One Day: On Suicide, On Melancholy, On Living … On

359563392_8922d86823_oIt is a silent crucible
brimming with ache,

mostly inside.

If you haven’t experienced true melancholia
be glad. And it’s okay to be glad
for some who have gone through cancer and depression say they’d take cancer over the adversary of depression
which is really astounding.

It is difficult to explain and the only reason I keep trying is that

I want the world to be a more compassionate place for all.  You see,

Some people
kill themselves.  Some people cut or hurt
themselves.
And some shrivel up
like the moldy apple core I found under the bed, sticky

and covered in lint and decay.  But many people,

most

do

the hardest thing of all. They carry on, and
life
becomes a steep climb up a high altitude mountain.

I read, I pray, I try to understand

It. I try to understand myself.

I write.  And no matter how hard I work, and I do

work, very, very hard

I am still

a person who carries melancholia on my back.  I cannot shake it.  And if you’re a longtime reader you know,
I’ve tried.  Oh,

how I’ve tried.
This is something I carry, like Jacob’s limp after wrestling with God. And I can only hope

It sits well in me,

and can be redemptive for others,

One Day.

MHH

P.S. This, by Christine A. Scheller, is one of the most empathetic articles I’ve ever read on the topic of Depression and Melancholy   I felt understood.  I felt described.  I felt less alone.

Parenting by Free Fall

I don’t think about my father very often — any more. After he died, there was a time when my relationship with him clouded everything I did, or thought, or believed.  Before he died, I had no real understanding of how much he made me who I am.  He and my mother.  Every choice I made, sadly was in some way a reaction to his control over my mind and my heart.  I don’t think he meant to have that kind of power over me, nor would he have wanted it.  But it happened that way because I was so afraid of him.  I so wanted his approval.  And longed for more from him and my mother.

I talk a lot about the mind and heart in my writing because though two different organs they are connected psychologically to  — what makes us  — human.  I believe they make us who we are and it is through our choices (by making up our mind) that we grow into different people (transforming our heart.)

It’s strange to think back. I had no idea how unwell my parents were — as a child I thought they were just being parents.  Thought all parents were like mind.  I had no notion that there was a good or bad way to be a parent.  Nor could I conceive that I might one day stand in some sort of judgment over them and I am still very uncomfortable being perceived that way.

[I feel when I write about my mom and dad, I have to give this caveat every time:  I know my parents did the best they could with what they had.  I figured that out through lots of therapy.  I do accept it now.]

Listening to a radio interview yesterday of Anne Sexton’s daughter, Linda Gray Sexton, I was struck once again by how very dysfunctional my home life was growing up.  If you don’t know, Anne Sexton was a poet, known for her confessional verse who won a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry in 1967, a year after I was born.   She suffered through out her life with clinical depression and after many attempts,  killed herself when she was 45 and her daughter Linda was 21.

While I listened to Linda talk about her relationship with her mother as a love/hate and like/dislike, oh how much I related as it is unpleasantly close to what I experience today with my mother.

I love my mother dearly, but I can’t figure out a very good way to be with her. I want to be in her life. And I try, sometimes.  And at other times not very hard at all.  I know that I must be a better daughter.  And that she is a widow.  And I have all that weight on my shoulders which I want to live up to.  But often we hardly see one another and she lives ten minutes away.

Certain things she does hurts me, over and over again.  And no matter how much I have learned to not take it personally it is hard not to do so.  For example, it is not personal that she does not show up to things that are important to me because she got sick or is not “up to” it or is genuinely in some physical pain.  She’s done that my whole life and it feels personal!  But it’s not.  I think she just shuts down sometimes.  I believe it is because of my father’s treatment all those years — her brain blitzes out and she just can’t “do” life.  It comes and goes.  Sometimes she’s all over me.  And then she’s gone.

I simply want to escape the pain of not being able to understand my parents and how they treat me.

For Linda, growing up it was taboo for her to talk about her mother’s suicide attempts.  For us it was forbidden to talk about my father’s rage, my mother’s illnesses, and later the drinking.  There were so many secrets.  I wrote about that in a poem to my sisters titled A Sacred Contract and that’s what it was.

