Category Archives: Loss, Alcoholism, the sadder side of my life…

Stories, shares about how my life has been affected by alcoholism, loss, pain. The darker more painful side of my life.

“Why’s” are meant for children…..

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For the most part I’ve been doing very well.  Have been under the weather for a couple weeks, and this wreaks havoc for me.  Still, I’ve managed to keep a positive attitude and focus on all the good in my life, and there is much to be grateful for.

Today I’ve been thinking about someone I loved very much.   We were very close to a decade when things progressed with his drinking, I chose to say goodbye and I learned 4 months after he passed that he had passed the day after he turned 46.  To be perfectly honest, I think of him everyday, typically I can smile when I think about something he did, but today?  Today my heart is wrapped around questions that will never be answered.  I know better than to ask the infamous “WHY?”.   It only leads to more pain, endless tears and a heart that hurts so much, callousing seems to be the only relief.   That is no way to live.  At times I think it’s necessary to block off our heart until we heal, but to be longstanding, I don’t think it’s healthy.   In some instances, in most, asking “why” serves to push myself into a pit of pain, to which coming back from is harder each time I go there.   I have done this.  I am not living this way, I do not feel this way everyday, but today?  Today it’s a challenge to not go back to the second to last letter in the alphabet!

Life has a way of throwing us curve balls, doesn’t it?   I remember going through divorce, feeling hopeless, helpless, and comically (now) that my life was over…My feelings and thoughts were FAR from the truth.  My life began again.   My life got better, I got healthier, I was able to expand my horizons and open my heart again.   “We’ll make new memories”, he said to me as I worked through the crap.  And we did.  We made some wonderful memories.  Little did I know that they would have to sustain me the for the rest of my life without him.  Plans, yah, I’m here to tell you that plans have a way of falling down in midflight.  If you believe that everything has a reason, a purpose, then it does make the whole grief process easier, once you can get past the initial suffocation.   “Just don’t think about it”, I’ve been told repeatedly over the years.  I nod, sometimes I silently walk away pissed off, sometimes I turn my head and cry.   Sometimes it’s okay to think about painful parts of our past.  For me, it serves as a progress report of where I came from.   In sharing with a friend today I said “I know my life has gotten progressively better, I know this, I should feel nothing but gratitude”…True, I should.

The thing is, I never thought it would be forever.  I thought our lives together had come to a halt, but would eventually turn the corner and back around again.  Yet this is foolish thinking.  How many psychiatrists tell you “If it doesn’t work the first time it surely won’t the second”.  But what if?  What if?  On and on and on.    My life changed the day we parted ways and it changed further the day I learned of his death, a mere 4 years after we split.   To his parents I guess I was far gone.   For me, I sadly realized I had never left.  Still, life goes on.

Was watching an episode of 24 the other night and Jack (my hero) was asked by a very distraught agent “How do I live with this?” having acquired information that sent her into sadness and guilt.  “You just do” he said.   I nodded.  Yeah “you just do”.

Today my mother was told she was “legally blind”.   She can see things, but not well.  She shouldn’t be driving.  Fortunately they believe it’s all cataract related and she will do fine after surgery(ies).  Her first being next Thursday.   My comment to her “Well no wonder you haven’t been telling me how beautiful I am!”   Where would I be without a sense of humor?

For those who have and think there is nothing to mourn.  An alcoholic, an addict drinks himself to death, what’s to feel sorry for?   Having gotten in touch with the severity of my own addiction, learn more everyday how deeply rooted it is, all I can say is “You’ve apparently never lost someone you love to such an awful disease”.    Yet who am I to say that?  Perhaps they have?  Perhaps that is why they feel this way?  Still, it will always serve as a solid oak tree covering part of my heart.  Protection.   If that’s what you can call it.

Letting go, accepting doesn’t mean you never revisit the past.  A very intelligent man said something to this effect the other day, and it has stayed with me…”Every step you take, your past changes too because you see things differently than you did the day before.   Every step you take your future changes, because again, you see things differently than you did the day before.  Life is about a series of steps, not leaps, bounds, steps…”  I find that profound.  I can look back now without the intensity it once had, seeing things differently, and sadly having more compassion now for what I could not tolerate then.  That doesn’t mean anything would have changed with us, that the chapter of us wouldn’t have closed, but to see things differently means growth, perspective.

I’m off to get ready for a fun day tomorrow in Boston.  Am very excited about this.  Spending time with girlfriends, meeting new friends and getting reenergized to dive into my new business.    Very excited about this.   The decision to do this changed everything for me.  My situation hadn’t changed, but my perspective did and has.  Hope, it’s called hope and it’s a wonderful thing!   Life isn’t always fair, it isn’t always easy.  It is, however, worth living.  It’s about reaching out to others when you need encouragement, help.  It’s about helping others when they need it.   I’m starting a new chapter in my life, a fun one, one that I know is good for me and one that I know I will succeed at.  I need this.  I need this challenge, I need this newness.  I am grateful for this opportunity, and more grateful that I’m open minded and willing to go on this ride! ♥♥♥

So this is anger?

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As I sat down in my usual spot in my therapists office I said “I don’t want to be here”.   She smiled…”Well, let’s talk about that!”

The night before I had been in touch with a cousin whom I haven’t seen in decades.  I wanted to let her know about our Uncle’s death and to talk about family genetics, thus, cancer history as I could let her know what we’ve been through which may and hopefully help her, her brother and children with early detection.    Not sure if I would hear from her, I was pleased when I saw she had replied to me.    Good old facebook.

