Friday, December 30, 2011

Really, Universe?

Skipped my meeting tonight because I really really need to do laundry. I'm super tired having not slept much in the last couple of nights so it took me a while to get everything together but finally did. Got it in the machine only to find that the water that was supposed to be turned off in the building until 6pm is still off (at 8:30). That means I also can't cook dinner, can't take the shower that I really need, and my work clothes will continue to stink. Plus i'm out of clean underwear. (Ok maybe that's tmi). Except now it's not just's soapy too and I can't even rinse it.

In other fun news I'm being chased by a debt collector for hospital bills. I honestly had no idea these bills existed. I was under the impression that because I was unemployed and homeless and my hospitalization was forced/emergency that they wouldn't bill me for it. Actually I had expected some bill but it had been so long that I figured it really was nothing. Apparently it's something but because i was listed as homeless they had nowhere to mail the bill. Ironically they said that the hospital was unable to find me, even though i've been going to the clinic, which is at that very hospital, almost every day for a long time now. That's why I figured if they'd wanted to bill me they would've.

I spoke to the collector guy on wednesday. I said I was going to look in to it a bit more (cus I wanted to talk to the clinic people) and he said for me to call him thursday. I called him multiple times thursday (it's an 800 number with lots of extensions) and got a busy signal. Wtf? A busy signal for the entire 800 number? They called me while I was working on thursday and left another message with a new extension but the same phone number. But I still can't get through to the phone number. I'm worried about what might happen now because they have my information. I gave them my address, so I guess we'll see. It's not a huge amount as far as hospital bills go, but it's more than I have. I have a whole list of what I need to buy as I start getting paid from work, and now it's apparently all going to go to medical bills. Ugh. I really have no idea what to do about this.

So for now i'm going to bed and setting my alarm for super early to start my laundry...and hopefully shower. Ugh. I had some popcorn for dinner...I guess that counts. I was planning a better meal but I can't even go with a just add water option. Grrrrrr.


But I guess I should be grateful that I'm sitting here having this problem. A person who goes to the AA club where I met my sponsor was caught in an armed robbery today (it was in the store where he works). He was shot twice and is in the hospital. He's going to live but it sounds like it was pretty bad. Scary how fast things can change and be taken away. I guess laundry problems aren't THAT big of a deal.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I went to a new meeting tonight. I wasn't a huge fan of it because they called on people to talk rather than waiting for volunteers. So not my style. The topic was god/higher power. That meant that I eventually had to say something about god to everyone. It wasn't a huge meeting but enough people to be intimidating.

When it came to me I just said that I had nothing to add because I really can't make sense of anything god-like right now and just have no idea.

On my way home I started thinking about it more. I was pissed when I left the meeting. Everyone was talking about going from not believing to believing, or going from a religious god they didn't care about to a god they actually felt. All this stuff but another meeting of everyone talking about how wonderful everything is.

I felt like shit. I was such an obvious outsider. Just one more place that I don't fit in. Everyone says they felt like they didn't fit in when they first came, but I just feel like this stuff at meetings is supposed to connect to me somehow. Instead it's just making me more and more angry. I'm starting to hate meetings because it feels like teasing me with what I don't have. Sure they tell me that I can have it too but I'm already fucking miserable enough right now, I don't need what I'm lacking flaunted in front of me.

As I was thinking all of this something hit me. This is probably something I should've realized a long time ago, but tonight it showed up and smacked me in the face. I've spent my whole life seeing anger turn in to violence...both things I've done and things that have happened to me. I talk about myself as a peaceful, spiritual person and in some ways I am, but in other ways I'm latching on to anything and everything I can to stay safe from the anger and rage. Where I thought I was calm and peaceful I was really finding new ways to bury it.

As I've said before my biggest spiritual moments are when I go out in nature, away from the human world. I love to be at the top of a mountain where I can look out at the view and just see the beauty around me. I love to be somewhere where the wind is blowing just enough to hide the other sounds, so it's just me and nature. These moments show me that there is some sort of spiritual something out there (no matter how spiritually empty I feel right now), but often when I reach them I have these feelings of "what now?" It's like the place is right, but something is wrong. I've wondered if that was loneliness or an inability to process it or maybe just something too great to ever really take in. I get feelings of wanting to leave and yet wanting/needing to stay longer because I know there's something there that i'm supposed to be grasping but can't.

And then it hit me. In these experiences, just like in the meetings, I'm the outsider looking in. I'm so close to what I want I can taste it, but I can't get it. I can't fucking get it. It's teasing me, but it's just out of reach.

Something amazing happened when I made this connection. I felt the first hint of spirituality that I've had since my most recent breakdown. That "something is there" feeling was coming back a bit.

Someone at the meeting had said that the way to build a connection with god was just to talk to not worry about prayers or religion or right or wrong or anything, but just talk. So I started talking to this little piece of spirit that I felt, and saying exactly what was on my mind.

The phrase that kept coming to me was, "I just want to hate you." I said it over and over again in my head. I just want to hate you god. I want to find you and wring your neck. I hate you.

Holy crap. I wanted to get back to that meeting and have my turn to talk again! Suddenly it all made sense. I have no issue with believing in a god. The issue is that I do believe he exists and I have intense amounts of hatred for him. That's a very scary thought. I've never really believed in the old man w/a beard version of god but I was visualizing stabbing a knife through that image. That is a scary amount of anger.

I know life's not fair...I know we all go through shit and I'm not the only one to have been hurt...but god damnit I got a bad wrap! How the hell can a god with any amount of compassion place a child in the midst of pure evil? How can he put people through so much pain? Why did it have to be me? Why was so much taken away from me? (Please don't try to answer these by the way, I'm really not interested in a free-will discussion or any of that). I screamed these questions at god (in my head...getting this angry out loud would still be too scary) punctuated with "I hate you"s. I'd long since missed my turn as my head was so wrapped up in the incredibleness of what was happening, but eventually I meandered my way home. As I pulled up I realized I felt a sense of being cared for by god for the first time in a very, very long time. How strange is that? As I think about it now I picture it like a young child angry about something being taken away from him or taken out of his control. He beats at mom or dad with his tiny fists until he eventually curls up in their arms to cry and be comforted. Maybe god has been wanting me to let out some of my rage so I can start to be comforted.

It's a weird feeling now. I'm feeling the rage and the comfort at the same time and they both feel good in their own way. I want to hate god, but i'm also starting to feel like the small child in loving arms and I think I like that (though it scares me too). I have no idea what to make of all this but as soon as I got home I raced in to get to my computer and blog because I just had to tell someone and get it out! I feel weird saying it but as much as I really struggled with this meeting about god/higher power I hope there's another one soon cus now I have a lot to say!

(Disclaimer: I welcome comments on this post but no religion/bible stuff. Just sayin. Spiritual, not religious...)


My gratitude tonight is an odd one. I'm kinda grateful that my laundry quarters on the counter of my asbestos laden apartment because that takes the decision about doing laundry tonight out of my hands. I really need to do it as I have no clean clothes (sucks having such a limited supply and no days off) but I haven't been sleeping well and I really really need tonight to go to bed early. This thought came to me randomly in the midst of my rantings at god and I think I threw in a "Damnit god I don't even have my quarters..yet one more thing! but thank you thank you for letting me have an early night!" or something to that effect...all in screaming voice of course. There's something to be said for screaming out thanks and appreciations in the midst of I hate you's! lol

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Don't know where to stick it

My anger that is...

Here's the thing. I'm angry right now. That much I know. I'm pissed about the stuff goin on with my apartment. I'm frustrated by all the crap that seems to be gettin thrown at me no matter how hard I try to do the right thing. (Yes I realize that doing the right thing doesn't guarantee everything being sunshine and sparkles, but still). More than anything I'm frustrated by how much sobriety is kicking my ass right now. I can't stop thinking about drinking. I have to chant all the way to work..."Go to work...go to work.." to remind myself to keep driving and not go to the liquor store. Logically I know all the stuff about what will happen if I do drink and how it won't do what I want it to, but it's like there's this other force there trying to steer my car that direction. It's a constant battle and I have to always be watching myself. If I'm not fully distracted in work or something like that I have to make sure I'm with someone safe, at a meeting, or otherwise engaged because I'm really not safe to "just hang out." The drinking is just too tempting right now.

The cravings/obsession happened to some extent when I quit before, but I don't remember it being this strong. Regardless, it's just pissing me off because I did all this less than 2 months ago. I was past this and now here I am again and it fucking sucks. Of course it's a result of my own bad decision to drink but that doesn't take away the fact that it hurts and I hate it. This is an absolutely exhausting way to live, because allowing myself to relax could mean danger. And yes, it is that serious. And no, I'm not exaggerating.

So I have all this anger and no idea what to do with it. I'm angry at the world for throwin all this shit at me, and angry at myself for not handling it better. I'm angry at the whole damn situation. I used to think I knew how to deal with anger but really I was just avoiding it and shoving it deeper within. That route ends with me turning the anger inward and hurting myself, either literally or figuratively. When I try to express it in a good way that brings up scary past thoughts, so it's really a no-win situation.

I went to IOP today, and then in the afternoon had an individual session with Stupidface. I told Stupidface how angry I am and how frustrated I am with everything going on. He helped me gett to a point that I could get some of the emotion out and helped me center in on some of the stuff that was really pissing me off. I actually got surprised at the spot where I suddenly started sobbing and couldn't keep talking, but that's another story for another day. The point for now is that when I got there, I was eventually able to get past the tears and get out why it pissed me off so much. It felt good. At the end of the session I felt that good kind of tired...relieved and able to breathe again.

