Confessions, The Journey

The Confession Series

The Confession Series

Confession: When I titled this series I was not really aware of what a Chameleon was. And I’m not talking about the lizard. I know the lizard, which in reality is all that came to mind when I was deciding on the name.

After publishing the first segment, I was surprised to find out that the Chameleon also refers to a borderline personality disorder. And in reading about the disorder, I have to be honest and say that I had a few of those Uh-Oh moments. Kind of like an Aha moment, but not quite as exhilarating. Ha!

Anyway, it took finding and looking to God for me to finally realize the errors of my ways, and to start becoming the ME that He created me to be.

Is my story over? Never.


Part One: I didn’t believe in God, so I never really feared going to hell… but then again, I didn’t need to. Hell had made its way to earth and was coming for ME.

Part Two: I was a shy and quiet girl, from a perfectly normal family, who JUST wanted to fit in and be liked.

Part Three: I want to say that the job taught me to be shrewd, but that sounds harsh. Simply put, it was the first thing in my life that gave me a sense of my own identity.

Part Four: Left to my own devices- I will overdue things to the point of self-destruction, sickness, or far worse- Death.

Part Five: Hands sweating, heart racing, vision slightly blurred and my mind in a fog (but sober!), I put my foot on the gas, and held on tight to the wheel.

Part Six: If the hole was round, this square peg would become ROUND, dammit, because I was going to fit!

Part Seven: I needed to replace my unhealthy addiction of chasing love (the wrong kind), for the sake of my sanity and my recovery, and now I’ve finally found perfect and healthy substitutes!

Part Eight: …it was like the weight of the world, that had somehow taken up residency on my shoulders, was magically dissolving… and drifting away… like little musical notes… floating up to the heavens.

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Confessions, The Journey

Forgiving ME

It’s been two weeks since I wrote part seven of the Confessions series, yet it feels like months! Time is really different these days. I used to blink an eye and somehow years had passed. Now, what seems like eons to me is merely a few days or weeks. I love that!

If you’d like to read this series in it’s entirety, the beginning is here.

When I left off,  I had discovered that my wrongful, negative opinion of myself during adolescence had lingered on (subconsciously) and was perhaps a major cause of my self-destructive behavior throughout life.

Looking back on my story truly IS like watching a movie. I see confusion and struggles, hope and triumphs—all spiraling around chaotically—until finally, everything merges together, and the glorious climax is produced. That feel good moment, when it all comes together and makes sense.

That’s how I see it anyway.

Confessions: Part Eight

Shortly after writing A Child of God, I proceeded to do steps four and five of the program, which requires you to write down your resentments, find your own fault in these matters, and then share these thoughts with another human being (my sponsor).

It was extremely difficult to list resentments. I rarely hold a grudge. I’m an optimist, so I always look for the good in every situation, and I’m really good at moving on. Honestly, there is only ONE person that I ever felt real hatred towards. And I had already forgiven him.

I wish I could write about all that went on during my marriage; how one person could torment another human being both while living together, AND in the five to ten years following. Even if I COULD document it all, I wouldn’t share it here. I’m pretty sure that’s not what God would want.

I spent time on my inventory and came up with a pretty good list. Obviously, it takes TWO to tango. So, I listed my part; how I had been so hateful and how I had reacted in anger and behaved badly myself. Like I said , I’ve always been Re-active, not Pro-active. That whole era was nothing but a recipe for disaster.

Sitting down with my sponsor was nerve racking—mainly because I had to do a sex inventory. That was NOT pretty. I mean it wasn’t UGLY… it was just LONG. Sorry, I have to be honest here. Sex & love were intertwined, and I was a LOVE addict– so it’s pretty self-explanatory.

It was a gorgeous day when I met with my sponsor. We sat outside, on the covered patio of her home, and I proceeded to tell her my story. Finally… we got around to my marriage, and it was time to share MY role in the disaster. I had mentally prepared myself to hear her thoughts; about how the role I had played was much bigger or much worse than what I was willing to admit, and how I had behaved so selfishly.

That being said, when I started giving her the rundown—and she interrupted me—I was ready for the one-two punch. Shaking her head gently, and speaking with her usual soft tone, she said… “No Janet. That’s not it.”

Then, with three little words… she changed my whole perspective.

“You picked him.”

What?!? I don’t know. I feel embarrassed even writing that because I’ve always considered myself to be a smart woman. Why had I never thought of that? Blinded by my own thoughts and perceptions perhaps?

