9862 days ago, I managed to walk up the steps to a fellowship building at a large church in Severna Park, Md. I was looking for a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. My therapist Jan F. told me I had to go or I couldn’t see her any more. I had to hitchhike to get there, because I missed the only bus that would take me there. There were so many people that I thought the church was having some kind of special meeting. I saw a set of double doors and peered in the window. I could see lot of chairs and a set of tables in the front of the room. I had never been to a meeting, so I had no idea what to expect.
I walked in and saw two women at the front of the room. I looked around and noticed a rack with AA literature and pamphlets. I slowly and cautiously made my way to the front. One of the women, a tall, mean looking red head, looked up and said hello. I told her that I didn’t know if I was in the right place. It must have been obvious to her that I was a drunk, because she looked at me and asked how long it had been since I had a drink. I shrugged my shoulders and told her that it was sometime around midnight. She said that I was in the right place and told me to sit down on the front row. She left for a moment, came back with a cup of coffee with lots of sugar, and another woman she introduced as Pat. Pat said it looked like I needed the coffee. Honestly, my hands were shaky and I wasn’t sure I could even hold it.
I sat or I should say squirmed my way through the meeting. I heard some of what was said, but I kept looking on the wall at a banner where “the steps” were written. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the third step that said, “Made a decision to turn our will and lives over to the care of God, as we understood God.” I wasn’t ready to talk to or about God right that moment. At the end of the meeting, someone stood up and said, “If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, and you want to try our way of life, come up here and get a white chip. All it takes is a desire to stay sober for 24 hours.” I watched as a couple of people walked up and got chip and a hug. Pat nudged my arm, and told me to go get one. I wasn’t sure about any of this, but I went up and got one.
Since that day, I have not had a drink or used any mind-altering drugs (unless you count sugar- only kidding). It has been 27 years of working the steps, praying, living one day at a time, praying, being in pain, experiencing joy and happiness, praying, starting over in new cities with new people, praying, losing people I love, praying, feeling as if my heart were breaking and my soul was wounded, praying, – you get the idea. There have been days that I wanted to drink more than I wanted to live or breath, but I made it through them.
In most meeting, we read something called the Promises. These promises have all materialized in my life. THE A.A. PROMISES found on page 83-84, of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous.
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and selfpity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.
I am so grateful for my sobriety and all of the people who have helped me on this journey- some alcoholics/addicts and some “normal” people. I am grateful for a program of recovery that helped me find a relationship with God as I understand God. I am grateful for my family and special friends who have my heart.
I remember the day I celebrated my first AA birthday/anniversary. I received my first medallion surrounded by my first home group. I still have the banner from that night and the cards from friends. Two very special people were that night–my new friend Donna who is still my friend today, and my friend Jan F., who would be my friend, support, and mentor for the next 20 years.
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring; No one does, really. I do know there will be more heartache, pain, and loss in life. It is inevitable. Yet, I know that there will be happiness, joy, and serenity as well. All I can do is live this life one day at a time. Through the grace of God and the program/steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, I don’t have to drink today.
Ghosts of Christmas Past- A Christmas Trilogy
My childhood memories are scattered in pieces across my mind. While I have some of my own memories, others come from the stories told by family members or friends. For a long time, many of the pieces didn’t make sense, but letters, pictures, and stories helped put the snippets into a more complete picture
From what I learned, my first Christmas was spent with my parents at my father’s parents farm in West Va. We lived with them for the first few months. My mother had just turned 17 and my father was barely 20. After the holidays, they moved back home to Charleston to live in the projects in downtown Charleston. My father was in the Navy and gone for weeks at a time. When he came home, he would drink and there would be fights…verbal and physical. As I got older, I would be in the mix. My mother taught me to hide under a table. The next few Christmases included bringing two more abusive alcoholics (Mother’s parents) into the mix. The Christmas before my 4th birthday, my mother played out a plan that included leaving and separating my brother and me between grandparents.
My parents were in and out of my life. Holidays, particularly Christmas brought dreams and wishes that my mother or my father would somehow miss me enough to come and see me. I do remember many times looking out the window and hoping. Any time I heard a car, I would look to see if it might be one of them; it never was.
