Tag Archives: Life

The Happiness You Seek

That’s an interesting statement, don’t you think? I used to be one of those people who bought into “seeking” happiness. “What do you really want out of life?” someone would ask, to which I would answer “to be happy”. Oh, the things we learn during our journey.

Something important I have finally figured out during my descent through hell in this last year is that happiness is not a thing you can obtain. It is not & should not be made a goal in life. It is not an ending to anything, it is merely a feeling you either allow or do not into your soul. 

At our core, I believe that most people, including myself, are good. Call me a fool, but after all I’ve seen & done, I am still an optimist. I believe in me & honestly…I’m starting to realize that may be all I need. Sure, it’s nice to receive approval from others, but I don’t really need it anymore, not entirely, or at least not from the people I sought it from for so many years. To quote Neil Young “it doesn’t mean that much to me, to mean that much to you”.

In the eyes of some, I will never amount to anything. I will never overcome the opinion of myself that I have put into their minds. I will always be a failure, a liar, a drug addict, a thief, a lost soul…I am finally okay with people thinking that of me. It is not my responsibility to change the opinions of others, nor is it my responsibility to argue the validity of each of these claims. It is only my responsibility to do the best I can at making every day I breathe the best day I can. I am my responsibility, no one else is nor is anyone else mine. Some days I fail at my responsibilities. Some days I don’t get out of bed. Some days I can’t shower. Some days I’m angry at nothing in particular. Some days are spent crying for the loss I’ve put myself through & some days are spent crying for those who have left the rest of us behind to miss them. Luckily though, lately, I am happy more. I smile sometimes. I work tirelessly to put this project I have dreamed of for years together so that we can share it with the world. My dreams are becoming a reality, against all odds & that not only makes me smile, but it makes me happy.

I do not seek happiness. I don’t need to. It comes to me whenever I allow it in.

I wish that for everyone else in the world, to allow happiness in, even if you feel like you’re drowning, you can’t breathe, you can’t scrape yourself off your sofa, you hate your reflection in the mirror, nobody loves you…whatever negative excuse we can all come up with at any given moment….let it go & be happy! Go for a walk. Listen to music & dance, even if you have no rhythm. Sing your favorite song at the top of your lungs, even if it makes the neighborhood dogs sing with you, jump in puddles~no matter your age, dance in the rain. Laugh until you cry. Do it for you & no one else! That is the answer to healing, smiling & finding happiness, at least in my opinion.

=)

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I’m Still Standing

When we lose someone we love, it feels as though that particular pain will never go away. What we learn along the way is that while the pain never truly goes away, we find a way to accept it as part of our reality. We learn to live with it, we adapt & go on. We have to. Whats the alternative? I can think of a couple, but none that appeal to me.

There are more than one way to lose someone you love. The obvious one is death. That one is final & out of our control. It is also possible to lose loved ones due to mistakes, conflict or from growing apart. These can also be difficult to move past for some.

Lets focus, however, on loss due to death. Before the second week in February of this year I had lost 3 friends to sudden & tragic death. I knew all 3 of these guys for more than 20 years of my life. One was lost as a result of a terrible auto accident that made it onto all 3 major network news programs that day in Detroit. The second passed due to a blood infection he caught from a chemical burn & the last died from a massive heart attack at the age of 44, 24 hours after having surgery to repair his broken ankle. Not a single one feels fair or makes sense…but what untimely death makes sense? I just know I miss them & know that there are plenty of friends who have already passed who can meet them & help them on their journey. I also know that there is some AMAZING music being made in “heaven” right now, if that place exists.

All this death got me to thinking about friends who’ve gone before these 3. I’ve never actually sat down & counted how many of my friends have passed since it started in 1996 with the murder of my buddy Steve, who was gunned down during an attempted car-jacking after a Motorhead concert. I know the number is somewhere in the double digits, but I prefer to remember them individually. They were all unique & beautiful in their own special way. Each gave something to our scene that could never be replaced & will never be forgotten. I do hope to honor my fallen brothers in some way, whether I write a story about it & them or finally follow through on that documentary that I’ve been threatening to film for years now. They deserve to be remembered & celebrated! I’m grateful & lucky to have known every one of these guys, because the color they added to life was breathtaking. 

Sadly, I’ve become a pro at moving on, but it’s what we do, we endure. When I first begin to notice I’m getting through entire days without crying I feel guilty, as if I’m forgetting. The thing is, I’ll never forget, they walk with me every step of my journey, sometimes carrying me along when I’m unable to walk myself.

