Category Archives: sobriety

Today is November 27, 2017. I am alive and well.

Like usual, I have no idea what I’m going to write on this blog. Of course, I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving. I love the holidays and don’t experience them as stressful. But then I don’t cook and the only gift I buy is for my roommate.

I have thought much about my sister who’s a crystal meth addict and homeless. I actually dreamt of her last night. In the dream she was showing me her teeth, of which she only had a few, and the sores on the inside of her cheek. She told me that the infection from her sores would ultimately spread to her jaw and then follow her bone to her ear, making her deaf in that one ear. I asked my sister what meth did for her. Her response, “I’m rocketed to a new dimension, much like what happens to people of faith visiting with God. It is thrilling. My trip is thrilling.” That was the end of the dream.

I haven’t given up on my sister. I know the truth currently is that my sister has no desire to give up meth. I found a place where she could live for free for a year and they would provide for her all her meals. All she has to do is give up the drugs and get sober. She said no. She is three years younger than I am, 50-years-old, and I would guess that she has been using drugs for over 25 years.

With sobriety, I am safe. I am a sober drunk, 24 years sober,  with a healthy fear of drugs. My drug use amounts to me trying marijuana once. It left me paranoid and rocking in the corner of a room. Thirty years ago, this same sister told me I just smoked it wrong. Ha. How does a person smoke it right or wrong?

I am completely aware of the fact that I could be her. I don’t know why I was led to sobriety and she wasn’t. Out of desperation, I latched on to a program of recovery. I’m certain my sister has felt desperation at some point. I’m certain she suffers. Neither of these two things have brought her to her knees.

I will be warm this holiday season. I will eat good food. I will be physically clean. I will surround myself with people I love and who love me. Life is good.

Today is November 13, 2017. I am alive and well.

…aren’t we more like pack mules/than gods most days, picking our way/across the desert or up a mountain path with avalanches/and the heaviest of loads are our grudges and fears/while poetry and beauty rest on our shoulders like fairy wings/or one of those pastries in a shop in Paris,/almost too beautiful to eat, but eat them we do/with their frosting of butter and sugar and eggs.   Barbara Hamby

The truth of our pain is all we have, it is the key to who we are.    James Baldwin

An artist must learn to be nourished by his passions and by his despairs.  Francis Bacon

I love quotes and thought these all related nicely. I write “the truth of my pain.” Maybe it’s true that “it’s the key to who I am.” I also believe my passions are the key to who I am.

My pain is deep and not preventable. Because it’s deep it rarely shows up unless I let it. It can storm and I won’t get wet because of my umbrella. Discard the umbrella, and I get soaked. It takes awhile to dry off. Living with pain with no barrier to disguise it can lead me to tears. It also leads me to people who share my same experience. They have made it through and I can too. I watch as a raccoon puts his paw in a jar to fish out a coin. With his paw clenched in a fist, he cannot pull himself from the jar. He has to let go of the coin in order to free his paw.

I have let go of the coin. I write about having schizophrenia. I write about multiple suicide attempts, I write about being alcoholic. Pain can attach itself to all three of these things. But I don’t stay there. I let go of the coin. I step out of the mud. Sometimes I get help cleaning myself off. Help is always there and it’s okay to accept it.

My God takes care of me. My God always has my back. The right people are placed in my life at the right time. My friends nourish me. I am passionate about loving them. I also hope I nourish them. It’s beautiful to watch my cats bathe each other. They are always clean, but they don’t go outside.

I go outside. I live a good life despite occasional falls. I also write about great things, not just painful things. My car still runs after 256,000 miles. I have the money to get my teeth cleaned. I fill the grocery cart with fabulous foods. I loved the same man for fourteen years without straying. Although we’re apart, I still do love him. I am comfortable in my own skin. I am passionate about flowers bought on Friday, about words falling in line with each other to make a sentence, a paragraph, a page. Life is here. Life is staying.

Today is October 16, 2017. I am alive and well.

The coffee was so strong it snarled as it lurched out of the pot.  Betty MacDonald

That is how I like my coffee; strong Recently though, as of a week ago, I have decided to let go of coffee. Typically I was drinking 12 cups a day. Now, I’m down to 6 and am thinking soon to make it 4.

I am seriously addicted to caffeine. The first time I decided to stop drinking coffee was because someone had told me it would help lift my depression if I stopped. That was over twenty years ago, and then I stopped cold turkey. I was so sick. For two weeks I sweated at night to the point of saturation. I could ring my t-shirt out. I also had terrible diarrhea. After two weeks, I was still suffering with the side effects of no caffeine and my depression was no better. I said “fuck it” and began drinking coffee again.

