Wow, so the last time I wrote a post was last December, which in the blog world isn’t probably too unusual. Life, right? Things shift, life gets busy, small endeavors get crowded out. As much as I don’t want to admit, I’m human, I can only do so much.
Last June. Smiling on the outside & inside?
It’s strange to think about my state of mind last November. It wasn’t good. AA, my sponsor, my HP, yoga, my son, my family all of those things grounding me, pulling me into spiritual health like iron anchors, tethering me to sanity. BUT also dying, shedding skin in such a hot mess kind of way, bloody, sweaty, and as they say in AA, “with my ass falling off.” Fully. I had a long standing metaphorical spiritual wound and it was infected and not pleasant.
I had a new sponsor, I was crying my eyes out in coffee shops every day (looking super adult and dignified 🙄) working the steps in CoDA, Co-Dependents Anonymous a program designed for people who feel controlled and powerless over people. I was also working the AA steps. I was doing this crazy thing on Instagram every day, jumping from downward facing dog like a madwoman trying to land softly into crow pose (google it. Also follow me and check out the documented craziness @shelteryoga). To sum up my recovery at the time I would have to say that I HAD to work, I HAD to progress, I HAD to use all the resources in front of me because I HAD TO CHANGE. I didn’t like myself and as you know because you’re a human too, I couldn’t escape myself.
I just couldn’t be that person I was anymore. I couldn’t react the same. I couldn’t stand to see the world the same. I. Just. Couldn’t. Handle. It. While I believe any recovery program out there has the potency for change I have to say my drug, er, I mean my program of choice would have to be of the 12th step variety. Working the steps in CoDA and meeting with a CoDA sponsor every week scraped that old skin off. Painfully, yeah but it happened. Working with a new sponsor in AA helped a ton too. Having my sponsors support was everything.
Having this guy around helps too 🥰
I had lost touch with my Higher Power again. I had the opportunity to go back to the bare bones spiritual construction site and build a new one. It was painful and very difficult. There was a stifling emptiness. Nothing left to grasp onto. Perhaps the newcomers out there understand.
But I am here now. My life is not perfect. I reach different CoDA bottoms. I get back up and try to do things different. I meet once a week with a CoDA group and can’t describe how calm and happy I feel there. I try to ask myself daily how I feel and answer myself honestly. I also ask how I’m parenting myself. When people make me feel like my life is unmanageable I do my best to surrender. I try to drink lost of water, exercise, eat food. Most of the time the actions of other people don’t make me spin out today. I attend my meetings.
And then I can give. To my son, to the world, to yoga students. In yoga news, yoga work has been the best it’s been. I taught a series of workshops for the first time, have more classes than I ever have had, and have even rented space for the the first time.
It feels good to write here in this space again. Manifesting a deep healing for all of you out there that need it.
For a while I’ve been looking to shift how I felt about social media, mostly Instagram, my social media drug of choice. I kind of just wanted to say, “Eff it, what’s the best thing I could do on here right now to be real?” Something just for myself. Not carefully crafted images, something raw & vulnerable. Something different. So I decided for some reason to do my own challenge for the last month: jump from down dog into crow. If you aren’t familiar with it, YouTube it, it’s hard. It takes much upper body strength, core, & practice. It rarely looked like this:
This of a screenshot, a millisecond of a mostly sluggish & uncomfortable to look at process which for me involved a countless amount of drills. I’m not going to get into what I did each day, it’s all there on my Instagram account if you’re interested.
At first the idea of working on this for November was unicorn sparkly, I thought, maybe I could do this thing if I worked on it every day. Who knows. Plus this is gravy added to my regular lifestyle, I’m often working on handstands or forearm stands all day long anyways. I can say I don’t love crow pose. I can do it easily yes, but it has always felt unnatural for me. The hopping & floating part though? I’m all over it.
Over half way through the process I attempted a handstand away from the wall & actually held it for a long amount of time which was a pretty cool side effect. I also found some new creative flow, I found myself taking more of the “prettier” types of pictures with a fresh perspective. I wanted to post those pictures right away, to scratch that itch of vanity. As if to say, “Sure I fell on my face last frame! But look at this one! I’m so awesome.” Lol. Just being real.