I wish I could give you a visual of my feelings that day. It was very similar to stumbling on the word angst that day when I was writing about my inner child. Only this time, it was like the weight of the world, that had somehow taken up residency on my shoulders, was magically dissolving… drifting away… like little musical notes floating up to the heavens.

It’s safe to say that I had been holding on to a TON of guilt. I had made many mistakes during my marriage and there was no way I could ever go back and undo what I had done, and that guilt must have been eating away at my soul for years.

What I realized that day with my sponsor is that I really HAD forgiven him…

…but I had never forgiven MYSELF.

So, God’s timing was perfect. Within a matter of weeks I was embracing and loving my inner child, and now—with the help of my sponsor—I saw that the biggest mistake I had made in regards to that horrible marriage was entering into it in the first place. And it was true! I KNEW something was wrong from the very beginning. My gut had given me so MANY warnings, and I had ignored ALL of the red flags. And no, her words didn’t change things, but it changed how I looked at those things.

My eyes were opening up… and I was beginning to see LIGHT!

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Confessions, The Journey

Confessions: Part Seven

We had an interesting topic come up during our meeting last night. The enemy. Cunning, baffling and powerful. I decided that this subject would be a great opener for the final chapter.

Why DO we believe negative things about ourselves, and where DO those thoughts come from in the first place? Why do we self-sabotage and attempt to destroy ourselves, either in an instant… or through painfully slow methods… like our addictions?

A revelation came to me after writing the following in Part Two:

“You know… perception is funny. As I’m writing this, it makes me wonder. Where on earth did I get the idea that being cool meant doing those things, anyway? Is that a preconceived notion I had, or did someone tell me that?”

Seriously! Where DID I get the idea that alcohol, drugs and failing school were cool?

Which brings me to the final chapter…

Life Goes Full Circle

Exactly one year ago today, on January 6th of 2016, my eyes were finally opened to God’s existence, and His divine intervention in my life. That’s a story in itself, and I think I’ll cover more of that sometime in another series! Maybe I’ll call it Beautiful God Shots.

After I came to believe, I spent a lot of time writing and learning about God. I made it through 6 months of sobriety before I broke both of my ankles, and the relapses were set in motion. All of that is in my other story: Unteach Me.

It wasn’t the broken ankles that did it, though. Loneliness and bad romance(s) were my triggers, and the two took turns knocking me down. Loneliness, romance (heartache) and the bottle… and repeat. Like a broken record!

Gil suggested that I step away from the men for a while, not to mention the fact that you’re supposed to abstain from any new relationships during the first year of sobriety. What I found difficult about THAT was that love was ALL that I knew, or cared about.

Whenever I talk about being grateful for my PASSION for writing and photography… THAT is one reason. I needed to replace my unhealthy addiction of chasing love for the sake of my sanity and my recovery, and now I’ve finally found perfect and healthy substitutes! See, alcohol wasn’t exactly the problem– it’s was a symptom.

After the BAD relapse (and hospitalization) in March 2016, I started writing again. It seems crazy that my story takes me all the way back to adolescence, but there’s good reason for that. That’s when I became aware of (and obsessed about) death, that’s when I started dabbling in the drinking, AND… that’s when I felt like such a misfit; a terribly awkward outsider among the majority of my peers. What I’ve now learned is that I didn’t just FEEL like that…

I believed it!

And even more eye-opening is the fact that not ONE living soul on earth ever told me I didn’t fit. It came from somewhere else. From someone unseen. That damn enemy!

When I wrote the FIRST draft of the last chapter of Unteach Me, I kicked my inner child to the curb. SHE was the reason that my life went south. SHE was the crazy weirdo. THAT is what I believed—with every fiber of my being. At the innocent age of thirteen, the evil and calculated deception had started and I believed the lies that were being whispered in my ear. I had the awful chapter completed… demanding that my inner child take a hike so that I could get on with my life.

A woman in my recovery group talked about her inner child. She said that she nurtured her. She had a childhood picture of herself—taken before she drank—and she talked to her as a mother would talk to her daughter. It was a healing process for her.

That’s when I sent the draft of my final chapter to the cutting room floor, decided to rewrite it; and titled it A Child of God.

I had been praying, and digging into my past, and I know for a fact that God was orchestrating things that day. I was searching for a term to describe my emotions during adolescence, and I was led to the word angst. That is also when I stumbled on numerous articles on teenage angst. And that was when I made my first discovery. I wasn’t WEIRD, I had simple experienced teenage angst. And it’s quite common. So… that’s how embracing my inner child came about. I realized that believing I was a weirdo was the root of my problems, and I’d never addressed the issue in all my years!

