Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Comforting & Easy

Friendships going back nearly 30 years are wonderful.
So much that doesn't have to be explained.
Comforting and easy.
That's what I find myself thinking today.
In the home of a long time friend.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Safe and Sound

Here I am awake and coherent after a middle of the night flight.
A good long sleep, some good food and here I am ready to face what's left of the day.
I'd forgotten the humidity in this neck of the woods.
It's much warmer than at home.
Trees are barely starting to turn colour.
At home they'll be on the ground when I return.

I went for a walk this afternoon.
An elderly gentleman was bringing out some recyclables just before the truck was going to pick them up. We had a nice little chat on the sidewalk. He's lived here 89 years, right across from the marina. I hope to be so alert and brimming with life at his age.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Sunday

It's been a type and delete kind of morning.
Nothing I write makes any sense.
Today is only daughter's graduation.
Just after midnight tonight I'll be on a plane.
I'll be back online tomorrow night at the earliest.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

From Muted Hush To Rising Decibels

Just about no spoons tonight. Yet it's a good kind of tired. Nothing that a good night's sleep won't help, if not fix. I chose to stay at the hotel while dearest one and youngest son drove out to see only daughter this evening. I just couldn't face another 2 hours in a vehicle tonight. I will see her tomorrow and will help her celebrate her special day.

Today we went and saw this. I found myself teary the whole way through the exhibit. We are fearfully and wonderfully made kept ringing in my ears as I went from one display to another. Tears threatened to overflow when I got to the part where they showed the development of a baby from conception to birth. I looked at the 6 and 8 week olds and thought of the babies I've lost at those gestations. There was this quiet stillness among all the people looking at the displays. A muted hush when words were spoken.

We went from there to here where there wasn't a muted hush to be found. Ack, the noise. I guess it means it was brimming with life but my goodness the decibel level nearly drove me batty. There was really only one thing I was hoping to buy there and it was in stock so that will be my bedtime reading for a while. A real treat. There used to be a discount book store in this mall and that's the only place I'd go when we visited but it closed a few years ago. Yes, I'd be in the world's largest mall (at that time) and go to a bookstore and forget about the rest of the stores. That sums me up pretty well.

I hope I don't dream of bodies tonight. If I do, I hope it's not a nightmarish kind of dreaming. I couldn't help looking at the bodies today and wondering who caressed that face or who loved this woman. Looking at them brought it home to me that we really aren't our bodies yet it also made me want to take very good care of mine. Who was this person who is there before me? If they could what would they say to me? Come to think of it, that's a question one could ask of the living or the dead.


Travelling is such a privilege.
I often think about that when I see the traffic on the highway as I go for my walks.
To have the money to buy the gas to get where you want to go? A privilege. This weekend is our turn to travel. The beautiful fall colours were a real treat to watch as we drove last night especially because there were some places where all there is to see are trees and more trees for an hour at a time. No houses, no signs of life other than the other vehicles on the road.

I remember when dearest one was bringing me to this place over 25 years ago.
"Where is civilization?" I asked.
Having just lived in a city for the first time in my life, in an area where one was lucky to travel a few minutes without seeing a house, driving through miles and miles of bush was a bit unnerving. The highway cut like a ribbon through the wilderness and it still does in some places, the only change this many years later is that the highway now has 4 lanes instead of 2.

The smell of marijuana greeted us outside the hotel's entrance last night in this big city. Not exactly the welcome we wanted but one that's often the case when we stay at this particular hotel. Noise and city lights made the sleep last night far different than sleeping by the light of the moon and the stars and hearing coyotes howling their song.

Today we're off to see the sights. Do a little shopping. Travel a little further down the highway. Tonight we'll see only daughter and tomorrow we'll celebrate her graduation from college. In the wee hours of the morning I'll get on a plane and travel halfway across the country. It's all a privilege. All a gift.

Enjoy your day wherever the journey takes you.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Power of Choice

"You need to find a way to release your anger and embrace your little girl."

I'm sitting in Fr. Charlie's office yesterday and in the space of two hours I've gone from relaxed and joking to angry and shaking to wanting to curl up in a ball and rock back and forth to soothe myself. I used to stifle my emotions, especially sadness, in these sessions. Well, really I used to stifle my sadness anywhere from the grocery store to church. I was talented at shoving tears down into the abyss of my being at will. I cried more during yesterday's session than I have in all my sessions combined over the past 3 years. I know, I know, that's progress. Exhausting progress.

I'm at one of those turning points again where moving forward means risk. I had an experience earlier this week where I saw, in one of those split second moments where the veil drops, that I keep my cards rather close to my chest. I let next to nobody into that place where I reveal the whole of who I am. My biggest protest yesterday was that if I took said risk I wouldn't feel safe. Being vulnerable makes me feel out of control. In reflection this week I realized I process my journey mostly in my head, all by my lonesome. Yes, I process bits and pieces of it with my sponsor, with friends, and here on my blog with you. But the really deep fears, the thoughts that once voiced would make me feel incredibly vulnerable; those I keep to myself.

The worst of it yesterday was that I thought I was somewhere else in my journey. Like I'd been here so many times before and had moved on already. Finding another layer in this particular onion did not feel like something to celebrate. Fr. Charlie would remind me that it's really not the same place, that I'm a few more revolutions around the mountain since the last time I looked at life from this view.

