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I’m back.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted, for several reasons.  I’ve become quite focused on the book, and my writing has taken up most of my free time.  Between my two jobs, my writing, and dealing with my man, time just slips away, like the song says.  It’s summer now, and I have much to be grateful for.  I think it’s time to share some positive once again, and touch on some of the haunting negative that is not unique to me in any way, but is simply a part of life for many women who are addicts in the process of repairing a shattered life.

One great thing I can report, is that I have just returned from a trip to my hometown to watch my 17 year old daughter graduate from high school.  Because of lacking funds, I asked to crash at my ex husbands house for the five days of my visit, which he allowed.  Being a self proclaimed “living legend”, rocker, writer and (believe it or not) teacher,  he is also quite a drinker and smoker.  He took off from work for the length of my visit, and proceeded to stay completely inebriated the entire time. I didn’t mind at all, in fact it made things much easier for me in the long run.  However, he jumped at every opportunity to slag me to my daughter and her boyfriend who was staying there for a short while as well.   I took his verbal assault in  stride, having prepared myself for the onslaught of bitterness long before I hopped on the plane.

The house was filthy.  I cleaned and cleaned but never really got it right.  Since he was partying all week, my daughter, her many visiting friends and myself were privy to him prancing around in his underwear with a margarita in his hand, talking about amusing things such as the time I promised to have sex with him but gave him a blow job instead, and how pissed off he was by that.  Charming, right?  Believe me, I know, but that’s life in my world and I take it as it comes.  Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing…who’s to judge?  I do the best I can with what I have to work with.

So, it occurs to me, that although I was a bad person for many years, I was only marginally so when I was with him.  I did drugs, but with his blessing.  I tried to get clean, but he brought me more drugs.  I loved to get high, I’m an addict, so it was just impossible to refuse.  Our break up was actually brought on by his mother’s refusal to accept me. I had never been mean to her, or done anything bad that she ever knew of, but, as she put it, she “just didn’t like the way I looked.”  Unfortunately, my husband had what you might consider a sort of split life.  He was this offensive, hard rocking vulgar man in the world, and a momma’s boy at home.  He visited her constantly, and she drove him nuts about me.  After 10 years, the pressure drove us apart, piece by piece, heartbreak after heartbreak.  It didn’t help that I was a junkie, but we both were guilty of our indulgences, yet he remained a father because of his momma’s support, and I was basically paid to leave. It’s hard to explain, and probably even harder for any good mother to understand, but I hadn’t the fight in me anymore to do battle with him.  He could be so vicious, and he knew my weaknesses so well, that I became useless and depressed under the strain of his daily ranting.

As I scraped layers of rancid food out from under the microwave, and chipped layer after layer of blackened nastiness off of the stove top, I thought.  I thought and thought and thought.  Why?  Why do some people get all the breaks regardless of their choices, and others (like me) who would give their right arm to be supported through hard times, end up loosing everything, including their child?  I saw the conditions they were living in and I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could have done better.  If I hadn’t been cast out and lost my child, I would never have ended up on the street doing what I did.  But as the saying goes, when you have nothing left, then you have nothing left to lose.  Once I experienced that loss, not once but twice, I lost hope in my life and lived as if I were already dead.  Being cast out of your family is the worst kind of emotional pain.  I just can’t describe it any more than that right now.

Despite this bitterness on my part, I have to say that my ex husband did manage somehow to raise a beautiful, smart and talented young lady, so, all in all, who am I to judge, I guess.  I still wish I hadn’t been driven out, but what’s done is done.  After the first day or so, he started to warm up to me, and I do believe that we somehow managed to bury the hatchet in many ways.  When you love someone, that love has a life of it’s own and never completely dies.  It may change forms, love and hate often tangling themselves up together, the mischievous little skallywags that they are.  Still, the love is there, and if it’s given a little consideration, it blooms once once again.  You can know in your heart that a portion of your life is over, but you can still hold on to the love that keeps you alive, even if it’s no longer in the present.

Okay..so what’s the “great” part of this, you ask?  Well, I was able to GET there, and reconnect with my daughter after years of being apart.  I saw her walk across that stage and receive her diploma and honors, and she was so proud and so happy to have us both there.  It was good.  It was in fact, absolutely amazing, and if it wasn’t for God and my new life here, it wouldn’t have been possible.  I hurt each day as I watched her in amazement, walking and talking and taking control of her surroundings quite often.  She is intelligent and in many ways a dominant type of person, which gives me a deep sense of confidence in her decisions and commitments.  She kept a sort of safe distance from me, while still maintaining a warmth between us.  It was tough, but a huge step forward after so many years apart.  She won’t be taken advantage of or stepped on, I can see that for sure.  She’s not at all like her mother, and everything like her father.  The only thing I think she may have inherited from me, is the heart not to harm anyone ever, at least not intentionally.  That’s one character her father lacks from time to time.

So, I’m back at home.  I’ve spent a lot of my trip on the phone with him, either texting or talking to him to reassure him that I’m not there to rekindle a romance with anyone.  He didn’t believe me and was quite worried that I would never come back.  He would write me poetry, then freak out when my I didn’t answer my phone right away.  It was exhausting to continuously have to coddle him while I was trying to work through my situation with my ex and daughter.  I made it through it all though, and once I got home, I was showered with love and almost smothering affection.  It was bordering on scary at times.  He gave me a Forever ring, the kind that has a ring inside a ring that spins inside of it.  He also gave me a pretty cross necklace, both of these gifts are things he has never done for anyone before.  Then, the very next day, the nightmare started all over again.  He took me out to dinner and got drunk and really abusive.  The gist of his tyraid was that I had somehow cheated on him when I was away.  This went on for days.  Each night has been a fight, each morning when he wakes up for work at 4:45 AM, he wakes me up to apologize and ask me if I”m going to leave him now.  Last night was a little better, I hope this will wear off.

