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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Slow Down, You Walk Too Fast

The judge looked at me, ‘It’s my understanding that you’ll be keeping your married name’. All I could say in reply was a simple yes, but I wanted to say so much more.

  • You see, I wanted to tell him that I was a Heath longer than I was a Homan so that’s why I wanted to keep my married name.
  • You see, I wanted to tell him that I had raised two children with that man and would continue to co-parent even after I wanted a divorce. And that’s why I wanted to keep my married name.
  • You see, that even though the marriage failed because of me, I felt a sense of pride in being married to such a good man for so long. 

As R and I were walking to the court house two weeks ago, I once again had to tell him to slow down so I could keep up. I’ve never been able to walk as fast as he can and with my new ankle and a substantial limp, it’s impossible for me to even attempt to do so now.

I asked him if he thought my new gait was funny, he chuckled and then replied, ‘you’ve always walked kind of stupid’; ‘flat footed and all’. I gave a raucous laugh in return and decided that I had to agree with him.

He did slow down so I could walk beside him. The late summer sun shined on our heads as a gentle wind whipped my blonde hair. A few strands caught in my mouth and I had to keep wiping my face to pull them out.

We crossed a busy Main Street and once we were at the courthouse doors, R held them open for me. I limped into the building with him behind me. We walked through security and took the elevator to the second floor.

R and I sat in the hallway outside the judge’s office and chatted. We laughed at the toddler that was yelling at her mama and running around her baby brother’s stroller.

The court attorney came to the door and called out, ‘The Heaths’. We walked into his office, and calmly and amicably dissolved our 24 year marriage.

Everyone was nice to us and we were nice to each other. I don’t think R cried when the judge asked if the marriage was beyond repair, but I did. It’s hard to admit that after 24 years it didn’t work anymore.

Afterward, R and I had a late lunch and then he took me back to my place. We said our goodbyes and I walked inside as he drove away.

Often, I try to pry into R’s life to find out how he’s doing. To see if his broken heart has mended and to find out if he’s happy. He gives me general answers to my questions, even when I try to dig deeper. I figure, it’s his right to do so, since it’s not up to me to make sure he’s happy anymore.

I hope he knows that all I want is for him to find someone to love him completely. And I hope that he wishes me no ill will, and that I’m happy too.

 

Living a Full Life

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“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.
C. JoyBell C.

A few years ago I went through a major weight loss transformation and I became addicted to working out. I found that it didn’t bring the world to my feet and it most certainly didn’t bring me happiness. Sure, I liked the looks I got from men and women. I loved the highs of working out. But I was still looking for something to make me complete.

Since my injury, I’ve gained weight because I haven’t been able to move much. I hated being sedentary. It felt like prison. I ate a lot, but found that it didn’t bring me happiness. It didn’t stave off the desperation I felt, and the extreme loneliness. I’ve been trying my very best not to beat myself about it. I won’t.

I have begun eating healthier and the weight is coming off. I place my feet in gym shoes and set about walking the sidewalks of my apartment complex at least five times a day. I’m building stamina so that I can walk to the bus stop to get myself back to work in early August. Physical therapy is grueling but worth it.

I’ve decided I will not become addicted to food or the gym again. I will not worry about every piece of food that goes into my mouth. I will be mindful of my eating, but I will not beat myself up about having a piece of cake. A full life for me means walking outside in the fresh air, biting into a ripe nectarine, or watching my dog carry a stick that’s bigger than him. Yes, that’s a full life.

Journal Entry-Happiness and 180 Days

Happiness“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”-Confucius

Yeah, I know it’s been awhile, but I’m back.

The holidays were different this year, but none the less special. My ex-husband, Roger Darling and I shared the expense of buying gifts for our four kids. We prepared dinner together. Prime rib, mashed red skin potatoes, and a wonderful salad bar. We ate heartily and laughed exuberantly. Even though our family is now fractured, there is still happiness and laughter.

We spoiled our children with good gifts like we always have. And filled their stockings with everything they could possibly want. Thank you God for the dollar store!!!

The kids drank wine and beer, but it didn’t bother me. I drank Diet Coke and quietly celebrated my own milestone of another day without a drop of alcohol. I know Roger Darling keeps track of my sobriety, which I’m kind of honored by. I will never understand how a man who’s heart I shattered could give two shits about me. Never mind, I do know. Even after everything we’ve been through, he still loves me. I may not love him the same way, but we will always have a connection. We were a family, once upon a time…

In this New Year, I celebrate that I’ve been sober for over 180 days.

Many times I’ve stood in the liquor aisle and stroked the bottles of flavored vodka. They called to me like they were my lover, but it is a siren’s song. I knew if I took a drink, I would crash into the shore of my own self-destruction again, and again, and again.

I made myself walk away from those bottles of poison, more than once. No matter how lonely, depressed or angry I got, I never drank.

I just knew the next day would be full of hope, promise and at least one reason to smile.

I’m still finding my way back to happy. It isn’t in the bottom of a vodka bottle.

It’s within me.

My heart, mind and soul are happier, sober.

I’m no Pollyanna. There are days that I can barely get out of bed. I force myself to get up and face the day. Just waking up without a hangover and going to work is blessing enough.

Happy New Year my dear friends. I hope that 2014 is a better year for all of you. May you all let go of fear, and live the lives you desire.

Love,

A sober and somewhat happy Sparkly Girl

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…….

Face

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A man’s face is his autobiography. A woman’s face is her work of fiction.
~Oscar Wilde~

Beauty and peace is what they see.

How to tell them that both are a lie?

My eyes hold sadness.

Fear.

My lips long to kiss that of another.

To lay my heart beside his, and live forever.

I’ve been told I have the perfect nose.

Why not the perfect ass?

The perfect thighs?

I want to be happy.

Content.

There is no pill for what I crave.

But still I want.

Always, want.

I need a smoke.

A vodka and tonic.

A moment.

For myself.

For life.

Freedom.

Mirrors and Tattoos

Infinity

Infinity tattooed on the left wrist. Roger Darling and I decided that life was better, together.

I’m looking right at the other half of me…..

It’s been a tumultuous few weeks. Oh hell, it’s been a tumultuous few years. Who am I kidding? I’m fucking crazy, and life will always be tumultuous. However, it will most definitely never be boring. I have struggled with a lot of issues over the last 25 years. Roger has been with me every step of the way.

Last Saturday morning I awoke with a smile and Dashel, the Wonder Schnauzer barking in my face. He was standing on the side of the bed, staring into my eyes and pawing at my arm. Heidi Jo, his lovely daughter was laying the bulk of her fat body on me and licking my nose. Roger Darling walked in and laughed at me.

“Five more minutes Ma.”, I murmured as the dogs continued their happy assaults on me.

“Nope, get up we’re going to the gym.”, he replied.

After a cup of coffee and clothing change, we were on our way. I whined and bitched during the entire five minute car ride. Roger did not falter. He made sure we got a work out in. I looked at myself in the mirrored wall and cringed. It was time to run. We both did, without complaint.

Afterward RD went to lunch with friends and I showered and drank coffee. I caught up on Friday Fictioneers and tried to write a little. I wasn’t feeling very inspired though, so I kept reading.

Roger came home and sat next to me on the couch. We’ve been snuggling so much. Laughing. Touching. It’s been a time of rediscovery. We’re happy. He makes me want to be a better person. He makes me better by loving and understanding me when no one else does.

With the springlike weather we decided to head to Ann Arbor and wander around Main Street. There were no big plans made. No reservations. Just us, clad in jeans, and holding hands. We shopped at the M Den and Cherry Republic. Roger held the door for a nice couple.

“Thank you, you are such a gentleman.”, she told my husband.

I looked at her and replied, “I kinda like it when he isn’t.”

