Posted in addiction, Cancer, Friends, Life Lessons

Addiction and the Single Parent

If you’ve come here under the guise of an incognito web search on addiction and single moms or single dads or single parents, it’s okay. You’re welcome here. In fact, I was thinking about you when I was sitting at the coffee shop starting this blog.

I didn’t come into this single parent world 16 years ago quietly. When my husband of 8 years left me (for his pregnant girlfriend, now wife) I cried for a month. Seriously – a month. I wandered around muttering things like – “divorced? me? how did this even happen?”

Looking for Love In All the Wrong MySpaces

And then I quietly began the first addiction – the internet and online dating. I was looking for love in all the wrong MySpaces. (Now if you didn’t laugh…)

Back in the early days of social media, of Yahoo 360 and Multiply (aka: pre-WordPress meets pre-Facebook) and way too many chat rooms, I began writing out my feelings. I couldn’t sleep at all that first month, so I was online – a lot. It wasn’t long before men began to charm me and to sweet talk me with words that sounded scrumptious to my starving soul. It wasn’t long after that until I began meeting them. This may sound innocent or non-addiction-sounding. Let me clarify:

I once chatted online for 24 hours straight. My heart was so empty that any contact would suffice.

A person who is full tramples on a honeycomb, but to a hungry person, any bitter thing is sweet.

Proverbs 27:7

That summer I was sexually assaulted – twice – by men I didn’t have any business meeting online. The first time was the day I was going to file for divorce. He seemed like a great Christian businessman and father.
I’ve never really discussed the particulars of what happened next with anyone. The next time was at a party you can read about in a previous blog.

I’m not suggesting the internet is only populated with creepy people, on the contrary, I have some amazing friends (men and women) I’ve met online.
But please hear my heart:
Just because we’re divorced, widowed, or are single parents for whatever reason, we are not that desperate. We do not need to fill the void in our hearts with anyone. Period. Whether they treat us well or not, we have kids that need us to be safe. We have kids who need our time and attention. And when we start trying to fill the void in our lives with anyone instead of asking God to come fill that void for us, then we are destined for more heartache.
My best advice here, if I may: fill your heart with good, trustworthy off-line friends. Find yourself in the Psalms or a good book. Get a hobby.
Be full; otherwise, even what is bitter will begin to taste sweet.

Friends in Low Places

When I realized that filling my life with men I met online had completely wrecked my life (literally – texting and driving on the way to meet someone caused me to total my car), I turned to something else to fill the void. I turned to alcohol. Please don’t stop reading yet, I’m not condemning a glass of wine with dinner or a cocktail with friends once a month.

I was already in the middle of this addiction before I knew it had begun. When the kids would go to their Dad’s every other weekend, I would go to my old high-school boyfriend’s apartment on those Friday nights for a glass of wine, his amazing lasagna, and to watch boxing. I still absolutely love boxing. But adding wine to the sauce led to sipping while making dinner, with a glass after, then three. And one night, when I was sitting at the band girlfriends’ table at the club while the guys rocked out on stage, I found myself surrounded by 4 empty glasses and a bunch of extremely offended women. I still have no clue what I said, but it was offensive.
Binge drinking had completely taken over these weekends.
I had only wanted to relax, unwind, and forget my kids weren’t there with me that weekend. But it had totally taken over.

What stopped me? Well, I had my son.
My son doesn’t go back and forth to another parent. He is all mine. I had to be home. I stopped drinking so much for the best reason. My son is amazing.

Again, from my heart here: instead of filling your life with meaningless, or dangerous fillers, fill your life with great things. Intentionally lose the reasons you need to go where your addiction runs rampant. If it’s alcohol, try a craft night with friends instead. If it’s drugs, flush them and lose your contact’s number. Find an AA or NA or CR meeting and work on the things that are out of control in your life.

