Apr 202010

For M, Who is Starting Down a New Road…

As you know, I had a rough go at life for a while. I spent a couple of decades lying and cheating and fighting and scowling and hiding and chugging and eating unbelievably huge amounts of food and then throwing it up.

These things might be hard for you to read, but they’re not hard for me to write. I think that’s because while I’m a different girl these days, I don’t judge the girl I used to be. I don’t think it makes much sense to judge other people or my past self with the ideas I have about life today.

Addiction is a funny thing. You seem to find yourself living one big lie, and nobody can, or should, trust a word you say. But that’s not how it starts. There’s something about addiction’s beginning that’s about truth telling. When my bulimia, which eventually morphed into alcoholism began, I sometimes had this feeling that there was something very wrong with the world, and that wrong thing was hurting my feelings and scaring me and making me feel like crawling out of my own skin forever. I had to tell the truth about how I felt somehow, so the truth came out like puke and booze. I may have been acting out, but at least when I was binging or purging or drinking, I wasn’t acting. I was sayingsomething’s wrong.

I know that addiction always ends badly, with lots of innocent and semi-involved bystanders getting hurt. That’s how mine ended. But that’s not how it started. It didn’t start with the intention to hurt anyone else. It started with a little girl who hadn’t found her words yet. A girl who didn’t yet have the courage to say, or write out loud, “Something’s wrong with me. Or maybe with everybody, actually.” So she just said those things by herself, secretly. But at least she said it. A girl has to tell the truth somewhere, if she’s going to keep a tender soul. If she’s going to be able to keep thinking and feeling and trying to understand things.

Now that I’ve found my words, things are better. When I feel like crumbling, or numbing myself because the world is so mean, I come here and use my words. Not to write about how mean the world is, but to write about how beautiful it is too, because that’s also true. Now when I feel like crawling out of my skin in the world I’m in, I come and create my own world in my writing, where things are better and more beautiful and often make sense. And it’s still an escape, but it’s a less lonely and scary escape than all those bathrooms and bottles of wine. Still, here in this world, I’m sure I’ll accidentally hurt people, too. Telling the truth seems to do that occasionally. But it’s healthy for me. And that’s what’s most important to me these days.

I understand what the girl I used to be did and why she did it. I love her . . . I’m proud of her, even. And the woman I am today is grateful to her. Because she walked that lonely road, I learned to forgive myself and be forgiven. And to be gentle, always, because everyone is just as fragile as those little hand- blown glass swans. Actually people are more fragile than those.

Most importantly, she taught me that a girl can be an ugly, scary mess, and still be doing her best, and still be capable of and worthy of saving. She taught me that nobody is so far gone into the darkness that love can’t sneak in and shed a little light.

So really, I think that little girl taught me everything I need to know, ever. I think she was sort of brilliant, to tell you the God’s honest truth. If I could take her for a walk I would tell her, Hang in there, little one. You will find your words.

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Apr 192010

I woke up this morning thinking about Tricia, who is in surgery right now to determine if her lump is cancerous. I’ve never met Tricia, but the weird thing about this Momastery place is that if you hang around long enough, you end up caring a whole lot about the other Monkees. A whole lot. Consider yourself warned. So for a good twenty minutes I laid in bed and worried about Tricia and her husband and her two little boys and her baby girl who always wears these big beautiful bows on her teeny little head. Each of the big bows sings “My mommy loves me thiiiiiiiiiisss much.” Anyway, I just laid there and wondered what to do about all that.

I want us to take care of each other here. In fifty years I want 60 Minutes to do a show about us Monkees. We will be old and hunched over and gray and gorgeous and we will have hot pink canes, tattoos, and God willing, better bangs by then. The reporter will describe us as a group of little old ladies who met on the internet, encouraged one other each day, and laughed and cried their way through life together. A group of ladies who made a difference for each other, and for the world. The reporter will end our segment by announcing that the Monkees agreed with whoever it was who said, “What are we here for, if not to lighten each other’s loads?”

I read a post of Tricia’s the other day about how people are always saying they’re praying for her and her lump, but sometimes she gets suspicious. I understood what she meant. Sometimes you’re in my prayers just feels like something we say, doesn’t it? Well, I want to be sure of my prayers today. I want to pray big for Tricia, and I want her to know it.

So today, I’m going to hitch my prayers to actions. Specifically, I’m going to do some Random Acts of Kindness, some loving things I wouldn’t normally take the time to do, and I’m going to dedicate them to Tricia. In short: God’s gonna give me some nice things to do today, and I’m gonna do them, and then I’m gonna say:

Kay, God. That was my prayer for Tricia. Signed, Sealed, Delivered. Help her, please.

