"Life always offers you a second chance, it's called tomorrow...the past cannot be changed, forgotten, edited, or can only be accepted."

Monday, November 28, 2011

The first boyfriend

This post was not what I had planned for today. But it’s something that really upset me, and I can’t decide if I’m being ridiculous for being upset about it or not. One of the good things that has come out of having my father as my father…is he gave me a very large family. I was an only child for the first 9 years of my life, and since then, he’s given me 2 half siblings (and in a way, a step sibling).
                Anyways, my little sister is now 11. She lives near my husband and I, and I’ve been lucky enough to have always been involved in her life. Since my husband and I got married, it’s been harder to see her. I feel like we’re always working, we always have things going on, and I feel swallowed by life. I’ve been unemployed for awhile, and even with that one thing out of the way…it’s felt like 5 things have taken it’s place. I’ve always believed in “if you want to see someone, you’ll make time to see them”. But here I am…contradicting myself.
                I haven’t heard from my little sister in awhile, and I texted her a few days ago, asking how her Thanksgiving was. As I was sitting here working on another post…I got a text from her. Her Thanksgiving was fine, phone has been off, and she has a boyfriend. It threw me off guard a little bit. I used to be the person she went to instantly to tell those things to. I remember the first time she asked me what sex was. Oh boy. Not that I had an answer for her…but she trusted me to bring those things up with me. If she liked a boy, she always told me. And here…she has a “boyfriend”…and I had no idea. Now I know…she’s 11, it’s not like it’s serious. But I had NO idea. Didn’t know she liked anyone, didn’t know she was even looking at boys like that. It got me seeing that I have next to no idea what’s going on with her right now. And I have to say…I feel like a terrible person.
                It’s not that I don’t love that little girl. I’d do absolutely anything for any of my siblings at any time. I’d give my life for all 3 of them if it would help them in some way. But lately…I’ve been distancing myself from them. My brothers are living close as well…and I haven’t seen them in months. I want to…but I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m finally starting to question why…and I hate to say that it probably has something to do with my dad.
                I’m afraid of questions about him, I’m afraid of thinking about him. I’m afraid of any kind of connection with him…and that’s what they are. But just like me…it’s not their fault that they have the father they do. And if anything…I should be there more for them. I should be more constant in their lives to help them deal with all the things they’re going to face in the future when it comes to him.
                Things are so crazy right now…and all I want to do is crawl into bed for a few days to clear my head. But this is something I’m really struggling with. And for the first time in my life…I’m hesitant to act. I’m trying, and although it doesn’t show with the way I’ve been acting…those kids mean the world to me. Why is it when you try better yourself in certain aspects…it’s so easy to drop the ball in others?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I talk a lot about my recovery and I give a lot of advice on how to make the transition into recovery a little easier. But I haven’t much talked about my specific struggles. I don’t mean the things I’ve been through…I’m talking more about the emotional struggles. The things that go on inside my head that no one could ever truly understand. Everyone has their unique mental battles, and everyone has to learn how to deal with their own.
                The main thing I want to address in this post is PTSD. PTSD is post traumatic stress disorder. Originally it was used to diagnose soldiers that were returning from war. It is categorized by flashbacks, nightmares, memory loss, being easily startled, a “numb” feeling, difficulty concentrating, and hypervigilance. Many times PTSD can lead to depression, anxiety attacks, even substance abuse in extreme cases. PTSD can be caused from many different things. Different types of abuse, war, an accident…any kind of traumatizing event. The event could also be a onetime occurrence, or something that was ongoing.
                In my case my PTSD was caused over a number of years of abuse…mental and physical. I was diagnosed in high school after finding a psychologist that dealt specifically with mental disorders such as PTSD. At the time I was a mess and I didn’t realize how far I’d fallen. I had taken the numb feeling on completely, but would have random outbursts of being really angry, to being really sad. My mood swings would catch me off guard, but I took it as part of the hormones involved in being a teenager. I had a very hard time concentrating on anything…school, work, friends. I was so stressed out with other things going on in my head…that I had a really hard time getting anything done to my full capacity.
                After going to the psychologist for awhile, I was diagnosed with depression as well. I was often exhausted, and was very easily overwhelmed. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that the flashbacks and anxiety attacks really started. I remember one night in particular that my mom and I were watching a talk show, and they showed a parent hitting a child. While it was just a reenactment…it threw me into my first real attack. I remember being frozen in place, and it was like something was forcing me to think about events in the past. My head hurt, my chest became incredibly heavy, and it took my breath away. The best comparison I can think of is when you walk into a very cold wind, and can’t seem to take a full breath. I felt my heart beat heavily against my chest, and it felt like it was overworking itself. I got dizzy, and my hands shook uncontrollably.  It was one of the scariest moments of my life, because I realized I had no control over the flashbacks and anxiety attacks.
                Those attacks continued for a long time, and on occasion they still happen. Not nearly as often as they did at the time, thank goodness. I eventually started to find my personal “triggers”. Basically anything that would throw me into an attack. Males speaking to me loudly or in an aggressive tone was a big one. Sometimes it would be just joking around, and someone would say something in the wrong tone, or with the wrong wording, and I’d feel my chest tighten. Other times it was someone physically touching me the wrong way. A hand on the wrong part of my arm, a hug from behind…anything that caught me slightly off guard. I was increasingly jumpy…and being startled would lead to an attack.
 For a long time it seemed like everything was a trigger…and it was hard to say how hard it would hit. Some attacks were limited, and would just lead to my heart beating a little too fast. Those were easy to talk myself out of. But other times they would be just like that first attack. A few times it got to the point that someone else had to calm me down. I wouldn’t be able to catch my breath, or slow my heart down. I’d get dizzy and lightheaded…which would force me into a deeper panic.
I was put on an anti-depressant. I took the anti-depressant for a few months, and my energy level got better. I was able to focus a little better, and my anxiety started to go down a little bit. I worked really hard with my psychologist on desensitization. She would have me run through specific experiences in my childhood involving my father. As I’d start to fall into a flashback and I’d start to panic, she’d talk me out of it. Eventually the severity of the panic went down…and I was able to have more control over the flashbacks. I never had full control, but it got better.
It wasn’t until working for awhile, that I realized I was forgetting things. There would things I would think of that had happened, or had read in police reports…that I couldn’t remember. I might remember the general event, or a random detail from that night…but I wouldn’t be able to remember specifics. I wouldn’t know what had happened…who had specifically been involved…or what the outcome had been. There were a few instances that I blocked out completely…that I still don’t remember fully today.
I was only on the pills for a few months. The idea of them started to bother me. I was taking a medication to alter my personality and my reactions. I understood that I was using them correctly and I “needed” them…but it seemed to alike to what my father did. He used substances to change himself. To change his feelings, and to mask reality. Wasn’t that what I was doing? Against the advice of my doctor and everyone else…I took myself off the pills.
(Now a quick disclaimer…anti-anxiety/antidepressants should only be used under the care and supervision of a licensed doctor. And should never be discontinued without doctor’s approval and help. This was my personal decision, and was against medical advice.)
                After going off the pills I had intense mood swings. The anxiety came back, but I was determined to fight it on my own. I still struggle with my PTSD and anxiety, and the symptoms pop up at random times. But that’s just part of my recovery. I get stronger every day, even though it doesn’t seem like it sometimes.
                I am just like my father in many ways. And this is one. I have a disease that I can’t control. I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t cause it…but it’s a part of me. We are alike in that aspect. He has a disease that he can’t control. He didn’t ask for it, he didn’t cause it, but it’s a part of him. But there is a huge difference between my father and I. It’s something I’ve tried to stress to him. I choose to fight. Despite how hard it’s been, despite the challenges I’ve had to face because of it…I don’t give up. I don’t let it rule my life and I never will. I just wish he was willing to take that same step. I wish he was strong enough to fight.
                So I’m back to what this blog is all about. It’s about learning from experiences, and never letting life take advantage of you. Everyone is strong enough to fight if they make the choice to. There are such things as miracles if you have hope. Any situation can be changed. Maybe not immediately…but with time, patience, and faith…anything can happen.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Stick with me

