She is not old , though she feel very old. She is bipolar and suffers from ADHD . Always in the midst of a midlife crisis. She sits these days and think too much about regrets . Choices, very bad choices. Where did it all go wrong?
It’s time to let go of the past. Knowing that writing has always helped in the past. She sits starting at the blank piece of paper before her . Praying for courage . Lifting the pen, hands a shaky. Will she hurt anyone, where to begin, dropping the pen. She stares out the window, the sun shines , kids are laughing . She knows that now is the time to let go .
This is her story :
From my point of view it was always wrong. I grew up with a very real sense of not belonging . For the longest time I thought that I was adopted or my parents had taken me from “my real family”. All I had to do was look in the mirror and it was clear that I did not belong . In my family I was the only light-skinned ,green-eyed little girl who had “the good hair”.
That is what they said in those days. I was born in Amsterdam, Holland the year 1964, the same year that thousand of teenager’s crowded the canals to get a glimpse of the Beatles, my mother included. My mother is dutch and my father is an afro American. He was a soldier in Amsterdam when he met my mother who was only 18 yrs old. I did not know this for a long time but she was already pregnant when my dad married her knowing the child the child was not his. Despite my grandmothers protest the young couple married.
After trying to put together the story of my parents . Just like my grandparents I believe they jumped into this marriage, never less the beginning was a mess and stayed that way for many years. My father tour of duty was over and it was time for him to head home to Oakland, California. This is where I call home, it was a time of the 60’s movement. Flower power, everyone was looking for a place to belong . I was two years old when I left Holland , little did I know I would be back and for good.
Today I live in Amsterdam , this is not by my choice , it is by the choices that I made that led me to be deported back to Holland after living 35 years in America. I am skipping forward a bit. Back to my childhood. When I decided to try to write this I knew that discussing my childhood would be the hardest part. Some things are not clear as I have blocked them out. My early years I cannot remember very well. I have no memory of arriving in America. I am told that I came before my mother as she waited in Amsterdam for her traveling papers I suppose . Me and my dad arrived together in Oakland, California, awaiting us was my new grandparents. This is where my father is from and this is where I grew up. Upon entering the country my dad and I went directly to my grandparents. I still remember the address even though the last time that I saw my grandparents I was 15 yrs old.
At a young age I could see that my mother was having problems. Now I can see that it would be normal, she had never left Amsterdam before and here she was living in my grandparents home with me and my dad. From what I could tell she got along well with my grandparents. My mom was a young and trying to please her new family. My grandparents were older and I think that they welcomed the change. I myself have good memories of my grandparents.
Early on I was exposed to domestic abuse. My father was loving and caring towards me , my mother was not always so lucky. I am ashamed to say many times I blamed her for the outburst . If only she didn’t make my dad upset then he would not hit her . I would then not have to hide in my room and block out the fighting which always left my mom and me scared and scarred. My father had a few different jobs and we moved a few times into our own apartment. Often times we moved back to 66th ave, my grandparents house . I was happy each time we moved back and my grandparents would greet us with open arms. They were humble people , my grandmother went to church every Sunday , while my granddad used Sunday as his rest day. I can still smell his cigars today . My father had three brothers whom I got along with very well. Times back then at my grandmother’s house was all about family. You knew that Sunday evening was family dinner night served with my grandmothers country fried chicken and gravy. I would help set the dinner table in the big dining room. We only ate here for Sunday dinner and special occasions
I must have been between the ages of 5 and 7 but I recall that this house brought peace to me. Still it was clear to me even at this young age that I was different. This is back in the early 70’s , not like today where having a mixed child is out of the everyday norm. My green eyes and semi golden curly locks brought attention to me. To be honest I think we all enjoyed it. I felt special back then . I was young and the bullying had not occurred yet . It seemed that I was spending a lot of time with other people as we were always moving between LA and Oakland.
