Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Recognition and Thank You's, MIA, Life Happens- a blogging medley

I have been away from home and the computer for a few days. My husband's cousin is moving and we stayed a couple of nights with him helping, hanging out, and checking out the amenity's at his new place. Indoor pool and steam room, HELLO! It was a nice break and now we will be taking another break for the Holiday tomorrow. 

I am still catching up on all of my reading. I did want to take a moment to thank LisaC at Loving and Parenting an Addict and Barbara who can now be found at Recovery Happens for the lovely Loyalty Awards! Two lovely awards from to wonderful women! If you haven't already done so, take a little trip over to their blogs for some wonderful and honest insight into their life journeys, parenting addicts, among other things. Thank you so much girls!!! 

I will pass these awards along after the Holidays, as I just passed along another award and I think people might be rather busy like I am at this time of year. 

I wanted to share some of the things I have been thinking about over the last few days and some of the new developments in my life. As we narrow in on our big adventure, the dreaminess of it all has started to fade some, and the realities of planning are now in force. We have started selling things in the house. We are in the middle of going through all of our clothes and getting rid of what we don't need (I am even taking the time to donate the usable ones!). I have let the landlord know we are moving out January 1st and we are figuring out if we will downsize to a 2 bedroom for 6 mos or will move in with Bryson's aunt to save money. 

Today we went and LOOKED at campers for the first time. I scour craigslist on a daily basis, but to actually go look at some, made it feel so REAL! His cousin gave us some of his camping gear that he uncovered in his move. I have been gathering boxes and organizing and condensing things around the house. It is all happening.  

Another of the big happenings is that I finally am going to finish my degree! It is just my Associates of General Studies, but I have been 5 classes away from graduating for over 5 years now. No one in my family has ever gone to college and the 3 semesters that I have completed were when I was widowed with small children. It is a huge life dream for me to continue my education. Finishing it before our trip will be such an accomplishment. It also means that when we settle down again (IF we do!) that I am ready to go into whatever coursework, for whatever field I finally choose, with NO MORE general studies!!! YAY!

Life has not all been gravy. There are several different people in the family that are coexisting with drama, addiction, unhealthy relationships, and shaky futures. I feel fortunate that we are not entwined in that web anymore, but it is still painful to be helpless onlookers. My emotions really run the board with empathy (I have been there), hope (anyone can change), fear (some people never do), and sadness (we cannot help anymore).

Part of me mourns the loss of connection with people, but realizing that the type of isolation we have chosen is healthy and comfortable for us, and has likely saved us from ourselves, brings solace. 

I am thankful for:

-opportunity and the ability within myself to create it

-freedom from fear

-the ability to forgive myself

-the wonderful people that grace me with their presence in life- cyber presence included!

I think all of those things can be applied to every little detail in some form. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dear Sweet Child

Following in the footsteps of Susan who took upon herself the challenge set forth by Lori of writing her younger self a letter, I am here to attempt my own. I am a little afraid because I do not venture back so much anymore, but after seeing before my eyes, the very nature of writing's therapeutic essence, I am going to give it a try.

I felt that the time when I most needed a letter was when I was 7 years old, the day before my mother committed suicide, the day when everyone stopped talking to me the same.


Dear Sweet 7 year old Shawna,

I know it has been a long three days wondering where your mom is. I wish I could tell you she will be with you soon. Tomorrow you are going to get the most devastating news a little girl can hear and you will never be the same. I can't change it or fix it. Some things are beyond our control. It is not your fault. You are going to think you will never understand how she could leave you. You are going to think that you will never be able to forgive her.I know how much you love her and I want you to know that she loves you more. It will be a long and treacherous road for the better part of 15 years, but I want you to know you will be okay.

One day you will have children and you will be faced with so much pain and agony from all of the choices and consequences that spiraled your life out of control following tomorrow's events. One day when you are 25, you will be crying so hard you cannot breathe and you will be holding 10 little pills that are waiting to end your life. Then you will understand your mother's pain. For an agonizing couple of hours, you will mentally walk in her shoes, feel her pain, and relive every moment of love and loss that can be experienced in a mother/child relationship. You will play the child and the mother. You will grieve for both of them. 

You will choose to surrender to living instead of dying on that day. You will forgive your mother and you will see new light, for it is her life lost that saved your own. Had you not experienced what you are about to tomorrow morning, you would not have realized the irreplaceable void that ending your own life would have left your own children. You will come to appreciate your mother's life for what it was and wasn't and you will take it all with you into your own journey of motherhood.

Deciding to live, will however not be the easy choice. Your steps from that point on will be slowly moving forward through confusion and darkness and you will experience even more loss. Your choices will not always be good and you will use substances and sexuality in really harmful ways. You will fail your children at one point and you will again walk yourself to death's door. Your own suicide letter will save you and the writer in you will become alive.

You will face some of the most extreme hardships and will give true meaning to rock bottom. You will see unrecognizable horrors within yourself, through the blurred vision of meth addiction. Yes, its true. Unlike the familiar times of death, you will wish for life and you will fight for it. I wish that I could tell you that there is a way to change any of the pain that is about to commence, but there is not. Please do not be afraid. You will become exactly who you are meant to be. You will realize love in all of its capabilities. You will emerge a capable and beautiful woman and you will be thankful for every experience life has given you. 

Please sleep tight tonight, Shawna. Tonight is the last peaceful night you will have for a very long time. For tonight your innocence will slip away in the middle of the night and be lost, but not forever. What is lost, will most assuredly be found, and you will become life's explorer.You will create a wonderful existence and  you will find beauty in the face of tragedy.  Tonight an angel whispers "sweet dreams, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite" before her eternal sleep. She loves you.

your 31 year old self

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

From Me to You Award... My first!

I received this award from Susan at Weaving A Life. I appreciate it so much... Thank You!
The rules are as follows:
1. Thank whoever gave this to you
2. Copy award
3. Post it in your blog
4. Tell us 7 things that your readers don’t know
5. Link 7 new bloggers
6. Notify winners of the award with a comment on their blog
7. Keep being awesome!

