Tales of a Nearly 49 Year Old Nothing

Listen to me! Think what it is like to have most of your life ahead and be told you are obsolete! Think what it is like to feel attraction, desire, affection toward others, to want to tell them about yourself, to feel that assumption on which self-respect is based, that you are worth something, that if you like someone, surely he will be pleased to know that. To be, in other words, still a living woman, and to be told that everyday, that you are not a person, but a joke. Well, I am a bitter joke. I am bitter, and frustrated, and wasted, but don’t you pretend as you look at me, 43, fat, and looking exactly my age, that I am not as alive as you are, and that I do not suffer from the category into which you are forcing me. Zoe Moss-It Hurts to be Alive and Obsolete: The Ageing Woman

In the conference room, I sat in a chair without arms to accommodate my hips and ass made too large from stress eating. The food I put in my mouth seems to be the only control I have these days. I hate that I have no control, hence the reason I’m sitting in a sterile conference room on a Monday morning, with the HR Manager and my team lead. I was feeling confident about the performance improvement plan that I’d been on for the last sixty days, as my job performance and accuracy had been increasing. That was until they began to speak. I was told that I’d failed it and would be removed from my position immediately. It had been decided by the team lead and her supervisor that there was no way I could continue the momentum of my accuracy rate of 97%. I also wasn’t approving at least 30 reports a day, so they were going to immediately move me another position.

The HR Manager slid a sheet of paper in front of me and ask that we read through it together. This was difficult for me as I was in tears, and trying to digest all of what was being discussed. In summary, the settlement agreement would allow me to stay long enough to be eligible for full retirement from the U, but I could not be hired into the my current placement  ever again. Here I was, almost 49, single, fat, no higher education, a recovering addict, mother of grown children and grandmother, being told, bitch, you got to go!

They sent me home to read the agreement and consult with a lawyer before I signed it. I did that, but I also thought about how I’d gotten here. Part of the reason I was here was because I was an addict that had ruined my work reputation while I was trying to kill myself with drinking and other self destructive behaviors. I also had shown too much of my personality while at my new job. I laughed too loud, I joked too much, and I was too friendly. I didn’t focus enough on the work at hand, and that caused my managers to look at me negatively. I was scrutinized every time I made a mistake, but I owned the errors.

The next day I went back to work. I went back to my old desk and packed up my crap. I was smart when I moved to my new location and didn’t place too many personal items on my desk. I swear, I instinctively knew that I shouldn’t get too comfortable. And I never was…

I was told by the team lead and her manager that I would make the announcement to my colleagues that I was moving. And I did, with a smile on my face and positive lilt to my voice. But, if they could have seen inside of my body while I spoke to them, they would have seen a maze of jangled nerves, rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms and racing thoughts skittering around a brain in early recovery from alcoholism.

I took my medicine though, and I walked my chair and box of belongings down to the first floor.

My former supervisor handed me off to my new supervisor. The new supervisor greeted me with such positivity and warmth, I was so overwhelmed that I started to cry. I kept my head down to hide the tears, and went about the task of setting up my new work space. I put up a couple of photos of my grandson, but now that I’ve been in the job a few weeks, I’ve removed them. I’ve decided to keep my work space neutral. To keep the desk space clear of clutter, and to keep focused on learning my new job.

I’ve learned that I’m expendable, because of my personal and work history, and my age. I’m obsolete. I’ve married and divorced. I’ve bore children and raised them. I’ve worked at the U since I was 20 and I’ve worn out my welcome at nearly 49. I’ve nowhere to go from here. I guess what I should say is, I don’t know where to go. I’m so unsure of myself and I wallow in anxiety and depression everyday. I’m not young, but I am not old. I am not book smart but I am not dumb. However, because of previous errors in my life, I will always viewed as not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough. Never enough.

My daughter has told me to buck up and deal with it, but my tender heart continues to be crushed with sadness and fear, every time I try to look into the future. Because honestly, I see no future for me. Tell me, wouldn’t you be scared if that’s what you saw when you looked ahead, was nothing?

I want to feel vibrant and alive again. I want to feel stable. I want to feel hope again! To sparkle. Unfortunately, I don’t even know what to do or where to begin this process.

Actually, I think I’ll start here. I pray that this is my future, and I pray that I find my way home…

 

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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.)

When the Stars Landed in My Eyes

A falling star fell from your heart and landed in my eyes
I screamed aloud, as it tore through them, and now it’s left me blind

Last night, after I placed the cannula from my temporary oxygen machine in my nose, I laid back and placed my ear buds in my ears. It had been months since I’d enjoyed any kind of music because it seemed like every time I listened to it all I did was get pissed off or sad.

Tapping the touchscreen of my smart phone I selected Cosmic Love by Florence and The Machine. Letting the sound envelop me, I tried my best to slow my breathing, enjoy every nuance of every note, and feel every word wash over me. I needed to be taken under the waves and made clean, and I figured Flo singing about standing in the darkness listening to a heartbeat would push me through the abyss.

Then I heard your heart beating, you were in the darkness too,
So I stayed in the darkness with you,

At the utterance of these words, my body began to shudder. I wasn’t sure if it was from the steroids that I was tapering off from or the words that had finally hit me. Tears began to stream down my face and I wrapped my arms around my waist. I whispered into the air, ‘hold me, just hold me, I’ll be okay if you just hold me.’  I didn’t know who I was speaking to, but I didn’t want the experience to end.

Still shaking, I fingered my iPod to play Never Let Me Go. The tears continued, but with it came a sense of calm. Through the sounds of the oxygen machine, the fan, the music and my tears, I heard a crash. My old spirit was breaking free and I was on my way back to myself.

Finding the love of music again made me want to listen to more, but I forced myself to turn it off. I placed the phone beside my bed, rolled over and fell under the wave of sleep. I dreamed of Him, and fell even deeper into oblivion. I dreamed of the promise of him, and hoped that he was dreaming of me too.

Looking out from underneath,
Fractured moonlight on the sea
Reflections still look the same to me,
As before I went under.

And it’s peaceful in the deep,
Cause either way (Cathedral, where) you cannot breathe,
No need to pray, no need to speak
Now I am under, Oh.

And it’s breaking over me,
A thousand miles down (on)to the sea bed,
Found the place to rest my head.

Never let me go, never let me go.
Never let me go, never let me go
.

And the arms of the ocean are carrying me,
And all this devotion was rushing over (out of) me
,

And the crashes are heaven, for a sinner like me,
But the arms of the ocean deliver me.

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.

Sliding Glass Window Oberservations From A Grenade

Yesterday I watched from my sliding glass window, five young men wearing the same color suit. Four of them wore ties folded in Windsor knots. One of them wore a slick bow tie. There was a sixth man. A photographer wearing khakis, took candid shots of them as they changed from gym to dress shoes, straightened each others ties and goofed off, like young men do. My guess was, they were the groom and attendants for a wedding. Or maybe they were an a cappella group. Who knows?

My apartment complex is set back in a wooded area, so the photographer took them behind the building to get more shots. They left their gym shoes and back packs resting on the hoods of their vehicles. Their doors were left wide open. When they returned, they grabbed all their crap and jammed themselves into their vehicles. They and the khaki panted photographer headed off to parts unknown. I was excited to observe them as they smile radiantly and wore the same color suits. Four of them with ties folded in Windsor knots. The other, maybe the groom, wearing a slick bow tie.

Often, my observational posts begin on my personal Facebook page. An idea hits me and I have to write it down. I’m sure it drives many of my friends crazy because my posts can get a little lengthy. Whatever, then take me out of your news feed! On second thought, please don’t, because I want you to read my observations. Looking at my window is about the only place I can draw inspiration right now.  I’ve kinda been stuck in my apartment for 70 days.

My focus waned and I didn’t write much more till I arrived home from My Trivia last night. At 1:00 a.m I began writing a lengthy email to a friend, when the following quote popped into my Sparkly little head:

 I wanted to know that he would be okay if I did. I wanted to not be a grenade, to not be a malevolent force in the lives of the people I loved.–John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

I wrote to my friend, I am a goddamn grenade.

I realized that in my married life and when I was raising my kids, I was a grenade. I was a malevolent force that ruined everything in my path. I was an F5 tornado or category 5 hurricane. And I was hell bent on self destructing. The self destruction included being a horrible drunk, a slow suicide with food and conversing with men that I had no business talking to.

I don’t want to be a grenade, anymore.

My ultimate goal is to try to find peace within my stormy, passionate and romantic heart. My ultimate goal is to not judge others and somehow rise above the transgressions of my past. I’ve sought forgiveness from God. I can’t go back and change anything. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m not even looking for forgiveness from Roger Darling, Meggie or Adam Boy. All I can do is keep my mouth shut, my mind clear and try to be happy.

I wish for the three I’ve hurt the most to be happy, because I don’t want to be a goddamn grenade, anymore.

I talked to my mother today and I asked her when I should stop saying I’m sorry for all the havoc I wreaked? Her response was as soon as put down the bucket of guilt I continued to carry around. I may never be completely forgiven by my children or the man I shared 24 years of my life with, but I’m going to put down that bucket. I’m sure there will be times in my life that I will pick it up again. There will always be a part of me that knows that I fucked everything up.

I’m also acutely aware that I will probably be alone for the rest of my life because of what I’ve done. I have to be okay with that.  I have to realize that there is no such thing as unconditional love, except for the love we give our children. On this journey to myself, I’ve discovered I am a child of God. I am a sinner, but even sinners need to forgive themselves.

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches over me…

He watches over Meggie and Adam.

And I know, He watches over Roger Darling.

 

Face

84da5-miroslav-tichy-artists_32_29Photo courtesy of filmcamera999

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.

Lilacs, the End and a Beginning

I remembered the day. It was May and I’d finished planting in one of our gardens. I stood up and brushed the fresh earth from my knees. Removing my work gloves, I refastened the elastic that had loosened during my labor. Soft strands of hair had fallen from the knot and ended up flying in my mouth as the breeze blew. The scent of lilacs filled my nostrils and I hummed a lazy tune.

I walked up the steps of the back porch and picked up another flat of colorful pansies. I dug and dropped the hardy flowers with delicate roots into each aperture and covered them with fresh dirt. The air smelled of mud. Some of the dried grit, wafted in the warm breeze and settled between my teeth. It felt as if I was humming while holding a piece of sandpaper in my mouth. I spat a couple of times to try and purge the grains, but it didn’t help. I’m sure anyone walking by would have laughed at the young woman in short coveralls spitting into the dirt while she planted flowers.

You walked up beside me and knelt in the grass. You didn’t say much, which was unusual. I continued to dig holes and you dropped the pansies into them. When the plastic container was empty, you carried it to the garage and threw it in the recycling bin. As you wandered back out to the yard, I glimpsed your face. You looked ill.

“Honey, what is it?”

“I have to leave.”

“Do we need more flowers?”

“No, I’m leaving. I’ve packed my suitcase. It’s in the hall closet.”

“Why?”

“We’ve worked so damn hard and you’re not happy. You try, everyday. But I know you’re not.”

I turned away and stared at our freshly planted pansies. The tears came, because I know you were right. I stood and walked up to you, kissed you lightly on the lips. My nose ran and I wiped it on my shorts. I ambled to my lilac bush, leaned into it and took in the potent smell. The fresh blooms reminded me of childhood. Of easier times when all I had to worry about were mosquito bites and scraped knees.

“It’s okay for you to go. I don’t know how I’ll live though. Where I’ll go or what I’ll do.”

“You are an incredibly strong woman, you will find your way.”

You walked away and I attacked the bush. I pulled as many blooms off from it as I can stand. My fingers ached and are covered with scratches. With the bush almost bare, I carried my bounty into the house. I pulled three vases from under the sink and jammed them full. The air is already redolent with the smell of spring. I shivered as I heard the back the door slam. I knew you were gone for good. I placed my hands on the counter and wailed.

In my heart, this is what I’ve wanted, but my soul is that of a child’s. I longed to be cloaked in the familiar, and held. To be taken care of. As I placed the vases of flowers on book shelves and tables, my tears dried. I felt a strength grow within me. A light began to burn so brightly that if you touched your fingers to mine, you would burn.

