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. 

Understand

I don’t. 

The Democracy thing is set up so that the majority vote decides, right? Has everyone gone mad? 

In my understanding, as a Christ-follower, I am to pray for our leadership, and remember that God is sovereign. 

Throwing temper tantrums never worked for me as a child, but I guess many folks were raised with a very different experience. 

I used to take people’s words at face value. Then I realised that unless the actions line up with the words, it’s foolish for me to take people’s words as truth. 

I’ve been quiet lately because I watch and see what transpires. So far, I’m embarrassed to be connected to the folks who are acting like savages. That is all.
…from my shack in the forest.

Who am I, really?

I’ve been wrestling with this question- well, not really wrestling, more like thumb-wrestling-for a while, now. And I will likely be thinking about it for some time in the future. 

OK. Who am I?

Obviously, I’m a person in long-term recovery. That’s been pretty well established. I’ve been a Mom (for a while), a student, a Recovery Coach, a Direct Support Provider, and countless other nouns. But, my question remains the same: who am I? 

Do you know me?
I am a middle-aged Caucasian woman, a brunette, and not as tall as I once was. But that’s just the things you can see. 

I’ve been married, divorced, homeless, thought I was a tree for a moment, a miserable young adult, and a frightened child through it all.

I am an advocate for those who have no voice, and for those who do but are afraid to speak. I am a Believer in Christ, although I don’t represent Him as well as I could, which is why I’m reluctant to mention it. I know people (myself included) have often judged the Lord by how His chosen behave. I hope no one looks at me as anything but an example of His grace and mercy. For real. Even on my best days, there’s nothing good in me, save the Spirit of God.

Where do I fit?

I’ve been considering my place in the world, basically, since I was abruptly released from a certain position…one that had me smiling every single day. One where I KNEW I was right where I was supposed to be.

The situation (the termination, frankly) had me convinced that it would be far too risky to ever get a job again that meant THAT MUCH to me. The devastation and loss I felt were palpable, and lasted for weeks.

Life goes on…

I am a writer, a joke-cracker, and a Wounded Healer. A deep feeler if not so much a deep thinker. 

I believe that there are still people that I will be allowed to help, that want to learn how to live clean and sober. That’s really all I want to do, but it’s gonna have to be God’s time. 

Practicing the principles in all my affairs.

For now, what I absolutely must be is willing, honest and open-minded. I am grateful for the things God has given me, and equally grateful for things He’s taken away. 
Honestly.

Who am I? I’m a person. A weary traveller. In long-term Recovery. Former alkie/druggie, current mental health consumer. Trying to figure things out. In some ways, I am you. 🙂 

Tell me, who are you, today?

July 25th

​July 25, 2016

16 years ago today…

…my youngest child came screaming into the world. Oh, wait, maybe it was ME that was screaming. At any rate, my baby is 16 today. So many things have happened in 16 years. When he was born we were living in the Florida panhandle, loving the life, with a pier behind our place for fishing. Then we moved back to Indiana, where E has remained for most of his life. There were several moves while in Indiana, for financial reasons, mostly. The last place we lived was a small town about halfway between Columbus, IN and Indy. I think it has 2 stop lights. 

Then last year we moved across the country to the place we currently reside. I suppose it’s easy to forget how difficult the teen years are, because our brain is able to “forget” extremely difficult periods. At least mine is. I know that when I was 15, I had just begun to investigate what would be the “solution” for what ailed me: alcohol and drugs.  There wasn’t much talk, back then, at least where we were, about eating disorders and depression in teenagers, so it’s understandable that nothing much was done. I presented as a teen full of angst, I’m sure, moody as hell, and unhappy with the world. Dad diagnosed me with the “poor me’s” which is likely what he heard growing up. Maybe my attitude problem was an actual illness, that could be addressed and gotten past. But nobody thought that way, then, and there. 

