I am trying to sort out my experiences and thoughts to better understand how to move forward and not stay stuck in the past.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Starting to Heal

I'm not a doctor or a medical professional in any way.  I tend to look for more holistic and natural means when I'm not feeling well.  Generally, my health has been great my whole life.  I've been very active.  I LOVE to walk. I rowed for a few years and loved it.  Then last November I remember getting out of bed in the morning and feeling something twist in my back  right thigh muscle.  As the day progressed, the feeling got worse and worse.  Sitting or lying down, I had no pain.  If I walked too much or stood too much, the pain was horrible.  I can't describe it clearly.  It was not a muscle pull pain, I've had those and can still function.  Not my back.  Almost like a fire was smoldering beneath my muscles.  Eventually, the pain crept down the side of my right leg, like lava down the side of a mountain.  It ended with my middle toes tingling periodically; the feeling of when your foot falls asleep, but this was when I was standing or walking.  At work, by the end of the day, the pain was so pronounced that I was like Igor hobbling to do bus duty.  I was practically dragging my right leg. 

Pain is draining.  I had this physical pain as well as the emotional pain of my daughter's addiction.  That was the time where she had withdrawn from graduate school and we were in a kind of limbo.  My work can be draining too, as I said, emotions are draining and the children I work with are emotionally damanged.  So, last fall I was a mess. Because I wasn't moving as much, I gained weight. I slept more than I should on the weekends. The pain was dictating my days.  I did make an appointment with a doctor after Christmas.  I researched on the internet what my problem could be.  I had heard of people talking about sciatica, but those simptoms didn't fit.  This was a little different.  I eventually found something that hit every symptom I had.  I made the appointment and talked with the doctor.  She told me what I probably had was something called piriformis syndrome.  It mimics sciatica but is caused by the muscles in your buttocks pinching the sciatic nerve (that's what I had thought it could be).  Stretching and weight loss were my best options.  She also gave me a perscription for 600 mgs of ibuprofen.  I hate taking that amount of medicadtion three times a day, but it did help alittle and any relief was welcomed.  Fast forward to the wellness day we had at work.  One of the speakers suggested drinking aloe vera juice and pomegranete juice for your skin.  I did buy some, but didn't drink any. I don't know why, I think I was just too drained to make the effort.  Then I started reading on how inflamation in the body can cause a lot of problems.  I heard someone else say that the aloe vera juice was a natural anti-inflamatory.   So, two weeks ago I started drinking that mixture every morning when I woke up.  This is day five that I have had no pain.  I am not taking the ibuprofen anymore, though two asprin in the morning is still helpful sometimes. 

My knees were beginning to bother me, too, and they are feeling better.  I do have arthritis in my right knee, but have been treated for that since 2005.  That has really not been a problem until recently. As I write this, I can bend my knees without the amount of pain I had begun to feel.  I was shuffling like a tender 90 year old for a while, and now I'm getting back to normal.  I am hoping that by the time school starts, again, I'll be as good as new. 

I just wanted to write this because of how wonderful it feels not to be in pain 24 hours a day.  Pain-physical or emotional- is distracting and exhausting.  It makes you lose focus and drive.  It makes you lose hope.  Today, I am hopeful.

Praying for healing for all of us and most importantly, our children.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Peace and Planting

I have been taking these vacation days slow.  I'm not rushing. I work in the yard or the house without the panic of having to get something done. If I want to nap, I do.  If  I want to sit on the porch and just think, I do.  It has only been a week and three days, but it seems a lot longer.  Maybe it's the rushing I normally do that makes the days fly by.  Taking time tends to savor the day. 