Linda Sexton said how much her mother’s depression and suicide attempts hurt her.  I’ll say it.  These are the things that broke my heart early on in life and God is beginning to repair. My father’s rages.  My mother’s obvious misery.  My father’s belittling and constant picking at her and us.  My mother’s frequent sinking into illness to “get away” from him.  My father’s work and frequent travel with subsequent fatigue.  My mother’s constant “support” and appalling attempts to build him up when he was in one of his Funks of insecurity and fear of failure. I think because if he fell apart the whole thing — our lives — would fall apart also. At least that was the threat.  That was the fear.  That tsunami was constantly just off the coast for years.

Relationships with parents are difficult and complicated.  On the one hand we know how we are so like our parents in their dysfunction and we castigate ourselves for it.  There is a level of shame involved that must be overcome.

Forgiving your parents for being who they were. And forgiving ourselves for being so like them or for choosing not to be like them any longer which also somehow becomes a betrayal as well.

No Boundaries.

Linda went on to say, as she put in her book Half in Love, another dilemma of living with such parents is that there are no boundaries appropriately set up by the adult.  And so the child feels unsafe — life feels precarious all the time.  My father’s rage was so unpredictable.  Even while it was on some level expected, it came at unexpected times.  If you cannot count on or predict the bad, on some level you cannot believe in the affirmation and love.  I don’t know why.  You just can’t.

And yet I worshiped my father.  There I said it.  And it is true.  Just as others did, I did.

And that was also my betrayal.  I worshiped my father and came to unfairly loath my mother.  It’s twisted.  She suffered from his rages more than anyone.  She endured.  She protected us by holding that fragile matchstick house together all those years.  But I saw her as the betrayer of us after all those years.  Thinking somehow she should have left him.  And what would have become of us if she had walked out on him after one of his thousands of verbal beatings over the years?   All I know is now.  Now without him we are a fractured family.  We don’t know how to be with each other.  We are all alone in our lives together.

Parenting by free fall.

As a mother, after all these years I see how this way of growing up gave me “no map for how to be a mother”  as Linda Sexton put it so well yesterday in her interview.

I have struggled so much with the confusion of that reality.  At times, saying I should never have become a mother.  What was I thinking, thinking I could be a Mother?  Sure, I can do the driving, and wipe away tears, help with the homework (not math!) and in the classrooms.  My mother was a great homemaker. She cooked exceptionally well.  I’ve gotten than from her but kids can survive without it.  And she loved to garden as do i.  She was a terrible cleaner, as am I.  It is not that I cannot clean, I just do not.

But shouldn’t home be “a self-sustaining world unto itself.  And mothers world-makers?” as David Griffith says in his essay Homemaker about his mother.

The fact of the matter is that I feel about as able to be a parent as a Mime.

I copy other people.  I try to mimic Mothers that I admire.  But I am mute.  And a fake.   I continuously hit some strange, solid and impenetrable internal wall.  I cannot break through it to discover what it would mean to be a “normal” or “good” parent.  A good mother.  I have not found the answers in parenting books either.  They are not the answer.

It’s something deeper.  I don’t trust myself. And beyond that I do not even have words for it because I have never experienced it.  There are missing pieces of my soul, my experiences, my character and person.

How can I ever hope to be a healer?  Because that is one word I do have for motherhood.  

Mothers are meant to be healers.

I am left with the knowledge that my only hope is that The Healer will infuse me with the Spirit of God.  Then and only then, there and only there something good will come.  I have to trust in that.

I have to set all my hope in that.  Because left to my own devices there is only fear, insecurity, depression, addiction, rage, and broken hearts.  There is only an inability to love, to connect, to nurture, to receive, to cohabitate  — to be human. I am not being overly dramatic although it sounds so.  When all you knew was rage you are unable to be normal.

I wrote this poem i 2004 after my father died.  It felt like a betrayal  then, when the words came out of me they were as much of a shock to me as to others I think.  But now I see that they were s t e p s toward my own healing.

Good Dad.  Bad Dad.

I shed no tears today
for the warrior who has fallen.
Taken down by Cancer’s sword.
My heart is full of memories,
good and bad.

