Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What are you searching for?

In this life, we are constantly on a search.. although we may not recognize it as such. Sometimes it is an emptiness that we try to drive away. We search for methods to do that. For me, it was a subconcious search. All I knew was that I felt empty. I felt unwhole. Long before I tried to fill this void with pills.. I chose other paths that so many of us decide to go down.

At the time, I didn't recognize the emotion I was feeling as "emptiness". All I knew was that no matter what I did... I couldn't find complete happiness. It wasn't due to anyone or anything... This was strictly an enternal struggle I was dealing with. For some reason, unbeknowngst to me... I had a longing..  but I didn't know what I was longing for.

Growing up... I moved from town to town. We never stayed in one place for long. After thinking back to when I was young, I finally realized that I had moved a total of 9 times from the time I was 5 until I was 11. That doesnt give a young girl very good roots, I don't think.

We would eventually settle down in Bethel after my mom married Tommy and we made the sleepy little town our home.

But I guess you can say that it became familiar to always have something new and exciting going on. Eventually the moving from place to place would lose it's luster..and I found myself at 9 years old with no friends to call my own. I was always switching schools and was forever known as "the new girl".  To this day, I still have horrible memories of my elementary and middle school days. It was a rough and unkind time for me.. I would retreat within myself and hold on to the loneliness that had become the only friend I would have for a while. I spent my time with animals.. They were kind.. they never said mean or hurtful things. But most importantly, they never let you down. Never in my life, do I ever remember a dog telling me that he would be at my dance recital and then never show up... So as far as I believed, people couldn't be trusted. They would make false promises and empty guarantees. This takes me back to a time when I was 6 years old. It is one of the few memories I have with my biological father... We were at a grocery store in Jacksonville, NC, a place that I called home for a little while. I remember walking in with him and being like any 6 year old girl.. I instantly fell in love with a doll that was sitting in a shiny pink box by the door. I begged and pleaded for my father to buy me this doll for my birthday. After all, he had forgotten about the doll he had promised at Christmas.. but like so many other times, it went unattended.  He did like many parents often do and told me that if I behaved that he would purchase the doll on our way out. I believed him. I did my very best to stay quiet and to stay out of his way.. When he asked me to get something off the shelf, I quickly helped. Trying to be the most well behaved little girl I could be.

We came to the end of the check out line and there she was, the beautiful brown haired doll that I had been promised. I gently nudged my father's arms and quietly reminded him that he promised that if I behaved, the doll would be my birthday present.  However, I will never forget his response... It would be one that would forever change my view of people as I would go through life. 

He looked down at me and simply said " Deann, only Jesus keeps his promises"....

That was all it took... At 6 years old, I instantly learned that no matter what anyone told you... more than likely they would let you down. I was an impressionable child. Young and trusting... I had been let down by a person that was supposed to be someone I could depend on. Yes, to some this may seem like just a story about a little girl who didn't get what she wanted... but to me, it symbolized much more than that.

I don't tell this story as a bleeding heart... I tell it to offer insight to where I was coming from mentally and emotionally. Bouncing around from place to place... never growing roots, never settling down. And always wondering when someone was going to hurt me next.  Of course there were other men in my life... not just my biological father, that would teach me distrust. As a single mother and woman, my mother dated occasionally. There was one particular boyfriend that I remember being very kind and very caring... I will always be thankful to him for showing me the ways of a good man before Tommy came along.  However, there were men that weren't so kind. Some drank and drank heavily. Others had anger problems.

My mother worked long hours.. Trying to support herself and her daughter on her own wasn't an easy task. Many nights I spent alone..  Being young and scared on the inside, but acting brave and tough on the outside.  I learned to take care of myself, make sure I had dinner, and go to bed... All by the age of 9.

Part of my need to act self sufficient and strong came from those moments when I was weak... and how I felt that those weaknesses caused me damage.  One particular memory comes to mind. I was 8 years old and living in Arlington Square in Greenville.  It would be another night that my mother would be working late and that I would have to fend for myself.  Her boyfriend, at the time, was staying with us. He always intimidated me.. He had dark hair and a mustache and always seemed quick to anger. I learned early on to stay out of his way and to not bother him too much. That night, I was hungry. The peanut butter and jelly was gone... and all of the yogurt had been eaten.  There was nothing else in the house that I could prepare on my own. After all, I was not allowed to use the stove without help.  I remember walking into the living room where he was watching TV. I stood there for a minute, scared to ask him for help.. I didn't want to bother him. Finally, I gathered up the courage to ask him if he would help me make a grilled cheese sandwhich... He didn't acknowledge my question. I thought maybe he had not heard me... the TV was loud.. So, I walked a little closer to the chair and repeated my request.