So 7 things you don't know about me. Wow I am too much of an open book. What are my secrets?

1. I used to be so extremely desperate to have cinematic memories as a youth and teen, that I would set the stage for many events obsessively, by compiling the perfect atmosphere of music, lighting, where I should take pictures from, how I should smile and what I would say (and hope would be said back), and that write about it in my diary as if it "just happened." Whew it was hard work!

2. I can fix most anything in a household. This is due to many years of being a single mother with little income. I have installed toilets, sinks, a garbage disposal, fixed and replaced drains, replaced light fixtures, converted a whole house of old outlets to grounded ones (and shocked the sh*t out of myself! LOL), and can operate all power and lawn tools.

3. I can cook just about anything and usually replicate food I have eaten without a recipe. The only thing I ever measure out is dessert baking recipes. I won second place in a chili contest at my husband's work last year.

4. I am a huge procrastinator (think the power getting shut off because I didn't want to call and pay the bill-even when I had the money!), but I am always early for appointments.

5. I am tone deaf and if I tried to sing it would be worse than the worst karaoke singer you EVER heard!

6. I am learning to parent my kids with concepts from Love and Logic and it is very trying at times but very rewarding. I think I may even like to teach it when my kids need a little less of my time.

7. It took me like a half hour to figure out how to make text linked to a website and I am very excited that I got to use it in # 6. I have been wanting to learn how so I could link to other blogs for a long time, but see #4! It took me like another half hour to think of #7 :)

Now to pass this on (I am excited to practice my new linking text to blogs skill!!!!)

To a wonderful woman that I am proud to call my friend, Barbara at The Needle and the Damage Done You are a wonderful lady full of life's beauty. Sharing in her journey of family addiction, her honesty and genuine spirit gives me a sense of comfort and belonging.

To Jennifer at One True Self, an amazing lady that I feel so connected to and you are one of my best supporters.

Lorenza at Pure Energy, you are next! You are a life poet, your words speak to my soul.

Purposefully Yours (aka xxx) at Spirit is my Drug- Your journey is inspiring and your courage and wisdom in recovery are astounding. I am thankful for the opportunity to follow you.

Dan at Vacant Mind because you remind me to laugh when sometimes I have forgotten to... ok I am lying - you MAKE me laugh and continue to allow me to let my family think I am quite literally insane for laughing at my computer screen. Thank you for your perspective, sarcasm, and humor.

Kim AYRES (I can spell it- I took note for future reference) over at ramblings of the bearded one. You are the first blog I came to EVER and I just haven't been able to leave. You are my muse in blogging and creativity and your life is inspirational and delightful in both joys and sorrows.

And last but definitely not least, Debby at Oxycontin and Opiate Addiction: A Mother's Story. You are one of my newest inspirations. Your spirit and endurance reflect your love in motherhood.

So go ahead and pass on some blogging appreciation!

addiction, brain chemistry, connections, and substances (unrefined thoughts)


This has been an alien 24 hour period for me. I really have not experienced anything so overpowering and dark in a long time. It was terrifying, but is slowly evolving into empowering.

I am highly aware that meth has long term effects on people. I experience what I can describe as awakenings.  Its sudden "aha" moments where something seems to reconnect. At the height of my meth use, when it was still fun and manageable, I had incredibly heightened self awareness. I had impenetrable self esteem.  I have learned in my recovery that the likes of Hitler as well as the psychologist, Sigmund Freud were meth amphetamine addicts. Its probably a good thing I didn't posses that information when I was actively using, or it would have given me cause to further justify how meth was going to help me realize my mental capabilities. (Euphoria is powerful, and the general effects of meth tend to make you believe that it is helping you, initially anyway- you stop running out of justifiable reasons when the high permanently goes away.)

My mental capacity slowly began to diminish. I never shot up and I never got paranoid or delusional. I spent all my time and money chasing those euphoric times where I was the grandiose star player in my new high game. Instead, I became underweight, malnourished, and sleep deprived. I really felt like I could feel myself internally and mentally disconnecting. I'd stay up STRAIGHT for upwards of 2 weeks, only taking 8 or so hours to sleep and start all over again. There was one time that my kids almost called an ambulance becasue my "tweaker coma" was so severe that I was unresponsive and barely breathing. Maybe my body was seeking eternal rest.

I was completely unaware of any mania or depression. It was just high or coming down. That seemed so much simpler. I have to work for my emotions being bipolar. Abusing meth was simply: I had it and I felt ok or I didn't and I felt like dying. Totally under my control, no work, no thoughts.

Fear, desperation, lack of hope, isolation... only drove me to want to make them go away- hence why people use again and again. I quit using in an instant. The instant my children were taken away. There were no ifs and or anythings. That was one price I was NOT going to pay.

I found myself in what a lot of people consider a dark place. In jail, withdrawing, separated for the first time in my life from my children, broke, and homeless. (jail was home for 7 days followed by literal homelessness) Amazingly for me, it was the first peace and light I had seen in months. It was so emotionally and physically painful at times, but it was REAL, it didn't cost anything, and it was the first time I had really seen light in months. Learning to take the bus was one of the most empowering things I have ever done. (can you see how I was enabled in the past?)

I immediately realized that I did not have the same mental function as I did before. Beautiful words and phrases seemed to have been kicked out of my vocabulary for more common ones of that time. I had a cheat sheet in my pocket of weights and prices of meth so that I would not get "burned" and soon I could easily tell you what "10 cents" or and "8 ball" or a "teener" were. My list of professionals included a lawyer and a bondsman, and my dealer. Who needed a Dr. or a dentist? I still feel the effects of that lost beauty and search hard for my words.

Obviously it has been a long road since those times, but I still feel like I am not fully reconnected. The urge to use has long been gone, but the damage done is still being repaired.When you forget to water a plant, parts of it die. When you remember again and you try and try and try to undo the harm you have caused, some parts just never come back. New parts grow, and the plant lives on. You have to let go of the dead parts so they do not suffocate the new growth.

