Category Archives: recovery

Focus 52: "Celebrate You"

In order to celebrate me, the current prompt of the Focus 52 project, I am going to donate my blog space to celebrating someone else.  Destiny is the 11 year old daughter of my friend Melia.  Destiny recently lost her life last week in a tragic car accident that also put her 15 year old brother Riley in a coma.  He still remains in a comatose state today.  Melia was in ICU with bodily injuries that included a broken clavicle, some bleeding on the brain and various lacerations and bruises.  While she is recuperating in one hospital, her son is across town in another, fighting for his life.  Her eldest daughter, Hailey, who was not in the car at the time of the accident, is left alone to run between the two hospitals where her brother and mother are currently staying.  A devastating position for an 18 year old child who is grieving the loss of her baby sister to be in. 

So what does this have to do with celebrating ME?

In a word, charity.  Sweet charity.  My one huge passion in life.  If there is ever an attribute that I would want celebrated about myself, it would be the fact that I am enormously passionate when it comes to giving to others in need.  I will donate time, money, material needs until I have nothing more to give.  It is the one area in my life where I feel I truly shine as a human being.  Giving to others in need makes me feel good.  It lifts me to a plane of existence more gratifying than even the most earth shattering orgasm.  Every time I can do something, anything, to help another person in a time of crisis, I feel elevated.  Closer to achieving a sense of nirvana. I am at peace even in the midst of chaos.  It gives me something to devote my ever abounding energy to and provides me with a better sense of self.  And, while it is said that charity should be a selfless gesture, any fool would know that simply cannot be.  There is a certain selfish aspect to it.  There is a certain rush or “high” if you will when it comes to knowing you have done something to potentially change the outcome of someones life.  I enjoy giving.  I enjoy doing for others.  I don’t require thanks. I don’t require gratitude.  I don’t even require acknowledgment.  All I need is to be able to achieve that remarkably warm feeling of knowing that I was able to play a small role in making someones life just a little bit better, if only for a short while.

With all that said, I am inviting you to please visit my “Cause” page to help Melia and her family try to recoup from the tragedy of this past week.  While nothing on earth, any amount of money or gesture, can return Destiny to us, the family is in dire need of financial salvation.  The family is going to need financial help desperately to help pay for the enormous hospital bills, for Destiny’s final arrangements, Riley’s long term care, the entire families living expenses and of course, they will need money for legal fees to go after the repeat offender criminal that stole Destiny’s life.

The family does not have a lot as they just moved across the country in hopes of starting a better life. They need the help of friends, friends of friends, relatives, etc., to get them through this difficult time.

While there are grass root efforts being made in her home state of Arizona, Melia has many friends who know and love her in other parts of the world as well. We are reaching out to the blogging/social media community in an attempt to help rebuild this woman’s life.

Please help in any way you can. Even the smallest of donations are appreciated.

To date, we the members of the Cause have been able to raise nearly $2500.  However, the cost of Destiny’s final arrangements far exceed that.  The need is still great.  Melia will need to be able to stay close to the hospital where her son is now in ICU.  This will cost money.  The family is without health insurance.  Daily bills for the ICU stay run in excess of $20,000 per DAY.  They will both require hospital type beds when they are finally released.  There will be legal fees to pay.  They will need special medical equipment for Riley, such a a wheelchair for him to use while he slowly regains function of his extremities.  The costs are overwhelming and endless.  Even if you are unable to donate yourself, just passing the word around to others and encouraging them to donate will help Melia and her young family to recuperate from this tragedy.

To celebrate me, I am celebrating the life of Destiny.  I am celebrating the fact that my dear friend Melia has lived to see another day.  I am celebrating the fact that Riley has not given up and that his battered body has youth on its side and he is putting up a strong fight for his life.  In fact, I could not think of a better way to celebrate MY life than to introduce you to them.  To be able to remind all of you how precious life truly is.  How to let you all have this serve as a reminder that life can change on a dime.  If this story makes you a little bit more wary on the road, stops you from running a red light (like the person who hit Melia did), makes you hug your children a little bit tighter tonight…then to me, those are small but enormously significant victories.  Little celebrations of life…and in turn, small celebrations of my life as well.

