Addicts and Christmas

“…There will be times, however, when we really feel like using. We want to run, and we feel lousy. We need to be reminded of where we came from and that it will be worse this time…One of the biggest stumbling blocks to recovery seems to be placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves or others. Relationships can be a terribly painful area. We tend to fantasize and project what will happen. We get angry and resentful if our fantasies are not fulfilled. We forget that we are powerless over other people…” ~ Anonymous

(I apologize in advance for the length, but this message is too important to break up into 2 parts. If you’re an addict going through a difficult time, I encourage you to read this to the end)

This quote comes from a couple different pages in one of my favorite book. It describes what addicts go through all the time, especially this time of year.

It’s that time of the year again. Time for celebration, giving thanks and spending time with our families. But for those of us with the disease of addiction, this time of year can be very difficult. I know because I’m a gratefully recovering addict and I have had a hard time with the holidays for a few years now. The family(my blood family and my in laws) that I once enjoyed spending time with was lost in part because of my addiction. Does this give me an excuse to use? I’ll tell you my answer in a moment.

In case you didn’t know, addiction is a thinking and feeling disease, more so feeling. The thinking part is when we are conning, manipulating, rationalizing and justifying our ways and means to get and use more. The feelings part is a little messier. Let’s face it, feelings are messy for all of us, but for addicts it’s messier. Why? Because we used drugs to escape our feelings and our realities. Far to many times, one bad feeling can trigger an addict with 1 day, 1 month, 1 year, 10 years, or more to use again.

Years ago, when I first came into recovery, another addict said, “The worst thing that can happen in recovery is that your feelings get hurt, but the best thing that can happen in recovery is that your feelings will get hurt.” I didn’t understand it at the time. Just like I became an addict over a period of time, I began to understand this and other lessons over time.

If you’re not an addict you’re probably thinking, “I feel the same way but I don’t get high or drunk.” While this is true, I’ll bet you probably do something escape the sting of bad feelings. Maybe you buy yourself some shiny bobble or trinket or some sweet treat. Maybe you take a hot bubble bath or go out for a run or a drive. We all do something to ease pain that we don’t want to feel. We all want to escape feelings and reality from time to time, but addicts need to find a healthier way other than the thing that kills us daily. I’ll be the first to admit, since I’ve been clean, my favorite coffee at a local coffee shop and brownies from a particular store are my comfort foods. But I digress.

When an addict tells me they want to use, or they’ve relapsed, I ask them why for a couple of reasons. No, not because I’m nosey. When I do this, it reminds me what not to do and where I don’t want to be. Another reason is because when we hear ourselves say our reason out loud, we realize how silly or dumb our reasons are. I can’t tell you how many times that I hear things like, “Because this person said this. That person did that.” I hear every excuse under the sun except, “The dog ate my homework”.

As amusing as that sounds, it’s the reality of this disease.

So what can you, my fellow addict, do to prevent using this time of year and longer? The first thing is to make a commitment to yourself that you won’t use. Do not do it for another person because, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Let’s face it, people will fail us. It’s inevitable. If that person fails you in some way, intentionally, or not, it’ll end up being your excuse to use. I know because I, and many others, have done the same thing and it didn’t work so well.

Another thing we can do is to find, and get involved in a self help recovery group. Preferably one where there are other addicts. I have learned that, “The ultimate weapon for recovery is another recovering addict.” That simply means that addicts understand how and why we use. We can help each other stay clean. Our individual stories may vary from one addict to another, but we all used for the same reasons.

We used to escape our feelings, and our realities.

Over the years, I’ve called on my fellow addicts many times to help me to not use if only for that hour or that day. No matter what I’ve gone through, my fellow addicts have rallied around and helped me through each struggle. I’ve shared the good, the bad, the ugly and the REALLY ugly times with them.  And I’ve been there for many of them.