You see, at a certain point, I remind myself that I’m still alive & I have to get back to the business of living. I’ve got work to do, a life to live, memories to be made….so much to see, to photograph, to write about…people to meet, faces to make smile, cities to live in for a year, lessons to learn, wrongs to right, maybe even lives to change (hopefully for the better)

I admit that I’ve wasted a lot of precious time in my life. That was one of the hardest lessons to learn…that I’m only ripping myself off by doing nothing, by not believing in myself. I’m done with that. I’m excited about everything that lies ahead for me. I look forward to seeing what changes. I am ready for the challenges that lie ahead. I’m lucky, you see, because I’ve got an army of angels surrounding me with love. 

Now, I’ve gotta get outta here….stuff & thangs ;^)

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Anxiety Girl

I am now & always have been what I call an anxiety girl. What I mean by this is that I, for so many years in my life, allowed my anxiety problem to run & control my life. Let me explain a little better.

For the first 30 or so years of my life I didn’t even know what was wrong with me. I researched insatiably for reasons that might explain my intense fear of EVERYTHING, allowing these fears to run the way I lived my life & found SO many ailments, both mental & physical that could explain these horrible things I was going through, which turned out to be SEVERE panic attacks, many different kinds, that constantly made me feel like I was dying.

I used to also be a serious hypochondriac, as a result of the crippling fears of most things that I had developed, due to my undiagnosed anxiety issue. It took until about 7 years ago that I was able to pinpoint my underlying issue. I had thought I was depressed, physically ill, SO many other things, but not having a complete understanding of anxiety, what it was or how it affected & eventually overtakes a person’s life to where IT controls YOU.

Since that time, I have learned SO much more about anxiety, but that didn’t keep me from continuing to give in to it. I just didn’t know any better. I spent more than one period of time in an agoraphobic lifestyle, not leaving the house if I could avoid it & when I did it brought such terrible anxiety & panic that I would usually take myself out of whatever situation I found myself in, work, social settings or just out taking a walk, so I could go back to my “safe place”, being whatever place I happened to call home at that time. I made up any excuse, no matter what it made me look like to others & believe me, it turned me into a very unpopular girl for a long time.

I still learn everyday new ways to cope & try to calm the anxiety. For all I know this is permanent, but I do still hold out hope that I can overcome this chokehold I continue to, although it’s much smaller now, be a reason in my life. I have to say that being an person without health care coverage hurts me tremendously, due to the fact that I can’t get the amount of help I could use to overcome these things that hold me back. I certainly don’t have the money it takes to see a physician regularly & I also believe that therapy helps a lot, but I can’t afford that either. It’s a viscous cycle for me & it frustrated me everyday, when I allow it to.

I have tried multiple “medications” to help me in shedding my fear, phobias, anxiety & panic attacks, which have, in some respect, allowed me to live more, to mix with others more comfortably & to secure a better job & lifestyle. The funny (ironic) thing about me finally giving in to these drugs is that I have, since the age of 17 (when I OD’d & had to fight to keep myself alive, because everyone around me REFUSED to help me or even just drop me off at a hospital) I have had a HUGE drug phobia. I guess sometimes we just reach a breaking point, where regardless of the phobias surrounding it, one has to turn to medications to see if it works.

I hope that in sharing this, it helps me to really face the reality that I may not allow anxiety to run my life, I do still allow it to be involved in it, my decision-making, my choices. I think it’s a lifelong learning experience & I do still hope to beat this.

I also have to say that of all the medications I have tried to help treat this, there is only one that truly controls my anxiety & allow me to be a more “normal” member of society, meaning it allows me to function better, interact with others, etc without the fear & desperate need to rush home, because the fear was screaming inside my head.

I will admit here that I do feel guilty at times for using Xanax to live my life outside of fear. I know exactly where this guilt comes from. It comes from losing SO many people to drug abuse. I feel if I am “relying” on a medication to bury the anxiety, I may not be any better or in a better place than the addicts in & around my life that I ride SO hard.

I don’t know….but I can say that I am tired of feeling guilt for using (not abusing) something that truly does help me get through each day better than anything else I have found. Still, though, I know SO many people struggle with addiction to this drug, hence the uncertainty & guilt.

