Tag Archives: fear

She Drank

SHE DRANK

She started to drink
as a way to cope
that makes her less able to cope

the more she drinks
the more frightened
she is of becoming a drunkard

the more drunk
the less frightened of being drunk

the more frightened of being drunk
when not drunk
the more frightened of being
destroyed by him

the more frightened of destroying him
the more she destroys herself

Setting the Record Straight

Setting the record straight

My daughter recently asked for more information about the years when addiction to prescription drugs had me in its jaws. My paranoia ratcheted up – was she going to build more walls between us? Accuse me yet again? Would she use the material to push me further away? I feel the loss of her love, the loss of a child before it was destroyed by memories of dark times. What do I remember? ( Please understand I don’t remember everything because of the drugs and the TBI) Crushing depression, manipulation, arguments with my mother and theft from her accounts. At times a total incomprehension of responsibility, of providing enough support for my children and myself.

Days upon days in pain, when I could not get off the couch. Driving my daughter and her friends while pills sloshed around in my stomach, seemingly weekly Doctor visits. Going to bed one Day and waking two days later to the incessant calls from my daughter to pick her up from work. I couldn’t walk much less drive. Driving my son and daughter to activities in no shape to operate a vehicle.

Of seizures followed by hope and a teenager’s anger of betrayal. Of other people parenting her when I could not. And of other people not trusting their children at my home. And her embarrassment.

Of negating the parenting of my son because he was so hard for me to control. And letting him live 3,000 miles away, raised by members of his church because his dad spent his time at his girlfriend’s and not checking to make sure he had a safe and nurturing life. I didn’t know this at the time. Not until I was a few years sober.

Of a letter jacket showing up on our doorstep – one I should have gotten myself. My daughter was one of 3 people in the history of Gilbert School, and likely the only girl, to ever earn 12 Varsity letters with no jacket to put them on. In an over 100 year old school. I just couldn’t think of it.

Of my daughter developing anorexia due to the stress of holding herself together, working so very hard for her education, and coming home to care for me. Her stress of living with a pill head mother. Her grandmother and aunt moved to take action before I did. I was too scared of what was happening. . . maybe too oblivious. I don’t think that was it. I just didn’t know what to do. I talked to her doctor but didn’t know how to take
action. And I was scared to death for her.

Of tears, an ocean’s worth, of self-pity, abysmal self-esteem and pain. Of confusion. I just didn’t know what was happening to me, to her, to my son, and my family life. Life was too painful to live. I wanted nothing more than to die. And almost did.

Sending Tasha, my dog, back to my ex’s because he wouldn’t agree to euthanize her when she was in so much pain, when I had to carry her outside to go to the bathroom. Then so upset when she spent her last two years in the garage because she couldn’t control her bowels in the house.

Not having a proper bed or room for my son when he came to visit. I could have gotten him a futon. I should have given him a home.

Understanding after the fact the guilt Alex felt for leaving my daughter with me when my son was no better off with him.

Of stripping my daughter of her summer vacation plans when my summer was spent in recovery. Being told I was an addict and my agreeing “Yep, that’s me” . And through it all, trying to get help but not being able to because the medical conditions that got me on pills where too severe for rehabs and hospitals to want to risk their reputations on.

I was in intense physical pain all the time and all over my body – inside and out. I wanted to commit suicide many times but was tethered to my kids. I wouldn’t do that to them. My ancestors were rife with all manner of abuse – I didn’t want it to continue.

I wanted so much to be there for my children but I was exhausted and there were days working as a library cataloger, teacher’s aide or caregiver. I wanted so much to be well. I even went to a meeting but felt judged by my friends. It was I judging myself. I felt like a worm and when I was outside I would pick up worms on the pavement and put them on the grass – I must have saved the same worm 100 times.

You have to understand – I was on oxygen, grossly overweight. I hated myself and knew you were embarrassed by me.

I went to my daughter’s soccer games. It had been her life since pre-school. It was her soul. But I always felt shunned by the women although Lynn took pity on me and let me sit by her. I went to my son’s as well, but
his coach belittled him and he gave up soccer for good.

Basketball had never appealed to me, so I didn’t go to the games. I knew no one there. The women sat there clipping coupons – I didn’t feel welcome.
Track I did enjoy but it hurt to stand on my feet for so long.

But I wanted her to never forget how much I loved her and was proud of her. I loved watching at games.

