Good Girl Addict vs. What Was

Yesterday was my father’s birthday. He would have turned 74. He died at 68, three weeks after a stomach cancer diagnosis turned his life and the life of my mother and I upside down. His decline was swift, the disease so sure in its’ quest to end his life. My mother and I barely had time to catch our breath to try to regroup before he was just….gone.

For him, I think that was for the best. He would not have done well with years of dragging chemotherapy and constant appointments with strange doctors. He was not one who liked to feel exposed or in the spotlight. He preferred to quietly go about his business, never bothering anyone but providing continually for his family. He only wanted happiness for ‘his girls’. Didn’t want us to worry. I think that’s why he died so fast. There’s no way he couldn’t have known something was wrong for a while before the diagnosis. Just, no way.

I think about that often and wonder how he was able to go so long without speaking up. Did he really just not know? Or, did denial rule over his mind? Most likely it was the latter. And I accept that. There’s nothing like the finality of death to help me ‘accept what is’. He is gone. I’ve lost a stupendous amount of opportunity because of his death, but there’s nothing to be done to change it. Not one thing, other than accept it as fact and move forward. I do my best to do just that most of the time….but it is especially tough on days when I would have loved to see his shining eyes and hear him say, ‘Hey, kid’ as I stood on tiptoe to give him – my 6’4″ gentle giant of a father – a hug.

God, this life of mine surprises me all the time. I held the death of my brother in such a brutally angry way that I lost years mucking through it, trying to understand the why and the how and the where it exactly went off the rails. I repeatedly beat myself up for not being better equipped at 17 to be able to grasp a loss like that. I tortured myself so much that I convinced myself that I actually deserved to feel as broken and hungry for love as I did. I fully believed I wasn’t worth enough to try and imagine a life without pain as a central concept.

Losing my dad was a different animal entirely. I took care of my mother through it and shared my grief with her – I ran from her when my brother died. I wrote and read aloud a eulogy at my father’s funeral – I remained silent and numb at my brother’s. I mourned my father openly and without apology – I hid in the pain I felt when my brother died, covered myself up so completely that I became addicted to food, sex and eventually booze. Now, I allow myself to miss my dad and cry for his loss whenever I need to – I bottled up my rage, my fear, my outright brokenness when my brother died.

I still feel those old, familiar and oh, so restless beasts that were born back in ’97 prowling around in my mind from time to time. The ones that don’t know how to tolerate sitting in an emotionally uncomfortable or painful period of time without something to else to take the edge off. The ones that whisper that I am FAT and DISGUSTING. The ones that assure me that I could never go back to school to earn that elusive Master’s degree. Sometimes I give their voices and muscles too much room to speak and move. Sometimes, but less and less often, I let them take over completely and I want to isolate isolate isolate and forget forget forget. The farther away from that pattern I get, the more I recognize how useless it is. It brings me nowhere but down. Nowhere but removed. Nowhere but Alone. And, holy shit, I don’t want to be alone like that anymore. Ha! I love that.

Even though they exist – when sometimes I wish they would just cease that shit – and even though I let them take over for much longer than I wish I had, I know my worth now. I know I deserve all the ideals, happiness and over the top fucking dream world fantasies I have ever thought up. I just do because I’m here for some purpose and it sure as shit isn’t to sit home alone, watching tv and sipping wine with a cat on my lap forever. Nope. Not so much. I want and deserve soooooo much more than only that.

I still have some work to do, some education to seek…I don’t think that will ever not be true…and I am going to dig deep to try to resolve what’s conflicted within me. I’m going to cross the bridge between what was and move into the land of what is and what I want to be. I’m going to keep my head up. I’m going to focus on what’s good for me. I’m going to remain open to new adventure. Nothing but forward, positive momentum.

I’m going to make my father proud because I know he’s quietly watching and rooting his heart out for me.

 

 

The In-Between

Lately I’ve been feeling caught in an ‘in between’ phase of who I used to be and who I want to evolve into. My therapist gave me a little nugget of clarity this past week when she said that I got ‘frozen in time’ after my brother died. I didn’t really care about evolution. I just wanted something, anything, anyone to make me not feel. I got stuck in a cycle of dysfunctional relationships and bad habits with food and alcohol….but underneath that I also got stuck in a belief that I would never really be able or capable of doing or becoming successful in my professional life.

I got into being a nanny practically by accident. I graduated from Syracuse with a Bachelor’s in social work. Unfortunately, I had absolutely zero desire to use it. There was however, a man I told myself I loved whom I had never met – except for online (this was in the early days of America Online, before real online dating was born) – who lived in California so, I decided to move out there. It was a complete unconscious geographical escape from the life that had fallen apart completely after my brother was killed. I didn’t make a plan, look for a West Coast job or think about any sort of repercussions. I just needed out of New Hampshire. Consequences be damned.