Her reply resonated through my entire body and settled into my bones.  Her brother, my cousin, died in 2003 of cancer at the age of 48.  This is the same year my kid sister died at the age of 38.     It was too late to call my mom but I did.  When I told her she was really quiet.  Mom?  “Yeah I’m here, that is just horrible, just horrible”.

I walked around my house for a few minutes not being able to settle into a chair.   I felt numb, my chest was heavy and numb.
When I sat at the computer to pound out my emotions, my feelings, or to at minimum try to understand them, I couldn’t keep up with what was flashing in my head.    I was reacting physically, I felt like I had been sucker punched.   Why am I reacting this way?  Not that it wouldn’t be difficult to hear a cousin died of the same hereditary disease that has grabbed my family with its sharp talons.  What am I feeling?  I could not figure out what emotion, what feeling I was having.   A fleeting thought went through my head… “Anger?”

Stoic, and in a monotone voice I shared with my therapist what I had learned about my cousins.   I felt my foot tapping and could feel my jaw clench as I was speaking.   I love my therapist, she is great and has helped me so much in learning to first identify my feelings, and how to cope with them.    She asked the questions I was afraid she would ask, which I guess is why I didn’t want to be there.   She leaves no stone unturned, trust me.   Still feeling sucker punched only worse, I thought out and quickly planned my route to the bathroom should these feelings come UP.  Sure felt like they were going to.

Anger?  Do you feel angry?   I thought about it as I replied “maybe”.  The word that came out of my mouth and surprised me was “Powerless”.   I rarely use that word and it rings the tone of Step 1 in 12 step program.   I’m not even sure all that was said and by who, but I remember the words “unjust, unfair, cruel”.    With this I learned that I was angry.   “No wonder you didn’t couldn’t identify the feeling, Donna, it’s new for you!”  How cruel that my cousin, too, died too young.  How cruel that his sister has had to walk through life the past 10 years without her brother, her only sibling.   Another mother out living her child, having to bury him.  How insidious.

Oh trust me, I have had hissy fits and I know how to clean out a refrigerator and cupboards to help buffer the unpleasant feelings.  What I didn’t know was first, how to describe, name the emotion, but also, do so without running from it, stuffing my face so as not to feel it.   I am so not good at anger.  When my kid sister died I was hospitalized a few months later for “mood stabilization”.   I was miserable.  Broken and miserable.   I knew I was angry but I didn’t know how to deal with it.  I also didn’t know how to be “angry at God” that he let this happen to my family, cousins included.

I took a deep sigh and sat back in my seat.  “Yes, Yes I am angry.  I am very angry!”    Walking out of her office I still felt sucker punched, my jaw was still clenched, but I wasn’t as confused as I was when I arrived for my appointment, feeling like I had jumped on a hamster wheel and was stuck on it.  The more I thought about it the faster it went.  Both my therapist and I were pleased with my thoughts, decisions, to wait to talk to my cousin until I could pull it together.

We have made arrangements to talk this evening.  I am looking forward to talking to her, catching up, being in each others lives.   Perhaps I have information that may help her as we both swim in a gene pool you wouldn’t want to put spent fuel in.  Perhaps she will help me.  “Perhaps”, said my therapist, “this will help you both heal”.  Well, wouldn’t that be something!

I remember having the genetics testing done at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).   The doctor, quite serious, asked me if my parents had met at a medical convention, genetics.   I thought that was a stupid question given that I was in my 30’s when scientists identified the BRCA mutations.  Later, HNPCC or another name “Lynch Syndrome” which is hereditary colon rectal cancer.  I remember the look on the doctors face at MGH when I handed him the family history that my sister studiously gathered for her, the first in my family, gene testing.   It couldn’t have been more clear had his jaw been sitting on his chest.  I remember when the two idiot doctors in New Hampshire that stood over my brothers hospital bed 2 weeks from the day I was diagnosed, and told me that his diagnosis of two cancers had nothing to do with a mutation.   I cannot tell you the anger I still feel today.   I also didn’t hear them apologize when the tests came back from his second opinion at MGH and the first test they did was Lynch, and he tested positive.   Their lack of knowledge became ignorance and arrogance when they refused to listen to what knowledge we had. Breast cancer (2 different cells), ovarian cancer, uteran cancer, ureter and kidney cancer, colon, colon rectal, prostate cancer.   Every member of my immediate family including my parents have had cancer.   The list above is the cancer portfolio in MY immediate family.  ANGER!   How dare this doctor have the audacity to not even LISTEN to all that my family has been through, hence learned.  Five years later, to this day, I still could slap the shit out of their faces when I think about it.  Long gone should be the days when patients are loyal to their doctors, not themselves.  Long gone should be the days when a doctor’s ego gets in the way of a patient’s diagnosis and best treatment.    As angry as I remain I hope for him, a better doctor than he should he find himself on the other side of the patients table.

My parents have never been testing and have no plans to.   I think it would be futile and only serve to haunt them as to whom or which passed down the potential death sentences to their children.    With cancer on both sides of my family we have, and our doctors have guessed which came from where but of course there is no certainty unless testing is done.    What would be beneficial from their testing is to let family members from each side know which or what or both mutations came from, to know their risks, thus assist in prevention, early detection.

Today I’m more settled than I was yesterday.   I spent several quiet hours by myself yesterday thinking about what I had learned from my cousin and in my therapist’s office.   Tonight I will talk to my cousin and even though much of the news we have is sad, I hope we are able to find laughter for pockets of hope, for health.

