I love Anne Lamott but have never read this passage before. I needed to read it today because there have been many days in the past and now where I’ve felt the inadequacy of being a shitty mother. Of never being good enough because of years of active addiction where I not only aliented myself but also my children, husband, family and friends.
Through years of cumulative sobriety, an awesome sponsor/sponsee, active recovery work with a terrific support system, an outstanding therapist that I actually don’t lie to, I’ve learned to love myself again. I’m empathetic not only to those I’ve hurt, but to the fact that I was hurt child trying to cover up pain from a past that could no longer hurt me,but I still hadn’t dealt with.
Children and parents estranged from one another need to remember, we were individuals before we had titles, and even with those titles, we’re still individuals. We feel pain, we hurt others. We feel elation, and we allow others to shine. We grow and change, but some of us remain stagnant and fear the future. Some of us get lucky and start to move forward again.
We’ll never be perfect, nor would we want to be. Yet we are good people and hopefully, when the sun sets upon our lives those we’ve hurt will come back to us again.
“I remember that feeling of skin. It’s strange to remember touch more than thought. But my fingers still tingle with it.”-Lucy Christopher
My pulse quickened as Matt enclosed his left hand around my right. The intimacy of his actions brought a blush to my cheeks. Confused, I wanted to pull away but I craved the contact. Instead of retreating, I allowed his hand to engulf mine. My mouth went dry, as his thumb repeatedly caressed the palm of my hand.
I yielded to his touch, my heart slowed its thready beat, and I allowed myself to enjoy the closeness of my dear friend. He asked for nothing but my hand. He told me he loved me and how glad he was I came into his life. We grew silent, as his thumb continued to make lazy circles on my palm.
His was the first intimate touch I’d felt since I’d become sober. It wasn’t a sexual touch. I wasn’t sure how to label it, and honestly, I didn’t care to. In that five minutes, I felt more protected and loved than I had in a long time.
With our hands clasped, my friend silently asked nothing of me, but to love every broken, raw and damaged part of him. And in return, I asked him to do the same for me.
I am 32 Flavors and then some
I’m nobody, but I am someone
The last year of my addiction to alcohol had killed my love of music. Every time I listened to any song I would feel it so deeply that I would be left sobbing. If I couldn’t listen to music, I damn sure couldn’t write either. So in the last six months I fed my need for words by listening to NPR and the great Dave and Chuck the Freak morning show on 101.1 The WRIF in Detroit.
During detox and rehab we weren’t allowed to have our phones, so I was starved for information, morning radio shows, and finally, music. The few songs I did get to hear during that time made me cry, but there was no longer any deep seeded pain connected to it. The pain I felt was the itch and burn of healing to my tattered and war torn soul.
On the day I walked out of the Brighton Center of Recovery, the sun of early fall was shining. It lit my hair and my spirit on fire and I knew I was on the path to rebirth. I threw my suitcase in the backseat, and placed my ID and insurance card back into my wallet. I slid the keys into the ignition, turned the engine over, and rolled the windows down. As I drove out of the parking lot, I turned the radio up to 11, the wind caught my hair and I sang the words to whatever song that was playing on the radio.
I finally felt at home in the music, no matter if it was upbeat or a ballad. The words helpd incredible power! Not to hurt me, but to help me heal. Everyday I get closer to fine with the help of my IOP group, my AA community, my other Brighton alums, my friends and family and my music. Oh my fucking God, I am so incredibly blessed!
May you find peace and serenity today, and may you find joy in the little things in life.
‘Let us be willing to release old hurts.’- Martha Smock
The last three years have been especially harrowing, yet you’ve persevered. I always knew you were a strong woman.
I want you to forgive yourself for the last ten years of drinking. I want you to love and accept yourself and know that you are a beautiful spirit.
You are not your past, and it does not need to define you. Your future and your community are the sober people, the perfectly broken.
Your children love you. The longer you are sober, the more their trust will return.
Do not look for love until you can find it within yourself.
Go to meetings.Work with a sponsor. Keep busy. Dive into work and become a stellar employee again.
