The bridges of forgiveness…

via Daily Prompt: Bridge

To go where I have not yet been but surely long to go. The place that we cannot see but a glimpse of hope of what could someday be. A place where we let go of the demons of our past and allow the light of forgiveness to shine into our mending souls. To see the beauty again in a life that was always meant to be, but was never promised without pain except in the depths of our dreams.

The realness of our life revealed, far from perfect, but perfectly real. A consistent flow of lessons learned cycling in the wind that never ceases. Changing the direction of our sails for the remainder of our journey that we alone will only truly embark.

To live for today in this present moment, for it shall never come again. A chance to see the sun peak from behind the clouds and the wonder of another day.

long_stone_bridge_over_water-wide_thumb

The bridge between our past and our future lies in the forgiveness in our hearts. The forgiveness bridge I shall always seek to find as a mender to my heart and healer to my mind.

Tiny world big mind…

via Daily Prompt: Tiny

Sometimes when I am brave, I think I am going to change the world. The divine yet destructive path that led me where I am today, a definite sign that the survival of my sufferings would be for a purpose in this life.  Ending the pains of addiction, the suffering of those who love us because they would give their life to save ours, but that isn’t the way it works when you dance with the devil. The forgiveness of love, that we now yearn to give back because we know that without it and the grace of God, there is no way on this earth we would still be here. Slashing the stigma that stifles the cries of so many hurt and dying souls who allow their screams to be muffled by judgment. Turning shame into hope, weakness into courage and complacency into the much needed change.

Sometimes I think that once my story is told and the truth of recovery is revealed, the clouds of addiction would give way to sunny skies that dry up the puddles of suffering on this earth. But then I remember, there are so many others who have come before me and there is still so much suffering. There is still way too much loss. There is still a powerful stigma that will silence another person as they sink deeper and deeper into the depths of their hell.

We are but a small wave in the ocean, with big dreams of a healing world because we know what it is like to watch dreams get shattered and worlds fall to pieces.

We think so big and yet in our world, we are still so very small.

The Recovery Journey

Much of my recovery path has been behind a keyboard.

Clear minded for the first time in longer than I wish to remember, my brain became a sponge yearning to soak up everything there is to know about addiction and recovery. Countless hours spent researching the latest trends, epidemics and tragedies of the thousands of lives lost from this forbidden curse I call addiction. And just as much time was spent wandering through all the different pathways to recovery that I never even realized existed.

But in no way would I recommend doing recovery alone. Isolation leads to what they call in treatment, stinkin’ thinkin. That deceitful little voice in your head that tells you everything will be alright so long as you just have one. I listened once, and that was reminder enough that my brain no longer understands moderation.

It’s been my experience that recovery thrives in community. And perhaps because with a sober mind, we actually enjoy creating meaningful relationships with others. Especially with people whose story looks like ours. To know someone with the same sorrow and heartbreak. To cheer them on with every milestone and pick them up when they fall down. It’s nothing short of empowering. Especially when you watch them start to like themselves again. And the same thing starts happening to you.

loveunity

Friendship as I understand it today is so much more than having someone to sit next to while getting drunk in a bar. Meaningless conversation that brings nothing but the passing of time while the poison erases that which we drink to forget. I never really believed “community” would be much of a benefit until I found an online recovery group where I discovered people who really were just like me. With similar stories, but very different paths in how they got there.

And it was an enlightening realization that there’s a familiar thread in everyone’s story that I think only people in recovery comprehend. A profound reconnection with a passion that was buried deep beneath the pain of our affliction. A discovery of the inner child, I have heard it explained, the one who loved to dance in the rain and found joy in discovery of anything new. I now find solace in the connection to my younger self who found immense joy in writing about the adventures of life instead of drowning my sorrow with a swig from a bottle.

childs-play

I spend my days focused on being present in the moment, enjoying all that I love in my new life through clear eyes. And I find myself yearning for the time in which I can write even more. Continuously writing away the troubles of my past and building dreams of the future, which brings so much hope and healing to my ever wounded spirit. It helps me remember how far I have come and keeps me hopeful for all that tomorrow may bring.

 

My recovery journey is ever changing. What worked for me a year ago is far different than what I strive for today. But what I gained from the past year was just what I needed at the time. I took what I needed from it, left what I didn’t behind and moved on.

And I have a feeling that is the part of recovery that stays constant regardless of your specific path. It’s a life long journey that continues to grow. And it must be continuously nurtured in order to thrive.

