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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

"Piece of shit" the young woman blew a strand of hair out of her face and tried cranking the tired Caprice classic again. All the engine would do when she flipped the key to crank it was go.... Click. She laid her head on her hands on the steering wheel. Silently she sat back up and unbuckled her seatbelt then with a resigned sigh,  she opened her car door and stepped out.  Of all places to break down she would have to pick here where the closest familiar face was that of the most psychotic human that she had ever met. Melvin Schwartz was a killer. Dangerous, utterly without conscience. A genuine wild eyed Southern boy. With long blonde hair and snapping black eyes that blazed with madness. He used to be a Pentecostal preacher. At this moment, her car had chosen to lay down on her just a minutes walk away from his wrecking yard. Sighing with resignation, she got out of her traitorous automobile and locked it up. She walked to the nearest home and knocked on the door. A cautious looking housewife open the door. She asked to borrow her phone to make a call because her car was broken down. The suspicious lady let her in and she made her call. Afterward she thanked the lady. Then refusing the woman's offer of hospitality she made her exit and begin to walk to the wrecking yard. She got down to the property heavy laden with now dead automobiles. She walked up to the long since retired yellow school bus, which Melvin had turned into a makeshift office. As she neared she thought she heard voices emanating from the old bus, so she knocked on the door. The voices immediately stopped and she heard a scuffling inside. After a moment the door to the bus swung open. There stood Melvin looking suspiciously at the young woman. Upon recognizing her he smiled. " oh it's you. Come on In. " the young woman explained the situation and thrust herself on his mercy (that was non-existent). But Melvin had a grudging respect for her husband who was also a known no nonsense drug dealer. He invited her in and offered her a seat telling her she was more than welcome to wait for her husband here. He was animated today and almost jolly. Very out of character for him. In fact she had never seen him so cordial. A moment later he cocked his head to one side and told her to excuse him that he would be right back. He stepped out of the door and it seemed like in the same moment she heard a knock on the school bus door followed by "Police!! Open the door!! "  then without waiting for an answer, the school bus door swung open. The city police and the county officers piled up into the bus filling it up. They began firing questions at the young woman demanding that she produce Melvin. She stared at them in confusion. It seemed impossible that they would not have seen Melvin as he exited the bus. How could it be? She asked the officers "Didn't you see him? " they responded "no ma'am." After a moment's hesitation she replied "Well I can't help you I don't know where he is. I'm just waiting on my ride." "Where's the girl? " they demanded. Again she looked at them stupidly,  " what girl? " she asked. "The Patton girl. The one that he's holding hostage." Answered the officer. Suddenly as if in answer to the man's question she heard a noise from the back of the bus. "Who's back there? " an office shouted.  "Come on out with your hands where we can see them!" He was answered with silence. "You better come on out. If we have to drag you out it's gonna go worse for you!!" The cop continued to yell. Finally a single shaking hand appeared, followed by a second similar hand. Then a bone thin young girl with long, dark, wild hair gradually came into sight. The young woman with car problems couldn't contain a gasp. The skinny creature was barely recognizable as a person. Someone had obviously beaten her black and blue. Her scalp was bleeding where hunks of hair were missing. She was trembling so badly that she could barely stand. She hung her head down like a kicked cur. Her face was bleeding, and her swollen eyes gazed out flatly. Tear stains ran in rivers down her mistreated face from between wet lashes. The police officer asked the broken creature "So are you the Patton girl?" She nodded barely perceptible. The officer asked her "What happened this morning?" She mumbled but you couldn't understand what she was saying so he said "We got a report that he had tied up his mom and his dad and his kids and threatened to burn the house down over them after he got through kiling you. Is that correct?" she just stood there obviously terrified and not offering anything up anyway the information. The officer said "are you willing to sign a statement against him when we catch him? "  all she would do was shake her head violently in the negative he told her "You have to sign a statement in order for us to prosecute." again she shook her head violently no she would not be willing to. The officer looked at her and told the young woman "If she's not willing to sign a statement there's nothing more we can do to help her." He turned away, dismissing her, "Canvas the area. " he told the officers. They filed out of the bus. The young woman was left with the battered girl. "Paula?" The young woman tried out the name as the one that had recently been associated with Melvin. The girl hesitated, then nodded her head jerkily. "What happened? " the woman asked. After a moment the girl began to recount the morning's horrors. The police were correct it would seem. Melvin had indeed tied up his elderly parents and his young children and had promised to burn the house down over them when he finished killing Paula. Later on,  the young woman would learn that a neighbor had seen him dragging the weeping girl by the hair in the direction of the wrecking yard. Horrified the neighbor had called the authorities. The girl's story ended with "and he put the 12 gauge shotgun in my mouth then you knocked. " The young woman sat silently trying to absorb everything that she had just heard. After a moment she asked "So what now? " The skinny girl looked at her in confusion. "What do you mean? " she asked.  "What I mean is in just a few moments the police will be gone and I will be gone unless you do something about it you will be here to facing him alone. So what are you going to do" The girl suddenly looked terror-stricken. "What I'm talking about is Melvin making good on his promise once we're all gone." "What should I do?" she asked, her face chalk white "You should get out of here somehow." the young woman said. "I don't know, let me see. I need to talk to the police officer's." As if they'd been summoned the officers reappeared and said " Well there's no sign of him out here now" the young woman answered "Listen she needs to get out of here somehow but can you make it look like it's against her will ?" He thought for a moment. "We can arrest her and if he's watching he will see that she's going against her will in cuffs. After that we can take her to a women's shelter, where he won't know where she is or be able to contact her." "Yes let's do that." said the young woman. She turn to the skinny girl and said "Do you understand what we're talking about? " The skinny girl nodded slowly "Yes I think I do. "Is this acceptable to you? "The young woman continued pressing the thin, shaking waif. Then she answered "You're right I should get out of here. But he will kill me if he finds me." "Well hopefully that will never happen." Said the young woman. So the police put her in handcuffs and amidst great struggle they led her out into the wrecking yard and up to the police cars waiting at the top of the hill. The police all got into their respective cars and drove away. The young woman sat in silence inside the bus. Only the chirping of the birds could be heard outside. Suddenly as if blown by a great wind the door swung open and the long blonde haired young man burst into the room. " What did she say? What did she tell them?" he asked obviously agitated. "You know as much as I know." the young woman answered "The police asked her questions and she refused to answer. So they arrested her. Now I've got to go up to the car and wait on Derek." She gathered her belongings together and made her way around him and out into the bright sunlight. As she made her way up the hill toward her car she reflected on the crazy events of the day and how she hoped the skinny young girl could find some happiness after all this nightmare.

