On anger and (lack of) acceptance, and of course, grief.

I worked today. It wasn’t unbearable. I have made a couple of friends there who help me to stay in the present, and find things to laugh about.

I have a co-worker whom I worked with briefly pre-the event, and then after, for a short time. I recently returned to that jobsite and she asked me how I’m doing with my son’s death and all…

…my honest answer is “I’m staying busy.”

What that means, is:

I do everything in my power to think about ANYTHING except for the fact that my baby is gone. I struggle every single day to keep my mind in between the lines, knowing that any drifting toward the curb will surely result in careening over the guard rail into the valley of sadness and regret. Although I don’t feel a desire to do anything, I am compelled to…keep swimming.

There was a self-help book that came out, probably in the 80’s, and the title of it was “I’m dancing as fast as I can.” Lately it’s more like I’m sitting in a rocking chair, rocking as fast as I can, but the effect is probably about the same.

Added to the grief of my son’s death is the fact that I find other things in my life, things that may ordinarily be moderately annoying, to be ENTIRELY UNACCEPTABLE. That’s where I have to do some footwork. I know enough about grief to realise that my irritability could be grief, slipping out sideways. And for that, I am, as they say, responsible.

I was in a class recently with someone who just frankly chapped my ass. This person was (just my opinion) overly self-centered, obnoxiously attention-seeking, and, well, maybe narcissistic. As evidenced by the looks on the faces of others in attendance, it wasn’t just me who was finding this person’s behavior a challenge to tolerate. For all outward appearances, this person was in attendance for purely selfish reasons, which was ironic especially when the whole point of the class was learning how to better SERVE OTHERS.

So, I got to thinking (in between perceived offensive behaviors), working on a mini-4th Step: what is it about ME, that this behavior is having such an effect on my serenity?

I learned from the Old timers in AA, many years ago, that if a person is getting on my nerves, it may be that there’s something of ME that I see in them. 🤔 Hmm.

Or maybe it’s a trait that I used to have, evident in all its ugliness, when seen in someone else…🤔

A few days later, I was talking about this situation with a friend. I had no sooner gotten out of my mouth how much I felt like punching this person, and realising that I was giving them ENTIRELY too much free space in my head, when my friend said “It sound’s like (they’re) really hurting.”

It stopped me right in my tracks. Mid-rant, to be honest.

Hurting.

I know something about that.

In fact, just a short period before this ass-chapping situation began, I had, myself, opened my mouth and said something for which I was compelled to apologise, the next day.  (Yes, it took that long for me to hear my conscience, loud and clear. Don’t you judge me!) I apologised to person #1 for a shitty statement I’d made about person #2, because apparently I felt uncomfortable in strange surroundings and wanted to be sure that #1 would want to be MY friend rather than #2. Such an immature and hurtful thing I did. My only reason/excuse is that I’m hurting and sometimes it comes out of my mouth in the form of me being an asshole.

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So, I can see, today, from this vantage point, that perhaps the person chapping my ass was, in fact, myself. After all, aren’t I the one who decides how I frame my life experiences? Don’t I  choose whether I become angry or not?

Yeah. I’m still a doo-doohead at times.

Which leaves me here, tonight.

Let me preface this by saying:

I am not depressed. Also, I am not suicidal. At all.

But I was thinking earlier about the shift in my thinking, a.d.

I had been pursuing becoming an entrepreneur, a lifelong dream. I was learning how to think like a successful business person, just absorbing all those “positive” and “motivational” phrases and quotes. Things like

“My best days are before me!”

But, now, guess what. I don’t believe that. I can not believe that there are better days ahead than what are behind.

For too many reasons to mention, it’s just not something, barring MIRACULOUS moves of God, that I’m willing to accept. Mind you, I do believe in miracles and God has shown up and shown off plenty of times…but my feelings tell me that the best days of my life are gone.

This has NOTHING to do with the incredibly strong supportive folks around me. Please don’t twist this into being about them. It’s just how I feel. It will pass.

And don’t get me started on the Mom-remorse for not knowing how to (adequately?) help my younger son through this nightmare.

………………………………………………………..

This is why I hesitate to write. I don’t have much to say that’s not wrapped up in shades of grief and mourning. If you see me on the street or in a store, you won’t know that these thoughts are my constant companions. I do my best to not thrust my heaviness of heart onto unsuspecting others.

But 3 days from now would have been Benjamin’s 26th birthday. 3 months and 2 weeks since he left us.

I suppose maybe someone will glean something helpful from this. Its really the only purpose for sharing these thoughts.