We talked of fear, shame and guilt. Of power, powerlessness and empowering oneself. Much of it centered around the sexual abuse and how not taking the risk means continuing to let the abuse define me. At that point I wanted to kick my abuser(s) into the ground. The fuckers. I simply shook my head in disbelief over where I'm at.

I don't understand it. I don't have to. Oh, but I want to. Living in my head feels much safer than taking that 18 inch journey to live from my heart. (It really is 18 inches between the two. Good perfectionistic alcoholic that I am, I measured.)

Our session ended with celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I love this Sacrament and the peace that washes over me during absolution. What else is there to say to God other than Here I am in all my brokenness, in much need of Your mercy. [Oh, and by the way, I'm getting on a plane in three days and if I haven't surrendered by then, I will when the plane takes off.] I don't know if priests regularly laugh during confession but I really did say that. And Fr. Charlie really did laugh.

On my drive home I mulled over how my not wanting to risk is really about not wanting to trust. I was thankful for the long drive home so I could pray and think and choose. I've heard it said so many times at meetings that sobriety gives us the power of choice.

Last night I took baby steps towards letting another in. I voiced my fears, those thoughts that come from that little-girl-who-has-to-protect-myself-forever place inside of me. I surrendered to what is, however ugly, broken and wounding to my pride it is. I think that's called accepting life on life's terms. It's two days before my plane's left the ground so I'm ahead of schedule. Lord, oh Lord, have mercy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Seeing Red

"Whatever you do, don't by this colour. You'll end up with red hair and you won't like it. "
I'm sitting in a chair at my hair dressers asking her advice as to what colour to buy if I was going to dye my own hair.
I nod my head when she tells me not to buy that colour and promptly forget what that colour is.
I hadn't really decided if I was going to dye my own hair or let her do it.
Note to self: 1) next time take notes just in case and 2) let her do it.

I now have reddish hair.
I love red hair.
On other people.
Dearest one swears he only sees brown.
Youngest son says copper.
I look in the mirror and see red.
I don't hate it.
But I don't exactly like it either.
I can hear my sister who is reading this, saying "Yaaaaay!"
She's been after me for years to dye it something in the red zone.
You got my wish my dear.

You see I'm going to see my long ago college roommate in a few days. I've gone pretty well grey since we last saw each other. I couldn't see that I was all grey but people (like my sister) kept telling me oh yes I was absolutely, totally grey. Then I saw the wedding photos and thought crap, how come I don't see that when I look in the mirror? All that grey!!
It wouldn't be so bad except dearest one gets mistaken for a 30 something nearly every single week. And this little voice keeps whispering in my ear that I'm going to get mistaken for being his much older wife by one of his students or colleagues. Dearest one will be bald before he is grey. And I am several years younger than dearest one.

For the record the colour not to buy was dark ash blonde.
That's my way of taking notes.
After the fact.

Hanging On For The Ride

"Why would God allow such suffering?" I was 15 years old when I made that statement and my grandpa had just been diagnosed with cancer. My mom dealt with her grief by upping her drinking and I decided God wasn't worth believing in. By the time I was in grade 12 I'd already had a few bitchy discussions with friends of faith and mocked anyone who believed in God.

My eventual turning towards God was a gradual process. I went from atheist to believing there was a God the summer I was a newlywed, and from there to surrending to God a few months after I sobered up 6 years later. It's been a sometimes wild ride since. I've joked with only daughter that it's a wonder she and her brothers don't have spiritual whiplash for all the fast curves we've been around as her dad and I explored different tangents in our faith journey.

Reading this post yesterday brought me back just over 4 years ago when dearest one's brother died. I have a picture of some artist's rendition of Jesus (I've heard it described as a Californian Jesus, no offense to Californians) At that time I spent many early mornings sitting in the darkness with only a candle lit to illuminate Jesus's face. I still don't have an answer to why God allows suffering. I do believe God doesn't cause it.

The morning dearest one's brother died I stood before that picture of Jesus, with tears streaming down my face, and found myself at a turning point. Either God was a good God or He wasn't. Either He was a God to be trusted in no matter what life threw my way or He wasn't. It felt like my heart was being ripped right out of me to surrender to a God who would allow such tragedy to happen. But,by His grace, I did. And ever since then I've had a deep knowing that no matter what life throws at me I do not go through it alone. I believe that Jesus hunkers down beside me. I know that I will be okay even in the worst of life's circumstances. Yes, I sometimes lose sight of this belief. I'm only human. But when I get really still there's still that deep knowing of how temporary this all this and that I will be okay. Even when Jesus masquerades as being from California.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


The Light Of Integrity

"The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the full light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day. What you choose. What you think. And what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny....it is the light that guides your way. "

~Heraclitus, Greek Poet,Philosopher

I saw this in the lawyer's office yesterday. I liked it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Same Old

Appointments in two different directions.
About 150+ miles in all when the day is done.
Does that impress you?
Not sure why else I would tell you.
Not sure why I share what I do with you anyway.

It's okay.
I'm just having a
"my God this blog is such self absorbed drivel" moment.
I'll get over it.
And continue to write the same old same old.

Monday, September 22, 2008


If you phoned my house today and asked me how I was I'd tell you that I'm thankful I only have to take one day at a time.
I am reminded in Just For Today that I can do for 12 hours what would appall me if I had to do it for a lifetime.
Twelve hours I can handle.

