The Pill Mill……….

When I was younger, I was appalled at how many pills my mother took.  She was extremely ill, emphysema, cancer, osteoporosis.  She died at 59, after the doctors mistook an ovarian cyst to be scar tissue.  I wish I had known then what I now know.  Mary Lou had every symptom of Ovarian cancer, the extreme bloating, constipation, pain and upset stomach.  When the doctor came in to the waiting room, I had to be held back by my siblings-the jerk never listened to her, I was there when he did an exam after her complaining: he felt her stomach and abdomen-she was fully clothed, why bother right? I was there when he told her she was “fine, absolutely fine.”

What shocked me, after her death, was the bottles and bottles of Ativan-she took 4 a day, and I thought that to be too much, too addicting, too sedating.  Now?  I take Ativan daily.  As a prn.  Ironically, the first time I ever took one was the day of her funeral.  Surrounded by friends, I fell asleep on the couch-and didn’t wake up until the following morning.  What addict is going to turn that away?  It was easier to let the melodic pull of oblivion take me away, to dreamless sleep and few cares, if any.

Today I take 200 mg. of Zoloft, 2 mg. Suboxyne for opiate addiction (down from 8 mg. and let me tell you, it was rough, really rough to taper) and one Trazadone for sleep.   My husband thinks this appalling, but I have fought hard to maintain an appearance of normality-in an increasingly abnormal world.

I can tell you that as a nurse, EMT and hospice worker, I could not get into the Suboxyne program soon enough.  I was in a dirty city, walking the streets of dilapidated houses, children in various stages of undress, and very scary men, who gathered on street corners to deal their goods, help a friend in “need.”  I asked a few of them, but as white on rice as I look?  They didn’t touch me with a ten foot pole.  Looking back, I think they thought me a cop.

I was working as a private duty nurse, and volunteering at a local hospice.  I was starting to face withdrawal from OxyContin, and I didn’t want to be the girl who steals patient’s pills.  My cousin by marriage (not a normal person in that family) ran a methadone clinic, and rehab.  I had attended that rehab until our fearless leader Tony called me out on missing a class, in front of the entire room.  When you quit drinking you are wired out of your mind, so many emotions coming from one heart-it’s maddening and exciting at the same time.  I told him off, asked why he allowed drinkers and cokeheads to use in our meetings (was this even remotely fair to the others who were serious about recovery?) and slammed out the door.  He wasn’t going to use me as an example when people were slumped in their chairs, or re-dusting the entire room, like the energizer bunny on crack.

Anyway, back to Scott.  I called him from my  locked car that very day.  I told him where I was, and I asked if I could come to the methadone clinic to talk to him.  He shut me down, but two minutes later?  I heard a commercial about Suboxyne: it has served me well, saved my career and, most likely, my life.  My advice to anyone starting the program?  Start at a really low milligram, that way you won’t have to detox every time you take a step down.  I ended up calling my girlfriend one morning, I literally couldn’t move, I was that weak.

“I can’t take it.  Would you please take me to the doctor?”

The good doctor had taken me off, cold turkey.  We had argued about my use of cannabis, and I stormed out-only to return a week later, begging for mercy.  And, thankfully, that is exactly what I was given.

What I would like to say is, don’t let anyone convince you to go off of any medication you may be taking for your mental health, especially if the plan is working.  Do I like having to take meds on a daily basis?  NO.  But one day, perhaps, the stigma will stop.  No  matter, because I have come to the point where I just don’t care what others think.

It’s not their body.  It’s not their mind.  It’s none of their business.

I Want to go to Mars

Yes, I am well aware of the fact that I used this song in a previous blog this week. I am so enamored of this woman, and it appears as if she wrote the words for all of us, and none of us at the very same time. What I do know is that she knows the pain of betrayal, and possibly the pain of rejection, loneliness and addiction.

So, this is part two of my testimony. There will be an ending, as with all things-but I haven’t written it yet as my life has just begun to unfold. When you accept Christ, you die to this world. I wish I knew that as a child, banished to the kingdom of naught. It is more than enough that I know this now.

I write this blog in order to come alongside my brothers and sisters, the words written by the Holy Spirit and all glory going to God-my writing has taken on a life of its own-I am just the vessel in which He uses to communicate His message of hope and goodwill to all of His children.

