first post deleted (sweet skills) re-write (story of my life)

I had a resolution to begin writing again. I figured why set up expectations on New Year's Day to simply fail? Why not start on Day 3?

Begs 2 questions:

1. Do I still have an audience?
2. [do I still have a voice?]

In no particular order, my life bullet points:
  • I am still hopelessly flawed. 
  • I have no religion I ascribe to currently but I really do miss The Faith. I stopped going when my actions no longer aligned with the tenents of the Mothership. Divorce is a no-no and once one is so situated, receiving Communion is no longer an option. In my mind, I hear "what's the point?"
  • [i do miss the Mass. And the prayers and incense rising and Confession and talking to Mary and lighting candles and stained glass.]
  • I read a lot of Buddhist-inspired writings and absolutely love the philosophy. I am wondering: can one be a Catholic Buddhist? Is that too cafeteria-styled?
  • I adore the new Pope. 
  • I turned 50 last April. 
  • I am divorced but do have a boyfriend who I like to think is the love of my life when I am in a state of complete acceptance. When I am not *there*, I think I run thru a gammit of emotions that vacillate between utter confusion and total disdain for all things relational. 
  • Then I get some rest and things always feel a bit better the following day. 
  • I question a lot of things still, but I am definitely accepting of my curiosity. 
  • I have 6 years of continuous sobriety, but have also started attending mtgs for those friends and families of those who are thus similarly afflicted and affected by a loved one's using or not using. I like these meetings. A lot. 
  • I am trying as best I can.
  • I know feelings aren't facts - facts don't change. Feelings do. 
I am tired of roaring thru my moleskine journals with no feedback. I am here. I am open. 

[i do have a voice - it may be a bit raspy, but it's still there]

will it ever be enough?

i have always instructed my children that regardless of what they do in life, as long as it isn't something "illegal" and they are enjoying what they are doing, then i am okay with that because life is far too short to not be happy.  (please see Twitter for any reference to Breaking Bad and you'll understand what i mean)

and really -- will we ever have enough?

i am kind of chuckling to myself since as of last wednesday, i had all of $24.00 in my checking account to last me until today.  i get paid twice a month - the 15th and the 30th.  it was a long stretch, my good friends. i had a wee bit o' savings and what wee bit i had, i transferred and not a moment too soon: a purchase i had long since forgotten about hit the very next day and took my transferred money and then some.  so i really had all of $14.00 to last me through the weekend.

i put out a "call to arms" email to my children at home: things are tight.  we have food in the pantry consisting of tuna, chicken, pasta, rice, beans, soups. we are not in wont.  we are not without.  we may have to ::gasp:: actually cook something for ourselves instead of relying on take out or delivery (which needs to stop, as well).  they did just fine, honestly.  (there was a brief moment when Daughter lamented about her new upgrade to iOs7 which made her phone "all wonky" and how she is due for an upgrade.  go ahead.  let that one soak for a moment, i'll wait.)

i read about how people are starving in third world countries and in our own backyards.  health care in america has hit a critical point and while the Obamacare is being launched i believe tomorrow, the monthly premiums for a family are still too high for me to pay out of pocket. it's been a difficult financial year for me, to put it mildly. no health insurance, court hearings, moving back into my house and the expense that entails, finding the balance between my social life and my being at home now with two kids in the house (plus a boarder), the electricity bill is about triple what i remembered it as being.  the taxes are due.  the balance of the bills from my other place are also due. my Middle Son works a job that he loves but does not pay well. Daughter is in second year of college and working part time.  i am working full-time and have a small part-time job on saturdays at a methadone clinic as the front desk associate (read: receptionist). i do not believe i will ever be out from under the financial hole i am in. my necessary bills are being paid, my savings is all but non-existent, but get this:  i am happy. i have serenity. peace. happiness. relationships around me being repaired and invitations to soccer games and over for birthdays are now coming in on a more regular basis and that makes me overjoyed.  i have not had an alcoholic drink in over 5 years (almost 6 but i practice a day at a time program) and my creative side is resurfacing after being long since submerged, encased in a wall of self-pity which is slowly crumbling away. life is actually pretty good.

yes, i have the almost daily "how am i going to do this, God?" conversation but i am not in a panic. He will provide for us, He always does. in the background, questions linger:  do i approach The Boss about a raise, when my review was due in January of this year? inquire about benefits for the office? do i push Middle Son to get a different job, perhaps one that pays better and has benefits? i guess i could gently guide him in that direction, but as i stated at the outset, he is in a job in a record store that he loves and music is his passion.

for now, i think it is enough.

Black swallowtail

Black swallowtail
Originally uploaded by penni_4_ur_thots
Slowing down. Getting centered. Finding time to write and take photos and find my focus. I miss God. I know He hasn't gone anywhere, but He has been pretty quiet.

That's ok tho. So have I.

~ : . a w a k e n . : ~

Bumblebee moth
Originally uploaded by penni_4_ur_thots

“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.” 
met my first bumblebee moth today. i am forever changed.

you just never know when someone is going to surface...

this may simply be for my own benefit, i am uncertain. what i do know is i miss this outlet and no matter how much i post to other forums, sometimes, i simply need to see things in black and white.

what can be expected now?  probably not very much. going to rearrange some things.  from this point forward, i can assure you (once everything is re-arranged, that is) all photos will be taken by Yours Truly.  that's correct. even the background of non-stop begonias, the ornamental quince pictured below - i took these photographs.  it's a passion of mine now.

what else? unsure. trying to set up a website to sell photography. trying to stay sober (five years as of 12/2/2012) and emerging from a pretty dark place over the last year and a half, two years.  i am no longer married, i am working full-time and part-time, still very involved in recovery, still seeking the Face of God.

join me.