Thank you, if you’ve read this far. I am so very grateful for the kind and generous, emotionally available people in my life. If I can ask a simple favor, it is that you keep my family, Benjamin’s wife & friends in your prayers. 20160217_220356.jpg

 

 

 

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A beautiful day to be drink and drug-free

About a week ago, it was typical winter weather, bitter cold and windy. Here, in Virginia, schools were closed and then had a 2-hour delay. We even had a few inches of snow!

Then, a couple of days ago, the temperature rose to 70°! Bizarre, even for Virginia.

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Today, my husband and I went out to run errands together, and it was a pleasant enough day.

Last night I was sitting in a meeting and a friend disclosed that about a week ago his child had completed suicide.

Yeah.

He has not chosen to relapse.

This is a beautiful example of the power of the spiritual program of recovery found in Alcoholics Anonymous.

I have so many things to say, and I need to say them. However, I feel like I just don’t have the words, right now. Maybe I should do an inventory to decipher what it is that I’m feeling.

Of late, my feelings are ever-changing, like quicksand…sucking me down…

In the desperate attempt to keep from feeling the emotional battery, I bob and weave furiously, dancing to avoid the right hook of pain and sorrow. More often than not, the punches land squarely.

I feel like there are a thousand emotional land mines all around me. I don’t know, maybe the death of my son was the impetus…I begin to recover from the devastation of stepping directly on a HUGE mine, then have a few days of comparable peace. Then out of the blue I step close enough to another mine, to set it off. The personal damage is much less, of course, but it ensures that my mind stays keenly on alert for any further, life-threatening  explosions.

Perhaps that’s why my verbiage is at such an all-time low. 95 days in. Part of the process, I remind myself.

I am walking in the dark now, gingerly, with arms outstretched, feet carefully searching for a safe spot on which to step. Whether or not such a place exists for me, now, I cannot say.

Moving forward, I am sure to encounter more death, pain, and plenty of other things over which I am powerless. My hope is to find a place where I can focus more on the births, and the healing, and laughter. Sooner would be better than later, but it’s in God’s hands.

I am reluctant to write while my days are more painful than not. Whether or not I will continue, only time will tell.

I shall remain…looking for reasons to smile, looking for His face.

“How’ve you been?”, she asked. Then quickly apologised.

Last night I saw a friend that I hadn’t seen for a few months. Naturally, she asked about me, then remembered my new normal. I’m positive I would have done the same. I let her know that I get it, and thanked her for not giving me the “oh, look it’s Poor Abbie” greeting.

I don’t know how I would be if I encountered a woman who’d recently lost her child to death. I imagine searching her face for cues, how to appropriately proceed in the most compassionate, least hurtful way.

No easy task, I’m sure.

At any given moment, 94 days a.d., I may have my “happy and functional” mask on, or I might be struggling to keep my focus on the here and now.

I understand, now, why older folks often have watery eyes. I’m getting to where I can almost keep the rest of my face from giving my heart away.

Sometimes I can ALMOST hear his laughter. Other times I am standing beside his hospital bed as he gasps his last breaths.

I remember when my Dad died, many years ago, in his bed at home. When the last breath left his body, I heard a wail that I’d never heard before. Because we were at his house, it wasn’t a consideration, to be quiet. The sound that came out of me, was other-worldly. It was the sound of my heart shattering, my spirit felt like it had momentarily expired, with him.

When Benjamin left the bondage of his mortal shell, I was aware of the others there. My younger son. Benjamin’s wife. Our sobs were subdued, but not the agony.

I suppose on a purely spiritual level, our hearts’ cries exploded together, a blood curdling protest. The weeping was only beginning that day. I suppose it will end when our lives here are over.

I know when I see his face again my eyes will be flooded with tears of joy. I will see him again. Each day brings me closer to that glorious moment…

Anyway. I found this image somewhere online. It’s the artist’s conception of a parent, having lost a child.

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I guess it’s different for those who lost a young child, adolescent, teenager. For me, I am eternally grateful to have been given Ben’s presence through his 25th year. I am so happy that he found his soulmate, Tisha, and made sure that she had a beautiful wedding. He left behind a life of laughter and compassion, touching so many people with his own, delightful, eclectic love.

Nonetheless. That hole will never go away. I’m willing to accept that.

God has promised to be near to the broken hearted. I can assure you, it’s true. I hope you never need to know.

I can’t be anything but grateful for how long Benjamin lived. His life was miraculous from the beginning and throughout. I can’t help but thank God for the joy Ben brought me, even praying for a brother who has been a constant delight, as well.

My story may seem to be remarkable to some, but the stories of my children and their lives are really the amazing and beautiful ones.

God bless you. Thank you for reading.

 

I dropped her off Wednesday evening

…and on Thursday morning she was dead.

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I met X when she was in detox, about a year ago. She was pretty, spunky, and tired of living that life. She had someone bring her guitar in, and played for everyone. She was a delight. A gypsy soul.

