🎶 Orphaned to the Dope and Drinks 🎶

Who would think Pantera lyrics could inspire someone… 

My mother and father were stationed in the Navy together. A brief fling, but here I am. My mother returned to her hometown about six months or so pregnant. My father refused contact. He abandoned me while I was still in the womb.

They say mothers do the best they can at the time. I will never know, because I will likely never have children. My biggest reason is because I haven’t yet recovered from my own childhood. For as long as I can remember, I have always felt forsaken by my mother in a lot of ways, as well.

My mother chose to not put my father’s name on my birth certificate, so that limited her recourse in even getting medical records. All feelings aside, that is the worst part of this. Any time I go to the doctor for all my life I only have half my medical records. I don’t know what all ‘runs in the family.’

My mother is a twin. They were 23 when I was born. Young adults. My aunt was married with a daughter four years older than I. When I was first born we all lived at Grandma’s but soon after my aunt and uncle bought a house. The decision was made for us all to live together. My mom would stay home for the kids while my aunt and uncle worked. I had two more cousins join us, boys, one four years younger and the other 5+ years younger. So I am an only child of a single mom, but ultimately three adults and four children made up my childhood home. Crazy, and quite confusing.

I was tormented in my dreams as a small girl. I had a recurring dream, that my father came in a hot air balloon and took my mom away. Separation anxiety was a big deal. In first grade, my mom would stay after lunch and help with the reading class. She felt she needed to, and my teacher agreed, because otherwise I would leave at lunch. Skipping school for me started in first grade. I never actually felt important to my mom, until she lost custody of me. I often accompanied her to the grocery store and laundromat as a way to get alone time with her. Because otherwise I can really only think of one time in my whole life we have ever done mommy/daughter anything. 

My mom was always up front answering questions about my father. Her information was rather limited, and with a name like Stephen Hughes it makes my searches seem impossible. I do have one picture. I still have it, thank God. All the times I had to start over. Through a house fire and everything I still have the one and only picture of my father I ever saw.

She was the ‘neighborhood mom.’ Once someone cut his finger and needed stitches. It wasn’t his mom in the ER with him. His mom waited in the lobby and my mom was the one holding his (other) hand. I have a love/hate relationship with that. She has such a thing with kids. Its amazing, actually. But I hated it. Between the neighborhood kids and my cousins, I often wondered What about your own daughter? 

I could have quoted Slayer instead for a title. Innocence, withdrawn in fear. It is a line from the song Silent Scream. Whoever wrote that song had to have grown up without a daddy, too. Think of childhood. Words like innocence come to mind. I wanted to make friends at school. Sometimes it felt like I had some. Often times, however, I alienated myself. Withdrawn in fear. Other than swimming and baseball, I mostly isolated myself in my room. Alone with my imagination. Dreaming of a life somewhere far far away. With my music. The one constant of my whole life. I felt so different, and that nobody could possibly understand me. Anyone that tried I pushed away, again not wanting pity, or afraid they will also forsake me somehow. It seemed everyone I ever knew had their dad. Whether it was every other weekend or only in their memories.

Friends? I had some. I reconnected with my very first best friend last year. We of course talked about our Big Wheels and such, but he said he remembered my middle finger the most. Little four year old me flipping off the world saying “Fucking bitchessss!” Wow. So much angst at such a young age. I don’t even remember. I thought I remembered so much. He moved away, as did my other early BFF. I do have a couple neighborhood friends younger than me.

School was such a big deal for me. I am naturally very smart. Unfortunately I also had a mental block against learning, and it stems from not having my father. I was almost always teacher’s pet. I took it as pity. They talked about “my potential” and it just drove me nuts! Why bother excelling in school? My father doesn’t care, so why should anyone? I settled in as much as I could after first grade, but by 7th grade I had enough. 

The way the district was set up at the time, 6th grade was when you graduated elementary school. I missed that ceremony. Migraines already. Or maybe I just didn’t want to do it without my father. So on to 7th grade… seemingly without friends. A couple of my good friends in my class moved that summer. I had a complex, that those who did know me from elementary school would talk about me, the freak. I completely lost interest by October. I quit. My mom let me stay home, because she already knew I would just leave school anyways. 

No surprise, I was subject to court appearances and eventually probation and counseling. No big deal. Twice counselors refused me, saying talking to me is like talking to a brick wall. They can’t reach me. I quit again the next year too. My second year of 7th grade. I only made it through the first semester but they let me pass this time. My mom decided to enroll me in the local Christian school for 8th grade. I went all year and made honor roll. 

