Romance May Be All Champagne and Roses, but it’s the “Little Things” that Define True Love

As I was listening to the radio tonight a woman called in to request a song for her Husband. She gushed about how she had the relationship that every woman wishes for. She had literally married her Prince Charming. I began fantasizing about my man romancing me with a jacuzzi full of rose petals, exotic vacations, and diamonds…lots and lots of sparkly diamonds.

The Little Things

Then the woman said something that snapped me out of my grandiose fantasies, bringing me back to reality and into an aha! moment. She said that though her husband was at times romantic in the traditional sense, it was really the little things he did everyday that proved to her how important her happiness was to him.

She mentioned that she wasn’t a morning person and that her husband was well aware of it. Instead of giving her a hard time or completely avoiding her in the mornings, he actually did things to help her mornings run smoothly. Even in the face of grumpiness and morning breath!

He would do simple, yet meaningful gestures from having her coffee ready when she woke up to warming up her car before she left for work. These things may seem mundane to a morning person, but to someone who favors the snooze button these small actions are huge. That is the beauty of it. The fact that he pays attention to her needs and seeks out ways to fulfill those needs on a daily basis proves just how deep his love runs for her.

Anyone can temporarily buy someone’s love with gifts and lavish vacations. Anyone can string words together in a sentence to flatter and charm. But when it comes to real love it’s the little things that have the biggest meaning. It’s the smaller things that take the most effort. They take thought. They take continuous action. They take listening. They take knowing. They take caring. They take a lot. And because they take a lot, they mean a lot.

Can’t buy love

Traditional commercial romance is done to impress. To woo. To sweep one off their feet. Of course in our capitalistic society everything has to have a price tag. Even love. It’s so easy to get caught up in the materialistic idea that the more money one spends the more important the recipricant must be to that person. Yes, I too have fallen into that trap. Just ask my romantically challenged Fiancé.

I have berated the poor man more times than I care to admit about his lack of romantic gestures. It seems every time I get on Facebook women are gushing about how their husband’s or boyfriend’s surprised them with a dozen roses, a date night, or weekend getaway. It would always make me question why mine never did the same. Doesn’t he love me? Aren’t I worth all the beautiful expensive things money can buy?

What really matters

And then I heard that woman tonight on the radio. I heard her gush about what really matters. The little gestures that cost nothing, yet mean everything. The consideration her husband had for her feelings and needs were what made her heart beat faster for him. Not the store bought things. That stuff is easy and impersonal. 

I realized at that moment that I too have a Prince Charming. Even a Saint maybe for all he puts up with! Curtis may not bring me flowers or whisk me away on spontaneous vacations (pretty hard to do with 4 kids) but he knows me.

He wipes away my tears, and sometimes (sorry to out you babe) he even cries with me. He makes me laugh. He texts me every day on his lunch break to check in about how my day is going. He takes over parenting duties when my stress levels become more than I can handle. He supports me. He understands me. He loves me for who I am, never trying to change me.

True love comes from the soul, not the wallet

Curtis is an amazing man. I am so grateful to have found someone as unromantic as him! Because romance, as portrayed by our society, is shallow. It isn’t about love. It is really about spending hard earned dollars on material items to fool another into feeling adoration. And even sometimes it is used in more sinister ways, such as distracting a person from the other’s wrong doings.

True love has no price tag. It comes from the soul. Something so deep and so real can’t be faked. It can be masked but eventually the mask will come off. I’m not saying all gifts that are bought are meaningless. I’m just saying there has to be more. There has to be depth. There has to be effort. From both parties. After all, it takes 2 to be in a relationship.

Thank you!

So to that woman who called in tonight in honor of her Prince Charming, thank you! Thank you for reminding me that though romance may consist of champagne and roses, real love is about all the little things we often overlook while waiting and wishing for what we perceive to be the bigger things. I’m pretty sure my Prince Charming thanks you too!

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August 20th 2016

Tomorrow is the day. The dreaded 20th of August. The day that my family and I have reluctantly acknowledged since receiving the letter nearly 2 months ago. August 20th is the day we hand over our keys to our apartment. Often times this type of situation would be one to celebrate. That is of course if it wasn’t being forced upon us. And if we didn’t have 4 children, and 4 pets. And especially if it didn’t leave us without a place of our own.