I'd tell you about the ravens who are congregating to devour the bear cub in the ditch outside our driveway.
They are a noisy bunch.
About the mama bear and cubs youngest son keeps seeing at the end of our field.
How the jittery feeling still lingers at the thought of a cougar watching me from some tree as I move around outside.
I miss my walks.

The trees are almost all orange so we have a week or two at best before they lose their finery for the year and the landscape turns bleak and bare.
And while I don't whole heartedly welcome bleak and bare it's a necessary part of the journey - there is something hopeful about bleak and bare because it eventually gives way to new life.

I'd tell you of a week full of travel and appointments.
I'd ask you what I should make for supper as I'm fresh out of ideas.

I'd share how funny the energizer bunny looks as she does her obilgatory three turns before she lays down on a desk chair and how funny it looks for her swivel and the chair's to keep pace with one another.
Oh, the frustration!

Maybe we'd talk about where I'm at in my recovery journey.
How this weekend I saw for the first time in a long time that where I'm at is part of the process and how it's a process I can't hurry along but one that I can surrender to.
How scared I can get that where I'm at is where I'll stay.
How much faith it takes to trust that there is a bigger picture than the one in my view finder.
I'd tell you about a friend who says he can always tell when people are trying to transform themselves instead of letting the transformation unfold.
Unfold as only it can as one surrenders their character defects to their Higher Power.
He says their face gets all scrunchy with the effort.
Today there's a tug of war inside me between scrunchy and surrender.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Constantly Vigilant

The phone rang early this morning.
Instantly I thought of dearest one's brother.
I wonder how many years he has to be gone before I'll stop equating early morning phone calls with him and his drinking.

One week from today we'll be at only daughter's graduation
and then I'll be on a plane that will take me halfway across the country.
I'll be visiting old friends - one of them the friend I had my first drink with.
I talked with her yesterday and confirmed that there is an AA meeting two doors down from her house on Friday nights. I jokingly told her I'd tell them she was the person who introduced me to drinking. Next I told her they'd tell me what bullshit it was to try and pin my drinking on her. We laughed. It will be good to see her. She's the only one in my life who knows me from the beginning of my drinking to my present recovery.

I doubt I'll ever forget that first drinking episode. My half of the mickey was gone in about 15 minutes. I had no idea what was normal or abnormal. I just liked how that whiskey made me feel.

I doubt I'll forget my last drink, either. Youngest son was a newborn and we were celebrating dearest one's birthday. He was sitting on one end of the couch and I on the other. I remember how panicked I felt when I had my drink done before he had taken a sip of his. Wondering what I was going to say if he noticed. I don't remember what conversation we had about it but I do remember he poured the rest of the whiskey down the drain.

In between that first and last drink is the rest of the story
which doesn't need to be told.
I can say I am grateful for both the first and last drink though.
Without them I would not know what recovery was.
And today I am one grateful recovering alcoholic.

Last summer when I went to rehab my long time friend wrote me a poem:
"Some friends are like poetry,
multifaceted and fluid
sometimes precise and staid
but constantly vigilant
like liquid words in perpetual motion.
These are the sides of you, my friend -
all of which I cherish.
Recall your growth &
rejoice in change and challenge.
Embrace your journey.
Discover your peace."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Paranoia On Two Legs

It's a beautiful fall day out there this morning.
I'm going to mow the lawns for the last time until next summer.
I didn't like how jumpy I felt yesterday, staying close to the house because of the cougars and bears on the prowl.
I can be slightly paranoid at the best of times so I imagine I'll have a good, perhaps healthy dose of it, as I go around and around all our lawns on the riding lawn mower.
Especially those close to the bush.
The little bear cub in the ditch looks like it was shot and dumped there.
Not sure what the person was thinking when they dumped it so close to a residence.
It's not like there's an abundance of residences on our stretch of road.
Youngest son saw mama bear the night before last.
He was at one end of the bush line and she at the other.
He wisely turned around and came home.

Last night it was dark out when youngest son took the energizer bunny out for a bathroom break before bed so he also carried a rifle.
There are fields being harvested around us so I'm hoping that will keep wildlife at bay. Hunting season started this week. Dearest one and I saw a herd of elk a few nights ago.

Hope you have a two-legged-wild-life-sightseeing kind of day.
Although they might be just as unpredictable.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Holding Steady

I looked in my rearview mirror and thought to myself he's taking that corner rather fast. I'd just turned onto the highway and in my mirror I could see his vehicle barely slowing down to take the same corner. He was my neighbour. Hmmm....it was after lunch already and it was strange he was going home but oh well, I thought and kept on driving. I had a full afternoon in town plus an evening meeting.

It really helps to get where you're going if you turn the lights off in between stops. Which I didn't. So I sat in the library parking lot for a while waiting for a tow truck to come give me a boost. After I was going again I had to drive around town to get the battery charged up. My van starts to over heat when it idles too much on hot days so I had to drive it around town until it cooled off. That also meant if I wanted to eat supper, I had to buy it on the go.

I went to the Subway drive through where my favourite Subway employee works. I don't know if I've written about him before but he is a really nice young man from the Philippines. We made more than small talk one day last winter when he was sick and waiting for someone to come pick him up from work. He told me he couldn't afford a day off work because he worked to support family back home. One of our dollars is worth 45 of them in his homeland. Subway is the only fast food place I eat at and so I've chatted with him regularly for a year now. So yesterday I'm placing my order at the drive through speaker thingy and he's calling me m'am and telling me I'm ordering too fast. I slow down and wonder if the voice is his. I've never seen him anywhere except behind the front counter. I get to the window to pay and he's busy at the till so I know it's him before he knows it's me. He jumped a little and got a big smile on his face when he turned to take my money. What a pleasant young man. Yesterday I finally asked him his name and he smiled so proudly when he told me it was Roland. I told him about my van troubles and we chatted a little bit while we waited for the debit machine to spit out its receipts. I remember when I worked as a cashier and how nice it was to have repeat customers who chatted with me as I served them.