Find your passion. Connect with like minded people to build them up. Become stronger for it. And keep moving toward that childlike freedom that brings an enlightenment only someone in recovery truly understands.

A freedom I now long for that would have never been found in a bottle.

 

Why I Write…

Life has taught me that our time on this earth can be over in an instant. We can spend it running from the unavoidable pains we all experience or give way to distant memories and live each day grateful in the present moment. I ran from pain for so long I forgot it was even there. But addiction erases pain until it doesn’t anymore. Then it can get really ugly. Finally in recovery, I learned to find comfort through writing and that has made quite the difference.

But I don’t write as the face of who most think of when they think of an addict. I have never tried heroin and I am not addicted to pain meds. I am not homeless nor have I been jailed for my behavior while under the influence. These are all real problems to so many in our society and increasing awareness is so important for I know way too many who have lost their fights with these battles.

But I write as a typical American woman in modern day society who once seemed “normal” to the outside world. A college educated wife and mother who lived in a friendly community balancing a career and play dates until I no longer could…the one who slowly fell through the cracks and got stuck in the curse of addiction.

This didn’t happen overnight, and I while I have yet to meet too many others as of yet, I am thinking I am not the only one whose been down this path of unintended self-destruction.

So in a hopeful way of giving back, it is for the ones who see themselves in my story that I write.

I am free today because of the miraculous truth of God’s undying love that I will never deserve but always receive. So I write out of His love that comes from my heart because that is what we are meant to do.

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be FREE. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather serve one another humbly in LOVE.” Gal 5:13

To love and be loved. That is our reason for being.

The Light of Loves We Have Lost

The other day on one of our walks,

my youngest son innocently wondered,

What would it have been like to have had Aunt Tina

in my life?

…In that moment, I was taken aback.

Flashing memories and raw emotions swarming through my mind…

Too freshly resurfaced to express all the wonders of my sister…

Taken away all too soon for me to have fully appreciated

the first fifteen years;

when I had her in mine.

But in that moment,

as I struggled to come up with an answer,

out of my mouth came the words that she is in his life;

just not as someone who he can physically see.

angelic-sky

I told him I believe our lost loves become our guardian angels

who help watch over us and keep us safe throughout our lives.

I told him I believe it is the angels of those whom we’ve loved and lost along the way

who help protect us in our darkest moments.

Who help us to eventually see all that is beautiful and meaningful in this life again.

Because without them to remind us in our hurried lives,

we become too narrowly focused on the daily demands

and we can easily forget.

Life can seem unfair.

The dark can overpower even the brightest moments

if we forget to seek out that which brings love, peace and joy.

So I told my son I remember my sister today

as I gaze beyond the deepest oceans into the endless skies,

as I listen to the birds

singing joyfully

and as I watch the leaves dancing among the swaying trees.

windy-tree

And now that I have had time to ponder, I can say my sister

was a deep breath of fresh morning air,

the first drop of much needed rain

and the bright ray of sunshine in a sky full of darkened clouds.

I told my son about a lot of laughter,

a bunch of silly and so much fun in every day living.

 

And as I continue to envision

all the good she left behind

to all those who were blessed enough

to have loved her on this Earth…

I wonder…

What if we took the light

that once shined

in those whom we’ve loved and lost

and let that same light shine again

through us?

For is it not true that one of the reasons we continue to love

those who were only in our lives for a little while

is because of how they made us feel

when we were with them?

Love, peace and joy doesn’t need to end because someone we love fades from our lives.

Rather it should continue forever because of who we are

for once having been loved by them.

Kel B

May 3, 2016

Depression and Addiction: Closest to Death I’ll ever be Without Dying…

When I was 16 and first diagnosed with depression that would torment me through subsequent seasons of my life, people would tell me, if only you could see how beautiful you are, you wouldn’t be sad anymore.  Even my therapist told me I should focus on the features of myself I liked instead of obsess about the ones I didn’t.

As if that would make the negative voice in my head that so often intruded my thoughts go silent.

It was times like these I’d take a microscope to my life and pick out all the ways everyone else’s lives were better. I would scan over the entirety of my body and find all the features I disliked. Each part of my life I had reasons to hate in my mind, I’d write them down like a shopping list.

I don’t know when I accepted depression as part of who I was, but I know for many more years than I care to admit, I found a way to hide from it. And for a time, I hid so well, it almost cost my life.

When my sister was killed a month before my sixteenth birthday, I answered the hospital call. But it wasn’t like the call a year before, where her first alcohol related accident rendered her comatose for a week in ICU. Forcing her broken body and traumatized brain to learn how to walk and talk again.