I finally figured out where things had gone wrong, and I was now ready to allow that inner child to heal, grow, and be free! In me!

That’s when everything started to go up, up, UP.

Read Part Eight

Angst, often confused with anxiety, is a transcendent emotion in that it combines the unbearable anguish of life with the hopes of overcoming this seemingly impossible situation. Without the important element of hope, then the emotion is anxiety, not angst. Angst denotes the constant struggle one has with the burdens of life that weighs on the dispossessed and not knowing when the salvation will appear. —Urban Dictionary

 

Peace and Love!!

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Confessions, The Journey

Confessions: Part Six

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

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Confessions, The Journey

Confessions: Part Five

I’ve been thinking about the gift of belief that I wrote about in part four. I’ve wanted to say, in as few words as possible, how it all came to be. But it’s a lifelong and never ending story.

Basically, for me… belief was one of my biggest struggles.

I’ve always said that I searched for and found God, but today the thought that came to me was that those words aren’t 100% accurate. I mean they are, but they aren’t. In reality, He was right there—all the time—but my mind was completely closed. I had locked it shut, and thrown out the key… for decades.

So, my original attempts at seeking God are perhaps better described as: Prying my head open. Which is really odd, because when it came to people-pleasing (or following the crowd) my mind was WIDE open. Kind of like that joke you see…

Don’t be too open-minded or your brains will fall out.

Which brings me back to my story….

The Chaos Continues

In my years working in the real estate office, nine of those were spent sober. It was in those nine years that I was able to focus on my kids—and buy our first home at the age of forty. My habit of over-spending almost ruined that. I refinanced numerous times and used the money to buy toys for myself and the kids. Cars, dirt bikes, trucks, golf clubs… and so on.

Thankfully, my overspending sprees took place when the market was skyrocketing. By the time I could no longer afford the payments and had to sell, the value was HIGH and I walked away with a profit (which I threw away in six short months).

Somewhere in the midst of all of that… I drank again. Relapse one. I met the man that I spent eleven years of my life with… gave away, sold, or left behind almost everything I owned… and followed him to Phoenix.

Me, my truck, and whatever would fit in the back, headed out on my very FIRST solo road trip. My oldest was still in the Army, and the younger two stayed behind, taking over the lease of the house that we’d moved to after selling our place.

Looking back, I now recognize some of the ways that God kept trying to get my attention, but there’s one that really shifted my thinking at the time. Not to believe in Him (I wasn’t ready), but to open my mind and help me see that there was something seriously WRONG. With ME.

The relationship that I was in was VERY chaotic, mainly due to our drinking. I had found the gumption to quit again, but life was really weird. It seemed like a bad dream. I think I was feeling the aftereffects of the marriage (perhaps a mild dose of P.T.S.D), and the new tumultuous relationship was rekindling feelings of uneasiness.

Anyway, I was in the middle of a panic attack one day, and I HAD to get out. With no clue where I was going, and Phoenix being fairly new to me, I just drove. Hands sweating, heart racing, vision slightly blurred and my mind in a fog (but sober), I put my foot on the gas, and held on tight to the wheel.

That’s when I made the turn. The turn that put me smack dab in front of the sign. The sign that I KNEW in my heart was for me. With just two little words…

DEAD END

There, right in front of me, was the sign that summed up what my entire life had been thus far. One big dead end.

Heading Towards a Breakthrough

I managed to make a U-turn and there—before my eyes—stood a church. Of course, with my fully closed mind I never saw God in the picture. BUT… I did see HELP.

I parked, went inside, and asked if I could talk to someone. I wasn’t dressed well, and I’m sure my make-up was smeared down my face from crying. One of the women asked me if I needed some money. I had money! At least I got a chuckle out of it, and I was grateful that lack of money was NOT the reason that I was there.

The woman that sat down with me was a therapist. I proceeded to tell her some of my story; about the ex-husband, and things that he had said and done… and then about my current partner, and things that he had said and done… and then about some of the other THEY’S that were guilty of creating all of that chaos and craziness in my life. My words were all questions: WHY, WHY, WHY? Why do they do these things? She listened intently, conversed with me for a while, and then she asked me HER question:

What do YOU want?

Her question startled me! It’s like she woke me up from a coma or something, and for the first time that I could ever remember… my mind was BLANK.

I had absolutely NO answer to that question. Nothing. Nil. Nada.

Read: Part Six

If you’ve made it this far down, thanks for reading. It’s only the beginning, but I’m fond of the memory because it was the moment that sparked my thought shift—however slight it was—and brought me to the realization that my problems were internal.
—It was time for CHANGE!

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