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Today’s Quotes

Three quotes from a photographer whom I admire:

“From the very beginning of recorded time all the great civilisations of our world have believed in ghosts and the supernatural in some form or other.  These are ancient mysteries and to dismiss them is to deny ourselves that arcane knowledge of the past that has ultimately fashioned our lives.  For wherever we may stand on no matter which particular landscape of this planet, beneath our feet lie the many layers of these previous civilisations, which have left their irrevocable mark, not only on the physical landscape, but on our subconscious too.”

“I believe that another dimension, a spirit world, runs parallel to our own so-called ‘real’ world, and that sometimes, when the conditions are right, we can see into and become part of this supernatural domain.  The mystical quality of my photographs reflects this ancient order and they attempt to reveal what is eternal.”

“Ghosts are a controversial subject and most people have their own theories as to what they might be.  It is not my intention to try and convince you that ghosts exist, but rather to hopefully inspire you not to take everything around you at face value; to show that what we are conditioned to believe is ‘reality’ may not be quite all that it seems, if only we take the time to inquire.”

~Sir Simon Marsden, 1948 – 2012

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Today’s Quote – several quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I find myself today in a very sad, heartbroken place; the senseless violence from the mass shooting in Las Vegas, how Trump hatefully spoke out on Twitter about the people of Puerto Rico over the weekend, people being angry, nasty, and spiteful about others utilizing their right to peacefully protest in the U.S., and the injustices going on in other countries, where people are trying to be peaceful and live out their lives but are being oppressed, murdered, and enslaved.  I think what saddens me the most is when I see hate and ignorance spreading like wildfire all over social media, and people jumping on ideas and ‘news’ that may or may not be accurate, simply because it fits their idea of what is right and true and they have no desire to seek out the truth about whatever is going on.  It hurts me deeply to see members of my own family posting some of these things, and they refuse to listen or learn the truth (I plan on writing more on this later).  I so desperately wish that the lines of communication would open for all sides so that we can all come together and start moving forward.  So, in light of all of this, I am sharing a handful of quotes from the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who bravely gave his life fighting for justice, love, equality, and peace, and worked hard to make the world a better place.  I know this is a bit lengthy, but there is so much to Dr. King’s legacy that needs to be shared and remembered, especially now.  My heart goes out to everyone who has been affected by recent events.

“It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence.”

“Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

“An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. And this is one of the big problems of life, that so many people never quite get to the point of rising above self. And so they end up the tragic victims of self-centeredness. They end up the victims of distorted and disrupted personality.”

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'”

“Man is man because he is free to operate within the framework of his destiny. He is free to deliberate, to make decisions, and to choose between alternatives. He is distinguished from animals by his freedom to do evil or to do good and to walk the high road of beauty or tread the low road of ugly degeneracy.”

“It is not enough to know that two and two makes four, but we’ve got to know somehow that it’s right to be honest and just with our brothers. It’s not enough to know all about our philosophical and mathematical disciplines, but we’ve got to know the simple disciplines of being honest and loving and just with all humanity. If we don’t learn it, we will destroy ourselves by the misuse of our own powers.”

“We must meet hate with love. We must meet physical force with soul force. There is still a voice crying out through the vista of time, saying: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.” Then, and only then, can you matriculate into the university of eternal life. That same voice cries out in terms lifted to cosmic proportions: “He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword.” And history is replete with the bleached bones of nations that failed to follow this command. We must follow nonviolence and love.”

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.”

“There is little hope for us until we become toughminded enough to break loose from the shackles of prejudice, half-truths, and downright ignorance. The shape of the world today does not permit us the luxury of softmindedness. A nation or a civilization that continues to produce softminded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.”

“…violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”

“We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.””

“There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.”

“The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty. The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for “the least of these”.”

“Together we can and should unite our strength for the wise preservation, not of races in general, but of the one race we all constitute – the human race.”

“We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.”

“Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.”