I was sick of the façade after just the one year. Combine that with ‘the wrong group’ and it is a recipe for disaster. I started smoking and listening to gangster rap, and having sex. I got myself kicked out of Christian school and re-enrolled into 9th grade back at the same public school, this time with some like-minded friends. We skipped school a lot. If nobody wanted to skip with me, I would just stay home. Sometimes we would get ourselves kicked out of 1st hour, to go to in-school suspension and cause a scene to be kicked out from there. Out of school suspension equals legal skipping was the logic. By December, an uncle introduced me to the joys of alcohol. He would sometimes pick up my friends and I and we would go drink all day. My mom knew, but again she let it happen because she knew I would rebel anyways. 

My probation officer asked the court to give me 20 days in jail to try to turn me around. The court gave me 10 days. She told me after this if I didn’t go to school for one month she would send me to a group home. I tried. I took it serious. Until 3rd hour, when I told a friend what was happening. Someone heard me, and laughed in my face. Done.

One week before my 16th birthday, I was indeed removed from my mom’s custody. I was placed in a girl’s group home the next town over. I entered 9th grade for the second time. Two years behind my original class. But at least nobody knew me. I had a couple friends and was consistently on the honor roll. I did theater and Student Council. After 10th grade, my guidance counselor said if I do these four credits home school over the summer, that would basically be my junior year, and I could graduate only one year behind. But then I turned 18 my first day of senior year. I knew if I acted up they would kick me out and I could be free. But I had no home to go to. My family lost my childhood home while I was gone. Seven years later I obtained my GED with extremely high honors, and very little effort. I am intellectually blessed, indeed.

It wasn’t until I heard that song by Slayer at age 20 that I realized there could be someone else out there like me. When I actually heard the words this guy was saying I had to stop the car. I was crying too hard. Tears of relief. I rewound the song and listened again. It is a twisted song to those who can’t understand. He talks about abortion, but that is how I felt about this. I felt I shouldn’t have been born. This song went a long ways to help me accept that I am here. I did attempt suicide when I was like 13, but obviously that failed. Since then I have never been suicidal. If 23 phenobarbital pills didn’t kill me, I must be here for something.

25 Years. That is the name of the song by Pantera I quoted for this blog title. I believe that guy had issues with his father too. Alcoholic. The full line goes orphaned to the dope and drinks, I learned my lessons well somehow from you. 

The Hypocrisy of the Mexican Government

A lot is being said about the United States border and immigration policies. Not much is said about the Mexican side of things. 

I was in Mexico for five months in 2002. Yeah that is 15 years ago now, but this story is still relevant. I left the US in attempt to live life in Mexico. With the way things were I naïvely believed I could just go get a job there. I quickly learned it is a whole different country.

I first had an unexpected, extended stay in Villahermosa. I made buddies with a bartender there. Nice guy, from Brazil. He was the first to tell me. This guy was living life in Mexico, working to make money to send home to his family in Brazil. He said if he were caught working there, he would be detained until he was deported. Wait a minute… Isn’t that contradicting how Mexico feels about the US policies?

My visa was strictly tourist. Not work. As such I had an issue getting a job once I got to Cancún. Most places wouldn’t hire me. Some places have ways to help getting the proper visa. I went to Wet & Wild, a waterpark on the beach. They even had swim with dolphins so think of all the people who work there. From counter to cleanup there are probably a lot. The woman liked me, it was obvious. She said, “I would LOVE to hire you, but the Mexican government says I can only have THIRTEEN foreigners working here at any given time.” Let that sink in.

I was able to find work in a nightclub, as a shot girl. Fun times, no doubt. One day my boss came to me and the others to collect our bottles and aprons for a bit. Immigration agents were coming or were already there. My boss got us drinks and asked us to chill like tourists til they cleared. 

Basically, the Mexican position is ‘if a Mexican can do the job, a Mexican will do the job.’ But then their government at the same time was printing maps of the US border areas and where water stations are to help the migrants coming here. Hmmmmm.

All Planets Direct

The phrase Mercury Retrograde has certainly gained a lot of traction in the mainstream as more people find their voice. The truth is all the planets have a retrograde period. Retrogrades happen as an illusion. Of course the planets don’t actually change direction. Sometimes they appear to, because of the speed of each planet, and ultimately Astrology is all about the vantage point from Earth.

Mercury Retrogrades happen multiple times a year because its orbit is so short. Venus and Mars are about every other year, being the planets closest to us. The farther out planets, however, spend up to half of every year in apparent retrograde motion. 

That’s what makes this time period special. When Mercury ended its last Retro on January 8th, it marked the beginning of about a month where all planets are in direct motion. Jupiter will begin it’s next Retro on February 6th.

When a planet is Retro, it is said to pull the energies within. Mercury helps us assess our communications. Venus, our relationships and what we take pleasures in. Each planet influences something in us.

All planets being direct suggests we should feel free to take our chances in life. The universe is supporting us in a big way right now. So let’s enjoy. 💚

Astrology is My Thing.