I refrained. What’s wrong with real life for a little longer? I thought. I don’t have to hide what really goes on in my practice. The truth is that much of Instagram hides the blood, sweat, & tears that go into finally attaining that “perfect” picture. And usually those people putting in the time don’t really care about the perfect photos even if just like me they post them. They just love yoga. Straight up.
I went too hard for a couple of days & my trapezoid muscles seized up. I had to stop & rest. This is a big part of the practice of yoga too. People get injured, they need surgery sometimes. Rest is vital, just as much as work. I was lucky, my traps healed, I could continue. I have other injuries that haven’t healed & I don’t do certain things anymore. I’m okay with that.
And as far as attainment goes I did not jump into crow from down dog after just one month. I went into it knowing that would most probably be the case & that was part of the reason I did it. There is no destination. There’s just the journey. I’m at peace with that.
Last August I met someone I really liked. I’ve dated here & there since moving to Oregon, but nothing serious. I’ve long felt like I’ve needed more internal emotion rearrangement before I can really be in a healthy relationship & meeting this person was the catalyst for me showing up at my first CoDA meeting. I hit a bottom. I was desperate. I got on my knees & prayed after experiencing long familiar confusing emotions & fear. So much fear. At that moment I remembered a friend who was active in CoDA & I texted her. I was at the meeting the next day.
I can’t describe how much relief my newfound CoDA program has given me. Just like the first time I walked into AA, I felt like I wasn’t alone anymore & more than that these people were sharing actual tools that I could use in all my relationships. This is pretty remarkable stuff for someone who has felt like she has been flying blind for much of her life especially where romance is concerned. If you are struggling with the obsession over another person or relationships feel unmanageable, I highly recommend giving CoDA a try. You don’t have to suffer.
The work has been brutal. I’m in the midst of writing my first full historical 4th step in 9 years. All the shit since birth. 41 years of shit is a lot to go through. I write in in short bursts, I can’t handle any more than that. It’s way different than in AA. Deep & painful. I’ve cried a lot.
But I haven’t drank. And even though I haven’t been perfect & at times my feelings really do feel like they’re gonna kill me, I’ve shown up for my classes, my son, & to meetings. Even though it’s been hard, I’ve already learned so much which gives me so much hope for the future.
You don’t have to be who you used to be. Change is possible.
Wishing all the best out there to all of you. Living ain’t easy.
“Rothio, make sure Leah gets up,” Tara says. “Leah you better get up.”
Leah gets defensive, “I’ll get up, stop! I’m only late to things that don’t matter.” It’s late & we are momentarily silent. We hold on tightly to the end of the night that smells of both fresh air & mosquito repellant.
The sisters don’t know what to make of me, possibly wondering, is she like her cousin, or is she like us? I don’t assure them, as they just kind of stare at me through half lidded eyes. Flies buzz around the cured pig leg covered by a kitchen towel that has its own stand in the center of the dinner table.
They want to leave for Granada at 6am to escape the heat and tourists that are likely to be in full force later in the day. Little do they know that I like punctuality as much as they do. Minutes later I compulsively set my alarm for 5:15 under the table. I’m happy here in tiny Mojácar, but am excited to see one of the bigger cities in Spain. Just like everything on this trip, it’s much more than was ever promised to me.
“I’ll make you a breakfast and coffee, and you can eat in the car,” Ro says to Leah.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine, I’ll eat in the car.” Leah snaps like she is so easy going when we all know she’s rather have breakfast in bed amidst fluffy pillows after waking at 10am.
“You can both sleep in the car,” Tara finishes.
There are a lot of bosses here in this hot kitchen, & I say goodnight. My heels go clip, clip, clip as I descend a set of Spanish tiled steps and enter my room. I turn the ceiling fan on & get wrapped up in the crisp white sheets that smell of foreign laundry detergent.
Granada tomorrow, I think as I fall asleep. It is still surreal & a miracle that I, someone who was born in California & has never been to Europe during the previous 40 years of her life is laying her head down on a pillow in Spain.
