Hark! What Light Through Yonder Window Breaks?

I’ve been wanting to update this thing for a while, but haven’t wanted to update it with the depressing shit that’s going through my brain. I even chose not to share at check-in on Friday in our therapeutic writing class, which I always view as a bit of a cop-out. But we had to share a short poem we had written (according to a certain form), and this one wasn’t really suitable for a classroom setting. I’m pretty sure if I’d shared it, my prof (who I’ve already talked to about having a rough semester and needing a bit of leeway on assignments) would have walked me across the street to the counseling center.

scattered / worrying endlessly / white hot pain / what to let go? / retreat

And then another!

stuck / shame spiraling / deeper darker black / where is the light? / gone

So….yeah. It hasn’t been a good semester so far. I was demoted to meeting with my dietitian every week again. I was nearly demoted to meeting with my therapist every other week. I self-harmed for the first time in months. I lost/left my job because I was too damned depressed to move.

Then Jesus decided to throw me a bone. A friend invited me to an improvisational music weekend at a gorgeous retreat center this past weekend. And she paid for the whole thing for me. (At nearly $250, this was not something that was even in the realm of possibility otherwise.)

So we drove to the retreat center on Friday afternoon and chatted the whole way there. She loves God and she is not shy about it. She prayed constantly (out loud), often thanking God for getting us where we were going or the sunset or the lifting of the fog (which really was miraculously timed.) Sadly, we got there so late that we couldn’t get seats together at dinner, so I sat awkwardly amongst strangers, then left after a “reasonable” (?) amount of time.

As I walked back to my dorm, I noticed a friend in her car, chatting out the window with one of the retreat facilitators. Weird. I wave and she finds a place to park and hops out to give me a hug. She lives about thirty minutes away and we had talked about perhaps getting together for a walk before dinner, but the aforementioned late arrival meant we had to cancel that plan.

So instead, she decided to stop by and drop off a little care package for me (and my roommate). What?! A thermos, some tea bags, some fruit, and dark chocolate. Oh, and some delightful lavender soap. Totally unexpected. The next hour spent with her and her daughter were also delightful and her daughter took to my ukulele quite naturally.

To say that I needed this weekend might be a bit of an understatement. Just the first two hour session on Friday night did my heart well. It was an event organized by Music for People, which believes everyone is musical and should get the chance to express it. And it opens wide the gates for things considered music. Honestly, I had no idea that a choir of eight BUNDT PANS could sound so gorgeous.

There are no wrong notes. No wrong sounds. No pressure. I met some awesome musicians who love to just play and it reignited that love for me. All I want to do now is improv!

At any rate, throughout the weekend, my roommate (the friend who brought me) kept giving me little gifts. She brought me some lovely soap and some teas as well. She was clearing out some of her old clothes and brought me sweaters and such to try out before she dropped the rest at goodwill. She offered up a bunch of her old clothes from her practicum because she “doesn’t like to wear black” now and I’m hurting for professional dress.

What the hell? It feels a bit like I have a fairy godmother.

I feel completely unworthy of it all, especially after the past month and a half.

I can’t say I’m totally on the “Yayyyyyyy life! Yay recovery!” train again, but I’m taking this weekend for what it was: Respite. And a reminder that Jesus really, really loves me.


The New Normal

I’ve been really unsettled lately. Some of this is just life stuff. Grandparents die. Friends move away. Recovery hits a bump. Higher education necessitates debt. But overall, this is the most settled I’ve ever been.

Which is, in itself, unsettling.

Just how unsettling I wasn’t sure of until I was in my car driving this morning and praying for God to break me. I’ve prayed this prayer before – in fact, mere months before the relapse that took me down beginning in fall 2009. I told God I would do whatever it took to be whole “enough” to do missions work. He could break me down, pull me apart, reconfigure me as long as it meant being closer to Him at the end of the process. And break me He did.

The past five years have been some of the most terrifying, painful, and dismal of my life. Even knowing intellectually that God was pulling away from me the things I had used to glue myself together all these years, it was miserable. Even knowing that this pain was out of God’s love and desire to see me truly free, it brought me to utter despair, to wish for death instead of freedom. Even knowing it was an act of truest love, it felt like violence.

It felt like every rape, every assault, every abuse. Every touch turned bruise, every demeaning comment, every time I was told I was not enough. It felt like all of these all at once and I hated God for it.

