Monthly Archives: May 2015

I’d Like To Thank The Academy…….

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I’d Like To Thank The Academy…….

Stands tall, chest puffed, with a flick of my right hand on my left shoulder…..I would like to thank the academy (aka Darla Halyk of New World Mom’s) for my Liebster Award. For those that don’t know what that is (slowly shakes head from side to side with a sad tsk, tsk, tsk)…..it is a fabulous fun way for bloggers to support each other. Without further ado and the elegant wave of my magic wand (no it isn’t a vibrator…or is it?) I present my Liebster Award – Featured image

And now here is the question/answer portion of the award. Thank you Darla Halyk for the nomination and questions:

My 11 questions are as follows:

1) Why did you start writing/blogging? I have a lot of stories to tell and it seemed like the right time. My Facebook friends have encouraged me to start a blog…..and one day I happened to meet a fabulous blogger in the FLESH.  Leah Vidal of Little Miss Wordy and I became fast friends after we met at a school function. The idea started to take shape and before I knew it I had entered into the blogosphere (that’s a word right?).

2) If you could meet anyone, alive or dead, who would it be? Too hard, pass. Oh wait I assume that is frowned upon. I’d probably sit with my Nana for another round of Kings Corners.

3) If you could play any sport professionally what would it be? Roller Derby. I can skate like a dancing queen but those bitches are 100% bad ass.

4) What is your favourite quote?“To thine own self be true.”  William Shakespeare

5) What is your favourite album (front to back) of all time? Damn really tough questions here….honest it depends on my mood. The one I played most consistently was Fiona Apple – Tidal. A close second is the soundtrack from Ain’t Misbehavin’ featuring Nell Carter.

6) Who is your biggest role model? I don’t have one. However, I have been fortunate to have several mentors throughout the course of my life. Sadly the most recent one passed away about 3 years ago at the tender age of 93. So if you know any bad ass females over the age of 90 looking to mold a young whipper snapper let me know.

7) What cheers you up? Music, friends, exercise and laughter. Oh and travel I love to travel!

8) Do you believe in love at first sight? I believe in lust at first sight….a little skeptical on the love at first sight thing.

9) What is the best compliment you have ever received? I have been called a good egg a few times. Anytime I get compliments regarding my children I kind of glow a little (mom nerd).

10) Do you trust anyone with your life? No humans, just a God of my understanding.

11) What is your favourite word? Resilient

And now for the next round of victims bloggers…..should you accept the challenge (of course you should) there are some rules:

  1. Acknowledge and thank the blog who nominated you.
  2. Look for an award image that you like, and post it on your blog
  3. Answer the 11 questions asked by the person/blog who nominated you.
  4. Nominate 11 blogs
  5. Let the bloggers know that you nominated them.
  6. Give them 11 questions to answer.

Now it is my turn to nominate 11 people. Damn don’t hate on me bloggers some of you have likely already done this and I apologize in advance if this is your 2nd, 3rd or 74th Liebster Award Nomination. Just know that if you don’t do this a pack of feral trolls will visit you on the evening of the next full moon and tickle you in your sleep until you pee yourself or maybe ………nothing will happen. Ask yourself if you are feeling lucky and roll the life dice….

1. Jacqueline Whitney of http://www.findingmyverse.com/

2. Kathy Radigan of http://mydishwasherspossessed.com/

3. Denise Thomas of http://callthemidlife.com/my-period-is-like-a-drunk-at-the-bar/#comment-97

4. Leah Vidal of https://littlemisswordy.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/the-red-string-of-fate/

5. Mandy Hoefert Waysman of http://www.ohmandelynn.com/

6. Gena Scott Hassett of http://whatsfordinnergena.com/

7. Nancy Lowell of http://chefslastdiet.com/

8. Sassafrass Meghan of http://sassafrass76.com/2015/05/28/oops-i-did-it-again/

9. Jennifer Connolly of http://www.awellstyledlife.com/

10. Mickey Mouse of http://www.nomoreblogs.com/

11. James Brown of http://www.ifeelgoodimade11.com/

Ok so now comes the exciting part where I reveal the 11 questions for the lucky bloggers I listed above…who are all real by the way (except for maybe 2).

