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Dose of Happy: Lucky Number 7

I DID IT!!!

Today I am SEVEN YEARS sober.

<SIGH!>

Inhale that amazing feeling and take a moment to recognize the struggle, perseverance, diligence, and SUCCESS.

Deep breaths!

Years: 7
Days: 2,555
Hours: 61,321
Minutes: 3,679,302
Seconds: 220,758,226

This fight with addiction, the stigma of addiction... it’s a THING – with a capital T H I N G – and it can be beyond exhausting some times. I’m reminded on a daily basis (second by second?) that I don’t have the luxury of “just one sip” to ease my anxiety, celebrate an accomplishments, or escape the day’s troubles.

This is a forever journey. I’ve fought for every single sober second I’ve experienced. I’ll continue to claw and scrape forward to battle the sirens call to take a wee sip of that burning rum again and I will be victorious.

I’ll come out on top because I’m learning how to love myself again. I’m worth it. I’ll win because there’s nothing more important to me than my children and family. Their love and support humbles and grounds me. I’ll be victorious because of the hard work I do EVERY! SINGLE! DAY! to make myself a better person as I try to ensure those around me feel loved, heard, and respected.

I may not feel presentable to the outside world, but I promise you this: I will never stop pushing myself to be more grateful, more loving, and more empathetic towards myself and others in my *most imperfect, messy, unique, authentic way*.

Honestly, I’ve already tried living the lie of perfectionism and look how that turned out for me? Instead I actively chose to see how embracing my truthfully messy life goes.

Cheers to another 7 years of sobriety, fought for one moment at a time.

If you or someone you know needs help with alcohol dependency or addiction, please contact the National Drug & Alcohol Treatment hotline 24/7 at: 800.662.HELP (4357).

#recovery  #sobriety  #BB2G

Unfinished Letter

Mom,

I wrote you a letter in purple pen. I was high again. Relapsed the day before after having 6 months clean, and I knew that you knew I was high the last time I saw you at the Care Center. I felt so guilty because I felt like I was crawling out of my skin to get out of that room.

Not because I didn’t want to see you, but there was nothing to do in there with your hospital bed; you could barely get out of and the TV was constantly running. We talked about how you needed to find a new place to live and how I could live with you again and help you out, writing all these ideas and plans.

A few days later, I helped pack up your apartment, trying to save everything because I knew how much you loved all your knick-knacks and junk. You and I were always the sentimental ones. After going through and packing it all up, putting it into storage, just until you were out of the Care Center.

I should have come to see you. I was literally just down the street. Wouldn’t have taken more than 10 minutes to see you. But I was coming down.

All I could think was lets’s get this done so I can go pick up. I didn’t even stop by or call you that day.

I went to the park after getting my fix and started writing you a letter. Telling you how sorry I was that I wasn’t the best kid, and didn’t always appreciate you, and that I know you did your best with what you could; that I loved you.

The next day I was at work and get a call from grandma.

She tells me that you had a heart attack, and you were gone.

I never finished the letter.

Ask The Band: Am I Living With An Addict?

I’m not sure where to start. I just know I need to get it out.

I think I’m living with an addict.

They have stolen thousands of dollars (money I was saving for a house down payment). They keep taking money out of our account and not paying it back like promised, thus leaving me to pull from what little savings we had to help us get through winter in order to keep the bills paid.

They are slowly draining me of our money and my soul.

I am obsessing over what they are doing; where they are going. I’m searching the house for stashes.

I found a box of baking soda and a burned spoon.

I found the missing (now empty) money pouch from when my kids were fundraising.

I feel like I’m going crazy.

I went to an Al-Anon meeting tonight. It was my first time. I didn’t share, or even speak.

It hurt so much that everything that was said was so relatable. That they’ve all been through this, felt this way. I didn’t even tell them anything. They told me I wasn’t crazy.

That hit me. Hard.

I think I’m living with an addict. And I don’t know what to do.

What Happens When You Don’t Know

I guess I’ll start with the things that bother me the most: I am an ex-crack addict, I was homeless, I have a panic disorder, I talk to people who don’t exist, my brother hanged himself, and I was nearly killed by an abusive ex-boyfriend.

I know I have a better life than a lot of people, and I try to be grateful for it.

I feel guilty when I dwell on my problems: other people have it so much worse: how can I complain? How can I mope around or be depressed?!

Oh how I wish I could talk to someone, to sit in a group and swap stories about burning the inside of our mouths, or panic attacks, or how much it sucks to have to lug all your belongings around in a garbage bag.

But I just can’t.

