R

I’m here.

A plethora of major life changes has absorbed most of my time. Then I read Nic Sheff’s “Tweak.” I awoke to the thought that I am on the cusp of Relapse with such stressors swirling around me for the past year.

I don’t know exactly what I was looking for in his words. Whether it be affirmation that we [addicts] all eventually self-destruct no matter how many chips lay on the dusty top of your bureau, or some deterring fact about getting high that for some unknown reason you haven’t thought of yet- but I ended up discovering a bit of both.

sheffself destruct

So, “the big R” has remained a tenant in my mind for quite some time now. Not just with all the harmful chemicals, but also with my codependent tendencies. Hell to tendencies, more like life-long choices and consequences. After my last attempt at marriage, I decided it was time to be FREEbirds

This is the first time in my life being sober, along with being single, along with the pressures of being there for sick family, along with my dependent and heart-breakingly adorable puppy counting on me for everything, along with defining boundaries while no longer being able to see my therapist, and discovering strength in supporting myself.

My addiction tells me that this perfect storm is what We have been waiting for as an excuse to dive back into the depths of depravity.

“It’s like if the music is loud enough I won’t be able to listen to my own thoughts. ” ― Nic SheffTweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines

I felt safe in a community of those who faced “the big R” and chose to save their strength for the next battle and bow down to the intense cravings. I wouldn’t be the scum of the earth to conveniently forget about my Healthy coping mechanisms. I could shoot up again and not have forfeited my right to exist in this recovering world! However, this novel did not strike me as supporting Relapse, but more the daily reasons to fight for sobriety even if “This time will be different.” The guilt and shame are the obvious front runners, but pride in oneself has always eluded me. I can be proud of myself, without a man or dope? An epiphany.

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And then I tumbled. I do adore my Can Do attitudes most days- but when I tumble, I usually crash land.

So MJ has re-entered my life in a substitute for medications way. I crave passion in a dark and deep way. I am trust falling into the arms of my Addiction. He’s always there waiting for me. I think I’ve booted him to some exotic and fatal island, but then continue to realize he is my boomerang. My shoulders are heavy with caution and foreboding. I have not fallen to my knees in surrender, but my self persuasion techniques are wearing me down quickly.

I could never have a little of anything. Food, drugs, sex, exercise, dieting, anorexia, bulimia, traumatic self-inflicted situations, and spiraling out of control whether I have support from others or not. With CoDA meetings, authors like Nic, and music by The Weekend and Lana del Rey I might be able to fight “the big R” this round.scarslove

As always, I am still here. The pages of other’s struggles and cause for pride keep me hanging on. Stay strong

 

The Art in Starting Over

crossroads2I sleepwalk along my new path. Each crossroads I came upon now are past dreams. My marriage, my marriage before that one, my apartments, my friends, my stays in rehabs and hospitals, my birthdays, my sick days, my pets, my words, His voice, my patients, and  every touch- all swirl through my chest and up into my mind. They haunt me and comfort me. Now, though, they too are the Past.

Now, I am ME. I am a collage of these dreams. I am not finished. My resolve will grow and my back will straighten. I will love without bending. I will sob without shattering. I will continue to sleepwalk until I wake up smiling.

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In a reading frenzy I have rediscovered sensuality In Fifty Shades, my uniqueness in A Sign of My Own, empathy in Me Before You, and a plethora of treasures. Another divorce threatens to turn me bitter and heartbroken. Another move with my tail tucked firmly between my legs threatens to suck my independence and pride from my muscles. I cannot cope with poison or pain. I cannot bolt from confrontation.

So I opt for others’ strength in fiction. I absorb the shapes and shadows in paintings. I welcome the passionate notes of the piano as words can now stab me with a shunned emotion. I have faith in my senses and uncertainty and doubt beyond that. I trust Aimee Bender’s words and Jack Vettriano’s strokes. I thank Beethoven for the peace currently swelling in my chest.

Coping strategies can be everything. I will learn to accept help from loved ones. I will try to accept that marriage is not necessarily for everyone and that sometimes your wings are stronger when flying alone. I will learn to never settle, that I can discover new passions, new talents.

I often am in awe of women who choose to strut down that new path with her heart bleeding and scars searing. I now have every intention of gluing my shattered pieces into a new mosaic. A collage of my past, love as my putty, and my senses to add color- I will strut towards my new adventures. I’ve died a thousand deaths already. Gonna try something new

her

 

Keeping Residence in My Memories

The bottoms of my feet are blistering. My mouth tastes like I have been chewing on sour fruit. I haven’t spoken aloud for long enough that I fear I will forget how to form words. I study every crab grass filled crack in the sidewalks so as not to meet anyone’s eyes. The scent of baked nicotine mixed with sweat and anxiety continues to swim from my skin and crashes up my nostrils, making my empty stomach turn over. Chills rack up my spine and ache through my shoulders every few minutes. My thoughts surf by before I have a chance to catch one to see that they were once his words but now circle through my mind as my own.

