photographer. artist. author. singer. songwriter. musician. teacher. student. humanitarian. visionary.

Posts tagged “substance abuse

The Ties that Bind

Disclaimer: All are welcome here, and welcome to read my blog posts, I welcome you with open arms. That said, I’m a bold speaker and a truth-teller. I don’t sugar coat things and I don’t play games. I say things like they are and make no apologies for anything I say. If you’re a family member and happen to be offended at something I write here, I suggest you either stay away from my blog, or perhaps learn how to respect other people’s rights, which include the right to express their thoughts, ideas, feelings, notions, and anything else they feel like expressing. Remember, this is my personal space. I’m entitled to write about my personal life, and anything that involves my personal experiences, including my experiences with “family”.

Also, do keep in mind that I speak on family members as an outsider sometimes. As a studying psychologist and counselor, it’s my job to study family structures, family units, and the many intra-personal relationships within families, and that includes wonderful families and family members and it also includes toxic relationships and toxic family members. When I write about “toxic families”, for instance, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m talking about my own. Many times, I’m speaking about families from a therapeutic perspective. Afterall, I’ve studied family relationships for a decade now, academically via psychology and counseling.

That said, there have been a number of times that a specific family member (you know who you are) literally stalks my blog, and if I so much as write the word “family”, she sends me raging, angry texts- lashing out at me, hatefully. *Newsflash* I’m allowed to post my life experiences and feelings that involve families, along with my own family. You’re not the gatekeeper and you’re not my personal warden. Back the hell up and respect my autonomy. I’m a writer. You’re allowed to create your own blog posts and say whatever you like there. But you’re not going to silence me, and you’re not going to control me. Due to the fact that I was sexually abused as a child- BY A FAMILY MEMBER- that forced me to be in my own little boat. I wasn’t allowed to have the same relationships that my other family members had, so from the time I was 9 years old, I’ve been a loner- even among my own family.

I’ll never reveal the secrets and private things that my brother, John, shared with me many years ago. But he too suffered some of the same things that I did as a child, unfortunately. As tragic as that was for us, it bonded us in a special way, and I thank God that he and I were in our own boat. When he passed away in January (four months ago), I feel like I lost the last true family member I had. He loved me unconditionally, and he’s the only one who did (besides my Dad). They were the only ones, though. Everybody else loves me conditionally. (Meaning, sometimes.) When John passed on, he was the last of the Mohicans. He was the last one. Now I’m on my own.

Disclaimer over.

I dreamed of my sister again. She’s almost always cold and distant in my dreams; much like in real life. We haven’t spoken in more than 5 years, and that’s an absolute tragedy. As Pentecostal Christians, we were raised to understand the importance of forgiveness.  There are so many scriptures in the Bible about forgiveness, and Jesus clearly states that if you don’t forgive your brethren (and that includes sisters), there’s no place for you in Heaven. As a matter of fact, Jesus makes it crystal clear that if you say you love God, but hate your brother (or again, sister) and refuse to forgive her, then you’re a murderer. That’s a pretty serious charge! I honestly don’t know how any “Christian” can go on in her life, making a deliberate choice to not forgive, but instead, harbour hatred in her stone cold heart but still try to call herself a Christian. You’re a fraud. Jesus said so.

Whosoever hateth his brother (or sister) is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.   –1 John 3:15

Understandably, not everyone has the capability to forgive. They really don’t. They’re shallow and selfish and have no depth for the long roots that forgiveness needs. See, it starts in childhood. As I said before, because I was molested, I had no choice but to forgive. I had to. I had to go on living in the same house with everybody else, and despite my anger or hatred at what was done to me, I had to suck it up, forgive, and still try and have “healthy relationships” with everyone (including my offender) regardless. Needless to say, being sexually abused will change your relationships with every single family member, how could it not? For the longest time, I couldn’t even say the words “sexually abused”- it terrified me. I had no idea why it happened to me, out of everyone in the house, it was me.

For years, I told no one. But being sexually abused by a family member and then having to carry on daily with all of the other family members- as if it never happened- it created fractures within my core. You see, I never knew these things until I began studying psychology. I began to understand why I was clinically depressed at age 10, and at age 11, my Mom had to take me to the doctor because my stomach was in knots, and I was a nervous wreck. I couldn’t eat or sleep. That deadly secret was so toxic- so heavy and destructive- that it threatened to destroy my entire family if I told anyone.

