Working with Angels

I remember once, at a group home where I used to work, celebrating the fact that a client actually used the toilet instead of her chair. The next time wasn’t quite as spectacular, but there for a minute, we were All-Stars. 

When I went off to work I jokingly (or not) told my hubby that it was a good day if I didn’t get poop actually ON me. That night, I told of the amazing feat of my lady actually using the bathroom facilities for a change. I knew he wanted to support me, but his face had kind of a blank look whenever I shared this kind of news. Fair enough. I didn’t fully appreciate the goings-on at his place of employment, but I was glad to see him happy. Probably the same way he does me. 

Sometimes when I’ve had a client with me out in the community, people have said something like “It takes a special kind of person to do that kind of work.” I appreciate it. I guess it does take a special something to do this work, but no more special than any other job that requires a lot of emotional weight-lifting, along with the usual physical manipulations of assisting an up-to 250 lb. infant/toddler go through their daily activities…

I mean, everything that an infant or toddler relies on their parents for, our clients depend on us to do for and with them. There’s kind of an inside joke among myself and my co-workers, that the bosses get us to start working there for super low pay, knowing that we’ll fall in love with our charges and basically put up with (no pay increases ever) any Managerial shenanigans so that we can be sure the clients are getting cared for by people who genuinely care about them. It’s the Hotel California trick. 

When we moved across the country last year, I was of course really sad that my older boy wasn’t coming with us, I still am every day. But he assured me that he  was a Big Boy and didn’t need me anymore.  So I gave him the benefit of the doubt,  and we moved. 

But deep inside of me, where I hadn’t even realized they were hiding, were my feelings about leaving behind “my” (non-verbal) little client. I really love working with the individuals who don’t speak. Possibly because of my personal experience in having to read body language as a child, and also because I know that they are the most vulnerable of any people group. 

The lady I had been working with before we moved was just as close to being an actual angel as I’ve ever seen. It’s not that she was beautiful by society’s standards, but her spirit shone through. When she was happy, her entire body shook with joy. And she was happy a lot when I was there. She loved going to church with me and her roommate, and the people at church fell in love with her, too.

Some of the other staff at the group home would get irritated with me because when she saw me come in, the world stopped and she did her kind of lurching goose-step over to me and hugged me fiercely. She watched for me to arrive, and would have hugged me all day if I would have let her. It was really nice. Like having a daughter, I suppose.

But then we had to move. Leaving that  sweet little girl behind was more difficult than I’d expected. Times when I’ve been home-sick, her smiling face has always come to mind. 

I know she is ok. The staff there are very compassionate and capable of caring for her, complicated medical issues and all. But I’ll probably never forget her, and I can’t wait to see her in her perfect new body in Heaven…

I was back home briefly over the summer, and the first thought  was to go see my special friend. Then I thought it through. And decided it would be selfish as hell for me to stop by & then leave again. So I didn’t go by the house where she lives. 

I know for sure that the rewards of this field of work are monetarily minimal. But the intangible rewards can make it surprisingly easy. I’m amazed when I think of the trust I’m given, when caring for my clients. Whether it’s pushing a wheelchair, coloring a craft, changing their pants/diapers for the umpteenth time or going through the “feelings” flash cards again, it is a privilege. 

Just another phenomenal blessing of sobriety. 

“And for that, I am responsible.”

12 Steps & Christianity

​Are the 12 steps for a Christian? 

Can they be used in a Christ like manner to bring us to a closer walk with Him? I say yes…the steps are Biblical in nature and this is how I view them as a Christian. 

1. I am a sinner. My life is broken and chaotic.  

2. Jesus I believe (trust in, rely on, adhere to) the fact that you can restore me to right thinking, action, speech, and relieve me from self destruction. 

3. Jesus I turn my will and my life over to You. 

4. I look to the past mistakes (sins) I look to the past victories and assess them all. 

5. I share with God, myself and a trusted individual those things of my past. I confess and bring them to the light of exposure in humility. 

6. I become ready to have God remove these defects of character. This sin nature. 

7. I become willing to allow Him to remove my shortcomings. Those things that don’t glorify Him. We all fall short yet in Him by His grace they can be removed. 

8. We make a list of those we have harmed and become willing to make amends. Sometimes it is just by the change that He produces that we becoming a living testimony, a blessing a true amends to family and friends whom or sins or shortcomings have affected. Also there might be financial amends but we should not let that hinder us from taking this step which releases us and mends our fears of the past. 

9. We begin to work with Him on the amends and the healing process. This takes time, prayer and humility. 

10. Daily we take into account our actions and reactions, if we fall short we promptly admit it. Honesty open-mindedness and willingness is a key to unlock this step. We don’t always have to be right we should be willing to admit our faults. This will free us from sliding down the wrong road. 

11. We pray, we continue to search His will for us through the meditation of His Word, and we seek the power of the Holy Spirit to carry His will out in our day to day life. 

12. Having been set free or a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps we carry this message and practice these principles in all our affairs. We walk the walk not just talk the talk. Spiritual progress.  

