I Don’t Really Want to Die, But…

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I don’t really want to die, But…

I’ve been fighting a war with my family for too long now. A war to feel believed, seen, valued, and considered. A war to stop the enabling of addiction and dangerous behaviors that are harming the ones I love. A war to get people the help they need so that they can recover and have lives that are peaceful. A war to bring forgiveness and closeness to our family. A war that always ends with me raging into the battlefield, losing my dignity, and feeling like a failure. I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to live fighting this war any longer that I never win, not even one, single battle. And my family isn’t winning either. Those struggling do not have access to quality care or to economic opportunities to empower them. This life, is becoming too heavy.

I don’t really want to die, But…

I’ve been battling a war of mental illness for far to long, with too many barriers to treatment. I continue to fall through the cracks, even though I am educated and an advocate for myself. Treatment has been interrupted over and over again by insurance being dropped when I’ve lost jobs. I’ve been told for nearly a decade now that DBT Therapy is the most effective treatment for my condition, and yet, I have not been able to access it due to costs, waitlists, or loss of insurance coverage. I am currently on a waitlist for DBT and have applied for a grant to afford the cost of the program. I have been advised by my therapist to not work until I go through the treatment which is 6 months to a year. I am likely to fail at work again if I attempt working and then treatment will be disrupted. So I wait anxiously for an answer on the funding and for my turn to come up on the waitlist so I can finally get help.

As a mental health patient, I have experienced poor treatment where I waited 36 hours to be admitted only to be forced to leave treatment the next day when I was not ready to go. I have been treated poorly in the ER and have had symptoms ignored while practitioners made inappropriate comments about my mental health status. Due to not having stability at work, I have lost insurance coverage that has inevitably disrupted care and continuity with providers and as a result I haven’t gotten the treatment needed to truly succeed at work. It is a vicious cycle that has nearly destroyed my confidence and health.

I don’t really want to die, But… 

I’ve been waging a war for years against employment discrimination that has left me unemployed and devastated. After experiencing discrimination at several workplaces when I requested accommodations for my mental illness, I have decided to throw the towel in for now. It’s not only physically and mentally draining to work with a mental illness, but it is traumatizing when individuals treat you unjustly after having disclosed significant private information about a highly stigmatized illness. I have repeatedly, in good faith, handed over my personal health information that was requested to put accommodations in place and each time it backfired. I left each job feeling more and more vulnerable and without a recommendation for employment from my supervisor. My faith was completely shaken when one of my last employers, a state agency that provides services for individuals with disabilities, actually denied me access to employment, firing me after a medical leave at my very first accommodations meeting. I was devastated. Again, it is hard enough to work through panic attacks, severe depression and anxiety, mania, etc. without the additional stress of discriminatory practices.

My quality of work was never in question at any job I held, it was the symptoms of my illness that caused concern and employers were unwilling to accommodate me. As a result, my right to work has been denied. Treatment for my illness has been interrupted over and over again due to loss of medical coverage and having to move to avoid homelessness. This has caused numerous relapses of depression and anxiety. I have even developed PTSD from losing jobs, experiencing nightmares and severe panic attacks when starting a new position. It’s been a long and difficult struggle that most dismiss because they lack awareness and understanding of what it is like to live with a mental illness.

I don’t really want to die, But… 

I am fighting a war to meet my basics needs while government programs like SSDI and SSI  reinforce to me that I am insignificant and unworthy. In the midst of severe stress and anxiety where I am having to rely on others to help me with housing and my car payment, SSDI and SSI are hanging up on me, lying to me, and blaming me for mistakes hey have made in processing my appeal for my disability benefits. They lost my paperwork of 95 pages, joked about shredding it, and once it was resubmitted at their request, did not use it in deciding my case. And even though it was not my error, they have refused to redo it.

I have been researching reviews of these programs and their behavior is common. Apparently, these agencies likes to torment those who are already on the edge. Listen up America, we pay into a system that isn’t there for us when we one day may become disabled and need the help. The process is beyond grueling and torturous,  especially since I would much rather work if only I could!! I am living with my ex-spouse out of need, am having my parents help with my car payment, am visiting the food bank, receiving food stamps and a cash benefit of $197 monthly from an Aging, Blind, and Disabled program. I’ve been deemed eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation, but I have been waitlisted for these programs as well.  Guess what America?  You can be doing everything right: trying to get treatment, trying to get training, etc. and it simply isn’t accessible in our country!!

I don’t really want to die, But…

I in a constant monthly war with my hormones that wreak havoc on my physical, mental, and emotional well-being. I have been struggling for years with Pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder. I have literally sobbed in doctor offices and have explained over and over that each month for 3-4 days I am suicidal and feel like hell.  I often want to go to the ER because my whole body hurts and the anxiety is un-paralled.  No one seems to understand my sense of urgency or how bad I feel. It has destroyed jobs and relationships. And, is literally a hell of sorts every single month. I found out recently 15% of people who suffer with PMDD attempt suicide. I feel somewhat validated that I am not alone, but still no one is helping me and I am often dismissed and invalidated.

 I don’t really want to die, But…

I grieving the loss from a war I waged for nearly a decade with a Narc where dreams were dashed and faith destroyed. I was abused physically and emotionally and wish I would have had the self esteem to leave earlier. The relationship helped to carve out my self esteem, setting the stage for self love. I grieve the loss of time, loss of family I could have formed, and potentially the opportunity to have children. While others post pictures of their beautiful children on FB and social media, I’m reminded continually of a few bad choices I made which not only robbed me of potentially a family, but also nearly destroyed my trust in men and in myself. I am fearful to start over again and I’m getting older. I am not completely hopeless, but it is a hurdle to overcome.

And so, I really don’t want to die. I was serious about that. I want to live. And, I actually want to GIVE even though I have little at the moment. I still have dreams to make this world a better place despite the struggles listed above. I want to help others realize their dreams. I’m writing to bring awareness of the system failures that we have in this country from incompetence to discriminatory practices that are “breaking people”. We simply must help and love one another. We must do this for each other, You and I. Post this message if you like and share it. I earnestly want to hear other people’s stories of struggle as I know many are struggling in a system that is preventing people from recovering. The systems need to change and people need to turn towards one another, not away. I don’t have all the answers, I do have ideas…. and I have love. Love is what is needed to turn things around.  Spread it… every single day. 

“We shall overcome”

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Trauma, Addiction, and The Cage

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It’s a paradox of sorts, clinging to addiction to feel so alive, when, in reality, it’s bringing you so much closer to death. And still, you continue to cling to the chaos, relentlessly pursuing the false narrative that somehow you’re safer when high, distracted and disconnected to the misery weighing you down. These endeavors always leave you feeling alone and helpless, constantly craving a manufactured bliss, forever held captive by the entity you feel “sets you free”. An all or nothing approach renders you trapped as relapse is inevitable followed by binges and despair. This cycle is familiar to so many, even those foreign to substance abuse. Addiction wears many hats, is delivered in a variety of packages, yet yields the same emotions of despair, isolation, guilt, and helplessness.   

This cycle of highs and lows becomes interrupted, at times, giving the opportunity to peer through the curtains, pierced by the light that comes flooding in, bringing in too much visibility of the gaping scars and bruises that cover your war torn frame. Wincing, you’ll hastily pull the curtains shut…. But, wait, not so fast. The light and the stillness that surrounds you is exactly what is needed to heal. Truthfully, the sun feels good.  Maybe it is time to bask in it and marvel that you still exist despite the bruises and scars. And, seeing them in the light may make us realize how strong we actually are.  If you are sitting there in the stillness and silence with the sun warming your skin, you have survived thus far.  It will be the stillness that saves you.  When you quit running and sit in the light and warmth, it’s easy to see that the war has always been with yourself. It’s time to turn towards yourself, accept reality completely, and sit with the pain. Sitting with the pain now, will protect you from suffering needlessly. 

I have been fortunate to never struggle with substance use, but I have struggled with addiction. I struggle with gambling and have lost a lot of money and time sitting at slot machines. I currently manage my addiction by self-banning at the casinos that are closest to me so I rarely gamble. Even so, I think of gambling often as a way to escape and distract myself from emotional pain.

My sister and some of her adult children have suffered with severe and persistent addiction issues for several years now. It has affected our whole family and relationships are strained as a result. As the one who has continually confronted and questioned, I’ve been alienated and scapegoated. I am unable to trust those in my family and feel discredited, dismissed, and ignored. I feel I have attempted reconciliation many times, but it’s always during times when there is need for my help and during a crisis. When it is quiet, no one is reaching out to repair or to connect. I have been hurt and even suicidal, at times. But, I am healing and want to stop the continual bleed and learn how to communicate effectively and safely. I often get ugly and abusive by raging and have ended up losing my dignity many times. I’m ready to let go and be free.

The damage that has been done on both sides is too great to reconcile. I personally don’t want to continue risking my emotional health for people who actually feel that my goal has been to have my sister’s grandson taken from the home and potentially placed in foster care. My goal was actually to help those in the home that were using to get help if they would accept it. My goal was to encourage the mother of the child to get her GED and work so that she could actually provide for the child. Currently, she is 20 and doesn’t even have a driver’s license. My goal was to help her eldest daughter get the treatment she needs for both a mental illness and an addiction that has been a factor in recent incarcerations and violent behaviors that have occurred in the home. My goal has always been to help facilitate the healing process so that people can connect in healthy ways and live a life that is full and peaceful.

I longed for the people in my life to recover and to take back their lives. Selfishly, I longed for the connection I had with them before we all lost ourselves in the fire that consumed much of our interactions and occupations. I have missed my family greatly. After years of fighting, I was struck one day recently, by realizing that what I was grieving was not the loss of my family to addiction, but the loss of never having had a close family in the first place.

Memories of abandonment as a young child flooded me and I winced in pain, tears flooded down my cheeks. In an instant, I became aware that I had been holding on to a fantasy of closeness and protection that never truly existed for me. Sadly, I feel it didn’t exist in the generation before me either. My spirit was longing for a space that wasn’t often occupied by others in my family. Love was present, but displayed in sometimes ineffective endeavors which were overshadowed by addictions and other mindless preoccupations that served to provide distance from anything too emotionally charged or intense. I held the intensity of the family and was a constant source of confrontation, always demanding connection and change. However, I was always losing connection, moving farther away from the target I had aimed towards.

The process of confrontation has never been productive. Instead it has often revealed the old, archaic habits and fears that get recycled over and over again. This brutally painful process left me grappling with my grief, completely unraveled and confused.

I was left alone a lot when I was a young child. I was fearful of my step-father as he was often explosive and unpredictable. My Mom worked and my older sister was rarely at home as she was out with friends socializing. I can recall having nightmares and feeling abandoned and afraid much of the time. My sister would come home and stir up problems as she was very rebellious and she would constantly “butt heads” with my step-father. I remember her threatening to run away one afternoon after a heated argument with Dad. I sat there on her bed watching in shock and disbelief as she packed her things. My heart sunk and I was paralyzed in fear, feeling panicked and abandoned. Things felt chaotic and out of control, and I did not feel close enough to anyone to feel protected and safe.

A lot of these past feelings continue to play out again and again as I hopelessly watch the chaos resulting from years of drug use in my sister’s home. I’m not certain if there is current drug use or not, but there has been recent assaults and an incarceration. It’s impacted relationships and has significantly diminished the potential that exists in each of her now adult children who all struggle in various ways. I believe my desire and intensity to help my family stems not only from love and concern, but also from my own feelings of not being protected in times of crisis. The intensity is higher because of my own feelings of abandonment and fear. Their situation in many ways is dire and in need of intervention and yet the constant refusal to work with me and professionals to truly get help has left me feeling perpetually victimized. I’ve finally recognized the unhealthy pattern and am eager to disengage from a hopeless relationship where my needs are continually not met, in order to process the grief of never really having had a close-knit family. It’s going to be ok, because in my stillness, I have discovered the root of so much that I have been struggling with for years.

This feeling of abandonment that has driven so much of my impulsive and destructive behaviors has finally been uncovered. I understand now where it stems from and can work to give myself the protection needed to finally feel safe and ok. And, I can grieve the loss while rebuilding in love. I also will be disengaging with people and situations that re-traumatize me. I love all of my family members and I can recognize that they are all struggling in their own ways. I also know that I have, at times, added to their struggle and have hurt them. Still yet, I am convinced now that disengaging and grieving, while processing the past, is the only way to move forward in a peaceful and healthy manner.

I had to let go of certain people in my life to clearly see why engaging was so damaging and invalidating for me. Trauma results in so many ineffective ways of coping, involving habits and addictions that can be extremely destructive. These negative ways of thinking can trap you, keeping you continually preoccupied with picking up the pieces that fall as a result of employing them. I’m going to one day be completely free from the cage that has confined me and the ineffective coping mechanisms that has kept me trapped.

I would guess nearly all addictions and negative coping mechanisms result from some deeper pain within you that feels too difficult to process. The light that floods in and the stillness that surrounds you is a gift of discovery if you are willing to do the difficult emotional work. The freedom you will feel from letting go is the purest form of joy that I have ever tasted. It leaves me feeling peacefully connected to myself. That is the greatest gift I’ve ever received. It cost absolutely nothing and is pure, its benefit, endless.  Peace and light to all. Wishing you light along the journey toward wholeness.

I Will Rise, I Will Love

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I am again in the midst of leaving and letting go. This act of self-love has left me captivated in thought.  Much of what I was clinging to throughout the years and wearing in heavy layers, is shedding, leaving me unraveled, naked, and new. I would have never guessed that the process of healing would leave me in a space of solitude, and yet somehow embracing it. It’s strangely odd and yet liberating at the same time.

I have often wondered if those in my life have realized that this imperfect process of anger, and even rage, is my voice growing in relevance and determination. I believe it to be lost on most of them in their continual defenses of behavior that has been damaging to me and others that I love. People become trapped by their own trauma and are often unaware that their behaviors and words communicate strongly that they do not believe you, hear you, or value you. People forget that action is truly the only litmus test for revealing someone’s true beliefs and intentions. And often, people do not act.

I spent a lifetime living in fear, paralyzed by the unpredictability of an adult who lived in the home who exploded often in anger and rage. I was only a child and was unable to escape from the situation. I recall living in a hyper-vigilant state, unable to breathe, always on guard. My small voice wavered as I reached out with courage to 2 adults in my life. I was quickly invalidated and told in so many words not to trust my own instincts and perception of reality. All of me wanted to be out of this situation and be safe. Years later, I was again invalidated by people refusing to accept accountability, and instead offering excuses that these erratic and explosive acts that I endured as a child, were never witnessed, but occurred when they were away from the home. There was an apology issued, but they didn’t express complete accountability, dismissing themselves from addressing the behaviors at the time because they weren’t really there to see them. Again, an indicator that perhaps what I experienced was fabricated somehow or less serious.

And so, I remained vigilant and ever ready to protect myself as best as possible and I often disassociated as a result. I remember times during these explosive situations that I disappeared. I recall the beginning of the event and the individual reaching to shake me, and then I recall nothing. I had faded into empty spaces, protecting myself from the assault, not only physically, but spiritually as well. I was broken and silenced as a result and did not feel protected or safe. This communicated to me on a deep level that I was not worthy to be protected by the adults in my life.

As a result of the ongoing tense and uncertain environment, I grew paranoid, depressed, and fearful. It has had a lasting impact on my life. For years, I felt expressing anger would kill me and even now when angry I feel unable to breathe. As I write now, I am severely anxious and tearful. My expression of anger now comes at a high cost. It is often explosive and leaves me feeling exhausted and anxious. I am still learning how to safely express it.

Years have passed with mental health diagnoses and medications and I’m still searching for the part of me that disappeared. I fight tooth and nail with family members regarding an addiction that has fostered loose boundaries and trauma of another sort. Deep neglect has not only destroyed the potential found in early adulthood of those I dearly love, but it’s limited their ability to have boundaries. It’s crippled their confidence to execute independently and as a result some do not have an education or a job. When asked, they are unable to articulate goals for themselves and are often absorbed in desperate activities to numb the pain stemming from their trauma. Restless and unable to often act, they engage with others who are on the same destructive path.

I often see the same patterns of enabling destructive behaviors and an throwing money at the situation which does nothing to address the underlying issues that are perpetuating the devastation. I see some of them being invalidated much like I was as a child, their voices downed out by the guilt of those not awake enough to accept accountability and truly address the trauma they endured as children. Adults in their lives that have kept them bound to inaction with behaviors of enabling and their own addictions, whether it be food, drugs, gambling, sex, etc. I do sporadically see efforts to remedy things, but these efforts are often coupled with enabling. I recognize the complexity of things, still yet, people turn away from each other, instead of towards each other in accountability and compromise. The guilt and shame associated with their mistakes impedes healthy patterns of reinforcing consequences and having expectations. This may eliminate some of the guilt, but does little to address the root problem which is the only way to truly heal and recover. The cycle continues. And not only is it heart breaking to watch, it has prevented me from connecting to my family in a normal and healthy way. It’s too hard for me to watch the pain and not address it.

I have fought alone for the past few years with no one really joining in and I’m exhausted. I recognize my own mistake of staying engaged and working harder than those who are struggling with their addictions. Often, I have been ignored and devalued by the ones I love and this results in nasty rage with abusive words. These words, expressed in anger, are what they continue to focus on instead of their destructive path. They easily forget thatI have reached out multiple times in kindness, offering support and help.

Engaging with members of my family is a continual and complete reenactment of past abuse. I am often ignored and abandoned, and my concerns are downplayed with no action taken. Many times I am told, in so many words, that I am not seeing things correctly.  People become defensive and my credibility and intentions are questioned over and over. I end up feeling devalued and misunderstood. I have walked away many times and no one knocks on my door, worried and concerned. And when I return, people expect me to nearly deny my reality and erase the past history in order to dwell in their complacency and avoidance of the issues. It’s a continual bleed that no one wants to acknowledge or treat. I am tirelessly running around alerting people of the grave injury that needs immediate attention and treatment while others ignore, flee the scene, or argue with me that treatment is not really needed. Exhausting, really.

I wonder sometimes if they realize my rage and even abusive words is my bloody, messy process of carving out my self esteem? The voice of the child that sat frozen in fear for years has shattered into a million pieces and is finally tasting freedom and self worth. Of course, I am angry. What has broken them and muted their voice, has also broken me. And yet we turn away in our pain, instead of towards one another to heal. Historical patterns I will one day be free of because they serve no purpose.  They have no space in my life. These pattens have paralyzed me and my family and are no longer effective. I am in the awkward process of letting everyone know that I am awake. My voice is strong and clear. And I’m shedding the shackles that I’ve lugged around for years.

The initial softened words that my voice shared were tolerated. But the sharper ones, full of piercing frustration, are deafened by those still clinging to the familial fabric that has been created and perpetuated by the abuse and trauma that we all experienced at one time or another. Your voices have often faded into addiction and complacency, too fearful to rock the boat.  Rocking it might mean getting truly messy and feeling too much. I get it.

I hurt physically. I am fearful, letting the waves of grief crash into me. And, yet I am relentless in my resolve to heal.

I will rise. I will love.

I have screamed enough, often becoming ineffective in delivery as my newly freed voice was clumsy in delivery due to years of hurt and anger bound by silence. I bounced around from being appropriate to being purely abusive and was awkward and uncertain. Shouting at those hurting who are hidden behind their active addictions that erode their lives and potential. I don’t want you to disappear and I’ve been tirelessly banging on your door, if only you could see me and sit with me. I have a lot to share. I know it’s not time and fear it may never be time. I have to let go in self love to become stronger. I can’t hang around watching the devastation when no one hears my cries, it re-traumatizes me. I am right back there being shaken with no one listening, validating, or caring to protect my spirit. I am strong enough now to protect myself and can leave what is hurting me. I pray all of you find your strength.

Many times people get stuck in roles: older siblings, parents, etc. I’m eager to break these molds and discover common experiences between my family members. I implore parents to release their adult children, realizing their uniqueness. Children pass through us and never truly belong to us. Often these familial connections become so enmeshed we can no longer be effective with setting boundaries because we see them as extensions of ourselves. Their realities are completely separate from the one we hold in our minds that only belongs to us on a personal level. Age and order has absolutely no relavance on maturity and spiritual growth. It is the work you are willing to do on your spirit that defines you. It is a personal journey in the end. However, clinging too tightly and enabling will keep children tide up in the story of their parents, instead of creating their own story. Having expectations is crucial in developing esteem and growth. Pain is a necessary part of life that no one can be sheltered from and the sooner a person learns how to cope with pain, the quicker they will not only be more self-sufficient, but will have a richer life. People are free when they step away with their own separate story of what took place and honor their own reality.