So back to present day – why exactly am I praying for this to happen all over again, you might ask? I cannot even lie and say that I followed that request for brokenness with “because I want to be nearer to you and more Christ-like, God.” Not even a consideration (my spiritual life has been lackluster these days). I just thought, “God, you’ve got to break me because I don’t know how to do this.”

“This” is settled. Stable. Thriving.

The last time I was really stable and doing well was fifth grade. And I have been in a near-perpetual state of crisis since I was fourteen. Every day has been fight-or-flight. I haven’t had the opportunity to work on things like social skills or life skills like setting up gas and electric service or what to do when somebody runs into your car in the parking lot. I’ve just been trying to survive. And for the most part, doing a fairly decent job of just making it from one day to the next. Surviving.

But the little nuances of day-to-day were lost on me for nearly the past two decades. What do people do with their time if they’re not running obsessively or spending hours a week in therapy or staying out all night to avoid having to lie? What happens when I’m not in school any more? What the hell is this “career path” everyone keeps going on about? What do people talk to their friends about if not this treatment or that or this slip-up or that? What does a prayer look like when you’re not begging God to kill you?

So now, at 29, I’m having to figure these things out. And it’s HARD. I just bought a vacuum for the first time in my life. And was damned excited about it, too. I remember my reusable grocery bags about 50% of the time. I’ve had to deal with obnoxious neighbours without my usual self-flaggelation and let other people own their stuff. And I’m having to imagine life at 60, 70, 80. I’m having to dream.

At least once a day, I half-heartedly wish for one of my addictions to take over. I know how to do crisis. I’ve gotten good at crisis.

But what do I do when there are no fires to be put out?

I’m stable and that’s unsettling.




One Year: Pain, Sadness, and Resurrection Life

So. On April 10, 2013 I checked in (voluntarily this time!) to Center for Change in Orem, Utah. In a lot of ways, Utah still has a piece of my heart. It certainly saved my life. And I’ve been thinking a lot the past couple of weeks about my time there. 

I didn’t refuse meals and boosts like I did my first time there. From day one, I went in to fight and eat and gain weight and health. Which means that I have been taking care of my body – consistently – for over a year now. I have been at a steady, healthy weight for almost five months now. I can count on one hand (nay, finger!) the number of times I have self-harmed in those same five months. I walk to school and play with the baby at the park, but rarely (if ever) do I step foot in the gym to pound out miles on the treadmill. If my body is tired, I sleep. If it’s hungry, I feed it. I am taking care of my body and treating it well.

This is, in part, the source of my great frustration these days. I am being good to you, body. When the hell was the last time I did that?! But you’ve decided that now that I’m treating you well you’re going to freak out? Stabbing stomach pains. Constant nausea. Never-ending menstrual cramps. (Never.Ending. I wish that were an exaggeration.) If we’re looking at this logically, I should be feeling really, really good.

But I’m not. The ultrasound I had a couple of weeks ago had no answers. A referral to a surgical specialist had no answers, just another referral. So I keep the pain and anti-nausea medications at hand, never quite breaking over to use them because I really need to be able to be coherent for the last few weeks of school.

There’s plenty of research about chronic pain and depression. And even in my last entry, I noted that the pain was wearing on me and bringing down my mood. I just don’t think I realized HOW depressed I’ve been until I woke up earlier this week with a bit of spring in my step. 

Thursday I was finally able to see objectively all the red flags that I should have been seeing all along. Wearing the same outfit for two or three days in a row because I was simply too tired (after 9 or 10 hours of sleep) to pick out a new one. Never mind the fact that it had been three weeks since I did a load of laundry. And while I’ve turned into something of a dirty hippie since moving to the mountains, not showering for five days should have set off all sorts of alarms. As strange as it sounds, the fact that I haven’t watched TV in three weeks is a bad sign. It means I’m not getting up early enough to have a sit-down breakfast and watch the news. It means that I’m spending all of my spare time in my bedroom, in bed, not in the living room. I’m isolating.

I met with my psychiatrist on Tuesday and we agreed that, so far as medication goes, this is as good as it’s going to get. The thing is, if this is as good as it gets – I quit*. There is not nearly enough joy and happiness in my life to make me want to stay around for the long-term. I feel numb and dead more often than not. When I’m feeling actual the feelz, it’s usually betrayal, sadness, guilt, loneliness, shame – all manner of negative emotions that leave me in tears. (Not that I’m knocking tears. That is progress.) I stand in church and sing and know that there was a time when I felt His presence deeply. I want to cry out to Him and yet it seems so hopeless. 

