Monday, October 29, 2007


Monday, Monday. No snow. One year ago we had a foot of snow and the official start of winter. Over seven feet of snow and six months later it gave way to spring.

Today I have an appointment with my after treatment addictions counselor and then on to buying groceries. My commitment today is to buy good groceries. To honour my body with good choices. I'm grateful I have that privilege. Hopefully I'll find a $5 bouquet of pink roses to take home as well.

Small things give me the most pleasure. A cup of tea. A pretty flower. A comfy bed to crawl into. A shower. We spent years hauling every drop of water we used so to have a well that works better the more water we use, makes a shower a glorious event. A simple meal. A library book to read. A warm blanket for my lap.

It doesn't take much to make me happy. Sometimes I wonder if that's because I'm not much of a dreamer. Or if life's struggles have taught me to be thankful for what's right in front of me.

Whatever the case I'm grateful to be going to town today and receiving nourishment for body and soul. Life doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Last Night I Baptized A Book

I was getting settled under the bed covers the other night, my latest read and a cup of tea occupying both hands, when a few teaspoons of golden hot liquid spilled onto the book. As I reached over to get a Kleenex to soak it up a sentence popped into my head:
"Last night I baptized a book."
"Well, that's weird," I thought, "Books don't need rebirth." At that I wiped the tea away, opened my book and began reading. The sentence kept circling my head like an airplane in a holding pattern, though. "Excuse me, I'm trying to read here!" I murmured. By the time I went to sleep the sentence was still in orbit. It was the first thing to break through my consciousness when I opened my eyes 9 hours later, too. It still didn't make any sense.

Yesterday I met with Fr. Charlie. I arrived late and found the front door locked. I yanked on the doorknob once last time, not knowing that if I would've moved my fingers an inch to the left, they would have pressed the door bell to let them know I was there. Sometimes the solution is so simple. Fortunately, when I walked around to the side of the building, someone finishing up dishes from lunch saw me through a window. She opened the side door, told me the front door was always locked, and led me through a maze of hallways and staircases where I eventually ended up in Father Charlie's office.

I miss the serenity of the sitting room in his old office. The one with comfortable furniture and peaceful paint colours. It felt safer there. In this new space there's high ceilings, institutional white paint and two uncomfortable wooden chairs. They're meant to sit facing his desk but when we meet he comes around the side and sits in one while I take the other. With barely enough room to navigate, the chairs are turned to rest against adjoining walls. We turn them slightly to face one another. If only ceiling height could morph into floor space when needed.

But it doesn't and so ensconced in our chairs we began. Back and forth. Probing questions. Tears. Silence. Unbelief that I could find myself in such a state. Again. Not that he was taken by surprise, mind you. I look forward to the day when my humanity no longer slaps me across the face with a ferocity that stuns me. I covered my face with my hands and cried when he reminded me to honour whatever I was capable of on any given day. That good enough was indeed, good enough. I looked at him through the tears and told him I'd forgotten such a simple truth. Celebrate the here and now. Accept myself as is. As is is good enough. Always.

Later on I shared this recurring feeling of having a cry inside me that was begging to be let out. That it came from my core and the thought of giving it a voice scared me. Made me feel out of control. For now all I could do was open my mouth wide and practice without making a sound. He wondered aloud what the cry was trying to tell me. What was behind it. I hadn't felt like this in nearly 20 years I told him. Back then I'd been angry with my mom. Really angry. I'd recently shared my story with someone for the first time. The pain that followed was nearly unbearable. I was in the midst of sobering up and when the pain got too much I would lie on my bed and fantasize about how a six pack of beer would make everything better. Except I'd already been to Al-Anon by then and knew beer wasn't going to solve a thing. It was all my mother's fault. And if she phoned I was going to let out this primal scream to let her know it.

Yesterday though, the cry didn't feel angry. When I sat with it long enough to feel its breath I told Fr. Charlie it was a wailing cry. Deep and painful.

"Like new birth?" he asked.