So eventually I get to my evening board meeting and it's mercifully short. My van thankfully is done its shenanigans for the day and I make it home safely. And my neighbour? He was flying home because there had been a cougar ten feet from their doorstep. A frantic phone call from his wife was what had him taking that corner so fast. The cougar was standing in the same spot their 3 year old daughter had been playing in not 10 minutes earlier. We'd heard through the grape vine that there were 2 cougars let loose by fish and wildlife officers a few miles cross country from us. I guess they made their way through the bush to our neck of the woods. Our neighbour's wife has the same hate of guns that I do but yesterday she was wishing she knew how to use one.

When dearest one talked to our neighbour last night he said not only were there cougars around but they'd seen a mama bear with three cubs in that field of oats that I walk past every day, too. I guess I won't be going for a walk any time soon. As I was typing all this dearest one and youngest son left for town. They were back within a few minutes to tell me there was a dead bear cub in the ditch right outside our driveway. Which means the bears were in the bush at the edge of the lawn. The bush that I can turn my head and look at as I type. Some days as I write I hear crashing in that bush and know something big is in there. Bears are usually harmless unless you get between them and their cubs. Problem is you don't know you're in between them until after the fact. Something tells me there's a grieving mama bear out there right close this morning. Poor thing.

Youngest son gave me a short lesson on using a rifle this morning. I think I'm finally going to give in and learn how to use one. I am no match for either cougar or bear. I'm feeling a little jumpy this morning. Something just made a short piercing noise in the bush. The gates on both ends of the deck are shut. I was given orders not to let the energizer bunny out in the yard. The cougar in our neighbour's yard was in the middle of stalking their dog when he was spotted.

The energizer bunny is curled up beside me as I type. She's sleeping on a desk chair with wheels. The other day she jumped up on it only to have to roll across the floor. She was not impressed when I sat there and laughed at the sight. Today she wouldn't jump on it until I held it steady for her.

I hope you have a taking-corners-slow kind of day.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pass The Potatoes Please

Yesterday my mother-in-law and I worked side by side in the garden, harvesting a bountiful crop of potatoes. Some of those spuds were pretty darn big. I cut up four potatoes for supper and they filled my dutch oven to the brim. The energizer bunny tried to help dig the potatoes although all she dug up was more dirt. She'd get right in the hole and work as if she was digging to China.

I find it very comforting to work alongside another woman, especially when it is multi generational. My favourite memory from when my mom and sisters came to visit last month was the time we spent working together in my kitchen getting supper ready. Maybe I'm romanticizing the way things were when several generations of women worked side by side doing all kinds of everyday tasks. Perhaps I miss it because I've been the only female in the house for quite a few years already. Whatever it is, I envision being surrounded by an invisible group of women when I work alongside another woman.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

In Silence

"There is a depth of communion in silence that sometimes trumps what we can achieve with words."

~ Parker J. Palmer in A Hidden Wholeness

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Feeling Full

That Full Feeling

Coleman Barks
"When I was a child in Chattanooga, seven or eight years old, I remember sometimes in April when that spring gold light would come in at the end of the day and just be there for about ten minutes ... that gold time, well, I could hardly stand it as a child. I would lie down and hug myself and my mother and father would be playing bridge with the Penningtons. Lying on the floor hugging myself, I'd look at her and say, "Mama, I've got that full feeling again," and she'd say, "I know you do, honey." So I grew up in an ecstatic world in which it was okay to lie on the floor and hug yourself or maybe just sit out on the bluff and watch the river."

~Source: Never in a Hurry by Naomi Shihab Nye

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rays Of Gold

Rays of gold are filtering through the trees
as I sit here and type.
It's a comfort to have the sun waving good morning as it rises.
Today will be a pajama day for me as there are nearly
no spoons to be had.
I'm still nursing a sore throat and swollen glands from last week.
My lungs have been hurting every morning, too.
A full day of rest and extra gentle self care should make a big improvement in my spoon supply.
The energizer bunny will be happy to sit on my lap all day.

I did win that book contest I entered last week.
How cool is that?!
Some days I sit and think what a difference, how much bigger my world is, because of the internet. In the years where my every waking moment was dictated by my health the blogging community kept the isolation at bay. The best part is how much bigger my God is because you've shared your journey with me.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Towards A Fuller Recovery

Sunday afternoon at the public library.
Soon I'll be on my way home to dearest one and the energizer bunny.
Although I've only been gone one night it feels like forever.

The AA get together is finished.
I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Good food. Great fellowship.
Honest fellowship.
One man, who spoke at the lunch meeting yesterday, sat at my table last night.
When he heard how many years I'd white knuckled my sobriety he said,
"I bet you were just miserable to live with."
And he meant it.
Where else can you hear such honesty and easily fess up that yes, I had been miserable to live with during those white knuckle years.
Where else can one be so honest and be loved and accepted anyway.

