A Goal Met

Tonight I went to the park party! I know from past parties the owner is generous. The booze flows freely and people are encouraged to stay and mingle as long as they would like. Someone with a drinking problem could go overboard.

This was the first time I went with the intention of being temperate. Knowing moderation is not my strong point? I made myself little challenges.

First? Drink one non-alcoholic drink before anything else. Done! Bottled water was available.

Second? Take three bites of food to every drink. Doesn’t sound like much to the average person but I have digestive issues, so, three bites of anything is super. I did okay with this but had to excuse myself about five times to come to my place and regurgitate. Just my life, but doesn’t enhance the party spirit

Third? I wanted to challenge myself meet people. So I challenged myself to talk to two strangers and learn things about them. The two i picked happened to be together and the best possible choice I could make. Without names? A couple from Edmonton. She is studying psychology (women & gender studies) and headed off to Yellowknife for practicum for the summer. He studied computer sciences, his mom lives here and he is here for at least two weeks, maybe longer. He’s done school so where he ends up working is up in the air.

In the end? I left with a glass of wine in my hand. But I accomplished all three things. And I only drank a total of 2 glasses of wine at the party. So i didn’t go overboard.

Maybe self control is an option!

Misconceptions

I’ve been fighting misconception my entire life. Mostly at my own hand because I hid things about myself from the people closest to me. More recently I am fighting misconception because other people won’t see the truth I’ve exposed. Which is a bizarre turnaround for me.

The most clear example of this is regarding the break-up of my marriage. Right now? Rumours are flying around on both sides.

My side sees the way we split. A big messy fight that involved a physical side to it. So he is called a wife beater. And I am judged for even trying to be friends.

His side? Sees me as a raging alcoholic who should be avoided at all cost. The unwarranted words cheating slut have come up as well. And he gets told to forget about me.

So where does the truth lie? He and I have been talking, sometimes fighting, about it for a while now.

We both know things went too far that night. How much of my ‘damage’ was caused by me or him has been sometimes debated. But we’ve both decided to accept it went too far on both sides whether it was actions or reactions. And we’ve decided to let go of arguing about it and individually work on our underlying issues instead.

The truth is my ex was never a wife beater. A physical altercation does not make someone an abuser. Especially when a lot of my perceived ‘damage’ was self inflicted. And I am an alcoholic. My drinking went too far and it is something I need to face with truth. Some of his reactions went too far but it doesn’t make him an abuser.

I’ve recently been judged for ‘defending him’ when I try to tell my honest side of the story. I’ve had arguments with people about it. When people try to dispute the truth about me by encouraging me to lay blame where it doesn’t lie? That isn’t helpful!

Today I am working through how to positively deal with misconceptions!

 

I Can Do It

My mom says when I was a child I wanted to help her around the kitchen, etc. I’d take the broom and clumsily try to sweep. She’d try to help and I would fiercely tell her, “I can do it.”

In the past, when I’ve had people teach me, they show me how to do whatever and I make my attempts until I get it right.

I like to be left alone for the ‘attempts’. I’ve had to tell people to leave me alone to try things. I can tell when I am doing it wrong an can modify myself to get it right. I’m smart enough to figure things out once I’ve been shown. Constant correction while I try only makes me more frustrated than getting it wrong a couple times on my own.

Today my “I can do it” attitude is two-fold !

First, I have a personal challenge for myself today. It’s a social situation so I will be anxious. It’s a lot of drinking and the drinks are free so I need to practice temperance. If I drink at all (and who am I kidding? I’ll be having a drink) it needs to be in moderation. But I have a plan and I can do it!

The second situation? I let my ‘maintenance’ skills go. Five years or longer I have had men in my life to take care of household ‘boy’ chores so I just let it happen that I stopped doing them.

Luckily, my estranged husband would show me things of interest as he was looking at them. I paid enough attention that my “I can do it” attitude is helping me with my independence. For example?

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He showed me one time how a thermostat works and what needs to connect to make the propane turn on. Cool!

When my furnace wouldn’t fire? I pulled the cover off and figured out the little connector thingy on the right was pulled forward and wasn’t making contact. It wouldn’t stay close enough so I ShooGlued it. It worked for a bit. Then the toggle thingy that goes back and forth wasn’t pulling forward enough to make contact. So I stuck a tiny stick in it to hold it forward.

Yes! I redneck rigged my thermostat until I can install a new one. But hey? My furnace is on!

I CAN DO IT!