We wander around the Alhambra separately at first, Leah & Ro have argued after we entered & Tara & I want to give them space. We come back together slowly, Leah & Ro make up. We are tourists, except for Tara. We go eat lunch.
They serve this watered down beer or wine at every meal in Spain, even at breakfast if requested. There is a scarcity of water in Southern Spain & most people won’t drink the tap water. For breakfast they eat toasted sliced baguette smeared with tomatoes & olive oil. I’m grateful for Tara who makes a really strong coffee before the rest of us get up. I wake at 9 or 10 & head up for coffee. No one needs me here & I sit & mediate on the stoop of my bedroom door that opens up to a patio filled with bougainvillea. The bees & flies hover but they don’t bother me. I am lazy & I lay by the pool reading for hours.
It’s hard to not feel conspicuous as an American in Spain. They know. I’m surprised when I tie my hair up, the locals start talking to me in Spanish. First flattered but then deflated as I inevitably have to confess, “No español.” I feel a bit sad as they walk away. I’m useless to them.
I stayed in a hostel the last day in Santa Pola, close to the airport. I tie my hair up & I stroll around. I didn’t make eye contact with anyone & pretended that I was a Spanish snobby person. It was Sunday & most of the shops were closed. I went into a chocolate shop & pointed. I ate the chocolates in my room, watched Narcos on Netflix & tried to convince myself that I know most of the words.
We drive to Vera. Its days after Granada & it’s the end of my trip. I am sick & cant eat any more seafood. Images of the dying mother octopus kept running through my brain as I crunch down on fried tentacles. I stop. I begin to just eat granola bars which could be either hindering or helping my situation.
But before, the second night down a tiny street in Mojácar we find a restaurant. Tapa after tapa laid out for us. Fried eggplant drizzled with honey. The best sizzling garlic buttery shrimps I’ve ever tasted. Manchego cheese with marcona almonds. Fresh bread everywhere. That jamón.
But back to packing up for Vera on the last day to take a car to Alicante. Leah, Ro, & Tara are dropping me off. Tara is native & Leah & Ro will stay, traveling through Spain for 2 more weeks. We arrived too early & parked by a tired looking Chiringuito (little bar) in a street that looks like it has seen too much life. A lady shouts & cries to a man in a parked car. The streets more creepy as they are mostly bare besides these two. everyone still in their siesta.
Everything in all of those small Spanish towns so pale, white, always these white buildings. Here it felt like all of the good feelings had been wrung out of the streets, leaving behind only loneliness & desperation.
“Like walking onto a Quentin Tarantino set,” I told Ro & then my cousin later.
“Ro!” Leah yells. “Did you hear what Sis said about Tarantino?!”
“Yes,” Ro answers.
“Aw, dang it.”
We walk into the bar & things feel more as though we had walked onto the screen of a scene gone wrong. Long beads serve as a doorway & they chink against each other to announce our arrival. Suspicious looking men congregate at one table (not everyone being asleep) & stare at us boldly as we walked in.
My stomach turns & I run to the bathroom. I’m grateful it’s clean. When I come back they are laughing at me.
“Sucks for you!” says my cousin.
At this time the siesta-ees began to stir, popping into the chiquierdero for one version of coffee or another. Cigarettes. Tired & sullen looks. Not one woman, just old & very tan Spanish & English men that looked like they had stayed up for a total of 500 hundred nights straight. A very accomplished woman served all of them helped at times by a fat teen aged boy who looked like he’d rather be anywhere else. The whole time a man looked on from a doorway on the the other side of the bar, but made no move to help, even when the lady got busy.
“Which one?” voiced Tara.
“That one right up there,” answered Ro & then to me & Leah, “that’s the liquor my grandpa drinks. It’s very dark & red.” Tara & Ro are half sisters & it would take charts to keep up on their bloodline.
I was beginning to hope our blood didn’t run dark & red as we lingered there, but we are fine, I am only a American tourist, a bit sick, dramatic & paranoid.
It’s been a tradition to get tattooed every year since I got sober right around my sobriety date. I had to take some time off when I was pregnant & after I gave birth. Getting tattooed kind of falls by the wayside when you have a small baby.