And I barely knew her name but it all happened just like that. True story. 

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Posted by on in Recommended Reading

Have you ever wondered why, no matter how rationally phrased in your head, the idea of asking for help seems about as reasonable as asking for a snake bite?

Somewhere along life's way I told myself a story that asking for help meant failure, weakness, and a lack of intelligence. The older I got the more I believed this fictional description if I needed the assistance of others. I went to far as to drop projects if the challenge was too great or the outcome would seem less that perfect.

However no one gets through life without some guidance and I'm certainly no exception. The difference for me was I'd silently pray for guidance rather than ask. When someone would offer unprovoked direction I'd smile, thank them kindly for the "reminder" and move on without any idea of what I needed to learn along the way.

This was exactly the approach I took when the whispers about how much I drank and how little I ate began to filter in. I heard only what I wanted to acknowledge and filtered the rest to suit my comfort zone. If someone mentioned I do something that hit too close to home, I'd consider their words as expressions of judgment and therefore white noise.

Upon reflection I knew I'd hit my "bottom" when I finally became willing to listen for the message not just the words. Yet asking for help didn't seem possible for me. In truth, I didn't even know what to ask for.

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Posted by on in Recommended Reading

Imagine if you could wake up one day with answers to all your problems. In theory that would be ideal. In reality that will never happen.

Yet for some reason I tried very hard for a very long time to do just that. Each plate of food pushed away certified I was in control of things. Each glass of wine put to my lips fortified the belief I could not only solve my issues but yours too. I’d find the answers. I’d orchestrate the solution. I’d be my own “go to” person.

Yet inevitably the day came when there were no more answers, solutions, or overall direction. I had no idea where to turn because I’d shut out everyone who tried to offer input.

For reasons I may never know, I did listen to one person. She pointed me toward the door that led me to my recovery.

Yet old habits don’t die easily. Always a rather strong-willed woman, those early days in recovery were rough. I wasn't all that thrilled with the idea I’d no longer be in charge or able to forge my way to overcome addiction. All my defiance led me to a solid understanding of a very simple fact.

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

There have been many times in my life when words or phrases came to mean something other than what many understand them to mean.  Off the top of my head I can think of a few examples.

My husband and I communicate in ways often causing our friends to do a double-take and wonder what in the world we are talking about.  For example, I might be in the living room doing something and yell down to my husband in the basement to bring me “that thing next to the big thing.”  Seconds later he hands me exactly what I needed.  We share a language created during our many years of living together.