This time I know not to stop cold turkey. I tell people I am giving up coffee. They’re like “why would you do that?” I’m doing it because I am tired of being slave to my addiction. I am doing it because I will save $80 a month.

I drink coffee morning, noon, and night. If I know I’m not going to have the opportunity to drink at one of these times, I buy chocolate covered espresso beans.

I was addicted to alcohol. I was addicted to nicotine. In 34 years, I have had one night of drinking. That was 24 years ago. It has been 26 years since I smoked cigarettes.

Addiction is cruel like a busted radio cranked to blasting in a small room that can’t be quieted until the batteries are removed. It’s like being shot in the head by your own hand and not dying but being left permanently disfigured.

By the grace of God, I have never been addicted to food, gambling, sex drugs (other than alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine), or shopping. I don’t live in extremes today. Maybe some would consider my life dull. I don’t. I find it refreshing. I find it peaceful.

I will give up coffee. I will not be slave to anything. I hear the saxophone. The vocalist sings of freedom.

Today is September 25, 2017. I am alive and well.

I committed blog suicide with my last blog. I painted myself as a selfish, self-centered woman with no time for personal relationships. I was brutally honest, yet I’m not all of that person. What did I intend to say? I have no idea.

There are two things I value most:  love and truth.

I am loved beyond the edge of language and I love beyond the edge of language. I have a large family mostly made of friends with a few blood relations added to the mix. God and my family provide me with the oxygen to get through a day. God in the abstract. My family in the non-abstract.

I love God like I do the rising sun or the humming moon. Like I do the energy passed between me and another. I love God like I do electricity or running water; all things beyond my understanding. I am a light in a lit world. Seemingly my own, yet belonging to something large, something brighter.

People are bowls of fruit, oven baked bread, the proud sunflower. They are radios, televisions, and cell phones. People are smiles, frowns, and hard stares. Reaching arms and planted feet.

I love people like I do warm towels, down pillows, two scoops of chocolate ice cream. I love people with an intensity that matches the acceleration of a Lamborghini.

Keats wrote “truth is beauty and beauty is truth.” Truth/beauty are necessary to my life. I once had a friend tell me I shared too much. She was trying to protect me from adverse reactions to what I said. I talk freely about mental illness, alcoholism, and suicide. These things I have come to terms with. They currently don’t keep me from an amazing life. I told my roommate last night that there is freedom in having as long a piece of dental floss as I want. In the psych hospital floss is limited. I have not been to a psych hospital for eight years.

Telling the truth is not hard for me. Nor is accepting the truth of others. I am taught how to be in this world gracefully by others who have grace. I know when I do wrong and am able to right it most of the time. Life is sensational and intriguing. Thank God for standing in green grass.

Today is September 18, 2017. I am alive and well.

Mortal love is but the licking of honey from thorns.   Anonymous

Does that quote mean that my basic being and your basic being is created with thorns and then covered with honey? I don’t feel thorny, nor do my friends. When meeting someone for the first time I don’t feel that I might get pricked when the honey of their being melts away. I believe in the kindness and goodness of people.

Does the quote speak to the presence of my character defects? I do have character defects. People love me despite them. I will write that my worst one is selfishness. I am extremely selfish with my time. I crave time not spent with others, but rather time with myself. Worry is another character defect. I can worry about everything. Worry is a flower I plant knowing that it’s going to die and leave me petals. Worry is a baked cake that falls in the middle but still tastes great. It just doesn’t look like how I thought it ought. In other words, many of my worries are legitimate and do happen but I’m always left with something good that comes from mess.

This past week my garbage disposal stopped working and my truck wouldn’t start.

My garbage disposal was doing nothing. I worried that the sink was going to clog and spill over. Guy told me about a restart button. It was there! I pressed it and now all is fine.

I dreamt my truck wouldn’t start and come morning, my truck didn’t start. I was worried I’d have to spend most of my time waiting for buses, riding buses. It turns out that I simply needed a new battery. My dead battery was under warranty. I paid nothing!

So, I speak to having faith that all will work out. It curbs my worrying.

My love for others goes deeper than honey and I am not pricked by and do not worry about thorns. If a person’s short comings are too much for me, I step away with love. If a person doesn’t like me, I think “good.” I all ready don’t have enough time for those I love. Having one less person to pay attention to is a blessing.

On another note, I celebrated 24 years of sobriety yesterday. Coming from the daily drunk that I was, this is a miracle. God has blessed me in many ways. Sobriety is just one of them.

Today is July 31, 2017. I am alive and well.

I found god in myself/and I loved her/I loved her fiercely.   Ntozake Shange

This quote jumped out at me. The passion of this statement is like a toddler commenting on the smell of flowers for the first time. The passion is as great as the passion a homeless woman experiences as she bathes for the first time in weeks.