1. Do you have a recurring dream?

2. Where is your favorite place to visit?

3. What do you think is the most underrated quality in modern society?

4. If you could live in any time period, which would you pick?

5. Funny or serious?

6. What is your number one pet peeve?

7. Dogs or cats?

8. If you could have one super power what would it be?

9. Favorite thing about yourself?

10. On a scale of one to ten how much do you hate the Liebster Award (and btw, so so sorry)?

11. What is your number one fear?

Thanks again to Darla Halyk from New World Mom’s http://blogirl.info/darla6/ for passing along the Liebster Award. Apologies for any and all mistakes made in passing this torch. Still new at this and have the tech skills of a 4th grader from 1992.

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1 out of 37………Part 10

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1 out of 37………Part 10

My time at Crawford House was well spent. A new “normal” was set for me as I attended regular AA meetings, group and private therapy and made some sober friends. The ladies at the halfway house were interesting. Every single one of them had a story. Having just turned 16, I had a lot to learn about life. Some residents were gay, some straight, some claimed to have had relationships with famous musicians, some had tattoos, some had kids, those were tricky relationships for me.  There was one rich girl and a handful of teenagers throughout my stay. At least half of the population never graduated from the program. Most were kicked out for using drugs or alcohol, others just bailed. Getting sober is a bitch and you need to be ready and willing to do the footwork.

I was lucky to have such limited residential options. My family circumstances kept me in institutions for a majority of the first 10 months of my sobriety. That gave me time to get settled into the whole sobriety thing and come to terms with a “God of my understanding”. I was kept away from people, places and things that would have likely led me to use drugs or alcohol. My sobriety from the age of 15 is indeed miraculous and it is something I could not have done alone.

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I was discharged from Crawford House in early August of 1984. As you probably guessed my family life did not magically fix itself. The first night I got out my mom and I stayed at a hotel in Hightsown, New Jersey. She left me alone in the hotel room to go on a date. My brother was not with us. He was living somewhere in Sayreville, New Jersey. That was where I lived before I went to rehab the first time in the fall of 1983. My mother’s brief second marriage imploded our trio.  So my brother was couch surfing through high school and my mom and I were still figuring it out.

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I spent a few weeks sleeping on the couch of an old family friend. Her name was Eleanore and at the time she was sober about 5 years which is forever when you are new. I remembered Eleanore as a spectacular drunk from many years prior. We first met Eleanore in the early 1970’s. My mother, brother and I lived in a room in a boarding house in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. Eleanore and her husband Frank had an efficiency in the same building….it was a palace compared to our living space.

Frank and Eleanore were really nice to the three of us. I do remember being freaked out my Frank’s war injury. According to Frank, he was a POW in World War II and the Japanese captured him and chopped off the tips of three of his fingers. He had the stubs to prove it and you don’t forget that sight when you are 5 years old. A few years later my mother had a birthday party for my brother and I when we turned 8. Eleanore and I slept in my mother’s bed and I woke up in a pool of urine. I thought I had wet the bed and had a moment of absolute panic……then I realized my underwear was dry. Turns out Eleanore got so drunk she wet the bed. At some point she decided it was time to get sober.  It was very kind of her to let me spend some time couch surfing while my mom tried to get a place together for us.

Eleanore had an apartment in Bricktown, New Jersey. I got a chance to catch up with some friends I had made in the early part of winter.  For a brief time I stayed with Lola, my original rehab room-mate and her family, also from Bricktown. I finally had some fun again and I also got into a bit of trouble. I had no interest in drinking or using but I still had a wild streak. Lola and I hitch hiked a few times to Seaside Park to go to the boardwalk. One time we got picked up by the cops. They didn’t give us too much of a hard time but it was humiliating. The last straw for me though was when I hitch hiked alone one day and the guy that picked me up offered me money for a blow job. I declined, he kicked me out and I never hitch hiked again.

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After about a month I had to pack my bags yet again. This time I went to stay with my mother who was renting a room at her friend Lorraine’s house. Once again it was all ladies – Lorraine, her mother, Lorraine’s daughter, my mom and I living in Matawan, New Jersey. Couch surfing again until my mom and I could get an apartment.

