three years!

My life revolved around death (always on my mind) and drugs (always in my hand) for half my life. Three years ago a group of people surrounded me with love and asked me not to kill myself. They also suggested I stop doing drugs. I totally rejected their ideas, but I was in a hospital and I was weak and hungry and so, so tired. During that time I had the opportunity to speak with other people who shared my story and had come to an end with the only reasonable option being death. Those people are why I’m still here today. They gave me my first honest community that didn’t revolve around drugs — not even weed! Not even alcohol! Over the course of my six months in psychiatric care, I was totally safe to be myself. When I wanted to kill myself I said, “I want to die today,” and nobody locked me in a looney bin (due to the fact that I was already in a looney bin, haha!)  we just talked it out, sometimes for hours into the night, always with honesty — “yeah, life is kinda meaningless,” “yeah, there’s a lot bullshit around here,” “yeah, taxes seem confusing and dumb but they aren’t a huge deal.” 

Today I have a passion and gratitude for life that I try to spread in every interaction I have. Today I woke up and meditated and thanked this universe for my life. Today I’m not going to put drugs in my body so that I can feel less alone and scared. Sometimes life feels lonely and scary. Today I think of my friends who are no longer with us and I feel their love. My life has meaning today, and I get to choose what that meaning is. My life has community today, thanks to Narcotics Anonymous. NA is my foundation and my backbone and my reminder that I always have somewhere safe to go. 

I feel immense gratitude for all the people who have been a part of this recovery journey and for all the people who came before me and have shown me that it’s all going to be okay. My life today is so different than my life three years ago. As I continue to face change, uncertainty, beauty, depression, and hope, I know I’m safe to be who I am. That is the most wonderful thing to know. It’s something I didn’t know until three years ago. So thank you, to everyone who has shown me kindness and acceptance, I wouldn’t be here without you. 

communication and gratitude

This is a long post about love, prepare yourself.

In April of last year, I was very much in love with myself for the first time in my life. I’d been taking myself on dates, writing myself love notes, buying myself flowers. I was treating myself better than any man had ever treated me.

I had a close friend in recovery at the time who called me one day and said, “there’s a wonderful man I need you to meet.”

I wasn’t interested. First of all, this particular friend did not always have the best taste in choosing friends (but he was friends with me, so whatever, I still didn’t trust it). Second of all, he mentioned that this person he wanted me to meet was new to recovery.

I wasn’t interested. Okay, I was kind of interested. Someone called me up and said they have a very handsome man who is perfect for me, how could I not be interested? But, I knew I needed to stay away. For those of you not in recovery, it is super not cool to start romances with people new to recovery – relationships are generally not what they need.

But then my friend brought this guy to a meeting that I went to everyday. It was his first day out of a treatment program. He was cute. I told myself,  “don’t make eye contact, don’t make eye contact.” His name was (is) Jonny. His hair was SO messy. We saw each other almost every day for the next month or so, and we maybe exchanged six words.

Finally, he asked me for my number (over Facebook message) and we started exchanging VERY long text messages. He asked me on a date and when the day came, we rescheduled. It was going to be our first time alone together. I was way too nervous.

I’d spoken to my sponsor and a few friends about my interest in this man and they all said, “proceed with caution.” So I did. We went on a date to see The Grand Budapest Hotel (even though I’d already seen it). I told my friend to tell him not to kiss me on the first date, because I didn’t want to be nervous the whole time. I was nervous the whole time anyway.

During that date I told him, “I like you so far, and I don’t want to invent your personality to fit what I want. I don’t want to imagine you’re someone you aren’t. And I’m not going to change myself to be what you want me to be.” He said okay. And that’s how we started, and we have both stuck to that.

I think I fell in love with him before we ever had a conversation (our first actual conversation was about our mutual desire to travel to Marfa, Texas- we’re finally going there on Sunday). He got a hair cut and one day I told him he was beautiful and that was the only time I spoke to him that week. Maybe that’s when I fell in love with him. Or maybe it was the time at the overlook when we talked about what happens when we die and where we were when we saw the most stars we’d ever seen.