[Hello, my friends... I have suffered a tremendous loss this week and it was suggested by a friend that I write about it, all of it, like I am talking to a stranger on a bus. I am doing just that. it will be stream-of-consciousness that I am hoping will make sense. if not, try and look beyond the sentence fragments and look at my heart.]


I have a new part-time job, one that required a drug screen and fingerprinting upon hiring - I am a receptionist at a Methadone clinic on Saturday mornings. I love it. I knew the job was meant for me when I saw it advertised in the paper, long story short: I started 3 weeks ago. Love these people, right up my alley, may eventually continue my schooling and get my addictions counseling certificate. However, I don't want to digress from who I am desirous of writing about, and that is my friend Audrey.


As some of you know, my last drink was had on December 2, 2007. I held on for dear life my first week and decided I needed a bit of help so I started going to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous the following week and have yet to stop.

I remember two women very distinctly when I first started coming around, one of whom was Audrey. It was my third meeting and I walked into a crowded meeting and took a seat. She was loud, and fun, and gregarious and I liked her immediately, even though I wasn't there to make friends. She just seemed "real."

Over the ensuing months, I started sitting near where she was and we would exchange pleasantries. I found out a lot about her - she was open and honest, loved wine (as did i), loved her dog, was a gardener, had a pool, rode a motorcycle, loved being sober, was on the biggest flippin' pink cloud I had ever witnessed. I had pink cloud envy. I wanted to be cranky about her cloud, but could not. It suited her.

I guess I had about 9 or 10 months' of sobriety when Audrey took a long-planned vacation to I believe it was Africa. She said to me, in her usual joking manner, that she was afraid once she got on the cruise ship, she'd drink a glass of wine. What do they say when people make half-truth jokes? There is some truth behind their words? True to her word, she was barely on deck when she picked up and she didn't put down for two weeks. She felt all she would have to do is simply start back at AA meetings and she would be fine.

Not really.

I guess it was about the springtime when she asked me if I would be her sponsor - Feb or March of 2009. Of course I said yes and we set off on doing our step work together. I think she got to about Step 9 and then admitted to me that she had been drinking the entire time she had done her step work. doh!! The sponsor is truly the last to know. We went back to Step 1. We did Steps 1, 2 and 3 several times over the ensuing months and she just.couldn't.stay.sober.

She would be on the beam for a week or so, then Friday would roll around and I wouldn't hear from her. I knew before she even called me what had happened - she picked up. As boisterous and belligerent and defiant as she could be with me, I always got that phone call - the one where she was crying and remorseful and sick and tired of being sick and tired. (I am omitting the quotes from a lot of the catch-phrases from AA, just bear with me...) I would say "are you ready, yet? time to surrender!" she would be like "I think so...." I would tell her that she had to completely surrender and start developing a relationship with her Higher Power and put herself into service and keep away from the liquor store. She was "all in" on Monday; by Friday, no call/no show.

But I never gave up on her. I would always try to encourage her to keep trying, she kept attending meetings, she kept calling me, she kept up with our 1-2-3 Step dance we would do, and she kept being Audrey. I also tried my damndest to convince her to get to a rehab -- a month off, working the steps intensively, getting away from her harried life, and she would steadfastly refuse. "I love ya, Pen, but that ain't happenin'." I loved her to bits. She would call me and at the end of our conversations, inevitably tell me how much she appreciated me, was grateful for me, loved me and was so amazed that I never gave up on her. She was never short on affirmations, that girl. I always ended with the same sentiments and would say "never will."

This past February, when she had let up on her program of "inaction," she called and asked if I could meet her for coffee, she wanted to tell me something. [Read: we didn't have a "falling out," but we were not actually connecting, either. the phone call both surprised and delighted me.] We met up at Starbucks and she dropped the bomb on me: "I'm leaving for rehab the first week of March." get. out. I was shocked and I said "why wait?" as only a sponsor would. She said "because my birthday is at the end of February and I want to drink." I said "Aud!!" she was to her own self true, that's for sure.

She went for her annual mammogram in between the news of rehab and actually leaving for same and found out in between days that she had a suspicious mass on her left breast. She was a breast cancer survivor, and was very diligent to make sure she had her check-ups (and, in fact, did two 60-miles walks for breast cancer, God bless her!), but this one needed biopsying. the week before she was supposed to leave for rehab, the cells came back "suspicious" and she said instead of putting her body through chemo and radiation again, she would have the "girls lopped off" and "get new, perky ones" in their place. This is what she opted to do this time around. But first, off to rehab she went.

[Sidebar: I just spent the better part of this past 45 minutes looking for the letter she sent me from rehab. I JUST.SAW.IT. like two or three weeks ago. argh!!]

She got back and we started back in on our steps, you guessed it, at Step 1. She had 30 days of continuous sobriety, and she was beaming. She really wanted it this time around and was willing to do things differently. like call me when she felt like going to the liquor store...go to meetings, on her steps...she was in the middle of her 4th step for the last few weeks because she was busy going to doctors and getting tests done. She was sober and loving her program, and in fact, we talked frequently and she was learning how to make her own sugar-free jams and jellies because she "needed a new hobby" since drinking was out. She made peach and strawberry preserves and was pretty proud of herself for doing so :)

The time was winding down to when she was getting ready for her surgery. Her husband's adult son had been in and out of the hospital, having lymphoma himself, and taking on experimental treatments. She had actually spoken of postponing her surgery until after his son was out of the woods, but we discussed it at great length and she made the decision to move forward -- she had people in place that were set to help her out when she got home, and her sister-in-law was scheduled to come stay with her for a few weeks to assist while she was recuperating. A couple of us were planning on taking meetings to her when she was at home: we were all set.