“People” have never, ever understood me. Until I read Ezekiel I had no clue that the reason I didn’t fit in was because I was literally not a part of the game called life-I had no interest in popularity, no interest in money, not one iota of interest in what others find interesting. And although there have been times of extreme emotional pain? Each day in bed, each bout of depression and each earth shattering scenario has made me the person I am today-and I like her. I like her very much.

As a matter of fact? It wasn’t until very recently, and due to my salvation that I realized that God doesn’t make junk. My mother had some mental health issues related to her own upbringing. As a young child, I recognized the importance of pleasing her-and I did everything humanly possible to make her realize my profound love for her. I cleaned the house and took care of her Saturday hangovers. Oh, the joy I felt when she called me her little angel! That all changed when I reached the age of 11 and wanted my own friends, my own life.

“Only whores play street hockey,” she said to me one morning as I was placing her Tylenol and coffee on the side of the bed.

I didn’t understand. My heart crumbled into a million pieces and I had to do a double take-this wasn’t the mother I knew and why in the world would she call me a whore? The answers lay in her own insecurities, her need for control and her Borderline Personality Disorder-not officially diagnosed, but I know it wasn’t Narcissism because later in her life she changed, dramatically, and I knew we were loved.

My relationship with her in my formative years was indescribable. I remember picking her Tiger Lillys, telling her I loved her, begging her to love me-but as I grew her resentment of me took on a life of its own. She verbally abused me on a daily basis, then wondered aloud why I had no self esteem. This is when the shameful voices began, so ingrained that I distinctly remember the day that they stopped.

It was a few years after I got sober. I sat down at my computer early one morning, and instinctively knew that something had changed. But what? I called out to Jesus and asked Him, what is happening, am I losing my mind?

No. I was regaining perspective. Gone were the taunting, cruel and unusual whispers of persecution.

You’re a piece of shit. You can’t do anything right. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Lose some weight you pig, why can’t you touch anything without it turning to crap? Nobody loves you, why would they? You don’t deserve love, no whore does.

It was constant and I drank to get rid of the ghosts. I drank to feel something but less than, to quiet the rage and the thoughts that led me to weeks in bed at a time-depression so severe I often thought of offing myself-I just didn’t have the courage.

A few years ago I went to a doctor’s appointment-a specialist. I had been measured at 4’11” my entire life. When the nurse called out 5’1″ I thought she was talking to someone other than myself.

“Umm, can you take that again? I hardly think I’ve grown two inches in the past year,” I laughed.

She did take it again and with the same result.

It finally hit me like a ton of bricks. The shame, self loathing and mocking voices had kept me hunched over. As I grew in my recovery and healing, I stood straight for the first time in 50 years. My self loathing had been so horrific that I had literally crippled myself.

In tomorrow’s blog I will address my rebirth as a born again and how Jesus took me by the hand and taught me the greatest lesson I have learned.

Keep hope alive, dear ones. God is real and true and loyal and He wants you to know that above the din and darkness of this world? There is nothing but love awaiting you.

The Still, Small Voice

If I could give you one word to the wise when it comes to getting sober, it would be this-

Every day you don’t take a drink or pick up is a miracle.

And where do miracles come from?  God, of course.  Jesus.  Just writing His name soothes my soul.  I’m not preaching, I am stating fact.  If there is anything you need to be a success, it is your relationship with your Lord and Savior.  You may balk, thinking what does she know?

I know everything about the disease of addiction, and I acquired the knowledge during a 12 year journey of recovery.  When first sober, after a stint that resulted in me in hospital, with a cop at my door.  I thought there was no hope, not a sliver of a chance that I could climb out of the pit of despair I had found myself laying in-the bottom, for me.  I had attempted to slit my wrists, and I did a crappy job of it-but I also threatened my husband with a knife over a bottle of wine.  I don’t remember doing this, but I sobered up just as he was telling the social worker, and I cried out-

“Why, why are you lying???”

Thing is?  He wasn’t.

I spent the night, escorted to the potty by a cop, and whatever they gave me knocked me out cold for twenty four hours.  I awoke to the sound of my husband pulling out of the driveway, on his way to work.