I’m definitely not a person who holds perfect adherence to these principles yet they to me are filled with Spirit and Truth and if worked in order continually can produce right relationship, right standing, or in biblical terms righteousness with Christ Who is our Righteousness. But that’s all contingent upon our spiritual maintenance. If this helps someone praise God. Be blessed and be a blessing.

And the tears come

Every month, for the last three or so, someone whom I cared about has died. I can’t even remember further back than that, but it seems to be pretty much on the reg, now. It’s a part of life, right? People die. People are born, and then they die. The Bigger Big Book says that each person is given about 60-70 years to live. Maybe more if you’re a truly amazing individual. But that’s really not the norm for the kind of people that I am acquainted with. The folks in my Tribe usually don’t make it past 40 or 50. Out of the last three to die, one was in his mid 40’s and the other two were right around 50.  

So, here’s the thing that prompted me to write about this: I don’t feel much of anything. I mean, one of these folks was a fairly close relative, and the other two had been important in my life at different times. Shouldn’t I feel…sad? I think intellectually I know I am sad, but emotionally I’m pretty well distanced from that pain. 
When I entered Treatment, I was all up in my head. I had a full-on case of Analysis Paralysis.  Someone told me that I did that to avoid feeling anything unpleasant. It took me a little while to become more aware of what I was actually feeling, and I think part of that lesson involved noticing the signals my body gave me. For example, when I’m initially anxious or stressed, my stomach aches. If I ignore it, the stomach ache moves on down my digestive tract. When I’m afraid I get tensed up and instinctively begin looking for an exit. I had come to distrust myself (and wear a mask) so much of the time, that I completely ignored these signs of my mental upset.  


I was in my teens I think, when I decided that I wasn’t going to cry anymore. I didn’t know it then, but I’d been depressed and struggling with PTSD for years, so crying had been part of a normal day for me. So, I concluded at this time that I wasn’t going to let anyone make me cry. God knows how, but I didn’t cry for more than a year. People died, relationships came and went, but I did not cry. I felt like I had grown callouses around my heart. Eventually I did allow the tears to escape, but even now, they are more difficult to access. There have been times when I was terrified and grief-stricken, but the tears only came for about 15 minutes at a time. Then they stopped. 


This concerns me.


It’s no secret that I have been taking medication to alleviate the depression for many years. I have been grateful to escape the darkness that lurks in my mind via Medical Professionals and pharmaceuticals. I remember telling someone who was considering trying meds for depression that they made me feel “appropriately”. As in, when it was a sad occasion, I felt sad, and when it was a happy event, I could smile and laugh. 
Before the medications, if it was a sad time, I was sad, and if it was a happy time, I was slightly less sad. Eeyore was of course my spirit animal.

I try to keep in mind that there are always many factors to consider when trouble-shooting my emotions. The biggest factor I can come up with now is that I’ve become more aware of PTSD symptoms when they crop up. I’ve figured out several scenarios where I am very much going to be uncomfortable and that I need to try and avoid. That awareness is helpful. It also makes it easier for me to see when others may be having the same issues.


So, in the process of self-examination, each time I learn of someone who has been important in my life dying as a result of this disease, I don’t really feel anything.  The last person, I was shocked at first, but that was just because I thought she’d dodged so many bullets already that she’d never die. And then when I thought about times that we’d been together – and there were ALWAYS shenanigans involved – I couldn’t really work up any feelings.  Same basic situation with the person before her, but we had been friends during childhood…nothing. Before that was my Uncle. 


Brett was a couple of years younger than me, and for as long as I could remember, up until I was 16 or so, I would spend at least a week with him on Grandpa’s farm. We were very much like brother and sister. We swam in the lake, fished, caught nightcrawlers for said fishing, climbed trees and even cleaned out an old pig house (like a very small shed) for a fort.  Brett was where I learned the amazing skill of rolling off of the top bunk directly onto the bottom bunk. Those were the days. As I think back, I miss that period of my life. I miss the carefree time out in the country, being as much of a tomboy as I could stand, and knowing that I was a part of
I’m not sure if that all even has anything to do with my uncle, necessarily. I am saddened to think of my innocence then, and how far I ran to the opposite extreme in my active using…years. Maybe it was the fact that I could count on, every summer, getting that break from my reality.  


So, yeah. I wonder about my lack of feeling. Is it a result of having had so many painful and traumatic experiences, that I’m just not (yet) able to open up that part of my consciousness? Is it the old standard “IDGAF” that I programmed into myself for such a long time? And then when I ponder these things, there’s the part of me that says I need to suck it up, remember there are many people who would LOVE to have my problems (I do, and feel terrible for not being more thankful), and make a gratitude list. Gratitude lists are EXCELLENT, by the way, but they’re not the end-all and be-all for overcoming these things. 


I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about this sort pf thing, primarily because I’m not sure how to remedy it, and you know the old saying “You can’t think yourself to sober living. You have to live yourself into sober thinking.”


Do you have any experience with this all-encompassing numbness? Do you “know” the right feelings for situations and yet not have them? Do you think this is part of the whole “children of alcoholics watch others to see how they should feel” thing?


I don’t have the answers, and thank God I don’t have to, today. 