Staying positive, I look at the beauty in my life and revel in it.  Today, as yesterday and the day before, I got to wake up after dosing off again when he left for work.   I open my front door, take a deep breath and walk through my little garden.  I took a bike ride to go tanning (I still give in to vanity quit a bit), and then a little trip to the garden store where I purchased odds and ends to round out and beautify my little personal Eden.  It’s truly euphoric for me to dig in the dirt and watch things grow and bloom.  We live in a low income, dirty little trailer park, but our space is an oasis.  For that I am so grateful.  I love the morning ritual of watering my treasures as the sun starts to heat up the day, and I am proud to be the kind of person who can take care of them and keep them alive and thriving.  My friendly ferrell cats come to watch me and rub  up against my legs, talking to me as I shovel out their breakfast, and I think…wow, I really could have been a good mom, if only someone had believed in me. But, I’m good now, and now is all there is.

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Hi Everybody!

Well, it would appear that I will NOT be attending school just yet.  I will probably continue to write the state board of cosmetology to appeal the rejection I recieved from BCC, and get some kind of approval to take the course.  The fact is, unfortunately, with the new age of backgroung checks, my chances of getting into any kind of program that requires a licence by the state of FL are slim to none.  I could work on an AA degree, but I am going to finish my book before I take on something that big.

  You can look at any of the statistics and posts offered  by my blogging guru, The Gateless Gate Zen Center (KC), and you will see that this state wants to convict and incarcerate as many drug addicts as they can. Prisons are money making machines.  I have stated before that nowadays these convictions on your background can stop you from being able to get a licence for any type of profession.  I was told that it was considered on a case by case basis, but I was denied even though I have no violent or robbery type charges.  Just small drug posession and prostitution. 

This may seem like a really broad statement, blanketing a very touchy and contreversial subject.  I am here to tell you that it is not.  It looks like it doesn’t really matter anymore what your charges are, if the state can find a reason to stop you from getting an occupational licence, they will.

 I have explained before, that I was a homeless junkie, selling her body and soul for a fix.  The police knew me on site.  Sometimes, when they couldn’t charge me with a crime, they would follow me as I walked from place to place, knowing full well I had nowhere to go.  They would laugh at me when they stopped me several times a night, and tell me to et off THEIR streets.  They knew I was homeless.  Sometimes, I would find a place to hide, and lay down, exhausted in some bushes or in an abandoned car.  If they found me, they would charge me with another misdemeanor, trespassing.  It went on and on, but NO ONE offered me any help.  What I DID get, was a record a mile long.  Trespassing and paraphenalia, prostitution and on the occasion that they found a pill or crack crumb, felony drug charges.  Charges piled up during that stage of my life, and there are 18 pages of shame for me to explain every time I submit to a background check.  Our system is slowly taking everyone down, charge by charge, who is addicted.  It even appears now after some research, that I cant even get licenced to be a drug counselor, because I have so many charges.

All those charges incurred court costs and fines, which adds up to a figue I can’t even hope to pay in my lifetime.  Especially when you take into consideration what I am about to explain next.

Ok, so years later, I am one of the  ones who have made it out of that life.   The obstacles are obvious, place to live, find a job, get some kind of education even if I can’t get a certificate or a licence.   There is one huge factor that I have not mentioned before, and that is child support.  After you get back on your feet in the free world, all of you financial obligations come after you. This one is the worst, because you can’t put it off, and you can’t get a decent paycheck.

The thing about child suport, is that once you start working your humble just got released job, it isn’t long before the state begins to garnish your wages.  It doesn’t matter how much you make, a certain percent will be taken out of you each day.  For me, I made minimum wage, working for day labor, which is all I could find.  Being female for me means you can’t do some of the work the larger men can do, so minimum wage was all I could get.  When I was provided a job assignment, which was sometimes all week, and sometimes as little as once every two weeks, 40 percent of my pay went to the two men who have my daughters. After working an 8 hour day, I recieve 24 dollars.  Both of these men have houses they live in (which is why my daughters are with them in the first place), they have a driver’s licence and and a car.  They have good jobs, making more than I could even dream of at this point.  Yet, my only means of survival is reaped to give to them, reguardless if it leaves me enough to survive.   I called child support enforcement, and was told no matter what, 40npercent of my pay is gone, there is no sliding scale based on how little I make.

For me, I have so many fines and court costs that have added up during my years of addiction and incarceration, and so much back child support that there is very little chance I will be able to get a drivers licence.  When I am able to work, the 24 dollars a day I make is not enough to survive, much less start paying on fines.

It is hard not to be bitter and angry.  I try to focus on what makes me happy.  God, my writing, my beautiful girls and my hopes that one day I will somehow get out from under all of this. Makeup and art thrills me, as well as music, so I let myself go in these things and try to forget…

I stay with my boyfriend despite the abuse, in between his crazy mood swings, I recieve the love I have craved for so long and he provides a good home, and a place for me to try and move ahead.  nI tell myself this to get by.  The truth is, I would have left by now if I could.  But, I know I probably would have went back, or found another relationship right away.  I don’t know how to get out of needing to be loved.  Maybe I even need to be abused…I don’t know the answer to that, but I think it’s a weakness, lack of self respect thing.

So this is just another aspect of getting out, and my story.  I am not nearly as strong as some of my sisters and brothers who have been released and done so well.  I know I have a lot of deeper problems that I have yet to get a handle on, and I hope that sharing all this will help those who still still struggle as I do.

AAaaaaand……Denied!

 I was rejected for the cosmetology program at Brevard Community College.  If you read my previous posts, you know that it was quite costly to apply.  I have been going through a process that has taken two months and two hundred dollars.  I paid for a background check through Certified BackgoundCheck.com (105.00), application to BCC (30.00), application to cosmeology (25.00) a physical (10.00 through brevard health alliance)and hepatitus B vaccination, first shot (25.00).  That is not including the cost of loading a prepaid visa each time a new fee came into play.

 I called the school ahead of time, and asked one of the administrators in that area many questions reguarding my past, because I was concerned I would be denied when I learned of the requirements for getting accepted.  She listened to my story (and I was brutaly honest), and told me that she didn’t  think it would be a problem.  I told her of my felonies, and she said that I would have to write a letter (which I did) explaining my situation, and would probably have to do the same for the Florida State Board.  NIX!  This was NOT the way it all went down.