Hobbies are important in life, especially in recovery. Yes I have puzzle books and coloring books, but what consumes my time is astrology. 

I had a falling out with a friend about five years ago. It was then I began studying astrology, trying to make sense of things. Trying to make sense of myself. Everything I read about myself resonated. I then looked up my husband and other people close to me. It all makes sense to me! The more I read, the more I want to learn. I have come to believe that astrology is a gift, given to us to use as a way to help understand ourselves and others. Like a road map, for the soul.

They say to find your purpose in life, you must follow your passion. Not much makes me happier than helping people learn astrology, to learn about their charts and the basics to set them up for a lifetime of learning. 

My cousin had a baby last night. The first thing I did was look up the newborn’s natal chart. I then ran what’s called a synastry chart, to see how she might interact with her 4 year old cousin. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. It always is.

Dear Mexico, I Love You.

When I returned to my hometown after being in Mexico for five months, my best friend told me I had changed. I could feel that he did not mean that in a negative way, but still it intrigued me. He is right. Mexico did change me.

In my childhood, events happened which made me so jaded for someone so young. I developed a hatred for this country. I am very smart, but I barely passed my Civics class in high school. I was so committed to not learning about a country I had no interest in living in. I took opportunity at 24 to leave the country. I drove to Cancún. Not by myself, but this part of the story is about me. I was barely out of the country 24 hours and I realized how very wrong I have been. 

The federal highway system leaves much to be desired, for one thing. The one and only time I have ever been lost in my life was in Veracruz. I had missed the signs that would have kept me on the highway skirting town. Instead I was downtown Veracruz, with no clue even which way was south to get me back to highway 180. I saw some police. With my limited Spanish at the time, I was able to communicate that I am trying to get to 180. He knew even less English, so we agreed I would just follow him. He led me to the highway and pointed the direction I needed to go.

The upkeep of the roads was also lacking. Horrible potholes in some areas. And the pinches topes, speedbumps, in all the little towns. My poor transmission had it from all the shifting up on open highway and down for the towns. Luckily it held together until we got to Villahermosa, to a Ford dealership. Again with broken Spanish, I told the guys in the service department about the problem. They took it for a drive around the block. When they got back the car needed to be pushed to the bay because the transmission had fully given out. We stayed almost three weeks in Villahermosa, mostly waiting for parts from the United States. The warranty manager was back to work our first full day there. His English was actually some of the best from a non-native that I’ve ever heard. He kinda took us under his wing and made our stay fun.

Finally we made it to Cancún. We got an apartment and attempted to live life, but all of our start up money got ate up by our delay in Villahermosa. My job didn’t help much in low season. Lucky we had a temporary support in the US, and Western Union was easy. Our neighbor José said like so many people do, “if you need something, ask.” 

One day I nervously knocked on their door. José’s wife answered and said he was taking a nap. I asked if we can borrow 50 pesos. At the time that was about $5.00 USD. We needed more sandwich supplies. I never ate so much PB&J as I did in Mexico. About 45 minutes later, she came to our door. She had 50 more pesos for us. She told me José said 50 pesos was not sufficient, so take this other 50 pesos and don’t worry about paying us back. 

My job was at a nightclub, and I made some friends in the area. After work we would often gather for food and drinks and the sunrise. My friend Jorge had a wife and baby at home. He was out with myself and other friends, although he had only made $17 at his job. What got me isn’t that he was out, but that he wouldn’t let me help with the bill. He said they make so much in high season that it will be okay.

The everyday life in Mexico amazes me. They have such strong faith that they will be provided for in the future, so why not enjoy the moment now. I am still trying to grasp that concept and apply it to my life. Here in the United States we get caught up in our lives and maybe push others away. 

So yes, I have changed. For that I say thank you, Mexico. 💚

Left for Dead

I had lived in Cancún for four months. I have so much I could write. For now, this is what happened my last night there.

Christmas Eve 2002 

Mike and I had our tickets bought. The next night we were to board a car ferry in Puerto Morelos to return to the United States. Along with our friend Alfredo, we set out to live up our last night. We cruised down Zona Hotelera in our Mustang 5.0 as the sun set, stopping for some pictures at some of our favorite places.

Once it was dark we headed to Wet Willie’s, a slushie bar that my friend Josh worked at. We met with my friend Zac. Zac and I had conversations about weed in the past, but never smoked together. We decided to change that on my last night and we all headed back to where we stayed in Centro.

And then…. 

Alcohol and weed should not be enjoyed together, but that’s what we did that night. Alfredo stayed behind, not feeling up for Round Two. We could easily have taken the bus back into the Hotel Zone, but Mike was insistent we take the Mustang. Problem was, neither he nor I felt sober enough to drive. Zac said he could.

