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.

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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

angel

‘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.)

There but for the grace of God go I

I saw her this morning and I know she saw me. She was holding a Speedway Pizza and 44 oz. soda, but it was only 9:45 in the morning. I tried not to pity her, this pasty white young woman with a horrible diet. I could tell by her unlined skin that she was in her 20’s, but the weight made her look older. She wore Capri jeans and a bulky t-shirt and was sweating at the effort it took her to walk to her vehicle. She set the items down on the hood of her powder blue mini-van coated thickly with dust from what I presumed was the dirt road she lived on.

I could tell she wanted to be as inconspicuous as possible. To blend in with the pavement and her powder blue mini-van. Just unlock the door, take her food and make her getaway to consume her poison in peace. I didn’t make eye contact with her, but I wanted to. I wanted to hug her and tell her I knew how she felt. That I hated food because the shittier it was for me the better it tasted. I wanted to tell her that I too was an addict that wanted to lie in bed and consume all the best and worst foods and die in a caloric avalanche. Instead, I said nothing, because she probably wouldn’t have listened anyway.

I walked into Speedway and purchased an unsweetened iced tea with lots of ice. I shared pleasantries with the cashier while I made my purchase and tried not to loathe the way I looked in my tight yoga pants and tank top. All 265 lbs. of me turned and walked out of the store and to Eddie the Wonder Dog waiting in my car. As I walked, I felt the constant pain of what felt like a pebble grinding into my left heel. Another pain I have to deal with because of obesity. I swear to you every pain I feel, both physically and mentally is because of this fat boundary that I’ve built around me.

Once in my vehicle, I glanced through my side window at the mini-van woman. There she was downing a soda, and eating her first slice of pizza. My heart hurt for her, well, for both of us really. Why was it that women like she and I struggled so, while other didn’t seem to? I reached down and started my car, turned to hug my Eddie Dog and then put the car in reverse. It was time to go home and measure out the portions of my morning meal, a hard-boiled egg, 1 cup of skim milk, 3/4 cup of protein cereal, and piece of fruit.

I’m determined this time, not only to make the diet stick, but to remain healthy. That’s the ultimate goal really, to wake in the morning with less physical and mental pain. To look forward to picking out healthy food and fun clothes to wear. To be able to run again, if I want to. Or swim, bike, or maybe even date. Who knows what the future holds for me? All I know is I don’t want my weight deciding my future for me, I want to be the master of my own fate.

Superwoman is Dead

superwoman-tatoo-on-the-shoulder

 

Curled up in bed on my left side, I opened one eye and viewed the Life Manifesto hanging on my bedroom wall. I struggled to discern the words in the dimness of the coming morning . ‘Life’ the largest word on the canvas, filled my vision as Eddie the Wonder Pup glued his body to mine. I reached behind me and gave his back a soft pat, his crooked tail began to beat against my crippled right ankle. I dreaded getting out of bed. Not because of chronic pain, because there’s always that. No, it was the chill of winter in my bedroom, that made me want to stay snuggled under two comforters with a little baby puppy by my side.

The promise of daylight was beginning to spread across the manifesto on my wall. I could now read the line ‘Life is Simple’, and I shivered. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the line I read or the chill in the room. In the last 16 months I’ve learned how complicated life can be. I ended a 24 year marriage, had a horrific car accident that’s left me disabled, and the job I’ve been doing for the last 14 years has been dissolved and moved to another department.

I shifted my weight on the mattress enough to wake my drowsy fur baby and he moved from my side to begin poking at me with his paws and kissed my ears and face. His eyes smiled as I stretched and lifted the covers from my body. He kept jumping on me and biting at the a few errant strands of hair that had fallen from my hair tie during the night. He knew what he was doing was bad, but he also knew his cuteness would let him get away with it. I slid my yoga pants and slippers on, then Eddie and I headed to the living room to grab his leash.

As I stood outside Eddie relieved himself while I continued to shiver. The wind cut through my rebuilt ankle, and I thought about all of the people that have told me how much worse my situation could be. Though I do agree with them, I alone know how much the last ten month have just plain old sucked. Each time I work with my PT or try to walk more than the length of sidewalk outside my apartment, I’m reminded that the minutes, days, weeks and months have sucked swamp water, wind, and a big old giant ass!

