Oh Look, More Growth (gag)

Two steps out of Darlene Merchant’s office I thought:

“Why do I keep doing this to myself? Why do I keep coming here when I know it will rip me…”

“Because” I interrupted “you know it helps”.

I lost my argument and won, I guess.

I had another Accelerated Resolution Therapy session today.

It had been awhile but I remembered exactly where we’d left off.

Each of us experienced an individual loss of Natalie. I lost a sister, my parents lost a daughter, so many people lost a friend… I think all of us were so in shock, I don’t remember hugging anyone. Except for Enid, right when I walked in the door. In the ART session, I needed a family hug. I needed to honor the loss of a family member, not just a sister but our entire family dynamic was forever changed. There was now a huge hole in our five person family.

So today we processed what happened once we got to LaSalle Apartments. It was the most agonizing wait. I can already feel my chest tighten, just thinking about it. What a contrast… it was a gorgeous day, the building was bright, clean and classic.

I remember sitting and holding myself. Pacing. Wondering what the fuck was taking so looong.

It was a nice conference room, big enough to accommodate all 10 of us. Room to roam but every second spent not talking to anyone who knew what was going on… It felt like my skin was on fire. I was fully awake, alive and still burning in Hell.

Finally, the Medical Examiner came to speak to us. Asked about her medical history etc.

It was when the detectives took my parents up to see Natalie for the last time that I lost it. It’s when reality set in that I would never see her again. Not the way I remembered her.

How we’ve been doing the ART in my sessions, is I go through the scene in my mind a couple of times. I do some body scans, notice what I’m feeling. Sometimes I sit with it then try to move it, other times I just move on to the “director’s scene”. I knew I was ready to move on because the director tried to jump in at every chance.

Here’s what happened once I “re-wrote the scene”.

Jessica let me into the apartment. I started yelling at the M.E. and the cops to get out. Just GET OUT. Once they were gone, I laid down on the bed with her. I held her. I cried into her hair. I told her I was sorry. When I looked up, Justin was on the bed too. The three of us held hands. At this point, I know my brain was tired and overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do because I saw my parents near the bed but they were like holograms. They were flickering, like I wasn’t sure if they should be there or it should just be us siblings. I ran through a quick log of memories, of the three of us. At the cabin, on vacation, when Justin was just a little guy…

God, it hurts.

Then I was down in the conference room. The M.E. started to name “the name of the deceased is…”

I flew towards him.

“Stop! Just stop.” I clamped my hand over his mouth.

“Not today. Don’t do this today. We need just one more day.” I told him.

By now I was sobbing.

We did a body scan and at first, I saw myself trying to push this mountain of grief away. It wouldn’t budge. I heard Nat laughing.

“You won’t get it to go that way,” she said.

Clouds appeared and parted. Sun rays came down, spilling onto the pile of unimaginable sadness and melted it. It looked like lava but quickly cooled and turned into a river.

We ended, as we always do, going across the bridge. Towards grandma’s fountain.

I started with my hospital blanket (because of the rough texture) around my shoulders and I leaned over the bridge to feed some koi fish. It was peaceful.

When I was ready, I finished crossing the bridge, taking my seat in front of the fountain. I tipped my head back, indulging in the slight breeze that blew before the sun set and the multi-colored lights of the fountain came on.

I felt almost… content. There was still a sadness. Originally, my body had felt heavy. Tired. Weighed down. Now, I was still tired but not in the same way. I was exhausted from feeling and working. I felt sad, but like the first few layers of lead had been lifted.

I’m not really looking forward to going back next week but I know I will.

I know I will and it will help.

 

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Not Again

Jesus Christ. I can follow the logic but I don’t understand. HOW does this keep happening? I am crying and shaking with anger after reading a story about a mother having to bury her THIRD son, all lost to heroin.

I feel so defeated. I can stand on my soapbox and preach all I want but what good does it do? Everyone already agrees… even the addicts. Yes, this has to stop. Loved ones can advocate and try to help all they want and addicts can want sobriety worse than anything and yet… here we are.

There were two things mentioned between the news story and the GoFundMe page that caught my attention.

The first being, when someone is arrested for a drug related offense, why are we letting them out of jail to wait for a court date? Can’t we hold them until a bed opens up somewhere? If this person was suicidal, there’s no way a judge would let him go out on his own… This catch and release method isn’t working.

Second, someone suggested suing the drug company. Like I said, I’m angry and devastated… I’m sure there are probably answers to both of these ideas… I don’t know which company would be sued, anyone making opiates? Is there any other way to ease pain? Some other solution?

I’m broke. So, so broke and I’d be more than HAPPY to pay extra taxes, drive on a bumpy road, eat crappier food- DO WHATEVER IT TAKES to fix this! Find a cure or an alternative…

I can’t believe I ever feared riding in an airplane, getting murdered or anything other than this epidemic.

