Saturday, January 30, 2010


Wow I cannot help but to be smitten with all of these wonderful awards!!!! It really is a great feeling to get recognition and feel appreciated within a community of such exceptionally talented writers. It is equally as delightful to pass on the awards and give opportunity for new faces to show up on new blogs, creating new connections. It feels so nice to  be able to show appreciation to the people who grace my computer screen with their honesty and heartache, humor and insight, and who enlighten my life through their experiences, creativity, art, photographs, and written words. 

Thank you Miss OverThinker from Life Uncensored for this Happy Award! I am so happy that you are back!
The way it works is this: list 10 things that make you happy and then pass this award to 10 bloggers that make you happy.

1. Really good coffee with Italian Sweet Cream creamer. MMMMMM

2. All the adorable affection I get from my 2 year old, Victorya and seeing her older brother and sister smile :)

3. Still getting butterflies around Bryson and feeling the security of our love

4. Cuddling with my Himalayan kitty, Nala-ago, or playing with our big white fluffy dog, Belle

5. Walking barefoot in mud, or water, or muddy water, especially when it is in the warm rain

6. The right song playing at the right time, creating the soundtrack for life

7. Forever friends. The kind that you can lose touch for years and when you meet again, you pick up like there was no time lost and your friendship is always growing, trusting, and beautiful, no matter the time in between encounters or the miles in between you.

8. Homecooked meals shared with friends

9. Blogging and all of the things it has become for me and the friends I have found because of it

10.Any picture that has my Grandpa in it

and now for 10 bloggers that make me happy!

Clean and Crazy @ My Recovery

You all touch my life in some way and you bring me joy and happiness in my everyday life. I appreciate you all! There are quite a few happy awards going around, so if you are receiving doubles, don't do awards, or just don't have time, please do not feel obligated in any way to repost and pass along these awards. 

Roxy at Woman of Essence passed along the Happy 101 to me. Thanks Roxy! The rules of receiving this award is to link it back to the presenter and pass it on to at least three other bloggers and list 10 things that make you happy. Of course I already did 10, but I am full of gratitude and have so many things that make me happy, so here are 10 more.

1. The smell of cut grass
2. Playing Mafia Wars on Facebook
3. Taking pictures
4. Taking classes
5. Babies
6.Seeing charity in action 
7. Fixing something
8. Tiramisu
9. Moscato 
10. Seeing new places

and now some more bloggers that make me happy! 

Single Mama @ Single Mama NYC

Again- THANK THANK THANK YOU for the awards, thank YOU all for being you, and for writing and sharing your words and your lives!!!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

and next on my list..... AWARDS

So I said I would be working on my list and accomplishing one thing per day. Can you stand it? My list is already dwindling away and I am going to have to create a new one of things I want to do instead of things I need  to do!

So without further adieu.... the next thing on my list.... accepting SOME VERY SPECIAL AWARDS!

A month ago I was given the From me to You award by Gavin at Insanity's Musings. Thank You so much Gavin! An award from a writer with your phenomenal capabilities is flattering to say the least. To you my readers: If you have not already found your way over to Gavin's wonderful corner of the world wide web, where he tells illicit tales blurred with fact and fiction, capable of taking any mind into deep introspect and self examination, allowing you to become his characters and see through the sordid eyes of each one, crammed with intense feelings that he can express like no other, well then WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

The conditions of this award are to pay it forward to five people. Since I was such a procrastinator, and I have another award to pass along, AND many of you have already received both, I am going to leave this one up for grabs if anyone wants it and apologize for not accepting it earlier. Thanks again, Gavin!

Next is the Superior Scribbler award.  This comes to me from a woman that I consider such a special friend, Jennifer at One True Self. Thank You so much Jennifer.  I feel like it was her that held my hand  as we entered this blogging world and gave me the encouragement to be free and share my own truth. She writes from deep within her soul. She is an inspiration to anyone that is moving forward in life and learning from the past. She is strong, determined, and beautiful, and I never leave her blog without learning a little bit more about myself. If you haven't already done so, please stop by her blog and have a peek around. She has a TRUE gift with words and she is sharing it with the world!

So the rules of the award are that you're supposed to:
  • Thank whoever nominated you for it...
  • Post, paste, or patch the award's image onto your own blog...
  • Tell your readers seven things they don't yet know about you...
  • Pass it along to seven five more bloggers...
  • And notify them personally when you have done so.

So 7 things about me that you are yet to know? This was hard last time! hmmmm

1. I am really really afraid of using ouija boards! I got one when I was about 12 and had some really weird experiences with it. I believe that we got a demon to posses my friends hamster while using the board. We called for a random spirit and a woman responded. She detailed her name, age, and how she died (helicopter crash in Iraq) and we seen a news story the next day with all of the same details. There are too many stories to tell here, but I was so afraid that I hid it in the garage. I had nightmares of it glowing from in there and shaking and trying to get out of the box, so I had to confess to my grandparents that I had it and ask them to return it to the store.

