HITTING BOTTOM

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I fell head first and hit the ground hard.  I felt a ZING run across my neck just above my shoulders, and   immediately I went limp.  My legs went limp.  My right arm flopped across my neck like .  I could see my elbow pointing up into the night sky, but I could not move it.  I had landed on the back lawn in a small patch of dirt that the gophers had dug up.  That dirt filled my mouth and nose.  I lay there, unable to move for half an hour, maybe longer.   I lay there in a heap, beginning to panic, surprised at what had happened so suddenly.  I was home alone.  It was ten o’clock at night.  My son was out with friends and wouldn’t be home for hours.  My phone was in my purse inside the house – not that I could use it anyway.  Another day of drinking had come to this.

I couldn’t move, but I could breathe, and my brain seemed to be functioning despite the alcohol.  Questions flooded me.  Should I yell out for help?  Would anyone hear me?  Should I lay there and wait for my son to come home and then yell out to him to call 911?  Was I going to be paralyzed for life?

I refused to believe I would be paralyzed for life.  I refused to be paralyzed, period.  I refused to lay there and let my son find me lying in a heap in the backyard.  I began to will my legs and arms to move.  I struggled endlessly.  My brain kept telling my body to move, but my body wasn’t responding.  I begged God to help me.  I begged my Aunt up in heaven to help me.  Slowly my right leg began to move when I asked it to, then my left leg moved.  I used my legs to scoot myself forward toward the back door.  I spent what seemed like an eternity trying to get my right arm to move.  It finally did.  I rolled from my side to my belly and continued to drag myself across the patio to the back door.  I don’t remember slithering in through the back door, the kitchen and the living room.  I eventually found myself on the floor of my bedroom, and with one final effort, was able to use one leg to lift myself up onto the bed.

The next morning, to my amazement and relief, I could walk.  I took a shower, but was unable to raise my arms above my head to shampoo my hair.  My hands were numb and tingling.  I did not want to go to the hospital.  As usual, I did not want anyone to know what I had done to myself.  I did not want anyone to know this happened because I had been drinking.  But luckily my functioning brain assisted me in making the decision that a trip to the hospital would be a good idea.  Although I did not hear him, my son did come home some time during the night.  I dropped the idea that I could hide this one.  I decided I needed to be honest for once and tell the truth about what I had done to myself.  I walked to his bedroom door and asked him to take me, and without question, he grabbed his keys and we headed for the hospital.

I walked into the ER on my own, slightly off kilter.  Surprisingly, there was no one waiting at the intake desk.  I sat down and explained what had happened.  They took my ID and insurance cards, told me to sit down and that I would be next.  Two minutes later, I was being triaged.  A cervical collar was placed around my neck and I was taken to room 10.  Although I could walk, my arms and hands were still numb and tingling.  I had difficulty moving my arms much at all.  After X-Rays and an MRI I was told by the ER doctor that I had a contusion on my spinal cord between C4 and C5 vertebrae.  A Neurosurgeon explained to me that as the bruising and swelling went down, I would regain function of my arms and hands.  The numbness and tingling would go away, and I would get better.

The Neurosurgeon told me that I was going to be ok.  He told me that I was very, very lucky.  He didn’t have to tell me how lucky I was.  I already knew.

So this was the bottom.  The bottom was Mother Earth herself.  I had hit it hard.  I had tasted it.  Luckily, I wasn’t 6 feet under it.  Needless to say, I haven’t had a drink since.

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Anger

Anger held inside needs something to calm it.  Only a short time it can hide. The  soothing affects of the drink keep it at bay, push it away, keep it from boiling over and causing disruption in his perfect life.

He is the only one who matters. Not you, not them, the ones you cherish more than life itself.  You push them aside to make it work for him.

You let him blame you for his unhappiness and his fears

And his loss.

You give up so much

For him.

And then, when you finally break and cannot take it anymore, you still feel guilty for upsetting him.  You still feel bad as you watch him cry tears of remorse and self loathing.  You still feel like it’s your fault.

You give up so much just to try to make him happy, but it’s not enough.