My grandmother found “religion” when I was about 7. Christmas meant going to church service at midnight Christmas Eve and coming home to my drunken grandfather. When we got home, I could open one gift under the ugly silver tree with revolving color wheel with a manager scene carefully placed underneath. Gifts were practical for the most part, with one “frivolous” gift like a doll or bike. The only present I cared about was the one my mother would send me. Later, I discovered many phone calls and gifts were never received because of my Grandmother’s intervention.
Christmas finally took on new meaning when I had children of my own. The greatest joy I had was finding gifts for them, yet because of our own financial problems, I often wasn’t able to give them all they wanted. They didn’t seem to care. They loved the tree and decorations. They always took part in the Christmas music and scenes at church. My husband’s parents were so very generous with gifts for the kids and they always had what they wanted, even if I couldn’t give it.
All of that changed, when I started drinking and in time, became a full-blown alcoholic. In the fall of 1986, my husband took custody of my kids, and I was left with visitation only. The pain and heartbreak was overwhelming. December of 1986, I made the decision to move to Baltimore to try to find a better job and get my life together in order to provide a home for children and get them back. But alcoholics can’t move away from themselves. That Christmas, I was able to get gifts and send them back home to the kids, but I drank everyday to numb the pain of their loss. During the next 3 and 1/2 months, I drank and drugged daily, put myself in dangerous places with dangerous people, and lost all hope. I wondered if my children watched out the window to see if I was coming that Christmas, even though they knew, just as I did, that it wasn’t going to happen.
I got sober in April of 1987. My husband told the kids they could come and stay with me for Christmas if I could get them to Baltimore. I didn’t have a car and he knew I didn’t have the money to fly them there. Jan F. told me to pray and talk to my support group and just “let go and let God.” I hated her telling me those thing, but I learned to trust her. I did what she said.
Two weeks before Christmas, a friend invited me to lunch. She pulled out two round trip airline tickets for my kids. She told me that she drank away her chance to ever have children and wanted to help me get mine back. That weekend, we had our Christmas party at work. My coworkers, who had watched me drink myself almost to death and now watched me in recovery, gave me an envelope with $100.00 cash and a $100 gift card to a grocery store and another to Penny’s. That Christmas gave me hope and helped me believe that perhaps God hadn’t given up on me.
It took over 20 years before I would be in a church at Christmas. I wonder if God watched out of the window sometimes to see I was going to come back . Even though I found a new relationship with God and Jesus, I struggled with the idea of church. I started visiting a few churches and a couple of years ago found a church home. Last Christmas, I attended all of the Christmas services and found a new appreciation for Christmas. There was one service that touched my heart. It was the Blue Christmas service. You can read about it here in an article that my friend Jan wrote about that night. It has been a long journey.
In a day or so, I will share more about my Christmas “Present” and then shortly after that Christmas “Future.”
Life On Life’s Terms
“Being sober isn’t just about not using. Being sober is about the joy a life of clarity and living by spiritual principles can bring. There is nothing greater than that. Forget drugs….. Forget everything. We are living to experience the undiluted amazement of life on life’s terms.” Tweak by by Nic Sheff
I finished reading the book “Tweak” by Nic Sheff. It was intense to say the least. It is the story of his life of addiction and recovery. There were times it was very difficult to read because I “felt” his pain. I understood his struggles with recovery. It doesn’t matter what the drug of choice, addiction destroys you from the inside out. It takes your spirit hostage first and then attacks your mind. It leaves you with a body that has been taken over by the alien force-addiction.
I am quickly approaching my 26th sober anniversary/birthday. In recovery, we celebrate our “belly button” birthday as well as celebrating our sober birthday. I haven’t celebrated the past few years. I acknowledged it and even wrote about in my blog. Please understand that I am truly grateful for my sobriety and all it has meant to my life. I just haven’t celebrated.
A certain sadness comes this time each year. Birthday and anniversaries bring reminders of the past. I think about my life before recovery. We keep the memory “green” to remind us who we used to be. The promises from the Big Book say, “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.” We share our stories to keep the memories alive for ourselves and to share with others. We share not only the story of our addiction but also the story of hope and faith through recovery.
I am also reminded of the people who are no longer here to celebrate my journey. Before Jan died, she was such a big part of my recovery and celebrating each year. Her memorial service was held just a couple of days before my anniversary and the two seemed intertwined. I think about my “Papa” Paul who died just last May. Stan, Tommy, Mikey, Rachel, JoJo, and more all died sober. I can’t begin to list those who died because they couldn’t stay clean and sober.
