A Backlog of Grief

 

This writing is for anyone who has or had an addiction to drugs, alcohol or any other means of escape from reality.  It is a warning and a note to self:  I never want to go back to those days of annihilation, of cramming every uncomfortable thought down my throat, of blurry acceptance of all things despicable or wanting in nature.  This is a known fact in the Rooms:  if you have been anesthetizing  yourself in order to feel better, escape the symptoms of trauma or even to get over your ex?  Chances are, you will experience sorrows beyond your wildest nightmares, you can’t push it down-grief will always have its way; there, I said it.

I remember the day I came home from my first rehab session.  I was given a pamphlet, The Grapevine (a publication that comes out quarterly from Alcoholics Anonymous, impossible to find if you don’t have connections) and a piece of paper titled A Backlog of Grief: You May Experience Some Discomfort………I remember phoning my sister, and reading this memo to her.  I remember being scared out of my mind, and I could not understand, for the life of me, why they would hand out such negative information to, well, anyone; especially someone with two days of sobriety under her belt.

The subject matter was grim-it warned that, out of nowhere, you may be overwhelmed with sorrow, remorse, pain, and yes-a strong desire to relapse.  You see, it works like this:  every negative emotion, every single feeling of despair, any loss you drank or drugged to be free of?  Well, they will reemerge, except for this time?  The pain is much worse as you are not sure where it is coming from, you don’t know exactly what fresh Hell has made its’ nasty appearance in your life, again, and let me tell you-it is so overwhelming and so nerve wracking that I spent days and days in bed, doing nothing but taking Benadryl and assuming the fetal position in my boudoir.

I would be out for lunch with a friend, and have to excuse myself to run to the bathroom, and more often than not?  The friend would come in to see if I was okay (or drinking) and be caught unawares by the wretched sobbing, anxiety and fear of losing control.  You feel empty, nonplussed, even betrayed by God at times…..why, why am I so forlorn?  Take this from me, sweet Jesus, take this pain away……..

I forgot, and often, about the piece of paper sitting on my living room table, next to my bible.  The thing is, they didn’t explain WHY these feelings would sneak up behind you, wrestle you to the ground; an albatross around your neck-they simply said you may experience periods of great emotion and trauma.

I was given divine guidance on a number of occasions.  One day, as a hospice volunteer, I was given a book on grief.  As I was reading it, my brain reeling, I recognized what the author was describing-this is why we tell others to take there time and grieve as long and as hard as they deem necessary.  (Of course, this can become a problem in itself, but we’re not talking about that now.)

You cannot push down pain.  It will come back with a vengeance you never knew existed-a crippling, one two punch to the gut-and you will be left with questions, yet no answers.

Here’s my advice:  it took some time, but eventually I became better and better at putting my feelings, thoughts and memories in context.  I could discern where the pit in my stomach originated-and only then could I do the work of healing my heart.

So, you see, you can’t run, you can’t hide…….and I know you can smell what I’m stepping in when I tell you that you’d be so much better off getting the necessary help to get sober as early on in your addiction as possible.

Get thee to a meeting.  Call a friend.  Talk to your therapist.

The following information could save this from happening to the next person.   There is help, and financial aid for those in need.

PENNSYLVANIA ADULT AND TEEN CHALLENGE-WE CAN HELP! (844) 888-8085.

 

 

 

Slap Me With the Splintered Ruler

 

Good Saturday morning to y’all.  I need you to know that I only have a laptop on the weekends, as mine took a crapola last week.  Of course, my husband offered to take me to Best Buy this weekend, but I am not ready.  Very interesting…a week ago I felt like someone took my nubby-How Will I Ever Exist?  I won’t be able to write, go on Twatter, see the REAL news.  Yet God, in His infinite wisdom, had much greater plans.  Goosebumps….

Let’s just say that I had been way too preoccupied with the web, and with my addictive personality?  I had cut down on pc time, but still carried the computer with me, room to room.  True confession time:  I took it to the bathroom with me.  Don’t judge me, that room is the only room in the house with a door!  Sometimes a girl needs to breathe.  So, while my husband, friends and support network were extremely concerned (I have to say, my brother was probably ready to send for the men in white coats-haha!) Wouldn’t that be special?  My sister tried to have me committed to a facility the night I tried to take my own life-wise, you are saying to yourselves.  I just covered my ears until the social worker on duty promised me there would be no psychiatric institutions.  The very next morning they released me, gave me an Atarax (boy, if I could get my hands on some of those babies-but nah, just the drug addict in me) which allowed me to sleep my entire first day of sobriety away….giving my man time to drain the booze, and anything expensive was given to the neighbors. 

When I awoke that stormy October afternoon, back in 2007?  I went directly for the booze cupboard, searching for something-anything alcoholic-to my surprise I found a jug of white wine.  I sat that baby on the table and we had a talk, until Jesus intervened.