So I carried that burden alone. For years. All the while, I was being destroyed on the inside. I began having breakdowns in my 20’s, because it was all just too much for me to bear. Again, thank God for my schooling and psych. studies. I learned exactly why I was having breakdowns. I was labeled “crazy” by other family members and was pretty much branded as being “mentally ill”. I actually bought what they sold me for many years. I believed it too. After my 5th year studying psychology, I began my new course which was “Abnormal Psychology”. I learned that my fragmentations and mental breakdowns were absolutely appropriate for what I went through. There’s just no way that you’re going to be molested as a child by a family member, and continue living with that family member year after year, having to interact with that family member- along with everyone else- and be “normal”. It’s just not going to happen.

What is going to happen is you’re going to start breaking up from the inside out. Clinical depression is just the beginning. There’s also the rage and anger- and that’s appropriate as well. There’s shame and guilt that’s heaped on you in huge mountains that you’re forced to carry- day in, day out. As the years roll on, you begin to feel highly abnormal- like a circus freak. It’s so damaging. The majority of all women who were sexually abused as a child- especially by a family member- end up mere statistics. Alcoholism is basically a prerequisite. I too tried to drown out my pain with alcohol for a number of years.

But most women who’ve gone through what I’ve gone through end up so damaged, they’re either suicidal or a complete basket case. I consider myself a living, breathing, miracle. I was so tired of that disease (disease = being sexually abused as a child) controlling me and confounding me and destroying me…I knew that I needed to do something that I had never done before…I needed to address it. As I said, for a number of years, I couldn’t even pray about it and ask God for help. I was so scared of even saying it out loud- even to God! But I knew that as long as it lay in the back closet of my being, I would continue to be consumed by it. I needed to address it, so that I could move beyond it. 

You might think, “Well, for somebody who’s moved beyond it, you sure do mention it a lot,” but you see, secrets keep people sick. Let me say that again, “SECRETS KEEP PEOPLE SICK’. By broadcasting it, addressing it, and discussing it openly, I took its power away. I began to gain control over IT, rather than it continuing to control, me.

I stopped drinking hard liquor, stopped smoking weed, quit smoking cigarettes, and stopped taking prescribed medications all around the same time. They were smokescreens. And they only complicated things in the end. Instead, I faced the biggest demon I’ve ever known, and I stared that awful evil right in its disgusting little face, and I took my life back. 

I can’t speak for others, and I can only attest to my own experiences, but I was tired of going to therapy and psychiatrists and psychologists and other professionals who weren’t helping me much. I began to understand that all of the breakdowns and emotional problems that I’d had in my life were a direct correlation of having been sexually abused as a child. I wasn’t “mentally ill”, I was trying to live through devastation and tragedy and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I had gone through my own war, and I began to learn how to live- for the first time in my life- rather than just survive.

Shortly after having these epiphanies, and after removing substances (alcohol, weed, cigarettes, etc.) from my life, I enrolled in college. What better (and really, who better) major could I select than Behavioral Sciences? So, I began studying psychology and the brain, and coping mechanisms, and psychological perspectives, and learned how to have healthy relationships. I learned all sorts of things about family structures, family dynamics, etc.

I began to learn and truly understand that when a family is raised by an alcoholic parent, the entire family is sick. Being yelled at or hurt by an intoxicated parent creates distorted filters. Abusive behavioral patterns are passed down from parent to child, so that when the children grow up, their own filters of perception are distorted. This is why drug and alcohol counselors teach people that addiction is a family disease. The entire family is sick- as a whole- so that the relationships between the family members can be, and often are, toxic. Rather than forming close bonds, and protecting one another in love, anger becomes the base that relationships are built upon.

When a family is raised by an alcoholic parent, their methods of communication will be anger-based as well. When family members are getting along, they’re tolerating one another more than truly forming loving bonds. The children learn to communicate angrily, and as a result, when problems arise between family members, there’s little to no “healthy conflict resolution”, because it was never learned. Instead, they freeze up in anger, against one another. This is why toxic families (such as this example) who never receive any type of group or family therapy, never truly learn how to communicate in a healthy manner. They don’t even know they’re toxic! But yet they are, because anger was integrated into their family unit from childhood.