I’m getting help in unpacking all of this and moving forward in my life. I’m disengaging from the heaviness to learn how to engage more effectively while honoring myself in the process.

And I will rise. I will love. I see so much of the cycle and I long for others to find their voice and be free. I remain in solitude in this space, filling my spirit with self-love and validation.

I will rise. I will love. The time is now and I will aggressively pursue my health, even if alone. In this beautiful place of solitude, I will cultivate MY voice and MY strength. And I am so grateful today my voice has been found. It is a hard lonely road at times that people often do not understand, but one worth traveling.

We Are Stars: Finding The Center and Basking In It

 

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I am centering. I have found this to be a difficult process where I often backtrack or retrace my steps. The center is where I long to be, basking in light and warmth, finally floating and free. Oh! How my soul fills with excitement when thinking of finally reaching this space. Perhaps, I will be able to dwell in it for long periods of time. I long to just feel ok: safe, relaxed, loved. I did not realize when I started this journey how much I would have to “let go” to feel weightless, free from the shackles that have kept me caged in despair and fear.

I’ve loathed myself over the past decades. Through broken and abusive relationships, I have suffered and felt lost, abandoned, and ashamed. I was rejected, abused, neglected, and left over and over. I became callous and defensive, perpetually caught in the web of other people’s assumptions and ideas. I spent hours oscillating between two realities, the one I defended as mine, and the one that was defined by the reactions of others when I angrily confronted their mindless and abusive behaviors. I became abusive, at times, as a result of staying engaged too long, unwilling to concede and let go. I stayed and fought alone and often with myself. I rarely stopped to think that these people I had invested so much time and energy in did not care about me. And in many cases, these people did not even care about themselves. This recent revelation ironically is freeing me.

I was hooked into their struggles and pain, trying to save them from their addictions. No one listened and the relationship became more and more strained. My assessment was “on point” and sadly their struggle continues to rage on and I am gagged and bound by the addiction and mental health issues that have trapped them.  I saw it coming, I sounded the alarms, and then stared wide-eyed in disillusionment and fear as the storm ripped apart my family, leaving it destroyed. The storm touched everyone involved and pushed me far away, watching helpless. Everything inside of me says the worst is yet to come, but I will hope for a miracle. I was so hurt that I too caused some of the destruction that has wound up lying in pieces, scattered on the ground. And yet, the storm was so brutal it has left the people I love disconnected from themselves, forgetting their past, unable to truly participate in the present moment. They are still stuck on survival mode with little room to reflect on much else.

I feel remorse for the angry words I said.  I have a way of cutting to the core when I am angry. Yet, I have every reason to be enraged, hurt, and disappointed. And quite frankly, two decades of trying in various ways to push for reform with no resolution has left me embittered and empty. I have learned during these times that I did not truly have a family that cared to know and love me. My mother remained supportive, yet even our relationship was nearly extinguished from the high flames and temperature burning it all down to ashes. It is smoldering, but it is ruined. Ugh.

There is a new voice inside of me. It’s telling me that it’s ok. I became too invested and too involved by trying to help and got dragged in by the undertow despite my valiant efforts. It has been traumatic for me. If I had the chemicals in my system blunting my reality and emotions, perhaps I would not be so raw and exposed. My voice tells me that they do care, but its buried deep beneath layers and layers of what trapped them in the first place. I wince in remorse for words shaming their behaviors because I don’t feel they are that insightful. Perhaps they too are scared and sad underneath the rubble that they are buried underneath, suffocating with no escape. I hate myself for beating them down when they already are so low. I’m angry at them for botching the rescue efforts.  Still yet, they would say they didn’t need rescued and deny the destruction. Everything is splintered, confusing and chaotic. There is nothing to be said or done as trust has been lost. They will carry on through the rubble and smoke, never fully leaving the scene in order to ensure their safety. If this sounds confusing and crazy, it is.

And you see how I so easily can get, “off center”. The voice inside tells me that although they are all still fighting alone and among themselves, they really don’t care to know me. It hurts, but it does not devastate me anymore. I think of the hurtful things I have said in anger and compare them to what has been said and done to me and no longer judge myself so harshly. This has been really hard. I don’t want to hate myself anymore and I don’t want to hate them either. I see clearly the benefits of forgiveness.

There is a beautiful, warm light in the center of it all where I can float freely and I must find this space. Everything inside of me tells me now that it exists and that it truly is ok that they do not care. I feel for once in my entire life that I might just stop fighting. I might truly float. All the noise that I absorbed that told me I was bad, unworthy, crazy, mean, etc. was misinterpreted by me. I was fighting so hard for people to love me because I had not yet learned to love myself. I was demanding that people respect me and value me, because I did not feel worthy. The light in the center of my soul wasn’t going to let go of this idea that I deserved people in my life that loved me.

And so, I stayed way too long demanding love from people who also did not love themselves. And now, more clearly than ever I understand the words: “hurt people, hurt people”. I truly cannot put into words the madness of screaming into the emptiness over and over again trying desperately to get my needs met and being unable to move. I did not see at the time that I was learning to love myself. I wanted love from my family and my abusive ex Narc and I was insistent upon getting it. I stood out in the pouring rain for months nearly dying to get it. You will love me, dammit, I ranted and raved. My world crashed around me and I became physically and mentally sick and was unable to work as a result. I was suicidal and enraged. Still the rain fell, steady as strong. The storm wasn’t going to pass until I decided to love myself.

I still have a lot of work to do on “this thing called love”. It’s really hard stuff. I am not sure why it isn’t easy. I feel all the years of crap being piled on higher and higher that tells you that you are unlovable and unworthy traps you. My self esteem needed an overhaul and my mind needed to be cleared from the loads of crap planted there. I guess I had no idea how much I hated myself and how much other people’s opinion of me influenced my self concept. I guess I needed to scream enough in conflicts to others to convince myself that I was worthy. I cringe at hurting people, however, but my nastiness and cruelty comes from a pure place of wanting to be visible, valued, and heard. Now that I know this and feel it, I think perhaps a lot of my anger will subside. I can let go of those people who do not care, because I care.  I care about myself.

Maybe this is simple for some people and even silly. But, some of us miss these basic things because we have troubled and traumatic beginnings and we didn’t learn it along the way.  Some of us are just sensitive and more affected by the constant chatter we receive in life from criticism. I’m happy to be on this little journey.  And, I do feel the light and warmth is coming. A place you can sit in for a time to be loved, rejuvenated, and protected. I was running anywhere, but there. It is inside of you…. this light. I’m so happy I finally found myself, a bright light light in the universe. We are all stars!!

Addiction is Confining: Hop in the Car and Take a New Journey

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When you love someone who has a serious addiction, you always lose.

In the beginning, you are confused and concerned. You have no way of knowing what the future will bring and the only exposure you have had of addiction is what you have seen and heard from others. It hasn’t personally pierced through your heart and dragged you through the mud yet, leaving you cold, exhausted, and alone. It will in time, but first you’ll be forced to stare into the face you love and be lied to, insulted for caring and confronting, and completely cut off. You will beg, plead, cuss, and rage as multiple dramas erupt that place your loved one in danger and strip them of their natural born potential. They will fight to keep you from saving them and throw punches at you as fight to keep them alive.

As the war rages on, you’ll be fighting for someone who is nearly gone who no longer recognizes themselves.  They will be sure to tell you how judgmental you are when you confront them about working, caring for their children, and taking care of their health.

When you love someone who has a serious addiction, they always lose. However, they forget who and what they have lost. They push you completely out of their lives and cannot be convinced that they are lost. You will feel like you are pleading with a drowning man to please take the raft to get safely to shore. He will be screaming at you while choking back water that he is fine and you need to “get lost”.

This illness has just begun to “warm up” as it will now spread throughout the family unit and to certain extended family members who care to be involved. The kids will often grow up confused, sick, and struggling. The sad part is that the kids will defend the addict and the lifestyle surrounding the addiction. Some will have their potential destroyed by drug use, incarceration, and lack of education. The kids of addicts often pay a very high price for their parent’s addiction and many times will not be able to recover from the neglect and abuse resulting from years of living a life where their lives were not invested in and their needs were not the priority. They will often feel uncared for and have poor boundaries as a result of not having an example set for them. Some children of addicts do recover and heal with support. Some do not and end up struggling the rest of their lives.

Family members also become “sick” when the addiction reaches the later stages. Some deny and enable, while others confront and even rage. Everyone loses in the end and the devastation caused can last a lifetime. Sometimes, it is necessary to walk away from the person who continues to use. When help has been continually offered to no avail and all options exhausted, it may be time to let go.

This is where I am currently with my sister and her family. I am still here if they truly want to get well, but their actions have communicated otherwise. They feel I need to trust them and their insistence of that tells me that something is up. It would be abnormal for anyone to trust a person that has lied to them in the past, even if I wanted to trust them. And I do want to believe their words, but I cannot deny myself the time to heal and have trust rebuilt on my time. I don’t feel they are telling me the complete truth anymore. I have been the scapegoat of the family for getting angry and confronting, yet  if we did not have this illness in our family, I would have nothing to confront.  Actions are so much more important at this stage and addiction often yields hot air and little else.

I pray for all those afflicted with this illness and the families it touches.  It is relentless and it erodes the family entirely. The person afflicted loses themselves and everyone around them is able to see them fading away while being blamed and pushed away.  Their illness consumes the family, taking up time and energy and years are lost focusing on a problem that seems unsolvable. This is addiction. It’s ugly, aggressive, and deadly.  It doesn’t come to play games, it comes to conquer and devour.

One day I hope to see more aggressive treatment early on and programs available after discharging from rehabilitation. I believe if you want to quit, you can. The tough part is convincing people that they want to quit. That is the key. You can do anything you “want” to do. They have to “want” it first. People have to fear losing something or themselves in order to want to stop an addiction that chemically distracts and numbs you. If that piece is found, it can be enough for a person to fight to maintain sobriety. Often, I feel people perhaps never felt alive prior to the addiction and they are willing to taste death to feel alive. It’s the perfect paradox and drives people to the edge of madness, always chasing a high that has the capability to put them 6 foot underground. A very low place, turning the lights forever out.