I miss the people who have been through so much with me in this journey and now live so far away. Donna has been with me for 25 of those years. Cathy has been there for 22 years. One is in Vermont and the other in Nevada. Peggy, Juana, Jack, Dee, Ann, Mary, Jess, Mark and more are all scattered across the country. I know they will be with me in spirit but I want to hug them, laugh with them, see their eyes…..
I know someone is going to quote the Big Book page 449 so let me do it first.
Acceptance is the answer to ALL of my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation- some fact of my life- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept my life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.
I write this knowing full well that I need an attitude adjustment. I decided to write this and share it in spite of that because this is where I am today. I know what I need to do to get that attitude adjustment. I need to focus on acceptance. I need to make a gratitude list. I need to reach out and do something for someone else. Thanks for letting me share my thoughts today. Here is one last quote from Nic’s book:
“And though I have done many shameful things, I am not ashamed of who I am. I am not ashamed of who I am because I know who I am. I have tried to rip myself open and expose everything inside – accepting my weaknesses and strengths – not trying to be anyone else. ‘Cause that never works, does it? So my challenge is to be authentic. And I believe I am today. I believe I am.” ― Nic Sheff, Tweak
Keep It Simple
Scott Peck wrote in the Road Less Traveled, “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
Life is filled with complicated questions. “Why?” is the one that comes to mind most often. I wonder if knowing why something happened would really make it easier. If I knew why my friend died, would it hurt any less? Would I miss her any less? If I knew why parents and grandparents were the kind of people who would hurt a kid, would it really matter? Why did I become a drunk? Does it really matter why I gained weight ? Why did I get sober when others can’t? Why did I survive so many obstacles and come out in tact and with my faith when other didn’t ? I don’t have answers for all those “why” questions. “Why” often seems like searching for a treasure box only to find it empty.
I wonder if my time would be better spent accepting that life is filled with mystery and things we will never understand. Maybe my friend was right after all. Whenever something happened that just didn’t make sense she would ask, “what is the lesson you are supposed to learn from this?” As much as I loved her, I often wanted to throw something at her when she would ask this. Here is what I usually seem to learn in those times: Take the next step, do the next right thing, love the people in your life, and trust in God (whatever you may call God).
My Baby is Turning 40
How is that possible you ask? I know-I don’t look a day over 40 myself. I certainly don’t feel old enough to have a son turning 40 tomorrow. It was devastating when I turned 40, but this seems even bigger. His birthday gives me reason to stop and reflect.
I remember finding out I was pregnant. I was 20 years old and had been married for 2 years. My husband was very excited about having a new tax deduction. I was excited and TERRIFIED! I had no idea how to be a good mother. I certainly had fine examples of what not to do.
I had a list of things I would never do. I was not going to be like the people who raised me. I hesitated to call any of them parents. I lived through abuse of every kind as a child, two sets of alcoholic parents, abandonment, fear, and almost always felt alone in the world. I wanted to provide my children with love, encourage them to be individuals, support their hopes and dreams, and give them a safe and loving home.
I went to the library and read every book I could find on parenting. I read about everything from breast-feeding to disciple. I read about physical care and emotional well-being. I even had to read about the birthing process. The only thing I really knew was how to get pregnant.
My son was the most amazing baby. He slept through the night at 6 weeks. He wasn’t fussy or colicky. He was usually happy. He said his first words at 6 months and could sing all of “Take Me Home Country Roads” at 18 months. He would sneak away from me at the store and head to front desk area. He would tell the clerk that his parents were missing and ask for candy while he waited for them to find us. He was outgoing and everyone loved him.
When he was 4 years old, his little sister joined the family. He has always loved his little sister. He nick named her “Coochie.” I have no idea how he decided on that name. He loved to carry her around and dote on her.
Life didn’t turn out the way I planned. The effects of my childhood, undiagnosed PTSD, anxiety disorders, and clinical depression took a toll. My marriage was not a good one and that added to the problems. I started drinking as a way of escape and trying to find a sense of normalcy.
My children never saw me drink nor saw me drunk. I hid it well. I started to make poor choices for my life. At the end of my marriage I was sleeping on the couch. My kids came to me and said that my daughter was moving into the room with my son (and his bunk beds) so I could have her room and sleep on a bed. It broke my heart. I knew I had to make changes. However, I made the wrong changes. I moved out of the house and tried to be a good mother living apart from them.
