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.

Thoughtful Thursday-J.R.R. Tolkien

Tolkien

“I sit beside the fire and think
Of all that I have seen
Of meadow flowers and butterflies
In summers that have been

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
In autumns that there were
With morning mist and silver sun
And wind upon my hair

I sit beside the fire and think
Of how the world will be
When winter comes without a spring
That I shall ever see

For still there are so many things
That I have never seen
In every wood in every spring
There is a different green

I sit beside the fire and think
Of people long ago
And people that will see a world
That I shall never know

But all the while I sit and think
Of times there were before
I listen for returning feet
And voices at the door”
J.R.R. Tolkien

Dance With Me in Springtime

I’d wake from a nap at the start of an early Spring shower

Shoes off I’d run for the screen door

Just to stand out in the middle of it

You’d scratch your head and wonder how you could have waited so long to live with me

You’d realize that even though I needed you

You needed me even more

The dog and I would continue dancing and singing to our own tune

Out in the rain

Splashing in the mud

There I’d be

The city girl bathed in springtime

Breathless and full of spirit

Yes you’d again wonder why you waited so long to live with me

As I swayed and sang I’d wonder the same thing

But then I’d look at you standing on the back porch

And my apprehension would dissolve

I’d crook my finger to tell you to come to me

And you would

Without reservation

And with all of your heart

To dance with me in Springtime

The Little Prince and Chronic Pain

As I held my newborn grandson, I smelled the top of his head and mouth. My fingertip lazily traced the outline of his ears and chin. Then dipped into the velvety curve of his neck. I released him from his swaddling blanket and  listened to him coo while he stretched. I counted his fingers and touched his newborn hand to my aging face. I was a grandma and I was reveling in the excitement of it. I kept undressing him so I could look at his little toes. They were still bright red and I had to be gentle with them because of the needle sticks he was receiving to check on his blood sugar levels.

Meggie kept giving me grief for taking off his clothes. She even said he didn’t smell like anything, but I disagreed. I couldn’t put into words what I was feeling, or what I could smell. There was a freshness to the top of his head, and the faint smell of Enfamil formula on his cheeks. He smelled new and his little hand clutching my fingers gave me the promise of better times ahead.

I visited my new grandson and his parents while they were still in the hospital. I had just been released myself after having a third reconstructive surgery on my right ankle. I was kind of hoping that the baby would make his appearance before my discharge, but this being my daughter’s first birth, he decided to take his sweet time. I had just settled into my private room at a physical rehab center when my son and his girl picked me up to meet our new family member.

While I was holding him, I thought about the last year and what I’d been through. The accident, the surgeries that didn’t work, and the chronic pain that had been plaguing me. There was so much depression that I had experienced. I cried every single day, but on the days that Meg needed me, I stayed as focused as I could on her, and her needs. It helped me want to stick around. There were so many times I wanted to give up and die.

I can hear you asking why? It’s only some ankle pain, how can you not live with it?

I want you to understand something, everyone with chronic pain has their own experience to deal with.

If someone in your life is dealing with it and they say they’re okay, they are not telling you the complete truth. They don’t want you to know how badly it hurts. And how tired they are from dealing with it.

Every. Single. Damn. Day. Of. Their. Lives.

The depression I’ve felt in the last year has been suffocating. You can not even fathom what I’ve felt, nor do I want you to even try. I wouldn’t wish this pain on my worst enemy. I pray for normalcy every damn day that I wake up breathing. I’m not there yet, but I’m hoping this latest surgery brings me closer to it.

I wanted to go to sleep at night and not wake up wondering what my pain number would be when I stood up to walk to the bathroom. Most nights I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up at all. A crucial bone in my right ankle was dying, but I felt like the woman I was before the accident had already died. Unbeknownst to me, there was a little prince that was going to be born just after my third surgery that would totally change my mind.

I held him in my arms on May 15, and realized that yes, he was the reason I was still here. And he was the reason I couldn’t give up. I needed to be in his life, so I could smell the top of his head, and trace his perfect little ears with my fingertip. I also needed to be there for my daughter when she was struggling with sleep and new motherhood. I couldn’t have done any of those things had I given up.

The Little Prince is home with his parents now and they are all settling into their new normal. This Queen is back home in her second floor apartment and healing nicely. I’m so thankful that I didn’t give in to the sadness that came from the pain. Who knows, maybe my grandson and I will teach each other to walk.

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. 

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