“You can’t survive on your own.” It’s gone before I can ask why or to even sullenly agree.

“You will not look anyone in their eyes.” Wait, what if it’s by accident? Gone too fast.

“You can’t afford to gain anymore weight.” Come back! I won’t! Look, I haven’t even eaten in weeks!

My energy has evaporated. I am no match for the speed and strength of these thoughts. I just allow them to swarm. I pause my steps by the mound of black ants next to my red and oozing feet. Shallow breaths. Muffled sounds. Honking traffic. A mother scolding her child. A convenience store door dinging surprise at each customer.

“You’ll always be alone.” This thought makes the sour fruit start to rot on my tongue and all sound dive even deeper underwater. I am alone. Alone, starving, homeless, exhausted, and withdrawing from the poison I would give anything for right now. He was right. I will die. Maybe today, hopefully. A tingling as I notice the ants mistake my toes as part of the earth.

“Ma’am are you okay? Ma’am!” Her voice sounds shill yet so far away.

More honking but now I can feel it directed at me. The pavement is even hotter on my cheekbone than it was through my paper thin sandals. Rotten fruit and pennies now. No more energy. No more will to keep shuffling on away. Away from him. The game of cat and little sick mouse is over.

____________________________________________

That days haunts me most nights now. That was one of the days in which I had given up and realized that, being the true addict that I am, I had successfully shoved every loving person who didn’t want me to drown in the poison- right out of my life.

 

“The wounds that never heal can only be mourned alone.”
James Frey, A Million Little Pieces   million

I did read this book before before I delved into the depths of my self inflicted torture. There was a whole lot of controversy over whether it was a memoir or fiction. Oprah kicked Frey out of her little club. But honestly, absorb the words. Did Frey actually go on a run so bad that he woke up with his body mangled and his memory shot to shit? Who knows. I have, and I’ll tell you Frey’s words written about coming back from something like that- That is Real. I, too, had been shattered. You do not put the pieces back together. That’s not how it works. I have since reread this book and am just as much comforted by the tale as I am any NA handbook, if not more.

We aren’t alone, we just shatter differently sometimes.  shatter

Mother Me, Success

Of course the tale of a wee man in a bird cage kept by a normal-sized sadistic owner would re-ignite the writing fires from deep within my soul. Or you know.. hook me back into what I incessantly procrastinate.

“Pain was no longer a mystery to him, and a man familiar with pain has entered a new kind of freedom.”
Aimee Bender, Willful Creatures

If Aimee Bender translates her warped ideas into print so seamlessly, well then I better get to trying.

caged

I will try and prevent myself from ranting and raving about each one of her extraordinary pieces, for now.

So I then order myself a bit of guidance off of Amazon in the form of “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott. This warm and snarky woman gives me the push. She sets up the family reunion for my characters and myself. She strips the metaphor of its ski mask so I will not cower from it. I smile back vindictively at my self-loathing, doubt, and hopelessness when I stare down at my keyboard.

Thank you, Anne. I needed that.

So the fire under my ass has been lit. Comfort other than my loaded mac n cheese has been spoon fed to me. The Go Get Em note (“On Writing” by S.K.) has been lovingly tucked inside of my bagged lunch- thank you Mr. King.

I’m ready.

I can do this.

I’ve been preparing for this story my whole life.

It’s okay if most times the fear of repeating what I’ve read creeps up.

It’s “normal” if every time I get to the end of a page I want to tear it up into a million pieces and make failure confetti.

I need to stop putting off sharing my twisted and dreamy tales.

Here I go

to-be-continued--1

Saved by Erik’s Climb

pulse

I have been in my hell.

I abandoned myself there, where no one could reach me.

No “I love you’s” or “I’m sorry’s” could break through. No empathetic smiles attached to “But you can recover, you’re a strong woman” could touch my heart. His daily, “You’ll die on your own, you need me” chants rang louder than all the church bells in the world inside my brain. The poison in my veins convinced me that the sole reason that I was failing at life was because I simply was not made to be in it. I am no snowflake. I haven’t offered some irreplaceable piece of talent or inspiration to anyone. My Catholic upbringing forbidding me to take my own life had worn off years ago like an awkward phase I’m now embarrassed by. Did I believe in a god? I’d like to say yes because I feel that is the appropriate answer.. but no. I wanted to have the faith and inward strength those who believed seemed to possess. I wanted the peace of mind that we don’t just rot away and cease to exist in every sense of the word. But no.. I believed that we flourish or fade away.

And I was fading fast.

Waking up in a dual diagnosis locked down psych ward to sympathetic glances and tones in their voices- combined with the sensation of swimming in mud- I was lost. “You couldn’t be in a safer place right now.” Safe from what? I searched my spotted memory.