At his question I turned to look him right in the eyes. Facing him I said out loud, "Last night I baptized a book." At this he sat up a bit straighter. We sat in silence, the sentence making figure eight loops as it circled between us both now. I then shared the story of how this sentence had popped into my head the night before. How this particular book was taking me to raw, painful places.

From there our conversation took several turns when he asked me if any pictures came into my head. So I shared with him that the day before I'd pictured myself as a little girl running into caves. I wasn't very discerning about which I ran into. Some of them were full of fire and some were calm and peaceful. It didn't matter to me, I just wanted a cave to hide in. Once inside it's doorway I sat hugging my knees, rocking back and forth.

Further into the conversation we talked of altars built of stones. Places that marked significant events in one's journey. As we talked I pictured a huge boulder set on my path. One I put there by choice. As a person walked the path that was all my yesterdays, one saw the word RECOVERY painted in white across the middle of the boulder. To get that far you had to navigate chaos, stones, pebbles and obstacles. And my mother. On that side of the boulder I was the little girl who hid in caves and rocked back and forth. As I made my way around the rock I became a woman. Strong. Capable. Facing forward. And my mother couldn't come with me. No one got past the boulder without my permission. As I looked before me I saw a calming white that reached into infinity.

As my session came to a close Fr. Charlie shared what had come to him as I talked. As he reflected on the tea stained book he said the book was where I was in my baptismal journey. New birth, if only I would wail the wail and let it out. Caves and boulders both symbols of resurrection.

A surge of peace enveloped me as he spoke.
New birth.
Wailing the wail.
Deeper conversion.
Cries of my heart.
"Okay," I said, "I can do this.".

Suddenly honouring my story in whatever way its sentences form morphed into the path before me and became something to celebrate, not fight.

The circling stopped.
The plane landed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Purging My Story

"9. When you feel like running away, let yourself feel the scare. Think about what you fear will happen and decide what you need to do." ~from Be-Good-To-Yourself Therapy by Cherry Hartman
Yesterday I wanted to numb the scare right out of my consciousness. To hell with all this recovery work. I wanted to throw it far away from me. But, damn. A person can never go back there whole heartedly. It's like wanting to stop for a lobotomy before committing the crime so one can plead insanity instead of guilty. Well, other than where I was yesterday in my thinking was pure insanity as understood in recovery talk. Knowing there is a better way rains on a parade real quick. So I skirted the fringes, dipped in my toes and eventually made a phone call to ask for confirmation that I was lying to myself, wasn't I? We are only as sick as our sickest secret she replied. So I opened the door and told mine. I made a commitment to stop dipping my toes in; behaviour that will lead to a full blown relapse if I continue. It feels like my recovery is slipping right through my fingers.

Pay attention.

Two words.
So easy to type.
Much harder to live.
They're the price of sanity.

I've been reading a book this week Writing To Save Your Life. I thought it was a book on journalling. That seemed harmless enough. I've journalled for years and a new book on it wouldn't hurt anything. At first I read and thought wow and by the end I was thinking fuck, so much for living in oblivion. The author takes one on an inner journey so raw, so true that to put pen to paper will purge my story right out of my body.

That is my big scare right now.

So I've been journalling short and sweet and mindless all week. Not much different than my grandma's diaries of the 1960's where Monday was wash day and Tuesday ironing. Safe, without revealing anything of myself.

I fear my own story.
I need to purge it anyway.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tea and Talk

It's a drizzly Monday afternoon. A curl up on the couch with a good book and a cup of tea kind of day. I have several good books to read right now and more on the way via the library so that suits me just fine. I find having a cup of tea an occasion. Dearest one drinks coffee on the go but tea seems to me to be a slow down and enjoy the moment drink.

We have a new priest at our little church and as a community we are slowly getting used to each other. He comes from India and when he came to us he said his bishop had given him a three year vacation in Canada so he was at our disposal for the term. He is devout and deep. He looks much younger than his 63 years, his countenance one of bright eyes and peace. He preaches without notes and my head is still full of things to ponder weeks after every homily. He cuts to the quick with every gospel reading, leaving little wiggle room. Being in relationship with Jesus is his constant theme. Living this life from the heart, authentic in every way is there, too. Grace, mercy, compassion, the call to a continually deeper conversion get woven in amongst it all. As much as we mourn the changes, (we've petitioned the bishop to bring Fr. Charlie back after his term is up in the other parish) one woman whispered to me the other day, "God hasn't forgotten about us" in response to my question as to how she liked this new priest. We feel blessed to have his years of wisdom and his gracious spirit ministering to us.