I don’t need to share all the details of that time, but my husband filed for divorce and asked for physical custody of the kids. I was allowed to have them every other weekend and one night a week. The pain was too much to bear and I used drinking more as a way to escape. I made another bad choice to move to another state and try to start my life again. You can run away but you always take yourself and your problems with you. Eventually I found my way into therapy and recovery.
The next years would be very difficult. Living so far away from my children made healing the relationship a daily struggle. My daughter did return to live with me but my son did not. He was in high school and stayed to finish. We would have highs and lows in our relationship over the next few years. I know he felt abandoned just as I had so many years before.
In 12 step programs of recovery, we are taught not to regret the past nor shut the door on it. We are taught that our past made us who we are today. My past created a path for my way to a relationship with God that I never had before. I understand those things in my head; My heart is another story. Tears still come from time to time when I remember the days of missing my children. I still carry shame and hurt from that time.
My son turns 40 tomorrow and I couldn’t ask for a better relationship with him. He is an amazing husband and father. He has a strong faith and we share our thoughts and ideas about that. We are able to talk about the past with understanding. He has an amazing wife and is father two of my grandchildren. They are both a joy in my life.
A few years ago, he gave me the best birthday present I could ever imagined. He bought tickets for us to go to Charlotte, NC and see the Panthers and Redskins football game. Of course, he was wearing his Panther’s blue shirt and I was wearing my Redskins’ burgundy and gold shirt. We stayed overnight and enjoyed the time talking, laughing, and enjoying each other.
This summer we took a day trip to Charlotte to see the movie premier of “Blue Like Jazz.” The movie is based on a book by Donald Miller. We both love the author and book. These rare moments give us time to talk and continue to grow our relationship.
My son turns 40 tomorrow. I still call him Teddy. His big boy friends call him Ted. I am his Mom and I am allowed to call him anything I want. He is still that precious baby boy, inquisitive toddler, and bright/gifted little boy to me. He always will be.
Happy Birthday, Teddy! I love you with all my heart.
Thirty Days of Gratitude Challenge
I have several friends participating in the Thirty Days of Gratitude Challenge. I participated in the challenge last year by posting my gratitude for someone or something on facebook everyday in November. I missed the beginning of the challenge this year, so decided that I will use my Sunday blog post each week to share my gratitude for the week.
Gratitude has played a huge part in my life over the past 25 years. In twelve step programs of recovery, we talk a lot about gratitude. We are taught to have an “attitude of gratitude.” We are reminded (hit over the head is more like it) to make a daily gratitude list. My therapist even gets into the whole gratitude mix by requiring me to keep a “happy book (gratitude journal)” for a time. Many of us have heard the saying, “Pay it forward.” Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholic Anonymous in a letter written in 1959, wrote: “Gratitude should go forward, rather than backward.” I believe he was telling us to pay it forward. I believe he is reminding us that gratitude as an attitude is desirable, but to put it into action is its true value.
I will share my gratitude list here this month. I want to remember to put it into action. In a post last week, I shared an experience that showed me the value in sharing gratitude. I will find ways to share my gratitude in tangible ways this month. I may not share them here unless I feel there is something beneficial in sharing them.
Here is my list for this week:
Nov. 1 I am grateful for recovery. I probably would not be alive today if it were not for recovery. I am a grateful recovering alcoholic/addict. I am also in recovery as an Adult Child of Alcoholics, a Survivor of child abuse and sexual abuse, recovering fundamentalist, recovery from eating disorder, recovering Codependent, and more. Twelve Step programs brought me help, healing, and helped me find my way back to God.
Nov. 2 I am grateful for my amazing children and grandchildren. I have a son and a daughter, both grown with their own families. I loved them with all my heart but I made a lot of mistakes. We have worked hard to have the loving and supportive relationships we have now. I have three grandchildren who bring me incredible joy. I also helped raise two step daughters who are still in my life.
Nov. 3 I am grateful for my friends. Carol and I have been friends since she was 5 and I was 7. She and her family gave me a sense of sanity and normalcy growing up. She laughs when I say that. This past year has brought a new friendship into my life. Jan, Anna and her family have been an amazing blessing in my life. I have my 2-1-1 Hotline family of friends and they truly represent that attitude of gratitude.