And I know this IS NOT as good as it gets. I just don’t know how to reconcile that truth with what I’m feeling now. I don’t know how to capitalize on those good days and try to stretch them out. I don’t know how to keep going when it feels like there is a block of cement on my feet, constantly dragging me down and back. 

I should know how, right? I mean – that’s what I’m in school for. There are very clear behavioural changes that I can make to try and relieve some of this depression. But how do you make yourself exercise each day when just the idea of walking to the apartment gym is exhausting? How do I eat “better” when I don’t have enough energy to stand for five minutes while I put together a salad? How can I possibly sleep more than I already am and still get things done? How do I pray when it takes me two and a half hours to put together a paragraph about how I am feeling?

Today is Easter – a celebration of resurrection life. I’m ready to feel alive again. 

Pray with me? Pray for me?


*Fear not – I have no intentions of “quitting life” any time soon. Based on genetic samples (aka parents and grandparents), it would seem you are stuck with me for at least another sixty to seventy years.

You Want to Believe…

…that there’s one relationship in life that’s beyond betrayal. A relationship that is beyond that kind of hurt. And there isn’t.  –Caleb Carr

There is a feeling of betrayal sitting deep in my gut.  Which is strange because, in the strictest of terms, I was not the one betrayed.  But when a spiritual leader is the one who is in the spot of betrayer, there is some sort of trickle down to the rest of us who believed so deeply in him.  It is hard not to see everything you have been taught over the long course of the betrayal as tainted.

Basically, crazy stuff is going on at my home church — no, not crazy stuff.  Human stuff. The stuff we all struggle with, but might not have exposed to public forums because we don’t hold positions that carry that weight.

I think, perhaps, this is hitting me so deeply because it exposes just how shallow my roots are.  This information does not lead me to believe in God any less, but it shows me how disconnected I have been.  How I let roots that had been holding me steady wither away over the past year.  It reiterates how my “home church” hasn’t felt like home in over a year.

And yet, that idea of my church being “home” was the only thing really tethering me to a relationship with God.  I pray – sometimes.  I worship – on Sunday mornings. I read my Bible – when there’s nothing else around.  So the recent revelations feel less like headlines scrolling across the bottom of the screen and more like earthquakes, shaking my already unsteady foundation.

In his address to our church, our pastor said that if we find ourselves turning to Jesus in this, that is “good and right.”

And really, I’ve got nowhere else to go.  Every human relationship will experience betrayal eventually.

If you’re not the betrayed, you’re the betrayer. I have betrayed others many, many times.  It is the only reason that I can look at this situation without judgment, knowing that it could have just as easily been me.

And perhaps because I have been the betrayer so often, it hurts on more levels than one to be betrayed.

Chin Up, Buttercup

This week has been miserable.  And I’ve only really been making it worse by isolating and staying away from people.  Then, of course, I freak out that everybody hates me because they don’t want to hang up with me when…uh, I’m the one who refuses to hang out?  Or who is a total Debbie Downer while doing so?  Get a grip, kid.

The flashbacks on Monday really, really shook me up.  I honestly think that has played a big role in my mood this week.  I’ve never had such intense, uncontrollable flashbacks before.  Not even in the months after the rape.  And while I did talk about it, I also found myself ruminating on the thoughts and the images and the fear I felt in those hours.  This has made me a not-so-fun person to be around.  A friend phrased it today as my being “melancholy” as of late.  I think he was kind in that assessment and didn’t want to say, “You’ve been a fucking pain in the ass to be around the past week, please cheer up.”  But I digress.

A friend of mine led a conference call tonight for Good Friday and we went through the stations of the cross.  I didn’t know how much I needed it.  I love old spiritual practices and the rhythm that liturgy provides to the year.  It has been a long time since I have done the stations of the cross, and all those times, they were self-led.  My friend read the stations to us and I just laid back and absorbed the reality of what this day commemorates. I contemplated Jesus on his walk to his death and how many times he stumbled, how he had to humble himself not only to death on a cross – but to accepting help with someone else.  I was struck by the the level of human suffering he endured – by choice – and how the walk to the hill made him even more acutely aware of the human condition and human suffering.

He’s been through it.  He’s been beaten down and stripped of his honour and dignity and died a shameful death.  And he overcame it.

He went through it so that he could walk us through it, knowing exactly the depth of that suffering. He desires to be with us, to lead us, ultimately, to our own crosses – to kill self and take on the resurrection life that we celebrate on Easter.

Dinner Time? Again?!

It’s not like I should be surprised by dinner. It does, after all, occur every day. But some days it sort of sneaks up on me. I will be doing what I do and all of a sudden it’s six, or seven, or eight o’clock at night and I have to consider some sort of meal.

