Wednesday, December 6, 2017

But, how do you live life sober?

I have butterflies in my stomach as I type this. I'm about to share something so very personal in the hopes of it helping someone else.

I am a drug addict. I am an alcoholic. I spent 79 days in treatment getting sober and learning (and continuously learning) how to live life on life's terms. It was hard. It was messy. I was ungrateful, entitled, spoiled and humbled. COPAC saved my life. This is how...

In 2014 I began taking some medication to help ease the stress of wedding planning. Once my marriage fell apart, so did my sanity. The alcohol increased and so did the medication. They were "legally and lawfully" mine (as I liked to say), so how could I have a problem if my name was on them? *I had a problem*

In 2015 my mom got sick. I fell apart. I pretended I wasn't crumbling, but I was. So quickly. I began taking my medication, my mom's medication and anyone else's medication I could scramble.

In 2016 my mom died. My whole world shattered. I didn't care if I lived or died. I had no husband. I had no mother. I thought I had no purpose. I wanted to die. I tried to do that several times, but each time I'd wake up and think "damn it... still here."

By 2017 you'd think after over dosing alone in my apartment a few times would scare me enough into reaching out for help. It didn't. I would have days or weeks I just blacked out on. I didn't remember conversations with my friends and family and soon it caught up to me. I lost my job because of my addiction. Keep in mind, I didn't think I had a problem. I didn't even realize I was blacking out. The holes in my memory were forgotten as soon as I remembered they were there.

I fell into such a deep depression I didn't leave my house. I had food delivered. I made up excuses as to why I couldn't see people or do things with anyone. I had become physically dependent on the drugs and was taking them in such large amounts that when I did not take anything, I became sick.

On July 11th I had a job interview... an important job interview. One I really wanted. So, I did not take any Xanax that day. Unfortunately, my body was so used to it, I had a seizure in the middle of my job interview, because I was going through withdrawals. It's safe to say I didn't get the job.

I can remember being in the ER at Baptist Hospital and my dad just so angry with me. He's been angry with my in the past, but he was ANGRY. He made several phone calls, said I was coming home with him and to go get my dogs. I was too scared to talk back and too selfish to see how scared he was.

I woke up the next morning and my dad was just getting back home from driving out to COPAC in Brandon. He gently, ever so cautiously, asked if I would consider going to treatment for 30 days. I had nothing left to lose. I agreed.

For the first 21 days I was at COPAC I was on detox meds. Usually you detox for a few days or a week. I had so much Xanax in my system it took me a little longer...

At first I didn't mind being there... I was also high on detox meds so that helped. When my 30 day mark was coming up, I had not made enough progress to get to go home. As much as I talk, I keep anything and everything serious inside my own head. I cried. I sobbed. I yelled. I pitched a fit only an entitled brat could. I embarrassed myself and later apologized to my counselor for doing so.

When I got to the 60 day mark, I had made more progress, but not enough. I realized I resented my mom for dying. I was angry at my dad for not making her go to the doctor sooner. I was jealous of my sister for having her life more together than me. This is when it got really good. I realized I didn't want to die. I understood that my dad already buried my mom and he didn't want to bury me too.

I was getting close to 80 days and my counselor- Bobbie Love-Johnson- said we would talk on Monday about my discharge plans. I prayed all day Sunday about what it was God wanted me to do. What he wanted my next step to be. I had a peace with whatever Mrs. Bobbie said I needed to do, I was going to do.

The next day, Mrs. Bobbie came in and said "how about Austin, TX?" I said yes. My dad came and picked me up 3 days later and drove me straight here.

I'm alive not because I wanted to be, but because I have a family that loves me and a counselor who didn't give up on me. Mrs. Bobbie told me she would be my life jacket until I realized I could swim. She helped save me when I didn't even know if I wanted to be saved.

I share this in the hopes of helping someone else struggling. I've been SO embarrassed. (I mean, I disappeared for almost 3 months. Did anyone miss me??) But today, I had a nudging feeling to write a quick recap of the last few months and years. I don't wish the pain I went through on anyone. But, if you happen to find yourself feeling that pain, I can relate. I understand. I am forever changed because of it.

Life is precious, life is sweet. I am 146 days clean. My family is PROUD of me again. I have a job. I have friends who love and support me. I have Oliver at the foot of my bed snoring and a God who gave his only Son for me. He didn't allow me to die, when I so badly wanted to and tried to. I'm not sure what His purpose is for my life, but I plan on to continue seeking Him to find it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Even If You Don't My Hope Is You Alone

I have such a heavy heart today. Actually, if I'm being honest, I've had such a heavy heart for weeks, months and now it's coming up on years. With each new coping mechanism I try, medication, exercise (which lasted all of a week), to professional therapy the result is the same. I'm sad. So now I'm learning to live with the grief and hoping happiness will make its way into my life again. I long for the day I can say "it is well with my soul". It just does not seem like that day is coming anytime soon. I have recently related to and obsessed over this new MercyMe song shared to me by my best friend Emily.