I was ready to get back into it last year, & after the initial what the heck was I thinking, thought I had after the needle fired up. It felt really good to get back into it.
I found a different artist this year, made my appointment, & was stoked about getting some major work done. We’ll just say that “some stuff,” occurred after that. My heart got broken in another area & the artist got broken too. He crashed his motorcycle. He wasn’t going to be tattooing for a while.
It wasn’t going to happen. I was still wading through an emotional mire & I longed to feel anything other than what I was currently feeling. A tattoo will help, I thought. Every day I woke up & I felt loss. Every day I wished I could go back in time & find a different artist (not to take away the pain he was going through, there was pain all around). I was lamenting all this to my friend in Long Beach & she suggested that I make an appointment with her artist. I was visiting anyways, why not? She suggested doing it at the end of the trip to keep the fresh ink away from the sun & water. I made the appointment.
Time, eh? It’s a beast. Some things lightning fast & some things so slow you feel like you’ll never see through to the end of it. You wait, you want, you despair, & then all of the sudden you are smack dab in the middle of something you never bargained for.
Going back to Long Beach was different this time. I had realized from my previous visits that it was never going to be, “my” Long Beach again. It was going to be different. I was going to be different, my friends were different, even the landscape was different. Because of this realization, I flowed through the trip with increased acceptance. The slow march of time. It keeps going no matter what we do & it finally came time for the much looked forward to tattoo appointment!
I got along with the artist immediately. We had many things in common besides our mutual friends. We were even born the same year & drove the same kind of car. I told him what I had envisioned for my arm & he didn’t try to talk me out of anything. We decided on peonies to fill in the gaps of my upper arm, the goal was to officially cover the whole outside of upper left arm up. He started sketching. He transferred the sketch to my arm. I listened to the familiar sound of the tattoo gun rev up. The needle bit into my arm.
I refused to look down while he worked. I did my yoga breathing. The conversation was really amazing, considering I’d never met him before that day. He told me a story about a lady who was in so much emotional pain that she could hardly feel anything as she got tattooed. She kept coming back for more tattoos & as time went by, her life began to be happier. She kept finding it harder & harder to sit through the pain. I could really relate. Physical pain seems like nothing compared to emotional pain.
My friend came & we broke for lunch. A short lunch, he had another appointment & he wanted to keep going as soon as I finished eating. I looked down for the first time in a couple hours.
It wasn’t just what I had wanted & imagined. IT WAS BETTER.
I could hear my Higher Power whispering in my ear. See? This is what you were waiting for.
I came back from lunch & he finished my arm. It had taken 5 hours (with 1 hour of sketching). After all those months of not being able to accomplish my goal, of all of the waiting, of all the emotional turmoil, it felt really good to walk away with my arm completed. It felt even better to have some quality art work on my arm.
The next night, I attended my old home group, the very first location of my first AA meeting. It worked out that way, some old friends were taking anniversaries, other mutual close friends were attending, including my Long Beach sponsor. She did that thing she used to do during the meeting, she stroked my hair, an affection a mother would give to a daughter, or a sister to her sister, or a friend to another close friend. While the meeting was going on she whispered, “Even though you’re not here, you’re still with us. Even though we aren’t with you in Oregon, we are still with you.” I’ve gotten misty eyed over that many time since. I’ve written here multiple times about the grief I have experienced, moving away from Long Beach even though I feel at home in Oregon too.
I felt a peace about leaving, about saying goodbye. Long trips to Long Beach every couple of years will be a priority. I need to visit & connect with my other home.
& the message I heard was loud & clear. I don’t get to decide when. Today I’m in surrender with the when.
Wishing the best for all of you out there. Not just the good, but the BEST.
H & I were making the rounds last week, shopping & purchasing supplies for our mini glamping trip & my upcoming trip to California.
He relentlessly pelted me with entreaties for treats & toys. Whew, he knows how to push my buttons & wait for the right opportunity. I obviously don’t want to get in the habit of always getting him something every time we go to the store. When does a toy or a treat not become special anymore?
