Tag Archives: grief

National Recovery Month Stories: S.

Hello everyone, welcome back to the Recovery Month Story Project. This week’s story is brief, but extremely powerful. It was written by a woman I think of as part of my family, a woman who treats me like a daughter, a person I love dearly. What her family went through with her son’s long addiction to drugs was painful to watch, and I probably made it more painful at times by being another person they loved who was a sick addict, even though I wanted to be there as a comforting friend. For that, I can only apologize, and try to be better now. I can also tell a little bit of their story, in hopes that it might help another family.

 

We went to my aunt’s 90th birthday party last month, a jolly occasion with lots of laughter and excellent speeches. Then we noticed a cousin who has cocaine induced schizophrenia. He is now in his late 30’s and I hadn’t seen him since he was a bright, fun loving, enthusiastic and interesting teenager. The contrast between that full of promise for a rosy future lad and the zombie with necessarily over medicated shaking hands and spittle escaping from the corner of his mouth is truly terrifying, and for the very first time since our son died aged 22 from a heroin overdose I felt that yes, there are worse outcomes than death. I felt grateful that our son has been spared the twilight life that young man has to endure.

– S.

 

 

 


National Recovery Month Stories: Nikki

Welcome, everyone, to Writing for Recovery’s National Recovery Month Story Project! I’m honored to be able to bring you these narratives, written by the people who experienced them. I’m grateful for their vulnerability in sharing these pieces of their lives, in hopes that others may take away something that helpful.

This first story is by a dear friend of mine. It is beautifully, if painfully, written. She has been through more pain than anyone should ever have to endure; and yet, despite that, she has a firm conviction about her recovery. An amazing story, a great way to start. Thank you, Nikki.  -Sarah

 

Imagine a girl.

Imagine a girl who was broken. A girl who was abused, neglected, and abandoned throughout her life. A girl who couldn’t trust her father. A girl whose mother picked drugs over her. A girl who was bounced between family members for the first 10 years of her life, only to be permanently placed with the most abusive one of them all.
A girl who stopped eating. Started purging. Cutting. Eventually moved onto pills. A girl who hated herself and felt unsafe in her world. A girl whose mother died when she was 21. A girl who discovered her biological father, her last hope for a parent, had died when she was 14. She never knew him.
A girl who went in and out of so many treatment places that she has even lost count. A girl who lied and manipulated others. A girl who hurt and was hurt. A girl who almost died, should have died many times.
2 serious suicide attempts. 2 surgical feeding tubes. Crushing pills to dull the pain. Purging. Thousands of dollars spent. Dozens of therapists seen. Blame, hurt, sadness, anger, despair; often misplaced.
Imagine a girl who hated herself.
Then decided, one day, she was tired of hating herself. Tired of lying. Of pain. Of hurting. Of hating being alive.

Imagine a girl who clawed her way out of the mess she had created. She fell a few times, but managed to find her way out. She made amends with family, forged new friendships, and decided to begin living again.
One day, that girl met the man who became the love of her life. He understood her, loved her for who she is, not who she was, and knew everything about her. He didn’t care about the past, he fell in love with this girl.
Many months later, this girl got pregnant. After all of the abuse she had shown her body, she was told it would never happen. She had abandoned the hope of a family, of children of her own. She was overjoyed. Grateful. Blessed.
15 weeks later she was grieving, broken, devastated.
“I’m sorry, your son has no heartbeat anymore.”
Words that came to define her life.
She cried, screamed, got angry, sad, spent nights in despair.
But she did not fall. She did not relapse.
3 months later, she got the surprise of her life when she discovered she was pregnant again. Joy combined with terror and fear.
Please don’t let it happen again.
At 8 weeks:
“I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat.”
And there she was again, sitting in a funeral home signing a fetal death certificate. For her second baby. Devastated.
But again, she is not falling. She has not relapsed. She knows her recovery is real. She knows that no behavior will bring her babies back. Starving, cutting, purging, running, pills; nothing is distraction enough to take away the pain of losing her children. Her hopes, dreams, visions of the future. Gone, in the blink of an eye.
14 days after the news, she is still angry, sad, broken, defeated, devastated, and in agony. She cries daily, nightly for her babies. She needs them. Wants them.
This girl’s recovery has been tested, and still stands strong.

