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 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.

Superwoman is Dead

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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

It Started With a Jar of Pickles

depression-13057Two weeks ago on a Monday morning, depression crept in. The trigger? A jar of pickles I’d bought had expired. There I stood, with the fridge door open and the jar in my hand. The glass cooled my fingers, while hot tears streamed down my face. I placed them in the door and slammed it closed. With my tears wiped, I reapplied my makeup and headed to my office.

Work went fine and I was dealing well with the news that my job had been eliminated. Luckily, I’m guaranteed placement in the new Shared Services Center. I’m not thrilled about it, but it beats not having a job. For some strange reason, I kept thinking about those damn pickles. I continued to lose control of my emotions.

Meggie texted me and asked if we could meet for dinner. We made our plans to go to Benihana. That’s what I needed, food prepared by a silly man flinging extremely sharp knives.  Even my son in law Chris would be joining us.

I planned to go visit Adam Boy first to see his new place. He and Claire moved out of Roger Darling’s into a cozy little apartment. Along with their two kitties and Baxter, the wonder Lab. I’d stay and we’d chat. Maybe we’d even recite some lines from Anchorman and laugh. Then I’d take off to see my other kids.

During the first blinding snow storm of the season, I made my way to see Adam Boy. I walked in and was greeted by an overly excited Baxter. I hugged and kissed him. Let him lick my face off. My boy showed me around his place. It was nicer than my little apartment. A tad bigger, and the walls were painted an earthy green.

10 minutes after I got there, my son told me to leave. He shattered my heart. I hadn’t even taken off my coat and barely sat down. I picked myself up, pet the dog and walked out. I cried the entire time it took me to get to my daughter and son in law’s place.

During dinner, Meggie told me I looked like someone had run over my dog. I told her I was fine and we enjoyed dinner. Chris farted the entire time we drove back to their house. I had to roll the windows down so I wouldn’t vomit. He’s hysterically funny, but extremely gassy. I’d venture to say it was because he’d eaten a pound of garlic butter on his food. Egad it was so gross!

In bed that night, I thought about the stupid pickles again. Finding sleep to be elusive, I took a Clonopin. Back under my warm comforter, I counted sheep and tears. I fell off the edge of consciousness into oblivion.

My week progressed as did the darkness in my soul. By Friday, I’d had enough. I wanted to stay home, but Lo Lo wanted me to meet her new guy. We went out dancing, which I usually adore. But my heart wasn’t in it. That Friday was the first time in almost two months I felt like I’d never be with another man. That no one would ever want a woman my age, size, intellect, or a multitude of other qualities. That I either did or didn’t possess.

By the following Monday, I was wallowing in self-pity, but I didn’t drink. After a huge argument with my friend and a shit ton of tears shed, I’d had enough. I crawled into bed and slept like a stone.

The next morning, I awoke and smiled. The dark cloud that had hung over my heart had vanished. I showered, dressed and got ready to leave for work. Before I did, I opened the fridge and removed the expired jar of pickles. After throwing them in the garbage, I locked the deadbolt and made my way out the door.

The Philosophy of ‘Different’

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Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.-Auntie Mame

“Mom, I think you try too hard to be different.”

“No, I don’t. This is who I am.”

“I don’t understand why you can’t sit still.”

“Honey, I sat still for too damn long. I won’t any more. Don’t you understand this is the way I was, before I got depressed and ate everything in the house?”

“Mom, you can’t make up for the time you lost.”

“Adam Boy, I’m not trying to. I’m just trying to live.”

It’s tough when the ones closest to me don’t even understand me. It breaks my heart, really. I would like to think that my Adam Boy would be the one of the ones that actually gets me. He and I have the same sense of  humor. Unfortunately, not the same sense of adventure.

I don’t understand why the Boy has to fucking philosophize everything, but it’s in his nature to do so. That has to be okay with me. It is, for the most part, until he starts picking me apart.

It bothers me that he thinks it’s all an act. I’ll admit, when a depressive episode hits, it is. I do my very best to put a smile on my face and keep going. I hate that I feel like I have to defend myself so much. That I have to be so damn guarded. It can be exhausting.