We had breakfast a couple of weeks ago and just really connected - she was preparing to celebrate her 5th month of sobriety and was just beside herself that she was able to stay sober and back on track. She invited me and my daughter to come swim in her pool that afternoon, and my daughter was thrilled at the invite. We went and spent the afternoon with her, floating around, she and Molly connecting on a savvy 18 year-old vs. salty adult level and hit it off. When we were leaving, Molz said "Audrey, you are a great time!" Audrey said "Molly, you're a great kid!" I’m like "let's go, the meeting is over of the Mutual Admiration Society." We all had a great laugh and it was wonderful.


Fast forward to last Saturday. I was invited by Aud to attend the morning meeting because she had five months' of continuous sobriety, officially, and her former sponsor was speaking and a dear friend was chairing. Unfortunately, I had to work at my clinic job, but I understand it was a wonderful meeting and she was beaming. It was her last meeting prior to her surgery, which was scheduled for Monday.


On Monday, August 8t, Audrey had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery immediately following. From what I understand, the surgery was supposed to take about 6-8 hours, but it took over 12. Her husband called and said the doctor reported she was doing fine, and the she was in recovery. The following day, however, it was discovered that she had a blood clot in her left breast and had to go back into the OR to have it removed. I am unsure of what happened, but she came out of surgery, still attached to the ventilator that was inserted prior to surgery and was moved to the Intensive Care Unit. I didn't find any of this out until Wednesday, when her friend shared with me that she was going to take a ride up to the cancer center for a visit on Thursday, but since Aud was in the Unit, she opted to not go up to see her because she was unsure if she would be able to get in and wanted her to get her rest. I had no idea Aud had gone through such a hard time, but I got a call from the patient herself on Friday afternoon, around 4:50 p.m. I was getting something out for my boss and said I would call her back, and she said she'd "take my call if she wasn't busy...." bless her salty self!

She ended up calling me because she was being transferred from ICU to the floor when I returned her call.  I asked if she felt that she had been hit by a truck and she said "No, two..." She maintained her sense of humor and we had a great chat for about 10 minutes until I could tell she was getting a bit tired.  She affirmed me, as she always did, and made it a point to ask me to let her buddies from her homegroup that she loved them and was "doing A-okay."  What a gem.  I asked her if she would like a visit from me and her friend AnnMarie and told her that we planned on coming up to see her on Sunday aternoon.  She was excited at the prospect, and so were we.


Saturday morning, I went to work and at about 7:10 a.m., Audrey's phone number/picture showed up on my phone.  I thought "what on earth is she doing up this early??" and let the call go to voicemail.  About two seconds later, the phone rang again, and it was Audrey, again,  and my supervisor said "you can get that from you need to?" and I said "It is one of my sponsees -- she just had surgery, something may be up?" so I asked if I could take five minutes to return her call.  I listened to my voicemail message and it wasn't Audrey, after all - it was her sister-in-law/caregiver Liz, who simply stated her name and that I should return her call as soon as possible.  I knew it was not good.  I called the house number again and got a busy signal.  I tried several times and finally, decided to call Audrey's husband, Dave, on his cell phone.  He answered right away and said, quite frankly, that Audrey had passed away at 3:45 am. They were unsure what happened, she was lucid and coherent, speaking with the nurses one minute, and the next minute, complaining of nausea and dizziness and she basically passed out.  From what I was told, they worked on her for 45 minutes to an hour and she didn't come back.  She was "pronounced."


I finished out my 4-hour shift in a state of shock.  I didn't know what to do - I called my best friend to tell him what had happened and thereafter, called Audrey's sister-in-law and spoke with her.  I called the gal I was supposed to go see her with her on Sunday, and she had a very difficult time accepting what I was telling her.  She insisted on seeing me because she wanted to be with someone who "loved Aud" and as soon as I was finished work, I met her at Our Lady of Sorrows Church and we sat and cried and prayed and lit candles and reflected on a life well lived and cut short unexpectedly. 


I am broken-hearted over my loss and just needed to get it on paper, in black and white.  i am processing through the pain and am not trying to isolate, but have been sleeping.  Sleeping a lot.  Audrey's services are Saturday and they are getting the hall together Friday night in preparation for the luncheon to follow.  I have feelings about the conversation I had with her sister-in-law that I am also processing through, and am not quite ready to disuss them yet.  Just acknowledging them is helpful.


There is more.  As lot more.  This has taken me literally hours to write and I am sure is not even close to my best writing.   That's okay, though - this is my and Audrey's story, and to quote my girlfriend, "I'm stickin' to it."

Distrusting God | Inward/Outward

Distrusting God Inward/Outward: "Distrusting God
By Brennan Manning on 04-20-2011
Wallowing in shame, remorse, self-hatred and guilt over real or imagined failings in our past lives betrays a distrust in the love of God. Preoccupation with our past sins, present weaknesses and character defects gets our emotions churning in self-destructive ways, closes us within the mighty citadel of self and preempts the presence of a compassionate God.
Source: Ruthless Trust"

here, there, everywhere

i have joined the land of twitter, once again.

it's interesting to me to see what others are thinking when they are thinking them, that's fascinating.  i have it on my phone.