They say sometimes you win some
Sometimes you lose some
And right now, right now I'm losing bad
I've stood on this stage night after night
Reminding the broken it'll be alright
But right now, oh right now I just can't

It's easy to sing
When there's nothing to bring me down
But what will I say
When I'm held to the flame
Like I am right now

I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone

They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well, good thing
A little faith is all I have right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul

I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You'd just say the word
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone

You've been faithful, You've been good
All of my days
Jesus, I will cling to You
Come what may
‘Cause I know You're able
I know You can

I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You'd just say the word
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone

It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Why does God keep allowing the pain of loss? It's so easy for Him to just say "enough" let this child have a break. My therapist asked me what I would do in a hypothetical situation that would be seen as yet another trauma, I laughed and said, "add it to the list". Apparently, humor is not the best coping mechanism. Whatever. I find it fine for now... I'm working on that.

It is my job to work closely with families here at the hospital, and today I had the opportunity to meet a family who lost their child last year. They raised a substantial amount of money for the particular hospital center that treated him. I can't help but be in awe of their strength because the last thing I want to do is go to St. Dominic's cancer center. It makes me physically ill to think about going in that infusion room again... much less raise money.

I've recently thought about how to answer people when they ask "how are we doing?" when I honestly want to be like "how do you think I'm doing?" But, I refrain, and politely say "ok". But the more articles I read on grief and how to grieve and the "proper" way to grieve the more I realize, I'll always grieve. It's just learning to live with it. How do you learn to live with such a hole in your heart? I don't know but again, I long for the day I can honestly say "it is well with my soul". Watching those parents today give so joyfully made me really think and stop throwing such a pity party for myself. Yeah, life is hard. Dying is easy. But, for some reason, I'm still here and there's gotta be a reason.

I've had the opportunity to help place a cavalier in his forever home a few weeks ago. The joy that opportunity alone gave me shown all over my face. Even if it is helping to rescue these crazy pups my mom so dearly loved, that's something.

April is going to be a hard month. For all of us. I miss my mom so much it hurts. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. I can't wait to see her again. I make sure there are flowers on her grave- even though she isn't even there. It's something small I can do... actually, it's so people know we love her. She would probably laugh and say don't you dare waste money on flowers. But I can't be seen as not caring, can I? ;) I still don't know how to grieve, but I'll let you know when I figure that out- if ever.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

And Soon Your Grief Will Turn Into Joy (John 16:20)

Do you ever feel in the background? Whether it be a social situation, at work, with your own family and friends, or even to God's masterful plan?

How I feel right about now. It's been only one agonizing, short, insanely long, painful, torturous month since Padre left. She left. She left me. She left my siblings. She left my precious dad. She left her puppies. She left her church. She left this world. I am mad. I am so angry at God and I'm alright with admitting and sharing that emotion- hopefully someone else will take comfort in knowing they are not the only one to feel such a way. I miss my mom. I miss my mom so much. I can sit here and go on and on about how this was "God's plan" and His "timing is perfect", but I don't really feel like it... and I don't want this to turn into an angry post (and we all know how blunt I can be). So, the best way to describe how I feel is being in the background. I don't know what's going on or why it's happening(ed). I'm just watching it all take place. Screaming in silence. In the background. Helpless. Watching.

I went back into my devotional book to read the lesson on the day my mom died, April 24th. What would you have it the lesson is on faith and worry. I have little faith and I have a lot of worry- how appropriate.

My mom wrote us each a letter about a month and a half before she died. She hid them away in the bottom of a book bag that, by chance, I found so close to her passing. She told me to slow down and breathe. She told me how proud she was of me and how much she loved me and to trust God with my life. She told me it did no one any good by the amount of pressure I put on myself and the worry that ultimately overtakes me. She had also mentioned in her journal, that if her cancer brought her children closer to Christ, then it was all worth it.

What a sacrificial way of thinking... a mother's way of thinking.

I don't know when my grief will turn into joy. I don't know when I'm going to finally pray that prayer of faith and be able to walk away feeling weightless and truly casting all my anxieties onto the Lord. I don't know when I will be accepting of the idea of her leaving or the actual reality of her being gone. I may also never see this side of heaven why she left.

Until I am able to turn my grief into joy...

Faith is being... certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1)

I do know one thing- my mom is in heaven rejoicing at the foot of the throne of the One who promised us that through Him, we will spend eternity together. So until He returns or calls ME home, here in the power of Christ I'll stand. Because only THROUGH HIM am I made strong, and then my mom's prayers will have been answered.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Why is it that God leads us in this way, allowing such strong and constant pressure on us?

