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Another Life Lost to Substance Abuse

Jan 07, 2012 - 5 comments

I find myself on an emotional rollercoaster today.  Early this morning I learned that a long-time acquaintance of mine passed away yesterday afternoon of cancer.  His esophageal and liver cancer were a direct result of a lifetime of drinking and drug abuse.  It took almost 35 years, two rounds of rehab, multiple bouts of alcoholic hepatitis and pancreatitis, a major heart attack and a destroyed marriage for him to want sobriety.  For the past few years that he's been sober, all the miracles of sobriety happened for him.  The bomb hit with his diagnosis 14 months ago.

The one saving grace in his death is that he had time to truly live a life of sobriety and enjoy all the blessings from it.  He made the most it even while enduring the months of chemo.  While they did not formally remarry, his relationship with his wife was restored and better than ever and she has been by his side throughout his recovery, final illness and death.  I thank God they were both able to enjoy each other sober before he was called home.

Through a series of recent and unusual events, I will be helping out a very old (established 1879) and very small Methodist church choir in our area this Sunday.  Turns out it was the childhood church home of my old friend and his family were lifelong members there.  His wife is understandably overwhelmed and when I asked her if I remembered his connection to this church correctly, everything fell into place.  Yes, it's the same church and she wants that pastor to officiate his service.  She hasn't been able to even think about finding an officiant yet and I'm so grateful that this one fell into her hands right when she needed it.  I believe I detect the hand of God at work here.  Call it a happy coincidence if you like; both of us see it as the work of God.

Yet another thing happened this morning that added to the surreal feeling of this day.  A friend here at Med Help with whom I have communicated for quite some time - is it two years now? - was instrumental in getting me to see that my way of dealing with my husband's addiction wasn't working.  He's a recovering addict himself and bent over backwards to get me information on one of the best rehab facilities in the country that just happens to be 20 minutes away from my house.  When I finally had enough, I knew exactly who to call and where to go.  No fumbling around on the phone and internet in the middle of a crisis situation.  Without the support and knowledge I gained from his friendship we would probably still be lost in a sea of addiction, enabling, anger, fear, guilt, frustration and darkness.

My husband and I were at our weekly aftercare meeting this morning and among the 200+ bodies packed into the initial staging area, right there in front of me appeared my old Med Help friend.  He hasn't been around here much and I knew he was struggling with some major life upheavals.  I was very much afraid he was talking himself into a relapse and yes, he relapsed.   BUT - he checked himself back in for treatment.  I'm so proud of him!  It takes real courage not only to do that once but to admit that you need more help and voluntarily go back for it tells me he desperately wants sobriety.  So C-, if you have internet access and are reading this message, we got your back!

God works in mysterious ways.  I feel blessed to be able to recognize it now.

The Insanity Ends TODAY

Jun 19, 2011 - 4 comments






The past two days nearly killed me.  After DH drank his way through Friday and Saturday and I was compelled to make a 1.5 hour, 90 mile round trip drive to pick up his drunk, broken-down-motorcycle arse, I was done.  Ultimatum and hard truth time since last night.  He didn't actually believe me.  Now he does.  Trying to set up rehab right now.  Tried to wiggle out of a commitment and I got the shrink on the phone.  He lied about the quantity of use but I held my ground.  Rehab or out.  Done.

2010 - About to be kicked out at last!

Dec 30, 2010 - 4 comments

I have never been so glad to see a year end more than 2010.  Seems like saying that has been a broken record for me over the past few years.  Every new year I'd start out thinking, "It's a new year, can't be worse than the last one."  It always gets worse.  Always.  I thought 2008 and hurricane Ike was bad.  Not even. 2009 brought the year of the Great Flood and I thought watching our house go under and get rebuilt was the worst year ever.  Nope.  2010 put that one to shame.  It's like years past were a proving ground for what was to come.  

