Sprouting

I want to write. I know that writing can be a positive way to handle…life. Pain. Hurts. Feelings in general.

I do have things to say, I suppose. But I don’t know that I can express myself. Well. Any more.

If I knew all the words for all the emotions with which I’ve been wrestling, I could have written a novel. In just the last 5 months.

But I don’t.

I have been using other people’s words to try and share my feelings. This helps.

But they’re not MY words.

I seem to have misplaced my ability to string together words in a consecutive order, with which to accurately share what’s on my heart and mind.

I suppose it’s fear that stops me. I’m afraid of judgment. That usually comes from my own tendency to judge other folks. I do that.

Judging comes from my defensiveness, because I feel inadequate and insecure. I guess at this point I’m afraid of what else is going to be ripped away from me.

I admit that this is where trusting God has to come in. Don’t I trust Him, though? I do.

Someone said that “faith and fear can’t co-exist in the same place”. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I have faith that God is in control. I also know that He is working things together for my BEST.

I also know that the process of growth and change can sometimes include great pain.

Growing Pains.

I don’t have as many words as I once did. I can’t think, as I once did. I am not the same person as I once was.

Not worse or less than, as a person. Just different.

Very much different.

Please don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t want pity. Pity is really a BAD thing. I don’t pity me. I don’t feel much at all for myself, really. But certainly not pity.

So, for now, I allow myself to be numb, emotionally, as much as possible. The more I can get through today, without thoughts of tomorrow or yesterday, the better. That’s what spirituality is, right? Staying. In. The. Moment.

The good news is, while I may have been placed in a hole, and covered with dirt…I am, in fact, just about to start sprouting.

I’d love to know I’m not alone…please comment below.

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This could easily be you. Or me.

This story was from February of last year. 

http://wishtv.com/2016/02/04/addicts-discouraged-by-lack-of-options-for-uninsured/

And a year later, almost to the day:

http://whtv.com/2017/02/08/mother-of-fatal-od-victim-shares-story-in-hopes-of-helping-others/ 

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I’ve had people look at me strangely, even people who are in recovery, when I talk about how it disturbs me when relapse is treated like “no big deal.” Of course, it happens, but it DOESN’T HAVE TO. “Everybody relapses” is something that just makes my blood boil. Addiction is a progressive, fatal disease. 

When I got clean/sober, it wasn’t unheard of for a recent relapser to be told to SHUT UP during the meeting. “You obviously don’t know how to stay sober, so sit there and listen. You may hear something that will save your life.” I’ve heard of much “worse” things said or done, and the people who took suggestions eventually learned how to quit and STAY quit.

I was told similar things in early recovery. They hurt my feelings!! (Insert pouty emoji here) The truth will do that when you’re not used to it. That’s where I learned about caring enough to tell you the truth even if it pissed you off. I can live with you not liking me. If there’s a way that I can prevent or at least help to postpone that next drink/drug, I will do it. Like me or don’t.

The Old-timers weren’t there to make friends. They weren’t there to pat me on the butt & tell me everything was gonna be OK (if I wanted to hear that, I could get it at the bar). The Old-timers were there to carry the message. 

Thank God there were crusty old farts sitting in those smoke-filled rooms who cared enough to confront me on my bullsh*t. If they hadn’t, I may still be lying to myself. 

So, don’t smile & joke about people relapsing. Not around me. My friends whose kids are dead aren’t laughing. The kids whose Mom will never kiss them goodnight again, they’re not laughing…

Do me a favor, will you? Say a prayer for those left behind when addiction claims another life, and while you’re at it, pray for the still suffering alcoholic/addicts. God loves them, too, you know. 

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. 

Time marches on.

Last week I wrote about the  3 tragic words I never want to hear again, and the phone call I got from my Aunt, about my Uncle’s impending… expiration.
Today I got another call, saying that he’s not expected to last the rest of the night. I felt, well, nothing at first. I suppose that’s my go-to, when situations come along that provoke strong feelings. I get kinda numb, then I process what I’m feeling, and how I’m going to get through it.

Family Disease
I want to call and talk to him, but I haven’t talked to him in years… so it seems kind of, I don’t know, wrong? It’s not that we ever had a falling out or that we cared less about each other. We just began to live in drastically different ways. I guess it began when Dad got sober, really: the line was drawn in the sand. This Uncle and my Grandpa were going to drink until they couldn’t, and to hell with anyone who tried to tell them that they ought to stop. (a la Nick Cage in “Leaving Las Vegas”). I have another Uncle, for the record, who is just the opposite of the others of us. I’m not sure he’s ever been drunk, and his life is the stuff of magazine covers.

Turkey Run State Park 042

Turkey Run State Park

Summertime in Indiana

I’m remembering things we did as kids, when I’d spend at least a week every summer on the farm…like the sleepovers where I learned how to flip from the top bunkbed to the bottom without touching the floor. Oh, yeah, that’s a trick you NEED to try!
Or the tree-climbing where we tried to see how far down our spit could go before hitting a limb below us. Then there were the times we had rock fights while standing, oh, about 5 feet away from each other. (Did I mention that I was kind of a Tomboy?) Come to think of it, I’m positive that he wasn’t trying to hit me, because he was a tough, sports-playing country boy, and I KNOW he could have if he’d wanted to. And there were the times after it rained, when they lived in town and we would go worm-hunting…we fished by the pond in the back yard, and swam in the rock quarry…

kids-climbing-huge-tree-9657018

Kinda like this, but poorer & dirtier

We talked about music and life, and whatever important things kids talk about when adults aren’t around…

And, I wonder if he’s ready to go, now. I’m sure he hadn’t planned on dying this soon. We were alike in many ways, not wanting to grow up, being but one. So, I pray for my Uncle Brett. May God rest his soul.
I wonder if I’m the only one who finds it harder to feel the heartbreaks, as time goes by. I was thinking of it earlier, and I think it’s like having thickened scar tissue. After so many traumas and heartbreaks, the scar tissue is so hard that the pain doesn’t really sink in, to where it ought to go. It goes…somewhere, and I don’t feel it. It doesn’t go away, mind you. It just doesn’t stay where I can feel it.
I read recently that it’s been scientifically proven that you can die from a broken heart. (Once again science proves something humanity has known forever.) I believe it. I somehow doubt that it will happen to me, considering that they also say that stress gives you gray hair. Really? Hm. Something at a very foundational level is different here, I guess, because I’ve got oh, about 8 gray hairs. SERIOUSLY. I’ve earned a butt load more than that. Eh, I guess it’s some consolation that it causes folks to think I’m younger than I am. (I’m not so immature, I guess, if I’m actually quite a bit younger than I am.) 🙂
My least favorite part of growing older, hands down, is people dying.

So, where was I?
Sad. Old. But not gray.
Meh. I’ll take it, I guess. Life is good, today. And I am grateful.