It still amazes me that the therapist at the church could say so little, yet so MUCH. In a short amount of time, with very few words, she was able to open my eyes to the fact that I’d been living my life entirely wrong.
I just got butterflies when I wrote that! That trip to the church was no accident. I KNEW that Dead End sign was for me, and I just HAD to visit that church. That woman may not have been expecting me that day… but God was!
It’s taken me this long to really see that. It’s not like I did a complete turnaround after that, but it did help me get unstuck. And you know what else? That woman has NO idea how her words affected me that day. I hear that’s how God works. Sometimes He uses you for good, and you don’t even know it. Anyway, her opinion was that…
I wasn’t running my life; my life was running ME.
She couldn’t have been more right. I was always adapting to my surroundings. If the hole was round, this square peg would become ROUND, dammit, because I was going to fit! If life gave me lemons, I would make lemonade. Whether I liked lemonade or NOT!
There was never anything that I was after. Well, except happiness. I realized that today, while writing. Finally, ten (or more) years after she asked me that question, I was able to think of the answer to her question. I JUST wanted to be happy. The problem was that I always looked for happiness outside of myself, and it just didn’t work.
It’s like my life had been like a dodge ball game, and I was always in defense mode. All of my time and energy was wasted; dodging here, dodging there… running in circles and flailing my hands about… constantly attempting to deflect the balls that were being hurled at me. I was always reactive… never proactive. I guess all I really needed to do was exit the field. Walk away, and try a different sport.
When I quit my job and left California, I actually DID have a plan. I was going to start a real estate assistant business. And I did. It was a struggle at first, and was slow to start, but after that meeting I took the bull by the horns and I MADE that thing work.
The business took off. I stayed sober for four years, and somewhere along the way that semi-dysfunctional romance blossomed into a happy, healthy and solid relationship. There was never a question in our minds that we’d spend the rest of our lives together. We were in love, and life seemed so good.
But I still lacked belief, faith, and any kind of a recovery program.
Relapse No. 2
In 2011 I met relapse number two. It was on that road trip with my son. The trip was wonderful (I know some of you have seen pictures) and I won’t let that backslide ruin the memory of the trip. It was a great trip! I’d like to say that being in the middle of Beale Street (party town USA) caused me to drink, but in reality I was sipping a glass of wine by the time I hit Albuquerque! Sometimes I think that the relapse was subconsciously premeditated.
Not long after I returned home my significant other announced that he had accepted a job in Colorado, and with my adventurous spirit, I was all in. Well, partially in. I said I’d give it a year… and I made it through two.
Once I left Colorado… I was on a mission to do things MY way; full speed ahead. It’s like I wanted to make up for lost time or something. Anyway, that’s about the time the MAJOR downward spiral started, and my life started falling apart. I had bought a jeep, which broke down, and I couldn’t afford to fix it. My dad passed away. My business started falling apart because my brain was turning to mush. My boyfriend came to California to join me… and I just wanted OUT.
The progressiveness of the disease had finally caught up with me, and I was unable to stop on my own. That’s when I started reaching out to people, and THAT is when I started corresponding with my dear friend Gil. I was finally ready for a REAL change. I wanted to get sober, turn my life around and make a difference in the world.
MORE importantly… I contacted Gil because I knew that I HAD to find God. I knew that He was my only hope—and I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy for this hard headed, closed-minded girl. But I did it! The funny part about that—especially now as I write this and see it even more—is WHERE I found Him. He was RIGHT THERE. Right there beside me where He’d been the whole time.
It’s so hard to put a lifetime into a short story. You can’t go from A to Z without at least mentioning a few other letters of the alphabet. But through prayer—and through my writing—I’ve learned (and continue to learn) where I went wrong, the ways I was misled, what my weaknesses and triggers are, and a lot more.
Oh, one more thing I wanted to say. My story helps me understand why writing and photography are so dear to me. Because they are things that I have a passion for. It’s not to be perfect at them, or make a living off of them, or anything like that at all. It’s how I’m able to express myself. It’s a natural fit, without force and with no struggle.
And it’s nice to be a square peg for a change.
Read Part Seven