My relationship with my father was special in my eyes. When I was younger I thought that this was because we were both Scorpio. In my eyes he could do no wrong, this became a factor between my mother and me. When I was three years old I had a brother. I was not at all happy about it. I am sure that I was just jealous and didn’t want to share the spotlight . As of this writing it has been 15 years since I have seen my brother. A few years later another brother was added to our family. During this time we moved around a lot. It seem to me that my dad was just looking for a better way to raise his family, it was also during this time that I first encountered mental illness within my own family. It took many years for me to understand that my father was suffering from some kind of mental illness. I had no idea what mental illness was back then . To me it meant off to the funny farm. In my family we called it a place where my dad could get some rest.
One time stands out , I must have been around seven or eight years old. We were living in Los Angeles at the time. After walking home from school , I saw many people in the front yard. You could tell that something wasn’t right , as I walked up pigtails and all, people were looking at me and suddenly I saw on the front lawn my poor dad in a confused state. The men in “white jackets “ were there trying to grab ahold of my dad. I was directly moved into the house as a small girl should not be seeing this. From my point , I wanted to know what was going on with my dad. Why was he naked. Were there trying to give him back his clothes. This was to be my first encounter with mental illness. Since I was just a kid , I was not told that my dad was suffering from mental illness and it would be years before I knew that it was bipolar and Schizophrenia.
There were times that he would be gone for a month or so and come back home feeling fragile but rested . For me it didn’t matter one bit , my dad was my hero and my biggest admirer.
I was also exposed to drugs very early , my dad smoked pot and I knew he had dabbled in other things but this was the 70’s and we were in California where everyone was looking for some kind of meaning . My family included. We hooked up with the Baptist church , the Jehovah witness, we chatted with incense, it was a wonderful and innocent time . Later I would ask myself if I was destined to be a drug addict because of this carefree attitude. Not everyone had this outlook, for my mother’s part she was european . She overlooked what she could and her objections brought on many fights that would turn physical.
For me knowing that my dad could be so violent with my mother was something I choose to tune out. Was this the beginning of the choices I would later choose for myself? Looking back I think that I was screwed from an early age. I was spoiled and because I looked different I must have thought that I was different. I had no idea that life would put the drop on me .
That I myself would suffer with so much emotional pain, which would later be called Bipolar and Addiction . Bipolar was not a term that I knew well. I knew it was mental illness but honestly I had thought it was just a name for people with off centered behavior.
Addiction is another story , I have always been addicted. In some way or another I was amused by addiction, it made me whole. It made me normal. I didn’t have the emotional pain to carry. Numbing the pain turned out to be the center of my life.
During the summer of 2008 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I had been in a relationship that was emotionally killing my self-esteem . While most women would walk away I could not let go. It consumed me in every way , at a certain point I could not work, I had my first glimpse at the dark side. I was there. Sitting huddle up in my small studio apartment I could not see beyond the darkness of my mind. This isn’t the first time that I felt hopeless in life, there have been many bad relationships, addiction, abandoned children, and back to the beginning trying my best to numb the pain within.
During these times I still had hope. I would find one way or another to fight ray of darkness that hung over me like a bad thunderstorm. I was not beaten during these times. I had never given up hope .
The year was 2008 , I found my mind twisted in ways that even my smooth skills could not figure out. I was stuck. I was alone, the darkest time of my life . A doctor that I had been seeing in order to get papers for work had suggested that I see a psychologist . In my mind I went to the appointments in order to save my job. I was working for a leading university at the time . In Holland I would be able to take a few months off work, paid. It was called a burnout and for this you would be paid in full.
This doctor was sure that I was having no burnout, I was diagnosed with bipolar and sent to a special center that deals with bipolar. Again I will mention that I live here in Amsterdam alone. Support was really nowhere in sight, yes I had support from the doctors but that isn’t the same is it. The people who I thought would be there to support me all but walked away. I was shattered and in disbelief . This was to become my first bout of serious depression. I have been depressed before but this mental hangman over my head had different plans for me. It was a dark time that haunts me today . Of course, the first thing I was given was medication , which in honesty I just refused to take. I have had medication for depression before and I gained a lot of weight . I am not skinny and could lose 20 pounds easy. With me in this midlife insanity , there was no way that I would take anything if I was going to gain even more weight . At this point it had not crossed my mind that drinking a half bottle of vodka mixed with a beer or two might be the cause for the weight gain. So the battle of medication began.
Seroquel , Abilify, Tegretol and Lithium are some of the medications that I was given and refused to take, which I would try for a week.Then I threw those magical pills out the window. I was finally admitted to a stay at mental hospital . You see I honestly believed that the pillows try to shoot me. I therefore took out a small gun and shot the pillows. When asked why, I looked up and simply said because it was either them or me.
I still battle bipolar medication. I have always been a drinker, but I wasn’t an alcoholic, yet! With all the emotions coming at me like I was on a rollercoaster on crack, I began to self medicate with vodka. From the beginning I knew I had found the stillness in my head that I was looking for. We became fast friends . The loneliness was so lonely, until it was not . That is one thing with alcohol and drugs , it can turn on you, leaving you feeling rejected once again.
At some point I had a serious conversation with my mother concerning the bipolar, she can not wrap her head around the thought that I have bipolar. After some time she began to see that I was suffering mentally and I had no control over my sometimes maddening up days, and the dreaded down days where I came close to ending my life .
Am I mentally ill, yes. Am I an addict, yes a recovering addict . Is this by choice , who knows. I have made the choice to write my story . I may skip subjects, I may forget some facts along the way. I am not a doctor by any means. I am a middle age nutcase that wants to share my story with you .
It can be hard for non-alcoholics to imagine the alcoholic’s overwhelming desire to drink even when it’s destroying life and health. “In the morning you say, ‘I’m not going to drink.’ It hits you like a blind spot in your brain, where you go on automatic pilot . You’re not thinking anymore. You just hit this blank spot, and you go to the refrigerator, you open it, and you pull out that bottle of wine.” I didn’t choose to become an addict. I chose to experiment, to escape. I didn’t know where to go with the pain or what to do with it.
Emotionally and psychologically, I just knew that this was it, This was going to be my way, you know, to cope. In the end drinking became a consuming passion. I became a regular vodka drinker. No longer just a weekend party girl, I drank routinely.
But I did not always consider alcohol my drug of choice, in a way I still don’t. I started drinking heavily to slow down the manic me , otherwise the bipolar in me shows up. I made sure that I had cigs and vodka regardless of the appointments that I would not keep, the lies that I told. Yes mom, I am doing so much better “!
Drugs gripped me first it was only until my down fall with my best friend vodka did I see drugs as a problem. Drugs and drinking gave me a persona that I had desperately been searching for: I never felt like I belonged anywhere. I could be whoever I wanted to be when I was using drugs and later drinking , except it was not that same, drinking was just feeling numb.” .
Becoming an alcoholic is comparable to falling in love. “You don’t know that it’s beginning to take a priority, except one day you wake up and you know you’ve got to have it, because you can’t function without it. But then it fools you, because you know you only need to take the one, but then you take that one, and, boom, you want more.” It’s insanity that happens when you’re in the throes of this disease.
“Breaking The Boredom”
Well, if I just do it a couple of times, I won’t get addicted.’” I had a deep emotional and physical love affair with cocaine early . I did my first line when I was 16 yrs old, and on the way to “The Who” concert in Oakland, Ca. I didn’t like the taste dripping down the back of my throat and started to drink all the beer in the car.
I don’t really count this time as I only did it to fit in and I didn’t touch it again until I was 21 yrs old. From that first taste I knew that I was home . I felt a release in my soul, it never entered my head that this release was just the high hitting me as I felt the drug comforting me .
As I write this I can remember if as if it was yesterday, .Drugs were not new to me, while I grew up in a dysfunctional family meaning my parents relationship. Drugs were looked upon as a No No.! I used from that moment on , and I went to a lot of effort to look the part of normal. “That was very important because if I looked okay on the outside, maybe I was okay on the inside,”. I truly believed this nonsense for years .
