Tales of a Nearly 49 Year Old Nothing

Listen to me! Think what it is like to have most of your life ahead and be told you are obsolete! Think what it is like to feel attraction, desire, affection toward others, to want to tell them about yourself, to feel that assumption on which self-respect is based, that you are worth something, that if you like someone, surely he will be pleased to know that. To be, in other words, still a living woman, and to be told that everyday, that you are not a person, but a joke. Well, I am a bitter joke. I am bitter, and frustrated, and wasted, but don’t you pretend as you look at me, 43, fat, and looking exactly my age, that I am not as alive as you are, and that I do not suffer from the category into which you are forcing me. Zoe Moss-It Hurts to be Alive and Obsolete: The Ageing Woman

In the conference room, I sat in a chair without arms to accommodate my hips and ass made too large from stress eating. The food I put in my mouth seems to be the only control I have these days. I hate that I have no control, hence the reason I’m sitting in a sterile conference room on a Monday morning, with the HR Manager and my team lead. I was feeling confident about the performance improvement plan that I’d been on for the last sixty days, as my job performance and accuracy had been increasing. That was until they began to speak. I was told that I’d failed it and would be removed from my position immediately. It had been decided by the team lead and her supervisor that there was no way I could continue the momentum of my accuracy rate of 97%. I also wasn’t approving at least 30 reports a day, so they were going to immediately move me another position.

The HR Manager slid a sheet of paper in front of me and ask that we read through it together. This was difficult for me as I was in tears, and trying to digest all of what was being discussed. In summary, the settlement agreement would allow me to stay long enough to be eligible for full retirement from the U, but I could not be hired into the my current placement  ever again. Here I was, almost 49, single, fat, no higher education, a recovering addict, mother of grown children and grandmother, being told, bitch, you got to go!

They sent me home to read the agreement and consult with a lawyer before I signed it. I did that, but I also thought about how I’d gotten here. Part of the reason I was here was because I was an addict that had ruined my work reputation while I was trying to kill myself with drinking and other self destructive behaviors. I also had shown too much of my personality while at my new job. I laughed too loud, I joked too much, and I was too friendly. I didn’t focus enough on the work at hand, and that caused my managers to look at me negatively. I was scrutinized every time I made a mistake, but I owned the errors.

The next day I went back to work. I went back to my old desk and packed up my crap. I was smart when I moved to my new location and didn’t place too many personal items on my desk. I swear, I instinctively knew that I shouldn’t get too comfortable. And I never was…

I was told by the team lead and her manager that I would make the announcement to my colleagues that I was moving. And I did, with a smile on my face and positive lilt to my voice. But, if they could have seen inside of my body while I spoke to them, they would have seen a maze of jangled nerves, rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms and racing thoughts skittering around a brain in early recovery from alcoholism.

I took my medicine though, and I walked my chair and box of belongings down to the first floor.

My former supervisor handed me off to my new supervisor. The new supervisor greeted me with such positivity and warmth, I was so overwhelmed that I started to cry. I kept my head down to hide the tears, and went about the task of setting up my new work space. I put up a couple of photos of my grandson, but now that I’ve been in the job a few weeks, I’ve removed them. I’ve decided to keep my work space neutral. To keep the desk space clear of clutter, and to keep focused on learning my new job.

I’ve learned that I’m expendable, because of my personal and work history, and my age. I’m obsolete. I’ve married and divorced. I’ve bore children and raised them. I’ve worked at the U since I was 20 and I’ve worn out my welcome at nearly 49. I’ve nowhere to go from here. I guess what I should say is, I don’t know where to go. I’m so unsure of myself and I wallow in anxiety and depression everyday. I’m not young, but I am not old. I am not book smart but I am not dumb. However, because of previous errors in my life, I will always viewed as not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough. Never enough.

My daughter has told me to buck up and deal with it, but my tender heart continues to be crushed with sadness and fear, every time I try to look into the future. Because honestly, I see no future for me. Tell me, wouldn’t you be scared if that’s what you saw when you looked ahead, was nothing?

I want to feel vibrant and alive again. I want to feel stable. I want to feel hope again! To sparkle. Unfortunately, I don’t even know what to do or where to begin this process.