“Do you want us to call anyone? Family? A husband?” To tell them what? I was forgetting something important.

“I’m Dr ______, could you please tell us why you attempted suicide?” What??

Booming voices. Panic. EMTs asking me what year it is. My chest hurts. My head is caving in. The afternoon light pouring in through the bathroom curtains. I don’t know those curtains. “Do it, you’re dead without me,” his voice always flooding each room in my mind. Words sewn together from several worried voices. “OD’d…. Fifth one this week. CPR… Brother saved her… Narcaine… No note…. No record… Lucky..”

Lucky. Put Luck on the list of things I no longer believe in.

Over the next few weeks, professionals and painful phone calls to my brother helped me piece together the facts. Yes, it had been my intention. Yes I’m sorry I put you through that. No, I wasn’t lucky. Because I am in my own hell.. my past is renting out my being and it has sucked the desire for a present and future completely out of me.

Then one day I woke up to a book on the corner of my neatly starched bed. I had not spoken to the other patients, and had shied away from any compassion at all. They only piled onto my guilt, my shame, and my anger. Someone had left this book for me without pinning it to my conscience with a “You might get something out of this” or “To keep your mind off of things.” Erik Weihenmayer  entered my life free of charge.

“Touch the Top of the World” altered my perspective of my situation. Not drastically, but enough so that I wanted to have a goal again. I wanted to do something besides causing and feeling pain. I wanted to be determined and strong. I won’t say it is the best novel ever penned, or that I recommend it to everyone. There is a lot of climbing jargon and details that remain lost on me, but the essence of his drive and what it meant to others, that moved me in a way I will never regret and remain grateful for.

erikI now move through each day considering that there may be another way of living tomorrow than how I’m afraid to do it.There may be no God. There may be no Luck. But there seems to be Purpose.

That’s what I believe in.

Passion vs Boredom

van gogh

I have been an orphaned princess, an eccentric sociopath, a gay man in the sixties, a curious girl obsessed with numbers and consumed by compulsions, a wife knowing my husband of all ages at all times, an alcoholic and abusive father quickly diving into insanity, and a myriad of uniquely passionate, even though sometimes heart-wrenching, lives.

Then… I am me.

“One would like to be grand and heroic, if one could; but if not, why try at all? One wants to be very something, very great, very heroic; or if not that, then at least very stylish and very fashionable. It is this everlasting mediocrity that bores me.” -Harriet Beecher Stowe
I occupy maybe too large a portion of my life musing on how the  Mona Grays or the Clare Abshires resume their lives. How does Holden Caulfield spend his remaining days- in the sanitorium or as a school janitor locked in his own thoughts? I have learned to crave, seek, and survive both uplifting and poisonous “adventures.” I have thrived and yet have fallen into the abyss, and battled PTSD. I have transported my life from one coast to the other, been fighting addiction daily, and have uncovered a deep seeded need to care for those on hospice, but how does one cope with the “9-5 responsible life?”
I pay my bills. I walk my dog. I love my husband. I enjoy and respect my work. I am polite and well mannered. I small talk the cashier or the tourist passing by. I change my car’s oil. I bitch about then do my taxes. I call my mom every weekend to check in. I vent to my friendly therapist weekly. I vacuum and dust surprisingly often. I opt to wash our dishes by hand while throwing condescending glances in the direction of our perfectly operating dishwasher. I keep a notebook to remember the names of this patient’s dog or mother, of that doctor’s appointment, and the cat’s wet food or bread for which ever runs out first. I blame the chemicals and seizures for my lack of short term memory. Deep down in my soul, though, I am fully aware that what is plaguing me is the dreaded boredom. After all, it may be difficult to recall life’s sometimes uninteresting details.
Today is a Sunday. My least favorite day as my anxiety propels me to anticipate every catastrophic situation tomorrow may very well bring. So for today I choose to be passionate about sweeping the boredom under the rug. Monday will allow me to fall back in line of the march to work to laundry to pay the cable company and to set my alarm for the following day. Right now, I think I will return to the comforting giggles I know David Sedaris continues to promise.
Here’s to passion in pages!

The Interwebs?!?!

Welcome to my blog, and may I add this is an entirely new concept to me! I suppose I have spent more time peeking into others’ lives through the pages than learning to adjust to the “new ways” of today. When my therapist (a story for another time) suggested blogging as a path to explore my craving to share my perspective and tales, I was stumped. How could I be satiated by the internet when I dream of pacing libraries? When I inhale and smile at the scent of an aging book? When I was fearful and resentful of the Kindle.. the Nook?! However, like my heroines in the stories I treasure so deeply, I have learned to accept and [hopefully] adapt.

So here I go and I genuinely hope you enjoy!