The next thing I remember is the sharp sting of the back of his hand across my face. My vision went blurry for a few seconds and I toppled down to the floor. I quickly crawled onto my hands and knees to get up to run to my room. But I could not move fast enough. Before my little feet could hit the first step, I felt myself being lifted off of the ground by the back of my shirt. It was then that I heard the thud of my head against a wall and the pungent smell of alcohol of his breath. He leaned into my ear, calling me an "aggravating little bitch". I started to cry and apologize over and over for bothering him. I promised that next time I would leave him alone... if he would only let me go to my room. He let go of my collar and I ran up the stairs and into my room... Where I grabbed my little bunny and sat in the closet with my eyes closed tight. Just wishing I could move away... I had the plan mapped out in my mind. I would pack my suitcase in the morning and move to Memama and Grandaddy's house... I was safe there... they used kind words and gave hugs and kisses. There, I was free to be a little girl. But that night, in that closet... I swore to myself that I would never ask him for help again.. that anything I needed. I could do myself...

Little did I know how much this would affect me as I got older. 

I would turn into someone that never could or would ask for help... Always taking care of myself. The emptiness that I felt inside was a secret I kept.. I thought to myself.. If only I had a "real family", I would be happy... but Tommy came along.. and as much as he loved me more than ANY MAN ever had before and as much as he completed my picturesque image of a family.. I still felt like I just didn't fit in.. No matter where I went, or who I was with. I felt alone.. Even in a room full of people.

Over the years I would try to fill this emptiness with material things... Clothes... Money... Status... These things would provide only temporary fulfillment. Then the familiar pain of emptiness would come back again. I just could not put my finger on it.... What was I missing? What did I need?

It has taken me years to realize what I was ultimately searching for... and it hasnt been until recently that I think i'm finally starting to get a grasp on what my whole life has been missing....... a true relationship with God.

It took me years of trying to run my own life and trying to fulfill my own destiny to realize that maybe I havent been doing the best job. Time after time of tearing my soul apart with "fillers"... I finally hit my knees in desperation.

I will never forget the April Sunday morning that I walked down to the alter at church... Accompanied by two friends... I walked before the congregation and I hit my knees. Tears flowed from my face and at that moment... I gave up, I gave in... and I gave it to God. 

And in that same moment.... my heart began to be fulfilled.. bit by bit. Moment by moment... The unconditional love I had always longed for was being freely given to me. Starting with the forgiveness from our Heavenly Father that I felt so undeserving of.

I remember looking down into my folded hands and watching my tears roll down my fingers... It was in that instant that I felt a calming peacefulness start in my toes and move up through my body....

I knew, then and there, that Jesus had finally entered my heart.

He had been waiting all along for me to find him.... He wasn't hiding... I just had never searched in the right place before.

Until Now.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Guilt and Shame

For many of us in this world.... there are parts of our lives that are painful to reflect upon. Whether it is a past action committed, or a word left unsaid. Either way you look at it, when we think about the things that might have been, had we been able to change things in our past, a familiar sting comes about.

For me it is hard to admitt my wrong doings. I don't believe there is anyone that likes to tell others about their darkest moments. Yet, it is important to realize that once light is shed on these things, we allow God to enter into a place that we normally try to shut him out of.

My father used to always tell me, "If you think something you might as well say it... Because God already knows it anyway"... Those words are so very true. When we try to hide our past, the only person we are trying to hide it from is ourselves. God knows every inequity of every moment... and once you ask so, he forgives you for them.

I was laying in my bed a few nights ago reading my bible... I have the Joyce Meyer Bible that I enjoy reading.. she has a way of explaining things in a manner that makes it easy for a common person such as myself to understand. I don't feel as if I need to be a Theologin to interpret the Word (I highly reccomend it!). As I was reaching torwards the steps on my side of the bed (a place that I keep my bible for easy access), I knocked it off the side and it landed face up, opened to a particular page.

Isaiah 43:25 - "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more."

My attention was drawn to this. Throughout the bible, Joyce Meyer has sections called "Everyday Life Points" and then a small discussion of a particular section of whatever book in the bible you may be reading. It was the verse mentioned above that she had decided to ellaborate on. In my nature, being the sinner that I am, was very eager to read all that I could about how I am to live with myself when I am so ashamed. She kept the discusion short and to the point, as Joyce Meyer always does.... No beating around the bush.

