Thank you to Elephant Journal for this inspiring verse.
Thank you to Elephant Journal for this inspiring verse.
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.
We traveled home late one night down Southbound US-23. I sat next to Mom in our mustard yellow Plymouth Duster, and did my best to try and sleep. The black sky was spitting snow at the headlights while the heat vents blew warm stale air onto my face and chest. It was warm enough in the car, but I used my long winter coat as a blanket. Sis was asleep in the backseat and I envied the ease in which she could sleep just about anywhere.
I could feel the thick, hard vinyl of the mustard yellow seat as I shifted my weight and tried to drift off. The seat was anything but comfortable, but I liked riding up front with Mom. The radio was playing low and the AM dial glowed in the dark. Mom listened to the late night news on WJR which I have to admit even at an early age, scared the heck out of me. Maybe it was the staccato rhythm of the announcers voice or the sound of the teletype and the occasional beeping that signaled the end of one segment and the beginning of another. It seemed that the news was always bad.
There was a murderer on the loose in another state that I was convinced was going to show up at our front door. There was disaster somewhere in the world and my mind would race with thoughts of could it happen here in my state, or the city I lived in. The stories of missing children, of wars in other lands, of leaders that would kill their own people. Even at the young age of eight, I felt that the world would never be safe for me. Maybe it was because my parents were divorced and my daddy wasn’t there to protect all of us, I don’t know.
Mom’s family was located on the west side of the state. When she married my father she pulled up stakes and moved away, but our homes were always pretty close to the highway. She loved my dad, but not in a traditionally romantic way. Dad wasn’t her Prince Charming, he was her best friend. He offered security and unconditional love and the escape from the abuse she had experienced her entire life. I don’t ever remember living with my dad, which is kind of sad.
Maybe the anxiety that I experienced at such an early age wouldn’t have been so devastating if Dad had been there to fight the monsters in the closet, or under the bed. Maybe he could have quelled my fears from the horrible news stories I heard on the radio and t.v., but maybe not.
After all these years of dealing with a backwards fight/flight response, I’ve come to realize that it’s pretty much how I’m wired. Therapy and a good anti-depressant/anxiety medication have made my life better, but there’s the little girl in me that still wishes for my dad. My parents’ divorce wasn’t anyone’s fault, but I’m sad it happened all the same.
Sometimes, I wish I could take the knowledge I have now, and go back to being that little girl trying to sleep on that crappy colored vinyl front seat, and tell myself not to fear life. To not fear the unknown sounds in the walls, and not fear the darkness of my bedroom, to not fear whether or not I will be liked or loved, and to not fear being alone. There are so many things in the world to fear, but there is so much more to be experienced and enjoyed.
“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.
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.
‘Let us be willing to release old hurts.’- Martha Smock
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 love from within, and the brilliance of it will flow to everyone you encounter.
Forgive yourself, and put your trust in the future.
(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.)
I saw her this morning and I know she saw me. She was holding a Speedway Pizza and 44 oz. soda, but it was only 9:45 in the morning. I tried not to pity her, this pasty white young woman with a horrible diet. I could tell by her unlined skin that she was in her 20’s, but the weight made her look older. She wore Capri jeans and a bulky t-shirt and was sweating at the effort it took her to walk to her vehicle. She set the items down on the hood of her powder blue mini-van coated thickly with dust from what I presumed was the dirt road she lived on.
I could tell she wanted to be as inconspicuous as possible. To blend in with the pavement and her powder blue mini-van. Just unlock the door, take her food and make her getaway to consume her poison in peace. I didn’t make eye contact with her, but I wanted to. I wanted to hug her and tell her I knew how she felt. That I hated food because the shittier it was for me the better it tasted. I wanted to tell her that I too was an addict that wanted to lie in bed and consume all the best and worst foods and die in a caloric avalanche. Instead, I said nothing, because she probably wouldn’t have listened anyway.
I walked into Speedway and purchased an unsweetened iced tea with lots of ice. I shared pleasantries with the cashier while I made my purchase and tried not to loathe the way I looked in my tight yoga pants and tank top. All 265 lbs. of me turned and walked out of the store and to Eddie the Wonder Dog waiting in my car. As I walked, I felt the constant pain of what felt like a pebble grinding into my left heel. Another pain I have to deal with because of obesity. I swear to you every pain I feel, both physically and mentally is because of this fat boundary that I’ve built around me.
Once in my vehicle, I glanced through my side window at the mini-van woman. There she was downing a soda, and eating her first slice of pizza. My heart hurt for her, well, for both of us really. Why was it that women like she and I struggled so, while other didn’t seem to? I reached down and started my car, turned to hug my Eddie Dog and then put the car in reverse. It was time to go home and measure out the portions of my morning meal, a hard-boiled egg, 1 cup of skim milk, 3/4 cup of protein cereal, and piece of fruit.
I’m determined this time, not only to make the diet stick, but to remain healthy. That’s the ultimate goal really, to wake in the morning with less physical and mental pain. To look forward to picking out healthy food and fun clothes to wear. To be able to run again, if I want to. Or swim, bike, or maybe even date. Who knows what the future holds for me? All I know is I don’t want my weight deciding my future for me, I want to be the master of my own fate.