I stated in another blog that there have been times in the years since I’ve started taking Xanax that I have used it as more of a crutch than a tool. I am fully aware of that & every time it happened I checked myself & cut the Xanax completely out of my life for weeks, just to get it out of me & see how well I can function. The sad reality of it is that I can’t live or cope as well when I’m off the stuff. That REALLY pisses me off. All I want is to feel normal, to cope better with life & all the pitfalls & disappointments that come with it. I would rather do that without the aid of drugs, but I may not ever be able to do that, but I always have hope.

I can’t even list here the bad experiences I have had with anxiety ruining my life, taking things away from me that I had worked SO hard to achieve & just flat-out FREAKED OUT in public settings. I have left my friends at concerts, couldn’t ride in cars for a time without the panic setting in, leaving work at different phases in my life due to almost debilitating anxiety. I have had panic attacks where I was certain I was about to die…fainting, having my legs just give out on me, not being able to breathe, throat closing, dizziness & light-headedness, you name the symptom, I’ve had it. What I wouldn’t give to get rid of all that. I don’t even know how many times in my life I have run to the nearest restroom to splash cold water on my face, just to help me start breathing again.

I have a lot to learn still, better coping mechanisms, better ways to breathe, as I am a shallow mouth-breather. This makes meditation difficult for me, as well as yoga & any calming or breathing exercises. This does not mean I am not willing to learn. I am. I have been on a journey of discovering practical & not medicinal ways of working through this challenge. I will continue to fight this, as hard as it is. I know I’m worth fighting for damn it, because I want to live happily for at least half the amount of difficult or bad years that I have. I don’t this to be all there is in my, I won’t accept it!

It feels SO good to get these things off my chest, as every step, every fear & issue I face, it brings me one step closer to living a fuller, happier life & that’s all I have ever wanted!

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“Winter”

I don’t like the way our society puts people into boxes that can be checked off, such as race, sex, marital status, financial status…..first of all, some of us are of more than one race. That being said, the race term “white” kind of offends me, to be brutally honest. It’s just such a blanket term. I know from researching my family tree, which by the way is driving me quite insane, that I am a good part Native American, but also Irish & Norwegian American. Where is THAT box?

Now, as a single woman on the verge of 40, I don’t enjoy having to check the “single” or “never been married” boxes on forms. I’m not sure why that is exactly, but it just makes me cringe. Not that I have EVER been one of those girls who was desperate to be married, obviously, it’s just something that I don’t find to be relevant in most cases, with some exception.

Lastly & the one I spent the day surrounded by is the classist society we live in. There has been much talk of the “middle class” in the past couple years & how it’s declining. What I have noticed is no mention of the fact that most of those who were once considered “middle class” are now “lower class” or…what would they call us….oh yeah, invisible. I promised myself that I would be brutally honest in this blog. That is not an easy thing to do when pride is involved, but I’m gonna grit my teeth & do it anyway. Times have been VERY tough for me since last year. I have had a very difficult time finding work in both the states I have lived in during this time period, which after finally finding my dream career & beginning to make a very comfortable living, was more painful than the days when I was young & just didn’t care. I fought with the state of Florida for the better part of a year to receive unemployment benefits that paid me per week less than I was making per day while I was working, but I was grateful just to be receiving something.

Suddenly, at the beginning of this year, after being approved for the tier 3 benefit extension, my benefits were discontinued. There was no explanation, no recourse, no more money. All this after I had made the choice to return to Michigan & attend the college of my dreams, having been offered a scholarship. This scholarship was the highest that the school gives, a bit higher than the highest actually, but unfortunately did not cover living expenses, so I thought I could survive off my unemployment benefits for a bit, while I got settled, started in school & began looking for work. One of my first & BIGGEST mistakes was coming back to Detroit & thinking I was going to find a job. Nobody would hire me. I was turned down for a job at Target, which actually REALLY upset me, because I know I’m qualified! I came back to Detroit the second week of January, it is now the second week in April & I have JUST found a job waitressing at a diner 3 weeks ago. I am stretched far beyond my limits, not only financially, but emotionally as well. I have had to withdraw from school for the time being. I will not lose my scholarship, but could not continue to afford the gas money just to get downtown, let alone the small amount of tuition left over after all my scholarship & loan money. It has broken my heart, I have not shared this with any of my family, of course, they may read this blog for all I know, even though I haven’t really made them aware of it.