Nov. 4 I am grateful for my physical health. I am 61 years old and have very few health problems. The ones I do have are manageable with medication and lifestyle.
Are you part of this challenge? How do you share your gratitude? Do you think it is important?
This blog post is part of NaBloPoMo. The theme for November’s NaBloPoMo is blogging for blogging’s sake.
A family member had surgery yesterday. As expected, he was sent home with pain medication. The medication came with normal warnings about not using it with alcohol, don’t drive, etc. What I read next on the instructions made me do a double take. I read it again just to be sure I had not misread this. Here is the instruction sheet he was given. Be sure to read the line in the middle of the “pain medication” section. You will see that it says, “You will not get “hooked” to your pain medication.
The pain medication prescribed was hydrocodone. Here is the information about this drug.
National Library of Medicine-Hydrocodone may be habit-forming. Take hydrocodone exactly as directed. Do not take a larger dose, take it more often, or take it for a longer period of time than prescribed by your doctor. Call your doctor if you develop a strong desire to take more medication than prescribed.
Hydrocodone Help-Hydrocodone is an opiate drug that is commonly prescribed to treat pain. It is a sedative that produces feelings of calm and euphoria and has the potential to cause dangerous addiction. It is important for someone who has developed an addiction to hydrocodone to undergo professional rehab treatment. However, there are some myths about that treatment that can prevent that person from getting the help he or she needs.
Medicine.Net- GENERIC NAME: hydrocodone/acetaminophen. BRAND NAMES: Vicodin, Vicodin ES, Anexsia, Lorcet, Lorcet Plus, Norco. DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Hydrocodone is a narcotic pain-reliever and a cough suppressant, similar to codeine. Hydrocodone may be habit forming. Mental and physical dependence can occur.
I could list more references but you get the idea. Did I mention that the prescription was a hefty ten day supply for a minor surgery? This medication was given at a VA hospital where many of the patients already have issues with addictions. Yes, if you use the medication exactly as prescribed and for only a short time when the pain needs to be managed you probably won’t have problem.
I am confused and concerned by this. I understand the need for pain medication, especially after surgery. I do not understand the need for that much medication and a”non warning” label telling patients they will not get hooked. I am not sure who to write to express my concerns, but I will be researching and sending a letter to someone.
Have you seen anything like this? What are your thoughts?
Unforgiven-The Ugly Truth
Day Twelve of the Fifteen Habits of Great Writer’s Series Challenge said,
If you’re going to be a great writer, you’re going to have to shake things up. Maybe even break a few rules. Here are some ideas:
Tell the ugly truth.
Pick a fight with something that’s wrong with the world.
Call yourself out.
Make a giant confession.
Take a risk.
Write something dangerous (something you’ve never written before).
I thought about this one for a while. For the past couple of months I have written about things I believe are wrong with the world, about things I haven’t written about before, and I have taken risks. None of the horrible things I imagined actually happened. How would I be able to complete this challenge?
I was talking (texting) with my friend Jan C. last night. I told her something about my grandmother and mentioned that I don’t typically share that with anyone. As I read the challenge today I realized I have written about my mother, my father, my grandfather, my siblings, and many events in my life. What I have not written about is my grandmother.
I started to think about why I haven’t written about her. I believe the answer is simple. She is the one person I haven’t been able to forgive. For some of you who know my story, you may not find that unusual. When I was ending therapy last summer, Rhonda said I had one thing left to do. That one thing was to forgive my grandmother. I am not there yet. I understand it is the one rope still holding my soul tied down. I don’t believe I can ever find true peace and healing until I do that. But, I don’t know how.
I forgave my mother for not protecting me, for abandoning me (more than once), for never letting herself fully love anyone including me. I know her story. It helped me understand more about her and some of her life choices. But that isn’t why I forgave her. I forgave her because she cared enough to want me to forgive her.
I forgave my father for the early years of my life, I forgave him for not fighting to see me, and for not keeping his promises. I know his life story. I know he had to make hard decisions as he got older and had another family. But that isn’t why I forgave him. I forgave him because he cared enough to want me to forgive him.
I forgave my grandfather. I forgave him for being a drunk, for being cruel, for never hugging me unless he was so drunk he was almost falling down. I forgave him for never trying to a father after they adopted me. I forgave him because I understand the disease of alcoholism. I was a drunk and I did things that hurt people. I could not forgive myself without forgiving him.