I am SO grateful for my psych. training. I began to understand why the communication patterns are the way they are in my own family. It all began to make sense.

Because addiction was such a huge part of my life growing up- having been raised by an alcoholic parent- I knew I needed to get a formal education regarding substance abuse. So, while I was studying Behavioral Sciences, I also received my CPC/Certification in Substance Abuse. (It tacked an additional year onto my associates degree, but it was well worth it.) I graduated with honours and transferred over to a 4 year university and began working on my bachelor’s in psychology. After receiving my bachelor’s degree, I transferred a final time to my Master’s program, which is where I am now. I’m just over a year shy of receiving my Master’s degree in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. Eleven long years!

I can’t thank God enough for the training I’ve received. I quite literally became my own therapist, and client. 🙂

People who aren’t educated in family system theories will hear an individual say “toxic family” and naturally, they become judgmental and heated- emotionally charged and angry. However, when you’ve had an entire decade of mental health training- particularly in abnormal psychology and toxic families 101, it becomes a general study. There’s no bias or judgment or anything along those lines. You classify it for what it is because it fits the criteria, such as being raised by an alcoholic parent. (And that’s just one point, among many.) That’s not to say that it’s not an altogether loving, wholesome family, etc. but it’s liberating to be able to see it for what it is and then say, “Alright, so this is what was handed to us. How can we be the best that we can be, together?

And this is where the heartbreak lies, yet again, between my sister and me. I’m more than capable of moving past any hurt, any anger, anything. As I said, I had to learn how to do that 40 years ago- for the sake of my family. it is literally NOTHING for me to forgive. Absolutely nothing. It takes less than a second to do! You simply have to choose it, and once you choose to forgive, truly, every bit of anger and hurt and blame and everything else evaporates- completely. As if it was never there. That’s how powerful forgiveness is!

God forgives us, so we must forgive others. If God forgives you, and you don’t forgive others, you’re a thief. You’re literally stealing His grace. God’s grace is a gift- it’s true. But you don’t get that gift if you choose UNforgiveness. It doesn’t work like that.

…and you’re running out of time.

For what it’s worth, sister, I forgive you. I’ve been standing on this bridge for 5 and 1/2 years, waiting for you to take those steps of courage. Thankfully, you didn’t suffer the things I did as a child. So you’ve never had to forgive somebody “against your will”. I did that for you. I forgave my offender for you, and everybody else in my family., so we could continue being a family. I had a choice to make. I could choose to either report my offender’s actions to the authorities and watch our family be ripped apart and deposited into foster homes (as my offender told me would happen, if I ever told), or I could remain silent and say nothing, so we could all remain a family.  We know what I chose, because we stayed together as a family, but that came at a heavy price, and I’m the one who paid it. Me. Not you. You were protected and given a large room with a  lock on your door. Must’ve been nice. I, however, had no lock on my door, and was repeatedly molested while you were in your locked room.

So you see, I paid a heavy price to keep our family together.

I do hope you find it in your heart to choose love over hatred, and forgiveness over unforgiveness. You see, I kept our family together, as I said, and as it’s now obvious to those who never knew my story. (And they never knew it because I’ve kept the details private for all of these years.) But those details are mine- they belong to me- and I’m the one who gets to share them or not. Nobody else can choose that- because it didn’t happen to them or you.

I kept our family together all of those years, and I had to sacrifice a lot to endure what I did, year after year. But you, are continuing to rip our family apart. And isn’t it funny that I was blamed for that instead! Ha! I dare say…

For every year that you continue to not forgive me, or speak to me, and continue pretending that I’m dead, is another lash upon our mother’s back. YOU- are keeping this family separated. I love my family- very much. I’ve longed to patch things up and move the crap on already. You remember, on the way back from our camping trip, after our blow out, I begged you. I said, “Let’s work this out, man. Let’s not do this. Let’s forgive each other and move past this. Let’s say we’re sorry and and move on! if we don’t patch this up, we’re going to go back to Jeffersonville and probably not speak for months. Let’s not do that! Let’s not be silent like this!”

And you looked at me, icily, and said, “My silence is serving me well.”  And you looked away from me, and that’s the last time you spoke to me- ever.