"following" my children has caused a widespread panic.  i like that.  i am thinking they post on twitter what they wouldn't post on facebook.

speaking of facebook - i finally saw "the social network."  the only word that really came to mind when i was watching it was "arrogance."  i am not going to lie:  he is wealthy.  the youngest billionaire on the planet.  whatever.  i am hoping when i hit billionaire status, i retain a bit of humility.

for my Catholic brethren:  i am having a very difficult time remaining Catholic.  i am only stating this here so i can remain in the light.  i have taken leave of all of my volunteer duties at the church and am really pondering how much longer i will remain.  i don't think for very much longer.

my heart is drawn to the Calvary Chapel Ocean City church.  it is dynamic, it makes me think, feel and it feels like i'm "home."

[God knows my heart.  i am hopeful He will lead me where i need to be.]

Mom's passing is coming up on the 3 month anniversary.  every day is a little better, but i miss talking to her.  i miss knowing she will be there to make me feel better when i don't feel well at all (mentally, physically).  nothing like your ma.


Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

John 14:1-3
My sister kept saying her room wasn't ready. Now she's in heaven, but her ashes will be at my house today and I don't know how I feel about it.

It is Catholic tradition not to scatter ashes as we want our people whole for the "resurrection of the body". Yet, burial at sea? Perfectly acceptable. Go fig.

Also, retaining a loved one's ashes at one's home is also not acceptable as per Catholic tradition. Since her memorial has been postponed until April, however, I am very uncomfortable leaving her at the funeral home until then.  She was supposed to move in with us this week, anyway.  [We just didn't expect it to be like this.]

So what to do?

My mother was not Roman Catholic.  In fact, out of the five siblings, I am the only one who has embraced the faith, which embrace, dear readers, you know to be waivering at times.  Still, I am a practicing Catholic and I am now wondering if I have any business pushing my views off onto anyone else with respect to all of this.

Then there's this empty space.  A great chasm, a void that has been left indellibly since Mom passed.  Sure, I stepped up and did what was right by her during her last months, but my relationship with her wasn't nearly what I would have wanted it to be; and now, the time has passed.  Amends must be living, but to whom do I now make them.

My thoughts are as scattered as ... ashes.

o, holy night

[...the stars are brightly shining.]

i can fall asleep, i just can't stay asleep.

it's Christmas morning - 3:48 a.m. to be exact.  my mom died one week ago today and these past 7 days, i have gone through the motions and felt every emotion known to man.

i'll be having a decent line of thinking, and suddenly, it all floods in:  "i'll have a dollar cheeseburger, small onion ring, (did mom really die?) and a diet coke."

i am going to assume it is part of the normal when it comes to the grieving process.

[long lay the world, in sin and error pining]

people either want to be present to me or are all confessional because they haven't reached out for me as they don't know what to say.  honestly, most times, i am letting the phone ring until voice mail picks and i return calls if you are a verizon customer by hitting "reply" - at&t user?  outta luck.  sorry.  i'm doing the best that i can.

mom's services are tuesday.  i am bringing home pictures from my brother's today to go through  in preparation.  i also need to pen something so i can share at the prayer service.  or maybe i'll just speak from my heart?

[fall on your knees.  o hear, the angels' voices!!]

i haven't written, it's all welled up in my heart.  i do want to share, however, that i spent the night at the hospital friday night, her last night on earth, so when i awoke in the middle of the night (like i did this morning), i could sit at her bedside, talk to her and pray.  it was a very special time for me, sacred time.  i am blessed and i thank God i had the opportunity to be with her.

[o night divine.]

my mama

(nee Gibson) 71 of Petersburg, NJ passed away on December 18, 2010 with her family by her side. Pat was born in Jacksonville, FL. She served her country proudly by serving as a United States Marine from 1956-1958. She recently retired from the Ocean City SuperFresh after working there for 41 years in the Bakery. In her spare time, Pat enjoyed the beach, crossword puzzles, reading, art, old movies and watching "her shows" as she put it, especially the Food Network. She is survived by two daughters, Debbie (Edward) Teise of Petersburg, NJ, Penni (Jim) D'Aulerio of Northfield, NJ, and three sons, Dennis (Jill) Jones of Daniel Island, SC, Shannon (Patti) Nickerson of Smithville, NJ, and Sean (Dena) Nickerson of Petersburg, NJ. She is also survived by 11 grandchildren, Ben (Kelly) D'Aulerio of Somers Point, NJ, Max, and Molly D'Aulerio; Alexandra and Torre Teise; Emma and Megan Nickerson; Will Nickerson; Alexander, Andrew and Henry Jones; and one great granddaughter, Hannah Mae D'Aulerio. A memorial service will be held on Dec. 28 at 10a.m. at the Adams-Perfect Funeral Home in Northfield, NJ. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Locks of Love or the American Cancer Society.


what do you wear?

i'm just a little more than numb this morning. my mother started her chemo and radiation just over a week ago - had 2 "rounds" of chemo and i think 5 rounds of radiation - she was half-way done that aspect of her treatment. when she was at my house monday, waiting for my husband to take her to radiation and then home, she started having stomach pains. he gave her ginger ale, but it didn't seem to help.

i spoke with her later in the afternoon and she was lying down, had taken her compazine (because she thought it would help, even though she wasn't nauseous) and after a horrific day at work (another post for another day), i went to my brother's house to check on her.

she wasn't doing well.

by 7:30 p.m., i summoned a "limousine with christmas lights" to take her to the hospital. by midnight we learned she had a perforated bowel, caused by one of the "large tumors in her abdomen," which tumors we just learned of on monday when we got her pet scan results.

by 4:00 a.m., she was in the OR. i slept for two hours on the floor of the waiting room and the doctor was grim: she's in critical condition and her "prognosis is poor."