But by the time I got home the good, relieved kind of tired had turned in to a new sort of pain. The crazy flashbacks have started up in a way they haven't in quite a while. I don't know why. Maybe because I used to be punished for speaking out...or because I was taught that everything wrong or painful in the world must be somehow my fault. Or maybe it scares me to have released so much anger, and the fear brings up the memories. I really don't know, but the flashbacks are really really bad right now. Oh, and of course the flashbacks bring up the very very strong desire to drink. Even though I learned from this recent episode that drinking no longer lets me go numb or quiets my mind, the memories just make me feel desperate for anything that will shut off my mind for a while. Hell I might even go with smackin myself over the head with the bottle just to make it stop for a bit! The other problem is that even though I JUST went through this crappy relapse, my brain still tells me "well maybe this time will be better. Maybe last time was just a fluke and this time it will be much more helpful in quieting the bad thoughts." It's the stupidest fucking thing ever. It's like a person standing in front of a hot stove, touching it and saying ow, and then doing it again and again and again. I don't seem to know how to not touch the stove.

The nice thing in all of this is that Stupidface told me he's proud of me. He wasn't upset with me at all. We both agreed that it was the perfect storm...everything going wrong at the same making a series of mistakes/bad decisions (forgetting an antabuse dose, not eating well because I was stressed about my apartment and money situation, isolating and allowing my "fuck it" attitude to take over, etc.)...combined with the horrible timing of starting a new job and having to take a break from all of my therapy support right at the exact moment this all was going on. We agreed it was an unfortunate decision, but he said repeatedly that I didn't fail, and that he was very proud of me for reaching out for help on friday night. He said that that shows lots of progress and that not long ago this relapse would've led me down a much longer, much darker road. He was nervous after our conversation on friday about whether or not i'd make it today, so he was relieved to see me. I can recognize that I made positive decisions that show progress over the past, but I haven't yet reached a point of being able to feel proud of myself. It's very hard for me to see past the "I screwed up" part. I told Stupidface this and he said that we would be proud for the both of us. I will say that it was very, very relieving to hear him say that. J, my stupid former T prob. would've started talkin about sending me to inpatient again because he seems convinced that every wrong move I make shows I can't cope while living on my own. Stupidface hasn't been like that, but I was still a little concerned because obviously in a substance abuse program it looks bad.


I'm grateful for getting to see IOP ppl and my art group and Stupidface today. It was a bit weird to be there since it's been a little while, but it was nice. I've come to get a lot of comfort from this place (which always gives me a chuckle cus I was sooooo against going at the start!).

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Glad that's over

It wasn't all bad, but it was definitely a rough Christmas for me this year. I made it through though relatively healthy and together-like. Just the one alcohol incident. I'm hoping this can be a new start for me since I've made it past at least the part on the calendar that's stressful. For now it's bedtime (past, actually, considering how early I need to be up tomorrow for work) but just wanted to let you all know that I'm still in once piece.

One moment

Just a quick update to let you all know I'm alive and doing ok. Today was a strange and challenging day. I met up with one of the women that I talked to on the phone through the hotline last night. She was amazing. She got me to a meeting in the evening after work and she was just exactly what I needed. She said out loud to everyone in the meeting that talking to me had been the highlight of her night bc she'd been struggling with stuff w/her own family but with me she got to do something meaningful. Then after the meeting she dragged me around and introduced me to a bunch of ppl and let them know we'd met bc I'd called the hotline, so they knew I needed more support.

The meeting she got me to was part of this meeting marathon thing. It had started in the afternoon and was going in to the night. Ppl had brought food and it was meeting after meeting, so it gave ppl a safe place to go to deal with the holiday. S, my new friend, left fairly soon after I'd gotten there, but she and another woman pushed me in to admitting that it was my first meeting since my last drink (something they always ask for but no one actually wants to admit) at the meeting that was starting before they left. I ended up staying for that meeting and another...adding the social time in between it was nearly midnight before I left.

The night and my life are both totally overwhelming right now. The only way I can describe it is that i'm on this strange deserted island. I can see other big crowded mainland areas. One is the world of drinking which I know leads to bad things...and as I saw this time basically nothing comforting. The other option is the world of sobriety which also feels very scary and foreign to me right now. The whole AA thing has been overwhelming from the start but now it's so much moreso because I thought I was getting it and instead got knocked on my ass so fast. There's a lot more to it of course, but that's the basis. I'm left trapped on this weird little island with no option that looks like a good one. For right now I really can't look to the future. At all. I'm checking my hands to make sure there's not a bottle in them at that moment. I'm making sure I'm not drinking right this second, because that's what I can control and comprehend. This place I went to tonight has more meetings tomorrow morning and I told ppl I would meet them there. So I have a place to go as soon as I wake up in the morning so I can keep my alone time to a minimum. Such a good thing because sobriety is hard anyway, but the holidays are really really messing with my head.

As I was approaching my apartment complex, a nice christmas song came on my car's radio. I felt myself let out a sigh, and for that one moment I was calm. In that one moment I felt ok. I had the relief of people who had been there for me tonight to get me through the major danger and were willing to meet me there again in the morning. And if nothing else, tomorrow morning I won't be waking up with a hangover! (Yeah 50 days away from those made me forget just how bad they suck! lol).

Anyway, this moment of peace only lasted but a moment but it gave my heart the peace I've been so desperately craving. It gave me a sense of comfort in the moment and let me know that at that moment I was doing the right thing. All things considered, that's really the very best blessing I could ask for. And for that, I am grateful.

Friday, December 23, 2011

So much to say...

It all finally caught up with me. I kinda knew it was coming...I knew I was breaking and I finally did. It was just a mix of everything going on, along with the holiday stuff. I struggle with holidays during good times, so combine them with all the crap I was fighting and it was a recipe for disaster.

Yesterday it was like I could feel things going bad. I felt my thoughts go from the good, positive ones that i've been excited about and impressed with, to the old ones of anger, hate, and why bother. By the time I made it home I was in a very very bad mood, and in a very bad place. I realized that I hadn't taken my afternoon antidepressant. I took that, and then I just started taking more of a bunch of things. I have no idea what my goal was. I just knew my head wasn't where I wanted it to be and I wanted that to change.

This morning was a struggle. I woke up not feeling great mentally or physically, and a bit late (as usual, unfortunately). I drove by a liquor store and thought "hm I could call in sick to work and stay home to drink." I thought I was joking, but found myself pulling over and calling in before I knew it. It sounds stupid, but it really felt like it wasn't me anymore. I was acting without ability to stop it. The next thing I knew I was home drinking. As I start to sober up and am thinking about it now there were times that I should've called ppl and I knew that but the bad thoughts had be convinced that I didn't matter to anyone and that no one would want to hear me. That or that I didn't deserve to have people care about me, and that I shouldn't be bothering them with my crap. It was a whole series of bad thoughts and reasons not to get help.

After talking to a very caring friend I finally got it together enough to call my sponsor and leave a message. I also managed to call Stupidface, as he had called in the morning and left a message. (I'd talked to an iop friend over text message in the midst of my pill taking so she had mentioned to him that i might be in trouble). Stupidface basically said that I need to stop drinking (obviously) but that I couldn't let myself think of this as losing everything. That I had to put down the bottle long enough to see reality. He told me to write a letter of what I would say to a friend in my situation. It was strangely soothing to write, but I couldn't read it as a letter to myself. That was just too painful/hard to grasp/whatever.

My sponsor called me back later but she wasn't very helpful. I'm actually a bit pissed at her. She sounded like she was giving up on me. She said I had to take some time to think about if I really wanted to quit drinking, and that I was still welcome at her house for Christmas. I understand what she was saying, but I felt totally abandoned. I was trying to tell her that even though I was drinking I really wanted to stop I just didn't know how. I couldn't stop with it right in front of me, but I also couldn't separate myself from it. To her credit, she had to go work the aa club coffee bar this evening so she didn't have a ton of time, but it still put me in an even worse place and made me want to drink more.

Thankfully I was able to get it together enough to call the local aa hotline. I talked to a couple of ppl there who got me through pouring out the alcohol I had left. I know it sounds ridiculous but that's something I couldn't do on my own. Even though I didn't want to drink it I couldn't leave it alone or throw it out...I just kept drinking it even after making myself sick earlier in the day. It was a little frustrating cus they kept passing me off to different ppl. I guess most ppl don't get super attached to someone after 2 minutes talking to them but I do. The first 2 ppl I talked to were great...but then the one said she was gonna give me 15 min. to eat something (hadn't eaten all day that I could figure out) and then she'd call me back. Instead this other girl called that was less than helpful. She called and said "Hi I heard you need a 12th step call" which I guess is what all this is called in aa but I don't really know....I told her I didn't know what that meant and she said "well you've been sober for like 2 years right?" I'm guessing they had her call me because she was younger, and the next thing she asked me was how old I am (which by the way seemed totally awkward cus I don't think I sound that young!). Anyway she and I are the same age....I guess they didn't know I almost never get along w/ppl my own age! lol This girl seemed fine but she said fuck every other word and drove me crazy! (Not that cussing bothers me, but that style of speaking makes me want to smack people. And it was really not comforting in the way I needed).

Well I'd better go to bed. I've been trying to will myself to eat the 2nd half of my pb&j but it's just not gonna happen. It's time I try to sleep. I'd hoped that drinking would make me sleep easier/better since falling asleep sober still sucks, but my head just seems too confused to do much of anything. I know I have more to say but I'm still a bit on the drunk side so it's prob. best I wait. Also I've finally reached the point that i'm fairly certain I can get off the couch and make it to my bedroom without puking my guts out.

