Just Being “OKAY”…..

I was on the phone with my son who lives in LA and we were talking about how it’s been 4 years since what I call “our nightmare” took place…….a lot has happened since then but most of all life has moved on. I feel like I just woke up in a foreign place with nobody around me I know but my family. It’s really a very odd feeling.

As we were talking I told him that the only thing I ever wanted for him and his siblings was for them to be “happy”…..when it dawned on me that isn’t what I want at all. When I began my own individual psychotherapy with Dr. Mario Fischetti in 1985 after about the 4th weekly session with him I had what “I” refer to as a spiritual awakening. (I believe spiritual awakenings are of a personal nature….each awakening is autonomous !) As I sat there in silence (which was EXTREMELY difficult for me back then) I recall saying ” how do you do that Mario?” He of course responded by asking “How do I do what?” And I said “How do you just appear to be OKAY; and I mean just OKAY?” He smiled.

That is when I realized that at 29 years old I NEVER just felt OKAY! And that became my goal! My short term goal AND my long term goal! I never imagined it would be so very difficult…..something that I would have to work on a day at a time,…..for the rest of my life.

So I told my son that I always wanted him to be “happy” …. but really, I just want my kids to be “OKAY”. Think about it….are you really OKAY?

When I was growing up, the loss of my father at the age of 10 caused a knot in the pit of my stomach. I could not seem to get rid of it because everyone who was important to me, i.e. my mother and my brothers had the same knot in their stomach. They didn’t talk about it, but I knew it. I could tell. A big part of our life was missing. Sadness engulfed us.

My sadness turned into anger. I was angry at the world and pretended I wasn’t. I was lost. My mother was terribly sad. My brothers were trying to go on with their lives. My older brother was married with 3 children. He & his wife were devastated. They were young and both loved my father very much. He was a rock for them. My middle brother had just gotten engaged and was preparing to get married. This put a huge damper on a very special time in their life. And me and my mom? Well the black cloud consumed us. She didn’t want to raise me alone. I look back now and I feel so sad for her. She literally spent the remainder of her life waiting to see him again. I spent my life thinking I would wake up one morning and he’d be secretly sitting on my bed. Truthfully, the pain was unbearable for everyone. We scrambled….we ran from the pain…..we all found ways to cope…..in mostly all cases they were unhealthy ways. My mother turned to food; my older brother turned to obsessively running from officiating football to officiating basketball to working everyday at a full time job and seeking ways to be “OKAY “. My other brother suffered from anxiety and OCD ……he became bulemic and almost died…..trying to be “OKAY”.

And me? Well I found drugs. It was incredible that I found something to get rid of that agony. I spent from age 15-29 running and trying to douse the pain with any drug I could find, ending with heroin. The outcome was: it didn’t work and it made things worse. Although I graduated from College during this fiasco, I woke up at 29 yrs old in Gateway Rehabilitation Center wondering how I could be so stupid. I was given a whole new education……I learned about Roz who was suffering from the disease of addiction along with suffering from severe depression. Once the drugs were gone the pain was excruciating AGAIN.

So I set out on a journey not knowing where I was headed. However, I had learned that I was not “OKAY” and I was far from being okay! I have managed through the Grace of God to not take a drink or a drug since December 13,1983……36 years. A miracle no doubt. But……being “OK” was another story!!! Something totally different.

Once I got clean, I got a divorce and my mother died 4 years later of a massive heart attack. I remarried my soulmate and had four fantastic phenomenal children. I went back to school and got a Masters degree. We bought a beautiful home and opened a successful 800 patient full service addiction treatment center which operated successfully for 20 years and helped thousands of drug addicts. We owned and operated a competitive cheer & dance gym for 15 years. Our four fantastic phenomenal children I mentioned are between the ages of 25 & 31 and I might add that none of them have elected to even experiment with any drugs which is a story in itself! I went to prison with 36 years clean for 10 months and am now a felon who can’t vote and who is bankrupt. My second son was born with epilepsy and he almost died one years ago during brain surgery. My husband was diagnosed with lung cancer two days after we lost our business. My oldest brother, who basically raised me, died a few months ago. I had no idea the pain of losing him would be so difficult. I still pick my phone up to text him DAILY.

We had everything. After losing all of this, the knot in my stomach returned. That same knot I had when my dad died all of those years ago.

We were on top of the world. Were we HAPPY”? I thought we were. Were we “OKAY”? No.

And then it was all gone. Well all of the material things were gone. We were still here…..without the business; without the house; without the money……….now we are back to just being “OKAY”. Or should I say we are back to striving to just be “OKAY”…….one day at a time.

Do you have any idea how easy it would be to cover the pain? To just make a decision to run from the pain by getting high? Would it work? No, it wouldn’t work at all. The ride we have to take to cover the pain would not be worth it. I have spent my life striving to be “OKAY”…….I’m still striving.

So does society really comprehend addiction? Do people really understand what is at the core of all of these addicts who have overdosed and died? How can people even begin to think that addicts are just immoral derelicts who CHOOSE that way of life? As I’ve always said, “In 36 years I have never heard ANYONE say that when they grow up they want to be a drug addict.” Never once. The amount of mental & spiritual pain that addicts use drugs and alcohol to cover up is insurmountable. How can anyone judge these people? How can society not want to help ? The truth is: addiction lurks in every home. It’s just a matter of whether you are honest about it or if you choose to be in denial by thinking you are ‘better than’. Wake up universe………if everyone, addict or non addict, would live their life through the 12 Steps, the World would be a better place. Read them sometime.

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