What does it take to change? I mean, think about it. If everything was great all the time, where would be the incentive to do anything different? If life didn’t get uncomfortable sometimes, we would just wallow in mediocrity.
How many times have you been provoked into change? And would you have changed anything if you weren’t provoked? Think about it. People say, “why do bad things happen?” I believe most bad things happen because it’s the only way to get us to change, move, leave or stay.
I made up my mind about two memoirs I will write. The first one is about my journey through the last year of my addiction. It was pretty gruesome. I was provoked into sobriety because life became so unbearable. I lost everything. I have already written half of it in my ‘life story’ that my psychic advisor told me to write.
The other one is the one about the Wagon Wheel after getting kicked out of my psycho in-law’s house. A part of this is also in my ‘life story’ that I have written. In that story, I was hassled into staying in an already dead-end marriage because I had two children and was pregnant with a third. Throw in a crack head husband who steals pallets to make a living along with living in a hotel room above a seedy bar, and I think we have a story.
Writing down my regurgitated thoughts is the easy part. It’s like writing a grocery list or a step by step on how to boil water. Easy Peasy. For me, the editing is the hard part. I have no problem writing, “I wasn’t sure if it was the smell of the dead skunk outside the window or the fact that I was sitting in a puddle of my own blood that woke me up, but whatever it was it ignited a spark in me. A spark that something had to give.”
But how do I make that pop? How do I make that really jump off the page? That’s where the work comes in. And that is where I’m at right now. April 1st is when I send my polished fiction novel to my editor. And April 1st is when I start breaking down my memoir.
Are you working on anything?
Peace and love my friends. ❤
When I went to detox in 2005, I knew my stay would be tentative. It was in January and I was just going to clean up a bit so I wouldn’t need so much to get high anymore (cue New Year Resolution confetti). I doubt I am the only addict that has ever done this.
And yes, this was because I honestly thought that I didn’t have an addiction. What I had was more of an ‘inability to ration,’ but once I fixed that, I would be able to do drugs and drink recreationally like all my friends. I was too young, too smart and too pretty to be a drug addict or alcoholic. Things just got a little out of control was all. In five days, I’d be back home and things would be fine.
My first mistake was the whole time I was in detox, I kept comparing myself to everyone around me.
“Oh jeez, listen to this chic. Is she crazy? I am not this bad.”
“Holy shit. I grew up with that kid! He was insane then! Now I know I don’t belong here.”
“Oh my f*cking God, this place is nuttier than a squirrel convention.”
I went to the groups, said all the right shit and then, at the end of my days there – despite being asked to stay one more day because my insurance covered it – called my dad to come get me and I went home.
I got out of rehab, er, detox, on January 4, 2005. My sober date is May 24, 2006. So for sixteen months, my life was an absolute shit storm (more than previously).
Why didn’t standard detox work for me?
A) Because I didn’t want it to work for me.
B) Because they never let me feel bad or sick. They gave me phenobarbital for my withdrawal symptoms and good food and outside time and even let me smoke cigarettes.
C) I was only there for four days, which is pretty standard.
So did I really, truly detox?
After I got out, the first thing I did was call my dealer. “Hey, I just got out of detox, do you have anything?” I guess that week she had a conscience because she said she’d call me back and never did.
Not that week anyway.
So the universe gave me a shot; it was on my side. I went with it and even went to an NA meeting with my detox roommate with her big fake boobs (she got hooked on Percocet after a boob job). One meeting was all I attended. Maybe it was all the hugging after the NA meeting, but I didn’t like it.*
After a week, I was back at the bar and drinking. I wasn’t taking any pills… yet. I was convinced that I could drink because I drank in the past (before getting hooked on pills) and everything was fine! (Did I mention my insanity?)
It wasn’t long until I started drinking heavily, popping pills and snorting cocaine again. This time twice as hard as before I went into detox. I even got involved with a man I knew a while before and we were great together, but in March of 2005, he left my house after starting an argument. I didn’t think much of it until I found out that Monday that he went home and shot himself in the head.
My drugging and drinking escalated; despite not being right in the head before then, I was really twisted inside after that. I spiraled hard and fast unaware that the forming vortex would swallow more lives than just mine.
I eventually turned my life around… but this story needs to be told. So I decided this time frame will be the focus of my memoir.
Thanks for letting me share.
*NA meetings work for many people. They do not work for me. Some NA’s go to AA, some AA’s go to NA. I am not trash talking any program.
While the lowest point of my life was sitting in a recliner in someone’s basement doped up on pills, there were many previous disasters that dragged me to that point.
I had lost my job, then my house and then the final blow… I lost my children. Surely I could have taken immediate action and changed my ways ASAP.