I started 10th grade for the second time in Matawan, New Jersey. I had missed about 8 months of school the prior year so I had to stay back. This was particularly humiliating for me because I have a twin brother and he was going into 11th grade at our old school in Sayreville. To make matters worse, the apartment fell through so we were delayed again in effort to hit the reset button.

Finally in October my mom got a one bedroom apartment for us in East Windsor, New Jersey. I started at another new high school in Hightstown. The first day I was there I was mistaken for a new teacher by a male staff member. I never felt like I fit in there. Somehow though regardless of the high frequency of moving, life changes, multiple schools, the institutions, the good, the bad and the unacceptable……somehow I had made through my first year of sobriety.

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I celebrated my first anniversary at a speaker meeting in Freehold, New Jersey. I remember feeling a sense of accomplishment…..that somehow I had achieved something that not many could. I suppose that is true to a certain extent. I  prefer to see myself now as someone living their life in the manner that was intended, nothing extraordinary. I do believe that getting sober set my life on a completely different trajectory. I don’t think life would look the same if I didn’t make a decision to get sober all those years ago. I will be forever grateful to everyone that had a part in my recovery, especially that first year.

1 out of 37…………..Part 9

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1 out of 37…………..Part 9

I celebrated my 16th birthday in a substance abuse halfway house for women. Celebrate may be a little too cheery for what actually happened. As you may have guessed, I did not have an ideal family life. My twin brother and I were raised (fed, clothed and housed) by our mother. Our mother was a drunk until we were 14 years old and then she got sober. I pretty much went off the rails when she started to dry out. My level of self-destruction was about an 8 out of 10 and the speed at which it happened was super hyper fast (that’s a highly technical scientific term).

The day of my 16th birthday was a sunny Sunday in June of 1984. My mother and brother picked me up to go out for a few hours. I honestly don’t remember what we did for the first hour or two. What happened on the way back to the temporary place I called home is forever tattooed to my brain. I asked if we could stop at McDonald’s for a cheeseburger. I was after all not “free” to come and go as I pleased so this would have been a treat…..on my birthday….my 16th birthday.

The place I was staying at was in the country….not Nebraska country but rural New Jersey.  It took a solid 12 minutes of winding country roads to drive to McDonald’s. You would have thought I asked for a kidney, a bag of cash and an all expense paid trip to Europe. At first the request was met with a slightly irritated shrug and an OK attitude. As the minutes and miles ticked upward the resentment and outward rage began to boil over, for both of them.Featured image

My mother started bitching about how far it was and soon my brother chimed in. He had friends to see and things to do – fun things, with real people in what once was my home town. No one had the time or inclination to satisfy my stupid request and yet here we were driving toward a cheeseburger…..it was horrible.

I’m sure I fought the tears as long as I could, that was my way. I just couldn’t believe how selfish and cruel they were being. It was my 16th f*cking birthday and I’m basically in a lock up facility….getting sober. Early sobriety isn’t easy for anyone let alone a teenager and you two can’t take an extra half hour out of your day for a simple request. Assholes.

By the time we got to McDonald’s I was a wreck. I’m not sure how much it showed. I was told to go in and get my cheeseburger and come back. They waited impatiently in the car. I got out of the car, walked straight through the place and ugly cried in the back parking lot of that McDonald’s. I gave myself a good five minutes before I could muster the strength to get back in the car sans cheeseburger. They didn’t know I skipped the burger, they didn’t care. They just wanted to drop me off so they could get on with their much-better-than-mine lives.

When we got back to Crawford House the place was empty and the doors were locked. I assured my mother that someone would be there soon. She did not require a lot of convincing and quickly left. They left me there outside oblivious and/or indifferent to how shitty they just treated me. Who does that?

I was out there maybe half an hour before other residents started to return with the weekend supervisor. Those women hugged me and comforted me and treated me like a human being. I was safer there with drunks and addicts in early recovery than I was with my own family. Perhaps my mother did me a favor by keeping me away from her.