Meals have been difficult lately. Not in the sense that…no, scratch that. They’ve been difficult in every sense.  I have very little appetite, so nothing sounds appealing.  I am too tired (and often depressed) to put together a full meal that actually looks like a meal.  Some meals lately have been bizarre mish-mashes of what I’ve got in the snack box.  And, of course, my eating disorder is screaming at me that a meal is completely unnecessary, why not just a nice salad (hold the dressing and everything else) or a piece of fruit?

I haven’t updated in weeks, mainly because there’s nothing to say.  I haven’t even really been trying to recover for the past two weeks.  I’ve just been coasting.  Oh, not really hungry and don’t want to eat that snack?  Eh.  Why bother fighting it, just go with the eating disorder.

Furthermore, when I do think of things to post, I quickly reconsider when I take into account my readership.  I don’t want to be triggering to anyone, so hearing about how I’m engaging in x or y behaviour or have lost z pounds is not helpful to any of us.  It triggers those who are vulnerable, and it allows me to bitch and whine without actually doing anything about it.  It allows it to appear as if I’m concerned about these behaviours when, in fact, if I were actually concerned, I’d be doing something about it.

Treatment is always a possibility.  One of my friends was shocked to hear that my therapist didn’t insist on sending me to residential again after another week of weight loss.  My dietitian said I need to start fighting or I’ll be back at CFC in the near future.

Let’s be clear:  I like treatment.  It’s easy.  I thrive there (well, after a few stays on Caution, anyway).  I don’t have to deal with real life.  And while I’m dealing with tough stuff in therapy, my therapist in Utah never pushed me the way my therapist at home does.

My therapist here at home is also very good at reminding me the role God has to play if I ever expect to be fully recovered.  Do I believe that a full recovery is possible without God?  Sure.  But at my core, I am a spiritual being and I am desperate for Jesus and trying to ignore that while recovering from my eating disorder is a joke.  I feel like shit and hate myself and hate walking through shame and I’ve got the cushiest landing anybody could ever ask for in Christ and I ignore it.  I refuse to talk to Him about it, refuse to take Him up on His offer to walk with me and comfort me.

What kind of idiot must I be?

But that kind of self-defeating thought isn’t helpful either.

My therapist held a mirror up to me this week (not literally — God let us never do that sort of body work please!) and basically repeated back all the bullshit I’ve been telling her for a month.  That I’m fine.  That my eating disorder is not that bad.  That my set point is huge and fat.  That it is totally okay to keep losing weight.  That I don’t need to work on my recovery, I just need to work on those parts of my life that I’m unhappy with.  Hearing her say all that, play devil’s advocate, pissed me off, quite frankly.  And when I told her how frustrated I was, she intimated just how frustrated and angry she was.

All this to say, I’m fighting again.  I’m sitting on my ass instead of going to the gym.  I’m drinking a supplement (sometimes two) every day.  I’m cooking food and eating it, even though sometimes it feels like I’m choking as I try to get it down.

And I’m wrestling it out with God.  Telling Him how pissed I am.  Telling Him how much I need Him.  Coming to Him broken and hurting and hoping He’ll show up.

I Cannot Control Everything

Small and powerless.

I have felt that way since kindergarten.  As my therapist pointed out yesterday, I have been trying to avoid that feeling ever since.  It started with an event in kindergarten, which I don’t speak of often (in fact, never truly talked about and processed until therapy in Utah), and which I never thought had anything to do with anything.
But it does.  Do I think it’s the root of everything?  No.  Family dynamics, my personality, my brain chemistry — all of these played into it as well.  But that feeling of being small and powerless.  That has stuck with me and I hate it.
It is the reason that I avoid talking to God when things aren’t going well.  It is the reason that I avoid really opening myself up and being vulnerable with other people.
In either of these cases, it is not so much my fear of judgement that prevents me from speaking up.  It is my fear of having to face myself and feel like I am, again, small and powerless.  Admitting that I am not doing well is saying that I am small and powerless — that I cannot control everything, that I cannot fix everything.  I hate hate HATE that idea.  I like to believe that I am all-powerful, at least in my own life.  I like to believe that I can fix things on my own, that I can be completely independent of needing others.
I’m can’t.  I’m not.
I wasn’t built to be.  I’m not God.  I was made to rely on other people, to trust them to help me.  I was built for deep, lasting relationships, which can only occur if I allow myself to be vulnerable and admit that I need others.  Admitting that I need others and God is admitting that I don’t have all the answers.  It is admitting that I do not have control over everything.  It is admitting that, in the grand scheme of things, I am small and powerless.
I am small.  I am powerless.
It is only through embracing that and allowing others to walk the road with me, hold me up when I cannot do it myself, that I can begin to empower myself to take control of my recovery and my life.
I need you. 
Even if I don’t want to need you.

This is Real

I think today was a turning point in my recovery.

To this point, I’ve done a lot of work.  I’ve fought hard (and less-than-hard), eaten meals through tears, sat on my hands instead of running, journaled through traumatic experiences.  I’ve done it all:  residential treatment, outpatient therapist, dietitian, Christian Bible study, DBT workbooks, blah blah blah.  Yet through it all, I’ve attempted to hold on to some small measure of control.

I had yet to submit.

Today, in a posture of submission, I let friends and pastors pray over me.  I trusted that this meeting was ordained, submitted to the truths these dear people were speaking over me.

I listened to these pastors, who have been praying for me privately for weeks, reveal truths to me that God had revealed to them.  One of my pastors fought back tears as he described how he felt God wanted some sort of sacrifice.  This pastor offered himself in my place, much to his own surprise and mine.  I cried at the thought that someone in front of me could love me so very much as to take this from me.  I cried at the thought that 2,000 years ago, someone did.

I cried as I confessed the lies I have been believing (I am fat, I am ugly, I am worthless, I am crazy) and fought back tears as I confessed the trauma and abuse that allowed these messages to take hold.

I could not stop the tears as, one by one, they spoke truth over me.

I am beautiful.

The Lord delights in me.

I am not a disappointment.

There is nothing to be ashamed of.

I am an important part the body.

Occasionally, in disbelief, I would look to my dear friend who organized this.  Almost reading my thoughts she would whisper, That is truth.

It is truth whether I believe it or not.  Whether I continue to engage in ED behaviours or not.  It is truth.

Today was a reality check.  And I listened to one of my pastors repeat to me, “This is real.  This is real.”  I didn’t imagine it, didn’t conjure it up to make myself feel better.  It is reality.

Today was my first glimpse of true reality in a long time.

I want more.

The Long Road to the Kingdom, Part 3

Thanks for your continued support as I write out this disturbingly long story, friends. It’s so lovely to open my e-mail and see your comments and know that you survived the entire post!

If you’re just joining us, be sure to catch Parts One and Two before reading any further.

Finally, after much ado and entirely too long a break – the story of my engagement.


From the very beginning, my relationship with Steven was dysfunctional. Neither of us was in a place to be even casually dating – he was depressed and drinking too much, I was depressed, drinking too much, and battling the worst (to that point) occurrence of my eating disorder. I wanted very much die, but was quickly intoxicated by his kind words, knowing glances, gentle demeanor, and the fact that he was not at all scared of my crazy. I was his reason to live, he was my reason to eat (and therefore live), and we very suddenly found ourselves enmeshed and codependent.

I say this all very matter-of-factly only because hindsight is 20/20. At the time, I thought this was the healthiest relationship I had ever been in and grew increasingly fond of Steven despite my attempts to never ever ever fall for a boy ever again. I can look back on this beginning time rather fondly and I still very much love that boy.

After our first real date

It was that boy that hooked up a webcam to his computer so we could play Risk once a week, despite living 200 miles apart. It was that boy who cried when he called to tell me that one of our turtles had died. It was that boy who lay next to me in bed and kissed the scars on my abdomen after realizing they were self-inflicted.

Less than two years later, he would be the cause of the open wounds and would barely acknowledge me when I asked if he had butterfly bandages to try and reduce the scarring.

We met through a mutual friend – and when I say “mutual friend,” I mean my best friend, his ex. To be fair, my best friend is the one who introduced me to her ex, in part because I think she was simply tired of hearing the two of us whine to her about our love life woes. She gave us permission to date (and then rescinded it after two months, but that’s a different story) and we did so.

I don’t know that the details are necessary. I loved him fiercely. I gave him everything and trusted him with my entire person. It was months before I could do so and I spent much of the early part of our relationship in tears, sure that he would use me and leave me as was the pattern in my relationships up to that point. It was a risk and one that paid off, at least for a time.

We got engaged quickly, after only six months of dating. In month seven, he withdrew from school due to his depression. In month eight, I dropped all my classes save for one due to a crippling depression that prevented me from moving from the bed. (As it turns out, staying in bed was very, very fun at times. And very, very awkward for the roommate that shared a wall with me.)