when she was back in ICU for recovery, she was awake enough to write me two notes: "thirsty" - to which i answered, "i know, ma..." and smiled and "will i be okay?" i said "ma, you're gonna be better than ok." that was the last communication we had.

yesterday when i arrived, her kidneys were shutting down and her heartrate was going up to 190 and did that several times. i met with her infectious disease doctor, who was the first doctor who was completely honest with me: she is not good. you know what her wishes are (she and i had that difficult talk last month when she was in the hospital and we signed the advanced directive). you have some decisions to make because this is pretty much the very beginning of sepsis and peritonitis. he wrote an order for a palliative care consult and i met with a compassionate soul, along with my brother and a friend, and we discussed what measures would be taken to assist her into her "hereafter."

my siblings assembled with me. we decided: this morning at 9 a.m., we will be disconnecting her from her ventilator. (that's the short of it.)

so i spent the night at the hospital. held her hand, told her i loved her. apologized for any wrongs i had done while growing up, but this morning i realized something i have to still say to her: that i forgive her. (again, another post for another day.)

my husband picked me up at 5:30 a.m. i went upstairs to pick out something to wear today - usually, it would be jeans and a sweater, but i'm plumb out and haven't done laundry - but it hit me: what do i wear to something like this?

i am going to shower and go to my morning meeting to hang out with my sponsor and my AA friends, and after the meeting, go back to the hospital to spend what could be a few precious hours with my mother.

your prayers would be coveted.

oncology visit with mom

yesterday was our "initial" visit with her oncologist.  sure, she had seen him while she was in the hospital for 9 days in a row, but yesterday was her official "first, let's establish you as a patient" visit.

i suppose it went well.  her PET scan is scheduled for tuesday, her MRI of the brain, wednesday.  results are in:  9:15 a.m. friday.  i have enlisted my sibs and my spouse to help get her from place to place, but the visit friday, i must be the one in attendance.

the doctor said he'd like to use "chemotherapy and radiation" to shrink the tumor, and she "may not need surgery."  she "fist-bumped" me - i really don't want to be the negative one, but i can't help but wonder what he had been smoking prior to telling her that?  her tumor is 9cm x 9cm.  it's very large and while we don't know what her staging is, this bad boy has been growing for quite some time and the other doctor told me it was "inoperable."

my son max said "ma, she has hope!  that's so good!"  he's right.  i am not going to take that from her.  i gave her the fist bump back and said, "yeah ma - we GOT this!"

my insides are knotted up.  i can't sleep.  i can certainly eat (why o why, Lord of Hosts, can you not take my appetite during crisis times?) and tried for three days in earnest to give up smoking.  three days, fourth day = fail.  i have a new quit date of december 31st and am going to gear up to stop then.

[as an aside, i am an educated woman.  i denounced smoking, here on this blog, only four short years ago!  how self-righteous and mighty i was!  humbles the proud, He does.]

so i am here, i am going to keep this journal because i need to write.  i have this inherent need to write, even when or if nobody responds.  i don't know where else to go with it, so i come here.

*that* kind of blogger

i am in fear:  i am becoming *that* kind of blogger.  you know, the kind that only post when they are in a crisis?

not really a crisis, per se, but the last couple of weeks have been challenging -- my mother was diagnosed with NSCLC - lung cancer - and we are unsure of what her "staging" is but we will know more next week after her PET scan.

i remember blogging when she was ill four years ago.  i think i posted more random stuff on my other blog (poetry and such), but this is just to put it out there and get it off my chest for a bit.

also - i tried to quit smoking this week.  did not go well.  i will try again on december 3, for that is my "sobriety" birthday (3 years!!) so i figured it'd keep it simple when it came to remembering.  i found a really cool online community who has a bunch of good advice for this girl.  i love advice (as some of you well know).

so if you remember, please pray for Patricia.  she is a dear one.  we are heading to my brother's house for thanksgiving this year, which is a little bit more than poignant to me than it has ever been before.

blessings, all.

my battered heart

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you

As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;

That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend

Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

I, like an usurp'd town to another due,

Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;

Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,

But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.

Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain,

But am betroth'd unto your enemy;

Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,

Take me to you, imprison me, for I,

Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,

Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

~John Donne


older blog, resurrected - be still my thoughts - will contain any writings, essays or research papers if you are interested.

think i'm just saving them for posterity's sake.

(just who is posterity?)

therapy, medications, college courses, tweeting and other matters of fact

my friend chris was kind enough to give me a shout-out in a comments box, which did not go unnoticed by yours truly, so i thought i'd step into my blog and let the world know just how things are.

this is how things are: my son is doing better. it's amazing what a combination of good psychotherapy and just the right meds can do for someone who is spiraling, spiraling. he's in a pretty good space, what with starting college courses again these past two weeks, feeling more focused and structured, making his appointments and taking his meds (his phone timer goes off, he can't forget).

and i've learned to let go, at least a little bit. the results have been notable :)

i started two college courses myself just before labor day - english comp 102 and psychology 101. i believe i am moving in the direction of social work, which has been a dream of mine since i was a little girl (a dream that will take years to complete, but i'm good with that). i decided to take classes so i'd have something to fill my empty space at night with something other than the "chair doze." so far, it's been enlightening and i'm doing my best to soak it all in and learn as much as i can from 7-9:45pm mondays and thursdays.