Actually, I think I’ll start here. I pray that this is my future, and I pray that I find my way home…

 

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To Remember touch More than Thought

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“I remember that feeling of skin. It’s strange to remember touch more than thought. But my fingers still tingle with it.”-Lucy Christopher

My pulse quickened as Matt enclosed his left hand around my right. The intimacy of his actions brought a blush to my cheeks. Confused, I wanted to pull away but I craved the contact. Instead of retreating, I allowed his hand to engulf mine. My mouth went dry, as his thumb repeatedly caressed the palm of my hand.

I yielded to his touch, my heart slowed its thready beat, and I allowed myself to enjoy the closeness of my dear friend. He asked for nothing but my hand. He told me he loved me and how glad he was I came into his life. We grew silent, as his thumb continued to make lazy circles on my palm.

His was the first intimate touch I’d felt since I’d become sober. It wasn’t a sexual touch. I wasn’t sure how to label it, and honestly, I didn’t care to. In that five minutes, I felt more protected and loved than I had in a long time.

With our hands clasped, my friend silently asked nothing of me, but to love every broken, raw and damaged part of him. And in return, I asked him to do the same for me.

The Day the Music Came Alive

I am 32 Flavors and then some
I’m nobody, but I am someone

The last year of my addiction to alcohol had killed my love of music. Every time I listened to any song I would feel it so deeply that I would be left sobbing. If I couldn’t listen to music, I damn sure couldn’t write either. So in the last six months I fed my need for words by listening to NPR and the great Dave and Chuck the Freak morning show on 101.1 The WRIF in Detroit.

During detox and rehab we weren’t allowed to have our phones, so I was starved for information, morning radio shows, and finally, music. The few songs I did get to hear during that time made me cry, but there was no longer any deep seeded pain connected to it. The pain I felt was the itch and burn of healing to my tattered and war torn soul.

On the day I walked out of the Brighton Center of Recovery, the sun of early fall was shining. It lit my hair and my spirit on fire and I knew I was on the path to rebirth. I threw my suitcase in the backseat, and placed my ID and insurance card back into my wallet. I slid the keys into the ignition, turned the engine over, and rolled the windows down. As I drove out of the parking lot, I turned the radio up to 11, the wind caught my hair and I sang the words to whatever song that was playing on the radio.

I  finally felt at home in the music, no matter if it was upbeat or a ballad. The words helpd incredible power! Not to hurt me, but to help me heal. Everyday I get closer to fine with the help of my IOP group, my AA community, my other Brighton alums, my friends and family and my music. Oh my fucking God, I am so incredibly blessed!

May you find peace and serenity today, and may you find joy in the little things in life.

 

 

A Letter of Forgiveness

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‘Let us be willing to release old hurts.’- Martha Smock

Dear Renee,

The last three years have been especially harrowing, yet you’ve persevered. I always knew you were  a strong woman.

I want you to forgive yourself for the last ten years of drinking. I want you to love and accept yourself and know that you are a beautiful spirit.

You are not your past, and it does not need to define you. Your future and your community are the sober people, the perfectly broken.

Your children love you. The longer you are sober, the more their trust will return.

Do not look for love until you can find it within yourself.

Go to meetings.Work with a sponsor. Keep busy. Dive into work and become a stellar employee again.

Be kind to yourself and know that you alone are enough.

Let go of your past. Let go of love that is not evenly returned and move forward.

Find peace.

Find joy.

Find love from within, and the brilliance of it will flow to everyone you encounter.

Forgive yourself, and put your trust in the future.

Love, Renee

(This is a letter I wrote to myself the last night of my stay at the Brighton Center for Recovery. My addiction counselor told me to save doing this section of my homework after everything else was done. I read it to my community the day I ventured out of the Brighton Bubble into the sunlight of new future. I’ll  share of my journey when the time is right. For now, I have another story brewing about a wheat farmer and his wife. I hope to post it soon. This girl is getting her sparkle back for sure. Thanks for following me on this journey.)

Sliding Glass Window Oberservations From A Grenade

Yesterday I watched from my sliding glass window, five young men wearing the same color suit. Four of them wore ties folded in Windsor knots. One of them wore a slick bow tie. There was a sixth man. A photographer wearing khakis, took candid shots of them as they changed from gym to dress shoes, straightened each others ties and goofed off, like young men do. My guess was, they were the groom and attendants for a wedding. Or maybe they were an a cappella group. Who knows?