I loved watching her dive. Often it felt like poetry, dancing. I left after diving even though I knew she would be in races strictly because it was hard for me to breathe in so much humidity.

I knew she was ashamed of me. I tried to get help but this was one that had me in its snares. I remember stumbling in the doctor’s office, partly to show how sick I was, partly for real.

One time I was staying at mom’s while sick. She opened the door while I was taking my pills. She saw all the pills and freaked out. It was then when I got away from my doctor and went to another’s practice, which started the road to recovery.

When I was at Doctors’ offices I’d look in the cabinets for drugs. I found pills in my first doctor, ones he shouldn’t have had. I found anesthetics at one or two doctors’ and injected them in my shoulders or thighs. Stupid, insane, but I was insane and didn’t care.

But NOT ONCE did I have a drink! I knew I could – I’d already blown my sobriety, but not that. It was the only way I could save myself.
Mom tried in her way but mostly she was enabling me. I wanted to be on par with my sisters but that wasn’t going to happen.

One time I had to go to the hospital by ambulance. The EMTs needed to know what medicines I was taking. I just showed them the half-filled laundry basket full of them. They couldn’t believe it. People still are when they find how many I still have to take. I can’t. The pills hold me together and treat the symptoms of other drugs. It scares me. I wanted help, I just couldn’t get the help I need to do it. Believe that.

I was addicted so fast and tolerance level rose so rapidly. I was angry at my first doctor, at Mom, at the facilities that wouldn’t take me, at the futility of my existence, at the poor excuse I was as a mother. There was no connection with God except anger.

I am so very sorry for all my son and daughter went through. They deserved so much more. Being in CT was a bad choice in me ways but in others I needed it. I sometimes worked, had a roof over our heads, gave my daughter the school she needed. Tried very hard to get the academic support my son needed while he was with me. I don’t know how I would have made it in CA. I got on SSDI and other sources. I had people to guide me through the process.

It took a lot to get me straight again. After my daughter found me in the midst of a grand mal seizure, and sat with me at the hospital through 4 more, my doctor admitted me for a ten day withdrawal. I then went to a rehab for three weeks followed by 5 weeks of out-patient classes. Then it was back to AA.

I have been sober now for 11 years and though my life is often a hard one, I have not used. But pills are different than alcohol. For me, the draw to it comes back at times even though I choose not to follow it. It feels good to have a life again.

Nightmare on in-law street

The pickax rained down its rage on the clay below. The frustrated fury behind its power sent lumps of earth flying in all directions, and still the oleander wouldn’t budge. It had been a thorn in my side since we had moved in seven years before. Now, with the pent up anger of a thousand empty arguments, I was going to remove its blight once and for all. Sweat poured from my brow and ran in rivulets between my shoulders; the heat of the California summer beat onto my head, further fueling my pain and anger. Four bushes had already met their demise beneath my ministrations on other days; this was the last and toughest by far. I had even tied the bush with a cable and connected it to the bumper of my Bronco, trying to release the earth’s hold on it by sheer force. The cable broke but the bush held firm. On this day, with its hurt and raw emotion, the oleander cried its siren’s call, answering a need deep inside me, to release some of that anger before it spilled over onto precious innocents. As I swiped the sweat away, I saw Josh, George and Mariana huddled together on the patio, fearfully watching this mad woman they had never seen before. It angered and shamed me at the same time.

It was more than one person should have to take, the endless questioning and accusations from Josh in juxtaposition against the constant badmouthing of him by my mother, Annabelle who though 3,000 miles away, made her words slam into my face and sear my soul. To get up every day to the constant melodrama, on top of the demands of my children and job was more than could be born some times. Maybe I wouldn’t need those antidepressants if I didn’t have to face these stressors day in and day out. I had tried going without and thought I was loosing my mind as I shook my way through the days until I finally went back on them again.

Not that I questioned for a minute the love I had for my children and they for me. They were just young, of an age when a mother’s care was a constant and immediate fact of life. They were so fearfully impressionable, and here I was, terrorizing them as they witnessed the release of months and years of pain. They would never have the same view of me. Forever, they would hold back just a little, not sure what their actions or words would trigger. And they had nothing to do with the immediacy of the moment.

