the road to change leads through grace

Posts tagged ‘addiction’

The Cost

I don’t like to write, I’d rather type. But I want to write to feel the pain on my fingertips.

A lost diamond ring is of little cost compared to the day when little boys stopped asking for their mommy because it costs them too much pain to have her come and leave again.

The sadness of sweet memories that could have been made is the heavy cost you made when you chose evil over love.

A sister, a brother- concerns turn to fear and then disgust, waiting to love you again.

Sobbing out of control, when a father holds a picture of his little girl, hands folded in prayer. A promise of a future of laughter not tears.

A large cost has been made. The little girl has stolen the happiness, peace and sweet memories away.

A mother knowing, giving her life would be a small cost to bring her little girl back, right now- Today.

Mom 12-11

The habit

The habit keeps.

It’s a shadow in its deliberate follow, a clock in its relentless crawl. The seed of every habit is a well worn need whose birth is an amendment written in a long ago language but whose bill is clear as day.

The habit can be a mean and unforgiving place. It can weigh and it can crush. It can be a thief of hope and a murderer of faith. It can scavenge the best laid plans of a life and dress them in all the colors of Dante.

The equal opportunistic ways of its clutch allow for no safe havens. It doesn’t matter if you come from an amazing family, and it doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of making one with the love of your life. It doesn’t matter if you’re Joe from Joliet or Josh Hamilton from the California Angels. The habit will take your youth, it will take your looks, and if you let it stick around long enough, it will get busy taking everything else.

So the thing becomes to change the habit you depend on. And I realize I am simplifying the math here. Forward your complaints to brevity. But really, you probably already know what I’m talking about, because it’s probably where you go every time you come back from the depths of that habit’s call.

All I’m saying is that changing up the habit is a very real thing. It happens, every day. The unfortunate of sad and tragic tales has a flip side that is really beautiful. There are millions of stories out there right now, finding that same kind of wonderful, and living out better endings whose underpinnings were ankle deep in land mines once upon a time.

Building a better habit is all about patience and humility. It’s about reversing the momentary collapse created by a ravenous impulse in favor of a payoff that has years and decades worth of better days.

It’s a chance.


Life sucks, and then you try

She always ran to him. Any time of the day or night, didn’t matter.

He was her little brother; the only sibling she could bring herself to maintain communication with in a family whose tight knit history had died with the patriarch of the family years before. Little brother was her link to those better times, and she wasn’t about to let go of the boy who still made her believe in family. She understood the implicit danger in such a hold; the idea that she might get caught in the undertow. And she kept at it just the same, because she wasn’t willing to let go even though he had become really good at doing just that.

As far as little brother was concerned, I was resentful as shit. To put it another way, I hated the sonofabitch. Didn’t matter that I’d never met him, not in the least. All that mattered was that he was bringing my girl down, every time he called her in the middle of his latest dead end place.

I didn’t get it, I didn’t understand how she was able to possess that kind of loyalty to someone who was the source of so much pain for her, even if he was her blood. The way I saw it, my love for her was unconditional, it was selfless. Shit, I knew was never going to call her in the middle of the night to come rescue me from a hellish proposition I’d constructed. I was all about being a good thing in her life. I was everything he wasn’t, and yet, she ran to him. And I knew the reason had everything to do with the life that had gone away. It’s why I never gave her shit about it. That, and the fact that she would’ve told me to go fuck myself if I had.

She was always going to put out his fires, because in her mind, if there was one chance in a million, she was going to stand up to the countless odds and she was going to lay it all on that one chance. Even if she lost a piece of herself inside all the times her heart was broken. Even if it meant she was going to have to take time away from me or her kids or the rest of her life. Even if each phone call carried the very real chance that she was just going to lose it, and never get it back the same way.

We lived in different places, me and her. So it was by chance that he called one morning when I was there, and we ran to him, together. It was an awkward, silent trip to his place; full of a painful hope and horrible questions whose answers were lost inside the mess of a life undone. When we got there, he wasn’t in his apartment, so she called his cell. No answer. She hung up the phone and she cursed. 

“Fucking Brendan! Goddamit!”

She cursed all the way back to the car, and I just let her go. I realized that anger was the only thing keeping her from falling to the ground in a heap of tears. It was excruciating, watching someone you love fall apart before your very eyes while having no choice but to keep it together. I’ll never forget that, long as I live.