Well the blog has officially been up for a month now. I feel like it’s been a lot longer…but in a good way. The final stats after a month were 1,115 views, including 26 in Russia, and 7 other countries. It has 7 followers (well 8 technically, but that was my fault because I somehow started following myself and can’t figure out how to undo it). But anyways I really just love what I’m doing. Posts are going to slow down a little bit for awhile, I’m getting my insurance licenses so I’ve got a lot of studying to do in the next 2-3 weeks. Once that’s all done though, I’ll be back in full force.
                In the meantime I promise to do my best to get posts up. Whenever I have ideas to write about I try to get to my computer and let my fingers go as soon as possible. So no worries…I will still be around! Just maybe not multiple posts a day!
                Stick with me though, lots of stories still to come. I have an endless bank of them. And meanwhile time is still moving forward, so I’m sure things are still to come.
                I appreciate everyone who sticks with me. I’ll be doing my best to get posts up as much as possible. I just have a LOT of studying to do in the next few weeks. Thanks J

Always overthinking

                Like a lot of people, I watch certain shows every week. On one of my shows, there’s a drug addict who recently relapsed. Her friends had an intervention, and then after walking out to go home she was talking to her fiancé. They decided to get sober together, and as they went to throw out the drugs…they decided to do it “one last time”. When the girl woke up in the middle of the night, she found that her fiancé had died in the night.
                Now I know that it’s just a show, it’s all about drama. But it shook me. So many things about it bothered me.  Part of it hurt, and I felt horrible wondering how many people that may have happened to. How many people finally decided to stop, and gave in that one last time…just to have it come crashing down on them. I don’t necessarily mean by death…but that “last time” they were going to drink…their wife finally had enough. Their family members finally said they were done trying to help. Or maybe they got in the car and killed someone. Maybe they made another stupid decision and hurt someone in another way.
                It’s sad to me. Everything regarding addiction breaks my heart. In this show, the girl was so loved, and smart. But when she went back on drugs…she was angry, frantic, and she intentionally hurt the people she loved. The people that would do anything to help her. It just reminded me of my father. He is so smart and so loved. So many people would have dropped everything to help him. But now it’s too late. I wonder who would help if he asked for it now. He’s hurt so many people, intentionally, and unintentionally…people that love him.
                That really got me to thinking. I don’t know if I’d go. If he needed something, or needed me to help him…I don’t know if I’d go. That sounds horrible, and it hurts me to even say it. But I really don’t know if I’d do it. I walked away because I’d heard the “I’ll change” speech one too many times. I don’t think I’d believe that he really wanted the help, and I don’t think I’d go try to find out. I’m fed up, and to me that “last time” doesn’t exist. There will always be another time.
                Maybe that makes me a bad person. Maybe that makes me a pessimist. Maybe it means I’m going to hell. But I’m tired. I’m fed up, and I’m sick of falling for the lies. I want him to get better, and I want to help…but I’ve accepted that it won’t happen.
                It also makes me sad that one day he will be gone. Because of his drug usage, and because of his problems…one day he will be gone. And when that day comes, I probably won’t have any kind of relationship with him. It will crush me, and I am entirely too aware of that fact.
                I guess I need to stop watching TV. Then again…drug usage is everywhere…whether or not you see it. Can’t hide from it, can’t avoid it…you just have to face it. Like too many things in life. Oh well…more on all of this later…my mind is too jumbled tonight to try and put everything I’m thinking into words.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

You hit rock bottom and all they give you is a jackhammer

                I post a lot about music…but I think that’s just because it really has been a big part of my life. I find comfort and a calming feeling from listening to certain songs. For some reason Rascal Flatts are a big part of that. There are two songs that I listen to when I need a little push to move forward and to keep my head up. It’s strange…I feel stronger when I think about things, while listening to these songs.
There’s the song “I’m Moving On” that they recently came out with. “I've dealt with my ghosts and I've faced all my demons
Finally content with a past I regret
I've found you find strength in your moments of weakness
For once I'm at peace with myself
I've been burdened with blame, trapped in the past for too long
I'm movin' on”
(Obviously this song is more reflective to me. It helps me look back on all the bad things that have happened, and see how they’ve affected me in a positive way. The beginning is talking about ghosts and demons, and I feel like that’s the process I’m in right now. I’m spending time facing the things that I’ve always tried to avoid. Instead of running away from the problems, I’m finally being honest with myself and facing them head on. The line “finally content with a past I regret” gets me every time. I feel like there is no better way to word how I feel about my past. In ways I do regret things in my past. I regret that there was no way to make things better, and that I was stuck in situations. But at the same time, I am working so hard to be content with it. To realize that it will always affect me, but that I wouldn’t have all that I have, and be all that I am without it. There’s no escaping it, and that’s ok. A quote I’ve mentioned before, and that is all over my blog is a perfect example. “Life always gives us a second chance, it’s called tomorrow. The past cannot be changed, forgotten, edited, or erased, it can only be accepted.” Being at peace with myself is the ultimate goal. I may not ever be happy about the things that have happened, but I can strive to finally be at peace with myself, flaws and all.)
“I've lived in this place and I know all the faces
Each one is different but they're always the same
They mean me no harm but it's time that I face it
They'll never allow me to change
But I never dreamed home would end up where I don't belong
I'm movin' on”
(This part just reminds me of living in the past. I don’t see it as referring to where I live by location…but rather where my thoughts live. I know all the faces from my past, whether it be family or the people I chose to surround myself with for a long time, I know them all too well. Those people may have changed, or my relationships with them changed, but I still saw the same way. I didn’t take their changes into consideration, and I’ve spent a lot of time letting people walk all over me. I’ve also spent a lot of time not staying close to the people who truly care. The next part about facing it, just says to me that I will never change myself if I don’t let the past go. I’ve been “home” my entire life…but didn’t feel like I belonged. Things were always so crazy…I never felt ready to settle myself down.)
I'm movin' on
At last I can see life has been patiently waiting for me
And I know there's no guarantees, but I'm not alone
There comes a time in everyone's life
When all you can see are the years passing by
And I have made up my mind that those days are gone
(This entire verse is now. The things I can see on my horizon…this beautiful life that came from disaster. Part of it is my trust in God…as the song says, there isn’t a guarantee, but I have the option to trust the life that’s laid out for me. There are so many amazing things right in front of me, if I just take advantage of it. Live for the future…instead of living in the past. The time has come, where I can see other people’s lives moving on…and I feel like I’m stuck in neutral. I have to stop waiting for life to “start”. It has started…and I need to catch up to enjoy it. The days of waiting around are gone.)
“I sold what I could and packed what I couldn't
Stopped to fill up on my way out of town
I've loved like I should but lived like I shouldn't
I had to lose everything to find out
Maybe forgiveness will find me somewhere down this road
I'm movin' on”
(I may not be packing up and moving, but my thoughts are. The third line in this verse really says a lot to me. “Loved like I should but lived like I shouldn’t”…to me describes how I acted for a long time. And how I still do something. I put a lot on the line for a lot of people that I shouldn’t. I “fell in love” all the time, and put my heart out to be crushed continuously. You’re supposed to find the people you can trust, and hold on to them. And instead I threw myself at tons of people…knowing I would end up hurt. I didn’t live for me…I lived for others. And I can honestly I lost a lot. I’m lucky to have a great family that stood behind me…but I lost a lot of friends…and I lost my mind. I fell to a place so dark that I felt I had nothing to live for. Yet here I am…finally seeing everything I do have.)