Tonight, I was speaking to a friend and mentioned that it deeply saddened me every time I had to write the words “Destiny’s funeral” during updates to friends.  She said to me, “It is not a funeral.  It is a celebration of life.”  And, she is right.  Melia has chosen to have people dress in every color of the rainbow, Destiny’s favorite thing, in honor of her daughter.  No drab, somber black garb…but brilliant hues.  Greens, yellows, oranges, blues, purples…all as vibrant and alive as Destiny was.

“What an amazing thing for a mother to do,” I thought to myself.

She opted not to dress Destiny in a formal dress and fancy shoes, but rather, a pair of jeans.  A Justin Bieber shirt.  Her favorite DC brand rainbow shoes.  She chose to let Destiny leave this earth the same way that she came into it…with her own sense of style.  A ferociously independent little girl who had the gift of gab, a smile that could start a fire with its brilliance and the eyes of a mischievous angel.

Indeed, this will truly be a celebration of life.  And I can think of no better way to celebrate me…than to celebrate her all too short, but incredibly purposeful life.

Goodnight, sweet Destiny.  Rest well…and remember that every time I see a rainbow in the sky, I will know it is you, asking God to please redecorate the world.

You are loved.

Long time gone…

I haven’t written in here since May. I said I was going to take June, July and August away from writing. I’ve missed it and while I have had a lot to say, the words were escaping me. It seems my inner voice has been a bit battered as of late. I wanted to write on September 11th, the way I always do. I couldn’t. I couldn’t even bring myself to honor the people lost on that day because I have been utterly swallowed by my depression lately.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had reasons to laugh in the past three months. Lots of reasons. There were a lot of fantastic things that happened over the summer. There were also horrible things, like my trip to Israel. There was pain, rejection, loss of connection and the annual celebration of the day I was torn via C-section from Esther’s pristine uterus.

44 years old. Happy birthday to me. Another day closer to death. The way I figure it, I am probably halfway to dead by now. If the average woman lives until 88 years of age, I am dangling on the halfway point this year. I did a quick assessment to see if I am anywhere near where I wanted to be at this age. The answer was a resounding…perhaps.

I’m a grandmother to two beautiful babies. I am married to the most amazing man to roam the earth since Christ himself…if you believe in that shit. My children are thriving in their lives. My daughter is happily married and a fantastic mother to those to babies I mentioned. My son just started his first year of high school at a brand new school and loves it. I am on decent terms with Esther. My dad is well, not healthy, but well enough for now. So those things are amazing and incredible and perfect.

But where am I? I’m not really any where. I am clean of my drug addiction for well over a year now. I gave up my nursing license and now, in retrospect, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I realized how miserable nursing made me and how it contributed to my depression. Whoever tells you that nurses get to help and heal patients, well, they obviously never worked in long term care. You don’t get to do any of those things. You get to shove pills into their incoherent slack-jawed mouths and then onto the next. There is no comfort. There is no care. There is no time to sit at a bedside holding a hand. All that bullshit you see on soap operas…it’s a fantasy. A fairytale that surrounds the beautiful myth of the nurse. At least it is in that setting.

So, back to school I went. Off to get my degree in Social Work. I decided I want to go for my Masters in Social Work and Human Services. Why? Because I need to hold that hand. I need to bring that comfort. I need to smile into pained and troubled faces. It does them good. Selfishly, it does me good. I decided that I am going to be an interventionist and work with addicts. Does it scare me? Definitely. I am scared shit to be around those who are using actively again…but now that I have been there and by the blessing of my Higher Power, found my way back…I feel this is the path I am destined to walk.

I love being in school because it is something I am good at. I am an “A” student, a perfect 4.0 GPA. The professors love me, they always embrace the returning adult students more than the new, fresh out of high school kids. They know we care a lot more and are a bit more hard pressed for time. There is no room for us to fail. We don’t have the opportunity to fail because we don’t have the time. The money. The lack of desire. Our grown up hearts are on fire to do something, anything relevant with the time we have left, however much that might be.

The way I figure it, I will walk out with my degree in 2 more years from now. 46 years old. Still enough time to begin a life, still enough time to put in about 30 years worth of employment.

I ain’t quite dead yet.

