What is the good?



I’m going to be one “those” people today. The one who posts on Facebook, “Worst. Day. Ever!” But then never actually tells you what happened when you ask. I’m going to be super vague and share that I had a flashback of a childhood memory over the weekend but I’m not ready to share what that memory was, and honestly I don’t know that I ever will. So, yeah, I’m going to be that chick.

However, I’m not going to be that chick because I’m seeking attention. Rather as a way to say that while I know I have a long journey ahead of me to heal from the memory, I also discovered what a fucking rock star my husband is. Yeah, I said it. A fucking rock star. Because while I was an emotional puddle in the kitchen (again in the kitchen…what is it about that room?), he was my emotional rock.

His recovery has amplified his listening skills and his ability to empathize to such amazing levels, I am truly astounded. And blessed. Not only did he hold my hands, wipe my tears, and listen while I wept and shared my memory; he offered words of wisdom and insight too. Things he’s learned from his own recovery.

For me, it was another reminder of why I stayed with him through all the turmoil of his sex addiction. His recovery, my recovery, and our recovery together was what made this weekend’s discovery a bit easier to navigate.

While it’s easy to say, “what good is it?” because whenever I think I’m done digging through the muck of my traumatized brain another hurt reveals itself, I’d rather say, “What is the good?” And here it’s definitely my husband. My hero. Because this time, I have him here to lean on while I process through all of my emotions. I know I don’t have to go through this hurt alone. How cool is that?

 Who's your hero? Do you know someone on Facebook who posts something dramatic but never tells you what's actually wrong?

I Guess I Really Do Have Free Time - IWSG Post


 

I hope when the groundhog pokes his head out tomorrow he won’t see his shadow so spring will be on its way. I’m tired of the cold. Hubby on the other hand wants it to stay chilly. On the plus side, it is the first Wednesday of February and that means it’s time once again for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.



The last few weeks have been touch and go on my writing. I’ve been writing, but not doing much for my books. I’ve been writing more for my program and a bit for the groups I volunteer for.  Add in work and migraines and that doesn’t leave much time for my novels.  I’m not worried though. Again, no deadlines in my world. I write because I like to, not because I have to.



The question of the month is: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?



I wish I could be profound and say something like, “Well, I find that characters don’t have enough depth.” Or, “I figured out the twist in the plot one quarter of the way through the book.”



But really, the biggest change has been my decrease in time to read for pleasure. The spare time I have, I prefer to write than to read. Sure, I carry books with me. Yes, I’m that person…the one who likes a paperback over a Kindle….but I’m not out and about that often or in long enough spurts to knock out an entire book in one sitting.



And unfortunately, with my migraines, most of my downtime is spent watching mindless television. I joke about reality TV but the reason I watch it is because it takes zero effort to understand it when I’m in pain.



My biggest change the last several months has been a direct result of what happened with my youngest child last summer.  In an effort to help them get through the bouts of depression and to help manage the anxiety, I’ve read several books on PTSD (who would’ve thought the person who wrote a book on Relational Trauma would now be reading even more books on PTSD for teens?) 



This has proved to me that if I want to make the time to read for pleasure, I can. That I really do have free time. It’s a matter of shifting my priorities around and figuring out what’s more important? Writing, reading, blogging, etc.



What about you? Are you hoping the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow so spring is on its way? How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?



Scheduling Note: I’m working today so I’ll be by to visit either this afternoon or tomorrow. Happy IWSGing!

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It's a chance to talk about our fears and doubts, or inspire others by sharing our success and happiness.  We’ve got a great bunch of people in this group and we’d love to have you join in on the fun too.  A big thank you to it's creator, Alex J. Cavanaugh.
 
Don’t forget to stop by and say hello to our fantastic co-hosts: Misha Gericke, LK Hill, Juneta Key, Christy and Joylene Buter.

And a thank you to: sitehoundsniffs.com for their kind shout out to my blog. Muchly appreciated. 





Black Mirror



As someone who has to deal with migraines at least once a week, I find myself Netflix and chilling a lot. No, wait. That means something else. I find myself in search of binge-worthy television shows while I rest on the couch a lot.  Yeah, that sounds much better.