(and yes - for my english papers, i am all about capitalization, punctuation, and sentence structure -- no fragmented sentences for this girl -- and i will have a research paper to do that i'll probably discuss at length herein to gain insight from my fellow bloggers. look forward to that with me, hmmm?)

for those of you who are *in the know* - i am moving away from a situation that has so easily ensnared me for MONTHS. it hasn't been easy, but with the help of a few very close friends, i am starting to make progress and have decided, once and for all, Who i will follow (and it ain't me).

of further notability is i am feeling a boatload of gratitude that the summer is drawing to an end, although i did a ton of reading (other than spiritual books - who knew? i have recommendations if anyone is interested!)...i love the bit of chill in the air and the acorns are starting to fall, leading me to believe the leaves cannot be far behind. we will be in my favorite season of the year soon enough. i am grateful without feeling anxiety. (good meds for EVERYone!!)

that's it in a nutshell. still with the insomnia, i've been up since 4a.m. i am thinking of reading a little and watching the local news. (is that last sentence more appropriate for twitter?)

~~as an aside: how many of you sweethearts do actually "tweet" -- is that not blogging taken to yet another extreme? i've dabbled in it, but am unsure my thoughts or ideas are worth "following" on a moment-by-moment basis. i'd love to hear your feedback on that one.

grace and peace.
So here's a test run - from my phone .... Interesting!

what do you see in this picture

if anything?

look at it....obviously, a hospital food tray.  specimen cup at the side, plastic fork and spoon, no knife.

no porcelain of any kind.  all throw-away.

what do you not see?

no electrical outlets in the room.  "safety" door knob, no spigots for the faucet.  nothing that can be broken off or torn away - even the curtains were soddered into their fixture.

the other missing object is my son, who has been seeing a therapist for a couple of months now and has been put on meds to help with the voices in his head.  night before last, his friend told him she didn't want to get serious, that they were in different places, that she had a great week and felt bad because he didn't and she couldn't bear that burden.

i am not going to get into an analysis/projection of my thoughts on any of that, because sometimes it takes a cataclysmic event (or two) to bring to the forefront something that is simmering below the surface.

he wanted to take his life.  he woke me at 2am and told me what happened with his friend and then for the next several hours, neither of us slept much.  i went to my morning meeting and received a text from him, asking to call when i get a chance.  he told me of his plan to gather up any and all medication we had in the house and ingest it, because he simply didn't want to feel any more.

we spent the next several hours in the psychiatric ER at AtlantiCare in Atlantic City.  very professional, we met with doctors and screeners and they decided the boy with the broken heart could be discharged and cautioned that i "should keep an eye on him."

both eyes.

what a day.   

day 1 over, day 2 in existence and he's up and playing a video game.  already, that's an improvement.

(that's the short of it...more later.  i just had to get that out.  if you are interested, he is actually writing about it himself...)

hold fast

what you hold, may you [always] hold
what you do, may you [always] do and never abandon.
but with swift pace, light step,
unswerving feet,
so that even your steps stir up no dust,
may you go forward
securely, joyfully, and swiftly,
on the path of prudent happiness,
not believing anything,
not agreeing with anything
that would dissuade you from this resolution
or that would place a stumbling block for you on the way,
so that you may offer your vows to the Most High
in the pursuit of that perfection
to which the Spirit of the Lord has called you.

~~Saint Clare of Assisi

can you see me now?

i wish i could be more open and transparent on my blog.  i know too many people now, i've started up (and stopped) other blogs that were not connected to mine, but still think i'd be "found" out.  i have been going through the biggest challenge of my life, medication issues aside, and i really need some place to vent about it openly.


[this is the internet. ]

i have no idea who would read, comment, find things out ... judge, convict, sentence.  (God alone will judge me, tyvm.)

i listened to my friend heidi's talk on splitting one's self wide open -- so wonderful, so poignant and pointed right at my heart, like a sword.  maybe instead of lamenting about how i can't speak (too) honestly here, i'll just go give it a listen again...

suggestions on transparency welcomed.  remember, gentle readers, that i already have a psychiatrist and a few good men (priests) that i chat to, a sponsor, and good internet buds who i have lost touch with but know would be there for me in a heartbeat.

[i know, what else do i need?]

i don't know -- maybe really honest feedback.  maybe affirmation that i am beloved of God, regardless of my actions.  i speak with Him daily about things...write to him in my what He has to say in His word...

[always playing hide and seek.  i am always seeking and when He wants to find me, i hide.]

so because i can't be fully, 100% unequivocally honest about my truth here, i feel thwarted.  is it any wonder i'm in therapy?  or maybe it's because i've not been clear to myself for so long.

maybe instead of more transparency, i can be more stained glass in nature -- i am assuming that even the most broken pieces that are colorful can turn into a lovely mosaic.

getting my life back

where did it go? where have i gone? i feel so disconnected and really long to be reconnected.

it's been months since i've felt like baking or doing "homey" things. admittedly, i've been absent. i've been elsewhere, physically and mentally.  i have said that i wanted to be home and never really made any effort to get there.

i want to get there.

prayer helps. reading, a huge help. talking with others (professional and non-professional alike), helps. but actually cleaning the kitchen? helpful! picking blueberries for breakfast cereal and folding clothes as only a mama can fold clothes - immensely rewarding.

[wow, who would've thought?]

time to start reaching out for family and reconnecting with friends that i miss (which includes visiting blogs and leaving comments :). time to start taking an interest in dusting, and the other quotidian tasks that can be mundane but that are refreshing to someone who has been wasted and wearied for a long, long time.

[God is doing a work in me.]

“The time of business does not differ with me from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great a tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.”  Brother Lawrence
 grab a towel and come fellowship with me...

leaving the mat, jumping into the pool

Egodystonic is a psychological term referring to behaviors...that are in conflict, or dissonant, with the needs and goals of the ego, or, further, in conflict with a person's ideal self-image. the thoughts and compulsions experienced or expressed are often not consistent with the individual's self-perception, causing extreme distress.