But in the interim, I am suffering. I have stopped taking all my psych meds. I just don’t want anything to do with them any more. And, it has its good moments and bad ones. I don’t feel fucked in the head any more. I have my memory back. My sense of humor has returned and it is whip cracking sharp the way it used to be. On the flip side, I cry at the drop of a hat. I fall into depressions very easily. And, my old friend insomnia has returned to fight me nightly. And while the bottles of Cymbalta, Lamictal, Buspar, Xanax, Geodon, Ativan, Klonopin and Trazodone all look tempting…I mainly find myself having staring contests with them. They dare me to open them and to indulge. And the temptation is always there. But, I don’t. I could. Nothing wrong with taking one now and again when needed, but I feel like one will be death of me. Just one pill will open up a can of worms for me. I can’t revisit the days of bottle dependency.

I keep them all over the house. Some on my desk. A few in my purse. More on my bedroom dresser. They stare at me and say, c’mon CP, let us take the edge off. And me, I scoff and say “no, let me empower myself, dammit”. “But you have a disease,” they retort. “You need us.” And that may very well be, but I want to try to go this alone. I want to feel like myself at every possible moment I can, however fleeting it might be. For those few hours, life is so perfect.

Then, the depression comes back, wraps me up in its itchy wool blanket and says, “No, no Dear. You don’t get to make the decisions around here. We do. Me…me and all your pills. Come down the rabbit hole, CP. It’s not that long of a drop.”

But it is. I’ve taken the trip before. For the five minutes I jump into the deep end, it requires a lot of swimming to get out of the murky waters again and I simply don’t have the energy to do it over and over again.

I’ll probably be writing more frequently now, but not daily. Just when I need to…like in the beginning. And tonight, I needed this to be here, like an old friend with open arms letting me fall into them and just cry. Let it all out, rubbing my hair til I fall mercifully asleep.

I need this.

One year…Sober.

A quick glance at the calendar told me everything I need to see.

One year clean and sober.

I cannot believe it has been two years since I blogged about losing my job because of my addiction to drugs, namely opiates. That first year was horrible. The inability to put down the drugs, the multiple withdrawals every single time I tried. Losing friends. Losing family members. And of course…almost losing my life.

This past year, since the day I said “no more”, has been the most incredible year of my life. I celebrated by going back to my drug counselor to visit him. I had not seen him since November of last year. I was doing fine on my own and while I had every intention in the world of continuing to go back after formal classes were over, well, life just got in the way. Thanksgiving came and went. Then Christmas. The birth of my grandson in January. February was hectic. March was visits from family. April was filled with excursions and trips with my husband.

Finally, May. And it was time.

I bought him an “Angel” plant and a card detailing how often I think of him and how I give him so much credit for saving my life. He spent so much time with me over those months. He let me come in for private sessions when I needed to without charging me. He made himself available by phone any time I needed him.

When I came into class tonight, he teared up. He greeted me with the warmest hug. He had me sit next to him at the front of his new class, a group of addicts I had never seen before. Each of them was exactly where I was a year ago. You could see the pain, anguish and sorrow in each of their faces. Stories on women who lost their children because of their addiction. Men who lost their jobs and the ability to support themselves and their families. Mothers, grieving mothers, who were at the end of their ropes sitting alongside their precious babies who were so heavily addicted they could barely keep their eyes open.

I empathized with each of them in my own way.

Finally, toward the middle of class, Tom says, “Does anyone want to know who this lady is sitting to the right of me?”

A young lady named Jessica spoke up. “Yeah, I do. Why are you here,” she said to me. “You don’t look like you have any issues.”

You don’t look like you have any issues. My heart absolutely soared hearing that. Translation? I no longer look like a drug addict. I had my life back and apparently, you could see that in my appearance.

He had me share my story about my addiction to opiates, how I lost my job from stealing pain meds on the job. He had me talk about all the deceit and lies that I told in order to get more meds from the various doctors that I knew. All of it…out on the table and in front of an enraptured audience.

“So why are you here now,” she asked.

“Because today, today I am clean for one full year…and I couldn’t fathom being anywhere else but alongside the man who saved my life.”

Tom took my hand. I cried. He cried. The moms in the room cried and hugged their kids.

“It can be done,” I told them. “Patience, faith, hope, God…and Tom.”

We talked about other subjects. I listened to them, all the stories so familiar. I found myself nodding my head quite a bit. I relate. I understood. I get it. I was there.