2. I am 6' tall and have never played basketball. I get asked all of the time if I played in school. Nope. I am really good at getting things on top shelves for people though :)

3. I used to play the accordion in school. lol enough said

4. I absolutely HATE the cold. It affects my mood and I am very sensitive to cold weather. I equate being cold with suffering. I do not know how I have survived so many years through such bad winters and blizzards. Sometimes being cold makes me want to cry. I hate it so bad. I have IMMENSE gratitude for a heated house, a warm bed, and the absolute BEST Christmas gift I have ever received was an electric blanket!

5. I volunteered with a friend at a nursing home when I was 8 years old. We would go every weekday during the summer and we would call bingo for the residents, help them to and from meals, run the cash register in the gift store, and serve ice cream out of the ice cream shop. We would visit with them in their rooms and help keep people calm when they were waiting for nurses to get to them.. There was a 100 year old lady that used to fly planes and she had the most interesting stories!

Oddly enough, my paternal grandmother, who I had never met, worked as a nurse there. She recognized me from baby pictures that my Dad had, and she introduced herself by saying that she thought she was my Grandma. My maternal grandmother had just died the year before, and my initial reaction was that she was my Grandma reincarnated! Talk about a strange encounter! She reintroduced me to my BD (biological Dad) and although it never materialized into a relationship with any meaning, it did give me the opportunity to meet my half brother who was born a short time later.

6. I have a half sister from my BD that I never got to meet. She was 2 years older than me and she was a legitimate child of my BD's first marriage. She committed suicide and didn't want my father notified. She had her body donated to science, and so there was no service or burial. I didn't find out until several years after she had died, when me and my little brother were trying to find her.

7. I cannot eat anything that has any type of honey in it. It makes me very sick. It is an uncommon side effect of my Weight Loss Surgery. You would be surprised how many things you would not suspect have honey in them!

Now for the fun part! I get to pass this award along! I am pretty sure most of the people that originally come to mind, already have this award, I am going to try to diligently give this to new and deserving candidates!

1. Lori at My Life Interrupted- This is one strong Mama! She is raising her step daughter's children and she is the center of strength in a beautiful family! Please stop by her blog! She has a heart of gold and shares the most touching experiences. This is as real as it gets!

2. Barbara at Recovery Happens- She is a very special woman and friend. A kindred spirit. I feel like I have known her forever! Recovery Happens is a very powerful blog filled with her personal thoughts on the recovery process that her sons are facing, battling heroin addiction. Despite all of her own struggles, she is one of the most compassionate people I think I have ever experienced.

3. Shattered at Shattered into One Piece- I think she does a much better job of summing up herself than I could ever attempt. From her profile,  "You could call me shattered. I'm a wife, mother, step-mother, misplaced daughter, confused religious person, and an abuse survivor. My life has been painful and hell, my life is still painful; probably more so now than ever before. I see my therapist on at least a weekly basis so writing here is part of my process. I'm learning to feel and it is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life, next to surviving. I'm a funny person but it's a dark, wicked kind of funny. I find humor in odd things, in my misfortunes, in my struggles, and in how others relate to me. I have Dissociative Identity Disorder and I hope that this blog will bring a down to earth awareness to the lasting scars that abuse can cause."

This blog is so real and heartfelt, it really gets to me at my core. Her honesty brings light to issues many people look away from and she is facing them with bravery and conquering her past, emerging into the present stronger and more beautiful every day. Please stop by her blog and see the power in her words for yourself.

4. Lorenza at Pure Energy- Lorenza is like a breath of fresh air! Her experiences are heart warming and the way in which she shares her experiences in her life's journey, simply make you feel like you are sitting there with her, sipping a cozy warm beverage, basking in the radiant energy that is her way. She writes in English, not her native language, but her glorious Italian roots shine through! I just can't get enough.

5. LisaC at Loving an Addict- Lisa is a mother in the recovery process of parenting an addict child, valiantly  facing her own codependent behaviors, coming out victoriously. She shares her experiences with the openness and honesty of a mother truly divided by her son's addiction and her innate love as his mother. She is an integral part of my own blogging support system, full of insight and benevolence. She helps me in my own journey as a recovering addict and as a parent. Both her blog and her comments reflect her kind spirit and her personal growth. She is an inspiration to me. 

I know I am supposed to pass this on to 7 bloggers, but both my own time constraints (its homework time for 2 and dinner time for 5 hungry people!) and the fact that most of you have this award already, have left me to compromise on 5.

Thanks again Gavin and Jennifer!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

With Consideration and Determination...

and a lot of great input from all of you, I have come to some conclusions. I cannot solve every problem right now. I will never solve every problem. For each one that I solve, a new one will be created, maybe even 10 new ones.

I read about an experience that Brittany at Unexpected Surprises is in the middle of at this point in her life as a young mother.  It reminded me of some very important promises I made to myself almost 6 years ago. As I had those things in my mind, and I continued to read through blogs, I read a post by Roxy and it really brought definition to what I was already considering.

Until April 21, 2002, I lived in the world of "when." When I get out of school, when my kids are older, when I pay off my car, when I lose weight, I will quit drinking when, I will lose weight when, I will get over my ex when, I will be OKAY when... Not a single one of those thought processes prepared me for When my Husband suddenly dies at age 27, leaving me a widow with his two year old daughter and 4 year old son.