(taken from

thanks to my doctor i have been seeing, i have a "definition" for what i have been going through f0r the last 16 months. i have been behaving and living in such a way that it has been extremely distressing and causing more anxiety than they have meds for.

[and i'm done. i have surrendered.]

i've gone to confession, spoken to my sponsor, am working the steps in a different way with a new sponsee, and am ready to "arrest this development." i recognize that self-awareness is key, you can't "unknow" what you know, et cetera. however, it takes doing not simply knowing.

i also think of one of my favorite Bible verses, wherein Jesus comes up on a paralytic lying by a pool. and i picture myself as the paralytic, unable to help myself, paralyzed in my own junk...
When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
[i want to be well.]
Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”
[ takes action!! :: am ready, Lord ::]

And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.
so be it.

the more things change, the more they stay the same

good morning, dear ones.

so after experiencing a boatload of "acute withdrawal symptoms," i thought it best to actually see a psychiatrist who can prescribe the right medications (or not) as she saw fit.

and what a fit she's been. she is wonderful and was "there" for me during a time when i had issues with my older son some eons ago, seemingly, and has been wonderful with me as i work through my not-so-simple issues with fear and trembling (but not too much anxiety, ty Prozac).

life gets lifey. some people need blood pressure meds to treat their hypertension or insulin to treat their diabetes. i have a chemical imbalance and suffer from chronic depression and anxiety disorder. i have reached a place of acceptance! some folks are surprised to hear of this because i am seemingly so normal. ha! thing is, i've been treating for these symptoms for some 16 years. i am finally on medication that makes me feel "normal." really normal. it was bad there for a bit, my friends. really bad.

but i'm back. maybe there's been a sea change.

i have a challenge i am helping my middle son (20 1/2 years old) go through, which could set me over the edge on a good day, but i'm okay for now because he needs me and, quite frankly, i'm level because i am properly medicated. i am thinking about starting an off-shoot blog so i can expand on what he is going through, but he also has a blog so i don't know that he wants to remain so anonymous as he's on the internet, himself, being transparent and vulnerable and making his mama proud because he is unafraid to express himself.

so where i think things change, maybe they don't really. however, God is doing a major work on my heart about many things and i will be writing about these things in the very near future. i need an outlet, and am glad my space is still here and i don't have to go resurrect anything.

i can't say whole-heartedly that "life is good." it's getting better, though, and that's good. very good.

Week 4

i'm on week 4 of withdrawal, and as a friend pointed out, i am on 1/2 the dose of FXR that i was only 6 months ago. i've tapered for the past three weeks what has been built up into my system these past few months. no wonder.


i am not sleeping well. the dreams i remember having are disturbing to say the least. i have been through a lot of emotional moments at work and at home and it is getting old, but like my friend howard says "this too shall pass," but it can be wearying.

physically, i feel numb oftentimes. i have these really odd sensations that i have seen on the 'net described as "brain shivers," where you feel as though your brain is bouncing from side to side (really quickly) inside your head. i don't feel it like that, other than the side-to-side reference, but i feel my head go numb and it's the oddest sensation -- listen people, it's the closest i've been to feeling "buzzed" in well over two years, so maybe that's why i don't mind them so much.

Withdrawal effects may include headache, nausea, fatigue, dysphoria, “brain shivers”, irritability, and hostility. Symptoms exhibited with more rarity include tremors, shaking legs, vertigo, paresthesia, and dizziness. Other symptoms can include impaired concentration, bizarre dreams, agitation and suicidal thoughts.
(how effed up is that??) 

(thought i'd make it easy and highlight those symptoms i've experienced - and just to expand on the "suicidal thoughts" - i have had thoughts about not wanting to be here, not wanting to simply "be."  i am way too chicken and have carried a 5-year resentment about Bruce's killing himself, and swear i would never do that to my friends and loved ones...)

on a lighter note (tongue-in-cheek) - it's Holy week, i love it and tomorrow night, it's Holy Thursday and i am reading at Mass, the Mass of Thanksgiving. while i may not walk around in gratitude 24/7, i am grateful for many things. Good Friday is always powerful for me and at the Easter vigil, i am sponsoring my dearest friend for Confirmation. what a thrill that is, and what a walk we've had getting him there! i am grateful for this honor, certainly.

and i am so, so glad Easter is Sunday. not a minute too soon, i wonder if Jesus wanted to get the hell out of the desert when He neared Day 37? just a thought. He was probably all like "i'm STARVING," but probably not. He's got it more going on than i do. this has just been one seriously strenuous, eventful, painful, emotionally draining Lent and i am desperate for Easter.

thank you, Lord, that You will provide one.

some people call me a space cowboy

i'm into my second week of tapering off of Effexor XR. upon some good advice from my husband, i had a chat with my boss about it yesterday, which was met with "that explains it!" i was assured of his support and i received it yesterday.

i'm really spaced out. i can't seem to make a simple decision, especially when presented with options - it's really odd, like out-of-body-experience-type odd. i am nauseous some of the time, so now i carry tums because nausea turns to acid reflux pretty quickly.

i'm sensitive (more so than normal, people!), but don't feel like crying, i feel like hiding.

i saw a neurologist last week who explained some of the neurological symptoms i have been experiencing over the last 6 months were due to being on a higher dosage of the medication -- or being on any anti-anxiety medication for 15 years might start to take its toll on one's body -- and that it was a good idea to taper. she also added an additional 6 weeks to my tapering schedule -- when i am down to 37.5mg per day, after my 3 weeks of that, go to 37.5 every other day for 3 weeks and then 37.5 every third day for 3 weeks thereafter.