Freedom costs a pretty penny.  Freedom will hurt him.  Freedom will be your breaking point.

Will it be worth the pain it will cause him?

All the days of pain already spent will never be made up.

I have given as much as I can give.

I am me.  I am important.

I have a voice.

I Know Why

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I know why

I search to numb and to forget

the hurt inflicted

upon this fragile soul.

I only wanted Love

not malice,

nor torture to my limbs.

Yet every time I trusted,

it turned on me again

and burned my delicate skin.

I seem to be the kind to seek

the subtle wind that blows.  

It calls my name and I follow it

no matter where it goes. 

It takes me to unknown places,

to journeys in my mind.  

To pastures filled with green, green grass.  

To fields of rolling gold.

But suddenly I reach the edge,

with nowhere else to go.

It stops abruptly, leaving me

standing there alone.  

I teeter on the edge

there for a moment.

I watch a falling stone

disappear from view

into depths unknown.

I stand there empty handed,

empty heart and

empty soul.

The promises of love and comfort

have left me in the cold.

I make the choice

to turn around,

and head back down the road

instead of jumping off the edge

into those depths unknown.

I cannot chase a love

that should have been my right.

It slipped through tiny fingers

too fragile then to fight.

So I let it go and let it be

This love I never knew

And hope it will come

back to me

In the love I made

with you.

The Sound of Screaming Silence

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Silence surrounds the table as we all sit still and wait.  Mother sits down and starts the prayer we all know perfectly by heart. Dad doesn’t follow along, just sits and stares ahead. We mumble through the nightly prayer, thankful for what we’ve got. Milk mustaches soothe our summer sunburned skin. Blonde hair glistens, blue eyes watch, as Mom and Dad set in. The silent war begins as the bountiful prayer ends. Butter knives saw at well-done meat. White rice spills around our plates. All five of us kids watch and wait for the meal to end so we can escape the painful silence we don’t understand.

We haven’t heard the anger or the reason for the rift. The silent screaming match begins at dinner time and ends when we go to bed.

At last the silence softens as I lay down in my bed, and wonder why we cannot speak of the stuff inside our heads. I lay there and I ponder all the questions that I have, and wonder where to find the answers if I can’t rely on them.

I wonder why I feel this way.  I wonder why the tears roll down my face when I’m alone and in my bed. Why is there such silence? Why can’t we speak of things we see and thoughts we have and fears that keep us from sleep? Why can’t we ask the questions that rumble inside our heads?

I long to be a daughter like my friends tell me they are. They know things like lipstick, good shampoo and how to look sexy in a car. They shave their legs and have bras and underwear that match for the whole week-long. I wonder why I don’t have underwear like that, and I wonder what I’ve done wrong.

I see my mother’s breasts as she steps out from the shower, but I don’t know how they got that way or that mine will ever look the same.  She doesn’t tell me what the box is in her closet, or why it is up there on the shelf where no one else can find it.  It stays there always and I wonder what Tampax means and why it is such a secret.

One fateful day I find a spot of blood that scares me to my core. Then I remember what I learned in school and I know what it is for. Kind of. I sneak the panties into the wash, but mother finds them there, and asks me why I didn’t say a thing to her. I stare at her uncomfortably and stammer my response. I didn’t know I was supposed to say a thing about this spot, and I wasn’t sure it was supposed to be there. Or not.

Where are the answers to the questions that I have?  Who do I ask?  How do I know what to do with these feelings that I have? What do they mean?

My father doesn’t seem to want to be with any of us.  He spends his time behind the house with his friends Coors and Bud.  We ask if he will join us on vacation or to church.  His answer is No, but he won’t say why, so we go without him once again.  I take an educated guess and figure that it’s because he doesn’t love my mother.  He doesn’t look at me or say “I love you, Ann”, so I guess it must be that I look like her and he can’t love me, either.