I called my boss, sat down and cried.

I was absolutely frightened out of my skull.  I searched the cupboards and found a big jug of wine.  I stood there, on the kitchen chair, and stared at this bottle of poison.  To this day, I believe that I would have taken a drink if it hadn’t been for one thing:  Jesus was carrying me.

I put down the jug.  Too tired to fight with myself, I ascended the stairs and crawled back into bed.  I slept a lot in the very beginning.  Sleep was my only safe space, and my body was working overtime at ridding itself of the toxins accumulated over my drinking career.  I lost fifty pounds, without trying.  I later found out that I should have entered a rehab facility, as I had gone cold turkey.  The withdrawal from alcohol had put my father in a coma some thirty years before.  The irony has never escaped me.

7951dd4e66681001387e5b415b6986692f438c1db89f179aa16312ef8edfe16d

There were horrible mood swings and a backlog of grief.  I absolutely hated the people that could have a drink and enjoy a night out.  For years I felt as if I was truly missing out.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t miss anything else-the hangovers, the guilt, the drink and dial-but I wanted, more than anything else in the world at that time, to be a normal person.

And that was it, wasn’t it?  The incredible self involvement us addicts are guilty of while using.

Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me.

The biggest slap in the face was realizing that not only did I put alcohol before my husband and family, but I put it before Abba.  Somewhere along the line, I forgot the nature of my sins.  I never stopped praying, but I was incredibly selfish and I regret that now.

So, my advice is this-

Take one minute at a time, and take each moment with God, not alone.

Without Him we are powerless.

With Him we are fearless.

There is hope, love, a future.  You are not a horrible person, and as it turns out?  Most alcoholics and drug addicts are incredibly compassionate and sensitive.  We don’t understand the lack of love in the world, it hits us harder than the average bear.  I was 56 years old before I realized that there was evil in this world.  I had no sense of boundaries, as often happens with children of alcoholics.  I truly thought that we were put on this earth to help and care for one another-it was a slap in the face to learn otherwise.

Two years ago I made a covenant between God and myself.  I promised Him I would never take a drink again.  I never promised anything to anyone, because I always fell short, always screwed things up.  So you can imagine I was pretty serious when I made this pact.

The miracle happened when I lost all desire to ever take a drink or drug again.

There is no shame in addiction.  None whatsoever.  It means that you leaned on a crutch like anyone and everyone else.  Food, gambling, smoking, drinking-gluttony is gluttony, anyway you look at it.  But it doesn’t matter in the end.  What matters is discovering what your personal kryptonite is-and then addressing the murderous pain it has caused you.  When you successfully process your grief, you won’t need a drink or a drug.

Stay strong.  Be a badass.  He has you~

 

 

Adrift

In your darkest hours, in your finest grief-this is where Jesus does His absolute bestest ever work.  Of course, when you are adrift in a sea of confusion, rage and betrayal?  You don’t want to think about how strong or wise or ethereal His love-you are way too busy crying, railing or even vicariously throwing inanimate objects at the wall.  Your heart hurts so bad you swear it will break, the tears so salty dehydration sets in.

The lights are out.  There is nothing of comfort, you can’t see your way through the pain.  But here’s the rub:  the only way around the feels is through the feels.  In other words, to quote Richard Gannon, “you gots to feel the feels.”

As I hike the Spicebush trail, I wonder at the miracle that God still loves me, despite my Irish sighing and in spite of my ineptitude. I am an Israelite, awash in the desert of my own making-complaining about this or that.  I catch myself, and ask forgiveness of Him.  I have always had exactly what I needed at every turn of the page.  In recent times, God has blessed us beyond measure-my husband’s new job, my Social Security disability granted, and, more importantly?  We are in love and, for the most part, healthy.

I always turn to Jesus, eventually.  I have struggled with depression and anxiety my entire life.  I wish I had learned to practice this habit much earlier in life.  Perhaps it may have spared me the alcoholism, drug addiction and suicidal ideation.

I wanted to end my life because I thought myself a loser.  A miscreant.  A nobody.

I couldn’t keep a friend, let alone a job.  I knew I was different, that I didn’t fit in, and that for the most part I wouldn’t be missed.  The emotional abuse endured at the hands of the people I loved and trusted the most would prove to be a deal breaker.