from what i have read on the internet, the detox can be brutal. i am hoping because i am being gently eased into these side effects, i may not experience even a smidge of these, although reading this

  • One Harvard study found 78% of patients experienced withdrawal symptoms from discontinuing effexor xr making it the only drug worse than paxil in this regard

  • makes me breathe a little uneasy.

    so like everything else in my life, i am taking it one day at a time, leaning on my friends in the program who support me, talking to my family and my boss, and making sure i pray. a LOT. i am praying all the time to be focused. i am really determined to see if i can live a life without medication to stabilize me.

    i am hopeful i can.

    who will rescue me from this body of death?

    so during this Lent, i have been pressing in...i have been attending Mass faithfully, even on some weekdays, have been going to Calvary Chapel Ocean City with one of my sponsees, attending a Recovery through Christ meeting on monday nights and a bible study at a Greek Orthodox church on tuesdays.  heck, i even got scripture permanently tattooed onto my skin to remind myself of how much God cares for me and loves me.

    you would think that i was on some pretty high spiritual grounds, wouldn't you?

    not so, good readers, not so.

    i still - still, still, STILL - revert back to old behaviors that are so wrong.  wrong, wrong, WRONG.  perhaps in an effort to be kind to myself, the conviction comes quickly - i mean shit -- how much MORE does God need to do to get my attention?

    so where do i go from here?  do i stay in Romans 7 land:  

    I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
    although, i do recognize:
    For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self
    so now i am faced with the eternal question:  about this thorn, God - i keep asking you to remove it.  you have been slow to respond.  now i am thinking that maybe i need to change my prayer.  how about this: 
    if it pleases you, Lord, i pray that i embrace my *thorn* that in so doing, i may draw nearer to you and all you want for my life.

    so i have a Savior who is willing to help me, He is willing to enter into this *thing* with me, He is unmovable whilst i roam.  perhaps He can also help me accept this thing i cannot change or have the courage to change it if i can (with His help).

    small little footnote, and some of my precious friends have walked this path with me before on a former blog:  i am tapering off of my Effexor.  i have been on anti-anxiety meds for 15 years now, and since i truly want to be clean and sober on all levels, i am trusting God (and my endocrinologist) to help me through this withdrawal period, which should take about 9-12 weeks.  i meet with a neurologist this morning who may have a different method, but so far, i am doing ok.  just a little shaky and nauseous, but bearable.

    back to my thorny issue.  i recognize it (my sponsor says "awareness is key") but i am taking responsibility for it and actually embracing it.  my prayer today is that i do everything as "unto the Lord."

    fresh ink

    as many of you know, i am a pretty serious person.  i take sobriety seriously, feel raising children is a serious business, stay serious and focused about my job, and i try not to mess with God, who i am Most Serious About.

    i take life very seriously.

    there are times i try not to take myself so seriously, which is usually when i get a tattoo.  most of my tatts are Judeo-Christian because if i am going to imprint anything on me, i would prefer it be to honor God.  the only one that isn't overtly Christian (my hummingbird) is a symbol of my sobriety - hummingbirds represent resurrection, rebirth in some cultures - in my mind, my wee hummingbird is still (in my opinion) honoring God.

    i went this past friday and sat for 3 hours with my artist, diane.  my favorite scripture since i was 13 is (in part) Psalm 8:3-4 - When I consider Thy heavens, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained -- what is man, that thou art mindful of him?  so many nights i have gazed at the stars, wondered at Creation, and thought of God's immense love for us that he could create us mere humans after creating the world.

    so i have it on my back.  i asked my artist to add stars and make it as whimsical as possible without being tacky or "cutesy" - she did her thang and i am thrilled with the results.

    no matter how serious i am, no matter how life can get "lifey" - i am reminded that i have a God that is greater than i am and that i really shouldn't take myself so seriously.  [it's rather humbling.]

    holding pattern

    i once heard "contentment with godliness is great gain."  i am learning this Lent it is okay to be still (even though i've been out every night since Sunday) and that it's good to take a breather and actually let God be God.

    i am on an interesting path and have felt more these past two weeks God's hand on my life than i ever have before.   that's not to say i don't have my moments, but because i have truly turned my will and my life over to the care of God, i have more freedom to make the right decisions for myself (and my family) and it is easier to be aligned when i am actually really trying, not just pretending to try and bitching when things don't go my way.

    i got a coffee table-sized concordance in the mail yesterday that is aptly entitled "exhaustive."  [you got that right, Mr. Strong.]  i am ready to look up those words that i seem to have the biggest problems with, i.e., obedience, surrender, and hope! -- and am ready to see what God says about them.

    For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord...
    that's a heck of a scripture to hold onto, just for starters.

    what do you think about?

    the bible study we attended was really interesting last night.  it was two hours long, and was very enlightening.  we read Philippians 4 and expounded on it for two hours.  it makes me want to think about whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things.

    [good things this morning.]

    [question of the day:  if we only meditated on things that fell within the list, above, how could we ever fall into despair or remorse?  how could we ever get caught up in the hurt that comes with being gossiped about?  or the pain of being hurt by what others think, say or do?  if we mind our business and keep our focus on God, how can we think otherwise?]

    we are expecting snow, again.  hub and i are supposed to meet with our msgr. who is guiding us through a bit of marriage counseling.  we are both really looking forward to it, but if it snows, i don't know if it will be canceled.  since we were out late last night (after 9:00, woohoo!!), it may be able to wait an additional week as we are not in crisis.

    this is turning into being a fruitful Lent for me.  thank you, God, for supplying me with everything i need on a daily basis - may i never want anything more than what i need.