7 (or so) things I will only cautiously write about

I’ve been wanting to climb up into my writing perch for such a long time, but there don’t seem to be many things that I can write about, just now, or that I’m sure HOW to address here. 

I’m not feeling certain about describing my work situation, save to say that I am eager to arrive and not in a hurry to leave. It feels like I’m supposed to be there. I get to work alongside of some genuine individuals who feel the same about their jobs as I do mine. 

My boys are each developing into their own characters. I’m too far from one to have any real contribution, and the other…he just turned 17, and is having more than the usual struggles of that age. 

My cats seem to be developing a resistance to the flea stuff I put on their necks. The most disturbing thing about that is that I’m itching all over but can’t see any reason for it. Thinking about putting a couple of the tubes of medicine on the back of my neck. 

My extended family(s) (including non-blood relatives) have issues coming and going: various ailments and conditions, both mental and physical. Mostly age-related, but some not. As with my older son, I’m too far away from the other relations to be in a position to be of any assistance. 
When we first moved to the Eastern side of the country, I had thought that finding a job wouldn’t be too hard. Yet, here I am, just over 2 whole years later, and just 90 days into this position. And I really REALLY like my job. It’s more than a job: it’s really who I am. 

Thank God my husband’s job is pretty good, and he’s remarkably skilled at what he does. I’m proud of his willingness to do what he must, to care for us. 

God has been patient as ever with me. I told someone earlier tonight that it seems like I’ve been in the LONGEST transitional period ever. As the wise man said “His grace is enough for me.”

Actually, the only occasionally irritating part of my life (phantom-flea bites not included) at the moment has to be some of the ways the Stigma rears it’s ugly head among some of my co-workers. That’s it! I can’t think of when I was so content – like 85%, I’d say- with my day-to-day. 

In the morning I’m gonna go check out a church down the road. Word has it that the preacher is an ex-alkie. I like the sounds of that.

Thank you for coming by. I hope to have something more to say soon, but no promises. 

Gentle readers, you’re the sh*t. 😊

Life on Life’s Terms

I’m  a pretty simple person. I find it difficult to express myself with my small-ish vocabulary. But having found how therapeutic writing is for me, write, I must. Because if I don’t take care of me, I’m no good to anyone else.

My phone rang…

Last night I received a call from my firstborn. He had just seen his Cardiologist and called to let me know how his appointment went.  He told me that later that evening he would be getting an MRI on his brain. To determine whether or not he had a(nother) stroke last week. This may be the 2nd stroke for my 23 year old son. Here’s his post on FB, from the Children’s Hospital:

James Whitcomb Riley’s Children’s Hospital

“​Idk which has changed more, me or this hospital. I remember the stuffed animals, the hustle and movement of doctors, the laughs of kids that were getting better. Now there are no stuffed animals, the halls feel large and empty, and it’s just worried parents sitting on benches or chairs staring at phones or their coffee. Maybe I’m just seeing it with(out) the magic. I used to come here and be so happy cause it meant I was gonna get better. Now I come here and feel the dread that I won’t leave.”

Riley Children’s Hospital circa 1993

Change is inevitable
In the past couple of years he’s been having lots of palpitations and other painful events, which means trips to the ER on the regs, with a crap ton of feeling anxious and concerned about the future…not to mention the time he’s missed from work…

What can I Do?

So, I’m giving serious consideration to how good of an idea it is for us to live 8-10 hours away. When we moved here about 15 months ago, it seemed like a Good Thing all the way around. There is no question that it’s been  a blessing in many ways, but at the same time, God didn’t indicate how long we were to stay. 

God, grant me the serenity

Between my Mom living alone and losing her eyesight, and my baby spending more and more time in hospitals, it’s getting more and more difficult to feel good about being So. Freaking. Far. Away. 

Courage to change the things I can

I’m gonna have to seek God’s will…hard. Cos knee-jerk reactions are seldom, if ever, part of His plan. And moving cross-country is no small feat. The older I get the less I feel like packing everything up and beginning again. 

And the wisdom…

Thank God we have never had to go through any of this alone. God and His angels are always right on time. My trust has to be in Him, coz one more time: I’m powerless. 

I feel like this post is even more jumbled than usual, and I’m sorry for that. I needed to write this down, and get it out. I know that today, I will weather this storm, because I’ve withstood as bad or worse. And because I’ve seen and experienced God’s faithfulness, I am convinced that this, too, shall pass. 