Daily contact with a Higher Power is also very important to stay clean. In rehab, the counselors told me about finding a Higher Power. They told me that a chair or a light bulb could be my Higher Power. While I appreciated their suggestions I questioned how either of those would help me stay clean. Oh sure, a chair could block my path but I can move it. The light bulb can be turned on, but I can turn it off, and sneak out.

I’m not telling you to be a weekly church going person. I’m also not telling you to believe specifically in God, Buddha, Allah, Jesus or whatever name you use. When people fail us, as they usually do, we need someone, or something, to help us get through our darkest times. Our Higher Power can be the source of our greatest strength.

When I was in active addiction, I had a hard time with God because I thought He abandoned me years earlier. Today I know that this isn’t true. To help me with with my struggle, one of my predecessors told me a couple of acronyms for God. One of them is “Group Of Druggies”, and the other is “Good Orderly Direction”. For example, if I want to use, the “Group Of Druggies” can talk to me, and help me through that urge to use. “Good Orderly Direction” refers to Spiritual Principles like Tolerance, Acceptance, Patience, and Brotherly Love to name a couple. If I want to live a new life, these Spiritual Principles can guide me through any problem I face.

What helps me the most is playing the tape through. Whenever I feel like using, I remind myself of what will happen. I’d start by hanging with old playmates at an old playground. Then, someone would come around with my drug of choice. Pretty soon, I won’t be able to afford it so I’d try something cheaper, then I’d try it in a different form. When I couldn’t pay for it, I’d sell my stuff. After that, I’d do things that would make me feel so horrible about myself that I’d purposely overdose, and die.

I know how my mind works, and I know how it would go down.

No, not every day will be difficult, nor will it be a bowl of cherries. I’ve had times I wanted to say “forget” it and gone back out. I know, however, that those trying times teach me lessons and they’ve also given way to lots of blessings for which I am SO grateful. Today I know that times get hard, but those bad moments eventually pass.

So, to answer my earlier question. Do I have an excuse to use because I won’t be seeing or even hearing from my blood family this Christmas, or anytime in the future? Sure I have excuses, but not a single one of them is a good enough reason to throw away all that I’ve gained. Although my past Christmases are distant memories and my future ones may look lonely, I am fully able to make new traditions, and memories.

Thought for the day: Christmas is a time for miracles. Why not be one today? “Any clean addict is a miracle.” ~ Anonymous

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

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Tears Shed For An Addict

“Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.” ~ José N. Harris

(I apologize for the length. Actually, I’m not sorry. Hopefully you’ll see why as you read. I was going to split this into 2 parts but I changed my mind. My message today is too important.)

Recently I noticed a social media post that instantly caught my eye. A tear snuck out of my eye and rolled down my cheek as I recalled the events that led up to this post. To protect the person’s anonymity, I will use pseudonyms.

A number of years ago, I met a young woman who I will call Tammy. I remember when she first came into recovery. She was pushing a stroller with her adorable little girl in it. Tammy was about 21 years old and her little girl couldn’t have been much older than a year old.

When Tammy walked into the room, she was somewhat disheveled. All addicts are when they first come in. She looked like she was trying to hold herself together without using and caring for her little girl the best she could. As the months passed, I watched her straighten her life around.

One day Tammy disappeared, without a word. I figured that she probably back to using. That’s what most addicts do when they leave recovery.

Sometime in the spring of 2012, Tammy came back. The life of addiction roughed her up a bit, but she wasn’t as tore up as other addicts are when they come back to recovery. She hadn’t lost her home, her car, custody of her little girl, or her life – YET. Soon after she came back, I saw the sparkle return to Tammy’s eyes. Her passion for life was evident as she and her beautiful little girl did lots of activities together.

By the way, our acronym for “YET” is “You’re Eligible Too”. If you didn’t use that drug this way, get it by those means, or lose that person or thing, have no fear because, “You’re Eligible Too”.

In the summer of 2012, a young man, named Matt, came to recovery. He and Tammy became fast friends, but I could see that something more was happening between them. I could see that they were falling in love.