Geez, but I get tired of saying no. So we’re at Target, the last stop of our errand running. I’ve held fast, & no extra trinkets have been purchased. We are at the area of the store in between the clothes & the toys. There before me is a rack of cheapie type of toys. The kind of toys that always seem a little disastrous, they never last very long.
There before me was a set of sand shaped jewels. My mind on our planned purchases & trips, I just glanced at the picture. Only $5 & there were a bunch of little jewels & rocks buried inside. Perhaps this would occupy him while I packed! Into the cart it went.
Nope. He needed my help to dig those tiny little buggars, er I mean ONE bugger out. There was only one rock! Shaped like a sugar cube of all things. Wtf? Did I just pay $5 for a brown cube shaped rock!? I was annoyed, but I didn’t pay enough attention to the package. It advertised for just 1 treasure to be dug from the inside.
Off he happily ran, clutching this $5 sugar cube rock. He held it the rest of the day & all the way to bedtime.
Motherhood is a lot like that. You plan, you expect, you scheme, but things often turn out much differently than what you plan for. You say no. You say yes. The unexpected happens. There’s no telling what will happen.
In AA they say, “Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.” I agree with this mostly, but I also think, damn am I allowed to dream up some expectations now & again?
I think I am as long as I can remember that just like that geniously marketed sand covered rock, things might now always be what they seem. My perception isn’t always the best one. I have to remind myself of this & defer to my Higher Power. Easier said than done, but there lies the path of least resistance.
I dropped H off yesterday with his grandparents. I’m at the airport now waiting for a flight to Long Beach, CA. I’m staying. For 9 days. I don’t know what to do with myself already. I see little kids all over & I miss him. I’m also deeply grateful for some alone time. It will be good to have a break from teaching too & take some yoga classes out there.
Wishing all of you out there a strange 5 dollar treasure in whatever form it takes.
Some pictures from our recent visit to the Oregon coast:
If you have a chance to go, I recommend exploring this area which is pretty direct west of Portland. The Oregon coast is very different than what I was formally used to in California. It’s rare to spot a bikini & it’s always wise to wear layers as it can be cold even in July! I’ve included some links below.
Misty River RV Park: we picked this for its proximity to Cannon Beach. I wanted to do a little mini-vacation for H & myself, but also be able to jaunt over (hour-ish jaunt) to CB to visit with family. It’s mainly an RV Park, but they also have 2 mini-cabins (we stayed in one) & 2 yurts.
Ecola State Park: if you park here (pretty drive uphill in the woods in Cannon Beach backyard) you have access to the park (trails & ocean views) or Indian Beach. You can walk down to the beach. This beach is great for exploring at low tide, a popular spot for surfers, & all other beach worthy things.
Blue Agate Cafe: this is in Oceanside. It’s off the beaten path as you have to back track up to the 101 from there, but worth it for the vibes & ocean views. Who doesn’t want to enjoy pancakes while staring at the ocean?
Cape Meares Lighthouse: & if you made it to Agate you might as well drive 5 more minutes & check this cute lighthouse out. There are also plenty of sweeping & grand views of the ocean to be had at this spot as well.
I love the Oregon coast. There is a sense of timelessness there. Everything is scenic, even the long drives are a joy.
Ever since I can remember I’ve struggled with my conceptions of my physical appearance. I’ve been curvy since those hormones smashed into me at age 12 & I swear if I just side glance a carbohydrate of any sort, my pants hug me a little tighter. I joke around with my mom that there’s some kind of crazy food survival gene in our dna, way back before electricity & grocery stores, our ancestors survived well on little food & constant activity.
I remember dieting like crazy in 2013 before Pow Wow, a big AA retreat out in Palm Springs. I bought a really cute bikini and didn’t dare to eat anything for days leading up to and during, knowing I was going to be wearing next to nothing most the time I was there! Pow Wow was fun. So many of my close friends were there, & I made deeper connections with new people.