I decided to look up the effects of oxycontin. As I have said, opiates have never been something I have used or know anything about. I do however remember what the chemical parts of addiction and withdrawal felt like. It was not a connection I appreciated having so recently. Especially since I wasn't breaking any rules or abusing a substance. It was given to me, easy as candy, in an ER.

According to several online sources, oxycontin can produce withdrawals as quickly as 6 hours and that last upwards of 7 days and are very similar to heroin withdrawal. I cannot say I blame my feelings of the last 24 hours on the oxyconyin exclusively, but I do feel like it must have been a contributing factor.

I think it was comparable to a plant being neglected for a very short period of time. The leaves begin to wilt; fear of past damage surfaces. The plant is watered and cared for, and it quickly bounces back and resumes a healthy growth pattern; fear subsides and life goes on.

I feel empowered by this experience. In all reality, had opiates been my substance of choice, I think this would have been equal to what relapse feels like. I realize how much stronger I am and how much I enjoy and desire a clear picture in my life.

I also feel a sense of rage that substances like that are legal and prescribed, often without a clear patient history of risk.

I cannot express the gratitude I have for the community and support I find here. I haven't been able to express anything at all related to my drug use other than on this blog and to Bryson. It was a lonely recovery for us. I feel safe and supported here and it is new and enjoyable. I feel lasting connections and look forward to future growth.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The need to surrender


Sometimes the sun just won't shine. I am having a very down day. I am already pulling out the depression tools from my handy little bipolar bag of artillery. Not sure if this is going to start my decent into an actual depression or if it is just one of those days.  My "to do" list is much bigger then my energy for doing. I am struggling with physical pain and insomnia. 

I am being visited by taunting little regrets, painful memories of much different times, and even feeling insecure. Sometimes I just want to surrender and not have to be the family's glue. Sometimes I want to know if someone cares enough to want to fix anything for me. Not that they could or that I would want them to try, but are the intentions there? Does everyone think I am capable of taking care of myself, my relationship, my health, 3 kids and their health, the house, the animals, etc etc etc etc.  I am feeling needy and lonely. Feeling incapable today. The familiar and uncomfortable feeling of expectation is here. Wanting someone else to give me the answers for a while. 

I know that is not the nature of my life. It never has been. I know I will stand on my own two feet and work through this. but.... sometimes all the knowledge in the world just can't fix the way I feel. 


Thursday, November 12, 2009

light bulbs... in the darkness

Sometimes life is just hard. Questions come and answers hide. That is what it feels like to me anyway. Are they really hiding or am I just not looking. The last two days have presented a sort of epiphany, following atypical events in my life. The first event is that I took oxycontin. Did I use oxycontin? no. I was given 1 in the emergency room because a filling came out of my wisdom tooth and the nerve was exposed. I haven't felt the "high" of a pain pill or any other substance in a long time. In my life, I had never had an oxy before nor tried heroin. As many of you know crystal meth was my drug of choice.

It was an awful experience. The feeling was awful. The lack of control and the fuzziness of my emotions that came along with the physical pain relief were AWFUL. As my husband was sitting there talking to me it was like I just faded out. He said I just fell asleep mid sentence.

After getting home, and the effects wearing off, I  started feeling even worse than while affected by the oxy, and almost felt like I'd rather take another one than feel so icky. Frightening. How could I already feel like I wanted something that actually made me feel bad? I realize that I likely would not have mentally wanted to continue using oxy's or heroin, had I tried them in the past, because it is not a feeling I like, but I was so shocked that after just one, I could feel slight feelings of withdrawal and the need to make it go away.

I also started thinking a lot about addiction (probably TOO much) ...thinking about the oxy epidemic that is overcoming kids and leading to the cheaper side kick- heroin. Thinking about meth and its target group.

Different people use for different reasons. When I started using, I was not at that point in my life where it was so dark and frightening that I wanted to make it go away. Had I tried oxy's or heroin at THAT time, I may have actually liked it and cannot imagine trying to battle both the mental and physical addiction and the underlying emotional issues to get myself out of that dark and frightening place where my mind existed.

Meth affected me in a different way. I started using when I was blacked out drunk (nice huh). I don't even remember getting to the house we (we being my husband and I- everytime I used he was with me) were at, and I sort of "came to" hitting a glass meth pipe. Meth has that effect since it is an upper and alcohol is a downer.  I had never even SEEN a glass pipe before. None of it made sense., but it still felt ok. Such is the demon of the drug. Everything feels good. I continued using because coming down always started to feel so horrible and I was scared I could not properly care for my kids if I allowed myself to go to sleep in a "tweaker coma."

It was always "Just one more time and then I'll keep take care of the so you can come down and then you stop and I can come down."  Or, "Just enough to get through the work week and then I will sleep on my days off and come down and then I will watch the kids for a few days so you can come down."

Well he was not the father of my children and it was a new relationship, and although I disgustingly rationalized how I was still a good mother while using, I could not bring myself to let him be alone with my kids while I slept off a tweaking binge. After all we were using drugs together and so what did that tell me about him really? Not enough to sleep for days and leave him to watch my children. At least I had a SHRED of judgement left.

I endlessly promised myself I would find a way to quit and come down (for those of you that don't know, the effects of coming of of meth are extreme, physically and emotionally and don't lend themselves to caring for small children). I continued on this path because aside form the guilt that I knew what I was doing was wrong, it still felt good. I had energy. I kept the house spotless. I had a new sudden confidence in myself and in my ability to communicate with people. It was all fine until the high wore off and every attempt to stop felt like suicide.

Dealing with the way the oxy had made me feel, I was reliving all of my experiences and affirming why I am clean. Then today I had another experience. My husband's uncle came over so I could put some movies on his Ipod. He is in a halfway house for charges just like the ones I had, but he didn't learn the first time and so he got hard time. He is also one of our ex using associates. At one point he was the fine line between friend or foe... he was our dealer and in so many ways enabled us. He "fronted" us drugs, helped us pay off utilities when we had shut off notices, came just in the nick of time to provide Christmas for the kids when we had spent all of our money on drugs, brought groceries when he knew we needed them... What a disgusting cycle it was.

