Category Archives: Depression

Refuting the Lie: How I Fought Depression and Kicked its Ass for Good!

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Dear Friends,

Mariel Hemingway, granddaughter of legendary writer, is one of the most fascinating people on the planet, in my humble opinion.  My life has been extraordinarily impacted by my mother’s suicide.  It rocked my world to the core.  However, I have had to carry the burden of just one suicide.  One is certainly enough, but Mariel has experienced at least 7, that she is aware of.  I simply cannot imagine how one could bear so much.

The most frightful thing about suicide in my immediately family for me was the terror and the gut-wrenching, incessant feeling of impending doom that suicide was my fate.  I saw it as this sort of tangible darkness that was just waiting in the rafters to eat me alive.  I thought I couldn’t get away from it…ever  And, do you know how many health professionals  told me that my risk of suicide was dramatically increased because of my mother’s suicide?  Why?  Why did so many people tell me this?  I mean, had any of them ever heard of the term self-fulfilling prophecy?

I don’t mind going on record to tell you that the majority of this blog has been dedicated to gloom and doom.  I’m sincerely sorry for that and thankful for the support that you all so beautifully and unselfishly gave me. I honestly don’t even know how long it’s been since my last post.  Do you know why?  It’s entirely because I am blissfully well and happy for the first time in my entire life.   I experienced true healing: body, mind, and soul.  I have truly been delivered and set free from the bondage of unspeakable fear.

My depression had been present since March of 2010 when a remarkably tough and insanely unfair even happened in my life.  However, from October 2012-March 2013, I was in the grips of a severe and seemingly unyielding clinical depression.  I was literally at the precipice of death.  I could barely get out of bed to use the restroom.  My hygiene even suffered.  Bar none, it was the bottom of the bottom for me.  I could barely make a fist at times.  And I was so scared.  I have never been more afraid, particularly for my children.

I fought like hell to get well.  I worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my entire life.  A immeasurable part of the healing process came from the work I did at Onsite Workshops, in Cumberland Furnace, Tennessee.  You can bet that I will write much more about this remarkably amazing, cathartic, mystical place… Right now, however, I just want you to know that I am no longer afraid.  I no longer live in constant, crippling fear and anxiety.  I know that I am NOT  now nor will I ever be a statistic.

I am no longer depressed.  I keep ahead of depression spiritually by praying, meditating, simplifying, expressing abundant gratitude, and not allowing myself to cultivate negative thoughts.  I work overtime to think positive, life-giving thoughts.  I keep ahead of depression emotionally by truly loving and honoring myself, avoiding toxic people who are psychic vampires, not allowing anyone to abuse me in any fashion, setting and keeping healthy boundaries, and by focusing on the people who have eternal significance in my life (as opposed to those who seek to harm me).  And I keep ahead of depression physically by putting healthy, non-processed foods in my body (particularly fresh fruits and vegetables), taking my Juice Plus+ (which I never intend to live without again), and exercising regularly in a way that I love and enjoy.

NO ONE, AND I MEAN ABSOLUTELY NO ONE “HAS” TO ALLOW ANY SORT OF MENTAL ILLNESS TO DEFINE THEM.

I think that each and every one of you should watch this short video. It would sincerely mean so much to me if you did.  We all need to become advocates for those suffering in silence with mental illnesses and/or addiction.  It’s time to talk about the elephant in the room!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kov2ZHrA04w

All my love,

Ava Elizabeth Wisdom 

Bradley Cooper Speaks Out About Mental Illness

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Bradley Cooper Speaks Out in National Dialogue on Mental Illness

By Bob Carolla, NAMI Director of Media Relations

More than a mere entertainer!

More than a mere entertainer!

Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper, star of Silver Linings Playbook, didn’t know much about mental illness before he made the film.

Since then, the movie has been nominated for five Academy Awards, including every acting category, the first motion picture in over 30 years to earn that distinction. In the process, the movie has become a powerful vehicle for advancing a national dialogue on mental illness (Award winners will be revealed announced on Feb.24).

“I was ignorant,” Cooper said at a press conference on Feb.1, sponsored by the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., in which Andrew Sperling, NAMI’s director of federal advocacy participated.

In the movie, Cooper plays a young man living with bipolar disorder, who has lost his job, his house and his marriage. He is released from a state psychiatric hospital and returns home to live with his parents and begin to rebuild his life. His father, played by Robert DeNiro, lives with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The film reflects family dynamics to which many people can easily relate. Mental disorders seem secondary and gradually fade into the background. Just as one out of every four American adults lives with mental illness in real life, the movie presents symptoms as just one more part of a family’s experience. It does not trivialize them nor make them the butt of jokes in what is nonetheless an often hilarious comedy.

At the press conference, Cooper described the process through which he learned that mental illness is a common thread in many people’s lives.

Discussions about the movie’s plot and characters set the stage. Revelations of personal connections followed. Matthew Quick, the author of the novel on which the film is based, struggles with depression. The movie’s director, David O. Russell, has a son who lives with mental illness.

Cooper learned for the first time that one of his friends lives with bipolar disorder, a fact he had never known before. After ignorance came empathy, he said. The challenge then was to take action.

“The one thing I can do is raise awareness.”

“Don’t walk away from people with mental illness. Don’t be scared.”

U.S. Senator Debbie Stebenow (D-Mich.) who participated in the press conference told of her father’s struggle with bipolar disorder in the 1960s, before lithium was found to be a mood stabilizer. “We didn’t know,” she said. “We didn’t understand.”

“But today we’re at a moment of change.”

“Changing attitudes leads to social change,” said former U.S. Rep Patrick Kennedy (D-Rhode Island), who lives with bipolar disorder. “It doesn’t have to come from government.”

One of the lessons of Silver Lining Playbook is that “the power of family” is a vital force for transformation—a fact that Sperling noted is reflected in NAMI’s Family-to-Family Education program.

Love, acceptance and being embraced by a community are key both to recovery and breaking down barriers of stigma. Looking ahead to the Academy Awards and beyond, let the national dialogue continue.

