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.
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.
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.
“Well, Bobbie, that’s just what men do,” she said to me tenderly. “My uncle did that to me too.”
My eyes grew large as I looked at her and said, “No. That is not what men do.”
The discussion was about her granddaughter. Her granddaughter who had been sexually abused by her son. She was able to accept this as the way things were. I cried. I cried for hours. I couldn’t stop. You see, I didn’t want to believe he could do this. But if his mother thought he could, well, then, I knew he did. Later years he finally admitted to me that his niece’s accusations were, in fact, all true.
I shed tears that day for her, her granddaughter and for myself.
Triggers Show Up Out of Nowhere
I was in my early 20s and suddenly on that day a flood of memories hit me. I remembered the abuse I suffered at just four years old and again at 11 by a trusted family member. I wept for myself and the little girl I had been. For the toddler who was terrified and shocked and the pre-teen who was ashamed and embarrassed that anyone would touch her “there.” I wept for the teen I grew to be that developed breasts too late and was teased. I wept for the teen whose breasts ended up being larger than everyone else’s. I wept for the girl whose breasts were always a subject of discussion, whose breasts got touched “accidentally” by doctors, teachers and even church members. The breasts that boys bragged about touching even if they didn’t. This woman sparked memories in me that I had hidden so deep I thought they were buried. The flood gates opened.
I tried to self-destruct. I tried to run from the memories. I was trying to drown the memories so I could put them back where they belonged. I punished myself for the action of others. Indelible in the hippocampus was the shame I felt so many years ago (sorry, couldn’t resist—it is such a good line).
During my entire adulthood I rarely spoke of these incidents. My sister, my best friend and my husband were aware of the details. That is all. Then as I was working Step Four with my sponsor, I wrote out my resentments. So many names on my list referred to the men in my life who had sexually abused me. I wrote out the names, I wrote out the incidents and I just let it all sit there for a few weeks. As I was working Step Five, I spoke of these incidents to my sponsor. She listened. She nodded. She was gentle and reassured me I had no part in these resentments. We went to her burn pit and lit them on fire. I was free of the incidents that had haunted me for the first time in my life. They no longer took up space in my head and my soul.
When You Know Better, Do Better
I truly don’t believe that anyone thought they were hurting anything when they hurt me. I have come to believe that they were doing the best they could with what they had. “That’s just what men do” came from a woman who came from a generation that believed that. I am not saying this to excuse the behavior. I am saying this because this is how I am able to forgive. We are getting better. We are raising our sons to do better. We are teaching our daughters not to be silent. I have wondered, with recent headlines, what would happen if we all spoke up and named names? How different would our world look? I know that I don’t have the guts to do this. I know that I am okay and even better than okay most days. I truly don’t have it in me to destroy families by speaking up. I’m okay with that. Just as I am okay with the women that want to speak up after so many years and tell their story. I will stand up with them.
Triggers Can Go Both Ways
What I really hope is that my abusers remember what they did. That these headlines have triggered memories in them that they are finding difficult to live with. I don’t need an apology. I would love, however, some living amends to be made on my behalf. I want all of our daughters to feel safe in safe places. There are terrible people out there, for sure. But, there are places the terrible people are not supposed to be. Your home, your church, your school and your doctor’s office to name a few.
I hope that they see the hurt and feel the pain and stand up and say, “This is NOT what men do.”
“Have you been drinking?”
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.
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.
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.
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.