How distressing, that in the face of our addictions we could watch someone destroy themselves and us, and because of the nature of the "drug life," we could allow ourselves that codependent relationship.

So today is when Uncle P was here and he is active in his recovery as well. I have a hard time knowing if it is because he HAS to, to not go back to prison or because he wants to. It really isn't my problem because we do have strict boundaries now. He already asked if he could parole to our house. Uhm nope. Sorry. (I am so proud of myself that I can say that, mean it, and have NO guilt!)

Well today he kind of randomly asked me if I ever miss getting high. Of course I Do. There are many many good memories and long conversations that staying up for 3 days at a time with friends and family produced. Being that some of those memories were with him, made it a little harder to swallow. I wasn't sure if he was asking because he wants affirmation that its ok to miss it or to see if I am on the same page in case he is lining up potential "connections" for when he gets off paper... I ultimately decided it didn't really matter. We have to keep ourselves at a safe distance- period. After taking him to the halfway house, I started thinking a lot about enabling. I have asked myself so many times how people LET us get that bad? Why no one helped?

I was in a dark place as I was thinking about it. I was living in a nostalgic moment of the glory days of getting high and actually missing it (this all in the drive home from the halfway house). Then a light bulb went on. No one DID anything because there was nothing to do. Not helping anymore IS what helped us. We did have to want it badly enough for ourselves. I had always looked up to Uncle P. For a while it seemed he was on top of the world with (drug) money and yet he still came to help us. I have kept a soft spot for him because I felt he was always there. I wanted to return the favor and be there for him.  I do know that he meant well (for the kids sake) by what he did, but he still was acting with an addict's mind.

I don't think we are the right people to be doing him little favors right now. I am not sure of his progress in his recovery. I do not need a relationship with him enough right now to risk it. I realize that not being there for him right now is the best thing I can do for him and for myself.

The lights just kept coming on. Its like I walked into a dark house and started running though it switching on lights. I feel really good about all of these things. The yucky feeling of the oxy is completely wearing off. I have no desire to fix anything with anything other than food for my soul. It was very insightful for me to get this look back inside my life as an addict. Sometimes I am so far removed from it, I forget how far I have come.

It was also a big realization for me to really understand how even a little bit of enabling can make an addict comfortable enough to continue using. I have been following along with many of you parents of addicts and was struggling to see it from a parents perspective and come to my own conclusions about enabling a child (even an adult child). The line between loving your child and helping them create recovery is so fine.

Just as little comforts in jail (a letter, a snack, a visit) make something rather unbearable tolerable, little comforts in life can make addiction tolerable. I can see (cause the lights are now ON and I am not in a dark place) how an addict needs total isolation and despair to find their inner fight.

Thank you to all of you parents and addicts who share your perspective and hope to help others. Today I am humbled by new reflections and my journey in recovery continues...

A sensible man will remember that the eyes may be confused in two ways - by a change from light to darkness or from darkness to light; and he will recognize that the same thing happens to the soul.  ~Plato

In a profound sense every man has two halves to his being; he is not one person so much as two persons trying to act in unison.  I believe that in the heart of each human being there is something which I can only describe as a "child of darkness" who is equal and complementary to the more obvious "child of light."  ~Laurens van der Post

Light, when suddenly let in, dazzles and hurts and almost blinds us: but this soon passes away, and it seems to become the only element we can exist in.  ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare

If My Daddy Knew

If My Daddy Knew…

If he knew it would be the last time
That he’d see me fall asleep,
Would he tuck me in more tightly,
And pray the Lord my soul to keep?

If he knew it would be the last time
That he’d see me walk out the door,
Would he give me a hug and kiss,
And call me back for  more?

And if my Daddy knew he had to leave
and could never again see me smile
I know he’d ask for one more minute
to stay and play with me awhile…

My Daddy had to go away from me
because his time was up you see
but I have time to be with everyone
who means so much to me

Just in case I might be wrong,
And today is all I get,
I'd like to say how much I love you,
And I hope you don’t forget….

Tomorrow is not promised to you
young or old alike
and today may be the last chance
I get to hold you tight.

So if you're waiting for tomorrow,
make some time, and find a way.
For if tomorrow never comes,
You'll regret today.

Regret you didn't take that time
For a smile and a hug or a kiss,
And you didn’t give someone
What was their one last wish.

So hold your loved ones close to you
and whisper in their ear,
That you love them very much and
that you hold them very dear.

If I could have my Daddy back
I’d love him every day
and I’d never have to wonder
if he knows I feel that way

Saturday, November 7, 2009

COMMITTED- stop me from hurting me


This is the day that I was finally convinced I could not take a moment more of my life. It was Thanksgiving Day. My grandpa, and the woman who I’ve come to know as my grandma since the death of my real grandma, had decided that there was no need for a traditional celebration, or any celebration for that matter. Besides, our oven didn’t even work so how could we cook a turkey? I had gotten used to not expecting big Thanksgiving dinners when I was a child, but now that I had kids of my own it seemed like a memory I wanted them to have. Feeling I was doing an injustice to my children, I decided they would be more appropriately served their dose of a traditional family Thanksgiving with their father and his girlfriend’s family.

I got them dressed in the nicest clothes I had for them. Destin wore a pair of navy blue corduroys with cargo pockets. His shirt was a navy blue sweater with a v-neck and a white stripe across the front. I used the expensive pomade that I bought for him and made his hair look rather stylish for a three-year-old. His hair was just in a short boy cut with a little fade. His medium brown hair was darker than mine, but lighter than his Dad’s. His big brown eyes always were so curious and innocent. Sometimes I could cry just looking at him and knowing how much I loved everything that was him. I loved how he looked so much like both me and Thomas yet so much like his own person. I loved the way he giggled and the way he cried. How could I love him so much and then still not be able to be the mom he so much deserved?