There are always little tidbits to tuck away and mull over.
Other things heard that help me live a fuller recovery.
Chairing the meeting went fine.
I have more than enough of an ego, yet.
Hopefully that will shrink as time goes by.

Last year was my first time of going to one of these gatherings.
I met a woman who extended her hand of friendship back then and we chatted a little.
That time I could only handle being at the gathering for half the day and then I'd had enough of crowds and people and being so out of my comfort zone.
This year I went looking for her and when I found her we hugged.
I stepped back and admired her top.
A beautiful blue that I would've bought had I seen it.
Just before she left the meeting this afternoon she gave it to me.
Such generosity shows me how to live a fuller recovery.

By God's grace and my willingness the journey continues.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Of Mountains and Mole Hills

It's Friday night.
This will have to suffice for Saturday's post.
I'll be busy the next two days with an AA conference thingamajig.
Which is totally out of my comfort zone.
Crowds of people aren't life giving for me.
But there are super nice people to be found in AA and Al-Anon.
I'll make some new friends and go support old ones as they share in meetings.

On Sunday I'll be chairing the send off meeting.
Which is more than out of my comfort zone.
At first I said no, I wouldn't chair it.
Then I decided that fear was a lousy reason to say no.
So I'm going to do it anyway.
Plus I get a chance to give back, if only in a small way.
I can just hear my sponsor saying,
"What, are you scared you'll make a mistake?"
Which is what she said the first and only time
I voiced my jitters about chairing meetings.
I'm more comfortable with it now,
but we are a very small group.
I have no idea how many people will be there Sunday but chances are there will be more than a handful. More like a dozen or two handfuls.

I told a friend this week I'm just trying not to make a big deal of it in my head.
The head is where big deals get made....mountains out of mole hills to be exact.
I'm still not feeling up to snuff.
Better, but still not well.
I was hoping I'd be in bed sick
but I'm just walk around sick.

I hope you have a great weekend.
I'm quite sure I will.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Smart Man

"Well, then how do I know when to ignore what you're saying and when not to?"

"That's kind of a big hole you're digging for yourself there," I reply.

Dearest one grins at me and I grin back. End of conversation.

I'd been telling him something I thought was both sweet and funny that I'd read online and he responded with that muffled 'uh huh' that told me he was completely oblivious to what I was saying. When I called him on it he said I'd told him that story last week and it must be my sometime alzheimers acting up. I said I couldn't have told him last week because I'd never been to this blog before. Oh. That's when he said the above sentence and started digging a hole for himself. A shallow one because he instantly went mute. Smart man. Turns out the little tidbit I was reading him was something he'd heard before (one twin sticking thumb in other twins mouth) through his work. Too bad dearest one didn't have a twin. He could have saved him some digging time this morning.

Lord Have Mercy

"I'm trying to be an advocate for everyone."

Those wise words came courtesy a far away friend today.
She then talked about how late in life she's learning it, having spent a great deal of her life being an avid 'us and them-er'.

I've watched and learned from her ability to look at someone with an undesirable quality and comment that perhaps that will be one of their frailties they'll always have. A lifelong thorn in the flesh. Or rather, being a lifelong thorn in the flesh to others because of that besetting behaviour that will probably be with them to the end. She never condones what shouldn't be condoned and she has undending mercy towards their very human ways.

"Mercy triumphs over judgement." James 2:13
I always think of this verse every time I come away from the Sacrament of Reconciliation knowing full well that without God's mercy I'd be sunk.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I traded the severe pelvic pain of last night for a fever this morning.
Dearest one imitated my whiny, wimpering self this morning
and made us both laugh.
Whiny and whimpering over such trivial symptoms seems just a tad lame on a day like today.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dog People

Often as I go for my walk the energizer bunny trots right at my heels. Occasionally she runs ahead or lags behind if she finds something of interest. When she runs ahead and turns around to look back at me she reminds me of Bob from The Biggest Loser. It's as if her look tells me that I'm not pushing myself hard enough and to walk a little faster, will ya? Yesterday she ran a little ahead of me quite a bit. There's something about a little dog being able to go faster than me that's just enough incentive to try and catch up.

Last night the energizer bunny sat on the edge of dearest one's recliner and craned her neck for almost an hour waiting for him to come home from work. Every time she heard a vehicle she cocked her head and strained to see if it was him. In all fairness he was late and she knew it. Finally I phoned him to see how far from home he still was. Soon he was pulling into the yard and the energizer bunny did her happy-oh-so-happy-to-see-you dance. She howls like a coyote and nearly turns herself inside out when she sees him.

As we were going to sleep last night dearest one said that tonight he'd call and I could put it on speaker phone so she could hear his voice. As soon as he said that he muttered, "I'm not even 50 yet and look what I'm doing." We both chuckled. When we first got the energizer bunny friends of ours asked us if we were going to become one of those dog people. Visions of people treating their dogs like children and talking baby talk to them just about made me retch. Horrified, I say no as emphatically as I could.

And while we don't talk baby talk to the energizer bunny, we do talk to her (and honest to God she understands.) While we don't treat her like one of our kids I will concede that less than a year since she came into our house, we're well on our way to becoming dog people. And instead of that making me feel like a loser, it feels like I've found something well worth hanging on to.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Who Am I?

"Who am I if I'm not in control of everything?"

That's the question that popped into my head today while I was reading the memoir of this addict. He was writing about his struggle with who he would be without his famous hob knobbing girlfriend.

