I am the Key.

 Some wires got crossed recently, I don’t know when, and my brain has been a little bit haywire. Drunk on abandonment issues that keep waving little red flags at me.

My life keeps hinging on whether this person responds to me, whether this person shows up at this place or not, whether people come through for me. Last night, I ended up at a meeting and I carried a black cloud in with me. I felt like it was buzzing around my head like a beehive of yuck. Why? Well, I had been caught up in my own thoughts (problem one) and had gotten really upset about a perceived abandonment issue that has come up a few times now around a certain situation. I was brought to the verge of tears but I COULDN’T CRY DAMMIT which meant I couldn’t process it and move on. So from there it turned into rage-like intensity.

suckerpunch gun
(Source)

This is a painful admission. I definitely threw my cell phone at the windshield last night in a moment of intense feeling. I am not sure if I would call it rage at people. It was more like PAIN. Pain that I didn’t know how to deal with, because I came to the verge of tears that I couldn’t cry.

Something niggling inside me constantly whispers to me that people are going to leave me, FOREVER. It will be the end. They all really hate me. They all talk behind my back about how inconsistent I am, and how crazy I am, and how this and that I am. They pretend they love me but secretly behind my back they’re saying things about me. They say they love me but when it comes down to it, they don’t show up for me.

suckerpunchsad
(Source)

At least, this is what my head says. And something in me is really, really tiptoeing around the soreness this causes in my heart. For that matter, my heart is really sore about it, and I’m not sure why so sensitive. It’s not always. But it has been lately.

Lately, when people have brought issues like this to me that they are dealing with in their own life, I have one piece of advice for them.

“How are you doing this to yourself? You are feeling this way about what others are doing to you, but how are you doing this to yourself?”

That’s what comes up for me here. I am upset and feel abandoned by others, or at least feel as if they will INEVITABLY abandon me. So – how am I doing that to myself?

Because honestly in the end, I don’t know if it’s so much about what other people are doing to me. It’s about what I allow, about how I take care of myself, about how I speak up for myself, and about how I don’t abandon myself. Not how others don’t do this for me. How I don’t do this for me.

suckerpunch
(Source)

I am the key.

So now I get to choose if I am going to fight for myself, or not. That’s what I’m working to remember; I am responsible for myself, and I am responsible for staying with myself. I’m working to remember to point the finger where it belongs – right at my heart.

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25.

Today is my birthday and I am 25 years old.

jane bday

So that means I can do whatever I want in this post.
cakemax
(Because who doesn’t do this on their birthday? Source)

alexpuppies
(Or this, for that matter… Source)

But don’t worry. I have some thoughts to share too, now that I am a whole quarter century old.

Actually, the truth is that I have a list. Because at the end of the night, while I sit here in my apartment (with my shiny new wifi!) I realize there is so much that I don’t know. Karen Perry over at Mended Musings wrote a post recently about 20-somethings and all we think we know that we don’t. All of our brash self-confidence. I took this to heart. This is true. I am brashly, brazenly self-confident sometimes. And as Karen so nicely points out, I don’t know everything. Even if I behave like I know it all (sorry to all of you who have experienced this firsthand!). So I decided to make a list of some things that I would like to learn. Considering that I am 25 today, I figure making a list of 25 things is rather appropriate.

1.How to continue maintaining a sober life.
-Considering that I am sober from 2 addictions, I want to continue learning how to live a sober life. I am definitely NOT an expert on this one.

2. How to let go of making sure everyone else is okay, ALL THE TIME.
-Now, I realize this is a life-long proposition. I am not going to learn this in a day. But I don’t have to be in charge of constantly making sure everyone else is okay. That is not my job. I may have learned it darn well in my family, but that’s not a behavior I want to talk into the rest of my adult life.

3. How to forgive, but still have boundaries.
-Also easier said than done. But I don’t want to be a permeable membrane, as I am apt to do. I want to soften my heart towards people, yet still be clear and aware of when I need to set up limits. It’s a hard, hard thing to maintain.