We missed the way Fr. Charlie had invited us around the altar for the Lord's prayer and communion. We felt a little bewildered the first time we stood in our pews and said the Our Father and then lined up for communion. After a few weeks I approached the new priest and told him what we were used to. He wanted to honour what our tradition was so he now invites us up at those moments as well. Our church is so tiny that to line up for communion causes a traffic jam. Some Sundays we have to stretch out our arms while coming nearly right up against the altar so that we can all hold hands for prayer.

Yesterday a little boy, maybe 3 years old, was a joy to watch as he went around the altar and shared the sign of peace with everyone there. I love how the Mass is not a spectator service but a participatory celebration. This little guy has been sharing the sign of peace since he was old enough to toddle around. No one has coached him, he's simply observed what we do and wants to be a part of the community. After Mass yesterday his older sister brought him up to the front to blow out one of the altar candles. We all watched with big grins as he tried many, many times to blow out the candle but was not big enough yet to manage it. What was really special was that another boy, older by several years, had raced up to do this as well. He did one side and as he turned to do the other he saw this little guy being lifted by his sister and he encouraged and celebrated his attempt as the rest of us did.

This morning I had an appointment with our family doctor. He is a good, patient man. I have never felt rushed through an appointment. He listens well and is a teacher at heart. He has a quick sense of humour that's a little different. One time I ranted to him about a pharmacist in the community that I really disliked. I went a bit over the top calling the man an a**h***. A week or so later I felt prompted to write my doctor a note apologizing for my comments. I met him in the grocery store shortly after that and we talked. When I worked my next women's weekend he wrote me a note of encouragement and added a PS at the bottom that told me to consider the weekend a sabbatical from annoying pharmacists. That made me laugh outloud.

Every time I see him I want to proclaim that my body is falling apart yet again. Last night my knee locked up on me and that has put an end to my daily walks for a while. Between that and plantar fasciitis I'm in pain. But both are treatable so it's really more annoying than anything.

The couch is looking good right about now. Wish you were here to join me in a cup of tea and a good chat. That's my favourite way to spend time.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Stubborn Will

The end of a tough week.
Well, not the end yet.
But almost.
another counseling session.
where's my purpose? I cry.
Tears pool
and spill over.
A deep cry
from my core.
It brings
New self awareness.
An awareness I thought
I'd mastered.
Guess not.
More work.
Deeper work.
PSFD (my acronym full of swear words)
One day at a time.
One step at a time.
I can do this.
I can.
I will.
God help me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My Heart Knows

I can't stop crying this morning. I find that a comfort when I think of all the years I spent numb to their presence. I can sit here and let them be today. This past summer I remember someone telling me that she had cried all the way home from work. I remember envying her ability to do that. To let them out as they rose up in her. My tears were reserved for the big deals of life. The kind where anyone would be in tears. Other than that they were few and far between. So to simply sit here and cry is a good thing. Only daughter has talked about honouring the tears, especially the snotty nose, give me a box of kleenex kind of tears. I think of that every time the tears spill over and it helps me honour them, too.

What started them rolling was this post. I still can't explain why the tears spilled over at the reading of it. They simply did. I'm not even going to try to figure it out. I don't need to. I need to let them be; accepting that my heart knows what my head doesn't need to.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Grace, Grace... God's Grace

The talk I'm doing for the women's weekend is about putting one's faith into action. A good half of my talk is about a woman who put her faith into action by reaching out to me when I was a lonely, young mother. This woman loved me right into the arms of God. The more I wrote the talk, the more I missed her.