So, last Sunday my daughter and I took some flowers and went to where my mom is buried. It is a two and a half  hour drive up north.  I love the drive. I love the talking and laughing we do.  It is our tradtion to stop at McDonald's when we get there to pick up grilled chicken sandwiches and iced tea to have a picnic with my mom.  That was the lunch she liked when we would be out shopping.  The cemetary is welcoming, if you can say that about a cemetary.  It is old and a lot like a community of sorts. My mom is up on a hill, near her parents and grandparent and other realtives.  Across the winding road from her, are more family members and relatives.  Scattered all around are the names of people I remember my grandmother telling stories about.  She grew up with these people and now she rests with them.  We spread out a blanket next to my mom and look out across at all of the stones marking someone's life.  After saying a prayer we eat our lunch. We talk about my mom, and grandmother. I point out the neighbors I remember hearing about. I laughed the first time I realized that the one family my grandmother didn't seem to like much, is now about seven feet away from her.  I'm hoping their disagreements are forgotten by now. 

The cemetary is old, with beautiful huge oak trees scattered about.  It is boardered by woods all around.  Some stones are so old the names are almost brushed away by the years of wind, snow and rain.  Others are fairly new.  When we first started going up there, I bought flowers to plant at my mom's and grandmother's grave.  As we've been going and 'getting aquainted' with the 'neighbors' I noticed that some appeared 'forgotten'.  Maybe their realtives were no longer here.  Moved away. Forgotten in the business of life.  Whatever the reason, some stones were flowerless.  So, my daughter and I began making a note of one more, and then one more, until we now go up with a flat or two of flowers and remember my mother and grandmother along with a few more. The neighborhood is blooming.  I like it.  I feel good when we leave seeing the fresh flowers, imagining what they will look like in the early fall when we go back up to plant the bulbs for the spring. 

It was a peaceful day.  I don't want to say uneventful, because just being up there with my daughter sober and in good spirits is a big event.  There wasn't any negative and that was the uneventful event.

Monday, June 18, 2012


I understand all about forgiveness.  I understand that forgiveness is more for the person doing the forgiving than the one being forgiven. The person doing the forgiving has let go of their hate or anger and has begun to heal.  Not necessarily so for the person being forgiven. They may never 'get it.'  I understand the healing power of forgiveness.  I understand the difficulties of taking those first plodding steps of forgiveness; about how each step becomes easier and easier until you've run toward the person you're forgiving and through that memory sprinting to a more open and enlightened future. Not even considering looking back to the bad memories.   I understand that forgiveness doesn't mean condoning the action. I understand that you can choose to forgive and forget or forgive and remember; just tucking the memory away.  Though, I think it's healthier to not hang on to the bad memory.  I understand it's okay to forgive and just walk away.  You don't have to keep exposing yourself to the person you're trying to forgive.  Forgiveness doesn't mean acceptance. Forgiveness means letting go and if letting go means moving on in a literal sense, then that's okay to do. 

I can honestly say I don't hate anyone.  There are people I'd rather not be around, but I can truly say there is no one I think and stew about.  I have forgiven anyone who I feel has hurt me.  From Nina, my best friend in sixth grade who, literally over night became my hated enemy (later I found out she was mad that some boy she liked liked me and not her--ironically, I didn't know he liked me and I didn't like him anyway!  lol...sixth grade memories).  Anyway, all through high school she would go out of her way to say something mean to me when she saw me. There were nine hundred in our graduating class, so it's not like I saw her a lot, but still, at the time it hurt.  She was forgotten about the day I received my diploma.  Forgiven.  My dad and I got a long when I was little, but as I got older, he found fault it a lot.  I don't know what he was processing in his head. I can't say that I held a grudge, but it did hurt.  When my mother died, I watched him drifting around the room, tears glistening on his cheeks. My heart broke for him.  Forgiven.  Two years ago, I was talking with him and I asked him if he had any good memories of me growing up.  He asked me if I had any of him, and I said, "Yes."  He, on the other hand, couldn't think of any.  Two weekends ago, he told me what  a nice time it had been (when I was over there planting).  I guess he found a good memory.  My ex-husband.  Not a nice man.  A person with so much baggage, being the son and brother of an alcoholic, that he just continues to store the stuff rather than open the bags and sort things out. He takes his aggressions out on others-nothing is ever his fault, it's their fault he does what he does.  He took a long time to forgive.  But I did.  Forgiven.  (Not forgiving takes away too much energy).