Oh, speaking of that, I should add that i'm living in a temporary apartment in the same complex now. It's not really clear to me how long-term this is, and it's hard to get good info bc no one is around bc of the holidays. It's super nice and filled with furniture way nicer than I can see myself owning in any foreseeable future. But if anything having this nice place is more of a trigger. I was excited about it at first, but now it's like rubbing in my face how not my apartment it is. My place was pretty much nothing in the eyes of most ppl. All the furniture I had was a beanbag and an air mattress. But that's my beanbag and air mattress. It had everything that I'd worked so hard for. It had my bathroom that I'd decorated myself and was so proud of. Again decorating a bathroom is a small thing to most of the world, but this is something I'd done to make this place my own. It was this amazing new start I'd created after all the crazy issues of being kicked out of my summer place. Anyway...there's a lot I could say here but need to stop myself from getting any deeper in to it right now.

I know I should be grateful for something tonight but I have no idea what. I'm just overwhelmed by everything right now. I guess I'm grateful that it might be possible for me to keep this relapse to just one day. My iop friend who relapsed recently disappeared off the face of the earth for a full 2 weeks before she was able to call anyone or do anything to get back on track. If I can hold this together I might not even cause issues with my job...which would be a miracle.

I should add at the end of this that I'm getting much closer to sober but I'm not claiming full sobriety so I have no idea if this is coherent.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Last night at the spa!

Tonight is my last night at the spa! Unfortunately, the good news stops there. I'm not going back to my apartment. I got a call from the manager of the complex this morning (I knew it was bad when they had the manager doing it!). She said I won't be able to be back in my apartment until after the holidays, and there is a possibility that I won't be able to at all. I don't really understand how it all works, but apparently the asbestos levels are bad enough that none of my "porous" stuff is safe...and they may never be. At first I was just thinking about my clothes (they told me to expect to be gone for 3 days, so that's what I packed for....thankfully I also brought my laundry!). But now I keep thinking of all the important stuff I have in teddy bear I've had since I was a little kid. The beanbag I got as a highschool graduation present that has been with me pretty much everywhere I've lived. The christmas presents I made for people. The art project I've spent hours working on. Many of these things I considered taking at the time, but then told myself I was being silly. I was already taking a ridiculous amount of stuff for just being gone for a weekend. I wish I'd just grabbed it all then...but I guess I wouldn't want all the art stuff getting banged around in my car anyway.

I've been having a hard time with all of this. I've been proud of myself for how I'm handling challenges, but I feel like I'm hitting my breaking point. When I stopped at the grocery store after work and saw the liquor store in the same parking lot, it took some serious deliberating to decide which door to walk through. I just feel so ready to say "fuck it." All my efforts at doing the right thing, taking care of business, etc. are getting thrown back in my face. I've been able to recognize each time that it could be least I don't have kids or pets I'm having to deal least I have a job least the apt folks are giving me a place to stay...etc. etc. but my "at least" muscle is wearing out. I had a good talk w/my sponsor though and I'm doing what I can to stay strong.

But just when I thought nothing good would come of gratitude to be found...I had a revelation. I was telling a friend what was going on and she was talking about wishing on a star for me. She asked me what i'd want her to wish for. I gave it some thought and said that my biggest wish is to be able to live in the present and enjoy skiing and enjoy the holidays without spending excess time worrying about the "what ifs" of the apartment situation, which I have absolutely no control over. I've only just put it together now after giving it some more thought...but how freakin' amazing is that? The River of just a few months ago would SO not recognize me now! The River of a few months ago wouldn't have ever dreamed of a wish like that, and wouldn't have had those words to say. I didn't wish for my stuff to be safe. I didn't wish to get my stuff back, to get back into my apartment soon, or for all this ridiculous crap to stop happening and give me a break (though that last one would be awfully nice). I didn't wish for everything to go well and have a nice happy ending. My biggest wish was (and is) simply for the ability to experience and embrace the joys of the present.

Yeah apparently all this therapy stuff is having an effect or something.


I'm grateful for all these neat little revelations that seem to appear from out of the crap. I seem to be having a lot of them lately.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Spa de La Quinta

Yep...still at the spa. It's a good thing I got more than the 3 days worth of stuff they suggested on thursday. Tonight is night #5 at the wonderful La Quinta spa. I'm still enjoying the nice plush bed and cable tv...but i'm getting really tired of not knowing where I'm going to be from night to night. The first few nights weren't a big deal because I knew it was going to be at least until Sunday. But now no one can tell me for sure each day until the evening. I'd just like to know what home I'm going to when I'm heading home from work.

Aside from that...a quick update on the last few days.

Sunday morning I slept a bit too well in the nice spa bed. Ok way too well. It was kind of ridiculous. I fell asleep at 11:00, which is pretty good for me. My alarm was set for 6:00. I woke up after 9:00!! I had no recollection of hearing my alarm go off at all. I set it the same way as the day before...though thinking it'd be even better in the morning because I got an extra hour of sleep. (Had to be up just after 5:00 Sat.). Considering that I was supposed to be at work at 8:30 and I'm more than an hour away, I had to make a very embarrassing call in. Definitely not the impression I wanted to make on day #2! When I first called I left a message saying I would get there as soon as I could. Then I attempted to stand up and discovered that my calf was so so so not ok! It was as bad as it'd been when I first took my boots off the day before. I could barely walk to get to the bathroom (which was frustrating cus I really had to pee! lol). I gave it a bit more thought and realized that 1. I'd only be able to get there for half the day, 2. I already knew what was being taught in training that day well enough that I could probably run the training, and 3. without a day of rest my calves may never recover. I called in again and this time got to talk to someone and explain the whole situation. They were not happy with me and mentioned multiple times how important the training is (I think they were thinking I may be trying to blow it off out of boredom). They did agree with me though that at that point it'd be better for me to stay home.

It was really nice to get a bit of rest, but with my schedule so thrown off I really had no idea what to do with myself. I got into a bit of my "stuck" kind of rest where I knew there were so many things I should be doing but I was just out of motivation. At first I got some good journaling and such done but then I just got kinda stuck in my head and yucky feeling.

Because I didn't do much during the day (and probably because I slept so much the night before), I couldn't get to sleep at all that night. I did all sorts of strategic alarm setting but still slept through the alarms again. Grrrrrrr. At least this time it was just waking up at 7:00, so I still had a chance. Of course I had to pack up everything out of the hotel room thinking that I'd be back in my apartment I had A LOT to do in very little time. (In a perfect world I would've been leaving at 7:00, so every second counted). I was late again, so again it looked not so good, but I was on time enough that I was still able to get in to shadow a lesson. I shadowed an adult lesson...which was kind of strange because there were 3 students, the instructor, and 2 shadows. Two of the three ppl picked things up right away while the 3rd was struggling, so I started giving tips to the 2 while the instructor worked with the 1. Apparently I was not supposed to do that though and the instructor was not real happy w/me about it. I asked her where she wanted me and she said, "Shadowing me. Just follow me." So then it was one person w/an instructor and two shadows (who had both taught before) while the other two were on their own. Every other shadow experience I've had before...on either side...has been more of a team teaching thing so this was really strange to me to literally just be following. It was also a struggle to me because I saw glaring issues and could've helped make things much easier for the students but I had to hold my tongue. Then part way through my calf started screaming in pain to the point that it nearly brought me to tears.

I've figured out that the biggest cause of the really bad pain is having to stand on it for long periods of time (I already knew this for the most part, but it's confirmed now). The chairlift rides allow gravity to stretch it out a bit so it's not stuck flexed. But the beginner stuff is all on surface lifts (think escalator you can ride with skis on) so you don't get to sit and there's no gravity stretch.

We got one run on the chairlift at the end of the lesson and instantly it started to feel better. It was still sore though, so when I went in for lunch I asked if I was expected to shadow another lesson in the afternoon. It was a bit strange because first they said they were only concerned with me shadowing a kids' lesson, but there were none available so then they put me with adults. Then they said they wanted me to get in a full day of adult shadowing. But as I was asking these questions, the combination of my cramped calf and my pms cramps were overwhelming and I was just not feeling good at all. I mentioned that I was really ok with not shadowing another lesson, and that they had said I didn't really need the adult shadowing, and that there were a lot of ppl there who wanted to shadow, and that my calves could really use more rest....etc. I tried to do it as delicately as possible bec I hate to give them just one more reason to look like I'm not dedicated. But again I think it was a good decision. It hurt like hell when I took my boots off but nothing like it was on saturday. It also went away faster. It still hurts now, but I'm ok except for when I have to walk down stairs.

Ok so I'm probably too late to make this a quick update...and once again it's gotten late though I said I was going to bed early (grrrr) so I'll make the rest of this quick. There's one more little piece of exciting news. I went to a new AA meeting out by the hotel. It takes a lot to get me in to a new meeting...but more exciting than that I actually talked...not once but twice! I usually struggle to talk even just to say my name/introduce myself there. I also met a girl there that's slightly newer to sobriety than me and she and I have a lot in common. We talked for a bit afterwards. (Also one of the first times I haven't felt the need to race out of a meeting as soon as it's over).

K...going to make an effort at this sleep thing...nitey nite!

I have a very cool bit of gratitude I've discovered. I'm grateful that I'm able to feel and acknowledge very strong emotions with the knowledge that they will eventually go away again, and without having to hit freak out mode. Lately I've had some times where I've been really overwhelmed by emotion, but rather than freaking out, feeling like i'm losing it, or doing something stupid like I normally would...i've been able to experience the emotion for what it is, see it end to end, and then move on. That is HUGE for me and i'm very grateful for it. It gives me a chance to learn how to process emotion without being entirely terrified of it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Random Thoughts

A few random thoughts that are swirling around in my head right now...

The mountain and iop/clinic are completely different world. The contrast is stark. I don't want to stereotype either group...but the hospital that my clinic is out of has a big public health focus. They treat many people who can't afford medical care anywhere else. From what I've found, it's just about the only place in the area with affordable mental health care. Anyway, people who end up there are generally not the types that a ski resort attracts. (Like I've said before...there's no way I'd be able to afford to be there if I didn't have a job that gave me a pass). It's just a very different "type" of people. There's also the obvious urban vs. rural contrast.