When that whole scenario imploded after about a year of homesickness and emotional unavailability from the man I thought I loved, I moved back East and stumbled into a career of full-time childcare. At the time, it made perfect sense. Kids made me laugh and I was good with them; becoming a nanny felt exactly right…and simple. When I first started out I was 25, living on my own for the first time and making what I thought to be pretty decent money. I felt vital, important and successful without having to use the degree I didn’t really want. And oh, I loved my job. It kept me busy during the day and fulfilled enough to feel pretty good about myself.

As I’m writing this, it feels like I’ve used my job as a salve too. My work allowed me to live vicariously through other people’s successes. The homes I worked in were huge and luxurious. Wealth and opportunity were always available in abundance. Having that kind of life is something I never even attempted to dream up for myself. But working with people who live that kind of life helped me forget my regret about not giving a fuck when I went to school. Being in a lovely home helped me lose sense of the fact that I wasted some of the best years of my life because I was too broken by my loss and pain. Being in their environments gave me satisfaction too – I helped raise their children to be healthy, productive members of society. I was the busy little cog that kept the wheels of all the families I worked for spinning effortlessly. They needed me. I loved that feeling.

But these days……being needed at work only suffocates me. I don’t feel successful. I feel stuck. I feel like I haven’t done enough (or anything) with my life. I feel that I should have made a better plan. I am 36 and I’m still working in someone else’s home, helping raise someone else’s kids, running someone else’s meaningless errands and feeling like a fucking professional failure. I did get frozen in time. I didn’t evolve. But that doesn’t at all mean that I can’t. Again, I’m feeling caught ‘in between’. I used to feel ok with doing what I do for work….but I’m waking up to the very real fact that I honestly don’t want to do this work anymore. I can do more. I want to change course. I’ve been afraid of that for quite a while. Afraid to try. Afraid to fail. Afraid to succeed.

Fear is such an asshole.

This post is me making an effort to not let the fear stop me anymore. Sure, it feels familiar…but it doesn’t feel safe. I need to push past this phase and find my path. If only I knew what that was………….I guess that will be my first step.

 

Distractions

I’ve been sitting here for the past hour trying to start this damn post. I realized yesterday that it’s been close to 3 weeks since I last even looked at this Blog O’Mine. There was a period over the summer when looking forward to sitting down to write was the only thing getting me through. It felt like a lifeline for me when I was close to drowning. I almost feel like I’ve been unfaithful somehow. I want writing to be a central part of my life, I want it to always be something I turn to. What if I turn around one day and it’s not there for me anymore? What if I outgrow this desire to emote, create and reach out? Eh, that’s just fear talking. She can hit the bricks.

I’m pretty certain that I will always write. I just feel terribly neglectful lately. Nothing bad has happened. No metaphoric shit has hit the fan. All is well. In fact, all is really well. Writing has not been on my mind because I’ve been beautifully distracted. I’ve fallen in love. Plain. Simple. Wonderfully complicated.

I’ve been distracted like this before….beginning phases of relationships always used to take up all my energy and focus. In the past, my immediate pace was Ludicrous Speed (points if you get the reference). I went hard, fast and furious because I was falling in love Goddamnit. And that was all I ever wanted out of life. Love loveity love love love. It would be a constant stream of texts, phone calls, head in the cloud fantasies (delusions), lots of sex, lots of food and lots of booze. I would lose myself in this pattern and binge uncontrollably until I would inevitably have to come up for air….and when I did, I would wonder how the fuck I had ended up in the exact same place I had vowed never to return – with a man who didn’t value who I am and who was deeply broken and incapable of loving himself. The reason for that is simple, I used my new boyfriends as another layer of buffering myself against the harsh flow of my life. I couldn’t deal with myself or what I had been through without something to take the edge off. My addiction is threefold, remember? Food, men, alcohol. The men part didn’t just have to be a stranger. I used the ones I fell in love with to numb me too.

This time though. It’s different. Before it was oil and water with the men I picked. Now it’s peanut butter and chocolate. I am not ready to go into too much detail. It’s still really new and in the fragile stage of general disbelief. How is this my life now? Am I really allowed to feel this good? This free? This accepted? This loved? I still feel the quiet fear that if I go ahead and sing my voice at top volume about how I feel then I will have somehow jinxed myself and the universe will snatch back the gift it has given me.

*deep breath*

I’m sure that will wear off.

I’m sure I will write more too.

I’m not getting lost this time around.