Aliviya wore a cute little plaid skirt that was different shades of pink and black. It was lined with silver. The shirt that matched was black velvet. It appeared to be a separate shirt with a sweater over but it was just an illusion. It was really one shirt. It had pretty pink flowers lining the neck of the cardigan part. I put her in black go-go boots that really made her look like she was dressed like a big girl. I’m sure someone would criticize me for trying to make my one-year-old look like a teenager (hooker- I could hear her Dad saying), but I liked her outfit. She was too cute to not have fun with the way I could dress her. I couldn’t dress that way now that I had ballooned to 316 lbs. So, I put her in go-go boots and loved every minute of it. She looked cute too, not too grown up, but sassy. Her eyes were mysterious like mine. They were almost as dark brown as mine are, not light hazel like her Dad’s. She got the long beautiful eyelashes just like her brother. Those she did get from Thomas. Definitely not mine. It takes me three layers of mascara before you even notice that I HAVE eyelashes.

Aliviya already had such long pretty hair too. It was past her shoulders at 1 year old already.I did Aliviya’s hair with care and precision, making sure the parting for her pigtails was perfect and that all of her hair was combed smoothly into the ponytail holders. I even selected ones that I thought matched her outfit perfectly. After all, I wouldn’t want to disappoint Thomas and make him show off his kids with less than suitable appearances.

I waited anxiously for their Dad to come and get them; only a half-hour more ‘til he got there. I was dying to go take a nap. It had become my usual escape from anything. Thanksgiving Day was no different. I wanted to go to sleep, where I could justify anything, forget about all that was real, and pretend like everything was ok. At last he arrived and I gathered the kids and helped them get their coats on. I hoped today he would have the decency to leave me alone and not make some sexual comment or try to sneak off and kiss me while Nancy wasn’t looking. I had made a request of my grandparents to try and hover around Thomas when he came for the kids so that he would not approach me. I listened to the excited screams of “Daddy… Daddy’s here!” and I gave him the keys to my car so he could go get my car seat out of my car and use it in his. Well actually it was her car. How cute… she had a Dodge Neon just like me. Of course hers was newer and forest green. Mine was just plain and white and I was just thankful that it had air conditioning and that it didn’t reek of cigarette smoke. I always wondered why he just couldn’t get his own car seat for Liv, but not enough to risk the argument that would undoubtedly ensue if I asked him. So I always let him use mine.

I said my good-bye’s, hugged and kissed the kids, and wished them a happy Thanksgiving. I made Destin promise he’d eat lots of Turkey and be good. I confirmed I’d be at Nancy’s house by 6: oo to pick them up. As I watched them drive off I was thankful it was finally time to go lay down.

I was just getting comfortable when my grandpa came down and asked me when I could be ready to go eat. Sigh. I didn’t think I wanted to go, but how do you tell someone you’d rather sleep on Thanksgiving then go eat? I got dressed and fixed my hair and did my make-up to the bare minimum I would allow. I had to do something with myself just in case I seen someone I knew. Yeah. Right. I could just imagine all the people I know who would be going to a Country Buffet on Thanksgiving. I went upstairs to announce I was ready, only to be greeted by yet another complaint. Complaining seems to be the hobby my grandparents have taken up lately. My grandma wanted to know how we could go eat without the kids. Hmmm. How could we? I had to defend my theory that the kids would enjoy dinner surrounded by people they knew and kids their age more than the nursing-home like atmosphere of a Country Buffet. Thomas was just as much their family as me so they would not be traumatized by eating with him instead of with us. I’m not sure I convinced her, but she did agree that we could leave. Only a dinner’s worth of time until I could come home and go to sleep.

The atmosphere at Country Buffet surprised me, but only a little. There were some families that had people of all ages. I guess I am a little old-fashioned and I forget that the times have changed. Traditional turkey dinners at home are not necessarily what people do any more. So I was giving my kids the luxury of something that these people were taking for granted. That makes me a good mom right?

The food was the same as always and so was the conversation with my grandparents. We discussed nothing important and if I had not been thinking so much about it, I’d never of known it was Thanksgiving. As I ate my fried fish and green beans, I looked around and started to wonder what exactly brought all these people to this place. Did they not know how to cook? Did Mom or Dad have to work and this was just easier? Maybe their oven was broken too. Of course the vast majority were senior citizens and I just figured that maybe they truly liked the food there. Or maybe they go t here so often that they know people there. None of those seemed like good enough reasons. It really began to bother me. My stomach was getting upset thinking about not only these people, but also myself. Why in the world would I come here on Thanksgiving to eat?

When I was a child, just eight years old, my grandpa and I ate at a place equivalent to the restaurant we were eating in now. It was called Furr’s. It was the Thanksgiving after my mom and my grandma died. We were eating there because we had no family. My grandpa didn’t know how to cook a turkey or anything even close. I don’t remember that it bothered me too much. Not nearly as much as eating at Country Buffet was bothering me now. I couldn’t stop trying to figure out why everyone else was eating there. I looked over to the table next to us, in search of someone else to observe. Someone to try and read, to convince myself they had a good reason to be there. It was an elderly man. He put his coat on his chair and he smiled at me. I smiled and then I looked around expecting his wife to come shortly after and do the same. He left to go get his food and I figured she must have decided to keep her coat on while she got her food. I returned to the dull conversation me and my grandparents were having about why I wasn’t eating turkey. When my attention returned to the man, I realized he was still alone. I started to think, and I finally decided he was going to be enjoying this Thanksgiving meal unaccompanied. I was watching him. I was desperate to know why he was there alone. I wanted to know so bad that I had a nearly uncontrollable urge to go sit with him and speak to him in hopes of getting my answer. As I was watching him I noticed how happy he seemed. He smiled at everyone who walked by. His composure during his meal was as if he was fulfilled. He dabbed at his face with his napkin showing perfect manners as if he had to impress someone. I couldn’t help but to be amazed. He was actually happy with just himself. It made me feel pretty stupid. What did I have to complain about? At least I was alive and eating, and even more so, I was blessed to have this man come into this very restaurant to show me that life is what you make of it. I rather enjoyed the rest of my meal, just being thankful to have my grandparents and to be eating food somewhere warm. I hoped my kids were enjoying themselves with their Dad.

