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.)

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The Darling Buds of May

Darling buds of May

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Sonnet 18-Shakespeare

I stood outside with a purple dog leash wrapped around my left wrist. I patiently waited for the dog to finish feasting on the fresh crop of green grass that I was sure he was going to pee on. My mind wandered back to last spring and how I had missed out on getting the chance to watch the barren trees bud and begin to sprout leaves.  It was also impossible for me to even see my favorite flower the lilac, bloom. I missed their radiant scent permeating the air around me.  I missed walking barefoot, branch cutters in hand and cutting off as many branches as my arms could hold. I missed stealing them from other people’s yards and placing them in vases all over my kitchen and living room. Oh how I missed my favorite season, the one of rebirth. 

While Eddie continued his inspection of the yard, I looked above my head at the branches and saw the darling buds. It wasnt May yet, but I was so thankful for the unseasonably warm weather we’d had and the early burgeoning of said buds. The green, brown, red and gray of them too. I reached up pulled the branch closer to my face and took in the scent of new and dirty life. 

To my right and  down the drive, there are lilac bushes. I won’t get to see them bloom again this summer, because of another ankle surgery that will leave me housebound. But at least I get to see the darling buds of May, only they are out in April. It seems that God is giving me back my favorite season only a little at a time. Maybe it’s His way of making sure I don’t take it for granted ever again. 

For now I will love the scent of spring and the buds of new life. I can’t say that this is the beginning of life for me or if it is the end. All I can say is that it is spring and I will rejoice in it. Dear Reader, go outside, and smell the scent of spring. Revel, in the light and life of newness. Revel, in this thing we call life. 

Amen. 

Communion, Forgiveness and Recovery

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This do in remembrance of Me

Last Sunday, I held the small piece of bread in my left hand, and the tiny plastic glass of ‘wine’ in my right. The pastor recited a prayer, and with my eyes closed, I recalled the last time I’d taken communion. It was at Linda’s funeral, in a Catholic church. No, I’m not Catholic, but I am a rebel. Therefore I’ll be damned if anyone will tell me whether or not I can partake of the body and blood of my Lord Jesus Christ. I grinned at the memory while I chewed and drank. I had to stay seated during communion because my newly mended right ankle was achy and stiff.

The pastor spoke of finding joy in our nearness to God. That happiness is fleeting, but joy is everlasting. As the lesson continued, I began to do my daily ankle exercises. I pointed my right toes as far forward as I could and held them there for ten seconds. I released the stretch and pulled my toes up toward the sky as far as I could. I held the stretch for another ten seconds, repeating each stretch 15 times. Then came the side to side stretches. The sermon progressed and I placed my right foot back on the floor. It didn’t ache nearly as much as it did before I stretched the Achilles tendon six ways from Sunday.

A particular bible verse struck a raw emotional nerve and I began to cry. Don’t ask me what it was about, because I can’t recall it. All I know is it had something to do with paying for indiscretions and mistakes. That once we are forgiven by God, we must learn to forgive ourselves. As I wiped my eyes, Laura asked if I was all right, and I assured her I was. That I was better than all right. That I was forgiven.

After the sermon ended, we made our way to the back of the church. My ankle was stiff as I began to walk, but I noticed that I no longer had any pain. The familiar ache had disappeared! A smile spread across my face and was lit by the morning sun. I walked with almost an entirely normal gait. I felt free for the first time since March 11, 2014. I. Was. Free!

It’s Wednesday night and the pain has not returned. I’ve had a few twinges here and there, but that’s because I had a very intense physical therapy session on Tuesday afternoon. On March 12, 2014 after 5.5 hours or reconstructive surgery on my right ankle, my life changed. I know it will never be the same, but I am assured with God’s grace and love I have recovered.

 

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…

Convergence

Star Friends

 

They converged on my humble abode with dark roast coffee laced with cream, two packets of Sweet and Low and birthday wishes. There was birthday cake, candles and paper plates bearing the face of a goofy faced Easter Bunny. After all it is that time of the year.  That of renewal, and the promise of springtime. One of them apologized for the plates, but I told her they were perfect. One of them brought her children. Two little people that we placed all of our focus on and laughed uproariously at.

I talked to the littles about my broken ankle that had been rebuilt by surgeons and even showed them the secret window that had been sawed into my cast. The youngest one touched my skin and asked, ‘can you feel that?” I stated, “yes I can, and I can even wiggle my toes.” He giggled from the bottom of his toes, which made me do the same. My sweet friends sang to me and fed me chocolate cake drizzled with caramel (my very favorite by the way).