She simply asked the reader (myself) to think back to your prayers.... Do you constantly bring up the same things over and over? Why?..... For God tells us in the Bible, that when we pray with our whole hearts and ask God to forgive us of our past transgressions, he does. Not only does he forgive us, but he forgets our inequities as well. God states that  "so is As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us."

What a healing thing to read and know..... In our church, we have been taught, that a sin is a sin is a sin... meaning, no matter what the affliction may be... one sin is no better than another, or "less severe"... It is hard to remember that when you replay your sins in your head over and over..

In some of my darkest moments, I did things that I am ashamed to admit. My addiction turned me into a liar and a theif. All I could think about was how to take care of me and my need.  I stole medication from friends and family, and then lied to try and cover my mistakes... In a panicked state, all I could think about was saving my face, and not letting anyone know how troubled I really was.... Little did I know, I was only keeping the secret from myself.  In my deepest of hearts, I never meant any of my actions to be malicious.. and I really believed that the only person I was hurting, was myself. I never imagined I was causing emotional pain to others..... and I am overcome with sadness when I think of this and realize that I was hurting so many people along the way. People that I really and truly cared about and loved. My very best friends and the very closest members of my family...

In my heart and mind, I justified my actions... Either they no longer needed the pills, because they were physically well, or they wouldn't miss just a few.... As mentioned before, all lies I told to myself, I dont know, maybe in some odd way I was trying to soften the blow to my conscience by minimizing my actions.

However, none of that mattered... when faced with my actions, the pain of conviction and ache of guilt from what I had done was still the same. I did things that were wrong and I couldn't deny that.

A year ago, before I left for treatment... I had led myself down a path so destructive, I couldn't remember where the real truth began and where it ended.. or how I had even wound up at the point I was at.. I had woven a very tangled web.. all in efforts to protect my habit... And this spring, even though I had not gone down such a destructive road again, the slip I had could have easily led me down the same path... and I am forever greatful that it was stopped before it reached that point... from the bottom of my heart, I truly mean that.

I wake up today with a new feeling of gratitude and blessing. However, it has taken me at least 7 weeks to get here. After my relapse, I had times in the mornings where I didn't care if I woke up... the guilt and shame I felt consumed me. I really believed that my husband and children would be better off without me in their lives, messing things up... and I somehow wished I could just evaporate into the air and escape myself.

The first time I told someone this, she didn't laugh... she didn't blow me off.... and she didn't call me crazy. She simply said " I understand...... and you never have to feel this way again"... That's all it took.  For someone to understand.... for someone to take my hand and say, "you arent alone"..

She advised me every morning to wake up and pray.... as soon as my eyes opened, I needed to find a quiet spot and give thanks to God. Give thanks to the one that has led me down this road, seeing fit to give me a second chance at life, and living it the right way.

And so I do..... Every morning I take 15 minutes to myself. Even if that means my boys have to lay in their beds for a few extra minutes, I take that precious time and I pray. I thank god for keeping me safe another day and allowing me to wake up to see the sun rise on a new morning.... For I know that those few minutes make all of the difference in my day. Those few minutes allow me to be the wife and mother God created me to be.... They help mold me into the friend that in my heart I am striving torwards. I ask God to bring peace into my heart and to always help me find the path that he has laid out for me... and to give me the strength and courage to walk down it with my head held high.  Then the Serenity Prayer follows...

God, Grant me the Serenity
To Accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things that I can
and the Wisdom to know the difference

If anyone out there is going through these feelings.... Know that you are not alone.... I understand. I understand how your heart can feel hollow and empty and how you can feel as if you have acheieved in ultimately defeating yourself.  You may feel alone... but you are not. God is forever by your side. He promises to never leave us, and he doesnt.  People may talk and people may be surprised by the things they hear about you.. but God is never surprised.. God knew you from the moment you were created... he knew your heart and he knew your life. And when he came to know you.. he also came to believe in you. He guides you with his heart and with his hand... he never turns his back on you... even if you have turned your back on yourself.

Pray..... pray to him.... Ask him to remove you of your shortcomings and your inequities.... and then let it go... it is better left up to him anyway.

This doesnt mean that once you start to talk to God, that all of your pain and all of your suffering goes away.. because it doesn't. Instead, God equpits you with the abilities to handle it as you should... and in the light of him.

