Friday, February 23, 2018

A Year

One year ago I walked into an Al-anon meeting.

In the previous month, I'd been to all sorts of 12 step meetings, looking for my home. The pamphlets didn't describe me, or the people gaped at me - hungry eyes - fresh meat.

The last night of the year I ended up at an AA meeting, because an angel came and found me. I was there, wandering around the church annex looking for another meeting, but apparently I was the only one, and the loneliness of being stood up by other anonymous addicts in my tribe was intolerable.

A man popped out of the AA meeting down the hall, and asked if that's what I had been looking for. And when I said no, and he saw my face, he invited me in, they welcomed me home.

Hannah calls me an “honorary alcoholic,” not for this reason, but because the nature of my disease has the same ancestry. My delicate constitution has prevented me from ever truly overindulging in alcohol, but my spirit has always been insatiably thirsty in the same way.

(maybe yours has, too)?

It had started as a Distraction from the incredible pain of infertility, and it followed me to the Bahamas, to the ashram, where I was supposed to Get Clear and Get Healed, or at least insulate myself from inflicting my poisonous thoughts and feelings into the healthy masses.

He shared Things with me that I've protected you from, that I'll continue to protect you from, and allow the spirit of the Thing to find you from between my words, if you're so inclined.

I sat there, night after night, in dark meditation, surrounded by 300 strangers and the sweet song of the Caribbean, convinced I had been infected.

(And I had been, just not with a disease for which there is a pill.)

My self-worth eroded by infertility, my resilience depleted, I had become the perfect host.

Infected by addiction.

The years that followed were the worst of my life, because I was simultaneously consumed by how much I despised myself and how much his behavior was likely to kill me.

Am I hoping to live, or die?


All addiction breeds rage, which is fed by the shame, which continues to multiply with each uncontrollable grasping for The Thing that will never fill the hole.

It starts with, I Believe There Is A Hole In Me, and that there will be a Thing that will fill it. But it won't, not because it can't, but because the hole is a lie. It is a ghost – an apparition.

And it's hungry.

My addiction became him, his behavior, his pathological inability to find or speak The Truth, and I was lost. Consumed by tracking, by living a double-life, a deranged fulfillment of my Sherlock-ian roots, my anthropological leanings, my stubbornness.

The strong female leads of my childhood, gone seriously wrong.

He left. I left. There were lines in the sand.

The people of Al-anon sat with me in the dark moments, hearing the horror stories bleached of unsavory details, and nodded. Saying things about hope, and courage, and focusing inwards. We have been lost, too, their eyes said. Some of us lose ourselves on the daily. And yet we believe you can find you again, as we have also found ourselves on this path.

This past year has been about Me – this next year will be about Me. It started with realizing that there was never a hole, that this was simply the topography of my garden. Then a fence, then weeding, and now intentional planning. Fence maintenance. Ongoing weeding. Nurturing What Comes Next.

Alice so plainly spoke it, the sentiment of my Sisters in Al-anon, “When you can't look on the bright side, I will sit with you in the dark.”

Thank you, my unknown darlings, who heard my desperation and didn't try once to fix it. You simply sat outside and watched me build my own fence. Clear my own wreckage.

Build my new life.

Friday, February 16, 2018


I have been Thinking a lot about the school shooting situation, scrolling through the debates on my news feed.

Is it mental health? Antiquated gun laws? Modern weaponry? Video games? Absent parents? Overburdened school administrations? Astrological phenomena?


As a perpetual overthinker, I have to remind myself that sometimes it is possible to solve a problem without knowing the answer, without naming the culprit, leaving the why unanswered.

I graduated from high school the year of the Columbine Massacre. My mother and I were having lunch only a few miles away as all emergency vehicles in the state drove past us. We said a prayer for whatever terrible accident may have happened, and went home.

When we got there, I turned on the TV to chill out for an hour before going to a play rehearsal at school.

But the same thing was on every channel.

It was a defining moment, as the bleeding boy fell from the second story window (he was my Spanish teacher's nephew, in fact).

What in the everloving FUCK is going on?

A Moment.

My brother stopped wearing black that day.

(I stopped sleeping).

I can remember the trauma, the terror, the tectonic shift in the infrastructure of my psyche as I thing I hadn't been prepared for secretly took my mental health down six notches.

I'm glad we're thinking about it. I'm glad you're thinking about it. I don't have the answers, because God did not issue me a rule book with my Yoga Teacher Training certificate, and I wasn't able to divine answers through months at the ashram.

Thinking about it is good. Praying about it is good. Talking about it is good.

Fighting about it is not.

We are all in agreement about this: Children Should Not be Shot at School Ever.

So let us start there. And pray, if that's what you've got. Say something, if you have something to share. Act if you're able to act. Manage the carnage by voting, marching, surrendering and destroying your weapons. These are not my ideas, Martin Luther King Junior and Jesus said these things.

Using your magic for good, rather than for evil.

Or distraction.

Let's find a solution, and let our children and theirs figure out why it worked.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Holidays. Trigger. The. Fuck. Out. Of. Me.