Let me ask you, is your silence still serving you? Are you at peace with your unforgiveness and iciness? Really?

Who in the hell stays mad at somebody for almost 6 years?! That….is insanity. And that is a deliberate perpetuation of sickness and toxicity. I truly hope that God fills your heart with His warmth and love and grace. I really do. And I’ll tell you- I’m terrified for you. Because you can’t take that crap into Heaven.

As long as you continue to choose silence, you continue to keep our family apart. What’s that about the 99? Remember? Not good enough.

I just needed to get some things off my chest. Needed to open the windows and let the dust fly out. You may wonder why I’m choosing to address you openly like this. Well, I’ll tell you. Because you’ve single-handedly murdered our relationship. You’ve suicided yourself. You said yourself; you chose silence over forgiveness.

And that’s your right. You do have the right to remain silent. You get to be as silent as the grave, in fact. But you don’t get to choose silence for me. You murdered your relationship to me, but I never murdered our relationship. I’ve been standing on this damn bridge for almost 6 years, waiting for you. But I can’t do your work. I can’t take your steps for you. You have to do that.

Just so you know, I’ll continue standing on this bridge with the hope that someday, you’ll have the courage and the guts to back up that “Christian claim”- because that’s what Christians do- they forgive one another. That’s all I’ll say on this matter. (For now). But again, I may or may not write you again in the future, and again, it’s my right to do so. Like I said, you can be as silent as you want, but it’s not within your rights to silence me. I get to talk (write) alllllll I want to. If you don’t like what you’re reading, you have the right to exit and go about your business. But I have the right to talk/write to you all I want- you don’t have any authority when it comes to my rights and choices here. My rights are mine.  /end

Ahhhh… the rain is pouring down! There’s a beautiful thunderstorm outside- lightning crashing. It’s supposed to rain for the next four days and that makes me blissfully happy. 🙂 Nothing makes me happier than a torrential thunderstorm. Life is good now. I’m in a good place in my life. I just purchased a new 13 x 19 professional photo printer along with professional photo paper. I’ve had it for more than six weeks now and there it sits- in its box. I haven’t quite gotten around to setting it up yet. I will at some point, hopefully soon. I’m not ready yet. As long as I’m still in school, I’m not quite ready to dedicate 100% of my time to starting my photo business, but I’ll work my way in that direction down the road a ways. One more year of school, and I’ll be done for good.

I used to think that I was in school because I wanted to help others- especially other women who’ve lived through the same things I’ve lived through. Now I know that I was in school to learn how to be a mentally strong and healthy human being. I’m finally free from those chains that kept me bound for so long. 

 

And it’s about time… ❤

 

Jacksonville, Texas- just down the road from my grandparent’s house- Helios film- 44-2.country-road

 


Forever and a Day

I can hardly believe it’s been seven months since I last posted! Life has been super crazy and I’ve been trying to get all of my ducks in a row. I feel like I’ve been stuck for the longest time- spinning my wheels and going nowhere. I’ve been out of school for a year and a half now…free falling into nothingness. Days pass with minimal actions and reactions; sometimes it feels like life is passing me by and I’m watching it ride off in the distance. I’m just not entirely happy unless I’m doing something and getting things done.

The last time I posted, things were at a standstill, academically. My undergrad. college was holding my transcript hostage until I paid my balance (of $1,200) down completely. The chances of that happening were right up there with me learning Chinese overnight- it just wasn’t happening!

Bless my Mama’s heart. I explained my situation to her- she’s been my champion throughout my entire undergrad. studies- year after year, cheering me on, relentlessly and lovingly. I share what I’ve learned with her in the area of psychology and self-help and she shares in my joy. In a strange and neat way, we’re doing this school  thing together. So when I let her know just how dire things were, she texted Josh to tell me that she had the entire balance- all $1,200 waiting for me to pick it up at her place. I just bawled my eyes out there in the hallway. She truly is my hero.