To be continued……………https://wasthatmyoutloudvoice.com/2015/05/29/1-out-of-37-part-10/

1 out of 37….Part 8

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1 out of 37….Part 8

So in mid February of 1984 I found myself in an adolescent rehab (again). This time I was about five months sober. I was there because I had no where else to live. I was 15 years old and no relatives would take me in. My mother got married to a monster two days after I got out of rehab in December. He got violent shortly after the wedding so my mother did not want me (or my brother) to stay there. I stayed with a friend’s family for a short time, that didn’t last. Then I ran away from the halfway house from hell in upstate New York. It was not an easy time. I find it ironic that in AA they tell you not to make any major changes the first year of sobriety, yeah right.

I felt like I could exhale when I got back in rehab. My life was so intense during my short span of sobriety that the place felt like home. It was nice to be around other young people. Some even shared my desire for sobriety. The counselors were extra kind to me, they made me feel special. More important, they made me feel loved. I was so in need of that at the time.

The plan was to go through the 28 day program and then go directly to a halfway house in New Jersey. Rehab was crowded compared to the first time. There were a lot more people which meant a lot more families visiting on weekends. That was rough for me as I did not get a lot of visits. Infrequent visits created another issue, no clean laundry. The place did not have a washer or dryer so most families would bring clean laundry for their kids every weekend. I wound up doing a lot of laundry in the bathroom sink. It was not an esteem builder. I did not feel loved by my family.Featured image

Thank God there were people that showed me kindness. I had an excellent tutor named Max, he encouraged me to write. At that time I wrote a lot of poems and he gave me a beautiful bound book to keep them in. I got him hooked on blueberry bubblicious so it was a mutually beneficial relationship.

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Some Sundays a religious couple would come to the rehab and offer a Christian Service for anyone that wanted to participate. The woman that came had a beautiful hair clip and I complimented her on it. Without hesitation she removed it from her long brown hair and handed it to me. I knew she wanted me to have it with all her heart. I also made a good friend there named Jen – we still keep in touch.

My counselor was named Laura and her husband Phil also worked at the rehab. They were both so kind to me. Many times Laura told me how much she wanted to take me in….to the point where I could visualize my own bedroom in her house. Phil told me that sobriety isn’t about a destination…it’s all about the journey. This time around the major lesson was love and kindness as I prepared for the next phase of recovery.

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In early April I was released from rehab and taken to Crawford House in Skillman, NJ. I was scared. The place I had been to in New York was awful, truly awful. Thankfully Crawford House was different. When I was there in 1984, residents lived in a big old house and there were cows roaming around the front lawn. I was relieved to learn that we were not required to maintain the cows (unlike the first halfway house). This was an all female house (another sigh of relief) and I was the youngest one there. My room-mate was named Michelle and she was 17.

The first 15 minutes I was there another resident asked me if I was gay….that was a pretty big deal in 1984. I told her that I wasn’t and her response was “don’t knock it ’til you try it.” That was a little unsettling but if I could live with 30 male nearly convicts and not get physically assaulted, I was pretty sure I could hold my own in this place. I did find a vibrator in my bedroom closet that first night and I didn’t know what the hell it was….so clearly I had a lot to learn. I suspect the last girl left it as a welcome gift or perhaps she was severely disappointed when she unpacked…..but I digress.

This place was OK. There were about a dozen ladies living in the house at any given time. Everyone had chores and we all took turns cooking dinner. Cooking dinner for a dozen people was not a skill I came in with but I learned. In the summer I was able to get a job as a janitor cleaning a school which was within walking distance. I was happy to have a job that paid.

The services at this place were light years ahead of “The Family” in upstate New York. I had a counselor named Theresa and we had group sessions and regular AA Meetings. My favorite meeting was on Thursday Nights on Witherspoon Street in Princeton. It was a speaker meeting and there was an old timer in the group that would say “uh ha” every time he agreed with the speaker, it became comforting for me. I also got my first AA sponsor at that meeting and celebrated a long overdue 90 days.

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I was so gullible I was always stunned when someone got kicked out for using. There were some interesting characters in that place. I wish I kept a journal. There were a few girls that resented me but honestly I didn’t know it until they confessed with an apology. I was upbeat most of the time. We had a chalk board near the phone (single phone with a cord,1984 y’all) and I always wrote something positive there – Sobriety First, Happy 24, stuff like that. I had some hiccups along the way too, the worst was my 16th birthday.