This time there was a chilling sense of urgency on the line. How far are you from the hospital? How soon can you get here? It’s important you come now.

My mom and brother rushed to the hospital.  A friend had spent the night whose family was out of town. And I needed to go to school. I needed normal. I needed to pray to God that He wouldn’t allow a worse outcome than what we narrowly escaped from the last time. Praying silently in the bathtub, I yearned to hear the opening of the front door and the good news to overwhelm me with a deeply desired relief. Even if it meant another long recovery, that we could handle. But deep in my spirit, I was also fearing the news that would alter the path of my destiny.

And for me and my already wounded family, and the innocence of a young girl that drained with the bath water, our lives were forever changed.  The sunken look on their faces made the words that followed unnecessary. But they seeped from my mother’s mouth as my brother tried to keep her from falling.

She didn’t make it this time

Everything good I once stood for was shattered in that moment. In just those six little words. And here would begin the tumultuous relationship with depression and all its manifestations that I would be forced to know.

And the unfortunate truth about this traumatic chapter of my life, instead of leaning on God for strength in His promises that He’d carry me through while I processed my grief, it became a lame excuse for my subsequently defiant behaviors for the purpose of honoring the life of my sister.

In my 16 year-old mind, my sister was the life of any party. Her smile lit up the room and people were drawn to her like an addiction. An addiction I would eventually take on as my own. She was alluringly beautiful and drew laughter from people that kept them thirsting for more. And perhaps typical with teens growing up in the 80’s, alcohol had become a weekend enhancer to her audaciously charming ways. At least in these two life altering events that ultimately stole her from mine.

It mattered not that I went on to graduate college from a major university, or that I followed what I defined as the “typical” societal pattern of graduation, marriage, career and parenthood in that well thought out predestined order.

I made sure to honor my sister with alcohol as my dependable counterpart every step of the way. It became a crutch to the lies I chose to believe. That my life was worth far less than hers, and that in the unspoken words that would play like a broken record, everyone around me really wished it would have been me.

I spent several years living out what my sister no longer could. Flirting with disaster with every encounter, often not knowing where I’d wake the next day until daylight forced me to opened my eyes. I eventually met a strikingly handsome man who settled me down but willingly embarked upon the journey of high-functional alcoholic living at its finest.

It would be several years of juggling marriage, family and careers as a typically happy family before the loss of my dad and both in-laws in a span of a few years would cause depression to resurface beyond my ability to contain it with the amnesia of a drink.  So I sought out relief through antidepressants, because it helped me out of my slump as a teen and came recommended by some friends.

And despite the incessant warnings about the dangers of drinking on medications, I ignored them until the physical side effect became so exasperated and the compulsion to ward them off increased. And then I couldn’t stop. The toxic poisons fused together overpowered my mind, stole chunks of memory and rationale, and for a year and a half, rendered me helpless over any life worth living. I lost my career, almost broke up my family and narrowly ended my disastrous life. And all that was supposed to be in honor of my sister.

Closest to death I will ever be without dying is how I describe the curse I fell under before I was able to break free from my addiction.

And it was only by the same grace of God who I pleaded with in the bathtub many fateful years ago, pleading for him to keep my life “normal” because I had already had taken on too much to handle, that I was shown my story wasn’t over and I had no choice but to surviveMy story needed to be told. Even to just one.

That negative voice in our heads that tell us we aren’t good enough to be the one to survive the loss of a sibling is an outright lie. God doesn’t have favorites but He does allow free will. No one will ever be able to answer why my sister had to die at the hands of another, but that doesn’t mean that my life didn’t matter. I took the long way around discovering this truth. But hopefully my story can help shorten the path of another.

So as a new way to honor my sister, what is your life story?

The story of how you thought your life should go, but through an unfortunate twist of life events, got derailed because you encountered pages you weren’t prepared to write? And how did you survive? How did the tragedy turn into triumph? And can you use your experience of victory to help another? Because if we’re still on this Earth, we somehow survived, and it’s certainly for a purpose.

How can the detours of your story, where you undoubtedly gained wisdom and strength, help someone else change the ending of theirs?

~ Kel B.

ADDICTION: THE BROKEN PROMISE OF HAPPILY EVER AFTER, JUST BEYOND OUR REACH.

If addiction is defined as a compulsion to do something repeatedly, regardless of the negative consequences, it makes no sense this would be a choice.  Especially if continuing to do so hurts the ones we love. Or becomes the reason we live. Because neither of these would we do by choice.