After my background check was posted for the powers that be to view, I called the school.  the said they recieved my leter, it was heartfelt and very good, and they would call me when they viewed my background.  Four days later, I recieved a call…

“We have to say no, Michelle you have 7 felonies!  you can’t get licenced in the state of Florida!”

I asked, how is that possible?  I was specifically told it was considered on a case by case basis, and that if I am clean (and have been for several years now) that I would have a chance to be heard by the state board.  The voice on the other end of the line told me that they are not going to even get me in touch with the state board, and that they do not believe I can ever get a cosmetology license.

I would like to remind you, the reader, that I am not a murderer, or a child molester, I never hurt anyone.  This whole thing is based on the fact that I was a drug user for several years who prostituted herself when she was homeless.  I never even stole from anyone.  I sold myself, and that is all.

So, I have been trying to get in touch with the state board of cosmetology on my own.  I have to call back today after 4 pm.  I am going to find out if I can appeal to someone there, instead of the school I applied to.  A local independant school that I contacted said they would gladly take me if I could provide some kind of proof that the state board would be willing to licence me despite my history.  I pursue this because it is a passion for me, I love hair and make up.

Tomorrow, I am going back to BCC and consulting with a course advisor, because I am going to take some classes no matter what the outcome.  I want to learn and explore my interests, and find out what I CAN do with my life despite my felonies.

Covering all my bases, so to speak.

Here’s the KICKER…the thing that really twists my pretzel…when I was in prison, cosmetology was one of the courses provided for inmates who were willing to learn and rehabilitate.  I took that course, and while there, I distinctly recall one fellow classmate who upon release, took her test, passed it, and went on to get a job doing hair.  After that, I never heard of another.  Has the new age of computer backgound checks made the criteria more strict?  Is it really possible that a recovering addict will forever be denied a licence to cut hair because of drug charges? Are women in prison taking this class, only to be denied a licence after all of their hard work?  WHAT IS HAPPENING?

It’s getting out of hand…people make mistakes.  We ALL do.  Some worse than others.  But, if background checks that reveal a history of drug use can stop a recovering addict from getting an education, and rebuilding their life, what hope is there for them?

I have been putting in a lot of applications for jobs, and I hear, over and over…

“yes well, after we complete a backgound check….”

Yes…after you complete a backgound check, I will most likely not be considered for the job, when you have 5 other applicants who DO NOT have a criminal background. I understand.

And so, an education is paramount.  It is important to allow a recovering addict to apply themselves, PROVE themselves able to stay clean, and to learn, so that when the job market is the goal, they may come equipped with a trade and be ready to do the job.  Employers are focusing on backgrounds though, not the individual. Hmmmmmm……

So then, the worst part of all this…many addicts are not really guilty of any kind of felonious act…no crimes against society…just, well, getting high.   Now they are felons.   What percentage of our population is addicted to some kind of substance?  My God…where are we going with this?

 

As I have previously posted, I recently applied to college for the cosmetology program.  You would think that even if you are an ex-con, this particular profession would be a safe bet.  You need only be creative and energetic, along with posessing the skills to perform the job, but I’m here to tell ya, it ain’t so.

In order to apply to this program, first, I had to pay a fee to apply.  Once that was done, I paid a fee to apply for the specific program.  Then, I get an acceptance letter that is conditional upon the following: a drug screen, a background check, a physical, a Hep C vaccine and a history of everywhere I have lived in the past decade.  All of this is incredibly costly, and of course has to be paid by me, as the Pell Grant doesn’t cover such nonsense.  Mind you, these are not conditions applied to me for being an ex-offender, it’s for anyone who wants to attend this program. 

Along with paying for all this, I am allowing these people to access not only my criminal background, but my credit history as well.  It’s a complete invasion of my privacy and it’s humiliating, but I want, and I NEED an education in order to have any kind of a future, so I must comply, and in compliance, I must once again relive my past and explain what I’ve done and why I did it.  I have to bow down to these people, tell them how bad I’ve been, and plead for their forgiveness and admission to the school.  This is not my first time going through this process, I was graciously provided a grant several years ago by the Gateless Gate Zen Center in Gainesville, FL, a chance which I regretfully blew through my own inability to maintain self control and motivation.  At that time however, the process was no where near this invasive, this rigorous.  This time it is much harder, nad it has only begun.

In some small way, I can almost understand…maybe they want to insure the safety of the students.  Maybe they want to try to cut down on drug use among students.   Sexual predators, etc.  The problem here is, that with a legal system as corrupt and flawed as this one, it’s the decent people who make mistakes and are trying to get better that get hurt by these practices.  A child molester or a drug dealer isn’t going to go through the trouble of enrolling in college in order to commit more crimes, it’s easy enough to to do his dirt at the local bar after local students are out of or in between classes, or outside in the parking lot, the student lounge, whatever.  I dunno, this just seems incredibly excessive, and it’s because of the computer age and the invasion of Big Brother into our lives, that more and more schools and organizations and companies are enlisting the services of these websites that expose everything a person has ever done in order to dig into the dirt of each and every person they can.  It’s quick and it’s easy, and it’s allowed.  The school has every right to research my entire life, expose my flaws, make me pay for it, and then….deny me admission based on my past mistakes.  Welcome to the modern age of education.

On the other hand, of course, there is the person who has nothing to hide, so why worry about a backgound check?  Sure, it’s an extra couple of hundred bucks out of your pocket just to have someone tell your “superiors” that you’re okay, but hey, you’re okay and that’s all that matters.  Well, to those of you who ARE okay, and especially those who AREN’T…consider this…

Imagine that you’re NOT “okay”.  You become addicted to drugs at a young age, maybe you were even unlucky enough to be born addicted.  So, as addicts do, you run the gammet of all of the downfalls of addiction, including getting caught.  You get caught, go to jail for posessing no more than a weak hit of cocaine.  you lose your house, your car gets impounded, you get fired.  Once upon a time, you were a taxpaying citizen, now you’re homeless and all you can turn to is drugs.  At least if you’re high, you won’t miss your home, you won’t hurt so much.