By this time, I’d been in recovery for a few years and had seen what happens when two addicts fall in love. In an effort to prevent the two of them from having a heartbreak, I told them about the pitfalls that I’ve seen happen. See, in recovery, we don’t give advice, rather we make suggestions. I told them what I’d seen when two addicts fall in love.

Sometimes in recovery, two addicts find themselves falling in love. After a while, the rose colored glasses of first love fall off, as they usually do in any relationship. When that happens, each person sees the other differently. Eventually one person will hurt the other in some way, whether or not it’s intentional. It’s not a matter of IF it will happen, but WHEN. Before long, one or both of them return to old playgrounds, hang around old playmates, do the old behaviors which ultimately one or both go back to using. It may not happen right away, but eventually it happens. We have a saying in recovery, “Two sickies don’t make a wellie.”

Despite all I told them, I was to late. They fell in love. It was inevitable. I’ve seen it happen numerous times.

Between 2012 and 2017, Tammy and Matt had their ups and downs. Some of their downs were pretty damn low. It started when he went back to using and putting Tammy’s little girl in harm’s way. If Child Protective Services knew what was going on in the home, they would’ve ripped that beautiful little girl from her arms.

One night, in an effort to help, and to avoid a really big ugly scene with his parents, Tammy called a couple of trusted addicts for help talk some sense into him. It got ugly once or twice, but by the end of the night, Matt agreed to go to a treatment facility in another state where he got the help he desperately needed. They both missed each other like crazy. A few months later, he came back home to help his dad and to be with the love of his life.

Unfortunately, that love of his life wasn’t Tammy. It was his drug of choice.

Shortly after coming home, Matt’s father passed away. One day, I was driving passed his dad’s business and decided to stop by to see if I could help him with the business. When I walked in, I saw a few people there just hanging out. I didn’t recognize any of them but, I felt uneasy. I just brushed it off and asked Matt if he would like my secretarial services.  I said that if he didn’t have money to pay me, that was fine. He declined.

I spoke to him a few weeks later when I stopped by the office to give him an earful about something. I never imagined that would be the last time I would speak to him.

One April morning in 2017, my phone rang. I don’t usually answer calls from unknown numbers, but something inside told me to answer it. The voice on the other end was crying uncontrollably. At first I thought it was another female addict calling for help or be a useful she relapsed.

It wasn’t. It was Tammy. At first I couldn’t understand what she was saying. I told her to take a deep breath. She was still crying, but at least I could understand her better. She wanted to tell me the news before anyone else did. “He’s gone.” she said. With a pit in my stomach, fearing I knew the answer, but also hoped I was wrong, I replied, “What do you mean? Where did he go?”

Matt took his last hit with his last breath at 31. He died from an overdose.

I don’t know what he was doing, who he was with, or what he was thinking. I don’t know if he got a bad batch and wasn’t aware of it or if he was suicidal. Sadly, I didn’t care. All I knew was that Matt didn’t stop using because he was out of drugs or because he came back into recovery. Quite the opposite. I also knew that Tammy tried her damndest to save him.

Tammy was beside herself with grief and I was beside myself with anger. I was angry at the disease of addiction. I was angry at Matt because he went back to using, probably because his father passed away. I don’t blame him. I lost my father too when I was young in recovery.

When lost my father, I didn’t go back to using because of it. Even though I had to tell my mom and my sibling that the doctor recommended that we “pull the plug”, I didn’t use. After taking my ill mother to the hospital to see all of the tubes and wires taken off of my dad, sitting with him while his body slowly shut down, and even after the phone call the following morning saying that he’d finally past away, I didn’t use.

I did, however, desperately try to find a meeting close to the hospital. Much as I wanted to run away, I knew I couldn’t. I had to stay strong for my mom and sister. I don’t say this to brag. I say this to show that it can be done. We can lose someone and not go out and use over it.