I think all the love we offer makes its way to our intended, even if it’s initially given to a stranger. Sometimes when the kids and I are sitting out on the dock with our feet in the water, we see a boat way off in the distance. And a long time later, just when we’ve forgotten all about that boat, these little teeny waves lick our toes. I think maybe prayers and kindness work like that. Like little waves.

If you are a Monkee in need of your own RAK day, please let me know. We’ll dedicate a whole day to you. We’ll pay for a stranger’s coffee, smile at a frowny lady, offer somebody the benefit of the doubt, or maybe even be kinder to ourselves than necessary, all on your behalf.

And God will look down at us and say:“WELL, WELL, WELL. WHO is responsible for all of this extra love today?”

And we will point at you and say: “SHE is. Help her, please.”

And He will. HE WILL. He’ll make sure our waves find their way to your toes.

I love you Monkees. Especially you today, Tricia. I’m gonna love hard for you, sister.

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Apr 162010

Our family lives in a small town on the bay now. So far, it feels exactly liked I dreamed it would.

We go on picnics, swing on the front porch, drive around town in Bubba and Tisha’s golf cart, play with the neighbor’s elderly lab, wave to passers by, and sit on the dock dangling our toes in the bay. It took me two weeks, but I think I have stopped rushing. Why rush when there’s nothing next?

We get dressed up and walk to church on Sunday mornings. Amma pushes her baby stroller and leaves it on the front lawn of the church during service. Tish carries her hot pink purse and trips over her silver glittery slippers the whole way there. Fancy purses and shoes are Tish’s favorite part of God.

On Easter Sunday we sat beside a teeny old lady who looked like she’d been getting ready for service since Good Friday. I admired her sculpted white curls, her tailored suit, her pale pink fingernails and her delicate hands, which were wrapped around a snazzy pink plaid clutch. She wore a pearl necklace with matching earrings and perfectly applied cotton candy lipstick. During the service I looked down at her teeny little ankles and noticed a tattoo of a blue crab peeking through her nude hose. She saw me looking down at her ankle and she winked at me. I was thrilled. Monkees can recognize their own. I’ve decided that dainty tattooed elderly ladies in church pews are my favorite kind of people ever. I can’t wait to be one.

My favorite thing about our new town is the church bells. The first bells chime at nine, and then every three hours for the rest of the day. We can hear them from the front yard, from the dock, from the living room. From anywhere we are. I love them because they’re beautiful, and because they remind me all day to wake up and say thank you. Hearing the church bells makes me feel like God’s got His eye on our little town. Or at the very least, our town’s got its little eye on Him. It feels cozy, like we’re all in this together.

There is a glass door at the back of our house that frames the bay inside of it, and during the past two weeks, I’ve watched each person in my family stop at that door, look out at the water and sigh. Even Tish sighs a bit at that door. It’s like our bodies are designed to stop, relax and appreciate the water. At least my family’s bodies are. So there’s a lot of sighing going on here lately. Tish lays on the dock and when she feels the breeze on her face she says “Ahhh…This is my YIFE.” We think she means “This is the life.” But of course, we don’t correct her.

Sometimes, after I finish writing in the early morning, if the kids haven’t woken yet, I sneak out to the back porch with my coffee and C.S. Lewis and listen to the bay wake up. I never get much reading done, because I find myself silently repeating “thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.” I have no idea what it is about the water that helps me be grateful. It helps me whether it’s in a glass with ice, a tub, or the bay. And today, I’m just grateful to have found a place where I can breathe easy for now. That’s all we can do, right? Try to find that place, and those people. For now.

Speaking of those people…this guy:

He’s loving it here. His wife is less agitated. His Corona matches his afternoon. He gets scruffier and saltier and in my opinion, more gorgeous with each passing day in this fishing town. I love him a little more, somehow, than I did before we left. One night several months ago, Craig and I were standing in the kitchen, listening to this song and dreaming about moving to the water. And now we’re here. We did it. That’s the best part. That he and I wanted something a little different and we did it. I am starting to wonder dangerous things, like Maybe There’s Nothing He And I Can’t Do Together.

Truly, the only lesson I’ve really learned during these past three weeks, and God willing, plan to keep learning for the rest of my life. . . is that it doesn’t matter a lick where this family lives. Where he is, where they are, is Home.

You have a beautiful weekend, Monkees. Thanks for helping a Sister breathe easy.

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest