Who am I trying to please?

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I enjoy writing. Sharing my true thoughts can feel incredibly courageous. But more often than not, I measure my success or failure by other’s responses or lack thereof. Even though I know (intellectually) that I don’t have to measure my worth by whether or not anyone else values me or my contributions, it’s still so ingrained in me that it’s done before I know it.

Somewhere I heard an interesting thing about children of alcoholic/addicts. Those whose parents struggle(d) with an addiction look to others to see how they should feel. This resonates with me. Maybe that’s related to my lifelong people-watching habit.

I think it is.

Is that why I figure my worth by the reflection of myself that I see in your face?

I’m a writer. I love words. Heck, my son calls me Word Woman! As important as it is to me to put my thoughts down on paper, I wonder if I’d change it if there was no one reading other than me. But, really, for whom am I writing?

I’m probably not ever going to be a famous writer. I don’t know that that’s even a thing that I want. I want to make a difference in the world, and writing may or may not have anything to do with that. I trust that my God is leading me to find my way.

Following Him will be the answer to my Search for Significance.

What about you? Who are you writing for?

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3 short days

I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to say about Good Friday & Easter, and I’m still not sure, but I am going to write something, now. 

If you Google “Crucifixion story” and “Easter story”, you can find the 4 gospels’ accounts of these events, and in whichever translation you prefer.

The things that are recorded as having happened just as Jesus was dying must have been difficult to ignore. I mean, there was an earthquake, the sky became dark, and the veil in the temple was ‘somehow’ torn in half. Oh, and let’s not forget that after the earth quake, several dozen graves were emptied as their residents came walking out, roaming the countryside.

In fact, as Jesus died one of the Roman guards who had been involved in the brutal beating and Crucifixion, just hours earlier, fell to his knees and proclaimed that Jesus was indeed the Son of God.

For several years, around this time of year, I liked to re-watch “The Passion of the Christ”. I know it’s not 100% Bible-based, but it’s accurate enough to make it’s point. It’s easily the most realistic account of the subject matter.
I know my mind’s ability to minimize or exaggerate, and that’s why I want to be reminded of some of the gruesome and excruciating things He endured. For me, and for you.

It’s been said that the devil’s best weapon to keep people out of church is the “Christians” who are already there. It certainly worked on me for a long time. The worst abuse I’d ever endured was at the hands of someone who CLAIMED to represent Christ.
It was many (about 20) years before I could accept that most or all of the church-going men were not abusing their women. Today I know better.

I looked at the humans sitting in the pews to be my examples of Christ, which was a huge mistake.

As I felt myself being drawn (wooed, really) back to God, I determined that I wasn’t going to be fooled again.
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was proof of the lengths the Father will go to in order to show His love for us. I know it doesn’t make sense to a lot of folks, but it’s a heart thing, not a mind thing.

Easter is my favorite holiday. It’s about second chances and new life. I hope you’re able to let God get close to you this weekend. He’s not what so many people make Him out to be. 
But don’t take my word for it. Ask God to show himself to you. He will. 

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. 

My head is spinning, but not like Linda Blair’s

I was told somewhere, long ago, that while God’s timing may seemingly take FOREVER, once it comes, things can move into place swiftly. As I get older it feels like I am more able to catch a glimpse of His hand moving the chess pieces, occasionally. And they have been sliding into place pretty quickly.

I’m not sure what He’s up to, but my life has taught me that His promises are true, and that my part for now is just to “be still and know.” Or, as I’ve seen it put:

Be still and know that I am God. 

Be still and know that I Am.

Be still and know that I.

Be still and know that. 

Be still and know.

Be still and.

Be still. 

Be. 
I haven’t been writing much recently, primarily because…Well, because I’ve been taking a lot of things in, and processing. You know, figuring out what MY part is in things, and looking for the good while still addressing the wrongs in my life. 

Yesterday I believe I found a door that’s about to open for me, and this morning I learned of another door closing. It’s not difficult to accept the door that’s closed, as it had become an unusually unpleasant situation in recent times, and I’d talked to God about whether I could just GO. 

Anyways. This morning I got the news about the door closing and just moments later got about 4″ closer to a concrete post than I’d meant to. With my Element. It was pretty loud, and I’m grateful that it wasn’t any worse than it was. 

So, I guess I’m telling you that things in wondrland are moving right along.

I’m trying to make sure the seatbelt is locked and keep my hands inside while the ride is still moving. 

I’d love to hear about how things are progressing in your world! What helps you when you feel like Gilligan in the Minnow during that awful storm? 

Blessings from the Victorian house on the hill. 

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!

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 and Spiritual Principles 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. 

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…