I took lasagna and a salad for lunch to my dad, yesterday.  His favorite dessert, butter pecan ice-cream. We ate lunch, took a drive, came home and had ice-cream.  It was a good day.  The drive home takes about a half an hour.  I'm not sure if it was the music, or the blue-black clouds of an impending storm on the horizon, but I started to think about forgiveness.  I started thinking about my daughter.  I started thinking about everyone's daughter or son with an addiction.  And I thought, "How do I forgive God?"  That sounds so arrogant, doesn't it?  I don't mean it to.  But how do you forgive God?  He's all powerful.  He preforms miracles.  He parted seas and can cause a mountain to crumble if necessary.  So, why can't or won't He wipe clean the minds of all of these struggling people? Why won't He heal them?  Why won't He miraculously pull our children out of this hell?  I know all about not knowing the mind of God. I know we're not on His same time. I know about
Free Will.  The choosing and all of that.  My children have Free Will, but I didn't let them run into the street when they were little.  I didn't dye my daughter's hair red when she was five because she wanted to be The Little Mermaid. Sometimes Free Will needs guidance from a more experienced source. I've read in the Bible that Jesus said if you ask your earthly father for a loaf of bread he won't give you a stone...how much more will God in heaven give to those who ask?  (I'm paraphrasing). Am I asking in the wrong way?  Is there a time where Free Will becomes less monitored? Are we children of God in name only?

I know I sound like I'm whining. But I'm not going to feel guilty about it because that's the whole point of this blog, is to get out what I'm thinking to try and process it.  I know He knows best.  So, does that mean is this the best?  Oh my goodness, I pray that is not so.

Friday, June 15, 2012

School's Out

The students' last day was yesterday.  The school was fairly bursting with emotions and energy of all kinds.  When  the bell rang for the end of the day and the kids were leaving, I stood at the door wishing them a good and safe summer.  Some wanted hugs, other high-fived me.  Kids are funny.  One little boy, I've written about him here, before, hugged me so hard I had to pry him off.  He gives me a lot of 'challenges' but I love him to death.  He's skinny, blond,  with freckles poured all over his face.  His emotions erupt through his big blue eyes and fair skin.  When he's upset, tears start to form a brim of tears around his reddening eyes and his freckles stand out more under the reddening cheeks.  He looked up at me, yesterday, and he looked like that.  "What's wrong?"   Between gritted teeth.  "I don't want to leave." (he doesn't like change--very routine loving)  "Aw, honey.  You're going to have a great summer!  And I can't wait to hear about all of your adventures when we come back."  "Really?"   "Really."   Deep breath sucked in. A few seconds to think and then,  "Okay then, Ms. R.  Have a nice summer.  I'll be here next year."   "Okay, then, have fun this summer.  See you in September."   

He walked away, looking back once to wave.  It was so sweet. 

Then, when the school was empty of children, they played the Hallelujah Chorus over the intercom. 

I love tradition.

Is This Progress?

I'm tired of walking on glass, afraid to step to firmly for fear that there will be an argument or my daughter will get mad and the glass cracks then she decides to drink.  We have been in kind of a holding pattern, here.  Two, almost three weeks sober, and then like clock work, something happens and she starts drinking. So, for a while now, I've been afraid to introduce subjects I think she should talk about to start healing; afraid that it will set her over the edge, and she'll start, again.  Though, when I think about it, my actions  have rarely been the excuse for her.  Her excuses seem to revolve around 1. her dad, 2. her ex-boyfriend of 3 years I might at, 3. thinking of all of the things that she is (has) missed out on because of the drinking (which is the craziest to me) and 4.  She feels she's shy and drinking helps her to be more social, even though most of the time she's passed out upstairs (the insane thinking of addiction). 