And so now, after much time doing absolutely nothing with my life, I’m able to get back on track and begin work on my Master’s degree soon. After much contemplation, I’ve decided on becoming a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselor. It’s not going to be an easy road, but I’m up for the challenge. I’ll need to study for 3 or so years, and of course, there’s internship/practicum (560 hours) and as the years go on, I’ll need to put in 4,000 or so hours to be a CADAC II and eventually CADAC 4- CADAC being a Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor. Being certified and licensed are two different things, particularly in the area of reciprocity. (One pertains to remaining within one’s state only, and the other allows for the practice in various other states.) But first things first!

My plans are to work on the education part, and then as time goes on, intern as a mental health tech. in a rehab. facility for 1 to 3 years, so that I can gain the necessary field experience to have a very good job down the road. With a Master’s in Substance Abuse Addictions Counseling + 4,000 hours of experience, I’ll be able to secure a job of $45,000 or so, starting out. Now that may be peanuts to some folks, but for me, it’s more than enough. I’m in the process of cleaning up my credit, so over the next 5 years, I should be in a very good position to work on buying a home (at a fairly low mortgage rate) and be right on track in most areas of my life.

I’ve officially been accepted into my Master’s program and am SO thrilled to begin school on October 3rd. That gives me a good month to clean my house. 😉 Josh and I are still trucking along- he’s the love of my life, truly. We’ve been each other’s heart beat for 11 years now! Where does the time go?

Brian and his gal, Gabby, have moved out so Josh and I finally have the place to ourselves for the first time ever. I wish I could say we’ve been sad, but um…we’ve been running around in our underwear hooping and hollering and acting like it’s a frat house! 🙂

I feel the grey clouds rolling out and everything’s starting to take on a vivid, golden hue. When I was a child, I never imagined that I would become a counselor when I was older. My dreams are literally coming true, and I am so happy. ❤

Rim Rock Trail- Garden of the Gods, Illinois- Helios film lens/manual-Aug-2017

Rim Rock Trail Aug 2017


Substance Use vs. Abuse

So I’m studying all of the psychoactive drug groups and their accompanying behavioral properties in my Behavioral Neuroscience class, and I came across a fallacy in my instructor’s PowerPoint Presentation. She had written this:

Substance abuse = a pattern in which a person relies on a drug chronically and excessively for the psychological and behavioral changes the drug produces.

I can’t tell you how much I disagree with that statement/definition. That defines substance use, not abuse. By that definition alone, that would mean that every person who counts on his or her daily antidepressant to make those necessary biochemical, physiological changes in both their brains and behaviors are “addicts”. This is so untrue.

Keeping in mind that I have my CPC in Substance Abuse (from Vincennes University), I’ve created my own definition of substance abuse, and it’s as follows:

Substance abuse= destructive behaviors that accompany the drug-user in which he and others are affected in negative ways.

Very simple.

Just because somebody takes a drug regularly- with hopes of behavioral and psychological changes (even chronically/daily or “excessively”)- does not make that person a substance abuser.  The word “excessively” is a tricky one because what is excessive to one person will not be to another. Some people take one Ibuprofin- some take 5. Every person’s body is different and each person’s drug use is both circumstantial and situational. I think we really need to be careful labeling a person as a drug abuser if he or she continues taking a drug for holistic/homeopathic, and or medicinal reasons.

Back to your scheduled program. 🙂

(Don’t worry peeps- it’s only toilet paper from a ‘toilet paper challenge” I hosted at a photo site once.) 
TokeUp


Death of a Friend

Josh and I are no longer in a “partnering relationship”. We’ve been together (off and on) for 8+ years and really, have been like each other’s skin. Recently, he underwent a horrible ordeal which ultimately changed his personality. I thought it was only temporary, but it’s proving to be permanent. He’s become so aggressive and has resorted to screaming and raving every day- all day- it’s as though he has acute brain damage or something. I honestly don’t know how much more I can take. I’ve lost the man and best friend that I loved so much. That man died. It’s as though my son and I are living with a total stranger. My son jumped up and scared him earlier in the kitchen- just playing around as he likes to do. Rather than be surprised or even annoyed, Josh threatened to punch my son in the mouth.

I couldn’t believe it. Not long afterwards, I exited the kitchen to go to my room- away from Josh- and he followed me. For the next 10 to 15 minutes, he raged and yelled and beat on my door, demanding that I not walk away when he’s talking. He’s become so abusive, my son and I both now have high(er) blood pressure as a direct result from the daily stress.