It had started as any Saturday, the children dragging me out of bed at the crack of dawn, full of energy and curiosity. I had them dressed, fed, and outside playing before I could get Josh to rise. I understood how hard he worked during long week days, and often, weekends, too. But that only meant I had to shoulder the full weight of home responsibilities, even to the point of working within the home so I .could be with the children more. So when the weekends rolled in, I needed relief, and he wasn’t ready to give it.

Later, my mother called – an event I tried to curtail when Josh was at home. It only led to more dissention, more beratement, and more accusations. On this day circumstances were opportunistic for drama. .Annabelle called while Josh stood directly in front of me, “Why are you talking to her? I told you not to talk to her! She is only trouble”. He was demanding I hang up the phone, over and over again. Within my ear, Annabelle was yelling about Josh, “Don’t let him tell you what to do! Don’t hang up! I’ll call the police and report him for abuse if you hang up! He is a bully, he is nothing! Don’t be weak, stand up for yourself, for the kids!” The craziness of the situation stirred and swirled within me, rising like a vortex, consuming rational thought. I could take no more. Placing the phone on the counter, walking away from Josh, I went outside, crossed the patio, picked up the pickax, and started swinging. The plant’s entrenchment in the soil gave me a kind of relief I would not have gained doing anything else.

Josh took the children inside, fearing they would be scared watching their mother, and hung up the phone. As I worked my way through the layers of clay and rock, the fury began to ebb, becoming by degrees more manageable and less resistant to cessation. Once rational thought began again I began to imagine a face at the focus of each thrust, attacking them in the only way I found accessible. It had never been my way to use anger outwardly to address my needs. A million years of restraint were released as I bested by Josh and my mother; I was damned if I would be by some crappy plant. When the hardpan of the ground had given way to a hole three and a half feet deep by three feet wide, and my asthmatic chest burned as it heaved deep breathes, I began to once again feel ready to walk back through the doors and become at once mother, wife, and daughter.

Josh had threatened me for a few years that if I did not be who he wanted me to be, if I ever tried to leave him, he would take the children to Romania and disappear forever. It was a threat I had no doubt he would keep. He would hold me restrained until I said words he wanted to hear. He would carry me to the bedroom and barrage me with his feelings sometimes for hours.

*******************

My in-laws came for extended visits . . . it was always too long. As an only child of immigrant parents, Josh believed his parents should be able to visit as often as they desired and as long as they wished. To say this created tension is a gross understatement. From the moment I knew they were coming, I would grow increasingly stressed, like an overly tightened violin wire. Within a few short hours of their arrival, my home reverted from New World to Old World. Maia would arrive and immediately take over the kitchen, arranging it to her satisfaction, exerting control throughout the house. Alexandru was more amenable to reason – he was the one I could try to talk with, though it often didn’t do much good. Visits lasted between two and ten weeks and I had no say in whether they came or how long they could. As Josh so succinctly said, if I didn’t like it I could leave, but the kids were staying and the parents were coming – period.

From the time his parents entered the house, Josh would turn on me, withdrawing into a harsh, cruel silence, leaving me to deal with his parents by myself and I would often find myself as emissary between he and them, bridging the generational and cultural gaps for them. .It was a twisted role I played – at once both intermediary and unwanted eyesore.

Josh would literally not speak to me for upwards of two months after his parents arrived unless it had to do with the children or outside life. Maia and Alexandru would fill his head with my failings as mother and wife, speaking in Romanian but leaving it clear I was their subject. The three of them were steadfast in their belief that I should disavow my parents and family, not speaking and visiting them anymore.

My family lived in Connecticut, 3,000 miles away, and to visit them was always a production. Every 1 ½ years or so I would convince Josh to let the children and I, and he if he wanted, visit my parents and sisters – it would take about six months to convince him to let us go. To do so meant I could spend 3 or 4 days with them but then had to spend 2 weeks at his parents. As they would tell me, my parents had other children to fill their lives, they didn’t need me. My mother had come to hate them and they her.

One dark night, clouds covering the sky, but the lights of the valley’s town spread before our eyes. It was a never failing salve for my soul, the view from our home. It made much bearable. Maia’s mother, an untreated schizophrenic, was berating me yet again, causing Josh to stiffen his resolve against me further. Maia went out on the patio. Crouched at her feet, aping the posture of the supplicant, I sought to reason with this woman who held such power over my life yet was so badly damaged herself. Her words rained down on me, sharp swords of infinite agony cast without thought of damage done. “There is a cancer inside you and it is my duty to cut it out. A wife is a servant to her husband; do what he says and wants. Forget about you. I know much better than you how to raise your children. It is my right to raise them and you are damaging them”.