However, over the past few months, there have been pockets of 'confessions' from her that haven't really surfaced, before.  We'll be working outside and she'll mention something that happened because of her drinking and she'll apologize.  Or she'll mention something that bothers her and we talk about it without fighting.  She doesn't seem as agitated with certain memories. When before, if you even asked or mentioned something concerning drinking, she would yell and spit out some pretty hurtful comments.  Not so much, anymore.  Oh, yeah, and there was that time that she didn't lie about drinking when I suspected it. 

That just happened on Monday.  She picked me up after work and we went to Home Depot (the U-shaped pipe under the sink rusted through and I needed to replace it--my first plumbing job). Anyway, on the way there she mentioned something that had happened when she had been drinking, asking me if I remembered (Remember, me?  Was she kidding?  I'm the one sober through all of this, I remember EVERYTHING).  Anyway, I said that I did and she said, "That was completely wrong of me.  I'm so sorry I did that."  My first thought was to launch into a conversation.  But then that little voice inside calmed me and all I said was, "Thank you for saying that."  And the conversation moved back to trying to figure out this plumbing issue. 

Jump to Wednesday.  I came home and noticed the signs, though I did try to brush them off (She couldn't be drinking, again.  But, we are back to the two week mark).  But, yes, she had.  I came home Thursday and she told me that she had been on Facebook and her ex-boyfriend's new ex-girlfriend sent her a message about the boyfriend, wanting to talk about him.  My daughter said her response was that she wasn't going to get involved-that she didn't want to be in the middle.  "Good response. You're right to not get involved.  But why would you start drinking over that?  It was a positive."
She didn't answer me.  So, I left the room. 

So, again, I ask, is she making progress?  Or is this addiction the invited vampire that will keep returning until my daughter is fully drained?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A New Tool

I watched an old documentary called, "Grey Gardens, " last weekend.  I watched it, again, on Friday.   I've been thinking about it ever since.

 This documentary was made in 1975, I think.  It is about the lives of a mother and daughter; the aunt and first cousin of Jackie Kennedy.  I'm sure I'm somewhat desensitized from reality tv; being that fly on the wall, watching someone else's life develop on film.  At first, I didn't know what to make of Grey Gardens.  But the longer I watched, the more endearing 'The Edies' became. If I understand the history correctly, 'Big Edie' was the sister of Jackie Kennedy's father.  Both were high society at the time. Grey Gardens is the 28 room mansion in the East Hamptons that Edith and her husband and three children moved into.  "Little Edie" was the oldest of three.  She had two younger brothers.   Anyway, to explain all of it here isn't the point. The point is that this family-these two women-came from wealth, education and elegance.  Life circumstances and life choices took them from prosperity to poverty.  What made the documentary so interesting and not feeling like a creepy voyeur, was their spirit.  The mansion was filthy, they didn't have new 'things' yet, they seemed content for the most part. Yes, Little Edie continued to complain how she wanted to move, but she'd been there for 20 some years.  The love of the mother for her child and visa verse was endearing and tender, even when they were arguing with each other, which they did frequently.  Besides the obvious-watching someone maneuver through their situation-Grey Gardens, I think, was a story of making the best of what you have. (Even though the younger Edie appears to have some type of mental illness, though, according to several articles I've read, no one seems to be certain what it is).They grew up having servants, and now had to take care of themselves.  Even though the world around them changed, who they were inside, didn't.  They didn't relinquish that inward dignity because their outer surroundings had deteriorated. Their conversations with people still had elegance in their words. Little Edie's body movements were still graceful. She still walked with poise. They still cherished their dreams. They maintained their inward integrity even though their outer world had collapsed. I think it's also about what you learn to tolerate and mold into your circumstances so that you can survive.