Don’t get me wrong, we still have some things to celebrate. It’s not like our 4 year tenancy at Malibu East Apartments has exactly been a five star experience. Between our own live viewing of “Cops” serving a warrant to our old neighbors for a drug charge, and living below a neighbor fit for the starring role on “Desperate Housewives” meets “The Bundy’s” of “Married With Children,” living out of a suitcase doesn’t sound half bad! Who’s got the bubbly?

It has been an interesting 4 years to say the least. Homeless encampments in the field behind our unit (which only bothered me the few times I heard them very loudly and drunkenly arguing at odd hours of the day and night) at least half a dozen different neighbors in and out of the apartment below us, the garbage dump/rummage lot behind our unit, numerous inconsiderately loud neighbors, the trailer park next door along with the obscenely loud mariachi music often heard well after appropriate hours, random gunshot blasts with some sounding way too close for comfort, and Mr. Grumpy and Mrs. Grumpier on-site managers. 

It was Father’s day weekend when we got that infamous letter stating that as of August 20th our tenancy was being terminated. Not the 20 something’s below us we had to call the cops on for throwing a drunken 3 a.m. soiree complete with blaring music and marijuana smoke wafting into our apartment through an ever-so-slightly-open window. Not the “Dysfunctionals” (Peggy Bundy and her Son Bud) upstairs with their foul languaged fights and banging and stomping and music so loud our walls vibrate. Nooooo, of course not! That would make sense, and sense isn’t common at Malibu East.

We complained, and complained, and complained. There were times where we didn’t complain. Lots of times. But who’s counting anyways? Certainly not the managers, or property owners. If this complex was run professionally, we would not be the ones being made to leave. The nice, keep-to-ourselves family with 4 young children. It’s hard not to feel slighted in this situation. It’s hard not to feel singled out and bullied.

It’s also hard not to ponder the reason why? I mean for 4 years we lived here sans one complaint from anybody. Then in May I received that fateful phonecall. The beginning of the end. It was at 10:30 p.m. I was at work cleaning the gym. It went to voicemail. As I listened to the message wondering who was calling me at such a late hour, my jaw hit the floor! 

It was Mrs. Grumpier saying that she had now received noise complaints from all 4 of our surrounding neighbors over a period of 2 weeks time (2 weeks and we are just now hearing about it??) She continued demanding that Curtis and I needed to knock off the yelling and arguing and banging or they were going to have to call the Sheriffs. WTF? This was the very first time in 4 years I was hearing about any complaints made regarding our family!

I called back getting Mr. Grumpy and I told him I was at work so it wasn’t us yelling and fighting. (I mean I can yell pretty loud but even my big mouth can’t be heard from 5 miles away!) So he very grumpily replied he would get dressed and go over to our unit to see what was going on then promptly hung up on me! He had a brief convo with Curtis mumbling something about it probably being the upstairs neighbor (Peg Bundy from Wisteria Lane). 

So we met with the managers a few days later per our request to figure out the problem and solve it! We weren’t looking to fight, or prove our idiot neighbors wrong. We just wanted to get to the bottom of it all and fix our end of it. We have 4 kids! Four kids that deserve a stable home to live in.

In the midst of our little meeting with the Grumpersteins, the Mrs. began channeling her inner Dr. Phil and began telling Curtis and I how to be a parent! I kid you not! We have a 4 year old. She gets loud. She throws tantrums. She jumps. She screams. She’s four fucking years old! This ain’t a monastery you’re running here lady! Nor is it my therapist’s office the last time I checked. But that didn’t stop the woman from telling us that kids that age just mimic their parents. We need to be tougher. Like she was as a Mom. Thanks for the advice oh wise one!

Oh, and she didn’t stop there. Giving us parental advice was just the tip of the iceberg. She went on to accuse us of fighting loudly enough one morning at 5:00 a.m. that she heard us while walking her dog. She was 100% certain that it was us. She could see our bedroom light on. Oh I’m sorry, totally my bad. I mean if she saw a light on in our bedroom then of course we were the culprit! Duh! And if she was so certain that it was indeed us then why the “F” didn’t she call us, or knock on our door? My guess to that answer is because she is full of shit! 