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929 – 1968

Random Thoughts

Ok, I know I’ve become very sporadic in writing.  I’m working on getting better about it, while I juggle motherhood, taking my preemie baby to extra physical therapy appointments to help her catch up, taking a class on jewelry making, working like crazy on my artwork and photography and keeping up on social media (as best as I can), keeping the house clean, organized and running, and trying to lose weight and get back into shape.  Whew.  I’ve also been writing thoughts on the current state of events in the U.S. that is more of a rant than anything.  Originally, I was going to publish some of these thoughts, along with references… – just a few nights ago I hammered out 4 single-spaced pages in a matter of 30 minutes – but, I have restrained myself from doing so.  The reason I have chosen instead to sit on these writings and think before publishing is this:  My original intent of this blog was to reach out to help others, to create awareness for various problems, to provide inspiration through quotes, music, and words, and to share some of the knowledge I have gained over the years pertaining to art, science, and sobriety.  I really want to keep this as non-political as possible, but with the state of things today, that becomes increasingly difficult because what is going on in the White House directly impacts so many things I am passionate about, and as someone who works hard to fight for civil rights for many, it is hard to sit back and say nothing.  However, in my ranting to myself, I realize that the only people I would likely reach by posting those thoughts are those who basically feel the same way, and those on the other side of the fence will only dig in their heels more; and by doing this, it only adds to the divisiveness we are currently experiencing in the states.  My goal is to bring both sides together, to demonstrate that we are all people and no one person is better than the next, and that if we can put these differences aside, we can accomplish great things.  One example is how many people along the Gulf are reaching out to each other regardless of race, sexuality, creed, etc., and helping one another.

So, rather than railing against Trump and the current administration in the White House, I would like to simply mention a few things and provide a couple of solid references that can be referred to if one so pleases.  To start, let’s clear up a few things – I do not support hate groups in any way, shape or form.  By stating I would like to bring both sides together, I am referring to the ‘left/liberal’ and the ‘right/conservative;’ knowing that hate is learned and taught, I do hope that those who are members of these groups or supporters of the ideas pushed by these groups, can one day unlearn this hate and embrace their fellow human.  Sadly, I grew up around hate and intolerance, but I was able to look beyond the rhetoric, as can others.  There are many hate groups all over the world; one highly reputable source on hate groups currently operating in the U.S. is the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).  The SPLC has been widely recognized and highly regarded for over 45 years by law enforcement, academia, and others in the U.S. for unbiased accuracy for reporting hate and hate crimes, teaching awareness and tolerance, and what you can do to help.  I am well aware that this is a free country, however, there should be no tolerance for these groups publicly gathering with the sole purpose of infusing their horrible message into the masses, bringing attention to their cause, and ‘riling up the other side,’ as some have stated; this goes against everything this country represents and what many have died for in wars and on the streets.  Also, I by no means believe that everyone who voted for and/or supports the current administration falls within these groups.  Sure, there are those who most certainly do – all you have to do is turn on the news to see this, but not all of Trump’s supporters agree with these ideas.  And subsequently – not everyone who is left-leaning thinks this, and those on the left do not all fall under the ideology that Antifa supports.  As for Antifa, for those who are not aware, this is a group whose name is short for Anti-fascists, they typically represent those who are anti-government/anarchists, and rather than supporting liberal ideas or promoting working together, they instead fight against right-wing ideals, largely via destruction of property and violence.  This group has roots that trace back to Nazi Germany (as early as the 1930’s).  They also do not associate with the Democratic party, as they rather be anti-government, and the vast majority of those on the left do not agree with their methods.  The big take away here is, no matter which side you are on (left or right), remember that if you don’t like being lumped into these categories – whether it be Antifa or a known hate group – please don’t turn around and do that to the side you oppose, for that only increases judgement and divide.