He owes me $350- the cell phone he’s using, I payed for. The blanket he’s sleeping with- I payed for. The medicine he’s now taking- I payed for. (Nice.) Rather than pay me what he owes, he abuses me. So, I’ll be looking for a new place to live for my son and I. My kids will always be a priority over any man.

In all the years I’ve known Josh, he’s still a taker. And I’m still a giver, apparently.

Update and to his credit: he’s payed me what he owes.

🙂 <<<<<<<

But no more. When a person threatens my kid- it’s over. Plain and simple. I’ve seen many women in life stay with abusive men- all because they think they “need” them. That’s where they and I differ! I don’t need any man. Certainly not an abusive one.

After weeks of enduring Josh’s (escalating) abuse, I decided to give him a dose of his own medicine. More times than I can even count, I’ve gone to my room to get away from his screaming/raging, and he follows me. All of my pleading for “peace” and calm and quiet fall on deaf ears. He just doesn’t go away! Not at first, anyway. I’ve literally begged him to get away from my door and to simply “choose peace” but to no avail. He refuses to go away and chooses rather to rage at me. Sadly, much of the time it’s over nothing at all. Yesterday’s eruption was caused because he came in raging against his boss, and I told him that he should have a smidgeon of gratitude, because his boss pays his salary and is kind enough to give him a job. It behooves an employee to recognize that if nothing else, their boss has chosen to hire him/her and he should acknowledge that he owes the man a debt of gratitude. It’s not a corporation; it’s a small 3 (and sometimes 4) person crew.

His lack of grace just floored me. So I told him that perhaps if he were to shift his focus from his anger at his boss to the fact that he even has a job, maybe it would help him. I also told him that he is hyper-focused (again) on himself and is internalizing again. It’s as if he’s got a large lazer beam pointed at himself and can only see HIM right now. As awful as it sounds and as awful as it makes me feel to say it- he’s an extremely selfish person.

I wasn’t expecting him to thank me for pointing that out, but I wasn’t expecting the war that ensued either. Everything offends him and if he’s not getting his ego stroked, he gets lost in whatever topic is being discussed, and always, always- he’ll make it about him- no matter what.

But back to my revenge.

I wanted to shake him up a bit because I think that 2 straight weeks of taking a person’s verbal abuse is two weeks too long. I realized that all of my “asking nicely” for peace was getting me nowhere, so I decided to give him an interactive demonstration; one that he could (inadvertently) participate in.

I waited until 4 in the morning (keeping in mind he had to work the next day), and I took two glass teacups and dropped them on the coffee table together. The sound of glass breaking shook him awake and startled him. (Mission accomplished.) He became irate immediately- but you see- he’s usually irate anyway, and so when he calmed down some time later, I explained that from now on, every time he “took” my peace from me- especially when I was asking to be left alone- I was going to take some from him.

It really pains me that I had to resort to such drastic measures, but hey- whatever works!

And it worked like a charm.

In other parts of the world, I’m doing phenomenally well in my two courses: Behavioral Neuroscience and Cognitive Psychology. I absolutely love being a student again. Above all else, It’s a wonderful and necessary distraction that is highly welcome in my life at the moment.

I don’t want to spend one more day with Mr. Raging Preachy-Pants. But until we get a new place, chances are I’ll have to.

Chancetaken yesterday in my bedroom with my new SMC Super Tak (umar) 28 MM/3.5 wide angle lens
ChanceMJ
(Naturally, accompanied by the essential college highlighter and neuroscience notes.)


What does god say?

I noticed today that somebody stumbled upon my blog by searching for these keywords:

what does god say when u fallaid a test

Oh dearie me- let’s just leave that one alone. 

