Begin Again (Again)

Another year, another month in rehab; seems like this cycle never fails to repeat itself. Stress, depression, poor coping skills and ultimately, drinking. Drinking is not the origin of the problem, but the one that usually brings the issue to life in glorious Technicolor and Surround Sound. Learning who I am and why I do the things I do will more than likely be a lifetime project, but I am getting closer to my truths each time. How many times does one have to travel down a road before they recognize it leads to a destination that is not the one they want? How many times do I try again, only to fail? How many times can people be there for me, encourage me and help me when I just fall back to pieces again? Compassionate people have their limits and everyone has something they are battling, be it depression, simple unhappiness, a toxic relationship, addiction, avoidance and a painful past. The painful past doesn’t stay in the past; like a child coloring for the first time, it goes outside the lines of the past and bleeds into the present time, often without our knowing.

One of the things we learn in therapy is why we react the way we do to certain people, places and things (emotions can be included with things) and I am learning that my painful past is fully present in my present day. The strings that lead back to the original pain are like telephone wires, communicating and echoing the pain of the incident long ago. If I do nothing to cut those ties, heal those wounds and exorcise those demons, I will be destined to repeat this process over and over again, until I can fight no more or until I am dead and gone. This is not a post about blaming others for my past, but more to understand how the past is still manipulating my thoughts and with them, my emotional well-being. I have created a great deal of my painful past, simply by being a human being and trying to make myself happy, without having the understanding of how to create real happiness. Alcohol made me happy until it made me dangerous to myself and others; men made me happy until I realized the emotion I was feeling wasn’t happiness, but some ugly deformed cousin of happiness in which their happiness (supposedly) made me happy. The old saying “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” may be true, but it’s better to not pretend love when it’s lust you’re feeling. Not to confuse the two, which I have done for most of my life. If you’ve never felt true, unconditional and pure love from someone, how would you recognize it? The thrill of the love affair brings about emotions that could be mistaken for happiness, but I’m fairly certain that the formula for happiness does not include compromising ones morals or living in secret, experiencing alternating moments of bliss and shame. My life is what I have made it and will continue to be a mix of good and bad, but mostly what lies between the two. I am responsible for my happiness and my well-being. I am not responsible for everyone else on the planet, I cannot save anyone except possibly myself. Others may care, but their lives demand their time and attention, as it should be. The choices I have made in the past have led me to the place I am today as the choices I make today will lead me to tomorrow’s destination.

My painful past is not without its benefits, as pain is a sure sign of growth. I have learned how precious life is and how easily one (me) can believe that I am not worthy of such a precious gift and try to return it. I’m pretty sure God (or Buddha, or my Higher Power) doesn’t want me to take that gift and s**t all over it and return it to Him with a single finger salute. I’m pretty sure the idea is to live the life, to the best of my ability with whatever gifts and challenges that come with it; learn and grow, love and give, have and hold forever and ever. Understanding that to error is human and to forgive, divine is the formula and there is no pass or fail, there is only learning and growing. To love oneself seems simple enough, but for some of us, it is the most difficult challenge we face, every single day. So, I will begin again (again) and keep trying, keep learning and hopefully, ultimately, I will love myself as those of you who love me do. This is my wish and my most passionate prayer. For a life without love is no life at all.


Things I Strongly Dislike About Being a Girl (Everyone grab your sense of humor and feminists take a Xanax and/or just relax)

1) Crying. I really thought I was over this once I went through puberty and stopping caring about That Boy. Little did I know that having your face leak is a constant for girls and women alike. We can be wearing our Prada power suit, Christian Louboutin shoes and look like solid steel, but wait until the tears start falling; immediately a strong, successful woman morphs into a hysterical female who cries at the drop of a hat. All the tough talk of independence and man-like behaviors (never let them see you sweat/cry, talking constantly in sports terms) goes right out the window. Instantly the division of the sexes is reinforced; no matter how tough the talk, the proof is in the pudding, as they say. Tears are not welcome, tolerated or even understood. Of course, I am making sweeping generalizations and I’m aware of that. I know not all men are stoic, dry-eyed and emotionless. But the majority of the ones that I have met just channel their hurt feelings and wounded pride into anger, the acceptable emotion for manly men. I get angry and somehow it’s unacceptable. Go figure. If you cry, you’re (again) a hysterical female but if you get angry you’re just a bitch. I love that kind of wacky logic. 

2) People think I’m cute. I’m physically pretty small, apparently. In my mind, I’m 6 feet tall and bulletproof, but in reality, I’m 5’5” barefooted. Not a huge, overpowering form and no, I do not strike fear in the hearts of men when I walk in a room; it’s more like, “Oh look! How cute. She must be helpless and fragile and must need someone to take care of her.” Nope, that statement is completely false. I can take care of myself and while I may not be able to lift a VW bug off someone, I have the intelligence to avoid dangerous situations. Should I find myself in one, arm myself not with guns and bullets, but with intelligence in plotting, disarm them with dimples and cripple them with my cuteness.  

3) Everything else:

• Not being able to take off my shirt on hot days

• Not being able to (effectively and neatly) pee standing up

• Not being able to go my entire life without putting a razor to my legs, armpits or whatever else women are expected to shave off. (‘nuff said on that subject)

• The obvious monthly issue that even when it ends, another wondrous event occurs – menopause. Which brings more:

• Hot flashes

• Night sweats

• Mood swings

• Anger issues

All that being said, as I near turning 50, I think I’m finally starting to embrace my girl-ness. Nothing like a strong girl growing  into a strong, beautiful woman who is beautiful because she loves herself, estrogen (or lack thereof) included.

Thanks to all of you who have lifted me up when I was down, picked me up and carried me when I couldn’t walk and gave me love when I had none for myself. 

Thanks as well to each and every soul who has fought for all Americans and allows me the freedom to write this post.

Semper Fidelis