Posts Tagged ‘sobriety’

New York State of Mind

November 7, 2021

It’s interesting what a little down time and sitting in my bed for, what now, twelve days?

What it will do to your mind.

I’ve been bed bound recovering from a surgery.

Third surgery this year.

Kind of crazy.

I have not had any surgeries in sobriety until this year.

I am no longer afraid of the pain pills or of becoming addicted to that shit.

I do not like them.

No.

I do not.

Ugh.

Gross, wonky thoughts, horrible nightmares, weird mind meanderings, drugged sleep.

Not for me.

When I was out there using and drinking and smoking and fucking around I liked the up all night kind of drugs.

Cocaine was my spirit animal.

This girl liked to party all the time, party all the time, party all the time.

I didn’t like the slow track.

Never have.

Likely never will.

I have a good girl friend who tells me I drive like her step mother.

Now in some vernacular circles that might come across as an insult, not in this case.

Her stepmother was a rally race car driver.

What my friend doesn’t know is that I slow down when I have folks in the car with me.

heh.

Anyway.

I will also add that pain killers, they do work you know.

I have found myself asking for them.

But only right after the surgery.

The first surgery this year happened in early February.

Burst appendix.

Well, it wasn’t burst until I was actually in the ER.

Then it burst.

Guess that’s a lucky place to be if you’re appendix is going to pop, might as well be where it will be taken care of.

I eschewed the pain meds, I said, no thanks, I’m sober, don’t want any, no way, no how.

Except.

Well fuck.

It was surgery.

And coming out of it was excruciating.

Apparently when I came out I still said no to the pain meds on offer, I have no memory of this.

However, after about twenty minutes or so, maybe more, maybe less, it’s hazy, I couldn’t take it.

The nurse who was typing up a note looked at me and said, “honey, you’re dying, let me give you something.”

Tear leaked down my face and I nodded yes.

Oh sweet God.

Was the relief immediate and welcome.

That was the only time I took anything.

I refused the rest.

But after having gone through that experience I realized I could handle surgery.

And not relapse.

Thank fucking God.

I also realized I was tired of my belly.

The loose skin from the weight loss.

Weight loss I’ve sustained for years and years and years now, twelve I think.

I was too old when I lost the weight for my skin to bounce back.

It just sagged.

I have always been self-conscious about it and it was disarming to lose all that weight and then be left with a body I still had to come to terms with.

I think that’s why a lot of folks actually gain the weight back.

The skin is depressing.

I did a lot of work.

I did a lot of praying.

I did a lot of acceptance.

And I had beautiful body experiences.

I have dated men who were stunning.

My ex for sure.

Gorgeous and hyper fit.

And I still felt self-conscious.

Not as much as I used to.

But it would happen.

No matter how many, “thank you God for this beautiful body” prayers I said, I still felt something.

Sometimes is was dismay, like if I hadn’t been messed with as a kid would I have drown myself in a sea of sugar to cope with the feelings that wouldn’t ever leave me.

Add weight to protect myself from the world, from the predatory gaze of men in my family or on the street on in school.

Would I have been just a normal size kid?

A beautiful body to match my beautiful face.

I used to wish that I could just cut off my head and put it on another body.

And yeah.

The work has worked and the acceptance has worked and I’m hella grateful for this body that I have been given to walk around in and ultimately, that it saved me, it took the brunt of the mental and emotional pain I was in and held it for me.

Thanks body.

And.

I also wanted something more.

Something transformative.

Like all my tattoos.

A new story for this body.

A new experience.

The appendectomy and the healing that happened and the focus on that part of my body pushed me to inquire about skin reduction surgery.

I have talked about it for years with my therapist.

I have dreamt about it, if I win the lotto type dreams.

So.

I talked to my GP.

And she agreed.

And she referred me to a plastic surgeon at Kaiser.

And I stood naked in front of a mirror and took 365 degree photos of my body and the sagging skin on my stomach and upper arms and sent a stranger photos.

My first naked selfies.

Probably my last.

And I met with the surgeon and he asked me why I wanted the surgery and I told him my reasons and I told him about all the work I have done and how long I’ve been abstinent and how much I wanted to do it, with tears on my face.

And he said.

“You’re the perfect candidate for this surgery, you really are, you deserve to have this surgery done.”

And he said.

“But your insurance won’t cover it, Kaiser won’t cover a dime of it, believe me, I have fought for this for many a patient.”

He asked me one other question, “does the skin on your belly prevent you from walking?”

Um, no.

And he said unless it was so much skin that it prevented my mobility my insurance wouldn’t cover it.

And he ended with, but I still think you should do it and I’m going to refer you some numbers of colleagues in the Bay, as Kaiser in San Francisco is not doing any cosmetic surgery at the moment due to the pandemic.

I took naked selfies for no good reason.

Ugh.

And for all the right reasons.

I called all the numbers and I got no after no because pandemic, because booked up, because on vacation, blah, blah, blah.

So.

I decided to go out of pocket.

I found my own surgeon.

Dr. Kenneth Bermudez.

And he is special.

He is fabulous.

He was amazing to meet and he’s been a dream to work with.

He was not cheap.

I blew all my savings.

I’ve been saving to buy a house.

But instead I decided to remodel the one I live in.

I also used student loans.

I ain’t gonna lie.

I figure I’ve become a great therapist, I have a full client load, I have a lovely business that I have built and worked on and put my heart into creating.

I can afford it.

I will make the money back.

So we set a date, July 16th, to do a brachioplasty, belt lipectomy, and butt lift.

There were some complications which meant that I had to derail the surgery a bit, turns out I was anemic and the surgeon wouldn’t due the full surgery.

But we compromised.

He did the brachioplasty.

And I’ve been recovering from that, pretty well, too I think.

It’s been rather extraordinary to not have the wings of skin hanging off my upper arms.

My arms are still healing and it was painful to go through the process, but man, it was worth it.

After a month and a half of healing I got an iron transfusion to accompany the plethora of iron supplements I had started taking in July.

And my surgeon set my date for the belt lipectomy for October 26th.

hahahahahahahaha.

Right after my PhD dissertation defense.

Can I just say that whole thing was stressful as fuck.

I successfully defended.