(source: http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?Section=Top_Story&template=%2FContentManagement%2FContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=150378&lstid=809)

I Am More…

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Things are looking up!  As a matter of fact, things are looking WAY up!  Why?  ONLY…I repeat…ONLY because of Jesus.  I’m tired now but my next post is going to be a doozy!  Brace yourselves!  God has revealed SO many things to me that I hardly know where to start explaining!  I love you guys!!!

The Sky Is Falling…

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It’s been well over 70 days since I’ve written.  I know this because I’ve been counting the days…one day at a time.  I’ve wanted…no, I’ve needed to write but my fingers have just been paralyzed.  I guess things really got hard back on October 21st.  I tried to write about that day but to date, what I did write is unfinished and is just looming in my drafts folder.

I have loved writing on this darn blog.  I have come to believe that no one truly cares about anyone nowadays, but somehow you all….strangers to my world…have managed to make me feel so significant, so valued, and so loved.  I will never be able to thank you enough for that.

I don’t even know what to say…and I don’t even know if anything that I say really matters.  But I hope that somehow I can touch your heart and let you know that you are loved… I love you.  Even though most of us have never met, we are all brothers in sisters in the Body of Christ… We are family and we will someday get to spend eternity together.  So you matter to me…  You matter so much.

I am NOT looking for pity or attention and I want you to know that I am NOT a victim.  I just want to put that disclaimer out there before I write anymore.  However, I want you to know that, for me, the sky IS falling.  My life has been a house of cards and somehow I have always managed to hold everything together and give the illusion that I was happy and complete.  I wore that mask so well for so long.  The house of cards is falling down.  I’m afraid I’ve run out of tricks.  My charade is up and at this point, it seems everyone knows that I am a joke.

I was a Psychology major and I minored in Counseling.  I know the DSM-IV-TR quite well.  I was on a research team with graduate students and have devoted my life, and my studies to studying human behavior, especially since my Mother’s suicide.  In my studies I gravitated more toward abnormal psychology, and have always had a deep interest and passion for the ugly part of psyc….the pathology, I guess you could say.  Also, I’ve spent years studying the human brain and have become very knowledgeable in the neuro-psyc part of things…  I wholeheartedly believe that the human brain is the last, great, uncharted frontier in the realm of Science.  There is SO much that we don’t yet know… And I pray that Science will progress in a direction that takes a more physical approach to human behavior and issues of mental health. 

I have pondered the Nature vs. Nurture debate deeply.  I have researched it well… and have personally arrived at the conclusion that it’s both.  However, I would tend to say that the “nurture” part of things has the greatest impact.  In essence, I subscribe quite a bit to John Locke’s theory of Tabula Rasa, which as you probably know means that we are born a blank slate.  I know that this isn’t entirely true, but I think it’s mostly true.

I think babies are the closest thing to Heaven… Really, I think this about ALL children in general.  There is nothing more pure and precious than a childNothing.  And I know that Jesus Himself feels the exact same way. 

I can‘t make sense of the world we’re living in these days.  What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary has greatly affected me.  But the reality is that children are abused in a myriad of fashions all over the globe… constantly.  What’s more, most of the time they are abused, neglected, and/or abandoned by the people who were supposed to love them the most… and to protect them with every fiber of their being. 

The world is a nasty, depraved place and honestly, I don‘t know why we continue to have children knowing full well that we are living in End Times.  I compare my generation to my kid’s…and to my Mother’s…and for GOD sakes, my precious Grandparent’s.  It unraveling and changing so fast that I can hardly process it.  Our country, which WAS founded on GOD has, I’m afraid, become an abomination to Him as I KNOW it has become an abomination to the rest of the world.  I fear that God’s blessing is vanishing from our land…  He flooded the world once and I have to wonder, “Was it even half as depraved now as it was then?”  I ponder Bible stories that my grandmother used to tell me about Sodom and Gomorrah… but see, I know NOW that those weren’t just “stories“.  Do we as a nation think that we are invincible from God Himself?  Jonah tried to outrun God and he wound up in the belly of a whale.  How much longer is God going to tolerate the depravity of our culture?  I just really wonder.

I am not well right now.  I fear that I may be losing my mind somehow.  I am absolutely terrified beyond words, but I am finding that I have not been able to escape this perpetual downward spiral that I am wildly riding.  My depression is beyond anything I could explain…and probably beyond anything anyone would be able to understand.  I feel powerless and I feel utterly paralyzed.  I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but for me, hope is just not on the horizon.  I’m trying to fight but I’m very weak and I’m very tired.  My whole life has been a fight.  I will be 40 in January and NEVER in my wildest dreams could I have EVER imagine that I would be here.  I’m embarrassed, I’m morbidly humiliated, and shame and guilt are just killing me.

I have somehow managed to isolate myself from the world and the outcome has not been good.  The ONLY hope that I have is in Jesus,  but for the LIFE of me I cannot feel Him right now.  I am reduced to an absolute shell of the vibrant, charismatic woman I once was…  I don’t have much left.  So with every ounce of my soul I humbly beg that you pray for me and my boys.  Please intercede in my weakness.  Please beg God to help me survive and see my way out of all this.  I want you to know that I love my children more than anything on this Earth.  They are the reason I draw breath…  They are my whole entire world and I am so afraid that I am somehow failing them.  GOD HELP ME!

I have honestly never felt this way in my entire life and again, I’m just overtaken with complete terror.  There is a neuro doc whose primary practice is in San Francisco.  His name is Dr. Daniel Amen.  I have followed his work for years and know some incredibly reputable people who deeply believe in his work.  His clinic does brain scans that give CONCRETE answers to what is going on with a patient’s mental health.  That‘s what I want…of course I could never afford it.  But still,  I want CONCRETE answers.  Something is totally NOT right with my freaking brain.  I adore my counselor and my doctors too but diagnosing  neurological problems are really just a hit or miss….or a trial and error kind of thing.  I’m SICK of that. 