I've written here lately about feeling like my recovery is getting sloppy. This morning I was able to identify a few behaviours that were contributing to that feeling. When that became clear I was able to simply let go of them. I also picked up my Big Book for the first time in a few weeks. I read several daily reflection type of books but there's nothing like the Big Book to set my head straight again.

It's a little embarrassing to share with you the question at the beginning of this post. The question itself grabbed my attention though, enough that I put the book down and sat in silence, mulling it over for a while. I need reminding that there is a God and I'm not it. Which is what not being in control is all about for me. That and a lack of trust. Admitting that part doesn't bother me, it just is.

Painful Transformation

There's a great contest going on over at Motherhood Is Not For Wimps where one leaves a comment about who their favourite author is and why. The winner gets a signed copy of The End.

Last week I saw Scibona's book highlighted on this blog and I promptly wrote it down in my notebook where I keep a book list of must reads. Of course I entered the contest, too. I felt a little embarrassed when I was done because I wrote more of a blog post than a contest entry. Here it is:
"A friend of mine recently told me how she was sharing a bench outside a grand church with another good friend when they started talking about what they'd say if Jesus suddenly appeared. My friend was quiet for a moment and then said, "Pick me, pick me." We talked about how hard it is to live any other kind of life other than one where we want to be first. Rather fitting for this contest, no?

When I first read the question I thought I needed to pick someone like Flannery O'Connor and try to impress the heck out of you Salvatore. Someone else had recommended your book just last week and I promptly put it in my notebook where I keep a list of books I want to read. But the sad fact is, other than reading her collection of letters called The Habit Of Being, I haven't read one single thing by Flannery O'Connor.

This past winter my adult daughter wrote and produced a one act play based on warped messages I gave her about sexuality due to my own story of childhood sexual abuse. While she was writing the play she was reading My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok. She mentioned in her play notes that she felt like she'd gone through her own crucifixion while writing the play. Watching the play made me feel like I was going through my own. Not long afterwards I saw a copy of Potok's book in a thrift store. Wondering (and scared to know)what the crucifixion was that my daughter had gone through while writing her play I bought the book and read it. The best fiction reveals myself to me. Sometimes it feels like a slap in the face and sometimes it's gentle yet persistent. I often think of the mother in Potok's book and pray that I will stop waiting at a window. People can speak the truth to one another all they want and it often falls on deaf ears. Fiction, at its best, speaks truth but gives one enough distance to really hear it. It was as if I could hear the voices of my adult children trying to talk to me while reading My Name Is Asher Lev. That book, and so it's author, will always hold a place in my heart for its part in my ongoing transformation. Transformation that is both painful and welcome."

I've been reading the comments over there and here is the one I hope wins the book. I have no idea if it's okay to quote the comment right here or not so apologies if I'm breaking the rules.
"Lumpy Says:

September 8th, 2008 at 3:23 pm
My favorite Author is my eleven year old son, John. He fills five cent Wal Mart one subject notebooks with the most beautiful, inspiring prose I have ever read. Everything is from a perspective of a bright child soaking in the world around him and laying it out in the way only a child could. It is honest, it is painful, it is joyous and when I read it sometimes it overwhelms me with the pride and sadness that goes along with being a mother.
He has written about the pain of watching his Aunt die of Breast cancer at 40 and of his other beloved Aunt going to fight in Iraq. He describes in glee of his favorite prank, which is to soak Mom by wrapping elastics around the sink sprayer so when the faucet turns on, the user gets soaked. His frustrations with his world are so valid and seem so painful at times, but they never are bigger than the things he writes about that make his life wonderful. His description of a summer day that I let him play outside until well after dark with his best friend Jake made me fell as if I was running barefoot with the boys, teasing their sisters, their brown legs carrying them from tree branch to the corner store for a freeze pop. It is honesty, it is love, it is confusion and glee all on paper and nothing beats it."

I thought that comment showed a mother's beautiful heart.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Treading Water

At the end of June I made an inner commitment to show up here to the page on a daily basis. I feel good that other than oldest son's wedding last month I've done it. Occasionally I bail and post a quote from one of my favourite books because I can't stare at a blank page one minute longer. Sometimes lately I've either written the post before I go to bed the night before or at least started it.

Tonight (Sunday night) is one of those nights. As I sat down to write I looked out the window and saw the lights of a combine in the field across from ours. I've seen evidence of a bear sharing my walking path nearly every day this past summer. At the end of our property is a tree line and when I walk past that line I ring my bear bell extra loud because it feels like I'm entering no man's land. Edging the road there is a field of oats and bears love them. The resident bear isn't waiting for them to fully ripen either because his latest evidence told me he's gorging himself on under ripe oats. Evidence left right near the end of our driveway. Oh vey.

I feel like my recovery has been wobbly lately. I left a comment on UT's blog back in June that recovery is like writing an ember letter every day of your life. The constant reflection on how it is within me is necessary if I want to make progress. And I do. And I am although progress sometimes feels akin to treading water.

Remember how I wrote about making an amend that was 30 years in the waiting? I had been chomping at the bit waiting for a response. Making amends isn't about getting a response. (I need that tattooed on the inside of my eyelids.) Maybe I'll accept that now after getting a very short response that was so incredibly crude it made me shudder. There was a current of hostility underneath that creeped me right out. Note to self: making the amend is my part of it. Period. Nada. The end. Dearest one assures me that based on the response the guy is still hurting 30 years after the fact and there's not a damn thing I can do about it.