I am a doctor.

Huzzah!

And I pretty much turned right around and started getting myself prepped for the belt lipectomy.

Big ass surgery.

And in hindsight I am grateful that there were complications with the first surgery, I don’t think I could have dealt with both my trunk and my arms being inoperable.

It would have been too much.

So I went in 12 days ago and got it done.

He removed 7lbs.

7lbs!!

Of loose skin and tissue.

Fucking amazing.

I’m still too swollen to see much of a change, but I am excited for getting healed up enough to see the difference.

And wear clothes and buy new clothes.

And walk outside of my house.

I’ve been pretty bed bound for the last twelve days.

But.

I am happy to say.

That once again, I got off the pain meds really quick.

I was on Percocet, which is basically Oxycodone.

I hated it.

I mean.

In the beginning I took it without thought because I was in so much pain.

And I slept a lot, a lot, a lot.

But after my six day post-op follow up appointment I felt ready to titrate off the shit.

I went one more full day on the meds, going longer in between taking the pills.

And I had a plan to wean down and cut the pills in half and be off of them by this past Friday.

But.

Ack.

I remember one night, Tuesday it was, one week after the surgery, where I realized that I didn’t need them and that I didn’t want to continue taking them and I was afraid I would become bodily addicted.

So I stopped cold turkey.

And yeah, it wasn’t fabulous, the first night, Wednesday, was hard to sleep and I stayed up until 3 a.m. watching videos, but I got it out of my system and I haven’t had anything since this past Tuesday.

Four and a half days now.

Just Extra Strength Tylenol, lots of bubbly water, and videos.

Movies, series, cooking shows.

And for some reason.

An awful lot of what I have watched has been set in New York.

I have always wanted to live in New York.

And in some ways I sense it’s a good thing I didn’t when I was till actively drinking.

I think New York might have been the death of me, San Francisco nearly was.

So I never made it there.

I never moved there.

But I have thought of it often.

A brown stone in Brooklyn.

A therapy practice.

Seasons.

Granted.

I know winter there is not the bucolic cinematic scene that I watch cozied up with my fuzzy blankent.

Winters are brutal.

But spring, summer, fall.

Oh, wouldn’t it be nice?

I am nostalgic for a place I have never lived in, though I have visited three times.

And I fit in.

I fit in quite well.

I love the characters, and the character of the city.

I also know it can grind a person down and I know a lot of folks that have moved away.

But there is something about it.

Even now, on the cusp of turning 49 I think about moving to New York.

Though I sense you have to be young to make it in New York and really get established.

I am too old.

I have my one bedroom rent control apartment in Hayes Valley and my office is a five minute walk away.

I have the fog and the cable cars and the trolleys, the ocean, the multitude of beautiful hills and vistas, the Victorians.

Sure.

Yeah.

There’s homelessness and rampant drug use and shit on the sidewalk and some guy in the neighborhood who walks around with a super huge sound system strapped to a rolling cart, but there is still beauty.

So much beauty.

And just like I fit in New York.

I fit in San Francisco.

I’m in year twenty of living here.

So.

I don’t think I’m moving to New York anytime soon.

But there is something there.

A life maybe, running parallel to the one I am in now.

That once in a while I can just see out of the corner of my eye.

So when I’m ready and fully healed up I think it might be time for another trip back.

Which might be a bit yet, I do have to heal and I am going to Hawaii in February for a conference.

Maybe in the summer.

A four day weekend.

A stay at some swank hotel or a cute Air BnB in Brooklyn.

Until then.

I’ll keep watching videos.

I’m still on bed rest.

But I’ll keep the dream alive.

New York, you’re so often on my mind.

You Have My Thoughts

January 25, 2021

An old friend reached out to me yesterday.

We talked for a long time.

We have been friends for a bit over fifteen years.

He was so effusive about how my life has turned out and all of the challenges I have faced to get to where I am.

“I know what you did, it’s amazing, you pulled yourself up from literally nothing and worked harder with constraints that few people I know would have been able to get through,” he said.

He witnessed me in my first year of sobriety when I literally had nothing, could barely make the rent, even cheap, rent controlled rent, barely had money for food, let alone a bus pass or taxi cab.

He took me everywhere.

He had a scooter and a convertible Mercedes Benz.

I was either on the back of that scooter or I was in the passenger seat of that Benz all the time.

We were joined at the hip.

Everyone.

EVERYONE.

Thought we were dating.

But nope.

Nary a kiss, never a date, nothing.

Although we would do things that if I was witnessing others do, especially a man and a woman, I would think, oh yeah, they’re totally together.

He took me out to lunch and dinner all the time.

He bought me clothes.

I was so broke in my first couple of years of sobriety, so broke.

He took me out dancing.

We both loved to dance.

We saw djs all over the city.

Sometimes we would just drive around in his convertible with the top down and blast music and find spots to dance–Twin Peaks, the little cove down by the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, random parking lots in the SOMA, Treasure Island.

It was a night out at Treasure Island, with no fog and a warmer than usual temperature, the city across the bay sparkling and magic, that I asked him after we had been dancing in the headlights to music and had collapsed back into the car to drink water and catch our breaths.

“Why aren’t we dating?” I asked.

He paused.

He was quiet for a long time.

He said, “well, I mean, I guess I could see you giving me a blow job, but where would it go after that and we’re such good friends, I mean, it just doesn’t seem worth going there.”

I punched him in the arm, “you could see me giving you a blowjob?!”

“Well, yeah, I mean, you know, you’ve got a great mouth,” he replied and grinned at me.

“Yeah, good luck with that,” I said and looked back out over the water.

I never gave him a blow job.

We stayed friends.

Thick as thieves.

And life happened.

Life happens.

My best friend died, he know I had a crush of sorts on my friend, and would tease me once in a while about that, but also in a way that didn’t really razz me up.

When Shadrach died in General Hospital someone reached out to my friend and said, “come and get Carmen and take her out and feed her.”

I was shellacked.

I had been in that ICU by Shadrach’s side or with his family for seven days in a row, eight maybe. My friend had not been able to make it in to say good bye to Shadrach.

But.

He showed up that night in his Mercedes and took me to Chow on Church and Market and he told me to order a steak and eat it.