Add to that, the clinic tends to be somewhat of a depressing place. There are lots of really awesome stories that come out of there...people who get the help they need and go on to be successful. But there's always new patients coming in to replace those that move on. (The worst part is there's a fairly long waiting list that I was able to move past because of my inpatient stay....that basically means that others are being pushed all the way to the brink before they're able to get help. Just like I was. But that's another story for another time). There's also the relapses. People who are success stories but something new happens in their life...some new trauma/tragedy/trigger/whatever and they end up back where they were before.

The mountain is the opposite. It's not that everyone is happy all the time at the mountain, but everyone is going out of their way to look it. People are there on vacation...they've put in lots of work to get there. From the employee side, everything we do is all about making things as nice as possible for the guest. They're taken care of from the time they first arrive until the time they leave by kind, smiling people. (Well that's the goal

I feel like I fit well into both worlds, which confuses me.

As you all know, I have a lot of struggles in my life, especially now. It's been rather incredible for me to be a part of iop and the other support I've been getting, and I've finally been seeing real change in that part of me. Obviously this part of me is strong and present, or else I wouldn't have ended up hospitalized to begin with.

But then I go ski and I feel like this happy go lucky person. I feel distant from the world of support groups and therapy and meetings. At the clinic I'm very connected to the pain...on my skis I don't just forget about it but it doesn't even seem real. I think that's why I've been able to keep myself in denial for so long. I'm thinking it's a good thing to get such a break. No one can focus on crappy painful stuff all the time. On one of my stressful days Stupidface even said that I really need to find more fun in my life. That seemed like a really strange thing to hear...especially as someone who tends to do exciting things to avoid thinking about yucky things...but the truth is I've always struggled to really enjoy stuff because of the darkness I feel. The point is good, and no one should live without fun. It's not the way to lasting health and I know that. Working on my life is good but it can't be everything.

Ok back from that tangent! lol I'm thinking the fear to these feelings is that it'll be mighty easy to go do something stupid if i'm that disconnected from the crap that i'm trying to fight. Denial is not a good place for me to return to.

But then it also makes me wonder if I Just really need to fight harder against all the crap going on. I mean after all if I can go do something and have it be gone from my head, maybe I just need to do more to get rid of it completely. Maybe I should give up my iop spot and just go ski full time. I know the error in this thinking too but it just weirds me out how separate these parts of me feel. I'm trying to think of "everything in moderation" but they seem soooo disconnected I can't even picture a balance between them.

I'm probably way too tired to get in to stuff like this right now so I'm going to shut up on this one before I dig myself in any further. I'm wondering if I make any sense to anyone! lol

I'm still in the hotel tonight and will be until Monday, which brings up my other random thought. On my drive back from work today I was thinking about how I was "heading home" and planning my night at the hotel. I wasn't stressed at all about my apartment. Not only do I not miss it but it's like i've already accustomed to the new place...fine here and home here with no regrets. Obviously I'd miss my stuff eventually if I was told I could never go back to it, but I find it interesting how quickly I can be ok with a big change. And I wouldn't be too sad if they told me I was moving in here. I just wouldn't. Maybe I'm just too used to moving all the time...who knows.

Again should prob. stop talking on this one too. :-P


So it turns out...

...that days are long when they start at 5 am! I know some people regularly start days at such an hour, but I am sooooo not one of them!

Today was mostly good, and thankfully not long like the last few days have been. It just seems like this morning was a week ago!

I was able to wake up pretty successfully and leave more or less when I needed to. The drive was super smooth and I got there more than 15 min. early. I was thinking I was so super early but was surprised to find at least 5 ppl already there. I have very little experience being in the early crowd! lol

It felt really good to get back on skis again. Really, I don't think I've ever felt that excited to ski. Maybe because most years lately it's been a given, and just what I do. But I was starting to worry that this year I wasn't going to get to (can't afford a ski pass unless I get it as part of my job). I think it's also that I'm just slowly becoming able to accept good things a bit more in my life.

It became apparent early on that I'm one of the most qualified of the new hires. I mostly only know about my group, but in my group there is only one other girl that's certified, and at a lower level than me (and with only one of the two certs I have). Then only two others beyond the two of us has ever taught before. Everyone else is brand new. It's kind of fun getting to be an expert of sorts...especially considering how low my confidence has been lately.

A lot of the training is focused around the basics of how to teach a lesson, which is what I've done for 5 winters now. It's a little slow but it's always helpful to hear how others do stuff. And yeah, I get to be an expert. Mostly though I'm just working on learning the mountain (it's scary to be responsible for a group of kids on a mountain you don't know well!), and learning how everything works in general.

The downside is that I've come away with an injury of sorts. It's nothing major, but putting my out of shape legs into uncomfortable ski boots they haven't been in in months caused some pretty serious cramps. When I took my boots off my calves had visibly changed shape. They were all knotted up and hard up at the top of way they normally are. At first it felt good to get my boots off but then I could barely walk. Thankfully it's mostly my left leg, so I was able to drive home. I took a hot bath to relax the muscles which helped a little, but now they're getting super tight and painful again. I'm really worried about tomorrow. Even though I could probably teach most of what we're being trained on, I really can't afford (financially or job-security wise) to miss it.

The good news is that tomorrow starts later than today so I'll get to sleep in a bit. Yay! And I might be able to get to sleep at a somewhat reasonable hour.

Definitely grateful for being out in the sun and back on my skis today!

Friday, December 16, 2011


I can sum up this week in just two words:

Holy fuck.

Monday seems like a month ago. I'm not sure I remember tuesday.

Today was another crazy day. Not quite to the level of yesterday, but it was non-stop.

Here's the quick run-down....

Long journey across town to IOP, IOP, out to lunch w/a friend from IOP (super fun), art group, ran into another IOPer that's relapsed and vanished for a while so talked to her for a bit (she's ok relatively speaking but her detox was bad enough it required 5 days in the hospital), went to campus to sell my books back, went to the ski shop to pick up my freshly waxed skis, went to friend's house to do laundry and eat chinese food, went to the store to buy new ski pants (a bit embarrassing but I gained weight through all this and mine were a bit tight anyway...) and now finally back to the hotel. I've showered, packed my bag for tomorrow, laid out everything I need, and put my laundry as away as it can get in a hotel room. There's been very little time wasting and yet it's late enough that I have barely 5 hours to sleep before my early morning tomorrow.

I'm proud of myself again for how I handled things today. There were a lot of ups and downs. I told IOP about my day yesterday and being able to handle it and everyone reminded me to remember these days to remember next time it's hard that I can get through it. IOP was weird today because J (former t) was leading it bc Stupidface is on vacation. J and I started having some pretty big issues, so being back with him was a struggle. Funny because I used to feel pretty comfortable with J but Stupidface freaked me out. lunch was awesome and super fun. The woman I went with is someone I've connected with really well. We come from very different backgrounds but similar attitudes towards the world (liking to spend time alone by choice, for example). We had a great time. Then I went to art group with one of my other great IOP friends and got to spend some time just hanging out and chatting with her while working on a project. (Oh, and there was a phone interview for an after school job when school gets started again, but not enough energy to go into that now). Anyway, it was an afternoon of time w/ppl i'm comfortable with, but then seeing the other woman who relapsed was really a struggle. I consider her a friend as well, but it was sad because we were just starting to see her real personality come out from behind the shell her drinking seems to leave. Today she was back to the shell. But I had a chance to tell her I care about her and that we've all been concerned, and give her a hug.

Anyway the point I'm getting at is that I'm handling a lot and feeling good about it, but I know I'm moving towards a potential dangerous situation. I haven't had much of a chance to rest and regroup since probably tuesday afternoon. I know that realistically I need to rest, and at some point I'm risking a crash. I know I need to be going to meetings, reading my big book, journaling, etc. but there is just literally no time. I know that sounds like an excuse but when the first chance I have to sit still is at nearly midnight....

I figure at least writing here gives me a quick release of the day. Now I really need to get to sleep because boy oh boy if I sleep through my alarm tomorrow it's going to put me in a very bad place. That's one of my very biggest fears right now. I've gotten waaaaay too good at turning off my alarm in my sleep.

I'm grateful to god for continuing to give me this amazing strength to push forward through challenge after challenge.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What a day!

I'm really way too tired to blog, but there's just too much that happened today. I want to get it all out while it's still fresh. It was a lot of craziness, but overall I'm really proud of how I handled it.

Starting with Wednesday night...things were going pretty well. I knew I had to really focus and study, and it felt like after my session w/Stupidface a switched had been turned on that allowed me to do that. When I'd start drifting towards distraction I was able to remind myself that I wanted to, and could, keep working. (Of course there were moments...but everyone has moments..). I finished most of my work, and was able to go to bed feeling pretty good about myself. Better yet, I slept peacefully and had rather happy dreams.

The morning was more stressful but still ok. I stuck to my plan, and left the house pretty close to when I wanted to. I had time to study in the morning and I used it well. I got to school with plenty of time so I felt ready when the test was starting, rather than my usual rushing to get there and coming in frazzled.

Something interesting happened on my drive to school. I looked out at the beautiful blue sky and just couldn't help but thank god (higher power yet to be named...) for it. Sure I was stressed, but here I was, alive and healthy enough to take finals. When I started this semester I was fairly certain I wouldn't live long enough to see the end of it. I was even more certain that if I did live that long there was no way that I would actually do well in my classes. I was mostly showing up just to show up, but I wasn't getting anything out of them. I figured I'd end up dropping out before it was all said and done.

