Thoughts on a Friday evening

Today was a good day.

I went outside this morning, and the sun was shining, birds were singing, and it really FELT like Spring. (Spring and Fall are my favorite seasons, btw)

Then I decided to go to a noon (AA) meeting that I’d not attended before. It was in a remote little place, between towns, in a church I’ve driven past hundreds of times. I had no idea that, at any given time, there was a group of folks saving one another’s lives inside.

When I walked in the chair person was reading from a recent Grapevine, which always encourages me. I had an article published in that publication, many years ago, and so of course I have always been fond of “Our meeting in print”.

The room looked like it could ordinarily be used as a Rec room for the churches’youth group. I spied an Air Hockey table, a jukebox, and a small setting area on one side with comfy coiches and chairs. There was a kitchen on the other side, and the bar area had 4 kind’s of cookies and a coffee maker, along with the usual literature options.

It was as if I’d strolled into a pleasant memory. If you’ve never been to an AA meeting, suffice it to say that by simply walking into the room, no matter what else is going on, or whether or not you feel any kind of way about being there, you are welcome.

Sick and worn out? Welcome.

Stinky and unbathed? Welcome.

In need of psychiatric meds but managing to somehow keep your shit more or less together? Welcome.

Nobody walks into an AA meeting by mistake.

It was nice to see a majority of gray-heads at this particular place. I haven’t been to many meetings of late where many of the attendees had over a year sober, and this cup looked to be running over with sobriety. With the emotional roller coaster I’ve been living in, it felt like a gift from God to slip into a seat at the back of the room, and listen.

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The coffee was hot, and someone had brought some carrot cake, with cream cheese icing. It was almost as if I’d called ahead and put in my order.

I think going to a meeting on any day that I’m not employed is a Good Thing. I left that meeting feeling hopeful and happy. Some one once said that you could think of “G.o.d.” as

Group

Of

Drunks.

I know that whenever I’m in a group of people working on a spiritual solution for the problem of alcoholism  (or addiction, thank you), my God meets me there.

I’m a greatful recovering alkie/druggie, today, and my name is Abbie.

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“…love one another right now…”

I found this on my cousins’ social media page. Been looking for something great to share with you…thanks, Margie. ❤

There was a farmer who grew excellent quality wheat and every season he won the award for the best grown in his county. One year a reporter from the local newspaper interviewed the farmer and learned that each Spring the man shared his seed with his neighbors so that they too could plant it in their fields…
“How can you afford to share your best wheat seed with your neighbors when they are entering their crops in the competition with yours?” the reporter asked….
“Why that’s very simple,” the farmer explained… “The wind picks up pollen from the developing wheat and carries it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior wheat, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of all the wheat, including mine. If I am to grow good wheat, I must help my neighbors grow good wheat”…
The reporter realized how the farmer’s explanation also applied to peoples’ lives in the most fundamental way… Those who want to live meaningfully and well must help enrich the lives of others, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all…

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On anger and (lack of) acceptance, and of course, grief.

I worked today. It wasn’t unbearable. I have made a couple of friends there who help me to stay in the present, and find things to laugh about.

I have a co-worker whom I worked with briefly pre-the event, and then after, for a short time. I recently returned to that jobsite and she asked me how I’m doing with my son’s death and all…

…my honest answer is “I’m staying busy.”

What that means, is:

I do everything in my power to think about ANYTHING except for the fact that my baby is gone. I struggle every single day to keep my mind in between the lines, knowing that any drifting toward the curb will surely result in careening over the guard rail into the valley of sadness and regret. Although I don’t feel a desire to do anything, I am compelled to…keep swimming.

There was a self-help book that came out, probably in the 80’s, and the title of it was “I’m dancing as fast as I can.” Lately it’s more like I’m sitting in a rocking chair, rocking as fast as I can, but the effect is probably about the same.

Added to the grief of my son’s death is the fact that I find other things in my life, things that may ordinarily be moderately annoying, to be ENTIRELY UNACCEPTABLE. That’s where I have to do some footwork. I know enough about grief to realise that my irritability could be grief, slipping out sideways. And for that, I am, as they say, responsible.

I was in a class recently with someone who just frankly chapped my ass. This person was (just my opinion) overly self-centered, obnoxiously attention-seeking, and, well, maybe narcissistic. As evidenced by the looks on the faces of others in attendance, it wasn’t just me who was finding this person’s behavior a challenge to tolerate. For all outward appearances, this person was in attendance for purely selfish reasons, which was ironic especially when the whole point of the class was learning how to better SERVE OTHERS.

So, I got to thinking (in between perceived offensive behaviors), working on a mini-4th Step: what is it about ME, that this behavior is having such an effect on my serenity?

I learned from the Old timers in AA, many years ago, that if a person is getting on my nerves, it may be that there’s something of ME that I see in them. 🤔 Hmm.