I have walked past the building where NA meetings are held probably a hundred times, looked at their website again and again, memorizing their schedule, but I can’t bring myself to go.

I’m afraid that people won’t like me because I’ve been clean now for four years, that because now I have a car and an apartment in a slightly decent area of the city, I’ll be told to get over it, to stop whining.

On the other hand, I think, what if I go to a regular counselor and I scare them? What if, when I admit to the time I smoked crack with my pregnant best friend, it’s too much and they kick me out?

What if I get the cops called on me when I admit to all the illegal things I’ve done?

Either way, I’ve never felt more isolated and alone then I do now.

I desperately want to be an addict again. When I was addicted, we had our own world; it was nothing good, but everyone was on the same level.

Now I’m surrounded by people that, if they knew what I used to be and what I still am, would go running in the other direction.

I even tried to become an alcoholic for a few months; I drank myself into a stupor everyday, forced it into me until my brain chemistry was so out of whack and my kidneys hurt right through my back.

I still drink – get drunk – by myself, but I have to be careful because it makes my panic disorder worse. I drink just until I feel myself going crazy, stop for a few days, then back at it.

It’s funny, when my brother hanged himself, I was kind of mad that he took that option away from me: you can’t have two kids from the same family both kill themselves!

I’m okay with his suicide, though. I understand it was a planned out thing, so things were obviously pretty bad to get to that point. My brother didn’t speak, though; I was the only one he spoke to until he was about 17, and then he even shut me out.

After a while, I started getting paranoid that he was going to kill me, so I distanced myself from him even further.

I’m pretty alone now.

I lost most of my friends when I got clean, and I’ve moved to a different city since. I hate it here a lot, and most people here are way out of my league education and status wise. I have a few friends from work that I go for drinks with on the weekends, but I can’t really connect or open up with anyone.

I’m afraid to date again; my ex is still too fresh in my mind, and the thought of having to have sex again makes me uncomfortable. I don’t like being touched sexually.

It’s a shame because I would love to have children – they would give me something to focus on, to love and be loved back, without having to be in a relationship.

But I guess as of right now, it’s me, alcohol, and my two darling cats.

How sad.

Ask The Band: Coping With Domestic Abuse

ask band domestic abuse

Dear The Band,

My husband and I got into a very heated fight (to say the least). We were in each other’s face and things got physical and turned into domestic abuse.

Alcohol was involved.

I ended up going to the ER and was diagnosed with a head injury and a bruised rib. The police came to the hospital to ask me what happened – if I’d been the victim of domestic abuse – and I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t want both of us to to to jail.

I was charged with a domestic abuse charge. He would have been too, if I’d said anything.

Anyway, there’s a no contact order between him and I, but he has my children: my 2 1/2 son and my 9 year old daughter. I am only allowed to communicate through my attorney or at the family resource center.

Right now? He won’t answer the phone to either number.

It has been nine excruciating days since I’ve seen my children.

I learned that he’d filed a restraining order on me. He then shut my phone off and took all the money I had out of my bank account.

I’m staying with family now.

I want to see my children but he will not let me see them and I’m devastated.

We have a hearing for the restraining order on the 11th. I don’t know what to do to prepare for it. I have the hospital records of my injuries. I don’t want him in trouble because he is my husband and I still love him very much – we both need help and things got out of hand.

Without my kids, it’s hard to get up in the morning.

Has anyone else been in this situation? 

domestic abuse

 *UPDATE* I finally got in touch with my attorney and let him know all the details. He told me to bring the hospital records to the hearing. As much as I wish this never had happened, I’m not going to be a doormat and let him scare me.

Katy: Addiction and Leukemia

Part I Katy: Addiction and Cancer 

Leukemia sucks.

This type of cancer affects your blood, your bone marrow and then… everything else. Know what sucks even more? The chemotherapy treatment for leukemia. It is so long, so complex that the medical team taking care of Katy wouldn’t even give her the whole plan at once – they had to wait to see if she responded.The first 4-week phase actually lasted for five weeks.

She received two types of IV chemo: an oral chemo, and a spinal chemo. To check the progress of the treatments, she underwent regular bone marrow biopsies and ended up in intensive care more than once.

During the first treatment, Katy asked for palliative care to begin as she wanted to stop all treatment. She’d never really wanted treatment – she had seen her grandpa die of lung cancer and didn’t want to be sick like he had been.

The doctors pulled out all the stops to convince her to continue – brought a therapy dog up to her intensive care bed and let it get up on the bed with her. She got involved in art therapy, music therapy, and had a psychiatrist, psychologist and a pain management team.