So now this morning, here I was having not only survived but actually done well in my classes. I was healthy enough to take my finals with a real chance of doing well. I was so thankful for the right friends and the right support that saw me through. I felt this incredible, genuine gratitude. Normally talk of gratitude really pisses me off because it sounds cheesy and feels like people don't get it when they tell me to think about the good things. Well damnit it sucks and I want to be pissed! lol But today I got to campus smiling, and thinking to myself how blessed I am to be here, healthy and able to take finals. I'm noticing a trend with this gratitude thing. It happened a while back when I was really stressed and I stopped to thank god for the way the warmth of the sun felt on my face as I closed my eyes and tried to catch my breath and calm down. The more I expressed my gratitude, the more my anxiety lessened. I hesitate to even say this all "out loud" because it sounds cliche and it would bug the hell out of me if someone told it to me, but I've seen it twice now.

My test went pretty well. Afterwards I rushed to the library to finish my last bits of work to turn in for my other class. Unfortunately I couldn't find the classmate who was going to take my stuff to the happy hour thing for me, so I ended up having to go myself. It stressed me out way more than I expected it to. I never really was a bar drinker. I'd go every now and then but it really wasn't my thing. I think it was mostly nerves because I knew it was a risky situation. Earlier in the day I'd thought maybe I'd just go and get a coke or something and hang out. But then I started having thoughts of how nice it would be to have a drink to celebrate being done with finals. Those thoughts made the decision for me that it was a bad idea to chance it. So I rushed in, turned in my papers, and rushed back out. I felt incredibly shaky and anxious.

On my way to the bar, I'd heard on the radio that a place on the far north end of town was giving away free christmas trees. It was a long way from where I live, but I figured I had a free night so what the heck. I really would love to have a tree. Of course I was somewhat south, so it was a long journey. When I was almost there I got a phone call from the office at my apartment complex. It was about 5:30 at the time. They told me that the renovation crew had found asbestos so they needed to evacuate the entire building for 3 days to clean it out. They said I had until 8:00 to have everything out and then I wouldn't be allowed back in. Now keep in mind I'm waaaay far north, I live way east, and it's rush hour. Plus I'm starting my new job on Saturday so I had to have all of my ski stuff out as well. Thankfully they're providing a hotel room.

I made it to the tree place only to find out the trees were gone. They'd given out 2 full truckloads of trees in less than two hours off of one little announcement on the radio. It may have been for the best though, as I still would've had to buy a tree stand and get it set up, and I really didn't have time for that anymore.

By the time I got home it was nearly 7:00. I had an hour to rush around and get everything. I'll admit I was in a seriously grumpy mood on the way back. There was a lot of "I had to stress about finals all day, I'm not getting to enjoy the celebration time with my classmates/friends, I didn't get the Christmas tree I wanted and drove way out of my way to get, and now this asbestos thing couldn't have come at a worse time!!" It's true, this day seemed determined to test me in every way possible. But as I stood there in my apartment trying to decide what to pack, I heard the voices of my neighbor's young children. It hit me then: "I think my timing is bad?! What about having to pack up and go on short notice with little kids?!" I've seen how much crap it takes just to get my little nephew out for the afternoon! Not to mention they had to pack and supervise their kids, and deal with the stress that their kids might be having because of it all. (Plus I know there are at least a couple of single parents in my building....which would make it that much harder). On top of all that, the extra stress for me was being caused because I have a job! That's a good thing...I'm employed! So again I found this peace in my gratitude.

Once I was packed and ready to leave I sat down and said a prayer for those lacking the good fortune I was given. It helped me feel a bit of connectedness to the world. It also helped me feel peace about what was happening, rather than fear.

I made it to the hotel, which happens to be a looooong ways away from my apartment in the wrong direction from IOP. It's going to be one hell of a drive tomorrow, but the place itself is nice. It kinda feels like a spa to me after sleeping on my air mattress for so long and watching tv on my itty bitty little screen. Now I've got a bed with a super plush mattress, a (moderately) big screen tv, a shower with WAY better pressure than mine has, etc. Really not too bad.

I had a good conversation with my sponsor when I got here. I was thinking she was probably wondering about me since I'd said I'd call and had expected to be done with things way earlier. She called at about 9:00 when I was just finally getting everything in to my hotel room. When I answered I said "I was just thinking I should call you," and she said " should..." I could tell in her voice she thought I was avoiding it. After I told her about my day though she understood! lol She was impressed with how non-frazzled I was and was proud of me for discovering gratitude (a topic that, as she said, makes everyone groan though it's so good for you!). She was super sweet too...she said that that night after I'd asked her to sponsor me she'd been so happy she went home and thanked god for me. She said I was her christmas present. I guess she feels that same connection I do.

It's now way past my bedtime and I am really, really excited for my comfy bed, but there's just one more thing I want to say. I'm thinking that gratitude is one of those things you have to come to on your own. You can't tell someone to be grateful or even teach them how. It's like a skill you have to practice and figure out. What a great skill to have though. When I started writing a gratitude at the end of my blog entries it was hard and it felt corny. But apparently I've learned something from it...even though I think tonight I sound like one of those people that tends to drive me crazy! lol Speaking of which...I've been slacking on adding the grateful piece to my blogging...I'd better work on that! :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Weird...but kind of amazing.

First a quick bit of background. I think I haven't really explained what's going on with the individual therapist thing. Everyone as all set to put me with A, the female therapist, as they thought that would be better for me therapeutically. Except that it turns out no one actually asked A. Turns out her schedule is too full to take on anyone new. So I'm officially back with Stupidface. That's not a bad thing. I've always liked Stupidface as a therapist. He got the name because of his inability to return phone calls, and acting a bit too much like a guy when I need him to get things. (For example...I call telling him I really need to talk to him and asking if we can set up an appt. ASAP. He calls back right away...which was a plus...but said he couldn't make an appointment for a couple of days. We scheduled, and that was the end. He never even asked if I was ok or anything, even though I'd told him on the message that I "really needed to talk.")

First session back with Stupidface was today. It was strange. The last time I saw him individually was when I very first got in to the program and I was in a very, very bad place. I remember sitting in his little office crying my eyes out because I was so desperate and I felt like no one could see how bad I was hurting, how scared I was, and how I really didn't feel like I was going to make it. I was terrified to leave his office bc I had no idea what I was supposed to do with myself for a week until I saw him again. I remember telling him that there was no way in hell I was going to quit drinking because there was no way to survive my life without it. A lot has changed since then.

I didn't expect much out of the appointment. Since a lot is about to change for me, I figured that's what we'd talk about. Essentially, my new job is working as a ski instructor over the holidays. Ski resorts get especially busy around the holidays with kids being out of school and families taking vacation. So, starting saturday, I'm going to be working almost every day until new years. This is an awesome opportunity for me to make a lot of money in a very short time. It will also get me back outdoors and doing something I love again, which will really help. The downside is, it essentially means leaving IOP and all of my program structure for the next few weeks. Granted the work will give plenty of structure so it's not super dangerous, but I've gotten very used to having all these people around to talk stuff out with when it gets bad. (Again...amazing how things change. Remember when I was terrified of anything related to therapy and absolutely refused to go?).

We did talk about how my "sabbatical" was going to affect me, but only for a little bit. We then got in to some pretty intense stuff that had kind of been hinted at in IOP but couldn't really be discussed in depth with the group. I think that's why being with Stupidface is going to be good for me. IOP can be frustrating because we get into certain issues but sometimes we have to cut it short to give other ppl a chance to talk about what's going on for them. Also sometimes we spend a lot of time on something that doesn't really apply to me. Such is the nature of groups. But suddenly I had an all about me hour with someone who really listens and really wanted to hear what I had to say. (Unlike J....former t, who would interrupt me to tell one of his stories and then talk about how I really needed to focus on not drinking and more sobriety time). Stupidface is really good at asking questions too, so we ended up getting in to some really deep stuff. It was basically stuff that I already knew on some level, but hearing them out loud and from a professional brought a new feel to it.

We talked about some behaviors he's noticed in me (mostly being late to groups or not showing up at all), about my constant sabotaging of myself...which I did manage to bring up, my apparent need for chaos and stress that I've been noticing lately, and a bunch of other stuff. Basically the conclusion came down to the fact that pretty much everything I do and the issues that I have come out of a deep fear of abandonment. By being late I keep the group at arm's length so I'm a little less engaged and can't be hurt. I let myself go into very dark places that I know I shouldn't because I feel safe in the pain and it's what I know. I don't want to commit to relying on anyone else. I'm also afraid of getting healthier because how I've always gotten positive attention is by being needy enough to have someone take care of me. Logically I know I have friends who care about me beyond just my neediness, but it's hard for me to really, deep-down believe that. I remember as far back as elementary school getting attention from other kids and teachers by sitting and crying. If I didn't get what I wanted/needed, I would go sit somewhere more visible and cry more obviously until someone came to take care of me. Now, I remember having a feeling of terror when I hit 30 days in AA. As much as it's exciting and an awesome accomplishment, it means I'm no longer a newcomer. Newcomers are treated a bit like celebrities in AA meetings and everyone offers help and guidance for them to get started. This is very cool and as it should be, since the first days are by far the hardest, but a part of me wanted to go screw up again so I could be new and make sure ppl don't forget me. Crazy, I know, but very real thoughts.

Stupidface says that this likely all comes from being taught that I was unlovable as a child. No big surprise there. However seeing the connections between so many aspects of childhood and now make this suddenly seem like an even bigger hurdle/mountain/whatever you want to call it to get past. He says that the only way to learn to trust is by being willing to risk. He asked if I felt I'd ever really given my all to any path of getting better. And no, I haven't. The truth felt very obvious to me in that moment. I never have because if I give it my all and I still fail then holy shit where does that leave me. It's terrifying to really put it all on the line.

I asked how do I start to risk that, because I really have no idea how to live any other way than how I am. He said to start with the basics. I have to stop letting the little sub-conscious sabotage get in there. I have to stop wasting time and get to places on time. (And I am wasting time, as much as I have excuses for being tired or rushed or whatever else. He kept reminding me that it is in my power to get to a place on time and it requires my focus and work to do so). I've gotta make sure I'm taking care of myself...getting in as much of a sleep routine as I can, eating regularly and eating well, etc.