A big group from Long Beach always goes, & knowing that bikinis were involved I purposely avoided it for many years. “Are you going to Pow Wow?!” friends would ask excitedly. “No, not me. It’s not my thing,” I would answer which was partially true, it’s stupid hot in Palm Springs in June even in the pool. Who signs up for that? I also knew what it would bring up. I didn’t want to face it. But for some reason that year I dug in & set a goal for myself, to lose weight, & do the unimaginable: To feel comfortable in a bathing suit in public. I think that this mindset was growth, not all the way to self love, but part of the journey to get there.
I look back on the pictures, & can see my physical body & how thin I looked. But I also see the look in my eyes & remember how I felt. Alone. Desperate. Confused. Sad. Even though I was thin I wasn’t happy. Gasp, right?
I still wasn’t enough. It didn’t matter how much weight I lost. There was something deep inside me that wasn’t fully healed.
Giving birth to my son has put me on a different path. Being pregnant was liberating. There was no more, “just me.” What I ate & the physical activity I took directly affected this growing baby inside of me.
It wasn’t all about me anymore.
I truly believe that one of the keys to growth & change is unselfishness.
I gave birth & when you have a small infant to care for, you’re too busy to be obsessive about the way you look. I stopped straight ironing my hair on the regular. I stopped wearing heels. The baby weight didn’t go anywhere. I realized that there are much more important things in life than looking like a magazine cover.
I started becoming obsessed with esteemable acts & with self care instead of the way I look on the outside.
Those esteemable acts started in early sobriety. Whenever I would bring up my low self esteem, my sponsor in Long Beach would always point me in that direction. I witnessed this in action as I watched her with us (her sponsees), at AA functions, & everywhere else. She liked to have fun but you better believe that she was there to serve too. Like a muscle to be worked, the more I focus on helping others & self care, more whole I grow. It’s taken me a long time to get to this place. I didn’t really choose to get here, although I’m so grateful I did. I never wanted to do esteemable acts instead of thinking about myself all the time. It’s way more natural for me to be selfish than unselfish! Now, there’s hardly anything else I’d rather do than meet with a sponsee. I relish the opportunity to focus on helping someone else rather than think about all of my “problems.” Please.
My sponsor here in Oregon talks a lot about self care. Her sponsor used to ask her, “what have you done for self care today?” Thank goodness for this & the lesson it’s taught me. Many days I ask myself that same question. Sometimes the answer is a gluten free cupcake & sleep. Most days the answer is working out the way I need to work out & eating the foods that will fuel my body. We are all different & what works for me may not work for you.
Food was a place I went to when things got dark. Now food is fuel. Self care is nourishment. If I want to live a healthy life, then healthy food is the answer. I still eat crazy stuff, I just try to focus on what works for my own body for the most part.
Instead of trying to look like someone else, which is sort of crazy since they are them & I am me, I focus on having goals. Who the fork cares how much I weigh? What I do care about is if I can balance in handstand for 10 seconds. If I have to lift weights to get myself there then so be it. If running & weight lifting makes me into a stronger yogi, then I’m all over it. Having goals takes the pressure of what size I am or my measurements. My goals are to be strong in different ways, not to wear a size 2 or get rid of all of my cellulite.
Last year in May I asked a photographer friend to take some pictures of me practicing yoga. It was fun, we went to Portland & she got a lot of good shots. I remember before the shoot, having that anxiety, just like before Pow Wow, like I needed to lose more weight. How were these pictures going to turn out?
They turned out amazing, yes, but some were cringeworthy. I noticed the extra weight, the softness, the wide curves. This is my body, I remember thinking. It’s okay. Last Summer, they opened the pools in our neighborhood & it was the longest stretch I’ve ever had with not really caring about what I looked like half naked. Like, this is just it man. Embrace it. Granted, I wear a conservative “mom suit,” out there for the most part & no one is there some days, but still.
I’m okay with how I look. Maybe because I’m okay with who I am. Are all of the cliches true? They must be.