Another opportunity to share a unique means of communication is in the work environment.  When I was still active in the corporate world, my team of many years knew exactly what each other needed or what we meant by a simple nod of the head or a raised eyebrow. We had spent hours together creating, editing, masterminding and learning to trust one another.  In all that time we eventually understood things without needing to say a word.  When we were in situations where verbal connection wasn't an option, those non-communication actions spoke volumes.  I was somehow comforted by this; feeling a sense of security knowing I was part of something uniquely special.

When I was drinking and rarely eating, there was a lot of conversation in my head which was uniquely special for me too.  I never shared these ongoing internal dialogues with anyone because I couldn’t explain them.  I had a difficult enough time myself just trying to understand how and why the subject matter would roll back and forth like a pendulum. One moment I’d be justifying my irrational behavior and the next I’d be mentally berating myself for having such thoughts.

I carried on with this silent metronome of conversation for years.  I was absolutely certain if anyone else could hear what I heard, they’d consider my train of thought not only foreign but nowhere near normal.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Over the last 12 years, I've done a lot of self-study about what kept me in lock step with the powerful disease of addiction. I've peeled myself back, layer by layer, to unveil the root causes for this.

One of the most profound things I uncovered during that investigation was how the toxic phrase “I should know better” directed my life.

Growing up, I heard, " Honestly, Alison you really should know better” on a rather regular basis. This phrase was so ingrained into my head that as I grew older, if I found myself in a bad spot, within a second I’d think, “Ugh! I should have known better!”

For the average person, a reflection like that is nothing more than a casual check-in.

Not so for someone who lived for decades underneath the addictive, obsessive diseases of alcoholism and an eating disorder. For someone like me, that statement is monumentally damaging.

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Posted by on in Recommended Reading

In early recovery, I was often told, “Trust me, you’ll feel better soon”, or, “I know this is hard, but I promise, you’ll feel better soon.” I lived by those words.  I was so shaky, ashamed and scared. I felt awful.  I desperately hoped the non-stop physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual suffering would stop.  I wanted so badly to feel better, physically as well as emotionally. I tried each and every day to focus on those words of reassurance and deny what I thought and felt inside.  I held tight to the recommendations of my recovery role models, the encouragement from my friends and family outside the rooms of recovery and my own willingness to get better, hoping eventually I’d feel better.

And eventually I did, but not in the way I had expected.  What began to happen was I started to feel my feelings better.  I started to feel happiness better, I started to feel anger better, and I started to feel sadness better.

Although this sounds like a play on words – feeling my feelings better - the point is, in order for me to experience healthy recovery I had to allow myself to actually feel what I had long been trying to deflect, change or control.

For example, during the Christmas holidays my emotions would always kick into overdrive.   No matter what age I was, I would become completely nostalgic.  I’d think about stringing the lights with my dad, hearing my grandfather whistling a holiday tune or sitting at the top of the staircase with my brothers and sister waiting for my Dad to tell us Santa had arrived.  I’d get excited to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” with my family or maybe catch an old Charles Dickens movie by myself.  As I got older the holidays stopped being those experienced as a child.  They became strung by addiction instead of lights and wrapped around bottles of wine with little food instead of gifts presented with love.

I won’t lie, those first few winter holidays in recovery were difficult.  I couldn’t stop focusing on how sad, angry and frustrated I felt for all those Christmas and New Year holidays lost in the blur of addiction.  In those early recovery years I had difficulty fully embracing the magic of the season.  To be honest, I really wanted nothing more than to get through the series of events, wishing they would just be over.

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Posted by on in none

Although certainly not limited to those who harbor an addiction, the familiar saying, "the grass is always greener" is a perfect fit for the addict within us. After all, nothing is ever good enough, is enough, or satisfies our "hunger" for more. Nowhere is this more prominent than for those of us who have suffered with any one of the "flavors" of disordered eating [aka food addiction].

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Posted by on in none

Someone once told me to expect that any and all relationships I had prior to entering recovery would change dramtically should I continue working a recovery program. In fact, recovery and working the steps can set the foundation for being able to find something that had evaded not just me, but most of us, namely a healthy, loving, and lasting relationship. Here's what I learned along the way - The 4 A's of what most of us are looking for.

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Posted by on in none

Cross addiction or multiple addictions is a fact of life inherent within the recovering community. Many of us come to the rooms of a 12-step program or treatment facility intending to tackle our alcohol and drug problem, or perhaps our eating disorder. However, many of us realize we have other addictions to manage. Putting off the need to tackle the remaining addiction(s) has brought many of us back to our primary addiction.

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Posted by on in none

Those of us who have been in and around the “recovery community” are all too aware of the prevalence of eating disorders within the recovering alcohol and drug community. The purpose of this article is to heighten awareness of both the nature and prevalence of eating disorders particular to the community of recovering alcoholics and drug addicts.

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