Your not a criminal, you don’t steal from people and you don’t hurt anyone.  You’re sad and you’re hopeless.  You sell yourself to any pervert willing to use your frail form for his own selfish reasons, and he throws you maybe 20 dollars for your soul.  Sometimes he’s just some lawyer or crooked doctor, sometimes he’s a cop using his position to threaten you and making you do it for free.  Sometimes he’s just as dirty and hopeless as you are and he doesn’t end up even having any money at all. This is the chance you take day after day after day.  When you don’t wanna live anymore, you just don’t care, and the law knows this.  They know you are weak, you are broke, and you are alone.

Soon, you are known by the police, who spend a lot of time watching you walk up and down the road as they patrol the town.   You start getting arrested for trespassing everywhere you go, because they want to get you off the streets, or because they are bored.  Sometimes you ask them why they are harrassing you, and they tell you, it’s because it’s a slow night.   You go to jail over and over, because you are caught with a pipe, or needle, or a pill or some crumbs in your purse of some really weak coke.  You are tired and hopeless and some times when you are arrested you are grateful for a meal and a place to lay down.  It’s bad when your grateful for jail.

Everytime you go to court, you are told by some public defender who was assigned to your case a month or more earlier, whom you have never spoken to or even met, that your only real option is to plead out.  If you plead out, they tell you they can get you outta jail sooner, otherwise you would have to go to trial, and they tell you that you WILL loose, and face more jail time and or prison.  They sell you out, it makes their job easier.

Over and over you get caught for walking somehwere you shouldn’t have.  You get searched everytime the police see you, you are homeless and you are always on the street.  Over and over you are run through the system with a poor excuse for a “public defender” (who are they REALLY defending?) who tells nyou to pead guilty.  And the beat goes on.  The misdemeanors start becoming felonies, and start doing more and more time.  Your only crime; getting high, and you don’t know how to stop.

Years and years later, you try to regain your soul, you try to rebuild your life.  The only one you ever hurt with your addiction is yourself, but you have the criminal background of a habitual offender, for nothing more than walking around doing yourself harm, and selling yourself to the vermin who prey upon women for a perverse thrill.

You apply for your local college, and your criminal record makes you look like some kind of drug peddling sexual predator.  You have to live it over again, explain it, and when the time (hopefully) comes, you will attend the class, all the while knowing that these women know you were a junkie, you were a whore.

Drug addicts are forced over and over again to plea out on charges that are many times grossly inflated.   They sit in jail for a month or more before getting their day in court, and they never talk to their “defender” untill they are brought to the courthouse, many times, not even untill they reach the actual courtroom…in front of the judge!  How much talking can you do with you “defender” at that point?  They are told to plea out and they do.  They think these little charges don’t matter, but OOOH let me tell you, they add up, and they do count.

I would like to tell you a little bit of a graphic story of how the police do their jobs out there, and in jail.

I am walking back to my motel room, tired and hungry and wanting to finally try and sleep.  A truck speeds by me, hits his brakes and makes a u’turn in the middle of US1.  He pulls up next to me and asks if I need a ride.  I am used to this, I am a homeless drugie and I do things when I have to.  Tonight however, I just wanna go to bed.  I accept a ride, and he propositions me.  I know already something is wrong with this guy, and I say no to him.  Please just drop me off.  He doesn’t.  He turns toward a nearby bank machine.  All he keeps asking is “How much?  How much?”

I tell him I will et out and walk, although I am further from my room that I had been when he picked me up.  He pulls a couple of beer outta the back seat, hands me one, opens one for himself and then pulls up to the ATM.  Come on honey he says, just tell me how much to get out.  Aaaand…..she folds. 

A hundred I say.  And it’s over.  SUV’s  swarm in from all directions and I am jerked and slammed and cuffed hard and tights behind my back before I can say the word “coerced”.

 I was arrested  after being up for 3 days.  I was handcuffed before I was searched.  Once I was searched, the officer found 8 pain pills in my bra which I was charged with as a felony.  I was taken to the station  and booked. Once I was taken into the changing room to be searched, they took the cuffs off of me and as I stripped a pill fell out of my bra that they had missed when they searched me.  I had been cuffed the entire time and had no idea they hadn’t gotten all of them when they searched me.  I was charged with the worst kind of felony in jail, Introduction of Contraband.   Oh, and this prostitution charge became a felony because it was my third.  Some real police work there.  Good job, boys.

 I tried over and over again to talk to my “defender” and get help with this, with NO RESPONSE.  For 6 months I sat in jail, going to court from time to time only to be told that the case was postponed, and I had to go back to jail for another month.  Eventually, when my day finally came, the woman whom I had never met who had een “working” on my case told me my only option was to plead guilty.  It didn’t matter that I didn’t know the pill was there.  It didn’t matter that I had been searched and they missed it.  They didn’t need to prove that I INTENDED to bring it in, only that it was there, that’s all the proof they needed.  I was forced to plead guilty and lost two more years of my life.

Did I need to be taken off the streets?  Of course.   I am sure it saved my life.  Did the cops know that I was just an addict, not some hardened criminal?  Yes, of course.  Being charged with numerous felonies for nothing more than being in posession of a small amound of drugs,  however, has created a profile for me that the new age of computer background checks will reveal to anyone who wants to know, and it only displays the charges I plead guilty to, not the truth behind them.

 I may not have learned from one or two or even three times in rehab, but getting sentanced to rehab over and over as opposed to being charged with felonies over and over again just for getting high would have made it possible for me to clean up and have a future at some point.  No one seems to care that addicts are people who can be rehabilitated, sometimes it takes several attempts, but if one is not violent or harmful to society, what is the purpose of ruining the rest of their life once they get clean?  I never hurt anyone but myself, and the system that saved my life, has ruined my future.

Yes, this is a rant.  I thank you for reading.   I know that there are so many others who are going through this same process.  I am grateful to have the opportunity to voice the plight from an insider point of view.  Addicts are being charged as felons for nothing more than being addicts.  The stigma follows them wherever they go. What happens to them when they get clean?