What happened to my mother HAUNTS me each and every day.  Her depression was real, but no one, INCLUDING AND ESPECIALLY  ME ever took her seriously until she was dead.  She lay in her bed for THREE whole days before anyone even found her.  I will NEVER forget what she looked like.  She has the SADDEST look on her face.  My mother was an incredible, beautiful woman but something happened and when she began to deteriorate it  seemed, to me, to happened really fast.  I take this shit seriously and I wish to GOD that the rest of society would too!!  This isn’t something we can just sweep under the damn rug people.  Look, the Sandy Hook incident would more than likely have never happened if someone would have reached out to that young man and taken his issues seriously.

I thank you for giving me a venue to express my heart…  And I thank you in advance for your prayers.  Jesus is not just MY only answer… He is YOUR only answer as well.  Keep your eyes FIXED on Him.  Recognize that He does NOT make rules so that He can be a buzz-kill or because He is just very bossy.  God gives us rules to protect us from our stupid selves!!!  When we disobey Him and veer out in our own direction we are blindly veering out from underneath His Almighty protection.  We just cannot afford to do that anymore, can we?

All my love,

Ava

Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
 My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, Lord, how long?

 Turn, Lord, and deliver me;
    save me because of your unfailing love.
 Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
    Who praises you from the grave?

 I am worn out from my groaning.

All night long I flood my bed with weeping
    and drench my couch with tears.
 My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
    they fail because of all my foes.

 Away from me, all you who do evil,
    for the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
    the Lord accepts my prayer.
 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
    they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.

-Psalm 6

WHY?

WHY?

Really?  WHY???

Really? WHY???

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Almost 3 weeks after reading this, I am still baffled…completely. I am in utter shock…still and I am sick to my stomach.

I have just spent the last year of my life pouring out my love–the very best of me–into the most profoundly abusive relationship. The rose-colored glasses were just knocked off my face. I am almost 40 and my eye are now wide open. I am not well right now. I have just come to the realization that I was a target. He was a predator and I was his prey.

Please read 2 Timothy 3:1-7 and you will fully understand what’s just happened. And please read this post.

I don’t even know how I am going to recover from this. I am completely filled with rage and my thoughts are racing. Please pray for my sanity.

-Ava

...And The Home Of Depraved.You just got out of a messy, abusive relationship with a guy who doesn’t understand you, never took the time to service your needs, and was emotionally unavailable. You are working your way back into the dating world and you may not know it, but you may be in a very dangerous scenario.

You are prey. I am a predator. I know you are hurting and vulnerable. You probably haven’t been with a guy who is emotionally sensitive, vulnerable yet still strong, willing to listen and laugh and be everything you ever needed; and yet somehow allows you to feel safe.

I actually do a seminar for women on how an average looking guy can pick up women in their late 30′s and beyond using emotional and psychological manipulation. It’s scary when you realize how easily vulnerable people can be manipulated by a guy who is willing to pretend he…

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I Detest Being Lied To!

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So I haven’t felt like writing much lately.  I’ve been basking in some sort of funk that borders on psychosis.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

I’ve spent a year of my life loving a man who played me like a fiddle.  The truth is coming out.  And as it turns out there was “no” truth.

I don’t miss him nor do I ever want to see him again.  I just want to punch him in the balls really hard and cause him to suffer.

You think you know someone…..  I feel like a damned fool.  I’m so angry at myself lately that I can hardly see straight.

The Killer in Me: Part II

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One fateful, autumn night I ended up on one of my unintentional hell flights to the demon’s dwelling.  I was truly a tormented soul at the time.  My heart was aching so badly that I was absolutely desperate for somethinganything—to numb the pain.  I hated dancing, I hated my life, I had just been rejected by one of the greatest loves I would ever know, and I was drunk again

I wanted; no I needed just a few lines to get my head straight.  You see, when I did cocaine, it cleared my mind.  It helped me to give words to feelings that I could not label.  It sparked my creativity and I was quite simply, brilliant.  For the first couple of hours I was on top of the world.  We’ll talk about the opposite end of the spectrum another time.

So, in my raw, carnal desperation for the drug and the numbing properties it could offer my broken soul, I let something awful happen.

This fiend had been trying to have sex with with me for a couple of years but somehow I was always clever enough with my words to keep him off of me, while still keeping him intrigued with me just enough to supply my coke.  His product was pure and uncut.  As drug dealers go, he was near the top of the food chain.  I can’t imagine how much money I’d been snorting up my nose if I’d been paying for it.

Well let me tell you something, nothing except God’s grace is really free in this world.  You always have to pay the price sometime or another.  As for me and my coveted connection, my luck had run out.  He wasn’t falling for any of my bullshit anymore.

I was so messed up that night.  I was in agonizing pain.  I remember him becoming increasingly aggressive with me.  He took me in his garage and he saw to it that I paid for every last bit of cocaine that he ever gifted me with.

I had somehow made myself belief he was actually my friend.  And on that night I needed a friend but there wasn’t a friend in sight.  You him…and me.

He was sober.  I was not.  His moves were calculated and intentional.  I was being carried by the wind.  He was inherently evil.  I was inherently pure, despite the dancing, the drinking, and the drugs.  I could have never harmed a soul.  He was the personification of evil…and he meant to do harm to me.

I don’t want to recount the details of what happened in that garage that night.  All I can tell you is that it was in no way consensual.  It was a lucid nightmare.  I wish I could forget it all, but the memory has been forcefully branded in to the tapestry of my soul.  I still feel dirty as hell when I think about it.

My precious Jeremiah was just 4 at the time.  What kind of person had I become?  I wanted to die, but the love that I had for my son kept me bound to life, so even death couldn’t soothe me. 

To make a very long story short, some weeks later I ended up needing a pregnancy test.  That test, and the many other tests I took in desperation after that proved to be positive.

I have always been against abortion.  Jeremiah was the only pregnancy that I had ever had.  In 1996, when I was preparing to take my first pregnancy test at the age of 23, something compelled me to get on my knees on my mother’s bathroom floor and pray that I was pregnant.  My life was so off course and my spirit inherently knew that having this child would save my life.  Without this child, I would have had nothing to live for.  I would have surely died.

