“…riding this unending wave of…unrealistic optimism…delusions of grandeur…”
I had been manic for over a week after sharing my art in a sexual assault survivors show, and talking to people there. There are times when I forget what lurks just under the surface, because I have been way off center since then. Of all things, I was so high the night of the show that I went next door to this Huge sculpture shop and blabbed about myself and how I want to sculpt (which I do), and introducing myself th the owner. He was very kind and personable, and sent me to talk to his designer, who was also very kind, very charismatic and really got me wanting to work in a shop again.
I got a wee bit off the beam, though. I came home and started writing a grant proposal while simultaneously applying to this famous sculpture artist’s shop, while also offering to be an apprentice, and messaging the director in a crazily familiar manner… Whew! I am mortified when I think about it. Not only was I manic that day, I was on a roll for days and days, seemingly riding this unending wave of optimism. Unrealistic optimism, which I do believe is called delusions of grandeur.
Ah well, I guess I have a lot to be grateful for, I am clean and sober today so I didn’t try to seduce anyone, or get drunk and puke on anyone! Yes, that is a huge thing to be grateful about, because 21 years ago I had serious regrets after a night out. Oh boy. How easy to forget how far I’ve come!
I know now that I never have to go back to being an addict or an alcoholic, but how dare I ever forget this gift of sobriety. I know in the rooms of AA we would talk about keeping it fresh…I’m glad I’m writing to you now or I may not have remembered to be grateful. “Out of the mire and the sediment… You put my feet on a crag…a new song in my mouth…praise to our God!”
I just heaved a great big sigh of relief, that all I have today is a gift, and I have so, so much more than I could ever deserve. To breathe to cool night air, to reflect on a day well lived, with a soft bed to sleep in and warm food in my belly. There was a different time back then- but it’s time to walk away from that wreckage in my mind. Pack it all back up into the little ammo can it lives in, bury it deep in the earth and let it dissolve into nothingness. I know that one day the memories will never hurt me again, and I will keep pushing on until that day comes.
…there was nothing…but to keep chasing the high, reality became too painful…married you so…you could not testify against him?…
I’ve been busy trying to find some balance. It has been a difficult issue all my life. I can be impetuous and impatient, wanting things to happen yesterday. In the past I hated discipline, and yet needed it desperately. I rebelled against everything, and prided myself on living outside the lines.
But I yearned to have the life I saw others living. I was always on the outside looking in-at families sitting round a dinner table, or gathered in front of a fireplace. Friends having lunch in a deli, or laughing at a movie. I was standing just outside, in three feet of snow, higher than a kite…and crying. Wishing I were in that house, sitting down to a hot meal, my heart full of love and surrounded by kindness. Full of joy. Full of hope.
After certain traumatic events I thought I could never be in the presence of ‘normal’ people again. Or in the company of ‘nice girls’. These feelings are common to those of us who have been forced to walk on the dark side…and that is exactly what kept me stuck on the outside looking in. As someone who had been sexually abused it was easy to believe that no one could understand me, I was different, warped somehow, out of line and irreparably broken.
These lines of reasoning are what kept me stoned, drunk and living on the street. A perverted sense of pride kept me “out there”; I was terminally unique and no one could understand me.
(I shut my eyes and drift back to those dark days when my husband and I were getting close to the end, an end that I knew was not going to have me walking out alive…)
The world I had immersed myself in was squeezing me dry. No true happiness, just oblivion. Once the money and the dope were gone, so was the glamor. Now there was nothing for it but to keep chasing the high, reality became to painful. To realize the person you left your family for never really loved you at all? That he married you so that you could not testify against him? Wait..what? What?…
The collect calls home, just to hear Mom’s voice, ” Are you alright, Susan? Do you have enough to eat? “
“Sure, Mom, no problem…we have work now, good work…Cement Plant shutdown…lots of money. Come up and see us sometime…”
They better never come visit. See me with black eyes, track marks. Find out we are living in a tent. Holidays coming round again, and I’m too strung out to visit. Oh, the bitter tears I cried that year, and the one after, and the one after that….endless rivers from red, swollen eyelids, dripping off the end of a snotty nose, wiped on dirty sleeves. Sleeves that roll up to purple scars on blue veins, sitting in a gray cement bathroom holding a syringe between tobacco stained teeth, ready to ride that white pony into blue, blue blue blue blue blu
That is not the way this story ended. It could have soooooo easily, except for one thing. One thing that I never would have believed if you had told it to me then. During those last few dangerous days of my marriage, days when he would get so high he would wire all the doors in the trailer shut from the inside, while creeping around with a hammer…days when I was so afraid of what he would do that I would hide in the bathtub hoping he wouldn’t find me… days when he beat me unconscious…when he shot wildly in a drunken stupor, missing me by inches…when he flushed a half ounce of coke down the toilet then dug up the septic tank and pulled the package out…days when he would OD and I brought him back to life, pounding on his chest and screaming, “Don’t die you #@$!%*!”…Then on our 7th anniversary he went to work at the naval shipyard, I made his favorite dinner and waited eagerly for him to come home, ready to forgive him one more time. Waited and waited, as the hours passed…losing hope I broke down, and prayed, not knowing what had happened but sensing something was wrong.