As great as the last moments of my dinner seemed, it wasn’t too long before the bitterness of winter and the annoying fact that I had gone to that restaurant, instead of sleeping, began to disturb me. Walking to the car and getting in seemed like the slowest possible event I had ever experienced. Could my grandma possibly move any slower?

I was so far gone into my thoughts and my disgust with everything that was my life at that very moment, that I don’t really remember the drive home. As we pulled into the driveway I checked the time to see how many hours of blissful sleep I could have until I had to go pick up the kids. It was 2:30 so I was content. I lay in my bed and I couldn’t quite get to sleep. I was so frustrated. The one thing that brought me comfort and it wasn’t coming. So many things ran through my mind. What was my most recent ex-boyfriend doing on this particular Thanksgiving Day? Was he just enjoying it with his family like most other people? Was he even thinking of me? Was he feeling any guilt for how he fucked my grandparents and me over and how he stole from my son’s piggy bank? So I started to cry then. I hated him. And I hated that as much as I hated him; I’d rather be spending this day with him than alone. What about my kids? Did they have any concern for what Mommy might be doing? Probably not. At least they have a mommy. So could my Mom see me? Is there a kind of consciousness after death? After all these years could she possibly be aware of my feelings at this moment? Is this how she felt when she was on the verge of suicide? Do normal people think about this stuff? Do other people hurt this much? Am I driving myself insane by thinking of all of this? If I pray or wish hard enough, will God or my Mom or ANYONE please make all this go away and let me sleep? My thoughts raced on and I cried so hard that I couldn’t breathe. I obsessed over the fact that I was being tortured by my thoughts in secret. My grandparents were upstairs with no clue. Even worse if I ever tried to tell them, they still would not understand. There was no answer. Nothing would ever make me feel like this was all okay. There was no magic cure to make my life better and to stop these demons that plagued my mind with sadness. At that very moment I hated my Mom. How could she kill herself? How could she leave me behind to know what it feels like to be left behind? And now as I walk in what I believe are her shoes, I know what I would put my kids through if I ended my sadness. Why would she do that to me? I can’t even kill myself naively like most people do. I can’t just pretend that I think no one would care or be hurt because I know my children would. That is so unfair. Thanks Mom!

Finally as I exhausted every last negative thought my head could create at one time… sleep. The darkness of sleep washed over my mind and wiped all of my thoughts away with it. Sleep is like a drug, a painkiller, slipped into your IV, and as it runs through your veins, it takes all the pain away.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that a good part of my sleep was taken away first by the dinner at the nursing home like restaurant, then I had my grandpa knocking on my bedroom door at 5:00. He felt the need to remind me I need to pick up my kids, as he usually does, cause you know, I just might forget. I processed the information as quickly as possible, making sure not to open my eyes so that I could immediately go back into my painless sleep. I didn’t even take the 2 minutes or so that I usually take, to be annoyed at him for waking me. Every fifteen minutes he was back at my door. He was making it nearly impossible for me to get back to sleep. I needed it. I wasn’t ready to feel my life again. Finally he yelled at me, accusing me of being a terrible mother. I was late after all. It was cold outside and I hadn’t left to go get the kids. Terrible. If I didn’t hurry and get up he was going to have to go get them. The fact that he can’t see to drive at night, or that he had no idea where Nancy’s house was, didn’t seem to keep him from repeating that threat over and over. I guess it’s like when you’re desperately trying to get your kid to get in the car ‘cause your in a hurry, so you say your going to leave them there-just to try and scare them into getting in the car. Okay grandpa like that’s going to work?

I still couldn’t make myself get up. As tired as I was of hearing the noise of his ring sliding down the metal banister on the stairs, warning me of another round of complaining and ridiculous threats, I just could not get up. I watched the time go by on my clock. I knew it was near twenty minutes fast. I had kept it that way because it was my only chance for making it to any given destination on time. My initial reasoning with myself was that I could just go by the time on my clock, as if I really didn’t know it was fast. Then I could be allowed to be a little late, so I could wait maybe an additional 20 minutes or so. I lay there. It was getting later and later and I was running out of justification for lying there. I don’t know what finally gave me the incentive I needed. Maybe it was the fact that not only did I have my grandpa acting like this was our latest family crisis, but now my grandma was calling me on my phone from her line upstairs. Did I change my mind? Were the kids going to stay the night over there? Why hadn’t I left yet? …all bothersome questions. Who cares? Why did she? For crying out loud Thomas wasn’t just gonna say, “Well would ya look at the time? Shawna’s not here. Guess it’s time to go take the kids to Social Services or maybe go drop them off on a corner somewhere ‘cause we can’t watch them anymore.”

I got up and put my shoes on. I went into the bathroom to pee. I looked in the mirror to smooth out the mess of my hair. I could see the lines on my face that my tears had left. Not that it made much difference in how badly I looked. I hadn’t taken much care in my make-up before we went to that awful restaurant. My already lacking appearance was smudged not only from my sleeping but now from my tears. I don’t think it was how I looked that bothered me. It was the fact that, by having tear marks on my face, I felt like I was wearing my worst emotion… my deepest sadness. Right at that moment, looking in the mirror, I couldn’t pretend that I hadn’t been overcome by it a short while ago.