I recently finished Nurse Jackie and Shameless and enjoyed them both very much. Must be the addiction aspect that I found so intriguing. Being a recovering addict and being married to a recovering addict and seeing how far addiction can take someone well…it’s humbling.

But last week I wanted to try something a little bit different. I wanted a new genre so I thought I’d give Black Mirror a try when I saw it was trending on Netflix.

I’ve only watched the first few episodes and I’m already hooked. I had absolutely no idea what to expect so when the first episode came to a conclusion, and then the second episode began with a new cast, I was a bit confused and turned to IMDB for answers.

The storyline reads: “A television anthology series that shows the dark side of life and technology.”  Yep. That was exactly what I just watched and enjoyed. And yep, it was pretty bleak but in a get you thinking kind of way, not a geez, now I’m depressed kind of way.

I scrolled down and found the review section. I don’t know about you, but I tend to ignore critic’s reviews. I rarely agree with them. Maybe I’m just not classy enough. I mean, I’m the chick that just finished binge-watching Shameless after all so that tells you a lot about my taste. Devin skipped watching Shameless with me. Too many sex addiction triggers. Or maybe he’s classier than I am?

As I read the user reviews, I found that the majority of reviewers agreed with me. They also enjoyed the show (and helped me understand that each show was meant to stand alone).  The rating on IMDB was 8.9 out of 10. Again, I agree. I thought the writing was good and so was the acting. I love that the series creator, Charlie Brooker, sees that sometimes technology can be seen as a drug in our current society. (Of course, I may be bias because of my hubby's addiction to porn which was fueled by the Internet.)

Brooker says, “If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side effects? This area – between delight and discomfort – is where Black Mirror, my new drama series, is set. The 'black mirror' of the title is the one you'll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, smartphone."

My only disappointment is that there are only nineteen episodes. Really? Say it ain’t so! That means that I’ll be looking for another good show to watch soon. But even more interesting was that Netflix liked the concept so much, they picked up the last twelve episodes. So, maybe they’ll add another season or two before it’s all said and done.

Do you have any good show recommendations for me? Do you like to binge watch shows or do you like to pace your shows out?


The Shopping Cart



Several years ago, I remember listening to one of my favorite talk shows on the radio and the host shared a story about an experience he had with a shopping cart. He had been sitting in his car, maybe he was waiting on his wife to come out of the store, or he had been talking on his phone. Either way he’d been sitting in his car for several minutes and watched as one person after another attempted to pull one cart apart from another, gave up, and than moved on to a free one.

This really piqued his interest. He wanted to know what was so difficult about this one particular cart that kept people walking away from it, so he got out of the warmth of his car and gave it a try himself. He tugged and he tugged and sure enough, that cart was stuck.

Determined he pulled on the cart again, really using good ol’ elbow grease this time. Still no go. Remember, he had no use for the cart, he just wanted to see what all the fuss was about and now that he was here, he was determined to get the job done. Again he tugged on the handle of the cart, applied even more strength, and this time it pulled free of the other cart.

That story has always stuck with me because he didn’t give up. He didn’t throw in the towel and take the easy way out. Sure, it’s just a shopping cart, but for me, at that time in my life, it symbolized so much more. It was my recovery, my healing, my writing, my journaling, my “me” time, and getting back to the basics while I found myself again.

There were so many times that I wanted to say, “This is just too hard for me. I can’t go on,” but that image of the radio host pulling on shopping carts had a way of reminding me that I could keep on pushing myself just a little bit more. Apply a bit more mental elbow grease and get through this so I won’t be stuck like the carts.

The last few weeks I've turned to that mental image again and again. Things at home have been a bit of a roller coaster ride. While it was wonderful to have my oldest child home for the holidays, we had some unfortunate events occur during that time.

The problem with my youngest child and all they're going through as a result of the choices their birth father continues to make is taking it's toll. Counseling isn't helping yet and it breaks my heart to watch my child continue to be in such pain over something they can't control but desperately wants to.

We were also looking forward to sharing the news with everyone that we were going to be grandparents, instead, the family had to break the news of a miscarriage to our oldest on the day before Christmas Eve instead of surprising them with the of the baby. The silver lining in all of this was that the family grew closer in the last few weeks than I thought ever possible and we can look forward to the couple (my middle child) trying again.Very soon.

I'm grateful to have the shopping cart analogy to turn to when I think times are too tough for me to handle. I can remember to give myself that mental kick in the ass that I need. Now, whenever I find two shopping carts jammed together, I think of that radio host’s story and smile, than I do my best to yank those suckers apart.

Do you leave the shopping carts stuck or do pull them apart? Have you heard a story on the radio that inspired you?



It's The Holiday Season! - An IWSG Post


 
Merry almost Christmas and Happy almost Hanukkah! The holidays are officially here and I’ve got the holiday spirit flowing through me. My entire family will be here this year and I’m stoked! While I’m not thrilled our heat is now running all the time because it’s cold out all the time (how long until it’s summer again?), I love having the Christmas tree up and hearing the classic Christmas songs playing in the stores now that Thanksgiving has past. I didn’t dig it when it wasn’t even Halloween yet. C’mon retailers, let me enjoy one holiday at time, will ya?

I’m still in a good place in my writing. I’m not cranking out 1,000 words a day or anything but that’s okay for me. I write at a snail’s pace. That’s who I am. But I still write. I’ve been focusing more on my self-help book than my fictional book, and it’s going well.

I had a concern that I wasn’t going to have enough content to fill an entire book, but the more I write, the more ideas come to mind.  Who knows, maybe I’ll have it done before the year 2017 is over…but I doubt it.

The question for the month: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself in five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

I don’t see writing as a career. For me, it’s two things: a way to help others who have been affected by sex addiction and the trauma it causes and it’s a blast. The writing, not the sex addiction. 😇  I love to create characters and tell their tales. Whether or not any of those books make a ton of money doesn’t matter to me right now. Maybe one day that will be important and maybe that means I’m not a “serious” writer, but that’s where I am right now. Ask this question a year from now and I may have a different answer.

Are you filled with the holiday spirit? Are you in a good place with your writing or a project you’re working on?

Scheduling Note: I’m working today so I’ll be by to visit either this afternoon or tomorrow. Happy IWSGing!

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It's a chance to talk about our fears and doubts, or inspire others by sharing our success and happiness.  We’ve got a great bunch of people in this group and we’d love to have you join in on the fun too.  A big thank you to it's creator, Alex J. Cavanaugh.
  
Don’t forget to stop by and say hello to our fantastic co-hosts:
Jennifer Hawes, Jen Chandler, Nick Wilford, Juneta Key, JH Moncrieff, Diane Burton, and MJ Fifield.


The Gift of a New Perspective


 

I hope all of you that celebrated Thanksgiving, had a wonderful day. We did. It was full of lots of laughter and way too much food. Best of all, I heard from a family member and friend that I hadn’t heard from in a long time, that I thought were lost to me, and I’m very thankful for that.

Last week I found that I did a lot of service work. Not unusual around this time of year. The holidays can be difficult for many people. The common theme was anger and questions of why. Why did the addict betray me by looking at pictures of other women or having online affairs or worse?

I remember the anger, the rage, I felt. I also remember the relentless questions that circled around my brain. The insecurities that they brought to the surface of my brain. They seemed endless. They also seemed unanswerable.

Then a few days after disclosure we were going over a spreadsheet I’d dubbed “The List,” I had an epiphany. As I was entering each person’s name, what happened between them and Devin, and other information I thought I needed to know (trust me, I didn't); Devin said he couldn’t remember a woman even though they’d exchanged emails back and forth for months. Lengthy, detailed, emails that I had imprinted in my brain. It wasn’t until I read her screen name to him that he recalled who she was.

That was a profound moment for me. I finally understood what he’d been trying to explain in the preceding days: he had no emotional connection to these women. No attachment to them whatsoever. She was simply an address to him. Nothing more. An email for his mailbox. It was more about filling an emotional void within him, an emptiness, than it was anything else. It really did have nothing to do with me.

There was nothing I could’ve done to change the outcome. And I had tried just about everything from trying to control him to changing my personality to something I thought would catch his attention...and it never would. And there is nothing that I can do now to change what he does. He is his own person responsible for his own actions.

While the words I had read in those emails crushed my heart and his actions felt like something I’d never heal from, that understanding provided me with a new way of looking at the whys.

It helped me begin to stop taking the addiction so personally. That didn’t mean the hurt went away overnight. It didn’t. Neither did the anger. It did, however give me the gift of a new perspective. And because I’m also a recovering addict, I was able to empathize with his addiction too. I understood the complexities of not being able to “just say no” or “if you loved me you’d stop” because those guilt tactics don’t work, not nearly as well as detaching with love.

The anger took longer for me to resolve. I was angry with a lot of things. It took help from my counselor to see that I was angry with myself and needed to forgive myself before I could even think about forgiving Devin so those feelings of resentment and anger would stop rearing their ugly heads. What I found after those feelings of anger went away was my self-esteem.

Than I found inner-peace and while I want nothing more than to tell people that these things happened quickly, for me they didn’t. For me it took a few years. I was bullheaded, stubborn, and refused to reach out for the help that was out there. My hope is that people I talk to or people who read my book, Steps Along My Shore, won’t make the same the mistakes I did.

How was your Thanksgiving? Do you hold on to anger or do let things slide off your back?


An Attitude of Gratitude



It’s been an emotional week in our home. One filled with many lows and many highs. It’s fitting that next week is Thanksgiving because I have many blessings to be thankful for this year, including the continued gift of my recovery because it allowed me to be by my child’s side while they navigate through their own tough journey. My heart swells with pride at the smart choices they are making to avoid going down the path that I did at their age. That kid is one smart cookie! So while I’d love for my child not to have to go through this problem at all, I’m grateful they have the knowledge and tools to handle it properly.

On that note, here’s my Gratitude List:

  • My Faith:      Without it, I would’ve gone batshit crazy by now. God knows how to keep me reminding me that, “Everything is going to be okay.”
  • My Children: They inspire me and encourage me to keep improving my life.
  • My Husband:  He also inspires me and continues to be my biggest cheerleader.
  • My Health:     While my migraines are still a weekly occurrence, things could be far worse.
  • My Recovery:  It changed my life. While I’m still the same ol’ me at heart, I’m no longer a broken mess. Everyone around me benefits from it.
  • My Job:          It’s nothing fancy or even pays well, but it gets me out of the house and they understand I have a disease. They truly get it. And that rocks.
  • Writing:          I love to do it. I’ll never be rich or famous. That’s not my goal. I do it to help people and I hope in some small way I do.
  • Volunteering:  It does my heart good to give back what was so freely given to me. It’s a good reminder of where I came from and where I can so easily return.
  • My Home:        Not just the house itself but all that we have. The ability to have a home, food on the table, and clothes on our back. We don’t live in luxury, but we live above the poverty line and I didn’t always have the ability to say that.
  • The Beach:      Does this really need an explanation? It’s the sun and sand!

What are you grateful for? Are you celebrating Thanksgiving?
 
(Scheduling Note: I won't be posting next week because I'll be stuffing my face full of food.)

Black Friday…Blackest Friday



 

I was headed to my weekly group meeting last week when it occurred to me that I’ve got a big milestone this year. I’ve been chemically sober twenty-five years. I feel it’s important to put “chemically” in there because I didn’t become emotionally sober until a couple of years ago. Thank God for S-Anon. But this post isn’t about what led me into the rooms of S-Anon or my husband’s sex addiction. It’s about my own drug addiction. So buckle in boys and girls. This post is about to get heavy and very real. Not to mention uber long.

Where I grew up drugs were readily available. Not just in the seedy parts of New York City but also in the back alleys of strip malls in nice neighborhoods. They took less time and effort to get in the 1980’s than an order of Chinese take-out.

I started smoking weed at a young age. It began as something to do on the weekends than progressed to daily use.  By the time I was in high school, the weekends were reserved for harder drugs: acid, mescaline, and mushrooms. And of course drinking.

When I was a senior, I announced to my friends that I was no longer going to smoke pot. I was turning over a new leaf…sort of speak. I decided it was making me too tired and lazy.

There was just one problem though: I was still being verbally abused at home and my mom had added in a touch of physical abuse to the mix. Drugs were a great way to make me forget how much that sucked. Still, I decided no more weed. That led to me saying no more hardcore drugs either! Only drinking on the weekends for this chick. I was what we call in our recovery circles, rationalizing and “white-knuckling” it.

Then, as I was about to walk on stage to get my high school diploma, someone gave me line of cocaine to celebrate. I felt euphoric. My cares melted away. I grabbed my diploma, and snorted another line. Pure bliss.

That was thirty years ago but I still remember that feeling. The way I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a girl full of confidence instead of someone who heard hurtful words just a few hours earlier. Cocaine could make my problems go away. I just needed more of it.

And how lucky did I end up? Not only did I live with a drug dealer, I got my blow for free. On most days at least. All he needed me to do was cook, clean, run some (illegal) errands, and I was rewarded with pure white powder.

I thought my life was good. I attended college, I worked, I partied, I was surrounded by friends. What more did I need? So what; our groceries were usually shoplifted by one stranger or another. The dealer shot bullet holes through the wall to kill the cockroaches he saw on the bathroom wall. My “friends” were people who drifted in and out of the flophouse I called home. My job and school were at risk because I had a habit of not showing up. My family had become a distant memory.

Maybe I wasn’t so lucky after all.

Finally, after being raided, having a shotgun pointed at my head, and seeing my friend’s painful descent into heroin addiction, I left the flophouse. The addiction followed me. I white-knuckled it again. This time I was able to stay clean much longer. That happens when you have the added incentive of a pregnancy.

However, a few months after my child was born, I slipped. It’s an easy time to remember. It was Thanksgiving weekend. We cooked up a storm. We also snorted an excessive amount of blow. Dangerous levels. All while our children were in the other room with the rest of the family laughing and having fun.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized how wired I was. I couldn’t sleep. My child lay on a blanket on the floor at my feet sleeping soundly, while I frantically scraped the last of the cocaine from a scrap of paper and tried to make just one more line. When the baby woke up a little while later, I was still pinging off the walls and realized I was too afraid to pick up my own child. I was too afraid to make a bottle or change a diaper. I knew I had reached my lowest point, I had bottomed out. My child deserved better than what I was able to provide.

Somehow, I made it through. Withdrawals sucked. Again. But I felt like I deserved to feel that shitty. It was the least I could do after putting my child in harm’s way. Although that was twenty-five years ago, I can still see that baby in my mind’s-eye right now and I believe that’s what keeps me sober today. That was how I spent Black Friday twenty-five years ago. Going through withdrawals but it's a cause for celebration in my book.

Happy (almost) Sobriety Birthday to me!
 


On a lighter note: Do you have plans for Black Friday?  As for me, I’ll be staying home…and staying sober.


 
Thank you to all that served and to those that continue to serve. May God keep His watchful eye over you.

I Love Being A Pantser! - An IWSG Post


 
Happy Belated Halloween! I hope you had fun. I did. I love passing out candy to the kids. Especially now that my own kids are too big to go trick-or-treating. I’ll have to wait for grandkids before I can enjoy that again. Although, now that I think about it, there was a lot of whining towards the end of the night. Oh wait, that was me wanting their candy...never mind.



I’m in a good place in my writing so I’ll just answer the question of the month:



What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?



I’m a pantser so my favorite part is the beginning stages of writing when my characters are just beginning to take shape. I love to hear their voices chime in my head as I write. I can picture them as their character develops and the plot starts to unfold. One moment they aren’t an important piece to the puzzle, the next they’re a star player. For me, that’s the best part of the journey.



I’m finally learning to do a rough plot line as I go along. Nothing too strict, I like the freedom to just go with it, but I’ve learned the hard way that a basic plot is a pretty good idea to have.



Are you a pantser too? How was your Halloween?



Scheduling Note: I’m working today so I’ll be by to visit either this afternoon or tomorrow. Happy IWSGing!

 
This has been a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It's a chance to talk about our fears and doubts, or inspire others by sharing our success and happiness.  We’ve got a great bunch of people in this group and we’d love to have you join in on the fun too.  A big thank you to it's creator, Alex J. Cavanaugh.


Don’t forget to stop by and say hello to our fantastic co-hosts: Joylene Novell Butler, Jen Chandler, Mary Aalgaard, Lisa Buie Collard, Tamara Narayan, Tyrean Martinson, and Christine Rains!