I broke, into a millions little pieces not unlike the mess you leave when you break a Christmas ornament.

Shattered.

woman holding broken mirror
I lost my friendships, my family, my identity in Christ.

I thought I was coming out of the woods, and I convinced myself that nothing bad would ever happen to me again because I was a child of God and I figured He’s seen me through the worst of it.

I was dreadfully wrong,

With the help of a mighty God I made it through each and every hairpin turn, but just as I was getting my bearings-another tragedy, another slip into isolation and chaos.  I noticed this, yes, but I also paid mind to the fact that with each and every arrow flung in my direction (the persecution comes from Satan, but God has the control) the more courageous I became.

One evening I called out His name, I couldn’t take another self sabotaging thought-my depression had resurfaced.

Please, Psalm 91…the arrows that fly by night…all that sort of thing.  HELP ME JESUS!!!!

And just as if I were taking out the trash, my body arched-my head flew back.  I had momentarily thought of that lion, the one who roars at the enemy-

I.  Am.  The.  Storm!!!

I.   Am.   The.   Storm.

I roared quietly, then not so quietly.

Together, Jesus and I are building my life back up-brick by brick.  He sustains me by the Living Waters and wipes the tears from my furrowed brows.

And then…I rally my senses, join forces with my soul and pick of my cross.

For I am His and for that?  Oh for that I am well pleased.

Tightrope

I live out in the country, way out: but that doesn’t mean I have no neighbors. I think Jesus made it perfectly clear, but I am not the one to judge. I have issues, too. Just recently? I was doing a bit of ruminating about my sin, and I came to the horrifying conclusion that all of my friends are “beautiful” people. I am actually a bit surprised at my prejudice, as I assumed that I had a big heart, for all people. I do, however it seems to me it’s a whole lot easier to love attractive people. I am deeply shamed by this, and will work on it ASAP.

About five years ago, I found myself embedded in a screaming match with my neighbor, Jeanne. I stopped walking my dog around our neighborhood after this incident, and I have her to thank. Jeanne and her family had recently moved to our tiny burb, and I never would have known if not for her dog, Cujo; who promptly scared the life force out of my golden retriever. After calling for immediate restraint, I heard this:

“Oh, for crying out loud, it’s just a German Shepherd,” came her response, loud and clear. You don’t know me, or how I get when people get in my face. I am a Gemini, through and through. I am simultaneously the nicest and meanest person you will ever meet-just depends on what you’re dishing out on that particular day.

Years later, I am standing with Jeanne.  Who, indeed, proved to be a horse’s ass.  But this particular day, back in February, she caught me while hunting sheds, in the field below her farm.  We took up talking and I told her I was going through a bout of Lyme.  She, in turn, told me to come up to the house, to hear about Essential Oils!!!  I must have been gravely ill, because I actually went, thinking that she was trying to help me.  What. On. Earth. Was I thinking?

Anyway, the neighbor who lives in between myself and Jeanne, is a 90 year old, Pennsylvania Dutch, busy body extraordinaire.  She knows all of the gossip in the neighborhood.  We don’t get involved, ever.  So, I haven’t been close to Ruth in years, as I knew she wasn’t fond of me.  How did I know this?  I have it on good authority, it came from the horse’s mouth. Apparently, Ruth said this to my in laws:

“You can say a lot of things about Michele, but she sure does take good care of her animals.”

So, there’s that.  And a whole bunch of other stuff I have already flushed down the commode.

Here’s the thang:  we cannot wrap ourselves up in others’ perceptions of us.  Ninety percent of the time?  They are going on gossip, unearned reputations-not the Holy Spirit or the love of Jesus in their hearts.

So, I would like to wrap this up by saying this to anyone and everyone who delights in being in my bizness:

You people are the human version of menstrual cramps.

He is~A Reblog

Ladies and gents, may I introduce the man God used to restore my sanity-Mr. Richard Gannon.  Although we’ve never met, I feel a solid closeness to this man as I’ve watched him go from traumatized and triggered to victorious and free.  I love him, adore even, and I find his videos a panacea to those of us who have been around the block a time or two with a toxic, dehumanizing relationship.