By the will of some unknown force I got into my car. I even managed to put on some perfume. Someone out there cares how I smell right? I pushed the backward skip button on my CD player so I could once again listen to the song that so reminded me of Junior. How could he be so nice and still steal from an innocent little kid? How could I be so stupid to somehow still like him? The feelings the song gave me made me cry almost the second that I heard the first few notes. Sickness. That’s what I felt my love for him was. Pure sickness. Obsession. Dependency. Everything that is terribly wrong but felt incredibly right. God how I hate him. So the song continued and I dwelled on every moment of any feeling that had anything to do with him. I could either decide that I could forgive him and return to our imaginary bliss, or I could realize what an idiot I was and somehow move on. The song was over and I was getting close to Nancy’s place. As much as I wanted to keep debating the issue of how much I hated Junior, I needed to pull myself together. I remembered my experience from earlier and so I knew looking in the mirror would be a mistake. I wiped my tears away. I searched the radio for some upbeat song that would surely convince me that I was ok. I found “Jack and Dianne” and decided since it wasn’t anything like the story of “Shawna and Junior” that it was ok. I let the song take me away, envisioning the innocence of puppy love. I sang as loud as I could, trying not to think about how bad my singing was. Since no one could hear me, I pretended like it was good. Okay I was convinced. I was all better. Time to get the kids. I planned out the evening for when we returned home. I tried to imagine that my grandparents would just leave me alone and let me do my thing; that the kids could tell me all about their day and then we would have a nice bath-time and I would get them all ready for bed. It would make up for the terrible day I had.

I was finally feeling like I had regained my composure. There was a lot of traffic and as I glanced at all the cars going by, I couldn’t help but wonder where they were going or coming from. How many people had a terrible Thanksgiving Day like me? How many people in this entire world died on this day and would leave a permanent impression of sadness on the people who cared for them on every Thanksgiving Day to come? How many more freaking cars could just happen to be coming down the street when I needed to turn? Finally enough time to speed across the street and onto the street where my children were probably so happily playing with their Dad’s girlfriend’s family. Yay. As I neared the house I could see the driveway was full of cars. They have two driveways. One seems to be an extra all the way on the other side of the house. Maybe an RV pad. The other is a double driveway in front of the garage. The concrete is a little old and worn. I assume it is the driveway that was completed when the house was built.

I used to like this part of town where Nancy lives. My grandparents used to live about a half-mile away with my mom when she was just a child. I’ve heard endless stories that never fail to intrigue me. The turtle my mom found that would leave every fall and come back every spring. Their old sheep dog, Mugsy, who used to go behind the grocery store and bring home loaves of bread from the dumpsters behind the store. My grandpa used to talk of the wild spinach fields that were right behind where Nancy’s house is. My real Grandma used to tell him it was time to go pick spinach and they would go and gather as much as they could. Even when I was child, many years after their spinach picking days, my Grandma still made spinach with many of our meals. I love spinach. How nice of Thomas to move over here with her and ruin that impression for me.

I pulled into the only space available and was kind of taken aback by all the people outside and the great Christmas decorations. This was as much a picture of a good family holiday as ever I could imagine that I was going to find. It was dark by this time, and the kids were outside playing in the yard; Destin and Aliviya, and kids that I didn’t even know, kids that my own kids probably knew as cousins. I could feel my heart racing and it became very hard to breathe. It was as if the vision of the kids in the yard was spinning around my head. Taunting me. Telling me I had no family and could never give this to them. My grandparents would flip if they knew the kids were out at night. I managed to open my door without even noticing I had done it. It was if someone else lifted my legs and turned me to make me get out of the car. All that I could see through the blur of my tears, tears that I had neglected to notice until that moment, was a vision of my kids happier then I believed I could ever make them. I could not get any air into my lungs. I was standing up even though I don’t remember doing that either. I turned towards the house, and the usual fake smirk on Nancy’s face changed into equally as fake concern. Please don’t ask me what’s wrong.

“Are you okay?” instead she asked. No, no I’m not okay.

“Yes, I just need to go,” is what I managed to say. She asked me if I would like to take home some pie. Yeah Nancy okay sure, I’ll just sit here and cry in front of every last family member of yours while you go get me some fucking pie. Why in the hell couldn’t I breathe?

“No, no pie but thanks.”

“Are you sure? I could just…”

“YES… yes I’m sure.” Time must have been going in slow motion. Destin ran over to me. He yelled and jumped up and down and hugged me. Aliviya was running in circles while Maureen chased her. Even though she is Nancy’s sister, they look nothing alike. To who’s benefit I’m not sure. Maureen was only twelve or thirteen, but the boobie god had been a little TOO kind to her. She had blonde hair and wore make-up that was always running down her face… like a glamour girl turned crack head or something. Nancy (as much as I HATE to say it) actually kind of resembles me. She just has poor taste… in make-up, fashion, manners, tact, honesty, and men. We had the last poor taste in common, but the rest… well I could hold my own.

Destin immediately asked me what was wrong. In the sweetest voice I could manage through my crying and lack of oxygen I said, “Hi baby. Are ya ready? Let’s get in mommy’s car and go see grandma and grandpa. Did you eat good? Where’s Livy? Tell Daddy and Nancy bye and give everyone hugs.” I hoped that was enough to distract him from asking me what was wrong again. At least the talking had reduced my uncontrollable sobs and had forced me to breathe a little. Aliviya waddled over and yelled “Mama!” I scooped her up and repeated nearly the same speech I had given Destin. I was so glad it was dark, but people were still looking at me. I didn’t care who had hugged who, it was time to go. Nancy was saying something I refused to hear; probably about pie again. I slipped out a “bye” and I grabbed Destin’s hand. I turned and walked towards the car with my baby girl in my arms, pulling Destin behind me. I was sobbing again and realized I must be able to function with very little air. Interesting. I knew the kids were conversing, but I wasn’t hearing… not until Aliviya wiped at the tears running down my face and I heard her say “Mama, cyyying.” Was it possible to wish death upon yourself? If I closed my eyes and tried my best could I make my heart just stop at this moment? I could still hear people standing behind me, probably discussing how unfortunate for my children to have a mother like me and how lucky they were to have Nancy and Thomas.