In other news, I’ve managed to knock out three of my five classes a month early. I still have 5 strong A’s at this point, but I’m approaching my finals- let’s hope that sticks. Things have been a big messy blur lately; it’s pretty standard stuff for rounding up another semester. High stress, deadlines, cramming 200+ pages and living as a virtual hermit for days on end, lost in my studies.To top things off, I’ve just discovered my internet may be shut off on the 20th. And wait- there’s more! Although I paid the rent this month on the 1st, as I always do, there was a notice on my door this morning. Something about having 5 days to pay the rent or having to vacate. (WTF?!) I’m going to chalk that one up to the fact that my landlord is pushing 90 or so. (I have an excellent rental history and have had for years.) [grumble]

On the bright side of things, I’ll be graduating on December 7th of this year. I really wish I didn’t have a chronic case of PMS PMDD so I could report that I’ll be graduating with lots of exclamation marks and enthusiasm, alas, that’s not the case. I’m wanting chocolate and tea and I think I need to cry or break something. I guess I’ve been semi-depressed since finding out yesterday that Micah died. He was Josh’s former roommate and a closet junkie. Josh had come home on numerous occasions to find Micah lying on the floor with his dope needle in his hand- blood and dope lying messily about. I had told Josh that he needed to get away from him before Micah took them both down. Josh was always being taken advantage of by his friends, giving them a place to stay and letting them slide on the rent, etc. One day, when Josh was hanging out at my old apartment, Micah called on the phone ten times or so and then he finally showed up at my door. I was highly annoyed. He continued exhibiting bizarre behavior over the months and finally, I told Josh that he needed to kick him to the curb. I could tell that he was going to drag Josh down into an ugly black hole eventually. Josh didn’t want to, but I kept pressuring him to throw him out. One evening, I walked down to Josh’s apartment with him and refused to leave until he literally threw him out. Josh had already had numerous items stolen- valuable jewelry that had been given to him, small sums of money- Micah was constantly stealing from Josh to support his habit. I was livid that Josh had been taking my son around Micah- sure he was a “nice guy” but a junkie is a junkie. So, Josh threw Micah out the night I was there. Josh had dropped out of school when Micah was living with him and I could see him losing direction. The changes were small at first, but more and more, I could see how Micah was influencing him negatively. We don’t know how Micah died and the obituary didn’t reveal it. I can’t help thinking it was a drug overdose. 

Josh has just finished up his semester; he did well. 
I can hardly believe I’m one week away from completing my degree in Behavioral Sciences and CPC in Substance Abuse. Finals are always so stressful! You can have a strong A in a class, consistently throughout, then fail a final, bringing your overall grade down to a C. All of that hard work for a C! That’s happened to me before so I have to avoid that like the plague. Study study study! My grades are very important to me and a C just isn’t going to cut it. 

I think it’s time for my Sleepytime Tea + Ambien. 

Happy trails.

Image
 Homeless man sleeps. Downtown Louisville, KY.


Yes, I am that Woman you Saw on TV

Ever since I spoke at the mayor’s office the other day, things have been a little weird. And by weird, I mean like, weird looks at stores and such. I generally do go shopping in my pj’s, but so does everyone else in this town. I never get more than a quick glance if I’m in my pj’s, but really, it’s winter, and it’s something that I only do in the winter; my coat covers me entirely.

I went to take care of my business the other day, and at several establishments, this was the response when I walked in, “Hey…I saw you on TV…”.

It’s a little surreal. I swear my voice was all shaky and nervous sounding but I was told that I sounded confident and strong. I wanted to drive my message home, “There is a direct correlation between homelessness and substance abuse, coinciding with the what’s known as the co-morbid factor, or, a preexisting condition of mental illness, which makes recognizing and defining mental illness challenging while trying to separate it from substance abuse.” Throw homelessness into the mix and you have several mirrored factors that entangle one another.

I noticed when I got up behind the podium, that none of the speakers before me had mentioned substance abuse where homelessness is concerned. There was talk of funding naturally, and while funding is crucial to change, so is targeting the source of the problem, which in many (if not most) cases, is substance abuse.

I announced that I’ve resided at a homeless shelter 13 times in my life (years ago), and was able to later build a website for my city’s homeless community without one penny to rub together with another. My message wasn’t about funding. I did that without any money at all.

I also mentioned that I would like to see homeless people helping other homeless people. Get up off your butt and work with the kids- be a good influence- plant good seeds in them that they’ll be able to take with them throughout their lives! When I was homeless, I taught the children how to play the guitar and the piano. I had arts and craft projects in the day room and taught them how to draw and make paper balloons. Later, when the shelter had no piano, I was able to have one donated from a church. I also donated copies of my children’s book, Peanut Butter Soup, to the kids there. I wanted to impress upon them that homelessness doesn’t have to mean hopelessness. You can’t sit and do nothing and expect your life to change. Oftentimes, it’s not the homelessness that is even the worst of the situation, it’s the mindset that accompanies it. Some homeless people are very bitter- they think the world owes them something and they have a chip on their shoulders. Believe me, I’m an expert in the area of homelessness and I’ve learned a great deal from people while living in the shelters.