First of all, we’re the lazy type who hit the snooze button 50 times before dragging our butt’s out of bed! And that’s never earlier then 6 a.m! Second of all we’re a family of 6 with 4 kids living in a 2 bedroom apartment. The living room is our bedroom! That light she saw would’ve been the girls’ night light. I tried convincing her of the truth, but apparently she’s too delusional to handle the truth! 

The next thing we were told had me fighting back tears. She told us that apparently a few of the neighbors went above them and wrote a letter to the company that owns the complex. At that point I interrupted her and asked her where that left us and our fate as far as our tenancy was concerned. 

They told us to try and be mindful of our noise (um I thought we always had been which is more than I could say for our neighbors) and they assured us that they would patrol the area near our unit and pay close attention to any noise and where it was coming from. And that was pretty much it! They never followed through with their promise. In fact after all of this went down we saw them less than we ever had before!

So Curtis and I went home and had a chat with the kids. We told them all that we needed to be extremely careful about our noise levels. Curtis also installed some insulation material on all of the doors and cabinets to prevent any slamming. We took our warning very seriously. With 4 kids, less than stellar credit and basically one income, we knew if we had to move that finding a place we could afford in this area would be near impossible.

Sure enough about a week later we got a letter from the property owners stating that we had complaints about our noise levels. Of course it stated that if it continued it could affect our tenancy. We were franticly reminding the kids to be quiet. Even during the day when our 4 year old was playing normally and running around we would tell her to stop. Apparently we weren’t tough enough as I’m sure our parenting expert Manager would have told us.

The day before Father’s Day we got our letter telling us we had 60 days to vacate our apartment. As much as we despised living there at that point, we were devastated! We knew what we were up against as far as finding a new place to live. Being that Curtis’s Son has Crohn’s disease which can be very debilitating and exacerbated by stress, we talked to a legal aid lawyer about requesting “reasonable accommodations.” This was to basically try and buy us some time to be able to find a place to live. The lawyer told us that they had to comply by granting us at least some extra time. I wrote up a short and sweet professional letter requesting an additional 90 days and mailed it through certified mail.

A week later we got a letter back that mentioned nothing of our request but reiterated the move out date of August 20th. And that’s all she wrote! So tonight is our final night at this shithole we have called home for over 4 years! Glad to be getting out of here for sure, just not thrilled about the way it has ended. We were treated unethically. The whole thing just felt like a conspiracy to get rid of us. It was handled in a very unprofessional manner.

What’s really funny is that when we signed our 12 month lease in May of 2012 Mrs. Grumpypants specifically told us about the idiot living above us and her 17 year old Son. She said they often got into horrible fights with yelling and cursing. She also told us (so un-grumpishly) to please let them know if it got out of hand and they will talk to her. She also told us that because we had children they would take noise complaints regarding us in stride. She said they totally understand that kids make noise and that that wouldn’t be held against us in any way. Pretty freaking ironic with the way things have transpired right?!

In retrospect, we should’ve taken those comments as a warning to the living situation and lack of professionalism that is now blatantly obvious. But of course hindsight is 20/20. It is what it is. I know bigger and better things await us. But that still doesn’t numb the sting of being treated like a dollar sign. We are human beings with 4 innocent children. 

Sure, kicking us out might enable the company to raise the rent for the next tenants, but what’s a few hundred bucks to a multi-million dollar business? What all of this has done to our family has had a much bigger impact. A very negative stress-inducing hardship. If it weren’t for the fact that we have family that care enough to take us in, we would be a family of 6 living homeless in the streets!

That about sums up corporate fucking America! Profit over people. Always. It just sickens me. So for now our family will be split in half living between family members until we find another place. Not looking forward to being apart and not having our own home, but at least it’s temporary. Good things to come! After all we’ve been through these last few months, karma won’t let us down!

In other news, if anyone is looking for a 2 bedroom 1 bath apartment, #68 at Malibu East on Santa Rosa Ave. Will be available after tomorrow!

I Celebrated My Own Independence On July 4th

July 4th marked 90 days of independence from my 21 year dependency of Marijuana. Sadly, I really don’t feel it is a huge accomplishment. I have had numerous people ask me why I even quit in the first place. As if wanting to live without weed is just crazy!

