This is why we can’t have nice things, y’all. It is officially time to call a cab and go home because you are obviously drunk, Internet. Last one online, turn off the lights.
I can hardly believe it but today is my blog’s TENTH birthday. (And I almost missed it.) Ten years I have been coming here and sharing my life with you. Let me put that in perspective a bit.
My oldest son was only 9 years old. Still in elementary school. Now? He has moved out and is living in an apartment with a full time job. He’ll be 20 in 2 months. Whoa.
My middle son was 7 years old. We were still watching animated movies together. He is now a senior in high school. I’m clinging to my time with him.
My daughter was only 2 years old. My little baby girl. Just recently graduated to a “big girl” bed. Today she is in middle school and using social media like a pro.
I was… 10 years younger, 3 years clean, married for 13 years, and thought I would save the world with my blog. Or at least meet amazing people and start a career.
And? I did!
Because of my blog I have met friends that are like family to me. I signed with an agent to publish my book. I have had my columns published in major magazines. I’ve been featured on a national news segment. I’ve been asked to appear of two major talk shows. I have yet to save the world, BUT there are times I feel like I saved myself by having an outlet to write freely.
I don’t know how to thank you, my loyal readers, for sticking with me. Especially after the past few months of writers block. Thanks for coming back. Thanks for reading. And? Thanks for making my dreams come true. Y’all are awesome! Here…have some cake.
I have one brother and one sister. Growing up I wish I had a lot more of both. I had a best friend who came from a family with six kids and I thought that would be cool. Eight is Enough? That show made large families seem fun and full of activity. With three, you play odd man out. I knew when I grew up I would have at least four kids (and probably a lot more) to keep it even and fun. (For the record, I have three kids. When you make plans…)
But what happens if you find out you have 533 kids? That is the premise of a new Vince Vaughn movie DELIVERY MAN to be released this November 22. In the film, Vince Vaughn plays an affable underachiever looking for his purpose in life, when he finds out he’s fathered 533 children through anonymous donations to a fertility clinic 20 years ago. Now he must decide whether or not to come forward when 142 of them want to meet their biological father. As the movie trailer says, “You’re never quite ready for what life delivers you.”
As Vince Vaughn’s character struggles about whether to be a part of these kids’ lives and if so, just how much he should be involved, it comes back around to the question, “What makes a family a family?”
Like I said, I have one brother and one sister that I grew up with my entire life. As an adult, I have made friends that have become like a family to me. Family is not just biology. Family is what you make it. Family is the place you go when you need to be loved and accepted for who you are. Family is your safety net. No longer does the definition of one mom, one dad, and kids fit for family. The basis of all families, true families, is love, not biology.
I love the family I have grown up with and the one I have created with my husband but I also love the one I’ve created with the people I have met over the years who have become family. I am grateful for each and every one of them. However, I am also very grateful I am not one of 533 children. That would make Thanksgiving awfully crowded! The movie looks like one that will not only be laugh out loud funny but tug at your heart strings as well.
What is your definition of family? Biology or the people we choose or some amazing combination of both?
I choose both. What do you stand for?
Look! I made it. With all of you and your help and a lot of pacing, nail biting, praying, and taking things one day at a time, I picked up this little gem.
Isn’t she pretty? I want to thank YOU for supporting me. I have so much to share but THIS? This is something I had to share with you immediately.
Today? Today I am grateful. And 13 years drug free.
This time of year is so hard on me. If you’ve been around here long enough, you know this about me. If not, let me explain. You see, on March 6th I celebrate the anniversary of getting clean. From pills. From an addiction that could have killed me. I can’t explain why I get so wrapped around the axle this time of year but it happens and I know it happens to other recovering addicts as well. Today- right now- I am 4,731 days clean. That’s 408,837,070 heartbeats, give or take. (Let’s hope that number continues to rise as you read this.) There is this dark place in the back of my mind that no one likes to talk about that screams at me around this time that I don’t deserve it. It screams I will screw it up. It screams that I am a poser. You’d think with 12 years, 11 months, 11 days and some change, I’d realize that one day at a time does work. But sometimes we get harsh reminders that it doesn’t work for everyone.