The Path To Smoking Crack

I made a conscious choice to take hard drugs. I didn’t slide into an addiction because I wasn’t aware of the possible addiction. I jumped into it with both feet and full knowledge. Both times!

By  the time doctors realized my health issues meant I would be off work for  a very long time I looked like a hard drug addict. And people thought that about me. My mom asked me in the mall one day if I was doing hard drugs. At that point I had dabbled but wasn’t into addiction.

I was okay with dying. I knew it may be the result of the lifestyle I was choosing.  But I felt like I was already dead so why not go out with a bang?

I had experimented with cocaine before. It wasn’t long afterward the person who sold me cocaine, James, came into my life to stay.

One ex convinced me to try crack, once, but I knew it would be dangerous so I never tried it after that until? When I was sick off work and felt like giving up I reached for cocaine. Maybe I could OD? I was naive about how that stuff works.

James didn’t have coke for me. But he asked if I wanted some crack instead. I told him I don’t even know how to smoke it. He pulled out his various pipes and a few rocks of crack and showed me.

That night, the first time I did it for real? It felt good. Better than coke and no nasal issues. And he let me smoke as much I wanted. When you are a beginner, only smoking crumbs not rocks, dealers can smoke you up to the point you need them. It costs them pennies. And one night of crack will leave you only wanting more! I became addicted quickly.

At that point I was on disability already. I was making the choice of hard drugs because I wanted to die with a bang but I still liked my apartment, etc. And crack is not cheap! So? I had my dealer move in with me.

I got a $20 piece a day. Every person who came to my place to pick up from him had to pay a tribute hoot to me. And every time he stepped up a notch in the dealer ranks? He attributed to having a safe place to work from. He rewarded me kindly. I could afford my habit because it was practically free.

Then one day there was concern about the traffic at my door. And one of his delivery guys, who often stayed at my place too, was getting unruly. I told James I would still buy off him but I needed him to move out. He left quietly, no problem, and still had his runners deliver to me at discount prices for three days.

Three days later? That unruly delivery guy beat James to death with a meat mallet and slit his throat in the new place they were staying.

That woke me up temporarily. I realized that wasn’t the kind of life I wanted. I realized how close death came to happening in my home again. It scared me a bit.

I quit smoking crack that day. Cold turkey with no program. I had cravings but no other dealer. I was too scared to seek one out. I went through withdrawal. That’s not easy, but I still didn’t go back. It’s been 8 years since my last hit of crack. My addiction lasted less than one year. I’ve been offered crack twice since quitting and turned it down. I’m confident it isn’t in my future.

Did I hurt people during my crack addiction? You bet! It’s when I pushed my family the furthest and did the most damage to my friendships. Even though most of them are still not aware of my addiction. I didn’t care about anything but getting high. I felt like I had nothing to live for so I didn’t care who I hurt by rejecting them. I was already being asked if I was on drugs because no one understood my health issues so why not make it real?

So what was I seeking? Death? What was I covering in the way of pain? Why choose that path?

Those answers I have yet to discover.

 

 

Christopher

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I met Christopher today!  He gave me permission to use his picture (even posed for me) and his first name. I asked him a lot of questions and he said I could share about him freely.

How did we meet? He knocked on my door. He does yard work for a neighbour who knows I want to do things in my yard but can’t afford to pay a lot for help. She sent him to see if I needed help. He timidly introduced himself, told me what work he had done in her yard and let me know he would do work in my yard for whatever I could offer because he really likes to help people.

I showed him around my yard.

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I told him what plans I had for the area and what kind of work I needed done to get started but couldn’t do myself. He asked if I had anything he could do today? He could use smokes.

Absolutely! I have an area I want to put my fire pit but it needs to have some roots pulled out. I want it to be as level as possible before I put in gravel for the fire pit to sit on. I have a machete and a spade. He said he’d try to do what he could.

He worked hard for about an hour before I pulled him off the task. Even though he was doing a terrific job, he didn’t have the right tools. Not his fault. He told me he has a pick axe that he could bring back sometime and finish up. I assured him I will definitely have him come work for me because he worked hard the entire time. I made sure he had his smokes plus a bit of cash for his work. And the area is much more level, despite one stubborn root!

We sat in my RV, after he was done, and talked for a bit. He could see the vision I have for my yard. I had mentioned areas I will need to get mulch to fill things in. His idea? Use his pick axe to break up the root areas I need removed and then shovel that to where I need mulch. He showed me two different ways he could create my sitting area. He gave me ideas for how to build the step up to my hammock. His ideas for how to level things and re-purpose the torn out stuff in other areas? Brilliant!