To be continued…………..https://wasthatmyoutloudvoice.com/2015/05/13/1-out-of-37-part-9/

1 out of 37………..Part 7

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1 out of 37………..Part 7

We got to Monticello, NY unharmed. I was filled with a liberating joyful feeling from running away from “The Family” but I had no idea what lay ahead for me. I was officially an out of state runaway. Sandy couldn’t go to her family so we went to stay with some of her friends. I find it amazing that someone would let an unknown 15 year old that just escaped from a halfway house sleep on their couch but they did.

The first night there we decided to go to an AA meeting. Above everything I still wanted to be sober. We hitch hiked to a meeting. We got picked up by some of Sandy’s friends, not the sober kind. I mean who doesn’t love getting a ride to an AA meeting in a car that is filled with pot smoke.

Bear in mind, weed was my very favorite thing on earth. I loved it more than alcohol. Weed had the benefit of causing a great high (until the paranoia set in) without the puking. So while I was in the back seat of some strangers car on my way to an AA meeting, someone handed me a lit joint. I held it between my thumb and pointer finger in my right hand and I tilted it from side to side as if studying something new for the first time. The thoughts in my head were this – I’m 15, no one will know, no one cares, I’m basically homeless and damn I love weed. I passed it on to the next passenger without taking a hit. In AA/NA they say that there comes a time when the only thing between you and a drink (drug) is your higher power, that was my time. Three decades later I can recall that time with the clarity of something that happened five minutes ago. That time has kept me sober through some real shitty days.

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We spent a few days basking in the freedom. Sandy was already smoking pot but her drug of choice was heroin. The guy that picked us up hitch hiking made good on his offer to take us back to “The Family” to get our belongings. I look back on it now and marvel at the balls it took to go back there. I marched in there with my make up on in normal teenage clothes and demanded my things back. Oh and by the way f*ck you. Best day ever.

I knew that Monticello was not a long term plan for me so I started making calls. First I called my best friend back in New Jersey and her family was on board with me staying there for a while. The problem was I needed transportation. I called Catholic Charities and requested money to get back to New Jersey. They wouldn’t help because I was a minor. I still did not want to call my mother so I called New York Child Protective Services (CPS).

I turned myself into a CPS office and I was brutally honest with the person I met. I basically said I’m a minor you need to deal with me. Do not send me back to the crazy ass half way house again because I WILL runaway. By the way you may want to check out the place because I am sure they have countless violations. So I got sent to an emergency foster home until my mother could pick me up.

I can’t remember the name of the place I got sent to or where it was located. It was a seasonal hotel, summer being their busy season. It was a beautiful place and the lady there was so nice. She told me not to smoke in my room and like a selfish brat I did. Other than that I followed the rules. I was there maybe 4 days before my mom picked me up. Talk about a long awkward car ride. She was pissed that she had to drive 4 hours each way to pick me up. I was pissed because, well everything……

On the ride back she told me I would be home for a few days and then I would go back to rehab. Not sure if she thought I drank, she probably did. She told me the reason I was going back to rehab was because I didn’t have anywhere else to go. She also wanted to find a better half way house for me and I would have to enter it directly from rehab. Awesome. So here I am four months sober going back to rehab.

To be continued……………….https://wasthatmyoutloudvoice.com/2015/05/12/1-out-of-37-part-8/

1 out of 37………..Part 6

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1 out of 37………..Part 6

“The Family” was a long term facility and most graduates stayed two years to complete the program. I could not swallow such a big, bitter pill so I focused on the first three months. Each day trudged along and I was depressed but playing along to just crawl through my 90 day blackout period. About a month into my stay two counselors came up from the adolescent rehab that I had attended the prior fall. They were checking out the halfway house to see if they should refer some of their residents that needed a boost after rehab.

I look back on it now and it’s like the clouds parted and trumpets blared but I tried to stay neutral. They recognized me when they came in and somehow Tony agreed to let me visit with them instead of sending me off to do some filthy chore. Guess I had a believable game face, they must have thought that I would give the place rave reviews.  I didn’t.

I played it cool at first. Trying to convey a message with my eyes which was in absolute conflict with the words coming out of my mouth. A few minutes in they asked me how I was doing and a dam broke. I tried to keep it together but I couldn’t. I swatted the tears away and in a whisper, behind gritted teeth I told them not to send anyone to this place. I hugged them when they left and tried to get my game face back on. I was confronted immediately with angry words and an accusatory tone.