I have found god in me. The god in me is a small light that blazes in the creases of clouds. The god in me pushes me into the world when I fear Harm is waiting for me around the next corner. Harm is alive, just waiting for me to trip over my shoe laces, landing in his outstretched arms before realizing there are no laces in my shoes. I will not trip, at least not today. God has my back.

I refer to god as he although I have no problem with others who think god is she. One of my best friends prays to mother goddess and is not shy about letting people  know that. At the close of AA meetings, we always say the lord’s prayer which begins “our father.” My friend passionately and with purpose loudly says “our mother.” Sometimes I want to cover her mouth because I don’t want people judging her. I’m certain she would say “judge on,” not allowing people to get under her skin.

“I loved her fiercely.” I do love god fiercely. I also love words fiercely. My cats, fiercely. My friends, fiercely. Fiercely is such a perfect word. It exudes strength and purposefulness. It fires me up not allowing me to wade in dark water but rather coast on a paddle board.

“Cosmic imagination.” That is what William Blake referred to as god. I join him in this. God is cosmic imagination that pierces me from within leaving me passionate about this life I have been blessed with.

Today is July 10, 2017. I am alive and well.

Prior to sobriety, I was often lonely even in crowds of people. If I could have been at home with myself that might not have been the case. There was no coming home to myself and I was absent emotionally in my relationships with other people. I was a door with a rusty lock and a broken bell. I was a scratched window covered in grime. No one could get in or see in even though I was desperate for human contact.

Enter sobriety. Everything changed. Especially my social life. Especially my spiritual life. People wrote letters and dropped them through the mail slot in my self imposed door. They scrubbed my window clean, drying it with newsprint so as not to leave streaks. With effort, I opened the door. I looked out through the glass. There was dinner and coffees and movies and truth telling. So much so that it become a bit overwhelming. I am still an introvert. I now enjoy my own company with God at my center.

So today as a woman alone in her home, I will seek comfort from the spicy mustard colored walls that surround me and the ever present feeling of Spirit. The truth is, I am only as alone as I want to be. I can either set aside time to meet a friend or more importantly, marvel in the sense that all is right with my life. A bird just hit the window outside my study and bounced off. I too, can be that resilient. There are many ways to be in the world–four quarters make a dollar as does one hundred pennies, ten dimes, or twenty nickels. Currently, I am the paper dollar–a little frayed around the edges but still capable of buying two chocolate eggs. Cadbury. Fabulously delicious.

Today is May 14, 2017. I am alive and well.

Is it too cliche to write about mother on Mother’s Day? I do it anyway.

My mother has been dead for a long time. I miss her more today then I did when she first died. I have more life experiences to share with her. A whole tablet full of life; sentences that breathe…I had a boyfriend for fourteen years who left me for another woman and moved to Florida. Mom was not familiar with me having boyfriends. She knew me to have girlfriends. She hated the fact that I had girlfriends.

Mom died from a liver that stopped working. Yes, it was an alcohol related death. I knew she drank too much, but I didn’t know it was signed up to kill her. She was walking around as usual on Thursday and then in a coma that night. The second to last thing she said to me was from a psychiatric urgent care. She was acting crazy and her roommate called crisis. Crisis took her to the urgent care. She said to me she trusted “all the wrong people.” I’m certain she meant my father for one. He ran away with another woman the same month that both mom’s parents had died. It was tragic. It was a river stopped by a damn beavers had made. The flow interrupted. She asked me one morning to go to my father’s apartment to catch him with the other woman. My father was living in an apartment for work and would go home on the weekends until he wouldn’t anymore. I refused to go catch him.

The psychiatric urgent care wanted to clear my mom physically before treating her mind. They thought she looked bad. She fell into a coma in the ambulance on the way to Lincoln Memorial hospital. Honest Abe. The honest thing to say about her death is that her alcohol consumption killed her. She was a drunk. I tell her story with the hope that other people will put down the bourbon, knowing that alcohol is “cunning, baffling, and powerful.” A person can’t direct what heavily drinking will do. The alcohol is the beast with all the power.

I visited her at Lincoln Memorial. The last thing she did was sit up and stare at me. I told her I loved her. I told her I knew she loved her daughters. She laid back down with a sigh. And that was it. She died without waking again. She was only 58. Five years more than I am right now. Five years I have to set the world afire doing my thing. What is my thing to do? To write. To read. To work. To love. To write.

I miss you mom. When the cats are both staring at the entrance to my bedroom, I choose to believe it’s you who has come to visit. You give me strength. You taught me to be courageous. I will always be your daughter. I will live past 58. I hope you are proud of me. I love you like I do walking. I walk forward with you on my mind. You, leading me to water. Thank you.