4. How to let go of perfectionism.
-Also a long-term commitment. My pledge with this is to be more and more compassionate with myself as I make mistakes, instead of having a harsh, punishing viewpoint. One little piece at a time, though.

5. How to believe I’m not a bother.
-One of my most deeply ingrained beliefs? I am a bother. I should not ask for what I want because it’s bothersome and it won’t be done anyway. I should be very, very small. Unseen, almost. Creeping around on the edges of life. NO! I will not accept this anymore! However, neither will I spew myself all over everyone ingloriously like I did while I was drunk. Nope… what I want is to learn to courageously voice what I need and want, and to believe my truth is valuable and treat it as such. (which does not include verbal vomiting it over everyone when I’m hammered)

6. How to have good boundaries.
-I know something about this. I’ve been working on this one for about… oh, 3 years now. Am I good at it? Ha. No. I hate conflict. So I avoid boundaries like the plague sometimes because I believe they will cause conflict. I would like to change this belief.

7. How to handle conflict without completely losing it and thinking I will be abandoned.
-At the bottom of every conflict is the idea that you will leave me forever. I would really enjoy learning how to have conflict in which I learn how to trust someone’s continued presence (or to be okay if they leave).

8. How to meditate.
meditate
(Source)
-Also a work in progress. I meditate almost every morning and night. I miss some in between (see no. 3… working on letting that be). I know a few things about it. I do breath meditation, mostly. Sometimes I meditate with a mantra – “Om shanthi.” My biggest goal though is to be in more silence and less thinking.

9. How to be an effective therapist.
-I may be a psychology B.A., but I am not a licensed counselor and won’t be until after a Master’s degree. So this is something I need to learn skills in. 🙂

10. How to date like an adult.
-As a love addict, I have never had this one down. Me and my ex-husband never really dated, per se. We hung out. I am not down for that anymore. At least, not at first. I want the classic dating experience, and I would like to know how to do that. I’ve spent the last almost 2 years learning. Now just for some practice…

11. How to behave with a bit more selflessness.
-Believe it or not, I have it turned to the Laurie channel over here about 3/4 of the day. I’d like to try and give up another slice of that pie to someone else’s mind and thoughts.

12. How to speak another language!
-I think it’s unforgivable that Americans only learn English. Therefore, I am breaking the mold and want to learn several other languages. I’m starting with Spanish, because it’s the most marketable AND will probably be the easiest for me to learn. Thereafter, I want to learn Arabic, Turkish, French, Italian, and Icelandic. I am certainly ambitious, but hey. I hopefully have at least another 50 years to take this on.

13. How to be a good wife.
-After being married once and learning some ways not to be, I would like to try it again. This time, I have no fantasies about how easy of a road it would be. I know it will be hard. But worth it? Most likely. So I’d like to try.

14. How to lose my fear of economic insecurity.
-I am in constant fear over my finances. I want to be at peace. Working on that by doing the steps… but hopefully I can do some other things as well.

15. How to write and publish a memoir.
-Also in progress. I will admit this loud and clear: I have NO IDEA HOW TO STRUCTURE THINGS. And learning is hard. It’s a swift kick in the ass. But I want to figure it out.

16. How to be a good mom.
-I definitely don’t have this figured out, and I didn’t have a good model (as my mom would also freely admit to you). However, I don’t think I could get to age 50 and not have had children. I think something in me would deeply regret that. So, being a good mom is something I definitely don’t know how to do, and would like to learn.

17. How to backpack.
backpack
(Source)
-I am an avid hiker. The next step for me would be learning how to backpack, which I think sounds like the most fun ever. Staying outside overnight? Sign me up!! Do I know ANYTHING about backpacking? No… I almost don’t know enough about hiking haha. Just barely enough to be smart (like that one time I got 3/4 of the way up a 13,000ft mountain and had only 6oz of water on me for sustenance… yeah…).

18.How to travel well.
-I’ve had some issues with culture shock my last couple trips. I am not sure what happened. But I’d like to learn how to effectively deal with whatever is triggering my culture shock issues, issues I never had until I went to Turkey with my ex-husband in 2011.