Addicts have to change their lifestyle and their friends who use alongside of them. They isolate themselves, forgetting that most of us long to feel alive and excited. I feel the difference is that in sobriety, one fears the heights needed to continue the ride that may kill us in the end. And the high is fabricated and false, lying to the addict the entire time. It is saying: “Let me erase you, and I will give you temporary pleasure and a lifetime of pain and misery if you give me your soul”.

An addict must divorce it’s “abusive lover”. No, it is not fun. Yes, it is hard. But, if you want it you will take the road to get your life back. At the end of the road of sobriety is you. The you that you left behind. You deserve to be along for the journey. Get in the car of sobriety. Let others drive at first. Lock the doors, keeping addiction out by not having people and situations in your life that will trigger you. Roll the windows up if needed. You will hurt, grieve, and be afraid. But, you will have yourself back in time. It is worth it. you are worth it. Many journeys await with an open road in which to travel.

Among Wolves: When Family is Your Enemy

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I really do not want to remain silent anymore. I’m exhausted from being scapegoated in my family. It’s nauseating to sit and watch the level of denial and complacency that takes place. And no one in my family wants to take accountability for their extremely abusive actions, instead continually laying blame on me for defending myself. I feel defeated by the wolves that encircle me, salivating, dripping of lies and deceit. It’s ridiculously dysfunctional and I was hopeful that someone would be able to see through the dense fog of devastation and despair. No one has thus far and it has left me isolated and alone.

And, still yet, I am brazenly strong and capable, aware enough to see the patterns and sound alarms, that ironically land on deaf ears. The destruction is inevitable as the pack of wolves hang together, making it impossible to eradicate the predatory mindset that enables their survival. It is better to retreat than fight. And, this has been my tactic as of late. Still, it is hard when I check in from time to time to learn that they are still up to their old games.

I have to remind myself to walk away from their addictions and their continual neglect. I have to remember how much I have given of myself in time, money, and advice only to have abusive insults hurled at me when I no longer stroked their voracious egos. I must remember that these individuals, even if family members, are incapable of being accountable and are not a bit remorseful for hurting me. It’s sad, but these people only care about themselves. Why would they care about a person who is confronting their lifestyle when they don’t even care enough about their children to ensure they graduate from high school? Why in heavens name would I feel they would care about me, when they have a young baby and are not immediately getting a GED to ensure that they can provide for their child? These are people who have committed crimes and have gone back to drugs repeatedly, even after experiencing a drug-related death of a three year old and one of them nearly dying of needle use. So, I’m not sure why I have even allowed myself to have any expectations of people who have zero standards for themselves. I do have standards and that is what troubles them. And I had standards for their lives, because I believed that they could do better. I still do. And I consider that a compliment, not an insult.

In any case, I will walk away instead of engaging with the wolves again. I have learned my lesson. I truly am exhausted from trying. I lost my family due to addiction and the dysfunction resulting from years of them using. I’m sad about that and would have rather had a family that actually cared more about maintaining a relationship with their sister and aunt than doing drugs and defending their lifestyle. But, the reality is the one sister I have and the only children I have in my life of blood relation are all extremely strained due to good ‘ole Meth, Pain Pills, and other drugs. They all have demonstrated over and over to me that drugs are so much more important than our relationship. This has gone on now for nearly two decades. So, I am letting go. And, I will heal.

I am so much stronger than this and my life will be joyful as a result of letting go. I’m just going to be me and I am going to spend my time and energy on people who actually can give back. I’m sorry that wasn’t my own family as I would have enjoyed spending sober, quality time with my family over the past few years. It wasn’t meant to be, I guess. I’m nearly 46 and I am ready to spend time with people who show up for the holidays and call me on my birthday and actually do not lie continually to me or play games. I admit I have been imperfect in dealing with the grief of losing them. I haven’t been nice at times and I have often lost my own dignity in the end.

It’s been heartbreaking and enraging at the same time, and still yet, it has gifted me the greatest life lesson of learning to love myself. I’ve had to let go of expectations and embrace “what is”, forgiving myself first and then forgiving them. This painful process playing out center stage in my life while being largely ignored and forgotten by the ones I love has left me devastated and in despair. Through years of trying, I have realized I am only a brief annoyance and an afterthought in their lives which are fraught with the daily dramas they perpetually entertain. It’s these trivial endeavors, often surrounded by drug use, that captivate and demand their time and attention, stunt their growth, and prevent them from connecting in the present moment with those who actually long to laugh and converse with their sober and authentic selves, wanting no more than their precious time and presence.

I’ve been guilty of being consumed and preoccupied with trying to awaken them to the prospect of getting help and healing. I’ve become enmeshed in their dramas, desperately trying to help free them from the addiction that consumes their time and has defined their lifestyle. I should have let go long ago as hanging on hurt everyone involved. And yet, I’m the one in the family who stands alone with too much distance, both physically and spiritually, to hang on and connect. I’m the one getting therapy, getting help, and healing. The only one. It’s difficult, but I feel it is worth it.

