God is Orange

orange chair

I threw myself into alcohol oblivion while going to different bars hoping no one would recognize me from other bars in town. I was living with my best friend’s mom and she was nice enough to take me in and help me detox and provide much love that I desperately needed. She was a Eucharistic Minister that attended church everyday who was serving God by helping me. And it felt wonderful to be around someone who was not toxic but only held great concern for me.

It was the next day at her house that the truth about my alcoholism became utterly apparent. And one would think  that after the detox, the shakes, the sounds, the voices,the chills, sleepless nights and countless cigarettes that I would never dare touch the stuff again. But it didn’t take long for me to relapse and I started right where I left off; wanting to die.

I knew of one place I could go to get help but I thought I was better than those women. They were criminals and prostitutes with their kids taken away. I could not get help with this sort of foul-natured types. I was from Thousand Oaks. I was upper middle class and I was not about to go.

Jose, a busboy from work confronted me one day. “I saw you running in your car today.””Running?” I thought to myself. I had no clue what he was talking about. “I spoke to the Holy Spirit today and he said you are not one the right path. That God has other plans for you.” This was not what I wanted to hear.

Yet he was right, entries from my journal begged for death from this torturous life I was living. I could not see any way out. It was just a matter of time before I would end it.

A few nights later, I dreamed that I walked into “The House of Hope.” This was the place where the criminals roamed and the prostitutes taunted. But I walked in and the entire room was decorated with orange furniture with barely any room to actually move.

A woman asked, ” What do you want?” I answered in a soft voice that I was looking for the House of Hope. “You got insurance?” she asked. “No, I will go.” I said. “Now wait a minute I will be right back.”She shuffled through the orange furniture until she found her way out. All I could hear as she walked off was something extremely foreign to my ears.

When she left I noticed a radio. But what played from it seemed unfamiliar. It was like a thousand angels singing at once. Music so beautiful, I became mesmerized and I completely forgot the orange room with the firm lady and why I was even there in the first place. It was the loveliest sound I had ever heard in all of my life. No instruments, only acapella. And voices sung from the end of time out of the speakers of this old rusty radio that radiated the unconditional love that we all search for.

Then I woke up.

I could not shake this orange room dream. It was like no other. And for the next few nights when I woke up I felt like someone was holding me in my bed. But I was alone. Things were not making sense.

My best friend’s mom became aware I had relapsed. The feeling in the house grew cold.When I fist moved in all doors were open throughout the house and now they were closed. I was making the mom sick with stress. No one wants an active alcoholic in their home. Yet I had nowhere to go.

She finally confronted me one morning after I had a night where I blacked out and made a terrible mess in her home. I did not deny anything. But I was not about to go through withdrawals again without  being under the care of a doctor.

I was  accepted in the hospital and I shook and I sweat and I was scared and I was ashamed. The doctor gave me some Valium but when I went to sleep I dreamed of some snake man pushing me into a smelly swamp of serpents. “Is this where you want to be?” The Snake Man screamed. “Is this what you want?”

I actually woke up and I was sure that the doctor had given me LSD. But this was good old fashioned delirium tremens. Like many before me, I was experiencing hell on earth.

When I was finally released from the hospital I was pretty ecstatic. I had no cravings for alcohol and I was willing to do what it takes. I told my best friend’s mom that I was not going to call the House of Hope, I wanted to see it with my own eyes. I just want to see if it is orange.

Down into the barrio I went. The streets of San Pedro shared great violence among its residents. But I had nowhere to go. And as I pulled up in front of this halfway house/rehab I could not help but notice two of the brightest orange chairs sitting outside the gate waiting as if to say hello. ORANGE. No doubt about it. Flawless beautiful orange.

And I was home.

 

The Truth and Nothing But The Truth

In the mornings, looking over the Ventura sunrise, I began to show up at the grocery store to buy liters of gross white wine.I was thirty years old, I had very little money at that point  but I tru…

Source: The Truth and Nothing But The Truth

Bye Bye Daddy

blue eyes

You must understand that taking care of my father who had seven brain tumors, kidney and lung cancer was too much for me to bear.  But I had a grandiose sense that I could handle anything at that time in my life. Therefore when my father asked to move from his hospice in Moorpark, CA to my home in Portland, OR . I said “yes” immediately.

It didn’t matter that I had already experienced him having seizures on the street, or being angry that he was told to wear adult diapers. I had taken him to four hospitals in California in only six weeks, one in which he almost blew up the place because he tried to smoke with the oxygen on. It is clear I had no clue what I was trying to tackle.

So I said “yes” and my father and I boarded a plane via wheelchair and flew back to Portland.

Let this be said: even though, my father was neglectful…I know he did his very best to take care of us. He would always make sure we had breakfast and he would often cook dinner if he was home. He spoke to me as if I was an adult and we shared many conversations about life, consciousness, the ego and many other metaphysical ideas.

I quite enjoyed these conversations. But the fact of the matter was I overly adored my father. I was so impressed by his presence that I overlooked the little things like coming home to slamming cupboards and sitting silently for weeks in his chair. Plus he always denied that he smoked but I knew he did and we kept that charade going until his diagnosis.