I read the headline tonight that Mindy McCready, another addict who struggled and seemed to have one thing after another try to bring her down, died today due to a self-inflicted gun shot wound. Her addiction won. Did she not have enough support? Did she believe the lies addiction tells addicts? Did she feel like nothing would ever be okay? Did she think the pain she felt today would last forever? So many of us addicts have felt those things. Today, it won. Every single time addiction and its demons beat one of us, it shakes me. But for the grace of God go I. I do have support but I am not immune to the lies it tells, the loneliness it brings, the pain that rips through me. I’ve learned to reach out. And when I can’t or don’t, my friends know the signs well enough to reach out to me. I wish Mindy had that.
This year feels harder on me than most others. I have been struggling with chronic headaches. I don’t mean headaches that slow me down. I mean headaches that slam me down in ways that put everything on hold. My life is a constant headache. I have learned to live around them until we can find someone who can find a reason or help me through it. But every few months a migraine comes along that kicks me so hard, I simply cannot do it without medical intervention. They do everything they can for me that does not involve narcotics. But sometimes, that is the only way to break that cycle. And that is the bitch of it.
There is no reason an alcoholic needs to have a doctor give him or her a drink. There is no reason to need to go into a bar and throw back a shot of tequila. But when you’re a recovering pill-head, there are times when there is a medical necessity for pain killers. And each and every time it twists me up inside. When I feel the effects it gives me both relief and heartache. I keep my doctors in the loop so they are very well aware of my situation. Yet, still…
Two weeks ago I had to go into the ER for a migraine. My pain was off the charts and my blood pressure was through the roof. I had to go in. I know the routine. This time I had a doctor I have never met before. After they hooked me up to an IV and gave me a shot for pain, they darkened the room to monitor my blood pressure. I supposed it didn’t help that I was crying. The doctor came in and sat by my bed. She took my hand and talked to me. Actually, talked to me. We talked about the frustration of feeling the pain medicine course through my body. And for once, a doctor gave me permission to not only be frustrated by the situation but in a way gave me permission to be grateful to feel the pain drain away. I have conditioned myself to hate the feeling of the medicine taking over even though it means the pain leaves. For the first time someone sat with me, held my hand, and told me that it was okay to feel relief that my pain was going away. That to beat myself up mentally was counter-productive. She heard me. It’s been so long since a medical professional has actually heard me. It made a difference.
As I laid there and watched the monitors and I finally relaxed, my blood pressure slowly lowered. I had permission to be okay with not hurting. It was okay. I was not slipping. I was not backsliding. I was not “using” for a high. I was helping myself medically. And that was okay.
My name is Jenn and I am a recovering addict. And sometimes, I need medical intervention. And that is okay.
So, if you will, my faithful readers, hang in there with me until March 6th and encourage me to keep going one day at a time then together we can celebrate 13 years. One day at a time (trite as it may sound) will get me there. That and the people in my life who encourage, love, and support me.
5. The day after New Years I welcomed 2013 in with norovirus. The worst 48-72 hours I’ve had in years. But wait! It was a 3 for 1 sale so my youngest and middle son got it, too. My poor husband set himself up in the “playroom” to be central to all the pukers. Yes, he spent two days emptying buckets, bringing Gatorade, and forcing anti-nausea pills down our throats. He wins the award for best in the house.
4. I had extra house guests. My son and his friend moved in (complete with the most awesome dog) and let’s just say that kept me not only busy but entertained. I love a full house!
3. I have been on the hunt for work. I can’t say much but HEY if you want to hire me, let me know.
2. The weather has had the barometer going up and down and up and down and … well, that means my migraines are kicking my ass. I even got a lovely trip to the ER. Rather than the usual routine, my blood pressure decided to go sky high so they got to add extra meds and IV’s. Big fun people. And trust me, though it may be entertaining for me to write on the medicine the hospital gives me, it is wrong for me on so many levels.