I was again told what a good mother and wife was supposed to be – this said by the woman who turned her son over to relatives to raise for years when he was young and figuratively abandoned him during the two years she had a psychotic break from reality while he was a child in Denmark and Italy. I remember that night so well – how I felt something imperative to who I was being stripped away, was slipping into nothingness. . . how there was no recourse for me in this marriage but to renounce who I was and mold myself into whatever form Josh desired.

The problem was that as I was giving up parts of me, sacrificing myself for the “greater good”. My anger at myself, at Josh and his parents, and at my mother simmered in some dark place inside. It would rise up and spill out at the most inopportune times, often at the wrong people, at times at George and Marianna over ridiculous things. And most of all, my rage tore at me, reducing my identity. I thought of suicide that night, as I did on many a dark time. It was a hidden escape valve – I knew if my life became more than I could bear, I had an option to end it. Sometimes it seemed the only solution that made sense. It made for a great retirement plan.

*******

Huddled in the closet, tears flowed down my cheeks while I rocked back and forth amid the comforting, earthy smells of well worn shoes. I couldn’t leave the house without incurring more wrath and I couldn’t let the children see me in this state . . . this was the only place I could think of that they might not look. Unfortunately, I forgot this closet in my bedroom was a place my son often slipped into at night so he could slip unawares into our room and sleep near to us. All too soon, the door softly slid open on its track and George slipped in. Quietly he sat next to me and reached over to take my hand. Together we sat, side by side, drawing comfort from each other, the mother whose heart was breaking and the seven year old son who didn’t know how to help but desperately wanted to.

My mind flashed to another, happier time when Josh and I and fallen into bed together. We made love passionately, fully, deeply, experiencing the profound love that was undeniably there between us. Spent, we collapsed on the bed and were quietly talking when we heard a little cough coming from that same closet. There was our son, who had had a front row seat to all that had gone on.

*********

There were three bedrooms in the house and five needed. Josh’s Romanian cousins had come to visit for several weeks. I had met them before and really enjoyed them. It was easy to be me around them. However, they were brought by Josh’s parents, not so good a thing. Romanian language flowed at all times although everyone save Mircia was fluent and he had been learning English so he could talk with me. Maia enthusiastically and deliberately steered the conversation to all things Romanian. I accepted it most of the time, but it did wear on me. Perhaps once or twice a day I asked for English to be spoken for a time.

One day we were going camping and stopped at a restaurant for lunch – my tolerance threshold had been reached and I asked for English in a soft voice. Josh who was seated three or four seats away, told me to shut up, clearly heard by all. Even the kids stopped talking in shocked silence. Josh’s cousins looked uncomfortably at their plates while his parents glared at me, quietly communicating their disapproval. I left the table and went outside. I had done something wrong. I should not have asked for English and I should not have left the table. I was causing a scene.

The rest of the camping trip followed much the same. Josh treated me like the outsider I was and seemingly took a perverse pleasure in putting me in my place. The children’s behavior was all over the map, voicing their confusion at the adults’ behavior. It took over two months for Josh to really communicate with me once his parents and cousins had left. It was an achingly lonely time.

***********

For months before our trip to Romania, Maia told me I wouldn’t be accepted by the people there. I was too different. By the trip’s start, I was so unsure of myself. But a funny thing happened . . . on the plane, a couple of women came past my seat and touched my shoulder. Josh’s relatives were openly accepting, and were critical of the way Maia treated me. I felt I was coming into my own, I could accept who I was if these strangers could accept me. And my time of true kinship with all women began.

***********
There is a picture by my computer of the day I remembered who I was, actually there were two of these days at the end of my marriage.

The first was New Year’s Day at Mount Shasta. We had gone up for a weekend getaway. The days had been spent in the snow – sleighing, having snow ball fights, making snow angels. When the kids and Josh finally fell asleep, and I was blessedly alone, I picked up a pen and started writing a poem.