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I didn’t fight it, I admitted it…..I hated the place. I told them that I didn’t think that this setting was appropriate for me and I wanted to leave. They told me they didn’t want to be bothered calling the authorities could I wait until tomorrow. OK, I guess. The rest of the day and evening carried on without much fanfare. That night I had sheep watch at 2am and when I came back from that Sandy was awake and asked me if I wanted to leave.  Hell yes.

Within 10 minutes we were out the door headed toward Monticello, NY Sandy’s home town. Keep in mind it was February in upstate New York so it is cold, negative temperature cold. We were dressed pretty good for the weather although I managed to lose a glove at some point. The first couple of hours we hid from the few cars that we saw but mostly we sang. I don’t remember what we sang I just remember the feeling of joy from being out of that damn place……it kept me warm on a cold winter’s night.

We walked all night and into the next day when we finally got to a more active road then we went thumbs up. It is just under 50 miles to get to Monticello from Long Eddy and we probably walked half that distance. Mid morning we were able to hitch a ride with a guy in a truck. He seemed friendly but we were a little on edge. Hitch hiking sober was a lot more intense than doing it high. I calmed down soon enough.

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Maybe ten minutes into the ride a car drove past us and the guy that was driving us gave a friendly toot toot of his horn. I noticed that the car that passed us had an AA slogan bumper sticker “This too shall pass.” I asked if our new friend was in AA and he was…..the relief that washed over me was overwhelming. Sandy and I both started to tell him about the crazy place we just left and that we were sober. We explained that we just couldn’t take it there and he agreed to drive us the entire way to Monticello.  He even offered to take us back to “The Family” to collect our belongings if we wanted to…..wow. That was a real God moment for me. Just one of those times when I felt a divine intervention. I didn’t have a plan once we got to Monticello but I sure as f*ck wasn’t going back to “The Family”.

To be continued…………https://wasthatmyoutloudvoice.com/2015/05/08/1-out-of-37-part-7/

1 out of 37……….Part 5

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1 out of 37……….Part 5

“The Family” was an awful place but I didn’t have anywhere else to go and since my attempted escape didn’t go well I decided to fall in line. The days were long and arduous. We were up by 5am each day to work on the farm. Even as I look back on this more than 30 years later I still think they purposely gave me the most disgusting chores. My barn jobs were shoveling cow shit from the barn which is just as delightful as it sounds. I also carried bales of hay to the goat pens. Interesting job since a bale of hay was at least half my body weight.On the plus side this task wasn’t as pungent and I made friends with a billy goat.

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After the early morning chores were complete we were rewarded with breakfast. I have to say that I loved breakfast at this place. Perhaps it was the early morning activity that made me appreciate it or maybe it was the lack of things to enjoy…… whatever the reason, the guy in charge of breakfast made the best cheese omelets.

Meals were interesting and intense at this place. By interesting I mean incredibly horrible, awkward and demeaning. Imagine 40 people, mostly grown men spread out among a handful of tables that spanned two small rooms. The facilitator, Tony and his wife sat at the head of the largest table and no topic was sparred at meal time. One time a male resident discussed the fact that he had a wet dream about me the prior night. Nothing was off limits if Tony approved of it.

There were tears, yelling and general condemnation at almost every meal. One 14 year old boy routinely cried and was lambasted over his “crocodile tears”. He was the only one there younger than me and my heart broke for him a million times. Another fun fact, if you had to go to the bathroom during meal time you had to sit with your right thumb up in the hitch hiker position. You could not be excused to use the bathroom until Tony gave you permission.

Household chores were completed after breakfast. In keeping with the “shit” theme, my job was to clean the bathrooms. There were two bathrooms for 40 residents. The septic system was pretty fragile so you could only flush toilet paper when you dropped a deuce. And so it goes, I had the delightful job of cleaning the bathrooms with the piss soaked garbage cans overflowing with used toilet paper.