My apartment complex is set back in a wooded area, so the photographer took them behind the building to get more shots. They left their gym shoes and back packs resting on the hoods of their vehicles. Their doors were left wide open. When they returned, they grabbed all their crap and jammed themselves into their vehicles. They and the khaki panted photographer headed off to parts unknown. I was excited to observe them as they smile radiantly and wore the same color suits. Four of them with ties folded in Windsor knots. The other, maybe the groom, wearing a slick bow tie.

Often, my observational posts begin on my personal Facebook page. An idea hits me and I have to write it down. I’m sure it drives many of my friends crazy because my posts can get a little lengthy. Whatever, then take me out of your news feed! On second thought, please don’t, because I want you to read my observations. Looking at my window is about the only place I can draw inspiration right now.  I’ve kinda been stuck in my apartment for 70 days.

My focus waned and I didn’t write much more till I arrived home from My Trivia last night. At 1:00 a.m I began writing a lengthy email to a friend, when the following quote popped into my Sparkly little head:

 I wanted to know that he would be okay if I did. I wanted to not be a grenade, to not be a malevolent force in the lives of the people I loved.–John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

I wrote to my friend, I am a goddamn grenade.

I realized that in my married life and when I was raising my kids, I was a grenade. I was a malevolent force that ruined everything in my path. I was an F5 tornado or category 5 hurricane. And I was hell bent on self destructing. The self destruction included being a horrible drunk, a slow suicide with food and conversing with men that I had no business talking to.

I don’t want to be a grenade, anymore.

My ultimate goal is to try to find peace within my stormy, passionate and romantic heart. My ultimate goal is to not judge others and somehow rise above the transgressions of my past. I’ve sought forgiveness from God. I can’t go back and change anything. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m not even looking for forgiveness from Roger Darling, Meggie or Adam Boy. All I can do is keep my mouth shut, my mind clear and try to be happy.

I wish for the three I’ve hurt the most to be happy, because I don’t want to be a goddamn grenade, anymore.

I talked to my mother today and I asked her when I should stop saying I’m sorry for all the havoc I wreaked? Her response was as soon as put down the bucket of guilt I continued to carry around. I may never be completely forgiven by my children or the man I shared 24 years of my life with, but I’m going to put down that bucket. I’m sure there will be times in my life that I will pick it up again. There will always be a part of me that knows that I fucked everything up.

I’m also acutely aware that I will probably be alone for the rest of my life because of what I’ve done. I have to be okay with that.  I have to realize that there is no such thing as unconditional love, except for the love we give our children. On this journey to myself, I’ve discovered I am a child of God. I am a sinner, but even sinners need to forgive themselves.

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches over me…

He watches over Meggie and Adam.

And I know, He watches over Roger Darling.

 

Journal Entry-Happiness and 180 Days

Happiness“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”-Confucius

Yeah, I know it’s been awhile, but I’m back.

The holidays were different this year, but none the less special. My ex-husband, Roger Darling and I shared the expense of buying gifts for our four kids. We prepared dinner together. Prime rib, mashed red skin potatoes, and a wonderful salad bar. We ate heartily and laughed exuberantly. Even though our family is now fractured, there is still happiness and laughter.

We spoiled our children with good gifts like we always have. And filled their stockings with everything they could possibly want. Thank you God for the dollar store!!!

The kids drank wine and beer, but it didn’t bother me. I drank Diet Coke and quietly celebrated my own milestone of another day without a drop of alcohol. I know Roger Darling keeps track of my sobriety, which I’m kind of honored by. I will never understand how a man who’s heart I shattered could give two shits about me. Never mind, I do know. Even after everything we’ve been through, he still loves me. I may not love him the same way, but we will always have a connection. We were a family, once upon a time…

In this New Year, I celebrate that I’ve been sober for over 180 days.

Many times I’ve stood in the liquor aisle and stroked the bottles of flavored vodka. They called to me like they were my lover, but it is a siren’s song. I knew if I took a drink, I would crash into the shore of my own self-destruction again, and again, and again.

I made myself walk away from those bottles of poison, more than once. No matter how lonely, depressed or angry I got, I never drank.