Be kind to yourself and know that you alone are enough.
Let go of your past. Let go of love that is not evenly returned and move forward.
Find love from within, and the brilliance of it will flow to everyone you encounter.
Forgive yourself, and put your trust in the future.
(This is a letter I wrote to myself the last night of my stay at the Brighton Center for Recovery. My addiction counselor told me to save doing this section of my homework after everything else was done. I read it to my community the day I ventured out of the Brighton Bubble into the sunlight of new future. I’ll share of my journey when the time is right. For now, I have another story brewing about a wheat farmer and his wife. I hope to post it soon. This girl is getting her sparkle back for sure. Thanks for following me on this journey.)
The therapist raised the table up so that she could slowly jerk my stiff ankle from side to side. It didn’t hurt, but the sensation was definitely uncomfortable. When she was done, she pushed her fingers into the outer ankle bone and lifted it up for a few seconds at a time. The pain I felt was on the inside ankle bone. It was excruciating and I cried out. Amelia asked if she should stop, but I told her no, that pain was needed to heal. She then palpated the inner ankle bone and I felt the tendons crack. When she was done, she shook my ankle from side to side again. It felt good, even though I knew it would ache a few hours later. Physical therapy is a special kind of torture that needs to be administered in order to heal. Now that the ache of it has finally settled in, I must remember that this pain is merely fear leaving my body……
Meggie called during her lunch break and asked me how I was doing. I explained that my ankle ached and I was bitchy because of the pain. Her comment was she didn’t feel sorry for me since all she’d been doing is throwing up for the last 3.5 months. Yes, my lovely daughter is going to make me a grandma in June. That gorgeous blonde haired, blue eyed wild fire that I gave birth to 24 years ago is going to grace us with another living soul to walk this planet. So how can I complain about learning to walk again, while she’s growing a new life within her body?
We hung up while she let her dogs out and hoped they’d come in quickly so she’d get a chance to take a good nap with all three of her Huskies. I latched the leash on Eddie the Rat and took him outside, and he lifted his legs on the bushes just outside my apartment entrance. Because of the pain, I couldn’t walk very far, so we headed back inside. My text alert went off and I entered my password into my phone. Meggie informed me that she’d thrown up before she could get the dogs outside. I replied that I was so sorry and wished there was something I could do to help her. Unfortunately I couldn’t but she knows if I could, I would. After all, I am her mother. And what mother doesn’t want to take care of their child, no matter what age they are.
Meg’s final text to me told me that she was going to take a nap. I told her I was going to wrap Christmas presents. I hate shopping, and I’m not very fond of Christmas, but I figured while I still had my gym shoes and brace on, I better get as much wrapping done as I could. I knew the pain from my therapy session would settle in before too long, and the tears would flow.
My friend Lori has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her battle is much more in depth than mine, because her’s is for her life. While mine is for the chance to be able to not walk with a limp. I watch Lori’s battle closely and I cheer her on every single damn day. I know she has watched my battle closely and though she’s got her own fight, she cheers me on. I’ll fight for my chance to walk without pain. But I’ll fight for Lori too. And I’ll also fight for Megan’s struggle too. We are in our own kind of pain. We can’t discount the hurt. We can only fight through it.
It wasn’t long after I’d graduated from high school and broken things off with my first fiancé that I began to run a little wild. I met up with G. at a party but I’d known him since he was a freshman in high school. He was a senior and a jock so we really didn’t run in the same circles. That’s not entirely true, I ran in any circle I wanted to, seeing as I was a chameleon and all.
G. brought me a drink, a cheap brand of beer most likely. We sat and chatted while other party goers took turns doing lines of cocaine off a huge mirror that had been placed on a dining room table. I’m not sure if G. was into coke or not, but that drug scared the hell out of me. Our poison of the evening was alcohol, though we didn’t begrudge anyone else for choosing to snort lines off a mirror for five bucks a pop.