We are stronger than we give ourselves credit for, stronger than we ever thought we could be.
This girl is me. And I am proud to say, that despite losing my baby Aiden, and my second baby (who we take to be a boy) Connor, I am still solidly in recovery. I waiver in many things, but never that fact.
I know pain, the worst kinds of pain. And I know that behaviors, of any type, only multiply pain.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story.

Nikki Albrecht

 

 


Poem: “Tyler”

This poem is a dedication and a remembrance. I wrote it in pieces. The first pieces came just weeks after my cousin Tyler was tragically and suddenly killed in a train accident; after a few lines, however, I couldn’t go on with it. Seven years later, I picked it up again and finished it as a way to honor Tyler. It’s the only way I know how, really. July 2oth, 2011 would have been his 31st birthday; I’m so sorry that he isn’t here to celebrate it. This is the least I can do for him, though a tribute like this probably would have embarrassed the hell out of him. I don’t care, Ty. I love you; get over it. 🙂

Thank you to everyone who reads this. Peace, Sarah

 

 

Tyler

 

On a midsummer day a blank canvas was born

No one would have ever expected to mourn

 

This brilliant young light that came into our lives

After all that it took for you to survive

 

A difficult birth, the odd way you arrived

From the start you were different and struggled to thrive

 

In a world that just didn’t seem to understand

The vision you saw, the work of your hand

 

Like all the great artists you grappled to find

The right path to follow in your heart and mind

 

You were intense and solemn, wise beyond your years

Yet funny and clever, good-hearted and dear

 

A sensitive soul with your heart on your sleeve

While conducive to art, a burden to grieve

 

For this opens one up to feel deeper inside

To know levels of pain one cannot abide

 

Yet to also feel joy and love so profound

That, awestruck with grace, one cannot expound

 

What you brought to this world cannot be replaced

Your spiky black hair, your sweet smiling face

 

Your presence was quiet, soft-spoken you were

But behind that calm surface your passion was pure

 

The way you let everyone into your heart

Was through your beautiful music and art

 

Your gifts were incredible, you broke the mold

Though at times you didn’t do what you were told

 

It’s heartbreaking to know that the world’s now deprived

Of what you’d have created if you had survived

 

But my cousin, my friend, in this world you were loved

I believe you are now looking on from above

 

You see we remember and you are at peace

Knowing our love for you will never cease

 

 

Sarah Ann Henderson 2011

 


Poem: “Land of the Lost”

Hello everyone. This poem is sort of an addendum to the journal piece I wrote last week on grief and loss. I appreciate you all supporting me on my journey through this; it means a lot to me. Thank you. Peace, Sarah

 

7/22/11

 

Land of the Lost

 

How do you say good-bye

How do you ever let go

 

When vital young people have died

Is possible to do so?

 

23, 22, 20

Unnatural ages for death

 

Out of the cosmic order

To think of it takes my breath

 

The unfairness of certain losses

The wishes and trades I’d make

 

It leaves me feeling angry, quixotic

The universe made a mistake

 

Horrible people should die in crashes

And loving people should live

 

This feeling that something went cosmically wrong

Is terribly hard to forgive

 

I don’t think I’ll ever make sense of these losses

I don’t think I can understand

 

The reasons behind why these people were taken

Why this was part of the plan

 

So the only thing left to do

The only way to move on

 

Is to try to accept that it is what it is

And look forward to each new dawn

 

That doesn’t mean forgetting the lost

In my heart their memories survive

 

And I believe that as long as they’re remembered with love

Their spirits are always alive

 

© Sarah Ann Henderson 2011

 


Good Grief: Where I Am On the Path After Loss

I was hoping it wouldn’t hit me this hard.

I didn’t want to be affected so much. I didn’t want to end up feeling like this, not like this, not for this long. I feel sad; that’s to be expected. I feel empty and depressed. I’m restless, hurting. At times very angry, spoiling for a fight with anyone who dares cross me. At other times severely apathetic, almost to the point of recklessness; a sense of fuck-it-all-who-cares.

I’ve been ignoring things I need to do to care for myself, and that’s not good. I gave up a job opportunity where I could have made really good money, but I backed out of it suddenly because I just didn’t think I had the physical energy to keep up with it. (Granted, 55 hours a week chasing after two toddlers is a hard job.) I’m scared of how exhausted and just…off I feel. It sucks majorly.