Have you had to deal with powerlessness as pertains to your children? Or a family member’s declining health? Please share your E,s, & h in the comments below. 

Yes, I have scars.

When you think of scars, do you consider them flaws, or signs of damage or vulnerability?

I did for most of my life. I have some scars that are quite apparent, and more which are not. One of the more obvious (to me) would be the scars from where my ear was re-attached when I was about 18. Yet, in reality, I wear my hair up most of the time and I can recall literally no one noticing it. The closest I’ve come was recently when a co-worker mentioned that I had only one earring in that ear. She hadn’t noticed that it was because the other earring hole was too close to the edge of my lobe, due to the scarring, to realistically put in an earring; just that there were 2 earrings in one ear, and only one in the other.

I read a post recently that talked about the Japanese art of mending ceramic flaws with lacquer mixed with gold, silver, platinum, copper or bronze, so that the repaired item is more beautiful than the original. Sometimes the broken area is replaced with a right-sized piece of another piece of pottery, making a quilt-like appearance.

It’s called “Kintsugi” or “Kintsukuroki”. I’m sure you’ve seen examples of this, if you’ve ever been to an art museum or looked at a National Geographic magazine.

This got me to thinking about my scars. Like most of us, I have both external and internal scars, as we all have. Is it a cultural thing, that when we see a scar, we see a flaw? And is a flaw necessarily a bad thing? According to Kintsugi, the scar is simply a part of the items’ life experience, not bad or good. But once it’s been repaired, the damaged area actually adds to the beauty of the original.

Then there’s the western culture of throwing damaged items away and buying new ones.  The spiritual philosophy of Kintsugi is one of awe, reverence, and restoration. Kind of like how the Japanese traditionally honor their elderly, and embrace all that they can offer. And America, well, does other things. Not the least of which being how in our culture aging is made out to be a dreadful, almost accursed thing. God forbid a woman let her hair gray naturally or not buy the best wrinkle-removers she can find!

Anyway, it has me thinking about my perspective. Some people say that scars are a sign of something that DIDN’T beat them. That’s good, right? It’s not untrue, is it? But I (maybe you, too, I don’t know) was sold a ridiculous bill of goods that said that scars are imperfections, need to be hidden (there’s a cream for that, you know), and certainly will disqualify you from being picked first for…anything.

Where are you going with this, Ab? I’m glad you asked.

Traditionally, for whatever reason, people wrestling with alcoholism, addiction, and/or mental illness have been considered defective, or broken, at best. So, ok, I’ll give you that. I, for one, was fairly shattered long before I discovered how to self-medicate. But not broken beyond repair, as I discovered. Drugs & drink were the Scotch tape that held my ceramic heart and mind together. The cracks and chips were incredibly obvious, and the tape did no more than keep the pieces in the same locale. It didn’t make me functional.

I consider my Higher Power to have taken the broken shards of my being and fit them all together again. He used the gold and silver of the Steps, Spiritual Principles and the folks who came before me to hold me together, and the result became more beautiful than anyone could have foreseen. The shiny veins of gold and silver make what was once a plain vessel to be even more valuable than before it was broken.
I was convinced that the wreck that was me when I came into the Rooms would never be much more than a leaky clay pot, if that. God has taken my brokenness and turned it into something closer to what He intended me to be. All I had to do was hand the broken pieces to Him and let Him reassemble me. The beauty is demonstrated when I reflect the Light He shines on me. I can reach out to offer others the tools for living that have been freely shared with me, and I have the scars to prove that I’ve not always been this way.

I’m 2019 Abbie. I approve this message. God continues to amaze me by His mercy and grace.

…in conclusion…(Part 5)

A little over a year ago, my hubby, our younger son and I went on a vacation to a part of the country that I’d only seen in pictures. The Eastern states were beautiful and the hills and mountains were mind-blowing, to an Indiana girl. 