Two years ago this woman abruptly cut off all communication with me. My only inkling that she wasn't talking to me came when I tried calling her and she never answered her phone or returned messages. I had seen her do this with a mutual friend for reasons that were immature. I was sure I was in the same boat. I felt angry, sad and more sad. After several months I left a message on her daughter's message center and that went unanswered as well. Eventually I gave up. I was pissed at her most of the time by then. She had mentored me for 18 years, and the void her absence created was very painful. There were many key milestones in my life without her presence these past two years.

Sometimes I wondered if it would take a catastrophic event to reconnect. Or that one of us would have something serious to deal with in the interm and miss the opportunity to support one another when we needed it the most. She has never been good at staying in contact at the best of times. What she has been good at is being present when in conversation with me.

She is one of two women who have known me through everything (the other one is my college roomate, Liz), who has stuck by me when I was in the pit. She also modeled over the years what it looked like to walk the walk.

Well, until she didn't.

I give my talk this Saturday to the team who is working the women's weekend. I pictured someone raising their hand afterwards and asking me about my current relationship with this woman. "um, she's no longer speaking to me."

So, yesterday I picked up the phone once again and called. She answered.

What followed was a three hour conversation full of confession, repentance, grace and forgiveness. Both of us sobbed more than once. I was able to communicate my hurt, and pain at her rejection. My insecurity that I wouldn't know what to do if she did this again. Honest words flowed between us. Things got said that needed to be said.

She had been in a spiritual desert and had been unable to reach out when she needed me the most. Her life long habit of isolating when in any kind of pain kicked in and despite her knowing she needed me, she curled inward even more. Her two years in the desert, a time where her whole faith journey seemed to be nothing but platitudes, left her feeling dead inside. She had nothing to give. She had no words to even tell me that. Hence her silence.

She's been out of the desert for a little while now. Her faith is deeper. Her words more honest. Our relationship restored. Thanks be to God.

Laughter, Thought and Reminiscing

Do you need a laugh today? Here's a post that made me laugh from the blog: Boobs, Injuries and Dr. Pepper

Here's one that made me think from the blog: Shoved To Them

And finally here's one that took me way back in time to my own days of doing something exactly that stupid: Overdue Letter

Monday, October 15, 2007

Perfectly Okay

11 months abstinence from sexual addiction today.
That addiction and food bingeing are
my default setting
when I'd rather not deal
with life
on life's terms.
When that happens
I get so mired in shame
that alcohol calls my name.
Today I choose
to be aware.
Ask for help.
To accept life as it is
not as I would like it to be.
Although how it is, is good.
Very good.
For today I can handle anything,
with God's help.
It's no longer about life being
a certain way
for me to be happy.
Well, I can say that easily
because I'm happy today.
But you get my drift.
I can't do any of it perfectly.
And finally that's perfectly okay.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Doing The Bunny Hop

Second night of insomnia. Not sure what's up with that. Yesterday was a good day. I went to my women's meeting and was blessed to hear story after story of redemption. I get to share some of my story next week and I look forward to doing that. I stepped out of this meeting for a while to go to my AA meeting. There were only 4 of us there, all of who know and trust one another. The sharing was good and deep and we laughed, oh we laughed. It is so very good to have a place to go where I can be totally honest about my humanity and not take it all so seriously, you know? What a paradox. I take my recovery very seriously but myself much less so these days. I don't know if I'm ever going to get over feeling like looking in the mirror and saying "Is that really you?"

Dearest one and I came home and went for a walk down our road while a combine went back and forth in the field across from us. At one point I did a little hop in the air, not unlike a rabbit, and dearest one looked at me as if he didn't know who he was married to. I grinned and said, "Oh, I'm just happy." After several years of having to weigh every step against stored energy I am still so thrilled to be able to go for a walk. Walking is our favourite way to spend time together so we mourned a lot the loss of that these past 4 years. I had two days this week when a walk was going to take up too many spoons so to walk last night and have reserves of energy left over was a gift.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Star Bright, Star Light

The stars are beautiful all nestled in the inky darkness. Our bed is such that I can lay there and look out at them. I find that comforting. I even saw a falling star tonight.

