I Think it Strange You Never Knew

I took what I wish I could tell you was my last drink in the beginning of October, 2007.  I ended up in the hospital after a suicide attempt, which is another story for another day.  What sobered me up was a combination of my husband’s frailty, my will to live and a gift-the blessing of clarity that comes from Jesus.  I won’t even try to tell you that this road has been easy.  We addicts push down the truth, and push our loved ones away-fact-and until we achieve sobriety?  Well, there will be no healing, no peace, no end to the pain that holds us in bondage.

Months afterwards, I was hiking in two feet of snow with my golden retriever, Dylan.  A shining star and beloved pet, it hurts my heart that I wasn’t with him for the first 5 years of his time on this earth.   I was here, but I wasn’t present, and I have no memory of what could have been the best years of my life, had I not succumbed to the melodic pull of oblivion.

So I am trudging up this hill, and I am overcome with love.  I feel forgiveness surround me.  I cry out to God and confess the absurd backslide I have taken with alcohol and pain medication.  I cry out to Jesus and I tell him to take my life, it isn’t mine to begin with, take it Jesus, mold me Jesus, cry with me and then I’ll get tough, I promise…….

“I have been here with you from the very beginning of time.  I have cried your tears, tasted the salt of your remorse, and I will deliver you from this travesty……”

I think it strange, I never knew….

 

The Girl You Want…………

If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to hold tight to the female friendships I have cultivated.  Let’s face it, when you head for your forties-well, you start to realize what is important in life and what is detrimental.  You begin to stand up for yourself, and by the time you reach menopause?  You’re a whirling dervish of angst on the road to having no female friendships because you have told off just about every friend you have, for one reason or another.

I have lost sisters near and dear to my heart (and a few quite recently)-but the loss was temporary, as those were the women who treated me with disrespect, dishonesty or the worst sin in my book- condescension-they were not  the friends I thought they were,but it didn’t make it any easier to end the relationship.  My best friend in sixth grade (let’s just call her Shitstorm) threw a bowling ball at me because I had the highest average in the league.  Straight out, in front of our teammates. She was also responsible for bringing a picture of me (in the seventh grade) into school in my senior year; one in which I had cut my own bangs, and let’s just say she passed it on to my high school crush.  Mortifying.  I was friends with her for 30 more years, until she did the unthinkable…..that’s right, she was another narcissist, and crossing her was akin to playing hopscotch with Satan. After one too many brushes with death? I let her go, stopped all contact-to this day I have nightmares. To. This. Day.

But when you hit your fifties?  Why, you hold on to your female friends like grim death-the ones who love you no matter what state you’re in, root for you when you are up against it, speak to your husband when you’ve relapsed. Why, they are your true blue tribe, and you have earned each other’s trust.  I am not saying there won’t be disagreements (holy crap on a cracker, that’s part of the equation ladies) but you will learn that nothing is more important than women who get and cherish you, zits, nervous breakdowns and relapses be damned.

I have spent an entire lifetime trusting women I had no business trusting, not seeing the inevitable pain that came with illumination-it’s a process. Yet, as Abba works in my life? The new friendships are more stable, enduring and incredibly comforting. You teach people how to treat you, and the only way you gain respect is by being a bitch right back. As soon as I stand my ground, the bullies run for cover.

Today I am blessed beyond measure with an abundance of loving, nurturing and life sustaining women. I am thankful they feel safe calling me friend.

I Will Find the Center In You…….I Will Chew it Up And Leave…

This is the darkest post I hope to ever write.  This is a story about how alcohol kills-everything that is good, pure, worthy, decent……..alcohol is a vampire, it sucks the life blood out of you, then leaves you in a heap of disgrace, humiliation and nothingness.  I may have been “sober” for ten years, but I have slipped on more than one occasion, each time the lull of “It will be okay, just one drink” has seduced me….and each and every time I have wallowed in despair.

I would like to tell you about the last ten years of my drinking career.  A vocation so evil, so pummeling that I literally lost those years of my life.  Sadly, I cannot, as I was so far gone that the last years were swallowed by indignity, fear, and Godlessness.   Or so I thought.  I got sober when I was 46 years old, and for the longest time I honestly thought I was ten years younger.  Ten years of our lives, gone up in smoke. 

I weep just thinking of what could have been, but there is hope and we must lean not on our own understanding.  We have to summon every ounce of courage in our souls to rise up and fight this demon.  And together, with Jesus, we can do it, one minute, one hour, one day at a time.

What I do remember is locked behind a door that can only be unlocked by God, and only when it serves His kingdom.  I am taking off the deadbolt and releasing the ghosts that have kept me silent.  We are only as sick as our secrets, and becoming sober is the most freeing, healthy and frightening place we can be.  You have to hang on for dear life, but don’t be afraid of the ride, you have nothing to fear and everything to gain by telling your truth.