It hurts too much. I’m tired of trying only to end up alone, empty, without my family. I don’t feel they have been fair to me in this lifetime. The longer I held on, often through arguing, I realized anger was the only energy left that was fueling any attachment that had somehow survived the ruins. I knew it truly was over. I had fought a war and had lost, but at least it was finally over.

And so I say: Farewell to the wolves! I’m leaving the pack! Howl at the moon all you like, I prefer the sunshine sometimes too!

The Endless Pursuit of Preoccupation

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I’ve spent years fruitlessly searching for something more, often by engaging in tumultuous relationships, reckless endeavors, and high intensity jobs.  These spaces were fraught with tension, intrigue, drama, and suspense and would hold my attention for a time.

Looking back, one of my unhealthy preoccupations was my gross investment in loved ones who were “drowning”, often in abusive relationships and/or struggling with addiction.  Their struggle was severe, often involving episodes of incarceration, potential homelessness, and hospitalization.  I would throw my entire being into “saving another” and would rage and wound after being rejected after multiple attempts of confrontation.  I became more invested in their healing process than they were.   I wanted them well and “awake”, able and willing to connect, and eventually I realized my preoccupation was limiting my own growth and healing.  I learned that my quest to connect, over time, trapped me in a cycle of disillusionment and disconnection.  In my effort to reach people, I had cut myself off and my world closed in on me as I became more obsessed to reach those who had value to me. Depression and despair set in and I grew bitter, alone, and often suicidal.  My value was placed on a select few that I felt had abandoned me, if not, even abandoned themselves.

In this space: I sat, I slept, and I sulked.  Those struggling continued to struggle.  Those sleeping continued to sleep.  And, I, lamented and grieved.

It was during this painful time in my life, that I became aware of two conflicting spaces, one of endless preoccupation, and one of stillness.  I was familiar with preoccupation, busying my mind with anything but the deafening silence of solitude. Preoccupation lead me into places of intensity: tumultuous relationships, gambling, and chaos.  I refer to chaos as the endless opportunities in my life that existed to engage in gossip and drama regarding other people’s pain.  It was an addiction in and of itself, often latching on, attempting to bring about change in a complex and chaotic situation where those struggling were not entirely invested in healing.  I wore their pain like a corset and went on a mission to rattle them to the point of waking.  To this day, it has failed and left me rejected and devalued, struggling to pick up the pieces while the bombs keep dropping in the background.  There seemed to be no safe shelter from it.  I had to walk away from those that had already left me, complacent with the dissolve of our relationship and the perpetual destruction in their lives.  After years of exhaustion and loneliness, I knew it was time to visit the other side, stillness.  I wondered what I could gain from being still, no longer running endlessly, could I even stop and what would happen if I did?  This place of stillness is still somewhat foreign to me.

And so, this brings me to where I am at presently in my life. Exploring the space of stillness, checking in, recognizing the urge to move, but not doing so.  Often if I felt an urge, I acted on it in some way.  So, sitting here, still, is a new practice for me. Some may call it meditation or mindfulness and those are two ways to “tune in” instead of turning to mindless preoccupation where intent is often muted,  undiscovered.

In this space, I am learning that I have often ran from the pain of rejection and loneliness in my life.  Oddly enough, I would run right back into a situation where I didn’t have the opportunity to connect.  In fact, gambling and hopeless relationships served to further alienate me from myself and others.  It limited my ability to connect.  When I gambled, I was detached, sitting in front of a machine, with absolutely no opportunity for true connection.  I look around now and notice the level of disconnection that occurs when people are in pain. To be fair, some amount of preoccupation is needed as it would be impossible to be “on” and “connected” all the time.  And preoccupation can be achieved in healthy ways where people are connecting.  I am primarily concerned with the amount of unhealthy preoccupation that I have participated in to dull the pain in my life.

Sitting still has made me aware of why I am running so much in my life.  A few weeks ago, I was taking a bath.  I love a hot bath and it is a great place to “be still”.  I asked myself why is it I don’t feel loved?  Why am I jealous sometimes of others and long to feel special?  Why am I chasing after people and situations that never give back, where I am neglected and rejected?  Why?  Now, in the past, I would become immediately preoccupied.  I did not want to sit with my pain.  But, from this simple exchange, came a voice, an answer.  I was missing my “father”.  I never knew my biological father and I wasn’t close to my step-dad.  Growing up, I was jealous and sad of the other girls I saw who would run up, jumping into their Dad’s lap.  I was fortunate to have some time with my Grandfather who did bestow fatherly love on me, but my grandparents lived in another state and that love I experienced was limited to the times we were physically together.  So, all of these feelings of sadness & jealousy that I figured were character flaws actually came from a real place.  This opened up the door for compassion.  How could I be mad at a little girl who longed to be held by her father?  This helped to create softness in place of the “armor” I had created in self loathing and fear.  Had I not sat in the stillness and asked, I may have missed this discovery, this puzzle piece of my landscape.

We have a choice every day to “wake up” or remain sleeping.  If you find that you are endlessly running and are exhausted from endeavors that don’t provide any return, but drain you, it may be time to consider the stillness.  What greater endeavor than to connect to yourself and enrich your life while developing compassion towards yourself and others.  This has been a gift.  And I have a lot more “sitting” to do as I’m used to the endless pursuit of preoccupation.