She continued with the treatment.

During the first few weeks that she was in the hospital, I developed cellulitis in my ankles that was spreading up my legs and I popped into the ER twice to get treated. During my second bout, the doctors wanted to admit me for IV antibiotics. I needed to be with Katy and declined. Instead, I just put my feet up whenever we were hanging out in her room.

Too weak to walk any real distance, she was pushed in a wheelchair while we roamed the halls, often popping outside to have a smoke. Katy, of course, made two great friends in the smoking area – a transsexual who had heart problems and a pregnant woman, just like she’d made friends on her leukemia floor.

The ICU nurse became a friend of the family and after a particularly nasty side effects of chemotherapy – the lining of her colon separated and shed, leaving her to poop blood for a week. Katy was then put onto a liquid diet, and being my food loving child, our old neighbor made her “stringy roast” which Katy happily ate.

Oh boy, her doctor was pissed.

Katy hated that doctor and refused to speak to her, so he and I had conferences in the hallway. Thankfully this doctor was only rotating through the leukemia ward and she wasn’t stuck with him.

When Katy was discharged the first time into her husband’s care, this doctor ordered the removal of the PICC line without discussing it with us which turned out to be a major pain..

When we returned for her first outpatient treatment, they, of course, didn’t get a vein and she had to be readmitted to the hospital. The PICC line became permanent to help treat the leukemia.

The staff at The Clinic was great! Originally, one of the nurses who had a strong personality (and Katy didn’t like) started her chemo treatment but they began to open up and bonded.

The medical assistants were also good friends of Katy’s, and once, her favorite aide (who wore a wig like Katy did), so the medical assistant put on one of the wigs while Katy put on the other. They giggled and took pictures that night.

The same aide on another night made a video of the clocks turning back and Katy wanted to see it. She asked to see the video, but he misunderstood (haha!), so we had to spell out c.l.o.c.k video.

Because nothing comes easy, my husband was diagnosed with throat cancer, living in an AirBnB near The Clinic so that he was able to complete his seven week outpatient radiation treatment. He had been taking care of Rae while we were in the hospital.

cancer leukemia

While he was away getting his treatment, Katy came home and we decided that we could take care of Rae ourselves. With the neighbors help, we could go to Katy’s long treatment appointments without worry.

My stepkids saw my devotion to Katy and her treatment and felt that I should be there for their father, my husband. I felt that he wasn’t nearly as sick as she and could spend time alone while Katy couldn’t. We’ve only recently mended bridges.

More and more, Katy caught infection after infection and had to spend more time in the hospital. Her beloved PICC line was replaced she got a port placed instead. Unfortunately that too became infected and it had to be removed.

Pain was a major issue for her and while she was in the hospital, she had a morphine pump and a fentanyl patch. I was the one doling out her meds and occasionally she overdosed, necessitating Narcan.

She was in the hospital during Thanksgiving weekend and my brothers (her uncles) came to visit, which she loved. I’d given her a pain pill before they got there and was nodding off. The Sunday after Thanksgiving, my husband brought Rae – who was now ten! – to see her as well.

After that visit, the nurses administered Narcan again after questioning me – and lecturing me – about giving her extra pain medications. They were very nice about it but I felt awful.

Katy then developed a serious fungal infection and was moved from the leukemia unit to intensive care.

One of her ICU nurses made friends with her and visited when she could. That night, when her favorite nurse came by to visit, she told Katy, “see you tomorrow!” to which Katy replied, “you’d better!”

Those were the last words she ever spoke.

Her brother came up for a visit and while he was there the medical staff had to remove her port. Hospice stopped by as they were putting in another line which was very painful, but I’d told hospice that I’d given the go-ahead so that she could get some pain medication.

We spoke to hospice and the hospice staff said it would be hours to days before she passed.

We asked that she could move to a room down in the leukemia unit, where the staff began to say goodbye. We saw them often as they came in to administer medication to make her feel more comfortable.

A sign was put on the door to see the nurse before entering the room; I always wondered what those signs were for. My son and I slept in the room, talking to her and holding her hand before we went to sleep.

When I got up in the morning, I said, “Good morning, Katy” and went down for coffee and a smoke When I returned. I could tell she was gone.

She was so very still.

And like that, she was gone.

addiction cancer

I was so glad that our relationship was good during the months that she was sick, but I am devastated that she had had such a rough life and such a tough struggle with addiction.

I felt everything. All of it.

Later, I had to go home and tell Rae that her Mommy died.

That was the worst thing ever.

My grieving is a whole other story