Tag Archives: family

A Cautionary Tale

I have a friend. A dear friend; the dearest possible friend. We met when I was in my early 30s; she was 25 years my senior. We were (are) both writers.

When I moved away from the town in which we both lived, we began a correspondence. An almost-daily correspondence. At first it was letters via snail mail (which would cross in the mail), then fax, then email. We were quite intimate with our conversations, covering the whole emotional ranges of our very different lives.

correspondence

Thirty Years of Correspondence

We talked very eloquently about our divorces, our marriages. We talked about infidelity. We talked about our children and various problems we had with them, their illnesses, their marriages, both successful and failed. We talked about ourselves, our histories, our futures, our feelings, in excruciating detail, because that’s what writers do. We talked about our glory moments and our devastations. There was nothing off  limits for us to discuss with sometimes brutal honesty. As we saw it at the time.

Imagine my astonishment when about three years ago she mentioned that she had kept–was keeping–all that correspondence. It was all boxed up, in her office closet.

This is stuff that could wound, hurt, devastate her children, my children, my husband. This was personal, very confidential stuff between two people. It never occurred to me, not once in all these years, that what we had written to each other had been saved. I assumed she let it drift into the ether as I had.

But her reasoning, she said, was that one day she would cull through it, excerpting it, writing the book of our friendship.

She is elderly now, and doesn’t remember the tortuous times we wrote about. She doesn’t remember the emotional firestorms we went through that we dissected, how we helped each other through rough patches, how we helped each other understand the motivations of those who slashed us to the core.

Needless to say, since this revelation of the existence of these papers, I have been far more judicious in things I say to her. I mourn the loss of that intimacy, and am a little bit resentful that I have to edit myself in this way.

When I asked for these papers, her caretaker (a family member) said she wanted to go through it for family history.  When I told her it was private communication not meant for others’ eyes, she was unmoved.

I had terrible thoughts of my friend’s children reading our letters and having their worlds rocked by what they read—the truth about their mother’s most intimate inner musings–and her friend’s unabashed opinions.

So I became determined, absolutely resolute, that this material would be shredded. I began to get insistent. I may have hurt some feelings in the process.

Yesterday, seven boxes were delivered to me by FedEx.

I breathed a sigh of relief that it is now in my hands, and no one will ever read it.

I do not regret baring my soul, naked, with both beauty and ugliness, to my dearest friend in all the world, but I’m sorry that we did not have an agreement beforehand about the disposal of our correspondence.

This is a cautionary tale.

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Filed under Aging, family, regrets, relationships, Writing, years

Clean and Sober

Today I reach a milestone: I have been clean and sober for 35 years. I have lived more than half my life with a spiritual program that keeps me without drugs or alcohol—one day at a time.

I find it inconceivable that it has been 35 years since I had a beer or smoked a joint. Inconceivable!  (And yes, I know what that means.)

It is easier for me to believe that I got drunk last week and have been lying about it.

But it’s true. 35 years.

These have been monumental years. Years of amazing accomplishments, personal and spiritual growth.

As with everyone my age, big events have taken place. Marriages, divorces, births, deaths, creative accolades, cancers. Huge events. Emotional events. Certainly events worth drinking over, either in grief or in celebration.

truth and loveLife is not easy. But sobriety is its own reward.

All of these major life events are the stuff of the human experience, and I have been fortunate enough to be present and clear-headed for it all.

I think that’s our reason for being: to experience the human condition in all its intricacies.  Booze and drugs gloss over those intricacies, dull those edges, flatten out those highs and lows, fill in the cracks wherein we might mine for the gold placed precisely there for precisely us.

Drinking and drugging is a waste of time, a waste of money, and a waste of personality.

I am beyond fortunate. I am one of the very fortunate ones who have been able to get sober and stay sober. God willing, I will die sober. But I am in the minority. Drug and alcohol addiction is so sneaky, so calmly patient and doggedly persistent, that when we falter, it is there, waiting with a “fix” to whatever transient problem catches us at a weak moment.

But those aren’t fixes. They’re insulators. They’re a horror show in a bottle. They’re death by slow torture, and they take all our loved ones down with us.

I may be 35 years clean and sober, but I am only one drink away from disaster, and I think about that every single day.

Today I will go to a meeting and share my experience, strength and hope: If I can do it, you can do it. And that is absolutely true.

And then I will go about my life, living in gratitude. I am not only grateful for everything that I’ve been given in life, but grateful for every mind-altering substance I ingested that brought me to my knees and introduced me to the spiritual program that gives me solid tools for living.

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14 Hours of Sleep

I’m finally caught up, but hoo boy, May was quite the month. It’s all over now, and I didn’t have the usual let-down migraine, for which I am very grateful. Fourteen hours of sleep cured much of the leftover exhaustion after a stressful time.

In May: We had a deadline to finish the remodel of the bathroom before guests arrived. We had the pretrip meeting here for the Ghosts at the Coast. We did Ghosts at the Coast. Family arrived, and more family arrived for a great reunion over Mother’s Day. I turned over the odometer yet one more time. I had a biopsy (negative). We went to Utah for a different family reunion to scatter my mother’s ashes (an event that went better than I could ever have dreamed, by the way, and left me with a warmth in my heart that I haven’t felt toward my family in a long time), and I finished a very introspective and emotional paper for school. Whew. That was my May. No wonder I’m tired.

And now I will do my sixty hour practicum and then take the summer off. I’ve not had a summer off since I was fifteen years old. This will be sweet. The garden will be a showplace.

And what have I learned in this process?

It’s all one day at a time.

Respond rather than react.

My attitude is the only thing I have control over.

Life is good.

More soon.

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Filed under family, family reunion, Gardening, Ghost Story Weekend, Learning

Thinking about prayer…

Prayer is an interesting thing.

In my spiritual program, we’re told to pray only for knowledge of God’s will in our lives and the power to carry that out. That has served me well all these years. I try not to petition for things, as I believe we all have our paths, we all have a different journey, and there’s no way I know what your journey is, so it would be impudent for me to make requests.

And yet…

My sweet ex-husband, Evan, one of my favorite people on the planet and still one of my closest and dearest friends, had devastating surgery yesterday. I found myself asking everybody to pray for him. This is his third disfiguring, life-threatening battle with cancer, and nobody expected him to be around come 1985, much less 2008. He knows he’s been living on borrowed time and that has given him a great sense of humor about it all and a fragrance of gratitude that is pleasant to be around.

Evan and I raised two stellar kids together. We were not good mates, but we are great friends. When our marriage began to crumble back in 1990, we decided to jettison the marriage before it ruined our friendship. That was a good call. We’ve both moved on to excellent relationships, and remain close with each other and our kids and grandkids. The thought of losing him makes me crazy.

And yet how much more can we expect him to endure?

So when I ask you to pray for him today, I’m asking you to pray so he has knowledge of God’s will in his life and the power to carry that out.

That’s all.

That’s enough.

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Filed under Cancer, family, Marriage, Prayer