This pregnancy was the stark opposite.  I literally felt as if the demon seed of hell had infected my body.  I had no emotion toward the innocent life that was growing inside of me.  I just wanted it out.

As luck would have it, I was broke at the time and didn’t even know what abortions cost.  I had friends I danced with who had had as many as 8 abortions.  A few of the girls I worked with unashamedly had made abortion their primary form of birth control.

And not surprisingly, there was a customer who frequented the club I had left in 1998, the one that burned down—he was an obstetrician/gynecologist who was known for performing all the girls’ abortions.

He was a kind, educated man who I had spent time with on a few occasions when he’d come in to the club for a cocktail.   And he was the only doctor who performed abortions that I even knew of.  I had never been anywhere near an abortion clinic.

A very concerned, dear friend loaned me the money and took me to the clinic on a Saturday morning.  It wasn’t at all what I was expecting.  It bore no resemblance to my doctor’s office which was full of life.  This place was full of death.  

Friend, hear me when I say that there were so many women there that I could not keep count of them all.  It was in fact so crowded that the office could barely accommodate all of the women who had come to terminate their pregnancies.  Everyone looked so afraid and hopeless.  A spirit of despair filled the air. There was even one young woman who was pleading with her boyfriend over the phone to come and help her.  It was obvious he had abandoned her.

Almost every single woman in that clinic was alone, except for one couple.  Where were all the damn men who had contributed to these pregnancies?  It was the story of my life!

The first part of the procedure involved a nurse violating me with some sort of phallic-shaped sonogram.  I didn’t know this then, but I think there was some sort of a law passed that they must show the mother her baby via sonogram before she makes the final decision to terminate her pregnancy.   

When I first saw Jeremiah’s heart beating on a sonogram in 1996 I was filled with joy and began to cry. 

I saw this child too.  I saw its heart beating.  I felt nothing.  On the monitor the embryo just looked black to me.  I saw this little, dark figure as the spawn of hell and felt no emotion whatsoever nor did anything in me prompt any kind of reservations about going through with the procedure.  No maternal instinct kicked in.  All I wanted was for his seed to be out of me.  I felt like the demon who had victimized me had now taken up residence in the most sacred part of my body.  I wanted it out.

After watching an informational video and undergoing the sonogram I was literally herded to a hall where 10 other women were lined up waiting for their abortions.  This is where I was medicated; my friend paid extra for the sedation.

The last thing I remember was lying down on the examination table, putting my feet in the stirrups.  From what I remember of the doctor, he was harried due of the high volume of patients who were waiting—there were several doctor’s performing abortions in close quarters of one another—but he seemed quite nonchalant as he carried out his daily routine. 

People who work on assembly lines form routines at work.  Their bodies are so adept at doing a repetitive task that they become almost automated in a sense.  This man was not working on an assembly line though, he was killing babies.  He seemed to have his routine down so well that I suspect he may have been able to do it with his eyes closed.

I wonder how many tiny souls left that wretched clinic on that Saturday, October 7, 2000.  I wonder how many babies were called right back to to the Maker, who had just recently created them and released them, in order that they would fulfill their own unique destinies, carrying out His plans and His purpose for their lives.

I know God chose us each individually before the beginning of time.  I know that He has a plan and a purpose for each one of us.  And I know that He intricately knit us together in our mother’s wombs.  He even knows the exact number of hairs on our heads.  I wonder how His heart breaks each time the lives of one of His precious babies are violently taken—at the hands of their Mommy’s, no less.

A mother’s love is an awe-inspiring force.  I would personally give my life to save Jeremiah or Jonah in the blink of an eye.  People can hurt me all day and all night long.  However, if anyone should be foolish enough to bring harm against one of my children they had better prepare for a battle to the death.  If you want to evoke rage in me, just hurt one of my babies…  You may walk over to me, but (if you’re lucky) you’re limpin’ back.  And that’s if I let you live and don’t physically scratch your eyes out.

Now riddle me this, friend, “Why did my maternal instincts fail to show up and protect the life of my unborn child?  Why didn’t I fight for my innocent baby?”

I am ashamed to say that until recently I have rarely felt an ounce of remorse for what I did.  And I have never cried a tear for my child.  I wish I could tell you that the opposite were true, but I can’t.  I know God will continue to work on my heart.

Please don’t think that I escaped unscathed though.  Conversely, poetic justice was duly served.  You see if I would have carried that baby—who I believe with all my heart was a girl—to term, she would have been born a week or two before my mother killed herself.

I’m not saying, nor do I believe that God punished me for having an abortion, but the fact of the matter is there is no way in the world that my mother would have left me with a newborn baby.  You may think that I can’t make this statement with certainly, but I know what I know.  I also know that my mom has a grandbaby in Heaven.  I praise Almighty God for that and pray that my mother will hold my daughter in her loving arms until we can be together forever.

-Ava

The Killer in Me: Part I

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The year 2000 was no doubt the darkest year of my entire existence.  Mind you, it wasn’t until 2001-2002 that my family would begin dropping like flies; I lost 9 of them in all during this dreadful time.

Misery consumed me at this point in my life and I was as far gone as I’d ever been.  You see, I had stop stripping in 1998.  When I fled the industry and an abusive relationship with Jeremiah’s father I promised God that, if He’d rescue me from the lonely, vile pit I had willfully dwelled in for so long, that I would never, ever go back.  Now, if you take anything with you tonight, take with you this simple piece of advice… “NEVER break a promise to God.”  Believe you me, He’s a God of love and a God of Grace, but He will go all Old Testament on your ass if you push Him far enough.  I did.

On all I hold sacred, I swear that it was the purest of intentions that I bid farewell to my days as a topless dancer.  This was significant because, since I was very young this industry was the only professional life I had ever really known.   Shortly after leaving the club, I took a job with the airlines making $5.25 per hour as my initial wage, which paled in comparison to the ridiculous amounts cash money I made in the club. 