KNOW YOUR RISKs!

 

 

5 years ago today …. the diagnosis

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Five years ago today I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Actually two separate cancers.   You  may find this hard to believe but the diagnosis, while unpleasant, was no surprising.  It also wasn’t devastating.   Testing positive for BRCA2+ 8 months earlier, however, was.  In fact, it was downright awful.  

What is BRCA2???   It’s an inherited gene mutation.   In the early to mid nineties scientists made a huge leap through research when they found the gene mutation(s).   Everyone has BRCA genes. Their function is to produce tumor suppressor proteins which assist in repairing damaged DNA and the stability of such. When mutated, protein product is not made, DNA damage repair is impaired. As a result, cells are more likely to develop additional genetic changes which can and put those with the mutation at a much higher risk of cancers. Simplified, these genes fight tumors in feminine (and male) parts such as breasts and ovaries. Men are at higher risk of breast cancer as well. In short, it sucks!

However, with that said, knowing you have the mutation increases the chances of finding the cancer(s) early. Early prevention (in ALL cancers) saves lives. Close and frequent screening reduces the risks of advanced disease (cancer), saves lives. It also means you get felt up by your doctors more frequently! Okay, okay, perhaps not funny but I think so!

Never once did I think or fear that I would die from this bout with breast cancer. It wasn’t an option. I knew I had a long road ahead of me, some very unpleasant experiences, treatments, but it was not going to take my life.

I am in remission. I have been for five years. Well, my doctors consider my remission date the date of the mastectomies which was July 27th, I count from the date of diagnosis.

I was fortunate. As frightened as I was to have the mastectomies, after all, I was a single 47 year old woman who didn’t want my breasts removed, no woman does, my niece, who also tested positive for the mutation, underwent double prophylactic mastectomies, removal of breasts to lower her risks of getting breast cancer. Controversial, many, including myself at one point, judged a woman who made this difficult decision. Why would a woman remove healthy parts of their body? In my opinion, because she’s smart! She is being proactive, courageously facing her risks, taking charge and empowering herself from these hereditary cancers. She was one brave woman and paved the way for me to even consider the option. An amazing woman, who I believe was 29 when she had this done.

Breast cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death in women, second only to heart disease. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer at some point in their lives. For those in remission who do not have the mutation(s), the longer they go without recurrence, the better their chances of no recurrence. For a person with the gene mutation, the longer you go without recurrence, the greater the risk.

I opted for the double mastectomies, reconstruction (implants), and declined chemotherapy. My oncologist was comfortable with my decision given the radical surgeries I underwent. My cancer(s) were estrogen receptive. Therefore, I have been on one nasty ass drug named “Tamoxifen” and will remain on this for 5 years, which for me will be this coming December. Following this I will go on another hormone suppressing drug for five years. I was fortunate, again. This regime was not available to my sister when she was diagnosed at the age of 40 (she’s old…57) 🙂 This is why research and development is so important with all diseases…progress. My sister’s breast cancer diagnosis, and my younger sister’s ovarian and uterine cancer diagnosis and unfortunate passing at the age of 38 probably saved my, my sisters and my nieces life. Knowledge is power!

If you have the mutation you are at 50% risk of passing this along to your children, and they their children. We all hope and pray that the mutation stops with my niece and that her children are free of this.

I wouldn’t wish the journey of breast cancer and the grueling reconstruction on anyone, but I wouldn’t trade my personal growth for the world. As a person who has struggled most of my life with clinical depression(s), fighting my cancer(s), fighting back, made me realize how much I do want to live.

So now my breasts have serial numbers and I can run without a bra! The pisser is, these suckers will stand up and not move an ounce but the rest of me does!

As most of us cancer survivors have said on numerous occasions, and most everybody has seen on hats, tshirts, sweatshirts and more…… FUCK CANCER! So fuck you cancer…. I win!

I also want to add that I believe the words “cancer survivor” extends to the loved ones who have walked alongside their loved one in the difficult journey through cancer, and the too too many who have succumbed to it.

KNOW YOURS RISKS!!!!

Ignorance…. Addiction & Mental Illness – Phillip Seymour Hoffman

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In light of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s official “cause of death” being released I am once again annoyed and aggravated with the barrage of ignorant comments being said.  I thought I’d share this again.  Take what you like and leave the rest. 

The focus in the passing of Phillip Seymour Hoffman has quickly turned to his addiction, blaming him for his demise, after all, wasn’t it he who injected the needle, the heroin into his arm?   Addiction.  If you are not educated on addiction, or have not been affected or afflicted by its powerful existence, of course you could say such a thing.   For someone who has, his passing is nothing more than another sad statistic.

It irritates me how the press, people will totally extinguish a person’s accomplishments, goodness, contributions when death is a result of addiction, of alcoholism or any other mental illness for that matter.   It is as if the only part of his/her life that becomes news is the demons that bound them.   A person’s life is not cancelled out for those of their families, their friends.   If you have ever had to make difficult painstaking decisions around a loved one who is grappling addiction; If you have ever been forced to see someone you love ‘self destruct’; If you have ever been sadly privy on both the internal and external battle that their lives and the lives of those who loved them entailed; If you have ever had to bury someone who died as a result of their addiction or mental illness you would understand, it isn’t that cut and dry.

It’s a travesty how prevalent addiction is in our society today.   It is a travesty that there is so much ignorance and stigma attached to mental illness.   It seems the more years that pass the younger the onset of use.     We are living in a time where prescribed medications have increased the population of and caused an enormous amount of us to become addicted “to”.  While progress is being made with access to such drugs, it is still clearly a problem, an epidemic, with immense potentially grave endings.