2 of my favorite guys

We moved here last summer and have been working on acclimating ever since. It’s been a difficult adjustment for many reasons, but things are beginning to fall into place and we are all finding our niches. 
By the time I stumbled into The Program, I’d endured years of  physical, emotional, and psychological abuse, followed by still more self-destructive behavior. I’d sought acceptance and love, and I’d gone “looking for love in all the wrong places”. When I didin’t find it, I settled for cheap imitations. I felt that I deserved no better treatment than to be used and thrown away, and I acted out in ways that perpetuated the cycle. I felt helpless and hopeless. I became what the Big Book calls “morally bankrupt”, and without the desperation that made me willing to go to any lengths to change the life path I was on, I’m sure I would not have lived to tell my story.  
In the span of my time in recovery, I’ve experienced births and deaths, marriages and divorces, and joys and despair. Many of my worst experiences have been of my own making, but once I started finding the courage to face my demons, one small step at a time, I was able to re-learn how to live. I didn’t grab ahold of all of the principles at once, and thankfully, I didn’t have to.
To anyone contemplating this astounding life of recovery, I suggest : 

1. Make up your mind. If you have any reservations, it’s not likely to work. This is an “all or nothing” deal. “Half-measures” are almost guaranteed to land you right back in the mess you’re trying to get out of. 

2. If you’re going to meetings with a Judicial Scholarship (aka Court Ordered), keep your mind open. The people in the rooms are actually clean and sober, for the most part. The laughter is not an act. They can teach you to enjoy life again! 

3. Go to meetings until you WANT to go. And when you “don’t feel like it”, go anyway. 

4. If you are not willing to go to a Recovery meeting (12-step or otherwise), all is not lost. What is most important is that you find a group of like-minded individuals and begin to get to know them, and let them get to know you, too. The Recovery Community online is an amazing thing. Bloggers (like yours truly) abound, and you just have to find one, and you’ll be able to connect to many more. 

5. If at first you don’t succeed, get a Sponsor/Accountability Partner and follow directions.   🙂 

…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…

Is perfection even a thing?

I’ve been thinking lately about doing new things, doing old familiar things; success and failure.
One of my favorite things to say to myself (I don’t know why, but I suspect I can figure it out)is that “I’m not good enough”. Not a good enough wife, not a good enough mom, and certainly not a good enough writer to ever do more than copy & paste crap on Facebook.
Where in Hell does all that come from? Yeah, I did kinda just answer my own question.
I know that my parent’s parents had high expectations for them, according to the idea of “success” back in the 1940’s, 50’s, and so on. We’ve all seen the American Success Story prototypes, right?


The media (what there was, then) never showed people who were dirty, hungry, overweight, poor or mentally ill – at least not for more than a moment, (not to mention drunks or addicts) and certainly “those people” weren’t seen as having any positive qualities. Even Otis, from The Andy Griffith show, was only good for laughs and making everyone feel better about themselves. “Poor Otis…” I have no doubt that the Middle Class dream, around that time, looked a whole lot like Ward & June Cleaver’s place. Heck, even the single parents of that era had their sh*t together. Hmmm. Were there any single Moms, back then? None come to mind. Musta been too depressing to show that part of society.

So, is it any wonder that just one short generation later, we are wracked with insecurities and self-doubt?

So, here’s the flip-side of this deal: it’s false pride. (Ouch)
Yep. It’s all a bunch of “Me me me me me!” Cos, guess what?
When I stop looking at how weak and wretched I am, and remember what really matters, all that kinda fades away. Or rather, Who matters.
I’m not gonna go on a scripture-quoting rant, but I will share with you what I heard as I thought about this dark place I seem to be drawn to…
I can do all things through Him, when I let Him lead. When I am weak, He is strong, when I keep my eyes on Him, things work out.
The One Who works all things together for my good, according to His purposes, has given me so many reasons to know that He’s got my back…He’s the One who brings beauty from ashes. He loves us, the unlovely ones. Jesus said that He didn’t come for those who (thought they) were well, but He came for we who recognise our sickness, our need for Salvation, from our own mess, among other things. My favorite scripture is John 3:17. God didn’t send His son to condemn us, but so that through Him we might be saved.
I’ve gotta get a grip on who it is that tells me lies about myself: I’m not smart enough, young enough, they won’t like me, my clothes aren’t nice enough, my hair is wrong, I’m destined to live in the slums forever…
I’m not trying to say that any of those things would make me a bad person. I just want to see some kind of forward momentum from my efforts. One step forward & 2 steps back really gets tiresome. But, like I think Mother Teresa said, we’re not called to be successful. We’re called to obey.
God is well known for using weak to shame the strong, and the least of these to beat the greatest.
Ok, Lord. I’m giving it to You.

Posted from my non-villa, nowhere near any hamlet.