I’ve told my son that as miserable as he may be, he ought to try to imagine feeling like that every day instead of occasionally, and without any medication to regulate his brain chemistry. I’m sure if I lived today as a teenager, as much publicity as self-harm and suicide get, I’d be right on that bandwagon.  What better way to lash out at uninterested parents, or worse (and usually the case), to try to release some of the emotional pain growing inside? 

I’m told that one of the things that causes people to self-harm is the way that the chemicals in the brain respond to pain, with endorphins or dopamine, or whichever of those feel-good chemicals. That makes sense. Internal, or external, we’re going to find some way to escape the pain.
So, moving to a new place at 15 years old, might not be a big deal for a well-adjusted, emotionally stable (is there such a thing, at 15??) kid. Considering the things that life has handed him, I think my boy has adjusted as well as anyone else in his circumstances would.  

Moving at this time was one of those “jump and know that God will catch me” things. I’m not gonna say that I don’t think we were supposed to move here, as hard as it has been. I mean, really, things are tough all over, right? My husband and I believe that God allowed this move, if not willed it. And before we moved, I specifically asked the boy if he was ok with it. He said yes (3 months of summer break was a motivator). If we’d have known then what we know now, I’m not sure any of us would have agreed, but move we did, and getting settled, we are. 

So, my boy is celebrating his 16th birthday with his big brother, back in Indiana. I know that’s probably the best gift he could have received, as much as he loves his Bubby. 
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Update: My boy came back home, and I, for one, was READY for him to be back. It was nice having the place to ourselves, but much nicer having him here. At HOME. 

I’m glad E got to hang out with his brother, and one of my best friends, and my Mom…I know he had been “homesick”, and really looked forward to the trip. But I’m also pretty sure that his dreams of how a visit “back home” would be, weren’t too close to how things actually went. 

So, now, I have a 16-year-old again. I wish things had been different when my elder son (B) was 16. I was an emotional trainwreck,  then, and it seemed best for B to go stay with my mother for a time. The continual fighting between the two boys was like plunging a knife deep into the back of someone who’d already been beaten to a pulp. It tore my heart out, and I just didn’t know what else to do.  I have deep regrets about that period of time. I know I did my best, but my best at the time seems to have been pretty poor. 

In spite of me being such a mess, B has grown up to be a tremendously sensitive, insightful, and compassionate individual. He lives with some of the same inner dragons as I do, and I see him working it out. I’m proud of the man he is becoming. And I pray for him.

My younger son is a Highly Sensitive Person, and by that I mean he feels things more intensely, (including textures) and even his hearing is much better than most.  He is thoughtful and caring and smart to the extent that it’s a handicap. E is the guy that his friends come to when they need a shoulder to cry on. High School is super challenging, as it is for everyone, but I know he will find the strength to rise above the difficulties. And I pray for him. 

I thank God for each of my children, every day. And I pray that He will lead and guide them as they continue to find their way in the world. 

UPDATED Update:

Since I haven’t gotten this posted yet, I want to add some more…

In spite of everything else, this school year looks to be better than last year for E. He’s finding his people, and involved in something that he loves. I’ve changed jobs recently, from one that I loved my co-workers but couldn’t live on the money, to a place where I’m not sure about the co-workers (not that it matters) but eventually we will catch up on the bills and be able to LIVE again.  And it’s the same kind of work that I was doing at the last place. I know how to do it. It’s caring for people that seemingly no one else cares to, or wants to care for. To be fair, it’s not something everyone CAN do, I guess. 

But, here we are. I’m growing fond of our new home. My son appears to be less unhappy here, and my husband enjoys his work, and also he’s making progress in the corporate ladder-climbing thing. So, I’ve been slacking on my writing, and I thought I’d get this up while I’m thinking of it.

Happy Fall, Y’all!

…and then…(Part 3)


I followed the ambulance so that I could stop by Mom’s and tell her what was going on. I still didn’t know anything except that something was wrong with his heart.

