In this blog you'll find mostly my thoughts and experiences as well as poems in regards to my Al-anon 12-step recovery.
I hope you enjoy. Please feel free to leave me comments.


If someone's drinking, drugging or sobriety is bothering you or if you grew up with drinking or drugs in your home, please find an Al-anon meeting.

Monday, September 19, 2011

This Past Weekend

This past weekend I attended a retreat for teens in a mountain camp just outside of Prescott, Arizona. Although it was 12 step recovery based, it wasn’t like any of the other retreats I’ve been to over the last seven years of my recovery. It was more. It was just... better.

My son had attended this retreat four years in a row and, because he needed to have his space from me and be free to have his own experience without me hovering, I had never attended. That was okay, as I am not the kind of mom that needs to be into every single thing he does. He no longer attends, so now it was my turn.

I drove up the hill into the mountains with seventeen teenagers in tow. Five of them were in my truck and my partner in crime and best friend, drove a van filled with the other twelve, plus one more adult. After an enormous amount of finagling to pack the vehicles, which included thirty cases of water, we finally got on the road. Jammed in like sardines.

I’ve been involved with supporting the teens for a number of years now, and it’s had its fair share of ups and downs, for sure. I was a bit reluctant and really didn’t know what this weekend had in store for me.

What I want to tell you about is the amazing blessings I received this weekend. These kids have all been affected by the family disease of alcoholism. Many of them are still living in active alcoholism or drug addiction and some of them have had the blessing of recovery enter their homes. A few have been removed from their homes and no longer live with their parents. And, some have even lost their parents to the bowels of this disease: Overdose, resulting in death. I’ve not lost a parent to this disease, but I have lost two close family members, as well as friends, and I know what this kind of pain feels like.

I listened to them share in the workshops that were held. I listened to them talk of the blessings in their life and how this very retreat keeps them going, on a daily basis, throughout the year. They live for it. For some, it’s the only brightness in their life and the only place they feel they receive unconditional love and acceptance.

I watched them laugh with each other, listened to them curse like sailors, and I also watched them care for each other with such a remarkable amount of unconditional love that I was moved to tears.

Many of these children, and yes, I’ll call them children, lost their innocence long ago. They’ve been witness to things no child (or adult) should ever have to see, and they have survived it. Some of them still struggle, which is to be expected, but they are fighters. Growing up as they do, as I did, hardens you. It leaves scars that take years to heal. They want to grow and overcome the things that they’ve had to experience and they want to learn how to give love and accept love…unconditionally.

These retreats offer them a safe place, where they can be themselves. Where they can cry or laugh or be silent and maybe feel some peace. Miracles happened this past weekend. I watched them, I felt them. Some of these kids experienced some healing and I watched some of them, that haven’t healed yet, wrap themselves up inside our warm circle of love, comfort, and friendship.

In total, there were forty two teens in attendance, ranging from ages twelve to nineteen. There were also a handful of adults that attend every year. Some of those adults came to this retreat when they were teens themselves. They come back now because of the gifts that they were given as kids, they come to offer that gift to the newest generation.

Many of the kids and the adults I saw on this retreat know my son. They told me how wonderful he is. How they miss him. I think, next year, I’ll be dragging him up the hill with me. At twenty, he’ll be one of the adults that attended this retreat as a kid, and he’ll be able to give back, too.

I met some young ladies that I had the honor of bonding with. I got to sit and laugh with them and talk about our similarities and differences and maybe, just maybe, I was able to be an example for them. It was an opportunity for me to stand in the gap for some of them, be a friend or a mother figure that loves them unconditionally. Accepts them as they are.

Among the many tears and emotions, there was also a ton of laughter. My best friend and I got to be a part of that too. We didn’t have to, we got to. We got to forget, for just a couple of days, about the serious lives we lead; the jobs and bills, all those things that accompany being an adult. We got to joke around and act like kids ourselves. I needed that.

Although I didn’t get to know all of the kids, the ones I did get to know have left their mark on my heart.
My best friend and I even found a couple of teen girls who seemed as if they were clones of the two of us. We had an absolute blast goofing off with them.

During the long drive up the hill, I sat next to a young lady who is a dancer, a singer and a writer. Wow! We sang together, we talked about dance, and then we talked about writing. What a gift I received. God put that girl next to me in my truck. I could never have planned that.

I cannot express how absolutely profound this weekend was for me. I cannot begin to even explain the amount of gratitude I felt as I drove those same five kids down the hill back to town.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds for these kids. Without a doubt I will be back next year. I can’t wait to see them all again and see how they’ve changed.
I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

I offer a big Thank You, to each and every teen that I met this weekend. You are a bright light for me. Equal thanks goes to all the adults, who give of themselves so freely every year, for making sure this retreat continues to happen for these kids. You are an example of recovery and unconditional love. There are simply not enough of you.

I’m blessed and my cup runneth over.

Much love,

P.S. If you know me personally, and wish to comment, please refrain from using my name. I prefer to keep my blogs anonymous.
Thanks. *hugs*

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Definition of Me

I’ve had this idea poking at me for a while now. I’ve wanted to write a blog post in which I could define me for you. Not an easy task, since I am still figuring out exactly who I am. 

Do any of us truly know who you are? It’s something I wonder about. Do you really know yourself and can you be honest enough to bare your belly and show all?

I work a 12 step program, (Al-Anon) and one of the principles of this (and any 12 step program) is honesty. Honesty with others, but more importantly, honesty with ourselves. I work with a great number of women in my program and one thing I tell them constantly is:  Know and own your truth. Know who you are and why you do what you do. They love me and hate me for it.

