Sunday, March 27, 2005
I visited the Murrah Building memorial last year in OKC and was moved deeply. It's amazing how they have put the whole thing together, a true rememberance of the terror the day's events and the lives that were lost.
My visit to the memorial was actually only a short time before I attended my first f2f SLAA meeting. I was feeling like my life was in shambles -- maybe because my insides were. But as I went through the memorial, heard the sounds, felt the commotion, then heard the stories of aftermath -- what it meant to the city, to the country, to the world, and then more closely to the families whose loved ones lost their lives -- I cried and shook inside. I remember it took me a long time to settle down after we left. It wasn't that I was still crying, but I was still feeling, still shaking, still shocked.
And what I think now as I look back on those feelings I know they hit deeper -- to feelings that my insides -- my heart and soul, my mind -- feel like they have been bombed, blown to pieces, and so much has been left in the wake. I feel empty and hollow, love is only able to pass in and out. There are survivors of me, people who have loved me, who still love me, who mourn the loss of my spirit and soul and wonder if I'll ever be rebuilt. Friends who have been neglected, a husband who can only do his best, and a family that both scares me and makes me sad. I wonder if I ever will be rebuilt. There are glimpses of reconstruction, but the foundation is being laid very slowly.
I can't help but imagine the grassy outer area of the memorial, where the copper covered seats line up row after row, facing the clock that marks the time of the attack. I've been trying to think of what those represent in this analogy to me. And I think it is that only one of those seats belongs to me. I am not alone. Through this program, we all come together for strength and hope, and rebuilding.
And, together, lined up row after row, we represent a beautiful image of peace and serenity, a memorial and testament to all that has been given, all that has been taken and all that has been left behind.
Thank you to every addict who walks with me. Today, I do not feel alone.
Saturday, March 26, 2005
I am now four months sober of sex outside my marriage, if you discount a slip I had back about this time in February. So, technically, I'm only one month sober -- but I'm trying to be clear about how far I have come.
G. the guy I slipped with, has not returned calls or e-mails -- so I'm assuming I pissed him off. That's good -- one less thing to worry about.
I met in NYC last weekend -- a week ago ... wow, it seems like years ... with a group of my online support buddies. It was a wonderful, amazing experience. We had an actual "meeting," complete with the steps and a prayer at the end, right there ... with the world going on around us. I think one thing may have been the place. In NY you can be invisible.
I have no feelings about the letter from my stepdad. I guess those will come. I expected he would write me and say most of the things he said. I didn't expect how I would react.
To answer your question, yes, I was sick for a long time then.
I did love you, I still do love you.
It was not your fault. It was mine.
The good Lord forgave me for all of my sins. I wish you could too.
I am all right now, except for being toothless, going bald, going blind and all of my other troubles.
I probably have less than five more years to live (with my emphysema), so please let me live the rest of it in peace.
I have thought about just leaving it all behind and disappearing for good.
S. (my niece who will soon be three years old, who is often in the care of my dad and his current wife) is going to live a good peaceful life, without anyone bothering her, or I will get up from my grave and do some rear-end kicking.
Friday, March 25, 2005
As for my biological father, I also wrote him a letter. I mailed it late last year. In it, I said, as a child I spent many years hating you ... mainly for how you treated my mother and abandoned her and she didn't deserve that. As an adult, I can tell you that if you need forgiveness, you have mine. My biological father and mother married when they were 17 and 15. They grew up in a tiny, tiny town and were basically forced together by their parents. He went into the military and they traveled around the country from Army base to Army base ... my three siblings were born and then they returned to settle not far from where they grew up. He went to work as a cross-country truck driver and was on the road most of the time. He soon met another woman and began spending part of his time with her. After a while that time became more and more until he left my mother with three young children and no education. His family and my mom's family helped some, but they were all poor. My brother went to work at 14 years old to help pay the rent. When my sister was a teenager she began to act out -- sleeping with boys, staying out late, these things. He told my mother, "She wouldn't do these things if she lived in my house." So my mother said, "Come take her to your house then." So, he came to our hometown to pick up my sister. That night in a moment of weakness he and my mother had sex. I am the product of that encounter. A pure unwanted, unneeded imposition, resulting from weakness.
Before my father returned to this other woman the next day, my sister decided she didn't want to go live with him. So, my brother said, "I want to go." My biological father's response was "You can't come, because Frances (his girlfriend) doesn't know about you. She didn't know I had kids until I was forced to tell her about Debbie (my sister) because she was going to come live with me."
I only heard this part of the story four years ago. I always thought I was the only one who was ever rejected. It was very humbling to know that we were all rejected.
Anyway, so the letter I sent to him just said -- it's clear that you loved this woman you left my mother and your family for. You are still with her after all these years. I understand how things happened and I no longer hate you.
At the bottom I wrote ... you don't need to acknowledge this letter, I wrote it for me. He never responded.
Back in December, before the new year started, I wrote a letter to my stepfather telling him how f*cked up my life is, how depression and overwhelming feelings have rendered me almost helpless – unable to work, unable to function. (I didn’t say anything about the addiction.) I told him that I had finally reached this stage because I had come to grips with the fact that the secrets of his abuse I had kept all these years were killing me. “I pay the price every day. My husband pays the price every day,” I wrote. Now, it is time for you to pay the price and face this – Why did you do this to me? I told him that I had no grand scheme to start telling the world, but that I was now saying the truth out loud, and that if there was ever any indication that he was abusing his granddaughter the way he abused me, I would make sure he lived the rest of his life in shame.