Many homeless people are full blown junkies, and you better believe they’ll buy their dope before they even consider saving up for a place of their own. Giving a homeless person a house seems like the solution, but their substance abuse issues need to be addressed in tandem, otherwise, they’ll never gain the necessary tools they’ll need to rebuild their lives.

I mentioned in the meeting that unless a person goes outside of him or herself and actually does something for somebody else, there’s almost no way that they’ll ever be able to help themselves. When you do something good for someone else, your goals change. It’s not about “you” any more. Many people don’t have the drive to set goals for themselves and follow through. When you choose to do something good for somebody else, that goes into overdrive, and on top of that, you feel needed. Just because someone is homeless, doesn’t mean that they can’t volunteer at a home for the elderly, or go to a Boys and Girls club and be a mentor. You don’t have to have a home to be active in the community! I know what I’m talking about because I speak from experience. I’ve been able to get more done in my life without a penny in my pocket that I ever did when I had money in the bank.

After my speech, several news men came up and asked me my name. I later found out that I was on several tv stations and quoted in an article. My kids get a kick out of it, but it made my day when my daughter said, “Mom, I’m really proud of you.”

That’s the best feeling in the world. 🙂

So, to all of the people who’ve been giving me strange looks in the grocery store, yes, I am that woman you saw on TV, and yes, these are my pajamas!

Image


Glutton for Punishment

By now, I’m guessing that I like to take on far more than I can handle. I like the pressure and I like to be challenged. I added two more classes to my course load (Earth Science and Health Psychology), as if Public Speaking and Pre-Calculus weren’t enough. It will be an interesting semester for sure.

If all goes well, I’ll be able to intern this summer at a substance abuse clinic (or behavioral health facility) and possibly graduate before the fall semester, where I’ll return to work on my bachelor’s in Sociology. Perhaps I’ll minor in Criminal Justice, but I’m not sure yet. 

I don’t want to fit into a little box and do what everybody else does, I know that. I want to specialize in particular areas and develop programs and such. We’ll see where the road leads. People don’t understand why I don’t want to use my talents (singing, composing music, etc.) in a bigger way, such as- on a stage. But I have no desire to ever “be famous” – it’s sickening what the world does to people, and what they allow to be done to them. Famous people have almost no rights! They’re not allowed to speak freely- lest they lose “fans”- they’re not allowed to do what they like when it’s all said and done. They sign a contract, and they’re bought and owned, no longer freely their own person. There’s nothing attractive about that to me- not for all the money in the world. 

Besides, people want to worship other people, and there are some that love to be worshipped with lots of “followers”. Gag.
It all sickens me…

I like what Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” 

That’s part of the reason I despise Facebook and Twitter so much. People feel the need to tell the world what they’re doing 24/7. (Get over yourself already!) I call it being “Facebook Famous”- and there are millions of wannabees. 

The world seems full of marshmallow people these days, blowing powdered sugar up each others’…noses. Flattery…super-sweet cynicism with an extra batch of exclamation points. They leave their calling card “great shot!” (etc. etc.) and few really take the time to actually “comment” on things these days, or critique something with heart. What are they after? I will tell you. They want to be noticed. Simple as that. “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.” So they go around, commenting (in two or three words “drive-by comments”) or better yet (note the sarcasm) they’ll simply press the “like” button and hope that they’ll receive a reciprocal “like” and perhaps gain a new “follower”. It all just makes my stomach turn. 

That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with following a blog. I do follow a couple myself. I just really can’t stand the whole “I have 1,565 Facebook friends and 500 people are “following me!!” <<<< Take a freaking leap off of a cliff already and swim in the sea of reality for a while. Shut your internet down for a month or two- get away from everybody in the world- and just sit among the trees- listen to the wind and do some soul searching. The superficiality of social networking has really gotten on my last nerve, along with the egos of all who devour it.

I think I’m done with my rant…

Heidi2

Image