Up until that moment, when I got the call that Thomas was gone, and it changed our lives forever, I had been dreaming of living. I had been judging everybody else in my life by the standards that I had dreamed that I was living by.

Thomas and I were separated. I had made him leave after he had pushed me (See Simply Complicated Me- A Story) and because of his own insecurities, he rushed off to the arms of another girl. I couldn't have been more relieved that he was going to be someone else's problem. All of the things that had kept us together- namely his ability to work hard and provide financially for us, and his love for his children, and my ability to justify all of our relational problems, his jealousy, his verbal abuse, along with my desire to fix him... were fading on my part. With two lives to be responsible for, his financial cushion was no longer enough to catch the emotional burdens that it created.

Immediately after our separation, I tried to continue along on my high horse, attempting to single handedly raise the kids. It didn't take long before I realized that I needed his help and that the kids needed his love. In being apart, we learned how to be parents that cooperated for our kids best interest. We became friends. We had many disagreements on what the other one was doing, and a spark of his jealousy still remained, but he learned to snuff it out for the sake of his kids.

When he died, it literally knocked life's wind out of me. I did not think I would recover. If I didn't have my kids, I wouldn't have, but I wouldn't have had the relationship with him, or the loss been the same, without them. I felt like I was given an opportunity to know my best friend, and to share a love for two little people that would forever remain unequaled, and then it was taken from me... from us. With no conscious choice at all, I stopped believing in God and the afterlife that very day. When my Grandpa, and last close loved one, the man that raised me, died 8 months later, I didn't have much more room for the pain or grief. I lived it, breathed it, and walked in it, every single day. I literally went through the motions for at least a year. I do not remember much of that year other than the exact particulars of the days leading up to and following both traumatic losses.

I had so much resentment that my stepgrandmother had taken my grandpa's things and wouldn't let me and my kids have ANY of them that I actually had my little brother break in their (now her) house, so that I could get them. (yes its true) I was so obsessed with why she would tell me that he had changed his life insurance policy over to her, after he had told me on his deathbed, that the $10,000 policy was all he had to leave behind for me and my kids- that I should pay off my car and buy some things we needed, that I rummaged through her papers, looking for the documents. I found out she had forged the request to have it changed, and I had been dwelling all year on how to make it right. It was so much easier to focus on  things then it was to face the emotional loss.

When life kept happening around me and I realized, that my kids had in fact, lost both their parents, I started to make sense of it all. I was going to choose to live, damnit! I was going to take both of their lives, for every valuable second of them that the three of us were blessed enough to share with them, and I was going to learn every possible lesson I could from their existence and life. I would not let them be defined by the end of their days!

On the actual day that Thomas died, none of his things mattered at all. You could not have given me enough of anything to justify his death or make it ok. I lived in guilt at the things that I could enjoy. A cheeseburger, a song, a hug from our children. Why then, despite all of the pain that I lived in, for fear of enjoying anything he couldn't, did I want to cling to his THINGS?!?! They appeared to be the only thing left.

When I decided to pull myself from my grief cloud and to start looking for meaning and light in my own life, I realized that all of the things that really mattered, no one could take from me. My stepgrandma had almost everything my grandpa had owned. (besides the few things I had stolen) She had his car, the house he had raised me in, his clothes, his life insurance money. Guess what? I realized that SHE got the shit end of the deal! All of those things will eventually disappear. She cannot take them with her, and she is not enjoying them now. She is a rathcety old woman, greedy and lonely, living in that big empty house.

When it occurred to me, that I had really had what was most important all along, his TIME, I felt rich and full. When I realized that my kids got to spend the last year and a half knowing their Dad as a good man, not the dad that fought with mommy all of the time, and realized all of the hugs and smiles and love that they shared in that time, I realized that we were the most fortunate people in his life. While my stepgrandmother spent my grandpa's dying days working 10 hour days through her retirement, hoarding her money for his ultimate demise, we spent it with him. We were important enough to have Thomas' and my Grandpa's love and time, to experience their LIFE.

My stepgrandma has pictures of memories that we created while she was at work. She has money in the bank. I have memories of my grandpa holding my children, even when he was so weak he hardly could. I have memories of spending his money doing fun things, eating together, and being cared for. She was at home showering when he died, I was there, as his last gesture was a smile when he heard my children on the phone, and then he slipped away.

I made a choice 6 years ago. I was not going to give my kids things, I was going to give them my time. I walked away from my stepgrandma and chose never to set foot in that house again. She had taken away physical things of my grandfather's existence, but she could not ever take away my memories and I was not going to live out MY LIFE making bad memories fighting for the house or life insurance money. I have gone without, many many times since I lost those two wonderful men.  She has watched me and my children struggle for shelter, heat, and food, all while living comfortably in his house. We are the lucky ones.

So I remind myself today of that most valuable of lessons that I learned. Out of habit, we still do not have a lot of things, but I see how that way of life is creeping back in, and I am allowing myself to think I am not good enough because I do not have this or that. 