I forgave the boys who molested me when I five and six. I forgave the “adult” that did it, too. I forgave the kids who bullied me in school and church. I forgave my ex-husband. I forgave the people in my church who turned their backs on me. I forgave everyone, except my grandmother.
She choose to make me her child. My mother said she started when I was just a toddler. She would come and take me with them for the weekend. I don’t know why two people who spent their weekends partying at local bars would want to drag along a child. She told me as I got older that they would put me in the back room or upstairs room and give me whiskey so I would pass out and sleep.
She choose to adopt me and let my brother go to my father’s parents in West Va. She choose to lie to me about my father and brother. She choose to lie to the rest of world and made me part of her lies. I had to lie to my grandfather about all the adult things she shared with me. I had to remember to tell the right story to people. I didn’t dare tell anyone about what went on in our home.
She told me God didn’t like little girls who cried, who were afraid, who told secrets, and that God punished us for the bad things we did. Bad things happen if you are bad. So many bad things happened in my young life, I knew God must not love me. When my best friend died after he got tangled in our rope swing in the tree, I thought it was my fault because I was bad. I carried that belief around for more than 35 years.
She didn’t hug me or kiss me like some of the other mother’s I saw. When we sat in church, I moved close to her and put my head on her arm in hopes she might one day just put her arm around me. I finally quit trying. She told me I was fat so often that I started to see myself as fat even when I wasn’t. She would take me in her room, show me her closet, and tell me she hadn’t bought a new dress in months. She wanted to be sure that I understood the sacrifices she made just so I would have a home. She told me I couldn’t learn to cook because I would catch something on fire, I couldn’t sew because I would put the needle in my finger or break the machine, and so on. She made promises and then said she prayed about it and God told her she shouldn’t do whatever she had promise.
She decided to turn her back and shut me out of her life when I was drinking. She wanted nothing to do with me. She forgot that she was a drunk until I was almost seven. After getting sober, I made my list of people to whom I should make amends. She was not on the list. Jan F. asked me why my grandmother wasn’t on the list. I blew up at her. I had nothing to make amends about to her. She should make amends to me. I was told I had to make amends for my part and God would deal with her for her part. I didn’t like it, but I did it.
I wrote a letter explaining my sobriety and my new way of life. I asked her to forgive me for the list of things I did wrong. I secretly hoped maybe she would forgive me and ask my forgiveness. WRONG. She wrote a short letter saying she wanted nothing to do with me until the “old Kathy came back.” Before she died she sold our family house, disposed of everything in the house, and gave all the money to a church. After she died, she had a lawyer send a letter stating that I was being awarded $1.00 from her estate. She had the same letter sent to my kids. It was her final “F” you from the grave.
I have only scratched the surface with things I don’t forgive when it comes to her. I feel the anger building as I share these things. I hate the way I feel when I remember her. I hate the way it poisons my spirit. Why can’t I forgive her? She didn’t do anything worse than those I did forgive. Or did she?
I know sharing this may bring some unwanted advice. I know all the Bible verses about forgiveness. I know all the reasons to forgive. I know someone will say it is just a choice. In recovery, we say we forgive for ourselves and not for the other person. I know I need to forgive for me. Maybe I need to forgive myself for not being good enough to forgive her. Many people say the thing they love about my writing is the ability to get past the anger and write from a place of detachment and healing. This blog post will disappoint you because it is written in a “different voice.” I hope you can forgive me.
Sick and Tired
When I started my blog, I wanted to share my life journey. I also wanted a place to share my other writing as well. I haven’t done that yet, but I am going to do that today. I recently joined a new writing site and each week we write to a prompt. My post today is a fiction piece (based on a bit of truth). The prompt for this post is “Weary.”
SICK AND TIRED
She looked at the ugly drab green chairs in the waiting area. She wondered why anyone would make a chair that color, let alone buy them. The walls were a depressing shade of what must have once been white. Posters hung on the walls instead of beautiful artwork or paintings. The old fluorescent lights shining through dead bugs and accumulated dust inside the panels completed the dismal room.
A woman with two children sat across from her. The baby cried and squirmed in her arms while she tried to quiet the hyperactive toddler. Jessie found it hard to believe so many people needed help and even harder to believe she was one of them.
It was finally her turn to go into the row of cubicles. The caseworker looked at her paperwork never raising her eyes to look at Jessie. Jessie shuffled in her chair waiting for the inevitable questions. She wondered why you had to fill out all the paperwork if they were just going to ask you the same questions. But, she needed help and if this were what it took, she would comply.
She wondered how she ever come to a place where she would be need to apply for government assistance? The caseworker finished the paperwork and said it would be thirty days before she would receive her food stamps. She handed Jessie a flyer about some programs at a church just around the block. They usually had hot meals and bags of groceries. Jessie felt even more defeated and alone. A church was the last place she wanted to go.
She had given up on praying. If God was there, He certainly didn’t hear or care about her prayers. She remembered the stories from Sunday school. Wonderful stories about God taking care of everyone. They said God took care of the birds, so we knew God took care of us. We never needed to worry about anything because God was watching over us. So where was He now when she so desperately needed help?
She started making her way to the church. It was snowing again and her threadbare sweatshirt was little protection from the bitter cold. She had a few dollars left and stopped at the liquor store. She bought two bottles of the cheapest vodka. Back outside, she opened one and took a long drink. She shoved the bottles into her backpack and kept walking.
An older woman greeted her and showed her the way to the food line. The woman reminded Jessie of her mother. She had been unprepared for her mother’s death last year. She remembered the call from the hospital. She wondered how it went from “your mother has been in a car accident” to “your mother passed away.” She didn’t remember much about the days that followed. She did everything on autopilot, calling the Pastor, picking the casket, and then the funeral. Drinking helped her forget.
“Hi, my name’s Pat. Mind if I sit with you?”
“If you want.”
“I saw you as you came out of the liquor store.” I live just down the street.”
Jessie looked down at her food. She kept eating and didn’t respond.
“I used to go there myself. I had a real problem with drinking but I’ve been sober for two years now.”
“So why are you telling me your little life story?” Jessie snapped.
“I just wondered if you might want to talk someone who understands.”
“Understands? Understands what? You don’t know anything about me.”
“I may understand more than you think. I understand what it means to be sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Jessie looked at her for the first time. How could this woman possibly know how she felt? She felt the tears begin to roll down her cheeks.
“Yeah. I am so tired of everything. Tired of feeling like this. Tired of trying to pray. Tired of…” Jessie stopped before she said the words.
“Tired of living like this?” Pat asked.
“Yeah.” It was all Jessie could say.
Pat put her arms out and gave a Jessie a hug. “Why don’t you come back to my apartment? We can talk. I’ll tell you my ‘little life story’ and how I found a solution.”
Jessie walked with Pat back to her apartment. She wondered if maybe, just maybe, God had heard her after all.
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A Gift to Give Away
I have been thinking about what to write for the YeahWrite blog this week. April 11, I celebrate 25 years being clean and sober. I am sober today “through the Grace of God and the program and fellowship of my twelve step program.” It is a day of mixed emotions-gratitude for a second chance at life, love for family and friends, a sense of peace and serenity, and grieving the loss of friends not here to celebrate these things.
I thought I would write a beautiful, touching, inspirational blog. Those never come out quite the way you imagine. About ten years ago, I wrote a poem; something I rarely do. I submitted it to a recovery journal and they published it that April. I decided to simply share that with you today.
A Gift to Give Away
I came to you with head held low.
I came to you no place to go.
I came to you when I had no hope.
I came to you when I couldn’t cope.
I came to you with fear and pain.
I came to you not sure I was sane.
I came when all I could do was cry.
I came to you when I wanted to die.
You looked at me and at once I knew
That what you said to me was true.
You knew the fear I had inside
You knew how much I wanted to hide.
You told me I would be OK.
You told me to live just for today.
You said there was a lot to do
But you would help me see it through.
I had to find a power greater than me
If I wanted to learn to live and be free.
I did not always do it right
But I kept trying with all my might.
One day I laughed and then I found
I really rather liked the sound.
I loved the thought of being alive
And knew somehow I could survive.
You told me that now I had to share,
I had to start to love and care.
I had to share this peace I knew
And let others know they could find it, too.
She came to me with eyes that were dead.
“This will not work for me” she said.
I smiled and said “just give it try”
She looked at me and asked me “why?”
Because I once felt the same as you
And I know what you are going through.
I was given a gift to give away
And so I give it to you today.
Do with this gift whatever you choose,
Take a chance, what have you got to lose?