There is a book that tells us that... "We will not regret the past... Nor, wish to shut the door on it"

I am beginning to understand the meaning behind that. It means, put the baseball bat down and stop beating yourself over the head.... what is done is done (.. God Grant me the Serenity to Accept the things I cannot change)... Now, it is up to me to take my past and learn from it... look at my past actions as markers of where I don't want to return...and change the parts of me that lead me to those actions (The courage to change the things that I can)... But dwelling in the past doesn't change your future.. it only keeps it from flourishing into the beautiful life that God has laid out so perfectly for us..Instead, treat your past like an old ex... acknowledging it when it makes an appearance, but always keeping your eyes and heart on the moment standing beside you... your present (And the wisdom to know the difference..)

Friday, May 27, 2011

How it all began...the first few weeks

Through out my late teens and early 20's, I had always liked to have fun. For me, this meant going to bars and staying out late with friends. Alcohol filled a void and gave me a new feeling of being carefree.. a feeling that I thoroughly enjoyed and never wanted to let go of. I guess you could say that since I had to always be the adult as a child... that once I grew up and actually became an adult, I felt I was justified in wanting to act like a child. I only recognize this behavior now as childish.... However, while I was in the throws of it, it seemed to me as only a meer way of letting loose and letting go.... a pleasant escape from reality... and if you couldn't understand, then I was sorry... it wasn't my problem, it was yours.

We had no children..... no responsibilities... As long as I made it to class... I didn't see the problem. Never mind the fact that I would wake up with my head spinning and making every effort I could not to throw up in the car...

......The beautiful and glorious days of being hungover.... it was sickening

 I look back now and don't understand what appealed so much to me about that. It was a time of reckless abandon, I thank God that I never hurt myself or anyone during those days. Selfish behavior was running riot in my life and all I cared about was myself and how a situation affected me.

These days are nauseating... I could very easily become disgusted with myself.

The years passed by and slowly alcohol lost it's appeal to me, I found that I didn't care to drink. However, another drug had taken over my life.. a drug that was introduced by these new friends I mentioned earlier. I lost 30 pounds and felt that I had never looked better in my life. It is a shame that even though the outward appearances had improved, my insides were slowly being torn apart.. The idea that I could suffer a heart attack or a stroke, never crossed my mind. Or if it did, I was too wrapped up in it to care..

That is the way addiction works.... it becomes so powerful and so consuming, that even with knowledge of possible harm, your body screams to just do it one more time... just once.....but as I have learned, one is too  many and 1,000 will never be enough..

...  This escapade lasted only a few months and eventually stopped as well. These experiences only strengthening the idea in my head that people who had problems with drug addiction or alcohol were full of it.. It was simply a matter of will-power and telling yourself no. Easy as that......

I was setting myself up for a huge slap in the face and a wake up call delivered straight from the hands of God.

Addictions, no matter the source, resemble the life of a passenger on the Titanic. You can switch from room to room... The room of alcohol may lose its appeal, so then you go to the room of Cocaine... and when that is no longer fun, you switch to the room of co-dependency... looking for others to validate you.

However many times you decide to change rooms.... one fact remains true....

The ship is still going down.......

I wish I had known then that this is what was going on in my life... Yet, at the time, I never even believed for a second that I had any sort of addiction problem.. I honestly and truly just didn't consider the idea.

"See how easily you can stop", I would tell myself... "This isnt addiction, this is just recreation... youre young, youre having fun, what is the harm? If you need to stop, you will. See.... you stopped drinking all the time.. and you put your nasty cocaine habit away..."

Even though I realize now that all of the signs were there... when you are absorbed in the moment, sometimes the hardest thing to see is the thing that is right in front of your face. Call me naive, but I just did not see it..

Fast forward a couple of years later and here I am... pregnant with my first son. The idea of taking a drink or any drug for that matter had long left my mind... I had moved on and I was growing up. My responsibilities were now directed towards my husband and our growing family.. and I can say that I was going through one of the happiest times in my life.

August 23rd arrived... and at 4:17 in the morning, Parker Bennett Roberson was born. Arriving 5 weeks early, he was the most perfect and beautiful thing I had ever been a part of. I felt like I had just accomplished one of the greatest moments I would ever experience.