A “functional addict” is still an addict

I also fall into society’s trap of believing it to be nothing to brag about since it wasn’t like I was sticking needles into my arms. I wasn’t stealing money from loved ones just to be able to afford my next fix. I wasn’t in the ER being revived from an overdose. I get it. From the  outside I seemed to have my shit together. A self-employed Mom with no criminal record who blogged on the side. I was a functional addict. There are many of us out there. Now let me paint you a picture of the deeper layers of Alyson Carsten. Let me explain what I look like from the inside…

I am a tangled web of emotions. Anger, fear, sadness, emptiness, guilt, shame, anxiety and lonliness are always just a memory away. They are my demons trying to keep me down. They often win. Using pot as a coping mechanism was just “something I did” for 21 years. It only worked temporarily. If it wasn’t pot it was food. If it wasn’t food, it was shopping. If it wasn’t shopping, it was cigarettes. If it wasn’t cigarettes, it was pills. I used them all for the same reasons, to cope with uncomfortable feelings. 

It takes lifelong work

Take note that after just 90 days clean I am not some “wonder woman” cured of all her shortcomings and inner turmoil. That is a lifelong process that never ends, because staying healthy takes continuous effort. I still have a lot to learn about productively managing my stress, I still have a ways to go to figure out this whole self love and acceptance thing, and I still have the rest of my life knowing that if I don’t stay a step ahead of my addiction(s) they can take hold and drag me back down before I can even scream for help. 

Once an addict always an addict

Addiction doesn’t go away. It can only be kept at bay through learning to live a whole new lifestyle. The drug of choice doesn’t make a difference when viewing the bigger picture. That bigger picture is where the addiction stems from. Though we are all unique individuals with different circumstances that drive us to addiction, the core reason is always the same. Addicts use their addictions as a method to escape and cope. Weed, narcotics, food, shopping, cigarettes, and the internet are all ways I escape and avoid feeling feelings! I also use these things to cope with my depression and anxiety. 

When we don’t know how to identify or cope with our emotions in a healthy way, we turn to addictions to suppress and numb them. Emotions are scary enough to stable people. To addicts they are utterly terrifying!

It takes support

So I go to meetings weekly, see a counselor, meet with my Sponsor and work the steps. It isn’t something that can be done alone. It takes a village…of support! I am very grateful for the amazing support system that I have.

 I often have to talk myself into going to the meetings due to my social anxiety, but after every single one I drag myself to I am grateful that I did. I always leave filled with love and inspiration. I often hear stories much more harrowing than that of my own. This is so inspirational. And it fills me with gratitude that they are willing to share their experiences to help others.

It takes doing what you’ve never done before

I am also learning how to ask for help from my higher power. That is something I am not at all used to. I am not religious. I identify myself as more of a spiritual being. I believe in a force greater than myself, I am still just not sure how I interpret what that power is. This new way of living my life is a huge learning process. Faith has never been part of my behavioural repertoire before now. It is all very foreign, yet so fascinating at the same time.

Nothing worth it comes easy

Knowing that I am not alone on this challenging, yet amazing journey to a happier-healthier-substance free-ME makes all the difference between winning and losing the fight. I have a lot of love in my life to be present and grateful for. And I have a lot to be proud of as well. I often don’t give myself the credit I deserve. That is another thing I am working on. The most important thing is that I am moving forward. It isn’t a race, it is a lifelong process that takes continual effort. It isn’t easy by any means, but it is beyond worth it!

I was Raped and you Might Have Been too

*Warning…explicit content. This is a very personal experience that I have been aprehensive to share about. I am doing it in the hopes of helping another woman find her voice too. Please be kind with comments/responses. Thank you!

Rape is any sexual activity in which one person doesn’t give their full consent from the start, wants to withdraw their consent after giving it, or is incapable of giving consent in the first place.

In my particular case, consent was never given. I was 19, he was 29. It was our second date. I wasn’t planning on having sex with him. We were parked making out in my car. He went down on me, then coming back up just pulled it out and the next thing I knew he was inside of me. He didn’t even give me the chance to say no. No condom. No choice. No respect.

I didn’t know what to do. I thought about telling him to stop, but he was a big guy of 200 plus pounds. I was barely over half that. I knew I wouldn’t be able to fight him off. 