I sit here, listening to my own playlist because I have my page open from when I looked for the link earlier in the blog. During that year, when I was just going through the motions, I did not want my kids to exist in grief like I was, but I did not have the energy to reinforce what was good. I made each of them a CD to listen to at night. I put Angel's Among Us, Lullabye, The Voice Within, and Don't Stop Dancing, among some others, on their CD's to ease them to sleep while I was crying myself to sleep in silence. 

I have the gift of life today. I have the abilty to love, to forgive, and to live without hatred or mailice, and I choose to value those things above material possessions.

My grandpa's life insurance would surely be gone by now. My car was repossessed after he died, but I am no less of a woman or a mother for it. When I think of the memories that mean so much to me, I do not think of the mess, I think of the fun making it. I do not think of my car, I think of the ride. I do not think of a picture, because I remember taking the picture or being in the picture and how we laughed or cried afterwords. When I think of Thomas and my Grandpa, I do not think of their things, I think of their life.

When I look at all of the things that I was venting about, with my again realized perspective, it is much easier to sort through what things matter to life and what things are just things. I am going to put my focus on living today and enjoying making memories. I am going to make a list of the other things, and make a commitment to do one a day. Just one.

I have come so far since losing them. I have made bad choices since then, and learned many more life lessons. I have lost everything and fought to get it back. I have overcome addiction, losing my children, and homelessness.  My Grandpa and Thomas would be proud of how far I have come. I would not be where I am today without them, and I would not give back a second of the pain. I had to feel the pain to learn to let it go and embrace the message.

If I want my kids to value life, then I must value life. If I want to teach them to value things, then I must value things. Together we can have fun making messes, enjoying the ride, making memories, listening to the music, and living.

My grandpa and me '79

My Grandpa, Destin, and Aliviya 2002

Thomas, Destin, and Aliviya 2000

Thomas is a new Daddy

Me and Bryson- Less than a month clean and homeless 2005

Bryson and Aliviya at a supervised visit at Social Services 2006

Me and the kids at a supervised visit at Social Services 2006

Bryson, Aliviya, Me, Destin, my half brother Gary
All together again- no social services- clean over a year!

Destin, Aliviya, Victorya at Grandpa's grave 2009

Destin and Aliviya at Thomas' grave 2009

Me and Victorya, October 14, 2007

Bryson is a new Daddy- October 14, 2007

Me, Bryson, and Victorya 2008

Destin, Aliviya, Victorya 2008

Victorya 2009

Life waits for no one, Don't stop dancing!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


warning: random and erratic babbling and venting ahead

I just need to talk. In my life I am always the go to gal. Friends and family call me for advice, with questions, and when they need to talk. My own attitude of "If it can be done, then I can do it," carries over into every relationship I have, and people are aware that I am really good at solving problems. When it comes time to solving my own, there is not usually someone I can go to. I self talk in my head all the time, navigating my way through life's obstructions on my own, but sometimes it gets lonely, and sometimes I really just need to talk, to figure out my own stuff.

Right now I feel weighed down with indecision. Procrastination is running rampant in my everyday life and it's negative effects are taking a toll on my emotional health. I have felt depressed for the first time in quite a while. As always, I keep mental awareness of my bipolar disorder and I am feeling like this period of depressed is lingering longer than usual. It seems to have taken on a life of its own, one that is resistant to my usual tools. I can see the cycle of procrastination ~~~~> negative consequence ~~~~~> depression repeating itself over and over, each time gaining momentum. So why if I am so aware of it, do I feel so immobilized to change my actions?

One of the biggest things going on in my mind is that I am not working or in school. I can't get back in school because I have a defaulted student loan. If you have student loans, you know that once they are taken out, they get transferred to other companies sometimes. There is a state agency that is supposed to keep track of them all for you. While I was homeless I called to find out all of the agencies that were servicing my loans so that I could get a forbearance to delay repayment. I was told they were all with one company. So I called that company and got a years forbearance and thought it was ok. Well it seems that another loan was in the process of being transferred from one company to the new one and was not listed in the states database and so it went into default and since I had no address and I believed I had done what I needed to, I had no way of knowing.

Now it is with a collection agency that blatantly lied to me and told me that if I made 6 months of consecutive payments it would go out of default status, and I would again be eligible for financial aid to finish school. Turns out that they just wanted to collect and that my loan will not come out of default until it is paid. I have about 3 grand left to pay. They will take my tax return and it will likely pay it off, but the semester started today so i am on hold 'til next school year. sigh.

I would LOVE to go back to work. Problem is that in my situation I would either just break even or would actually lose money to work. I get survivors benefits for my children because their father died. If I work, they lower my benefits. Add the lost benefit money, the cost of daycare, the cost of transportation to and from work and I end up back at square one, with other people spending more time with my daughter than me. I just don't understand it. If I was getting child support, it would not get lowered because I made more money.