I know this sounds like a banal moment, something not worth noticing in the broad spectrum of life’s incidents, but had you been inside my heart and knew the multitude of my insecurities you wouldn’t scoff. It was years before I would be able to believe a bit in my abilities and I had given my power of judgment to Josh long before. I had been a prolific poetry writer when Josh and I had first started dating and while the juvenile emotions baldly expressed within led me to feel vaguely nauseous when I reread them years later, they were mine and they were deeply felt and true. Josh once said he didn’t like my poems, he didn’t like the way I wrote, and I shut down, closing off my creative soul for the next thirteen years. I had published some business articles but nothing that touched my heart. It wasn’t until that New Year’s night, when everyone else was asleep, that I could finally admit my marriage was ending, and that said, could once again slowly open that long shut door.

*************

The second day . . . the one concerning the picture on my computer . . . was taken during the last couple of weeks Josh, I and the children were together as a family. We were on a vacation to Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah. It was a wonderful time overall, our anger and frustration with each other was kept to a minimum. Josh and I even talked about moving to Montana and considered how we could support our family in this wild, amazing country. We could see ourselves there. I wonder how it might have been. A divorce would still have happened eventually but how might our lives have looked?

We made love off a mountain path in Glacier National Park, giggling as other people walked so close past, and swore to each other we were committed to the marriage but even as I said so, I knew I would be leaving. Love had nothing to do with it, it had always been there for me, it always would be – it was all about survival. I had been empty for so long. Josh had crushed my spirit constantly, on a daily basis, grinding me down with his wrongful perceptions, demands, and accusations for almost all of our time together. His insecurities manifested in continual reprimands. So I kept silent the words I needed to say, which were safe to say, and kept silent the truth. Long before, I had told Josh that if I left, there would be no turning back. I would have no room left for do overs.

As we drove down from the Montana Rockies into Wyoming, the majesty of mesas and ravines took my breath away. Rust red, ocher and golden straits wove through the cliff faces, revealing a rich tapestry of color. The occasional dude ranch or homestead was blessedly the only indicator of a human influence. We drove along a river and stopped to jump in and cool off from the summer’s heat. About twenty miles or so outside Cody, Wyoming, I saw a depression in the cliff face beside us, about forty feet up . . . a trace of water smeared the cliff as it headed for ground. It looked like there might be a cave there and I love caves.

I asked Josh to stop and began to climb up the cliff face. It was a vertical assent, with only finger-holds to support me. George and Marianna cheered their support the further I went. When I reached the depression I saw it didn’t evolve into the cave I sought, but was a mere outlet for the barest hint of moisture. But as I stood there, looking out at the spectacular beauty of the countryside, and seeing what I had just done, I fully realized I still had me. I had not died under the constraints of marriage, the demands of motherhood, and the difficulties relating to Josh’s and my families . . . I STILL HAD ME I could survive on my own!!

*********************

Two weeks after that day, I left Josh. The kids had gone to their grandparents, for the first time, for a couple of weeks. It was as if permission was granted for the dam of emotions to burst over us. The day came when I literally ran away, with him following in hot pursuit, going to a nearby strip mall to I call a friend for help. I could see him driving through the plaza, looking for me, and I ducked out of sight whenever he came remotely near. For the next few weeks I stayed at the homes of various friends’, not letting Josh know where I was. He would camp outside homes of my friends’, waiting to catch sight of me. I only went back only when the judge said to until custody and living arrangements were made, and was as nervous as a cat the whole time.

There is no question I loved that man. Twenty two years later I haven’t remarried and still find him in my dreams frequently. It’s just that if I was going to survive, I had to leave. I had bruises all over me even though he never hit me. They were the pain inside manifesting on the outside. I was never good enough for Josh. I wasn’t a good, obeying, supplicating Romanian girl.

The divorce took three years,a mediator, two psychological evaluations because Josh didn’t like the results. Five lawyers for him because they weren’t doing what he wanted, they were abiding by the law. He told the judge he was opposed to the divorce and the judge replied the choice wasn’t his. If I wanted out, I could.

In the end, the kids and I moved to Connecticut where I had a better chance of working and a better place to live. It may have been, at times, jumping from the pot into the fire, but I was free to find out who I was. It took a long time to begin feeling free but one day I woke up and wasn’t scared. It was one of the greatest gifts God has given me. There have been many hard times since then, but the marriage was no longer one of them.