          This post has turned into me talking a lot more than I’d originally planned to…but it’s what happens when I just let my fingers type whatever is currently going on in my brain. And trust me…there’s a LOT going on in there. I would hate to see what the inside looks like…who knows what you’d find in there if you went digging. But anyways…I’ve just been listening to this song a lot lately because it says everything I’m going through so well. Words it better than I think I ever could.
          I also mentioned the song “Stand.” This song gives me a sense of strength, and makes me feel ten times better about myself when I’m upset. It’s kind of like a pep talk in a song…reminding me that I’m stronger than I think I am.
“You feel like a candle in a hurricane
Just like a picture with a broken frame
Alone and helpless
Like you've lost your fight
But you'll be alright, you'll be alright

Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend, till you break
Cause it’s all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad you get strong
Wipe your hands shake it off
Then you Stand, Then you stand

Life's like a novel
With the end ripped out
The edge of a canyon
With only one way down
Take what you're given before its gone
Start holding on, keep holding on

Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend till you break
Cause it's all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad, you get strong
Wipe your hands, shake it off
Then you stand, then you stand

Every time you get up
And get back in the race
One more small piece of you
Starts to fall into place”
          In all reality, this song doesn’t need any commentary from me. It’s pretty clear the message it sends, and the thoughts it puts in your head. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about what life throws at you. Most times there’s only so much you can do to change your situation…and the rest of it lies in the cards you were dealt. You have 2 options…face it or avoid it. This song is all about facing it, and how you’re strong enough to deal with it. “You get mad you get strong, wipe your hands shake it off.” When it comes down to it, you have an inner strength that will come out. I know I do. I feel like I’ve hit my breaking point, and then something else happens, and somehow I deal with it. There are times where I break…but just like the end of the song “every time you get up and get back in the race, one more small piece of you starts to fall into place,” you can benefit from those times where everything has gone wrong. It isn’t easy. But once you’ve hit rock bottom the only way to go is up. (Granted, sometimes at that point it seems like life enjoys tossing us a jackhammer…for a real laugh at our expense…but that’s beside the point).
          I’m done babbling for today. I appreciate anyone who’s made it all the way through this post. It was just on my heart today so I went for it.

Thank you!

I just want to take a quick second to thank people. I have received an overwhelming support for this blog. It’s crazy to me that people not only care what I have to say…but take it seriously enough to pass it on. And I’m not just referring to my family (although I do appreciate their endless plugging of it)…but I’m referring to almost strangers who have passed it on. I never thought it could be this big so quickly. I mean a girl can hope…but usually it doesn’t happen.
                I have a lot to say, and I can truly say I enjoy what this blog has become. A place for me to say whatever I want to say, but also to educate people on what goes on in this world. We’re so concerned with the war overseas, and world hunger…meanwhile, there are kids/families suffering right here in front of our faces. But because it’s behind closed doors…no one feels the need to broadcast it. I guess it’s a good thing I was born with a thick skin and a big mouth. It’s coming in very handy.
                But back to my point…I am so touched by all the support. It should easily hit 1,000 hits (possibly even 1,500) by the time it’s been up for a month. It has 7 followers already…a group on Facebook, and a Twitter. I even have a friend who wants to be my agent (and while it’s a joke…I’m flattered)!
                Anyways…I just want to be clear that I am beyond grateful for all those who are pushing this blog. I really do hope it reaches out to people who may be in situations similar to what I was. And that to everyone else to sees it, that it serves as somewhat of a wake-up call. This is all real life, these are all true stories. I can’t thank everyone personally because there have been so many…some that I probably don’t even know of, helping spread the word.
                So thank you, thank you, thank you! And please continue to throw it out there.

Monday, November 7, 2011

4 months, 2 weeks, 6 days

Back in January my father was arrested for setting fire to his ex girlfriend’s house down in Florida. At the time it broke my heart, seeing him go to jail. However it had happened before. He had been in jail for a short time, and then he always found a way out. Part of me figured that this time would be just like all those others. My brain couldn’t process the fact that he may be there for an extremely long time.
                It’s now November, and there have been countless pre-trials and hearings in the last 10 months. And still nothing has been decided. My father is still sitting in that cell, and we still don’t have closure. I’ve been waiting and waiting to find out how long he’s going to be stuck there. Even if they say it’s for the rest of his life…there will be a sense of relief. It’s not knowing anything that’s just tearing me apart. They say everyone has the right to a speedy trial…but honestly I think that’s all a load of crap. There’s nothing speedy about making everyone wait around for over a year just to start the trial.
                I check the court dockets down there religiously, just hoping for some kind of information. I can’t call down there to find out, and I’m trying to keep his family out of the middle…but I have to know. And two days ago, they finally posted the date for the start of his trial. March 27th, 2012. It makes me sick to think about it.
                These things get stretched out all the time…look at any highly publicized court case. Great example…Michael Jackson died over 2 years ago…yet the trial surrounding his death is still going on. Matter of fact, the verdict is supposed to come out today. So I guess this all shouldn’t be shocking to me. It will be just over 14 months since my father was arrested by the time he goes to trial. And that’s saying that he actually goes on the day they’re claiming. With our luck, I’m sure it will be rescheduled.
                I feel like I can’t calm down until it’s all decided. I try so hard to better myself, and learn from the things that are happening. I’ve been trying to move on from it all and not let it get to me. But I’m not sure I’ll be able to, as hard as I try. I need to know…I need the closure that comes with the end of court. Not necessarily because I want to know how long he’ll be in jail (which of course is part of it). But also because I need someone to finally tell him no. I need to see that for once this judicial system isn’t completely screwed up…and will stand up to criminals. I need justice for once in my life. He didn’t burn my house down…but he’s hurt me and my loved ones more times than I can count. I want him to finally serve the time for it.
                And as I sit here I’m going all psychologist on myself. This sounds crazy to me, but I know it’s true. I need a judge to say that my father is guilty…because if he does…that will mean that this isn’t my fault. I know I didn’t put the gasoline in his hand, I know I didn’t start the fire…but part of me still blames myself for the situation. Crazy I know. But my father has spent a long time programming my brain to make all of his actions my fault. And I’m still working on not thinking like that.
                So I guess it’s only 4 months, 2 weeks, and 6 days…until I have a chance of regaining my sanity. Not that anyone’s counting.