 We have no car payments, no credit cards, and we still cannot afford health insurance. Bryson has been at the same job for 3 years and just now is making $11 an hour, with no benefits. he gets one week of vacation a year that he has always just had to work through and take the extra pay because 1. we needed the money and 2. No one in that place can cover his shifts alone. It takes two people to cover a shift and do what he does by himself. The money that we get is just enough to provide the basics for our family. Something that I am totally okay with, except no health insurance. The kids are eligible for a state insurance program, but again the wonderful state agency responsible for administering the benefits messed up the application and did not update my address properly (another long and even more frustrating story than the student loans), but to make the story short, I had to appeal the decision which can now take up to 90 days to process and I am not allowed to reapply during the appeal time. I cannot just drop the appeal and reapply because I have hospital bills for the kids that would be covered if the appeal goes through.

I know these are just life things, obstacles that are a part of being an adult and that it is my responsibility to deal with. I would like to see a little more accountability on the other end, the end where it is their profession to efficiently handle these particular matters.

Bryson is 5 years younger than me and he is also a very passive person. We are opposites in a lot of ways, ways that compliment our relationship some times, and cause me a lot of stress at others. I handle everything that is not related to his work. Might I had that I am not the most structured person and so I do not have a schedule. I just do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. Normally that works out fine, but I am starting to feel worthless and like my contributions are trivial.

My kids are getting older and more self sufficient (12 and almost 10). After taking a Love and Logic course, I learned how to start teaching them and letting them experience life instead of doing it all for them. It is working well... so well, that they don't need me for very much anymore. They are also extremely helpful with my 2 year old, something that I am very grateful for, but it leaves me with even less that I am needed for. I of course provide emotional support and we have open honest very communicative relationships, but as they are doing their own laundry, cleaning their own rooms, and helping around the house consistently, there is less for me to do. I know all of these things are actually positive, but I need more substance and meaning in my existence and I am having a hard time finding an outlet to get there. I would like the balance to shift, to allow me some room to nurture my own interests. I need some sort of structured activity on a regular basis and I think that maybe a couple hours a day, a couple days a week in daycare would be good for my 2 year old. How am I going to make this work?

I am procrastinating on working on my book. I have a plethora of time on the internet and computer, but I cannot focus and set my mind to working on it. If I could right now, it would be to be involved in a structured writing responsibility. By that, I mean being in a class or writing as a paid occupation, so that I had expectations and deadlines. I also really want to take a photoshop class.

I know that if I would consistently put forth the effort to make these things possible, then they would materialize, but again I keep procrastinating. WHY?

I do not live out of expectation that my kids think I mean the world to them or that they couldn't exist without me. I actually hope more than anything they know that they CAN live without me because of what I have taught them. I don't need anyone else to see my accomplishments to be aware of my self worth. So what IS my motivation? It seems like a huge contradiction that I do not live my life for what other's expect of me, yet I am failing to have expectations of myself and apply them. I know that contentment and happiness are my goals... or are usually my state of being anyway. It seems that it takes an outside motivation to get me going. It takes an action to get a reaction and since everything is relatively peaceful and life is happening along, I do not feel the urgency to act on my wants.

What do I need to work on to get my internal motivation in sync? How can I harness some of my creativity and apply it to my daily life so that it is more fulfilling? What role does my family have in this process?

Another facet of my life that needs attention is my weight. For those of you that might not know, I had weight loss surgery about 5 years ago. I was 360+ pounds. At the tail end of my weight loss related to the surgery came my addiction to math and I got down to a very icky and unhealthy weight of 150. (I am 6' tall so it was too skinny for me) Well getting off the meth got me back up to around 200, which was really comfortable for me. Now I have been falling back into my old eating habits and have managed to add another 50 over the last year. I am feeling uncomfortable in my own skin again (and my clothes because they are all too tight ~HA!) and I keep putting of the changes I know I need to incorporate. I really need to see my surgeon to see if my pain that sent me to the ER has anything to do with my surgery and again I do not have insurance.

I think that maybe I really needed to put this all down to make myself accountable. Since I am the head of household and decision maker in the family, I am very good at keeping everyone else accountable but there is no one to do it to me. This is my affirmation that I NEED to be accountable for the changes that I know I need to make.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010



There are some people who will never know the complete value of simply existing. I do not know the author of this, but it gives some real perspective to me on the value of things that are often taken for granted.

To realize the value of a sister, ask someone who doesn't have one.

To realize the value of ten years, ask a newly divorced couple.

To realize the value of four years, ask a college graduate.

To realize the value of one year, ask a student who failed a final exam.

To realize the value of nine months, ask a mother who gave birth to a stillborn child.

To realize the value of one month, ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.

To realize the value of one week, ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of one minute, ask a person who has missed the train, bus or plane.

To realize the value of one-second, ask a person who has survived an accident.

We place value on our existence.  People live with a sense of purpose that defines their existence. Some people live to be the best mother, some people live to continue their education or to educate others, some people live to contribute to society, others contribute to their line of work, science, or live to make history.  Some people just exist.

Right now, I am just existing. To state that, is not to proclaim a call to action for me to actually live. Right now I am content that I am just existing.

As I think about that list above- the one that gives examples of how we may take for granted all of those things- I can't help but think of the value of existing. I can't help but to want to add one more thing to the list.

To realize the value of existing, ask a person who has survived drug addiction or suicide.