I’ve learned to be honest with myself about a great many things. I’ve had to look deep inside and review my motives, my thoughts, and my actions. I’ve had to be willing to cut away the parts concerning everyone else and only look at my own actions. Not easy. Today, I have a pretty good understanding of what makes me tick. Why I do the things I do, think the things I think, and why I get hurt so easily. None of this stops me from being hurt, though. It’s a problem that seems to plague me.

Recently I was doing some research on my birth sign. I’m a Cancer. The Crab: Hard on the outside and extremely soft on the inside. I learned some very interesting things that I already suspected about myself. More insight. Yay!

Did you know that Cancers are the most emotional sign of all of the Sun Signs? I didn’t know that.  Did you know they are the mothering ones too?  And that they can be quite moody? Everything I read was spot on for me in the most eerie of ways. Things I knew about me already, but defined so clearly in print. Now, I realize that this astrology stuff is subjective right? I mean, you can take anything you read like that and twist it to fit your own life or situation. In my case, I tried to be objective and at every turn was slapped in the face by another clear definition of myself.

My father once told me, “You get too attached. You have always been that way, even as a child.” I’ve written about that before. It seems that every time I turn around I’ve gotten myself into another situation where I get hurt.

I wear my heart on my sleeve. Hell, who am I kidding? Truth is, I wear my heart all over my entire body. It’s there for all to see and touch. Available for you to appreciate or to harm. Choose your poison.

I give my all to my friends, even when it’s not asked for. I love too much, give too much, expect too much and leave myself open to be hurt. Not everyone wants or needs my brand of love. Not everyone has it in them to give back to me what I find so easy to give to them.

That’s okay, you know? I accept that, and in most cases I expect it. Though, there are a select few that I let inside my soul that are dangerous. For example, people that are emotionally unavailable. Those are the people that I tend to gravitate toward the most. Only God knows why.

I call it my broken picker. I pick broken people and fall madly in love with them. I cherish them. This goes for friends and romantic relationships. And I get hurt. I suppose I see something in them that others don’t. Maybe I think I can be that soft place they’ve never had before. It’s not completely clear why, and the reasons vary. One thing is for sure, if I see something inside you, then I dive head first into that friendship or relationship and I give and give and give until there is nothing left of me. When there is not equal reciprocation of my loyalty, affection, and attention, then I am hurt. I am let down. I am disappointed. Have I not just set myself up for this hurt? If I am honest, then yes, I absolutely have.

I take full responsibility for the fact that I do this to myself regularly. I seem to need to learn this lesson over and over again. Here’s the deal: I don’t give to people expecting a return on an investment. I truly do not. But if I dig, and if I am honest with myself, then there is always a bottom line motive behind my love and affection. I’m looking for that love and affection, appreciation or loyalty, to be given back. It’s almost entirely impossible to give to someone without some sort of self-will involved. All roads lead back to self, in my opinion. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous talks about this.

“Selfishness--self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt.”

What does that mean? It means I keep going to the hardware store for bread. Does the hardware store sell bread? No, of course not. So why would I go there to buy bread? Basically, I keep going to the wrong people to make me feel better inside. To shower me with the same love and affection I give to them and to give me the same undying loyalty I show them. What happens is I end up with a broken heart, and that’s never pretty. Then I retaliate, or lash out, or worse, retreat into my hard Cancer shell where I am safe and can lick my wounds in private. When I retaliate, it usually isn’t received well and people get pissed off. Pull back from me and no longer want to be my friend, aka hostage. Because believe me, it can sometimes feel like that to them.

Basically, I step on the toes of my fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt me, seemingly without provocation, but I invariably find that at some time in the past, I have made decisions based on self, which later placed me in a position to be hurt. The other clincher in this is that no one person or persons can do this for me. People are human and are usually walking through their own stuff in life. They cannot be all things to someone. That’s just not possible. I know this, I understand it, yet it makes no difference at times when I seem to have forgotten that my brand of love and affection can, and has, driven people to want to retaliate, and then run for their lives. The world does not revolve around me. Although in truth, if I am honest, I really wish it did.

I’m a pain in the ass. And although, depending on your personality, it’s not like this with everyone I am in a relationship/friendship with, it is still definitely a problem I have with some. I seem to not have this issue with Virgos or other Cancers. They understand me in ways that many others don’t.

Ultimately there is a price to be paid for my friendship. It’s a risk many may not want to take. But it’s also a benefit too. You’ll find with me, a place where you can always have love and acceptance. You’ll find with me that I will always be honest with you when I see you screwing up. That I will always be there when you need someone to hold you and just listen. You will also find with me a loyalty that knows no limit.

As I mentioned above, you may not be the kind of person who wants or needs this brand of love and friendship. Many are not. I get that. Yet, I still wear my heart all over my body and I leap before I should. Simply to scoop you up and love on you.

What can I say, that I am sorry?  I’m not sure I am. But believe me, I’ve paid dearly with my bleeding heart, considering some of the things I have suffered due to this little trait in myself. Sometimes I truly wish, with every fiber or my being, that I was not this way. But then again, that really wouldn’t be me would it?

I’m not sure I was able to capture in these words all my thoughts on this subject. There is so much more to it. Maybe it helped you to see something about yourself, maybe it didn’t. Either way, at the very least, I hope you might consider seeking your own truth and finding out what makes you tick. Peel the layers of the onion, it’s worth it, but be careful; when you really dig, what you find tends to stink a little until you air it out.

Take care,

I wrote this today as I listened to many Alanis Morissette songs. Her lyrics are a great muse for me and they are also very real, raw, and honest.

Playlist: Alanis Morissette
Flowers of Entanglement
         Not as we
         Limbo no more
         Orchid (one of my favorites and most accurate)
         The guy who leaves

Under Rug Swept
         Hands clean
         That particular time
         You owe me nothing in return
         So unsexy
         Precious illusions

City of Angels