Even though I was dissapointed by the fact that I had to have a c-section, none of that mattered anymore when I held that precious little boy in my arms. The world stood still and for a second, I was completely and utterly blown away.  The day couldnt have been any better. We were surrounded by our family and friends.. with smiling faces from every corner. I wasn't affected by the pain, they had me connected to a PCA pump that delivered morphine through an IV anytime I hit the button. Even though I was uncomfortable, the joy of my new son and the euphoria I felt from holding him, easily drowned out any signal from my body that I had just undergone major abdominal surgery. I am proud to say that I would have to be reminded by the nurse to push that button...

6:30 pm...... I am laying in my hospital bed... Josh leaves the room after a phone call and doesn't mention where he is going.... he just gets up and steps out...

8:30pm... I am still alone... I have no one in the room, my baby is in the nursery... and I am absolutely alone... By this time I am sick to my stomach with worry. I have called josh 100 times and he doesnt answer my calls... I call every family member I can think of.......nothing.................. It is at this time, I begin to cry. I am alone, in the dark, and I can not find anyone.  I call out to the nurse and ask her to please bring me my son... I was grasping for any feeling of comfort I could find... and that comfort, I believed, could be found in Bennett. I wanted to hold him and feel his sweet warm breath against my cheek. Even though I wanted to hold him... in reality, he would have been holding me.

The nurse tells me that the doctors are with him and that he can't come to my room at the time. I immediatly feel like the wind has been knocked out of me. As a mother, my mind begins to race... I suddenly feel that there is something very wrong... I start to wonder if my baby is dead, if that is why no one will bring him... if that is why no one will answer my calls...... I am crawling in my skin.... I want to run out of the door screaming and begging for someone to please tell me what is going on...

But I can't....I am confined to a hospital bed.... my stomach has been cut open... and I can't move. I am stuck and I am in one of the worst physical predicaments of my life. Completely and totally helpless.

It is at this moment that I see something that to this day, still runs through my mind.  I see josh... I see steve.. I see my grandmother... and I see a group of our closest friends.. followed by 2 of my doctors... and somewhere in the middle, I see my mother. She is shaking.. unable to walk... and covered in blood..

Josh comes to me and carries out one of the hardest actions I believe anyone in this life would ever have to do. He grabs my hand... and through a trembling voice, I hear him say the words I will never forget.

... Deann... I'm so sorry..... Tommy has been in an accident...

I ask him if my daddy is okay... hoping and praying that somewhere in all of this, God has found a way to grant us mercey... Surely.... the God I believed in wouldnt do this to me. He wouldnt give me the happiest day of my life just to rip it away in one of the most cruel and hurtful ways imaginable..

But the answer I am looking for is not there... and all I hear is... "he's dead"..

A deep and painful knot develops in my throat.... and I feel sick to my stomach...I start to shake and the tears fall from my eyes.... flooding down my cheek...

I can't stop crying... all I want to do is close my eyes and go back to the way it was just a few hours before.. Where I can sit in my room, and look in the corner at Tommy... beaming from ear to hear as he holds his precious grandson and sings to him a song that his daddy used to sing to him...

I feel deep sobs building in my chest..... but I can't let them go.... It was at that moment that I learned that in order to sob.. your stomach muscles have to be intact... and frankly, mine are not..  Instead, they are hanging on together by a few stitches... With each wail that tries to escape from my mouth... a horrible and burning pain shoots from my stomach up into my chest.... and at that very moment, it hits me.... I cant even cry like I need to... and there again, I feel completely and totally helpless.

My hands reach for the button.... I need something to ease the physical pain I am in....  a few minutes later I realize that I don't hurt so much... not just physically, but emotionally as well... and for just a moment, this situation seems managable.

Days go by and the funeral has arrived.... From the moment I left the hospital, I have been on my feet. Well wishers come to our house to see the new baby.... and then to offer condolances at the same time..Their eyes give it all away....

I havent rested.... I can't sit still... if I do, I start to think too much... and then I feel as if I am going to lose my mind... So I keep myself up and busy... By this time, it is a week later and I have gone through a prescription of Percocet... I had reached a point where my incision was starting to swell even more, and I was anemic from losing blood... my blood pressure was elevated and it was obvious I was in pain due to the fact that I hadn't taken a single minute to allow my body to try to heal.. So I took my medicine every 4 hours, as directed, and I soldiered on.. I kept a strong front for my mother and my family.. I had to hold myself together for my son.

I call my doctor and ask them about refilling my medication. I have to be at the funeral in a few hours and I will be on my feet all day.. The doctor agrees and mentions that he will make sure that I have enough to get me through the next few weeks since the situation at hand has called for a greater physical demand than most.

