Chutes and Ladders

Monday February 27,2917 6:31pm

Recovery is complicated. For some reason when I think of recovery I think of it as a straight line going up with no kinks, just an arrow going up. What I am learning is that recovery is much more complicated than that. While the general direction might be up (if you are lucky and putting the work in) there are a lot of squiggles and knots along the way. When I was in AA, recovery was looked at a day by day thing. Every second by second, as long as you don’t pick up. But then there are the stories of success where people just decided on X day they would stop drinking. When I got sober on February 22,2017, I didn’t drink for 8 months. It was that Monday that I said I am done. We were told in AA that it’s okay to slip up, it’s not the end of the world,but why does it feel like such utter failure when you relapse when its a process?

I have been clean from cutting for 4 days. I am learning to be gentle with myself and say THAT is recovery. Sure, I’m sure soon something or someone will trigger me, whether it be loneliness, depression, isolation or whatever,I am almost certain I will cut again. But I need to realize that at this moment, I am in recovery and bettering myself. Recovery is like Chutes and Ladders. You climb up the ladder (4 days clean) but then you fall down a little bit, but eventually get back up and go further next time. Maybe instead of looking at recovery as a fixed point “I will never cut again” perhaps, I need to look at it in smaller bites. Perhaps it should be, “I haven’t cut in 4 days, that is incredible considering my record used to be 2 days a week ago.” I think the main part in recovery is patience.

I have been manic for the last week since my moms 3 year anniversary. I have been impulsively spending, among other things I am too shy and ashamed to admit to. It seems with me my problems are like a whack-a-mole. One problem gets slightly better and another pops up. I struggle with an eating disorder and have been falling back into those pattern specifically if I am drinking. It’s like, the depression starts to dissipate but then KA-BLAM BITCH! Another problems bitch slaps you in the face. I have felt relatively normal this past week, not crippled by depression mostly because I have been up, because of my mania.

I just hope someday…I’m not sure. I hope things will be easier and I will stop falling down the ladder so far everything, instead of starting at the beginning each time I make smaller slips. But I need to be kind and say I am trying my hardest. I am in therapy 3-4 times a week, I reach out when I need help, I write, I sing, I listen to music. I am trying. But half the time I feel like a loser. To hear the concern and disappointment in my dads voice on the phone when I tell him of my latest relapse or shennagains hurts me more than when I cut my skin open. I want to make him proud of me, I want to be the perfect son who is financially independent and responsible. Instead my days are ruled by depression and now lately mania. Recovery is difficult, but I will keep fighting until I reach the top of the ladder even if I stand shakily at the top, I will get there with the knowledge that there may not be complete recovery.

The Flashback.

Sunday February 19,2017 4:50pm

Snippets of memories come back in a flash the moment I allow myself to fully feel the weight of today. I was just woken out of sleep as my brain tried to process this fateful day. The sound of my sisters voice starling me out of sleep “ I think mom’s dead.” The feel of the hard wood floor as I stumbled, naked to the floor trying to hurry to her room. The feel of adrenaline that coursed through my veins in a split second when I saw her. That shade of purple. The spring in my step as I jumped into the air in a panic and sprinted out of the room “Call 911.” The blue carpet squishing beneath my feet. The sound of my dad’s voice on the phone as I called him to tell her she was gone and the sheer panic, fear, disappointment and disbelief in his voice. The EMT’s arrive with their bags and embroidered uniforms with their patches trumpeting their title “EMT.” I remember how it felt like mere seconds when they crawled up the blue stairs to her room and ascended just seconds later apologizing for our loss. I knew the truth already, you could tell just by looking. But that was confirmation of what my heart already knew.

The police officers arrive. Pictures are snapped. We are interviewed. They question us, I am in disbelief. The take her phone, her belongings. A stretcher is brought into the house. I run outside, harassed by cold February air, refusing to see my mother in a body bag. I cover my ears outside so I don’t hear her body being brought down the stairs as the wheels bang agains the stairs. After that I don’t remember much of the day. Except we ordered pizza. I couldn’t eat, I knew I wasn’t hungry but I asked for garlic bread which went untouched. The embraces in the basement, the tears that were shed.

The next day we planned my mothers funeral. The day was spent in the basement of a funeral home where we picked out a casket and the urn her body was going to go in after the funeral the following day.