                I want to give a timeline of the things that have happened in my life, to try and help clarify where certain stories fit in. It’s a huge mess of dates, and I tend to bounce around when I tell stories. So hopefully this will help clear some things up. Some of the dates are a little jumbled in my head, so I may have to go back and edit exact years, etc. If you see links under dates…it’s just something I’ve already posted on, so you can easily go back to view it.
Before me:
Father was married to a woman for a short time, they divorced, no children.
My parents were married.

January 1991:
I was born.
Throughout 1991, 1992, 1993:
My parents’ divorce started, my mom and I moved back in with my grandparents. My mom went back to school.
(Over the next 13 years, there would be continuous custody/visitation battles). For the most part, there was a shared custody agreement maintained. I spent every other week with my father. My mom lived in the same condo, but my father moved constantly. Off the top of my head I can count at least 8 houses.
My dad met another woman, they became engaged. We moved into her house because she was expecting.
April 2000:
My little sister was born.
My father and my sister’s mother broke up, so we moved out. My father bounced around and we lived in hotels for awhile.
We moved back into a house.
My father started dating a woman he worked with. She had a son, and I spent my summer watching him.
Christmas 2004:
They were expecting a little boy, and they got engaged.
Early 2005:
We moved into another house.
March 2005:
My little brother was born.
(A large amount of the stories I have are from the year of 2005).
Mid 2005:
Drug use took a turn for the worst, my dad’s fiancée moved out, taking my little brothers with her.
End of 2005:
I stopped living with my father for good.
(My brother’s mom then moved to Florida to get away from him. Shortly after I moved out my father moved down to Florida as well).
My mom and I moved into a new condo, I met my husband.
I graduated college and high school. My mom moved to Pennsylvania, I went to school in New York.
Early 2010:
I came home to Ohio.
May 2010:
My husband and I got married.
November 2010:
My husband and I got pregnant with our first child.
January 13th, 2011
We lost the baby.
January 17th, 2011:
My 20th birthday.

And here we are. Some things have happened since January, but it’s all stuff that I’ll cover soon. The next big date isn’t until 2012. March 27th to be specific…my father’s trial date. Sorry if this jumps around a lot…it’s just hard for me to keep it straight and I lived it. So I can only imagine how confusing it can be for the outside eye.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

New reality

I’ve been thinking so much lately and I’ve been really hurt. I’ve been so overwhelmed. I went to a friend the other day, hoping for comfort…and for someone that understood what I’d been through. I really trusted this person, we grew up in similar situations…and I feel like I can say anything to him. We had a great friendship…and he’s been a huge part of my support system. I trusted him like I trust my family.
                I have a great husband, a great family, and great friends. I know I can talk to all of them about anything. But it’s hard when it really seems like no one understands. It’s next to impossible for them to understand, and a lot of times I feel like I’m alone. I fall into these funks where I just want to be left alone…and I don’t want to talk to people. When I get to that point I get more frustrated talking to people who haven’t been in my situation. They always seem to say the wrong thing and assume things that aren’t true. It’s not their fault…they try to help. But it makes me crazy…and it was nice to finally have someone that understood my experiences.
                Well I was having a bad night. I called him and said I needed someone to talk to. We talked for hours…until I realized that he was not someone I could trust. I thought for sure he was trustworthy. And now, I’m questioning everything. It threw my mind off completely. I am upset, I am hurt…and I’m seeing that I may not be quite as together as I think I am. I thought I was learning to trust again, and I thought I was making good decisions.
                But now I really don’t know. I guess this is part of learning and growing. Accepting that there will always be times where I don’t make good decisions. Accepting that I do have the “daddy syndrome”. Accepting that I trust people when I shouldn’t, and I’m not always the best judge of character. My reality is off and I’m a little uncertain.

The final steps 10, 11, 12

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
                Well we’d done the inventory once. We understood our faults, and what exactly it was that we did wrong. We understood what reactions were inappropriate…yet sometimes we still fall back on those defects. While everything else seemed to calm down in our heads…until suddenly the addict did something that sent us right back to where we started. We found ourselves waiting up again, or checking all over the house for a secret stash of drugs. But the difference was this time we understood we were doing something wrong. We are always changing though, and have to keep up with a personal inventory to be sure we aren’t letting ourselves slip into our old ways.
                Every day, every hour even…we should be thinking about the things we’ve said and done…and if there’s something we should be doing better. Getting more in touch with our feelings, and being more open to change is the only way to continue on the path to our recovery.
Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
                Prayer and meditation had become our chance to be “alone”. It was our time to ignore everything going on around us, and focus on what we needed to do to succeed in our recovery. It was a time to focus on just us, and work on making ourselves better people. As we got more in tune with ourselves and whatever our higher power was, we learned a better way to live. We learned how to save ourselves from the frustration we’d become so accustomed to. We had come a long way, and keeping in touch with our inner selves, and whatever our higher power was, kept us from falling back into old habits. Routinely reconnecting kept US from relapsing.
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
                We were once in a very scary place. We had no where left to turn and truly felt that we were alone in the world. We had once felt that no one could help, and had refused the help that other’s had tried to give us. And now look at us. Our lives certainly weren’t perfect, and we still had the same problems we’d had before we started. But we had changed. It was time to get out there and share our story. Our story of recovery…in hopes that someone else would want the same peace we now felt.

So I guess that’s what I’m doing here. I know there are people everywhere struggling with the same things I used to. Hell…the things I still struggle with. And while I might not get the attention of anyone…there’s a chance I might get someone’s. And if one person gains something from anything I say…I consider that a blessing. Living with addiction is scary and lonely…and no one should have to feel like that, no matter the circumstances. Sure there are some stories that I’m sure people will read purely for the “entertainment” value…but this is more about learning about what’s out there. There are so many ways to get help, and so many places to find support. But there’s also a lot to learn. This world is certainly not perfect, and there are some crazy things going on behind closed doors. Just wait…I’ve got lots to tell you about.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's like music to my ears