The  most heartbreaking thing is that Matt and Tammy were never able follow through with their dreams of staying together. Their hopes for the future were destroyed because he loved his drug of choice more than Tammy and the rest of his family. She kept him at arm’s length but continued trying to save him. Even though a couple of us suggested that she should leave him where he was at and worry about her recovery, she kept trying to rescued the love of her life.

In the end, not only did Matt take his life, he also took a very large piece of Tammy and her daughter’s heart along with his family’s when he died.

Since that day a year and a half ago, Tammy thinks about Matt every day. She and I touch base occasionally, but I know her heart breaks daily. I love her and her little girl to pieces, and am always willing to help her. She knows that my door is always open to both of them. Unfortunately, I have to keep her at arm’s length. If, for some reason, she returns to using, and she lost the battle like Matt did, I’d be heartbroken. I’ve lost enough friends to this disease whether it’s because they returned to using or they’ve died.

Four people that I considered family have died between the spring of 2017 and the spring of 2018. And those are only the ones that I know personally. Plus many more have returned to active addiction since I came into recovery a few 24 hours ago. My heart breaks for them too.

I can only pray that someday they find their way back to recovery before they succumb to this disease.

As I said earlier, I stumbled on Tammy’s post in my social media news feed. Her words with the picture moved me to write this. Seeing her face, with tears running down her cheek, resting on her beloved Matt’s tombstone hurt my heart. I left out the picture from this post for two reasons. First and foremost is to protect Tammy’s identity.

The other reason that I left the picture out sounds a bit harsh, but hey, reality is harsh. If you’re an addict reading this, I want my words to burn a lasting image in your mind. I want you to see your loved ones face, with tears running down their cheek, with it resting on your tombstone. I don’t care if that person is a family member, friend, romantic partner, your cat, dog or other pet. Imagine that person, sobbing uncontrollably and wanting to hug you, but all they have left of you is a handful of pictures, a head full of memories.

And a cold cement slab on top of your eternal and final resting place.

I am a recovering addict. I know how hard it is to stop using drugs. I know how hard it is to avoid the temptation to use that one thing that gives you comfort when you feel like your world is falling apart. God, I know. I also care about other addicts and want you to find a better way to live. Sometimes I care to much. Hell, I can’t even delete the social media profiles of the 4 addicts that died in the last year. At the same time, if you die of an overdose, I will not attend your funeral. That is a topic for another day.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Thought for the day: Here are the Tammy’s words written in September 2018 … 

“Addiction stole from me. Addiction robbed me of having my best friend, robbed me of marrying my soulmate. Addiction robbed my daughter of having a whole happy home with someone that loved her just as much as I do. This is the raw truth of what addiction does to the people around you . This was not how it was supposed to end. Not a day, minute or second  goes by that I’m not thinking of you and wishing you were here. Tay and I miss you so much Michael. I truly hope you are having a blast now that you are freed from your demons. I love you and miss you more than words could ever explain. ❤️ PLEASE if you are struggling with addiction PLEASE get help!! Their is life after addiction!!!

IT IS NEVER TO LATE ❤️💛💚💙💜

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

#TakeTheHighRoad

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”  ~Mahatma Gandhi

The Old Testament says,  “If there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth…” (Exodus 21:23–25). This basically meant that the punishment must fit the crime. Excessive harshness and excessive leniency should be avoided.

People hurt each other every day, whether it’s intentional or accidental. It’s inevitable. When someone hurts us, we often get revenge. People keep getting revenge on each other keeping the cycle of violence going. When does the cycle of violence stop? Til everyone gets got? Then who’s left? If we lived by the Old Testament ways, everyone of us would be dead or maimed in some way.

In the New Testament, it says, “Do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek…”(Matthew 5:39–42). This is where Gandhi’s quote comes in. When someone hurts us, are we angry? Of course we are! If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be human! Does this mean we should resist, forgive, forget, and love everyone who hurts us and let them walk all over us? Absolutely not!  