P. S. 

Moments after writing this, I was informed that my only friend in this state died this afternoon. It was an overdose. She had a son that was friends with my son, and another who was 4. I am feeling now. 


Written in my cabin in the mountains.

It’s a “We” program

No matter how many times I hear about someone I know dying from the disease of addiction, it still feels like a punch in the gut,  then as if the heaviest, darkest storm cloud has descended and is following my every move. 

I found out this morning that a woman with whom I’d been inseparable for a time in early recovery had died…as a direct result of her addiction. 

I remember her as being friendly, outspoken, tons of fun, and unable to stop the slow suicide that comes in a bottle, or a baggie, or… whatever. 

Back when we hung out, she carrried around with her a 64 oz.”polar pop”- EVERYWHERE, including meetings. At some point, I can’t remember when, exactly, I discovered that there was much more than Pepsi in there. 

Then a few years later I discovered that my friend was struggling to put together a few days sober. I made sure she knew that I was there for her.

When a newcomer at the Women’s meeting we both attended mentioned that this same friend of mine was Sponsoring her, I asked her how long her Sponsor had been sober and she said “a couple of years.” The truth was, it hadn’t been a week. My friend was so much like every other addict… We’re so “smart” that we outsmart the part of us that wants to LIVE. I prayed that she would find a Higher Power that could remove the obsession. 

My friend could recite the Steps, Traditions, and How it Works from memory. She knew how to welcome the newcomers, and the not-so-new comers. She made people feel “a part of”, and she was generous to a fault. 

I’m so sorry that she never won the fight. She really was a fighter, too. 

Sometimes one has to die so that others can live. At least that’s what they tell me. I’m so tired of grieving. But it’s the price we pay for loving. So I guess I’ll get used to it. ❤ May we learn from everyone whose path we cross. 

Facebook, I’m breaking up with you.

I don’t remember exactly when we met, but you instantly brought a new dimension to my life. It was like I’d found the perfect conduit for almost anything I wanted to know, and anyone I wanted to connect with. I was in a pretty sad and lonely place when you came along,  and you listened, you gave me bits of encouragement, and you helped me to find my smile again. And I felt much better with you around. You were there to bring old friends back into my life, and you even suggested people that I might like to be introduced to. Slowly but surely, I began to think of you as my go-to for any problem, or just to relieve boredom. I know you thought that all of these things were what I wanted, and for the most part, they were. 

But there was a thought in the back of my mind, nudging me toward things that I used to enjoy. Things that enriched my life and made me the kind of person that I’d only dreamt of becoming. 

Your “helpfulness” weighed on me. Your demands for attention drained me. Sure, you had good qualities, and you still do. But the scales have tipped to the negative, somehow. 

I feel like dealing with you and your incessant need to occupy my every moment has become a larger problem than I want to admit. 

We had some good times, sure, and I appreciate your being there when I needed someone. But I’m cutting the leash. The strings that kept me tied to you are not going to manipulate me any more. I just can’t afford to spend my life keeping up with you. I have responsibilities, and I have a Power much greater than you to answer to. I want to grab ahold of what’s left of my time here. 

I’m breaking up with you, Facebook. I don’t want to see you around. I have no interest in hearing about your escapades. They no longer work for me. Don’t call me. Thanks. 

All in how you say it

Even after a number of 24s, there are always a few remnants of the old life around. 

I remember once I had a CD I wanted to share with my pastor & her husband, especially knowing that he drove a truck cross-country, and was always looking for something good to listen to. After about 2 weeks or so, I went up to Tim and asked him if he’d gotten the CD from Trisha yet. He said “No,” and with a funny look on his face he moved closer to me and said “She’s bogarting it!” He knew it would surprise me, and it did. We had a good laugh. Tim has been clean since long before we knew them. It’s fun to share the “code language” with others, especially when most of the people standing around (think: old church folk) have no idea what’s so funny. 

There are several other words that come to mind from the Old Daze, that have continued to pop up on occasion, and it’s a strange feeling when you’re trying to explain the meaning to a non-addict. 

The thing that got me thinking about this is when I was getting a cup of coffee at the mini-mart just a while ago. 

They have out “Christmas” flavored creamers, with names like Peppermint Mocha, Chocolate Chip cookie, and Chocolate Carmel. Ordinarily I’m a French Vanilla kind of girl, but I do love me some Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream, so the Peppermint Mocha caught my attention. 
I was looking forward to a delicious -different-tasting- cuppa Joe, as I started adding the sweetener and things. I put in a couple of the Peppermint Mocha creamers, but then I thought “this might be too much for this early in the day”. So I put in another two of the Regular creamers, just to be safe. 

I went to pay and mentioned the flavored creamers to the cashier & we talked with another customer about the flavors & which sounded good. Then it happened. I said that I tried the one new kind of creamer, but I “put some cut on it” with the regular creamer. 

I wonder to myself what others think when we do that. It’s like the… resin… of what once was. Or am I the only one? 

Have you had any experiences where old jargon fell out of your mouth before you realised it?  

Posted from the laundromat. Of course. 🙂