Good Dad. Bad Dad.
Constant worry.
Constant change.
Who could have foreseen
the Cancer overtaking his mind;
that became my liberation
in five short months.

The danger –
of loving too much;
needing tenderness,
and all the things Daddy’s are supposed to be.

PAIN. FEAR.
Emotions jangling around inside me
like some kind of white noise;
pushing their way into my conscious thoughts.
Invaders, threatening to undo
the weak hold I’ve found on The Good Life.
So many memories
good and bad,
bad and good.

Who was he? Why was he MY dad?
MY tormentor.
MY warrior;
Finally broken,
beaten by the Cancer
that was to become my friend.

Betrayal, these thoughts which plague me.
Broken; the unspoken promise
to keep our secrets to the end.
How do I remember?
How do I stay true and honest,
when the Truth causes an ache
too strong to feel,
to face,
to bear.

Good Dad. Bad Dad.
Who was he in the end?
A Demon? A Saint?
Now simply a Muse?
Remembered, but no longer feared?
Thought of in furtive,
anxious moments?

Good Dad. Bad Dad.
Who is he to me now?
A man driven to despair
Living a chaotic, frantic life.

Not the Good Life I choose,
Not the legacy I will repeat.

Good Girl. Bad Girl.
Who will I listen to?
Who will I believe?
I am the woman I choose to become
today, tomorrow.
These are the Good Days
that I can change.
Yesterday is dead.
Burned in the funeral pyre.
Vapors.
Mist.
Dust settling around me.

Good Girl. Bad Girl.

Good.

Bad.

Good.

I certainly don’t know what it means to be a Mother.  A Daughter.  A Sister.  A Wife.  A Friend.

I

just

don’t

know.

But I can only take this life one day at a time and hope in God.

None of us can rewrite our history.  Nor should we try.  It makes us who we are today.  And for me, it makes me strong enough to write tomorrow.

I Will Not Be Silent

A Suicide Note
Image by έŁέ¢τяøиί¢ έγέ via Flickr

Five suicide deaths by students bullied because of being GLBT or Q is a tragedy — each life lost was important and significant.

Each life matters to their mother and father, family and friends.  Each person had hopes and dreams of a life of love and acceptance.  Each child deserves to feel safe at any school.

I know teachers and staff that work hard to help in Madison schools, as I saw recently with a transgender child in elementary school.

But more needs to be done.  Each and every student deserves to attend safe and welcoming schools, even in rural or more conservative towns.   They deserve to have us speak up when homophobia or bigotry occurs — whether it is seemingly innocent or blatantly malicious.

No matter your religious viewpoint about sexual orientation or gender identity – each of us in this nation should come together to agree on this fact:  Kids committing suicide is tragic and should not happen.

Eugene Cho, a pastor that I know via his blog, wrote this today:

When the issue of GLBTQ come up, it’s easier to keep the conversation about theological and biblical interpretations and well, the issue of the subject in hand but in the meanwhile, we forget there’s people behind the issues.

There’s always people behind the issues.  But regardless of interpretations and views, we should all agree: This needs to stop.  But when we are silent, we are complicit.

I implore each person reading this to speak up about this horrendous tragedy. Express how wrong it is that kids are resorting to suicide.

There is no wrong way to humbly listen and learn from a GLBTQ  friend.  Listen to them and hear their story. See them.  They could be, may be, your brother, sister, child, parent, aunt, uncle or friend who is sitting silent and afraid.  Make it safe for people to be with you.  And remember these young men:

  • Raymond Chase was 19, an openly gay sophomore studying culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. He killed himself Wednesday after a fellow student in his dorm wrote, “You are gay, get out of Barlow [Hall] before you regret it” on his dry erase board.
  • 18-year-old Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi threw himself off of the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, after his roommate had broadcast secret video footage of his sexual encounter with another man over the Internet.
  • On Sept. 23, Asher Brown, 13, shot himself in the head at his parent’s home in Cypress, Texas.
  • On Sept. 19 in Tehachapi, Calif., 13-year-old Seth Walsh hanged himself from a tree and died Tuesday after nine days of life support.
  • 15-year-old Billy Lucas of Greensburg, Ind., also took his own life earlier in the month.