We went looking for him, and after a time we found him. Wandering along the sidewalks of a street several blocks from home in an aimless march to nowhere at all. She pulled over and retrieved him, as I moved to the back seat.

Our exchange was brief, but long enough for me to catch his eyes. He was so fucking high, it was frightening. He looked nothing like the pictures she’d shown me. Gone was the handsome ladies man with the million dollar smile, replaced with this ghastly old impostor . .  who was barely pushing forty. I let them talk, during which time he told us how he’d gotten high and after which the details went blurry. All I knew was that it was a miracle we found him.

It took the rest of the day for Brendan to figure out enough of his old self, and then we were hanging out in the living room. Me and my girl, Brendan and the kids. When lucid, his words were big and strong and his stories, they were beautiful and hilarious places to lose yourself inside of. The definition of melancholy happened in her living room that night. There I was, laughing my ass off at the stories while crying inwardly on the boy gone lost.

So it was, I discovered that Brendan was everything I really hoped he wouldn’t be. He was kind and thoughtful and giving. He was insightful and creative and fucking brilliant, and worst of all, he was genuinely happy to meet the guy who was making his sister smile on a daily basis. It really would’ve been so much easier if he’d been a scumbag, but the sonofabitch went and fucked that up too. And that’s when I knew exactly what she was talking about, and why.

He was worth fighting for. And not for one reason, but for all the reasons she’d given me over all the time before I got to know him. As ready as I was to tell him to leave her the hell alone, I just couldn’t. Because man, he could make her laugh in a way that showed me what those best of times must have felt like, and he introduced me to her in a way I’d never known.

Life is never going to come simple, of course. Me and her, we didn’t last. No fault of Brendan’s, or the kids, or even the distance. It was all about the damage that had been incurred in our respective lives before we got to know each other, and sometimes there is no way to repair such a thing as that.

Thing is, all this time later I still appreciate the moments I shared with a woman whose life was falling apart in every possible way. Because I know I was that good thing, and even more than that, I know she was that good thing too. When the timing sucks? Well, it’s called life. Welcome.

So the choice becomes, lessons or bitterness, and I went with the former.

So it is that she taught me how to write. This way. It was equal parts Midwest upbringing, and humility and faith and perseverance and a whole lot of well placed swearing. And so it is that I hope she got little brother to that place she always saw coming, despite the locomotive that was telling her the tracks only ran one way.

And so it is that I ask the girls of Grace House, quite humbly.


Write a poem. Write a haiku. Write anything that has meaning inside the moment that is screaming to be written. Borrow from that crunched up piece of paper that you threw away and then dug out of the trash. That piece of paper you crunched up and unraveled a million times over because you knew how much that moment you wrote it inside of, meant.

The million ways of a story is all about the one chance. A girl I once knew taught me that.

Hippie Girl

When you met Amanda Blakney, you came away the better for it. She didn’t just come to the Grace House, she rocked it off its feet. In her time there, she was a strong presence and support to others. When she moved on, her love remained. She always left you wanting more, but that was okay, because she was always there to provide it.

Amanda left this life without our permission. We can no longer give her hugs, share selfies, laugh together. We can no longer be captured by that amazing smile. The world is a whole lot colder as we face the reality of her passing. Her loss is a theft of times and places that will never be experienced, of stories that will never be told. We’re left to remember her smile, and to wrap our arms around the love she never stopped giving us.

Dear Miss Amanda Blakney, I hope you can check your FB page from wherever you are. You have new posts . . .

“Amanda I don’t think you’re beautiful, I think you’re beyond that.”

“Rest high babydoll.”

“Those who love you must face being without you.”

“Bbygrl. Waddup doe? You deserve peace and happiness, and finally you aren’t suffering from this terrible disease anymore. I’m glad you’re reunited with your mom, too, finally.” 

“The long hard road is over but your heart and your caring soul will never be forgotten.”

“I know what you longed for
To hold your mom once more
I understand Your reasons
But your timing has me grieving (Mick Kandi Royer).”

“I wish you could read just one of these comments and know what youmeant to people.”


Amanda Blakney

                                  October 29, 1993- February 12, 2015

Miss Amanda, you really did rock our world. You will always be my little hippie girl . . . I love you more.


The Big Picture

Each one of us has a story which is unique to our struggles with addiction. Whether you are battling addiction to drugs or to alcohol, each one of us is different. We all look to our drug of choice as a way out; a way to solve our problems. A way to take away the pain we feel in our daily lives.