Today while I was jogging, I was considering my posts since I have started here, and I really felt bad about the fact that nearly everything I have posted has been of a fairly if not extememly negative nature.  I want to make sure that I don’t give the impression that I am miserable 100% of the time.  I know after reading my previous posts you would not think that’s the case, but I am very resilient and have a sort of knack for making the most out of almost any situation, if given enough time and I’m motivated to do so.  I am compelled to write when things get really bad, because I don’t really have any close friends, and the somewhat more distant friends that I do have, well,  as you can imagine I am not too eager to tell them the kinds of things I put up with here at times.  I also have a little problem connecting with people  as I’ve explained before, and it’s tough to reach out.  Part of the reason is probably because if I did reach out…I might have to actually DO something about all this, and I can’t (read: won’t) DO THAT.

Okay, so here is the thing…I am NOT ALWAYS miserable and I have something to offer besides sharing my misery!

For those of you who have just gotten out, I can certainly remember what that feels like, having done time in both the local jails and the state prisons on many occasions.  While incarcerated, women especially can tend to get very out of shape, both physically AND mentally.  We can get complacent, sometimes even lazy.  If you were lucky enough, as I was, to have the opportunity to participate in a meditation program, yoga, church or other physical and spiritual activities, it certainly is a blessing.  But I know that not all inmates, save a precious few have access to such programs, and what happens to us when we are locked away, is we become overweight in many instances, and we also forget how to cope with life and the stress of making our own decisions.

If you are like me, you never knew how to make good decisions in the first place.  I am still guilty of that, but working on it…slowly, ever so slowly, working on it.

The first thing I have to offer is this:  Don’t bite off more than you can chew, swallow and digest properly.  Don’t think that because now that you are clean and sober and free, you can conquer the world immediately.  It may very well be that you can conquer the world but sister,  it will take some time.  If you overload yourself, you will burn hot for a little while with high expectations and hopes, only to crash hard and burn out long before you acutally get anywhere.  I speak from experience.  And once you crash, your only place to run are your old, familiar, and comforting  BAD  habits.

Everyone is different and your limits are certainly not the same as mine, so only you can judge how hard you should push yourself.  If, like me, you have NEVER lived a structured or even remotely disciplined life, you have to consider that before comitting to a lot of different jobs or classes or whatever it may be.  Focus on one thing and once you are comfortable and do that one thing well for a little while, bite off another chuck and work on that.  Me, I tried to work two jobs, maintain a spiritual regimen that many people would find difficult, AND enroll in college for the first time EVER!  All in the first 4 months of getting out.  Maybe YOU could do it, but for me, it was too much.  Only you can adjust your schedule.  Pay attention.  Watch your thinking and when you start to resent and get frustrated with the simplest of things in your life…you know you may be close to a breaking point.

I couldnt focus on anything, I would try to be still and meditate but the pressures of hardly any sleep and the two jobs with tight schedules and new classes and homework and studying, for a person who had never lived a disciplined life…this was crushing, and I snapped.  Trust me folks, you KNOW as well as I do, if you just got out, SNAPPING is very, very bad.

The rest of the story is one we all know, and the end result was detox and rehab with my tail between my legs.  THAT’S when the cahanges began.

I was 220 pounds when I went to rehab in Feb. of 2010.  I stayed there for a total of  8 weeks, during which I started cutting down my carbs signifiantly.  This may not seem like a big deal, but I’m here to tell you, if you are like me, you never realized the pull of carbs and sugar on your mind and body.  It took a little while, but even before I finished rehab, weight was dropping off, and my mind was getting clearer.  I simply didn’t eat the bread from the sandwiches, no potatoes or fries, no heavy sweets like gooey snack cakes and such.  I did eat a few hard candies only when I had a craving, and lots of fresh fruit.  No rolls, no pancakes or french toast.  No grits, just eggs and half a serving of sausage or bacon.  There was enough protein and fruit and veggies availabe, and I was full all of the time.

Once I went to the halfway house, I started working out.  One hour of aerobic activity each and every day without fail.  I had plenty of time to myself in between groups, so this was easy to maintain and it actually really helped to pass the time and keep my mind focused, not wandering into the realm of stuff we addicts shouldn’t think about.  There was a stairmaster and a treadmill.  I used the treadmill to walk/jog , and then kept the stairmaster turned off, I would get on and use it with little resistence, so that I could find a good steady maintainable pace, alternating a kind of bouncing motion.  Twice one one foot, twice on another foot, then alternating feet, then back to the two times on each side.  With the music pumping this is a fun and satisfying workout, and it really jump started my weight loss.

Yoga is my warm down.  I do very basic poses to stretch and relax my muscles, and I play really soothing music to make me feel pamered and calm.  I am thinking about posting my personal routine, because I have combined a lot of different things to create a routing that works for me since I am not in GREAT shape like some of the popular yoga instuctors.

I stayed away from all bread, potatoes, white refined sugar and white rice.  No glutonous products.  I separated yolks from eggs and ate copius amounts of egg whites, giving the yolks to happy recipients that cohabitated with me at the halfway house.  Many veggies, many fruits, lots of white tuna and lots of different kinds of seasoning, brown and wild rice filled me up.  It works.  When the body is used to the prison or jail system diet full of all those carbs, you know, all the white bread and potaoes and grits, this shift in diet causes a quick drop in weight that is totally healthy and also tends to be motivating to keep working at it.

I should add that when in rehab here in FL, we are elligible for food stamps, which is how I was able to afford to eat healthy.  The base amount is 200 a month which was more than enough.

Eventually I was required to go out and work, I was pretty comfortable where I was so this became easier, also, my new body was a little confidence boost, not to mention I had A LOT more energy.  Prayer and meditation helps as well.  I have had problems searching for my faith, and where it lies, and that search in and of itself is at least better than no faith at all.  I believe in GOD…Christ died for us….we have to be still to find GOD…that’s all I know for sure…and it’s enough for now.

I kept up my workout routine, after work and before group, sometimes after depending on the schedule.  That took a little more discipline but I was ready by then for the next step.