My last drunken event was my husband’s sister’s wedding.  I had consumed at least a bottle of wine before the ceremony, and that was 2:00 in the afternoon.  I do not remember the wedding, or the bride…….but what information I do have came at a cost, and that was my husband’s dignity.  I know that we didn’t stay for the cutting of the cake, as I had been playing footsies under the table with an unwilling participant-my husband’s cousin.  I also told a dear friend that I had enlightened my family with the news that he and I were having an affair-which led to some heavy duty amend making on his part, and I have never, to this day, as much a held his hand.  We are friends again, but that took ten years, 200 or so AA meetings, and the good Lord above-only now am I at peace.

Miss Maya and the Missing Link

One of my favorite felines, Maya Angelou, has come so incredibly far in her quest to find herself. I am a firm believer in the notion that animals have souls, and like Angelou she is a fearsome lioness, a freedom fighter-a survivor.

10454918_10201133838867546_1710984949571415948_n

Born 8 years ago, the last of my longhairs (I kept the entire litter, four cats in all)she was petrified of her own shadow. The runt of the litter, she was always last to get nursed, last to be bathed, pushed aside like so much dander. She immediately found a hidey hole, up in the rafters of our bedroom. Incredibly tiny, I often feared she would fade away. It was because of her frailty that I put off having her fixed- rather than take her to the Humane Society clinic for thirty five dollars, as I did with each and every other cat before-I had her spayed by our family vet, who charged me over four hundred. I know. I know. This made my husband cringe and carry on-one of the reasons Maya hides to begin with. Dwain has a strong and deep voice-he frightens all of our cats; yet Maya would run upstairs and jump to her happy place-not to be seen for days.

1597671_10200491268483688_1195465175_o

We have cared for a myriad of cats over the years. Living out in the country, desperate people have done desperate things, like drop their cats and kittens off at a stranger’s home: but I look at it this way-they were meant to be with me. I have my favorites (current cat population:17)and thirteen of them live outside. They have a really groovy pad under the giant pine out back, and a covered cat home beneath our deck. We feed them, nurse and vaccinate each and every cat, thanks to the generosity and passion of Nobody’s Cat Foundation. They neutered/spayed fifteen cats, giving them vaccinations as well, at no cost to myself. I will be sending them something at Christmas, for as long as they are up and running.

She doesn’t hide any longer. She lives in our bedroom, proud and precious, content in the world she has created. She likes her pillows just so and her catnip must be placed to the right of her toy mouse. I feed her can food once a day, and as long as her needs are met? She purrs at warp volume, she kills me with kitty kisses and blinks her undying affection.12311171_932332183509072_157103928902352993_n

Fresh out of the shower, and feeling a bit more positive, I played with Miss Thang in her sun spot. She has put on weight, and her coat is like mink. And then it all came together in this supernatural way. I could see it in her cat eyes, the strength, courage and love-emanating from a cat who was at one time so depressed she pulled her hair out, in clumps.

WE HAVE BOTH WON OUR BATTLE OVER VICTIMHOOD. WE ARE SURVIVORS. WE ARE LOVED UNCONDITIONALLY BY A GOD WHO SENT HIS ONLY SON TO PAY FOR OUR SINS, SO THAT WE MAY SPEND ETERNITY WITH OUR LORD AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST.

Me and Maya?

We got it licked.

Green Are Your Eyes…………

My brother came up for a visit a few weeks ago, and as we conversed he brought up the wedding that my father spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on.

“They were devastated,” he told me, dead seriously at that.  Craig lived in California at the time.  My mother was battling ovarian cancer, although she, nor the doctors, knew.  I remember one phone call from mom, in which she told me daddy had cried for days-and to this very day I wish I had run away……because I didn’t have the strength to stop the snow ball that kept rolling, gaining momentum, until it was so big it crushed me in its wake.

I did not choose this particular war.  It chose us, Dwain and myself.  I was in such angst that my mother sent my sister to baby sit, rather than sit down and discuss my strong resistance to a wedding that never, ever should have taken place.  In a therapy session, with my parents, the man with all the answers (he thought so anyway) asked my mother why she was so angry.

“The fucking whore just wanted a party.”

The therapist looked at me and then at my father.  When I looked back at him his glasses were askew and he appeared alarmed-distressed, if you will.  I had warned him.  I knew it was coming.   My father, always and forever my best friend and supporter, offered this:

“Honey, he said, looking at my mother as if she’d lost her mind-“Why don’t you let us get you an apartment, just be by yourself for awhile so you can figure things out.”

I couldn’t and didn’t consider that option.  I loathe the fact that I hurt my parents in any capacity whatsoever.   It breaks me and was a contributing factor in my rush to oblivion, alcohol, pills, cocaine………..my heart was a ball of fire, and I wept more than I smiled.