If my life weren’t changing rapidly enough, I also escaped a 4-year, sadistically abusive relationship with Jeremiah’s father.  Jeremiah was just two-years old when I discovered that he was playing with a meth-infested, glass pipe; he was using it like a whistle.  That was the crescendo of the madness for me.  It took that much for me to finally leave him.

Urgently, with the help of my mother and friends, the baby and I fled from our large, two-story home in just one day; all while Jeremiah’s father was at work.  We moved into an older, efficiency apartment near my mother’s house and were in hiding  from my ex for well over six months.  The photo below is the exact floorplan of the 488 square foot apartment we moved into.  It wasn’t anything like the luxury properties I had resided in before but it was our haven; we were finally safe.

I asked God to save me from a life of excruciating, ravishing pain, sin, and sorrow.  He did.  I even prayed fervently that He would burn down the club that I had worked in for 6 years.  A week later He did!  An online news article I dug up had this to say:

“On the morning of Thursday, November 18th, the fire at Caligula was so fierce that it took firefighters most of the day to control it.  The business is currently closed and the property has been fenced until the debris can be removed.”

God moved Heaven and Earth to save, not just my pitiful, sin-infested life, but the life of my precious child as well.  So imagine his dismay when I returned to dancing in 2000.  It would prove to be one of the deadliest decisions I ever made.

The irony of me leaving my job at the airlines that year to begin dancing again full-time is that I almost never went to work!  I would spend weeks… sometimes as long as an entire month planning to go to work, but I could never seem to make myself just go.  The thought of it made me violently sick and brought forth extreme fear and panic attacks. 

And don’t forget, I asked God to let the club that I had essentially grown up in and was so comfortable in the burn to the ground!  I had to find a new place to work, I was getting older,  I didn’t have my old friends to work with or my former clientele to support me.  I quickly became a little fish in a really big pond; something I wasn’t at all accustomed to.  Fear consumed me.

What’s worse is that my cocaine addiction escalated to such an extreme that it completely overtook me.  I overdosed more times that I can recall and can say with great certainty that I should have died on several occasions.  I’ve had to call 911 on myself more than once because I was terrified that my heart might explode.

I would always promise myself that I wasn’t going to do coke when I got to work, but time after time I always ended up doing shots and downing Grey Goose Cosmos to loosen myself up and dull the pervasive anxiety of having to take my clothes off for the swarms of debaucherous men I would have to pretend to adore all night. 

Wouldn’t you know that each and every time my buzz would kick in that I’d swiftly leave the club?  It was as if I had no control over my own body.  It was as if my car were on auto-pilot.  I drove wild and recklessly as if a tenacious, demonic force had placed blinders on my spiritual eyes, beckoning me down the same deadly path that led straight to the door of the one person who was always willing to hook me up and get me high.

The man who had been giving me the cocaine for so many years may very well have been one of the 7 Princes of Hell.  Even now, thoughts of this filthy creature make me want to vomit.  I don’t think I’ve ever hated a person, but I hate this man.  To say that this man took advantage of my visibly fragile state would be the understatement of the century.

There is so much I could say about this vile reprobate, but obviously, almost 13 years later, it would appeart that I am not fully healed from what he did to me.  I guess scars don’t hurt, right?

All I can tell you is that there came a night when my mind was clearly not my own.  That year I had dabbled with Wicca (long story), which essentially invited Satan and a few of his closest pals to have an all-out Mardi Gras in my life. 

Reflecting back now on who I was that year is like an out-of-body experience for me.  When I try to go back to that place to find healing and closure, it’s like I’m watching a movie starring some hopelessly lost,recklessly wild, out of control girl; but it damn sure isn’t meI don’t know who I was then.  I swear my soul was somewhere else.

As you may have noticed, this entry is long.  There’s something I want to say for the first time in my life, but fear that I may be dancing around the subject a bit.  It’s bitterly painful to admit.  It’s a secret that I have buried so deep that I honestly don’t even give any attention to the matter anymore.  I guess I’m living my life, pretending that what happened, simply did not happen.  But Oh God, it did happen…

(Story continues on “The Killer in Me: Part II”)

At the End of the Road With an Empty Bag of Tricks: How Death Seemed So Seductive

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The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.  -John 1:5

Beloved Friends,

It’s been almost one month since I’ve written.  I’ve wanted so much to write each and every single day, but certain life circumstances have left me just plain depleted and wholly exhausted.  I suppose my pervasive depression was the driving force that has kept me wrapped tightly in my favorite blanket…in bed.  You see, that’s that majority of what I’ve been doing since I last wrote–sleeping or working.  When I’m not working I’m sleeping and when I’m not sleeping I’m working.  That’s the long and short of it, friends.  I have become a hermit lately with no social life or fellowship to speak of.  As a matter of fact, my hygiene has even suffered a bit!

You see, a few months ago before my gross reduction in income,  I used AG, Biolage, Purology, and Philosophy products to care for my hair and body.  In the realm of make-up I prefer Mac, Two-Faced, Smashbox, and Urban Decay, just to name a few.  Men, this may mean nothing to you, but ladies, you know exactly what I’m talking about!  More than any of my physical traits I love my hair and for years upon years have only allowed the best products to come near it.  I mean, I was using a $55 bottle of conditioner and a $30 glaze to keep my hair from being frizzy, while giving it just the perfect amount of volume and texture to put me in a close 2nd in a  “best hair” contest with Jennifer Aniston herself!

The “BEFORE” photo!

Is this my fate?