Because, one of His purposes is to show us His all-sufficient strength and grace more effectively than if we were free from difficulties and trials.

I get that... I really do. I just wish our difficulty and trial didn't involve cancer.

"We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us" (2 Cor. 4:7).

Another purpose is to bring us a greater awareness of our dependence upon Him. Again, I wish our awareness to be brought didn't involve cancer. God is constantly trying to teach us how dependent we need to be on Him- to remind us that we are held completely by His hand and be reliant on His care alone.

This is exactly where Jesus Himself stood and where He desires us to stand. We must stand not with self-made strength, but always leaning upon Him. We can't dare take one step alone- that will teach us to trust Him more.

There is no way to learn of faith except through trials.... even the worst ones. They are God's school of faith... I wish I had already passed that class so I could have avoided the cancer class test. I know learning to trust him will lead to a better life that is full of enjoyment and without trust in Him even great riches will leave us in poverty.

I don't want to be rich. I just want my mom. I can learn to trust and rely on him.... I feel like I have in entrusting him with her care and his power to heal. But, he didn't choose to do that and I'm mad. I'm sad. I love my mom so much. How can it be just one simple line of "trust in God to have a better life full of enjoyment"? When my enjoyment consists of having my mom. I don't understand the trials of sickness and suffering- not only is the individual tested but the whole family and all those that are around them.

I pray glory is brought to the Lord out of all this, because I don't see it through my clouded vision of anger and sadness. I wish I had the peace my mom does, but she's leaving me behind and going to a better place. I'm stuck here. With me being stuck here, I have no choice but to be aware of the dependency I need to have on Him. To rely on his strength. This is teaching me to be dependent- I just wish it had been another way.

Every conversation, phone call, text message and time spent together is treasured. It's hard to think about this might be the last time we do this or what if we never see that person again. It's the worst way of thinking, but it's our reality.

Why must I weep when others sing?
     "To test the deeps of suffering."
Why must I work while others rest?
     "To spend my strength at God's request."
Why must I lose while others gain?
     "To understand defeat's sharp pain."
Why must this lot of life be mine
When that which fairer seems is thine?
     "Because God knows what plans for me
           Will blossom in eternity."

I pray for strength and peace, because I feel as if I have neither. I pray to accept this next turn of events without my mom being by my side and that I can make her proud, even when she isn't here. I pray to learn to depend on God and become aware of how much I need him for strength. Because without that, I am nothing and worthless. I don't want to be that person. I want to make my parents proud.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Good Lord, Where Are You?

If You really do exist,
       why don't You come out of hiding and
            do something about this creature in distress (me)

I am physically weary
I am mentally depressed
I am spiritually defeated
I can't eat, can't sleep.
I am like garbage
          discarded refuse in the back alley;
         like yesterday's newspaper,
              shuffled around by the wind.
I feel like some sort of zombie,
        some nonentity,
        some nothing that people,
                 if they acknowledged me,
             would only curse.
I eat crow and drink gall.
Now even You have tossed me aside
      like some moth-eaten garment
          that no one could possibly want.

But the prophets have proclaimed Your name,
       and the Scriptures declare Your mercy,
       and the saints pass on Your promises.
You do reign over our world, they say.
       You do show concern for the poor clods of this earth
Good Lord, prove it!
Look down from wherever You are
       on Your creatures wallowing in wretchedness
Deliver us, O God, set us free!

I must take comfort in Your everlastingness-
        that You, who outlive seasons and centuries,
                who have blessed the saints of the past,
            can also care for Your servants
               in this fearful hour.
For Your years have no end
         nor do the lives of those who trust in You.

I just can't shake this abandonment feeling. There's never been a Valentine's Day where I haven't gotten a dozen roses. That changes this year. Instead of wallowing in self pity over a guy- All I can think about is how much I'm going to miss my mom. This excerpt from a book Leslie let me borrow on Psalms was just dead on with how I'm feeling right now.

I am physically weary. I am mentally depressed. I am spiritually defeated. I am like garbage. I feel like I'm being kicked while down because of the friendships that haven't shown up for me... making me feel alone. Patty is my best friend so when she's gone- I'm alone.

If God has his eye on the sparrow, then he has his eye on me. Therefore, I am not alone. THEN WHY DO I FEEL LIKE I AM. I'm having a hard time taking comfort in His everlastingness. My years will have no end as long as I trust in Him... which means Patty's years will have no end because she trusts in Him. No doubt about that. Even though Patty is almost home, I'm not. I am not home yet. So I have to keep looking ahead and let me heart not forget that I am not home yet (Thanks Steven Curtis Chapman for making your lyrics sound like I just wrote that all philosophically) I may not get over this lonely feeling today and when I do it'll be time for it to come back again because I won't have my mom to lay on.... but Lord help me when it returns. Because I can't do it alone.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

It's OK to Cry

Did ya'll know that? It's ok to cry? I didn't... until last night.