Or maybe it’s a trait that I used to have, evident in all its ugliness, when seen in someone else…🤔

A few days later, I was talking about this situation with a friend. I had no sooner gotten out of my mouth how much I felt like punching this person, and realising that I was giving them ENTIRELY too much free space in my head, when my friend said “It sound’s like (they’re) really hurting.”

It stopped me right in my tracks. Mid-rant, to be honest.

Hurting.

I know something about that.

In fact, just a short period before this ass-chapping situation began, I had, myself, opened my mouth and said something for which I was compelled to apologise, the next day.  (Yes, it took that long for me to hear my conscience, loud and clear. Don’t you judge me!) I apologised to person #1 for a shitty statement I’d made about person #2, because apparently I felt uncomfortable in strange surroundings and wanted to be sure that #1 would want to be MY friend rather than #2. Such an immature and hurtful thing I did. My only reason/excuse is that I’m hurting and sometimes it comes out of my mouth in the form of me being an asshole.

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So, I can see, today, from this vantage point, that perhaps the person chapping my ass was, in fact, myself. After all, aren’t I the one who decides how I frame my life experiences? Don’t I  choose whether I become angry or not?

Yeah. I’m still a doo-doohead at times.

Which leaves me here, tonight.

Let me preface this by saying:

I am not depressed. Also, I am not suicidal. At all.

But I was thinking earlier about the shift in my thinking, a.d.

I had been pursuing becoming an entrepreneur, a lifelong dream. I was learning how to think like a successful business person, just absorbing all those “positive” and “motivational” phrases and quotes. Things like

“My best days are before me!”

But, now, guess what. I don’t believe that. I can not believe that there are better days ahead than what are behind.

For too many reasons to mention, it’s just not something, barring MIRACULOUS moves of God, that I’m willing to accept. Mind you, I do believe in miracles and God has shown up and shown off plenty of times…but my feelings tell me that the best days of my life are gone.

This has NOTHING to do with the incredibly strong supportive folks around me. Please don’t twist this into being about them. It’s just how I feel. It will pass.

And don’t get me started on the Mom-remorse for not knowing how to (adequately?) help my younger son through this nightmare.

………………………………………………………..

This is why I hesitate to write. I don’t have much to say that’s not wrapped up in shades of grief and mourning. If you see me on the street or in a store, you won’t know that these thoughts are my constant companions. I do my best to not thrust my heaviness of heart onto unsuspecting others.

But 3 days from now would have been Benjamin’s 26th birthday. 3 months and 2 weeks since he left us.

I suppose maybe someone will glean something helpful from this. Its really the only purpose for sharing these thoughts.

Thank you, if you’ve read this far. I am so very grateful for the kind and generous, emotionally available people in my life. If I can ask a simple favor, it is that you keep my family, Benjamin’s wife & friends in your prayers. 20160217_220356.jpg

 

 

 

A beautiful day to be drink and drug-free

About a week ago, it was typical winter weather, bitter cold and windy. Here, in Virginia, schools were closed and then had a 2-hour delay. We even had a few inches of snow!

Then, a couple of days ago, the temperature rose to 70°! Bizarre, even for Virginia.

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Today, my husband and I went out to run errands together, and it was a pleasant enough day.

Last night I was sitting in a meeting and a friend disclosed that about a week ago his child had completed suicide.

Yeah.

He has not chosen to relapse.

This is a beautiful example of the power of the spiritual program of recovery found in Alcoholics Anonymous.

I have so many things to say, and I need to say them. However, I feel like I just don’t have the words, right now. Maybe I should do an inventory to decipher what it is that I’m feeling.

Of late, my feelings are ever-changing, like quicksand…sucking me down…

In the desperate attempt to keep from feeling the emotional battery, I bob and weave furiously, dancing to avoid the right hook of pain and sorrow. More often than not, the punches land squarely.

I feel like there are a thousand emotional land mines all around me. I don’t know, maybe the death of my son was the impetus…I begin to recover from the devastation of stepping directly on a HUGE mine, then have a few days of comparable peace. Then out of the blue I step close enough to another mine, to set it off. The personal damage is much less, of course, but it ensures that my mind stays keenly on alert for any further, life-threatening  explosions.

Perhaps that’s why my verbiage is at such an all-time low. 95 days in. Part of the process, I remind myself.

I am walking in the dark now, gingerly, with arms outstretched, feet carefully searching for a safe spot on which to step. Whether or not such a place exists for me, now, I cannot say.

Moving forward, I am sure to encounter more death, pain, and plenty of other things over which I am powerless. My hope is to find a place where I can focus more on the births, and the healing, and laughter. Sooner would be better than later, but it’s in God’s hands.

I am reluctant to write while my days are more painful than not. Whether or not I will continue, only time will tell.

I shall remain…looking for reasons to smile, looking for His face.

I dropped her off Wednesday evening

…and on Thursday morning she was dead.