After morning chores it was lunch time and once again you had to hitch hike to use the bathroom and endure whatever f*cked up confrontation came up. Afternoons were a little more relaxed. They included odd jobs around the farm, perhaps some tutoring (I was supposed to be in school) and maybe some kind of recovery discussion. There were a few days when I was sent to another local community to clean rooms or make juice from raw liver. I can’t remember the religious sect but the community had “cult” written all over it. I think that place scared me more than the halfway house.Before you knew it dinner was on the table and after that there would be an AA meeting or small group discussion reading Hazleton books. Lights were out shortly after 9pm and by then you were tired.

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I shared a room with four other females we slept in a bedroom that housed three bunk beds on the lower level. I got along with one of the girls there her name was Sandy. The other three took turns crying, masterbating or talking in their sleep and none of them could be trusted. We were lucky in a sense because our room was close to the wood stove and people took turns throwing logs on the fire throughout the night. Everything was based on an odd/even schedule including showers. You could only shower every other day. Fire and sheep watch also rotated.

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Oh wait what’s sheep watch? Glad you asked – in upstate NY temperatures get very cold in the winter and pregnant sheep need to be checked to make sure that after they give birth their babies can be kept warm. If a newborn lamb is left outside it could freeze to death if left exposed to the cold for too long. So we took turns checking on the pregnant sheep every two hours. At least that was the explanation I got but perhaps it was just a ruse to keep us sleep deprived, which was a constant.

I don’t think I can adequately describe the level of despair I experienced in this place. I felt so utterly and completely alone. I worried a lot about my twin brother. One time I had a dream that he killed himself and I had no way to process those emotions. I was not allowed to call or communicate with my family in any way. I could not even jot my feelings down in a journal. I didn’t want to die but I wanted out of that place so bad that I would fantasize about breaking a leg just to get to a hospital.

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Sandy and I actually made a lame attempt at burning the place down. We didn’t want anyone to get hurt we just wanted the place to be inhabitable so we could leave. For a couple weeks Sandy and I collected matches on the sly. Late one night we put a handful of the matches along with some lighter fluid in the oven and cranked up the heat. Nothing substantial happened and the smell from the oven caused someone to investigate the kitchen. Nothing was damaged,  no one got hurt and we did not get caught which was a relief…….but the disappointment of having to stay was unbearable. I had a lot of shame about this foiled plot in my early sobriety. It could have a been a horrible disaster and I am thankful that no one was harmed.

To be continued……………https://wasthatmyoutloudvoice.com/2015/05/06/1-out-of-37-part-6/

1 Out of 37………Part 4

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1 Out of 37………Part 4

Well after the 28 standard days I got released from rehab. While I was away my mom, her fiance and my brother moved to a different house in the same town. It was a few days before Christmas 1983 and my mother was getting married. We’ll call her husband asshole Dick. Dick and my mother found love in the rooms of AA. Two days after they got married Dick started tossing coffee tables like they were frisbes as mom frantically searched for new living arrangements for her two kids. My twin brother landed locally so he could stay in the same high school. I wound up staying with Lola, my roommate from rehab and her family which was an hour away from home.

Lola’s family was very kind to me and I really had a great time there. It was late December and there was a break in the school year so we just hung out and had the best time. I had no idea that you could have so much fun sober. I started singing in a band which we named H.A.L.T. after an AA slogan that suggested that you never get too Hungry-Angry-Lonely-Tired. Everyone in the band was sober. Two of the guys had a year or two of sobriety and that seemed like a lifetime to me. I also saw the Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time, it was a blast. I remember driving to the movie theater with Van Halen’s Jump on the radio I don’t think I had ever been happier up to that point. I even sang on stage in a bar (ironic, eh?) with this band it was an amazing experience.

Sadly the fun fest came to an abrupt end. Not sure what actually happened but in early January I was packing my bags again. I thought that Lola was a upset by the male attention that I received but no one ever owned that, it was just a hunch. My mom didn’t want me to go back to live with her and Dick. No family members were willing to take me in including my father. She found a place that took sober teenagers in Long Eddy, NY.

“The Family” was a halfway house which followed a militant brand of sobriety. Most of the residents were there by court order to avoid prison time, thanks mom. The house itself was a split level from the 1970’s and it was located on a small farm. Up to 40 people lived in that house and the average was 35 male residents to 5 female residents. Median age was probably 28. So here I am a 15 year old girl thrown into a halfway house/farm with a bunch of would be convicts.