Some people struggle to just exist.  Many people lose that struggle. Every minute of every hour of every day, someone over doses or commits suicide, all while struggling to exist. The very last second before the final choice is made, there is a struggle for life. There is some deep seated belief, that in the grand scheme of things, that this one last hit or this final act, will make life better, either for the person committing the act or the people around them.  Often it is their final contribution in existence. 

I have faced that last second, before my final choice, and I won that struggle with that one moment in time.  Does it mean that I am completely healed, all my pain gone? No it means that I continue to exist, that I get another chance at living.

Right now my life has come to stand still. My existence is that of a hamster on a wheel, progressively moving nowhere with every breath I take. Circumstances have changed opportunities, and doors have closed. Right now, I do not have the energy to go look for open doors, much less to try and open them again. At one point in my past, this would have felt like the end. My lack of progression would have felt like failure. Disappointment would have morphed into depression. I would have taken all of the outside events and turned them inward.

I have learned that the end of life as I know it (change, depression, loss, etc) does not mean the end of existence. Addiction and suicide do not allow me existence. The loss of existence does not allow for me to live.  I value my existence because of the possibility of life. I know that the future always holds hope for life, where there is existence

I am not employed, full time, at the job of my dreams. I am not even employed. I am not returning to school this semester, as planned. I do not tie up my free time with endless activities, a rigorous fitness routine, or making a weeks worth of pre-planned perfect meals for my family. I do not volunteer. Bryson works 6 days a week, most of them nights and our time together is little. Right now, paycheck to not quite next paycheck means, the food bank it is, once a week.  I have two running vehicles, but I still let my 9 and 11 year old walk to and from school. They wake themselves up for school and get their own breakfast. I sometimes forget to feed the dog. I am always 3 loads of laundry behind. So what am I accomplishing?

Right now I am existing. I do not have the means or the emotional energy to set out after my dreams, right now.  I am, however, meeting some of the basic expectations that I have of myself, that allow me to exist peacefully. I am not abusing drugs to exist. I am not addicted to anything. My family is meeting its own basic needs with our own means. I am not lying to anyone and I am not stealing or breaking any laws. 

Believe it or not, despite the signs of the times, our family relationships are not struggling. There is still normalcy in our home. There is just enough of the basic things that we need.  I do not have that, overly jubilant abundance of love and patience, as I do in times of plenty. I admit it. I do have enough  love and patience to nurture myself in this time of less, and to provide my family with enough of me, for them to meet their own needs. None of them are struggling to exist.

Today I am existing. This gives me a chance at life. Coming soon, I will again be living.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Angels Among Us

I was lost in my way, as usual, and looking for love.  I was in determined pursuit to create the family death had stolen from me. I was 17 years old and drinking away the denial of my first failed marriage. My husband had chosen sexcapades and cocaine over me. I couldn't give myself permission to hide my pain in street drugs, thanks to the previous premonitions of my Mother’s suicide. Alcohol and sex seemed a reasonable substitute while I aggressively searched for the next sperm donor that would give me a chance at conceiving my new family.

I had dropped out of school shortly after getting married at 16. The responsibilities of a new apartment, two car payments, and all of the other grown-up things took priority for a short while... until I learned I was the only one in the marriage with any priorities of reason. I moved back home and abandoned anything that even resembled responsible. I had a great bunch of equally irresponsible, sexually active, alcoholic friends that occupied my time. One of which had taken to calling party lines. A strange idea where you paid $1.99 a minute to end up on the phone with 8 strangers sharing a line and trying to talk. Oh what fun.

3-way calling had just become the next greatest invasion of privacy. Thanks to this great idea, I got to participate on a party line at the expense of my friends' parents. She clicks over to dial the number and then clicks back to connect me. I hear several more clicks and then one, two, three more voices. Everyone is trying to identify themselves, and each other, among the interrupted chaos of the most ridiculous conversational environment I can imagine. I have nothing to say to anyone I don't know. I listen. Everyone is talking at once. I hear a female voice introduce herself and announce how horny she is several times. Oh, there is an added feature I forgot about. If you find someone you like, you can go private. Joy. I hear a normal sounding voice quietly announce itself as John. I am compelled to let him know I am there. The horny girl is talking too loud. I say his name; I tell him mine, but he doesn't hear me. Too many people talking... getting the age, sex, and location of all. It isn't even local. Two people drop off to go private and two new arrive. The introductions never stop. I hear John again. He says my name. He did hear me. Somehow through the course of the disorderly words flying about, my friend notices our failed attempt to communicate. She tries telling the other people to shut up for a second. No avail. Somehow, she pushes something, he pushes something… we end up private. Well not private, as it is us three, John, myself, and my friend, but the other 7 or so people on the line are now absent. As considerate as she was to take us off the party line, she is anxious to get back on. I am in Colorado, he is in California. He gets my number and promises to call. We all hang up.