I remember lying in the dark , begging God for forgiveness as memories moved thru my mind, memories of all the hatred in my life, the drugs, the violence, all the pain I had caused, and abuse I had endured. I poured myself out to God, like I had not done in nearly 20 years. I really felt at that time that I was doomed, doomed to never get out of this situation alive. The violence and depravity were so overwhelming, and he had made sure to impress upon me, in no uncertain terms that if I were to ever try to leave, it would be my family who would pay for my error. And pay dearly. After pouring out my heart to God, I slept, drained of tears and exhausted .
It was a strange dream , and many years have passed, so I won’t attempt to relate it now. I was then awakened by a pounding on the door. My heart sank… Was this the police telling me some terrible news?
It was Jim, my husbands coworker, they rode to work together. He was beside himself… ” Sue, I have some bad news, really bad… I don’t know what happened but there was a SWAT team! The FBI, my god, it was terrible! They had their Guns drawn, told us all to get out of the van, get on the ground!”
Jim! (I heard myself yelling) Jim! Where is Marty? Is he ok? IS HE DEAD?
“what? Oh, no,no, he’s not dead, but they took him away, they cuffed us all, we were freaking out, questioned us all, but let us all go, except him!”
Oh, thank God, I remember feeling so relieved. He wasn’t dead on the highway, or shot by police… But what was he arrested for?
” Sue, it’s really bad, they were asking about guns, said we were stealing guns or something? They charged him with something to do with weapons, I don’t know…”
We talked on thru the night, and I was all wrapped up in how to deal with this new reality… So wrapped up that it did not dawn on me till years later that God answered my prayer that night, and he answered it in a BIG way. I survived my marriage to that man, I survived the addiction to cocaine and got clean, survived all the beatings, survived the alcoholism, the pain, the sadness, the insanity… Thanks to God.
I prayed for help and He heard my prayer… I am so very, very grateful to Jehovah, for his Son, Jesus, and for all His wonderful Wisdom , Power, Justice and Love. He is the Sovereign of the Universe and the Right to Rule belongs to Him, and to those whom he chooses to give it.
The Kingdom is in place, let it come!
Life is so good today. I am isolated, but I am never alone. I feel sad sometimes, but I am not without hope. There is nothing anyone can do to me that my God cannot undo. I do not need to cower in fear, because “there are more who are with us than those there are with them”(2 Kings 6:16b) I hope that you find some comfort knowing that God is the hearer of prayer, and the He wants us to talk to him, and share our feelings with him.
“For I well know the thoughts I am thinking toward you,” declares Jehovah, ” thoughts of peace, and not of calamity, to give you a future, and a hope. And you will call me, and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:11,12
“You will call, and Jehovah will answer; you will cry for help and he will say ,”Here I am!” Isaiah 58:9″
“Jehovah is close to the broken-hearted; He saves those who are crushed in spirit” Psalms34:18
We have come to a crossroads in our lives as father and daughter. I have spent a good part of my life being my parents’ caregiver, both my Mom(rectal cancer) and Dad’s ( Dementia/Alzheimer’s). While their suffering has been extensive I am going to focus a bit on the changes a Codependent-Bipolar-Recovering Addict/Alcoholic with Disabilities-Caregiver faces(which, by the way is me.).
When I moved back home in 1997 Mom and Dad were in good health. Mom was 61 and recently diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes, but even being about 40 pounds overwieght she was working at Breakers (their Billiard Parlor) and enjoying her life. Aside from a jagged relationship with an unreasonable husband and cranky recovering daughter, Mom was upbeat and cheerful. We really rekindled our friendship and became inseperable.
At this point I was SO happy to be home with them both, back from such a tumultuous marriage. Mentally I was bouncing from elation to depression, and trying so hard to change the things around the house that did not suit my taste. I wanted to move furniture, paint rooms, throw junk away- basically disrupt their whole cozy world. I tried so hard to gain Dad’s approval, an impossibility though it proved to be. As a rebellious hellion I fought often with Dad, huge arguments and obscenities exchanged, which upset my Mom to no end.
As I spent time in 12 step life, I changed and after a year sober sought mental health counselling at a nearby state funded facility on an outpatient basis. With a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and proper medication my raging moods changed slowly. I learned to be tolerant, accepting of shortcomings in myself and others, making my ammends and dumping years of grudges and resentment into my mental trash dump. My Higher Power took the refuse and threw it away for me, and a huge burden was lifted and I eventually was relieved of the compulsion to get high/drunk.
It took years of work, and after working at Breaker’s for a few years it was time to spread my wings a little. I got a job at a counselling center as a driver, and was exposed to people in Recovery forty hours a week. I had free access to addiction counsellor advice, reading material, and began studying codependency among other issues. I took clients to 12 step meetings a couple nights a week, got a great sponsor and worked the steps like a lion. I saw first hand the ravages of addiction in the faces of new clients I picked up at the airport as they flew into our sunny skies to get clean and sober in the great state of Florida. They were so, so sick and broken, just as I had been such a short time before.