One day when I was seventeen, my father came to me and told me that he had to leave and wouldn’t return.  He stood there staring at me and told me that he loved his house and he loved me too.  I sat there so dumbfounded because I didn’t think that was true.  I watched him load a few things into the trunk of his Oldsmobile.  He loaded up an old blue lamp and a picture that he drew.  I wondered why that lamp was so important that it go along with him to his new life, but he left me there alone.

He drove away and left his house, his daughter and his sons.  He left us there and went about his new life away somewhere.  That day he left, the silence lifted just a little bit.  The dinner table was no longer a battle field of angry looks and silent screaming.  We smiled a little and laughed a little and learned a thing or two about our mother and each other, things we never knew.

I took the silence with me as I went about my own life.  I tried to leave it behind me, but it just kept showing up. The silence was all that I knew.  It was what I learned to be true.  Silence was the answer to everything I knew.

It took some time, but I started to learn that silence doesn’t work.  Slowly I began to learn that I do have a voice and that voice, it has some worth.  I learned to smile and say hello.  I stopped hanging my head so low.  There were things that others taught me that I should have already known.

My mother has learned a thing or two about saying “I love you”.  She understands the importance now that before was so foreign and untrue.  Mother tries to understand that we all need to know the things in life that matter and the questions we will have. She tries her best to be the way that she was never taught to be. She realized somewhere along the way that communication is key.

My father started a whole new life.  He had a new son with his new wife.  I watched them from the side lines and wondered why he seemed to be so much more comfortable with them and not with me.  I have a half-brother that I barely even know.  He got the father I should have had.  He got the love I will never know.  I don’t know why Dad saved his love for them and left us all alone.

But that is the secret of silence. Silence leaves questions unanswered and truths we will never know.

This post is a submission to the Daily Post Weekly Challenge, The Sound of Silence.

Valentine’s Day Massacre

Picture courtesy Wicked Cool Records

Picture courtesy Wicked Cool Records

How many Valentine’s Days have I completely massacred? Probably most of them. When every day is a drinking day, and every holiday, birthday and vacation day is an open invitation to overdo, you can imagine that most Valentine’s Days for me were just another excuse to tie one on. The day could be ruined in a myriad of ways, anything from the typical night’s stay on the couch, unbeknownst to me until three or four AM, to a full-blown raging fight that I will not remember.  I could even completely bludgeon it by arranging for a trip to the ER, or maybe even the Psych ward for a three night stay.

I don’t think I ever took into consideration that someone loved me enough to want to celebrate that love with me. I never thought much about reciprocating, either.  The word “celebrate” does not reference alcohol in its definition at all.  To celebrate the love you and your partner have for each other does not mean getting drunk on champagne together.  I’m sure it happens quite often. but I don’t think that was on the list of things my husband wanted to do most Valentines Days.

When I look at things from his perspective, how disappointing it must have been to sit across a candlelit table at the love of your life, only to see a mostly drunk woman who is paying little attention to anything but the glass in front of her. It’s about as disappointing as going out for a romantic evening and sitting alone while your date sneaks out the bathroom window of the restaurant.

How many times did he hope it would be different?  How many times did he look at me and get that sinking feeling of disappointment, knowing that this evening would turn out like all the other evenings?  How many Valentine evenings died a slow death because of my drunkenness and complete lack of understanding about what it means to love someone?

There are so many things alcohol took from Me that I will never get back.  One of them is the experience of real love, true love, Valentine love.

I guess I can sum up the entire massacre of my Valentine’s Days past into one big bunch of dead roses.  How can you celebrate love when you don’t even know what love is?  I couldn’t possibly know what love is because I was drunk all the time.  I never gave my heart and soul time to experience and understand love.

And I never gave another soul a chance either.

Addiction Demons

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Well, I must say that I have heard and read quite a bit about addiction these past few days.  Everyone has an opinion, everyone has something to say.  Nobody knows an addict but the addict himself.

Addiction harbors secrets.  Secret thoughts, secret acts, secret conversations and secret beliefs.  An addict will not share everything he thinks and feels.  Not an active addict, nor a recovering addict.  He won’t share his secrets with his doctors or his friends, or his mother.