All of this being said, during these past several months, it is the love & support of my family & friends that has allowed me to survive. Had it not been for them, I don’t honestly know where I would be. I don’t really want to think about it. I bring up the classist society & tell of my story for a couple reasons….one is that it gets the pain & weight off my chest & secondly because I spent the entire day in the local Department of Human Services office, begging for food & medical assistance along side what had to be, throughout the entire day, hundreds of people. I cried sitting in that waiting area several times & not just because I’m a big baby who cries easily, which I am & do, whatever. Some of the stories I heard as I was sitting there just tore at my heart. I mean, if you knew me, you’d know that I could never sit in a room filled with people, any people & not talk to most of them. It’s just who I am. Sitting here, typing this, I’m starting to cry a bit again, thinking of those crying babies, whose mothers fought as hard as they could to hide their own tears & feelings of desperation to be strong for their children. I think of the people who were there for emergency state assistance & the amazing number of them who were turned away because their situation wasn’t “bad” enough to be considered. These were people with shut off notices, eviction notices…..yet somehow, that wasn’t bad enough. I think of the woman who was trying to quit smoking because she has congestive heart failure & sat in that office from 8:30 am until 3:00 pm. There are so many stories from my day, people yelling at the workers, the workers yelling back, people crying, begging for help, any sort of help, to survive & SO many of them being turned away.

After all this, I do find myself to be in a bit of an odd mood. I don’t really know how to feel. While I am grateful that I was approved for food assistance & can eat more regularly now, I am also keeping my fingers crossed for medical coverage, which I desperately need. But, at the same time, I feel kind of guilty. I feel guilty because my situation is not as bad as so many others out there. I feel guilty because I am eating on the taxpayers dime. I feel guilty because I AM able to work. I feel sad. I feel sad for all the children that are brought into this world by parents without the means to care for them without government help. I feel sad for all those who have worked so hard for so many years, only to find themselves sitting in a government office, applying for assistance because their jobs have been eliminated. I am sad for every person who is denied help.

I don’t know what the solution to this problem our country & world finds itself in. All I know is that it hurts to fall & have to fight your way back up.

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Coming Down Again

Nothing is ever as it seems & no one is ever fully who they claim to be.

I know that I have so far been very serious in this blog. That was/is my intention. But sometimes, I just have to talk about myself, mostly because I made the promise to myself that I would no longer be such a “talker” & keep more of my inner thoughts to myself, and not irritate the people around me. So……

I’m a thinker….it just happens. Trust me, if I could turn it off, I would IMMEDIATELY! Today I noticed how dirty, dusty & just kinda gross my apartment is. Ok, I noticed it before today, but I guess I decided to care today. I spent the first couple hours after I woke up thinking about possibly cleaning up a bit. I managed somehow to get the clean clothes out of the laundry basket that have sat there for at least a week & a half, since I last did laundry. I threw them on my bed, so I could put all the dirty clothes & such that had accumulated around my bedroom & closet floor into the basket. Then I actually forced myself to put some of the clean clothes away, the easy ones. I don’t have a dresser. I have a good size walk in closet, with 2 of those hang off the rod shelf thingy’s from Ikea. I shove my stuff that isn’t hung in there. It’s pretty overstuffed. I like clothes, hats, jackets, shoes, boots, scarves….but I don’t really feel like organizing any of it. I haven’t desired to do so since I moved into this apartment.

I like this place, I do. But what it represents to me is falling down. That makes me sad. I have always had a problem having to start over, maybe because it happens to me/I do it to myself so often. I’m tired. Tired of losing everything. Tired of sleeping in a bed I got off Freecycle, laying on the floor without a frame. Tired of beating myself up for something that would go away if I just stopped! I’m tired of being mediocre.

After I shifted the clothes around the bed & put some of them away I decided I really needed to sweep the place. I am pretty sure it’s been at least 3-4 weeks since I did the whole thing. So, I swept the floor. Oddly enough, I didn’t bother with the bathroom, which was the same thing I did last time I swept. It either slipped my mind or I just didn’t care, I don’t know which. Just a few minutes ago, I had to go into the bathroom, for obvious reasons, when I noticed that the floor needed to be swept, so I did it, but I didn’t move the rugs or the garbage can. I just feel so lazy & not in the mood to clean. I hate that I feel like that, because the even stranger fact than me being a slob  is that in my mind, I’m a neat freak. I like everything to be clean, tidy & in its place. I used to always clean my place on a regular basis, no less than every 2 weeks & that’s full cleans. Sweeping, mopping, vacuuming (if it applied) dusting, cleaning thoroughly both the bathroom & kitchen. I didn’t leave clothes lying around, everything was put away & I made my bed daily. Now…..eh

I may be giving off a vision of me living in filth. That isn’t the case. The place is clean, it’s just…..eh