I did.

Then he took me out to Treasure Island and told me, “talk about it.”

I did.

I told him all the stories and the sadness and the horror of watching Shadrach die and he just held my hand and let me cry on his shoulder.

He was a good friend.

He always was.

Sometimes a bit intense, sometimes suddenly unavailable, but someone I could talk to for hours, someone who made me laugh, someone who always was up for having and adventure.

The time we went to see Gary Neuman at the Fillmore and then got out of the show with enough time to whip over to the Castro Theater and see Tron.

Or Goldfrapp at the Fillmore.

Or Sunshine Jones in so many different clubs.

Or Eric Sharp at some underground deep in the SOMA in a warehouse.

Or when he got a projector and we found a deserted parking lot in the SOMA next to a huge white painted wall and watched the Daft Punk Movie Interstella 5555.

Or sitting in front of Ritual in the Mission, before they had outside seating, on the sidewalk drinking lattes, with a boombox blasting Michael Jackson.

He taught me how to play dominoes, “bones,” and then would brutally beat me at it all the time.

I could name a lot more.

There were many, many, many adventures.

The weekend in Vegas.

And there were many, many, many girlfriends.

Some who liked me.

Some who absolutely couldn’t stand me.

My friend dated women I worked with, mutual friends, women I sponsored, (Shadrach joked once, “why doesn’t he just go right to the source,” meaning me), friends of other friends.

All sorts of ladies.

He got serious with one of them and I really liked her, hell I even lived with them for a couple of months when I had lost a job and my apartment in Nob Hill with seven years sober and ended up taking a huge pay cut and going to work at Mission Bicycle Company as a shop girl, she was sweet.

They opened a hair salon together.

One or the other of them was always doing my hair.

I was my friend’s hair model for a long time.

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I got to rock some ridiculously fabulous hair.

Most of the time.

Every once in a while he did something that I was like, “dude, no, cut it off.”

The time he gave me a tail.

That only lasted two days.

Maybe only half a day, now that I think about it.

He also went to school to learn make up and to this day I credit him with teaching me how to do makeup.

And to love glitter.

When he reached out to me recently I told him I had stopped dying my hair crazy colors, after he and his girlfriend moved away, I went to a mutual friend who took me blonde and then hot pink, to be a therapist and have a professional look.

I even toned down the make up for a bit.

But it snuck right back in.

I couldn’t give up the glitter.

He texted me, “NEVER give up the glitter.”

A lady likes a man who isn’t opposed to glitter.

He got engaged.

He bought a house.

They broke up.

He moved to L.A.

That’s where he’s at now, muddling through the pandemic as an essential worker.

I can’t even imagine, although a number of my therapy clients have indicated that they consider me an essential worker, I just can’t imagine being out in the public as much as my friend is.

We reconnected back around July or August, played a lot of phone tag, and didn’t actually get to talk until after Thanksgiving.

And it was like riding a bike.

We talked for hours.

Every week or so we’d text a little.

And we caught up after the holidays and.

And.

Well.

Ha.

He’s interested, all these years later, in dating.

I was surprised as hell.

Although, when I have had some time to think about it I realized he’d asked a few times what my dating situation was.

“Non-traditional,” I replied once.

And.

He sent me a song one day on Spotify, “I Adore You,” by Goldie.

I loved the song.

I looked up the lyric’s, well, huh, those are some interesting lyric’s.

This seems like a love song.

Is my friend sending me a love song?

Maybe.

When all is said is done
After the run we’ve had
Let me be the one
I’ll be there for you
Better to let, better to let you know I was a fool in love
Just enough to want you more I adore you
And I’ll never let you go I adore you When all is settled dust
After the storm has passed
Let me be the one to shine on you
Better to let, better to let you know I am a fool in love
Just enough to want you more I adore you
And I’ll never let you go After the run we’ve had
After the tears we’ve cried
On all those lonely nights
I still want you in my life I see you in my mind
And now the sun don’t shine
And I’m just getting by
So why can’t you be mine?

It sounds like a love song!

And then.

One night, it came out, he was texting me and he said, “would it be crazy if we went on a date?”

What?!

We texted back and forth for a while and decided, maybe it would not be.

We went a few weeks without talking about it and he did his thing and I did my thing.

But.

It’s come up again and we talked yesterday, for a long time, and we’re going to give it a shot.

Holy shit.

I mean.

I still can’t quite believe it.

He’s going to take some time off from work and come up over a weekend and stay at an old friends house and we’re just going to see what it feels like.

HOLY SHIT.

I’m excited, nervous, think I need to lose five pounds, happy, curious, all the things.

We both agreed that whatever happens, we’re just investigating and we won’t stop being friends.

It could be a hilarious wrong turn.

Or it could be a dance party.

I don’t know.

He doesn’t have a Mercedes anymore.

But he does have a Cadillac.

So I expect we will cruise around the city and revisit old haunts.

And maybe.

Make out?

We shall see.

More will be revealed.

On The Eve

January 13, 2020

Of my fifteenth year of sobriety.

I had to stop and ponder and wonder in awe at the scope of my life in these last fourteen years and 364 days.

I have come so far.

So fucking far.

It leaves me breathless with awe.

I’m a psychotherapist.

I live by myself in the most expensive city in the United States.

Although.

I still cringe at my rent, I can afford to live alone and I understand what a precious gift that is.

I work a lot, it’s true.

I’m still working six days a week and two jobs.

But!

Soon.

I will be done nannying.

I have been a nanny for thirteen years.

That’s a lot of time to be in any career, let alone one in which I have gotten to have so much unconditional love poured into my heart.

Nannying has been a tough job and the most incredible gift too.

I have never had children.

Shit.

I have never even had a pregnancy scare.

I have occasionally thought of what it would be like to have my own child, but really, I have gotten to raise so many beautiful, sweet, amazing children.

I have had so many children tell me they love me.

I have had so many babies fall asleep on my breast and in my arms.

I have felt the soft sweet breath of a child on my neck so many times as I lay them to sleep that I cannot count them.

I have sung a lot of lullabies.

I feel replete.

I do not feel grief stricken for not having had a child of my own.

I have had children.

I have also gotten to give them back at the end of the day and go my own way.