I was also just out of an abusive relationship both physically and emotionally. A relationship where I had been forced into sex on numerous occasions. That in itself is an example of rape that many refuse to accept. My self esteem was at an all time low. It even occurred to me that I never said “no” so maybe it was my fault.

Soon it was over. He pulled out to ejaculate. How thoughtful of him. Worried of course about fathering an unwanted child, but not of a woman’s right to have a say whether he puts his dick in her or not. Not to mention the potential for STD’s. Why not just use a damn condom? Probably because that would have given me enough time to tell him “no.”

Understandably I never talked to him again after that. Not even when he called me later that night to make sure I made it home safely. Really?! Nevermind the fact that he violated my most precious right just a couple of hours earlier! I let it go to voicemail. He called a few more times after that, but I was disgusted by the guy and wanted nothing to do with him. He acted perplexed as to why all of a sudden I was ignoring him. After all he had a great time that night.

I will never forget it. I have played it over in my head a million times. Different ways I could have handled it, different ways it could have turned out, how I might be different today had it not happened…all thoughts that have echoed in my mind these past 18 years. I wonder if he has done it to other women? How many? Did they tell him no? If so, did he become violent?

Every sexual violation causes wounds

I know for a fact that it has had a lasting effect on me. I wouldn’t still think about it so often and so analytically almost 20 years later if it didn’t have an impact. I’m sure it has effected me on deeper subconscious levels that I’m not even fully aware of. Just because it wasn’t the stereotypical image painted by society of what rape looks like, it doesn’t make it any less damaging. It doesn’t in any way shape or form make it ok! I didn’t say “yes” and that means “no!”

There is no excuse for rape

It does not matter what a woman is wearing, if she is flirtatious, drunk, on drugs, or passed out. Her body is her body!! If a man doesn’t get a “yes” then that always means “no!!” Always!!! If those rights are violated then consequences must be had by the perpetrator. And not a slap on the wrist with a “boys will be boys” or “she was asking for it” excuse to negate responsibility either. I don’t care if you’re rich or poor, black or white, muslim, christian, gay, or straight….no fucking means no!! Whether it is verbal or not! Whether it is before intercourse, or during. If there isn’t obvious continual mutual consent then it is rape. Period!

It is very possible that the guy thought it was consensual. We were making out in a parked vehicle, then he began performing oral sex on me and before I knew it he was penetrating me and we were having intercourse. Maybe he thought I wanted it as so many men say as their defense in a date rape situation. Just assuming something is never the same as knowing something, and should never be allowed as a valid defense.

Sure, I did make some really stupid and dangerous choices that night as well as many others during my teenage years. I’m lucky I didn’t end up dismembered in the guy’s freezer. I take responsibility for my choices that night, but I’ll be damned to weigh down my shoulders with the responsibility of his stupid choices that night as well. And for the record it is always, always a man’s choice where he puts his penis!

We live in a very gender biased nation. Rape culture is prominent in our society. A term coined by feminists in the 1970’s, Rape Culture refers to the minimalism of sexual violence and the objectification of women in our society. 

It is victim blaming, while the true guilty party never sees the inside of a jail cell. It is men thinking It is ok to harass women on the street. It is the media portraying women as objects of sexuality.  It is the notion that women are “asking for it” by wearing certain things, or acting in certain ways.  It is men getting high fives for getting “laid” and women being called sluts for the same damn thing!

Giving rapists minimal consequences allows rape to continue

All of this behavior, all of these beliefs allow men to continually violate women and suffer minimal to no consequences for their actions.  This is why so many women suffer in silence.  This is why 2 out of 3 sexual assaults go unreported. This is why women often feel ashamed, and blame themselves when they are sexually violated.  This is why for so many years I wasn’t sure if what happened to me even constituted rape. By definition I was raped, by public opinion it’s a hung jury.  

Today I am the Mother of a 4 year old little girl and Stepmother of a ten year old girl.  I worry for them growing up in a male driven society.  I worry that my Stepdaughter at ten already loves makeup, wants to wear a bra, and talks about having a “boyfriend” at school. I worry that the women they look up to are pop stars that dance provocatively, wearing next to nothing, singing about sex. I worry that one day they too will be faced with a situation similar to mine, or worse. 