But first I had to get high and oh yeah, get drunk too and let’s not forget going out to bars and to make bad decisions about people that put myself in serious danger.
What the hell was I thinking? That was just it… I was NOT thinking. I was too busy playing the victim and blaming my life on everyone and everything else.
When I first lost my job I could have probably done the following: FOUND A NEW EFFING JOB!
I could have done a lot of things… but that didn’t fit my ‘victim mentality’ and while I was playing the ‘damsel in distress’ I was really a disastrous damsel spitting hellfire and burning every bridge I crossed. That life seems a world away now. Thank goodness for second chances.
Disastrous damsel; wicked and free
Who is this angel you pretend to be
Blackness is your state of mind
Your screaming soul, so unkind
Is this really who you are
Or did your game go too far
Take your breath and suck it out
Breath back in without a doubt
Life really can be joyous and true
Have faith in love and have faith in you.
People really do change… they just need a really good reason to change.
Creating Chaos: A Personal Essay
Chaos was my sidekick since I was about four years old. I was always pushing the envelope in disturbing ways from shoving an eraser up my nose when I was seven to putting toothpaste on my eyelids when I was nine… I was one of those “What would happen if…” kids.
Later, it was me coasting down my grandmother’s driveway and into the garage on roller skates. There was a half-inch lip where the concrete floor of the garage raised above the driveway. I coasted down; watching the lip draw closer I thought, “I’m not lifting my feet. I want to see what happens when my skates hit that lip.” (Even as I write this over thirty years later, I am shaking my head – what the hell is wrong with you, girl) Needless to say, I hit the lip, went airborne and landed on my knees and face – and I had boo-boo’s to prove it.
I cried and wailed… my grandmother came running. “What happened?” I told her my story of pain and even at ten years old, I embellished it, peppering in imaginary details to make it sound more dramatic.
My grandmother was not buying any of it. “Well, what did you think was going to happen, you stupid ass? Get up. Brush yourself off and go get a Popsicle.” I did just that and when I saw my friends later, I told them my embellished Daredevil story of self-inflicted boo-boo’s and how I must have been cruising down the driveway doing at least twenty miles an hour!
It was the last time I cried over physical pain, but it was not the last time I intentionally created chaos to get attention. Later in life, I found emotional ways to create chaos and keep the drama flowing in my life. “Hey, over here! I am a human trainwreck but I’m cute so come and love me!”
I created chaos because I had to compartmentalize all the weird, icky and dangerous feelings I had inside that didn’t sit well with me. Being an ACOA besides an alcoholic/addict, I had a double whammy of stunted emotional growth. So when things got chaotic in a way I didn’t understand, I would make them more chaotic by inserting my own melodrama, thereby making sure that all that weird inner shit really did have something to do with me instead of me just being a victim of circumstance.
It took me a long time to realize that most of my chaos was self-created, even after I got sober in 2006. I had a real case of the ‘woe is me’ sniffles until I finally stopped self-sabotaging and realized I truly can be my own worst enemy.
So if you are anything like the old me (who still tries to poke her train wrecked head into my life from time to time) and you are surrounded by chaos more than peace, maybe take a long hard look at the center of it all.
Have an awesome weekend my friends.
It was a Tuesday.
I never listened to the radio in work – I was more of a compact disc person since I just figured out how to make my own CDs with music I ignorantly downloaded from the Internet.
I met a guy the previous year – also ignorantly on the Internet – which is a story in and of itself. He walked out on me after a disagreement about money and drove his car down to Virginia to see his sister whom he had not seen or spoken to for three years. After two days he had called me to beg for forgiveness; for a home.
Anyway, my co-worker, who was in the business of talking customers into an extra bundle of pizza boxes, yelled from the back office, “An airplane crashed into one of the twin towers!”
My first thought: What are the twin towers? My second thought: That’s what happens when you drink on the job.
I continued to print reports while working on a short story for my creative writing class. It was nice to have a job where I could get things done for me.
It made up for the shitty pay due to my lack of office skills.
My coworker shouted from the back again: “Another plane hit the other tower!”
Okay, so I guess it’s not drunk flying. I turned on the radio and listened to WMMR as Pierre Robert told me what he heard so far.
The phone rang.
It was my boyfriend.
“Airplanes flew into the twin towers,” he breathed.
“I know,”I said. “I just turned on the radio.”
“Oh Jesus, something just flew into the Pentagon.” He screamed.
“Doesn’t your sister work there?”
“Yes. This is unbelievable.” I could hear the panic in his voice as he sipped his 56-ounce refill cup of Pepsi and dragged on his cigarette.
I looked out the door again at the vehicles whizzing by. Did they know what was happening? One of the owners appeared outside, framed in the aluminum door – it was the one with the cane and the pimp daddy suits. He was a large man; Jewish; arrogant.