As for racism, at no point in American history has racism ceased to exist.  I have seen much commentary in social media that ‘racism was gone until Obama…’  This is simply not true.  Again, you can go the the SPLC’s site and read up on this for yourself.  And while some argue that what is currently going on today is not Trump’s fault, it’s the fault of the media, keep this in mind – sure, the media plays a role, they tend to focus more on the negative than the positive, it has always been this way, this is nothing new.  I am not defending the media or condoning their behavior, I am simply pointing out that this is not a new occurrence.  That said, words spoken as well as actions, especially by people in power, are extremely powerful; one only needs to open a world history book to see the evidence.  All throughout history, leaders have been able to either bring people together, or divide; they have been able to mobilize people to work towards the common good, or commit atrocities.  The vast majority of historical events caused by these leaders took place long before there was ‘media’ as we understand it today.  Sure, there were means to get the word out, to push propaganda, to push agendas, and the evening news has been around for a little while, but remember the internet and social media are all still fairly new when you look at the big picture.  Also worth noting here – Black Lives Matter is not a hate group and certainly not a terrorist organization like so many seem to think.  Are there black hate groups?  Yes, again, refer to SPLC active hate groups 2016.  I deeply wish racism would end, but I realize it’s complicated.  Those making simplistic statements regarding slavery, such as ‘no one alive today…slavery,’ ‘the reason for violence amongst particular groups of people is…,’ and so on, trivializes the real problem we as a people need to address.  Professing that if people would stop bringing it up, there wouldn’t be such a problem is incorrect too – not having open dialogue, awareness, and discussion of these issues only allows the problems to fester and continue.

When it comes to the LGBTQ community, everyone has the right to love and be loved, and to live their lives the way they were meant to be.  I honestly scratch my head at why some people are so obsessed with what someone does in the privacy of their bedroom.  As long as the people there are consenting and of sound mind and age, and no one is getting hurt, then what is the problem?  If you don’t like seeing someone holding hands or kissing someone of the same sex in public, then politely look away.  People who are transgender do not choose to be – they are born in the wrong body and are brave enough to take the necessary steps to live a full, meaningful life.  Please keep in mind, that for those in the LGBTQ community, life is not easy; they are constantly met with hate, stares, violence, and so on.  If their lifestyle is against your religious belief, no one is asking you to change your belief, but to only accept that they are human too and deserve the same rights and freedoms you enjoy.  Shutting out an entire group of people is the same thing hate groups do.  I do not wish to discuss my religious beliefs here, but I will mention I was raised in a Christian household, and I took Biblical Study in college.  For someone to state they are a Christian, and then turn around and make disparaging remarks about any group of people completely goes against everything Christianity represents.  After all, according to the Bible, Jesus says to ‘love thy neighbor,’ and to not ‘cast the first stone.’  When people come together under the guise of Christianity and publish articles of hate, such as the recent Nashville Statement, it perpetuates ignorance and fear.  Many of the articles in the above mentioned statement include ideas that are absolutely false.  In fact, two of the groups represented are recognized hate groups (the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council).  One of the original signatories, Tony Perkins, has also made claims regarding those in the LGBTQ community that are nothing but conspiracy theory and falsehoods.  Before thinking ‘well, this is just your opinion,’ read up on it in medical, scientific, and psychological journals.  Last I checked, this is not how we love one another.  My suggestion?  Let it go.  Homosexuality has been around since the beginning of time, and it is frequently found throughout the animal kingdom.  Transgenderism has also been around; try to remember those who are transgender already have turmoil in their lives as they often feel trapped in a body that is not theirs.  Rather than admonishing those in the LGBTQ community, why not take time to just talk to someone who identifies with this community?  Get to know them, and remember no one knows the struggles another is experiencing.  You might be surprised to find how beautiful someone can be.