It could really use a thorough cleaning, I just don’t want to do it. This goes along with me waking up everyday not wanting to go to my waitressing job that I should actually be grateful to have. I sit in front of this computer, look for work in Promotions & Marketing, apply when I find something, I write my blog, I do research for it, I Tweet stupid, pointless shit for no reason for hours sometimes, just to get some of this shit out of my head. At least the insomnia seems to have subsided. The memory loss…..still here. I’m afraid to go to the doctor, not because I think I have some illness or disease, but I am afraid he is gonna want to put me on some sort of medication to “help” with the anxiety, the insomnia, the memory loss. So, here’s the problem with that…another confession. 3 years ago, I finally sought help for the anxiety I had allowed myself to suffer for as long as I can remember. The doctor put me on 2 medications; Paxil for “daily maintenance” of the anxiety & Xanax for “moments of attacks”. To be honest, I had been prescribed Xanax 2 years earlier & it worked wonders for me. More on that in a bit. I gave myself a 1 year goal to allow this medication to take the edge off, so I could learn & put into practice practical ways of controlling my anxiety, and not allowing it to control me. I make it very clear that I am against drugs, including “legal” ones. This was my biggest obstacle when deciding to start meds. Ok….we’ll start with Paxil. What it did for me initially was allow me to see my life more clearly than I had before. It let me see that I was in an incredibly unhealthy relationship with a man who did not love me, respect me, or like me in all honesty. He was also a heroin addict, claiming to be clean, but secretly using, as well as putting my health at risk by sleeping with multiple partners without my knowledge, both men & women. I am so lucky to have walked away from that healthy & clean of disease! This medication also allowed me the confidence to start overcoming each of my greatest fears one by one, starting with getting on an airplane. Doing this led me to my dream career that I have been SO in love with ever since, even though I am struggling to find work in this economy & due to some personal mistakes that have tarnished my reputation in some circles. Then, what Paxil gave me was 25 extra pounds & the loss of my ability to have an orgasm, which put together, or even separately, is kinda depressing. I ended up on Paxil for a year & a half, mostly due to my touring schedule. When I had some down time, I came back to Detroit to meet with my doctor to discuss changing medication. He had told me that he felt the previous doctor was mistaken in the first place to even put me on Paxil & that he wanted me to try Lexapro, which supposedly helped one lose weight, and not gain & also give me back my orgasm. I did regain the orgasm, but then found out that taking Lexapro caused a person to gain more weight than even Paxil. Look, I was never one to worry about my weight during my entire life. If anything, I was underweight, which most of my life was just nature, but there were times when I didn’t eat on purpose, or other times, when I was in my early 20’s & a drunk, where I would purge nightly, so I could sleep without the spins. I also found myself not eating during times of extreme sadness & pain. Anyway, the Lexapro was a bad idea. I went back to the doctor, AGAIN, after only a few months, where we discussed the option of Wellbutrin, which had the added bonus of helping me quit smoking (HA!) I began the process of weaning off Lexapro & starting the Wellbutrin. The withdrawal symptoms of Lexapro are nightmarish to put it lightly. I felt as if I was having a stroke for 3-5 seconds every 10 minutes for 2 weeks. It felt as though a zap of electricity was being shot through my brain & at times it would just freeze all together & stop working. I was SO glad when I got past that & will NEVER take another of that type of medication again.

The Wellbutrin I have now been on for about a year & honestly, what I do notice is that while it does calm me, it is stealing my memory. I don’t know why this is. There are things that happen that I have NO recollection of, like a friend of mine visiting my new apartment & I still can’t remember her being here. I started crying when she told me. I forget all the time & having been someone with a photographic memory, it’s frightening. I understand a bit better now my friend Tony’s Traumatic Brain Injury received in a car accident 3 years ago. I understand people with Dementia, I understand people with beginning stage Alzheimer’s, I understand my dad a lot better, who has never had a good memory. I don’t like it. It scares me & I fear that it’s irreversible. I have an appointment with a new doctor tomorrow to see what other options I have to deal with this anxiety/medication bullshit.