Curled up in bed on my left side, I opened one eye and viewed the Life Manifesto hanging on my bedroom wall. I struggled to discern the words in the dimness of the coming morning . ‘Life’ the largest word on the canvas, filled my vision as Eddie the Wonder Pup glued his body to mine. I reached behind me and gave his back a soft pat, his crooked tail began to beat against my crippled right ankle. I dreaded getting out of bed. Not because of chronic pain, because there’s always that. No, it was the chill of winter in my bedroom, that made me want to stay snuggled under two comforters with a little baby puppy by my side.
The promise of daylight was beginning to spread across the manifesto on my wall. I could now read the line ‘Life is Simple’, and I shivered. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the line I read or the chill in the room. In the last 16 months I’ve learned how complicated life can be. I ended a 24 year marriage, had a horrific car accident that’s left me disabled, and the job I’ve been doing for the last 14 years has been dissolved and moved to another department.
I shifted my weight on the mattress enough to wake my drowsy fur baby and he moved from my side to begin poking at me with his paws and kissed my ears and face. His eyes smiled as I stretched and lifted the covers from my body. He kept jumping on me and biting at the a few errant strands of hair that had fallen from my hair tie during the night. He knew what he was doing was bad, but he also knew his cuteness would let him get away with it. I slid my yoga pants and slippers on, then Eddie and I headed to the living room to grab his leash.
As I stood outside Eddie relieved himself while I continued to shiver. The wind cut through my rebuilt ankle, and I thought about all of the people that have told me how much worse my situation could be. Though I do agree with them, I alone know how much the last ten month have just plain old sucked. Each time I work with my PT or try to walk more than the length of sidewalk outside my apartment, I’m reminded that the minutes, days, weeks and months have sucked swamp water, wind, and a big old giant ass!
With this final angry thought, I unlocked the door to my apartment building. After entering my unit, I set about the tasks for getting ready for my day with my right foot dragging. I worked hard to shift my weight to the right side of my body while I stood in the shower, brushed my teeth, and did my hair. Though it was painful, I knew the more I stood on it, the stronger it would become. My surgeon and PT have both told me that I’ve healed and progressed more than they thought I would. Superwoman may be dead, but I have been bound and determined to work hard. I’ve fought through pain, depression, suicidal thoughts, and hopelessness, but I still haven’t ‘got’ this. And if one more person tells me that I do, I might lose my shit.
At work I checked the photo stream on my phone and grouped together all of the images of my accident, surgery and early recovery. I wondered, should I delete them or save them for posterity. The post surgery images made me feel sick because of all of the blood, swelling, discoloration and railroad track stitches. I decided to speak to a dear friend about the photos, and get his take on what I should do with them. His advice, look at them one last time and delete them. Let go of the last chapter of the experience and move on. I haven’t deleted them yet, but I swear I will.
There is this shyness to me now, and a realization that being a manic pixie girl doesn’t always pay off. Sometimes it’s good to let the grass grow beneath my feet, and feel the grounding force of a foundation where I once didn’t want one. For even in my slowness, there is a passion that burns within me. A smoldering ember where a wild fire once burned, and it emits heat all the same. I’ve often heard that the embers burn hotter because the fire is contained in the core. It doesn’t burn out easily like that of the brilliant orange flame that can die quickly, even though that flame dances with an unadulterated exuberance.
I’m not afraid of death, and I wasn’t before my accident and the death of Superwoman. After the car accident, I’m even less afraid. No, I didn’t have a near death experience, but I experienced extreme shock. I nearly drowned in the abyss of it, and I can tell you I welcomed the feeling. If it had been my time to die, I would have gone without a fight. I wouldn’t have railed against the dying of the light. There was such peace in that cocoon in the early hours of my accident, that many times during my recovery, I wanted to go back to it.
Even as I continue to heal and realize that the old me is dead, I often wish to return to the cocoon, never to emerge, because I hated the moth I’d become. The one that kept flying to the light and dying each time it was zapped and suffered a setback. I miss the butterfly I once was, and it pains me to know she won’t return. As I endure ongoing recovery, I know I’m going to emerge from my chrysalis. I won’t ever be the same, but I will be beautiful again. And I will dance, live, love and fly…again.
**This will be my last post about recovery and chronic pain. 2015 is already a better year. It’s time to stoke the embers, and write with passion again.**
Even flow, thoughts arrive like butterflies
Oh, he don’t know so he chases them away, yeah
Oh, someday, yeah, he’ll begin his life again
Life again, life again
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy, when skies are gray
Mommy used to sing this song to me when I was a child. There were so many nights when I couldn’t sleep,because I was scared of the dark, and I was scared of the quiet. I was scared of the next day at school, and the struggles I would face there. Mom did her best to ease my fears with singing before we’d go to sleep. Of course I didn’t go to sleep. I sweated about sharks, and things that go bump in the night. I sweated over bullies and the fact that I couldn’t do math. Mom had no idea how scared I was because I was never able to tell her. So instead we sang to each other.
I hated that everything scared me and would continue to until I was in my late 20’s. I hated that I was afraid of the dark and used a nightlight until I was 30. I hate that now that I live alone, I’m afraid of the dark again, even though I live in an apartment building that is relatively safe. I hate being afraid and I hate who I am. But then I think about Mom and the way we sang to each other when I was a child. I remember the comfort I felt for those few moments in time, and how safe I was.
When I was young Mommy and I sang together, and even when we do now I continue to feel safe. She did the best she could to help me and continues to do so to this day. She doesn’t understand me but that’s okay, I know now she does the best she can for me.
You make me happy when skies are gray
You’ll never know dear how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away….
(...and some I have)
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