Which am I

Once so cautious
to speak my mind,
and acknowledge that more
existed than fear
behind these placid spheres
of liquid knowledge.
Past points of confusion,
round dimly lit corners
of despair –
I seek the faint glow
of illumination
through phosphorescent images
of truth and understanding.
Pretending an ignorance –
false and impure
so as to protect
a fragile ego
from being trampled
by those more powerful
more forceful and strong,
but ignorant nonetheless
or their callous branding
of silence of stupidity.
Now, to speak vehemently
in more persuasive tomes
about subjects familiar
and search for comprehension
among vacant minds
peering in bleak dismay
as they seek to absorb
my convoluted logic –
am I the trampler
or the tramplee?
Have I, in my eloquence,
become more stupid
than I was before . . .
as I attempt to spread
purity and wisdom
among fellow blind souls?

 

Bipolar I or Bipolar II?

THE DISEASE

My moods have been a shifting morass of muddied feelings based on circumstances beyond my control of late. People outside my body have been making profound influences on me. Or on my deductions and inferences.

Every part of my life seems under attack. Work, family, money, it never seems to end. Its affected my disease as well. I’m beginning to think I have bipolar I, not II. Food consumes me. I buy as much as I have money for. Living below the poverty line but spending $200+ one week and $150 the next for 1 person. My fridge, freezer and pantry cannot hold more. And its not like I can eat it all, so all that food is wasted. I am globally conscious of the ramifications of too much versus too little food. I just am not aware of the expense and overload while the impulsiveness lasts.

There are so many expenses I have and have coming up. A friend has suggested I get a caseworker. It makes me feel like I am backsliding. Some of the people in my apartment building have caseworkers, I did too a long while back. God, I HATE this Disease! I feel so alone with this but if nothing else, this blogging has shown me I am not alone. I belong to a Bipolar clubhouse. They are great people but some are so sick its scary.

My trouble is I’m too smart for my own good. But is it arrogance or fear that keeps me separate? And how do I resolve myself to this being a life thing? Day by day? Sometimes truisms just don’t cut it. Sometimes you just need to know how to successfully negotiate today. Good idea – just wish I could remember it when I need to.

They Are Me

THEY ARE ME

They are me – this I know.
The white and grey heads
bobbing over meals,
tremor of hands,
wheelchairs and walkers,
dentures and damage,
irreconcilable too much
of the time.

Broken hips, broken minds.
I know people who were
trailblazers, powerhouses,
corporate heads, adventurers,
housewives and plumbers
who no longer recognize
that old person in the mirror . . .
who walk and walk and walk
for want of something to do
but still remember love and smiles.

Lost minds –
I’ve already lost some
words and abilities,
and perhaps, if I live,
my head will be bobbing,
my hands will shake more than now,
my body will continue to degenerate.

God, please let me die first.
My father lost his songs
one word at a time
I already know
too many of those tunes.

Rain

Rain streams down the window pane,
echoing a mourning deep within me.
Dank, dismal liquid carrying a message –
no matter that other days bring cleaning
in that water – for the rain
is an outer reflection of insecurity today.
You are too far away, and last night
the phone was silent – your comforting
voice fell on other ears.
So quickly I move toward casting aside –
belief in myself, in you, in us,
is shallow indeed. Needing constant affirmation.
I grow scared if a song drifts across the radio,
crying of pain . . .and think that soon
it shall be mine. Come home,
sometimes I am fine when you are away –
when you are away – today I am scared.
I miss you, am scared for us,
call me, come to me, hurry home
that I might be comforted within your arms.

The Lord’s Guidance

Lord, I ask you to guide me.
I am lost . . .
I have squandered the life you gave me
by being afraid to live.
Fear has dogged my every step.

Dreams I’ve turned to nightmares.
People see me as fragile,
how self-created is that?

Lord, help me out of the quicksand
I am sinking in before it goes
above my nose.

Help me have the strength
to free myself
from my self-created prison.

Inside is a published author of books,
a healthy person –
someone to give to those in need.

A woman who has the right
to find love and a lover.
Someone who wants me.

There are many facets of my being
and I only show the worst
the helplessness, the sorrow . . .

Release me from the burden of myself.
Show me what it is like to be free,
confident, inspired –

for I can not find my way out alone –
not without you.

 

 

 

 

 

Molestation

(There are so many children ruined by evil hands.
Their lives tainted, stolen from them. I have heard
so many stories, seen families decimated, by one person.
It is for them I write this)

He touched the children
and forever their lives were changed.
The guise of caring
deluded, seduced their trust,
their innocence
to hands seeking pleasures
subversive to their needs.