But, green were his eyes…….and their melodic and hypnotizing pull are evident this very day.  And for that, oh for that I am incredibly blessed.

The Outer Limits…

Sixteen years ago, my father and then girlfriend Pat (I like to call her DOOM) invited the entire family down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We went down a day late, as I had to work. Dwain, Bud and myself-we put our suitcases in the Jeep at 5 a.m. Poor Bud sitting in the back, for all 10 hours of the trip. We were hopelessly lost in Washington, but used to my husband’s utter helplessness with directions, I drank beer and laughed at the absurdity.

It wasn’t just the Elkins/Hoffman/Malinowski clan gathering at the bi-level vacation house in the dunes, au contraire-Pat and her four perfect children AND their children were said to be coming as well. Dwain and I anticipated the vacation with utter dread, and the only reason we participated at all was so I could spend time with my father, who was quite ill at the time.

The drive was harrowing. As we arrived at the house, I saw my siblings coming toward us-not to greet us, mind you, but to run. To run for their very lives, as they knew with utter certainty that I was about to BLOW MY TOP. You see, DOOM had miscounted the number of bedrooms, and it appeared that Bud, my husband and myself would have to sleep ON A PULL OUT COUCH IN THE KITCHEN.

While my siblings partied on the beach, I went directly to my father.

“Are you SERIOUS?” “Where is she, let me at her,” and UNFUCKINGBELIEVABLE were a few of the comments I spat. Dwain, who had assessed the situation in a matter of seconds, headed for the beach. I poured a gin martini and sat on the deck with my father, who was so heavy hearted, so upset on what would be his very last vacation.

“Daddy, it’s not your fault, really. I guess we would have stayed at a hotel if we had a head’s up, but it is what it is,” I stammered. Meanwhile, at the beach, my husband was busy telling my brother and sister off in seven different languages, which helped…..a little.

Realizing that part of the problem was hormones, I took a hot shower and emerged stronger, calmer if you will. What happened next is legend in the Elkins family-and if you weren’t there, well, you might have trouble believing the pure insanity that followed. When the gang returned, they found my father and I on said deck, drinking what had to be our fifth martini. The following story is true, and it is with incredulity that I write, not sanguine acceptance.

At some point in the evening, I ended up at the tippy top of the Widow’s Walk, screaming at my sister. Over the years I had held a few things in, and for whatever reason, her ass was GRASS in my book. I don’t remember what I said, but I can imagine. My brother tried to calm me, but I had unleased a momentum that was only stopped by the State Police, and here’s where it gets good.

My husband was at the bar downstairs, with my father. He heard a knock on the door, and before he could answer it, two state cops-guns at the ready-demanded to know where the screaming was coming from. They had received more than a few complaints. As the Keystone Cops looked through the home, my father, now drunk as the proverbial skunk, sat watching television-he had no idea that a circus was enfolding in front of him and to this day, I think he knew alright. I also think he didn’t want to deal with it.

So, they find me on the fifth floor deck, and immediately go to arrest me. Balking, my brother pleaded with them. “Just a family argument,” he begged.

“Ma’am, do you know your voice could be heard at headquarters, five miles away?,” one of them asked me.

Before I could answer, my brother rushed me down to the living room and put me to bed. When I awoke the next day, things were a blur, but no one and I mean NO ONE was talking to me.

The moral of the story? Speak your peace. Don’t let things fester. And for the love of God, keep your voice down when all hell breaks loose.

I Think it Strange You Never Knew

I took what I wish I could tell you was my last drink in the beginning of October, 2007.  I ended up in the hospital after a suicide attempt, which is another story for another day.  What sobered me up was a combination of my husband’s frailty, my will to live and a gift-the blessing of clarity that comes from Jesus.  I won’t even try to tell you that this road has been easy.  We addicts push down the truth, and push our loved ones away-fact-and until we achieve sobriety?  Well, there will be no healing, no peace, no end to the pain that holds us in bondage.

Months afterwards, I was hiking in two feet of snow with my golden retriever, Dylan.  A shining star and beloved pet, it hurts my heart that I wasn’t with him for the first 5 years of his time on this earth.   I was here, but I wasn’t present, and I have no memory of what could have been the best years of my life, had I not succumbed to the melodic pull of oblivion.

So I am trudging up this hill, and I am overcome with love.  I feel forgiveness surround me.  I cry out to God and confess the absurd backslide I have taken with alcohol and pain medication.  I cry out to Jesus and I tell him to take my life, it isn’t mine to begin with, take it Jesus, mold me Jesus, cry with me and then I’ll get tough, I promise…….

“I have been here with you from the very beginning of time.  I have cried your tears, tasted the salt of your remorse, and I will deliver you from this travesty……”

I think it strange, I never knew….