My dad had a very specific in taste in music over the years. When I was little it drove me nuts, I wanted to listen to the NOW CD’s, and all of the new stuff. But he always had this other stuff on. James Taylor, Kenny Loggins, JoDee Messina, etc. Today, I find those same artists to be some of the most calming I’ve ever heard. Whenever I get upset, I curl up with some tea and a James Taylor CD. The longer I listen to him, the more I’m able to calm down.
                This isn’t as random as it seems I swear. Last night my husband and I were at a friend’s house, and we were all talking about music. I brought up Kenny Loggins and was surprised at how they knew who I was talking about. I got to listening to the songs that I haven’t really heard in years, and was surprised at the feelings they brought up.
                I had dreams about my dad last night. Really vivid dreams…and for once they weren’t nightmares. It was strange…but at the same time it was nice to not wake up panicking. As I write this I’m still listening to Loggins and I think I finally know why I have such a strong connection with this music. I’m sure in part it’s the fact that I grew up with both of my parents playing the same kinds of music…but now I know there’s more to it. Kenny Loggins sounds just like my dad. Add some piano to my dad’s guitar playing back in the day, and a voice that’s just slightly higher pitched. They have the same style…and the same calming effect.
                I miss my dad. I don’t miss the craziness and I certainly don’t miss the horrible things he used to do. But I miss him. I miss the way he smelled (minus when all you could smell was drugs), I miss how his guitar sounded down the hallway while I fell asleep, and I miss seeing his face. So many things remind me of him every day, and I’m doing my best to reprogram my brain. As I said the other day…I want the memories to be positive…and I want my dreams to be more like the ones I had last night.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Waterfalls and a house foundation

Yesterday my husband and I got little “family pictures” done. We went all over the place around where we live trying to find pretty places with lots of colors in the leaves. I found myself directing him to drive to spots that I always used to go to with my dad as a kid. It was strange…being back to these places that I associated with my father…yet my father is no longer involved in my life.
                I have so many memories from those places…and I have to say most of them are good. It was refreshing and nice to have thoughts of my father that weren’t filled with uncertainty and hurt. He showed me places that were hidden treasures right next to where we lived. Places that you would have no idea existed…but were extraordinarily beautiful. There was an overlook up this windy and twisted road…that was filled with the changing leaves. An old house foundation…where the house had burnt down…but the stairs and courtyard pond made of stone were still intact. A waterfall in someone’s backyard…that looked like something out of a travel magazine. And finally…a beach off the beaten path. It was a beach that he always used to pull his boat up to…that was hidden from the elements by a break wall.
                So many memories of hiking, swimming, boating, and being a kid were rushing through my head all day. Occasionally one that wasn’t so pleasant would pop into my head, but I was trying to push those out. I’m trying to see things from my father’s perspective these days. To this day he thinks my childhood was filled with butterflies and rainbows…when it was kind of anything but.
                Now I don’t want to brainwash myself into forgetting the bad…because the bad makes me who I am. But at the same time…I don’t want to dwell on that. I want to dwell on the good memories…the times when he was sober…(or even if he wasn’t) the times when he was calm…and just wanted to spend time with his daughter.
                It was calming in a way to go back to those places. I could remember silly things he did, and times he got me to push my limits. It was those places that I learned a lot about myself…and learned a lot about him too. Sober, my dad could have been such an amazing guy, and an amazing dad. It makes me sad to think about how lost he must have been to make the choices that he did.
                But this post is supposed to be positive. Those memories are things I cling to while trying to get further in my recovery. Focusing on the negative is only going to throw me deeper into an area I’ve already spent entirely too much of my life in.
I guess I’m kind of like that house I mentioned. It burnt down to the ground and a lot of people probably wrote it off. So much garbage and dirt everywhere…it couldn’t be worth much and could just be ignored. But after time, and after all the dust cleared…there were still a few things left that could be salvaged and turned into something beautiful. The courtyard with the stone encased pond…with lily pads and little frogs. The edges of the house made of beautiful pieces of stone and brick rising up behind bushes and hidden between the trees. And the random stairs tossed randomly through the area. Doesn’t look like much…but it could be turned into something absolutely beautiful. It might never be, because it’s been ignored with so much focus being put on the negatives. But if you looked at the bright side, and the beauty that’s left in it, it could be built into another beautiful home. After all, they do say ash is a good fertilizer. Must be God’s natural hint to us that wonderful things can come from total disaster.
So I’m going back to my foundation. Something that doesn’t look like much at the time…but could be turned into something beautiful if I put in enough hard work.

Made of glass

Today has been incredibly frustrating. I’m desperately trying to find a balance between people who treat me like I’m made of glass…and then people who pile too much on me at once. I don’t know which is worse, or which drives me crazier. I have a lot on my mind most of the time…that’s just how I am. When you live a life that’s involved in addiction (one way or another)…it’s easy to get overloaded. Your mind is so busy focusing on the craziness in your life, that simple everyday problems seem to be that much harder to deal with. Or situations that would normally seem difficult, are nearly impossible to work through.
                Like I said, there are two ways that people treat me. Some completely ignore the fact that I’m stressed and pile things on…even when I tell them I can’t handle it. You would think telling someone “I’m sorry but right now, I can’t deal with this” would get the point across. But somehow…some people don’t seem to get it. They think because you’ve dealt with a lot and you’re a “strong” person…you should just learn to cope better. Learn to “figure it out.” I’ve gotten to the point (especially today) where it doesn’t matter to me what these people “need” immediately. I need things too, and I can’t help them, until I’m personally ok.
                The other group…are the people who act like they have to walk on eggshells around me. I will be the first to admit that sometimes I snap. Sometimes I get a little too high strung and I lose it for a second. I get overwhelmed easily…but I mean can you really blame me? There’s a lot going on in this head of mine. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t be talked to. It doesn’t mean that I have to be “protected.” This whole post came from something I found out on Facebook today. A good friend announced her pregnancy…something that she’s been wanting for a long time, and has known about for months. I felt so hurt, that it wasn’t something she would tell me before posting it. Yet when I asked her about it…she just said she “didn’t want to upset me.”
                I have been through a lot, and I can handle a lot. But I want to be treated like any other friend would be. I’m not going to break if I hear something that hurts me. I may have to do a little damage repair after the fact…but it’s not going to kill me. I need people to stop acting crazy around me…I can’t recover if everyone tries to cover me in bubble wrap. I’ll be fine if I’m given the chance to be.