The only thing I can guarantee them is knowledge.  Because men aren’t taught about not raping women, women have to be taught about how not to get raped.  I will arm my Daughters with the knowledge that they are worthy of respect. That their body is theirs and only theirs, and that nobody has the right to do anything to it without their consent.  Nobody!  Not even a date, not even their boyfriend or Husband.  

I also happen to be the Mother of a 13 year old boy, and Stepmother to a 14 year old boy. I will teach them that they never ever have the right to take advantage of a woman in any situation.  I will teach them to respect women in every way possible.  My Son and Stepson will be the guys protecting women from rape by being an example of men with dignity and conviction.  Examples of what every man should stand for.

What happened to me that night 18 years ago shouldn’t have happened.  It shouldn’t happen to anyone.  Sadly it happens a lot more often than we are aware of.  This needs to not be a normal occurrence.  This especially needs to not be something that women are ashamed of talking about!  That will never allow this atrocity to be overcome.  

Women need to band together and stand up for one another.  Men need to stand up for us too.  Because every time rape is brushed under the rug, ignored, or kept silent all together it is allowing it to continue!  And every time a rape is committed, which in this country is every 2 minutes, it is happening to someone’s Mother, someone’s Daughter, someone’s Sister, Aunt, Cousin, or friend.  It is happening to a human being.  It happened to me, and maybe it happened to you too.

If you have been the victim of rape, abuse, or incest you can get help. Call the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN) at (800) 656-HOPE

https://www.rainn.org/about-national-sexual-assault-telephone-hotline

5 Reasons I Like Animals More Than People

I have grown up with animals in my life at all times. As a baby, our Siamese cat Cozy slept snuggled up next to me in my crib. At 3, our Collie Heather was my pillow and protector. At 12, I lived on a horse ranch spending countless hours grooming and riding my horses.

As an adult, I have worked as a Veterinary Receptionist and Assistant. I have also owned a pet sitting and dog walking business for 10 years now. I don’t think it’s any secret that animals are one of my main passions in life! I usually like them more than people. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Animals are loyal to a fault
While humans are very good at proving that loyalty often comes attached with conditions, animals prove that being loyal to their humans can often be detrimental to their own well being. People will abandon other people simply out of convenience, or for their own selfish needs. Animals More often than not will stay loyal to people even through physical abuse or neglect. Animals rarely turn on their human families. I wish I could say the same for some of my human family members!

2. Animals love unconditionally
Animals don’t care if we are poor, fat, ugly, popular, college educated, what color our skin is, if we believe in God or not, are gay or straight, if our house is messy, or even if we are homeless. Animals are not judgmental assholes. That would be people! Animals love us because we love them, plain and simple.

3. Animals are always happy to see us
It never matters how we left things at our last departure, as it often does with people. My cats and dog always greet me as if they haven’t seen me in weeks! Granted sometimes their food dish just needs refilling, but none the less they always at least pretend well that it’s me they are happy to see and not just a human food dispenser!

4. Animals are very emotionally aware
I am not talking about their emotions sillies, I am talking about our emotions! Even when my significant other appears clueless or my kids are too busy bickering to notice, my cats and dog seem to have that controversial sixth sense when it comes to deciphering my complex web of emotions. When I am feeling sad or overwhelmed they are always first on the job to cheer me up!

5. Animals make fantastic therapists
Because animals do not speak in a language that we understand, as well as speak far less than human blowholes they make the best therapists! Sometimes we just need ears to listen, and soft fur to soak up our tears. More often than not, humans feel the need to give us advice and tell us how to live our lives. Animals just listen sympathetically, and lick away our tears. Sometimes they even act as comedians making us laugh away our worries!

So there you have it, 5 reasons I like animals more than people. I’m sure I can come up with several more, but I don’t want to offend any people I know. See, another one right there….it is much harder to offend animals than it is people! Ok, I’ll stop now.

34 Days strong!

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Here I am 34 days strong! I spent my first 4/20 celebrating sobriety instead of weed in over 20 years! I received my 30 day chip Thursday night!!! Very proud of that!! I have an amazing sponsor, and I embarked on my step journey on Friday!! I am learning new things about myself thanks to my new found clarity, and I am feeling again. I feel more human, and less like a zombie every day!