Rage isn’t enough
for one such as he.
Brutal accounting
can’t take back
the one thing most lost . . .
the fragile bloom of freshness
born in the eyes
of the young
to renew the lives
of all they meet.

He touched the children
and tainted their souls.
A caress of seeming guidance,
stole naivete’
from their basic inheritance,
the effects rippling away
to rest on all
who lived on the periphery
of their precious lives.

He touched the children,
and within them,
they were children
no longer.

Reality Bites

 

I promised myself I would never tell this story until my kids were grown and had no real need for me anymore. . . until the day when I became a grandmother and my secrets could be kept behind doors not as easily accessible.  But I forgot there were times in life when a person is alone with herself; when there is no hiding from what is real and what you have been hiding behind for all those years.  I am in such a place now – a place where my children have gone to college and my dog has died and I spend my nights staring at rerun after rerun of Law & Order hopelessly mired in my own muck.  It is not as impossible a place as I believed it would be.  You can be content with little.  You can make do with night after night after week after month when no one hugs you, when your skin craves touch and cringes from it at the same time.  I know.  The existence I so feared is now the one I live within daily – and I am living proof you can live to tell about it. The  constant   pain of Fibromyalgia and the breathing issues put me on Disability, but I can be of service by working part-time.  Nevertheless, the biggest and worst  of these health issues would be a whopper of an addictive personality.  If I could get addicted to Cheese-whiz, I would, no kidding.  The worst years of my life have been spent in the depths of addiction – in my late teens and early twenties it was alcohol; my forties brought with them an addiction to prescription pills.

It wasn’t like I didn’t try to live a clean life.  I had twenty years of sobriety before pain resulting from Fibromyalgia led me to believe my doctor that the only answer was prescription pills.  After five years of literal hell in the depths of despair and addiction, I nearly died and was given a second chance.  I knew I was in trouble but couldn’t get the help I needed.  No rehabilitation facility or hospital program wanted to take me – I was too big a medical risk.  When my system ultimately collapsed, I had a chance to get the help I needed.  I have remained sober since . . . not always the easiest of tasks.  Dulling the pain, checking out into numbness, fading to black, still have their lures.  It can be extremely seductive to be oblivious.  Nevertheless, the biggest and worst of  these health issues would be a whopper of an addictive personality.  If I could get addicted to Cheese-whiz, I would, no kidding.  The worst years of my life have been spent in the depths of addiction – in my late teens and early twenties it was alcohol; my forties brought with them  an  addiction to prescription pills.

It wasn’t like I didn’t try to live a clean life.  I had twenty years of sobriety before pain resulting from Fibromyalgia led me to believe my doctor that the only answer was prescription pills.  After five years of literal hell in the depths of despair and addiction, I nearly died and was given a second chance.  I knew I was in trouble but couldn’t get the help I needed.  No rehabilitation facility or hospital program wanted to take me – I was too big a medical risk.  When my system ultimately collapsed, I had a chance to get the help I needed.  I have remained sober since . . . not always the easiest of tasks.  Dulling the pain, checking out into numbness, fading to black, still have their lures.  It can be extremely seductive to be oblivious.

The hardest part was waking up and seeing what I was doing to my children . . . I had little care for what it was doing to myself.  My son moved 3,000 miles away to be with his father because I couldn’t cope with him in the way he needed.  He may have been the lucky one.  My daughter had to witness my decline.  She was the one who tucked me into bed at night and took food out of my mouth when I fell asleep sitting up while eating.  She had to call the ambulance on several occasions.  She was the one who saw me in a drug-induced coma for two days while I was at home, and didn’t understand there was a problem because she was busy living her life with school, sports and work and was too young to recognize the signs.  And she was the one who found me in the midst of a drug-induced grand mal seizure and sat beside me at the hospital while I went through four more.  She had to live with relatives while I was at rehab.  Little wonder she moved across the country to go to college – she deserved to put as much space as she needed  between us.  I was blessed with the miracle of a second chance with her and have been doing my utmost not to blow it since.

