Uptight, Twisted Inside

Hot thoughts are in my mind, all of the time.  I may be sober, but that is far from being recovered.  Every day is a new challenge…….the holidays, anxiety, old friends who don’t come around anymore, this because Team Hoffman is no longer the life of the party…..I would be a flat out liar if I said I didn’t miss the days of yore, but I can tell you what I don’t miss:

Drunken Dialing:  I shudder at the thought of the phone calls I used to make while drinking.  At one point, things became so bad that I had to hide my phones in my jeep, and lock the doors.  This worked for about a week…..and then I was back to calling people I had a beef with: bosses, girl friends, ex-boyfriends, employees that screwed me over…..I actually had to beat my boss, a doctor, into work every morning to check the answering machine before she did.  I was petrified I would quit without knowing it, and it didn’t stop until I gave up my drinking career altogether.

Unexplained Injuries:  I fell down stairs, fell into the wood stove, ended up with third degree burns I couldn’t explain-one Christmas Eve, after drinking an entire bottle of Grand Marnier, I fell on the front porch, breaking my shoulder.  I didn’t go to the doctor for over a year, too embarrassed and worried they would blame Dwain, like so many ER doctors had before.

The Morning After:  Is there a worse feeling than losing utter control over your words and actions?  I would gage just how bad my behavior had been the night before by my husband’s reaction upon my awakening.  If he wasn’t speaking to me (more often the case than not) I knew that was a good indicator that I had tripped the light fantastic, done something I would learn to regret, and/or spewed vitriolic hatred at the closest target I could find.  Chilling.  I had so much pent up rage in those days?  For good reason, but adding alcohol to the mix?  Criminal insanity, this disease of addiction.

Yes.   I want to be able to drink a beer, or twelve.  No, that will never, ever be my choice again.  And because of His amazing grace?  I get to wake up free from the knowledge that I had done anything to upset anyone.  Because of his protection?  I never tried heroin, or crack.  I don’t look at the recovery process any differently now than I did back then, but for one exception:  I have finally given the pain, the heartache, the wounded warrior syndrome-I have given it to my higher power-and what a life it has become.

The Bucket List…..

I want to be the girl in this video….travelling across the world, uninhibited, throwing caution to the wind.  Chances are, the likelihood of this happening is akin to a camel poking its head through a needle, and then realizing he still has to get his body through it.

I love, love, love to travel.  It’s just that we have no extra moolah, and what we do have goes to silly things like food, vet visits and electric bills.  I don’t have a bucket list in all actuality, but here is a sampling of things I would like to do before I leave this planet:

I would love to go to Ireland, in search of my ancestors.  If I do go to Ireland, I will be tempted to drink an ale with the kin folk-you know, raise up a glass to the country that turned us out-I hear they’re very folksy and welcoming, but let’s face the facts, I would want to live there, or perhaps petrify in one place, sitting at the pub, drinking Guiness, and singing the songs of my people.

Big Sur was a big draw, until I read about Bohemian Grove.  With our luck, we would find the wrong place at the wrong time, and I apologize, but becoming a blood sacrifice for the elite in this world?  Let’s just say I have no time for the big, wooden statue of Baphomet, and I don’t like people telling me what to do.

Hawaii was big on my “list” at one point, and now I see the error of my ways.  The fat faced dictator from HELL has threatened their peace, and I don’t want to spend my whole vacation in an underground bunker.

And lastly, there was Sea World.  Yes, I wanted to ride the dolphins with abandon, you know, be that girl: the one who never stops talking about her relationship with a fifty year old she met out in California, and then you come to find out it was a sea mammal.  No thanks.

So for now?  I’ll stay in this sleepy little town of horse and buggies, biting flies the size of Texas, and more cow manure than you can shake a stick at.


Stranger Danger

I was reading my bible the other day, and the scripture about not being of this world, or worldly, if you prefer, hit me like a ton of bricks.  From very early on in my life, I have stood out, in pretty much every venue of my life.  As a child, I would pack my green suitcase and travel the neighborhood, trolling for adults (not children, they pissed me off with their weird Barbie dolls and tea parties) who would dare to “come and play with me.”  I can only imagine what they were thinking, when they answered the door and looked down upon the oddity standing in front of them.  Chubby, red curls and not a shred of inhibition-I would  prance into the home of unsuspecting, stay at home mothers , open my attaché, (full of odd pens, crayons and doll heads) and ask them to make me chocolate chip cookies.  This worked about 85% of the time, and to be sure this was done to appease the weirdo and get her the hell out of dodge.)