These past couple of years have brought me to my knees for so many reasons that I don't dare hope for better things in 2011.  I watched my mother lose her health and her sanity, and then I lost her forever in March.  That brought a whole host of emotional and family issues that overshadowed even the happy events like marriages and graduations.  I don't even want to talk about our financial situation with DH coming up on 2 years of unemployment.  My own health problems took a back seat to his problems, Mom's problems, my sister's problems - every other problem but my own.  In a word, it's been chaos.

I could spend a whole lot more time on all the crises and fires I've had to deal with but I'd be at it for another year.  I'm trying to count my blessings.  That'll be a whole lot faster.

Mostly, I'm thankful for my church family.  They've been more reliable and uplifting than my own family most of the time.  I've isolated myself from nearly every other aspect of life and my musical activities at church are sometimes the only reason I leave the house these days.  Handbell and vocal music rehearsals take up my entire Wednesday evening and are the highlight of my week.  Sunday mornings are just the icing on the cake.  Music is the biggest joy in my life and I hope to keep it that way no matter what happens this year - good, bad or indifferent.  God gave me musical ability so I guess I need to put it to use.

Let's see.  What else... My critters.  Nothing is better than being sandwiched between two dogs for a nap.  They're always there for me too no matter what happens.  I do need to get off my skinny arse and take care of their needs for a change, so tick that one off as a resolution for 2011.  I think I can actually make that one happen.  LOL!

I need to get out of this psychological funk but therapy is pricey.  I go when I can scrape up the $150 for a session, but DH needs it more than I do so he takes most of those appointments.  I know I'd feel better faster if I could work, but it's impossible with my health issues - even if I could find something around here.  

I feel like my life is finally settling down from the uproar it's been in, but still feel like the pendulum is swinging over my head.  It can drop at any moment.  My entire life I've been described by other people as a strong woman.  Well guess what?  This strong woman has enjoyed enough character-building challenges to last me the rest of my life thank you very much.  I sometimes envy women who just sit there helpless and crying and somehow everyone else steps in and deals with life for them.  Can someone give me lessons in that?!  Naw.  I couldn't pull it off.  

I see I'm getting maudlin so I'll shut this one down and try to just be thankful that 2010 is finally winding to a close.  No expectations for a better year, but I'd really be grateful for one with no major upheavals for a change.  Maybe I can use my dogs as examples of how to live completely in the moment.  Matter of fact, I'd like to switch places with one of them for just one week!

The Ghost of Christmas Past - and Present! (see update)

Dec 23, 2010 - 8 comments

I was baptized and joined my church in December 1999.  For the first time in my life, I attended the late candlight and communion Christmas Eve service.  What made it even more special was having my sister by my side.  We had been separated by 500 miles for some twenty years and she and her family had recently moved to my area.  Having an evening to ourselves without children (and husbands!) to mind was a special treat.

Shortly after the service began, a man came into the sanctuary trying to find a seat in the packed church.  We waved him over to the pew in front of us.  His appearance and attitude were striking.  His clothes were ragged, his person was filthy, he smelled like a brewery and his attitude radiated self-consciousness shame.  

The man sat down stiffly and as the service progressed he began to relax.  He sang out all the hymns and paid close attention to the pastor's sermon.  As he listened to the the Christmas story, he sank lower and lower into the pew, rested his head in his hands and his shoulders began to shake.  He cried silently until the service ended.

My sister was next to this man as we waited in the crush of people to leave.  He caught her eye and said, "I'm sorry.  I shouldn't have come here tonight."  I'll never forget this as long as I live.  My sister gave him a big hug and said, "This place is EXACTLY where you should be tonight and we're glad you're here."  His smile could have lit the entire sanctuary and he left the building with a straight back and squared shoulders.

We never saw him again, never learned his name or anything else about what had gone wrong in his life.  I'm just profoundly blessed to have witnessed what may have been one small period of peace in a troubled soul.  I believe that's called "grace."  :-)