My heart is heavy tonight.

Melody

GLBTQ issues In the News: http://www.glaad.org/bestandworst

What’s a Woman of Leisure? (Not that you asked)

“I just want to be happy.”

As I spoke those words to my father on the telephone, I meant them.  I could not remember the last time I felt genuine joy.  I was coming off of three pregnancies in rapid succession and being a person that worked 60+ hour weeks in a rewarding but stressful job.

Tom and I had decided together that I would stay-home with our three kids who were all still in diapers for two reasons.  One, because I wanted “out” of my job.  And secondly, it made sense financially to not put three kids in daycare.  But I hadn’t found it to be a positive change for me and after a year at-home I was suffering from major depression — although I did not yet know  what to call.

I was expressing a desire for something that I could not have defined exactly.

Happiness.

This was one of the last real conversations I remember having with my father.  It was the summer of 2002, and I recall my father saying, “Do you need me to come?  I will come if you need me.” and I deflected, thinking as usual that my need was not important.  I said, “No, I’ll be okay.”  Which was the farthest from the truth.

I wasn’t okay and wouldn’t be okay for a very long time.  But that day, sitting on my back stoop looking out at my yard with unseeing eyes, I couldn’t imagine what he could do to make things any better.

You see the idea of him coming was better than the actuality.  My parents did visit in October, and my father was preoccupied with work —  on his laptop and cell phone the entire visit.  He was critical of our choices — We took them out to a Thai restaurant for dinner instead of cooking.  That was wasteful or indulgent, which he did not approve of, never mind that we were buying.

But I was depressed still five months later.  And when you are, things like grocery shopping and cooking are impossible to do.  I didn’t stick up for myself at the time.   And I knew Tom felt no criticism of me for not cooking.  So we went out.

It turns out Dad was suffering from brain tumors (though no one knew at that time) which would be diagnosed a few weeks later.  He had brain surgery in early December.  He died five months later, in May of 2003.)

Recently we were dining (at home, if you must know) with some new friends.

Tom and I are both making an effort to make some new relationships, as this has been a theme at church lately. We were gathered in the kitchen — as often happens in the minutes before enjoying a home cooked meal together — and Tim asked if I needed any help?  I usually do leave some things for when guests have arrived, because it gives me something to do with my hands.  (I’m a nervous, socially introverted tongue-tied  person, especially with new people.)  And a task sometimes makes a guest feel good.

I flippantly and off the top of my head said “No, I’m a woman of leisure,  so I finished everything ahead of time.”  Where in the hell did that come from, I thought immediately? 

I’d never described myself that way before.  Haven’t even put those words together in a sentence before. And I haven’t felt bad about being a stay-at-home for a good long while.

Oh, it creeps in now and then, as people ask the “good ol’ American get to know ya questions” like “What do you do?”  Awkward when you have all your kids in school and you’re not “working” outside the home.  My self-esteem would definitely be enhanced by a salary and some hours working at tasks that have a higher purpose or a more obvious result.  But no, for now this is working for us.  I am at-home.  I am a full-time MOM, two-hour a day max home-keeper, and working on my health.

It all leads back to that desire to be happy.

Am I a woman of leisure?  God help me, no!  But I guess I joked about it because I don’t know how to tell people what my life really involves.  It’s not typical for someone to admit ,

“My #1 job is staying healthy mentally. What do you do?”

Yup, I have a mental illness (there I said it) and it’s chronic (meaning it comes back, all too frequently) and I am learning through trial and error, research, and lots of effort and hard work what it takes to get healthy, stay healthy, and be healthy. 

I know that I could do a 9-5 job and sort these things out on the weekends.  But I am grateful that I don’t have to and so I’m working on my health every day (or most days. Many are too full to think about me. I am a mother of four, active in my church, and writing…)

Major depressive disorder was the diagnosis and it has led me to a half-dozen different therapists, psychologists as well as psychiatrists. A near fatal suicide attempt.  Medication.  Hospitalization.   Alcoholism.  And …the depression comes back.  I start all over again.  Well, the truth is …

I work, work, work  …

on my sanity.  And on the good days I think why the hell does it take so much time just to be healthy?  On the bad ones, well, I just can’t think. I struggle to be functional.  But it’s not quite like that.   A depressive episode builds, like a few rolling waves at first sliding into a tsunami.