I was laying there thinking about how life has changed for me since treatment. I find myself continually amazed at the changes within and grateful that change is always possible. Dearest one is doing his own hard work in counseling now too, and we are very slowly learning how to dance a different dance together. One where we get naked while keeping our clothes on. "This is who I really am" we whisper as we slowly let our guard down, revealing our inner pain, frailties, and hope to one another. There's a rawness to the revelation that is gritty yet soft. I can only risk it because I like who I really am, all of me. I have never embodied the word hope like I do these days. Dearest one has never looked so beautiful as he does when he trusts me with who he truly is. For the past 25 years we've spent so much energy hiding our beauty under masks and defending it with weapons. The pain of shedding our defences is worth it.

At one time, this was the time of night when I'd either give a drunkalogue or hear one. Gah. I've given some doozies. The worst one was when I asked a traveling salesman if he cheated on his wife. We'd been married 5 days and dearest one had no idea yet that I had a little alcohol problem. That night I had my one and only blackout. The traveling salesman was probably glad. Wait. A blackout is where I can't remember what happened next. The poor sap wasn't so lucky. Don't worry I didn't ask him that question so that I could sleep with him. I was just being my nosy self. Dearest one just about choked on his drink when he heard me ask the stranger that question. Between that and thinking I talked some kind of fabulous French it was(n't) a night to remember. So I didn't miss much.

I'm still as curious as ever but now I know the difference between what is my business and what isn't. I'm still not comfortable in social situations but I can get through them without embarrassing anyone these days. Social situations and peer pressure are my two biggest triggers for relapse with booze or food. There was this nifty test we did in treatment where based on our answers they could give us an idea of when we were most likely to be tempted to use.

Dearest one and I rarely, if ever, go to a social event where there is alcohol but there is often food. And yesterday was 4 months since I've binged my way through stress or boredom. One day this week I found myself wanting to binge and I made myself sit with the urge and decipher what was behind it. There was an issue I was avoiding. I decided that spending my energy trying not to binge was just as exhausting as avoiding the issue so I picked up the phone and cleared the air with the person I had the issue with and that was that. I sat there and looked at the phone in my hand afterwards thinking, "wow, that wasn't so hard." So that was a baby step in the right direction.

I didn't wish on the falling star tonight.
My 'one day' is now.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Surrendering to Reality

Good self care is my goal today. My body is weary and a nap is calling. I am grateful for the ability to surrender to reality today. Tomorrow I start meetings for a women's weekend that I am often involved with. We meet weekly for 3 weekends and then take a break before the actual women's weekend. I'll be giving a talk about putting one's faith into action. Writing and giving talks is life giving for me. This time around I'm bringing a bar stool (how appropriate) to sit on while I give my talk instead of standing for 35 minutes. I'm getting smarter. Spoons don't define my days like they used to, and for that I'm grateful, yet I still have limitations. Today I'm trying to honour that.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Beautiful Decay

Saturday afternoon it rained leaves all over the sky and I soaked in the beauty and absurdity of the sight. As I watched the trees do their hula hoop dance I wondered just how tall that tallest tree was. The one that seemed like it could hit me on the head if it snapped right about then. Between the furious music of the wind and the dancing of the leaves I sat entranced.

update: Ha. Not that tree but one just about as tall did crack under the furious music of the wind today, falling away from the house not towards it, thank God.

Last night I was at the treatment centre for a women's AA meeting. Once again welcomed by the warm, caring women who show up week after week to share their experience, strength and hope with whoever is in treatment or detox and with one another. There were a few newcomers last night. One newcomer biking her way there, arriving out of breath part way through the meeting. How beautiful it was to hear them get kudos for having the courage to walk through that door. To have every woman write down her phone number for them and say call us before you take that first drink, day or night we are here for you. To let them know we all had to do walk through the door to get where we are today. And where we are is not an arrived place but in process. To hear in every sharing a story of redemption. And I wonder for the umpteenth time why church often seems to be a place where we prize looking so put together and never less in need of a saviour than on Sunday morning. How guilty I am of giving off those vibes as well. God help me.

I'm finding that the more serenity I have, my need to project an image of perfection lessens.