Immigrants are the backbone of the U.S.  We are a nation of immigrants.  Every single person in this country, with the exception of Native Americans, is either currently an immigrant or a descendant of immigrants.  Throughout U.S. history, immigrants were responsible for the building of much of our infrastructure, tending farms, and often doing menial jobs that others did not want to do.  I want to ask those who love stating ‘we’re taking our country back,’ who exactly are you taking it back from?  White men (this includes, the English, French, and Spanish amongst others) stole the vast majority this country from the Native Americans, and a large portion of it from Mexico.  Many people were brought over from other nations against their will and forced into slavery (Some whites came over as indentured servants; and although not slavery, it was still a form of bondage, nonetheless.)  To this day, many large corporations and some of the wealthy employ illegal immigrants for ridiculously tiny wages and horrible working conditions and get away with abuses with the threat that they will call ICE and turn them in.  To be fair, the government and some of the population has wanted, and tried, to clamp down on immigration in the past.  This is not the first time this country has seen this.  However, that does not make it excusable.  Also, for those who get angry and annoyed that immigrants bring their heritage and ways of life with them – this is also not new.  All immigrants throughout history have done this.  Some of us retain that part of our culture and past, and some don’t, it’s just how it is.  (Consider it this way: do you like pizza?  Does your grandmother make the best fish and chips on this side of the Atlantic?  Have you tried Sushi?  Do you like BBQ?  As in real barbecue with smoked meat and not grilling?  All of these and so many, many more owe to the transplantation of people from one part of the world to here.  And that is one small, yet, tasty, cultural benefit of immigration.)  Please, rather than shunning the person seeking a better life for themselves and their family, find out what you can do to help the transition.  Think about how difficult and scary it would be for you to uproot and leave for another country with next to nothing in your pocket in the hopes for a better life.

I am not so naive as to think I can change minds or even the world by publishing a statement, a quote, or a song.  But the thing is, it all starts somewhere, even if it is just one person at a time.  I also do not profess to be perfect, I’m just as flawed as the next person.  Admittedly, I have gone on Twitter to speak out against this administration, and I have struggled greatly with how I now feel about members of my family who not only voted the president in, but continue to blindly support everything he does.  I find it difficult to discuss things with those whose beliefs are starkly opposite of mine; yet, this is exactly what we need to be doing (and in a civil manner).  These are things I need to work on within myself.  My hope is that this doesn’t fall on deaf ears and that it engages people, and they not only feel encouraged to share this message, but to act on it.  Remember, diversity is what makes the U.S. great!

Here are some reputable resources should you wish to do some of your own reading into U.S. history, science, medicine, or psychology.  Some of these require a paid subscription; if you are a student, check with your school, as some schools and universities already pay for these subscriptions.  Some employers also pay for some of these subscriptions, so depending on your line of work, you may be able to access some of it that way.  Otherwise, check with your local public library or university for assistance.

***This is not an inclusive list – there are many other great journals and resources out there, please check with a university librarian for further assistance on what you want to know more about.  They are experts on assisting with research and reputable sources.  This is simply a list to get you started.

U.S. National Archives

U.S. Library of Congress

Various U.S. Presidential Libraries

American Historical Association (AHA)

The Society for Military History

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM)

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)

The American Medical Association (AMA)

American Psychological Association and Affiliated Journals (APA)

The Journal of Psychology

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Science

My Story II – The Downward Spiral

For the most part, I had a typical rural, small-town America childhood.  My family was middle class, religious, strict, close-knit, conservative and judgmental.  My parents were still together, I had siblings and a family dog.  We lived on the edge of town in a heavily wooded area on a decent chunk of land.  I grew up learning gardening, how to use most shop equipment, cooking, and doing lots of chores.  There were constant get-togethers, cook-outs, days on the lake, etc. with our very large extended family.  I was forced to go to church every week with the family.  I never liked going to church, and quit as soon as I was out of my parents’ house.  While I do not subscribe to any religion at this time in my life, I am a spiritual person and believe in a higher power.  I feel that religion and/or spirituality is a very personal journey and should not be something one is coerced into, or forced to believe simply because someone else believes their way is the right way or the only way.  But, I digress.