When I got to the hospital they had him in the room prepping him for surgery.
My son underwent his first heart surgery (of 3, to date) that night, and I began to see miracles, left and right. I called my Dad, who had gotten clean and sober several months before I had, and told him what I knew. Between my sobs, he pieced together enough to know that this was serious trouble. He asked if I wanted him to fly in (he was living in Florida), and I said no. I’d learned from years of wishing Dad would step up and take care of me, not to ask. He hadn’t been capable of connecting with me emotionally until he’d gotten into recovery. I told him not to worry about it, because I’d rather have him tell me he wasn’t coming than to hope he would, and then have him not show up. Again.
I was taken to a room inside the hospital to sleep for a few hours. My baby was in surgery for 5 or 6 hours, and there was nothing left for me to do. Besides, the terror and hysteria of the day’s events had left me exhausted.  I had cried until I had no tears left.
I’m not sure what time it was, but in the middle of the night, there was a knock on the door of my room. Through the darkness I saw the outline of a figure. It was Dad. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and relief. I really didn’t have to go through this alone. I cried that time, for joy. I was absolutely taken by surprise, seeing him there. 

I mean, I had already seen (and would continue to) that the recovery community was going to be there for me, and along with all the fear and pain, I felt that I was not alone. God was with me, and He was using people to demonstrate His love to me. 

That was the night that I learned about faith, and about redemption. I learned through that experience what hysteria feels like, and that feelings won’t kill you.  I learned that the program was true and the process could be trusted.  I learned that I never had to do anything alone.  
What it’s like now…
After I got clean & sober, the relationship with my Dad was gradually mended, and when he died in 1999, I considered him my best friend. Part of his making amends was giving me a book called “Toxic Parents”, and later asking me what I thought about it. (And listening to my thoughts and feelings when I told him.) I was blessed to be with him during his last months of life, and I was sitting beside him on the bed when he graduated to Heaven. It was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. I look forward to seeing him again.
The first several months of my sobriety felt like I was in the middle of an ocean, during an intense storm. I was only able to keep my head above water because of the women in the fellowship and the grace of my Higher Power. I didn’t have any time to consider much of anything besides survival, from one day to the next. 

My boy and I came home (to Mom’s place) from the hospital after a few weeks. He was on medications that had to be administered every 2 hours around the clock, which meant I didn’t get to sleep a lot. The sleep deprivation was almost like being wasted on (something), at times, which was NOT what I was looking for. Once I was warming a bottle up for him and when I opened the microwave to get it out, pulled out the nipple, instead. The bottle was sitting beside it, in plain view, but I didn’t see it until after I saw the nipple in the microwave. 

I thought about how utterly ridiculous it was that the Dr.s sent this tiny, fragile infant home with ME being responsible for keeping him alive.  I wonder now if my Sponsor and other support members were aware of the incredible job we had in front of us.  Them: helping me through the insanity of early sobriety. And me: doing everything required to keep this gift alive and make sure he thrived. And it didn’t help anything, I learned shortly, that I was no longer going to be sitting anywhere near the throne of my life. “King Baby” had to step down, and it was not without a lot of screaming and crying that I did so, one day at a time…

One grrl’s story (Part 1)

 I am an adult child of an alcoholic/addict, a codependent, a survivor of domestic violence, and I qualify for most 12-step programs. Additionally, I have endured many years of depression, ADD, OCD, and PTSD. Today I am an OVERCOMER. This is my story. 

What it was like… 

Angel? Maybe.

I was born in a small Midwestern town. When I was a very small child, we moved out to the country near a Pennsylvania Dutch (think: Amish) community where we stayed until I was about 8. My Mom and Dad were the typical 20-somethings of their day, kind of a mix of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show” meets “Green Acres”.  Dad was a charismatic salesman – winning awards left and right – selling, among other things, encyclopedias (kids, ask your parents what those are), while Mom was the Stay-at-home Mom that every little girl of that era was expected to become.  She was outstanding at it: cooking delicious meals, sewing our clothes, and taking care of the home, and of us.  My earliest memories are of our farm, where we had a large yard and a big, old house. I used to go down the street to the neighbor’s place and play with his pigs, and I even had a pet pig for a time. I thought I was living the good life.  