I mentioned that I would get more into the Xanax, so here it is. This is the only drug/medication that takes away the anxiety completely. It is the only one that helps me feel normal, where before I was frightened, in a panic & always ready to leave any social situation, there were even a few instances of agoraphobia, where I couldn’t leave the house. I started living again. I did, however, use it as a crutch for a time. It’s hard to admit, because I’m such a fanatic about drug abuse of any kind. When I was trying to figure out what I was doing in this relationship I mentioned above, I spent a month in Florida with a friend. During that time, I must admit here that I began living off of Xanax, chocolate milk & rice. I dropped down to 116 pounds & was very weak. I have gotten this under control in the 4 years since & do monitor my usage very closely, even making it a point to not take it all for weeks at a time. It’s so hard for me, because this is the one thing that I have found that works for me 100%. I feel guilt for continuing to use Xanax, but have spoken to doctors & friends about it & now know the signs that tell me if I’m relying on it too much. I know how to wait to take it, how to push myself to not take any, even when I am feeling anxious. This is the reason I continue to take it.

I can with complete & total honesty say that if & hopefully when I find a non-drug way to control my anxiety, I will beall over it! I just have not found that as of yet. I wouldn’t be writing this if I felt I was an addict in denial. I know the signs, I have lived periods of my life numb, I have been surrounded by addicts my entire life. I would stop taking Xanax IMMEDIATELY if I felt it was taking control of my life. I won’t allow it. I am not an abuser, I take my medication as directed. I have for 3 years now. I promise myself, everyone who loves me & anyone out there following this blog that if I feel or see a change in my behavior or intake, I will stop & seek help. I can say this with confidence because I am a woman of my word.

So, there ya have it folks, yet another confession or two lifting even more weight off my chest, allowing me to breathe even better. It feels great. I do have concerns that some will find me to be a hypocrite because I take Xanax for anxiety, but I can say with all honesty & confidence that is not the case. This is one of the reasons I am fighting this battle, so that people like myself who are truly helped by & use this medication properly will not be stigmatized by the epidemic of abusers.

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Fool To Cry

My grandfather passed away on March 18th. I found out when my dad called to tell me that his obituary was in the local paper. For most people with families, finding out about the death of a grandparent this way may seem odd. Well, to be honest, it is, but that’s me, my family & my entire life.

I did not have a close relationship with my grandfather. I barely knew him actually. This fact has always left a gaping hole in my heart, because the times I did know him I adored him & his entire family.

The reasons for my grandpa not being in my life were solidified before my birth. I had nothing to do with it, but for some reason it never felt that way. I didn’t even know he existed until I was 12 years old & I was forced to go to his house & meet him. My dad never asked me if I wanted this person in my life & a year & a half later, he again didn’t ask if I was ok with having him ripped right back out of my life. It was never explained to me, like most things in life when I was growing up, like my MANY step-mothers, moving from place to place & the list goes on & on.

When I met my grandpa (or as his grandchildren call him, poppa) he had been remarried to a very nice lady since 1953. Together they had 7 children, who were all loving, respectful & wonderful people, unlike the useless relatives I was forced to be around growing up. These people did not judge me, they accepted & loved me for the goofy, slightly odd kid that I was. I thought they walked on water for that! How awesome that they just liked me, I was the luckiest girl in the world…….until one day it was all gone & life just went back to the same scary hell it was before they were forced into my life.

I harbored a lot of anger towards my dad for this painful event for many years. The worst part was that he flat out refused to discuss the issue, or any others really, with me. This was when I REALLY began to act out & my life took a turn for the worse that I wouldn’t recover from for decades.

In 2007, I had decided that I had to contact this man who I had missed so much for so long. While in Florida for work, I looked him up, knowing he lived in that state. I found him within 15 minutes, thanks to the help of my mom, who was always very supportive of me contacting my grandpa, knowing that my dads perspective was incredibly distorted. She found & gave me his phone number. I stared at it for what felt like hours, but I’m sure it was only a few minutes & with my heart pounding & hands sweating I dialed his number. Of course he answered on the second ring, I gulped & said hello, I believe that I am your granddaughter Jennifer. He said that in fact I was & that he was very happy to hear from me. I asked if I could see him, but he informed me that he & his wife were leaving first thing in the morning to start driving to Detroit. I laughed at this, because I was heading back there myself a few days later & told him so. He insisted that I call him as soon as I got home at my Aunt Beth’s house, so we could figure out a day to get together. I think I cried for nearly an hour after we hung up. I felt so relieved & excited at the thought of seeing him again & he seemed genuinely happy to hear from me.