The letter I never sent

Since my father has been in jail (about 10 months now), I have written a million letters, and then thrown them out. He used to send me 2-3 letters at a time, at least once or twice a week. We haven’t had any contact in a few months (for a reason I will cover at a later time). But there was one letter I wrote before we broke all contact that I found today. It was mainly in response to the letters he had been sending me, and the phone calls he’d been making. I’m not sure why I kept it, but I did…and as I reread it, I could hear myself saying every word. I think it spells out a lot about the feelings that fly back in your face constantly when dealing with an addict.
                You keep asking me to write, and I really don’t understand why. I don’t know what you want or expect me to say, and I have a feeling that what I’m going to say isn’t going to make you very happy.
                Every letter you’ve sent me has had some negative comment about me, or been targeted at making me feel sorry for you. Don’t get me wrong, it hurts me very much to know you are in jail. I think about it all the time. But you did this, and I have to remember that. This isn’t anyone’s fault but your own, and while I understand that’s harsh…it’s the truth.
                Your letters make no sense and they jump all over the place. I can barely keep up. I’m going to attempt to go through each one to make sure I say all that I need to.
                One of the first letters you sent me was about your trying to commit suicide. You told me all about how you’d had it planned and how you wanted my voice to be the last thing you heard. But how dare you put that on me? You decided to take an easy way out of a situation you created, but wanted me to live with knowing I was the last person to speak to my father before he offed himself? You wanted me to question if there was something I could have said to change it? Here I was thinking that parents were supposed to be selfless when it came to their children, but that’s about the most selfish thing I’ve ever heard.
                You have a lot of serious problems, and you’re in total denial. One minute none of this is your fault, and the next it’s all your fault, and you want attention and pity. My heart hurts for you and I’m haunted daily by the fact that I can’t do anything to help you. But for my own sanity, I’ve got to stay away.
                You say that I said something about your grandchildren you’ll “never see or touch”. And yes I know that I’ve said that at some point, and I stand by that decision. I will never subject my children to this craziness and instability. I’m sure that hurts you, but I don’t say it to hurt you. I say it because I know how it affected me, and I will never let my children be put in that situation. Not that it really matter quite frankly.
                You told me that if you didn’t make it, to love on and to not hurt or last out at anyone. I think we need to get something straight. If you consider what I’ve said to you “lashing out” then so be it. But I’ve been angry for a good reason. You attacked and hurt my family, not to mention me. You put me in horrible situations, and you put me in danger. Again…some parenting. I will always love on because there is a wonderful man in my life who has taught me what love should be. He has taken care of me, been there for me, and picked me up every time I’ve fallen. That is love, not whatever you’ve created in your mind. I have an amazingly strong mother who has been there for me, and has dealt with me treating her badly when I was angry…when in reality I was mad at you. She has been there every step of the way, letting me deal with things how I needed to deal with them…and having endless patience for the entire situation.
                I’ve done a lot of changing in the last two years, and you missed almost all of it. I graduated college and then graduated high school…all at 18. Then I got engaged to my high school sweetheart after going through a 5 month separation while he was at boot camp. I helped start a program for high schoolers so they could become more involved in the community. I started coaching mock trial and I go to meetings almost every week for FA. I got my name changed the day I turned 18 because I was sick of police seeing my name and assuming I was some kind of criminal. You left a legacy that I wasn’t proud to be associated with.
                (Now the next section requires a little back story. He had heard that I had “lots of piercings and tattoos” as he put it, and told me that I “must be insane to mutilate my body”. So this was me responding  to those “concerns.”) I got my ears pierced 5 million times just because, I was 18 and I could. I actually got them pierced once just to show Ari (my little sister) that it didn’t hurt. She wanted hers done so I went first to show her there was nothing to be afraid of. I got my nose pierced for my 17th birthday just for fun. Who cares? I still carry myself well and it will heal when I want it to. I’m young, and you only live once. I have 5 tattoos, and since you’re so concerned with them, I’ll gladly explain. My first is of 4 hearts, very small and hidden. Each heart has initials in it. One for each of my younger siblings, and once for my god daughter. My second is a yellow rose for my great grandmother, who is the biggest inspiration to me. The third is on my shoulder and it says “Trust patience loyalty,” and it’s for my husband. The words to live by in any marriage, let alone as a military wife. It’s my daily reminder to keep my marriage strong at all costs. I have a purple butterfly on my foot, which is also for my god daughter, to remind me to always make smart choices so she has good footsteps to follow in. And finally I have one that I got for you. It’s cherry blossoms that go all the way down my ribcage, with the Serenity Prayer symbols in the middle of them. Serenity, courage, wisdom. That tattoo tells me with every breath I take, I can slowly deal with the situations involving you. Cherry blossoms symbolize new beginnings, and every time I take a breath, I’m working my way to a new beginning.
                Anyways, according to you, I’m ruining my life, and I’m falling apart. But on the contrary, I’ve got it almost all together. I’m sure as hell not perfect, but I do my best to achieve the “perfect” that works for my home. I have an absolutely amazing husband who treats me better than I ever thought I could be treated. I have a job that I love and that could more than support our family if I needed it to. I work 50 hours a week, I’m trying to go back to school, I still coach, I’m a wife, and a big sister. The only thing I can’t do is have my own children, but I know I’ll be a damn good mother the moment I’m given the chance. Still think I’m a horrible person? Probably…but whatever. I don’t need your approval, I never have. You will continue to think whatever you want, and thankfully…I’m learning not to care.
                By the way, I just reread another letter. You compared being mentally ill to being born with no legs. And I have to say, it’s one of the most ridiculous things I may have ever heard. You hurting people mentally and physically is why people are angry…NOT because you have problems. You could have gotten help over the years. You could have tried to stop using drugs. You CHOSE not to. And that’s one of the major differences between you and I. Despite the fact that I have problems too, PTSD…depression…etc. I work through it. I take care of my responsibilities, I work on bettering myself, and I get help. I have never turned to drugs, and I never will.
                I have been worried about you, but I’m also not going to be your parent. You’re supposed to be the parent in this situation, and it’s about time you learn to act like it. You say you needed me and I wasn’t there. But how about I’ve needed you…for over 20 years now. I needed someone who wasn’t completely insane to see my prom, my graduation (from college and high school). I needed my dad to walk me down the aisle and threaten my fiancé as to how he’d better always take care of me. I could have used my dad to dance with at my reception. But more than anything…when I lost my baby boy in January, I could have used my dad there to tell me it wasn’t my fault…and that he was still proud of me. What I DIDN’T need…was 2 days after getting out of the hospital to see my father’s mugshot all over the news and internet. So the next time you “need” me…why don’t you try and remember who the “adult” is supposed to be here.
                I want to be clear…I don’t hate you, and I’m only mad sometimes. I’m trying as hard as I can to forgive you, but it’s very difficult. Part of me can’t get all of the horrible things you’ve done out of my head, and part of me physically hurts because you’re stuck in jail. It hurts deeper than I ever thought it would  to think of you in there. And that’s a burden I never imagined having to carry.
                You say you’re sorry the pressure falls on me…but you’re not. The pressure has always been on me…since I was a kid. On the plus side, it’s made me an incredibly strong and determined person. I can (and do) take care of everyone in my life. I can’t help you. I don’t have any magical solutions to your problems, and I’m not going to kill myself over trying to find one. I have too many other things going on in my life that are much healthier to deal with.
                Your letter said you need someone to live for, so live for yourself. You can’t be there for anyone else until you’re somewhat stable. And right now, you’re nowhere near stable. As much as I miss listening to you play your guitar, the new lyrics you sent me haunt my thoughts. You need a lot of help…and if you feel like you have to live for someone else…get help for me.
                You can’t be my dad…it’s far too late for that. Too many missed memories, and too many nights I spent crying over you. And honestly, I don’t think it’s healthy for you to be there for the other kids. They don’t know you, and they have plenty of other people to care for them. You coming around unstable would just confuse them. It’s not fair and if you truly care, you won’t do that to them. I don’t need a father anymore, I’ve learned to take care of myself. I’m sorry if that’s not the answer you wanted.
                There is a song by Kelly Clarkson called “Because of You.” You should look it up. I used to be afraid of everything, but I’m finally getting past that. Not everyone is out to hurt me (or you), and this world is a very beautiful place if you let it be.
                I’m sorry that you think I’m such a horrible person for not wanting a relationship with you. But you have to realize that you have a very different version of my childhood in your head than what the reality was. I’m not bitter anymore, it’s just the truth. I have to protect myself and I have to be able to start to move on from it all.
                You don’t need to worry about me. My (our) past has taught me a lot. And though it’s made my life really difficult…I don’t think I’d change it. I wouldn’t have all that I do today without my past experiences, and I wouldn’t be able to help so many people.
                I will probably never convince you that I’m doing well. I’m not nearly as good as manipulating people as you are. It’d really be a shame if people took you seriously, and believed the things you say about me. But I’m not going to let it bother me anymore. You will think whatever you want to think, as will everyone else.
                I love you very much despite everything you’ve done, and nothing will ever change that. No matter how angry I am, I will always care and will always be affected by the decisions you make. But you will not run my life anymore. I have planned my life around your actions for a very long time, but I will not put myself through it anymore. I have a life to live now, and other people that are there every day that need my attention.
                I’m not sure what hurts me more, the fact that you don’t seem to have any idea all the wonderful things I’ve done, or that you think I’m a horrible person who is intentionally trying to hurt you. I’m not trying to hurt anyone, that’s just not in my nature. I’m trying to protect people. Myself especially. Haven’t I been through enough over the years?
                I’m sorry I can’t fix you, I’m sorry I can’t be what you need. I wish I could. I’d love to make this all go away, but I can’t. I don’t want to hear excuses anymore, and I don’t want to hear you badmouth other people. The decisions you’ve made put you where you are. And although I don’t want you to be there, I know you need to be. You’ve got a lot of problems that make you dangerous to yourself and others.
                You wrote me suicide letters, and talked about the other kids. You act like you care so much, but you need to think about something. If you kill yourself…what are you telling them? What message are you trying to send?
                You have a lot to think about and consider. You could attempt to get off on what you did in court, you could commit suicide and take the easy way out. And all that your children will know when they grow up is that you were a coward. They will think it’s ok to take the easy way out of problems. Or…you could stick this out. Admit to what you’ve done, and spend your time in jail in therapy or rehab, work at making things better. What an amazing message to send. “Hey kids, everyone screws up, and I did big time…but you can always make the best of things and attempt to turn things around.” So all I can really ask now…is which person are you? Show me who my dad is…instead of spinning me lies. Because as of right now…I have no idea who you are. ***
The letter was all over place, and I see that now more than I did when I was writing it. Some of it doesn’t make sense when you haven’t read the letters he sent first. But the overall idea…and almost frantic sound of my writing shows the state of mind I was in. I still have days like that, where my emotions and thoughts are all over the place…but they are becoming fewer and farther between. I’m slowly working my way to recovery. But just like an addict…I will never be “fully recovered.” This is a lifestyle change you have to work every day for the rest of your life…and you’re always still in recovery.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My name is Kat...and I'm a recovering addict