When I was 5, I started attending kindergarten.  I enjoyed going to school and meeting other kids. It was a relief to not be expected to be perfect, like at home. Dad was “strict” and quick with a belt. He had all of the “ism’s” before he ever began drinking alcoholically, and I would do ANYTHING to please him. For the record, I know that dad never maliciously hurt me. He genuinely thought he was doing what he was supposed to do. He was raising me the way his Dad had done him. 
  
When one of my classmates asked me if it was true that we had a (gasp!!) tv at our house, it went around the classroom quickly. After that, I was aware of being “different”. When I was an adult a Dr. told me that I had A.D.D., which explained a LOT of things about my childhood. In Kindergarten, I began to be teased about things over which I had no control (A.D.D., at this time). One day I went home crying, after being teased and called names, AGAIN, Mom took me in to tell my Dad, expecting him to make me feel better, I’m sure. He was in the living room with some friends, and instead of giving me a hug and comforting me, when we told him why I was so upset, Dad laughed at me. A lot. 
I was devastated.  Unlike the bruises left by his belt, that was a wound that never healed. 

My brother came along when I was about 7, and by the time I was 8, Dad was telling us goodbye, and to me, “take care of your Mom and brother”.  Mom stood by the front window for months in her housecoat, waiting for him to come back. He never did. Dad wasn’t interested in the responsibilities of having a wife and kids, and so he divorced Mom and freed himself. However, no matter where he went, there he was. 

By then, I was about to enter 4th grade. Without Dad’s income, we had to leave the nice big farmhouse. We moved a total of 4 times that school year. Until that time, schoolwork had been pretty easy for me, but after Dad left and we moved away, my grades suffered, predictably. It’s challenging, being the “New Kid”, and I was an easy target for bullies. I desperately wanted to be liked and accepted, so I made up stories about myself in an attempt to impress my peers. At one school, I said I was an Indian Princess, another, I was on the popular PBS show “Zoom”, and at yet another I claimed to be a Martial Artist. That one turned out badly, when the class bully asked me to show her some moves. Thankfully, we moved again soon after that. 
We eventually landed in Indianapolis, and Mom bought a house in a small town just outside of the city. I went to a nearby religious school for a couple of years, until Mom was no longer able to afford it. (Child support was sporadic at best.) During my stint at the religious school, I continued to get into trouble for lack of impulse control, forgetting homework assignments, and talking in class. Let’s just say that I became well acquainted with the paddle. 
So, with the finances getting tighter, still, I began attending the local public school. The teachers at the new school were understandably frustrated with me (distractibility, impulsiveness, and forgetfulness, etc…). I was bullied more often than not, and my grades had continued a downward spiral due to the emotional and mental…differences I had developed.  I know, now, that Mom was too exhausted from her 2-3 jobs to have much energy left for PTA meetings, but at the time, I just felt alone. She worked her ass off to provide for us, and Dad was almost nonexistant in our lives. 

Around age 13, I started to wonder why I felt so different, inside. I felt abandoned from any family and I didn’t have any friends. Anxiety was my constant companion and self-worth was practically non-existent. I discovered a paperback book that gave me some insight. The book was about a teenage girl who had two different sides to her personality, and how she went from bubbly and gregarious, one day, to sullen and wearing only black clothes and showing all the signs of depression, the next. The book was called “Lisa, Bright and Dark”, and it gave me a little bit of understanding of what I had been feeling. While not diagnosed for years after that, unbeknownst to me, I had stumbled onto what part of my problem was: I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and depression. 
Several years later, I was diagnosed with depression and began taking an antidepressant. Up until that time I’d thought that it was normal to feel the way I did. I thought everyone was dreary and felt like Eeyore every day. After I had taken the medication for a while, I was stunned one day when I went outside and saw that THE SKY WAS BLUE! The birds were singing like something in a Walt Disney movie! It was amazing! I don’t recall why, but I stopped taking the medication after not too long. Looking back, it may be because we couldn’t afford the medication or possibly we thought that I was “cured”. 
But that’s not how it works. 