I've been thinking a lot about my friend Karen this week. I remember looking at all her knicknacks on the shelf in her diningroom this past June knowing that soon it wouldn't matter one little bit what she owned in this lifetime or not. I know that buying stuff will not advance my inner journey one bit. I also know it's not whether or not I own stuff that's the issue, be that a stack of paper (I love me some paper)or a diamond ring - it's my attachment to it that causes problems. I'm still mulling that over and still trying to grasp that Karen really is gone. I miss her.

I realize this is a helter skelter kind of post. I was hoping if I got it out of my head then maybe I could avoid having insomnia tonight. Speaking of which, it's past my bedtime so time to sign off on this 'ember letter' of sorts. Good night (or rather good morning.)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Ego Driven

"Convinced that people lack inner guidance and wishing to 'help' them, we feel obliged to tell others what we think they need to know and how we think they ought to live."
~ Parker Palmer in A Hidden Wholeness

This quote about sums up my behaviour yesterday. Lord have mercy.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I'll Have A Cheeseburger Please

"I'm going out for supper."

With that I picked up my keys and turned around only to find dearest one looking at me rather quizzically. He'd just eaten leftovers for supper and the remainder was still out on the counter for youngest son to devour. I have a myriad of food allergies so I often cook one meal for them and another for me. I'd cooked enough for me at the beginning of the week to last me until lunch time. That was 5 hours ago. I didn't bother taking out anything for supper. I was still feeling resistant. It's not often that I wish we lived in the city but last night I wished I could just pick up the phone and order in supper.

I will never be crowned the Queen of Spontaneity. Which is why dearest one looked at me like I was a stranger. After he found his voice he offered to cook me supper but I declined. While I'm no longer the world champion control freak I used to be, neither do I easily take it in my stride when plans change on a dime (or a $20 bill in this instance.) But last night I looked around the kitchen and decided I. was. not. cooking. In moments like that I envy those of you who do live in a city and can order whatever food you're craving and have it delivered to your doorstep. The closest eatery is a 15 minute drive down the highway one way or 25 minutes the other. I thought about how much gas it would take to drive there and back, thought about how much ambition it would take to cook a meal and promptly got in my van and started driving. I have to say I enjoyed every bite of my cooked-by-someone-else meal.

I was walking out the door to head home when I saw something strange tacked to the community bulletin board. In amongst the signs of things for sale like bales of hay and Heinz 57 puppies was this neatly folded tan coloured tea towel. Pinned to it was a note that said it had been left behind at the community fair last month and if the owner saw it, to please take it home. I smiled to myself that such a method of finding the owner could be had in this day and age. I stood there looking at the tea towel wondering if it's owner was spontaneous. I nearly giggled out loud at the thought. Suddenly I didn't mind living far away from delivery pizza or take out Chinese food.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Avoiding The Ditch

"It's not the size of the step that counts, but the fact that I take it."
~ my favourite recovery guru Earnie Larsen

"I don't want to do yoga. I don't know why I am so full of resistance. I'm not going to listen to it, I'm going to do yoga today if it kills me." Don't tell anyone but I talk to myself sometimes when I'm all alone. The above was what I muttered as I angrily changed out of my jeans and into my yoga clothes. I felt pretty pissed off at myself for giving in to the resistance for 3 weeks already. Tomorrow, tomorrow had been my mantra up until that moment. The cost of chanting that mantra was an increasing tension setting up shop in my upper back, neck and shoulders. A tension that dissipates with regular yoga sessions.

I've been in a slump when it comes to doing those things that promote a healthy recovery. My self care has been slipping. Yesterday was one of those days when I was able to stand back a bit and take a look at what was working for me and what wasn't. And not doing yoga wasn't. Earnie Larsen's quote about baby steps helped me move from inaction to action. After years of either taking giant almost-fall-down-at-the-effort steps or none at all, I've learned that any movement, however small, is worth it.

After an hour of small movements my yoga session was finished. As expected, my body is knotted all up and it will take more than one go round to release all the built up tension.

Self care is my first line of defense in preventing a relapse in any of my addictions. My slack attitude towards self care kept setting off warning bells that I kept ignoring. Until yesterday.

Sometimes recovery feels like learning to drive. The very first time I drove a car I remember having a hard time keeping to my side of the road. There seemed to be so much play in the steering wheel and I'd over correct and whoosh I'd be over the center line. Then I'd over correct the other way and nearly hit the ditch. These days when I drive I make barely noticeable movements in the steering wheel to keep on my side of the road. I don't think I'm all over the road in my recovery but before I made small movements yesterday, I was inching closer towards the ditch.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Uncharted Territory

Twenty-seven years ago today dearest one and I met on a quiet street in a province half way across the country. We'd been penpals as young teenagers. We married when I was still a teenager. By the grace of God we've stayed married for 26 and a half years already.

Of course there's a long story in between then and now. Which is what happens when you take an atheist and a farm boy, raised in a conservative religious home, and put them in a marriage together. Especially when farm boy hasn't told atheist how he was raised and atheist doesn't tell him she's an atheist. But then we'd only spent a few weeks together in person before we ran off and eloped.

By the grace of God we're still together.
Our marriage is in uncharted territory.
This past year has brought an honesty and vulnerability the likes of which we've never braved before. It's scary but good.