Celebrate Recovery helped me with all of the issues I’ve faced in my life. But I had to take the first step. If you’re local and need to find a meeting or need someone to go with, just ask me. I’ll rearrange my life to walk into that first or fifteenth meeting with you. If you’re not local, ask a friend or just be brave and walk into a meeting. You’ll find you aren’t alone.
Remember: if I can, you can.

“Stressed” Spelled Backwards is “Desserts”

My last addiction was food. I think I grew up with a buttermilk biscuit in one hand and a piece of home-fried chicken in the other. And my bottle was probably full of homemade gravy. By the way, I make the absolute best cream gravy. But I digress.

All my life I have been an emotional stress-eater, but food addiction actually started providing a mask for me. I decided I didn’t want to be seen anymore, because being seen = being hurt. So I just ate what I wanted to eat. And I didn’t really care what other people thought, because I didn’t care either.

Here’s the thing, though – I found myself in 2015 topped out at 352 pounds. I realized I needed to stop when I went to see The ICE in Grapevine, TX and I couldn’t walk even halfway across the hotel without stopping to rest. My heart, my joints, my lungs hurt. My life literally hung in the balance. I had gastric sleeve surgery in April 2015 – just before my 40th birthday. I lost 93 pounds. But since I hadn’t sorted out the real reason I had gotten so heavy in the first place, my weight slowly crept back up. I regained 50 pounds. Through counseling for past sexual abuse, I finally figured out what the issue was for me. It may be different for you, but I highly recommend getting a professional and a really good friend who will keep you accountable.

In October 2017 I started having major female issues which led to my having a hysterectomy in May 2018. My doctor said that the extra fat I was carrying was causing me to have estrogen overload, which had caused Endometrial Cancer. My addiction could have cost me my life. The surgery was long and costly. Ultimately, they got all the Cancer. As I recovered, I realized just how much my emotional starvation had consumed my life. As a result, I’ve been working on that, and have lost 51 pounds since my hysterectomy.

Left – January 2015. Right – January 2018.

If you were sitting across from me right now and were struggling with food addiction, I would say this to you: “I see you, and you are stunningly beautiful.” And then I would say, “let’s walk through this together.”

The Next Step Forward

I’m asking you today to do one thing. Just one. I want you to identify that thing you are using to fill a void in your life. I want you to take the next step forward toward healing in that area.

I handle life with prayer. Before I hit “Publish” I prayed that if you needed to read these words, that you would somehow find this post. If you’re reading these words and have been looking for a “sign” or an “answer” – consider that you’ve found it. You got this. You are brave, bold, and beautiful (or handsome). You may stumble through this next step, but I’m telling you, you have what it takes to step over this obstacle, away from this addiction, and step through to a better life.

Now go! That applause is from me.

Posted in Life Lessons

Life Lessons

I love books. I always have. I listen to them while I’m driving. I read for at least an hour a night. I just love the smell and feel of a good hardcover book. I have a bookshelf full of antique hardcover books by poets and classic storytellers.
I also have a large collection of Little Golden Books from my childhood and books with worn covers that proudly boast “An EARLY I CAN READ Book” across the bottom.

This week I learned a valuable lesson about waiting patiently and loving others the way they need love and not just how I think they need it. It is actually a lesson that has been a long time coming. It reminded me of one of my favorite books from my childhood, Hattie Be Quiet, Hattie Be Good, by Dick Gackenbach. Let me take you back to when I was 7-years-old and briefly summarize this story:

Hattie was a goodhearted, albeit mischievous, impatient, rowdy little rabbit. One day she wanted to do something kind for her mother, but she did not know what. She tried this and that but was too short or too small or too something-or-other to accomplish the kindness. Then she remembered what her mother was always telling her: “Hattie, please sit down and be quiet for an hour.” So that’s exactly what she decided to do. She heard other kids playing outside, and still she sat in the big armchair. She thought of many fun things to do, still she sat. Her mother saw her, noted her extreme quietness, thought she was sick, and went to make her some soup. Then, when the grandfather clock struck that the hour was up, she got up, stomped up the stairs, slid down the banister and crashed hard right into the umbrella stand – creating such a ruckus that her mother came running in from the kitchen to see what was the matter. She looked up at her mother, who said: “I see you’re not sick after all. Hattie, please sit down and be quiet for an hour.”