I sit and anxiously wait for this stranger to call me. Minutes pass, and what was misguided hope, fades away when the phone doesn’t ring. Just as I am about to completely dismiss my foolishness, the phone rings! The softest, most inviting voice I have ever heard, is on the line. John. Just me and John. We spend hours on the phone. We talk about everything. My childhood, my losses, my marriage, my hopes, my dreams. He consumes my thoughts. Days go by and I spend more time talking to him than anything else. My friends call, but I quickly dismiss them for my new obsession. He understands so much, yet he is so different than I am. He has a daughter. He listens to music I have never heard of. His voice is so amazingly soothing. He seems to care so much about me, but why? We are thousands of miles apart.

Soon, our conversations must be limited due to the long distance charges he is incurring. I am lost without him. I don’t know how to spend the time in between our beautiful exchanges. I start to go out again. I resume my drinking binges full force, staying out all night. I am always feeling lonely. I am hating all of the slimy guys, constantly prying at my sexuality. I try to lie to him when we talk. He knows. I don’t want him to know the truth about me. I want him to fall in love with me. He tells me he loves me and it feels so good, but it doesn’t seem possible. Even though I know I will be in so much trouble, I start calling him. I can’t stand not being able to talk to him. He is the only thing that feels worthy... the only thing better than drinking... more fulfilling than the empty sex acts I repeatedly overindulge in when I am intoxicated.

He knows I am going to get in trouble for running up my grandparents bill. We agree to start supplementing our alluring conversations with mail. He sends me packages... music compilation tapes that he has made, letters, poems, a shirt that he slept in that still smells of him, cute and meaningful tokens that express this amazing love we share. I send him packages as well. I send a whole roll of pictures of all of the things I see on a daily basis, letters scented with my perfume, a small vile of water (once snow) from my favorite retreat in the mountains, gathered on a lonely depressed night.

My desire for him grows. Our phone encounters, when they occur, turn sexual. They aren’t dirty or perverted. They are blissful and satisfying. I struggle to find the balance between the world he creates for me and the world I live in. He knows all my truths... my never failing desire to have a baby and the daily intoxification that allows me to make dangerous attempts to achieve this goal, with anyone willing to participate. He doesn’t judge me. He gives me kind encouragement. He reminds me I am worth more.

Our worlds will never collide, and I become painfully aware that I will need to let go for my own sanity. Wanting what you cannot have can be toxic. I slowly retreat into the world that is my reality, but I take different steps. I have started to respect myself as he respected me. Our conversations are few. I am at risk of losing my private phone line, because of the $900 phone bill I ran up in 2 weeks. I continue to go out and party, but the feeling is not the same... the desire to continue not so great. I call to check my messages while I am out, and I start getting messages from John, asking me not to drink and drive, reminding me to eat while I am out partying. He tells me I am beautiful and he loves me. He doesn’t call himself John anymore when he leaves a message. His messages always begin, “Shawna, this is your Guardian Angel….” He never calls when I am home. I miss hearing his voice in response to my own. I want so desperately to speak to him, to tell him his messages make a difference, that I am listening to what he says, that I am doing better. I stop going out. If I am always home, he must finally call when I am there. He never does. How did he know when to call when I was out? I am disheartened. My life has changed, and I can’t even thank him. The slow cloud of loneliness that is left begins to fade…  Real life is still here. It won’t wait for anyone, not even me.
I finally get a letter. He tells me that his Mom, put a long distance block on the phone because of the outrageous bill.... that he knows I am doing better.... that he is happy for me… he misses me… he loves me. Signed, “Love, Your Guardian Angel”

My fantasy again materializes in this letter. My heart races. My cheeks burn with desire. I must speak to him again. I must hear that voice one more time. I must say thank you… and good-bye.
I talk my grandpa into giving me $20 and I buy a phone card. Excitement builds as I anticipate making that call, hearing his voice. It is so intense. I am shaking as I pick up the phone. I dial the endless numbers to make the call go through. It is ringing. Any minute I will be satisfied by his voice… and then I hear the operator. Dread fills my heart. “The number you are calling does not exist...” I am horrified. Did his phone get shut off because they couldn’t pay the bill? Is this my fault. I dial the operator. I ask for a listing under his name. Nothing. I give her the number and she tells me that number has been inactive for over a year. Impossible.

I write him a letter, saying all I need to say. Apologizing, giving thanks, saying good-bye. I am so distressed that I cannot find a way to get him on the phone. I ask my friend to look for him on the party line. I call his number every day until my phone card runs out. Weeks go by. Then everything I could have imagined goes to another level… one that is not of this world. My letter comes back to me. It does not say “return to sender” it does not say “no longer at this address.” It says, “This letter is undeliverable because the address does not exist.” What? This is the same address I sent every other letter or package to. Letters he read back to me… on the phone… from the number that cost $900 to call… that hadn’t been in service for a year…

I race to the closet to pull out the letters he sent me, to look at the envelope to check the address again. I can’t find them! They aren’t there. I begin to feel like I am dreaming. I know he is real. The tape he made me is in my stereo. His shirt is on my bed where I sleep with it every night. His voice is on my answering machine. Wait… That last letter he sent me is in my night stand.  I keep it there to read whenever I need to. It is in the envelope, but no return address on this one. I open the drawer and see it sitting inside. Relief fills my head. He IS real… I open it to read it, as if I don’t know what every last word says. I scan down to the bottom. The words stare adoringly at me.

