As I sat here this morning editing my journal for publication, I was astounded at what I read. I did not remember so much of what happened in the shelter. Though I was there for only two and half months, there was high drama the entire time. No wonder I have chosen to block it out! January 2008 in the shelter:
January 1, 2008
12:15 am ~Happy New Year, 2008! I am not going to let the negative tell me I’m not good or worth it; I am! We were toasting to the New Year, I was toasting with Dawn. Cheryl stood up, and her head hit my cup, and it spilled, and everyone was calling me a klutz. Well, I will not own that! For a minute, I was thinking, “Wow, bad luck first thing in 2008. Not a good sign for the new year”, but, I am not going to live by signs anymore. I am going to believe in myself, and work to make good luck!
January 3, 2008
It was a long day. I went to a job interview at Allied Personnel for a customer service position. It pays up to $43,000.00 per year. I just have to check and see the job is on a bus route, and the recruiter will give my résumé to the employer, fingers crossed.
Afterwards, while I was at Workforce sending out resumes, Guadalupe called me and said the homeless shelter‘s Director wanted to see me, and she (Guadalupe) was coming to pick me up. It was about the abuse allegations. I had seen a mother slap her newborn baby in the program, and hit her two-year old, too. I told them what I saw, and that I didn’t want to say anything, but I felt compelled to, lest something happen to the children and the onus be on me.
They spoke with the other woman who I said saw something too. Then, they spoke with the mom who hit the kids. While they were speaking with the other eyewitness, they told her to be careful of me! They said, wasn’t she worried about me around her children because I am a “single woman”? What does that mean? Then, they asked her if she wasn’t worried that I might try to steal her husband! Are they serious? They’re just mad because they had to deal with this. I am a troublemaker now, and they don’t want me around.
January 4, 2008
I am a little worried today. I just had my blood pressure taken; it is 160/100. That’s pretty damn high, and I can’t get any help for medical purposes right now. Medicaid is dragging its feet, and the clinic won’t see me for a month. I have a number for a clinic from the nurse who took my blood pressure (at the soup kitchen), but it is in Dover, and I have no money left. Something has to give. I will ask again at the shelter if they will help me. I will keep trying to get help, and help myself.
Well, I am becoming a bit depressed. I don’t want to be! I want to fight it! It’s hard though, when it feels like the world is out to get me. I have to believe that’s not true, it’s just the way it feels.
I will not be getting that job. There is no way to get there. Public transportation doesn’t run there. I will just have to keep looking. Keep on keeping on. My blood pressure is very high (160/100), and I haven’t any money to even take a train to the clinic for meds. I guess I am quitting smoking today, because I am out, and I have no money. I bought a phone card with my last dollars. I need to have my phone on for potential employers, and to speak with Zach. However if potential employers do call for an interview, I have no way to get there, because I have no money!
I went to OTA (Office of Temporary Assistance), over a month ago, and they have done nothing with my case. They said because I came from another county, they can’t expedite my case, even though I am homeless with high blood pressure and no money! So, it is getting harder and harder to maintain a positive attitude. I have had a headache for three days now (probably my blood pressure), which always makes it hard stay positive. Still, I just have to. No matter what, I have to believe in myself and creating life for my son and me. I need to continue to find positive linings in the negative events of everyday life.
January 5, 2008
I still have a pounding migraine in my left temple (mostly, but some on the right side, too). I had it for three days now. I just had my pressure taken: 158/93, still not great. Took a clonidine, even though I don’t like to take them at night because they wipe me out and make me sick, but I don’t want to have a stroke. My headache is so severe, my train of thought is gone.
January 6, 2008
6:45 pm ~ I have had a pounding headache all day long. Migraine? Sinus? Caused by blood pressure? I don’t know, but, it was debilitating. I really couldn’t move. No one in here understood. The girls were slamming doors and flipping lights on and off, and saying things like, “Who does she think she is, sleeping all day long?” What they don’t understand is that it feels like death. I asked if anyone had any ibuprofen, but no one knew what that meant…I swear! Finally, one said, “I have some pain relievers I got at the hospital.” They were ibuprofen! It helped somewhat, but I am still not doing so well.