Maybe it is an act. Maybe if I sit still and dwell on it, I’ll find that I really am a sad, little poet that wears her heart on her sleeve. Maybe that scares me. Hell, I know it does. It scares the absolute fuck out of me!

But maybe, just maybe, I’m Auntie Mame.

I want to be the life of parties thrown for no reason, love ferociously, and speak my mind. To be like that, has to be okay, with at least one person in my life. I was so hoping it would be okay with my Adam Boy and Meggie…

I will not play it safe and I’m not going to hide. There are fountains to jump into. There are tables to dance on. And so many more adventures to have. Come hell or high water, I’m going to feast on this life of mine. God knows I can’t eat pizza anymore, so I might as well eat the shit out of some life.

I will throw on my jeans and cheetah print wedge heels and dance till I’m exhausted. Flirt with young waiters. Hell, I might even flash some cleavage too. I will revel in the joy of being different. To hell with the ones that don’t get it.

Adam Boy thinks I’m afraid to grow old, and die. No that’s not it at all. I’m afraid not to live. For there is so much left for me to do!

Friday Fictioneers-The Bell Jar

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copyright-Claire Fuller

My mother smiled. “I know my baby wasn’t like that.”
I looked at her. “Like what?”
“Like those awful people. Those awful dead people at that hospital.” She paused. “I knew you’d decide to be all right again.”-Sylvia Plath

Celeste peruses shelves while her mind flutters.

Wishes for clarity that never comes.

Says prayers for bliss that won’t subside.

How does she slow her savage heart?

With words, music, and love.

Wants to make others see her.

Hear her.

Understand.

She begs for forgiveness.

From God.

Family.

Friends.

Herself.

Is she Esther?

Caught in the Bell Jar?

Gasping for precious breath?

A force of nature.

Longing to be cared for like a child.

Unaware of her strength.

Her force.

Light.

She opens the book,

And begins to read.

Finding comfort in Plath’s darkness.

Sylvia, found no light.

Until death.

100 words (Genre: Hell, I don’t know.)

For anyone unfamiliar with Friday Fictioneers, we write 100-word stories. Stories based on a photo prompt, posted weekly on Wednesdays, on our master site:https://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/. The stories run the gamut and the authors come from all over. Stop by Rochelle’s page to find out more. I promise, you won’t be sorry.

As I state every week, please criticize the hell out of my work. Either a red pen, or riding crop will suffice.

Insignificance

SPARKLE!This is not going to be a Debbie Downer post. It isn’t.

I disconnected this weekend. I stayed away from Facebook. Steered clear of WordPress too. Until Sunday when RG and I put the finishing touches on a story that we’d been writing for a few weeks.

I kept to myself. I enjoyed the rainy days and the January thaw. I watched bad movies.

I laid on the couch on Saturday night. Snuggled close to the husband and watched (Ick!) football. Peyton Manning was playing, so I didn’t mind it too much. I think he’s such a damn doll. Funny too. Give me a funny man and I melt. The Wonder Schnauzers draped themselves all over us. We went to bed at 10:00 pm. Slept in till 8:00 the next morning.

I went to the movies with Roger Darling on Sunday. Zero Dark Thirty (go see it!). Did an early dinner. Folded clean laundry. Wasted time. Drank coffee. Got food around the week. It’s time to eat healthy again.

I have to tell you, it was probably one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time.

When I logged into Facebook this morning, I didn’t feel the draw to it I usually do. I didn’t feel it too much when I was on WordPress either. I checked my work email a bit and I’ve been working on reimbursements and all kinds of other office paper work. I’ve stayed off of my iPhone too.

My mind isn’t racing. My thoughts aren’t scattered. I’m breathing easy and not anxious. There’s no depression; anger. For today anyway. I’m smiling. Not apprehensive. My soul is quiet. Not tortured.

I’ve come to the realization that I’m but a speck of sand on a beach. A mere ripple of wave in a vast sea. I must quell my need for significance.

I’m here to get on in this life and live the best I can. To love those around me.

It’s nice when you realize your own insignificance and fade into the background.

To let go.

Love and kisses, An insignificant Sparkly Girl (and I really am okay with that.)