An addict will always be an addict.  An alcoholic will always be an alcoholic.  Recovery does not mean freedom from the demons forever.  Recovery is just the fight against the demons that are always sitting on the shoulders of the addict.  Recovery is abstinence from the drug or alcohol for the moment, until the next moment, and the next moment.  Each one of those moments is spent battling those demons in one way or another.

So when that moment comes when an addict buckles under the pressure of the constant torment of addiction demons, it is not because they didn’t try.  It is not because they are weak or lack will power.  It is because they lost the fight for that moment.  That moment that they lose the fight is either the beginning of a new battle, or the beginning of the end.  He can either keep fighting, or throw in the towel and let the demons win.

Philip Seymour Hoffman lost a fight, then lost the battle.  He was an extraordinary human being, an extraordinary actor, and had the pleasure of touching many, many lives, something most people will never get the chance or the honor to do.

There are multitudes of others fighting the same battle who will never be mourned in the manner of Philip Seymour Hoffman, or Whitney Houston, or Amy Winehouse.  They will lose the same fight, they will lose the same battle, they will die the same death, but will pass on unknown and unrecognized.  They will all still be a loss just as great. Everyone has the potential to do great things in their life.  Everyone leaves a mark on others in some way, a good way, no matter who they are or how they live their life.  The ripple effect of one human being’s soul upon others extends out indefinitely.  The tragedy of a life cut short is a tragedy no matter who it is.

If the same concern and compassion for celebrities who die an untimely death was placed on the rest of our addicted society, maybe there would be a better chance for advancement in treatment techniques and recovery and we would be more capable of putting a stop to these tragic, untimely deaths that occur every single day.

Drink Responsibly

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It’s Super Bowl Sunday.  Probably the biggest drinking day of the year.  It is yet another excuse to eat, drink and be merry.  But I think we all know that alcohol really doesn’t always help with our merriment.

Sure, a few drinks at a party can be fun.  A few drinks do elevate the mood and lower the inhibitions. What about long-term heavy drinking?  I believe it can create, accelerate or deepen depression.  From my own experience, just the hangover itself was enough to keep me depressed for an entire day.  

My husband got a phone call early this morning from his 26-year-old son.  I could hear his son’s voice coming from the cell phone in my husband’s hand.

“My friend Chris shot himself last night,” he said as he started to cry.

The words shattered our early morning and broke open the deep cavern of questions that may never be fully answered.  I know very little about the young man.  There are so many possible reasons he came to the conclusion that ending his life was his only option.  I don’t know what those reasons were.  But one of the first things I heard regarding the situation was “He said he was going to quit drinking.”

Dealing with problems in our life is painful.  Adding alcohol to the mix does nothing but prolong the problems and make them seem worse than they really are.  When I was drunk, I couldn’t accomplish even minor routine tasks, let alone deal with a problem I was having.  When I was drunk, my problems were drunk too.

I am not a Psychiatrist, or a medical doctor.  But I have spent a lot of time with alcohol.  It changes your mindset.  It changes your outlook.  It changes your values and beliefs.  It plays tricks with what you think is real and not real.  It makes you think your life is not worth living.  I know it does, because I’ve listened to it.  I have sat there and listened to the voice of alcohol tell me how pathetic and useless I am.  I’ve let it talk me into believing I am no good here.  I’ve let it tell me I am ugly and worthless and downright stupid.  I’ve listened to it advise me on what would be the best way to make a clean exit.  It told me not to bother leaving a note.

Do I think this young man had reasons to want to die?  Yes.  Do I think his death could have been prevented?  Yes.  Do I think removing alcohol from his daily life would have kept him from committing suicide?  Yes.

Super Bowl Sunday.  “If you drink, drink responsibly”.  That line’s meaning has become very clear to me.  It means more than just “Don’t drink and drive.”  To drink responsibly means that you understand what alcohol can do to your thinking, your judgement and your behavior.  To drink responsibly means that you understand what it can do to someone else’s thinking, judgement and behavior.  To drink responsibly means that you understand alcohol’s potential to persuade you into believing that your life is not worth living.

In memory of Chris Romero.