I will be hanging up my nanny clogs soon, my last day with my current family is February 24th.

So by the end of February I will just be working full time as a psychotherapist and a full time PhD student.

Just.

Hahahahahhahahaha.

Oh.

I also got my grades back for this past semester.

Straight “A’s.”

Not like anyone has every question someone with a PhD, “hey how were your grades during your course work?”

Most folks don’t give a fuck, you got a doctorate, you are doing great kid.

I had a 4.0 all through my Masters and I am looking to repeat that with my PhD.

I have also received the news that I have been granted the first person I requested to be my PhD committee chair.

Over the moon.

I found out from a fellow in my cohort that my pick only chose two of us to work with.

I am thrilled and honored that he took me on, it’s going to be some work, the work is nowhere near done yet, but it’s still a great big wonderful thing to be entering the last semester of my course work.

And I’m doing it in two years.

Most of my cohort is doing it in three and some in four years.

I know one other person who is doing the course work at the same pace as I am and we made a pact to get through the whole damn program in 3.5 years.

I am still on track with that.

I am also really on track with getting my hours for my MFT license.

I am 737 hours away from being able to be on my own without supervision, without having to pay extra for supervision and fees and stuff and things.

I will get my hours before the year ends and I am fucking thrilled by that.

My life is pretty amazing.

I looked at my things today, I looked at the art on my walls and the pictures and the beauty that I have surrounded myself with.

I am not rich.

But I am awash in beauty and prosperity and abundance.

I am so grateful.

I have slept on cardboard.

No more of that.

I have been homeless.

I have had to go to food pantries and be on food stamps.

I have worked some pretty grimy jobs.

I have struggled and worked and struggled some more.

I own a car.

What the hell?

A new car, my own car, the first new car I have ever bought.

I go to yoga.

I still can’t always get over that.

Who is this person hopping into her cute little marshmallow colored Fiat and heading up Balboa Street to do yoga?

I have nice clothes.

I bought in Paris. 

I used to wear hand me downs from my youngest aunts.

I used to have only one pair of shoes.

I have a lot of shoes.

I mean.

A girl likes her shoes.

I have framed art that I have bought in Paris too.

I remember having posters pinned up to my walls, when I had walls, I didn’t always.

Or magazine photos taped to my walls.

I always have liked to look at things.

I have gone to so many museums.

I have traveled the world.

Not a lot, but a good amount you know.

Paris, New York, London, LA, Miami, Chicago, Anchorage, Marseilles, Rome, Aix-en-Provence, Austin, Havana, Cuba, Burning Man.

Not bad for a girl raised in an unincorporated town in rural Wisconsin.

I have some pretty amazing tattoos.

I have gotten to meet and hang out with one of my musical hero’s–more than once.

I have extraordinary friends.

I have a way of life that is full of purpose and meaning and service.

I have love.

I have had terrible heart ache and I have survived it.

I have resiliency.

I have lost dear friends to death far too soon.

I have danced under the stars until dawn, in underground clubs in Paris, on top of speakers in dancehalls in San Francisco, arts cars out in deep playa at Burning Man.

I have narrated my story and performed  in front of 100s.

I have recited poetry to audiences small and grand.

I am in the world and I am alive and I am so grateful for that.

For this wonderful, sometimes painful, but always so full, so amazing, so extraordinary, beyond my wildest dreams, life.

Here’s to (almost) fifteen years of sobriety.

And many, many, many more years to come.

So many.

 

Sneaky Blog

February 12, 2019

I really should probably look at my homework.

But.

Fuck.

I have done a lot in the last couple of days and I also really should let myself off the hook once in a while.

I wrote a paper yesterday as well as attended a three-hour training in Berkeley for my internship.

Day off, what day off?

I also did laundry and roasted a chicken for food prep and packed up my carry-on for a trip this weekend.

I am going to do a quick zoom in and out of D.C.

A friend gave me some miles and I’ve booked an Air BnB with a fireplace in Georgetown.

We’re going to hang out, go to coffee shops and eat nice food.

I might not even go out all that much.

Sit in front of the fire-place and toast my toes.

I am going to do as much homework as possible this week so that I can actually enjoy my time there.

The trip was originally supposed to be before I started up school again but my friends schedule got wonky and we had to push it out.

So.

I will have a quick two and a half days and I’ll be right back in it.

Next weekend will be my weekend off.

Of course it does mean staying on top of things and as of such I did read 65 pages of an article today.

No fucking article should be that long.

Just saying.

Thank goodness the baby took a long nap today.

Poor little guy.

He’s been sick.

Went with the mom to the pediatrician today and it turns out he’s got an eye infection, a sinus infection and an ear infection in both ears!

He’s going to get a whopping big dose of antibiotics in the next couple of days and hopefully it will all get knocked out.

And yes.

I do actually have his cold.

I suspected I was coming down with it on Friday.

Sure as shit, Saturday I was running a fever.

But there was really nothing to do about that.

I got up, I did my morning routine, I went and saw my clients.

Fortunately it never really got anywhere as bad as the little guy’s had.

I’m a tiny bit sick, more like a light runny nose and some yuck congestion in my nose and throat when I wake up in the morning.

It’s like I got the diet version of his cold.

It’s enough to be a little annoying, but not enough to knock me down.

I will admit I was in bed pretty early last night, just to make sure that I was getting enough sleep.

That is the thing I constantly have to do for myself, get enough sleep.

Other things are getting dropped.

Socializing.

Blogging.

My blogging has been slight and I’m not excited about that, but I have to address homework pretty much every day and there is just so much to read.

My God.

The reading is heavy.

I am so very grateful I knocked out three books before the semester started.

I’m also 3/4s of the way through one of my class readers, which is going to be really helpful as I move forward.

But there is just always something else to read.

And I am constantly being sent stuff to read as well.

I can’t do it all

And I can’t blog as much as I would like, but I feel like I’m in a good place right now, turned in that paper yesterday and today did a substantive post to one of my classes.

I need to check into the other two and see what’s on the agenda, but I don’t have to do anything quite yet.

Aha.

I actually did.

And I just did it.

Hopefully I didn’t screw with the flow of the blog, but yeah, I had an inkling there was something I needed to attend to in my Arts and Creativity in Leadership class.