I didn’t like him.
My boyfriend told me he spoke with his dad. Her promotion carried her to the side of the building that was hit.
I was crying. The arrogant Jew asked me what was wrong. I told him. He asked me to come in his office. He held me and said it was going to be okay; everything was going to be fine and he would take care of me.
Suddenly, I was on my knees, under his desk, between his legs. When he finished, he helped me to my feet, handed me a hundred dollars and a Percocet. He gave me a long, molesting hug and said, “I’m sorry.”
I stared at him right in his eyes – silent and searching like a wounded doe searching the eyes of her hunter.
“Sorry for what?” I finally managed.
“Sorry for your loss,” he said.
*This story is a personal essay based on factual events.
As a kid, I loved the idea of telling stories and evoking emotions in people. As I got older, my life had such crazy, insane, ‘did that really just f**king happen’ events, I didn’t need to delve deep into my childish imagination to dish out juicy prose.
Come on, clown pajamas for a Halloween costume, throwing up in my reading book (in front of the whole class), and milk in my Puff the Magic Dragon Thermos were so traumatic I thought there was no way I could continue. And all that was in second grade.
Had I known my life would be a major story every year, I would have kept a better diary. I mean, all that and more happened before I turned eight years old. What was next?
Fantasy monsters, spaceships, and candy eating aliens are cool (and could happen) but I love a real life story because I can relate.
Right now I am writing a memoir and a novel based on events in my real life. I have a friend who is a psychic who gave me a free reading after my husband tattooed her. She told me my life would change after I told my story. I swear, there were no animal feet or blood used in the reading.
So why am I dragging my feet like a kid in a dentist office?
Fear of success.
It is a thing.
I have written the first half of my memoir (the juicy good part with all my screw ups) and then I just stopped. WTF?! Yes, stopped and moved on to something else. I do this often.
But, I always come back. Always… I use real life in a lot of my writing. I think we all do, right?
I was talking to a co-worker the other day and he was telling me a story about how once he had to hand out church flyers when he was about eight years old. Of course, he had better things to do than hand out flyers… so how could he get rid of these pesky papers? Well, wouldn’t you know, he passed a farm every day and at the fence of the farm were goats. He couldn’t believe it when he jokingly put a flyer in front of the goat that the goat started eating it!
Handing Out Flyers problem: solved.
I used this story as a scene in my latest novel. It fit so well, I couldn’t pass it up.
Take a trip through your memory and pluck out those moments from yesteryear that you might think were no big deal, or maybe you thought you forgot about them. But you didn’t. Write about it.
…Then write about it from another point of view and embellish it a little. Or a lot.
How much real life is in your fiction?
When I was little I wanted to be a lawyer. Then I wanted to be a mechanic. Somewhere in between, I wanted to be a stuffed animal so I could sit on the radiator all day and look out the window with my polyester friends. It turned out I needed more than a love for arguing and gear lube to achieve either occupation. And the stuffed animals, well, I haven’t figured out how to shapeshift… yet.
It was Halloween 1978 and I was a second grader in this terrible elementary school that looked more like a tuberculosis hospital turned insane asylum than a learning place for children. Back in the day, many schools were tall and intimidating with dark gray and brown stone exterior walls, grates over the windows and a wrought iron fenced school yard – some with pointed tips. I mean, it did seem fallout shelter-esque, though I never noticed the three triangle sign on the building.
So, I was in second grade, autumn was upon us and so was Halloween. Wonder Woman was huge that year and I remember wanting to be Wonder Woman so bad. Nothing else mattered but the Lasso of Truth and the Bracelets of Submission!
Wonder Woman Gear – Pinterest
Despite me not having friends in grade school, I had overheard some of the other girls talking about what they would be for Halloween and it was unanimous. Wonder Woman! This was great because… I loved Wonder Woman, too! If nothing, maybe I could get one friend out of this.
I burst through the door after school: “Mom! I wanna be Wonder Woman for Halloween!” I beamed.
I was going to be something much better my mother told me and my brain rolled with anticipation. What could be better than Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman was the s**t! Nothing nor no one was better than Wonder Woman except Santa Claus who was only better in December!
It turned out that because we were so poor, a Wonder Woman costume was not in the cards for me. My mother told me this while holding a pair of pastel-colored pajamas in yellow and green.
“What are they?” I asked while my stomach flip-flopped like a dying fish.
“It’s a costume.”
“It looks like pajamas,” I corrected her.
“Well, not really. It is a costume. You’re going to be a clown.”
“A what?” My face flushed. “A clown?”
“Yes. A clown.”
I pondered this for a bit since clowns were creepy and maybe that would scare all those little brats at school into submission!
“Okay. Where is the rest of the costume?”