  • Update 2/13/2014:  The official autopsy report indicates that Chris had NOT been drinking at the time of death.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

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A Double Life – Revisited

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I started writing this blog in an attempt to understand what makes me, me.  What makes me the wife, mother, daughter, employee, alcoholic, bulimic, depressed, bipolar (supposedly) woman that I am?  I am “normal” in so many ways, yet different.  Very different.

I write about what it is like to be me so I can understand me.  At the same time, I am telling you what it is like to be me – a wife, mother, daughter, employee, alcoholic, bulimic, depressed, bipolar (supposedly) woman.  A funny thing happened as I started writing.  I found out how many people out there have the same crazy, mixed up thoughts as I do. Knowing I am not alone gives me so much confidence in my ability to survive and thrive in this world.  I found out that by writing openly and honestly about myself, I have given others a sense of peace and understanding that they are not alone, either.   I have received multitudes of comments from readers who tell me they are inspired by my posts, are grateful for my honesty, and have been gracious enough to say thank you.

One of my very first posts, called DPChallenge, Fit to Write… A Double Life  made it onto Freshly Pressed and sent my double life out into the cyber world.  A double life I did lead.  I would love to say that double life is a thing of the past, and I am perfect now.  I am not perfect and I never will be, no matter how hard I try (sorry, Mom).  I still have secrets, and most of my neighbors and coworkers still don’t know I’m an alcoholic.  But they don’t have to know, unless I decide to tell them.  I am confident the neighbors won’t find out my secret by witnessing me laying passed out on the front lawn.  My employer won’t have to find out by way of a telephone call from jail that I won’t be in for a few days.  My doctor and my mother – they know my secret.  That one.

I have always had a hard time seeing my good qualities.  This blog has shown me through comments, likes, pingbacks and re-blogs, that I do have some good qualities.  I’ve learned that I am a pretty good writer, I am compassionate and kind, I am insightful, sometimes funny, and I care a great deal about how others feel.  I could not have said that about myself back in August before I started this blog.  Back then, I couldn’t tell you many good things about myself at all.  I thought I was a failure.  

Feedback is extraordinary.  It has changed my world and the way I look at myself.  Now, I wouldn’t change my double life for anything.  It has made me, me.

I think about things.  The things I think about swirl around in my mind and play havoc with my concentration. They lull me to sleep and they create outrageously crazy dreams.  But I can let those thoughts out of my mind and onto a screen, and with the click of the mouse, I let them float out into the world beyond and make somebody else’s day brighter.

Thank you WordPress, for changing my outlook and giving me an opportunity to write.  Thank you Zero to Hero Challenge, for showing me the many ways to make it better.

Daily Prompt: BFFs

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There is a poem about friendships.  The first line of the poem is: “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.”

I don’t have a large circle of friends.  I have a handful of friends that I worked with for many years who are now like family.  We talk here and there, we meet up every once in awhile and reminisce, and we share news about who is doing what and going where.  

I was particularly close with one of my work friends.  Close enough that I have called her my BFF.  We worked together, drank together, told our darkest secrets to each other, and looked out for each other.  We shared quite a few drunken nights together.  We shared hilariously funny stories about some of our adventures.  We both shared a common issue that took us each a little by surprise, the devastating realization that those funny stories and fun times started to turn ugly. We both ended up seeking treatment for alcohol dependence. 

We ended up having a falling out. She wanted me to do something that I didn’t feel was right.  I stood on my pedestal and told her how wrong she was, and I decided that I just couldn’t have her in my life anymore.  I haven’t spoken to her in three years.  

One of our mutual friends from the past called me several weeks ago with some shocking news.  Our friend, my once BFF, was in Intensive Care after having complications from surgery.  They didn’t know if she was going to make it.  She was on a ventilator.  If she survived, there would likely have to be some limbs amputated due to circulation issues.  This all happened just after Christmas.  

I heard today that she is out of ICU and off the ventilator.  She just may make it through this.  She will be having fingers amputated.

There was talk about visiting her, but she does not want visitors yet.  I don’t blame her.  Should I go see her?  I don’t know.