And by the grace of God, I am not there any more.

I told Tom I was heading back to college in the fall, driving towards my Masters degree in Social Work and getting licensed as an Addiction Counseling Specialist. He was beaming like a proud father.

“You know I will be hitting you up for an internship,” I said.

“We need you here, CP. There will always be a place for you here,” he replied.

I gave him and some members of the group hugs as we disbanded. One mom came up to me. She gave me a hug. She touched my cheek.

“I just wanted to say, God Bless you. I think my daughter really heard you. She won’t open up to me. I’m just her mom. But I think she really related to you.”

I wrote down my phone number and handed it to her daughter.

“If you feel like you are going to use. If you feel like you are climbing the walls from withdrawals. If you are up at 3am pacing the floors and don’t know what to do with yourself…you CALL me. Day or night. I don’t care what time it is. I will be there for you to talk to. We can work through it together. You don’t need to use. You are 17. You have your whole life ahead of you. One day, you’ll be someones mom, wife…and this will all be just a blip on the radar of your life. You can do this.”

She hugged me and thanked me, her sad, tired green eyes were brimming with tears.

“I’ll call you,” she said.

The empty words of the addict. I understand that. I will probably never hear from her…but I know she will carry that number with her, perhaps put it on her bedside table. She’ll look at it every once in awhile and remember that someone made it through. And that gesture alone might keep her off the pipe for at least one more night.

I left there feeling lifted by God. I got in my truck and drove home with my heart lighter. A full year. An amazing year. A gift. Every single day is a gift. I know and appreciate that now…

and I will never, ever look back.

Soul searching…

I have so many things to blog about right now. So many wonderful, amazing things. My life right now is truly blessed. I can write about my husband, always a source of joy and happiness. I can write about the incredible Mother’s Day I just had. There was my fabulous trip to California where I met some absolutely awesome people who will be in my heart forever. I had the time of my life. I can write about my sons recent school suspension. Sure, not a great thing, but valuable lessons were learned by all. I could write about the new career I am embarking on with my husbands blessing. I am scared, nervous, excited and in awe over this decision I have made.

A million things to write about yet only one thing comes to mind right now.

Forgiveness.

In the past couple of months, I have done some pretty nasty things. Things I am a little ashamed of. I said things that never should have been said. I entrenched myself into lives and hurt people with the quick flashes of an untamed tongue. I allowed a mob mentality to pull me in, suck me under and throw me about in an ocean of ugly.

Dear Readers, be there 6 or 60 of you…when have you ever known that to be me?

I am not a judgmental person. I never have been. I don’t see colors on skin. I embrace everyone’s sexuality and preferences. As long as you are not harming me or mine…just be you. Do your thing. Live your life. Make your good choices. Make your poor choices. Always find your way back to being you after diverting away from that. Second chances. Third chances. Tenth chances. I have always lived my life as the epitome of love, tolerance and acceptance.

I am ashamed of my actions as of late. They are a false and poor representation of who I am, who I have always been. I allowed myself to get pulled into chaos and mob mentality, something I have never experienced before. I don’t like it. There isn’t enough body wash to cleanse it away.

I am not a religious girl, despite embracing my Jewessness. I am a spiritual person. I am a strong believer in karmic retribution both good and bad. You get back what you put out into the universe. It comes back to you in some form or another. Lately, what I have been putting out has not been positive and I am not proud of that. So many beautiful and wonderful things have taken place in my life as of late. This one thing looms heavily in my heart and mind.

I took a step to rectify it today. Not only because it was the right thing to do, but because I needed it for me. I needed to make it right in my mind. I need to put out the right vibes in my world. And, most of all, I need to say I am sorry when I am wrong. I allowed my compassion to be run off and replaced with malignancy and maliciousness. That’s not me. It’s never been me. I hate that girl.

I was wrong. And, I am sorry.

While forgiveness may not be in the stars, I have done what I can to be able to exhale and say, “It will be okay. The people you hurt may not forgive you, CP, but God will.” And right now, that has to be enough for me.

I am flawed. I will falter. I am a work in progress.

The colors are still evolving. The paint on my walls are still wet. But, with every passing day, every passing hour…something beautiful will arise from what I am creating. A better day. A better life.

A better me.