19. How to use an Aeropress.
-Yes, I, the coffee guru and barista extraordinaire, do not know how to use one of these:
aeropress
(Source)

20. How to travel to Antarctica (without getting drunk).
-The disclaimer is because I’ve heard the only thing TO do in Antarctica is to drink. Now just to find a sober girlfriend to go with so I have someone else to not drink with. And also I have no idea how to get to Antarctica so this is relevant.

21. How to start a literary group.
-I really need people in my town to talk about literary, intellectual things. I know people exist that want to talk about these things. I want to talk about books by Rilke, Hafiz, Rumi, Neruda, Whitman… all of those. And what we think and learn from them. So I guess a mystical poetry group, then. Yeah. I need to know how to find people who also want to actively be in this group. It would be ideal if they were also my age… I don’t know ANYONE my age who talks about these things and it’s driving me crazy. (not that I don’t love all of you other people NOT my age who actually do like these things, I do… but yeah)

22. How to grow my own food.
-In my heart, I am an obnoxious vegan. I watched a video of animals being kept in inhumane conditions yesterday. And I cried. However, my actions don’t always match my passion. I’m sorry, dear animals. I did eat fish tonight for my birthday. I do mostly eat vegetarian, but honestly, I would feel so much better about my food if I could actually grow it. I want to learn how to do this and how to create a sustainable garden (with compost and all).

23. How to do energy work.
-I recently had some energy work done. And to be truthful, I knew that I could learn to do it, too. I am a deeply intuitive person. As the work was being done, I could see it happening. That’s the best way I have to explain it. My eyes were closed, but I could see each dimension as they were mentioned and had a clear picture of each. I constantly “see things” behind my closed eyes that are completely real. I saw when my great-uncle visited me the night he died, to say goodbye, for instance. I also consistently know things about people before they tell me and I am really in touch with people’s energy – whether they are growing or stagnant. Because of this I really think I’d like to learn how to do energy work – in a clean, helpful way.

24. How to become an accomplished, flexible yogi.
-I have been really bad with keeping up with my yoga habit. However, it’s something that brings me inner peace and balance. I would like to become better at it. I’d like to improve my postures. I would really like to learn how to do headstands. 🙂

And last but not least, 25.
I want to learn unabashed audacity. I want to live in full spectrums of color, with abandon. I want to defy gravity.

Thank you to all of you, my lovely readers… Some of you have become dear friends, and I know my life would not be the same without you. I’m so grateful to each of you for following this little space on the internet!

distilled. (a poem)

distilled.

faces flashed by.
warp speed
slowed by
your eyes, my eyes.

I caught them
a butterfly
wings fluttering
softly against my hand.

Wide open
you gulped
a world full of
brackish water

Through the opened lids
everything flooded
an ocean in your
one entire drop of self.

But you laughed.
because beauty of
asymmetry
is this…

that by swallowing
the ocean
you can lose
the drop

and all you
ever wanted
was to be
a very lost drop.

distilled.

Neruda; the flowers.

I have had a little obsession lately that has sprung up in my bones. It’s really been waiting for me for years, ever since I saw the first line in a Neruda poem. I don’t remember what that first line was. I do remember the feeling, though.

“Oh, hello. It’s so wonderful to see you again.”

As if I had written that line years and ages ago, and I was meeting it again after a long parting. The way we met was with a joyous pang, a breathless smile, a freefalling of surrender into the bonds that once held us close; that held us even still.

A few months ago, I got a huge book of Neruda poems in both English and Spanish. I read them as if I were in a trance. I fell into the ocean of words and wanted to drown. I lost myself among them…

“…little one, red grain
of wheat.
the struggle will be hard
life will be hard
but you will come with me.”
(
Neruda – The Mountain and the River)

—–

My mom sent me a card recently. We had met for coffee and I had broken some news to her, about going away. Depending upon this or that. Afterwards, she was sad. We live in the same town, but a few days later I got a card in the mail, with a flower on the front.