With this final angry thought, I unlocked the door to my apartment building. After entering my unit, I set about the tasks for getting ready for my day with my right foot dragging. I worked hard to shift my weight to the right side of my body while I stood in the shower, brushed my teeth, and did my hair. Though it was painful, I knew the more I stood on it, the stronger it would become. My surgeon and PT have both told me that I’ve healed and progressed more than they thought I would. Superwoman may be dead, but I have been bound and determined to work hard. I’ve fought through pain, depression, suicidal thoughts, and hopelessness, but I still haven’t ‘got’ this. And if one more person tells me that I do, I might lose my shit.

At work I checked the photo stream on my phone and grouped together all of the images of my accident, surgery and early recovery. I wondered, should I delete them or save them for posterity. The post surgery images made me feel sick because of all of the blood, swelling, discoloration and railroad track stitches. I decided to speak to a dear friend about the photos, and get his take on what I should do with them. His advice, look at them one last time and delete them. Let go of the last chapter of the experience and move on. I haven’t deleted them yet, but I swear I will.

There is this shyness to me now, and a realization that being a manic pixie girl doesn’t always pay off. Sometimes it’s good to let the grass grow beneath my feet, and feel the grounding force of a foundation where I once didn’t want one. For even in my slowness, there is a passion that burns within me. A smoldering ember where a wild fire once burned, and it emits heat all the same. I’ve often heard that the embers burn hotter because the fire is contained in the core. It doesn’t burn out easily like that of the brilliant orange flame that can die quickly, even though that flame dances with an unadulterated exuberance.

I’m not afraid of death, and I wasn’t before my accident and the death of Superwoman. After the car accident, I’m even less afraid. No, I didn’t have a near death experience, but I experienced extreme shock. I nearly drowned in the abyss of it, and I can tell you I welcomed the feeling. If it had been my time to die, I would have gone without a fight. I wouldn’t have railed against the dying of the light. There was such peace in that cocoon in the early hours of my accident, that many times during my recovery, I wanted to go back to it.

Even as I continue to heal and realize that the old me is dead, I often wish to return to the cocoon, never to emerge, because I hated the moth I’d become. The one that kept flying to the light and dying each time it was zapped and suffered a setback. I miss the butterfly I once was, and it pains me to know she won’t return. As I endure ongoing recovery, I know I’m going to emerge from my chrysalis. I won’t ever be the same, but I will be beautiful again. And I will dance, live, love and fly…again.

**This will be my last post about recovery and chronic pain. 2015 is already a better year. It’s time to stoke the embers, and write with passion again.**

 

Even flow, thoughts arrive like butterflies
Oh, he don’t know so he chases them away, yeah
Oh, someday, yeah, he’ll begin his life again
Life again, life again

Shards of Glass

still-life-with-doug

 Copyright-Douglas McIlroy

After her latest hospitalization, Tricia isolated herself on an island where no one knew her.

While the ocean roared and licked her feet, she searched for colored shards of glass made smooth by tumbling waves. In her workshop she placed them in jars filled with water then sold them to tourists. Tricia was confounded by what rum soaked and perfect bodied folks would purchase while they laid in the sun.

Here, she remained sober and ‘off the grid’, but it didn’t stop her from thinking about her past life. She hoped they were okay without her. Actually, she hoped they were better than okay.

104 words/General Fiction (hell, I don’t know)

 

Thanks Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this exercise in discipline. It is a joy to work with you and have you comment on my work. Along with all of my other friends from Friday Fictioneers.

Readers, please check out the other stories found on Rochelle’s page. Thanks for stopping by.

Four Little Children

Tom my new friend and taxi driver, dropped me off this morning at Domino’s Farms for my Pre-Op appointment. Once there, I checked in, completed forms. Next, I was poked and prodded. I sat in the lobby and waited for the physician’s assistant to explain the surgical process to me. In two weeks, hardware that held my ravaged then rebuilt ankle will be removed. Tendons will be unwrapped from freshly healed bone in hopes that it will alleviate some of my chronic pain. I am tough, but I am scared. I am scared, but I am strong. I pick up my phone and the heat from my fingertips bring it to life. As I begin to play a game I mutter in frustration, “I’m so fucking tired of this injury sucking the marrow out of my very existence.”  

I’m an observational writer. Two and a half years ago I would have laughed if you’d said such a thing. Most of my young and adult life, with the help of ADHD, OCD, married life, parenting, and plain old rushing around, I couldn’t observe more than five things at once. Once I realized that my dream was to observe and write about it, I couldn’t stop. Life was a rush. I was constantly stimulated, and inspired. I say passionate, everyone else in my life said I was obsessed.