I don’t even remember driving home… AT ALL. I guess I was in some sort of adrenaline shock state where depression consumes your body and some internal reaction prevents you from ending your life at any given moment. I did somehow manage to make it home. I remember pulling up and seeing my “grandma’s” daughter’s blue Jeep Cherokee parked outside. I CANNOT deal with company. My thoughts flew through my head. Flashes of memories hit me with no warning and I could see all of the memories of all of my Thanksgivings circling around me. Every year Jodie’s kids would manage to get to the house for at least one major holiday. This would be the only time all year that they would see each other and they would pretend like they were some sort of family. Even worse, after my real grandma died and Jodie became a part of our “family” they tried to make me feel like I was a part of this ridiculous show put on once a year just so they could all go home and sleep at night pretending that they were okay. OH NO… This is not going to be my theater for the night. I had always been okay with just me and my grandpa and all of his ways when we were alone. At Christmas, he would say, “Shawna here is $200.00 go and make your Christmas whatever you want and we will go out to eat together.” I would go to the mall or K-mart and buy whatever I wanted and then we would go to Furr’s and then everything was okay. It may not have been anything like a traditional holiday like we used to have when my grandma was here, …but it was better than this mockery of a family that Jodie had. One I had been watching for the last 11 years.

I was trying my best to figure out how I could slip away downstairs to my part of the house and entertain the kids long enough for them to get tired and for everyone else to go away. I actually believed I might be able to do it. As soon as I walked in the door, Jodie called for the kids. Of course she had to make sure Thomas hadn’t destroyed them and then it was on to pretending like she should earn the great-grandma of the year award while showing off my kids. I heard everyone upstairs talking, but my head was clouding it all away again. My head was full of those same taunting memories and I knew then that there was no escaping my depression this time. My mind was working its way through my whole identity, struggling with every part of who I was and for some reason THIS particular day defined something that I could not deal with. I went downstairs and made sure my kids’ beds were ready for them and then the blurriness was taking over again. I called to Jodie and I tried to sound as okay as possible. When she descended the stairs to my room, my mind was thankful to not hear the sound of my grandpa’s ring. It always came with either love or judgment and I didn’t want either right now. I told my grandma that I needed to go to the hospital. I said that I was not okay and that I needed some help. I told her to take care of the kids and to not tell anyone why I was going. As unemotional as she is, I knew it would be easy for her to keep all of my suffering silent.

Remembering where I came from and sharing it

I am kind of in a complacent place in life. I am taking in more than I am producing. I feel like reading more than I feel like writing. I have periods of time in my life filled with all kinds of different writing.... journaling, poetry, stories, my book.

I am going to share some different pieces through the next couple of posts. They represent me at very different emotional times, but almost all of them are from when I was in a time of despair, either from reflecting on the event I write about, or swallowed up in depression, mania, or addictions. They are all significant in my life journey and have helped create the person I am today.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Putting a price on me


I just had my 31st birthday... or as I lovingly referred to it "the 10th anniversary of my 21st birthday." How did I get here? What does my age mean? What is expected of me now?

I don't think I have any "normal" perception of aging or achievement. Two key people in my life died when I was very young- and as I now realize, so were they young- 26 and 55.

In second grade, pretty much everyone is "old" or "big" - even the 3rd graders were kind of scary. I never really had an accurate portrayal of "normal" and so began to define it myself. First and foremost, based on my experience, was ALIVE. Yes how sad, but in fact I knew too much death and it seemed so prominent, but I looked at what other people were doing and where their moms and dads and grandparents were, and yes, alive seemed to be the common denominator. (note to 2nd grade self- do not do anything that might make you want to kill yourself or may cause death)

Next in succession were: educated and/ or employed, with transportation, and a HOME. Hmmm, everybody was doing it. Work towards those. As I did, I found I possessed "everything" everyone else that seemed normal did, but I was unhappy. I even had "faith" as we were practicing catholics. Why still so empty?

So as I carry on, working life as I have defined it, I come to realize that all of those things do not define ME. I am emotionally empty with no self esteem.

Well read any woman's magazine (I am a woman now right? at all of 21 with two kids, a divorce and a failing marriage, obese and struggling.... ) and it will tell you you need to cook, clean, have beautiful children, all while looking great and being a sex machine, oh and good credit and the latest greatest cars and media technology will help finish the package.

hmm I guess I have NOTHING to bring to the table and I am worthless according to "Woman's World" oh and "Oprah" too. Now what? Buy house, lose weight, lease current year car (MINI VAN WITH BUILT IN DVD HEADRESTS EVEN!), master blow jobs, buy designer baby clothes, cook great food, and pay all bills early. Oh and work full time and keep house immaculate. PERFECT! right? no... still didn't feel any better than before.

House forecloses, car gets repossessed, kids get thrift store clothes, husband dies, move back home, gain 150 more lbs. Well WTF? I am still me... and no more or no less happy or unhappy.

What changed? Everything, but nothing. My situation changed, my surroundings changed, but I was still me inside.

What happened that helped me find happiness? I learned to tell the truth, to expect the truth, and to accept nothing else. In every aspect of my life. I faced the truth about who I am, what I have, and don't. What matters to ME> Not YOU, not my neighbor, not the government, not the PTA, or GASP the covenant homeowners association. (eek am I as bad as the neighbor with the PURPLE house?!?!?!!?)

I have morals and standards that I have worked hard to define. I have been stripped of everything material, lost the right to take care of my kids for 6 loooong months, been homeless, carless, jobless and I found a way to work past it and make myself happy on the inside without drugs. What could be better?

I know that telling my husband the truth is more important than the brand name on my purse. When exactly EVER is the name on my purse important to me? Is it capable of it's job or is it a paid for expression of falseness? Who decides? The annoying lady at the mall with the name brand purse? Looking down her nose at my purse? Feeling superior because hers says "PRADA"? Well guess what? Mine still holds my keys, wallet, receipts, medicine, cell phone, makeup, has been thrown up on, had a sippy cup spilled in it, washed 5 times, and only cost me $10 at Ross and it still looks good! Functionality makes me happy. Not brand names.

Looking like something- means something to her. BEING something means something to me.