Fast forward to now, I try to eat protein & veggies for the most part, I intermittent fast, I run 3 times a week, I work out a different body part four days a week, & my class load ranges from 8-10 classes per week. I take 2 or 3 days off. Is it a lot? For me, yes. It’s been a slow process to be this active. My clothes fit better. My injuries feel better. I have a lot of energy. I feel strong which was my goal. Do I still have curves & cellulite? Hell yeah I do, I’m 41 so that probably will not change. Do I still get tired? Yes. Do I eat gluten free chocolate chip cookies? Again, yes.
I’ve taken my time writing this post because I know how much weight talking about diets & exercise carries. It’s an emotionally charged subject & I don’t bring it up lightly.
Wishing all of you out there lots of self love which is more important than the way you look.
Someone may see a glossy picture of me on social media & think that whatever day I had, it was a good one. That I’m doing just fine. I have a solid higher power, a supportive family, my son, a supportive AA family, & duh, yoga. All this stuff is very true (& more) & I’m so grateful for it.
Spend some time with me & pry deeper, you may see more. Sadness, vulnerability, anger. Control. Lack of control. My side of the street. Resentments. Not letting go. Not letting go of the bondage of self. My friend from CA texted me last week:
Congrats on your 8 years smober! 🚭🚭😤 Can you believe we actually sucked on those nasty things? 😝
It struck me that, hell no I can’t believe it! If you still smoke, no judgement, it takes what it takes & I’ve been there, relishing the feeling of sucking that nicotine into my lungs. Some days I miss it still.
What I remember eight years ago, is picking a date to give smoking up, fully not believing that I could. I was 2 years sober when I decided to quit, I was down to a pack a day, when I drank I smoked 2 packs a day. Just dumping poison into my body. Sometimes I think continuous sobriety is just dumping less & less poison into yourself as time goes by, whether it’s physical or emotional.
My quit date came. I remember very clearly driving to work, a time period where I usually sucked down 2 cigarettes. I felt nervous & uneasy. I had my patch on & chewed my nicotine gum. I later learned that I was putting too much nicotine into my system so I dropped the patches & just stuck with the gum for a while.
I was used to taking a smoke break on the hour, cheating the system of the 2 ten minute breaks per 8 hour shift rule. My feet would hop towards the door & I would think, oh yeah I’m not smoking! This tic happened every half hour. What do people do on their breaks if they don’t smoke!?
Being at home was the worst. They say in the rooms, “sit on your hands,” & it was the first time that I actually sat in my hands in my apartment. It was excruciating to not grab my keys, run to my car to drive & buy a pack. It was excruciating not to act on this urge to smoke.
At meetings too. Was it ok to just hang out inside during the 10 minute break…&…talk to people? I don’t know, eat cookies? Uncomfortable as hell, but yes, yes it was. New habits formed & old habits dead. That last sentence sounds great, but it was SO HARD. I won’t ever forget.
These past couple weeks have been difficult. I’m back to sitting on my hands. I pulled out of my garage & knocked my side mirror off. I failed to show up for a friend when they really needed me. I’m not all the way “here.” I’m hurting. I’m slowly coming out of it.
I’m doing the best I can.
It’s okay to be honest about it & it’s okay to feel this way.
A really rad definition of vulnerable I came across according to urban dictionary:
Someone who is completely and rawly open, unguarded with their heart, mind, and soul. Being vulnerable happens when you trust completely. Rather its vulnerability by pain or joy, it’s being exposed with all of the emotions that make it easy for someone (someone you trust) to really do some emotional damage or healing.. Vulnerability is the surrender of all control and personal power in regards to letting someone close enough to destroy you!
Lol, a little dramatic, but you get it. It sums up much of what I feel here & now. I cling to those constants in life, the non material things I’m grateful for in the above first paragraph. I’m learning about myself. I’m being healed. I let go one day & not the next, but I believe my higher power will fill up all my imperfections.
Hoping all of you out there are doing better than me, er, I mean learning valuable life lessons & getting all mature, eh?
Whew, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. H & I traveled to Florida at the very beginning of March & I feel like right after we got on that plane at PDX I blinked & now it’s past Easter.
My yoga teaching has ramped up, swerved, & morphed into something new. I’ve been subbing a lot. Also, I shared a while back how I had to turn down some new classes, I had to take step back & reevaluate how much yoga I can keep on my plate.