I deleted my last writing as, turns out?  That happened to be the one he did read, and three times at that.  His Reader’s Digest version?

You told the world I was a satan worshipper.

No, I am not the only half of this couple who has a vivid imagination, and he does have a knack for missing entire points of conversation.

Post argument I spent my days busy, looking for apartments, and praying/sleeping.  Jesus always combines tragedies for me in a way I can’t quite describe, as if he is killing two birds with one stone.  I discovered a swollen lymph node last evening, which means I either have Lyme or I am down with the ship sick.  Almost every argument we have had?  It coincides with the absolute necessity that I slow down and heal, emotionally and physically-something my nervous energy does not allow, ever.  I also think there is a self-attached stigma to my boudoir, as through depression and illness I’ve done my time there.

4d6d1f8e25cbf9524e2c3909d39adfb545ff4235b41c3ccd011555daf31db430
If I feel as if my inner child is being attacked? It’s not going to be pretty, for anyone.

So, today I feel so punk I call it a day, and head right back up to bed after skimming the headline news.  I am drained, dehydrated and dangerously depressed.  I phone my husband, there is a small breakthrough.  Misunderstandings are corrected, words taken back for prosperity.  BUT, there is the reason I was triggered (the full moon, my period and being under the weather only added to my veracity) and that reason had years and years of build up.

I would have thought my temper would have been calmed by now, but interestingly enough?  I find that I am more ferocious, fiery that ever before.  It’s as if the Holy Spirit is fighting with me, or for me, I can’t say.  I can literally feel the Lion’s head rearing, and a force much stronger than me takes over from within.  The result is animalistic, intense and frightening.  Here’s the rub-I don’t get angry like I used to, I’ve been there and find it does nothing for one’s tendency towards migraines.  I know a thing or two, and I consider myself to be a calm and loving force of nature.

Alas, then it happens, I am T R I G G E R E D, a wound from childhood or even years ago will surface, along with a trauma memory-and Sara doesn’t live here anymore.  I have prayed about this phenomena, and it turns out it is healthy for those of us who have been abused, to feel the emotion of anger.  In other words, rage is good.  It means you respect yourself and in my case it also means I am defending the little girl who had no way of defense.

My war is not with my husband.  Nor my monster in law.  My war was with powers and principalities unseen, yes, in the spiritual realms.  However, I will not dine in the presence of mine enemies.

11428_10202438082672826_8659447189157527897_n
Jesse and Maybelline pile on the bed. I slowly succumb to the nurturing only Jesus can orchestrate.

Cried out, I did a bible dip for relief.  I say a prayer, and flip to a page to find His wisdom.

The comfort I received was read from Isaiah, a book I read from often.  My kitten snuggled close, kissing every centimeter of my face, tickling, delighting. Isaiah speaks to the reality that as Christians, we will be persecuted.  God will use these trials and heartbreaks to refine us, to strengthen us.  No, we will not be spared sorrow in this life.  Yet we can live this truth with certainty-Jesus will see us through safely, each and every step of the way.

He alone has the victory, and if you are His you will feel this in your very bones.

No one ever said that picking up your cross would be easy.  God assures us that it will be well worth the tears, and that He is carrying us-each and every step of the way.

16649025_394528127573887_7169289271080070843_n

 

 

Mad as a Hatter

The stigma of dementia saddens me, as those who suffer are the lovliest of lovlies.

Good evening. I don’t know how your week is going, but mine has been harrowing with a 90% chance of persecution and 100% chance of marital strife. That is all behind me now, but if you ever wonder how you became so strong, so tough? The answer is God allowed you to become what you were always meant to be-and that is-tough as nails.

As a victim of Narcissistic Abuse, I can tell you there isn’t a “crazy” cell in my body, sanity wise that is. Narcissists use projection to drive you to your limits, both emotionally and physically. My case was no different, but the anger that permeates my very soul slips out now and again-last night it erupted. Here’s how it began~

“You have anger issues. I mean it, Michele, you need to work on your anger.”