My $20 sugar and hemp-infused body scrub and $20 shower gel left my artificially tanned skin as smooth as a baby’s backside and smelling of an organic rhapsody of lavender with subtle hints of warm, toasted vanilla.  After my rejuvenating power showers, I used to like to smooth on some of my deliciously decadent Philosophy body cream ($28) before hitting my pillow which I even misted with a light Bath and Body Work’s fragrance. Now, I buy Pantene products from the Dollar General, and adorn my skin in Wal-Mart’s generic version of Dove’s mildly-exfoliating body soap.  My razor is one that my former reprobate of a roommate left behind accidentally.  It isn’t the sinfully sharp, quadruple-bladed razor that I’m accustomed to; it’s one of those Bic disposable numbers.  So, like I said, my hygiene has suffered a little; I can admit that.  But in my dirty defense, “bath time is no longer a spa-like experience“.  Shoot, as of late,  I’ve been so down that I have even had to remind myself to brush my damn teeth each day.  The loss of my beauty products hurt a little but I’m proud to report that my hair and skin have held up better than expected… and I still have all my teeth (in spite of my recurring nightmare that I’m missing my front one–we’ll talk about that another time).

I suppose that being separated from my elite beauty products aren’t really my biggest issue though right now.  As a matter of fact, although my skin is a bit ashy and my hair is somewhat wiry I must say, I have much bigger fish to fry. 

Surprisingly, money is not now nor has it ever been a great source of pleasure for me.  I mean, sure I like to shop sometimes, but I simply do not love money; never have.  I have dated wealthy men; wasn’t impressed.  Hence, I can say, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I will never marry a man for his money.  I like to have money for reasons related to financial stability.  You know what I mean, friend?  I desperately want to be able to comfortably pay my mortgage, car note, and my other giant mountain of debts.  I want to comfortably be able to give my children lunch money each day and not have to worry about how I’m going to get groceries from week to week.  I want to be able to save my money too like normal people seem to do…  And I want to be able to tithe.  But more than “anything” I want to be able to help others who are in need.  “Especially” single parents and their seemingly indefensible children. 

I often joke with God about Him not ever allowing me to win the blasted lottery.  I mean, my church would receive more than 10%, I would do mission trips to Africa and South America… building educational facilities all along the way, putting shoes on bare, calloused, little feet–and I could certainly ensure that an exorbitant amount of hungry, suffering children never feel the pangs of hunger in their little bellies again.  I could effectively share and spread the Gospel and even put a sizeable dent in the monstrosities that make up the sex trafficking industry.  I could pop a few caps in the asses of some of the cartel too!  In short, I could help so many people.  So why in the world would He not trust me with a bit of money?  It just doesn’t make sense, does it?  Even if he didn’t choose me, He could at least chose someone with a heart like mine!  Ugh!  Money is the root of all evil!  It’s come to a point where I am disgusted by it and what it represents.  I kind of hate it actually.  I hate how it distracts people and keeps them from experiencing face-to-face encounters with God.  You see, if I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that poverty causes you to lean on Jesus, which deepens and sweetens your relationship with Him.  In that way, I feel kind of sad for the majority of rich folks.  (Disclaimer: I’m not saying that all rich folks don’t have precious relationships with God!)

But I suppose my theories on money and religion aren’t so important right now.  You see, I have to admit something, friends.  Late Sunday night… early Monday morning, I was in a place of such deep, devastating sorrow that I was, in all sincerity planning my great escape.  I was planning on ending my life.  My pain was so agonizing and unbearable that night and I had cried until my eyes were almost swollen shut.  All the suffering that I had experienced in my life just came together, forming one indescribable but all-consuming ache.  I had a plan and began subtly saying my goodbyes to those that I love in the wee small hours of the night.  Were it not for my beautiful son Jonah who was peacefully sleeping near me, I know that I would be nothing more than a memory right now.  Praise Jesus that I was able to remember back to the night my then, 5-year-old Jeremiah (who was sleeping) and I  drove up on my mother’s house to see why she hadn’t been answering the phone all weekend.  It was on that fateful night that I discovered that my mother had committed suicide. 

I reminisced upon the moments and hours that passed after seeing her lifeless, pale, white body laying in her bed.  She had the saddest expression on her face.  She looked like her heart had been broken.  She had been dead, laying in that bed for three days. 

I also reminisced upon her funeral.  She asked that we play a few songs, namely “Please Remember” by LeAnn Rimes.  It’s a beautiful song, but my heart broke into a thousand pieces when I heard it play at the service.  I vaguely remember that I literally let out a moan so deep and so loud during the song that my precious grandfather had to take his focus off of mourning the death of his child, and focus on consoling me.  It was one of those soul cries…I just couldn’t maintain my composure sitting there looking at her casket.

Then my mind wandered back to the days before her funeral, pre-visitation.  I got my mother ready for her funeral.  With the help of my cousin, who is a physician, we managed to get my mother’s body dressed.  And mind you, we didn’t pull the easy, funeral parlor trick where you merely cut a slit down the back of a shirt or a dress…we literally got her dressed, from head to toe.  She was bloated and had Frankenstein-like stitching all around her head from the autopsy.  Remember, my mom was a cop…  She once had to participate in an autopsy during her training at the police academy and was happy to report that she “got to crack the skull-cap“.  I remember her telling me that the human face is peeled back away from the head and that it simply looks like a mask as it is pulled down and then pulled back up toward the end of the procedure.  Add to that, I was also keenly aware that the deceased’s brain and other organs are taken out and weighed–among other things during an autopsy– and then tossed back into the chest cavity which is then sloppily sewn back up. 

She was so brave when she was a cop, so I had resigned to be brave like her during this sacred time to ensure that it was “me” taking care of her sweet body, ensuring that she was handled with supreme love and dignity.  The Holy Spirit definitely guided me as I prepared her body because I was so much stronger in that moment than you or anyone else could ever imagine.  I felt like she was with me and that God was bringing a much-needed sense of peace and understanding to our relationship.  Still, there were subtle reminders like her sad-faced, lifeless body reeking of formaldehyde, which was literally oozing from her pores and causing her beautiful hair to fall out as I curled and styled it. 

Praise the Maker that was able to successfully get her hair and make-up done.  I had managed to get her ready for her funeral all by myself, except for the help that my sweet cousin gave me in actually dressing her body.  I was proud of my cosmetology skills but what was bothering me was the fact that she had fallen after taking all the medication that she took.  I think she attempted to overdose but discovered that what she had taken did not kill her.  I think she sedated herself heavily and then woke up, disappointed that she was not dead yet.  I believe this is when she dizzily got up to grab for more pills (the ones that really killed her).  When she did she feel into a box fan thus breaking some of her acrylic nails. 