I got excellent grades in school, participated in art and honor society, a little in choir (though I am not a very good singer but love performing), and was on several competitive athletic teams.  I was never part of the ‘in’ or ‘popular’ crowd – in fact, I was often their subject of ridicule.  Quite truthfully, I struggled to fit into any group, period.  I did have a few friends, though.  I pretty much always had a boyfriend, usually someone who was not good for me or someone whom my parents did not approve.  I attended a private Catholic school from kindergarten through fifth grade, and then went on to the public school system after.  I was picked on by the kids in elementary school, and that only got worse in middle school.  I found myself hanging around the ‘tough’ crowd in sixth grade, and would continue to run with them until high school.  Of course, my parents were horrified, which only made me want to hang out with these kids more.  Looking back, I know part of this was rebellion, but some part was also necessity, or at least what I felt was necessity…if I was mean enough and tough enough and had enough of these types of ‘friends’, then everyone else would leave me alone and would respect me.  What else goes hand-in-hand with a tough demeanor?  Obviously – smoking, drinking, and drugs.  So, began the experimenting, often in the girls’ bathroom or behind the gym in between classes or at lunch.  None of these things stuck, though, at least not at that time.  However, the need, the craving to be altered and escape for a while was awakened.  It was also during this time that I started struggling with depression and anxiety, and I found myself regularly having suicidal thoughts.  My parents picked up on this and tried taking me to a therapist which I absolutely hated and refused to continue.  I also started questioning my gender; I often wished I was a boy and I remember even asking my mom on multiple occasions why I was born the way I was.  I regularly styled my hair just like the guys from the heavy-metal bands I admired and dressed similarly.  Although this is played into my being bullied, I enjoyed standing out and being different from everyone else.  Most my friends were guys; I struggled to get along well with most girls, and often acted and joked around in such a way that I became just ‘one of the guys.’  (Sorry, but fart jokes are funny)

In high school, I distanced myself from the rough crowd and hung out more with the ‘skater’ crowd.  I continued participating in competitive sports and started thinking about college and what to do with my life.  Although many of my friends were into drinking and drugs, I did not partake.  I started dressing more ‘goth’ and grunge.  The bullying continued in high school, and became horrific; I was constantly taunted and humiliated by members of one of the athletic teams I was on, and it spread to others in the school, so much so that even walking down the hall or outside would bring on jeers.  One day during my junior year, I was late leaving the gym after practice.  Everyone else had already changed and left.  As I made my way to the locker room, I was followed by one of the boys in our school, who then pulled down his pants and tried groping at me.  I hit him and yelled for him to get out.  Thankfully he left out of fear that one of the coaches could hear.  I tried to tell my mom about the incident, but she wouldn’t believe me.  She knew him and his mom and stated he would never do such a thing.  I had no one else to confide in at the time and didn’t know what to do, so I suppressed the memory and the feelings associated with it.  This was not the only time he assaulted me, he tried three more times before finally moving on.  I was sexually assaulted by two other guys at different points of my senior year, but I buried those occurrences too since I felt that I had no one to turn to.  My senior year was a whirlwind.  I had a nasty break-up with one of my boyfriends which deeply hurt, occasionally ditched classes, and continued trying to find myself.

I started college the fall semester following high school graduation.  I found myself having a very difficult time coping with being away from some of the friends whom I had grown so close to during my last couple of years of high school.  I also began working part-time to help pay for school.  Shortly before the semester began, I started dating a guy I worked with who would eventually become my husband.  I loved college, and I became addicted to reading and learning.  I couldn’t get my hands on enough books or read them fast enough.  I never drank in college, I also never went to any college parties, was not in a sorority, nor did I live in the dorms on campus.  I still had a hard time fitting in, and often felt that I was missing out on the full college experience by not living on campus (I was still living at home with my parents and commuting).  I never wanted college to end…even though my friends were few, I loved the feeling of walking around campus and the sense of having so much in front of me as far as life was concerned.  There were a couple of instances that were particularly rocky.  I lost a close family member during my third year, and my sister became anorexic.  My mom was in denial about my sister’s condition, and at one point informed me that it was my fault she had this problem.  That comment still hurts to this day.  After five years, I graduated with two majors and two minors, married my boyfriend just before graduation, and was accepted to medical school.  Part of the reason I ended up with more than one major and minor was because I struggled to settle on one thing, another reason was because almost everything I leaned towards didn’t seem to be good enough for my parents.  College was largely a positive experience, though I continued to deal with depression and anxiety.