And the number 1 reason I haven’t blogged:
1. My son and his friend moved out. Into their own apartment. It is close, so I am blessed. But MOVED OUT. Like his room is empty. And my heart hurts. I have an entire blog post about it but let me just give you a taste with this: Why don’t people talk more about how it hurts when you feel that after almost 20 years, your being phased out of your job? We need to talk about that. And I will. Both here and on Teen Raisers.
SO there you have it. Why I was blogging not like it was 2003 but more like it was 2002. You know, back before this blog in this form existed. So even though I don’t really do Lent (Can you “do Lent??”) I am going to give up putting my thoughts and ideas and such onto Facebook and am going to blog. So, for Lent, I am giving up not blogging.
Are you with me? What are you giving up?
Here is where you would normally find an inspirational New Year’s post all about resolutions and new beginnings. Really? When do I do normal? Instead I am going to embrace the old. To quote my friend Liz of This Full House, I am going to blog like it’s 2003. Back in the olden days where stories were told and if you wanted to know how someone is doing, you had to go read it on their blog not check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc, etc. (Or, you know, call or email them but that is not the point of this story.) Or as Carol of Girl Gone Travel says, It’s time to take back the blog!
When I started blogging way back in the stone ages when we had to use stone tablets and chisel out our posts (or as some people call it 2003), it was an entirely different world. I don’t mean world in the sense of the entire world but in the blogging world. We told stories. We had a community that grew to know each other because we shared stories about life: the funny, the silly, the serious, the real. And things changed. First there was the “OMG ADS!” phase that should have been a peek into what was to come. But oh no! Then the evil “REVIEWS” came along. (SELLOUTS!) But still we wrote. We shared. We ignored the noise. But wait! Then came THE TRIPS! People were sending bloggers on PAID trips to cool places. OMG! That is so awesome/awful/great/evil/coveted/hated. And let’s not forget the BEST LISTS! On blogs it could be somewhat easy to ignore if you wanted to for a while. But then Twitter and Facebook and Instagram (Oh my!) added to the noise. And some of the blogs that had stories I loved to read began to read like one giant paid advertisement. OR the stories were replaced with a short paragraph of “must update so here you go” without thought to content or writing. THE NOISE online became really, really loud.
And none of those things are bad. I am not against any of them or anti-anything (bloggish).
But oh the NOISE.
And really? Let’s be honest. I got lost in the noise. My stories got lost, too. Sometimes because they had to so I could fulfill a commitment. Sometimes because I would update on Facebook and ignore the blog. Sometimes because “Why bother? I’m not getting the fun stuff so pffffft on you!”
But mainly, the NOISE drowned out my voice.
It sounds cheesy, but I really had to step back out of it all and re-evaluate why I blog. Why am I on Facebook? Why am I on Twitter? Instagram? Pinterest?
Because I enjoy them. I really do.
But when I felt like I had to do it all, I got lost in the NOISE.
Looking back at the amazing opportunities I received, they all came from real writing on my BLOG!
I was signed with an agent…because of my writing.
I was invited to Washington DC with Dr. Drew Pinsky to talk to members of Congress…because of my writing.
I was asked to be a long term product ambassador with brands I respect and enjoy…because of my writing.
I was a contributor in two anthologies…because of my writing.
I received a person phone call from Gloria Steinem (complete with her personal home phone number for future use)… because of my writing.
I was asked to write for two national magazine publications… because of my writing.
I interviewed some amazing celebrities… because of my writing.
I was asked to speak several times at a few conferences to share my experience… because of my writing.
I was given the opportunity to meet some amazing authors I admire… because of my writing.
I made some lifelong friends when I shared my life on my blog… because of my writing.
I can go on and on about the wonderful opportunities and jobs I was offered because of my blog writing. Not because of snarky Facebook posts. Not because of 144 characters of charm. Not because of an artsy picture. (Though using those to share my writing help!)
I used to write here for the love of the blog. Then I did it because I felt I needed to write. Then I just didn’t.
But I am turning back the clock. I’m taking back my blog and using social media in the best way I know how to dim the noise and amplify my passion for writing.
FOR LOVE OF THE BLOG!
(Have a favorite post of yours? Share the url in the comments if you want a visit. I want to read blogs, too!)