I quit smoking. Well, I’m quitting smoking, and praying that it sticks. I had one cigarette yesterday, and of course, none today (having spent the day in bed). I have no cigarettes left, and as I said before, no money left, so this will be relatively easy. People may offer cigs, but I really don’t want to smoke. I want to feel better.
January 8, 2008
8:15 pm ~ I am starting to get depressed about not getting a job. I really want to get out of this homeless shelter! I am starting to think that using the address of the homeless shelter on my résumé is causing problems. I think a lot of people around here probably know the address, but I don’t have another one to use. I have to keep confident. Do the next right thing. Keep trying. Keep on keeping on, and then, it will happen.
Mike and Dawn are probably moving their brood of seven kids to Dover, to a four bedroom house, hopefully by the 15th. I pray for them that this comes to pass. The kids have had enough; they need their own space.
I smoked a cigarette tonight, but I am not going to start again. I just smoked one, and, I am not going to beat myself up over it. I am just going to try again. At least I am not talking about crack or alcohol (thank God!).
January 10, 2008
9:30 pm ~ I spent a lot of hours today sending out resumes. I changed my address on the résumé from the homeless shelter’s to my brother’s address, and I got a call for an interview already! So, I was right! People recognized the address, and wouldn’t hire me!
January 12, 2008
I went on a job interview this morning. I think I did well, it looks good; I will know by next week. My brother said if I get it, I can stay at his house for a while; that would be so cool!
January 11, 2008
10:30 pm ~ I was going to the hospital today because of my blood pressure (162/111), but I didn’t go. I don’t know why I didn’t. I just didn’t feel like walking there and back, and spending my whole day in the emergency room. That is really a lame excuse. I need to take better care of myself.
I have a job interview tomorrow in Dover. Brenda (one of my roomies) gave me the money to get there, and my brother Jimmy (who lives in Rockaway, next door to Dover) is going to pick me up and take me back to Morristown.
January 12, 2008
8:30 pm ~ Was I ever happy doing drugs, drinking, and spending my existence trying to make bad men love me? No! Am I happy now, homeless, jobless, moneyless, and manless? Yes! Why? Sobriety, faith, and hope. I believe in the future. I believe in change, but I must act to achieve that change. Take a day like today, going on the job interview, believing enough in me to sell myself to someone else; that is an act that gives me even more faith in myself, and the future.
What a beautiful day. It was wonderful to spend the day with Jimmy and his wonderful family, and, they have three very cute Jack Russell’s that I loved playing with! Charlie, my brother’s fourteen year old son, appears to have a budding talent in filmmaking and animation. He showed me some of his videos which were very cool!
January 13, 2008
7:45 pm ~ I have another headache and I am in a lot of pain. I am in my jams, lying on my bunk, trying to relax. The twenty-two year old thug is trying to bother me, and I am trying to ignore her. She doesn’t like me; she hasn’t from the first day she got here. I think it is an authority, or a mother thing, but, it is her thing, so I am leaving it alone.
January 14, 2008
7:43 pm ~ I have a job interview set up for Wednesday at a Web-conferencing company. I am so psyched. Changing the address on my résumé really helped!
Just a boring day, other than that, the usual, soup kitchen, library, workforce. I sent out a lot of resumes today! I did send an e-mail to William Cope Moyers, author (and subject) of, “Broken — My Story of Addiction and Redemption.” He is the Vice President of External Affairs at Hazelden. I was trying to read up on him, and found his e-mail address. I just wanted to let him know what a help his book is to me. I am almost done with about 30 pages left. It is intense (finished it later last night).
I get e-mails from people everyday encouraging me in my recovery. I have received many from people with a lot of clean time congratulating me for putting my story out there. I just feel that it is the right thing to do, for me, so there are no secrets holding me back. My life is an open book. To see that no matter what the circumstances, if you stick with it, it does get better; to remember what happens if you relapse; and for those who have never suffered from this disease, to understand that addicts are not bad people trying to get good, but sick people trying to get well.
10:35 pm ~ Something strange happened today. A couple of days ago, I was in Workforce, and a woman I recognized from the library came in. She said she was being evicted, and had nowhere to go. I told her about the shelter I was in, but she said she had a cat, and couldn’t go anywhere without him. I told her I had no idea what she could do then, but, that I would pray for her. Today, I ran into her at the library, and she gave me a big bag, and said, “Thank you for helping me.” I don’t know what she thinks I did! The bag was full of samples of expensive botanical creams and toners and scrubs and shampoo, etc. There was a cream in there for eczema, which I have been suffering with in this hot shelter and cold winter. So, by praying for this woman, I had a prayer answered for me…the cream is the cure.
January 15, 2008
9:47 pm ~ I spoke with Zach today, and asked him if he wants to live with me when I get it all together. He said, “Yes”, which made my heart ‘jump for joy’! I told him, and I mean it, that he is getting older now and if he doesn’t feel comfortable coming back to me, after all he has been through, after all that I have put him through then I would understand. He says misses me though, and I miss him so much! This is really a brass ring for me, one of the things that keep me sober. It is the most important thing.
Tomorrow is the job interview with the web-conferencing place. I also received another call today from someone who found my résumé online, so I have an interview with them on Thursday for a position that pays up to $19.00 an hour, which would be very helpful in getting my life together!
Friday I finally am going to the clinic to get my blood pressure medication, yea!
It seems as long as I stay sober, I do work on things, and things are starting to work out. Key here: Stay Sober. I went to an AA meeting this afternoon, and a man said that what keeps him sober is knowing he only has to do it today. He can drink tomorrow if he wants. I said, that is what got me into trouble (part of it), allowing myself the slack, and believing I could always come back from a relapse. Now I realize that is not a given, and I don’t want to even consider allowing the thought of drinking or drugging in my conscience. Sure, I think about beers and crack, for about a half second. But, I cannot allow that line of thinking. It is too dangerous for me.
January 16, 2008
9:05 am ~ I am sitting in the Morristown Train Station, waiting for the 9:27 am to Millburn, to go to this job interview. I will be so close to Zach, walking distance, but I can’t see him as he is in school. I miss him so much!
I really don’t feel well today. I kept waking up all night long. I felt like my heart was hurting. Then I awoke with cold symptoms, which I still have. I look very pale, despite the blush I applied, and my nose is stuffy and eyes are runny. It seems the odds are not good for landing this job today.
It does get better! It does get better! As long as you work it, it does get better!
12:15 pm ~ I am now at the Millburn Train Station, waiting to go back to Morristown. It was a two-hour interview! The Operations Manager grilled me for over an hour with questions I never could have anticipated. I think I did pretty well. Then, the Chief Administration Officer asked me some questions, then the Vice President of something or another asked some more. They said if they are interested in hiring me, they will call me back for a second interview. Man, are those guys thorough! The job is in Operations, facilitating web conferences. It would be great to get it, considering the distance to South Orange, where I plan to make my home (rent an apartment), so that Zach can live with me and not have to switch schools.
January 17, 2008
7:30 pm ~ I never made it to the job interview in Whippany. I called the employer, and she said that she agreed with me. The bus only runs every two hours to go there, and then it’s a mile walk! I don’t mind the walk really, but I don’t want to stand around waiting to go to work for two hours. I really need to step up my game though! I need to do this so Zach can live with me again. It just feels like it’s time.
January 18, 2008
6:00 pm ~ Emily wrote to me, and said I am invited to stay at their (my brother Jim’s) house in Rockaway tomorrow night and Zach is sleeping there, too! I called the homeless shelter, and set it up for me to go! I can’t wait! Yea! Monday will be ninety days sober for me. I can feel such a change in me. I am so excited to hang out with the kids (in their teens and twenties) and the Jack Russells!
I am so sick today, but trying to fight it off. I have too much to do to wallow in my misery.
January 20, 2008
I went to an NA meeting at 10:00 am, and then hopped the train to my brother’s. Zach was at the Doctor’s with Charlie and Robin, so Rachel (Jimmy’s oldest daughter) and I went to Blockbuster and rented the movie, “Knocked Up” and then she took me to Harmon so I could get eye-make-up.
It was so nice being there. I played with the doggies, hung out with Rachel and Emily and their friends and watched the movie, hung out with Zach and Charlie while they played video games, read, and played on the computer and slept really well. Today, I said good-bye to Zach and Charlie and Jim (guess Emily was already gone), and Robin and Rachel, Robin’s friend Theresia, and I all went to see the play, “Cactus Flower” at the Studio Players in Montclair. Then we went out to eat at a Chinese restaurant, then back home. It was all very pleasant, with the only black cloud being this horrible cold that I have!
January 21, 2008
What a spent day. I went out on the 11:00 am van, and came back on the 1:00 pm van. It was not entirely wasted. I did laundry, and set up two job interviews. One only pays $15.00 hour, but it is right here in Morristown. The other is for a shipping company doing Export Documentation, which is what I did at PONL! I miss the shipping industry! Also, I answered questions for the workshop I am attending tomorrow night on, “Transitions—Making Sense of Life’s Changes”, which Karen suggested. That seems right up my alley now, and, it’s free! I am sleeping at Karen’s tomorrow night, as the workshop is down by her, so I will see Zach again!
I am overwhelmed trying to get it together. I have been so remiss. I need to work even harder at this thing, life. I am still so sick, though. I hope I am better on time for these interviews.
January 22, 2008
12:34 pm ~ I got the job for $15.00 hr. without even interviewing. I start on Friday morning. I am still going to the interview tomorrow for the shipping company, though. Not only is it a job I want, it pays about $10,000.00 more a year!
Today is ninety-one days clean! I just thought you ought to know so you can congratulate me (only kidding, but I am proud of me)!
January 23, 2008
Transitions Workshop ~ I went to the first Transitions workshop last night. It was pretty cool. Here is some of the work that we did for the workshop:
Here is my 100 word biography: My name is Meg. I am a mother. My son does not live with me. I am homeless. I am a recovering addict. I also believe myself completely blessed. I am creative, spiritual, smart, and compassionate. In my sobriety, I have found a drive to succeed at life, which to me is just learning from the journey, and using that knowledge to create a better future. I no longer dwell in my past, though it has made me who I am. For that I am grateful.
Here are the changes from the past two years :
* For some unknown reason, which I think I will never be able to explain, I got addicted to crack cocaine at the age of forty-five.
* I finally got sober, which I work on every day.
* During my insane drug usage, I lost two apartments.
* During my insane drug usage, I lost the same job twice.
* During my insane drug usage, I gave away my car.
* I had two heartbreaking relationships which both ended.
* I asked my sister to take my son until I got my life ‘together’. He moved in with her one year ago.
* I became homeless after living on many people’s couches.
* I went through outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation.
* I moved into a homeless shelter in a new town.
*I found out I have high blood pressure.
* My menopause ended.
* I have been unemployed since January ’07, except two months of summer waitressing.
* My best friend became my arch-nemesis.
* I had to give up people, places, and things.
* I have grown exponentially spiritually, mentally, emotionally (just need to get healthier physically and financially).
Today was a long day and very disillusioning and enlightening at the same time. I slept at Karen’s last night because I went to the Transition’s workshop. That was very interesting. This is a very positive experience. It is helping me find closure of the past, and get ready for the future!
I went today to an interview at Gulf American Lines, a shipping company. I think the interview went really well. They want me to come back and interview with the President. Then, I came back to Morristown, went to Workforce, and faxed a thank you letter to the Vice President who interviewed me. From there, I went to the library, and then came back to the homeless shelter.
I found out tonight that I am no longer allowed to talk to any of the children here. They said because of insurance, but they made me feel dirty, like I did something wrong. They told all the single women we can’t talk to them, but the way they said it hurt. Also, these kids have come to trust us, and now they can’t talk to us. It is such a screwed up thing to do to a kid.
So, I went to an NA meeting. I thought that would help. Plus, I have ninety-three days, so I wanted to celebrate my “ninety”. That was really interesting, but not in a good way! I spoke about wanting sobriety and choosing sobriety. Well, they all jumped down my throat and swung on my tonsils! You can’t say “sober” in NA, you have to say, “clean”. When I said, “Semantics”, I don’t think they understood the word, or they can’t allow the concept. They said, that’s like saying, “I’ll only smoke pot”, or, “I’ll only drink alcohol”. I thought, “What? What? Where? How did that connection get made?” If I say, “sober” instead of “clean”, I’m going to smoke pot and drink?
My sponsor told me I have to say, “clean” instead of “sober” because it’s in their traditions. Then, after the meeting, all these people came up to me to say that the only way to stay “clean” is to learn the “lingo” (I swear, “lingo” was actually used in a sentence), do as I am told (exact words said to me) and follow the people. N0. N0. I’m sorry, no. I have followed what people told me to do blindly before, and that to me is not dealing with problems. That is using an alternative reality to avoid my truths.
So, I started reading a book called, “Rational Recovery” which is based on RET (Rational Emotive Therapy). It relies on being rational (of course) about addiction, and being a grown-up and taking responsibility for your own recovery. It is not spiritually based, but that maybe a good thing. Although I do feel I have a strong connection with God, the Twelve Step programs I’ve attended always seem to lean towards Christianity, and, I hope I am not offending you, but I am not Christian (though I was born an Irish Catholic). Anyway, enough for tonight! Suffice to say, I am always learning!
January 26, 2008
Life is starting to happen. I worked on Friday for the first time since June, the first time in an office since January 2007. It was really great being back in an office environment, but it was so easy that it was a little boring. I am still hoping for the second interview with Gulf American Lines.
I spoke with my brother’s wife today, and she said that I can stay at their house in March if I need to. I just want to save money to get a place for Zach and me and pay my child support off. Just say a prayer for me, or cross your fingers, or whatever you do. I am trying hard, and trying to understand how I am supposed to feel, act, think. I want sobriety. I like being sober. I like living with a clear(ing) mind. This is an absolute for me. I keep learning more about me and what I believe every day. One thing I believe is that it is not anyone else who will get and keep me sober, only I can make this happen. I believe in my sobriety, in my new life. I must do whatever it takes (what I believe in my heart it takes) to maintain and improve what I have received: a start at a new life.
I hope that all of you who read this are working on yourselves in the way you feel is right. I heard in the meetings all the time, “I didn’t know how to think. I didn’t know how to act, so the people in the program(s) told me how, and I did what they said.” I don’t want that to be me. I can’t imagine giving up my identity like that again. When I was a born-again Christian (in my twenties) I did that and it was like being a clone. I know that I need people who understand me, but, I do not believe that anyone can tell me how to act or think. I think that is an ongoing daily thing. You wake up in the morning, hopefully you learned something the day before, and you are able to act a little differently from the new information. You try to remember the things you did that made your situation unhealthy, and don’t do them anymore. Be true to yourself. Shakespeare said this hundreds of years ago. Why do people always forget it?
January 27, 2008
12:45 pm ~ I decided to stay in today. I have to work tomorrow, and I just want to rest and get ready. I washed clothes and sheets yesterday, so today I just have to do my nails and pick out something to wear tomorrow. Kathy (in the mental-illness section of the shelter) loaned me two suits to try on. They are size 10’s, so I don’t know if they will fit (presently, I am wearing a size Fat Cow 12), but, it’s worth a shot. Otherwise, I have one pair of pants and one skirt to switch off all week. I am reading, “China Syndrome”, all about the SARS outbreak (by Karl Taro Greenfeld) today, plus I think I will read some of my “Transitions” book. It’s really nice to take it easy. I do have a little headache, so I am extra glad not to be out.
January 28, 2008
6:45 pm ~ Stayed in all day yesterday and read about 200 pages of the SARS book. I didn’t read “Transitions”. I figured, let me knock this book out, and then I will concentrate on “Transitions”, so I can get more out of them both. I have 164 pages of the SARS book left.
I am puppy sitting this weekend for the ‘girls’, Rosie, Sunshine and Nellie. I found out that Rosie and Sunshine are Jack Russell Terriers, and Nellie is a RatCha, which is half Rat Terrier, and half Chihuahua. She is only six months old; Sunshine is just one year, and Rosie? I don’t know. She is older than Sunshine, but not by much. They are so cute and loveable. I am really looking forward to it, and to spending some time by myself. I am going to watch the Super bowl by myself, but on a 55″ HDTV, so that’s not so terrible!
Today was a good day at work, but it is much too easy, really kind of boring. The Vice President for the shipping company called today and said I could come in on Wednesday morning, and meet with the President. He said he, “highly recommended” me for the position to the President! Keep your fingers crossed! This could be the start of my climb up.
January 29, 2008
Work was very busy today. If it paid more and was a permanent position, I would probably stay. The work is somewhat interesting, and the boss is nice, but I need to get a life together for Zach and me, which makes money the the most important consideration (I am sorry to say). Apartments aren’t cheap. I owe child support and credit cards and phone bills, etc., and Rob, Zach’s father, has been MIA for years, so I receive no money. There’s no one to help out. If I am going to make life good so Zach and I can live again as a family, I need to make enough.
January 31, 2008
Where do I start? This has been a very busy two days. Yesterday, I went to the shipping company for the second interview, and I got the job! I start on Monday, February 11, 2008. They asked when I could start. I would have loved to say, “Immediately!” but I had to give notice to the temp agency, and the company I am working for through them. It is the right thing to do. I don’t want to burn any more bridges.
I got back to Morristown, and worked from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm, then came back to the shelter for dinner. I went out again on the 7:00pm van to an 8:00 pm meeting, and got back at 9:45pm, and found out I had to clean the bathroom. I did, but I was so tired that I kept dropping things. When I got back into the “dorm” room, the two twenty-two year old pregnant girls and the large woman were yammering on and on, which was fine, but the things they were saying was making me nuts! Words like the “N” word! Things like, “my first baby’s father” Neither of these girls have their other two children with them. Yes, they both have two children by two different fathers, and are both pregnant by a third “baby’s father”.
“I want five kids”, “I don’t need welfare, I don’t want to stay on welfare, I just want rental assistance. Then I can have my five kids.” Oh, My God! It’s so sad. They both (it seems) have come from very dysfunctional backgrounds. One of the girls’ mothers had nine children by two different fathers, and ran a welfare life, replete with drugs and alcohol.
They kept going on and on, past 10:00 pm, with the lights full glare. When 11:00 pm came, I got up and turned the lights off. They started complaining, so I said, “Please try to go to sleep. I have to get up at 5:30am.” They just talked louder and longer, and cackled.
I got up, and went to the bathroom. As I had just cleaned it, I sat on the toilet. It was sopping wet! I cleaned up, and went back in the room, and said, “I can’t believe it; somebody peed on the toilet seat. That is so disgusting.”, and one of the pregnant girls said, “Oh that was me. It’s not pee, it’s just water. I was trying to flush pills down the toilet, and they wouldn’t go, so I took the toilet bowl brush and shoved them down. When I pulled the brush out, it got the seat all wet.” Argh! And, she left it there! What disrespect! She covered the seat with toilet brush water germs, and just left it there. It was so gross.
So, they really started laughing (at me), they thought it was so funny, and I started getting pissed. They kept talking and laughing. I got up, and went to Kendra (a house manager who doesn’t like me) and asked her to make a room inspection, but not to say anything about me, because I didn’t want to start any trouble…Ha! She sent Gary, another worker, who told them to be quiet, but as soon as he left, they started again.
I woke up this morning exhausted. I ran into Roz, who works nights at the shelter, and told her about it. Then, I came back upstairs to get ready for work. I had to make my bed, and when I picked up my book bag that was lying there next to it, it dropped onto the floor from about four inches, making an audible but soft “thump”. One of the pregnant girls stirred, rolled over, and said, “You’re gonna pay for that tonight.” Oh, what fun!
Finally, I got out of the shelter at 7:00 am, and worked from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. I had no lunch, as usual. Since I got out early, I went to the library, replied to some e-mails, and came back to the shelter for dinner. As I was entering the shelter, the pregnant girls were standing there, and one of them said, “If I find out who wrote me up, they’re gonna get it!” Roz did, oh my God! Now, I am sitting here on my bunk listening to their crap again. I can’t wait until Zach and I get our own apartment!
Next month, I get out and begin the transformation from addict to adult.
copyright 2011 meg marlowe