I have carried this letter around with me … in my purse since then. I shared it with my counselor and with my husband. They both encouraged me to send it. My husband said, “Why should you be the only one to suffer?” I told him then that I for some reason still felt the need to protect my father (sorry … I never call him my stepfather, he raised me from 9 months – it’s hard for me to get in that mode.). I was afraid of hurting him. I know that this is more about my obsessing need to ignore myself and look out for someone else’s feelings. But, the reality was, I was afraid of hurting him – this man who has so selfishly hurt me, stolen my innocence, and asked me to kill myself by hiding all the hurt inside.
I mailed the letter on Sunday. I was cleaning out my purse, and there it was. I took it out of the tattered envelope, put it in a new one, addressed it, and put it with a stack of bills to be mailed. Later, as I dropped it in the mailbox, a minor fear struck me. I thought to myself, “You can never get it back.” Other than that, on the surface I have felt pretty casual about mailing the letter – like it was time, and I did it. But these fleeting moments of desperation about other things – things like what I talked to my friend about yesterday – tell me that there are things that lie beneath.
On Monday, almost without prompting, it suddenly occurred to me that the three most defining points of my life came together on a single day in 2003. It was the day of my mother’s funeral, I was 25. My biological father, who I had never seen, and to this day has never acknowledged me as his own, came, passed by the family, touched my hand, and never knew he was touching the hand of his daughter. He even came to the cemetery and I had to “protect” myself from being near him. I remember saying to my cousin, “Please if you see him coming near me, save me.” I hated him for coming to the funeral. As if 17 years of marriage gave him any right to show up on the most traumatic day of my life, and pay his respects to a woman he had shown such utter disrespect for in the past. Little did I know that the day would only get worse. Later that night, after the family had cleared out of the house and I was alone with my father, he called me into the bedroom like he had done so many times before when I was a child. He began to talk to me about his sexual relationship with my mother, and then began to talk to me about a prostate surgery he had had a few years back, and then asked if I would like to see the scar. I said no … still the scared child couldn’t scream. He pushed a bit further and said, “It’s not really wrong, you are not my real daughter.” It was then, for the first time, that all the hurt of my childhood came back to me. I just looked at him, tears in my eyes, and said, “Why are you doing this to me?” The only response I can remember was, “I never meant to hurt you.” And I remember him reaching for me and holding me like his child as I cried, and the child inside me felt good to be held by my father, the only father I ever had.
I read these things now and want to wretch. I am angrier with myself than anyone for being so weak, for being unable to see the truth. I never had a father who loved me and I never will. I was willing to run from a man who hurt me only by his absence in my life, and willing to take solace in the arms of a man who had done me so much harm by his own sick and pathetic weak presence in my life.
Still, this morning, as I started my morning prayers, I felt the disconnect that sometimes comes – the inability to feel that I am in communication with my higher power. Those are the times that I try hardest to reconnect, and finally after all the usual methods, I began to pray out loud, thanking God for “all that had been given, all that had been taken away and all that had been left behind.” I prayed some more asking for God’s will in my life today and then I said, “Lord, watch over me today …” and closed my eyes and said, “Momma please watch over Daddy, he will need you.”
I don’t understand why I care. This hurts me in a way that only nothingness can hurt.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I have
become sounding brass or a tinkling symbol.
And if I have prophecy and
know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove
mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
And if I dole out all my
goods, and if I deliver my body that I may boast but have not love, nothing I am
Love is long suffering, love is kind, it is not
jealous, love does not boast, it is not inflated.
It is not discourteous, it is not selfish, it is not irritable, it does not enumerate the
evil. It does not rejoice over the wrong, but rejoices in the truth
It covers all things, it has faith for all things, it hopes in all things,
it endures in all things.
Love never falls in ruins; but whether prophecies,
they will be abolished; or tongues, they will cease; or knowledge, it will be
For we know in part and we prophecy in part.
But when the perfect comes, the imperfect will be superseded.
When I was an infant, I spoke as an infant, I reckoned as an infant;
when I became [an adult], I abolished the things of the infant.
For now we see through a mirror in an enigma, but then face to face.
Now I know in part, but then I shall
know as also I was fully known.
But now remains faith, hope,
love, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.
The most important part of this scripture to me is the last three verses. This again is my interpretation ... When we strip away all that we were and all that we are, when we stop seeing the world as a child, but rather as an adult, fully aware of our imperfections, accepting of them and allowing others to accept them as well, what is left is hope, faith, and love. The most important of these is love. Why? To me, hope and faith are ours alone. Love we can share with others, and it is the sharing of love that binds us together and sustains humanity.
You and I both, and maybe all S&L addicts, struggle with what exactly is this thing called love. I don't know the answer, but I don't know that I have to right now to continue on with life and continue to follow the inner voice that speaks to me. And I know I will never know it, until I commit myself fully to understanding myself and loving me. Once I love myself, put aside shame, blame, guilt and all those negative images I have of myself, I will know the answer to the question ... What is love? Then I will be able to share that love -- a true love with others.
This was my "Letting Go" meditation today. I thought it was pertinent and wanted to share it:
You Are Lovable
We go back ... and back ... and back ... through the layers of fear, shame, rage, hurt, and negative incantations until we discover the exhuberant, unencumbered, delightful, and lovable child that was, and still is, in us. From Beyond Codependency by Melody Beattie
You are lovable. Yes, you.
Just because people haven't been there for you, just because certain people haven't been able to show love for you in ways that worked, just because relationships have failed or gone sour does not mean that you're unlovable.
You've had lessons to learn. Sometimes, those lessons have hurt.
Let go of the pain. Open your heart to love.
You are lovable.
You are loved.
Today, I will tell myself that I am lovable. I will do this until I believe it.