Every day as I've been walking I leaf watch. There is a beauty to their decay and I take deep breaths as I pass by. As I drove to town yesterday I looked at the near naked trees in the river valley and sighed, mourning that this particular season of beauty is over for another year.

I wonder what needs to die within me and will I embrace its beauty just as much?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

In Need

"What do you need?" she'd ask.

Inside I would think to the fuck do I know. You tell me.
Nothing was the word I wanted to reply but when you're in treatment for addictions it's a rather moot point to say you have no needs, you know? I could just hear her say "And you've paid $300 to share that with us Hope?" Once I knew the question was coming it was like willingly exposing my battered soul knowing I'd have to ask (strangers, no less)for what I needed to heal it.

That's the way it went nearly every day in treatment. My counselor would listen to my check in, where I had to explain why I chose whatever feeling word I had for the day, and then she'd ask me what I needed from the group. She started asking me this the second day of treatment, right after I'd been exposed as a caretaker of other people's feelings and numb to my own.

Oh, part of me wanted to cross my arms, send daggers her way and chant the mantra of survival I'd used all my childhood: "I don't need anything." In these sessions I worked hard not to sit cross armed and closed in on myself, although I was sometimes unsuccessful on the sending daggers part. Those close to me know exactly when I'm thinking fuck you and I think counselors get trained in decoding that as well.

Once Fr. Charlie asked me what I needed from my mom that I hadn't received. The first word that rose to the surface was nurturing. Aside from all the physical abuse I endured as a child, I had been born premature and spent my first 3 months in an incubator. In an era (hey, I belong to an era. Does that mean I'm old?) that lacked the knowledge of how much infants need physical touch. Heck, even without the incubator part, children need nurturing. Lots of it.

When he asked me how I could get that need met today, it was a new idea that I could search within and either meet my need myself or ask someone else to meet it for me.

I'm making progress. The other day I sat there with tears streaming down my face telling Fr. Charlie that I just needed to hear someone acknowledge how hard I was working at this recovery thing. In the course of our time together he did just that. Affirmed my journey. Affirmed the pain. Affirmed the hope. He was able to pick out from my sharing one spot of joy in my life. I told him that after my session at the treatment centre the other day I went and bought myself a $5 bouquet of flowers. Three beautiful, deep pink roses nestled in some baby's breath. I bought them as a testimony to my journey. I told dearest one I just might need to buy some every single week as a symbol of hope that the hard work is worth it. And that, dammit, I'm doing it.

Knowing what I need still doesn't come naturally. I have to work at it. But today I'm open to asking myself and either meeting the need myself, if possible, or asking for it from others. What does that look like? The other night it meant asking dearest one to hold me in his arms so I could feel safe. Another night it meant wrapping up in a blanket and rocking back and forth in my rocking chair. Every day it means showing myself compassion. Not too long ago it meant seeking someone out and making an amend. I realized afterwards that the amend came so effortlessly because I no longer define myself by my mistakes. That feels like huge progress.

What do you need today?
I need to know you read this.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hollowing Out A Space

"...our greatest strength was forged in our worst pain and suffering. It was precisely those "worst times" that hollowed out a space in us that wouldn't have existed otherwise. And this space becomes the haven where others find the compassion, understanding and strength we so badly needed ourselves at one time." ~Earnie Larson in Destination Joy
Dearest one woke me up this morning by placing a snowball in my hand. There were snowy footprints on the deck this morning although we were spared the several inches of white stuff that other areas got overnight. As I look out the window it's nearly all melted now. Soon I will go for a walk and savour the crispness of the air and breathe in the smell of decomposing leaves. I love their earthy smell. They remind me that this journey is temporary.

Thank you for praying. I'm slowly regaining my equilibrium. There is an undercurrent of serenity beneath the pain. Yesterday as I went for my walk I started to name out loud all the reasons I was grateful. After a few moments I burst in tears because the gratitude was genuine and that I could have gratitude in the midst of emotional pain overwhelmed me. I never knew it was possible. Typing that sentence has me in tears all over again. God is doing for me what I could not do for myself. And I'm so very aware and grateful.