It was really weird to go in to all of this. We even got in to how I felt like two different people over the happy, energetic, successful work self, and my logic-defying home self who felt useless and terrible no matter how much I tried to convince myself otherwise. We talked about how as time went on those two selves essentially quit speaking, and once my job ended I was suddenly left with home self full time...landing me in the hospital. I don't think I've ever really talked about any of that with anyone. I feel like a bit of a weight has been lifted. Stupdiface was really helpful in guiding me through this stuff and helping me to see it without feeling bad about it. He's good at labeling a fact a fact...basically this is what's happened, this is how I'm acting now because of it. Doesn't mean I'm a screw up, or that I am screwing up even, it just means that I need to re-learn how to act and think and trust. So yeah no big task there or anything. :-P

If my work schedule is as I think it will be I'll see him again in two weeks. I think I'm looking forward to it. Maybe. lol

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


So apparently I have a sponsor now for AA. I'm still not sure exactly what that means, but it's a good thing. I've had it explained to me before, so I understand it in theory, but it still seems pretty odd to me in practice. She's the woman I mentioned in my last post...whose number fell out of the book at just the right time...seemingly on its own.

We went to a meeting together tonight. For some reason I was really intimidated by it. Partly because we got there late because we both thought we were waiting at the right place to meet each other...but doing it in different places. We had to walk in to a very packed room and everyone had to move to add more chairs in and yeah just a little awkward. But beyond that I think it was just weird to be at a meeting w/someone I know...even though I'd only met her once before, very briefly, at another meeting. A lot of ppl say they don't want to go to meetings alone. I get freaked out about going with people I know because then I give up some of my anonymity. I care much less about what a group of random strangers I likely won't see again if I don't want to think vs. people whose opinions I care about, even a little. The meeting was also big...which scared me a bit. Uncomfortable feeling all around. I ended up crying through a lot of it...though trying to be discrete about it. It was a women's meeting and multiple women there talked about being close to suicide. The woman next to me was nearly successful. She'd been in a coma for 10 days and died twice. She talked about all her family that stayed at her bedside as a loving support group. I started wondering who would be at my bedside. Anyway...that's another story for another time.

At the end of the meeting they had ppl raise their hand if they were available to be a sponsor. The woman I came with was one of about 3 or so that raised their hands. I looked at her and asked, "Can you be my sponsor?" I was really glad to get it out like that, because if i'd waited until after the meeting I probably would've psyched myself out and not brought it up. She nodded. We talked about it afterwards. She said that since I have a lot of transition going on now with starting my job (which is essentially going to be a lot of working until about new years and then slow way down) that it wouldn't be a good time to start working the steps (I still don't really understand what working the steps actually means...but anyway...). She does want me to call her at least every other day and let her know how I'm doing, and if possible meet w/me once/week. We're not sure if our schedules will work out for meeting right now, but for sure in january we'll start that.

So I'm checking one more thing off my list of things i'm supposed to be doing. This is one more person to be accountable to...good, but also scary. I'm taking away yet more options for my less than healthy safety net. Eeek!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I got a job this weekend. And then I almost lost it.

The job is teaching skiing at a local resort, which is perfect for me. I officially got it on saturday, and all I had to do to confirm it was to go to the resort on sunday to fill out paperwork. I figured I might as well make a day of it and go up early and ski for the day.

Instead, I left so late that not only did I not ski but I almost missed business hours entirely, which would've lost me the job! I knew what I needed to do. I'd thought it through in my head many times. I was also super excited about getting to go ski for a day, since I haven't been yet this year. But when it came right down to it, I just...didn't.

Its been going this way with a lot of things. Every time something starts to feel good, or I see it helping, I tend to run the other way. I started feeling really good when I was going for walks daily. And then I stopped. I found a rec center I could afford so I could work out now while it's cold. I was super excited, but I have yet to go. I started feeling comfortable at AA meetings...and actually good about going. And then I stopped going to those too. After my beautiful, amazing moment I described in my last post...after enjoying it for a few minutes, it was like my brain took off running to the worst, ugliest images it could come up with, because I didn't know how to handle feeling good. I have so many techniques that I know would help me feel better. These are things that would take mere minutes to do and would help a ton. But I don't do them. I let myself continue to hurt, and sometimes I even make it worse.

This isn't new. It seems my body has always fought against things that help me feel better. I remember countless times trying so hard to ask someone for help, and instead sitting there staring at the phone but not dialing. I'd attempt to write an email to someone and instead sit there staring at a blank screen, at a complete loss for words. But the words are SCREAMING at me inside, they just don't come out. There's so much inside much knowledge of how to fight this, but none of it seems to reach the surface. It makes it hurt all the more because I can visualize where I want to be, and I can even see the steps to get there but I just can't start. It creates so much anger and frustration inside because I feel stupid and useless for not doing what I know I should've. It also makes me blame myself for everything that's wrong, and then spend the time telling myself I deserve the pain and this hole i've dug, rather than trying to fight to get out. A lot of my self injury stuff comes from here and the desire to punish.

This has been going on for a long time, but I believe the difference now is that I can recognize it for what it is. I can see without a doubt that some part of my brain is sabotaging every effort I make to feel better. I can't understand the why or the what to do about it or any of that, but I can step back enough to see that it's happening. Of course, part of the problem is this keeps me from being able to speak up to the people who need to hear this....the people who could help me with it. It's hard to explain really...but while I so badly want to talk about this there's just this other force that's so so strong that pushes me in to silence. It's like I can open my mouth but no sound comes out. Instead it pushes me in to total silence because the warring sides cause so much confusion that I have no idea at all what to say or do. If I'm not careful I end up shutting down entirely and hiding out, which gets very dangerous.

That started to happen this weekend. A very close friend called and I not only avoided answering but I didn't listen to her message. Still haven't. The job thing is another example. Earlier today someone was knocking at the door so I sat in total silence so I could pretend I wasn't there. They knocked again so I turned off all the sound on everything and sat there in complete silence. Granted no one except for one friend actually knows where I live and she has a key. Generally when someone knocks it's someone inviting me to their church, advertising for their restaurant, etc. It wasn't anything important, but I think it's telling that I had such a strong adverse reaction to something so simple. The knocks kept happening, which was weird, so I finally opened the door to find a little boy, maybe 5, who apparently had the wrong apartment. He looked up at me and said "Hi, can your kid play?" I told him I didn't have a kid and he seemed stumped. Cute, and definitely not something to be "afraid" of. In the midst of all this I got a text from another friend and I just kept getting more and more freaked out and angry. All I could think about was curling up a corner somewhere and shutting out the world. Thankfully I was able to push through enough to get to the resort and get the paperwork in and even have dinner w/a friend, but there's a lot of unsettled stuff goin on inside.

Last night I called someone I met at an AA meeting (a big accomplishment in itself, btw). I was feeling really crappy for reasons I couldn't explain...since I should've been excited about my new job. Instead I had this gut feeling of terror, was shaking, etc. I tried to reach out to friends but with no success. I pulled out the daily meditation book that this woman had gotten for me and started to read. As I did, her number fell out (I'd forgotten I'd tucked it in there). It felt like such a sign that she was the one I was supposed to call, and I felt this strange calmness while dialing the number. Totally a god thing! She answered and I introduced myself and reminded her who I was. She said she was glad I called and asked how my week had been. And right there I broke down sobbing. It was the huge release I'd needed so badly, though I still couldn't explain it. She was amazing and so so helpful to me. She talked me through it and kept telling me how great it was that i'd called...and that that's a sign that I'm really trying and I really do want to get better. She was the one who helped me recognize all this self-sabotage stuff for what it is, and she said she totally understood that I was scared and crying rather than excited for the job. She said it's all part of the disease of alcoholism...that it tells us that we'll always be miserable no matter what good there is in our lives, until we go back to drinking. I'm not sure what I think of that really but it was so so amazing to hear this other person describing exactly what I was feeling inside but couldn't put in to words. There's gotta be some truth to it because she really got it.

We talked for a long time, and I agreed to go to a meeting with her on Tuesday. It's a women's meeting that a lot of ppl have been recommending to me so I think it will be good. I'm wondering if I can ask this woman to sponsor me cus I feel like I connect w/her, but I don't really get how all that works. She did mention that she's been a sponsor, so maybe she'd be willing. She said that this meeting we're going to is where she found her sponsor....and she found them just by realizing she needed someone and asking the person who happened to be sitting next to her if they'd do it. Anyway, I'm wondering if she's thinkin bout that too cus she said we'd go to the meeting on tuesday and then "we'd take it from there." Then again maybe I'm thinking way too much in to this, like I always do. But I keep hearing again and again that I need to get a sponsor. I like the idea...I need all the help I can get. Maybe I'm sabotaging on that too. At least I've been able to "say" all this here. It may sound strange but it feels hugely positive to me that I've been able to write this. It's not quite speaking it out loud to a therapist, but it's so so much better than holding it all inside until i want to explode.

Friday, December 9, 2011


My apartment is on the second floor. My window overlooks a small park that is currently covered in snow. As the park is rarely used, the snow lay undisturbed in the soft blanket in which it fell.

Today was a bright, clear, blue-sky day. As evening settled in, a few stray clouds began to appear. There are few sights I love more than the sun setting on a winter's night. As the sky dims and progresses through it's beauty, the snow seems to take on a life of its own. Pinks and oranges are reflected back in all new hues. Add the reflection from the cloud puffs above and you become enmeshed in an ever-changing pastel world. For one fleeting moment, the sky and ground seem to settle on the same deep purple. In that moment the air feels different. I feel briefly transported to a dream-like holiday village, where the soft light of fireplaces and Christmas trees create the evening glow. It is a place where love and peace abound.