If you’ve never been in therapy, you’ve no idea how much work it is.  It’s hard when you are not depressed.  Hellishly difficult if you are.  If you are committed to getting better and growing and changing, you have to do it.  There is no other choice.  No one wants a  relapses, of which I’ve had more than a half dozen over six years.

It feels like two to three months of going through life like The Undead.  Your body is heavy all the time — It feels like you are filled with sand.  And your head, your mind, your soul, your psyche is a Black Hole.  Everything swirls around into it and nothing worthwhile comes out.)

If your commitment is to health you have work on it EVERY DAY:

  • On your spirituality, because I’d hate to give you the impression that “healing” only comes from doctors.
  • On your physical health, I have learned that exercise and diet are probably most important, after Psychotherapy.
  • On your friendships.  Isolation is a big danger and a signal that you’re slipping backwards.
  • On your relationships with family, which must stay positive and healthy.
  • You have get off drugs or alcohol, because at least alcohol is a depressant.  [The story of alcoholism well, it will have to be another day for that.  I am two years and two months into sobriety as of this writing.]
  • You have to do the therapy, which only works if you do the work.

So what does a woman of leisure do?

This one works on her stuff.  And sometimes keeps house and cares for four kids — nine, 11, 12 and 22.  Our youngest has learning difficulties which have involved years and years of advocacy and therapies and doctors appointment.  Being an advocate for him meant getting an education on many things including how the public school system works to help children with disabilities, pushing the insurance company and doctors and teachers, learning about hearing, and speech and attention-deficits.  Learning about nutrition and medication and side effects.  Just regular stuff mom’s do if they have the time.  Most women have much less time for this than I do, so I feel fortunate.  But managing all that, during the same years that I’ve been ill has been hard.  Rewarding but difficult.

I volunteer my photography skills and writing when I can or when asked. I ventured into a photography business for about three years, but decided that I didn’t really want it that badly.  I serve in various places with a variety of things — as I hear of needs at church and school.  I study further on things will help me do all this in an intelligent way.  When they were little I was in the kid’s classrooms volunteering every week and was going on field trips.

I do love being at home when my children come home from school — world-weary, and kind of beat up from their day — offering a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen or a word of advice.  It just happened last night with my 22-year-old and it is awesome.

We only have a few years with our children and so I have concluded – selfishly perhaps – that if I can take these years then I will.  Gladly.  Joyfully.  And try to best of my ability and with all the strength I have in me to live well. 

For them.  For myself.  For the pure sake of being happy to be alive. 

Who knew, as a child, that just being happy would be so much work.  What does this woman of leisure do all day?  Some days I wonder that myself if I’m truthful.  But I hope I will look back, in the years to come, and have no doubt it was time well spent.

MHH September 15, 2010

For more of my story scroll down to TAGS and click on MY STORY.

Choose joy. Do you really think so?

Henry Nouwen said:

Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many joy seems hard to find.

They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck?

Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently than the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it.

What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice.

I DISAGREE. I COULD NOT DISAGREE MORE. How dare he? I did not choose to have major depression, it seems to have chosen me. But I know I have to choose to fight it like it is an enemy that wants me dead. Yes, I have something inside me that surfaces from time to time. I feel powerless against it but I have learned that I am not without choices.

I did not choose to be an addict – though in recovery – I have to accept the fact that I can’t drink. Not ever again. The very fact that it still bothers me and I feel sad about the loss, well that reminds me that I’m an addict if I had any doubt. There was a time when I thought I couldn’t live without alcohol. Now I know that I can. I choose to be a recovering alcoholic.

But I have not found joy. I am not choosing joy. I am choosing life. I am happy. I feel a certain level of contentment. But I am restless. I do not feel joy. At least not yet. Perhaps I am failing to CHOOSE IT.