“You still stop and look at the flowers when you walk by,” she wrote.

I don’t remember everything from when I was two years old. But my parents tell me about this facet of my early personality. It’s one of the lovely times when I was young. They would walk along the Highline Canal in Denver, and I would stop. Because there was a flower to be looked at. They used to call me Ferdinand.

ferdinand
(Source)

I have been rather unfamiliar with this story, but looking it up just now, I am moved to tears. Silly me.

“My love, to my life,
you came prepared
as a poppy and as a guerilla fighter…”
(Neruda – Ode and Burgeonings)

—-

In life, there is fighting. And some things are worth the flaming chaos of battlefields.  The point is to pick flowers in the middle of it all.

That was poetry for me, always. Since I began, it was a way for me to endure the ceaseless fighting. To find my own internal ceasefire despite the rain of grenades, bullets, and bombs all around. I was awkward with words at first. Trying to fit them together in ways that opened my soul to the light. It wasn’t until the deepest dark that I split myself open and scooped out all of those slimy little seeds buried in the red flesh.

Now I have vines growing everywhere. And flowers.

watermelonvine
(Source)

—–

Even in the darkest of times, I only need look around and my soul is eased. The gift of Ferdinand, bequeathed on me from the start. This morning, I looked out of the windows at work and snow was dancing in the sun. The sparkling flakes reminded me of a quieter place, deep within yet high above myself. I caught my breath and was brought back to silence, again.

Ceasefire.

——

I love Neruda because words get me through things. And his words are like lassoes. When I am fighting, fighting, fighting, here they are suddenly. A beacon on the hill to keep my eye on, a lighthouse in a rocky sea, a handful of daisies with yellow suns in the middle.

daisies
(Source)

I bemoan my lack of funds on a regular basis. I pinch pennies like a tax collector in Bible times. Poverty licks my feet like a stray dog.

“If you can’t pay the rent
go off to work with a proud step,
and remember, my love, that I am watching you
and together we are the greatest wealth
that was ever gathered upon the earth.”
(Neruda – Poverty)

I fell in, again, to this ocean of words. Words I could have written myself. I want to lose myself in them, because for a moment there if my eyes are on those words, I forget the battlefield.

——

My favorite collections are the ones that has both Spanish and English versions. Through the eyes of Neruda, Spanish has become like a coded language for me. Not only do his words trap me in English, they seduce me in Spanish. It’s like getting lost in someone’s eyes and completely forgetting yourself.

So I’ve been learning Spanish by learning his lines.

“Mi lucha es dura y vuelvo
con los ojos cansados
a veces de haber visto
la tierra que no cambia,
pero al entrar tu risa
sube al cielo buscandome
y abre para mi todas
las puertas de la vida.

Amor mio, en la hora
mas oscura desgrana
tu risa, y si de pronto
ves que mi sangre manche
las piedras de la calle,
rie, porque tu risa,
sera para mis manos,
como una espada fresca…”
(Neruda – Your Laughter)

With each line, I feel as if I am speaking rosebud petals. Wrapping words like chocolate around my tongue. Gathering in my hands, in this wild battlefield, a fresh sword.

——-

“Because while life harasses us, love is
only a wave taller than the other waves:
but oh, when death comes knocking at the gate,

there is only your glance against so much emptiness,
only your light against extinction,
only your love to shut out the shadows.”
(Neruda – XC)

Neruda’s words are how I talk to myself. They are the way I am learning self-compassion. They are, for me, as Thich Nhat Hahn’s “Oh my darling, let’s talk on Friday.” When I say these words, I am saying, “I love you. I will never leave you. I will always take care of you.” (Elizabeth Gilbert) These words keep me from the edge of death. When I’m standing on the precipice, they give me the desire to walk backward. When I’m on the battlefield, they rouse my courage as Aragorn – “But it is not this day!”

aragorn
(Source)

These words are a way for me to keep the faith  – they are the flowers.

With these words, I endure.

—–

“Stand up with me.