And there was.

So.

That’s done and now I can say I checked in and took care of it and between that, the discussion posts, the responses to others I made today and all the reading, I’m pretty good with my efforts today.

Really.

As long as I stay sober today, ultimately nothing else matters.

But I do want to do the work to get this PhD.

It does feel really important.

I have had some people in and out of my cohort as well exhort me to do a book about what I am writing on and to have it full of photographs of my tattoos.

I am actually thinking about that quite a lot.

I do know some photographers.

I should start asking around.

Of course the two that pop up in my head first are professionals and would probably be a lot to use, but it may be worth it to start engaging in looking.

I would like to document my tattoos anyway and since I’ll be writing about them and my experiences I am also leaning very heavily towards adding them into my dissertation as well.

Which is something I can do with the methodology I’m using.

Things to think about.

I also have to remember I’m meeting with one of my professors next Friday, pop that on my calendar.

My online program piece uses a lot of Zoom meetings, but I can’t make most of them wtih my schedule.

I actually had one this Saturday, client cancelled, and I checked in with one of my professors who lives on the East Coast.

We had a great talk and he gave me some of the best compliments.

I mean.

I was really blown away.

He said, “Well, Carmen, I just think you’re brilliant, I really do.”

And.

He added a little later that he had something else to admit to, “I save your papers until the last to read, that way I have something to look forward to.”

OMG.

Best compliment.

I was so very flattered.

I really want to let myself enjoy this compliment too.

In the not so recent past I have used compliments like this to stress myself out, I better perform even better, I can’t disappoint now!

So for the last couple of days I have really held that for myself.

Of course.

The paper that was due yesterday was for his class and the first of the semester (for this class, not for the semester, I’ve already turned in two other papers thank you very much).

So.

Yeah, I had some anxiety writing it.

But overall, I think it was a good paper and he’ll like it and it’s ok if he doesn’t either.

I know that I have skills.

Maybe not mad skills, but I do think I have some writing chops.

Grateful as hell for that.

And with that.

I bid you adieu.

It’s time to attend to a few more school things before winding it down for the night.

Sweet dreams.

Sleep tight.

Don’t let the bedbugs bite.

(I have always wondered how one does that?)

Heh.

Little Gold Star

January 20, 2019

Today I got my 14th star tattoo.

14 stars.

14 years of being sober.

I decided I need to give myself a gold star.

It’s been that kind of year.

When I reflected on all the things that I went through and all the places I’ve been, I think that I definitely earned it.

This past year I traveled to DC, New York, Paris, and Marseilles.

I graduated with a Master’s degree in Psychology.

I went through a buy out and moved.

That was some serious stress let me tell you.

I also started a private practice therapy business.

And.

A PhD program.

I also got my grades back from said program.

All “A”s.

ALL.

I was a little surprised to tell you the truth, I had an issue with a final paper I turned in for one of my classes and I didn’t think it was going to fly, the paper, that is–I digressed from the specific instructions the professor gave and did rather what I wanted to do.  It was the only paper for the class, although there were so many discussion posts that I feel like I actually wrote seven papers for the class, and I ran a huge risk doing it.

The risk paid off.

So, yeah, a gold star felt really appropriate.

2019-01-19 20.54.20-2

Yes.

It did hurt.

And it felt really right and I was, obviously, very happy with it.

Not only was I pleased with it, but it filled out the space perfect.  I am very satisfied with the way all my tattoos look and really have little desire to put anything else in that area.

Not sure where I’ll put the 15th, but let’s just let me focus on the 14th star.

It really was quite a year.

I walked through some really challenging things and came out the other side.

I reflected on a lot of that today as I went about my day.

I saw clients at my office, did lots of writing, read for one of my upcoming classes for this next semester (school starts next Thursday!), went to Let it Bleed on Polk Street, got an iced coffee for a treat, walked around the Tenderloin and took graffiti photographs, caught up with my friend DannyBoy at the shop, took myself out to lunch in Hayes Valley, had a coffee with a friend in the Mission at Maxfield’s House of Caffeine, went to Divisadero and got my nails done, and then hit my Saturday night commitment and did the deal.

It was a day.

I’m really happy with my life right now.

Oh, sure, romantically it’s strange, but you know, that will work itself out.

Or not.

I have ceased (fighting anyone or anything) trying to figure it out.

I’m just showing up every day and taking care of myself and I feel really good about what I did today for myself and my own care.

I also thought a lot about what I want to bring forward for this next year.

Get through the next semester of classes, add clients into my private practice, travel.

I also want to get through the Below Market Housing Homeowners workshop.

I really am going to go after buying a house in San Francisco.

My friend whom I met for coffee happens to be a realtor and we spent an hour going over what I need to do to get myself in line to actually do that.

She gave me a good idea of how much money I will need to have saved up, which will take some time (or not, who knows, money may fall out of the sky) to save, but I can do it.

Plus that I should get a credit card.

Which I’m not super stoked on the idea.

I had one that I’d gotten last year and then never used as it made me uncomfortable.

But.

My friend insisted I was really going to need a credit history that showed me paying off a card.

She said get one, pay it off every month and always pay more than the minimum payment.

If I do get another card, and that’s an if, I will definitely not let a balance roll over.

I just do not like the idea of having any credit card debt.

I do, however, like the idea of having a good credit score and something that shows I am a good risk for a home loan.

I shall take it under advisement.

I actually tried to re-open the credit card I had closed but I could not figure out how to do it and just sort of set it aside tonight when I got home.

I feel like I did a lot today just by sitting down and talking about it.

I will manifest a house in San Francisco.

See if I don’t.

In the mean time there is plenty of other things for me to do.

I do want to keep a soft focus on it though, always have it in my mind and see where I can expand my awareness of abundance.

I am continuing to practice that opening up to the universe, to the flow, to God, to abundance, I have continued to give away a little more than I typically do.

More tip in the tip jar, more money in the basket, continuing to pay my bills within 24 hours of getting them.

And!

Oh my gosh, this is definitely part of the gold star, I got approved to become an employee at my internship.

Which means that I will start bringing in more money.

I am so psyched about that.

I’m excited for this year.

