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.

 

 

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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.)

Journal Entry Monday-Straddling the Horizon

copyright-Tracy Rhodes

Copyright-Tracy Rhodes Photography

When I drove in to work this morning, I felt like I was straddling the horizon. The sunrise to the East, and the moon to the West. Stars settled on my shoulder and whisked pixie dust through my hair. I knew I was being reborn.

The last 30 days have been quite remarkable. Where do I even begin? I guess, I’ll begin at the beginning….

On September 26, I drove a completely packed UHaul to my new apartment. After I signed the lease and got the keys, I started lugging boxes. My friends arrived a couple of hours later and helped me drag the furniture up one flight of stairs. J bitched about having to drag the sofa bed up a flight. But with the help of my BFF’s teenage son, they got it moved with nary a broken fingernail between them. As a thank you, I took my moving crew out to dinner at a local Coney Island. The food was cheap and good. Our conversation lively and full of laughter. After the plates were cleared and the bill settled, I hugged my friends and headed home, alone.

Alone, that was what I wanted to be. I smiled at the prospect of it. The sense of it too. I’d never been alone my entire adult life, but I was anxious to begin my journey. After I arrived back at my place, I slipped a DVD into the player (Pretty in Pink) and started to unpack my treasures. Working tirelessly till about 1 am, I finally collapsed on my sofa bed and slept the sleep of the dead.

The next morning, I dragged my sleepy ass off the couch and drove to my local AT & T store. Seems my smart phone took a shit in the middle of the night so I had to get it replaced. Nick, my sales rep noticed my anxiety about the replacement fee of 250.00. He graciously waived it, set me up and shoved me out the door before 10 am when the cable/internet installer was to arrive at my apartment. Wonder of wonders, the cable guy showed up on time and I had cable and internet before noon. Thank God, because there is no way in hell I could live without Facebook or Word Press for more than 24 hours!

I won’t bore you with more details of settling in. Suffice is to say that it was pretty uneventful. A few leaks in the bathroom needed to be tended to by maintenance. My kitty, Cinders came to live with me. She’s a happy camper and good company. I hear from my children and ex-husband on a regular basis, and we’re all adjusting to the new ‘normal’.

Friends have wanted to come visit. I’m okay with it, but I enjoy my solitude. The quiet is welcoming and I let it envelope me. I read, write, shop, sleep, and buy my own flowers. I relish the times away, and revel in the time spent with myself. I’ve gotten the hang of budgeting my time and money. When my children call on me, I drop everything and go to them. It’s easier now to be a good mother without the rain cloud of unhappiness that used to follow me everywhere.

Roger Darling and I will always have a connection. We will be a family because we are parents to the two most incredible human beings I’ve ever known. Our Adam Boy and Meggie need us to be on the same team, even if we don’t live under the same roof. Our grown children may have suffered a setback or two with the newness of this life. But I think they’re getting the hang of it.

I’ll continue to broaden and straddle that new horizon, every damn day that I have the good fortune to wake up. To make heart connections, and make new friends. Who knows, maybe someday with God’s good grace a new man will enter my life. One that will love me with all my brokenness. He’ll place his hand on the shattered pieces, making me stronger than I’ve ever been. I’ll hold his hand, and we’ll walk that horizon together.

Until then, I’ll enjoy the solitariness. And live. Maybe I’ll even go to London. In the springtime. I bet it’s lovely that time of year. I have to research a book. A tragic romance. About a young writer that falls for a drug addicted poet…….

Friday Fictioneers-The Gnashing of Teeth

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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.

The Sand Beneath My Feet

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Wrapped in a bright yellow sarong, I light the doorway of my ramshackle hut. The sun is beginning to brighten the sky and I can see the magnificence of my morning view. There it is,  my bliss. My light. My life. I carry a freshly cut piece of coconut in my left hand. The white milk drips and is sticky on my fingers. I lift it to my mouth and bite at the chalky sweetness and chew slowly.

Waves crash and my heartbeat flutters. The constant motion of the sea makes me giddy. It’s like the hustle and bustle of city life without being constantly run into by people. All of them on some kind of mission. Going nowhere, but everywhere. All at the same damn time as me.

But here, I’ve a feeling of unmitigated peace. My smile is as radiant as the bronze color of my skin and the blonde shimmer in my hair.

My family can’t quite believe that I made the transition, but where else would a budding novelist go? The feel of sand beneath my feet is finer than any red carpet that I could ever wish to walk on.

The wind picks up strands of hair that have fallen from the messy pile that I’ve carelessly placed upon my head. Sea spray settles on my sun dappled nose and cheeks.  I glide my tongue along my bottom lip and taste the tang of salt and whisper, ‘I’m home.’

