I Remember When

Photo courtesy of Ben Hershey — Splasher

I remember when baseball was your passion. I remember the nights we lived at the baseball fields. I remember after games the whole team celebrating in someone’s pool to wash off the sweat. I remember days filled with hot dogs and Gatorade that became PowerAdes. I remember driving out of town with the team and every car having a two-way radio because it was fun.

I remember when baseball was your passion. I remember days of made up games and boys and mac n cheese. I remember broken bones worn like a trophy. I remember practicing the same play over and over until it was easy. I remember the grass worn out in the back yard where home plate and the pitcher’s mound stood.

I remember when baseball was your passion. I remember sleepovers and team pranks. I remember days of alternating jumping in the pool and playing catch. I remember when the hardest decision was what cleats to buy.

I remember when baseball was your passion. I remember bike rides to your friends’ for a pickup game. I remember skinned knees and flat tires. I remember sunscreen and sunburns and lots of aloe.

I remember when baseball was your passion. I remember new gloves and old gloves and glove oil and restringing gloves. I remember new bats and heavy bats and the first hit.

I remember when baseball was your passion. I remember game-winning outs and game-winning hits. I remember the heartbreak and the tears that came from game-losing misses.

I remember when baseball was your passion. I remember when the most important part of summer was the big game. I remember your face when you won the big game. I remember your face when you lost the big game.

I miss when baseball was your passion.

Enough

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You’re going along and actually feel like you’re at a place that’s better than anywhere you’ve been when out of nowhere – boom.  You suddenly feel anxious and like you can’t breathe, and it is such a familiar feeling it almost feels like home.

Home if you were in an abusive relationship.

Home if you were always told you weren’t good enough.

Home if you never seem to get it right.

Home if you just want to slide into oblivion.

Home if you just can’t fill your lungs with enough air to get to the rest of your body.

There’s a difference though.   Where this feeling used to take you down with it and hold you until you tapped out – you now have the tools to win this fight.

You breathe the deep breaths of life that fill you up.

You meditate and fill your spirit with the strength needed to overcome the doubts.

You speak out loud your fears and take away the power.

You know – you are enough.

 

I am enough.

 

 

 

Dying

death

My family has suffered 2 deaths in the past two weeks.  The first was my sister in law, 47.  She died from complications from pneumonia.  That’s the simplest way to put it.  The second, last night, was my father in law.  While at the wake for my sister in law, my father in law was taken to the hospital due to a lot of fluid build up.  While there, he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic and liver cancer. He lasted a little longer than a week.  He died 2 weeks after my sister in law.

Watching my brother and my mother in law is so sad.  Watching the children (albeit adults) lose a parent is heartbreaking.  I’m just freaking sad.

I’m sad and even filled with some guilt.  Guilt I wasn’t a better friend to my sister in law.  Guilt that I didn’t see my father in law as often as I should have.

Guilt that my sister in law died on the 3 year anniversary of my suicide attempt.  Guilt watching family members hurt so much from these unavoidable tragedies.  Guilt that I almost put my family members through something similar.

I’m just sad today.

How Far Will You Go To Protect Your Addiction?

Lies

“Have you been drinking?”

“No.”

My standard reply. Always. It didn’t matter if I had been drinking or not. This was what I always answered. And not just, “no” but “no” with a little indignation thrown in. Like, “no, why would you ask that?” or “no, what kind of question is that?”

But, chances are, if someone asked, I was. Because I always was. Vodka. In my coffee, my iced tea, my diet coke. Disguised in a water bottle. Wherever I was. Coaching, playing ball, watching my kid play ball, family get-togethers, and even babysitting. It didn’t matter where I was. I always had a drink in hand.

I guess I thought I wasn’t hurting anyone. It was about me. My vodka, my life. I had gotten to the point that without it I became extremely anxious and couldn’t really leave my house. I had gotten to the point that it just became my big crutch.

Actions

One evening I was babysitting my granddaughter. I was supposed to pick up my sister at the airport so I had my son leave my granddaughter’s car seat. And I wasn’t going to drink. My sister hadn’t met my granddaughter yet and I was really excited about it. She was just a little over 3 months with red hair and gorgeous and I was so in love with her.

I wasn’t going to drink. So, instead, I took a Xanax around noon. I knew I would get really anxious and I felt this would be the best plan. I took another Xanax on my way to my son’s around 4 hours later. Somehow I felt this was better than drinking. Maybe it would have been. But, guess what? I fixed myself a drink.

My son had all this alcohol on the top of his fridge. Awesome looking stuff if you’re me and an alcoholic. He had peach or pineapple vodka and I couldn’t resist. I made myself a drink. I only had one. I thought that would be okay. The baby and I fell asleep and were awakened after about an hour from my daughter.

“You need to go pick up Amy,” she says. “okay, we’re up.” I replied.

“Have you been drinking?” she asks.

“No.” I say.

The Drive

I get the baby in the car seat. My two nieces ride with me to pick up my sister. I can barely keep my eyes open. It is about a 20 minute drive and I struggle to stay awake the entire time. We pick up my sister who oohs and aahs over the baby and I take my sister to pick up her vehicle about 30 minutes away.

“Are you okay?” she asks? “Just tired,” I reply.

By the time I drop off my sister I am more awake. Her youngest gets in her car and her oldest stays with me and my granddaughter. (later I found out she stayed with me because I seemed off) At this point, I don’t know how to get back to my son’s, so as I’m driving I pick up my phone to put in the address. I look down and swerve. A pretty big swerve I was told. I correct myself and start to look down again. My niece takes the phone then so I can tell her the address. I don’t remember his address. I give her a cross street and we figure it out. The rest of the drive is pretty uneventful. That is only due to luck. Or God’s grace, which is what I’m going with.