This letter right here is the reason why I write….. Why I share

So many people ask me why I’m so honest when I write. Why I put myself out there. Why do I share so much. Read this letter from a dear friend of mine and you will know. SHE is the reason why I’m honest, why I share, why I give of myself the way I do. Because just once, just once you might get to save someone’s life. I’m not being haughty, I’m not being arrogant either. I helped save her life. Made her reach out. That is the reason that I write. To help, nurture, and love.

    • Hey mom!
      First off, you look fucking amazing! So proud of you, and dad too! Things haven’t been the best for me the last couple weeks…you’re the one I come to and your posts always bring a smile. To make a long story short, my mom is on pretty much 24/7 suicide watch on me. They’ve changed my antidepressant so I could be on Adepex, to help me lose weight since I can’t do much with my knee and back, and I ended up with the worst thoughts and feelings I’ve ever had before. I kept it hidden, forced a smile so mo one would know. Well, last week it got so intense that I was afraid of myself. I had things planned out, even had a few different ways to choose from. I knew at that point, if I didn’t tell anyone, I would end up making the worst and last decision of my life. So, probably didn’t go about informing my mom the right way, but it was the only way I knew how to so she would know I wasn’t just having a bad day. I chose to have my mom hide my meds and give them to me on schedule throughout the day. I can’t tell you how scared I made myself. I’ve never been one to think, let alone plan my own death. It’s embarrassing going through something like this but deep down, as much as I scared my parents, I make the right choice. It was a side effect of the antidepressant they had me on which caused my suicidal thoughts and almost actions. I made an appointment with the Dr and she went along with me yesterday. I was so embarrassed that when he walked in, I couldn’t look at him in the eye, couldn’t talk, I just cried. My mom told him what was going on and I had to beg him not to admit me to the hospital like he wanted. I go back in two weeks to see how the new med is working but until then, its almost like I have to have a babysitter, at 22. It’s horrible and I’ve never felt anything close to how I was the last couple weeks. It’s one thing to think it, but I was scared at how close I was to acting on it. So needless to say, yet another roller coaster ride for me. No one really knows but my parents and a fam friend about how bad it had gotten. But the point of this message is just to let you know that I love you and out of everything, your posts make me forget about everything for a moment and always bring a smile to my face, which means more than you know at this point. When I catch myself on the verge of tears of thinking things I shouldn’t, I go right to your page and just read. Read everything. But know. Even though you don’t intentionally do it, you have helped me many, countless times. Sorry for the novel I wrote but I love you and I truly look up to you more than you know.

    Oh  honey I loved every word you wrote. I’m so glad you contacted me. You don’t know how much it means to me. I’m so glad you told your mom. We would have been devastated to lose someone as wonderful as you. Life isn’t always easy. It’s not. And it doesn’t get easier the older we get either. But every day, every day we find ways to find happiness. To muddle through. We surround ourselves with good people, we learn to love ourselves and then love others.

    YOU are an amazing young woman. I have always loved you. You are sometimes the reason that I post what I post. The reason that I write what I write on my blog. Because of you incredibly strong young women. I’m amazed at all of you. Honey being on an anti-depressant doesn’t make you weak. It makes you stronger. It’s like a diabetic being on insulin. It’s something we need. If I wasn’t on mine, I would be an absolute mess. Or I would still be self-medicating with alcohol and food.

    It is the events in our lives that shape us. It is the people in our lives that save us or help us fall. We are the ones that are ultimately responsible for our own self-love, our own survival and our own worth. You reached out for help. That was a very brave step. Had you not, I’m sure you would be dead. I’m glad you go to my FB page, to my blog. You darlin’ are the reason that I write. The reason that I’m so blatantly honest. Because I know there are more sparkly girls with broken hearts out there. That are looking for love, for self-worth, for more.

    I’m proud of you for asking for help. I’m proud of you for living. I’m proud of you for everything. I really am. May I write about this? May I take your letter, take out your name and then add my reply? I will never, ever say your name.

    I love you girl and keep reading. Keep building yourself up!!!! And know that if you ever need me, you walk right to my door, call, whatever. I will build you back up and love you. Promise from the bottom of my sparkly heart!