I just knew the next day would be full of hope, promise and at least one reason to smile.

I’m still finding my way back to happy. It isn’t in the bottom of a vodka bottle.

It’s within me.

My heart, mind and soul are happier, sober.

I’m no Pollyanna. There are days that I can barely get out of bed. I force myself to get up and face the day. Just waking up without a hangover and going to work is blessing enough.

Happy New Year my dear friends. I hope that 2014 is a better year for all of you. May you all let go of fear, and live the lives you desire.

Love,

A sober and somewhat happy Sparkly Girl

It Happens When You Least Expect It

Loneliness happens when you least expect it. While shopping for groceries on a weeknight. You see them, the couples, deciding what to make for dinner. The fathers, shopping with their young children. Giving the stay-at-home mom a break. Dad’s put in a full day, but he knows that his wife’s work is never done.

You peruse the produce section and grab a couple of naval oranges from California. And a fresh bouquet of flowers to display in your one bedroom apartment. It reminds you of the verse about buying your own flowers; decorating your own heart. Or something like that….

After grabbing a fresh bag of salad, you look for a good steak. You can buy what you want, because you live on your own. You’ve instantly lost your appetite though. Throwing the prepackaged meat back on the shelf, you take to wandering aimlessly up and down each aisle.

You get the rest of your items and walk down the liquor aisle. The variety is overwhelming and you pray for strength. It’s been 150 days without a drop of alcohol, but this night your will is weak. Screwing up every ounce of courage, you leave the booze behind. You don’t need it. The tears will come whether you drink or not.

You see a young mother chasing down her child and you smile. You remember being that woman, a lifetime ago. You wish you could tell her to enjoy every minute of it. But your reverie is broken by the child running into an Indian man that has his arms full of food items. He and the young mother laugh and the little one squeals with delight.

Once home, the tears trail down your cheeks. The pain of loneliness is so intense, you sob until your throat is raw. The whole time you bawl, you’re throwing groceries into your fridge and cupboards. The cat is freaked out by the noises you emit and runs away. Then you throw a tantrum about the cat not even giving a fuck about you.

You kneel beside your bed and you pray one simple word, ‘please’.

As the tears and sobbing subside, you fall into a troubled sleep. Hoping that tomorrow will be a better day.

God Said Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!

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Ha!!! Hahahahahahaha!! Hah huh, ha huh, ha huh, ha huh! Huh, huh, huh, huh! Ha!!!!!!!!

On Monday morning I planned on writing a journal entry, after my work was finished of course. Hell, I planned to follow the format that I’ve been trying to follow for about three months. But something always seems to fuck it up.

Catching up on email at work on Monday morning, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Cliche I know, but it’s how I felt. The sentence that squeezed my heart stated that two staff members would be directly affected by an Administrative Services Transition. I knew it was my job that would be eliminated. It was surreal to think after almost 25 years, my job might be gone. After speaking with a colleague I decided to talk to my director and tell her that I thought it was me that was going to get laid off. She confirmed my fears and waited for my response. We’ve worked together for 18 years, and she knows me. My initial reaction usually is to cry. This time, I didn’t. I sat in the blue canvas chair across from her, and felt strangely at peace.

I’m not sure if it’s the latest changes in my life. Alcoholic’s Anonymous and being sober for over four months. Being newly single. Or learning to let go and let God. But I was composed while I sat in my mentor’s office. Resigned to the fact that my job would be eliminated as of April 1, 2014. With the news came opportunity. A chance to interview for new leadership positions with Shared Services. To start a whole new career. It’s not something that a 45 year old, newly single and sober woman looks forward to. I’m kind of a weirdo though, so I say, bring it on.

At the end of our meeting, my director and cherished friend hugged me fiercely. I’m not sure how I’ll handle not seeing her smiling face every morning. When I leave, she’ll be the one that I miss the most. Her guidance over the years has made me a good employee. Her faith in me has been unwavering. For all the times that I’ve stumbled, she has picked me up and encouraged me to set my feet on the right path. I love her. Without her support and tough love, I don’t know where I’d be.

Now I’m updating my resume, creating a professional profile, writing a cover letter, perusing job postings and buying a new business suit. Fuck, I haven’t worn one of those things in years. I was hoping I’d never have to again. The one constant in my life is being ripped from me, and all I can think is, it could be worse.