Love, Your Guardian Angel   

No this is not an attempt at fiction. This actually happened to me.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My Truth and Judgement Inventory- Further Examination.

When Susan posted up some accountability in Here I Am, it conjured up a lot of ideas for me about why people chose to write and where fear from judgement comes from. Susan went on to address it in another post here. She brought up something that I really had not considered, as did Jennifer in her post Unresisted Thoughts Post 9... Loyalty where loyalty is undeserved and Judgement

Do we hold back some of the sordid details of our experience only for fear of judgement? Where do privacy and respect for others come into play? Both Susan and Jennifer defined why those different parts influence what they share and what parts of it they want to examine or have examined, in order to share the truth. 

It led me back down the road to where my path of truth started. Truth lit the way for me to recover. Not only to stop being an addict and recover from the addiction, but to recover what I was hiding from in the addiction. I did not plan it that way. I had no idea what would become of my life, my capabilities, or my future and recovery, simply by telling the truth.

I started seeking the truth while I was still very active in addiction. I had found myself incredibly alone and I was sinking with every single untruth that I was allowing into my life. I had long lived my life manipulating and lying. I always had some justification as to why my lies, that were totally self serving, were really to protect someone else.  I had become quite capable of manging which friends I told what, who were the best gossipers, secret keepers, drama lovers and how they all played their perfect part in me getting whatever I needed out of our relationship. I called it "friendship."

Well as some of you have experienced, there is a whole new level of that in the company of addicts. You tell yourself you are not a "junkie" or a "tweaker" and you rationalize why your drug use is different. You tell yourself that your co-addicts, dealers, hook ups, are your friends. They wouldn't burn you, steal from you, short you on your bag, etc. At first you have high expectations that you will not be taken advantage of and you will not become the stereotypical druggie. You still believe you are okay. By the time it becomes unmanageable, it is too late to recognize they were wolves in sheep's clothing, or perhaps now, you are a wolf yourself, still telling yourself you are a sheep. 

When I realized that I had no "friends" and started recognizing all of the manipulation and lies, I was so disgusted. Disgusted that I had been that way. Disgusted that I believed it. When I got out of jail and was 7 days clean, I knew I would never ever relapse, because I never ever wanted to withdraw again, and I could not risk losing my kids forever. It was okay when no one knew, and I could manipulate the way people saw my life. Now the cat was out of the bag. I had a completely clean slate. I had no life, no friends, no home. When I realized that I had one chance to create those things for myself, I had only one condition. I would only do it in truth. I never again wanted to manipulate someone. I never again wanted a friendship to be based on something that I nurtured in my imagination, and made it to appear real. I never wanted to be liked for what I wore, what I drove, where I lived. Its a good thing, because I didn't have those things to be liked for.

I had walked hand in hand with fear my whole life. The fear of "what if's"... what if she finds out, what if he thinks I meant this, what if she assumes I am this... etc, etc, etc. Well a wonderful thing happened. When there was only truth, there was no fear. By design, if you are always real and always tell the truth, there are no more what if's. People can still make their own assumptions or misinterpret, but that is their own untruth. Meaningful people, people with whom you have meaningful relationships with, will always wait for and want the truth. The ones that don't, will prove to be toxic, even if only in small doses. If you are only living and speaking in truth, then it is what it is, and it only takes time for that discovery. 

When I write in truth, there is no more fear of judgement. I do not have to have a lot of accountability per se, for other people's feelings, because I know who I am, what my intentions are, and given time, you will know that too. 

Truth is also contagious. It opens doors for conversation, communication, understanding, connection, and healing. This does not mean that the truth is never painful. It is often painful. Had I learned much earlier, that I was in fact capable of handling the truth (had I not been told I was worthless, or stupid, or had my grandparents not tried to shelter me from the truth, and fix everything, which implied I was not, in fact, capable), then I would have developed coping skills for harder truths and would not have tried to cover them up with lies, manipulation, and drugs. I would not have tried to make ugly things appear as beautiful truths and called it happiness.

So why then, when I am completely capable of that in my life and my blog, do I find myself retreating back and wanting to withhold on comments on other blogs?

Well the biggest part that keeps me from commenting, is different beliefs or understandings of "God." Although I know what I believe. I do not believe it is the only thing or the the only truth. I do not want my comments to be perceived as trying to shake someone's faith or challenge their belief system. That is something that is very personal, and I believe to be respected at all times. 

I also take into consideration the blog at hand. It is kind of like being a guest at someone's house. Of course it is their house, for them to live in, and they have it kept the way they like, but they still invite you in. I wear shoes in my house, but if I am asked to take them off at your house, I am going to. Although a comment is truly my little piece of space in the blog that I am visiting, I still need to respect the blog owner's space.

“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It's one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it's another to think that yours is the only path.”
 ~ Paulo Coelho

Sometimes I find myself in a situation, as I did when commenting on Susan's blog. I knew that what I needed to say might be a little out of context, but she has expressed her need for growth and change, and I wanted to try and contribute, based on my perception and my experiences. 

Everyone deserves to walk and write in their own truth.

"We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere." ~Tim McGraw