Here is the link to the GoFundMe page: Jesse McCauley Memorial Fund.

Do You Hear Me Now?

I read a story today that… unfortunately, I believed. The title was “Plane Crew Nearly Lets Passenger Die Because They Couldn’t Believe A Black Woman Was A Doctor”. You can read the full article here. The just of it is she was discriminated against because she didn’t look like a doctor. The flight attendants were rude to say the least and potentially dangerous. I can’t even imagine a situation where I’d volunteer medical advice or intervention without the proper “credentials”. What were they thinking?!

Natalie didn’t look the part of an addict, either. She had the behaviors for sure but just by looking at her, you probably wouldn’t pick up on it. She had expensive taste. Ever since I can remember… What kind of kid orders LOBSTER and escargot? Anyway…

I feel like at least some part of the the world’s population needs remedial kindergarten classes. Hold up a photo of an African American. “Doctor” I would say while pointing at the pic. Hold up a photo of Nat “Addict”. Either forget any stereotype you have or, if that’s not possible, imagine everyone you know in every role you can think of. It is possible. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around “us” being able to send men to the moon, to Mars, wherever but still question whether or black woman can be a doctor? WTF dude.

I guess it’s bothering me more than it normally would because of the chilly reception I’ve gotten from most everyone I talk to about the expo. More specifically, about hanging a freaking flier on their community board or slip them into the break room for anyone to see.

“We don’t do anything like that”

Like what? Like nothing? Just wait until I leave to throw it away if it bothers you… Lie to me. Make me think for a second or two that I might make a difference to someone. (I’m getting super tired, I can tell because I know I’m making a difference and I’m letting the little things get to me). Take the Go Fund Me page for example. Tons and tons of requests for money to cover anything from a dream vacation to funeral expenses. A surgery or a gift to start out married life right. The pet section is heart wrenching. People as a whole have a soft spot for animals, many of them valuing the life of an animal over the the quality of living for a human.

So. New campaign strategy. Help raise money to keep our animals with their humans! Pets need to be taken care of, who will do it once the addict is gone? I don’t want them (or anyone) to suffer through that… What’da think?

Maybe this will help. Natalie Patterson’s spoken word poem, “I Know Someone” is an emotional offering of sympathy and understanding.

We’ve GOT TO STOP THE STIGMA that goes along with drug addictions & mental health issues. It is my job, my goal to keep peoples’ focus and attention on love. Loving yourself, loving others, being decent and kind… and I can’t do it alone.

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It’s Time

I’ve been sitting on an idea. For years, it’s been in the back of my mind. Natalie’s passing has brought it to the forefront and it seems with each passing day, it gains more energy.

Today, all that momentum has come to a head. Today is the day to let my “baby” out into the world… because I need help. I can’t do it alone and I don’t want to.

The daily word prompt today is muse. One of the dictionary definitions for the word is: “The goddess or power regarded as inspiring a poet, artist, thinker, or the like.”

I remember the moment with crystal clarity. We were driving home, (the old place) down McAndrews Road. As we approached the stoplight, I saw in my mind’s eye, a vision. A flash. An image… It was shortly after Natalie passed and I was drowning in a sea of my own thoughts and grief.

In 2015, police in MN seized 18 pounds of heroin. That is equivalent to 8,200 doses and heroin has been steadily on the rise.

“This HAS GOT to stop” I thought.

Then I saw it.

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I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it but it has been one of a handful of times where I was sure I was merely the instrument for some higher purpose.

A month or so goes by and I am realizing how much shame plays a part in addiction. “We’re as sick as the secrets we keep”. If people can’t talk about it? They aren’t getting help for it. Addiction has been scientifically proven to be a medical illness. Even if it wasn’t, I still don’t see the good or the point of shaming anyone because of it… if they are talking about it, it’s because they want help.

Anyway, I was reminded of a very low point in my life. I had a lot of shame. A ton of it. So much so, I figured the word shame and my name could be interchangeable. “It even SAYS me in the word” I thought. A minute later, I realized the “me” in shame is at the end. Shame ENDS with me.

This is what we need to realize to stop the stigma.

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Sample of a cell phone case.

People are dying everyday from this shit. We can not afford to pretend this isn’t a problem or that this doesn’t affect us. My life, my world was shattered nearly three months ago from heroin I never touched…

I keep hearing the mediums voice in my head.

“She says she doesn’t want to be just a number”

The only number Natalie will ever be to me is number one.

I am (hopefully soon) starting a line of products, cell phone cases, t-shirts, magnets etc. to raise money and awareness. A percentage of the proceeds will go to Progress Valley, the treatment center where Natalie stayed and The Steve Rummler Hope Foundation who is committed to ending the problem here in MN. I’ve included links to both organizations, check them out!

We do better together… It doesn’t have to be this hard.

Please, help us?

Steve Rummler Hope Foundation

Progress Valley