I am still amazed at how fast my life changed. From one day to the next. One day I was 53-54 and on top of my little world. My kids were grown, married and multiplying like bunnies. I had a great marriage and the world was my stage. Free at last, free at last.
To do anything I wanted. I had been a women’s recovery speaker and workshop facilitator for many years and now I was free to chose any vocation or avocation I wanted to choose. The world was my shrimp. (I hate oysters)
Then the phone call came. She has cut her throat from ear to ear with a steak knife the self-centered little twit. And because I was the last ‘professional’ to talk to her…..she was nice enough to include me in her suicide note. That they read at her funeral. My life as I had known it was over.
Then two months later my mother-in-law fell on me and I had to hold her 190 pounds on my knee as we rode the rest of the way up the escalator I saved her from falling backwards into the people behind us. But I destroyed my body at the same time. Even as my quivering body tried to hold her til we got to the top my mind was telling me, “boy are you fucked! This is gonna be really bad on your back and body.”
And one year later I was in a fetal position on my bed moaning in pain. Had no idea what was wrong. The doctor said fibromyalgia. Never had heard the word; could not even spell it. How could that be? I had always been healthy and strong. It was explained later that the stress from the suicide then the escalator ride with my mother-in-law had caused my muscles to stay stuck in a bunched up position and they were now filled with toxins and puss and there was no treatment or cure.
Plus I was pleased to find out that in 1998 most doctors believed it was psychological because it was mostly a woman’s disorder. How special. I now had a malady that would become a fad diagnosis and a huge money maker for the drug industry.
I didn’t believe the no-cure thing. I put my head below the bit and attacked. I did every single ‘cure’ mentioned by friends and Internet. Nearly killed myself those first few years. I hit cure-bottom after having all my teeth pulled because a friend sent me an article about a woman who had lots of root canals and had heard the empty root canals were breeding grounds for FM. So she had all her teeth pulled and she was instantly cured!
I followed right behind her only all I ended up with was insane pain and an empty mouth.
The next phase I attacked was what I now call conditional acceptance. I accepted I had this so called disease but I did not accept that I could not find a way to live life successfully in spite of it all. For the past 9 years I have been doing that. Only it has brought me to another and final bottom. There is no cure. There is no help or solution and now I will never be well again in this lifetime. Because 14 years of fight has destroyed my body and depleted my energies, both physical and emotional.
So the final leg of this journey is here. What should I call it? hummm let me think……….
When we lived at Hidey-Hole, Fred and I were active in AA. Well there was a woman who was not able to ever stop drinking and since I was the ‘expert’ I decided we would drive Emily to detox, which was over 2 hours away in Portland. Fred had never done anything like this so I explained all the things that could go wrong and what we would have to do and watch out for. Even though I had called ahead for a bed
in detox I told Fred there is a 50% chance they will mess that up etc. And that we had to buy a pint of booze to feed Emily during the 2+ hour drive so she would not go into withdrawal/seizures in our car! I explained every possibility….ok I was showing off my knowledge…..and Fred listened carefully.
The ride to detox was a living hell. What with the booze smell coming from the back seat into the nostrils of two recovering alcoholics…….to Emily trying three times to open the back doors of the car while it was moving. She attacked Fred from behind and got a choke hold on his neck, I pried her fingers off and got her settled down.
Then she began to scream as we drove thru downtown Portland. I think by that time she was beginning to figure out what we were doing with her.
Finally we arrived, pulled into the circular driveway and pulled/carried a very drunk Emily into the admitting room of detox. When the man behind the counter told me they didn’t have a bed for her because she was TOO drunk……..I started climbing over the counter trying to grab the front of his shirt. I was tired.
Then I heard this god-awful scream behind me that quieted even the counter guy. Fred had hold of the back of Emily’s shirt as she kept trying to jump up from the bench and get away out the door. All the while screaming, “We are in a fucking cop-shop! We are in a fucking cop-shop!” Unfortunately two policemen had walked by and she had seen them.
As I watched the sweat pouring down the face of my dear, new husband…. I finally got detox to take Emily. I finished the paperwork and I helped Fred wobble out to the car. I offered to drive back home. As he sat slumped in the passenger seat, I got a little testy with him, asking what was wrong? I had told you in detail what might happen on this journey Fred. Why are you surprized?
He looked at me and said, “Yeah you told me. But you didn’t tell me how it would FEEL.” I sat there in the booze-smelling car with him and thought about that. I always relied on my fine-tuned intellect. I seldom took into consideration how I would FEEL doing what I had decided to do. I had only used one part of my brain and thrown away the very valuable tool of ‘feelings’ in making good decisions.
I tell you that taught me one of the best life lessons. I have the ability to picture any and all circumstances in all it’s details and how-to’s…..yet I seldom gave any credence to emotions. What emotions would happen? How would it all FEEL? Because all the research and list-making in the world while making a decision is pretty worthless unless I take into consideration my own personal nature and how I may respond to actually doing and living the decision.
Now I tend to take a minute and think past my physical plans and check ‘how will this feel’ for a few minutes. Just to make sure at least I have introduced myself to the possibilities of having emotions while making the change or decision.
The very first time I got a strong glimpse of how self-will could run riot and how that affected my life, it was raining.
Well yeah, I lived in Seattle. Anyway, I sat in my car in the driveway really ticked off. I didn’t have my house key to get into my own home because my stupid, selfish new roommate had not made a copy yet …..so there I sat tapping my high-heeled shoe on the car carpet.
As I fumed, I thought about the fact that I had the right to get into my own home exactly when I wanted to ——I should not have to wait. It wasn’t right. I had plans and did not deserve to have to wait around in the cold car in the rain.
Then I remembered the back sun deck, a story up from the grass in the back yard. I gathered my wool poncho around me, swung my high-heeled feet out into the rain puddles and walked around to the backyard. Perfect. I was sure the sliding glass door off that sundeck was not locked. I pulled the huge plastic garbage can over the sopping wet grass and lined it up under the sundeck. I lifted my right leg onto the garbage can’s wet lid, grabbed the edges of the wooden sundeck floor and began to pull myself up onto the deck so I could get into my own house like I deserved.
I don’t know whether it was the oversized poncho or the extra-high heels I had on, but something began to slip in the pouring rain. I lost my grip on the wooden planks and as my body began to go over backwards…………I thought to myself, “Ah….so this is self-will run riot!” The crack of my ankle and my blood curdling scream brought my new roommate racing around the corner. Oh great! Just in time to drive me to the ER….but not to open the house door.
Ok I will give that experience over to self-will run riot. But it did not run my life very often at all.
Except maybe the summer experience in 1978. My two kids were going to be with their Dad all summer long in California. I had great plans for that summer without kids. I deserved it; I had a right! That summer seemed to develop a life of it’s own and it did not follow my plans. But that is, again, another story for later.