The first thing they did was cut my long stylish hair into a drab short bob. They also traded my trendy teenager clothes for more modest overalls and flannels with the boots to match. This place had an extreme “blackout” phase during which communication was limited with the outside world and this phase lasted 90 days. So for three months newbies weren’t allowed to watch tv, read anything (other than AA literature), no letters, phone calls or visits, you could not even keep a journal.

I was sick when I got there, feverish sick so I spent the first day or two in bed. From my bunk in the lower level of the house I could hear screaming and yelling. Residents were constantly demeaned and ordered about. My stomach was in knots and I felt trapped and I couldn’t stand to be there, so I left.

My great escape didn’t get me too far maybe three miles down the road. I saw a small house and took a chance and knocked on the door. An older man answered and was kind enough to let me use his phone. I called my mother and told her I ran away and described the place in awful detail. She asked for the phone number so she could call me back. Within 10 minutes some people from “The Family” scooped me up and took me back. That was probably the worst betrayal of my life.

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I was hysterical and it showed. I screamed while ugly crying and trying to explain to them that I did not belong there. They accused me of being drunk and said as much to my mother. At that point my sobriety was my most treasured possession and they flat out lied. At some point I realized I had to put on a better game face to get myself out of there so I went into stepford mode.

To be continued……………https://wasthatmyoutloudvoice.com/2015/05/03/1-out-of-37-part-5/

1 out of 37……….Part 3

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1 out of 37……….Part 3

So here I am the Fall of 1983 in an adolescent rehab in Monmouth County New Jersey.  We had a variety of groups and one on one meetings during the day to educate us about alcoholism/addiction and provide opportunities for the residents to purge, confess or be a wall flower. I was an active participant after my realization. At night the counselors would drive us to AA or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) Meetings. Teenagers and sobriety were a fairly new concept at AA meetings and we were not welcomed with open arms. I remember one place in particular it was the Shoralan Club in Belmar, NJ the person leading the meeting did not want to let a “bunch of drug addict teenagers” into the meeting. The counselor that brought us asked us if we had a desire to stop drinking to which we replied “yes” and we were able to attend the meeting. That is one of the nifty things about AA “the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.” The meeting leader could not ban us from the meeting simply because he wasn’t fond of our demographic.

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Rehab is what I imagine dorm living is like (haven’t actually done that so it is a guess) with the added drama of alcoholism and drug addiction which usually adds a sprinkling of abuse, self loathing and a variety of nightmarish family situations. It’s a bit of a clusterf*ck to put it mildly and emotions and hormones can run high. And oh yeah not everyone gets along and there is always a scapegoat. I remember having a town hall style meeting because one girl urinated into another girls shampoo bottle…kind of like Orange is the New Black with big hair and no cell phones.

This was a coed facility and they tried to keep the genders separated. I of course got into a rehab romance with one the guys…I’ll call him Randy. This facility was new when I got there and they hadn’t worked out all the kinks yet so Randy and I would actually hold hands in the Day Room. Pretty sure you would get tassered now if you tried that. Randy got there before me so he left before me there was a strict 28 day policy in effect at that time due to insurance limitations. Sweet Randy decided that he would break in one night and pay me a visit. That went about as well as you think it would go.

Randy climbed a tree to get into the second floor of the boys wing. Not sure who let him in but he had to have help. Then he slithered his way down to the girls dorm and into my room. I was shocked to see him but what 15 year old girl wouldn’t be flattered by her “man” breaking into rehab for a romantic visit….(saying internal prayer right now, I have a young daughter). Well Randy and I didn’t get to visit much before we heard people in the hallway. I told Randy to hide under the bed just before the door opened and a night guard came in asking if we heard anything. At this point I feigned an illness and said I was just going to go see the nurse (wanted to give my guy some getaway time). I could see they were falling for it and then someone caught a reflection of Randy in the window and BAM we were busted. Props to my room mate for “sleeping” through the entire ruckus. I got demoted from Level 4 to Level 2 which meant a lot more restrictions and I’m sure my Mom was proud when the gossip that weekend centered around the girl who got caught with a boy under her bed.

To be continued…….https://wasthatmyoutloudvoice.com/2015/05/02/1-out-of-37-part-4/