I feel like all sorts of incredible things are going to happen.

I really do.

Faith.

I like that.

Faith, abundance, joy, honesty, integrity, serenity.

Words to live by.

Principles to underpin my gold star.

And!

Love.

Let me not forget that one.

Never forget that.

Seriously.

 

Bullshit

January 15, 2019

I keep expecting someone to say that when I say, “thank you for 14 years.”

It sounds so surreal coming out of my mouth.

How the hell did that happen?

Really?

Fourteen years.

Nights and weekends, nothing in between, nothing to take the edge off.

As if anything really could.

Using or drinking for me over an issue or a problem would just be pouring gas on a bonfire.

I would burn it all down and I don’t actually think I would die.

That would be the easier, softer way.

No.

I think I would live a miserable, dire, soul less, ugly life.

I have so much in my life I cannot imagine ever going back.

I do see it happen though.

So here’s to having more commitments and suiting up and showing up and doing the deal no matter what.

My life is really wonderful and it was with much sweetness that I picked up some metal last night in front of my community who witnesses me with so much love.

It really awes me the amount of love I have been given access to.

Most of all, the love I feel for myself.

The level of compassion and forgiveness I have for myself really is so vast.

I didn’t have it growing up.

Occasionally I would have a moment where I thought I might have something worthy in me, I was certainly smart, but how many times does it take for a person to hear that she is “too smart for her own good,” before she begins, I begin, to think the same.

I used to also wonder.

How come if I’m so damn smart I can’t figure out my life or what I want or where I’m going.

I mean.

I had some idea.

I knew I wanted out of Wisconsin and after multiply failed attempts I made it out in 2002 to travel all the way across the country and cross the Bay Bridge in my little two door Honda Accord.

I still remember what it felt like crossing over that bridge.

I was definitely crossing a threshold.

I had no idea.

Sometimes I think it’s a good thing that I didn’t know all the things that were going to transpire.

Who knows if I would have made it out.

I do certainly remember that.

I had a feeling of dread that my time was soon to be up in Wisconsin and I needed to leave, there was a constant low-level thrum of anxiety, a beating drum of doom that throbbed just below everything.

I was in constant fear.

I had no name for it though.

I had no idea the anxiety I was under.

I knew the depression.

That I had at least been seen for, once when I was in my early twenties and when the therapist wanted to medicate me as my insurance wouldn’t allow her to continue serving me unless I was prescribed meds, I bounced.

I didn’t understand then what depression meant.

All I knew was that sometimes it was terribly hard to get out of bed.

Or bathe.

I remember my boyfriend once made a comment about it, that the sheets needed to be changed or washed and I knew I had to get out and wash the bedding and myself, but getting into the shower was so damn hard.

I can remember how sunny it was too and we lived really close to James Madison park, literally just a few blocks away on Franklin.

I can count the number of times I went to the park on a sunny summer day on one hand and have more than a few fingers left over.

I could not get myself out of the house.

I knew it would pass.

It always did.

But it started to get longer.

And longer.

I might have a day of it once in a while and then nothing for sometime and then it would just snake back in.

For some reason it happened (and can happen for me now, there’s sometimes a feeling of dread during the longest days of the year) during the summer when there was lots of light and no reason to be caged up inside.

People think depression and they see rainy days and grey skies.

I saw sunshine and couldn’t bear to be out in it.

I worked nights.

I slept days.

Sometimes, in the dead of winter I would not see the sunlight at all.

Unless it was the sunrise coming up as I was coming home from closing the bar where I worked.

I was diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder in undergrad.

Turns out that some folks, about 10% of the population that has the disorder, actually experience the depression in the summer.

I remember one year that was really bad.

I was in between jobs, I had just given notice to the Essen Haus where I had been the General Manager and was transitioning to my new job at the Angelic Brewing Company as their Floor Manager (still the worst title ever, how about Queen of Doing Everything, that seems more apt).

I had two weeks off.

I was supposed to have taken those two weeks off to go on a road trip with my boyfriend, but it didn’t come to fruition due to the Angelic needing me to start before the trip had been planned.

I postponed it and planned on doing it the next year which never happened either, but I digress.

My boyfriend went to work in the morning and I sat in the living room of our apartment in a rocking chair.

I sat there all day long.

I might have read books.

I would sleep as long in bed as I could, then get up and sit in that chair until he came home.

Part of me suspected that there was something very soothing about the rocking of the chair, I used to self-soothe as a child when I was upset by rocking back and forth, I can still slip into it if I’m really freaked out.

I don’t remember much of that week, but one particular scene is always in my head and that is of the shadows growing longer and longer in the apartment as the sun set.

They would crawl slowly across the floor and I would watch them inch up the walls until the apartment was muddled in twilight and I would only get up to turn on the light five minutes before I thought my boyfriend was going to get home.

There were many nights of sitting in that chair in the dark by myself alone.

I told no one.

Wowzers.

I had no idea that was going to be what I wrote about tonight, but hey, there it is.

In addition to the SAD, I have depression.

Hahahaha.

Sigh.

Major Depressive Disorder is the clinical diagnosis.

I managed it once in early sobriety with antidepressants but after a few years I got of the meds and deal with it through writing daily in my morning journal, I use a light therapy box every morning, I write affirmations, I get outside as much as I can, I eat really, really, really well, I do my own therapy work, I cultivate relationships with my fellows and I have good damn friends.

And I don’t drink.

Alcohol is a depressant you know.

I didn’t.

Not for years.

And for years I have been pretty free from that great ocean of doom and for that I am so grateful.

My life is lovely.

Challenging, sure.

But absolutely lovely.

Thank you for 14 years!

You know who you are and I love you, very, very, very much.

I’m In!

September 19, 2018

And I’m writing this blog from my brand new kitchen table.

First new table kitchen table I have ever bought.

Ever.

I was reflecting on that earlier, I bought a new car last year, who am I?

I am very lucky.

Blessed really.

I just discovered someone who I knew really well as a child has passed of alcoholism.

My heart went out to her and the family, although to say it surprised me, it did not, just that I hadn’t known and she passed last year.

I am so grateful to be alive and having this experience.