Then later, X moved on to a women’s recovery house. She was making progress; got a job, and put together some clean time. Everybody who met X liked her. She was smart, sassy, and sensitive. I had high hopes for her.

The people who keep track of these things say that on average, only one out of 30-some people who get clean will stay that way. The odds are always against us. Addiction is so much more “cunning, baffling, and powerful” than anyone thinks.

And now I’m waiting to find out when the memorial/funeral will be. I feel numb.

Maybe it’s from having lost so many friends over the years, as a result of addiction, that I’m kind of permanently braced for it.

Maybe it’s because I’ve already been wading in the deep waters of grief. Once you’ve been completely soaked, you can’t really get any wetter, can you?

When I got the news about X’s death, I cried. I asked (her, from inside my car, as if she would hear me) “WHAT THE FUCK?!?” and I cried.

Someone said that maybe she died so that she wouldn’t have to endure any more…

Active addiction (which is usually accompanied by mental illness) is a very painful existance. Probably the only thing worse than that lifestyle is having tasted recovery and knowing that it is possible, and then finding yourself back in the misery and chaos of active addiction. Every time a person relapses, getting back into recovery gets more difficult than the time before.

I know that the activities of people with Substance Use Disorder seem crazy to the rest of the world. It took me a while to make sense of the whole “disease” model of addiction, but then I finally figured it out:

Addiction is a disease. It’s a mental illness. Like any other mental illness, the sufferers think their actions are normal, and that the rest of the world is wrong. Mental illness, and addiction,  can show up at any age, with or without any warning.

Regardless of your personal opinion on drug or alcohol abuse, it’s not a hopeless cause.

Do you know someone who needs to get clean or sober? It’s possible. Easy? Hell, no.

A lot of the outcome depends on the person and the family getting help. A lot of family members think that they don’t have any role to play in the recovery of their loved one. That’s actually not true at all.

Think about it. The odds are already stacked against them. Drugs and alcohol usually win, in that struggle. It IS a LIFE OR DEATH FIGHT. Do you want to attend their funeral, knowing that you could have done more?

Or visit them in prison? Or the psychiatric ward? 🤔

The only way the story ends for an alcoholic or addict (besides recovery) is JAILS, INSTITUTIONS OR DEATH.

Soon, I will see X’s Mom during the worst time of her life. Losing a child is hellish.

The next time you see a story about someone with an addiction, or pass an addict on the street, remember that that person is someone’s child. Look at them. In the face. De-humanizing them is the cowardly way. The next one could be yours. Do everyone a favor, and offer to take them to rehab. Detox. A meeting. SOMETHING.

I’m gonna miss you, X. So are a lot of others I know.

 

 

A few words on adulting.

Adulting is really fucking difficult isn’t it?

Especially when you sometimes feel like you’re still the 14 year old version of you.

But the truth is, everyone is still waiting to feel like a grown up.

And you know what?

You’re not weird or strange for feeling this way.

You’re amazing, just as you are.

♥️

I lifted this from someone on Facebook. I haven’t written lately because I haven’t had anything new to say. Oh, how I hate redundancy.

So it’s entirely possible that the next posts will be just things that resonate with me, and hopefully, you, too.

I want to begin to write again, and I believe that I will. I’m just waiting for the words to come back to me.

I am grateful for you.

“Leopards​ Never Change Their Spots”

Once upon a time there was a leopard. He was crafty and handsome, and he loved the spots on his soft coat. They made him feel better about, well, everything.

One day, after many years of increasing troubles and pain, the leopard had a moment of clarity. “These spots of mine, as much as I’ve loved having them, have been the cause of so much heartache and grief. My wife hates them. My children hate them. They really haven’t been making me feel better for a very long time. I’ve got to change them!”

So, the leopard found a group of others like him and asked them, “What must I do to relieve this guilt and remorse?!” They told him of a place where he would learn to feel better without relying on his spots, and he realised that he didn’t want them anymore. He decided to change his spots by following a few suggestions and taking some steps. These steps lead into a place so wonderful that he could never have imagined it!! And so, the leopard with the changed spots, lived happily ever after, one day at a time.
Ok. So this is what I want to share with my work associate. She was talking about someone she loved, and his addictions. I said “It can be mighty hard for a leopard to change his spots.”
To which she replied, sadly and sincerely, “Leopards never change their spots.”

I know that there are many many good people who feel the same way about addicts and alcoholics. I don’t hold it against them. It doesn’t make them bad people; just uninformed.

Leopards may or may not be able to actually change their spots, in nature. But in MY case, I know a LOT of cats who have done it. And, now, I am occasionally blessed to help them do it.

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