Ask Mr. Hoffman’s mother what it was like to parent an addict.   Was that all he was?   She will surely cry in anguish, in disappointment, of the harsh reality that her son has perished of addiction.   She will instantly remember the kindness, intelligence, and his accomplishments.  She will remember holding her baby in her arms, the hopes and dreams she had for him.  The first tooth he lost, the first homerun hit…on and on.  His death does not void out his existence.  If nothing else, it is her memories, both good and bad, of her beloved son that marks his death all the more purposeless, senseless, vain.

With the progression of the disease (commonly denied) and lack of education regarding such, it is easy to blame the addict.    We picture them on a bar stool, a street corner, in a back alley selling their soul to score a fix.   This epidemic goes far beyond the stereotype.    You will find them in hospitals treating patients, in schools teaching students, in elementary and high school bathrooms, on playgrounds, behind the desks of professionals, sitting next to us in church, in police stations with whom are hired to “protect and serve”, and who arrest those whose addiction has made criminals of them.    Like cancer, and many other potentially lethal illnesses it doesn’t discriminate.  There are many predisposed, at higher risk of inheriting such dreadful sentences, just as there are with cancers, other diseases.  Babies are being born addicts.   Many with mental illness go untreated, out of shame, lack of resources, and inability to find a doctor, a therapist, a mental health worker who has openings to treat them.   Ask any professional in the business of treating mental illness how many patients they see a day, what their availability is to see new patients, if they think that their profession offers as much support as is needed for all.  Ask families who are bouncing off the walls, worried beyond belief, frustrated and fear filled for the fate of their loved ones whom have a mental illness “Are you getting the help, support, treatment needed to cope?”    It doesn’t just begin with the addict, and it doesn’t stop there.  Far from it.

Am I suggesting that a person should not be held responsible for circumstances, consequences caused by their addiction?  Hardly.  I understand, too well, that holding them responsible is an important factor, and could in fact be the very thing that helps them seek help, and hopefully achieve recovery.     You may be surprised to find the mother, wife, husband of an alcoholic relieved when their loved one has been arrested for DUI or sentenced to a jail term and more unbelievable, who has died or the disease of addiction.   Why?  Because maybe, just maybe, and hopefully this could be the answer to their prayers.   Maybe, just maybe this would be the beginning of, the stepping stone to their loved ones recovery, and for those with whom lives have been taken, perhaps now they will be at peace.  There will be no demons in the driver seat of their life.

With all of this said, and from a person who struggles with mental illness, there needs to be more help, education available to all.   The archaic belief that mental illness is that of the “insane”, the selfish, the crazy, the weak needs to cease.   We need to broaden the stream of hope for all…the addict, the person with any mental illness, their families, their friends, their employees and more.   There are three possible outcomes for an addict – Institution, Recovery or Death.   Shaming one into recovery is as counterproductive as denying its existence.  Shunning the issue(s) only accelerates and further populate its victims.

Why would an intelligent being throw away their dreams, their aspirations, their families, their friends, their jobs, basically their present moment and futures for a fix, whether that fix be attributed to a needle, a bottle, a pipe, a gluttonous amount of food…Does it really matter?  Is any of it nonetheless tragic?  Would we shame or blame a person who was diagnosed with cancer?  Actually, that opens up another whole can of worms for me.  When Peter Jennings was diagnosed with lung cancer the first thing that was reported was “Peter Jennings has been diagnosed with Lung Cancer.  He smoked”.   Implying that his actions were the result of his diagnosis.   Yes, smoking can cause lung cancer.  Yes, second hand smoke can cause cancer.  Yes, sticking a needle in your arm, swallowing a fifth of vodka, snorting a substance for instant fix, bingeing on unhealthy foods… all can and most likely will contribute to the demise of many and squelch the quality of life for not only them, but those who love them.

I assure you, however, that no one smoked or smokes to get lung cancer.  A father doesn’t set out to be a drunk, or a mother a junkie.  No person sets out to be an addict, an alcoholic, a person who struggles with depression, or any other mental illness.  They didn’t aspire nor desire to “throw their happiness, their health, their lives away”.    All is tragic.  All are a travesty that again, I believe, needs further and vast education and awareness, treatment made available.

“Phillip Seymour Hoffman dead at ­­46 from apparent heroin overdose”.    The barrage of ignorant comments pertaining to his, and the too many other tragic deaths as a result of addiction infuriate me.    Ask his children what he meant to them, what they remember of him, how they will miss him;  Ask his parents, grandparents, his wife, his friends “Do you think he got what he deserved?”   I promise you, they will not only look at you in dismay, but their face will show an expression of trauma, catastrophe, and pain of epic levels.

In all Twelve Step programs the disease of alcoholism, of addiction is described as “cunning and baffling”.   There simply is no understanding it, there are no words to describe its effects, but perhaps?  Perhaps with awareness and education, with more resources made available to its victims we can somehow stop, or at minimum stunt this holocaustic epidemic.