Choose joy – okay – I suppose on a certain level I have to agree just like … I choose LIFE. I choose not to smoke which is slow suicide. I choose not to drink which was a death sentence. I choose to get up, even when I want to sleep forever. I still have those mornings. And I choose to create, and love and … I choose to think that what I do matters even when the ‘voices in my head’ tell me it is all worthless. And it wouldn’t matter if I stopped. Stopped thinking. Stopped writing. Stopped shooting. Stopped.

Some days it is still just choosing to breathe.

That little girl above – a chubby toddler gazing out of that airplane door — innocent, curious, tentative, that’s me too. She had no idea how hard it would be to choose.

Some other things I have written on the topics above.
Eulogy to Life,
Winter Comes,
Splintered Truth,
This Epic Grief,
No Dignity,
I Need a Filling,
Addict.

Letting go. Thoughts on being an alcoholic. A cautionary tale.

Why do I tell people, up front, that I’m an alcoholic?  I certainly haven’t always been able to admit it.  That’s the journey really.  Once you can admit it, some of the sting is gone.  Once you can admit it, help looks appealing.  Once you can admit it everything changes.

It took me more than seven years to admit it to myself. And then s l o w l y getting help took another several years.  It is hard.  Proud people don’t easily concede and I was very very proud.

In November of 02 my father was diagnosed with brain tumors and it turned out to be a death sentence. I was abusing alcohol even then, but it took me years to process intellectually and spiritually that I might have a problem. And to be honest at that point it wasn’t bad — I was quite functional — just had bouts of over doing it.

Today I have to admit that I am an alcoholic and that I will never drink alcohol again, because I was headed toward being a falling down drunk. No, because I was a drunk.  But most people, even those I drank with regularly, didn’t see it and some still don’t believe it.  Of course I was careful.  And bless him, the one person that did see me the few times it got super ugly was my husband.  We’re talking black outs and you name it, it all happened.  He was never judgmental but he was worried — very very afraid and didn’t know what to do.  Over the years, we ‘quit’ together at his pushing and it lasted for a while.  But I wasn’t committed to that idea.  Let me be clear I am not proud of any of that, AT ALL.  I don’t write this to glory in it in some weird way.  I’m ashamed.  It was awful.  I’m grateful that my children were young and didn’t witness most of it.  When they ask me why I don’t drink I tell them I can’t and basically repeat what I’ve said above.  My daughter has asked me why I can’t just have one drink at a party?  I have to tell her there is no “one drink” for an alcoholic.  I wish it were different, but that is the plain truth.  One quickly becomes five, or eight.

I am sharing this story because, I think people need to know that I a forty-something, white, Christian women from the suburbs was a drunk .  It could happen to anyone.  This is a cautionary tale.

Alcoholism is partly genetic and my extended family is riddled with addiction.  With a parent who is an alcoholic, there’s one in four chance that you will be.  (Yes, I have told my daughter that and my nieces and nephews.) Scientists do not yet know how much is determined by our DNA and how much by our life experiences, but circumstances in your life play into it.  Also your emotional state.  And, although it’s not simple, but I can admit it myself that at a certain point in my addiction, I decided the following.  It was a clear-headed day when I said, “Perhaps I am an alcoholic, probably, but I will not quit yet.  Not until I really, really have to, because, at least I can enjoy a few more years of my life.”

Now that seems sad, that I believed life wasn’t worth living without alcohol. And I can say, today that life is way, way, WAY better without it.  (And I still crave it sometimes.  I’m only at the beginning of recovery.)

I told myself that I could “manage” my drinking.  And I did that, for about a year, until it escalated into drinking every day and then drinking a lot every day.  And then, … well, … all I can say is that God told me to quit. (And that is a story for another day.)

And so for years, I couldn’t imagine my life without alcohol.  It was more important to me than almost everything.  I had lost friendships because of it.  And other intangibles like personal integrity.  That was the sin I think.  I’m genetically predisposed.  I struggle with and receive treatment for major depression and I knew alcohol is a depressant.  I was on medication for depression that had warnings about drinking alcohol with it, but I did not want to give it up.  At one time I had a frightening suicide attempt.

I believed that I could not give it up, but here is the kicker . . .  I would not ask God to help me with it.  I mean how pathetic would that be? “God, please help me not to drink.” Swig.  Not me.  I turned away from God.