When I think about it, the women in Grey Gardens achieved more success in their crumbling, deteriorating mansion, than I have.  Outwardly, I do have successes.  I'm talking about the inward maintaining.  Addiction has changed me, even though I'm not a person with an addiction.  I have the potential to be more fearful, nervous, worried, and negative. I find myself lying.  I lie to the people I work with and live near pretending all is well.  I lie to myself. I have lied to my daughter. Lying makes me feel tarnished.  Physically, I've changed. I've gained weight. Have become less diligent about maintaining good health.  I'm not a slug or anything, but I'm definitely not who I once was. I ache more, both physically and mentally. Everyday is a fight to regain who I am.  I feel imprisoned in a body that isn't mine, with my jailer being these negative thoughts, standing outside my door, taunting me with horrible memories and fears that things will never change.  Understand, if you met me, you wouldn't know any of this.  This is what I think of when I take down the walls that I keep up to function.  I try to remain positive.  It's hard.  I try to 'let go, let God.'  It's harder.  I am actively trying to redirect my personal life to return to a weight and health I'm proud of.  I'm trying to refurbish my thinking.  This all goes on, while I plod through my day.  And then, through all of this dreariness and decay, I reflect at night and can see little snippets of Grace that have been allowed to come into my life and pull me through.  So, what I'm dealing with now, however mentally debilitating it feels, crumbles sometime, to reveal a new and firmer foundation. This is how it often is, I start to think of all of the negatives, pick through all of that 'dead wood' thinking, and then my vision clears and I can see small improvements here and there. 

At one point, Little Edie declares to the camera, that the relatives didn't know how to handle her because she was such a staunch woman. I knew what staunch meant, but looked it up, anyway (okay, I admit, I like reading the dictionary. I like words).  Staunch means, "to check the flow of blood from a cut; seaworthy; or steadfast, loyal; strong and solid."  How appropriate.  It all applies. Blood is the life force. To be strong and steadfast, loyal (to yourself, as well) and seaworthy- ready for all of those waves and winds.  Alright, then, feeling somewhat revived and motivated, staunch will be the new tool in my box as I continue to refurbish my inner self. 

Praying for miracles for all of us. Praying that today, you'll experience yours.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Fresh Breeze

I was talking to a friend of mine on Friday night.  She is the one who has had experience with alcohol addiction within her family.  I was telling her how things are going here.  She was surprised to hear that my daughter had started drinking, again.  As we were talking, I began to realize something.  I think it had been a pink elephant dancing around in front of me for a while now, though, I kept craning my neck to look around it.  (I can ignore a lot of stuff when I want to).  Anyway,  I have been there to support her when she has said, "If I go to rehab, that will work."  So she went, and it didn't work.  "If I get this dog I love, I'll stay sober."  Nope, didn't work.  I have been casually looking for a new job because we've talked about moving.  You know, a change of scenery; maybe that will help.  HELLO!!!  The pink elephant stopped dancing long enough to support my head in it's two front feet and forced me to look it straight in its eyes.  It's not all of the stuff that has to change, it's her thinking...SHE has to change and then everything thing else will seem different--better.  I told that to my friend, who is so kind and gentle that she allows me to come to these conclusions on my own, all the while she already knows.  And never once, does she criticize me or tally up how long it took me to finally come to my senses.  After I said that, the pink elephant winked at me and danced away.  I felt better.

So, today, I went to my dad's loaded down with flowers to plant.  Partly so that he makes time to get outside and water them, but mostly for my mom, because that's what she would have wanted.  It has been so much cooler here, today.  No stifling humidity.  There was a continuous breeze blowing.  It felt great.   I was focused on planting the pink begonias in this block planter on the front porch.  I was aware of the breeze, but thinking of how to position the flowers, when mixed in with the breeze, I smelled the scent of my mother.  Not her perfume, or the detergent she used, but her. The same smell that still lingers on the clothes in her closet.  It was so unexpected that I turned around expecting to see her; forgetting for a second that she's not here.  I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply; holding my breath to make it last as long as it could. And then it was gone. 

Crazy, huh?  But true.