When I returned to Detroit a few days later, I again stared at this piece of paper with a growing list of phone numbers on it & got up the nerve to call this house, not knowing who would answer, what to say or how to ask to speak to my grandpa. When I called, my “cousin” Wayne answered & I asked to speak to Mr. Newton…..I didn’t know what else to say. When he got on the phone, he praised me for calling & told me how happy he was that I did…..wow, did my heart smile at the sound of that coming from him. See, for the longest time, I thought this family didn’t want me, what else would a 14 year old who was hated by & shunned from the rest of her family think?

He informed me that I would be attending a family gathering at my Aunts house a few days later. I love how he didn’t even consider asking me. I just said absolutely that I would be there & asked what time I should show up. I was SO, SO scared! I can still feel that fear when think back to that day. One of my close friends, Sarah, lived near my aunt & she offered to meet me outside there house & even go in with me if I wanted. I told her that going in with me wasn’t necessary, but could she please come meet me down the street to talk me out of driving away. The anxiety was nearly unbearable. I’m surprised I didn’t collapse in the car or on the street when I stepped out. Sarah gave me a wonderful pep talk & off I went to face my “family”.

As I walked up my aunts driveway, I was sure it was a half mile long. Seriously, it felt like it took forever to get to the backyard. When I was in eyeshot, my grandpa’s wife, Elenore, said his name & motioned towards me. As soon as he saw me, he smiled this big, beautiful smile, stood up & began to walk towards me, to meet me at the gate. As he embraced me tightly, he whispered in my ear “you look good, kid. I’m glad you’re here” I must admit, I cried a little at that moment. I also exhaled. He put his arm around me & proceeded to walk me around this HUGE circle of people that consisted of his children, their spouses & some of their children. My aunts, uncles & their spouses were incredibly warm to me. My cousins, well, that’s a very different story. They were upset by my presence & I have since learned they never knew I existed & were not warned that I would be there that day. They made their displeasure known to me.

When we were done walking around re-meeting everybody, my grandfather & I took our seat at the far end of the circle, near the house. He insisted that I sit directly next to him & stay there. Like I was gonna say no. We spoke a lot, about many different topics, including my Cherokee heritage that I was never aware of but look forward to researching! We also discussed the problems between he & my grandma, as well as the issues between he & my dad. I made it very clear that I wasn’t aware of anything that went on, but that I didn’t want to really speculate or speak on anyone else’s behalf. I could only speak for myself, the pain that not being a part of his family caused me & that I was so grateful to have reconnected with him.

He informed me on this day that he was suffering from Congestive Heart Failure. My own heart sank, because I know what that meant. It meant that he was limited in the years he had left to live. I was devastated. I had only just got him back. Damn, life really isn’t fair sometimes.

I stayed at that gathering longer than anyone else. I honestly didn’t want to leave my grandfather. His stories were so interesting & I just felt a strong connection to him & being with him was very comforting to me in a way that I still don’t understand. As I was leaving, having had so many family members invite me to upcoming holiday events, I had every intention of staying in touch with these people, who once again seemed truly happy to have me around. But with the way the grandchildren treated me, the fear & intimidation I felt by this big loving family that I didn’t understand, I’m ashamed to say I did not stay in touch with any of them, including my grandfather. I did speak to him one more time on the telephone, during which I told him I loved him. I’m glad I did, as it was the last time I ever spoke to him.

I decided to go to his funeral, to say goodbye & pay my respects to the family. I was so pleased that my dad decided to go with me as well. I knew that it would be so very healing for him & he really needed to reconcile himself to all the pain & emptiness he has carried with him for his entire life. It was awkward, but in the end I am glad that I went. I reconnected with my aunts, not so much my uncles, but that doesn’t really matter to me, as I never really felt I wanted or needed to be close to them. I also was able to meet my grandfathers brother & sister, who are luckily still alive. apparently I look a lot like my Great Aunt Jeanne & I look forward to spending some time with her & getting to know her better while she is still around. She’s really something else & I can see where I am like her. I also can’t wait to go down to Florida to visit her & look through her old pictures & listen to the accompanying stories.

I don’t really know what happens now. I am really sad that my grandpa died. He was a good man who told great stories & was an excellent barber. He was a loving & devoted husband, father & grandfather. I only wish I would have been included in his family, I feel my life would have been dramatically different had they all been in my life. I can only go forward though, so that is irrelevant.

Rest in peace Wayne…….you are loved & missed here

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Sister Morphine

….what’s the point really? You give everything you can to those you love. You give your time, your ear, your shoulder, your support, your advice, your love. Then what happens? The very people you put everything on the line for begin to turn on you, in one way or another.

