends, is a valid emotion. These guys were being disrespectful. Jay was. Jim actually never said anything at all about Bob or women’s body parts. James didn’t either. James made a few jokes, feeding off them, which actually were quite funny, and I laughed. What he said was something like, “Oh I didn’t notice how pretty she was. I was thinking about her IQ.” Spencer didn’t need to go on and on about her, but he mostly just talked about her as though he’d fallen in love with her, as he does with every pretty woman he sees, because he’s a romantic and he dresses up lust as love as most of us in AA do, especially in early sobriety.

The one who really messed up (I’ll use polite language) was Jay. This is the guy I was seeing. For some reason he thought it was okay to talk about women like that. In front of me. And in front of the guys, with me there. First of all, that he even feels that way, that all he could see was her boobs, she’s just body parts to him, that right there tells me all I need to know about who he is.

It gets worse.

At the time, I felt as though I had lost control of my temper, and I wanted to appear rational and not jealous. At one point Spencer said, “Well you were the most beautiful girl in the room,” so obviously it was too late for me to not appear jealous. I pointed out that it didn’t matter. But really. Would I want them talking about my boobs that way? Or my ass? Is that how they see me?

So I calmed down, but I didn’t try to hide my feelings or pretend everything was great.

Jay had taken me to the diner from the meeting, which meant he’d have to take me back to my car, which meant we’d have time alone in the car, ample opportunity for him to apologize. The other guys apologized. They felt really bad. Jim told me he’d wanted to high-five me like ten different times when I was letting them have it. And the remorseful look on Spencer’s face almost made me feel sad. And none of them even referred to body parts or not noticing her face. But do you think Jay made any apology at the diner, or in the car? Or the next day via phone call or text?

There is a brain in this head, and a heart in this body. If all I am is a piece of ass to Jay, then he can move right along.

In the car, and even at the diner, after I’d lost it, I thought about God. I thought about what a person with integrity would do, and how to have an open heart. I thought about how it really didn’t matter in the big picture, because I wasn’t in love with Jay (thank God for that), and I didn’t need to hang out with him. He’s allowed his opinions, and I can say how I feel and be on my way. Now that I think of it, at the time I wanted more to show that I’m the bigger person and show forgiveness, which really was dismissing the problem, so it was more about how I appeared to be than how I felt, and it was less to do with forgiveness and more to do with me wanting to look like Mother Teresa. Well guess what? I am not Mother Teresa, and I don’t give a damn if he or they think I’m jealous, hysterical, or whatever the hell they want to think. But at the time, I thought, This doesn’t really matter. But my feelings do matter. What doesn’t matter is how he is, because I can’t change him. But I also I don’t have to spend my time with him.

And Jay said nothing in the car. No apology, no explanation, no nothing. I thought to myself, Oh for the love of God, and finally made small talk. Thank you for the ride. I hope your sinus infection goes away soon. And he wasn’t angry. No, not stony Jay. Nor did he seem afraid. He just made some lousy excuse about feeling out of it, feeling spacey and tired, as if that’s why he was quiet in the car. What a lack of courage. My therapist said he probably didn’t think he had done anything wrong, just as Trump thinks he does nothing wrong. Or that it’s possible he’s confrontation-avoidant, which is no good either.

When we got to my car, I just politely said goodbye, no kiss, and thought, I am so done with you. He had ample opportunity to apologize in the car, to explain he was just joking and being a stupid old guy, that he didn’t really feel that way about her, that he didn’t realize I was so pissed. My dumb ass would’ve probably forgiven him.

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The thing is, I’d also just learned that Saturday night when we were all at the diner, when someone asked him if we were seeing each other, he shook his head and waved his arms as if to say he didn’t know how to answer that question. Are you kidding me? This is a secret? I am NOT someone’s secret. I have done absolutely nothing wrong, I have nothing to be ashamed of, and if you want to date me, you damn sure better be proud to say you’re with me.