Maybe next week I’ll get to follow my blog format. Maybe next week I’ll write every day. Maybe next week life won’t turn on a dime. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Maybe not.

Quoteful Thursday-FDR and Fear

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I wondered if I was going to be gutsy enough to write about the recent goings on in my life. But I’ve been too afraid. For so many years I’ve been ruled by fear. Fear of what others would think about me. Fear of being alone. Fear of losing my sanity. Fear of not having enough money. Fear of death. Fear of unemployment. Fear of being a drunk. Fear of being fat. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of being found out. Fear of leaving my husband and making him sad. Fear of upsetting and hurting my children. Fear of just about every fucking thing you could think of.

Hell, I can’t even grocery shop without feeling the icy cold grip of fear wrapping around my heart. No, I’m not standing in the freezer section with hardened nipples. I’m trying to slow my thought process down and not be ADHD girl. To be fearless and say I can do the simple task of shopping without crying. I’ve always had Roger Darling to rely on, but not anymore. After 24 years I’ve decided to separate from him. I care very deeply for the man and we’ve had a good life, but it’s time for me to move on. I’ve tried for years to change my feelings for him. To try and love him again. There is no solace in knowing that I’ve broken his heart and the hearts of my children. I’ve broken apart my family.

I’m not asking for pity or empathy. The only thing I ask for is understanding. I pray for it everyday.

In a week I will move out of our home and into a little one bedroom apartment. I will leave all that I’ve ever known. I have not lived on my own since 1989. People, it is 2013 and I am 45 years old. I’m scared as fuck but I’m ready.

I have so much shit to pack. All I really want to do is go to sleep, wake up and have it be next week. I’m tired of hurting myself and those around me. I don’t know how it works, this moving on without Roger Darling. This not talking to him everyday. He’s been my confidant, lover, and friend. I want us to continue being friends. To not be the normal ones that go our separate ways. We’ve never been much for normal anyway. Hell, we raised our children to be outspoken, rebellious and fearless. We tried to live our lives that way too. I guess I didn’t comprehend the memo though.

I’m hopeful that in time Roger and I will be able to meet for a cup of coffee and conversation.  I know we’ll talk mostly about our children and what they’re up to. Meggie, the teacher. Adam, the lawyer. Chris, the lumberjack. Claire, the scientist. But I hope we touch on the subject of our past life and how good it was for the most part. I’ll want him to know that although we are no longer together, I’ve never regretted being married to him.

It was my destiny to be Roger’s wife and Meggie and Adam Boy’s mother. Unfortunately, I have to change the end of the story and go it alone.

Quoteful Thursday-Boris Pasternak

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I don’t like people who have never fallen or stumbled.

Their virtue is lifeless and it isn’t of much value.

Life hasn’t revealed its beauty to them.

Boris Pasternak

I know I haven’t written anything lately. I haven’t stuck to my format either. Life is crazy, crazy, crazy. So here’s a quote for Thursday. I promise that I’m writing a story for Friday Fictioneers. It’s a sad one, because that’s what I write best.

Sometimes words dry up, or I stop giving a shit. Or the family I’ve been trying to keep together for 24 years finally falls apart because of me. I would rather beg for forgiveness of my children than write a journal entry or post a Tunesday entry.

Maybe I’m trying to stay sober and need to write out my fourth step. That’s more important than writing about romance. I love the written word, but ‘writer’ is only one of the many names I bear. Today I’d rather be a mother, daughter, friend, employee, etc.

I’d like to hide, but I won’t. I’d like to go running, but I’m out of shape.

I’m not asking for pats on the back or kind words. I don’t want to be told it will be all right, because it won’t.

Tonight, I’ll drive home while music blares on the radio. I’ll be chair dancing and singing along. When I arrive, there will be dogs barking and warm kisses from Wonder Schnauzers and Baxter my grand dog. Roger Darling will be there with a cup of coffee and conversation. Dinner will commence and dishes will be done. I might pack a few of my things up before I head to bed.

During the night after I head to the bathroom for the third time, I’ll snuggle back down in bed and listen to the silence.  I’ll pray that the next time I fall, I don’t take my whole family down with me.

Amen.