No one would like
more than I to stay
on the pillow where your eyelids
try to shut out the world for me.
There too I would like
to let my blood sleep
surrounding your sweetness.

But stand up,
you, stand up,
but stand up with me
and let us go off together
to fight face to face
against the devil’s webs,
against the system that distributes hunger,
against organized misery.

Let’s go,
and you, my star, next to me,
newborn from my own clay,
you will have found the hidden spring
and in the midst of the fire you will be
next to me,
with your wild eyes,
raising my flag.”
(Neruda – The Flag)

Dave The Bookstore Guy (AKA the Swinger)

My in-real-life friends know about the bookstore guy. I met him a couple of months ago at a local bookstore and had a fascinating chat with him about maps and travel (TWO of my favorite things, as all my friends know). I ran out before I got his phone number and didn’t see him again, though I tried. Maybe as a love addict I shouldn’t have tried so hard. But I did. Maybe 12 3 times I entered this bookstore looking for him.

Tonight I went in and I was not looking. I should have known.

davealex

I was going in to read some Neruda, who I am pretty sure I was in a past life. (Maybe kidding, maybe not) Anyway, I walked in and…

penny hits head
janeyes

Anyways it was pretty awesome. And surprising. So, I play it all cool. I read my poetry. I read my other books I wandered around in pretense looking at…

readingrules

Not really… but you know. For the sake of this post.

And since this was a total fail last time after our fascinating conversation (which I had thought about ever since because I was so intrigued) I was determined not to let this go to waste. No more running out like a chicken, which yes, actually did happen last time. I was going to leave with a number, so help me.

skymall

So, he comes up. Introduces himself. “Hi, I’m David. Didn’t we talk a couple of months ago?” Me: “Yeah, you’re the GIS guy.” Him: “Wow, good memory. Me: “Yeah well, it’s just because I like maps.”

resume

Asks what I’m reading. So. We’re chatting.

smile

About books (win) and degrees (double win) and intellectual things such as spirituality (TRIPLE win!).  I’m making a list in my head…

proscons

(let it be noted that his name was Dave)

And it was coming out all pros.

He then mentions that we should get together sometime and chat for longer, because he was getting distracted from his work.

winning

So I was pretty happy about all this. Right before I leave, I go up to say goodbye and we exchange numbers, so it’s all official like. During which, we’re STILL nonstop talking about very interesting issues.

five

Then he mentions the amount of animals “his household” possesses. So I ask THE QUESTION…

janesquintdatingdave

“What, do you mean your roommates’, or what?” (AKA NOT YOUR GIRLFRIEND RIGHT???)

Cue awkward smile. “Well no. I actually have kind of a strange living situation. I live with my wife…

gasp

and my girlfriend…
whoremouth

And my wife’s boyfriend, so…”

mistake1mistake2

I didn’t hear another word he said, I assure you.
callhelp

Other than his “We should definitely hang out.” At which my mind actually kind of looked like this…
yikesbikes

byebyebye

And here I am not an hour later writing this post because, writing is cheap therapy, AMIRIGHT?

pennyjump

And also, because this is not an option for me:
drink

because if that happened I would do something stupid like actually go out with the guy.

fallpenny

As it is… I’ve already emailed my sponsor and texted my best friend, and also have determined that I am not going to actually TRY meeting anyone anytime soon. If this is what happens… I can love my life and be super badass ALL BY MYSELF. ALONE. VERY VERY ALONE.

destinykatniss

Or just find a gay husband.

foundderricksingitbitch

Resentment and Addiction

“Resentment is the number one offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else.” AA Big Book, page 64.

On my palms are two broken blisters, one unbroken. They are still raw with the storm that the howling wind blew through me last night, leaving me shaking and exhausted in its wake. Adrenaline roaring up through my esophagus and out of my arms and mouth.

It’s been coming up for me that I need to let out some of my anger. I mentioned in my last post that I feel a lot of anger and resentment right now towards a certain person in my life. This anger and resentment hasn’t been apparent until… I’m not sure. I think it showed up in the last few months. Now it sits in the pit of my stomach like a great big ball of fire.