My mother never spared my feelings so instead of hemming and hawing she told me straight up: “There is no rest of the costume.”
The next day I went to school with my costume in a bag like all the other kids and at lunch time changed into my costume just like all the other kids.
“But it’s not even clown colors. Where are the clown shoes? The clown nose? Where is the clown makeup?” the brattiest girl mocked. “Look, everyone, Darlene is wearing pajamas for Halloween!” and all the little brats erupted with laughter.
Dear Lord, please turn me into a dustball right now!
But there I stood, searching my little brain for an answer, an excuse – something to get me out of this 3 x 6 hell.
I told them my mom forgot to pack it, that “my costume was gonna be great but we were in a hurry and I couldn’t miss my bus.”
After they pointed and laughed until the teacher came in to see what was going on, they let me slide, this group of future head cheerleaders and devil women. I went on to eat candy corn and potato chips and get silly little toys that day. However, the humiliation I felt in that coat room followed me for decades along with the “it’s great to be like everyone else” worm that wriggled into my brain.
I’ve since killed that worm, but there were so many moments like this one that shaped who I am today.
Got any embarrassing moments? Share in the comments below. 🙂
What you believe is your business. This is not a judgy post… This is about how the interpretation of my Higher Power changed around the year 2015. If you’re interested, read on my friend. If not, no harm… have a blessed day.
I was baptized Catholic and grew up in a place called Bridesburg – a small Philadelphia, Pennsylvania neighborhood tightly nestled in a corner between the Delaware River and Frankford Creek. Less than 10,000 people live there and while some moved out, generations of families linger like the smell of freshly smoked kielbasa.
This neighborhood, roughly five blocks by eight blocks, has eleven churches and three cemeteries (two are connected to churches – one is not). Two of the churches are Catholic, one is non-denominational, then there is a Baptist, Emanuel, Presbyterian, and Methodist church.
I left Bridesburg in 2005 and have visited less than five times since my bittersweet departure.
Anyway, I met this local guy when I was fourteen and his family was very Catholic. Like, so Catholic that they were all blinded by the God thing (when it served their purpose) and when I got pregnant at fifteen, we had to get married or the baby would be born out of wedlock and I’d go to hell. This chaotic, close-minded, archaic thinking would envelop me for the next twenty years of my life (even though that guy and I divorced when I was 24).
It was so bad (memoir-worthy, which I am writing) that one time (and only one time) I said ‘Bless You’ when my mother-in-law sneezed and the look I got, well, you may have thought I asked if she would be so kind as to stick her face in the garbage disposal.
“It’s not Bless You. It’s GOD Bless You. What the hell is wrong with you? Heathen. You’re a no good white trash heathen.” I mean, I had no religion. I didn’t know then that the word Heathen was not a nickname for the Devil. So, I basically thought she called me a devil… when I was a teenager. Oh, and she didn’t talk to me for two weeks after my blasphemic faux pas.
In retrospect, I should have gotten up and punched her in the face or maybe doused her face with her terrible homemade iced tea (way too many lemons), but I didn’t.
Instead, I clung to the notion that my life sucked because I sucked. I was a rotten human being and had done vile, unspeakable things that afforded me a lifetime of suffering and misery. I guess this is true if smoking pot and dropping out of high school is a heinous, shameful act.
Oh wait… I stole a pack of gum when I was seven. Shit.
My torment continued into my forties and into my sobriety in 2006, blaming every bad thing that happened to me on some unseen force that was displeased with my human nature. My drinking, lost jobs, lost relationships, everything that happened to me was because I was a bad person: A HEATHEN.
Then, a proverbial anvil hit me in the face in 2015. None of my bad choices were anyone’s doing but my own. When I stopped putting all my eggs in the sin basket and took responsibility for my actions; when I decided that while sometimes extenuating circumstances could creep in and mess up my day, I ultimately, am responsible for everything that happens to me – good or bad.
So, I did a test of sorts. I stopped praying to the Christian idea of God for a few weeks. And started talking to my higher power as I understood it. And lo and behold, nothing changed except for one thing.
My guilt had vanished. I no longer felt pangs of regret because I forgot to pray, or because I said ‘bless you’ instead of God Bless You, or because – gasp! I ate meat on a Friday during Lent!
The first time I ate meat on Lent (not on accident) was this year. And I have to say, I am still here to tell the tale. It was absolutely the best Buffalo Chicken Pizza I ever ingested in my life.
Again, I am not knocking Christianity… believe what you need to believe. That is your right as a human being. I believe in the earth, the universe, the elements. I believe in good begets good and evil begets evil. I believe that everyone has the right to pray to whomever – or whatever – they see fit.
It’s none of my business who your God is.
Do you consider yourself religious or spiritual?