I said to myself right then, “MY mother is not going to see Jesus needing a fill!”  Hastily and with great determination I called a nail salon that was located across the street from the funeral home.  I asked them to please come and help me get my mother’s nails repaired.  Now apparently the Vietnamese culture does not play well with the dead, because a timid but traumatized little Asian voice echoed back at me saying, “D-no, we no do dat foe yew mudda!  We skeead!”   I couldn’t help but chuckle a little bit.

Finally though, my tenaciousness and perseverance had paid off.  With the help of my cousin, we found someone from a local hospital who was willing to give my mother her final fill.  I tell you what, that girl did one heck of a job!  She had my dead mother’s arms all sprawled out with “forms” on every nail.  By the time this gal was finished my mother’s nails looked amazing and the whole damn funeral home smelled not of formaldehyde, but of acetone!  I know it’s not funny, but the entire place smelled like a nail salon!

All this to say, the memories of my mother’s suicide are fresh.  So, the question is how could I do that to my Jeremiah and my Jonah?  How could I do it to my family?  How could I even entertain such thoughts?  Who would have found me?  Would I have had to have had a closed-casket because the left side of my head was missing from the exit of the bullet? 

I know these are maniacally morbid thoughts, but I thought of them all as I weighed out my unspeakable options.  Truth be told, I prayed and prayed for Jesus to come back.  I desperately wanted the Rapture to happen so my kids and I could just fly away from such an ugly, senseless, evil world.  I guess Jesus wasn’t ready to mount His majestic, white horse and ride to my rescue though.   Or maybe it was on account of the Battle of Armageddon hasn’t occurred yet or we haven’t all been asked to receive the mark of the Beast!?!  Either way, we’re all still here and aren’t winged and singing with the Hosts of Heaven.  I apologize if I have offended any of you by prematurely trying to end the world.

But you see, I’m really broke and struggling.  I stand to lose everything.  My home was literally one day from foreclosure.  My attorney met me at 7 am on Labor Day (September 3rd) to allow me to file for bankruptcy; I did.  Shortly thereafter, my boyfriend did some things that were absolutely appalling.  I had to send him away as his addictions and alcoholism were consuming us.  He was also becoming abusive again.  Add to that, I found two condoms in his suitcase… We “rarely” have sex and when we do, we don’t use condoms. 

I remember clearly back to September the 3rd because it was my late grandmother’s birthday that day.  I had been having some problems with dizziness and fainting and that afternoon, I got up too fast I suppose and I fainted.  Jonah was standing next to me when it happened.  I hit my head really, really hard on the closet door behind me.  Jonah screamed “MOMMY” in a tone that affected me to my core; still does today.  He was so scared and was crying.  I’ve never seen him get that upset and lose it like that.  Let’s just say that, in that instant it was painfully clear how much Jonah loved me.  It was also the memory of his cry for me that prevented me from making an irreversible decision the other night, which was the morning of the 24th.

What happened that night?“, you’re probably wondering, that could have taken me to the edge of a cliff like that.  I’ll tell you what happened, I found out that I lost my job.  Friends, I am yet unemployed again and I have to make a mortgage payment soon PLUS my monthly bankruptcy payment to the trustee.  I’ve depleted all of my resources. 

I took this job with the hopes of moving up quickly.  I don’t mind telling you that I went from making $50K a year to a little over $19K a year.  I was literally pulling in $9.53 an hour at the airline I worked for, with all my education and experience.  But you know what?  I loved that job.  I loved the people.  I loved working from home, which was a first for me.  I worked and trained so hard and it was all taken away in a flash. 

So here I am.  I do not know what’s going to happen to me next.  I have never been angry with God before the other night.  However, on that night I felt as if he had completely betrayed me and that all the prayers that I had humbly prayed to him…and I also felt like the time that I had spent on my knees were all in vain or that he was simply choosing to ignore me.  Today, I have decided to put up a little bit of a fight…as much as I can.  But know this friends, I HATE the devil.  He seems to want to devour me and my precious children.   It’s getting hard to take.  Just when I started feeling connected to the Lord again today, I turned on my computer to write on this blog.  I was going to praise God at that time.  As soon as my fingers hit the keyboard, my power went out.  Our electricity was shut off.  I owed $436.  Frightful times….

I am going to be writing a lot more in the coming days.  This is going to be an interesting ride but I invited you all along a while back.  God is going to move in my life.  I just don’t know how right now and I am overcome with grief and fear.  Please pray for me and my two children as we walk through this horrifically perilous time.  I’m running out of tricks, friends.  I’m getting older and I’m running out tricks.  As a matter of fact, this is how I feel (dramatic, but true nonetheless):

I love you all and will be writing again soon.  Sufficed to say, you are loved.  The very fact that you are reading this right now, wherever you are…humbles me in unspeakable ways.  If you only knew how much YOU keep me going!

The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:5).  I can’t understand it right now either…

All my love,

Ava

I Will Fix You

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“Codependency is defined as a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as in an addiction to alcohol and/or drugs). In broader terms, it refers to the dependence on the needs of another.  It also often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others.  Codependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, or control patterns.  Narcissists are considered to be natural magnets for the codependent.”

Some people like to find old, worn down houses and fix them up.  I do not.  I find that old houses are creepy and that they smell musty.  I’m also afraid that some old ghost could be lingering around, which is why I had my house built.  I am however a renovator.  Only, I don’t like to find busted houses and fix them up, I like to find busted  people and fix them up.  And I do it free of charge.