But honestly I am pretty sure it’s been there all along, masquerading as something else. In Fall 2012, I told my sponsor that I think for most of my life, I’ve been turning my anger inward. That’s why the self-mutilition as a teenager. I was turning on myself the same anger I felt for others. Making it my responsibility.

Then I found alcohol.

I was the fuel. Alcohol was the fire[water]. When I swallowed that shot of whatever, the burning matched the same intense feeling in my stomach. I forgot that fire doesn’t extinguish fire. At the time it felt like water in a desert. Now I have another perspective – that it was my own resentment at myself. Because I wasn’t allowed to have anger and resentment at anyone else.

Especially not my father.

Last night, I walked up a steep trail and found a tree by a creek. I knew, knew, knew that it was time to begin this. I picked up a stick and began to hit the tree. I let all the words I wanted to say fly out of my mouth as I cracked wood against wood.

When I was done (though not totally finished) I realized that all along, every shot I had poured back had been a “fuck you.” And then I knew why the Big Book says that resentment is the number one problem.

No matter where I directed that resentment  – whether I turned it in on myself, or outward while raging at my ex-husband, or funneled it into the burning of alcoholic rancor – all of it culminated into a roiling mess of entitlement. I was entitled to drink because I was such a fuck-up, or he was such a fuck-up. Someone was a fuck-up, dammit, and that meant I got to drink.

For me, though, here’s the thing. I can stuff all that resentment down and turn it into a sword I fall on. I can explode outwards and spew resentment over everyone else. Or, I can take a few afternoons and go beat up a tree in the woods near where I live, and let the anger move through. Personally I think the last one is my best option; let the anger move through so it can be replaced with emptiness, which can then become a breeding ground for something else to grow besides entitlement and addiction.

Maybe something called audacity. Vitality. Life.

The Joseph story, like you’ve never heard it before.

Once upon a time, the story of Joseph nearly ruled my life. You know, the biblical story of the dude who had 11 brothers who betrayed him and sold him into slavery in Egypt.

I was Joseph. Sold into slavery in Egypt.

Joseph got to Egypt and was bought buy a guy named Potiphar (sweet ancient Egyptian name right there). This Joseph guy was super wily and rose in the ranks of slaves in Potiphar’s house until he was put in charge of all of them. That is, until Potiphar’s wife tried to sleep with him. She even grabbed his robe and stripped it off trying to make him stay (he must have been pretty fine, I’m just saying). But Joseph was also a goody-goody and so he ran away naked. Of course Potiphar believed his wife when she told him that Joseph had tried to seduce her (It was the best soap opera of the day, ya’ll). So Joseph was thrown in the can.

I was Joseph, thrown in the can for something I didn’t do. Trapped away in prison.

Except Joseph was one crafty sonuvabitch. He kept being his goody-goody self and got put in charge of the prison. If he didn’t get freed, he might as well be top dog, right? One day, two dudes from Pharaoh’s staff show up – the guy who tastes Pharaoh’s wine to test for poisons, and the guy who bakes his bread. Both of them had been thrown in prison for offending the Pharaoh. Obvi. Well, they both have dreams that trouble them, and Joseph being the awesome cunning man that he was, interprets their dreams. He says that the baker was gonna die and the cupbearer was going to be given back his position. With that in mind, Joseph goes “Hey cupbearer dude. Don’t forget the awesome dream interpreter who saved your life in prison, K? Tell the Pharaoh about me.”

Of course, the cupbearer forgets Joseph while reeling in his good fortune. Until the Pharaoh wakes up from a dream all pissed off. Probably afraid for his position (again), the cupbearer is like “WAIT!!! I know a guy!” Thus… Joseph magically interprets the Pharaoh’s dream, and like all his positions before… becomes second in the land only to Pharaoh. BOOM, son.

I was gonna be Joseph someday… elevated to second in the land, with lots of barns and “storehouses” that I was in charge of…

AKA LOTS OF MONEY.