Of course people need to be punished, especially when they commit other heinous crimes. However punishment should be left to the courts. For everyday occurrences we need to step back, evaluate what happened and ask ourselves, “Is this person really mean at heart? Is there a communication breakdown? Will all of this matter a week, a month, a year, or more from now?” Probably not.

Thought for the day: While an eye for an eye makes everyone blind, we shouldn’t be doormat for others to walk all over us. We must find a healthy balance between punishment and being a pushover.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Bridges

“The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which bridge to burn” ~David Russell

There was a time in my life when I had all kinds of people I called friends, but unfortunately many of them were drunks and addicts. They weren’t my true friends. True friends are those special people who see you at your best, your worst, when you’re ugly and when you’re REALLY ugly, and they stick by you no matter what.

I have also been fortunate to have some really awesome people in my life. They’ve seen who I am in all of the above scenarios. Stuff like problems with finance, romance, death, illness and mood swings. These are the people I consider family. They have been there when life was a bed of roses and when the chips were down.

I’ve also had people in my life who don’t know me or my heart and they either take advantage of me, bully me, fight with me, or spread untrue gossip about me among other things. These people can best be described as toxic people. A dear friend taught me long ago about people like this and how their toxicity stifles my growth as a woman. He said for my own sanity, I had to distance myself from these people. Yes, this is very difficult to do because I still care about them on some level. At the same time, if I want to live a more peaceful life away from drama and chaos I need to do this – even if it’s a family member .

Thought for the day: To live a more peaceful and healthy way of life, it’s better to step away from the toxic people in our lives that cause us pain and heartache.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Hate

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” ~Maya Angelou

I’ve written numerous pieces about hate and resentment, as did Doug, my Spiritual mentor, before he Dropped His Robe(passed away). His message was heard by many people everywhere. However, as harsh as this may sound, I am grateful Doug is not around to see what has become of our country since he left this Earth.

My hope today is that I can be a voice of reason in a sea of madness. Today I draw on the strength of my mentor and my other teachers to pass a message and a plea for peace.

“Hatred or hate is a deep and extreme emotional dislike. It can be directed against individuals, groups, entities, objects, behaviors, or ideas. Hatred is often associated with feelings of anger, disgust and a disposition towards hostility”(Wikipedia)

Can anyone, besides me, feel the tension in America these days? There are countries whose citizens hate other countries for what they believe. There also are citizens within those countries who hate their fellow citizens for the same reason.

This has become particularly evident in America the last few years. Some people say that it’s because of this reason, while others say it’s that reason. Everyone’s to blame, and no one is accountable for their actions. If I disagree with you, you call me some “-ist”, “-phobe” word or worse – a nazi. Let’s be honest here. Do any of our reasons really matter? As Maya Angelou said, hate has caused a lot of problems, but has it solved any problems?

I’ll wait while someone can come up with an answer…

Since the dawn of 24/7 news and social media, hate has become much more prevalent in today’s culture. It is even being used for political gains and agendas. However, this hatred is like a poison, rather a cancer. Typically, the cancer we’re familiar with, is not contagious and spreads from organ to organ until the body dies. Hatred is a contagious cancer, that spreads from human to human. Once another human catches it, it spreads throughout that body until it dies. Then it goes on to its next victim.

News outlets and social media help to spread this cancer from person to person with their hate filled word vomit. News pundits and viral posts spew their junk, and incite violence with their words that anger us. They spread it from one person to the next until our country, and the people in it, literally die. This can either be from someone committing an act of violence or from some health related cause.

This doesn’t just happen on one side of the political aisle either. All political parties are to blame.

I could go on listing more ways that hatred is killing us, but it’s more powerful if you see it yourself. Look around. Can you see how hate is killing you or your own community? I mean it. Stop what you are doing right now, take a step back and look around. Put yourself in another person’s shoes. What do you see? How does it feel? If someone gets in your face and starts yelling, screaming or calling you names, do you not feel rage?