During his introduction Christopher had told me he needs to be supervised while working. Reasonably, before I had him start working, I went up my neighbour and got a quick reference. She told me he works hard but not to offer him alcohol. That’s fine.

During our conversation after he had worked, and I could see he works hard, I asked him why he needs supervision and why I was told not to offer him alcohol.

Christopher has a brain injury. He was damaged in the womb. He also went through a vehicular accident at a month old that left him injured for life.He went to school but admits he only reads at a Grade 3 level. His math is about Grade 7. You can tell when talking with him that he has had a brain injury. But you can also tell he has tried very hard to learn. He articulates himself well.

I was amazed at how open he was talking about it. He told me how he knows he can’t do certain jobs. He’s very proud that he can do all kinds of physical work, which he can. He’s proud of his creativity. As he explained the things he could do to help in my yard his eyes lit up. He mentioned he was instrumental in the work that went into building this park. He told me he thinks of himself as an artist when he is working in the yard.

He also told me he knows I have a limited income, like him. But his needs aren’t many. A pack of smokes here and there. Cook him dinner after he’s worked in the yard and send him home with a couple bucks in his pocket. He is as excited about my yard as I am. He knows he can help me with my yard like I can help him with homemade meals.

It all sounds like a perfect match, right?

After he left I went up to another neighbours. The park owner was there. Because Christopher had helped build this place? I asked the owner about him.

He didn’t tell me anything Christopher hadn’t already told me. Except for some things I suspected.

For example, he’s unreliable. That comes with health issues. The park owner understands that and is part of why he tried to give Christopher work. He did say that when Christopher IS there he works hard and has talent!

I was told Christopher is known for having a drug problem. That comes with  poverty and  a life of rejection, prescription meds etc. I suspected this because I have a personal history with drugs and I can tell signs of addiction. I just protected myself and my home appropriately. But it makes him a questionable character where I live. Something important to factor in.

He should be supervised at all times. I was told that by Christopher himself. He shouldn’t drink while he is working. I already knew that too.

Some other neighbours chimed in with their ideas that he shouldn’t be allowed in the park at all. The park owner told me Christopher had been seen skulking about and had, at one time, been banned.

I told the owner I wouldn’t have Christopher come back if he wasn’t allowed. Other neighbours were happy with that idea.

But the owner? He sees the kindness in my heart and he has kindness in his own. He told me I could have Christopher come and do a few things in my yard as long as I supervised him and walked him out of the park when he was done. He knows Christopher needs the bit of help, I could use the ‘grunt’ work  and the quality of work I’ll get!

I have no issue with helping someone who has an addiction until the moment they use that to hurt me. I understand the risks. He was open with me and gave me references he knew would be honest. And he needs help as much as I do.

I can’t give him alcohol, so I won’t drink around him. That’s good for me! I want to help in my yard as much as he wants to work in it so he’ll be supervised and I’ll get exercise. That’s good for me! He is open and honest so I think I can learn some things about how to approach my own life from him! Good for me.

So? I have a landscaper. His name is Christopher.

Ability to Change

Honesty. Time to grow. Ability to change.

The first two? They’re working. Ability to change? I am struggling with.

I think it is because I want to chose what changes and when. I’d like to stop drinking today and manage my anxiety and depression. I want to be self motivated. Those are all things I want to change that I feel like I am still failing at. I’m beating myself up about it too.

But I heard a really cool thing while watching Grey’s Anatomy.

In the face of the impossible, become inspired

Do you know what has changed? I’m honest now. That is a huge change that will lead towards the changes I want. Time to grow? Means the changes will come in the time I am ready for them. I get closer to making those big changes every day that I acknowledge more pain.

What else has changed? I’m opening up and realizing big pains in my life that have held me back from change. There is a lot more of that to come. That’s a big change I haven’t been giving myself credit for.

I’m apologizing. That’s a big change.

I sometimes lose sight of where I was a month ago to where I am today in my own growth. I have changed so much. Today I accept that and will continue to take on the ability to change things as they are ready to be changed.

Grieving

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Each person goes through them at their own pace.

  • Denial: “This is not happening to me. It’s all a misunderstanding. It’s just a midlife crisis. We can work it out.”
  • Anger and resentment: “How can he [she] do this to me? What did I ever do to deserve this? This is not fair!”
  • Bargaining: “If you’ll stay, I’ll change” or “If I agree to do it your way, can we get back together?”
  • Depression: “This is really happening, I can’t do anything about it, and I don’t think I can bear it.”
  • Acceptance: “Okay, this is how it is, and I’d rather accept it and move on than wallow in the past.”