I have certainly had some pretty tough moments as well. When you’re used to numbing out when anxiety and stress take hold of your mind and body, having to feel overwhelming sensations and emotions can be excruciating! And so frightening!!

Speaking of frightening, overwhelming, and anxiety (oh my!)…since childhood I have been extremely shy. It has caused me an abundance of stress in my life. I got teased and shamed not only by cruel kids, but by family as well. So closing up to the outside world kept me “safe.” Rejection was absolutely terrifying to me. It still is.

To fully live life and embrace opportunity, we must move beyond our comfort zone and face our fucking fears!!! Well to do that personally, it means speaking in uncomfortable situations. At my MA meeting Thursday, on a challenge given to me by my sponsor I did just that!! I shared!! And I even lived through it!  I know the more I do it the easier it will become. Just like anything else in life.

I am so grateful that I have made this choice. I am most grateful that I don’t have to go it alone. Between the support of the group, and my sponsor as well as the inspiration of the success stories, i know that I can do this!

One Week

Today marks one week of sobriety for me from Marijuana. It’s crazy to think that only 2 weeks ago nothing terrified me more than quitting my 21 year addiction to my steadfast friend and safe haven. Now here I am a week into life without my old friend. I’m still here, and I’m still ok.

It’s been challenging, but life without challenges isn’t very fulfilling. Getting high to numb emotional pain is like treading water. You may not drown, but you definitely aren’t moving forward either. It’s like being stuck with no hope of moving on to bigger and better things.

I refuse to hinder my life progress any further. I am finally sick and tired of being sick and tired. More so than I am ok with just being numb. This is the biggest escape from my comfort zone that I have ever made. Not having my “pacifier” when anger boils over, or stress becomes too much to bare is extremely difficult. Though difficult, I have learned it is still doable. As the saying goes: “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”

I have made some tough choices in my life, as well as endured some difficult circumstances. The difference in those cases is that I had my coping mechanism right there to help me through the thick of it. Now I have to learn a whole new way of coping, and a whole new way of life.

My therapist is a tremendous help in that department. He has taught me grounding exercises, as well as breathing techniques to bring me back into the present moment. Being new at all of this, I am still struggling to utilize them every time I need them, but like everything else in life It takes practice and patience.

As far as physical and mental changes thus far….I have been tired, moody, irritable, less hungry (duh!), dreaming again (love this one!), stressed, and best of all more confident in my ability to accomplish anything I put my mind to!!

Have I had urges? Of course!! I wouldn’t be an addict if I didn’t. But I now know that I am in control of my actions and choices and not my emotions and impulses. Man that’s a great feeling…. I am in control of my life! Wow! For an addict, that means more than the best fucking drug induced high in all of the world!

I will always be an addict, and I will always have to remain dilligent with my coping skills, emotions, and stress levels to keep moving forward and to not slide down that slippery slope into a relapse. I will always need to be compassionate with myself, as self-hate is what brought me down this road to begin with.

I am on the track to lifelong recovery. I have an amazing support system with my Fiancé, best friend, kids, therapist, family, and of course the tribe at my MA meetings. I love them all for loving me unconditionally, and believing in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. It’s all onward and upward from here!

It’s Been 5 Days…

I haven’t smoked pot in 5 days. I attended my first MA meeting Thursday. I am learning to live a whole new life as a whole new me. I ain’t gonna lie…it’s been tough. Pot has been a part of my life for longer than it hasn’t. I am 37 and I started smoking it when I was 16.

I have had cravings. I am moody. Crying one minute, totally fine the next. I have been irritable on and off. I’m tired, and stressed out.

But it hasn’t been all bad either. I have started remembering my dreams again. I have confidence in myself for letting go of something so much a part of me. I have higher hopes, and bigger dreams for my future. AND best of all I haven’t binged on food since quitting.

This is all so far out of my comfort zone, that I KNOW it will change my life for the better. One day at a time, one hour at a time, one step at a time.

Goodbye Mary Jane

Dear Mary Jane (aka: weed, pot, ganja, bud, green, and myriad other terms of “endearment” I have coined for my beloved Marijuana)….

We have been involved now for over 20 years, but I think it is time that we parted ways for good. Don’t get me wrong I have enjoyed our time together very much, but even good things must have an end.