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I met X when she was in detox, about a year ago. She was pretty, spunky, and tired of living that life. She had someone bring her guitar in, and played for everyone. She was a delight. A gypsy soul.

Then later, X moved on to a women’s recovery house. She was making progress; got a job, and put together some clean time. Everybody who met X liked her. She was smart, sassy, and sensitive. I had high hopes for her.

The people who keep track of these things say that on average, only one out of 30-some people who get clean will stay that way. The odds are always against us. Addiction is so much more “cunning, baffling, and powerful” than anyone thinks.

And now I’m waiting to find out when the memorial/funeral will be. I feel numb.

Maybe it’s from having lost so many friends over the years, as a result of addiction, that I’m kind of permanently braced for it.

Maybe it’s because I’ve already been wading in the deep waters of grief. Once you’ve been completely soaked, you can’t really get any wetter, can you?

When I got the news about X’s death, I cried. I asked (her, from inside my car, as if she would hear me) “WHAT THE FUCK?!?” and I cried.

Someone said that maybe she died so that she wouldn’t have to endure any more…

Active addiction (which is usually accompanied by mental illness) is a very painful existance. Probably the only thing worse than that lifestyle is having tasted recovery and knowing that it is possible, and then finding yourself back in the misery and chaos of active addiction. Every time a person relapses, getting back into recovery gets more difficult than the time before.

I know that the activities of people with Substance Use Disorder seem crazy to the rest of the world. It took me a while to make sense of the whole “disease” model of addiction, but then I finally figured it out:

Addiction is a disease. It’s a mental illness. Like any other mental illness, the sufferers think their actions are normal, and that the rest of the world is wrong. Mental illness, and addiction,  can show up at any age, with or without any warning.

Regardless of your personal opinion on drug or alcohol abuse, it’s not a hopeless cause.

Do you know someone who needs to get clean or sober? It’s possible. Easy? Hell, no.

A lot of the outcome depends on the person and the family getting help. A lot of family members think that they don’t have any role to play in the recovery of their loved one. That’s actually not true at all.

Think about it. The odds are already stacked against them. Drugs and alcohol usually win, in that struggle. It IS a LIFE OR DEATH FIGHT. Do you want to attend their funeral, knowing that you could have done more?

Or visit them in prison? Or the psychiatric ward? 🤔

The only way the story ends for an alcoholic or addict (besides recovery) is JAILS, INSTITUTIONS OR DEATH.

Soon, I will see X’s Mom during the worst time of her life. Losing a child is hellish.

The next time you see a story about someone with an addiction, or pass an addict on the street, remember that that person is someone’s child. Look at them. In the face. De-humanizing them is the cowardly way. The next one could be yours. Do everyone a favor, and offer to take them to rehab. Detox. A meeting. SOMETHING.

I’m gonna miss you, X. So are a lot of others I know.

 

 

A few words on adulting.

Adulting is really fucking difficult isn’t it?

Especially when you sometimes feel like you’re still the 14 year old version of you.

But the truth is, everyone is still waiting to feel like a grown up.

And you know what?

You’re not weird or strange for feeling this way.

You’re amazing, just as you are.

♥️

I lifted this from someone on Facebook. I haven’t written lately because I haven’t had anything new to say. Oh, how I hate redundancy.

So it’s entirely possible that the next posts will be just things that resonate with me, and hopefully, you, too.

I want to begin to write again, and I believe that I will. I’m just waiting for the words to come back to me.

I am grateful for you.

“See me. Feel me. Touch me. Heal me.” -R. Daltrey

Hello, family! 

I’ve missed you so much!

I began a job several months ago, doing what I do 😉, and haven’t been here (primarily) because I have to be very careful about what I talk about. 

I’ve been able to get to at least 2 meetings a week, and it’s been an unbelievable blessing.  Left to my own devices, I don’t spend time with other people. After my current employment began, I was reminded of the things I had been missing by isolating.

I missed seeing other miracles and being seen as one, myself. I missed the feelings of being “a part of” and acceptance. In isolating, I was not where I was supposed to be.

Now, I get to use every gift God’s given me, each time I clock in. I expose my scars and bandage up client’s, every day.  The Big Book says we “will not regret the past”, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be completely THERE, but there’s no question that it’s the painful experiences of my past which allow me to come alongside those “still suffering”. 

They say that the Human Services field has among the top burn-out rates of any occupation. I can see that. With that in mind, I daily pour myself out in the name of (love) lifting up individuals that, to be honest, most people wouldn’t even want to talk to. I know that God has placed me where I am, and I am full of gratitude for being used by Him. I actually get paid to share my experience, strength and hope with men & women who have none of their own! 

Is it always a cake walk? Oh, heck no. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been beat up, by the end of the day. I reckon that’s why they call it “work”.

I truly don’t have words to adequately describe how it feels to see the flicker of hope in their eyes, when they realise that they’re not alone, and that someone understands and cares. 

So, that’s a synopsis of my last 6 months. How have you been?