My story begins when I was sixteen. I lost my twin brother on our sixteenth birthday when he choked to death. For the next four years, I lost someone close to me in December- accidents, cancer, heart attacks. The losses built up inside me. For years after that, I lived with abusive men. I locked all that sadness inside, until I began turning to alcohol. As time went on, I drank more and more to help dull whatever pain I was feeling. With all my drinking, I had no desire to take care of myself, go to work, take care of my teenage kids or even care to sit with my husband, who was a hard liquor drinker with anger issues. I felt like things were never going to get better. I felt lost, with no one there for me to reach out to. I ended up getting two DUI’s. Then one day, my son came home from school to find me half dressed, laying on the living room floor with an empty wine bottle in my hand. He carried me to my room, tucking me into bed as he cried. He told me he didn’t want me to die, he asked me if I thought my kids were worth fighting for. I was looking at a hearing for my drunk driving. Over the next few months, I went from being charged to being sentenced to house arrest to probation.

I finally decided that I needed help, and I decided to go to the Retreat. I needed help as I fought for my life, as well as the family I was losing. Retreat taught me about alcoholism and the disease, and that I needed to make a decision to fight it and lead a sober life. During the time I spent there, I met with my family and I learned how badly I had hurt them through all the lies and deceit. I had broken their trust. Then came the time I had to decide where I was going once I was done at rehab. That’s when they told me about Grace House.

Grace House has been amazing! The women are there for you when you need someone to talk to or lean on. Yes, there are confrontations, but I have learned that comes with everything in life and you just have to learn how to overcome those obstacles and judgments. We all have a past. I have made some awesome friendships with the women at Grace house. Each has touched my heart and soul in different ways. The owners are wonderful people who open their hearts and their arms, and who understand everyone’s circumstances. They gave me the opportunity to grow and become the strong, sober woman I am today.

Remember, we all have to look at “The Big Picture”. Each one of us has our own to look forward to. Each one of us must strive to reach it, in order to better our lives and fight our addiction. Addiction is a scary disease, but always hand your will over to God and look at “The Big Picture” he has in store for you and your future. Find a sponsor, work your steps, live day by day, moment for moment and remember we always have TODAY! I have reached the point where I am ready to move on in my life journey. God is using me to help others as he sees fit. I am thankful for the man in my life, the friends I have made. I am grateful and appreciative of Gerri and Phil of The Grace House, for being a part of my journey and my success in recovery as I fight the disease of addiction. I love you Gerri. You are an angel and an inspiration.

Remember: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

God Bless,

A Near Perfect Day

Life is a game of chance.

There are going to be days that are near perfect. When those days come, take them. Run with them and feel every happy moment. But in the game of life comes the reality that many days may not be ideal.

To me, a happy day is when I feel extreme exhilaration and bliss. A not so happy day leaves me feeling empty and miserable. When a day feels empty, then I have reached for the things that I thought would make me happy. The addiction that gives short moments of bliss, only to steal the happiness and deliver emptiness.

Think about it, you can be the Caterpillar that feels miserable because she can’t crawl any more or happy because now she can fly.

Each new day is one more day to achieve a near perfect day. Want it. Reach for it!


It started with a hug.

After completing an interview for residency at the Grace House, Alice asked me for a hug. She didn’t ask if she was accepted. She just wanted a hug. I have always been a bit awkward doling out hugs. To me. . . I have to know you. I have to like you. You have to earn my hug. I stood for a frozen moment, after which I leaned in and provided a stiff, uncomfortable hug. Well, at least I thought so. Apparently Alice did not. Think so. She thanked me for the interview. She thanked me for listening. She thanked me for acceptance into the Grace House.

I’ve come to realize that many, if not most people in recovery freely give out hugs and “I love you’s”. At meetings there are hugs and loves flying all over the place. I am not a real active participant in this hug fest. Although, I am getting better. I have come to realize that sometimes all someone needs is a hug and maybe I’m the person to give it.

Alice needed more than a hug when she came to the Grace House. In fact, she needed a reason to stay just one more day. One day at a time. And after that one day at a time went stronger, she began to smile more, share more, see more. She felt more. Inside of which, she felt her reason to stay. She became the pillar of the Grace House. For sobriety. Inside of which, she knew what she had to do, and then? She just kept doing it.