Each day I open my eyes and my consciousness floods in.  I remember my aloneness – even my dog is gone.  I stumble out of bed and head for the coffee maker. As my thoughts become clearer, it is a fight to rise to the surface, to not sink beneath.  Depression has made it’s thumbprint on me as clearly as digital code.  I know its intimate allure and ultimate danger.  So each day is an acknowledgment that I choose to celebrate life, that I will live it to the best of, to rise to the surface, to not sink beneath.  Depression has made it’s thumbprint on me as clearly as digital code.  I know its intimate allure and ultimate danger.  So each day is an acknowledgment that I choose to celebrate life, that I will live it to the best of my ability.

Depression nibbles at the corners of your consciousness, settles over you in a suffocating blanket, pulls you into the nothingness of its embrace.  For the addict, Depression is often a constant companion – it is for me and I suspect it will always be.  However, I am learning, albeit slowly, that I can choose to be happy, and grateful, and willing to grow spiritually and emotionally.

There are so many, like me, who live in the folds of life, in those creases where the sides are pressed so tightly against each other there is no room to breathe.  They are the ones everyone would like to forget, but can’t.  They are the ones who take up too many support services, escalating medical costs.  They are the ones the family hates to come home to, would love to escape, desperately want a safe place to put.

That guy stumbling erratically down the side of the road, his shirt on backwards, trying in his confusion to make it to the bar where he knows he can get free drinks? . . . He is one such as me.  The Eleanor Rigby type with hair haphazardly pulled into a pony tail, wearing a ratty bathrobe that hasn’t been cleaned in quite awhile, curled up in a corner of her couch, downing more than a half gallon of wine a night?  She is my best friend.  That one in handcuffs, the police are putting into the back, I know him well..

How could you, you say?  Nobody chooses this path – it chooses you.  It is seductive, subtle, insidious, and mysterious.  You start off more or less like everyone else, using drinks or drugs as they present themselves.  They are recreational, an added pleasure to enhance an experience.  For the socially repressed, shy and insecure, it is the ticket to fitting in, for repressing feelings you would rather do without anyway.  To those who live in fear, for those few moments, peace comes.  The chemicals abate, just a little while, the pain of insecurity and the fears and tortures which fill your life.  If you don’t feel like the conquering hero, you at least feel you are like everyone else.

Trust me – when you are an addict, you never, ever feel you are like everyone else.  You are a blight on the landscape of life.  You fill your days with rancor and your nights with self-hatred.  You are an accursed virus maligning all you touch, all you hold dear.  All you want is to hide from those feelings for just a little while.

And then there are the reactions of your family and friends to your addiction.  They try so hard to understand.  They think their love and well-meaning will make all the difference, at least for the first hundred times.  They pack the addict’s bags and send them to rehab, assuming responsibility for the addict’s life – paying bills, caring for children, making repairs to broken furniture and damaged property, covering the cost of rehab when insurance doesn’t, searching the home for every last ounce of drug or alcohol hidden away.

One father bought a brand new car for his freshly sober daughter, thinking since she had gotten help in rehab, she wouldn’t be having anymore accidents.  My mother spent over $10,000 paying bills that were far overdue.  She bought me a newer car, replacing the one I ran into the ground.  My ex-in-laws drove across country to pick up my daughter and bring her to California for the summer while I was in a rehabilitation center.  My condo was sold and I moved to a more manageable apartment.

 The day I woke in the hospital, hallucinating, seeing spots on every surface, nurses seemingly moving like automatons; mostly I was completely confused.  I had suffered  brain trauma from the drugs and seizures – but part of me was vastly relieved.  I was in the hospital 10 days, rehab 3 weeks, and the Partial Hospital Program at the hospital to deal with the Depression.  It had ended.  There would be no going back.  That chapter of my life was over.  I had so far to crawl before I could begin to walk but the nightmare was over.  I was terrified and ashamed, racked by guilt, but I had a chance now.  I could barely look at my daughter, but I had an opportunity to make-up for my mistakes.

As I crept back into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, I was very embarrassed but I would do whatever I had to do to recover.  Luckily, the people in those rooms are generous and full of heart.  They knew of shame, they themselves felt they had invented it.  I was befriended and supported until I could begin to support myself.  I had done it before for alcohol, I would do it again for drugs.  It didn’t come easy.  It’s been many meetings since and I have begun to feel like a human being again.  I am profoundly grateful . . .  too many have not been able to reach and maintain sobriety. – things could have been so much worse.  My personal life of shame is ending.  I no longer have the need to trot it out and tote it around, its imprint leaving deep grooves in my back.