Today is May 1, 2017. I am alive and well.

The first thing my sister said to me when I ran into her after 7 years of no contact was “Wow, you’re still alive.” And then my uncle said to me yesterday “I bet you didn’t think you’d see 53.”

It is true. I had no intention of living to 53. A driver has no intention of holding up traffic when her truck stalls out. I have had somewhere between 15 and 20 suicide attempts in my lifetime. The last one was in 1999. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to die since then; that’s simply the last time I attempted. Maybe the East Indian doctor with the soulful dark eyes, smelling of lavender, rubbed off on me. She told me at my bedside in the hospital ICU that I had a lot of life to live. That I had something special to offer. A five-year-old gets excited when she opens the door of the restaurant for her mother for the first time, offering entrance. I got excited about my book being published in 2014. It documented my recovery from schizophrenia and alcoholism. And yes, my time away from my last suicide attempt.

I have been free from the obsession to die for sometime now. That thought had plagued me like wanting a cigarette, needing a cigarette, in a smoke free coffee house. All thinking got set aside as I prayed for God to take me after swallowing handfuls of pills.

I am very bad at dying. It is hard to kill one’s self. I believe that those who do die from suicide were meant too….I can’t tell you why I believe this. Some ice cubes in a glass of tea float to the top while others remain at the bottom. I can’t tell you why all the ice doesn’t float to the top, getting in the way of the straw.

I am in the way of death. I have floated to the top. God removed my obsession to die. Life is new to me on a daily basis.

I remember the first time I tied my own shoes. I was excited to be able to do this on my own. On occasion, my shoe becomes untied while walking on the treadmill. I push the pause button and then bend over to tie my shoe. Ready to walk again, I hit a button and the treadmill resumes.

Life resumes. I love breathing. I love eating cake with butter cream frosting. I love that my cats woke me up this morning wanting kibbles. I take care of two living things. They thank me by curling up against me while I’m on the bed napping, writing, or reading.

There is no time to die today. Afternoon approaches. I know I will eat vegan chili, salad, and cornbread. I know I will wash my hair later. I will leave the house today to go to a sobriety meeting. I am 53 and loving it. So I say to my sister “I am alive and well.” She responds with a “thank God” and “it’s good to see you.” It is good to be seen. It will reach a 115 degrees here in the desert. And then there is air conditioning to be found inside.

Today is April 24, 2017. I am alive and well.

Two friends let me know they wanted to know how I felt in my last blog; how it felt when I broke my wrist and got called a boy. I thought how I felt was implied in the actions I took. They said not.

When I walked myself from the two teachers, without talking to them, to the nurse’s office I felt alone and my wrist hurt as if a big foot had snapped it in two. I was a shy third grader, too afraid to ask for help yet showing up at the nurse’s office like a colt on the way to a blacksmith for the first time.

Dressed in pants with my hair short and my body long I was mistaken for a boy. One particular time, I was walking down the street with my grandfather. We were heading home after getting ice cream. A neighbor called to my grandfather and asked if I was his grandson. My grandfather replied “granddaughter.” The damage was done. I was hurt and embarrassed; a small dog wet from a bath looking like a rat. My grandfather tried to make good by bringing up my report card. He said he was proud of me. All A’s.

I ran into my sister at my psychiatric clinic. I was there to get medication. I heard her say “Kristina.” Looking up from my book, there she was. She had deeply wronged me years ago so I had walked away from her. Until that moment, I hadn’t had any contact with her since my father’s funeral seven years earlier.

Seeing her was terrible. She looked like she was suffering. She looked haunted. A friend said of me decades ago that I look haunted. Now I know what she meant. It’s something to do with the eyes and expression of the face. A child waiting to be scolded for licking all the frosting off the cake.

My sister is a drug addict along with being mentally ill. It has never been more obvious. She no longer has her Sandra Bullock good looks. She is missing her front teeth and the teeth that she does have look rotted. Her face is tanned like that of a person who can’t get away from the sun, who has no shelter. Although it’s not cold, she is wrapped in a blanket. Her pants are hospital issued and her white t-shirt has seen happier days. It is no longer full of air and breeze like soft cotton is when new.

I give her my phone number but am not particularly kind to her. All said, she is still my baby sister. I wish I had been more welcoming. It’s been six days and she has yet to call. If anyone reading this knows her, please encourage her to get a hold of me. I am an older sister wanting to erase some of her strain, wanting to offer her a hot cup of coffee laced with vanilla syrup, wanting to embrace her in a hug that is intended. All said, I do love her. It hurts to know she suffers. It hurts like frost bite on a winter day, so unnecessary if simply clothed. There but for the grace of God go I…..