Two nights ago we argued. I realize from that conversation there is no more bargaining. And now I am feeling the super sadness of depression settle in. I’m sad my marriage is over. I’m sad I was the primary reason. I’m sad that it looks like we won’t be able to get it back. I’m sad that we may even lose the friendship.

And I don’t know what to do with all this sadness.

 

Bad Days

What do bad days look like for me?

I’m having one. I’m going to try to describe it.

I barely slept last night. I had a fight with my ex about my personal choices. We are realizing we might not be able to reconcile. He’s still ‘at me’ about it in email today and I feel totally responsible. I drank yesterday and? Already drinking this morning. Wine over coffee on bad days. And I feel like a disgrace to humanity.

I know I am not a horrible human for drinking wine at 9am. But why can’t I fix this?

I’m in so much misunderstood pain today. I don’t know me enough to figure it out. I can’t even figure my shit out and I am being attacked for it.

I’m scared. I feel alone even though so may people reach out to me. I’m sad today. I can’t see light today.

This is so much more difficult than I imagined. All I want is wellness.I had no idea it came with so much pain.

 

Judgement

Yesterday I went up to the pub to get some cash out of the bank machine. Two older gentlemen were at the bar, and it was one of my favorite waitresses, so I sat down for a drink before leaving.

One turned to two turned to more. One of the guys kept talking to other people around us and everything he said was totally hitting me in the spirit spot.We engaged in conversation. I was intoxicated so I’m sure my judgement was impaired.

When he offered to walk me home so we could have some more drinks and conversation? I said sure. Because I wasn’t being sexual with him and we were having spiritual conversation. I told him at the pub that I was celibate. I assumed he would come home and talk.

Bad judgment on my part. I guess. I mean, we had great conversation. When he tried to get further physically I shut it down and he left. He was sorta respectful.

I talked about the situation with two other people who immediately judged me. “I’m out carousing.” “I’m bringing strange men to my home.” “How can you work on reconciliation with other men around?” “I thought you were celibate.”

Since when does my healing, my journey and my free choice of who I invite to my home get to be questioned?

I’ve accepted honesty! I’m learning honesty comes with judgement. So how do you deal with judgement?

The Lazy Lie

Yesterday I took a Nothing Day. I’ve often had trouble just doing nothing. Someone told me once:

Sometimes it’s important to take time to do nothing. Important enough to put it on your schedule.

So I have begun to reflect on why it’s difficult for me to just relax and do nothing. More especially I’ve been thinking about how to do it without a drink in my hand. It’s easy to sit around drinking wine watching TV. Easy, but not healthy. What prevents me from just taking the time I need to just sit unless I intoxicate myself?

It’s the lazy lie I adopted.

As a child? My teachers had a difficult time motivating me at school. My parents had a difficult time motivating me at home. I was always a healthy size but, in my preteen to early teens, health issues brought weight gain and prevented me from quite a bit of physical activity .

As a result I was labeled as lazy. Something I really took to heart because laziness was a sin. I realize now that I felt it was such a huge sin in my life because I was told I was lazy by almost every authority figure in my life. Frequently.

I remember asking my pastor, our school principal, some questions about the trinity one day after chapel. I never could wrap my head around that. When he couldn’t sufficiently answer my questions and I kept probing? I got told I was just being lazy and didn’t wanted to go back and do my schoolwork and I should go back to my desk. Stop being lazy.

So what is the truth?

I started working at the age of 10. I worked for a friend of our family answering the phone for his roofing business one summer. It just entailed sitting at their house, answering the phone and taking a message.

I moved on from there to babysitting by the time I was 12. I had several regular sitting jobs until I was 14.

The summer before my 15th birthday I lied about my age and got a job working in the office Kentucky Fried Chicken. I worked full time in the summers and part time until Grade 12. In Grade 12 I worked full time while finishing school. I was the editor of the year book, vice stick on the student council and chairman of the social committee.

I was anything but lazy!

I do suffer from depression though. Since childhood. One of the major symptoms of depression is debilitating lack of motivation. Lack of motivation is something I still struggle with.

When I do find my motivation? I work hard at anything I put my mind into. These days people always tell me what a hard worker I am.

I’m not lazy. I’m sick. And the healthiest thing I can do for myself is take the occasional day to just do nothing. Doing it with purpose prevents me from sliding into it as a habit.

Honesty! It’s not all about facing demons. Sometimes it’s about releasing yourself from guilt or shame of lies put on you in the past. Freedom from them leads to health!