I headed back outside and continued to place pansies in the little holes we’d dug together. The gardens may be mine now, but I realized, so was my life. I had to better learn to live it.

It’s Time to Hang it Up-For a Spell

Fairy in the flowers

Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.-Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five

Yesterday I was in the front yard, screwing around with my iPhone. I took loads of pictures. Don’t ask me how, but I snapped this shot while standing behind a flowering crab apple tree. I was smiling, I think. I smile all of the time. I may be falling apart inside, but there I am grinning like an idiot.

A few years ago, I was drunk and munching on country style ribs. My drunk self proceeded to bite down so hard on a bone, that I split my tooth all the way to the root. The following Monday, I was in Dr. Fear’s chair having my tooth extracted. It costs a small fortune to have an implant put in and then have the crown placed. Needless to say, I’m still missing a tooth. It doesn’t deter me from smiling though. Much to Adam Boy’s chagrin. He teases me all of the time about my gap toothed smile. Oh well, it could be worse.

If you’ve been following me for some time you know that I see my Super Therapist on a regular basis. He’s a great guy that makes me deal with my issues. I have many. Think Marilyn Monroe, but not as famous or pretty. Seriously, watch the movie, My Week with Marilyn and you’ll get an idea of what it’s like to live with a woman like me. Loving me is not easy and not for the faint of heart. I digress. Sorry.

As Super Therapist and I chatted yesterday, I realized that I’m not happy. My smile is there, but my heart hurts. I can’t tell you all why, but I will tell you one thing, my creativity is dwindling. My words are drying up, and I’m scared that they will disappear forever.

This Manic Pixie Dream Girl is going to take her leave for awhile. I’ll still participate in Friday Fictioneers, because I adore it. Rochelle and company have made me realize my potential and I’m so grateful. Think I’ll get my stories together for a book too.

I’ll be back, when everything is beautiful, and doesn’t hurt.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOX

Love, Sparkly Girl

I am Worth Loving

Worth Loving

I stood in a roomful of people on Saturday afternoon and wanted to scream, LOOK AT ME! LISTEN! GIVE TWO SHITS ABOUT ME! From across the room, Roger Darling could see the frustration on my face. My brow was furrowed. The wrinkles between my eyebrows made prominent as I tried to hold my emotions in check. He came up behind me and rubbed my back. It gave me reassurance that at least one person in the room “got” me. There was another person there that had my back too. We sat and chatted. I wished that I could sit in a quieter room with him and shoot the shit. I love the man that looks like Tommy Lee Jones. He loves me too. I always thought I was looking for love and validation from him. Turns out, I always had both. He’s proud of me. And my little family too.

Rog and I made our way out to the car. I told him I was so glad we were going to see our kids. I needed to laugh. Hell, we both did. We’d had a sucky ass week. As we made our way to Ypsilanti he looked over at me and asked, “are you okay?” I replied, “fuck no.” Tears streamed down my face. I lost my breath and shook my hands in the air. “Honey, we’re going to see the kids, it’ll be okay.” That’s my Roger Darling, always trying to make me see the positive in the middle of a negative situation. I told him, “I just don’t understand why they don’t like me. What’d I ever do, but be born different?” He stroked my hand and let me finish crying. That evening there was laughter and conversation with our kids. It more than made up for the few moments of unhappiness earlier in the day.

As we made our way home Saturday night, I checked Facebook on my iPhone and saw the quote graphic by Danu Grayson. I shared it with my FB friends and found that there were many others that felt the same. RD voiced, “you could have been the one that penned that quote.” I heartily agreed and cried again. Not for long though. A post was already noodling in my brain. One about love and acceptance. I decided right then and there that I could cry over a few people that don’t “get” me. Or, I could accept the fact that they never will. Instead, I’ll revel in the glory of all of those that do. For they far outnumber the ones that don’t.

I am loved. I return that love, every day. With word, gesture, touch, smile, laugh, advice and story. I know that I will always be loved. Always.

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.