After a very successful stay, Alice gave her notice. She was moving out. The sober house had met its purpose and now she was ready to move on. I helped her pack up her things. All set . All ready to go. Except for one thing…the hug. This time it was me asking for the hug.

Because it was earned. And because now? I needed it every bit as much as she did.

The New Normal

“How did this happen?”

That’s the question I asked myself this past summer when I was emerging from the drug and alcohol induced haze I had been in for the previous five months. After enjoying four and a half years of sobriety, I found myself (gratefully!) back in treatment. There is a distinct amount of shame and remorse that comes with a relapse … when I really believed it couldn’t happen to me. Nonetheless, having no more options and no money, I received scholarship funds to attend one of the state’s best treatment facilities. And, knowing I could not go “home”, I entered into one of the area’s best sober living facilities, the Grace House.

The last thing I wanted to do as a single, divorced, mean-girl disliking (seriously, major trust issues with ladies!) woman was to move into a house where I would be surrounded by three to five other women at any given time, with curfews and RULES. Heck, I had lived on my own for the past few years … but then again, look how that worked out for me! RELAPSE!

Living at Grace House was a wonderful decision for me. After losing everything in custody battles, divorce proceedings and job losses, I learned a thing or two about humility. I was. . for once in my life, GRATEFUL for the humble existence I enjoyed at the Grace House.

I found support: I was able to open up to other women, to ask for help and to form bonds. Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always candles and pillow fights. There were some very dramatic times, and I am grateful for both the hard times and the good times. I learned that I could communicate my thoughts and feelings in appropriate ways and I learned not to run from conflict. I had never been able to have a disagreement with someone without feeling like we’d never be able to speak again. Being able to ask for help has never been easy for me, and I am sure it might not be for you either, but being able to say to another woman “Hey, I’m tired of talking tonight, but will you just sit with me?” … and they do? That’s a wonderful feeling. Lots of laughter, lots of tears and lots of people committed to sobriety and recovery.

After five months, it was time to move on from the Grace House. I am eternally grateful for my time there and for every experience I had. Living in a sober house after treatment truly saved my life. I would definitely have relapsed if I had returned “home”. So go ahead, put your trust in God as well as the wonderful family who owns Grace House; a place that truly wants to help women get back on their feet. A place that is willing to go to any lengths to help you in your recovery journey.

We all have today … and I am so grateful I had many “todays” at Grace House. Be well!


Most Importantly

To You, 

I know it must be very difficult to be where you are right now so I thought these things might help brighten your day and let you know we are thinking about you and only sending positive thoughts and prayers your way.

Please know that we all face difficulties in life and we all have not been perfect.
As I think of you each day a few things keep running through my head that I really want to share with you. Although I have known you all of your life I know I don’t know you well, but it is in my heart to share these thoughts with you. Most importantly it is important for you to figure out who you are for yourself and not for anyone else. You don’t need a man in your life to make you whole, although finding someone who cares for you unselfishly is a great way to go through life.

You are not defined by who your parents are or are not. They have done the best they could for you and that is what matters. It is your turn now to find out what makes you truly happy-find out who you are, not someone else’s definition of who they think you should be. That is where your peace will be found.

You are loved by many and we all rejoice that you are on the path to find your way.

A friend


From There to Here: Kelly’s Story

Addiction is a powerful disease. 

I never realized how powerful it was until I learned about my brother’s addiction. Once my immediate family became aware of my brothers addiction, my family became very dysfunctional. Some of us ignored the issue and some of us forced my brother to get help. He would go to rehab just to please our family but as soon as he would return home, he would immediately start using drugs. My heart would break but I never had the courage to say anything to him because I was afraid of him. Some nights he would take off in his car and my family and I would drive around for hours just to look for him because we were worried.  Deep down I knew my brother cared about how he was hurting our family, but his addiction was so powerful that he needed the drugs to live each day.

My brother finally decided to get help for himself and currently he is sober and the happiest he has ever been! He lives his life one day at a time and knows God has a plan for him. He has come to realize what he has put our family through and even though it was like a roller coaster, my family has become closer than we have ever been. After dealing with my brother, I knew I wanted to help other individuals who struggle with the disease of addiction.

As the assistant house manager of the Grace House I have met some amazing women and I am so amazed with the friendships that have been created. It is amazing to see how everyone supports one another during the good and the bad. It is amazing to see how every woman grows at the Grace House and it makes me smile that I can be a part of your journey!