The hospice nurse had just left and I was in my room pretending to put up laundry, but really sobbing out of self pity. I wanted to try and stop before I went back out there and watched another Housewives of (insert city here) on Bravo. But then I realized, no. Patty deserves to know how I feel. So I tried to stop, but couldn't. I wasn't going to let my tears keep me from spending time with my mom.

So I went. I quietly laid down beside/on her and let out a sobbed. She quietly stroked my hair and back and just let me lay there. No words were needed. We both knew. I just muttered "I'm going to miss you so much" and she responds with "But I'll always be with you". It's true. She will. I am the spitting image of her- from the way I look, dress, mannerisms and our made up words we swear are in the dictionary. I am a mini Patty.

My dad comes home and takes one look at me and says- dude. you look awful. Patty to my rescue- leave her alone Jerry she's upset. See... who will I have to be my protector? Jerry has no filter when it comes to telling me how I need to tighten up. Patty does it very subtly. Such a guy that Jerry.

I go to sleep and start my crying process all over again. I text Kathleen- is it ok to be angry? Her response- of course it is. Me- will I still have you when it's over? Kathleen- I'll never leave you

Much like Kathleen, God will never leave me. I feel as though so many friends have drifted away as my mom has gotten sicker, but again, like Kathleen, God has not. I feel as though he has and through her he reminds me he's still here. He has not forgotten me nor forsaken me. He never promised this life would be easy and not filled with trials and tribulations. Well this is the greatest trial and tribulation of my 28 year old life because my mom is someone I aspire to be and someone I can't make a decision without. I love her so much.

Tara Stigall texted me last night- the GA's want to plant a tree in honor of my mom for Earth Day on church grounds. I told Patty and we instantly burst into tears. The girls thought of this on their own. To have faith like a child is something I desperately want. She loves planting things in our yard and doing her flowerbeds... they didn't even realize their decision was so SPOT ON to her likeness. I'm so overwhelmed by others love for my mom I almost can't comprehend it.

Just like Jesus has love for me. There isn't a minute that passes by that I am so overcome with grief, loneliness and abandonment. Our family isn't complete without her. I have very few people to lean on. I miss her already. But I have to keep remembering- God has a purpose. I am not alone. He has not abandoned me. I need to focus on turning my grief into joy and be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

So This is Hospice?

This is the post I never hoped to write. The battle is ending and we did not win. We have won the war, but not the battle.

I cannot even begin to put into words how much I love my mom. She is my best friend. She is my go to person. She is everything.

People keep saying we are praying for strength, peace etc. But, I'm just trying to get out of bed and make it to work on time. If I don't cry on the way there- that's an accomplishment. Then I look at my mom, the "bad patient" as I call her. She refuses to tell us when she's hurting or feeling sick... scared she will miss out on something. Who has that kind of strength? She does. A silent sufferer in Christ.

She always tells me to be the hands and feet of Jesus every morning before work. I don't know how I'll be able to head off to work without hearing those words. I just sit and cry and cry- hopefully hidden from her ears so she doesn't know the amount of suffering I am going through. I want it to be about her and comfort her- but in reality SHE KNOWS WHERE SHE'S GOING. It's me that's getting left behind. I'm so angry at her- leaving me behind. There's so much I don't know how to do, so many things I have to ask her and she won't be there. How could she do this to me?

But then again, how could she pass up the opportunity to go home? I'd choose my Heavenly Father over this war torn Earth any day. So it's me that has to get it together and make sure she knows it's ok to choose not to continue treatment. It's ok to want to go home. You've taught us well. We know how to be those hands and feet of Jesus you ingrained in our daily life.I don't know who's going to tell me I look fat in an outfit now- but I'll make do. She's been my biggest cheerleader through my divorce and my job lay offs. The shred of confidence I have left is because of her. Every time someone says "you look just like your mom!" I take it as a compliment, what 52 year old looks like that? I mean seriously?

Jerry is going to have to learn to love our cavaliers like we do... Troop has to continue sleeping in his bed. We are going to have some sad babies once she's gone. We continue to joke that Jimmy Ruth the cat may find himself playing in the woods just to get Patty riled up... don't worry Jimmy isn't going anywhere. Jerry tried TWICE to haul him off and the stinker kept coming back. He's earned his keep.

Finally.... We want her to live out her final days in as little pain as possible surrounded by family and friends and puppies. Only God knows when a person’s time is up on this earth so we are trusting His timing in Patty’s life. When her time comes, she will be ready. She has loved and served Jesus since she was a child; and that love and devotion to Jesus has enabled her to withstand the greatest suffering that I have ever seen another person endure…she is truly an example of a “suffering servant” as described in Isaiah 53.

She is by far the greatest woman I have ever known.