After graduation, my husband and I relocated to where I would begin medical school and he would begin graduate school.  This is where everything started spiraling down.  We got hooked into an online MMORPG, which I became very addicted to, and the drinking slowly but surely began.  While he successfully completed his degree, I was struggling with mine.  I had one class that I had an extremely difficult time with, and subsequently, my other classes suffered as a result.  After one semester, I took a leave of absence to try to figure things out.  I was regularly seeing the school’s psychiatrist and therapist, and was placed on an anti-depressant.  I decided to go back to school that following fall, thinking I was ready, but I was not.  I finished out the first year, and my grades were not what they should have been, and I had to leave.  Before it was all said and done, I had been on multiple different anti-depressants, some of which I feel made things worse rather than better.  Also, the drinking…my husband and I started out light with the occasional beer or wine on the weekend with dinner.  We went to parties that the school I attended hosted and there were always kegs and an open bar.  I got drunk for the first time, and I loved it.  I started drinking more and more because I needed the release, the relaxation that came with it.  Such a beautiful escape.  The hangovers were horrible, but with time and experience, I learned how to drink without having a hangover the next day, or at least not a bad one.  That occasional glass of beer was soon replaced with whiskey, tequila, vodka, whatever fit the mood.  We started getting drunk on the weekends a little more regularly.  Eventually, I would find excuses to drink during the week too.  Upon my exit from med school, I was in my worst depression yet, and for the first time in a while, I was suicidal.  I discontinued the anti-depressants and stopped seeing the therapist.  I was in a very dark place.

After another year, my husband and I relocated again so he could continue his education.  I began a job that was originally supposed to be short-term because my goal was to eventually go back to school myself.  I really wanted to brush up on the sciences with some graduate level work and go back to med school.  Well, I did take some of those classes in the evenings, but as the years went by, I realized that going back to med school was just not in the cards.  I made some very close friends where I was working, but also put up with terrible sexual harassment, and bullying from some of the other employees.  Again, I just repressed everything, feeling that telling someone would do no good.  I eventually shared with my husband some of the things that were going on and he was livid.  He did not understand how I could just sweep it all under the rug; truth is, retaliation at that place was bad and we needed me to have that job to pay the bills.  I eventually started seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist again and once again started the trial and error of anti-depressants.  My drinking continued to increase:  three times a week, then 5 times a week, to eventually every day.  I couldn’t imagine getting through an evening without drinking.  We had a large pantry that was around the corner from the kitchen and kept an entire shelf full of hard liquor – almost anything your heart desires could be found there.  At one time, my parents were visiting and we showed them the shelf because we thought it was funny that we had so much alcohol in the house.  My dad commented that we needed to be careful or it could turn into a real problem.  Of course, I laughed this off because as far as I was concerned, this was one problem I would never have.  Having the pantry located where it was was very convenient for me.  I would mix myself a drink and would always pour up a large quantity and even started taking swigs straight from the bottles, without anyone knowing exactly how much I had consumed.  If I started emptying bottles faster than they should have been emptied, I would just buy more and discreetly replace what was in the closet.  I never shared what I was doing because I felt ashamed, but I was already to a point where I just couldn’t quit.  I didn’t even tell my husband, with whom I would share everything, out of fear of what he would think.  As time winded on, I would no longer be replacing just one bottle, it would be multiple bottles.  I would start purchasing the largest bottle something came in since a fifth would be gone much too quick.  I would hide the empty bottles in the back of my car and knew places all over town that had dumpsters in the back where I could dispose of the bottles without being caught.  I was almost caught once – I forgot that I had a large box of empty bottles in my trunk and my husband saw them.  He immediately questioned what was that about, and I quickly mumbled some made up excuse and vowed to myself to be more careful.  I also started making my purchases at different places around town because I got to the point that I was having to buy daily and was embarrassed that the same liquor store employee saw me every day.  At some point, I started hiding bottles in the closet behind boxes and in a book bag.  The first thing I would do when I got home from work was hit one of my hidden bottles.  I would go back to it all night long while my husband was busy doing other things.  Since I was paying the bills, the purchases went unnoticed.  He did notice, though, that my behavior was becoming strange and erratic, but I explained this away as being exhausted and stressed.  I also made sure to always have mouthwash on hand to help cover the smell on my breath, never mind that it was also coming out of my pores…but he did not notice.  On occasion, I would even resort to drinking mouthwash if I ran out of alcohol.  I would get very stressed out if we had something going on, and would have to figure out how I was still going to drink while doing activity x, y, or z.  I did begin talking to my therapist about my drinking, but only up to a point.  I remember telling her I have no desire to quit, I just want to control it.  Her comment back to me was ‘that is something an alcoholic would say.’  I was very angry at this – how dare she accuse me of being an alcoholic!  I simply needed to figure out how to get a better handle on my drinking.  I also confided in a couple of close friends that I felt I was struggling with how much I drank, but I still did not go into the extent of my drinking.  I knew I had a problem, but I could not come to grips with the thought that I may be an alcoholic.  Towards the end of the eight years that we lived in this location, I had started slipping out to my car on my lunch breaks and 15 minute breaks while at work where I had started keeping yet another bottle.  I think some people at work were catching on that I was up to something, but no one ever said anything.  I had started drinking to the point of blacking out almost every night.  I would wake up the next morning with absolutely no memory of how I got to bed.  My husband would usually tell me how he found me and that he helped me to bed and would then ask if I remember any of it; I never could remember a thing.  Then the big news came, he landed a great job, and we would be moving halfway across the country.  I was excited, feeling that maybe this fresh start was all I needed and I would finally be able to get my drinking under control.  I did stress out about the long drive ahead of us and how I was going to manage to sneak the amount of alcohol I needed to get through the day without having the shakes.  Of course, I did manage to work out the logistics.