We always remember this day.
A day of new beginnings.
Like every day is.
But this one is extra special.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hold The Applause

I try hard not to let the past define me.
There was a time when that was all I knew how to do.
Lord knows that in some Christian circles they applaud real loud for doing so.
If you'd asked me who I was I would have answered with one or more of the following:
Abused child.
Sexually abused child.
Sexually abused teenager.
Teen bride.
Abusive mother.
Chronically ill woman.
The list could go on.

The work I do in therapy and spiritual direction is helping me drop these labels.The more I heal, the more their impact on my day to day life shrinks.

We are all so much more than a label.
Even. my. brother.

As I sat down this morning to write about my visit with my brother yesterday a questioning thought came into my head.

"Are you going to make him into a them?"

Why yes, yes, I was going to.
Before You wrecked that plan by asking me such a question.

Before my brother arrived yesterday I felt a seething anger.
After he left I went immediately to my counter where there were fresh baked muffins, and stuffed one into my mouth. I wanted to stuff 6 more in in rapid succession but I didn't. That gaping hole inside felt like a screaming cavern.

I was going to write about everything that transpired between the anger and the muffins. Nothing more than ordinary and sometimes strained conversation. Telling body language. A sadness about what is. And about what may never be.

I often rant to my family about people who either want to make me an 'it' or people out of their comfort zone an 'it'. It's always other people I rant about doing that of course. Reading this book challenged me to change years ago. Change that is still in the works, obviously. This morning as I sat down to type I got a reminder that to embrace humanity, means embracing not only my own, but my brother's, too. Knowing that doesn't magically make my anger disappear. It doesn't mean I condone his actions. It doesn't make me want to eat less muffins. But it does mean that if I distance myself from his humanity then I reject something of myself in the process, too. It reinforces my identity as a victim.

I'm still feeling a bit stunned by that question popping into my head just as I was getting ready to write this post. I try to be open to guidance. Some days I swear at its arrival. Sometimes I get rendered darn near speechless. And some days I write a totally different blog post than I'd planned.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


"I got that for you," my mom says excitedly.
I look at her and think to myself, "you sick, sick woman."
I don't say anything.
I don't encourage her glee.
I make a mental note to myself to put this on the growing list of
what not to do as a mother of adult children.

This morning my older brother is coming to see me. We live 600 miles apart and in the past 28 years since I've left home, he's stopped in for coffee once for about 10 minutes. He has good friends who live in our area and he and his wife come to see them every so often. I never know he's been here until after the fact. I think that's weird and at the same time totally normal because we haven't worked at any relationship in the past 30+ years since he left home. C'est la vie.

My mom, in her infinite manipulation, pinned him down a few weeks ago when she learned he was coming up here to see his friends. She knows it bothers me that he never stops in. What she can't grasp is that it's really none of her business. So she says to him "And what day will you be visiting Hope?" And with that he gives her a date. When she was here last week she was so excited to tell me she had wrangled a commitment out of him. A commitment I never asked her to get.

Last night I was doing up the last of the dishes and wondering if my brother would follow through. Right at that moment the phone rang. It was my brother calling to get directions to my house and to tell us when he'd be here today as planned. Planned by our mother, that is, although neither of us say that.

In a few hours he'll be on my doorstep. His wife of 30 years has never been to our home. I have no relationship with either of them and I feel like I'm about to entertain strangers. I have no idea if he really wants to come see me or if he's simply keeping his word to our mom. Fr. Charlie encouraged me last week to simpy be myself, to speak my truth. I suck at small talk. The deep stuff I can do in a heartbeat. The small talk gets stuck in my throat. I don't know if they'll be here for 10 minutes or a few hours.

This will be the first time I'll be seeing my brother since I've been going for counseling to heal the wounds of childhood sexual abuse. He was the first perpetrator. Sometimes I wonder if he remembers that incident.
The one that changed me at my core.
Sometimes I wonder.

Monday, September 01, 2008

It's Really Him

Yesterday I drove half an hour to attend Mass in a bigger parish.
Slipping into a pew right behind two rows of older women,
I watched as they jostled and teased each other, obviously comfortable
in one another's presence.
Just before Mass began a young mother, carrying a tiny baby,
came in with her husband and toddler.
She sat in front of me a few rows up.
Her face was framed in between the shoulders of these elderly women
and I watched as she bent down to smile at her baby.
Such a look of tenderness and love radiated from her.

A few minutes later, I saw a young girl,
on the cusp of puberty, lean against her father's shoulder and
rest her head.

It's not often I go to Mass in a bigger parish. In our own tiny church we gather around the altar to receive the Eucharist. Every time I am in a bigger parish I look at the line of people waiting to receive the Eucharist and think to myself we are such a motley crew. Every one with a story. Every one with a need. Every one moving towards a moment of grace.

Yesterday as I stepped into the aisle, the young couple with their tiny baby were in view. Behind me a little boy must have been watching them, too. I heard him ask his grandma, "Is the priest going to bless the baby?"

Before I got to the front of the line I heard the tiny white haird woman who was assisting the priest with communion, hold up the Body of Christ and say with quite the emphasis, "The body of Christ!" She said it in such a way that she was simultaneously saying, "Do you believe it?" and "It's really Him." She said this over and over again as she held up Jesus for each one, each time with the same devotion and zeal.

There's that Christmas song that asks "Do you hear what I hear", "Do you see what I see? For several years now I've been praying for the ears to hear, the eyes to see and a heart to respond to God. For a brief moment in time yesterday that prayer was answered.