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.

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.

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.

She Talks To Angels….

Oh sweet Jesus, the news……I don’t even want to go into it, and I promised NEVER to bring politics to my blogs, so, I wanted to tell you about my experience with angels.  God got my attention, and rather quickly…..by adorning my home with angel feathers.

At first, I was suspicious.  I was going through a terribly hard time of it, and each day was a battle-meant to discourage me, I am quite certain.  I have always believed in God, always known that Jesus was love-but I can’t deny it-I wondered where He was when I fell down a flight of stairs drunk; when I developed third degree burns on my arm (neither my husband or I have any idea how this happened, and the doctors in the ER wanted to blame Dwain) where was He when I begged for mercy?  When I did so much OxyContin that I drove straight into another car, in broad daylight?  At one point, on one particular day, I yelled at the clouds:  Why can’t I feel you?  Why, oh why have you forsaken me?

I was in a dead end job, sober but not……..still using narcotics, but not drinking.  And then it happened:  a beautiful white feather in the middle of my bedroom floor.

“Must be from the down pillows,” I muttered to myself on the way out the door.

And then?  The feathers appeared almost daily……surreal, and in every color of the rainbow.  When my golden retriever died, I received a golden feather-and it occurred to me that God was indeed speaking to me.  The night after we lost him, I came downstairs to let our present dog out, his brother Jesse.  It was nine p.m. and I heard music as I opened the front door.

“Must be the chapel bells….” I said to myself.  And then it hit me like so much  air on a breathless climb to the top of a mountain.  The church bells only ring at noon and six p.m.  I ran into the kitchen and stopped dead in my tracks.  The pots and pans atop of our wood stove were moving, and with each movement came melodious, angelic chimes-music I hadn’t heard and haven’t heard since.  I sat at the kitchen table for what seemed like hours-the music unceasing and comforting…..I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears.  I ran up to my husband and asked what could possibly be causing this.  He is pragmatic and logical, and his answer confirmed my growing belief that I was being visited, by angels, by Dylan my golden retriever, by God.

You see, this was just the beginning.  So much has transpired in the last few years, and I can tell you this:  I am absolutely 1000% sure that Jesus is with you, with me, with every soul that claims his saving grace.  He was always with you, always.  Whilst tinkering with the New Age (a friend turned me on to Reiki and Doreen Virtue.  Numerology.  Energy.  Chakras) I was sitting at my computer on a misty day last Fall.  What I now know to be the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear, “go take a picture in the back yard.  Go now.”  I was blown away by what I saw in the camera lens (white crosses, at least ten of them) and even more awestruck when I downloaded the pictures and saw not only angels, but Jesus himself.  I have these pictures and will share them in a future blog to come.

God works in mysterious, but oh so breathtaking ways.  On this very day I received my last angel feather-this time purple, my favorite ever color.  Look for the miracles.  As a matter of fact?  Expect them.




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 Inheritance……..

This song had me in despair over the weekend.  After watching the movie The Accountant, I went into the laundry room to cry.  This song plays at the end, and it triggered in me a yearning-and a deep pit of despair.  This isn’t about feeling sorry for oneself, quite the contrary.  It is about the human need to give those you love an inheritance.  Your whole life you have collected pieces of your heart, cherished memories and beautiful trinkets.  I had always assumed that my nieces would inherit my clothing, my jewelry and my stories-it felt good and right that they would have a piece of Aunt Michele to pass on to their children.

Yet how do you give your life work to children who no longer seem to care?  I know in my heart that this is a result of narcissistic rage on the part of their mother.  Yet it does not lessen the pain.

And then it happened:  the aha moment!  I have a brother.  His daughter Esme is one of the loves of my life.  She is strong and gracious, lovely and wise, kind and silly…….a rose among so many weeds.  She gives me hope and inspiration.  I miss her dearly, but will remedy that by a trip out to LA…..get ready girl, you are about to be bombarded with love……and trinkets I have cherished, over the years of searching for myself.