During the extra hot summer of 2011, we embarked on our new journey.  I was elated, life was good.  Only, it wasn’t…I had no clue what the next year was about to bring.  We got moved and settled into our new lives.  We felt almost like we were starting fresh; the only problem was that we didn’t know anyone where we were, but that slowly changed with time.  I set out to find a job, but the market was still tough at that time and there wasn’t much in our location.  It took almost a whole year before I would be back to work.  During that year, my drinking escalated as I found myself alone during the days with not a lot going for me.  My husband and I began arguing a lot because it was taking so long for me to find work.  A lot of pain and dark emotions started to boil over inside me.  I started keeping bottles in my side table next to the bed.  The first thing I would do every morning, usually around 6:00 am, was hit the bottle to get the shakes under control.  I would barely eat during the day because I did not want food to interfere with the effects of the alcohol.  I eventually worked my way up to drinking around a fifth of 100-proof bourbon or vodka per day.  Some days it was more.  I started up once again with a psychiatrist and therapist, but the drinking continued.  I would often black out at some point in the afternoon and then wake back up for a while in the evening to drink some more.  Every night I would judge how much alcohol I had for the next day so I could make sure if I had enough or needed to get to the store first thing in the morning.  One morning in December of 2011, I started my day the typical way.  But I felt really awful, not like the normal crappy feeling I had grown accustomed to.  My husband was home, working in his office, and our dog was acting strange around me, like she knew something wasn’t right.  After I had been up for a couple of hours and had already chugged a fair amount of vodka, I threw up.  I violently threw up a large quantity of bright red blood.  The bathroom looked like a scene straight out of a horror movie.  My husband was confused and tried to rationalize what was happening.  He asked if I was sure I didn’t eat or drink anything red.  I was almost in tears from pain in my abdomen and from freaking out because I was scared I was going to bleed out and die before we could get to the hospital.  I told him it was blood, I could taste it.  He rushed me to the hospital where I was immediately admitted; he still was unaware of my drinking and I had to explain the situation to the medical staff and beg them not to say anything.  I had to tell them out of fear of going into DTs.  They did a scope and found I had multiple tears in my lower esophagus that were a direct result of my drinking and regular vomiting.  You would think that this near-death experience would be enough to end the drinking, but it wasn’t.  After a few days, I was discharged and one of the first things I did was head for the bottle.  I was so miserable, I started to realize I desperately needed help, that I needed to open up to my husband and family, all of whom had become very concerned about me over the past couple of years.  The final straw for me happened that following spring.  I had passed out once again from heavily drinking the day away.  My husband was at work.  I woke up completely confused and disoriented.  I thought it was the next morning and frantically thought my husband never came home from work.  I immediately rushed to his place of employment and saw his car in the parking lot and kept trying to call his cell with no answer.  I found security who ended up driving me around looking for him.  It never dawned on me that it was getting darker outside, not lighter.  When we finally found him and he informed me it was not, in fact, the next day, I was embarrassed and it became crystal clear I had to put a stop to this.  The next day, I finally laid it all out for my husband.  He was beyond angry.  I asked him not to tell anyone in the family yet, that I wasn’t ready for that.  Of course, he did tell our parents, and our relationship became very rocky.  I had already been going to AA meetings for a month or so, thinking that would take care of all of this, but I just couldn’t stop.  I swore I would quit and continue going to meetings, but the damage was already done.  I felt relieved to finally get this off my chest and not have to keep this horrible secret anymore, but I still just couldn’t stop drinking.  After a few more months, I was hit with an ultimatum – either check into rehab and sober up for good, or my marriage would be over.  I had finally started a new job and was scared to take off for an extended period so soon.  Problem about that, though, was I couldn’t stay sober at work either and people were taking notice.  I was on very shaky ground there too.  My husband took away my car keys thinking that would do the trick, but I would simply walk to the closest liquor store on my lunch break and buy what I needed and kept it in my large purse.  I finally hit bottom.  I was so tired of not remembering what happened the day before, of always feeling like shit, and sad that I was missing out so much of life and was selfishly sucking the life out of those who cared about me.  Many more things happened during my years of drunkenness, but I don’t need to go into every detail to get the point across.  Plus, I will share more with time.

On Friday, July 13, 2012, at the age of 35, I checked into a hospital specializing in detox and mental health disorders.  So began my journey to sobriety.  I was terrified and happy at the same time.  After spending an entire week in detox, I was checked into rehab.  I will not be talking much about this phase because my personal experience with rehab was not a good one.  But the important thing was it got me sober.  To the person still suffering who may be reading this, know that there is hope, and that you can achieve sobriety.  Be inspired by the amount of time someone has under their belt, but realize they are no further away from that next drink than he/she who has only one day sober.  Remember, we only have today and need to take life one day at a time, and sometimes even that is too much, so we take it one hour at a time or one minute at a time – whatever is necessary to get by.  Also, there is a huge network of alcoholics out there who want to help, so please reach out, and if you need professional help, those people are out there too.  I would urge anyone who has been drinking large volumes of alcohol for an extended period of time to seek professional medical help – detoxing from alcohol and certain drugs can be very dangerous and even deadly.  If you have a drinking problem, or even think you may have a problem, please get help, it does get better and a sober life is a great life!  If you want to find an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting near you, or want more information, you can find it at http://www.aa.org/.

Alcoholics Anonymous – “How it Works”

HOW IT WORKS
Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.  Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.  There are such unfortunates.  They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way.  They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.  Their chances are less than average.  There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and
what we are like now.  If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it — then you are ready to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked.  We thought we could find an easier, softer way.  But we
could not.  With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start.  Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.

Remember that we deal with alcohol — cunning, baffling, powerful!  Without help it is
too much for us.  But there is One who has all power — that One is God.  May you find Him now!

Half measures availed us nothing.  We stood at the turning point.  We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:
1.  We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
2.  Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3.  Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we
understood Him.
4.  Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5.  Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of
our wrongs.
6.  Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7.  Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8.  Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends
to them all.
9.  Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so
would injure them or others.
10.  Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted
it.
11.  Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with
God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the
power to carry that out.
12.  Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this
message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Many of us exclaimed, “What an order! I can’t go through with it.’’  Do not be discouraged.  No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles.  We are not saints.  The point is that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines.  The principles we have set down are guides to progress.  We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:
(a)  That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b)  That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c)  That God could and would if He were sought.

Reprinted from the book Alcoholics Anonymous ®
Copyright © 1939, 1955, 1976, 2001 by A.A. World Services, Inc.
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