She and her husband laughed and she fired back, “I’m not going there.”

“Not to worry honey, I already did.”, I exclaimed.

All four of us continued laughing as we made our separate ways around the Michigan based store. We partook of free samples, our sweet tooth momentarily sated.

We meandered down a few blocks and had a dark brew at The Arbor Brewing Company. The beer was smooth and quickly went to our heads. I sent a picture of my beer to Adam Boy. Explained how he should be working at ABC. He’d fit right in with the other hipsters.

“There’s a tattoo parlor on this street!”, I blurted. “Let’s go get our couple’s tattoo.”

“Are you serious?”, Roger inquired.

“Yes, let’s do it!”

Turns out Name Brand Tattoo could get us in. In an hour. We partook of dinner at The Blue Nile. We munched on curried meats and vegetables. Licked the food from our fingers and ate traditional Ethiopian bread.

“Tell me about the emotional affair you had.”, he said.

“Honey, I don’t want to hurt you any more than I already have.”, I explained.

During the course of our meal, the story slipped out. Not all of it, but enough. The thing was, he never got mad at me. That’s my sweet husband. Don’t think he’s a pussy though. He’s not. He’ll defend me with his dying breath. Don’t test him, or me.

With dinner finished, we headed back to Name Brand Tattoo. Cole inked us up and then it was time to go back home. To our little town, dogs, and warm bed. As I drifted off to sleep, I looked at my tat and smiled. It was the same as RD’s. It was infinity. A bit of destiny too.

Thursday Quote-Brian Andreas

Pieces

She left pieces of her life behind her everywhere she went. It’s easier to feel the sunlight without them, she said.

Brian Andreas, Story People: Selected Stories & Drawings of Brian Andreas

No words from me today. Instead, I’ll share words that my friends wrote about said quote. I hope my will to write will return. Soon….

“It’s easier to see the SUNSHINE without them”, she said.
What a brilliant statement about moving forward and letting the past go.
And as the sun shone through, each and every spot that
once was plugged by the no longer needed pieces,
she could bask in the essence of what she knew to be her calling.
The very core of what exemplified her true north….

She could, for the first time, in a long time, begin to see,
to hear, to feel and taste the seeds of where her growth had emanated from.

Like sparkles on the ground reflecting in the sun light.

She Asked Me, Do I Deserve to be This Happy?

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Do I deserve to be this happy?

That’s what Ella asked me, via Facebook chat. I wanted to reach through the computer and smack her in the head. Let’s see, you were married for 20 years to a guy that was basically a child living in an adult’s body. You became a control freak trying to keep everyone’s shit together. If you didn’t, your family would have fallen apart. You always thought of yourself last. When you finally decided it was your turn, everything fell into place. In a haphazard way. You realized that life didn’t need to be the way it had been for 20 years. You transformed your body, mind, and life. Even as you changed, your children were at the forefront of your plans. They were number one.

At my urging you tried online dating. You asked my advice. Dude, I’ve been married for almost 24 years, I don’ t know shit! I helped you though. I held your hand. Listened to the stories of the hazards of dating. Wiped your tears. We laughed at the sheer stupidity of some men. We realized even at our age that dating sucks!

I went with you the day your divorce was finalized. Holy shit, that was an eye opener! I’ve never been through anything so heart-wrenching in my life. It was a kind of death. The sad part was the person is still alive. Still of this earth. At least with death, you can grieve the loss. With divorce, you have to see that person again. It’s like ripping off a band-aid, every single fucking time you have to get your kids. Death is final. D-i-v-o-r-c-e, not so much.

So I say yes Ella, you deserve to be happy. You deserve a man that will treat you with respect. That is your equal. That will love you for everything that you are and aren’t. Because that’s all love really is. Someone that loves us for all we are and aren’t. Because they love us, they make us better. Because we love them, we make them better. I think you’ve found your prince. Let him become enchanted with you.