Way back, even before I completed my teacher training, I posted about finding this studio, little did I know at the time that I’d do an apprenticeship there, that the owner & two other teachers there would be instrumental in how I frame my yoga teaching world. They all showed me great patience & compassion.
I auditioned & got hired on as a sub. I found other gigs & always returned to this place to help out when other teachers needed time off. I came to the conclusion that this was my path with this place.
Most recently they hired me to teach a couple classes a week! I’m still not used to it, & I’m tired. I gave notice at a different place to make room for these classes but am working all of them for another week.
So I’ve been tired.
Tired & blessed.
More of a life than I ever had. If I was to die tomorrow, yes there would be things that I wished I would have accomplished, but damn, I know that I would be happy with what has happened so far.
I’m a far cry from that drunk girl crying herself to sleep at night because she was sure no one would ever love her.
She was so wrong. So many people love her.
I love her. Fiercely.
So, even though I’m a little exhausted & also obviously too busy to blog, I’m also very grateful today for all I have.
Most of which is not physical.
Wishing all of you out there a deep sense of gratitude, especially if you feel overwhelmed by all the good just like me.
Most of the time I filter what I say. I pause & think before speaking. Let’s face it, there’s a level of annoyance with an over sharer in meetings or a teacher in a yoga class. Not to say that we shouldn’t overshare, save your ass not your face, & let it out if needs be, for sure. But I do hold back, I share in a general way, or I teach in the best way I feel like my students can learn. They came for a class not to listen to my silliness (although the silly comes out every now & again). Isn’t that a new level maturity or what being somewhat of an adult is?
All that to say, it’s such a relief when you’re able let stuff out, to be uncensored, to spend time with those friends, you know those friends, the friends you can really be yourself with. There’s no editing. Cursing is ok. You can say whatever comes to mind & yes you might get teased for it, but that’s okay too. It’s part of the goodness of the relationships. You never feel judged.
A couple of my Long Beach friends came up to Oregon to visit me last weekend. I burst into tears when they arrived & we were having deep conversations just minutes after being together. I had mentioned to them many times last year how much I missed them. I know they came here for me & to be supportive.
The inside jokes. Laughing until you cry & almost pee. I’ve known one of them a bit longer & they’ve had years of time hanging out without me so we sometimes had to fill in the blanks. A lot of history. Also, a lot of catching me up on what’s going on back in Long Beach.
Long Beach. I know I’ve written a lot about being homesick which is such a conundrum, Oregon is my home, I love it here. But I miss my friends. I want to rush the grieving process, the fact that I can’t go meet them at a meeting, that I can’t go to meetings there & know almost everyone in the rooms. I want to be okay with it. I didn’t know it would be this hard.
Maybe I’ll always be some shade of sad about it. Maybe there will always be some gap, some place in my soul that Oregon can’t quite fill.
The thing is that a miracle occurred in California, I wanted to die one day, I went to a AA meeting, & then I had hope. Everything was new, sure I had ups & downs, but everything was different. My friends were different too. I once had friends that abandoned me in bars, not caring how I got home. In AA I met friends that were genuine & reliable. Friends that were sharply witty & fun without the use of alcohol.
They came bouldering with me. We stayed home one day, my friend cooked soup, we made a fire, we watched standup. We did a Portland day the last day they were here. It was super sunny! I kept raving about it & they of course looked at me like I was crazy. We drank fine coffee, they petted a million dogs, we ate at a trendy Portland spot, we perused the cool shops, & then we ended up at a bar where my two friends did some standup at an open mic.
There’s a term in standup called, “call back.” When you tie in an earlier joke later on in your bit, that’s a call back. We kept yelling that at each other all weekend when we would reference an earlier idea or joke.
And maybe that’s what those strong long distance relationships are like, you’re away from each other, there are moments you miss with each other, there is grief for what’s lost, but the miracle is that you can see them again and when you get back together again it’s a big, giant call back, filled with magical timing.
I have a new perspective on it all. I’ll be saving some extra pennies for a Summer flight. Wishing you all the best kind of call backs with your strong & real relationships out there.