I would go to the bar in Avalon, NJ with my father-when we could sneak away from mom-sit with dad, eating clams and drinking Shirley temples, playing Mr. Bojangles on the jukebox as many times as my stash of quarters allowed it.  I was 5 years old.  As I grew, my mother would go to these random thrift stores and buy the strangest outfit she could find, then proceed to argue with my until I finally caved and wore it to school.  The stand out?  A purple, velvet set of knickers with a poufy top and cameo at the neckline.  The white lace boots up to my knees added to the hilarity…….but my peers at Upper Merion Junior H.S. didn’t get the joke.  They gawked, pointed, and called me names until I cried.  I believe my courage began developing way back then, in spite of the meanies, I grew weirder by the hour, and to this day I am thankful……….

I have never, ever followed the fashion scene, (I am dead serious when I say I am only now, at the age of 56, learning how to put on makeup) and my outfits have been raising eyebrows for decades.  I care not what others think, never have, never will-and somewhere in the mix I suppose I owe  my lack of inhibition to Mary Lou, my mother and fashionista extraordinaire.  She went to a dress shop to design her own clothing, and I have to say that she was profoundly beautiful………but she was ahead of her time, she was ahead of my time for crying out loud.

Just the other day, while trying to avoid the dreaded tick bite, I put on my grey long underwear, hiking boots, camo shorts and gardening hat, then proceeded to the local grocery store where I turned heads and caused more than one shopper to slam her cart into the food displays.  I walk blithely to the tune of my own accordion, immune to the whispers and laughter.  I have been told by friends, and enemies alike, that “Only you could pull that off, Michele….”  I never try to be a fashion success, yet my style impresses more people than it offends.  And to this day, I don’t get it.  I am 5 feet tall in stocking feet, have blonde hair down to my waist, and even on a good day, well….my husband usually has to carry me to the truck because my shoes are bought at the Humane Society Thrift Store-it has never been of any consequence to me how the shoes fit, as I am a size 5 1/2 and finding any footwear not of the girls’ department is a total coup.

Another quirk I have?  If I pick something out of my closet (say a dress I’ve had since my freshmen year at Villanova, circa 1979) I am going to wear it whether it fits or not.  Just last week, after purchasing last year’s Vera Wang at Kohl’s with my 30% off coupon, I stood there stumped and provoked, as I tried to figure out how the hell to put it on.  It was a three-part debacle, copper and black sequins cascading down the front.  I finally took my scissor to it, and voila-right over my head it went.

I have been known to garden, in a teddy and sweat pants; to hell with what anyone thinks.  It’s my own yard, my own territory-if it doesn’t suit you, look away.  My best friend will not walk with me in our neighborhood because of the attire I choose to exercise in.  Last winter, and I kid you not, I wore a stunning pink Elmer Fud number to lunch in Lititz (where the snobs and starving artists mingle amongst stores only the very rich can patronize.)  I was with my nieces, who love the fact that I am, well, unique to put it kindly.  Men and women were walking right up to my face and laughing.  Poor manners?  Yes.  Do I blame them?  No.

I simply cannot be bothered with worrying about the Joneses.  I’m too busy living in my own private Idaho…..where I am the queen of the outfit faux pas.

The Girl With the Most Cake…

So, this is a public service announcement about going off of your antidepressant medication, cold turkey.


I think it often the case that those of us with mental illness who rely on medication wish things were different.  We want to “fit in” so badly?  We take the first crumb of normality and think ourselves cured…no longer in need of care.  And sadly, due to the fact that depression, if not situational, is due to a lack of serotonin in our brain-well, taking a few pills a day is such a small price to pay for one’s sanity.  Depression is often in the genes, and there is no shame in taking medication.  As a matter of fact?  I will cling to my Zoloft from this day forward-and I regret using this forum to celebrate what I thought to be my freedom from illness, suicidal ideation, melancholy mind set.

After six days without Zoloft (simply a matter of having the flu and not wanting to drive into Lititz to pick it up) I was nauseated and off  balance.  When my husband, dog and I travelled to pick out the Christmas tree?  Dwain stopped to take a picture, and like the poster girl for Tourette’s, I yelled:

“I swear to God I will shove that f***ing phone down your throat.” 

By the afternoon it hurt when others spoke to me.  I was so edgy that the sound of my cat purring sent me into a hissy fit.  On the seventh day I saw an octopus crawling on my bathroom floor.  I hooted and hollered and jumped a foot in the air.  This turned out to be a cat toy, and I ran for my medication like a cartoon character on crystal meth.

Thus endeth the GREAT ZOLOFT EXPERIMENT OF 2017.

In lieu of becoming a serial killer, I have decided to pick up my cross, take my meds and dance like nobody’s watching.  And here I will sing the song of my people,  Cumbia my Lord, Cumbia…….. 


The Silence is Deafening

Trying to get something done around the house, and let’s just say the couch is winning.  After feeding the felines, Jesse and I head to the couch, defeated yet eager to rest.  I flip on some Christmas music, and this song is the first I hear.

I have often wondered why I simply can not grieve in front of my husband.  I believe it is due in part that I know my tears upset him, and I want my lover to be happy, at peace.  Watching my emotions carefully-I just took myself off of a ten year addiction, albeit to Zoloft.  What began as the flu and not wanting to drive, turned into a trial run of freedom from the bondage of antidepressants.  Please don’t get me wrong, I thought I was to be on this drug forever;  I never gave this a second thought really -I am irrepressibly in agreement with anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medications for those who suffer mental illness.  I am the poster child for Ativan, yet I knew deep down that the depression had vanished.  Seven days later and I have no homicidal ideation, let alone suicidal.  But as I sat down to ponder, the haunting taunt of Bing Crosby’s vocals coming loudly from the surround sound, I wept.

Tomorrow my golden retriever turns five.  Just typing those words brings tears to my eyes, and I can’t see the computer screen.  After the loss of Jesse’s brother Dylan, four years ago, I have remained traumatized, the idea of him aging rips my heart right out of my chest, and any animal lover will understand those feelings.  Not for one millisecond do I take the blessings of this year for granted.  My husband’s new career, financial stability (kind of-my SSI check never amounted to much, and the monthly payments help tremendously-I had hoped to give my church an abundant Christmas tithing, and still do-but overhearing my husband discussing our mounting medical bills from a shoulder injury and physical therapy he suffered this Summer? Let’s just say I have devised a payment plan) and the miracles of being set free from physical and mental anguish are miracles, of this I am certain.

Yet I cannot contain the emotions this song bring about, so many memories of childhood Christmases -I would cut off my right arm to go back to those innocent days, ones I somehow knew were precious and rare, even back then.  We lost my parents years ago, and my brother is in California with his beautiful family.  There will be no Christmas phone calls, or holiday gatherings with my sister, or nieces and nephew.  No Christmas Eve conversations with the best friend who tried to ruin the first real vacation my husband and I had taken in twenty five years together, and prior to that?  I should have known her to be a vindictive and malicious narcissist years ago..no gift exchanges, no carols sung.

This makes me terribly sad, and lonely with an ache that permeates the air I breathe.

But none of this changes the fact that this is the time of year that we celebrate the birth of our King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords and hope to all nations.  And the best part of the story is that He forgives us if we turn to Him with faith and sorrow for our sins.  We are a new creation in Christ and no longer need to carry our heavy burdens or past mistakes along with us!  It matters not what we have done, He will forgive us.  It is because of what He has done that we are set free~

In his great mercy God has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.                                                                                                                        1 Peter 1:3


I Put A Spell On You….

I began smoking in my early twenties, after my man walked into a local watering hole with a fiancée I didn’t know he had.  My girlfriend Suzie didn’t want to give me a cigarette, didn’t want me addicted, and in retrospect?  Lord I wished I had listened to her.

I had always been repulsed by the habit.  My parents smoked, and I remember picking up the ashtrays that stood in my way of cooking, cleaning or breathing-with a napkin in my hand, disgust in my heart.  I found out my neighbor turned my eleven year old sister onto cigarettes while in High School-and I promptly paid her a visit that she wouldn’t soon forget.  I remember picking Deanna up by the back of her shirt, and threatening to open a fresh can of WOOP ASS if she were to do it again.  I was a runner, and a good one at that.  Little did I know that evening would begin a thirty-four year habit……..and nothing I tried lasted longer than a month.  I finally gave up giving up, and made an irritable peace with the two to four cigs I smoked each morning with my first cup of joe.

Yesterday, I was overcome by the notion that this was the day of reckoning.  The idea of giving them up was so unsettling?  Why, I lit one up immediately to quiet my nerves.  I prayed that God would make me sick at the thought of it, and as surely as the sun rises every morning, he answered that prayer without hesitation.

I gagged, I dry heaved, I put the half-smoked butt in the litter box and cried.  I wept crocodile tears of fear and release…..I was terrified to let this crutch go.  And this morning?  Free.  My fears diminished, I sat on the couch with my golden retriever and began my day…..without the cloud of infirmity that has plagued me forever and a day.