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. This is not a self-pity blog. Believe me, I have thrown myself MANY pity parties in my lifetime, but those days are behind me now. I wake up every morning & the first thing I think, well after the “ugh, it’s early, I’m still tired” is how incredibly grateful I am to have in fact woken up that morning. It may have been a difficult lesson to learn, but it is one that I feel strongly about & work on daily.

I have made it very clear in this blog that I am firmly against drug abuse, both legal & illegal. I don’t hide that fact from anyone who knows me. There are many reasons for that. I grew up surrounded by addicts, I have worked & lived in the music industry since I was 18 years old, which has a far too high concentration of addicts in its midst. I struggled as a teenager, with so many things & did try to see if drugs & alcohol could take away the constant pain I was in. I feel blessed & incredibly lucky that these things did not in fact make anything better or go away. In fact, I OD’d at the age of 17. I consider this experience to be the moment that saved my life. Trust me, keeping myself alive that night when everyone around me refused to take me to a hospital was one of the top 3 hardest things I have ever experienced. At the same time, it started a completely different spiral for me. That fight caused my anxiety problem to take over my entire life for the better part of 20 years after that night. I still struggle with anxiety, fear & panic, but now I fight harder, I do more to keep myself calm, I work very hard not to think so much.

Every now & then, in this new blog, I share glimpses into my life. I think it helps anyone reading this to get a slight picture of me, where I’m coming from & why I am as passionate as I am regarding the things I write about. It’s funny that I keep so much of myself inside, because I’ve been told many times by people in my life that I talk way too much. I don’t think they realize this, but that actually hurts my feelings A LOT & makes me want to just keep my thoughts to myself, which is where this blog helps me. If the people who say they love me feel I am too intense, too overwhelming…well, they no longer need to worry about that. My feelings will now be just that, MY feelings. I have no intention of sharing any feelings with anyone that I am not asked to speak on. My answers will also be brief & to the point. I can no longer take having all my flaws shoved in my face on such a regular basis. Do these people really think that I am not aware of my issues & my shortcomings? PLEASE! I remind myself constantly, which is another issue I’m working on.

Back to my original thought. I am the person that is there if a friend or family member is in need, wants advice or just someone to listen to them vent about an issue they’re having. I care so deeply for the people I have chosen to have in my life & when they need me, I’m there, no questions asked.

I mentioned my closest girlfriend in a recent blog. She is struggling with prescription drug addiction. I have made myself completely available to her, when she needs to talk, if she needs help at her house, when she needs to cry about where her life went & how she got where she is. I have also been her 17-year-old daughters confidant, letting her vent her fears & frustrations towards her mother to be. I mostly listen, but do at times offer advice. I have also suggested that we form a united front against her mother’s illness & help get her out, as it is something that she wants & is ready to do.

I have found out in the past couple days that I have been utterly & completely betrayed by the daughter. I have been used, I have been lied to, my words have been twisted around to make me out to be a villain. I’m not even sure if I am in touch with my feelings over this. I have loved & cared for this girl for 17 years. I always thought we had a special bond. My heart is beyond broken, it is shattered. Yet at the same time, I am furious. I don’t want to be in her presence & when I am I can barely talk to her, if at all. Her mother, my friend, has asked me not to confront her, but to help HER help her daughter. I can NOT help this girl if what she has done is not confronted & dealt with first. I know they are mother & daughter & am WAY too reminded that this is a bond that I can’t possibly understand as I am not a parent myself. That in itself is a painful dig, as most who know me realize I would love to be or have been a mother.

If I’m going to be completely honest, with what I am witnessing, I see a long & difficult road ahead, full of pain. I fear I will be pushed away, cut off, tossed aside, disposed of. Why do I give SO much of myself to people who just take it & continue to make me their scapegoat. I have been stuck wearing this title with both my family & friends my entire life. It’s a title I do not deserve & quite honestly, it’s one I done allowing to be. I am not everybody’s bad guy.

I will continue to focus on my goal of drawing attention to the sickness of the publics obsession with celebrity, the lack of REAL news, no political accountability & flashing a HUGE spotlight on drug addiction! These are the things & the people I feel could use the love & support I have to give. This statement in no ways implies that I am soft or any sort of pushover. I am a street wise girl from Detroit. Not much shocks me anymore & it is nearly impossible to get over on me, except in the case of a certain 17 year old girl.

I don’t know what to do about the situation, but I can say that the door is closing & I don’t know if it can be reopened with her if major changes aren’t made IMMEDIATELY!

all love

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