The thing is, this is not just about the one death of my godfather this past week. This feels like it’s about more than that. I think it’s the cumulative effect of so much death that happened in my life this month…the impact of it all together is crushing.

This month, July, also happens to be the month that my cousin Tyler was killed in a freak accident, hit by a train, just three weeks shy of his twenty-fourth birthday. It’s also the month that a girl I knew from treatment died suddenly of cardiac arrest due to complications of her eating disorder. Later in the month, July 20th, is of course, Tyler’s birthday. A few days later comes the memory of the day that my best friend’s brother died of a heroin overdose. He was only twenty-two. Now to all of that I get to add the day that my godfather, my Uncle Lyle, died in a private plane crash.

It’s enough that I just want to scream.

How can the universe do that? How can it cram so much death and tragedy into four little weeks? How can it bear to break so many hearts at once, shatter so many families, cause so much grief? It seems out of order somehow, and I want to argue with the universe: How dare you! What the hell are you thinking? If you have to do this at least spread it out a little so we can manage?! And all the universe seems to say in reply is: Live with it.

Of course, part of me says that I have no right to be bitching. It was not my son who died. Not my daughter. Not my husband. I did not lose a sibling or a parent, surely a much more devastating loss than a cousin or a friend or an uncle.  Who am I to be complaining about how hard it is to live with grief, when I can’t even comprehend the kind of grief that those families must be feeling? I know there is truth in that.

However, another part of me- the rational part- understands that I have a right to grieve those losses too. Grief and loss are relative things, like trauma; in fact, they are a special form of trauma in themselves.  Different people experience loss in different ways and move through it in different times. Also like trauma, people have different levels of tolerance for such events, different capacities for coping. For someone like me, who’s experienced a lot of grief and excessive amounts of trauma as well, even losses that may seem more peripheral in nature may affect a person as if they were much closer.

On the other hand, the closeness of relationships can’t be judged by their title. Some siblings never speak, some parents are estranged, some cousins are like siblings, some friends are closer than family.  For instance, if my father had been the one killed last week, my life would be no different in any way. The last time we spoke on the phone was the day he died for me, so his physical death is all but irrelevant.  I worked through all I needed to work through, grieved what I had to, and let go. So when he physically dies it really isn’t going to matter; I’ve been through that process already.

Which is what made me think, as I was standing there at my godfather’s funeral, that I wish it had been my father who was killed. That sounds horrible doesn’t it? Only if you didn’t know those two men. On the one hand, my godfather: a brilliant, generous, adventurous man- a surgeon, a pilot, and a veteran-who was bigger than life to me. He was the Gentle Giant; at over six feet tall, when he picked me up as a little girl and carried me around on his shoulders I felt like I could see the whole world. Having three sons with my Aunt Pat, he was thrilled to have a little girl to fuss over, even building me a gigantic dollhouse from scratch for my sixth birthday. He was protective and kind and nothing but sweet to me; he didn’t understand and was possibly a little hurt by the fact that I sometimes feared him and couldn’t explain why. “Why” had to do with the other man, the one whom I assumed had loved me but couldn’t possibly because a father that loves his daughter does not abuse her. He does not rape, molest, hit, and threaten her. He does not ignore her existence the other twenty-three hours of the day. He doesn’t treat her mother like shit. And he doesn’t tell her that she is worthless. That’s the man my father was…is. So why does he get to live while this other man, the one who truly did love his family, he died? It doesn’t seem right.

I should probably feel bad about wishing my father dead in place of my godfather but I don’t. I feel like the world should be a fair place, like loving and kind people should get to live and horrible human beings who abuse their wives and children should die in plane crashes.  I try to tell myself that God will even things out someday, that there will be justice even if I never know about it, even if it occurs beyond this life. And that has to be enough.

But it doesn’t stop me from wishing that I could have my Uncle Lyle back.

I will always miss him. He gave me an example of the kind of father that I should have had, the kind of father I deserved. He gave me a some of the love that I desperately needed from a father figure, and I dearly wish that I had been more able to receive it. This month will always be hard for me, remembering all the losses, the lives of people I knew, loved, and respected that were cut short. But I think the only way to get through it is a concept a friend recently mentioned to me called radical acceptance.  Understanding that while these people have passed from this life, they still live in the hearts and minds of the people who loved them. And as long as I can remember my cousin teasing me and laugh, remember my godfather picking me up and smile, they are never truly gone.

© Sarah Ann Henderson 2011