My five friends did their best to take care of me. Whether it was with cake, coffee, pulling laundry from the dryer, sweeping my kitchen floor or getting me a glass of water. After they left I raised my voice to God, telling Him how blessed I know my life is. I felt joy. Not only for them, but for my children and an ex-husband that I will always have a connection with. For my mother, my sister, my brother in law, my friends and all of the ‘other’ children I’ve come to love in the last 46 years of my life.

Life is good when you realize that we must strive for joy, not happiness. Happiness is fleeting. Only joy stays with us forever. A semi-famous writer told me that, and I do believe he is right.

46 years on this planet and I pray for 46 more. As long as I’m not peeing in plants. If I start doing that, take me in the backyard behind the garage and put me down.

Thank you to my five friends and the two littles. You all made my birthday.

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.

Friday Fictioneers-The Gnashing of Teeth

sandra-crook-3

Copyright – Sandra Crook

I am a Christian, and we commit no wrongdoing.-Saint Blandina

The beasts sent to devour me inhale my stench of captivity.  My crime is the belief in Jesus Christ.

Bound to a stake, the straps slice and blood runs in rivulets. But the creatures do not advance to tear my flesh.  Is it my faithfulness that keeps me safe?

The remains of my earthly master are strewn at my feet. Animals gnash at him. I vomit bile down my breasts.

My captors return and remove my restraints. As I’m lead back to my cell, I overhear their plans. I’m to be roasted alive. But my devotion to Him won’t waver.

100 words/Genre: Historical Fiction

Thank you Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting Friday Fictioneers. Please be sure to go to her page and read the stories from other writers. We are a rather eclectic group. I welcome kudos and criticism.

Thank you.

To find out more, click on the link below.

Saint Blandina and the Martyrs of Lyon

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.

Guest Post for Daan van den Bergh

Pheonix

Today I share with you a link to a guest post that I did for my friend Daan van den Bergh. It ain’t pretty, but the best stuff I write seldom is. It’s a cautionary tale of addiction and redemption. My redemption has barely begun. Please be sure to share my story. If you’re living with addiction, get help, go to a meeting, and/or find a sponsor. Message me if you need to and I’ll point you in the right direction. I’m too new at sobriety to be of any use to you yet.

Triggers, Guilt and Alcoholics Anonymous

As Writers, We Lay Our Hearts Open

Trail of Glitter

Facebook status update: Any day is a good day when you leave your therapist’s office and don’t want to cut yourself.

Yes, that was my status update today. One of them, anyway. I’m a teeny bit of a Facebook Whore. It’s where my words started flowing, so stuff it if you don’t like it.

If you’ve spent any time at all reading my blog, you know that I’m an open book. I lay my heart open quite easily. Without trepidation. It mortifies my mother and other family members. That’s okay though. I say the things that many are thinking. Beware of the fearless woman with a potty mouth.

After I posted, a dear friend and fellow writer sent me a private message. Seems she was concerned about my comment and wanted to check in on me. I assured her that all was well. I’m happy, today. I can’t promise that I will be tomorrow. It’s kind of a crap shoot with me. If you think I like being this moody, I don’t. It’s who I am though.

Back to the correspondence between my friend and me:

Oh honey, it was supposed to be funny. I promise, I’m okay. I have bouts of depression and euphoria. Borderline personality disorder, anxiety and panic disorder, ADHD and a host of other issues. I’m also a sexual abuse survivor.

Today is a good day though. Life is good and there is a smile on my face. I would not trade what I’ve been through, but I don’t wish it on others.

I’m a funny woman, with a dark side. I need incredible amounts of validation too. I couldn’t write well if I didn’t have my darkness. Everyone sees a happy and sunny woman when they look at me. Little do they know there’s so much more to me than what’s on the surface……

Thank you for your message my friend. Thank you for your friendship. I want you to know if you ever need a shoulder to cry on, I’m here for you too.

Always, Renee
The not always sparkly girl

As writers, we lay our hearts open. As our readers, you follow us to some places we wouldn’t even let a lover go. I’ve no idea why, but I think it’s what God wants me to do. Break myself open, and bleed all over the place. I figure somebody has to do it, it might as well be me.

Sparkle on my sweet friends. Sparkle on.