At this time, I am still not psychologically or physically addicted.. and, had I been able to stop then, I probably never would have become that way.... Yet, a few weeks later, I am in the hospital again... having another surgery related to complications from the c-section... and so it begins..

6 weeks of continued use, moving from one surgery to the next.. with one complication followed by another..

My body has now become accustomed to the chemical componets of this medication.. I am directed by the physician to take 2 tablets instead of 1 to limit the pain from the most recent surgery. He tells me that it is normal for the body to need an increased dosage after being exposed for a period of time. I just wish he had told me then, what so many tell me now... all it takes is 2 weeks..... just 2 weeks.. and your body can become dependent.

and unknowingly, that is exactly what was starting to happen to me...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

One Year later... and a battle of a lifetime

As I look back at the entries from last year, I am overwhelmed by the emotion I was experiencing. The pain of loss and suffering is so apparent to me now. I almost feel as if I am an outsider looking into my own life as I read the words that I wrote so effortlessly last spring..

I look back and feel the sting of the reality of the situation.. not only was I suffering the imense pain of the loss of a father, I was suffering the pain of a loss of myself... Oh how I wish I could speak to that woman from last spring and tell her... STOP, PRAY, and dear God.. please ask someone for help... I wonder if things now would be different if I had known then, the amount of heartache I would bring upon myself.... Little did I know, but I was entering the battle of a lifetime.

I sit here as I write... and I can feel my heart pounding in my chest. I am nervous... I am scared... I am aprehensive. For a while, I have been struggling with the notion of letting so many people into some of the darkest parts of my life. At first, the worry of judgement overwhelms me.... but then there is a sense of peace. I feel a familiar voice in my heart telling me to let go and reach out... I sometimes wonder if that familiar voice is that of God. A voice that for so long, I ignored when convienent.

 But as I have learned, his whisper soon turns into a loud demand that I can only put off for so long.

So today, I am taking a risk and putting myself out there.. in hopes that maybe, just maybe, someone can find consolation in knowing they are not alone.. because for so long, I felt as if I was... Chalk it up to living in a small town.. but it isnt difficult to feel like the isolated blacksheep when it seems as if you are the only one with these struggles. The struggle of addiction or alcoholism. My drug of choice was pain killers... I had learned that not only does it relieve physical pain.. but emotional pain as well.

Or at least so I thought... I would later learn in rehab that all i was doing was putting a band aid over a much larger problem... covering...... covering....covering.....

Not actually dealing with the root of my sadness and hurt.

I only ask one thing of you... I ask that whoever you are, you keep an open heart and a tight tongue. It is so easy to judge those when you do not understand the situaton they are facing. I hope to help you understand all that I can about so many of us affected in some way by this horrible affliction. Either dealing with this disease themselves or having someone close to them fighting it.  Each person in life has hardships and difficulties. Some of us are blessed with never knowing the heartaches that could be so easily cast upon us and.... some of us are not.

God gave us the shoes that fit our feet. It is our duty to walk in those shoes to the best of our ability. I now can say that I took my shoes, put them on, and when the walk got difficult, I looked to the only escape I knew.

No child ever says when they grow up that they want to become an addict or an alcoholic. When I was a little girl, all I wanted was to feel loved. I wanted to feel like I fit in somewhere, or that I belonged... With a single mother who worked non-stop, my environment wasn't the most stable or forgiving. I had to grow up and grow up fast... I had to take care of myself.  If you had an emotion, you sucked it up and delt with it on your own.. The most important rule, never let anyone see you appearing weak. That meant, all smiles, all the time. It meant that when things got painful, it was YOUR job to hold everyone together and to get them through.... worry about yourself later.

Little did I know that this mindset that I had acquired at the age of 6 would become the mindset that would send me down a path of total and complete self-destruction.

Very simply put.... My father had been killed, I was a mother to two small children, a very close relationship with someone dear to me had been strained beyond any control... and I was hurt. My heart literally feels as if it is going to break into a million little pieces and leave me lifeless.

For several years before I had children, a did what most college students did. I drank... and I liked it. I like the feeling it gave me... that feeling of being confidant in myself and of who I was. I was a happier person.. I could forget about all of the things that made me feel so worn and beaten. There was a period where I drank and I drank a lot... at the time I couldnt see that I was the only one doing this. I simply wrote it off as not having the right friends... I needed friends that liked to have fun as much as I did.. and liked to have fun all the time. (I think back to this and I am humbled by my behavior. So many things I took for granted...)