So, I was left to fend for myself, as far as finding some kind of relief. When I was about 15, I found the answer to all of my problems. 
I had babysat for a neighbor and he paid me with a bag of weed. EUREKA! I was about to find what life was all about. It’s always been interesting to me, how that panned out. I somehow fashioned a kind of a joint from the bag and smoked it with my best friend. She didn’t get anything out of the pot, and so she decided that it wasn’t interesting to her, and she never tried it again. I, on the other hand, also got nothing out of it, but my reaction was entirely different. I was pretty sure that there HAD to be more to it than that, and I went about finding out what all the hubbub had been about. Soon after that, I was hanging out with an older crowd and through that association I was introduced to (much more marijuana and) alcohol. I don’t know if I was born an alcoholic, but when I tasted that drink, an alcoholic was born. I never drank for anything but the feeling. It tasted like fire, at best, and I was violently ill 9 times out of 10, but it took me out of me, and away from the pain that I was so familiar with, so it was worth it to me. Not long after that, I began taking diet pills, in excess (of course) and then graduated to acid before I was out of the 10th grade. In high school, I remember (kind of) smoking pot or doing acid before class as often as I possibly could. Lunch money wasn’t used for lunch after 10th grade, like, ever. 

I should mention that around my 15th year, Dad started taking some interest in us again. Maybe Mom got ahold of him because I was being such an absolute b*tch to her, but I don’t know. I know that the teen years were really bleak for me, and I did my best to share the misery with her.  Between ages 16 and 22, I moved in with my Dad and step Mom when I couldn’t stand living with Mom any more, and then back to Mom’s again when I realised how Dad ran things. I went back & forth between the two for several years. Problem was, wherever I went, I was there.  While living with Dad, I wasn’t able to come and go with the freedom that I’d enjoyed while I was under a one-parent household. I was actually clean for a year or so a couple of times while living with them. While in school I was allowed no outside interests, save church Youth Group, and I had no friends. I was allowed to do nothing but work on homework (usually 3-4 hours a night after school) or housecleaning (averaging 6 hours a day on the weekends) while living with my Dad and step mom, so my grades were actually pretty good.  Needless to say, with that kind of restrictions discipline and responsibility, I ran back to Mom’s house as soon as I could. 

The period from 10th grade until I was 27 is largely a blur. I can fill in some of the blanks from the few pictures taken then, but otherwise, like so much of my childhood, those memories are nonexistent. After discovering the magical transforming powers of drugs and alcohol, I spent as much time as possible pursuing these necessary forms of escape. 

As my addiction progressed, as many of us do, I was more and more inclined to do things that were against my moral beliefs, (what morals much as I had) because these things seemed to lessen the “soul sickness” that was so much a part of who I was. Stealing from Mom when I didn’t have enough to buy drugs, acting out sexually in order to feel “accepted” (and because that was the only value I felt I had), and of course, lying just about any time my lips were moving. These were all part of the requirements of my addiction. Using, drinking, and boys were the only things I’d found that could stop the fear, self-loathing, humiliation, and sadness, however temporarily. 
When I was high, feelings of rejection from Dad weren’t as painful, and my feelings of worthlessness and never being “a part of” weren’t as pronounced. I was able to ignore the depression and pretend to be “having a good time”  when I was under the influence. Many times I found myself in dangerous predicaments, and I was assaulted more than once. So I used more. 