Next time I tell myself that I am overwhelmed with school and work and the whole internship thing, I will remind myself that I am alive and for that I am beyond grateful.

Way beyond.

I am also moved into my new home.

I haven’t written my blog in days, or my morning pages either, not since Sunday Morning I think and I’m not sure when I blogged last but it’s been a few days.

Sunday was a flat-out run.

I was up early at 6a.m. to get myself ready and over to Alameda for a three-hour training for my new internship.

My God that shit is happening fast.

I have to get keys to my new office, close down my current client file (aside, another client is coming with!) and start-up my website, get a Square reader, get a phone number and get going.

I start with my new internship on October 1st.

Less than two weeks away, in fact, I see my first client two weeks from today in my new office.

Whew.

But I’m already ahead of myself.

Sunday.

A long three-hour training, then a dash back to the city and putting the rest of my stuff in boxes to move.

I had a dear friend come over Saturday in the afternoon and he basically just bossed me around and took apart my bed frame for me.  By the way, I needed the bossing around, I was so anxious that I kept getting distracted off task and he would get me right back on.  I was horrendously grateful for him.

Sunday I had another dear friend come over with his truck and help me move and he was a doll and put my bed frame back together again.

I actually got it all moved out and spent my first night here Saturday.

It was heaven to be in a bed, I’d slept on the floor (well, the mattress on the floor) the night before so I was really happy to be in a properly made up bed.

And I cannot tell you how nice it is to sit at a table tonight.

The last two days I have eaten breakfast and dinner sitting on the floor.

Which is fun now and again, I suppose, like a little indoor picnic, but I am so happy I have a new table.

A big table, a pretty table, a table that will do twofold work, my dining area and my work area, where I will be doing a lot of writing and very soon.

I have already actually written my first paper of the semester.

On Sunday.

Sitting on the floor.

I mean.

Fuck.

I moved out completely and I wrote a paper and I did a three hour training earlier in the day.

It was hard to make myself sit down and do it, I was so tired from the moving, but I had to, it was due at midnight.  I turned it in at 10:58 p.m.

And I just read my comments back and I did really well.

In fact, my TA gave me a huge thumbs up because I also put in a poem as part of the paper, a poem that was inspired by the time I was at the intensive and was also pertinent to the material that I was writing about.  I didn’t just use the poem to take up space.

I find this funny and endearing about myself, that I think that someone might think, oh, she’s cheating by using a poem to fluff up the word count on her paper, but most people who I know are intimidated by poetry and would prefer to just write the paper.

That’s not true either.

Most people I know aren’t interested in writing papers.

I, apparently am.

Although I still get good and nervous.

And that two-week thing?  When I start my internship, that is also the due date of my first big paper, an 8-10 pager.

So I have lots going on in the up coming weeks.

Getting the rest of my house together.

I have my couch (yippee!) getting delivered on Saturday along with the chair that goes with it, I have to set up the coffee table that was delivered a few days ago, I need a book-case and a dresser.

But I also unpacked, like I said, nearly everything, stored all my Burning Man things and notebooks and books that I’m not using in the basement, set up my shoe rack, hung curtains, assembled a rolling garment cart (my closet is small) and have set up my entire kitchen.

The only thing that is not sitting so well with me is that it’s cold in here.

I didn’t realize until my first night that there is no heat in the unit.

This has happened before, and it’s not a big deal, I’ve lived other places without heat, but I don’t want to live too long here without it, it’s cold out here by the beach at night.

So I ordered a space heater and that should be here in the next couple of days.

I’m just so happy to be sitting at my pretty table, listening to music, not worried about the noise, because my place is sound proofed, not that I’m loud, but you know, writing.

I have missed writing my blog.

I have a lot of things to do the rest of the week but I am feeling a lot better about it all sussing itself out, getting myself into my new place was the biggest thing and it’s done now.

I just have to go back and clean my old in-law, which I will do tomorrow after work and then on Thursday I will be returning the keys and getting the other half of the buyout money.

So happy this is almost at a close.

Ready to move into the next phase of my development.

I better be.

It’s just hurtling its way towards me.

Seriously.

Speed of motherfucking light.

One Thing At A Time

August 17, 2018

I was quite firm with myself this morning, there is only so much I can do in one day and I’m doing all I can.

With some grace, I might add.

“You’re doing amazing,” my person said to me on the phone as I was driving to work.

Aside.

God damn do I like being able to make phone calls from my car’s system.

And listen to music.

And be warm.

And yeah, I like my car.

Anyway.

I had called on my way to do a check in as I noticed a touch of anxiety in myself regarding what I can do and what I am not able to get to and if I’m doing enough and hey, whoa, slow down, I’m doing enough.

I am doing more than enough.

Truth be told.

I work a lot.

I work at work.

I work with my clients after work at my internship.

I am working to set up the parameters of my next internship.

Cue many back and forth emails with my former professor about sussing out what times and days I can use the office to see clients and what rent.

Rent has not yet been decided upon and I am nervous about it, but I know it’s just another hurdle to jump and if I catch my toe and stumble, it will be ok.

I put out a number and I haven’t heard back yet.

I sort of went with what my gut said was reasonable and I’m hoping that she’ll feel the same.

And if she doesn’t, if I need to pay more in rent, I will, I am not worried about making rent.

Not yet anyway, I’m sure that anxiety will poke its little head up once I am further along in the process.

I have also been carrying around the handbook that I was given at the orientation but I haven’t had a spare moment to read it.

I haven’t had many spare moments at all.

Which is why the touch of anxiety this morning.

What the fuck is it going to look like when I start my PhD program in two weeks?

I mean.

I have a feeling for what it will be, similar to doing my Master’s degree is what I presume, but also probably a little more work.

I ordered seven more books last night and hopefully I won’t have to order any more.

Some of the books I ordered won’t get here before the intensive starts, fingers crossed I won’t have needed to have read from any of them.

I did manage today, I see this as a huge win, though it was just a small action, to get one of my syllabi printed off and I noted that there is are a few mandatory readings that need to be done before the intensive that don’t include any of the books I ordered, but rather papers and online readings.

Which is nice, I can read them now rather than wait for a text-book to get delivered.