Oh, you too?

Welcome, friends.

Romantic love has not gone well for me, historically. I'm good at friend love (and boundaries), sibling love. Puppy love.

But romance?

I've built a healthy 90 foot wall around it. With a moat. Barbed wire. Maybe a few feral pigs with oozies.


I've worked as hard as I could, while always feeling like a disappointment. Paid with money, time, and service for neglectful love. Lost my self in abusive love.

I've considered cats, but I'm allergic. Which might not be worse, but I do still think so. Plus they smell.

(and are cats)


My therapist and my 12 step group tell me that I Have Needs That Only Other People Can Fulfill. Like romantic love. Connection. Affection.

I agree, even though I don't want to.

So I'm Making An Effort.

After eight months of walling myself off in the joy room, six months of truly unfortunate and confused "dating," I'm considering Not Dressing Like A Pirate (preparing for the worst, like being boarded in the night by bigger, badder pirates). Assembling my skills from the reading and observing of healthy relationships, and therapy, and watching every single Global Glue Project interview and Recovery 2.0 interview, and adding them to my Faith, a thing that was born 14 months ago, that I lean on when it feels like the world and the internet are collapsing.

Today hit me with all of the Triggers, like the unwanted advances, the changes of plans, and the internet collapsing. And The Ben, telling me he's learned from What Went Wrong with us, and that he's Not Making The Same Mistakes This Time.

That This One is Worth Fighting For.


(How I'd love to believe I'm Worth Fighting For).

And that's the side of the street that I get to own. Who wants to fight for a pirate, who has isolated herself behind a moat and clenched teeth?

My work is in smiling - letting the light in.

More worth, less adversary, less conquest.


Sunday, February 11, 2018


I've snuggled up with my laptop all day, diving into a mountain of work while my anxiety lurks on the other end of the couch.

For a long time I thought we were the same person - that her constant nagging to Just Keep Moving was part of what made me who I am - someone who has a hard time sitting still, who gets things done, and doesn't let an email go unanswered.

Except I wasn't always this way.

I remember times not so long ago when I would sit and read books for hours on Sundays, watching the snow fall. I would snooze on the couch at my parents' house, or snore while my husband played video games all day.

She was quieter then.

Some circumstances unfolded in my life that gave her a better hold, moved her closer to the inner circles of my mind, and eventually handed her the keys and the steering wheel.

She drives fast, in a state of near panic, trying to outrun the things that scare me. Like aging, infertility, death.


Her keen sense of smell is better than mine - she does a fantastic job of scaring off would-be suitors by any means necessary, because the last one got too close and singed and amputated more nerves than I would have thought survivable.

She's been trying to protect me.

She did her best, but she's unskilled.

And I don't need her help anymore.

I've spent fourteen months uncurling her fingers from the steering wheel, placing her at arm's length, at the other end of the couch. Sometimes she's like a puppy, trying to crawl back into my lap for attention and affection, and I have to lovingly pick her up and relocate her, encouraging her to Stay for a few more minutes.

Sometimes she gets ahold of my phone and sends frantic texts, which is embarrassing, but it's happening less often.

She's getting better.


Because I'm getting better. I have to dedicate myself to it every single day. Remind myself that the tiger in my mind has only as much control as I give it. That it is a ghost of a tiger that used to be - a tiger I used to be.

And that her services are no longer required.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


I turned off my phone last night.

At first I couldn't even remember how to do it... not that it should be difficult, the darn thing has two buttons... but still. I can't remember the last time I turned it all the way off.

Me too, I thought.

I can't remember the last time when I turned myself all the way off. The last time I was unreachable.

The Universe listened, as she tends to do, with most of the texts that came in over the night cancellations of obligations today. Meetings where I would have had to Listen Deeply or Bare Parts of My Soul that might still be catching their breath from the marathons of the past five or so years, since I've been outrunning the grief and healing that were seeking me.

And I slept – with interruption, mind you – for twelve hours. I woke up and cried a few times, too. Echos of the unanswered cries from 37 years ago, feeling unreasonably far from everyone I love, but with quite a few more tools than I used to have.

(And none of them The Phone).

Monday I went to a meeting of The People In My Shoes, whose stories are different shades of my own. How can it be so simultaneously healing and terrifying to hear that the fears and behaviors I've adopted have shared roots?

That the other women in the room are lost in the same confusion – how did I love someone so much that I'd let them do this to me?

It is tempting to look at What Was Wrong With Him, but it's a fools errand. Because I give zero fucks about what happens to him, and that's the truth. That's his job, or the job of society, to hold him accountable for the terror he has unleashed.

My job is to find the weak spot in me, the deepest root of this weed, the unanswered cries in the night that he responded to. And respond to them.

I am an example of the damage caused by generations of cry-it-out.

By Big Girl Pants.

Take a good, long look.

(I wrote a book about it)

My mother did the best she could, as did her mother. And now I get to Do The Work of understanding the roots, unearthing them, and healing them. Putting myself back to sleep, rather than distracting myself with The Needs of Others.

No one can or will complete you.

(except you).