Meggie teases that my freckles are age spots, but I don’t care. I’ll keep wearing sunscreen and pray that I keep aging gracefully. Who am I kidding? I will age, whither and die. It’s inevitable, and a necessary part of life. Until then I’ll write a story, or 1000 of them. However many I can.

I wend my way to my favorite spot, where I pray for inspiration and understanding. I lay pen to paper and let the words rush out of me. While all around me the waves tumble, seagulls call, winds blow and my heart soars.

31 Days and Counting

marilyn 1

“Fear is stupid. So are regrets.” – Marilyn Monroe

Step 1: I admitted that I was powerless over alcohol that my life had become unmanageable.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood Him.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself.

Ay, there’s the rub, catch, or whatever you want to call it. The searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. It’s not easy for a procrastinator like me to park my ass in a chair for a couple of hours and list all of my resentments.  My flaws. Wrongs that I cannot right. Pieces of my past I gloss over. Only to bring them up again so someone can point out how fucked up I am. It’s unnerving and it makes angry. It’s why I gave up going to AA the last time I got sober. I became what you’d call a dry drunk. I didn’t drink, but I didn’t do the work to stay sober either.

31 days ago I’d had enough. I bought a Big Book and began reading it. I even got a sponsor. Of course being the pig headed woman I am, I tried to move ahead and do some of the other steps before completing Step 4. Super Sponsor called me a cowboy and told me to do the program by myself if I was so damn smart. Thing is, I’m not smart. I’m frightened beyond belief. When I finally admitted that to myself, the work began.

My sponsor told me to remember that I wasn’t writing prose. I’m a writer though, and it’s what I wanted to do. I wrote my list in a way that maybe someday my words could be used as a soliloquy if I ever got to do a big Share at an Open AA meeting. Of course I look at the sentence I just typed and laugh at my arrogance. That’s not what Step 4 is about. It’s about letting go of resentment and all that other junk that weighs us down.

Last night I sat at the kitchen table and completed parts I and II of Step 4.  With all the courage I could muster, I texted my sponsor and told him I was finished. His response, only three little letters, ‘ILY’. It made my night to know that he was still in my corner. Still cheering me on.

There’s more work to be completed, but I’m closer than I was two days ago. I’ve been sober for 31 days. I’m not going through withdrawal anymore. I can sleep through the night without having horrific cravings and nightmares. I don’t want to beat the shit out of everyone I come in contact with. I’m generally a happy person to be around again. I’m snarky, sarcastic, fun loving, a smart ass, sparkly, and basically a raving lunatic. So yeah, I’m pretty much back to normal.

What I find most difficult to do at the moment is find my muse. She or he is hiding in plain sight I’m sure. Pray, keep your fingers crossed, dance naked in the moonlight, or whatever you need to do to help me find it again. I’ll be sitting at a table, working on part III of Step 4.

Love and kisses,

Renee

Sometimes God Sits on a Stoop

Homeless-Veteran-Sign1Wounded Warrior Project

Please click the link above and give what you can. PLEASE!

I saw the face of God in a young homeless man in Detroit City last Saturday afternoon. He was sitting in the doorway of an abandoned building. The concrete was blazing hot, even in the shade. I couldn’t imagine the discomfort he felt while dressed in fatigue pants and a white cotton shirt.

We made eye contact and said hello to one another. With a smile shared, I knew he was a good man.  I was entranced by his features almost immediately. His face was young but hardened by life. His eyes were exquisite in their beauty. Arms, sinewy and covered with tats. Hands with long fingers should have been trained to tickle the ivories in a jazz joint.

I turned my face to the right and looked at the remnants of an abandoned building.

“They really should tear that down,” he said.

“Why hon? It’s a part of history, just like all of the surrounding buildings are,”  I said.

“I guess you’re right.”

“Nah-”

My reply was cut short by a mouthy and street smart, yet delicate woman that spoke rudely to the young vet.

“Get a job you fucking faggot,” she yelled at the homeless man.

“Hey Gwen,” he said back to her.

We laughed, even though I cringed when Gwen called the vet that word, faggot. That’s one I will never, ever say out loud.

Roger and I continued to enjoy the festivities before the Jimmy Buffett concert at Comerica Park. We laughed at all the drunk people, and how folks were dressed. So many men wore grass skirts and coconut bras. As for some of the women, I wondered if they’d checked a mirror before they left the house. I felt bad for them, really I did.

We sat in our seats as the sun slipped behind the metal girders at the highest point of the stadium. The breeze began to dry my clammy skin. Jimmy began to sing about Caribbean Islands, but my mind went back to the young man sitting in the doorway of an abandoned building.

We left the concert early. Can you believe it? We paid over $100.00 for each ticket, but we left early!

“Do you want to go home?”, Rog inquired.