Now I can say publicly that I have struggled with addiction, depression and self-harm because I have finally let go. It all happened to me, but laying all that down was the biggest relief! I will never drink again.  I will likely struggle with major depression through out my life, though I have learned a lot about managing it and it’s better than it has ever been.

But I got help.  I had a supportive, rock solid, amazing husband, and family & friends that didn’t give up on me.  I have the best therapist.  I got trained in my addiction through Gateway Drug & Alcohol, which I cannot recommend highly enough.  But it was the ongoing teaching at Blackhawk, and my personal study of Biblical principles, and a small group of women praying, that was as or more important than anything else.  Through personal study I began to understand in a new way now, I can say to you, without shame, I may be an alcoholic but I am loved.

I am more than a year, free (as of July 08)!

I found, at last, unconditional love from God.  After wondering and struggling my whole bloody life, finally I fell so far down that there was only up.  I looked up and God was still there.  Somehow, I believed it and although I have to take up with Him (almost) daily it is good.

“Do you mean it?  You really, really love me? Accept me, with all my sh*t.  I mean, I’ve messed up good.  How can I ever stand in front of people and admit…….” You get the picture.  He says “Yep, I mean it. I love you.”

And I start another day.

And, I continue to figure out what it means to be loved.  And what kind of person I need to be: humble and yet confident, kind, honest and compassionate, striving to serve others who walk the same path … for starters.


Life Long Yearning

The galactic hole in my heart makes me tired

of holding all the pieces together. Tired of doubting.

Tired of needing.Wishing.Hurting.Crying out in all the ways that speak of your neglect.

All my life, Daddy, learning  that I am incomplete.

So am filling up, gorging on all the things that don’t fill that galactic hole.

Wishing for love that never came. All my life, yearning.

It stops when I say so.  I am here, not billowing in space without an anchor.

I want more. I need.  I wish. I hurt. I cry for love and find it.

At the cross, in peace I lay a life of yearning. I am home.


All of my poems are organized with images and can be found here.  One in particular is about that time when I turned away from God.  It can be found here.


If you or someone you love struggles with depression there is help.  If I had managed my depression better I would not have needed to drink.  I’d be glad to talk to you or there’s tons of help on the web.  This website, http://alcoholism.about.com/od/about/u/symptoms.htm, does a good job of breaking things down.  A caution:  Medical doctors are terrible at helping a person with these issues.  I don’t know whether they are just too busy or in denial or just don’t have the where with all to help.  But I would not go to an MD if I were worried about my drinking.  They will likely play it down.  That goes for most Psychologists as well.  There is no harm in talking to a Drug or Alcohol professional, with is covered by many health insurance policies.  Or, you can pay out of pocket for one appointment if confidentiality is a concern.

Whether it is you or someone you love that you are worried about, I can tell you that if you are worried enough to get more information, then the chances are they have a problem or are headed in that direction.  It doesn’t have to shatter your life, if they can get some help sooner than later.  I’m grateful that I was able to get help before I drove drunk and killed someone.

**Two out of three people who struggle with depression never seek help, and untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide.  In America alone, it’s estimated that 19 million people live with depression, and suicide is the third-leading cause of death among those 18-24 years old.  The good news is that depression is very treatable, that a very real hope exists in the face of these issues.”   Source: http://www.twloha.com/index.php

Suicide: A Last Goodbye

Suicide, for most inconceivable.
A gruesome choice.
A last resort.
It’s not a cry for help.
By then, it is too late.

This is dedicated to my friend and colleague, Dave Foster who took his life last Tuesday, at 4:00 am. I worked with him for several years at InterVarsity. I loved & admired him. He was an innovative, interesting, delightful person. He was a real professional. Imperfect, as we all are. Rough around the edges. He loved his family so much and I always sensed a desire to protect and provide.

I can not imagine the grief that his widow and three children are feeling. It seemed to happen completely out of the blue and everyone is seeking answers.

What was the cause of this unimaginable act? We will likely never have the answers to this sad mystery.

Good bye Dave. At last you have found peace for your restless soul.