Let’s face it, our time together hasn’t been all good either. Sure, you were there for me at difficult times when I thought the emotional pain would break me if I didn’t inhale your comforting clouds of calmness, but you only helped me temporarily.

By always being there you allowed me to become numb to my pain instead of working through and overcoming it. That sounds like more of a hindrance than a friend. You have always enabled me to avoid my core issues by putting me in a trance of apathy.  I know you always meant well Mary Jane, but even the best of intentions have consequences.

We had our fun too….toking it up at concerts, and parties. Eating pot filled brownies and baking “green” cookies. Enjoying you with friends and family. And of course you were always the most successful when it came to bringing me down from my paralyzing anxiety attacks.

I am going to really miss you for a little while. I’m going to crave you at stressful times. I am going to have to use alternative methods to soothe myself when the shit hits the fan. I am pretty much going to be living a whole new life without you in it.

Am I scared? You bet your bong I am! But I am also so freaking excited for what my new Mary Jane free life has in store for me. My possibilities are endless! Clarity, energy, motivation…oh my!!!

I will have to feel again. I can no longer use you to escape my life. At 37 it is time I start living instead of hiding. It is time to start experiencing things with a clear head as opposed to a foggy, dazed and confused one. It is time I am born again as an EX pot head!!

And so Mary Jane, we have danced our last dance. Thank you for all of the fun, and memories that I will cherish forever. But I don’t thank you for the “enabling” of avoiding my life. It is time for me to grow up, and stand up for my well being. To do that I must leave you behind. I wish you well, and hope there are no hard feelings. Take care!

Your former fan,
Alyson

So What?!

I can be selfish. I am Moody. I speak my mind. I talk about politics. I have even been called the “B” word. So what?! I’m a human being. I never claim to be perfect. Far from it. But I’m ME! Why shouldn’t that be good enough? Why should I apologize for being myself? Who is anyone else to judge my character?

Everybody wants others to be nothing but positive and happy all the time. Negativity seems to cramp everyone’s style. To that I say “get off your high horse and welcome to reality!!” If you don’t like negativity then stay away from it. Don’t berate people who are negative. Don’t make fun of them, and don’t blast them on social media!!

The world is made up of so much diversity. That includes personalities. Some people are more inherently negative than they are positive. Does that make them a bad person? Does that make it ok to speak poorly of them? I don’t think so. Maybe that’s because I am often one of those “Negative Nelly’s” that I am referring to.

I have grown up being put down and judged unfairly due to certain facets of my personality. One of those facets being negativity. Because of this hurtful treatment I have always secretly put those of my opposite characteristics (bubbly, glass-half-full, happy-go-lucky types) on a pedestal. I have always felt that there must be something wrong with me since I am often told that my negative attitude needs adjusting. Ever since I was a child. And it wasn’t just school yard bullies that didn’t “approve” of my negativity, but family as well. Negative family at that!! Interesting how easy it is to call the kettle black!

I have been told to “smile” I don’t even know how many times. Each time it hurts just the same. Each time makes me not only not want to smile, but to wipe the smug little smile off the schmuck telling me to do so! Here’s Some great advice from a well known country western legend: “Mind your own business, and you won’t be minding mine!” Yes, even Hank Williams knew better! For anyone to think that they have the right to tell anyone else how to be is beyond arrogant.

Nobody knows what someone might be going through in their personal life. You might tell someone to “smile” who just lost a loved one. You might blast on social media how people need to stop being so negative all the time. Someone like myself might read it and be triggered by memories of being berated during childhood. My point being, we are all so different in so many ways. One way doesn’t have to be better than another. One way doesn’t deserve to be treated in an inferior fashion just because someone doesn’t agree with it. We are all doing our best. If my best isn’t good enough for someone else, so what?!

I totally understand that being around negative people for long periods of time can be exhausting and unpleasant. That is the exact reason negative people tend to have few friends. We aren’t popular. We aren’t social. But we aren’t necessarily hermits either. We aren’t trolls or gremlins. We can eat after midnight (though it does go straight to our thighs!) and we usually don’t bite!

So please stop treating people as if having a bad day, or even a negative attitude isn’t allowed. We never know what others are facing in their lives.