I’ll give you another moment to answer that …

All is not lost though. There is hope. As long as the human heart beats, there is always hope. It’s time. Now is the time for the peacekeepers to peacefully, yet forcefully, rise up against hate. Like Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

To begin being the change, we start by looking at ourselves, our actions and our interactions with others around us. If we feel angry watching or reading the news and social media posts, we have options. We can change the channel, switch to another, positive social media page or group, or simply turn them off and walk away, if only for a little while. Down the road we can work on our personal relationships with our families, friends, and coworkers. After that we can continue to spread the message of peace to others.

To move beyond the hate, we can ask ourselves a few questions. “Do I enjoy feeling angry and full of hate all the time? What difference does this or that make in my life? What are my motives, or reasons, for my feelings? Am I considering how the other person feels? Am I acting or reacting on impulse? Is what I’m saying kind, necessary, or will it hurt someone?”

We can learn to walk away from and stop talking to people who hurt us physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. If we value our relationship with that person, we can agree to disagree with them. There’s also is the power of forgiveness. We don’t necessarily go up to someone who hurt us and say, “I forgive you”. We forgive them in our heart. Doing this takes a heavy load off our hearts and our shoulders. Whether it’s forgiving one person or a group of people, this helps the healing process tremendously.

There’s a saying that I’ve heard through the years by Eldridge Cleaver, “If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem”. While we may not have caused the hate we see, we must not sit by idly by and watch it happen. It’s time for the peacekeepers to rise up. Rise up against the hate you see with love. This is the only way to bring about peace.

Thought for the day: Today I will stand up and be a Warrior of peace.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Fear

Acronyms for F.E.A.R. – Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise … and … False Evidence Appearing (to be) Real.

A true story about overcoming fear.

One of my fears is public speaking, no matter if it’s a group of friends or total strangers. My brain goes faster than my mouth and I end up stammering and stuttering, then get flustered and feel embarrassed. This is probably because of the lack confidence in myself and fear of how my audience will judge me.

For many years, I’ve belonged to a group of people in my community. At one time, my job was to find people to speak at our meetings. I had a long list of people I could call and a couple of people as backups, in case I couldn’t find anyone or the original speaker couldn’t do it for whatever reason.

One night I couldn’t find anyone. As it came down to the wire, I realized I was going to have to speak. I had been able to dodge the bullet for the longest time, despite everyone telling me that I should speak. This time I couldn’t. I had no idea what I was going to speak about. When I told a friend how I felt, she told me the acronym for FEAR.

So, I swallowed my fear, took a deep breath, said a prayer and spoke. When I was done, a number of people came up to hug me and tell me I did a good job. Also, a couple people thanked me. They could identify with what I said. When all was said and done, I felt relieved and empowered. I had faced my fears and overcame them.

Thought for the day: This made me realize I could get thru anything as long as I faced my fears and worked to overcome them. It’s been a tool I’ve used whenever I’m faced with fear.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

I Believe…

“I believe that we are here for each other, not against each other. Everything comes from an understanding that you are a gift in my life – whoever you are, whatever our differences.” ~John Denver

In light of recent events in my life, I found myself reflecting on this quote. I reflect on the loss of family, friends, and loved ones who’ve left my life due to death or other reasons. I also reflect back to some of the first people who have helped me and how they impacted my life, especially during a time when I was still very impressionable. My teenage years.

Perhaps the person who impacted my life the most was my math teacher that I had 2 or 3 times between 7th and 12th grade. She taught me to not give up on anything. I remember the days I stayed after school for her help. She kept telling me that I was doing well. If I messed up, she always encouraged me to try again. She never gave me the answers I wanted, but she did show me where to find the answers I sought. She had a special way of motivating me. Like the day I had to run the mile for gym class.

One year, I was running on the track team. Since I had a difficult time with long distance running, I either sprinted or I competed in other track events. One sunny day, my math teacher was on a lunch break which was at the time I had to run. She decided to come down for a short run since she was very active in sports. As she was passing me, she saw me struggling and offered to run the rest of the mile to help me finish.

Remember what I said earlier, “She had a special way of motivating me”.

