Almost Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong

My ex-husband asked me how when we suffer a relapse we are welcomed back into AA with open arms. I turned the question around on him and asked, why wouldn’t I go back to a place that would welcome me back even if I did falter? God knows my family wouldn’t do that. In most cases all they feel for me is anger. In the rooms I’m welcomed back because I’m just as broken as the person sitting next to me.

We are all just one drink or drug away from relapse and ultimately death. That’s what this disease wants to do, it wants to kill me. It wants to scream in my ear all of the bad things I’ve done to make me so covered in guilt and shame that I pour myself into a bottle and die.

A normal person doesn’t think this way. A normal person doesn’t drink this way. And a normal person can not understand the power of surrender in AA. Admitting to this surrender is the only way I can win.

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Chaotic Thoughts and the Newly Sober Woman

I’m sitting at the laundromat and all of the machines are whirring, grinding and spinning while I sit in a molded plastic chair smiling like a goof. My brain is happy with all the chaos and noise. No one is speaking to me or even looking my way as I write. I can’t hear my heart beat in my ears, or the white noise static that is a constant in my brain.

I finally wipe the grin off my face and look up to see two little girls helping their dad use the large capacity spin machine. Dad must own a laundry business, because he’s washing tons of clothing that most assuredly don’t belong to him. Women’s clothes, large colorful blankets and more than one load of whites made sparkling by bleach. The kids voices and laughter mix with the other chaotic sounds and my brain becomes even more at peace.

I spy from the corner of my eye a man taking photos of the high capacity washers he’s using. I find it odd, but then rationalize what the hell difference should it make to me why he’s doing it? My hope is that he’s sending the photo to his girlfriend to prove to her what a good guy he is. He’s doing the laundry while she’s at work or something. Who knows, right?

The girls are using the large capacity spin machine thingy again and it’s super loud. It makes me smile my goofy grin again and I wonder if anyone is watching me. Probably not. We’re all here doing the same thing, but that’s the only parallel to our lives.

I’m just going to sit here and enjoy my quiet mind and heart for the time being. While the machines whir, grind and spin…

I No Longer Hunger

I knew I was depressed the day food no longer held any allure.

He told me that he’d met someone and of course I was jealous, but what struck me was when he said that she didn’t eat much, like him. That they both never ate much so he asked her to have dinner at his place.

Of course my mouth got the best of me, and I spouted off, ‘well fuck, she must be skinny, how lucky for you!’

He responded, ‘it doesn’t fucking matter if she’s young or old, skinny or fat, I just wanted to have dinner with a friend.’

I knew she was more than a friend. That it was a date, and he had moved on.

I lost my appetite and became an empty vessel. I felt nothing, except the iciness of anxiety as it crept into my heart and made a home where my sparkle used to be. Something inside of me broke and I shut down. I hadn’t felt like this in ages, but I knew what it was.

My old friend depression had returned, and it had put its cold, dead hand in mine.

I finally admitted it to myself, and then my daughter this weekend.

‘Mom, I don’t think your anti-depressant is working.’

‘Honey, I know it isn’t, but I don’t know what to do.’

I sobbed while we talked, and I think I used about 25 tissues in about ten minutes. Meg kept reassuring me that I was going to be okay, but all I could say was I knew that I would be without a partner for the rest of my life.

The whole thing with K had devastated me. Here was this man that I was sure I loved already moving on.

Sure, he has his demons, but so do I.

There’s addiction, of food and alcohol that continually sing their siren song into my ear. There’s the nagging feeling that I’ll be alone for the rest of my life. That I’ll leave no mark. That I’ll have been brave enough to save myself from insanity, to only die alone in some hospital bed while machines whir and measure my heartbeat till I’m no more.

The pit of depression is a deep one and I’m at the bottom of it.

To begin clawing my way out, I sent a text to my therapist. I’ve contacted my closest friends and I’ve told my sponsor the work I need to do. I think I need to make a call to my addiction psychiatrist, because I think I need a stronger medication to battle this. Meditation is great and prayer even better, but I know that I need it like a diabetic needs insulin.

I want out of this abyss, and I want to be loved. I want to love myself first, but that may never happen. There are women like me that feel love for those around them, but will never feel their worth until they are loved by someone else.

Tomorrow, I will get up early, and prepare for work. I’ll go through the motions of life and I will take time for self care and meditation. I’ll force myself to take care of myself, until it is no longer a battle, and I can do it with ease. And even if I’m never held in the arms of man again, I will find something in this life worth living for.

To Remember touch More than Thought

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“I remember that feeling of skin. It’s strange to remember touch more than thought. But my fingers still tingle with it.”-Lucy Christopher

My pulse quickened as Matt enclosed his left hand around my right. The intimacy of his actions brought a blush to my cheeks. Confused, I wanted to pull away but I craved the contact. Instead of retreating, I allowed his hand to engulf mine. My mouth went dry, as his thumb repeatedly caressed the palm of my hand.

I yielded to his touch, my heart slowed its thready beat, and I allowed myself to enjoy the closeness of my dear friend. He asked for nothing but my hand. He told me he loved me and how glad he was I came into his life. We grew silent, as his thumb continued to make lazy circles on my palm.

His was the first intimate touch I’d felt since I’d become sober. It wasn’t a sexual touch. I wasn’t sure how to label it, and honestly, I didn’t care to. In that five minutes, I felt more protected and loved than I had in a long time.

With our hands clasped, my friend silently asked nothing of me, but to love every broken, raw and damaged part of him. And in return, I asked him to do the same for me.

The Day the Music Came Alive

I am 32 Flavors and then some
I’m nobody, but I am someone

The last year of my addiction to alcohol had killed my love of music. Every time I listened to any song I would feel it so deeply that I would be left sobbing. If I couldn’t listen to music, I damn sure couldn’t write either. So in the last six months I fed my need for words by listening to NPR and the great Dave and Chuck the Freak morning show on 101.1 The WRIF in Detroit.

During detox and rehab we weren’t allowed to have our phones, so I was starved for information, morning radio shows, and finally, music. The few songs I did get to hear during that time made me cry, but there was no longer any deep seeded pain connected to it. The pain I felt was the itch and burn of healing to my tattered and war torn soul.

On the day I walked out of the Brighton Center of Recovery, the sun of early fall was shining. It lit my hair and my spirit on fire and I knew I was on the path to rebirth. I threw my suitcase in the backseat, and placed my ID and insurance card back into my wallet. I slid the keys into the ignition, turned the engine over, and rolled the windows down. As I drove out of the parking lot, I turned the radio up to 11, the wind caught my hair and I sang the words to whatever song that was playing on the radio.

I  finally felt at home in the music, no matter if it was upbeat or a ballad. The words helpd incredible power! Not to hurt me, but to help me heal. Everyday I get closer to fine with the help of my IOP group, my AA community, my other Brighton alums, my friends and family and my music. Oh my fucking God, I am so incredibly blessed!

May you find peace and serenity today, and may you find joy in the little things in life.

 

 

A Letter of Forgiveness

angel

‘Let us be willing to release old hurts.’- Martha Smock

Dear Renee,

The last three years have been especially harrowing, yet you’ve persevered. I always knew you were  a strong woman.

I want you to forgive yourself for the last ten years of drinking. I want you to love and accept yourself and know that you are a beautiful spirit.

You are not your past, and it does not need to define you. Your future and your community are the sober people, the perfectly broken.

Your children love you. The longer you are sober, the more their trust will return.

Do not look for love until you can find it within yourself.

Go to meetings.Work with a sponsor. Keep busy. Dive into work and become a stellar employee again.

Be kind to yourself and know that you alone are enough.

Let go of your past. Let go of love that is not evenly returned and move forward.

Find peace.

Find joy.

Find love from within, and the brilliance of it will flow to everyone you encounter.

Forgive yourself, and put your trust in the future.

Love, Renee

(This is a letter I wrote to myself the last night of my stay at the Brighton Center for Recovery. My addiction counselor told me to save doing this section of my homework after everything else was done. I read it to my community the day I ventured out of the Brighton Bubble into the sunlight of new future. I’ll  share of my journey when the time is right. For now, I have another story brewing about a wheat farmer and his wife. I hope to post it soon. This girl is getting her sparkle back for sure. Thanks for following me on this journey.)

Sliding Glass Window Oberservations From A Grenade

Yesterday I watched from my sliding glass window, five young men wearing the same color suit. Four of them wore ties folded in Windsor knots. One of them wore a slick bow tie. There was a sixth man. A photographer wearing khakis, took candid shots of them as they changed from gym to dress shoes, straightened each others ties and goofed off, like young men do. My guess was, they were the groom and attendants for a wedding. Or maybe they were an a cappella group. Who knows?

My apartment complex is set back in a wooded area, so the photographer took them behind the building to get more shots. They left their gym shoes and back packs resting on the hoods of their vehicles. Their doors were left wide open. When they returned, they grabbed all their crap and jammed themselves into their vehicles. They and the khaki panted photographer headed off to parts unknown. I was excited to observe them as they smile radiantly and wore the same color suits. Four of them with ties folded in Windsor knots. The other, maybe the groom, wearing a slick bow tie.

Often, my observational posts begin on my personal Facebook page. An idea hits me and I have to write it down. I’m sure it drives many of my friends crazy because my posts can get a little lengthy. Whatever, then take me out of your news feed! On second thought, please don’t, because I want you to read my observations. Looking at my window is about the only place I can draw inspiration right now.  I’ve kinda been stuck in my apartment for 70 days.

My focus waned and I didn’t write much more till I arrived home from My Trivia last night. At 1:00 a.m I began writing a lengthy email to a friend, when the following quote popped into my Sparkly little head:

 I wanted to know that he would be okay if I did. I wanted to not be a grenade, to not be a malevolent force in the lives of the people I loved.–John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

I wrote to my friend, I am a goddamn grenade.

I realized that in my married life and when I was raising my kids, I was a grenade. I was a malevolent force that ruined everything in my path. I was an F5 tornado or category 5 hurricane. And I was hell bent on self destructing. The self destruction included being a horrible drunk, a slow suicide with food and conversing with men that I had no business talking to.

I don’t want to be a grenade, anymore.

My ultimate goal is to try to find peace within my stormy, passionate and romantic heart. My ultimate goal is to not judge others and somehow rise above the transgressions of my past. I’ve sought forgiveness from God. I can’t go back and change anything. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m not even looking for forgiveness from Roger Darling, Meggie or Adam Boy. All I can do is keep my mouth shut, my mind clear and try to be happy.

I wish for the three I’ve hurt the most to be happy, because I don’t want to be a goddamn grenade, anymore.

I talked to my mother today and I asked her when I should stop saying I’m sorry for all the havoc I wreaked? Her response was as soon as put down the bucket of guilt I continued to carry around. I may never be completely forgiven by my children or the man I shared 24 years of my life with, but I’m going to put down that bucket. I’m sure there will be times in my life that I will pick it up again. There will always be a part of me that knows that I fucked everything up.

I’m also acutely aware that I will probably be alone for the rest of my life because of what I’ve done. I have to be okay with that.  I have to realize that there is no such thing as unconditional love, except for the love we give our children. On this journey to myself, I’ve discovered I am a child of God. I am a sinner, but even sinners need to forgive themselves.

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches over me…

He watches over Meggie and Adam.

And I know, He watches over Roger Darling.

 

Journal Entry-Happiness and 180 Days

Happiness“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”-Confucius

Yeah, I know it’s been awhile, but I’m back.

The holidays were different this year, but none the less special. My ex-husband, Roger Darling and I shared the expense of buying gifts for our four kids. We prepared dinner together. Prime rib, mashed red skin potatoes, and a wonderful salad bar. We ate heartily and laughed exuberantly. Even though our family is now fractured, there is still happiness and laughter.

We spoiled our children with good gifts like we always have. And filled their stockings with everything they could possibly want. Thank you God for the dollar store!!!

The kids drank wine and beer, but it didn’t bother me. I drank Diet Coke and quietly celebrated my own milestone of another day without a drop of alcohol. I know Roger Darling keeps track of my sobriety, which I’m kind of honored by. I will never understand how a man who’s heart I shattered could give two shits about me. Never mind, I do know. Even after everything we’ve been through, he still loves me. I may not love him the same way, but we will always have a connection. We were a family, once upon a time…

In this New Year, I celebrate that I’ve been sober for over 180 days.

Many times I’ve stood in the liquor aisle and stroked the bottles of flavored vodka. They called to me like they were my lover, but it is a siren’s song. I knew if I took a drink, I would crash into the shore of my own self-destruction again, and again, and again.

I made myself walk away from those bottles of poison, more than once. No matter how lonely, depressed or angry I got, I never drank.

I just knew the next day would be full of hope, promise and at least one reason to smile.

I’m still finding my way back to happy. It isn’t in the bottom of a vodka bottle.

It’s within me.

My heart, mind and soul are happier, sober.

I’m no Pollyanna. There are days that I can barely get out of bed. I force myself to get up and face the day. Just waking up without a hangover and going to work is blessing enough.

Happy New Year my dear friends. I hope that 2014 is a better year for all of you. May you all let go of fear, and live the lives you desire.

Love,

A sober and somewhat happy Sparkly Girl

It Happens When You Least Expect It

Loneliness happens when you least expect it. While shopping for groceries on a weeknight. You see them, the couples, deciding what to make for dinner. The fathers, shopping with their young children. Giving the stay-at-home mom a break. Dad’s put in a full day, but he knows that his wife’s work is never done.

You peruse the produce section and grab a couple of naval oranges from California. And a fresh bouquet of flowers to display in your one bedroom apartment. It reminds you of the verse about buying your own flowers; decorating your own heart. Or something like that….

After grabbing a fresh bag of salad, you look for a good steak. You can buy what you want, because you live on your own. You’ve instantly lost your appetite though. Throwing the prepackaged meat back on the shelf, you take to wandering aimlessly up and down each aisle.

You get the rest of your items and walk down the liquor aisle. The variety is overwhelming and you pray for strength. It’s been 150 days without a drop of alcohol, but this night your will is weak. Screwing up every ounce of courage, you leave the booze behind. You don’t need it. The tears will come whether you drink or not.

You see a young mother chasing down her child and you smile. You remember being that woman, a lifetime ago. You wish you could tell her to enjoy every minute of it. But your reverie is broken by the child running into an Indian man that has his arms full of food items. He and the young mother laugh and the little one squeals with delight.

Once home, the tears trail down your cheeks. The pain of loneliness is so intense, you sob until your throat is raw. The whole time you bawl, you’re throwing groceries into your fridge and cupboards. The cat is freaked out by the noises you emit and runs away. Then you throw a tantrum about the cat not even giving a fuck about you.

You kneel beside your bed and you pray one simple word, ‘please’.

As the tears and sobbing subside, you fall into a troubled sleep. Hoping that tomorrow will be a better day.

God Said Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!

moneypit

Ha!!! Hahahahahahaha!! Hah huh, ha huh, ha huh, ha huh! Huh, huh, huh, huh! Ha!!!!!!!!

On Monday morning I planned on writing a journal entry, after my work was finished of course. Hell, I planned to follow the format that I’ve been trying to follow for about three months. But something always seems to fuck it up.

Catching up on email at work on Monday morning, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Cliche I know, but it’s how I felt. The sentence that squeezed my heart stated that two staff members would be directly affected by an Administrative Services Transition. I knew it was my job that would be eliminated. It was surreal to think after almost 25 years, my job might be gone. After speaking with a colleague I decided to talk to my director and tell her that I thought it was me that was going to get laid off. She confirmed my fears and waited for my response. We’ve worked together for 18 years, and she knows me. My initial reaction usually is to cry. This time, I didn’t. I sat in the blue canvas chair across from her, and felt strangely at peace.

I’m not sure if it’s the latest changes in my life. Alcoholic’s Anonymous and being sober for over four months. Being newly single. Or learning to let go and let God. But I was composed while I sat in my mentor’s office. Resigned to the fact that my job would be eliminated as of April 1, 2014. With the news came opportunity. A chance to interview for new leadership positions with Shared Services. To start a whole new career. It’s not something that a 45 year old, newly single and sober woman looks forward to. I’m kind of a weirdo though, so I say, bring it on.

At the end of our meeting, my director and cherished friend hugged me fiercely. I’m not sure how I’ll handle not seeing her smiling face every morning. When I leave, she’ll be the one that I miss the most. Her guidance over the years has made me a good employee. Her faith in me has been unwavering. For all the times that I’ve stumbled, she has picked me up and encouraged me to set my feet on the right path. I love her. Without her support and tough love, I don’t know where I’d be.

Now I’m updating my resume, creating a professional profile, writing a cover letter, perusing job postings and buying a new business suit. Fuck, I haven’t worn one of those things in years. I was hoping I’d never have to again. The one constant in my life is being ripped from me, and all I can think is, it could be worse.

Maybe next week I’ll get to follow my blog format. Maybe next week I’ll write every day. Maybe next week life won’t turn on a dime. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Maybe not.