Friday, October 31, 2014

Healing, Part 2

While I love this time of year and enjoy seeing my nephews in their costumes, Halloween haunts me in a way I can't escape. It represents an incident I wish I could forget, but I've not been successful.  I've built such a high wall around it that I've found it impossible to recover from. Like a festering wound, it has lived inside far too long. Telling this story will hopefully rid my soul of some of the poison.

There are things we must first let go in order to make room in our souls for positive, healing energy. I've been haunted by a Halloween from long ago.  The shame and guilt are so heavy it is sometimes hard to move. I laughed in God's face when I inadvertently, but absolutely pushed the envelope of life too far.  I was trying to flee from the pain, not from life. But the outcome was the same, and I have carried the guilt ever since.

It was Halloween 2003, and I was reeling from the loss of my son in my sixth month of pregnancy earlier that year, which was followed by the death of my Nana not even five months later. Losing a child and my spiritual touchstone in such a short time had me overwhelmed with grief. The heartache was bad enough, but tag on the anguish from the physical pain of my disease, and that's where you would find me, barely able to scrape my spirit up off the floor just to go through the motions of real life.

I left work early that day, because my pancreatic pain was giving me fits. I had been experiencing panic attacks and severe depression since losing my son (on top of a bad pancreatic flare), so on the way home I picked up my prescriptions for Xanex and Morphine. I went home and took the appropriate doses, but the panic, pain and depression weren't touched. I remember taking a second dose about a half hour later. And then another dose of both yet another half hour later.  I wasn't trying to end my life, I just wanted the pain to end. When the tears came that day, as they did every day, I remember crying from a place so deep within me, it felt like my heart might truly break. I couldn't take it. So I kept taking the pills, thinking that one more might make a difference.

By some miracle, my mom came home early that day and found me. What went on from there is lost in a memory I can't access. The next thing I recall was waking up briefly in the Emergency Room as charcoal was being pumped into my stomach. There was a doctor who asked me if I meant to hurt myself, and I remember nodding yes, even though it wasn't true. It was hard to communicate anything with a hose down my throat. I vaguely remember being a patient in the Mt. Carmel East observation unit, calling way too many people and saying way too much. I think my mom finally told them to take my phone away. What must have been a day or two later, I realized I was a patient in the psych ward of Mt. Carmel West.
How had I gotten there? I didn't want to die! I just wanted the pain to go away, mentally and physically.  Once I was released from the psyche ward, I returned home full of questions. How much had I taken? How many people knew? I was overwhelmed with guilt and shame.  The ordeal I had put my family through was unforgivable in my eyes. I was afraid to ask what happened in the hours I could no longer recall. My brother Keith was the only one I felt comfortable asking. I thought he would be honest.  As he started filling in the blanks, I became more and more aware of how far I had truly come to the verge of death.

When it all happened, my brother had counted my pills, figuring out how much I had taken in the span of about seven hours of time. The grand tally was: 40 Xanex, 50 Morphine. That's how much I had taken, and yet I'm still here to tell this story.  God has spoken to me via various life events, but this one ranks pretty high. I could easily have died from this unintentional overdose, but I hadn't. Someone thought I should be here, and I've been grateful ever since.                            
 The memory of that Halloween has haunted my memory for eleven years.  It was undeniably a defining event in my life, yet it goes against everything I have become.  Like a festering wound, it became glaringly clear to me in this past year that the story needed to be told so that I could finally be free of it.  I've never wanted to embrace life more, to enjoy the precious moments that happen in the blink of an eye.  This Halloween is about healing, especially about healing from old mistakes. In the grand scheme of things, my soul needs as much room as possible for positive, loving, healing energy.

I've apologized to my family for all this put them through, but I'll probably always feel some guilt about the scariest Halloween any of us ever experienced.  Somehow by sharing this, the shame is slipping away. Surely someone else out there in chronic pain can understand this, too. There may even be some who have gone through a similar experience. I chose to write this story as much for those who can relate as for myself. We all have times of weakness.  We all makes mistakes. That's what make us human, after all.