As we ran together, I started to get more and more out of breath. On top of that, I was getting a pain in my side that hurt really bad. To keep me moving she said things like, “Don’t you give up now!”, “Keep going!”, “You’re almost there!”, and, “I’m proud of you for not quitting!” And perhaps the most memorable, “If you quit now I’m going to make you kiss the asphalt!” Needless to say I finished my run out of the sheer fear she actually would’ve made me, “… kiss the asphalt!”

To this day, I still push myself just a little harder than I should. Is it, because of my stubborn nature or is it because I hear my math teacher’s words in my head? Who knows. That day, she gave me a gift – the gift of perseverance.

And then there was the nun who gave me a lecture and a much needed lesson.

Sunday nights I used to go to religious education classes. Since a couple of us lived within a mile of each other, we carpooled. One night, after we got dropped off, I decided not to go inside. Instead, I met my boyfriend who was parked around the corner waiting for me. We went to a local under 18 dance club that I was dying to go to. As my boyfriend and I were walking across the parking lot, I remember sensing that something didn’t feel right. I knew I was safe with my boyfriend, but I couldn’t shake the anxiousness building inside.

To understand my fear and what came next, think of the old Stephen King movie, “Christine”. For the younger generation who haven’t seen the movie, imagine you’re walking across a dark parking lot, alone. Suddenly, you see headlights turn on. You hear a car engine start up and the engine starts revving. Then, the car comes flying out of the shadows right towards you with Arnie Cunningham(played by Keith Gordon) behind the wheel. He’s got a crazed look in his eye as he drives right at you … except in my case, the car didn’t run me over, and the driver wasn’t some crazed lunatic hell bent on killing people. It was a crazed lunatic mother hell bent on ruining her daughter’s date.

How she knew where I was and got there before me eludes me to this day.

When the car pulled up to me, the window rolled down, and my mother simply said, “Get in the car, NOW!” Fearing her wrath, I quickly got into the car without even saying goodbye to my boyfriend. When I got in the car, my mind started racing with thoughts. I felt so humiliated that my mom broke up my date. I was angry and embarrassed that my parents were so strict(at least in my eyes they were).

Most of all I dreaded the lengthy lecture and grounding that awaited me at home. That meant I couldn’t go out and hang with my friends, go to school activities, or use the phone, usually for no more than a couple weeks. I could only imagine how long the lecture and grounding would be this time.

If I only knew what punishment I was getting for this stunt.

The car ride was dead silent. No words were spoken and the radio was off. In an effort to break the tension, and silence, I asked mom where we were going. She said nothing. The pit in my stomach grew each time she turned a corner. I feared where she was taking me. In my head said, “Don’t turn that way! Go that way! No … please … don’t … awe man!!!” Yup, she brought me back to the school. Part of my punishment was to be lectured by a nun. I’ll admit, after hearing stories about nuns back in the day, I was scared. I had visions of having to say a gazillion prayers and a ruler being slapped on my knuckles.

Luckily, I was lectured by the nicer of the two nuns. There was no ruler and I didn’t have to say a gazillion prayers. This nun was firm, but also kind and compassionate. She began by telling me about the very real troubling times we were living in. Women my age were being abducted for heaven knows what kind of ungodly things. Before I knew it, she ended up counseling me on the importance of faith, honesty, love, and so on. That was her gift to me.

Thru the years, I’ve come to realize that the people who’ve come and gone from my life have given me gifts too. They’ve taught me about the realities of life along with things like acceptance, patience, tolerance, and perseverance to name a few. I am grateful to each of them for the lessons they taught me and the gifts they’ve shared with me.

To all of you are or were in my life, the ones I love, like, dislike, or detest, along with the doubters and the naysayers, I say thank you. Thank you for the lessons you’ve taught me and the gifts you’ve shared with me.

Thought for the day: People come and go from our lives for a reason. Learn all that you can from them while you can. You never know when those lessons will come in handy later in your life.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts