So, it turns out, I’m still struggling with getting my thoughts and actions balanced again after falling apart a few weeks ago. “Falling apart” actually describes what happens to me quite accurately. As I said before, it is as though my self, mind, and emotions become fragile glass that gets shattered by too much pressure. That pressure is usually fueled by fear, hopelessness, and isolation. Now, I can recognize it, be kind to myself and allow myself the time to recover, weeks, maybe a month or so, versus the years I spent in these shattered states. So forgive my tardy posting. I have always chosen the road less traveled, I really don’t like crowds! To others, it may seem a more difficult path, but it is the only way I have become the Prevailer I am today. I prevail because no matter what, I’m still standing!
During my breakdown in 1979/80, I went to an Alanon family retreat in North Bay where Sister Peg O’ Connor helped people learn how to live with an alcoholics in their lives. She was tough and didn’t pull any punches when she challenged us to take a good honest look at ourselves and our lives; she let us know it was OK to go ahead and have a life in spite of the alcoholic. Since alcohol and drugs had played a big factor in my mental illness I couldn’t deny it when Sister Peg told me I was an alcoholic/addict, needed more help, and recommended Vita-Way Farm in Powassan (Outside North Bay) where you would live for 9 months to rehabilitate.
Yes, it is THAT place founded by Father John Fisher, who I knew to be the angriest, most foul-mouthed, chain-smoking priest I ever met. I didn’t know about the sexual abuse he perpetrated on some of the young men until after the allegations came out in 2008 and I am not surprised. I am so sorry for all of his victims but will tell my story as it happened for me.
Actually, I was relieved that someone knew what was wrong with me and how to fix it because I was completely lost. I went home and struggled for a few months waiting to get in. Once there, I started to get one eye-opening experience after another.
We started our days with actual farm chores and that huge shock to the olfactory really made me question my life choices. There were group meetings where we learned and practiced 7 steps that had been adapted from the 12 steps to be more teen-friendly. They dealt with taking an honest look at yourself, admitting your shortcomings, become willing to change, making changes and keeping all this going on a daily basis. The girls did all the cooking and cleaning and the guys did the bigger farm jobs after we all fed them in the mornings. I didn’t feel like a troubled teen and never really felt like I fit in there, but then again I hardly ever do feel like I fit in.
After a couple of months, I started to feel like I HAD to go home and impulsively decided I was leaving. When I told Father Fisher he lite a smoke with the butt of his old one and spit out, “Going to go and suck off your mother’s tit some more, eh?” I was appalled and defiantly packed my bag and started the long, long walk into North Bay, 30 km away, in -20 weather. One of the farm workers came by and gave me a ride to the bus station after about 30 minutes of walking that long highway. My Mother was instantly concerned that I would retreat into old habits and when I got home off the bus she had her Alanon friend Pauline and her husband Norm visiting for coffee. Norm just happened to be in AA and invited me to a meeting that night. I went to appease my Mother but I started going to a meeting a day and soon you couldn’t keep me in the house so I sure felt like something was working.
Next time I will let you know how I’m doing and tell a bit more about my journey on the road less traveled.
Thanks for reading, caring and supporting me.