As I walk out the front door, the world takes my breath away once more. A golden moon, nearly full, is creeping up over the horizon. It is in that place before it gets to high, where it looks almost surreal. You can see its every detail, and yet it almost looks fake; like a child's drawing. On this night, its golden rays seep into the ever-settling, ever-deepening purple fog, creating a glow of its own.

It is the moment of magic; Mother Nature displaying her true perfection. Softly, quietly, suffering is lifted. Stress is set aside long enough to take a slow, deep breath of peace. I consider taking a picture, but there are colors here no camera can capture. No stroke of paint can measure up to the depth of experience.

Soon the moon will rise to its rightful height. Soon the purple will sink to black. Soon it will all be but memory. But for those who truly took the time to see, they will be forever changed. For they have been given the gift of knowing, even if only for a split second, of the much larger peace we exist within. No matter what else happens, we will always be given these moments to breathe, as long as we're still able to look.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Need your honest opinions please!

This post stems from a debate I've been having...partially with a friend of mine but mostly with myself. If you don't mind I would love to get some honest thoughts and opinions on this. I know some readers have mentioned that they don't like to comment on blogs. Please feel free to comment anonymously or email me.

The issue is, I've been unemployed for a long time. Because I do seasonal work I'm used to having periods of unemployment in the fall, but this one has gone longer than normal and I didn't have any "filler" income like I normally do. I've chosen to give up my reliable and fairly lucrative job this winter in order to be able to continue with the therapy I'm in now. It was an extremely tough decision that I still question a lot, but it's been made now. I had thought I would be able to find a replacement job fairly easily, but for all the places that I thought would be a sure-thing position I haven't even gotten one call back or interview. It's getting stressful.

I had to take an apartment that was above what I had hoped for for rent, mainly because I was going to end up homeless otherwise. Also, this apartment complex unfortunately has a lot of hidden charges. So money is a stressor right now, and is likely to continue to be for a bit.

A friend of mine brought up going to the food bank. This is where I'm looking for opinions.

I'm not desperate. I haven't reached the point where I'm not going to eat if I don't get food bank food. But food is a major part of my budget, so having that lifted would take some of the stress away so I could focus on getting other things together. I know it would be helpful for me, but I picture my going there taking food away from a desperately hungry family with nothing to eat. Especially during the holidays, I know it can sometimes be hard to keep food bank shelves stocked.

Another factor in this is that I'm really really bad at sticking to a budget. I'm not much of a cook, so I'm not the type that can get what's on sale and figure out something to do with it. I end up buying things that are more expensive because I actually know how to do something with it. I'm also not good at budgeting money in general, which causes issues. Another recent issue is that side effects of a medication made me so hungry I was eating everything in sight. I spent a huge sum of money at the grocery store in just a couple of days because I was constantly feeling hungry (and being hungry is a huge trigger for me), and I was going through crazy impulse buys because everything looked good. Thankfully that has resolved itself quite a bit, but what I'm saying here is that I could save a bunch on food just by making sacrifices in what I buy and learning better spending habits. So I'm thinking that maybe I should just focus on that and avoid getting to the desperate point that way.

This has been hard for me because there is food drive stuff going on all over school. I am normally one that loves to give and now it just makes me sad that I have nothing I can offer. We had a pot luck for the end of one of my classes today (can't believe this semester is actually long as it's been it now suddenly feels like it ended so fast!) and I brought nothing. Then I found myself stuffing myself and taking an extra plate with me just because it was there and free. I really don't like acting like that. The stress is frustrating. (Of course, I'll do stupid shit like that for a few days and then I'll have a bad day and go out and spend way too much on comfort food and undo anything I might've saved anyway).

For now I'm thinking I'm going to call around to food banks and soup kitchens in the area and see if I can set up something to volunteer in exchange for food or a meal. That way I'm at least giving back some of what I'm taking. I know a lot of this comes from the way I was independent, self-sufficient, don't take charity, etc...but I'm thinking that some of that is not such bad advice. I'm just confused. I don't have experience with any of this and I'm not sure what to do. I just don't want to take food from starving children...or be a drain on society for problems of my own creation.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Ever had one of those moments where you're listening to a song you've heard a million times before, but suddenly it has incredible new meaning? I had one of those moments today. It's on a Christmas CD of mine, so I hear it every year around the holidays. This year, due to everything going on, the lyrics hit me in a whole new way. It was really incredible to listen to.

Go here for the song:

Here are the lyrics:

Better Days, Goo Goo Dolls

And you asked me what I want this year
and I try to make this kind and clear
just a chance that maybe we'll find better days
'cause I don't need boxes wrapped in strings
and designer love and empty things
just a chance that maybe we'll find better days

So take these words and sing out loud
'cause everyone is forgiven now
'cause tonight's the night the world begins again

I need some place simple where we could live
and something only you can give
and that's faith and trust and peace while we're alive
and the one poor child who saved this world
and there's ten million more who probably could
if we all just stopped and said a prayer for them

So take these words and sing out loud
'cause everyone is forgiven now
'cause tonight's the night the world begins again

I wish everyone was loved tonight
and somehow stop this endless fight
just a chance that maybe we'll find better days

So take these words and sing out loud
'cause everyone is forgiven now
'cause tonight's the night the world begins again

'cause tonight's the night the world begins again


How incredible is that?! No "boxes wrapped in string and designer love and empty things" for me...just a chance for better days. I can't imagine anything I want more than just that chance...that hope for the future and better things to come. And for the first time in god knows how long, that chance feels like it could be real.

Then further on....some place simple where we could and trust and peace while we're alive. Really...what more could I ask for?

And I absolutely love love LOVE the line: "the one poor child that saved this world, and 10 million more who probably could, if we all just stopped and said a prayer for them." How amazing is that thought? Any child out there could grow up to be the next great hero for the world...any one of them can do incredible things...but only if we give them our attention and give them a chance.

I also love: "I wish everyone was loved tonight, and somehow stop this endless fight." If only....

I've always loved this song, but I put the CD on tonight and these words just leapt out at me. I dropped everything when it came on, closed my eyes and just felt it move through me. It was a really incredible moment. Maybe it's because now I actually have hope for the future, so there's added beauty to this song because it feels so much more real. Regardless, I think I need to make a point of listening to it at least once a day!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A good day!

Nothing deep or philosophical new revelations...just exactly what it says. A good day. I think I'll revel in it for a bit.

I had a big presentation for one of my classes today. It was worth a huge part of my final grade, and since i've struggled with getting work in for this class it was really really important that I do well. I spent a lot of the weekend working on my powerpoint for it...but giving it was still stressful. At least with papers you can edit it and make sure you have everything just the way you want it. With a presentation there's a lot left up to chance.

I had to go 2nd to last for the day in my class, so lots more time to stress. Overall it went really well though, and people seemed interested. First success.

After class, thankfully I didn't have to go see stupid t today (woohoo!!) so I had some free time. The t stuff is all completely up in the air but the goal now is to switch me to the woman t and begin to focus more on the therapeutic stuff rather than just the substance issues that current t is entirely stuck on. Hopefully i'll find out more soon...but for now I had a free afternoon. I was feeling rather positive and empowered so I went to the library, sat at my favorite little table (one of the cubby ones with sides so fewer distractions) and spread out all my homework. I was actually able to get almost entirely caught up with my other class that i've been sooooo behind on since the hospital in august! There's a few little things i need to finish but I have to wait for an email back from the prof. Overall though, I'm DONE with everything for that class. And one of the papers I wrote for it just came out really really awesome and I am super excited about it. And I really do mean super I want to run in and show the prof "Look! Look what I came up with!" It's pretty rare I feel that good about a homework assignment.

After this I still had some time so I finally went to this advising session that I've been putting off for forever. Basically, while I love my classes, I'm worrying my major is too narrow to actually get the jobs I want. I know i've needed to talk to some other ppl to figure out a degree plan but it's been very hard to look that far in the future. But today I finally felt up to it and the woman I met with was awesome. Too much to go in to now but she helped me create a plan that I feel very very strongly about. It means I've got a ways to go still but I really feel like now I'm heading in the right direction for sure. She seemed to really get me and what I was looking for, and understand why the regular options weren't working for me.

After that I stopped by the rec center that i'd read about that's close to my house. I'm super excited because it's only about a mile from me and really affordable! I badly need to start working out but it's been way too cold to get my walks in. Now I'll have a treadmill, bikes, etc. to use as well as a pool, which I badly need because my joints haven't liked the impact with my added weight.

I came home and after a bit of rest and tv watching I cleaned up the kitchen some...because the counter mess was about to get taller than me like the shel siverstein poem...and made myself a decent dinner. It wasn't quite the full dinner I'd planned, but it wasn't microwaved and it had protein and veggies and all that good stuff. I totally forgot about the meeting I was going to go too, but I think for tonight that's ok. I cleaned up after that too and have the dishwasher running now. I'm super tired and am really hoping the capstone to my good night can be falling asleep at a decent hour.

I think it's pretty clear what i'm grateful for tonight. :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Up and down (and round and round?)

Tonight was a rough one. I don't want to go in to that, but the short version is that a friend's very innocent question sent me into a spiral of scary thoughts. It's like once one of the emotions gets going (generally either fear or anger) it starts bringing up more issues and more thoughts and before I know it I feel like I'm trapped in a whirlwind and all I can think about is how to make them stop. What really struck me tonight is just how quickly the change happened. I was feeling pretty calm...had just finished some journaling and then was chatting with a friend. Essentially within minutes all my focus had gone to thoughts of self harm.