Jay revealed his true colors, and I thank God I found it early. When I reflect on times we’ve spent together and how he’d showed no emotion, I remember thinking, Wow, this guy is a LOT like my dad. I think I have something to learn from him. I think I thought I’d discover that there’s a heart in there, and that it would take a long time to learn something from him. Nope. That didn’t take long at all.

I’m not saying my dad or even Jay has no heart. But I am saying that there are some people that just can’t be reached, for whatever reason that I may never know, and I don’t need to know. Because I don’t have to hang out with closed-off robots. I feel sorry for them, but I do not have to be their friend. I can still love my dad because he’s my dad, but he’s never going to be the dad I wanted. He’s just the way he is.

I am so grateful that school starts again soon, that I have a new woman to sponsor in AA, to have women’s meetings, to have friends who are good people. I’m so grateful for Codependents Anonymous, to be growing into my true self, the best version of myself. I’m grateful to be visiting North Carolina soon where I’ll get to see my best friend and my sister. I am grateful that I can choose how I want to spend my time, and who I want to spend it with, and that I have options. No one deserves to be treated with disrespect. We get to choose who we spend our time with.

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Peace and love,

TCH

 

Transformation

transformationThis transformation that I’ve been experiencing over the past little while is something I’ve had the joy to witness in someone else I met about six months ago. This young man started going to CODA meetings just before me, and every week he’d share about how downtrodden he felt, how depressed he was, how he could not get out of his funk. It was hard to watch, and at times I thought, Pull yourself together, man! Because that’s what I do when other people don’t learn their life lessons at the same time as I did, or immediately after I did. I forget how I spent most of my life depressed and focused on why me, and why did life turn out this way, and what was wrong with me, and why couldn’t I be like everyone else who seemed to have their shit together or at least okay with the fact that they didn’t, and how life dealt me a bad hand, and that I didn’t have what it took to survive or thrive in this life. That was the attitude I’d had for most of my life, up until a few years ago.

This young man who I’ll call Ben not only has a new outlook on life, but he even looks different. He looks awake. It’s such a blessing, a treasure, to watch this person change. In support group meetings people say they can see the change in you before you can see it in yourself, which is true. When I was new, after some time people said I had grown, and now some people even think I’m confident, though I might have them pretty well fooled. But maybe I do have more confidence now than I did before.

Everyone who lives in my area seems so nice now. I’d dreaded moving back to this town north of DC because I’d decided I preferred my old hood down in PG County (Prince George’s County, near the University of Maryland) with all the lower income people who are friendlier and artsier and more academic. But up here in my new old town located north of DC they were always snooty to me when I lived here before. But something happened and everyone got friendly. When did y’all get so friendly? Surely all Marylanders are totally closed off, devoid of eye contact, too busy with their lives to give a damn about yours. Somehow they were all friends with each other at the gym but no one had time for me, and ditto for those in 12-step meetings. But now suddenly people have time for me. What happened?

I’ll tell you what happened. What happened is that I changed. My perspective changed. It’s not that everyone suddenly became friendly; it’s that I became more open. And it all started with my recovery program, and then got put on the fast track with Mom’s death. My life feels so different, in a positive way today. I want to explain to you how this happened so you can do this for yourself. I want you to know everything I did, everything that happened, so that you can try it for yourself. I want you to know that it is possible. Change is possible, and life can get better than you ever dreamed possible. Just believe in it. Have faith. Know that it will happen, and sooner than you think.

Listen. If I can do it, anyone can. I spent my entire life, starting in childhood, feeling sorry for myself. And I’ll write all about this in my upcoming post(s), and I wrote a bit about it in my previous post. Here’s a hint: you don’t have to be in a 12-step program, you don’t have to be religious, you don’t have to do everything I did for this transformation to happen for you. I believe that. I know it, because I know others who’ve grown and changed without these things. So stay tuned.

Here’s a song that helped me get through hard times after I left my marketing career to find myself, when life felt mucky, like quicksand, to trudge through each day, when I felt so lost I didn’t know what to do.

Here’s a clue: There is hope.