I spent a lot of time wondering what his mood was going to be. I never knew when he was coming home or leaving and to this day I do not know where he went when he left the front door. I do know he was hilarious, smart and unconventional. He dazzled many who knew him. But I also knew he was very depressed and that he had an angry streak behind closed doors. It was interesting to watch the duality of his personality. And I always prayed he would be happy all the time.

When he came to my home my first husband and I set him up in the spare bedroom. There he remained fully drugged until his life ended.

The problem was I was his nurse. I saw him naked, I wiped his butt, I made sure he did not fall and I listened to him talk to me as if I was a stranger. He would look down my shirt and then realize he forgot I was his daughter. This became the norm in the house and I dealt with it the only way I knew how: drinking Zima and stealing his medicine.

But listen carefully. There is an unspoken secret that caregivers and family have with a terminally ill loved one. The secret is that we all begin to wonder when will it end. When will my loved one die already? This secret induces extremes amount of guilt that becomes suppressed and eventually manifests somewhere else in our lives.

Therefore when he was taking his last breaths and I was giving him permission to go, I was feeling relief. I did not know how much I would miss him everyday and how I would still cry often after a decade. I could not see passed the moment. And when our six-player CD shuffled onto “My Way,” by  good old blue eyes himself  he died.

I kept his body in his room so family members had time to say goodbye before he was burned to dust. A candle was lit beside him in some holy manner but it began to melt his skin.

And I was in shock. Complete and utter shock.

My dad always promised to make after death communications with me. I truly trusted in that. And the day that he died I walked downstairs to take a bong-hit and the music box he had given me years before played by itself from across the room for over a minute. “It had to be you, it had to be you, I wandered around and suddenly found some one so true….” And I smiled and said hello.

However, that day I broke into 1000 pieces. I would never be the same. Before me laid the work to put myself back together. And when I did something wonderful happened: I found humility. And in humility I found myself.

 

The Days of No Return

header-sub-abuse

After my father died, I went a little crazy. Actually, a lot crazy. If anyone has lost a parent especially the parent that raised you, then you will know the great pain and strange grief that unfolds after the parent’s death.

First of all, I was starting to get suicide ideation back. I could not stop picturing myself with a gun in my mouth blowing off my head. That started 4 months after he died. I finally went to an urgent care where I was introduced to antidepressants via sample packs. I did not understand at the time I needed to take the same amount every day so I would take 10mg one day, 100 mg the next and then maybe 25mg the following days. Nothing in my life was in order.

My first husband and I bought a house with some of my inheritance money. It was a small house that was perfect for he and I and our six cats. It was our little home and he worked hard to make it nice.

My first husband was not aware that I had started drinking up 15 drinks a day. I had been since I took care of my dad in hospice at my home. My ability to care about anything was completely lost. Therefore, when I was mixing my Zoloft with 15 drinks of alcohol a day and smoking pot, my decision-making was based on anything that would keep me numb.

The summer of 2000, my ex husband and I had gone to Italy for a wedding. When I returned from Italy…it was on!  Dinner parties at my house  became common. Drinks and laughter and mania continued and I really thought I was happy.

But this is when my hands began to shake. I had gone to enough AA meetings with my father to know that this was not good. But I could not stop. Alcohol was taking over my life. Eventually, after taking mushrooms and talking to some close friends, I came home and asked for a divorce. He was stunned. I was cookoo.

Immediately, after he left I called the guy I had been in love with over the course of my entire time spent with my ex husband. The guy had a girlfriend but for some reason I decided that he was my property and I had dibs. Not two days after we went out did he declare that he loved me. I wasn’t ready for a new relationship but who cares, right?

This guy could always read right through me and I had never had anyone so smitten over me at the time. Although, it is important to mention that this guy was an excessive alcoholic who could be compared to Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas. But I had crossed a line that many other alcoholic people cross. The point of no return.

We stayed together for one year and half and he was extremely abusive. But I was not innocent either. Plus, he continued to see his ex girlfriend behind my back. And I unbelievably thought I was being wronged by her when I was the one who stole her boyfriend in the first place!

There were times the police came because we fought so loud. And TV’s were thrown out onto the lawn. My little house became a breeding ground of wild abandon with pot smoking, drinking, cigarettes and total delirium.

I was about to leave him when he came home one night to say he had cancer. I was far too loyal to leave anybody in that position so I waited.

Things got worse. I crashed my car, I maxed out all my credit cards and decided I did not need to pay my taxes. The promises of payments to some creditors for my ex husband and I became greater debts unbeknownst to him. And I lived in awful fear of doom and gloom where the mailbox was not my friend and I could no longer answer my phone. They turned off cable, the trash stopped and I could no longer make long distance calls. I could not see how far of a hole I was digging but the bottom was still far away.

In the end, I made a decision to move back to California where there was no greeting party waiting for me. I had lost my friends and I was not prepared for the trouble that awaited me.

Still…it went on until one day.