The good news is, I was aware of what was happening and was able to stop myself. Well, I couldn't stop myself but I was able to hold off the immediacy of it. I knew I needed to interrupt the thoughts so I tried to say the serenity prayer. I tried and tried but couldn't keep focused long enough to get through it. I thought about turning it over to a higher power, which has been something discussed in many meetings and sometimes in iop. I couldn't get through the serenity prayer so I just said, "god. i'm here. guide me please." I closed my eyes and put all the energy I could into picturing my spirit being held and cared for in the safe light (can't exactly explain the way I see this, but it works for me).

Slowly my breath came back to me and when I opened my eyes the damage from my last SI episode just happened to be right there in front of me. I spent some time looking at the cuts, and rubbing over them with my hand. It's been a month since I did that and it's still so so vivid. For now I think that's a good thing...because it was a visual reminder of why I didn't want to give in to that urge.

So...lots of highs and lows today. I wouldn't exactly say right now is a high, but I'm content. I was teetering on the edge but I found my way back. Every time I can do that it builds my confidence a bit more...both in myself and in the process I've immersed myself in.

I also want to share something that came up in my journal today that was really amazing to me. A few people were talking in iop today about how while they were drunk or on drugs they became a selfish person who only cared about themselves and their next fix, and how they hated that person. As they were saying this, I was thinking that while I get what they're saying, I've said multiple times that one of the things I need to learn is how to be selfish. I don't want to be a jerk or anything, but I need to learn how to take care of my own needs because I've never really done that before. So how can we be talking about selfishness being such a bad thing, but also such a necessary thing?

What came up in my journaling is that there are two kinds of selfish...thinking only of self and thinking first of self.

The thinking only of self is the person who blocks out the world, pushes everyone else down to get ahead, is mean, and doesn't care about anyone else.

The thinking first of self is how they tell you in first aid classes to make sure the scene is safe before you approach so that you don't become another victim, or put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others in the airplane emergency procedures. This kind of selfishness is necessary for ensuring our own health and protecting the soul. I realized that I need to find a way to view myself as worthwhile and make myself my priority....or at the very least see myself as not below others in the world. I know I want to do for others in need, but if I can fill myself first i'll have so much more to give. My future abilities to be there for others will be magnified and multiplied. Since I can't do it just for myself right now, that thought helps me to have a focus on why I need to care for me. It's still a struggle for me to know when my "me time" is only of self or first of self, but i'm learning to find positive ways to care for me and make them a priority. Anyway just thought it was interesting and maybe it'll be meaningful to someone else too. I love when my writing brings up stuff I didn't know I knew! :)


Tonight i'm grateful that with all the troubles i've had, that none of them now are legal issues. One of the ppl in iop that I feel the closest to has a big court date coming up on wednesday so we had a little good luck "ceremony" for her. As people got to talking it seemed like almost everyone that was there today (granted it was a smaller than normal group due to crazy weather) had been to jail for addiction related issues. M, who has her court date this week, has a DUI. While I obviously don't condone drinking and driving, M is just an amazing, kind woman in so many ways. She's not the troublemaker type at all. She painted me a beautiful picture as a housewarming present when I moved in to my apartment...she's regularly brought really thoughtful gifts for people "just because." She's also a survivor and has just been an amazing source of support for me in starting to come to terms with what I'm facing. She's also been working incredibly hard on her program...she's never missed a day of iop and she's always on time/early, tons of AA meetings, etc. Unfortunately, because she had a DUI something like 18 years ago, and another 20-something years ago, she's facing potentially major punishment. Anyway, clearly she's had some issues but it just seems sad to me because she's such a beautiful person. She's accepted her fate and is mostly just looking forward to wednesday to because she's tired of being in limbo and not knowing what's going to happen. I'm grateful that while I know I've done a lot of bad things and have hurt a lot of people, I'm not facing jail time for them. If you don't mind saying a prayer for M I'd really appreciate it. I had a chance to give her a card and a hug today at iop...and now i'm praying for peace for her because I can't imagine how stressful these last few days are for her with no idea of what is to come. (Also I have to admit some of this is selfish...I feel so connected to her....the first person i've really connected to like this face to face...i'm scared of not having her in iop anymore. I don't want her to go to jail cus I need her. :( Yeah...not sure what kind of selfish that falls in

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Little R

Many of you reading have heard my story of little R before. (I may have even posted it on here...hard to keep track! lol) But it's a favorite of mine and I love to tell it so you're going to hear it again. But never fear...there is a point! lol

Years ago, I worked at a summer camp for homeless children from New York City. Little R, 8 years old, was a part of my first group of campers.

R was the type of child that camp counselors dread. Actually, until this camp I wouldn't have known to dread them because I wouldn't have believed that a child like this could actually exist! Harsh, I know, but I'd never seen anything like it. R was outwardly defiant but also inwardly manipulative. She was incredibly smart too. She knew just the right thing to say to any one at any given time in order to get the results she wanted. She knew how to get counselors on her side and pit us against each other or attempt to get us in trouble with supervisors. She knew just what to say to the other girls to make them cry. And these weren't just little things either...she was mean! As time went on I could see that she was absolutely terrified of any level of peace and calm in her life, and therefore made every effort she could to cause chaos around her. Every time we started to have a good moment she would go out of her way to ruin it. No punishment seemed to mean anything to her either. At one point she landed herself the task of cleaning the entire bathroom top to bottom and she barely seemed to notice. My supervisor said she'd never seen anything like her.

I was a new, energetic, and naive counselor. I knew enough to see that R was hurting very badly, and that so much of what she did was out of fear. I knew that she had lived around abuse in her past (she had nightmares at night...she wanted to go home not because she missed it but because she was worried about her mom not having her there to protect her...and the shelter where she and her mom lived was of top security because of the violent situations its residents come from, with only a select few even knowing where it is). I so badly wanted R to know that people cared about her and loved her that I quite literally chased her around camp to tell her these things. In hindsight I can see how this approach failed. But I kept at it and worked my butt off to keep her involved with the group. We had endless group meetings to have the girls give each other compliments, talk about things that were going on, etc. I refused to give up on R, and I did start to actually see some improvements. Every now and then she could be found joining in with the group and apparently having fun. But just when i'd start to relax and let my guard down a little, all hell would break loose once again.

She exhausted me. I remember talking to a fellow counselor one day about how frustrated I was with R. I said, "I just want one good day! Just one day where the girls get along and we don't have any of these major issues! Is that really too much to ask?"

My more experienced and much wiser coworker replied, "Maybe a day is too much for R right now. But maybe you can find some good moments, and maybe some good minutes, or hours."

That statement was world changing to me. Such a simple concept, but it meant that R and I could have success! I realized that what we'd been doing hadn't all been a failure. Instead it was my lack of ability to celebrate and enjoy the times that were good because I just wanted them to be more, or better. Don't get me wrong, R still tested me constantly and pushed my every button, but hope had returned. I could see that I was doing good things, and that R was too. My feelings of desperation and frustration began to lift.

One of my very favorite moments of camp that summer was towards the end of our 19-day session when R allowed me to hold her while she floated on her back. We'd been working on it for a while but the amount of trust it took in both the water and in me were just too much for her. Finally, on almost the last day, she did it. It was just a few seconds, but to me it was magic. An incredible, magical moment I may have missed had I still been looking for days. A similar moment occurred as the kids were loading the bus to head back to the city. I stepped on the bus to give each of my girls a short note that I had written to them. I had written to R that whether she believed it or not, I'd miss her and I was glad she'd come. As I was about to step off the bus I heard her call my name. I turned around and looked back. She was smiling what looked to be a genuine smile and told me bye again. Another magical grouping of seconds. For some reason or another, I'd meant enough to her for her to call me back for a second good bye. Maybe she'd felt a connection the way I had.

I don't know what's happened to R since then. I had no way of keeping in touch with her. But her spirit and our magical moments keep me going and pressing on. When I meet a challenging kid now I I try my best to not put my expectations out of their reach, but instead fight with them for what is achievable.

Now back to today. I've realized recently that the lessons I learned from R and my wise coworker can be applied to my own recovery and healing. The other day I was acknowledging a moment where I was actually on my own, without distraction, and feeling good. That is the eventual goal of all this in my eyes....that I won't need constant distraction or outside influence...that I'll be able to just feel good and be ok. And that is what I was experiencing. But that feeling was fleeting, and mere moments later I heard myself thinking about when would the good days finally outweigh the bad, and how frustrating it was that the good is so limited.

With R I had to learn to allow myself to be rewarded and feel good when those good moments hit. Maybe now I need to learn to let myself be rewarded with the good that comes from these good moments. Instead of, "It's good, but...", more of "It's good, and I like it!" Hmmm now that I write this I'm remembering someone telling me almost exactly this right around the time I went in to the hospital. Funny how I seem to keep realizing that my advice givers I refused to listen to for so long actually did have some idea what they were talking about! lol I also am starting to think that R and my coworker were my first DBT teachers....teaching me how to focus on and fully experience the moment at hand without worrying about what would come later or the what if's.

I still struggle with the difference between goals and expectations. I used to think that I had to have high expectations in order to be successful. After all, if I didn't expect that I was going to heal, what would be the point in fighting? But if I'm expecting to heal, does that set me up to feel crappy about anything short of healed? Obviously that's not a good way to be either. I'm in the midst of what seems to be a very long process of learning how to keep looking ahead but also keep celebrating the successful steps I take.

In the meantime...I'm so so grateful to R. I feel just a little strange saying that, but she taught me so many amazing lessons over that session at camp. I have truly never been the same since. I am thankful to her for letting me see the real her, in all its ugliness and all its beauty. And I'm thankful to her for giving me those moments of her trust, because I understand now just how big that was for her to do. R is in her teens now, and I pray that she is ok and somewhere safe. I pray that she has found some way to express herself and not follow the path of pain and anger she seemed to be headed down. I also, perhaps a bit selfishly, pray that she looks back on her time with me at camp as an 8 year old and can remember or feel something positive or comforting about the time we shared.