What happened… 

Random Thoughts on a Saturday Night

There are many things that you’ll hear in The Rooms. Most of them will sound absurd(at first), but be true. Some of them will sound perfectly legitimate, yet they will be wrong. For instance, I was told more than once that there are “no musts” in the Book. Nope. False. (They said if you want to hide anything from an alcoholic, put it in the Big Book.)

image

The Book of Secrets


I was just looking through my copy of the 1st manuscript of the Big Book, (which I love) and noting all of the things that had been changed almost before it went to the printer. 
For example, here are some excerpts from the 5th chapter:
“If you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it–then you are ready to follow directions. At some of these you may balk. You may think you can find an easier, softer way. We doubt if you can…
Remember that you are dealing with alcohol–cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for you! But there is One who has all power–That One is God. You must find Him now!
Half measures will avail you nothing. You stand at the turning point. Throw yourself under His protection and care with complete abandon.
Now we think you can take it! Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as your Program of Recovery: ”

There are subtle changes throughout the original manuscript, including a few of the steps, themselves, and if you’ve not had the opportunity to check it out, I encourage you to do so. I know a lot of the Old(er)timers are fond of that version, but younger folks, not so much.

I prefer the Original manuscript, and I’ll tell you why:
When I came crawling into The Rooms, I didn’t have any idea how to face the world sober. I really didn’t want to, but the alternative to getting clean/sober was definitely going to be much worse. I appreciate that the earlier version of the Big Book is clear, direct, and to the point. A little further down in the book there’s a line that says “If you’re not convinced on these vital issues, you ought to re-read the book or else throw it away! ” See what I mean? There’s no question as to what they’re trying to say. As a newly sober person, I heard about a few meetings around town that were known to pass around a hat to collect money for the guy who wasn’t ready to quit. “Belly up to the bar!” was the idea. The Book says that if the “God” talk runs you out of the Rooms, “John Barleycorn” (booze) will run  you right back in. It’s true, from what I’ve seen. Until our ego has been beaten down enough to admit defeat, there’s usually nothing to convince us that we’re drunks, except more of the same. I guess I’d had enough a**-whippings by the time I’d gotten here. I was absolutely willing to go to any lengths to make the pain stop. So, when they told me to do X, Y, Z, my only reply was to ask for clarification as to exactly how high they wanted me to jump.  
I needed directions! My absolutely best thinking got me sitting in a hard chair in a smoke-filled room, with a bunch of of drunks. And don’t get me started on the coffee!

Anyway, I wanted to learn as much as I could, as quickly as I could, but my Sponsor wasn’t giving up the answers! I’d say “What should I do?” And she’d say “What do you think you should do?” DANGIT!!

So, I learned by sitting in The Rooms (on a daily basis) whenever possible, and by going to Big Book study meetings, and 12 & 12 book studies, and by using the phone whenever I couldn’t get to a meeting. My Sponsors never ONCE made me feel stupid asking them something, no matter what it was. “Should I go to the store now, or wait an hour?” “Would it be ok if I wore this to the meeting or should I wear this?” Most of the time, it came down to “What are your motives?”
I was being taught to think. Wow.

So I do believe the answer to alcoholism and addiction is in The Steps. I do believe the Big Book was Divinely inspired, and I am POSITIVE that my Higher Power used the 12 step Program to give my Dad back to me for several years before he died. Some people say it “doesn’t work” for them. Ok. I’m really sorry to hear that (because of the transformations I’ve seen in many of my family member’s -and my own- lives), but if there is another way that you can manage to get clean/sober, and find PEACE & JOY, then ROCK ON!
It wasn’t until I was in Recovery Coach training that I was able to really wrap my mind around the idea of there being other ways to get sober. My Dad was a Big Book Thumper, and, well, I was Daddy’s Girl. But I understand now that there are as many ways to get and stay sober as there are people trying to figure it out. And that’s a beautiful thing.

After all, isn’t it about learning to walk in love, and finding the freedom to grow and be healthy…? 

Posted from my hut in the forest.