This was according to my dad, one of the best storytellers and imaginative minds of our time. Yes, you detect a bit of sarcasm… but to be honest that is probably pretty true. He is the most imaginative person I know.

Joseph was a metaphor for our “imminent” riches. (Imminent was a code word in our house, one of many which also included “it’s time to see IT“, the “magi“, “man from the east“… I could go on) Joseph had been wasting away, utterly invisible from the world, just like us in our 900ft², 3 bedroom apartment crammed with 6 people. Just like us wearing our thrift store clothing. Until one day… dun dun dun. He was REMEMBERED by the cupbearer.

Except we would be remembered by the magi man (magic man???) from the East…aka from Persia. He would suddenly remember that he had stuck my dad’s business card in a back drawer.  (The way he got my dad’s business card was through an Iranian coworker of my father’s, who took it with him to Iran around Christmas of 2003 -2004, after my dad had asked him to give it to “whomever he felt he should.”) The magi man would pull it out, look my dad up, and call with an offer to bequeath us with $1.7 billion dollars.

Suddenly like Joseph, we would be elevated to a higher echelon of society.

One of my dad’s “mentors” and favorite preachers frequently used Joseph as an example in his sermons. He referred to Joseph as something like “the dream bearer” and used Joseph to describe how God would fulfill your dreams if you only waited. In looking this preacher up again for this post, I also came across a sermon titled “If the dream is big enough, the facts don’t count.” (This is so hilariously ironic to me that it made me laugh) My dad listened to this man’s sermons consistently, at least once a week, for years. We were often required to listen along. I remember being a teenager, 16 years old or so, laying on my parent’s bed listening to the sermons being streamed over the internet. In our 3 bedroom apartment, the computer was located in my parents’ bedroom, because that was the only place we had room for it. So, on some Sunday mornings and many Wednesday nights, we listened to these sermons on the internet. I was required to do this and if I didn’t or tried to avoid it (by sleeping in or staying in my room) my dad would get angry and controlling.

At one point, my parents each bought an amethyst ring for themselves, because this preacher said that amethysts were “the Joseph stone” and instructed people to go out and buy one to demonstrate their commitment to their dreams. My dad bought a huge rock of an amethyst ring that he still wears fairly often.

My twin sister, myself, and my sister Rachel all had birthdays within 2 days of each other. My 16th birthday (Rachel’s 14th) was spent in Florida at a fancy anniversary dinner for this man’s 20th (25th? I’m not sure) year in ministry. We got to wear fancy prom dresses for the occasion, which made it seem like a birthday to us. At the time it was all very exciting.

This man’s sermons were also a huge subject of our nightly “family chitty-chats”. These were really made of my dad pontificating for a couple of hours before we went to bed. Rachel fell asleep most of the time. I was too terrified of my dad’s wrath, and too invested in gaining his approval, to try and do such a thing.

This was a lot of my life for 10 years or more, incidents such as these. My sponsor likes to say that my family sounded like a cult. I remember quite a bit of it if I think about it, but ever since my first 5th step almost a year ago, I’ve been remembering things spontaneously. I’ll be washing dishes, or walking through the grocery store, or on the phone at work, and all of a sudden I’m assaulted with another crazy memory of my old life. Honestly, I’m still wading through anger and resentment. My therapist said this past week that it’s probably a part of the healing process, to be angry. And when I think back to a couple of years ago when I first started trying to deal with anger at my dad – I didn’t feel ANY. Not a speck. So this is improvement. It’s like when your foot wakes up and you have pins and needles. At some point, the pins and needles will go away and I’ll be at acceptance.

It helps though to let people witness my memories.  Because I’ll never stop hearing my dad’s voice in my head, spinning delusional worlds. But at least this way I won’t be alone with the voices. They’re easier to bear when I’m not lost in them, like someone wandering through fog at night.

I plan to tell more stories from my childhood in this coming year, both here, and in the memoir I’m attempting to write. So stay tuned. 🙂


An update on where I’m at with things with my family – It’s Complicated