At least not in our right mind.

Addiction doesn’t start out as an act beyond our control. It begins in a slow moving motion and we don’t even recognize its growth until it’s apparent to all those around us. A reality which, for a time at least, we will adamantly deny.

In the beginning, we try something meant to give us joy, and in the surge of its intensity, we never want it to end. The giddiness of that first glass of wine after a stress filled day, or that rush of excitement from a winning hand at blackjack. Then we do it again and we feel joy. And again, we don’t want it to end.

Eventually, we like it enough to create meaning around it. 

We host barbecues and football parties, where drinking ourselves to oblivion is an acceptable way to celebrate the occasion.  It doesn’t matter the end of the night leads to another blackout. We plan family trips to Vegas, as there is so much to be seen, yet we fail to venture beyond the casino walls because we are one step away from hitting the jackpot. Familiar roads filled with good intention, always leading to a dead end. So close to our incessant desire, yet still so very far.

The broken promise of happily ever after, just beyond our reach.

We ignore those who frown at our behaviors and discount their judgment as simply not knowing how to have fun. What we don’t yet admit is that our behaviors stopped being fun long ago, and we are wickedly close to falling off the edge. Yet we are forever chasing that unreachable joy that swept us off our feet during the addiction honeymoon, where we first fell in love.

What we fail to realize in the blindness of active addiction is not only do we keep doing it for the way it makes us feel, we equally do it for the way it makes us NOT feel. Research continues to show addiction has become a detrimental escape from the unfortunate experiences of our past.  An incomplete mourning for the loss of something meaningful that ultimately changes the direction of our life path.

The loss of a loved one, a difficult divorce or an unwanted touch can all take considerable chunks of well being out of a previously unscathed being. The pain of these experiences left unattended can weaken our whole existence and put a halt on our life motivation.  Especially when those who love us are unable to heal our pain because of their own.

It is of no surprise that anxiety and depression swarm within the tumultuous relationship with addiction.

At times it is difficult to decipher which one causes the other. And so begins the infinite cycle of turning to addiction to numb the pain, which further ignites the anxiety of our choices and ultimately fuels our depressed state of being. Only leading us to escape into our addiction all the more.

Eventually we learn to hide from all of our fears with addiction because we are mistakingly empowered by how we are feeling in that moment that brings us joy.  And we create misconceptions we hold onto that by continuing in our addiction, somehow we will maintain this perpetual happiness.  Or at least we won’t think about the pain.  At least not today.

All too soon, this relationship with addiction evolves from giving pleasure and avoiding pain to becoming a necessary evil to simply exist.  The compulsion sets in and our minds become fixed on our unquenchable urge for that next drink.  Our bodies develop a physical dependence that we can no longer disguise.

So we drink to stop our hands from shaking. We do it to feel “normal” again, at least enough to get through the day.  We gamble away that last dollar to suffice the unattainable desire to recover our losses. To get back the tax return that was meant to pay our mortgage.  Grabbing for what can’t be reached. Searching for joy where it will never again be found.

All to get back that feeling of ultimate pleasure from when we first fell for addiction.

In the end and without help beyond ourselves, the broken state of our damaged brain allows addiction to engulf us with a curse so intense, nothing in our destructive path can stop us from this hell. Not our spouse, our children, our parents, our failing health or our careers.

Not one thing can stand between addiction and our mind.

We have succumbed to this disease bigger than us and it grows stronger than our ability to stop it.  We stand to lose everything, yet that might not be enough to end the insanity.  The curse destroys all that was good in our lives and renders us hopeless for a better tomorrow.

My personal and still very raw experience with addiction has yet to be shared, but there is no doubt in my recovering mind, the addiction that diverted my path was not there by any choice of my own. My path to destruction crept upon me as the overpowering curse that it was and stole a mother from her children for several months of their lives I can never get back.  It rendered me helpless for weeks on end, stealing chunks of time I can’t recall and ultimately ending a career I spent many years building for the person I mistakingly thought I wanted to be.  It shook me up, swallowed my joy and buried deep into my unconscious mind all that I once loved.

Shattering the unscathed child I yearned to be and morphing me into a monstrous being my conscious mind will never want to know.

My truth remains that I didn’t willingly choose addiction. Rather the disease of addiction chose me.  And it was only through the brokenness of my crumbling spirit and the insanity of my disastrous mind that I found the miraculous strength beyond myself, building the courage to crawl out from under the evil force that bound me. Crushing the curse of addiction.

The addiction from hell, that almost became stronger than my will to survive.

By Kel B.