Consequences

At my son’s my behavior became more erratic. The Xanax and the alcohol combined just made me more drunk. My daughter drove me home and gave me a lecture the entire way. The next morning I woke up with a little headache. I walked into the kitchen to find 4 empty vodka bottles on the counter. It seems while I was sleeping they found my stash of empties. No one was around so I just threw them away. To this day, I don’t believe they have ever been mentioned.

Needless to say, I was no longer allowed to babysit. My relationship with my son and daughter-in-law was so strained I wasn’t sure it could be repaired. And if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have blamed them. I thought that, since I only had one drink it was okay to drive. The reality is, I shouldn’t have driven. I shouldn’t have been babysitting.

I was willing to drive with my granddaughter before I told anyone I was drinking. I didn’t want anyone to know. I thought I could hide it. The memory of this incident still makes me sick to my stomach. I can’t even tell you how many tears I shed because I did this.

This just shows how far I was willing to go to protect my alcoholism. I would risk mine, my sisters, my granddaughters and my nieces lives. This night could have had an entirely different ending. I am grateful I am here to tell my tale, as horrible as it is. I am forever grateful for second chances.

A Bit of Venting

Cake

I realize there are people who could look at that piece of cake and not eat it.  And not be tempted by it.  I’m not one of those people.  I look at that cake, eat that piece and then want the rest of the entire freaking cake.   Same for me with alcohol.  I have the one glass of wine, then I want the bottle (and sometimes another bottle).

One of my articles was recently published by an online magazine.  The one regarding my son and his substance use disorder.   Most people were compassionate, sympathetic or empathetic.  Then there were the angry people.  The self-righteous ones who think people who suffer from addiction are weak.  Blisters on society.  The ones that said they are costing tax payers too much money.  I handled them with grace, I felt, but really just want to vent for a minute.

Science aside (the science that says addiction is a disease and proves the genetic component) how about just compassion?  How about the acknowledgement that something is seriously damaged in our society today?  We are losing an entire generation and it is terrifying.   What is happening that people would rather stay altered as opposed to living in our reality?  Is it our constant use of social media?  Our instant gratification with online everything?  I guess this part is for a different blog.

Here is what I don’t understand.  How can anyone look at someone else and just think that they are a waste of space?  Whose space?  Is it not possible that we all bring something to the table?

I opened my FB today and saw that there were 3 overdose deaths in my circle of the world last night.  This is not rare since my social media has become focused on recovery. It makes me so relieved that my child made it another day and so sad for the moms and dads and sisters and brothers and children that lost another cherished soul.

This will not change if we still have a large part of society thinking that people with substance use disorders don’t deserve their help.  This will not change if people think it is weak vs. strong.  Just don’t use?  You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.

I am truly grateful for those that reached out and offered support and prayers.  I added many to my prayer list.  Those with hardened hearts.  We need to take back our kids.  Even if it is one kid at a time.  These deaths are unacceptable.

I know I’m all over the place.  I guess if being prone to addiction makes me weak, then I am weak.  It also helped me find my strength.  Does the fact that I struggle to maintain normal  mean I am stronger than someone who doesn’t have to fight every day for normal? Or does it mean I am weak?  That saying that “everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about”  is about having compassion for people and things you might not understand.

So people, stop bullying just because you can.  It is more impressive if you say, “hey, I don’t get it, but it must be tough.”

What Does Love Look Like?

love

When I was a young girl I thought that love meant flowers and candy. I thought it meant hearts and Valentine’s Day and big romantic gestures. I thought love was calling someone all of the time and talking all night on the phone. As I have aged my views of love have changed. As I look around I can see love in everyday occurrences. You have to be paying attention, but it really is all around us. I don’t think it looks like I imagined.

I think love is staying up late to make a special dip for friends you are meeting up with the next day. Taking the time to get the ingredients and putting in the effort to make it right.

I think love is a dad working on the road so his wife can be a stay at home mom. I think it is making the sacrifice of missing ball games so the kids can play in the select leagues.

I think love is a man leaving one job to work a second job when his body already hurts.

I think love is a mom driving 4 hours one way in order to have dinner with her son on his birthday. Then driving 4 hours home in order to take care of the other kids.

I think love is an older couple going to their daughter’s house to take care of her yard because they know she is depressed and just can’t do it herself.

I think love is a sister climbing in bed with her sister to watch Hallmark movies and eat popcorn because she knows bed is where her sister is the most comfortable right now.

I think love is a friend working on your car because he knows your husband is out of town and you need a little help. It’s taking gas to your friend because she ran out in the ATM machine coming to your house.

I think love is a husband holding his wife’s hand.

I think love is a message from an old friend who is far away just seeing if you’re okay.

I think love is a mom making dinner for 40 people every Thanksgiving because she believes in tradition and family.

I think love is driving 6 hours to see family for 2 days and driving 6 hours back home.

I think love is cutting your neighbor’s grass because he just had heart surgery.

I think love is accepting an apology.

I think love is not needing an apology.

I think love is picking up your husband’s suitcase every freaking week from the foyer and doing all of his laundry. So he can go back on the road to make your life more comfortable.

I think love is spending your only day off working on your daughter’s car.

I think love is taking dinner to a friend and her family after she broke her foot.

I think love is showing up each week to play cards with friends even when one might not feel like it.

I think love is found in our actions not flowers. I think it’s always there but if you’re not paying attention, you might miss it. I remember feeling sorry for myself in the psych ward and wanting to blame everyone and hate everything. Then I saw my family walk in to visit me. I was afraid they weren’t coming. When I saw my husband turn the corner my first thought was, “Holy cow. That man really does loves me.”

Stop looking for big romantic gestures. Look for the deeds. That’s where love is.