My favorite fixer-up projects tend to be men who are narcissistic sociopaths.  I mean I’ve dated alcoholics, drug addicts, gambling addicts, sex addicts, abusers, pathological liars, thieves, con-artists, cheaters, and undiagnosed bipolar persons.  The current man who I am trying to wean myself off lived in Las Vegas for three-year making his living from playing poker and living in comped hotels.  I had known him from when I was a stripper in my early 20’s and was once mesmerized by his long, dark, hair, his dimples, and his radiantly piercing blue eyes.  He drove a bad ass BMW, was high-ranking in his social stature, and he had this mystical je ne sais quoi that surrounded him.  As a matter of fact, he strongly resembled Leonardo DiCaprio.  My God he was deliciously stunning.

He and I connected last year on Facebook and the rest was history.  It wasn’t long before he asked my father for my hand in marriage.  He literally got off the plane and moved into my house.  Mind you, this is not something that I “do” as I do not like to bring men around Jeremiah and Jonah.  As it was, the boys loved him; he charmed us all–for a while.  Eventually the heavy alcoholism became apparent as did his gambling addiction.  I even had to hide my sedatives from him; I hid them in one of those vintage, cardboard jewelry boxes–the ones where the little ballerina pops up and spins around.  Every night when I needed to take my medication, I would be petrified that the sound of the music box was going to go off and that I would be caught.   What’s more, this man morphed into the most verbally and emotionally persons that I had ever known.  Hence, I wrote the following poem one sleepless night after he had left me (the first time):

You played me for a common fool,

You played me from the start.

I gave you every ounce of me,

I handed you my heart.

Words like blades you slayed me with,

Cutting me to the bone.

With you I felt a stranger in the place I once called home.

I walked on eggshells day and night,

Guarding my every word.

Each thing I did, each thing I said

Felt stupid and absurd.

But convinced was I your love was real,

Convinced I was your girl-

I soon learned I was ordinary,

To you a nameless girl.

A girl you “would not” fight for

With a heart you could abuse-

Your “promises” were hollow words,

You set me up to lose.

Abandoned and rejected now,

Cast out in a lonely spot-

I’ll never dance this dance again;

In love I’ll not be caught.

I’ll build the walls around my heart;

You’ll never get back in.

I’m scarred for life, for the one I lost

Once called me his “best friend”.

So love those cards, the alcohol,

The pills and shallow bitches-

My loving soul now bears a hole,

My heart’s in need of stitches.

So here’s to your life of solitude,

Of Godlessness, and sorrow-

You robbed me of the dream of love

And darkened my tomorrows.

Remember me, as you saw me last,

With tear drops on my face.

I surrender the dream of my soul-mate tonight; 

For me love holds no place.  

When I wrote this poem, and I didn’t know it at the time, but I was suffering a complete and utter nervous breakdown.  Friends I’m not just using the term “nervous breakdown” as a semantic euphemism.  This was indeed, indubitably real and entirely physiological in nature.   I couldn’t eat or sleep for about 4 days; I lost 12 pounds in one week.  I couldn’t stay off the toilet, and my panic attacks were so physically intense that I could not operate my car or attend work.  I cried and sobbed for days upon days.  Eventually, I had to seek medical treatment in the form of late-night counseling visits and trips to my family physician.  It was a nightmare.  My mind knew what was going on, but my body ceases to cooperate.

How this happened is beyond me.  He had lived with me for just two, short months.  Still, 60 days of day in and day out can be intense, particularly because I firmly believed I had finally met my husband.  He didn’t work or have a car (supposedly all his belonging, including his chopper and his truck were in storage in Vegas); but he helped me so much around my house and helped care for my kids in ways that were unfathomable.  I was my best self when he was with me.

However, once he began gambling again, he became a different person.  I was working my tail off everyday and providing for the family financially but justified that it was a fair trade-off because of all the help he was giving me with the boys and around the house.  And in all fairness, my house looked like a tornado had blown through it before he came to my rescue.

However, to my horror, it turned out that he felt entirely and hopelessly trapped in my haven of a home.  WTF?  And the guy wasn’t stuck; I was carpooling to work with a friend each day so that he could have full use of my Hummer.  I gave him everything I had to give but in the end, it wasn’t enough.  So there it was, staring me in the face again: rejection and abandonment.  I became so concerned with his needs that I had completely ceased to care my own.  I was screwed.

Today I opened some mail (which is something I rarely do because it’s depressing).  Much to my chagrin, it contained two invoices from the North Texas Tollway Authority demanding that I pay $321.40 in toll violations.  There are photos of my car and license plate.  The problem is, I don’t drive in Dallas.  I live and work in Fort Worth.  And the dates in question are dates that I was working.  My mother was a cop.  I would never blow through a toll booth and not pay the toll.  I would feel like God was watching me and I promise you, I could simply not sleep at night knowing that I had done such a thing.  On the invoices, I counted 32 violations.  I’m not sure what to say or what to do at this point.  I suppose that some serious prayer is in order.

What’s worse we are still unofficially still seeing one another.  I absolutely loathe confrontation.  More than that, I hate being lied to.  However, I feel that both are in my very near future.

As a co-dependent you have to ask yourself, “When is enough enough?”  Am I that lonely and desperate to be loved that I would put up with blatant abuse.  He’s put me at risk legally now.  I’m going to sleep on this and see what tomorrow brings.  Nevertheless, I have had it.  I just hope that I’ve really “had it”.  Will he deny that he was driving my car and blowing through toll booths or will he fess up, apologize, and pay the fines?  We’ll see, but the outcome certainly doesn’t look good.

I’ll write more about the issues of co-dependency that I struggle with later.  There are many wonderful attributes about this man who I haven’t mentioned, and I wish to be fair.  However, I just really want to go have a smoke and go to bed.  I am fed up with myself.  I keep trying to find my happiness in the form of a human being.  In reality though, my heart knows that true happiness originates from a relationship with God and God alone.   I just wish that God would hold me with a  tangible set of arms.  He made me.  Doesn’t He understand my heart and that I want to be chosen and loved by a man?

My best friend, Addison and I constantly talk about how all these other women are married (except us).  We carry on and on about the subject noting that women with clubbed feet, missing teeth, and even those with body odor and swamp ass have husbands that truly love them.  When will God deem us worthy of having a husband?  What are we doing wrong?