Let us not be so small minded, blaming, shaming, hiding, pious to real mental illnesses that threatens the lives of many, including our youth, your son, daughter, granddaughter.  Let us find a way to improve treatment options, including those who are now or who will be incarcerated as a result of this sinister disease.  Let us find and achieve a better chance of recovery and carve out a course of prevention for such.    Let us HELP others and ourselves by dispelling the myths and attitudes that one should be embarrassed, blamed, or shameful that they have a mental illness.  Let us somehow find a way to lower the sad statistics of and empower the recovery of, the prevention of.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman was much more than an addict.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman was more than a bloody statistic.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman was a person like you, like I… perhaps with a whole lot more money, thus easier access too or slower consequences of its progression.  He didn’t set out to be an addict.  He didn’t insert the needle and inject the heroin in his arms with intent to die.

No one sets out to be an addict.  No one smokes to get cancer.  No one welcomes mental illness, of any sort, to themselves their families, their loved ones.   No one.

My name is Donna, and I have been both affected and afflicted with mental illness.  I am one of the fortunate ones, however.  I am under the care of excellent, educated doctors who are treating me, teaching me, helping me through these challenges and working with me to achieve a better quality of life, to achieve recovery.   Sadly, I am of a minority.

Donna Scully

Vernon, VT

In celebration of he….

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He had red hair, fair skin and a multitude of freckle. When he was out in the sun, where he loved to be, he would get more freckles. His eyes were a beautiful shade of blue, both his smile and his laugh were contagious. He was kind, caring, sweet, and extremely humorous, he loved people, he loved life. He was 31 years old when I met him, and we lived together for almost a decade. We were engaged to be married, though that never transpired. He introduced me to culture of many types, he taught me that it is possible to start over, to open my heart and trust in another. He was highly intelligent, thus his wit, brilliant. He was the first man to touch my face, cup my cheeks in his hands and hold me until tears stopped and the last man I loved.

Some things aren’t meant to be. I fell madly in love with him, adored him. We shared laughter, belly rolls, tears that rolled down our faces from laughing so hard. We also cried together, once when our dog Molly was hit by a truck in front of my house, and died instantly. We rescued her from the humane society, she was a beautiful dog, they were the best of buds. Though he wanted I would not agree to another dog, so he adopted two kittens, Zoe &Chloe, whom I still have today. After a year I gave in and he got Brody, an Australian shepherd that was sometimes smarter than I was. He was an exceptional dog, stunning, snotty to other dogs (with the exception of his own breed and a few other dogs) I lost Brody this past January, he was 13.

I believe there are some things that we will never get over, time gifts us with the ability to coexist with pain, it doesn’t erase nor cure our broken hearts. I have learned that when someone you love passes, the love never goes away, in fact, it miraculously grows. At least I have found this to be true. Today he would have turned 50, we were both Sagittarius, I was 2 years and 11 days old older than he. Throughout our relationship his disease progressed, at times he was unrecognizable, then he would become himself again. We managed to come back from these times, though each bout would last longer, be more destructive than the last until he reached a point where I felt he was more disease than himself. Seldom and infrequently towards the end, I would catch glimpses of his old self, I would grab on, hold strong, hope that he would get better. He did not. He was an alcoholic, a binge drinker. He was a very sick man. He would go months without a drink and then would indulge himself to a point of oblivion, from his life, from me. He never promised to get sober, and he would call his drinking his “best friend”. Too many times I felt I was taking back seat to booze. It was almost like he had a mistress. It was powerful, it was awful, it was devastating and certainly sabotaging.

It got to a point where I had to choose, he or me. I chose me. Living with addiction takes on a world of its own. It robs you of those you love, almost like a body snatcher. I could look at him, see him, but I had to remind myself when we parted and I saw him out, it was an imposter. The man I loved drowned in alcohol and his fate yet, was to be determined. I told him I didn’t want to watch him kill himself, which happened four years and a half years after we parted ways. He died the day after his 46th birthday, tomorrow the 4th anniversary of his passing. I do not like to say “he killed himself” because what really killed him was alcoholism. But we blame them, its victims for not getting sober, not getting clean. He died a very gruesome death, cirrhosis. He died in the home of another woman, one whom he had been seeing for a few months. He told her no doctors, no hospital, no rescue, I guess he didn’t want to go what he had gone through a couple years before when he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and cirrhosis.

Though our lives were worlds apart, I always kept track of him, I wanted to know where he was in the world. Until he died I didn’t realize that I was hoping he would get clean, get better so we could find our way back together. I always hoped and prayed that he would find sobriety, he never did. The day after I learned of his death, learned by googling his name and finding his obituary, I went to his parents. They live outside of Albany, NY in a small quaint town, the town, the home in which he grew up. I was angry with them for not calling to tell me he had died. As I was walking into their house, each step closer to the door I realized, to his parents, I was long gone,but for me, I never left. Miraculously some addicts do go into remission, into recovery but not without a total transformation of their thoughts. It is cunning, it is baffling, it is one deadly awful disease, far too many inflicted and more affected. I hate addiction, I hate what it does to people, I hate what it did and is doing to people I love, I hate what it does to any of its victims, their loved ones. I hate what it takes from them, I hate what it takes from their loved ones, I hate what it took from me.

I used to think “If you loved me, you would stop drinking”. I know now, his drinking had absolutely nothing to do with me, but it certainly affected me negatively. No addict asks or seeks to be one. Why would anyone wish such awful disease on themselves? But it is hard to remember that when one is in the throws of the addiction, when you look at them, visually see the person you love but their actions, their choices, their reality is not recognizable. Why are they doing this? Why are they destroying their lives, hurting others, casting loved ones aside for what? For fluid? For alcohol?
You don’t have to drink, do drugs to have it rip apart your world and have you living a chaotic insane existence, you just have to love someone who does. The consequences of addiction go well beyond the addict.

I think of him daily, I talk to him much. Some days I can smile, today is one of them, I am grateful, today I am granted peace, acceptance. At least I know the disease doesn’t have him anymore. As strange as this may sound, he is safe, he is alright, he is at peace. He is no longer controlled by the disease of addiction. I am grateful for this. I will always love him, I will never forget him, and I prefer to look to the good in him, in us. I have no regrets. Though I don’t think I would choose to do it all over again, no regrets. I wished then and still wish now that the ending would be different. I did everything I could, and then some, and ultimately had to learn to love myself more than him, I had to save myself and say goodbye to him. I choose to not think of the painful times. If I in anyway implied that our life together was perfect, that was certainly not the case. Living with addiction is something I wish on no one. I do know I am a better person for having known him, for having loved him, for accepting his love. He was a wonderful person who got lost in the vortex of addiction, sadly like far too many others.

I smile today, and will light a candle, wish him a Happy Birthday. Though he will never be 50 I will always acknowledge the day that beautiful soul came into this world. Happy Birthday Jim…. Happy Birthday. And tomorrow I will acknowledge when that beautiful soul left this world.

Lucille Ball or Donna Bawl?

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Though last night was a difficult night, and sleep was not part of my vocabulary, I had a wonderful morning.  A friend called and said “get dressed, I’ll be down in 20 minutes with the dogs, we’re going for a walk”… and so started my morning.  It was really nice.  We walked on a trail that we used to years ago, when our dogs were much younger!  I have to say, I think I’m in better shape now than I was then because I didn’t do a lot of huffing and puffing.

Following that, however, I was sorting through some stuff and found pictures of happier times, and that triggered in me another crying bender that I think lasted 3 hours.    The kind of crying that you cannot catch your breath in between, and when snot takes over!  I do think, however, that crying is good, it can be a cleansing.

I have been collecting paperwork and medical files for the purpose of disability (my doctors at the psych hospital all assumed I was already on it)… Upon reading notes from therapists, that made me even sadder.  My thoughts, my feelings of these notes also made me cry.   I am not depressed everyday of my life, but I have been the larger majority of the past few years.   In therapy I’m learning how to divert my thoughts, my feelings and stick and choose happier things to think about, but hey… sometimes life is hard and your pain cannot be masked (nor do I think it should be)…

I want to thank you all for prayers, and for my friends who have gone above and beyond to help me through this difficult time.   Thank you, my cup runneth over…. but then of course I’m crying because of that too!  I told a friend tonight via fb that I’m not crying for the dead bugs (ladybug imposters) on the ground….  Good grief!

I’ll be heading to bed early tonight.  I was happy to think I could sleep in tomorrow and hide , then I realized, nope…  I have outpatient therapy all day M-F…   oy.

Thank you all once again for your continued prayers and outpouring of concern.  I cannot tell you how much that means to me during this difficult time.     xx

Whitney Houston

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Last night I stopped at a local store to pick up some snacks to bring to my uncles.   This place is like a soda/beer distribution place.  Anyway, my eyes caught the glimpse of a man who was in the hospital just months ago with liver failure due to alcohol.   Typically he will say Hi, this time he didn’t.  There is “bad blood” so to speak between us, as his association with Jim was one that I knew would be trouble, and it was.  Anyway he disappeared into the beer cooler, came out with a case of beer underneath each arm.  I wasn’t surprised, even though I heard he was sober, I was however saddened.   How can anyone watch the  insanity, destructive manner that an alcoholic or addict displays and doubt that they aren’t sick, but weak?  Would a healthy man give up his home, wife, children to go sit and drink?  Would a healthy woman leave her children, let her life fall apart, all for the sake of beer? liquor?

I thought about this a lot last night.   Once angry at this man for being a bad influence on someone I loved very much, and someone whom addiction controlled, I have long since been praying for him, and his family, for his health, mental, physical and spiritual.

Tonight its all over the news that Whitney Houston has died at the young age of 48.  A woman who has been struggling painfully and whose struggles have been in every newspaper, rag magazine, and more.   I sometimes feel sorry for “famous” people that they aren’t allowed to go through their struggles without public scrutiny.  I know I wouldn’t want that for myself.   Still, as I say that, I was reading the articles, some of them anyway.   This absolutely stunning, beautiful and enormously gifted young woman who was destined for greatness, and then years later a woman whose struggles with drugs was not only plastered on the front of every magazine, newspaper, or hollywood gossip tv show, but was evident in her face, the darkness under her eyes.  Her eyes, once filled with life, shine and beauty later revealed dulnessl, sadness and withdrawn.    I don’t know too many people who would wish this upon themselves, or even their worst enemy.   At one point she had gotten her act back together, looked like the beautiful and talented Whitney Houston that most of us loved as she sat on the stage of “Oprah”.  Later it was “revealed” (rolling my eyes here) that she and Oprah had had it out afterwards.   Now we sit here at the time of her passing, shaking our heads, some shedding tears…what a tragic ending to a beautiful life, I say this assuming it was somehow related to drugs or alcohol.  Not necessarily an overdose, but something that manifested physically throughout all the years she was using.   Most alcoholics do not die of cirrhosis, but of heart failure, or physical manifestations that have been created by the overuse and abuse of alcohol.

I remember how angry I would get with Jim, and at times how ridiculously naive and foolish when I thought “if he loved me” he would give up drinking.   Love doesn’t have anything to do with it.  The good news is, some find this as their bottom, or a beginning.  A chance to start over, get help, save their marriage, their ass, their home, etc., but many do not.

Long gone for me is the anger, the rage that once ruled me when I was with an active addict.  Life gets complicated, but quick.  It gets insane, and things roll out of control at the speed of lightning.   The negative affects this has on themselves, their family, their friends plays out like dominos.  Clearly, no matter what Whitney Houston died of there are many mourning.  I’m confident that there are family or friends who are left with the lingering sadness and frustration, the humility of knowing…they couldn’t “save” her from herself.   She walked through hell with her addictions, as does any addict.

I am not “pro addicts”, I hope that is not how I sound.  My heart goes out to her family, friends who have to live with the reality of her passing, and most second guessing if they could have helped.  The “if only’s” run parallel and steady with the grief process.

I have many friends who have gotten clean and sober.   Some arrogantly will slam others who are still using, but most?  Most are so damned grateful to be one of the “chosen few” who survived that they aren’t judging another, but basking in the beauty of their lives.

Surely one thing we have learned over the years with the access to the internet, television, magazines, media is that..no longer are addicts stereotyped as dirty, unkept street people who drink out of a paperbag.   Here is a very sad example of fame, fortune, incredible talent, and yet she was not exempt from addiction.

Recalling when I started to really grasp the disease of alcoholism, how enormous, powerful and destructive it was.  It was at that moment that I placed additional words at the end of some of my shares.  “I have been affected by the disease of alcoholism and addiction…. and I’m very grateful I haven’t been afflicted with it”.

“One moment in time”…. you shared and spread so much  joy and enjoyment to so many.  Thank you Whitney Houston.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYFHAvULvJ0

Rest in Peace Whitney Houston, rest in peace

 

Goodbye….

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It is impossible and too personal to share all that has been happening in the past few weeks.  I will say that that I am amazed once again at the order in which things happen, and reminded that there is order and timing to all, whether we understand, accept or not.  I am not a religious person but I am a spiritual person.  I have been shown on numerous occasions that this realm in which we live is not all there is.  I do not understand it, I have yet to fully explore it, but I must say, when I let go of my own will, when I accept reality for what it is, and just accept and open my arms to what is, and open my heart to what I have been shown time and time again, I need not be afraid, I need not feel despair.  Everything is right as it is supposed to be, and I am right where I am supposed to be.  All I have to do is accept, and show up.

This morning i had this seemingly real dream.  In this dream I was able to say what I needed to say, see what I needed to see, feel what I needed to feel.  I awoke for the first time in weeks knowing… it was time to say goodbye.  It was time to release this hold, this anguish, this pain, it was time to let go of Jim.

I went and bought a helium balloon personal in nature to the two of us, and Brody and I went to the field that Jim loved and that we frequented often.  The field where he and our dog Molly would go and fly his radio controlled gliders and airplanes.  The field where we would sometimes meet for lunch, or bag a dinner so he could catch a “thermal” (smiles).   I stood in the very spot where we stood many times, thanked him for  the many years of memories, all the things he taught me, gave to me, brought into my life.  I thanked him for Brody, for our girls (my cats), for the many ways he enriched and improved my life, the culture, the laughter, the healing he brought into my life, the ways in which he brought joy to me.  I told him that I would never forget him, that I would always love him, and wanted him to fly… catch a thermal….   and I released the balloon.

Brody and I sat on the ground and watched until the balloon was no longer visible.  I said a prayer, wiped my tears, smiled, and came home.

I am a better person for having met him, having loved him,having been loved by him, having had him in my life for all those years.  I am grateful for my time with him, my memories, and the capacity in which I was and am able to love this person.  Even the difficult times taught me lessons that are valuable in my life today.   His death while it seems senseless and cruel, I can not continue to question, it changes nothing.  But I do know that if I only know one thing that has come out of it it is that I have changed, and I am making better choices for myself.  And yet, I am only one pebble on one small beach in the overall scheme of things.  I will probably never know the reasons or how many lives he touched.   I can only know the impact he has had on my life and over time it continues to unveil itself.

Catch a thermal Jim… catch a thermal.   I will always love you.

I went to a birthday party for a friend this evening.  Afterwards while watering my plants I was listening to the birds and was astounded at how much some of my plants had grown.  Life goes on…. life goes on…

Tired

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I have sat down to write several times and each time I have stopped.  Who wants to hear of MY woes?  Everyone has them.   The old adage “If you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything” comes to mind… I try to be a positive person, I try to bring a smile to the faces of those I meet, to help others… the truth is right now I am tired, weary tired.   haven’t been feeling well for the past couple of weeks.  I have been experiencing cluster migraines which triggered fear…. Is this a recurrence that has metastasized to my brain?  Now I do believe in the power of positive thinking so  have worked very hard to NOT let this consume me, but it exists.    Perhaps it is exhaustion from the migraines, consequences of eating poorly the past few weeks, part of the grief process or a combination of all but there is a fatigue blanketing over me that I cannot shake off.  This isn’t depression.  This is different.  Something isn’t right.   I have been confused, searching for words that I know like the back of my hand, unsure of myself, thus decisions, and so on.   So tomorrow I have an appointment with my primary care provider to be “checked out”… it’s time to have my thyroid levels checked and probably time for my annual physical anyway.

