Monday, March 05, 2007

bad girl

I was a good little Lutheran girl until I wasn't. When I went bad, I went very, very bad. The first time I stole something in 7th grade, it was as if flashing lights, alarms and shrieking whistles went off in my head. I felt sick to my stomach, light headed, dizzy. It was wrong and I knew it and my heart and soul were hollering at me to quit it! back off! get the hell out of there!

My bad girl brain overrode the better part of me and I continued to shoplift and so much more. The next time I did it ~ picking up a little mascara and some eyeshadow ~ a light flashed, an alarm went off. Not as long, not as loud. I felt a little queasy but I persevered. I persisted in this behavior until I could, at last, do anything, anytime, to anyone with no sense of guilt, no response from my heart or soul or that good little girl I buried under bad acts.

That this coincided with the beginning of my drug use is no surprise. Just as I wanted to be a bad girl, I wanted to be a little hippie doper, a "freak" in the parlance of the day. I was so attracted to the dark side of life, to danger and excitement and living on the edge. I still am, but today I can keep it in check. Back then, I was 12 years old with a hole in my soul where my mother used to be and I filled it up with anything I could find that would temporarily make the ache of loss go away. There were no limits to how far I'd go to distract from that pain, to escape my self, my life.

Fast forward 11 years to the day I walked into an AA meeting. I was a woman of stone, hard, unsmiling, impenetrable. I threw off waves of anger and hostility and hate though, like lava throws off heat. When that good little Lutheran girl got covered up with bad acts and drugs and alcohol and food, I turned into something else entirely. I was not brought up to be that vicious-tongued angry hateful woman, but in filling the emptiness inside of me with all of the wrong things, I corrupted and derailed the life I was meant to lead. I started burying the real me at 12 and it took years of exposure to spiritual principles before there was even a crack in the facade.

I am grateful that it was a facade. I am grateful that I had a foundation of decency to go back to. When I finally took that last drink on December 5, 1982, I surrendered my whole life, my beliefs, everything that had taken me to that point of hopelessness and I became willing to consider another way. Tater said that we use whatever it takes to get us through and that sometimes it takes the dope or the alcohol or the food to survive. If I can only survive, there is hope and, for me, just living to the age of 25 was quite an accomplishment.

Everywhere I look these days I am reminded that 12 steps changed my life and that the result we're promised in the 12th step is a spiritual awakening. It's not a religious conversion, it is a transforming spirituality that changes me from the inside out. I am reminded of this as I've spent the last week talking an old friend who is in the depths of narcotics addiction. She is such a creative, talented, wonderful woman and I love her so much. She was clean for years until she had emergency surgery and tried to manage the pain afterward with Lortab. She's been off and running now for two years, is feeling hopeless and suicidal. I have seen her when she's lit up with the spirituality that comes from the steps and I see her now at the point of death. I want the light. She does too. If you are a praying person, please send one out for Pam.


Anonymous Tater said...

Beautiful post lynette. I am so glad you made it through to the other side of all that pain. What is that saying? "Religion is for people afraid of hell, and spirituality for the people who have already been there." Yeah, that's it. My turbulent past started with the simple acts I knew to be wrong and escalated as well. We kill a piece of our self respect with each tresspass, but given our pain , and the lengths we are willing to go to to escape it, we just keep pushing the envelope. I said a prayer for Pam, and hope she finds her bottom soon. I was lucky in that I have never felt the need to go back out and "practice" again. Your sobriety date is my Birthday, I will think of you on the 5th!

March 05, 2007 10:06 AM  
Blogger Debra said...

Hi Lynette. I love reading your posts, and I can relate to so much of what you and Beula (at Dear, Ethel) write, perhaps because we're all around the same age (and the two of you are such good writers).

I was a shoplifter too, but I somehow managed to escape the drug/alcohol trap -- I guess because I feared losing control so much. Maybe I don't have that gene. Didn't escape alcoholism and drug addiction, though. My father and brother were both alcoholics and my brother died last year (age 52) of a drug and alcohol overdose, my father several years ago of a heart malfunction.

Food, though. Ah, food. Started when I was very young to use food to stablize my mood, soothe my fears and anxieties, numb me to the things I did not like, did not want to face. Food made it easy for me to believe I was in control. I'm not. Never was. Am slowly finding a way not to need to be. Etc.

Reading your posts really helps. Thank you.

March 05, 2007 10:23 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Thanks for sharing this. My thoughts will definitely be with Pam. I've seen some friends lose everything in recent years due to drug abuse and I know how painful it is to watch someone self-destruct.

As for "living on the edge", being a strong, liberal woman in the heart of red state country is still living on the edge--but in a good way! You go girl!

March 05, 2007 10:45 AM  
Blogger Beula said...

I am a praying person and I sent one up for Pam.

I also shoplifted. Weird Huh? First item was a walking doll. Was before I started school so I had to be five maybe. Doll was as big as me. I just drug it out of Ben Franklins (old five and dime). No one caught me. Mom sat in a corner with a blanket over her head most times so she didn't notice. The uncle who periodically brought us food was the first to notice arrival of the huge doll. I think he went and paid for it. Had completely forgotten this incident. "I'm not where I need to be but I thank God I'm not where I used to be."

Glad to have found you too. Thanks Debra.

p.s. Can't make spellchecker work so ignore lousy spelling.

March 05, 2007 11:02 AM  
Blogger Da Nator said...

I will be sending out good thoughts and Reiki for Pam. Narcotics addiction nearly killed my best friend once, so I know how hard it can be, and also how beautifully one can bounce back...

March 05, 2007 11:52 AM  
Blogger Tank said...

I so needed to read this post today, is all I'll say. Thank you.

March 05, 2007 6:43 PM  

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