Eventually these new "friends" led me to other things that would consume my life for a few years... things that I wouldnt escape until Josh and I became pregnant with our first child. I was amazed at how easily I put everything down.. no second guessing... I was becoming a mother and I was honored to be able to take pride in myself for once... I was creating a child, and I wanted to make sure that this little miracle would have the best life possible.. and that meant taking care of myself.

When I was in treatment a year ago at Fellowship Hall in Greensboro, a counseler that I grew to respect and love who had almost 30 years of sobriety, brought up a very good point that I had never thought about before. She asked me why I thought I was so easily able to stay clean and sober when I was pregnant. She then said something to me that would affect me immensely. She said, "It is time for you to love yourself as much as you love your children"... Hearing that felt awkward and wrong... I worried that it was selfish and self centered to put yourself first.

Only now am I starting to gain a true understanding of what she really meant... Recovery is something that we can only do for ourselves. We can't do it for our friends.... our families... our spouses... or even our children.  I have to do this for ME... and me alone. They say that the one thing you put infront of your recovery, will be the first thing you lose.......

As I try to think of the words to say.... I am hit by the sting of reality... June 2nd, 2011 would have marked One Year for me... One year of being the person that GOD had created me to be... not the person I had formed myself into. Sadly, this date will come and pass without celebration. Instead, I am now thanking God for 36 days. After 10.5 months of a new life, I let my guard down. With the severity unknown to anyone, I was struggling with an immense hurt and heartache of emotionally losing someone very close to me.. someone that was my last tie to the memories of my father and our family. Exhausted from this turmoil and the countless days in and out of the hospital with our new son, followed by the emotional highs and lows... I became lost inside of my own head and misery.. and turned to the old familiar ways that I knew best. For two days, I patched my heartbreak with Percocet, rather than my faith and spirituality, and with those actions lost a friend and my serenity that I had worked so hard to obtain. And there I stood, April 21st.. back at square one... with my head hanging lower than it ever had. I had truly hit my rock bottom.  Reflecting over this hurts me beyond words...  I truly believe that disappointment in one's self is one of the most difficult things to endure. But for a moment... it is one of the most necessary things to feel. For this can give you the fire you need to reignite your true-self... the true-self that God so desperately wants the world to see and know.

I do not wish to shut the door on my past...for it can not be changed, no matter how hard I try to will it into fruition. My job is to take it as it is and pick myself back up and reach my hands toward God instead of the pill bottle. I dont ever want to forget the things I did.... the memories of those things, if I allow them, will always serve as a reminder and where I dont want to go and where I dont need to be.  And this time, I will let them... no more trying to erase from my mind the notion of who I am. I am Deann... a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a person... But most importantly... I am a recovering addict.

All I know for certain is that for today.... I am where I need to be.

"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him" DEUT. 30: 19-20

Monday, March 29, 2010

Over half a year later.... and love lives on

It has been over 2 months since my last entry.... so much for my "weekly updates" ... but at least the want-to was there.... My lack of time dedicated to this blog lately is ABSOLUTELY coorelated with the time spent with Bennett.. He is now 7 months old and taking more and more of my time everyday... but i'm by no means complaining... it is just a sign of his advancing into more of a child and leaving the early days behind.

A thing, which at times, I desperately wish I could slow down.

I look back now and realize that in the beginning, all he did was sleep and eat..NOW... he does the same things.. but also plays, laughs, smiles, cries, screams, hugs, resists changing his diaper...gives kisses

.....and makes every day worth living for me...... what would I do without this little boy? He holds me together at the exact moment when all I want to do is fall apart. It's hard to explain.... there is this shadow that still seems to follow me around from day to day... this shadow of whispers and expectations. It says the same thing to me over and over..... "why aren't you over this by now.... time to move on...... time to get ahold of yourself"....... I try... God knows I try.... but it is still a constant battle.. one at times i'm not sure I will ever win.

Spring is here.... hard to believe...... but it has come.. the season of renewal, rebirth...... the grass is starting to stay green and flowers are starting to show their beautiful colors proudly. A season that always boldly grabs my attention and makes me welcome it's warmth with open arms. However.. this year, I have a new respect for spring...... the warmer air is not only good for the exterior that I carry around... but for the soul as well. A soul that seems as if it has been cold ,hard, and dead for quite a while......