I didn’t have time to print off all my syllabi and I didn’t want to make myself feel rotten about it either, rather, just be happy that I took the small action of looking up the class, downloading the syllabus and printing it off.

Aside.

I am still so very glad that I invested in a printer my second year of my Master’s program.

So much is done online, but I still print off a lot of stuff and it’s super helpful to have printed copies of my syllabi, I really do better with paper copy than things online.

Speaking of online.

I also, in terms of the new internship, am going to have to set up a website for myself.

I have never designed a website and I have no clue how, but I know that there are many out there online that will have a simple plug and play sort of aspect.

They will already be formatted and all I have to do is add content.

Although there is the desire to ask friends to help me here, I know a few website designers, I really don’t want to pay and all my friends are professionals.

Maybe when I get licenced I’ll go with a designer, until then I will be doing it the “old-fashioned” way, ie, by myself.

So there’s that, plus business cards, plus getting another email address set up, just for my practice, plus a new signature for said practice that not only includes who I am and what I do, put also my supervisor’s information as well as Grateful Heart Therapy and then a general disclaimer about confidentiality.

There are so many details!

I know, though, that once the details all get ironed out, everything will fall neatly into place and it will be just getting comfortable in my new office.

I do hope to have all the transitioned out by October 1st.

That first week I want to be seeing clients in my new office space.

And of course.

Speaking of all the transitions.

The move.

It will have to be done by October 31st.

I haven’t yet found a place, but I am feeling ok about that, the right place will come, I am taking plenty of actions and letting people know.

I’ve spent enough time on craigslist to have a really good idea what the market looks like and what I think I can get.

So far it still looks like I will be living on my own, but I am going to remain open to the idea of room mates if it a really good fit.

Yeah.

So much stuff.

Of course I might feel a touch overwhelmed.

I was also telling my person how I felt last night with the break up and how I have been walking through the feelings and letting them happen as best I can.

“You really are doing just amazing, you are walking through so much, you are showing up,” he said again, reiterating it so I would really let it sink in.

And as long as I stayed sober today, and I did, it’s all ok.

Nothing is wrong.

There are a lot of things happening.

But as I have been told again and again, I’m not being given more than I can handle.

Grateful my capacities have grown!

The Last Goodbye

August 10, 2018

I have been thinking about this blog for days now.

You may have noticed that I have not written for a few days now either.

I was saying goodbye to the love of my life.

I never thought that I would write that sentence or that for the last year and three months I would be so involved with a man who I would have the opportunity to say all those things.

Love of my life.

Soul mate.

Partner.

The best thing in my life.

The best thing in my sobriety.

And yet.

There they were, over and over and over again, these declarations of the rightness or, the validity of, the beauty and power of love, lauded all over me.

I have had the greatest love of my life ever these past months.

Yet.

I had to leave him.

I can’t explain why, oh, I could, but I have no inclinations to air it all out, suffice to say what I wanted was not available.

I thought I was alright with that at first.

I did.

I thought this man is so damn amazing, so handsome, smart, kind, tender, sexy (fuck do not get me started) and funny, god damn is he funny, no one, and I mean no one, has ever made me laugh the way he did, ever, that I could deal with anything that the relationship handed me.

I kept it off my blog.

Oh.

You could catch glimpses of it here and there, but I never really talked about him.

And then I did.

Back in January.

I broke up with him.

It was like death.

It was so anguished and sorrowful and painful that I had friends reaching out to me to express concern.

I was vague, in the blogs, and it could have easily have sounded as though I had lost a loved one.

That is what it felt like, a death, I felt like death, I had never experienced such grief.

I remember relating to him later that I had not felt the depth of despair that the break up caused as when I had lost my best friend at 32 in a surprising and awful accidental death.

I felt more grief in my person when I lost the love of my life, that loss was harrowing.

But as my therapist once reflected to me, “you never really broke up.”

We couldn’t not be together.

We tried to be friends.

We tried to be compatriots.

We tried to not see each other.

We couldn’t.

We saw each other and then the inevitable swan dive back into the romance, the heat, the passion, the relentlessness of it, despite knowing that it wasn’t the best for me, I continued, I was in love.

I am in love.

I still am in love with him.

I still have this hope that something will shift, change, a magical thing will happen.

I know that is fantasy, but it is there.

In reality I also know that was has happened inside me, on the interior, in my heart, has not be sustainable.

I just couldn’t do it anymore.

I was hurting myself too badly.

It is hard to be a psychotherapist and try to hold onto something so painful, but try I did.

Of course.

I did fuck loads of work around the relationship.

Inventory after inventory, looking at myself, my patterns, how I love, the previous relationships and what they looked like for me.

I looked at patterns of attachment with my parents, I explored my psyche, I prayed, I meditated, I asked consistently for help and guidance from my support network.

No one ever really told me what to do, but so many could see that it was not a working relationship for me that, well, worked in my benefit.

God damn did I try though.

A part of me, larger than I perhaps wish to admit, still wants to try, to beat my heart a little more on the impossible wall that I was trying to scale to get to the place the relationship could flourish and grow.

I can’t though.

So I did the thing I never ever, fucking ever, thought I would do.

I asked for no contact.

Today was day one.

And there was no contact.

Although, truth, I felt him in my bones and body all day, an unremitting ache that has me in its grip, the burden of showing up for work and clients when all I wanted to do was crawl under the covers and cry myself back to sleep.

Sleep where I may perchance to dream of him.

I fucking asked for no contact.

On one hand I am appalled.

No texting.

No phone calls.

No emails.

No social media.

On the other hand, I am quiet and proud of myself.

It was horrendous, it was the hardest decision I felt such an ache for the loss of connection I cannot put it into words.

And I knew.

I knew, damn it.

That it was for the best.

That it is the “right” thing to do.

What ever the right thing to do is.

I am barely holding on here writing this.

I want to detail all the last words and gestures, the sweetness, the sadness, the anguished tears I shed, but I cannot sully it with my words and my sharing.

These last two nights I have been with him and I have no desire to share any more of it than that, the last two nights I have been with him.

And I miss him horribly.

I will be crying for a while.

There is so much loss here.

I have to give myself time to grieve.

So.

Forgive me for not sharing anything more.

I am devastated and that will have to suffice for now.

Devastated.


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