The funeral. I saw my moms body in her final resting place. Eyes closed, hands rested peacefully across her chest. I try not to think about what she looks like under her dress because of the autopsy they had to do. I am told by the funeral director that the shade of her skin was so bad they had to put a lot of makeup on her, so don’t touch. She didn’t look right until she had her glasses on. We arrived early so we could have time with “her body.” From the front row it looked like her, just sleeping, but from up close it wasn’t her. She looked wax like and her lips were glued shut. Family and friends shuffle in, friends that I didn’t expect came to support me. I cried and cried so hard during the ceremony, my face buried in my dads chest.

Drinks. We had dinner at one of our friends restaurants. I meet some of moms college friends, they tell me stories of how they used to get in trouble and have fun, how she used to skii. I didn’t know she ever skiied, I wish I could have asked her about it. My best friend Brie, stayed by my side the whole time. I will forever be grateful for her because she let me stay at her house the night my mom died. Her dog Belle protected me, by sleeping close by the bed, something Brie says the dog never does.

Looking back now its all such a blur, and yet so clear. I wear my moms ring around my neck everyday, refusing to ever take it off. I have a tattoo in memory of her, accented by self inflicted scars on my right arm with the words “ let it go this is smaller than you know” by a band we both loved. Loss does get easier with time, as they say. You begin to think of them less, the hole in your heart begins to close a bit, but that pain and hurt will always be there. If you allow yourself to go back in time the memories can feel fresh. I don’t ever allow myself to go back. It hurts too much. The trauma of losing her and the events that lead up to her death haunt me and night so I lock it up and hide from these moments. I have clinical PTSD because of what happened and what I saw and experienced. But I try not to go back, because when I do, its all too real again.

That Hue Of Purple

Thursday Feb 16,2017 1:28AM

That Hue of Purple

I remember the days when I had to stop drinking caffeinated mountain dew at night so I could fall asleep so I could forget your purple face and skin. I used to lie awake fearful that I would see you standing at the foot of my bed, in the same state I saw you last; dead, gone, deceased. I used to have nightmares of you hiding underneath my bed and finding you with your eyes snapped open, frozen in rigor mortis starting at me. I will never forget the amount of seconds it took for the paramedics to assess that you were dead. They walked up our blue carpet, must have seen your hue, felt that you were frozen, and made the assessment that you were gone at 56. I’ve woken from my bed, screaming, crying, fearful of the images I saw that day. The last time we spoke echoes though my head like an ear worm. The sound of your slurred words and click of me hanging up followed shortly by the ringtone on my phone with your caller ID calling me back, I press ignore. Oh, how I would have answered that call if I knew it would be our last. I would have told you so many things, about how beautiful you are, how we both hurt the same. I would I have told you you are loved, and stunning, intelligent and generous, but instead I kept shopping at walmart for a stupid sweater while ignoring your call.

Days go by, even weeks and months where you no longer haunt me. I no longer fear, that after the 3 years that have passed that I will find you at the foot of my bed, staring at me. Although that shade of purple that illuminated your skin will never, ever fade from my mind, sometimes I see you as how you were. With your sparkling green eyes, beautiful soft blonde curls, a cackled laugh, a cigarette in hand and a smile on your face. I remember when you received golden braces on my birthday. The years have passed, each one gets easier than the next. While you are not with me in every waking thought anymore, I wear your ring around my neck, the diamonds sparkle, just like your eyes once did.

So much has changed since you left us. I am no longer who I used to be, I am now Rilen. You could have had a son, my dear mother, but you left too soon. I chose my name for you, Rilen. It’s gaelic for Island Meadow. While you are not in my thoughts every second anymore, I carry you with me on my skin, with my tattoo— art on my brown skin. Now this art is framed by scars, framed by shame, guilt, sadness and hurt. Oh how I wish you could see me today. Flat chest, facial hair, square round face. I know you are with me, I feel you sometimes. I hear you when you communicate with me though music, you’re here. But theres so much I want to ask you. Are you okay with the fact that I am trans? Do you like my new name? How do I deal with my mental illness? How do I stop cutting? Why am I so sick, and alone? These questions I will continue to ask myself for years, but the one that haunts me  the most; are you proud of who I have become? Is the man that stands, broken and tall, who you wished I would be? Should I be doing more? I want your guidance, I need your love. I want to feel your skin, hear your laugh, feel your arms wrap around me once again. Even if it’s only in a dream I will take it. I will take it over these haunting, vivid memories that are so visceral and real. But most of all what I want mom, is for you to rest peacefully, knowing that you are loved by many.