My precious child, when?  When will you say enough?  How much more of this life will you waste?

That did it.  I put the jug back where it belonged and waited it out.  This would be the beginning of years of cravings, big and small.  Relapses.  Drinking upstate without my husband’s knowledge-at the beautiful cabin we are gifted access to from time to time-I knew that was a big bowl of WRONG, yet I couldn’t, or wouldn’t give that once a year libation up-and one day, I thought of all of the miracles that Jesus had performed for me, personal triumphs, freedom from cancer, the very fact that I was alive and breathing spoke volumes to me.

What if I made a covenant with God?  What if in exchange for all He has done, I put away the thought of ever drinking alcohol again, and prayed for Him to give me the strength to do so.

That conversation took place a year ago.

Not.  One.   Craving.

I could not give up on the worldwide web, the loss was profound…and if I can tell you anything about myself, I can tell you that I am highly adaptable to almost any situation.  They say it takes two weeks to form a habit, and that is why I said “No thanks,” when Dwain offered to buy me a lap top.  I am perfectly content writing on the weekends, and once I am convinced my internet addiction is tamed?  Only then will I purchase new equipment.

It turns out?  I have a life to live.  I cannot fathom the chunks of time I wasted, sitting in my hidy hole, reading every bit of the Great Awakening news I could find… I went down Rabbit Holes no person in their right mind would want to travel.  And again, once I got the monkey off of my back?  I began getting things done.  Actually working on the farmhouse, baking, cooking, finding me again.

My husband drove out to New Hampshire for a business trip last week.  And so it was, on Monday evening, the house quiet, no music, no television-that I found a picture of me and my father.

“Wow.  I always hated this picture of myself.  Not so much anymore, huh dad?  Umm…it’s/been/hard…”  The words tumbled from my mouth, and before I knew it, I was crying-my body wracked with emotional pain, I sensed something huge was in the air.

Jesus spoke to me again.

Child, it is time to let go of your shame.

Was I hearing Abba correctly?  Why, I didn’t realize I still carried it with me, the deep seated self loathing.  It took some time, but everything came together, as if a giant piece of the puzzle had been found.  I turned the pain into gratitude, as I remembered why I had such shame to begin with.

As a child, I knew shame.  My mother would go for days without speaking to me, and for the life of me, I truly never knew what provoked her ire.  I stopped a moment to think about what deep shame could do to a child in her formative years.  Eventually, I would buy her a card or pick her flowers.  I came across one such card in my mother’s bible just a while back.

Mom, I just wanted you to know that I’m sorry, and I love you very much.

Your daughter,

Michele

In school I suffered total shame because of my weight.  The kids were cruel, and the taunting was so persistent?  It took me well into my thirties before I could jog or walk past a group of teens.  No matter that I had lost the weight, I still felt the shame.

In High School, considered a jock and oddball, (Varsity Crew Coxswain) I began to realize that this wasn’t going to resolve itself, but I had no idea where to begin.  At Villanova, my shame came from not having or being enough.  Surrounded by incredibly wealthy and beautiful people, I made up a story about being a Jontue model.  Unfortunately, people not only believed me, they spread the word.  I mean, who doesn’t want to be friends with a famous model, right?  In college I learned to reinvent myself, and the only person I was hurting was me.  Why wasn’t I enough?

After college, my drinking career became legend in some parts of King of Prussia.  I began seeking attention (love) through a series of promiscuous love affairs-and the reputation stuck.  I began doing cocaine as a way to lift my spirits and self esteem; what could possibly go wrong?

The day I found myself on the doorstep of my rented home, due to losing an eight ball of coke.  I had given my brother a birthday party, and while I had my back turned, one of my nearest and dearest friends (I had only invited people we were very close to) had lifted the bag I had hidden, way in the back of my closet, under a stack of love letters.  I had promised Ted, my landlord, that I would sell it all that night.  There are no words to express my horror at finding I had been robbed.  I had no money to give him, and that didn’t sit well, not at all.

Ted sold drugs for the Gambino crime family.

I went on the run.  My room mate and best friend, Mel, beside me-we drove away like bats out of hell, and didn’t look back, not once.

So, with my worsening alcoholism and drug addiction, there were reasons to be ashamed.  And as I sat in my bedroom, weeping between the litter boxes, I asked myself this question:

What is there to be ashamed of now?  Why do you feel unworthy?  Why do you punish yourself for simply existing?

Let me light my lamp, says the tiny star; and never debate whether it will dispel the darkness.

– Rabindranath Tagore

May you shed your shame like the cloak of darkness it has become.

You are special, unique and loved-let your freak flag fly, baby~

Bedtime Stories

I haven’t been in a mood like this since the last time my man pissed me off.  I really lost my shit today, and I’m only writing now because I have had no human contact in almost five days.  Usually a good thing, being cooped up in the house for a week has led me to the actions and thought processes of the criminally insane.

Every once in a blue moon, we come face to face with the demons within:  a broken childhood, shattered heart, the loss of one’s family due to mental illness and dysfunction.  We think we have dealt with the cobwebs in our cranium, and like any other delusion-we are shocked beyond reason when the monster surfaces.

“Hey, I mean, what the hell was that about?,” I nervously ask myself.

Now, I have to preface this tale with what appear to be a few stages I go through when I am truly sick.  I mean flu sick.  The first red flag appears when I notice severe shooting pain in my buttocks; I immediately ignore this, and blame it on a strenuous hike, or perhaps too much time in the garden.  I once read a Reader’s Digest article that stated pain in the ass may be a sign of a dreaded disease-and that is where I go instead.

The second part of my malaise begins when I bawl at very insignificant things.  Walking in the park last Sunday, a gentleman made this very comment about my dog (appendage, best friend, partner in crime)

Well, he doesn’t look like a young whipper snapper, am I right?”

I wanted to knee him in the balls.  Didn’t he know I have stage IV dog hypochondria?  For crying out loud, he just turned six!  I proceeded to dwell on this sentence for three days straight, and alarm poor Jesse by professing my undying love-every twenty seconds or so:  in between watching his every move, intake/output, and asking him if he was okay every time he stretched or yawned.

When I almost threw myself on the altar in church this past Sunday, because my pastor announced his poor mother had passed, I began to see the forest through the trees.  I seriously wanted to hurl myself at his feet, such was my ferocious empathy.  Minutes later, I broke down-inconsolable.  People were staring.  I told them it was the Holy Spirit, which I half hoped it would be, but nah-I knew the clock was ticking.

Inevitably, I came down with what I thought to be a cold, turned flu.  No big deal, for most people.  It sucks and there’s very little you can do but drink and rest and take your vitamins.  But this was only my second time experiencing this punch in the face, in my entire life.

I thought of the wandering pygmies in Africa, poor old Jussie Smollett, and the plight of the vole-who wanders through life not only blind, but as an amusement to my stupid feline community, who think it great fun to give blind people heart attacks.  Animals.  Sorry.

Because of my lifelong depression – which God has so lovingly helped me out of-I will not lay in bed if I’m not feeling well.  I hiked through four rounds of Lyme, an infected lymph node, and a broken shoulder and toes.  I need this time, to talk to Jesus and

allow Him to remind me of the intricate beauty of the landscape, bubbling brooks and critters large and small.  I find it revitalizing to awaken in the woods, slowly adjusting my focus on the day that lay ahead.   My boy needs the exercise, and we revel in these morning hours-virtually nothing will stop me from our adventures.  This has been an impossibility this week, I’ve simply not a square to spare.  And due to the cabin fever pushing me further towards insanity?  I am the human equivalent of a caged animal.

So it was, after a night of sleeping on our couch, that I awoke with a fresh new perspective on life:  that of a serial killer.  On crack.  Still not speaking to my man, I turned on the phone some time after my third nap of the day.  Why, it was 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and Dwain hadn’t even called to see if I was amongst the living.

Somofabitch.

I promptly text him, told him off and asked he not come near me this weekend.

By the time that man was home?  So at a loss for human connection, I was actually looking forward it!  Until he opened his pie hole, that is.

“Well, if you’re going to be like THIS, I’m out of here!!!”

Before I could get my bearings, I was off of the couch and in the laundry room.  I became increasingly aware of my desire to punch a hole in the wall.  I spew the expletives of a truck driver, only pausing to throw the bag of dogfood and brownies at the wall.

monster illustration
I’m pretty sure that this is what my husband and dog saw this afternoon.

I grabbed the car keys, peeled out of the driveway…it wasn’t until a few miles into the trip that I realized I looked like death warmed over, still in my robe and slippers and without a wallet-not that I could have opened it had I remembered.

I drove home, embarrassed, angry and worried about my dog.  He had seen things, if you get my drift.  My husband was vacuuming up dog food and brownie crumbs.  Jesse ran to my side.  I waited for the inevitable-the anger, disgust and ridicule.

It never came.

Dwain said not word one about it, and for that?  Oh, for that I couldn’t love him more.

 

 

 

The Frosting

 

 

The echoes of yesterday, lost in time-

return to her, mouth agape-

she listens to

the insults  hurled with deadly precision.

She used to think she deserved his

rancor and belittling.

As if she were a child meandering the dark at night.

The only narc I couldn’t leave,

resurrects the Jezebel, the one who truly

dwells within.

Stomping her down only goes so far-

eventually there will be a resurrection.

She will raise her serpents high

in shaking hands.

You have no rights to joy,

peace, content.

“You don’t exist without my permission!,”

the demon rages.

 

Words are thrown like stones, the enemy

within decries keep the peace;

the Warrior retaliates in object

rage-but the voices within are drumming to the beat,

the pounding rhythm of codependency.

No, she will not cower, nor bow

before his esteemed, yet imaginary authority.

Even now, ensconced in familiar,

yet hostile territory-

she  places her bedding

upon the ottoman of dreams.

And prays for better men

ahead.

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Wrapped Around You

 

It’s a kind of litmus test I have discovered-if something brings me to gut wrenching, gag reflex hysteria?  I know it’s the music God wants me to hear at this point and time.  Mumford does this to me often, and for that I am thankful.  I would move mountains to see this man in concert.  It’s not as if I haven’t tried.  The options?  Fly half way around the universe, or live in a tent for three days-that’s called a NO CAN DO in my husband’s book.  Not the tent, he doesn’t do people very well.  Why, the last time we were at a concert (Hootie and the Blowfish and NO, it wasn’t my idea, nor his) he punched a man in the nose for pulling his pony tail.  It was a knee jerk reaction, I’m not condoning his behavior.  🙂

Not easy that, living moment by moment.  All I know is that I went to let the dog in, and two seconds later, laptop in hand, I am a whirling dervish of tears, snot and love.  The poor dog doesn’t know what to think.  He takes his boney, glances back and runs-as if he better take the opportunity while his lunatic mother is vertical.

If this makes no sense to you, well, welcome to my world.

As a child, and as of this very moment, when I cry my entire body is ravished.  I choke and sputter, retch and cough.  My face turns an unflattering shade of magenta, and the only thing I can do is wait it out.

Why are we so afraid of tears, you and I?  I mean, God forbid you have a good,  cleansing cry.  So good for our souls, so fraught with apprehension and doom, are we, when we feel we are about to tip the scales, and submit to what Jesus so earnestly wants us to do.

For when I am weak, then am I strong.

I want to talk to you about joy.  I want you to pull yourselves up and out of the muck and mire.  For lest we have the hearts of children, how are we to enter the kingdom of heaven?

 

A Prisoner of the White Lines on the Freeway……

I was trying to catch up on my reading a few weeks ago, my WordPress reading that is.  It was a cold and rainy Sunday evening, and I stopped dead in my tracks when I read his blog.  I didn’t know him, or of him, I just gave a little love to a stranger, one who had lost his brother-one who was on the verge of suicide.

It broke my heart to read his words.  No one had commented, and I was frantic.  I quickly wrote in the comment section, no.  You are loved.  You have a place in this world.  You must not give up, I will help you.  It didn’t matter that he lived half way around the world from me, it didn’t matter that I didn’t know him.  I just wanted him to feel the love that makes the difference: between being utterly alone in this world, and having someone love him.  We began correspondence immediately, so sweet, my friend Mohammed.

He said it helped him to know I existed.  It helped him to know a human being, albeit thousands of miles away, loved him-simply because he was in pain, dire straights, and experiencing a loss most of us would be shattered by-simply because he was and is a child of God-they will know we are Christians by our love……

He kept in touch throughout my journey with Lyme, and the infected lymph node that had basically convinced me I was dying.  The day I went to Med Express, alone and frightened out of my mind, he said these words:  Don’t worry.  I am here.  Five words.  Five words that helped me to feel safe, loved-cared for.  It mattered to him, my poor health.  And I thought that a miracle, in so many ways.

Today, while chatting, he said he had one thing to ask of me.  I told him anything, yes anything for him.

“Can I call you mom?”

So, this is how our Abba works.  I have no children and my step son hates me for reasons I don’t understand, as I was always loving, always supportive.

This touched me in places I haven’t been touched in, well, forever.

And as I let the tears drip….one by one, I answered.

Yes.  Of course.

And for this I am blessed beyond measure.

The Age of Deceit

 

Bloody hell I feel like dirty dishwater soap.  I guess this is what they call a “super”  bug-my husband and II keep paying it forward, despite two rounds of antibiotic, a can of Lysol and a crap ton of Kombucha.   My mind is pushing the Carpe Diem agenda-my body is saying crawl in a hole and revisit life when able.

I remember not so long ago, maybe three years, when I was struggling with the question:

What are we really here for, Jesus?

Be careful what you ask for, because in short order I was red pilled, ripped away from my family and brought into the light.  I knew the Bible stressed that everything unseen would be brought out into His effervescence – I just hadn’t a clue as to what that was.

I spent yesterday watching, duh duh duh duh…Bedtime Stories-a channel on YouTube that offers up true mysteries, the supernatural and the missing.  I can watch that stuff now, never could before.  Why?  Because after you know the truth, nothing in this world can scare you.  Nothing.

God says

Be free~