My home group in AA is called Gratitude 24/7. When I first went I thought that people who were grateful in the midst of pain were lying. I easily wrote off anyone who smacked of Pollyanna. "Ha. At least I'm realistic," I told myself. And while I still have a hard time liking people who are fake and smiley when everything else about them cries pain, I know my ability to sneer in the face of the genuine gratitude of others is just another version of camouflaged pain. In my all or nothing way of thinking one could either be in emotional pain or be grateful but never the two shall meet. I know now that gratitude is cultivated. It is a perspective one chooses. It doesn't deny reality, it exists in the midst of reality.

As I was walking one day this week I was begging God for the grace to show compassion towards myself. When I'm in the worst places emotionally it hasn't been my pattern to have self compassion. In the midst of my pain and the shame that threatened to overwhelm me I knew that the biggest gift I could give myself was compassion. The old patterns, the inner voices that wanted to accuse and condemn me were competing with the new pattern of loving and forgiving myself for being human. And as I prayed the word mantle popped into my head. It was such a random, strange word that I let it sit in my mouth for a while. As I did the line from a song we used to sing came to me. "His mantle over me is love." How true.

Yesterday I went for a long drive to meet with Fr. Charlie. I've chosen to continue seeing him for counseling/spiritual direction even though he has moved to another parish. As I reflect on today's quote it is Fr. Charlie's own hollowed out place, born out of working through his worst of times, that makes him a safe place of compassion, strength and understanding. It was good to be able to just spill my guts to him, no explanation needed.

On my drive home I returned a call to the sexual abuse counselling centre. As I told the woman my experience of having the rape triggered this past weekend and the battle it's been since to simply get through my days she told me she would bump me up the waiting list. It's now about 2 weeks before I get in to see someone.

It felt good to say I need help and then to reach out for that help. None of us can journey alone. It just isn't meant to be.

Yesterday Fr. Charlie asked me if I was still blogging. I told I was but that it was often such narcissistic crap I didn't know what the point was anymore. Today I know I need a place to say, this is my story. And I know those of you who read here regularly can see patterns, threads and growth that I am blind to. For today I embrace that reality.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Releasing the Illusion

Our Essential Nature by Christina Grof

"The process of hitting bottom, of releasing the illusion of control over our situation, is a mandatory step out of the pain of addiction. The experience of surrender is the key to redemption, the gateway to recovery, healing and the discovery of our spiritual potential. It marks the transition from a limited experience of who we are to an expanded one, and it happens to different people in different ways. Sometimes it is dramatic, sometimes it is relatively subtle.... Everything we thought we were - all relationships and reference points, all ego games, defenses, resistances, and denials - collapses. What remains is the essential nature of who we are. The overwhelming power of our addictions, the persons, places, things or activities we have made into our gods, give way to the healing presence of our true divine source, our deeper Self." (emphasis added)~via
I had all kinds of things I was going to ponder on publicly after reading the above quote yesterday. It was going to be a kind of "hurrah, hurrah" post. So much of the quote I have experienced since coming home from treatment 5 weeks ago. The struggle today does not negate the reality of what I've gained to this point. God help me to remember that.

Because today the journey feels pain filled and precarious. Three days ago the trauma of my childhood sexual abuse was in my face as if every cell in my body was remembering. I don't think I've ever let myself feel the pain of it that deeply before. Immediately I closed in on myself and it's been a struggle to not stay in that state. I've had two nights of messed up sleep since. One of them hours of pain where nerve endings repeatedly sent messages to where there was no real pain. I am weary and feeling fragile. I was a nanosecond from throwing my recovery out the door today. But I didn't. I want to fixate on the almost part instead of the didn't. Yesterday I told my addictions counselor that I had thought to myself the other day "fuck doing the next right thing." And after I thought it I got up and did the next right thing anyway. Right now the next right thing is to get dressed and go for a walk. I feel like I walk a very thin line on a daily basis with the things I need to do to keep my interior house in order. When I deviate from the plan chaos threatens to rule the day.
I can do this.
Just not on my own strength.
God help me.