I did learn something from my once BFF, that I will somehow make sure she knows.  It doesn’t matter how mad I was at what happened between us.  It doesn’t matter how stubborn she is. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong.  It doesn’t even matter if we never speak to each other again.  

What does matters is, she is my friend, and I care deeply about her and her well being.  I care about how she feels and how she will get through this.  My heart aches for her and what she is faced with.  

I do know now that no matter what happens, she is a friend for a lifetime.

 

 

Daily Prompt: BFFs

A Conversation With Jesus

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My life was in utter turmoil.  I was only a few short weeks away from my wedding day, a day that should be the happiest day of my life.  I thought it would work.  I thought I could be happy.  I wanted my life to be easy.  By marrying Richard, I would never want for anything.  My parents would never have to worry about me.  But there was one problem.  I didn’t love him, not at all.

It had become apparent to me that I had to make a decision.  But the family was so happy.  Richard was so happy.  Why did I let this happen?  His family, they are all so proper and formal, so perfect, so well-schooled.  I didn’t fit in at all.  At times I had no clue as to what their conversations were even about.  They reminded me of the BBC episode of Blackadder the Third called “C is for Contrafibularity”.   I was just waiting for the engagement card that said “Engagement Contrafibularities to the Bride-to-Be.”

I had to decide to tell him the truth and be out on my own, or live a lie the rest of my life, just to live without worry.

I went for a walk to clear my head.  I decided to head to the beach.  I do my best thinking at the beach.

I walked out onto the beach, cutting across the sand to get close to the water.  January means mostly empty beaches, one of the few things I still love about California.  The cold ocean air and the clear skies always brought peace to any day.  The sound of the endless movement of sea water was mesmerizing.  It quickly calmed my nerves.

As I walked closer to the waterline, I could see something on the water.  It wasn’t a boat.  It was too big to be a bird.  It almost looked like a person standing out there on the water.  A mist was coming in slowly, making it difficult to tell where the water ended and the sky to over.  I took off my sunglasses and rubbed my eyes, then looked again.  It was much closer and much clearer on my second look.  It did look like a person!

I took my sunglasses off once more and cleaned them, rubbed my eyes again, and when I looked up and out at the water, there was no doubt.  It was Jesus!  Jesus Christ, just as I had always pictured him, with long hair and flowing, white clothes!

I waved my arms and ran closer to the oncoming waves.  I was desperate to catch his attention before he turned and walked away.  I needed him to see me.  I needed him to give me just a minute of his precious time, just this once.

I waved frantically and yelled out “Hi, there! It’s me!”

He finally saw me and waved a little wave to me from out on the water.

He had come close enough that I could see the wind ruffling his white robe.  He raised his hand to his mouth as if he were yelling something out to me.  He was trying to tell me something, but I couldn’t hear his voice over the sound of the crashing waves.

Finally, I heard it.  I heard his voice clearly as it flowed to me over the sea breeze.  It floated right to me and I heard every word he said.

“I have plans for you, plans for great things, and not for evil things.  I will give you a future and a hope.”

He looked at me for a moment with a longing in his eyes, a love I had never seen before.  He put his hand to his mouth again, and his words came to me on the wings of a gull.

“Ask me, and I will give you the answers.  Look and I will help you find what you are searching for.  Knock on any door, and it will be opened to you, if you believe in me.”

As he turned to go, he looked over his shoulder and whispered, “I’ll be back.”

I want to go with him so badly.  I wanted to jump on his back and let him carry me away to heaven with him.  I made my way up the sandy beach and found a spot with a good view.  I sat down and put my feet into the cold sand.

I sat there and waited, but he never came back.


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[This post is a submission for the Speakeasy Fiction Slam And Poetry Jam, Post #146. “I sat there and waited, but he never came back.” The video prompt to be referenced is “C is for Contrafibularity,“ ]

Jesus’ lines are taken from the following Bible verses:

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Matthew 7:7,8 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Also submitted as part of Zero to Hero: 30 days to a better Blog.