After a while, my body seemed to stop loosing, and I had to step it up, which is when I started running.  I had to start off slow, running and walking alternately, and after 6 months of gradual increase, I am now able to run 4 miles, most of the time, I run 5 days a week, some days I cut it in half due to time or heat, but if I push it, 4 miles is my highest.

I used to wear a size 22 when I got out, now I am in an 11.  Of course I managed to get myself in a dysfunctional relationship once again, so I am not even close to conquering the world sister, but hey, one thing at a time right?

Let me get through school, which is right up the street from where I live, and once I (finally) get my licence to do hair and can get a GOOD job/CAREER….then we’ll see if I am still willing to put up with all his mess!

😉  BTW…It has been a little over a year since I got out of rehab, and I am now FINALLY enrolling in school, able to work from home which is helpful since I don’t have a car.  Baby steps…

 

 

 

 

TRYNG TO BE STRONG

It has been a few months since I have posted. I have been pretty busy with a lot of things. Some good, some, yeah well….not so.

A couple of weeks ago an old man, a neighbor who walks by, well he walks everywhere, stopped and knocked on my door and asked to use the phone. My boyfriend wasn’t home, he was still at work and due home any minute. Can you already guess where this is going?

I let the old man in and give him the phone, then on second thought, I decide to open the front door and ask him to step just outside the door to make his call. The car pulls up at that moment.
My boyfriend storms past us ignoring my attempt to hug and kiss him in greeting. As I follow him down the hallway, all hell breaks loose. He hits me upside the head and then grabs me violently by the shoulders and throws me down on the bed. He puts both hands around my throat and starts to choke and shake me simultaneously, while screaming at me about how I am such a whore and I will never ever get a key to the house. ( I have lived here for a year and he won’t give me a key to get in.) After a few horrible minutes he loosens his grip on my throat and gets up, hitting me a couple good hard times on my back and bottom.

The old man was still at the door on the phone making his call, the entire time.

After more yelling, and me trying to explain that the man was just using the phone, my boyfriend storms away toward the front of the house. The old man thanks him, hands him the phone, and leaves.

I spent two days in hell, arguing and defending myself, only to eventually find out that my boyfriend knew that nothing happened by the way the man stayed around and calmly handed him the phone, he just wanted to teach me a lesson.

Life’s like that for me, all the time.

I am in a relationship that is volatile. I am somewhat dependant on this man, for a make very little money and what little I do get, half goes to child support, because of two other abusive men I was in a relationship with who both have sued ,me even though I am broke. They have even told me that they did it because they want to make sure I can never have anything.

Life’s like that for me.

So I am here, working hard and trying to better myself, writing and trying to be strong. I had to file my back taxes myself, which was quite an event when it came to collecting old W-2’s, so that I could them apply for a Pell Grant on this old, slow ass lap top that I am so grateful for. Then I saved up some money from my unemployment checks, and used that to pay for the application fees at BCC, and then more fees for the Cosmetology program. I got in, but now, I have to go through a background check, drug screen, physical and hep B vaccine, and pay for all that myself. Then I will have to explain my past to the committee and pray I get approved despite my past.

Orientation was yesterday, and instead of being supportive, my loving man started another huge fight. this one is one we have often. The topic? I don’t fuck him enough. His words, not mine. Here’s some more of his words: “All women are good for is sucking my dick, fuckin it and spending my money.”

He doesn’t spend any money on me. I pay for everything I want. He still pays the same bills he was paying when I moved in.

Okay, I know you are thinking “why the hell does she stay there?” and I can tell you this; it’s not ALWAYS like this. He has these really extreme mood swings that turn him into a monster, it lasts for two to four days and then he’s good for maybe a week untill it happens again. It’s a man period.

It seems to come on whenever I don’t want to have sex for like, a day.

You see, he has to have it, he says, everyday. And once he gets it, it’s only about an hour before he wants it again, and it goes on, and on, and on. I try to comply but sometimes, well c’mon man, I am 42 years old and I DON”T WANNA DO IT every day, a couple of times a day. And my friends….this is where is all falls apart.

Once I don’t want to do it, or even if I agree to do it and don’t seem like I am into it enough, he gets his period. Is it possible that his sex drive is making him nuts? Because no matter how many times we do it, he can rise to the occasion moments later, and repeat, and repeat…

He also wants more than that, he wants everything you can think of sexually, and it last for a really,  really long time. The truth is, I feel like that’s all I am here for.

I keep an immaculate house. I cook, clean, garden and work. I have no social life whatsoever. I don’t go out. My only time away is my morning 3 mile jog, and each and every day he calls and texts me on that jog, accusing me of being out of breath because I am giving some other guy a blow job.

I had to write this. There is no one I can tell. It’s just me here, alone and hurting, and now you.

Sorry…but I bet there is someone out there who can relate.

okay, brace yourself because this is gonna suck.

Today is my birthday.  I am 42 years old, and I am sitting alone crying my eyes out because, once again, I am in a relationship where the man I am with not only won’t even give me a card or present, but he has decided that since I had the nerve to cry and tell him how that hurt me, he should go ahead and be even more cold and angry for the entire day.  His goal is to make sure I get absolutely no recognition for this day or joy whatsoever.  Since I have no family, and I tend to be a loner, there isn’t one person who will say or do anything nice for me today.  My daughters, whom I love very much, can’t help but not know because we aren’t in close contact.  It’s mostly all my fault and I have to look really closely at the situation.  Yes, it sucks.

This isn’t the first time this has happened.  I have a history of being in relationships with abusive men.  When I say abusive, I have run a the gammet of types of abuse.  And one thing about an abusive man, they HATE your birthday.  They LOVE to make it miserable, and they always have throughout my entire life since the age of 19 when my first live in boyfriend started punching me in the face when I didn’t turn over my tips from stripping fast enough.  On my birthday.

We all make our own choices, I know this.  The question is, why would anyone make choices that always lead to this kind of pain? Ahhhhh yes.  There it is right? I It’s classic, I know. Women who stay in abusive relationships, or get into abusive relationships over and over are doing this for all kinds of reasons, but I think that deep down we are all very similar.  It’s a lack of self respect.