One beer turned into three and our tongues loosened. The conversation turned dirty and I saw a glimmer of mischief in his eyes. I gladly returned a devilish look and answered yes to his request to take me to bed. Walking hand in hand we quietly retreated to a friend’s apartment just a few doors away. We wasted no more time with pleasantries and innuendo. He produced a condom and I grinned from ear to ear. I’m pretty sure I rolled that condom onto his cock with my mouth.
It was a long time ago so I don’t remember all of the details, but I do remember having a lot of fun. I don’t ever remember laughing so much and feeling such comfort while completely naked. His body was beautiful, athletic and lithe. I lay underneath him enjoying the weight of his body on mine. The outstanding feeling of his hardness moving in and out of me. I arched my hips up to meet his thrusts when he stopped suddenly, and rolled off of me. There I was splayed before him, completely naked and vulnerable. My breasts and midriff were lit faintly by the moonlight streaming in a nearby window.
‘Fuck, you’re body is beautiful’, he said.
I was tongue-tied by his comment. No man had ever looked at my naked body with such reverence before. All I could manage was a smile that I hoped he could see in the moonlight of his friend’s bedroom. I pushed him onto his back and straddled his waist as I guided his cock back into me. Sweet Jesus, how he filled me completely.
Our bodies spent, we laid in bed and cracked jokes. I think we might have even shared another beer. As we dressed, we heard his friend S. come home. The poor boy was so drunk, I think he banged his arms and torso on every wall as he stumbled to his bathroom. S. threw up into his garbage can as G. and I walked out of the bedroom.
‘Hey Renee, how the fuck are you?’, he asked.
‘Better than you’, I giggled.
G. and I helped S. into bed, he whined incoherently about something and passed out almost as soon as his head hit the pillow. G. and I headed back to the party a few doors down. We didn’t exchange phone numbers and we never saw each other again. I can’t say I wasn’t a little disappointed, but sometimes sex is just that, sex. It was fulfilling and beautifully dirty.
I did see G. a few years later, at a little family restaurant in Saline. I walked in with my future husband and sat down in a booth. I looked up and there was G. grinning a devilish grin. The blood rushed to my cheeks and sex as I smiled back at him. I might have even said hello. I remember thinking what a delicious secret G. and I had.
I wonder, if I saw him now, would my body react the way it did 28 years ago? I’d like to think it would. I also wonder where he is now. I hope he’s happy. And I also hope he tells the woman he’s with now how beautiful she is.
Last Sunday, I held the small piece of bread in my left hand, and the tiny plastic glass of ‘wine’ in my right. The pastor recited a prayer, and with my eyes closed, I recalled the last time I’d taken communion. It was at Linda’s funeral, in a Catholic church. No, I’m not Catholic, but I am a rebel. Therefore I’ll be damned if anyone will tell me whether or not I can partake of the body and blood of my Lord Jesus Christ. I grinned at the memory while I chewed and drank. I had to stay seated during communion because my newly mended right ankle was achy and stiff.
The pastor spoke of finding joy in our nearness to God. That happiness is fleeting, but joy is everlasting. As the lesson continued, I began to do my daily ankle exercises. I pointed my right toes as far forward as I could and held them there for ten seconds. I released the stretch and pulled my toes up toward the sky as far as I could. I held the stretch for another ten seconds, repeating each stretch 15 times. Then came the side to side stretches. The sermon progressed and I placed my right foot back on the floor. It didn’t ache nearly as much as it did before I stretched the Achilles tendon six ways from Sunday.
A particular bible verse struck a raw emotional nerve and I began to cry. Don’t ask me what it was about, because I can’t recall it. All I know is it had something to do with paying for indiscretions and mistakes. That once we are forgiven by God, we must learn to forgive ourselves. As I wiped my eyes, Laura asked if I was all right, and I assured her I was. That I was better than all right. That I was forgiven.
After the sermon ended, we made our way to the back of the church. My ankle was stiff as I began to walk, but I noticed that I no longer had any pain. The familiar ache had disappeared! A smile spread across my face and was lit by the morning sun. I walked with almost an entirely normal gait. I felt free for the first time since March 11, 2014. I. Was. Free!