Sharing my “story” at AA meetings was cathartic, purging myself of excess baggage, but mostly focussing on upbeat positive changes in sobriety. I started a Gratitude journal, and kept my thoughts written down each day as I morphed into a citizen. My relationships at home mellowed, and I was milder, kinder, and Mom and Dad responded. We had familial peace for the first time in the 25 years of my ative addiction. I felt so indebted to my parents, and felt I just had to show them how sorry I was , how changed I was. It became a driving force in my life, and my new obsession.
And the Codependent wheel kept right on spinning, gaining momentum with each passing year…(to be continued)
The receptionist wasn’t fired! I feel so much better now!!
I made it to the appt. I had at noon today at the Mental Health Facility.( I will make an effort not to berate myself or others with mental health issues by calling the place by derogatory names. So, I will abbreviate it to M.H.F.) I was there to see my new therapist, to replace the one who left last year w/out saying bye. I wound up taking Father along, the caregiver was off this morning. I didn’t know how this would pan out, I figured he would probably sit in the car, and I would pop in his Carpenter’s Greatest Hits tape, which he adores.
I was heroic in getting to the MHF on time, and when I saw my new lady, I was pleased. She looked nice enough, maybe I could open up to her. We got through the introductions, and then the meat of the evaluation began. And the memories came, great shovels full as if one of the snow plows up north were dumping the past on top of me. I was buried in the chair.
The drugs, rapes, fighting, crimes and all the other dirty little secrets came out for her to document. See, she had my file, so she already knew. But she wanted to hear me SAY it. And it was vile. The flashing image of sitting wide eyed in a crack house for days, heart ready to burst from the coke. The other images, the ones I can’t speak of, all painted in blood red on the walls of my mind. Sad memories. Sad…
But I am here, and I am going to get through this, without the ship capsizing, this time. When I finished with the gory then, I was SO proud to tell her about the glorious NOW!! Fifteen SOLID years clean and sober! A woman of courage now, full of zeal, wanting to tell my fellow humans that there is a way out of that terrible life, a way out of that pit. I suddenly remembered, while I was nailed to my chair, that I have made huge strides with the help of my God and friends. Strides away from morally degrading things, like blackouts and regret for my actions. The changes God has helped me make with my uncontrolled hate and anger- to a point where I have gently cared for my Dad with his FRUSTRATING illness for years, without hitting walls or breaking dishes. I can’t believe I can say this, but I am a clean and upright, law abiding citizen now!!!
Now, do not think that I believe these changes were miraculous, or that I somehow am different than other addicts, alcoholics, or any other ” sinner”. In my past, before I was able to get clean and sober, I made it my goal to be as low down mean as a woman can get. I was a fighter- really!- and I seethed with hatred for authority. I had many, many issues. I was battered, and I battered back.
I never thought I would live any other way. But when I was ready, and I surrendered, became teachable, and put down the drugs and alcohol, and followed the 12 step programs, something happened. It was slow, but my vision started to clear. I began to see myself in a new light, a kinder, softer light. If I had not died in the life I was in, maybe I could be like these others at the meeting, with their hair combed, clothes clean. Maybe I could care about myself, maybe I could care about someone else. What I had dreaded was now as pleasant as honey on my tongue.the little voice of the girl I was born as began to be audible to me.
I thanked my “Higher Power” often in prayer each day, and kept a daily gratitude journal. No matter what, I had to write down 3 things I was grateful for each day. I got a sponsor, and I followed what she suggested. I made amends where I could, then let God have the rest.
As the years past though, I was still crying all the time, depressed nearly everyday. I never felt happy, and there was a void. Fortunately for me, one of the other members of the 12 step program strongly suggested I seek help from mental health professionals. I did, and my life really opened up. I still have had to make a huge effort to learn new ways, even with the meds, and a correct diagnosis. And another thing that has brought me so much comfort is my relationship with Jehovah. I am a peaceful person now, and He has taught me how to love through His Son Jesus. He never abandoned me, I had turned my back on Him.
Now His word, the Bible, and His holy spirit(active force), and my faith in the Ransom Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, lead me into greener pastures every single day. the beauty of His creation shines through my windows each morning, and He helps me with my brothers and sisters in the congregation who love me. I had forgotten how I got here, and how amazing and wonderful it is. When I was baptized by full water immersion and made a public declaration of my dedication the Jehovah God, a light started to show in my eyes, my whole countenance has changed too. Now I see the happiness in myself that I had only ever seen in other people, even with all my struggles.
Oh, I’m noholy roller, I make mistakes every day. I swear many times, and I watch violent Tv, but I keep trying to do better, and God forgives me when I repent. I really struggle to be acceptable to my God. But Jehovah knows that I am made of dust, He knows my heart. And he knows yours too.