My girlfriend shared with me a quote that a friend of hers told her.  “Fatigue makes cowards out of all of us”.  I have been pondering this for a few days now, and have found it to be quite fitting in my life right now.    Reminiscent of an acronym I learned in AlAnon “HALT”  (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired)… which is a reminder to slow down, cease decisions, actions, etc., when you are any of the aforementioned.    I have found myself gravitating towards sugar to get the “energy boost” but this only serves to drop in minutes… and get me into the blood sugar level yo yo, gaining weight that I worked so hard to get off, and thus feeling like crap about myself……. in short may I just say YUCK????????????????????????

So tonight I am already in bed at 8:30, my plans are to start tomorrow anew, hopefully with some exercise, healthier eating choices, and hopefully my doctor will determine that my thyroid meds need tweeking or something that can be fixed, and quickly.  I am sending these positive thoughts out to the universe…. this is my hope my wish for tomorrow.

I hope you are all doing well, that life is being kind to you and your loved ones and that you are enjoying good health, as if you have your health you do in fact, have it all… everything else is workable!

Have a wonderful nights rest, and a great day… it is in fact, a gift!

Hugz,

Donna

Gifts from the other side

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It’s been a while since I’ve written.  I’ve been working through some painful feelings, grieving, reminiscing, reflecting, and praying.   I need to let go of Jim.  I do not want to.  I feel his presence around me, as I said in an earlier post, his death has in a very strange way brought him back to me.  I experienced many signs that he is okay, that he is free.  Feeling his presence makes me selfish.  I do not want to release him.  I asked him to stay, and he did.  I am not insane, I am not making this stuff up. I believe.   But I know he has to go, and I know I need to let him go.  This isn’t something I do well or gracefully.  I want, I want, I want… and I have to be unselfish and set him free. 

I drive down the road and memories come that I haven’t thought about in years, or ever.  All positive.  It is as if he is orchestrating our story, set out in front of me in memories and placing people, places, things in my path.  It is really quite beautiful.  My heart fills with joy and I laugh, and sometimes I talk to him.

A couple weeks back I was on my way home from Boston, postsurgery appointment.  This was only days after I had found out about his passing.  All the way home I was crying, and talking to him.  The battle of denial and reality was still evident in my thoughts and actions.   As I drove into Erving, MA to make the right turn over the mountain I realized my music wasn’t playing.  Music is a vital part of my life.  It can work better than a tranquilizer!  I looked down at my stereo and watched my volume go up to 10 then down to 0, then up to 8, then down to 0.   I kept looking at it, is this really happening?  Is this you telling me you are okay?  And then the song “Knocking on Heavens Door” came on.  I pulled over and cried.   The cynical part of me doubted, started to think about what would make my volume/lcd do that.  I am like this.  I have had profound spiritual experiences and I believe.  But as time goes along they sometimes fade away, or I place them on the back burner because I’m AFRAID to believe.  Jim of all people would know how to get my attention, he knew how important music is to me.   I came home and meditated and that night my dreams of him were so surreal.  I asked him, please hold me one more time…. just one more time, isn’t this something we all say when we have lost someone?  Just one more glimpse, one more hand holding, one more hug, one more conversation….  That night when I finally got to sleep he was in my dreams, and he held me.  The details of his eyes, the warmth and molding of how my body fit into his, the way he smelled, everything was layed out so perfectly, vividly.  He did give me what I wanted.  He held me again.

Be careful what you ask for, and if you have an addictive personality, or hell, maybe this is just normal, but waking up from the dream, to the reality that he has passed brought on more pain.   Sighs.   One more time, one more time, one more time….  But over a couple of hours (after forcing myself to get out of bed because I just wanted to fall back to sleep, to go back there with him) I was able to turn the pain over to gratitude .  He DID hold me again, and he was so full of light, sunshine, he looked wonderful and he sounded so happy.  This has helped me tremendously.

I have shared the experience with my stereo with a couple friends.  A week and a half later while sharing it with another friend I stopped dead in my tracks.  What is wrong she said?  My eyes teared up, nothing…. but I walked over to my mother and said Mom, we started dating on 10/8.  Replaying the stereo volume going up to 10, back to 0, up to 8, back to zero.   It hadn’t occurred to me that the numbers had any significance.   I haven’t wanted to share this in my blog because I didn’t want nonbelievers or critics to dirty or taint this for me.  But today I feel stronger and feel it IS important to share this.  To NOT put this on the back burner, to NOT allow the cynic in me to poopoo it, and to share this experience with others so that perhaps this will help them in some way.

Jim often joked with me about being a witch.  Not like bitchy or ugly, but I sometimes possess a sixth sense, if you will.  I sometimes would chalk it up to women’s intuition, or poopoo that too.  At times it has really frightened me.  It doesn’t anymore.  But I do not practice this, nor have I worked on honing it.  I just accepted that this is part of me.  I honor that part of me.  It is a very private part of me that by writing this blog I am sharing something that I hope I do not regret.  But if I have learned only one thing in the past year it is to say what you need to say, and that I really do want to let people know who I am.  I am shedding the shell and accepting myself for who I am, forgiving myself for stupid things I have done, and celebrating that today I am alive.  This very moment as I write this blog my heart is celebrating this sunshiny day.  A day that my plans changed early on, but played out just as it was supposed to.

My grief has taken its tole on my body.  Rarely have I slept and my thought process is back down to one task at a time.  But it is getting better.  Each day I feel stronger, and each day I come closer to acceptance.  When I do not accept reality as it is, my life becomes unmanagable, my peace and serenity disappear and anxiety rules.  I have a choice to not allow this to happen.  I have the ability to choose the easier healther path.  I will do this, but as some very endearing friends have said to me… in your time, Donna, and god’s time.