I was verbally and physically abused as a child, not as severely as many, but like all who suffer any type of abuse, my particular situation took it’s toll on my life.

I have been with men who have beat me, thrown food and drinks on me in public places, taken all my money and spent it on hookers, pimped me out, stole my drugs, slept with my friends, kept my things and threw me out on the street, called the cops on me and had me busted, forced me to have all kinds of degrading sex when I didn’t want to, and many, many kinds of mental head games that made want to die many, many times.  Why?  Because I have a lack of self respect combined with a desperate need for love.  THAT is a really, really bad combination.

I KNOW I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE

I don’t really know what the solution is.  There are ways out, I know because I have gotten out before obviously, but the tricky, tricky part, is not getting back in.  That’s where I keep messing up.

So here I am, feeling like my heart is being torn to little bits because I have this love for a man who doesn’t show love back.  Or does he?

It’s even trickier than you think…

He met me when I was “out there”, and decided he wanted to keep me.  Over the last ten months, we have been through a lot.  My addiction to pills led me to the street more than once, and he got me out of that.  He is the one who helped me get to a doctor to get me off of narcotics, and off of the streets.  And when he did, I changed.

I cleaned up my act, I don’t go out at all, I stay home, keep the garden and the house perfect.  I work on the phone at home, and I do cleaning jobs on the side.  I keep a small amount of income coming in, but it’s something.  He pays for my doc and the meds, and then when I get money, I give it to him.

This is not to say I haven’t done anything for him.  When I met him, there was no furniture here, the place smelled and the yard was a sand lot full of ciggy butts.  Now, this place is furnished (used but decent) alive with plants everywhere inside and out, and it’s clean each and every day.  There is also one major contribution I made to his income, by hooking hin up with a business opportunity he had been looking for and was having no luck.  Now he is doing just fine.  I don’t come without perks.  Of course, he doesn’t see it that way.

So, I have laid it all out.  I am dependant on him, because I have nowhere to go, and can’t support myself.  I do a lot for him, but he refuses to acknowledge any of it because he figures I owe him.  I need him in a lot of ways.  It sucks to need someone.

Oh, and the birthday thing> His birthday is on Christmas, and I had just lost my job and my place to live, I was dead in the water and could give him nothing.  you know why he is doing this today?  I couldn’t give him a present, so he says it’s because I didn’t give him a blowjob on his birthday.

Well, what do I expect, right?

I know.

So there you have it.  I can look at this whole thing and understand it intellectually.  See it for what it really is.  But when it comes to my heart, I can’t change it.  I feel stuck.

A woman who has lived this kind of life, tends to be in damaging relationships.  I have always been this way.  Even when I was in a recovery program and doing group and individual counseling daily, I was on the computer pursuing a love relationship long distance with an old high school flame.  And when he didn’t email or text when he was supposed to?  I LOST IT.  I was constantly distracted by a man because unless I am incarcerated, I seek love relationships.

I am co dependant right? That’s the term for it these days I guess.  Well, my plate is full of a whole bunch of other terms for what I am, some of which I don’t even know yet.  As I try to sort it all out each day, I am in the real world full of people who tend to prey upon people like me.  My weakness and need for love, hell they can smell me before they see me.   Meet a good looking guy who says he loves me and wants to help me, tie that in with my addiction and the fact that I am financially unable to support myself, and have no family to turn to, and yes, you could say this sucks.

I have no intention of leaving.  I have built a life here these last ten months, and I have no where else to go.  besides.  I do love him.

There are times. weeks on end when life is great here with him and I am simply grateful to have him.  But, something changes once in awhile, and when it does, he is like a ticking time bomb.  I never really know what will set him off, but it happens and then I am in hell.

Why am I writing this?  If you are like me, listen to my banter and WISE UP WOMAN!  Stop selling yourself short, get out and find a man to treat you like a queen.  No matter where we have been, we are still God’s creatures and in Him we are perfect.  Every moment of every day we have lived has made us who we are and therefore we are exactly who we are supposed to be.  Having said that, I guess I should say that I am apparently supposed to keep learning, because I am determined to hang in there with this relationship and try to make it better.

Don’t cringe, but I really do love him.

In the words of the divine Mrs Loretta Lynn:

“Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman…”

Today while I was out running just before sunrise, I passed what I instinctively knew to be a woman of the evening so to speak, still out walking as the sun came up. I knew the look on her face. You’ve heard the expression, “the lights are on but no one is home”…well this is more like “the lights are out and I’m hiding in the dark.” So many mornings i can remember, after being up for God knows how many days, just walking, walking, walking, hoping to make that next twenty bucks so I can go back to the dope house and get high in a spot out back they kept reserved for me. Then it’s back out on the street to do it all over again.

So as I was out running, I was so gratful to be just out running for my health, and not out all night and still out walking to my spiritual death. I ran for about 45 minutes, and then turned around to head homeward, and about half way there, I passed her again. Poor girl.

I know, why feel sorry for her right? I’m sure most of us at least at some point in out lives have walked or rode by these girls and said a little “tsk,tsk” and shook our heads at her blatent display of degredation.

I tell you from the point of view that began with the “tsk,tsk” head shaking of one who looks down on these poor reprobates, and ended up becoming one, that you have no idea how desperate and empty and done with life you have to be, to just walk right out into public and tell the world that you are for sale for the next hit. It’s the saddest thing I can imagine besides maybe the suffering of a child or the death of a loved one. It’s so sad that it makes my heart hurt as I sit here and write.

To live like that you have to abandon all hope. To abandon all hope, you have to loose your own soul. Once you do that, God save you from yourself. I can honestly say that there were times when I had a razor blade to my jugular, and the only thing that kept me from a quick flick of the wrist to oblivion was the hit I knew I had in my pocket. It was only the next hit that kept me alive, many, many times. To keep the hits coming, I had to do things most people couldn’t even imagine, and having been there, I could easily imagine what this girls’ daily life must be like. It makes me shudder to know I’ve been there, and so many countless others still are.