I fall in love with him all the time. We had an off week a few months ago. We were going through some tough stuff and I was dealing with some past trauma and we just did not know how to go through something so scary as a couple. We hardly spoke to each other, and then finally we expressed our very differing opinions to each other and then we both left our apartment for three hours because we didn’t know what to say to each other. That was a hard week. We had to deal with some scary grown up stuff and it was not fun. But every day I felt our love getting deeper. Because we weren’t going to run away, we were going to work through it together. Things get tough, and we hold on tight. And that takes strength, and courage, and humility.

There are things we don’t want to talk about, but we need to talk about. So we talk about it, because we know we need to. And we disagree and we both get stubborn and we start making claims like, “I’ve thought this way forever, sorry that’s surprising to you” even though we don’t really mean it. And then we pause and we watch Friends or give each other a long hug and pick up the conversation again an hour later.

I’ve never been in a relationship where arguments did not involve yelling or cussing or threats to leave. I’ve never had so much fun with a man. I’ve never farted in front of a boyfriend on purpose and then laughed so hard about it. We have tickle fights and inside jokes and date nights and we surprise each other all the time. We express gratitude for each other. We say “thank you” so often, you might think we’re Canadian.

We talk about everything, and we’re always grateful. We know that love like this doesn’t magically happen. It takes attention, and work, and intentional fun. We also know that we’re young. And we have this amazing, rare love. And we are willing to work at it to make it work. I am so glad I have the rest of my life with him.

The last year has been the best beginning to our life together. We have a foundation built on respect, trust, and silliness. I’ve only imagined a love like this, but I never knew it could really exist.

 

 

may overview

I haven’t posted in quite some time. I don’t have a ton to report. I’ve gone over 70 days without a cigarette. I finished my semester at school without any anxiety attacks, which has never happened before. I did it by meditating each morning and eating a full breakfast each day. Those two things made a huge difference, and not once did I feel overwhelmed by anxiety about getting all my work done. I was able to work hard on one thing at a time, without getting swallowed by the whole of what I needed to get done. That feels like a big accomplishment. If I could put emojis on this blog post, I would put the two dancing ladies here.

I now have a bit of a break before my summer courses start, and I have been trying to spend my free time in a way that reflects my values. I’ve spent a bit of time grading papers for a teacher at a high school who I have helped out this semester. I’ve done a lot of card-making, which I had no time for during the school year, so that has been a really nice creative activity.

Yesterday, I decided I want to be an astrophysicist as well as an english teacher (here’s to dreaming big), so I have been following an intro to astrophysics course from Yale on iTunes U (a great, free resource if you want to learn about anything new). The issue with secretly wanting to be an astrophysicist is that I do not enjoy physics or math. However, I’d just like to get enough of a grasp to have a conversation about the universe. I feel very connected to my higher power when I am learning about Dark Matter and exploring my curiosity about how the universe works, so I’m just going to allow that wonder to guide me instead of trying to be an expert.

I finally reached a rock bottom with my financial irresponsibility, but I have so much shame and embarrassment about that issue that I do not want to write anymore about it. I can feel the shame in my stomach and my shoulders just mentioning it here. When I get through it, I will write a whole post about it. For now I’ll just say that I am willing to go to any lengths to change my habits. I started with getting rid (it was stolen) of my debit card and deleting all of my online shopping applications on my phone.

I’ll write another post when I celebrate three years clean in Narcotics Anonymous, I’ll also write another post about my step eight and nine experiences. For now I’ll just say that I am grateful.

The one year anniversary of my relationship with my boyfriend is coming up on Saturday, and that is a huge milestone for us. The way we have done it is through communication and gratitude. Actually, I write another post about our relationship in a bit, that way people who think relationships are dumb can just not read that post.