After I put back the pieces (my head had spontaneously combusted) and calmed down enough to grab a drink, it happened again. I finally gave up and went to bed. Why was I angry? Let’s just say that addicts have a way of pushing everything unpleasant to the bottomless pit of despair. We make our gravest mistakes by believing that a bottle of gin or a bag of coke will allow us to forget; my personal experience attests to the fact that you cannot run from grief. Everything you ran from will only intensify. By the time you get good and sober? A mountain of lament lay at your feet, and before you deal with anything you must address the pain.

It is my belief that all addicts are running from something. In my case? Years and years of bullying, emotional abuse and neglect-I simply couldn’t handle the truth which was no one can hurt and manipulate like blood. I consider it a miracle I found my way to the truth of the matter. Narcissists are good at projection (take a look at the DNC) and what they try and pin on you is a mere reflection of the rot that lie inside their souls.

In my family, my narc would wonder out loud at the fact that I was telling the God’s honest truth, which made me feel untruthful. Fact was? She has lied about everything under the sun, but mostly about me. Despite frequent and persistent attacks and accusations, God led me to the reality that I was not mentally ill. I had PTSD because of my abuse, which led to depression and anxiety of the nightmare variety.

So, after getting into it with Dwain-he came home three hours early, whilst I was cleaning. For the life of him he couldn’t understand why after a day of sweaty drudgery I wasn’t greeting him at the door in crotch less panties and chocolate pasties.

There. I said it.

My point being? I know what it’s like to be labeled a mental case when I know with every cell of my being that I am, unfortunately, saner than sane. I spent so many years just trying to breathe that I took life as it was dealt-nothing left over to create, become or dream. And then I met Jesus.

Having run a Dementia Unit for years, and then my own home health care business-I have a pretty healthy awareness of this population. First, may I say that my parents died far too young to develop the disease, as did my grandparents with the exception of my father’s mother who lived well into her nineties and remained as sharp as a tack. However, I do know what it is like to have your family member treat you as a stranger. The crippling feeling that your beloved doesn’t see you, let alone remember you. The terrifying feeling that all of your memories, your cherished time together-they are lost to you-forever.

Years ago my father was in hospital for pancreatitis. A severe alcoholic, daddy went into delirium tremens from alcohol withdrawal. He then slipped into a coma, my poor mother left alone to pay the bills and raise three children. Each and every day she would say, “You simply must go see your father. He’s your father.” I didn’t have the words to explain my terror, my flat out inability to see my best friend and biggest supporter hurting-in any way.

It turned out that my fears were nothing compared to what transpired with my first visit, after dad had come out of the coma. He was learning to walk, to say the ABC’s and speak again. His hair had gone white, he was terribly thin.

“Hello daddy, how are you feeling today? I’m so sorry I am only coming now…”

I was interrupted by his question: “Aren’t you the gal married to the Korean doctor?”

I explained that I was his daughter, his blood. I shared a few of our inside jokes, tried to get through to him in some way. His next words shook me core-

“I’m sorry, kiddo, I don’t know who you are.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Would it help you to know that dementia patients are much happier in general? They live in the moment, no worries, no fear. I enjoyed my time with these brave men and women, so much so that when I had to retire due to Chronic Lyme? A piece of my heart went with the loss. I simply adored my residents and clients. I took each death personally, especially my favorite ever client, Marta.

Marta was my best friend’s mother. She alone inspired me spiritually, creatively and emotionally-I was the benefactor, I was the lucky one. We liked to go on outings, she loved the Llamas at a local farm-we visited often. You see, Marta loved her animals-to the point of hurting for them, just like me, just like her daughter. When with her I felt understood, truly loved for myself and nothing else.

One day I picked up a stuffed Llama at a local gift store. Now, Marta thought her stuffed animals were real. She had this really big teddy bear, and if I was talking when I entered the room, she would SHHH me-the teddy was napping, don’t wake him.

She loved the stuffed Llama, even took him to bed with her. I often saw her cooing to, and comforting the little brown toy. So innocent, so pure, so what I had been missing my entire life. Her last stage of the disease was spent in a nursing home. To this very day I wish I had visited her more. The news of her death stung like poison.

And so it was, after my brawl with my husband, did I enter my bedroom to see-and not for the first time-that little stuffed Llama named Marta, head to the side in sympathy. I hung my head and cried like a child.