I read today something that hit me hard, it said there are three types of people, patriots, citizens, and parasites, and to know that I have been a parasite on this society is a tough bite to swallow, and it was as if God punctuated what I read, with my passing that girl, not once but twice.

I am no longer a parasite, I work (although not as much as I would like) and I pay taxes when I do. I am still not much of a citizen however. I haven’t taken strides to regain my right to vote, and I could probably try harder to find more work, so that I can participate more in the economic circle of life.

I guess maybe there is one more category KC, and that would be those in limbo, a purgatory perhaps that lies on the road to being whole. I feel like I am somewhere in between, and it’s a tough road out of this place. I wonder if I am truly motivated enough to keep moving forward out of it, or if I will stay here, with one toe out the door, one step away from taking that walk.

On the subject of the road out, I am making progress on my book. The problem I am running into now, is how to flow the story line of my childhood, with describing my parents and myself, without it all sounding full of bitterness, whining and complaining. There are so many painful events though, and to tell the story, well, it just sounds bitter and I’m not sure what to do about it.

I think, no, I KNOW I am goinng to piss a lot of people off with this book. People that idolize my mom, for instance, will be mortified at what I have to say. I was told ver recently “oh my God YOUR Gerda’s daughter? I didn’t even know she had a daughter. Your mother was like a saint. Saint Gert.”

I think that says it all.

Then there’s my ex husband. There are a lot of things I did back then that he doesn’t know about. I don’t think he’s ready to find out either! Maybe he won’t buy the book, but I doubt it.

All in all this morning, I am so greatful to be typing this while I am looking out into my garden on a beautiful summer morning. I’m no where close to where I could be, and I may never get there, who knows. At least I’m not out there and that’s a miracle all by itself.

Writing is interesting.  There are alot of things I hadn’t considered.  I thought that because I had this amazing and dramatic and complicated story, with twists and turns that make even my own head spin, that I could just write and it would be good enough.

It’s not.

It’s not just me that I have to think about here.  What I have done in my life didn’t just affect me.  My bad choices affected everyone who loves me.  My ex’s, my daughters, my mother and step father, the list goes on.  I am reminded of many peole who have tried to help me and I blew it. So many things in my story that it’s not all just about me.  So my quandry as I write is basically, what will they think?

I have great hopes and plans for this book.  I am pouring my heart out onto the keyboard, my fingers flying but not as fast as my memories.  However, I started thinking this afternoon while editing and re writing part of it, that there will be consequences for putting the truth out there like this, not only for me, but for my daughters.

I love my daughters but have little contact with them right now.  My oldest is a beautiful, artistic and amazingly understanding intelligent young woman of 17.  Her birthday is coming up too.  She is online alot and I worry that if I say too much she might suffer somehow.  Does this all make sense?

The choices we make always affect more than just ourselves.  I have alot to offer by sharing my experience with others like me, but I don’t want my truth to affect my daughters, my greatest prayer being that they will never be like me.

As I proofread I am tempted to delete.

I have not.  I don’t think I will.  I will be limiting my exposure on things like facebook, as I want to focus on this project and get it right.  Although I’m not really sure what right is at this point.

Just like everything else, enthusiasm is at a hightened level when something is new. I am feeling like this might be the thing that I was meant for, to offer my misadventures for the greater good.

There is a definite conflict between the goal I am trying to achieve and the path that I’m on, the difference now, is that I care.  I really care.  I care about the fact that I’m not totally sober.  I care that I may be affecting others and I question my every move.  I think often of the chances I’ve been given and the squandered opportunities.  I pray that my motives are sincere and I’m not just fooling myself.

Is this all I have learned?  The only progress I have made from all these years of agony out there….to just give a damn, but not enough for a total transfomation?

It’s a hellava ride out here folks.  I’m hanging on. 🙂

MY OWN SKIN

      First of all, I started really writing last night.  It was difficult,  which is no surprise.  What I am discovering is I am really good at details and clarity when describing an event, and I am really good at relaying my emotions when writing to someone I am emotionally involved with, but I am having trouble doing both.

     I an a really emotional person.  Man, not just emotional….I am a basket case.  I have always been this way.  When I was a kid I can remember getting pulled out of the lunch line in elementary school because I was banging my head into the wall.  Why?  I don’t know.  I had been skipped a grade and I didn’t fit in…I got made fun of and I think at that time that was the way I was dealing with it.  Also of course is the chaos in my home.  I will write much more about that.    The daily fighting of my parents and all the late night horror shows I would creep out of my room to witness… probably made me that little weird kid who bangs her head on the wall.  Even then, I knew I didn’t feel right just being me.

     I am still that way.  No I don’t go around banging my head into walls.  But still, I am uncomfortable in my own skin.  I am uneasy around people.  For instance, my neighbor right now is a really sweet girl it seems,  and she has been periodically reaching out to me wanting to chill together.  I always say yes, but I never make an attempt to knock on her door.  I also tend to feel kind of relieved when she doesn’t knock on mine.   I feel like I am not suitable for normal people I guess.  It’s like, I know where I have been, what I have done, and I know that if THEY knew….well, they certainly wouldn’t want to be neighborly anymore.

     The weird thing is, I can work and kiss ass at a job.  I can talk to people and put on a good show.  I just know that what’s inside doesn’t meet what’s outside.  I feel like I keep a truth inside that I can’t let anyone know.  Whatever I do, I can’t seem to maintain it.  I can’t find a persona or a lifestyle that I can sustain.    I keep melting down and changing, not in huge ways but just enough to keep my life inconsistent and painful.  Maybe it’s only apparent to me, there are a few people who have known me for years who don’t seem to pick up on this, but as any addict knows, we have this whole inner life that does not match the outer life.

     So last night I wrote all about one of my arrests.  I was pretty good at describing what happened but it was as if I was seeing it on a T.V. screen and not living it.  I almost could not connect with the feelings I had when it was happening.  I am going back and editing and going to figure out all the messy feelings that came along with it.  I guess that is what writing is about, isn’t it?