On our engagement trip to a B & B in West Virginia

I met his family, he met mine. We started planning a wedding to follow a long engagement. In May of 2007, shortly after our one year anniversary, we attended the wedding of a friend of mine and stayed in a hotel in a small town in South Carolina. As we were packing up to leave the morning after the festivities, I found it: a baggie of weed, a lighter, some papers.

Steven thought I was overreacting when I told him how upset I was. Before we ever started dating, I told him that I never again wanted to date someone who did drugs. The guy I “dated” (slept with on a regular basis) before him was a pothead and a drug dealer. I constantly felt like I was playing second fiddle to an addiction. For Steven to start doing drugs felt like a personal attack and betrayal.

The following months are a blur of arguments, deals, more arguments and my move to the city where he lived. Shortly after I moved there, he took me to a party with his friends and then abandoned me to go and smoke with them upstairs. And yet, he was still sweet and loving, curling up next to me as my untreated depression left me in bed for days at a time. Unfortunately, we were both so emotionally stunted that he had no real way to comfort me except physically. While the sex was amazing (Seriously. AMAZING.), it did nothing to comfort the ache of my heart that multiplied by leaps and bounds when I found his profile on a dating site.

Shortly after Christmas, I found e-mails on his computers sending nude or nearly nude photos back and forth between he and other women. It was not the first time. I was heart-broken. This was the man I was sure I would marry. The man that I intended to see at the end of the aisle in a church that was already booked wearing a dress I had already bought.

I left him the ring and a note asking him to call me when he grew up.

We stopped talking for weeks, tried to make it work, had make-up sex and break-up sex and “what the hell do you do when you love the person but can’t figure out how to make it work” sex and eventually called it quits. He was spending more time with his drug dealer than me and I couldn’t do it any longer. I can only assume that it was the Holy Spirit that helped me realize in that moment that I was worth more than what he was giving me.

I love this photo, but erm, won't tell you why

I never found a church when I moved to his city, and never gave much of a thought to church – until I broke up with him. I was working for a Christian company, where church was part of the culture and regular attendance was practically expected of the employees. Company meetings began with the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer. I thought about church, about God, about what I had grown up with. I didn’t particularly care about Him, but showed up on Easter Sunday anyway to appease my mother.  I didn’t know what God had to do with anything, though I craved the peace and community that I saw amongst my Christian friends.

The truth is I was hurt and I was angry. After finally breaking up with Steven for good, I became so angry that it began to eat at me from the inside out. I drank heavily. I ran mile after mile. I watched more movies on Netflix than I could count. None of made the hurt and anger any better. I couldn’t take it any longer and I had bottles of pills and liquor prepared to take it all away.

I can’t be sure what caused me to pause that night when I came up with my plan – most likely the Holy Spirit again. My hand throbbed from where I punched the wall and bloodied it and I knew I couldn’t live one more day with this anger. The anger had to go or I had to go.

God, I said. IF you exist, you have to take this anger. I can’t do it any more. You have to take it or I am killing myself tomorrow.

It was a ballsy prayer – IF you exist. IF you care. IF you are capable.

He exists. He cares. He is capable.

I woke up the next morning completely at peace. I held no anger toward Steven, no ill will. I wanted him to be happy and I wanted to know this God that cured me of the anger and heartache that no substance could.

I bought a Bible and started reading.


Just one final installment to come: how I found a home.


Today, I thought I’d share with you some of the art that I’ve been doing in my journals throughout my recovery.  I’ll try to post them in chronological order, but know that not all of my recovery art is represented here.  Some of the more painful ones aren’t posted and some, I’ll admit, I’ve even trashed.  Also, please excuse the poor lighting — these were taken on my phone.  And, just to keep things interesting, a poem.

This is a poem that I wrote towards the end of my time in residential in a group on self-esteem.  I forget the actual prompt, though it may have been as basic as “write a poem about your self-esteem.”


Stronger than she knows,
but she’d never believe it.

Walls built up
around her heart
and her head.
The positive messages
can’t get in
for all the shit
she plays to herself
over and over again.

Stronger than she knows,
if she’d only believe it.

Walls that need sledgehammers,
or a weapon stronger
than twenty years
of self-destructive talk.
Walls that can only be
torn down
with as much work
as they required to build.

Stronger than she knows,
how I hope she’ll believe it.

Walls so strong only
will prevail.
Years of self-hatred
combatted with
years of positive messages
from those around her,
until one day
She tells it
to herself.