I was in the back seat, fighting the urge to just pass out. At one point I looked around, trying to gain my bearings. I remember thinking to myself, “Why are we on Bonampak (Avenue)?” I also quickly realized we were not slowing down fast enough. Zac rear-ended a taxi. Suddenly I felt pretty sober.

The damage to both cars was so superficial. Barely scratches. A cop came to the scene. Mike made a verbal agreement that if we paid the taxi driver $50 USD that would be sufficient to cover his damages. The cop seemed satisfied with that so he left. Now the taxi guy wants $200. We didn’t have that, and with it being now 1:00 AM Christmas morning, a Western Union seemed unlikely. The taxi guy said follow me, we could work this out.

I stayed in the back seat. Mike chose to drive this time. We followed the taxi into an area I knew was bad news. Just a feeling. The taxi pulled over and stopped in this neighborhood on a dead end street. As it was Christmas Eve, it was like a block party going on in the neighborhood. Another taxi quickly pulled up behind us, and a third along side of us. Guys came on both sides of the car yelling. Mike and Zac both stayed in place. The guys outside got real hostile and started punching Mike. They ripped off his watch and tore his shirt. Zac ran away. At least I hope he got away.

The guys tried to get the keys from the ignition, but luckily the Mustang has an ignition lock under the steering wheel. Mike got bold. He put the car in drive and pushed the car in front of us some. He then put it in reverse to push that car some. Back and forth, until we could squeeze out between the taxis. We squealed away, but of course had to double back because of the dead end. It was enough time for the guys to gather cinder blocks, which they threw at the car as fast and furious as possible. The windshield was smashed but we pushed through and got out of the neighborhood. 

We had lost the taxis. We approached a stoplight, in the left turn lane. I don’t remember if it were the cop or the ambulance first, but someone had noticed our broken windshield. I remember them trying to convince Mike to get medical attention, as he was obviously a little battered. They had called a tow truck, which was parked in front of us ready to load up. Mike got into the passenger seat, and I instinctively hopped into the drivers seat… Just in time for the taxi to show up. The taxi driver had a little conversation with the cop. The cop called off both the ambulance and the tow truck. And then he left.  The cop left us for dead in the hands of these taxi drivers.

As soon as the tow truck driver was pulling away from us, I floored it. I didn’t care that this light was red. It was a race for my life, and I won. 

Why Should I “Have To” Drink?

I took my husband to the dentist today. He was put under anesthesia to have some work done, so he needed me to drive him. The dental assistants brought him out in a wheelchair. They said he was talking about wanting ice cream. I said I could drop him off at home and run to Kroger close to our house for him.

That’s when it got a little weird. One of the office assistants mentioned I will probably need to stop “for a little something” for myself. Of course I knew what she meant. I should stop at the liquor store so I could get booze to ‘deal with my husband.’ I laughed and pointed out that I could get “what I need” at Kroger also. We all laughed that it is “one stop shopping!”

I could have broke down in tears easily. Recovery is so hard sometimes. I am feeling strong on this Day 135, so instead I went along with their jokes. I figured why bring their moods down, when they are just trying to laugh through their days like I do.

It really bothers me that we live in a society that almost forces the booze down my throat, but I refuse to give in. Not today, Satan.

Sometimes Not Drinking is Not a Choice.

I often get frustrated and resentful when I read about people who chose to give up drinking. It hurts most when it’s a temporary thing. I did that before. I stopped drinking for almost three months, leading up to a vacation to Cancún.

I was a binge drinker for almost seven years. It caught up to me over the summer. I ended up in the emergency room when the pain didn’t go away three days after the latest binge. The diagnoses were scary. Words like swollen intestines and liver malfunction. I am still tempted to get a tattoo, of the bruising on my forearm from the IV that night.

I took my antibiotics as prescribed, and did not drink for about 4 weeks. I then had three more drunken nights, over a ten day period. I had some small pain develop after that last night. It was very very minor, like a reminder, “Hey dumbass!” I listened.

It is now Day 131. My last drink was September 3rd. 

I actively participate in my recovery by constantly and consistently being mindful of my triggers. I often feel left out or get left out because going to the bar is serious for me. I already know.

My husband doesn’t drink. He quit ten years ago, when he first experienced me drunk. If he can attend functions with me it is rather easy. If he is at work however, unless there is football on I likely won’t go. I loved our Football Sundays at our local Buffalo Wild Wings. It is unfortunate that to be able to watch all the games at once it is at the bar, but personally I find it easy to focus on the football.

I actually made it through this entire NFL Bears season without so much as one shot. Not even a taste. All humor aside it is so hard. I struggle almost daily. I grieve like I lost my best friend. Drinking was a huge part of my life for those seven years. But for me this is no choice. My cats need me. My husband. My niece. I have friends who truly love me and embrace my humor in their lives.