                I wasn’t sure what to write about today, so I went to Google and typed in “addict”. The first thing that popped up was this definition “Historically, addiction has been defined as physical and psychological dependence on psychoactive substances (for example alcohol, tobacco, heroin and other drugs) which cross the blood-brain barrier once ingested, temporarily altering the chemical milieu of the brain.” So basically…an addict is someone with an addiction (sorry but I have to be blunt). An addiction is some kind of dependence on something that alters the way your brain works. Now that’s being put very simply…but essentially that’s what it means.
                Ok now I’m really going to throw some things out there. I am an addict. I know what you’re thinking…here I am going on about how to recover from living a life around an addict and I am one? But stay with me…I have a point I swear. Not only am I an addict…but if you’ve struggled with loving an addict…you are too.
Let’s look at love. Love makes you feel good, it makes you happy, it makes you care about someone else more than you care about yourself. Now it can also be bad. It can make you upset, it can hurt you very deeply…and it can make you think differently about a lot of things in your life. Hm. So…if you’re in love (or you love someone…for the purposes of what I’m trying to do here…it doesn’t matter if it’s family or a significant other)…you become invested in someone else’s emotions, actions, etc. What happens to them…matters to you. You become dependent. See where I’m going with this? Love can be an addiction.
As with anything (ask a doctor)…most things are good in moderation. Fat, sugar, salt…all good if you only have the recommended doses. Overload on them…and you’re looking at one unhealthy body. Love is the same thing…it can be healthy! You should love your family members, spouse, etc. That’s expected. You should love your addict. However, you have to keep not only your body healthy…but your mind and heart as well. Sometimes you have to “love from a distance”. You can care about them and want to help…but you have to be healthy yourself first. I say this a lot…just as they are responsible for their own lives and their own happiness…only YOU are responsible for YOURS. So don’t be an addict…work your own “rehab” program (*cough cough* the 12 steps). Take it from the girl still in recovery…it’s all a part of the process.