I look outside and I see the trees blowing in the wind and the sun shining through the window. I have a new respect for these things... I take time now to actually feel the wind blowing against my face... or to feel the warmth of the sun against my skin... Do you? Do you ever really just stand there, even for a brief moment and fully appreciate the gift that God has given you.

The gift of a new day................and the ability to recognize it.

I still cry every day.... I guess these past few weeks have been worse than usual. I don't know what has been different or what has changed.... but i'm feeling as if this is getting harder, not easier to deal with. Or maybe it's just the fact that with each passing day... I realize that you aren't coming back.... that this is a permenant thing.....
Every afternoon, around 4 o'clock is the most difficult.... that was the time that my Daddy would always call or stop by and visit.... I can still hear his voice now, telling me that once Bennett was here, there would be no getting rid of him and no stopping him from spoiling that boy... and I wish so much that this was still a "problem" I really had to deal with...

During those times... if Bennett isn't sleeping... he & I slip away to the cemetary to say hello... we always take a flower or a note.... or something special, like a feather.

A feather had somehow drifted down to Bennett as I was carrying him to the car to put him in..... he immediately grabbed it, yet instead of putting it straight into his mouth, he just held it... he held it the whole way to the graveyard. Quietly sitting in his car seat, he just looked at his new prize with amazement. I pulled into the gates... got out and opened the door to take Bennett out, telling him the usual.... let's go say hey to grandaddy... still holding on tight to his feather, I carried him over to my Daddy and we knelt down and began to talk to "our angel". I told him about Bennett sitting up on his own now... and how he would be so proud of him and the way he says "mama"... I tell him that we miss him still everyday... and that at times I don't know if mom & I can make it without him holding us together....the tears start falling naturally... and i feel as if I just want to let go and slip away.... i wish at times I could just blend in with the dirt i'm surrounded by...

I wasn't ready for this... I wasn't ready to be on my own...Yes, I am an adult.... but no matter how old you are...most of us still look to someone for guidance and answers... someone that grounds you with a sense of security and stability.... my rock is gone.... and i'm now floating freely... trying hard to not to drown..

Bennett is quiet in my arms.... his head on my shoulder.. he just listens to me talking to this ledger of granite like some mad woman...but then he turns to look at my face, feather still in his little tiny hands..... he smiles the way Bennett smiles.. and i gain a sense of security again through him..... I smile back and tell him Grandaddy sure would be proud of how much he has accomplished already... I tell him how much he was loved before he was even born.... and it is at this moment he slowly opens his fingers and lets his little feather go.
I watch it slowly float down and land on my Daddy's grave... stopping on the date of death - August 23, 2009... the strongest connection between two of the greatest men in my life...The date one came into my world and the date one left...

It's then that I know he is telling me he is still here...

And even though I cry like crazy and even though it hurts so bad... I'm thankful for what God gave me, and he's the perfect way to make you last.

.I'm learning how to live without you... even though I don't want to.

And even with you gone... love lives on...

I just know that some day he's going to ask me what kind of man you'd been.... I'll tell him all the ways I loved you... and all the you I see in him...

Kind.... Gentle.... Patient.... perfect in every way.....

Tommy..... you were the greatest man in my life.. you taught me how a man should really treat a woman. You helped me learn and demand the respect I deserve from others. You taught me that I have a self-worth. You taught by example. In the ways you loved my mother.... in the ways that we were always the most important part of your life. You never let anyone or anything come before us...

Mom always said that when she found you... she found herself......she found home.

I now can say that when God gave us Bennett... he gave me a little piece of everything I will ever hold dear. I look in his eyes and I see myself...I see mom...I see my loving husband.... and I feel your soul.... all from this little 7 month old boy holding on tightly to a tiny feather.....a feather that freely floats, but grounds itself just at the right time.

................I miss you

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

If Only I Knew...

I've decided that every couple of days I will post a few "If Only's". These will be helpful in reminding you of how short and unpredictable life can be. Maybe one of these "If Only's" will find its way to someone who needs to read it.. At the end, I will dedicate one to Tommy..

If Only I Knew....
     That grief and heartache would be so deep and devestating, I would have been there more often for others....

If Only I Knew....
     That even a child's days are sometimes cut short, I would wish for more long nights of rocking you to sleep...

If Only I Knew...
       That my memories of you would be so precious, I would take the time to carefully gather your life story....

For my Daddy

If Only I Knew...     
The Love and Strength and Support you've always given me were about to end.. I would run to your side and say thank you, for the million times you've made a difference.....
THE difference, in my life....

Saturday, January 2, 2010