It’s Wednesday night and the pain has not returned. I’ve had a few twinges here and there, but that’s because I had a very intense physical therapy session on Tuesday afternoon. On March 12, 2014 after 5.5 hours or reconstructive surgery on my right ankle, my life changed. I know it will never be the same, but I am assured with God’s grace and love I have recovered.
I see her every morning at the bus stop. She is dark haired and tall. Statuesque I’d guess you’d say. Her long dark hair is always piled high atop her head and her brown eyes are framed by little square glasses. They are also black. Usually she is bundled up and covered to the point where all I can see are her dark eyes and the warm breath escaping from the break in the scarf that covers her mouth.
Today, it was 19 degrees and with her face uncovered, she ventured to light a cigarette in the otherwise bitter winter we’ve been having. I could tell she was a polite smoker, keeping the lit end held close to the ground and away from the man that was standing at the bus stop with her. He seemed indignant as she exhaled a plume of smoke into the air, away from him. He sauntered from where his feet are usually planted while he waits to climb aboard the warm bus that will take him to I’ve no idea where.
I watched this young woman that I assumed would throw her middle fingers up at the rest of the world, drop the freshly lit cigarette into the snow. She mashed it out with her toad stompin’ boots (a description coined by my brother-in-law for the choice of boots I often wear), then turn to the man that stood next to her. She didn’t say anything to him, but I think she was trying to send him some kind of signal that she understood his disdain for her dirty habit.
My light turned green, I let my foot up on the brake and pressed the gas pedal. In my rear view mirror, I saw the man move back to his usual spot next to the dark haired woman. She turned her body away from him, finding comfort in their closeness, but not really.
I thought about other situations that we humans find ourselves in that may deem uncomfortable. Elevators, stadium or theater seats and conference rooms. They raise our anxiety, cause heart palpitations, and other forms of stress. The beautiful woman at the bus stop today gave the non-descriptive man that she usually stands with some comfort. Probably without even knowing it.
Isn’t that something we should all be doing, giving comfort? Or finding ways to of making things better for others? Such are the thoughts that fall out of my blond brain on my way to work on a Wednesday morning.
(I’m not sure how much I will be posting here. I’ve missed writing and sharing my thoughts with you all. Thank you for reading.)
These days words leave me hollow like a rotting tree stump. It may be dying, but there’s life buzzing in it anyway. Insects and animals colonize within, while the stump slowly decays and becomes one with the earth again.-Heath
I’m hollow. An empty vessel. Spent. And my story has been told. Every single one of my posts have helped bring me peace. I’ve poured my heart into every word I’ve written. Doesn’t matter if the story was real or fiction. I still bled on these pages.
The fictional stories have all had some grain of reality. A real person. A need. A want. A longing and desire. I have never created characters. I’ve created living, breathing people. Maybe someday I’ll tell you the origin of some of them, but probably not.
My journal entries, now those were something weren’t they? They taught me a thing or two about over sharing. Without them, I would have never learned about this gift that I have. It’s a curse too. See, once you begin to write, it controls you. You immerse yourself in fiction because reality is too much to bear.
Sometimes words came so fast, I couldn’t write or type them fast enough. I was obsessed, to say the least. Photographs and paintings brought forth words and stories. I never realized how much I had to say.
My first fictional piece was called Ascent. About a girl that wanted to die. She didn’t though. Her newly discovered wings saved her as she began to plummet toward the sea. Little did I realize I was the one sprouting those metaphorical wings.
My writer, he pushed me to write for Friday Fictioneers. What began as a lark proved to be a much needed exercise in discipline. My writer fled, but I stuck with FF. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields has been a terrific mentor. I’m honored she worked so hard with me. I adore her for every criticism and kudos. My best flash fiction story was, The Invisible Man. I may submit it to Narrative Magazine. They’ve rejected my work before, but you never know what can happen.
I’ve had five short stories published by EtherBooks. Alan and Melissa from Ghost, and Damon and Rhiannon from Sounds will always be my best creations. The stories are still available for download on your iPhone or Android phone. The app is free, so please download and critique my stories.
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