When I first thought seriously about writing my story, I found many reasons that I could not focus long enough to write this on paper. I was afraid to be honest with myself concerning my romance with drugs and alcohol. I really did enjoy being high , I felt normal. Coping with the stress of everyday life is something that I can’t recall. My coping tools were found at the end of a phone call to my local drug dealer. ( or the bottom of many bottles).
So what may have caused this ?
Then I would have to take a walk back in time, I find this to be painful and I am not sure that I can write and remember this sober. I suddenly feel the need to be numb.
I am sitting here at the computer, my boyfriend who for one reason or another is always in a permanent state of regrouping.
When we discussed me writing this , he was all for it. For him greed, Like I will become a bestseller. For me, I am writing to `let go`. To live again , just to free my mind .
As he looks over my shoulder I change the computer screen. He would want to read and of course debate what I am writing, I try to explain writing about such personal and painful memories are supposed to be real. This is not fiction, there will not be a hero’s and who knows about a happy endings. It will cause pain. He leaves, I can feel the beast of pain alone , somehow I enjoy the pain that follows. Music that I call my sweet suicide songs must follow. I must feel the pain , I must tell the story correct.
Coming to terms with my addiction isn’t easy. I feel guilty. I had friends that didn’t drink or drug the way that I did. didn’t want to be that way, and I am not sure how I feel about opening up about these times. They say that sharing is the key. I heard this in my last rehab, I left early. I have been in many rehab clinics . I do well during this `time out period`but I am never honest with myself. I always use directly upon leaving . There wasn’t a trigger or something that lead me in this direction, I think that I knew that I would use upon my release date , just as I know that I was not be honest with the program
I like being numb
I was 17 yrs old when I found myself in our home town bar. I lived on an Army base and the town was mostly military. I had been going out to the bars with a fake ID. I also won Miss **** that year. It was also the same year that I began to enjoy the effects of drugs and alcohol. I was getting a lot of attention and friends came easy for me now .
What are my choices, after being in many rehabs, I do understand that my choices include, jails, institutions and finally death. When I was younger it was very important that I did not show any signs physically of my drug and alcohol abuse. In my head I thought that as long as I showered every day followed by using makeup to cover the dark eyes. In a way this allowed me to feel that I was somewhat in control of these demons. I am not young anymore yet when writing these stories I can see that I never grew up. They say that most addicts stay emotionally immature. I must admit that this is true.
I am not able to miss the adult me, the responsible me. I have always lived with crisis, without it I was lost or “ something was just missing”.
Now some of this has come from the drama of living on the dark side. I have lived in many worlds, all of them dark.
My family is dysfunctional to say the least. And not just my immediate family, my extended family too. Up until about age 5 I thought my family was just normal like everybody else. However this would soon change for the worse. There are some things that I have witnessed plenty of in my life. I’ve seen the hitting, the screaming, the drunken late night brawls, alcohol, drugs, sure, you name it. It’s not alright .
I’ve seen most of the females in my family get hit more than once. There’s been blood, broken bones, etc. And I’ve not even grown up around the worst. I don’t know what it is about my family, we are just screwed up. Sometimes I wonder why I have anger issues but then I look back. . . oh yeah, I remember now. It’s not alright. . . it’s just not. So with my own relationships, you guessed it , they were not healthy.
This has taken me some time to write . In between writing this , I have been to rehab managing to stay clean for over a year. I have learned the art of mindfulness training . But the most important thing was allowing myself to forgive myself.
Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today .
Looking back I recall that we suffer in our relationships.
Every family will mess up on how they deal with things. All families make mistakes and screw up. Again, it is a matter of degree. Sometimes the degree is horrific and the impact is devastating to all involved. Every family is dysfunctional. Mine most certainly was dysfunctional but thankfully not to the degree that we couldn’t survive and function to a certain level which wasn’t detrimental.