This morning, as the lives diminished in my game, I remembered who and what I was.  Placing my phone in my purse, I began watching four little children. One boy and three girls ran wild up and down the hill outside in front of Lobby C. The girls, ranged in age from 8-11, and wore short skirts with little shirts. Their feet were clad in sandals and their long blonde hair whipped around their faces as they ran. The little boy, about 7 was clad in shorts, t-shirt and black flip flops. He ran up and down that hill, faster than his sisters did. He didn’t seem to care that  he lost his shoes in the process.

The oldest girl walked away from her siblings to stand in the stone and ivy garden. The foliage and ceramic toadstools made her look a bit like Alice when she spoke to a hookah smoking caterpillar in Wonderland. Her young charges continued to run up that hill, around the tree at the top and back down.  I’m sure if there wasn’t concrete at the bottom of that hill, they would have rolled down it. Staining their knees and elbows green, as their little brother lost his shoes again.

I sat in a comfy armchair inside, but I wanted to run with them. I wanted to walk on stick thin legs made tan by the summer sun. I wanted to be the young girl standing in the ivy garden that looked like Alice. I wouldn’t have even minded being the little boy that lost his shoes as I jumped to touch the arbor at the entrance of Lobby C.

I don’t wish to go back to that age, but I do wish I could let the wind whip my hair as I run. And to feel confident that when I run, there wouldn’t be pain. I want to suck the marrow out of life again. Maybe after this next surgery, I will.

Two Days Til Touch Down

Pushing Forward

‘You look so pretty’, I told Lo as she walked up the stairs.

‘You do too’, she replied. ‘Why are you wearing a dress?’

‘Because none of my shorts fit.’

‘They will again, ya dork.’

I gave her a tiny smile while I put the brakes on my chair and lifted it over the threshold of my apartment door. I have to admit, I feel pretty bad ass when I do that. Who knew I’d be able to lift a wheelchair while standing on one leg? I stood at the top of the stairs as Lo walked past me and took my chair down the stairs. I laughed as she banged the damn thing down every step. She laughed as I hopped on one leg down those same steps. I’m sure my neighbors hate all the noise I make. When I run into The Old Lady that lives beside me, she often gives me the stink eye for absolutely no reason. Bitch! I digress.

Lo waited for me at the bottom of the steps. I hopped and fell into the chair.

‘I’m so damn sick of this shit!’

‘Think about how I feel’,  Lo exclaimed. ‘I have to carry that damn chair of yours everywhere.’

We laughed as I hopped yet again and maneuvered into the passenger seat of her car. As we traveled to Saline, we caught up on the events of the night before. She went to visit a mutual friend of ours and I hung out with Bette. I tried not to cry while she told me of her happiness. I sat next to her and smiled, but behind my sunglasses the tears flowed.

‘I often think it would be easier on everyone if I died in the accident.’

‘Nae, God saved you for a reason.’

‘What is that reason though?!’

I for reasons I can not fathom think it would have been easier if I’d died. My family and friends would have grieved, and I wouldn’t have felt any more pain or loneliness. I would have stopped incessantly crying, or the constant wishing for things that are never going to come to me.

‘Lo, I feel so broken.’

‘Honey, we are all broken, in our own way.’

‘At least you have the prospect of someone to love you.’

God saved you in that accident. He hasn’t shown you the reason you were saved, because you’re not open to Him.

Our conversation died when her phone rang. I sat with my hands crossed in my lap and tried to compose myself. Rolling down the window, I let the fresh air dry my tears. I inhaled the scent of summer and freedom. All of a sudden, I was slammed with the urge to tuck and roll out of Lo’s car and find a pool to jump into. Wheelchair and advisement from my surgeon be damned! How I’ve missed my rebel spirit.

Before grocery shopping we met T at Cancun for lunch. I was so glad I’d done my hair and makeup. I felt pretty, even though I was sitting in a chair, and had gained so much weight while I’ve been recuperating. T’s daughter joined us and Lo and I made sure to talk about inappropriate things while we we ate. Sex was often the topic. T admonished us more than once, which seemed to make Lo and I act even more lewd. T’s daughter didn’t seem to mind, though she did blush a time or two. The young woman was so fair complected, I bet one could see her red glow from a mile away. She had a gentle but guarded smile, and all I wanted to do was hug her.

At Wally World, Lo brought around scooter for me to shop with. I drove the thing like a pro. I didn’t have my brace on and was constantly hoping other shoppers didn’t think I was using it because I was too fat to walk. I have no idea why I gave a shit what perfect strangers thought of me driving around in a Walmart scooter, but I did. I made sure to smile at the people that stared at me. Often, I balanced on one foot to grab items from a high shelf. Lo may have to drive me, but I did my very best to be independent when shopping.

After checking out, Lo took me home. I waited while she took my groceries up to my apartment and placed them on the table. Her car radio blared because we needed to hear how the Tigers game would end. While Martinez struck the ball with his bat, I raised my face to the sun and breathed in my last bit of summer and freedom for the day. The Tigers won while she wheeled me to my door. She dragged my wheelchair up the stairs, and I went up the steps on my butt. I slid into my chair like Lieutenant Dan and lifted that damn chair over the threshold on one leg. My BFF and I hugged and said our goodbyes.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the last time I would be lifting my chair over the metal molding in my apartment doorway. It was the last time Lo Lo would have to drag my chair up and down the stairs. It was the last time I would have to take my wheelchair on a shopping excursion. It was the last time she’d have to push me around in my chair while I stubbornly tried to push it myself.

Two days till touch down…I hope I find out why God saved me on that snowy night in March…Maybe it’s something as simple smelling the aroma of summer and freedom…Maybe it’s for something greater…Maybe it’s to experience the joy of becoming a grandmother…Maybe, maybe, maybe…

Five Days Til Touch Down

Woman Walking on Tracks

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

How can it be that I get a buzz from regular Tylenol?
That was the first thing I thought of when I opened my eyes this morning. I was lying in bed with a pillow wedged between my legs to keep my post-surgery ankle from rubbing against my healthy one. Cinders, the devil kitty was lying next to me and she gave me a low growl as I stroked between her ears. My middle-aged body creaked as I stretched and shifted my weight to sit on the side of the bed. Cinders yipped and snipped at me as she bounded her fat self out of her side of the bed. I tightened my core and stood up on one leg. With practiced finesse I turned my entire body around and seated myself in my old friend, a metal wheelchair.
I went through my ritual of morning self-care. Dammit but I sure do love a shower. Leaning against the wall, I stand on one foot and let the hot water run down my entire body. It’s the closest I get to having a lover touch me. You don’t know how much you need the touch of another human until you are incapacitated with an injury and have no prospects. My left leg began to shake so I sat in my shower chair. I washed my face, shaved my legs and washed my hair. Cinders peered around the side of the shower curtain and mewed. I flung water at her and she ran away like her ass was on fire. My laughter echoed on the ceramic tiles. Afterward, I dried off and with my walker hopped back to my wheelchair.
I drank coffee.
Used my bone stimulator.
Did some banking.
Sat and waited to go to physical therapy.
That’s the story of my life these days.
Hurry the fuck up…
And wait….
I’m sick of only being able to wear one damn shoe at a time.
30 minutes of cardio left me sweating like a whore in church, but dammit I felt good! Amelia and I worked my right ankle and foot so hard. I was proud of the fact that we increased the reps of the work out and the size of the ball on the BAPS board. Amelia rewarded my efforts with a massage. We took measurements and found that my Range of Motion had greatly improved in the last month.
Look at me, I can point my toes!
Does that hurt?
Nope, but I’m sure it will later.
She and I said our goodbyes and good weekends. I won’t see her until Thursday of next week. I hope to be walking when I do….Wearing my gym shoes….And pushing my walker.
Tom my usual cab driver, picked me up and whisked me back to my apartment. To my cage, and my perch. Icing my ankle, I zoned out and watched crappy t.v. Cinders the devil kitty, snuggled around the top of my head.
I called Mom.
Shared texts with friends.
Took meds.
Fell asleep.
Tonight, I celebrate that I have five days left in this cage. I’ve learned why the caged bird sings. He sings of freedom. I miss being a biped. I miss going wherever in the hell I want. I miss doing whatever in the hell I want.
I’m finished.
My foot’s on fire.
I laughed while I watched National Lampoon’s Family Vacation.
My Dad looks like Chevy Chase.
I miss John Candy.
And I’m happy I didn’t cry today.
In a private message exchange Red and I chatted about our days. As our convo wound down he asked me, where are you going to walk first? Right the fuck out of my surgeon’s office, I quipped.
I’m spent. Goodnight Moon and goodnight Word Press. This Sparkly Bird has had it!