“No, I’d rather sit at the bar at Cheli’s and listen to the music,” I retorted.

What I really wanted to do was go back and find the man that I had talked to earlier in the day. I wanted to know his story. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t brought a pen or paper with me.

“Can we go look for that guy?”, I asked as we walked back to the car.

“Really Renee?”, Rog sighed.

“Yup.”

“He won’t be there.”

“Yeah, he will.”

In my heart, I believed he would be. See, he was my glimpse of God for that day. I knew he’d be there. We drove past the doorway and there he sat. I pulled my unopened water bottle from the car cup holder. Unfortunately, it was all I had to offer him. Roger barely had the car in park, before I dashed out of the car.

I walked up to the young man and he eyed me cautiously. Without hesitation I sat down next to him and handed him the water bottle.

“Hi, I saw you earlier today.” I smiled as I spoke to him, “We discussed the building that should be demolished.”

“Oh yeah.” He shook my hand. “Hi, again.”

“I brought you a water. Unfortunately, it’s all of I’ve got to give you today.”

“Thank you. I’m parched.”

He flicked his cigarette out and grabbed the water. I swear he drank it in one gulp. I briefly told him my story, that I wanted to tell his. Of course, I was traveling light that day. I had no paper or pen. There we sat, me in a dress and *Curt in fatigues on dirty concrete. He let his words flow and I slowed my ADHD brain down so I could retain every word he said.

Originally from Michigan, he shuffled back and forth from the Mitten to Tennessee when he was a kid. At the tender age of 18, he signed up for the Army. The young man served in Fallujah in ’05 and ’09 and came home with nothing. Once discharged from the service, he went to live with his dad.

Curt’s father died last August. The cause of death left a mystery to me. He left that home and with his meager savings bought himself a house in the D.  It burned down, taking all of his possessions with it. With no homeowner’s insurance he was fucked. Curt took what he had left and lived out of a duffel bag.

The embarrassment of his living situation, deters him from telling his grandparents. Curt’s eyes showed sorrow as he spoke sweetly of them. I asked if he wanted me to call and tell them. He shook his head no, despondently.  I turned my face from his so he wouldn’t see me cry.

We talked more about VA Hospitals and how he had been stabbed at the one in Detroit. My heart lurched when he showed me the scars. I told him to get to the one in Ann Arbor. He assured me that he had an appointment next week that he wasn’t about to miss.

I wanted to sit there all night and talk to him. I wanted to give him more than a bottle of water. I wanted to pray with him. I wanted to give him the price of my concert ticket. I wanted to give him back his youth. I wanted to drive him to a homeless shelter. I wanted to give him some kind of fucking relief.

“Curt I have to go, but I’ll come back.” I told him. “Are you usually sitting on this stoop?”

“It’s okay Renee,” he replied. “I’m only here during big events. I’m usually outside the MGM Grand Casino.”

“Do you have a phone? Can I call you?”

“Yes I do, but I ran out of minutes. Try me in a couple of days though.”

I saved his number in my phone.

Gripping Curt’s shoulder I said, “Thank you so much for your service, you gave us everything including your youth.”

His eyes misted over, and he whispered, “you’re welcome. See you soon Renee. Thanks for your time and the water.”

As I stepped away from my new friend, I wondered where the hell Roger was. I exited the car so quickly he hadn’t even found a place to park. I looked to my left and saw him wave. I walked the few feet to the car and as I opened the door, welcomed the coolness of the air conditioned interior. I thanked Rog for driving me over to meet the young man I had talked to earlier in the day.

The ride home was quiet. I thought hard on my conversation with Curt. I was so glad I went back to talk to him. I’ll try to call him in a couple of days. I’ll be very sure to go see him in a couple of weeks. I promised him I would. He was my glimpse at God that day. I’m sure he will be again.

*’Curt’ asked me not to use his real name, but I’m not above telling you where he frequently panhandles. If you see him, give him a little something. 

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.

Angels Follow in Blind Obedience

Angel Devil

I’d rather laugh with the sinners, and cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun. Only the good die young.-Billy Joel
 
“I’ve always wanted the wings of angels tattooed down the length of my back,” she announced to him. “I’m thinking the bloody remains of them are more appropriate now.”
He told her, “You’re no angel. You’re much better than that. Angels follow in blind obedience, you get to choose.”
“We are all of us broken. And broken is not okay, but it must occur if we are to be reborn, yes?”
He continued, “Jesus was broken, but He rose above. Follow his lead, should you choose, and you’ll be alright, kid.”
She responded, “You have been sent to me by Him. You know that, don’t you?”
“I’ve tried to follow His lead everyday.”
She continued speaking her most private thoughts out loud, “I’ll keep mending-Darling, I hope you do the same.”