Drugs and strip clubs

In August of 2010 I tried to fix things with my father. It’s something I’ve done a million times, and for some reason even after I would “learn my lesson” I’d go back and do it again. I’d throw myself into trying to rebuild some kind of relationship. Ignoring all warning signs of his using, and letting him back into my life. I don’t know why I did it, but it didn’t end well as usual, and it got me worked up all over again.
I still don’t know how he got a hold of my phone number, and the smart thing to do once finding out it was him, would have been to just hang up the phone and stop answering. But something inside got me to pick up the phone almost every time he called. At first everything was fine, he sounded good, he wanted to know about my life, and he actually seemed to take some kind of responsibility for what had happened in the past. At least I thought he did. Who knows…I was probably being my usual self and hearing only what I wanted so desperately to hear. But we talked for maybe two weeks and part of me honestly thought there was a chance at having a relationship. It was nice…he was far away so I knew I was safe, but maybe one day I could go visit him. I let myself believe this stupid fantasy that he was better, and this time was “different”.
                After the first few weeks things started to change. He got more demanding. Wanted intimate details about my life, wanted my address, wanted to know everything I was doing at all times. The every other day phone call turned into every day multiple times, with texts every few hours. I tried to pull back and I stopped answering, and I deleted the text messages. But that just made it worse. He started criticizing my friends and my husband (who he’d never met). He told me that he had “friends” that were “watching me” in this area…and he didn’t approve of what I was doing. I had no idea what he was talking about. To this day I’m not entirely sure who those “friends” were, or whether or not they even existed. I started to get that familiar feeling of dread. He wasn’t sober…who was I kidding. The 3 am phone calls, and text messages all through the night were probably from him being on a binge. I felt so stupid…and promised myself that I would cut off contact, and do everything I could to keep him out of my life.
                The final phone call came in one night. I was sitting outside on the balcony and my phone lit up with that number I now had memorized. I reminded myself what I needed to say, and picked up the phone. He must have heard it in my voice when I answered, because he was suddenly sweet as pie. Wanting to know how my week had been, how was I liking work, was I enrolled back in school yet…typical “concerned and loving father”. And I will admit…I ALMOST fell for it. The small talk lasted 5 minutes, and then I got up the guts to tell him I was done. I told him that I couldn’t do it anymore. I knew he was still using, I didn’t want to be involved in his crazy behavior, and I was done talking to him. I told him I loved him, but that I couldn’t deal with his problems. He tried to interrupt me, so the second I was done saying what I needed to say, I hung up the phone.
                He called 6 times the second I hung up. Each time I ignored it, and let it ring through to voicemail. When that didn’t work, I turned off the phone all together. An hour later I turned it back on and got 2 voicemails, and over 10 text messages. They started off nice. Please call him back, he promised he wasn’t using, he was sorry if he upset me, he loved me…etc. But they quickly turned nasty. He threatened to tell my entire family “what I’d been doing”. I had no idea what he was talking about…figured he was just as crazy as I remembered…and ignored the messages.
                A few days later was my grandma’s birthday (on my mom’s side). I had been dodging calls and texts from him since the night I’d hung up. Anyways, we were all gathered at her house for her party when her house phone rang. She was only on it for a minute when I realized who it was. I was FURIOUS. The fact that he had the nerve to call her house, on her birthday, when my entire family was there made my blood boil. He told her that he was “concerned” about me and needed to talk to her about my recent behaviors. I ran outside and pulled out my phone. I instantly called him and screamed. I’m always told not to react when he does stuff like that…but I couldn’t help myself. I yelled at him until he finally hung up.
                Over the next few weeks my father continued to text me. He continually threatened to “tell them everything”. I would get texts at 4 in the morning that said things like “truth bombs away”…”your grandmother’s, like me, are horrified”. I was frustrated, but I ignored him. I never thought he’d actually do anything, after all I still had no idea what he was talking about. I’d get things like “if you don’t tell them, I will”. Not entirely sure what I was supposed to tell them…but what’s a girl to do?
Then the phone calls started. He called every family member he could think of. My aunts, my grandmother’s, even my own mother. He told them all that I was on drugs, and better yet, that my husband was forcing me to be a stripper. Classy I know. After a few days of fielding calls, emails, and Facebook messages… I filed a police report for harassment. I had over 50 text messages from him in total, and endless amounts of phone calls. I didn’t respond to him other than to tell him that the report had been filed, which of course he scoffed at.
As usual the police told me they couldn’t do anything. He was in Florida, I was in Ohio…basically I got “well we can file a report, and we’re sorry to hear that, but there’s nothing we can do”. After hearing that so many times, I flipped out. Every time he would send me a text, I’d go back to the police station. I rounded up reports of him stalking and harassing people, and took them with me. Finally on my 4th or 5th visit in a week, they listened. The officer I spoke with here in Ohio contacted an officer in Florida. That officer went to my father’s address (which I had gotten from a much earlier conversation with him), and told him that charges would be pressed if he didn’t leave me alone.
Things finally settled down and I stopped hearing from him. It wasn’t unusual, every time he would get in trouble with the law, his phone would “break” and he’d disappear off the map for a little while. To this day I still don’t know why he reacted to me the way he did, and I’m not sure where the lies he told my family came from. But it was the final straw for me…a real reality check you might say.
I don’t agree with “people never change”…because I’ve seen it happen right in front of me. Hell, I’m always changing. But when it comes to addicts…chances are they won’t change. It’s a hard reality to face…but unless the addict wants the help, and is truly dedicated to getting it…they won’t change. You can’t change them, but they will change you…and not usually for the better. It’s a constant struggle to watch someone you love suffer like that…but sometimes the only thing you can do is walk away…and do whatever it takes to take care of yourself.

Steps 6, 7, 8 and 9

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
                Finally! An easy step. We don’t even have to do anything. After all…of course we’re ready for God to remove our imperfections…I mean they’re called defects for a reason. Well wrong again. This step sounds so easy…until you dig into it. Our defects of character aren’t just little things. They’re the ways we’ve learned how to live. They’re major lifestyle changes. The anger that we’ve been holding on to for years because the addict broke some promise. Are we HONESTLY ready to completely let that go? Every time they relapse and we worry about protecting them from the police…are we ready to stop doing that? Or a really good one…are we ready to start listening to family and professionals (my downfall as I’ve mentioned before)…because maybe they might see this from a “sane” perspective? Not quite as easy as it sounds now is it?
                Many of us spent a long time building up this tough exterior that we wouldn’t let anyone through. We’d learned to protect ourselves…by never letting ourselves get into harm’s way. We’d become masters of sarcasm and evasion. Sometimes even our own family members didn’t know how to deal with our behavior, because they didn’t know why we acted that way. I spent so much time worrying about my father, because he was my father. I couldn’t walk away and stop worrying about him. This step is all about letting all of that go. The worrying, the staying up late at night waiting for them, the shutting everyone else out. Those were some of our biggest “defects of character”. And getting rid of them was the only way to live a somewhat normal life.
Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
                Being ready for something and asking for something are two totally different things. Step 6 is preparing ourselves for step 7. In step 7, you have to realize your shortcomings in everyday life, and when you see it happening…you have to ask for help to make it stop. When the addict is out all night and you’re up at the kitchen table calling the local bars looking for them…you have to ask for the strength to stop obsessing. You have to ask for the strength to go to bed, and let them deal with their own problems. This takes a lot of patience, and a lot of watching for warning signs. When the anxiety and worry starts…you have to ask for help, and then help Him to help you…by removing yourself from the situation.
Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
                Again we go back to the things we’ve done wrong. This is really difficult for a lot of people, because we had spent so much time blaming everyone else for the things going wrong in our lives. We lost our jobs and blamed the addict, instead of considering that we lost it because we missed too many days staying home to obsess over the addict. Funny how at the time it seemed like all their fault, and now that we’d come so far in the steps…it starts to become clear that just as they are responsible for THEIR lives…we’re responsible for what happens in OURS.
                Going with that…how many times have we done something and not realized the toll it took on those around us. Had we hurt family members by shutting them out, or telling them over and over how they just “didn’t understand”. If there were children involved…had we spent too much time focusing on the addict, instead of giving them the love and attention they deserved? Or a big one…had we actually harmed our addict in any way? We’d spent so much time concentrating on how they hurt us…but had we done anything to hurt them? Not to say that we in any way “caused” their using, but had we really done everything we could to help them…instead of our version of “helping” (enabling) them?
                Then there’s the idea of judgment. How many people had we judged? The people involved with our addict…the drug dealers perhaps? We don’t know a thing about them and had probably said some horrible things. Or how about the doctors that our addict (or we) had visited that in our opinions “didn’t help”? Instead of considering that our addict (or we) didn’t want the help…we blamed the doctors and their “inability” to deal with the problem.
                Finally…we owed ourselves a huge apology. The person we’d been hardest on during all of this was ourselves. We’d blamed ourselves, been angry with ourselves, disappointed. We’d judged ourselves for not dealing well with situations we’d never thought we’d have to face. And at the end of it…we came out more bruised from our own selves…than from anyone else.
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
                To even start this step…reactions have to be changed. No success will be found in the step if we continue to react to people as we always have. Instead of anger or frustration, we try to find solutions to problems, show people a little more patience and understanding. We spend more time listening to people…instead of judging them. Taking people’s opinions as just that…opinions. Instead of getting defensive and angry, we learned from our mistakes and other people’s mistakes. We helped instead of hurting. We showed love to other’s…and didn’t expect anything back in return.
                Each person we hurt would need a different reaction from us. One person may need a direct apology, while another would just want a change in behavior. And finally we needed to make direct amends to ourselves. Forgive ourselves and take a chance to relax. Not being so hard on ourselves could only lead to healing.