Like Hattie, I have missed the point lately. Hattie’s mother wasn’t trying to ruin her day or steal her fun. And the truth is, it wasn’t really a kindness to her mother that Hattie be quiet for an entire hour.

She said that because a.) Hattie was being loud and wild and crazy and b.) she wanted Hattie to learn to mind her manners, be courteous to others, and live with a calm demeanor. Her mother probably needed a lifetime of peace and quiet, not just one hour.

I’ve been waiting for some things in my life. Some lately and some for years. I thought I’d been waiting patiently, but I just realized that I have completely missed the point. Like Hattie in the story, I think that if I just do (fill-in-the-blank) or wait long enough, then I’ll get what I want. Or if I just do such and such then it will be a kindness to someone. If I sit and be still and quiet for just an hour…surely that will be enough.

But doing something for someone with the wrong motives isn’t patience nor kindness. It’s selfishness.

You could say, in light of the above definition, that I can accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering. In fact, I can accept it all day long and twice on Sundays. I can wait for years. What I have trouble with is my response. I get antsy, irritable, depressed, and pushy when I have tolerated delay past a point. And by responding this way, I’m not being patient, I’m merely being tolerant.

1 Corinthians 13:4 begins by saying “Love is patient, love is kind.”
My heart wants to love well. My heart wants to love everybody, always. But loving people on my terms with the motive to get something back isn’t really very loving. Showing someone a kindness once (sitting quietly for an hour) isn’t really a kindness if we offend them by stomping up the stairs, or, like me, if we get antsy, irritable, depressed, or pushy afterwards.

What I need to do is relax, let go of my claim on something, and let God work. Whether I’m waiting on a spouse or waiting on a job offer, I have to trust him, I have to pray for his will and not mine, and I have to learn to tolerate any delay without getting antsy, irritable, depressed, or pushy.

I’ve definitely not arrived. Just because I wrote this on my blog page does not mean I’m perfect at this. What it means is – I am aware and I will be putting this into practice.

Thank you to the friend who loved me enough to bring this to my attention.

Thank you all for reading and for walking through life with me.

I love you,

Melissa

Posted in Life Lessons

More

My word for the year is more.

I had no idea what to make of that when I first realized that it was my word. I’m finding out quickly that, like Inigo Montoya said in The Princess Bride, “you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Twenty-four days in, here’s what more looks like:

More:

  • Time with the kids
  • Time spent watching sunsets
  • Rest
  • Time in the Word
  • Time reading books
  • Time with friends
  • Time talking to/praying with strangers/neighbors
  • Coffee
  • Depth in friendships
  • Time with family
  • Long walks
  • Time spent at the gym

I’m curious about you and your word this year. How is your year shaping up so far?

Posted in Poetry

Beauty. Growth. Enjoyment.

I am buried deep in the darkness of the earth. The ground and all the creatures in it are my home.

Rain water washes in and around and beneath me causing me to spit and choke. I am lonely, bitter, and afraid.

The rain has bloated and swollen me. I feel pain. I feel like I’m bursting out of my skin. I feel the discomfort of being pushed and prodded. I cry and moan and scream out for someone, anyone, to help me. I close my eyes, and wish for death.

And then there is light. I feel growth and birth and warmth. The Gardener applauds my arrival. I am the first. Slowly to be joined by others just like me who have made this long strange journey upward.

I felt at first as if I were moving downward in the earth. I had no sense of direction. I wonder how I found myself in this beautiful place.

Suddenly I have friends all around me laughing and rejoicing that they too have found that they weren’t dying at all – but living.

As if that weren’t enough, I find strength and care and protection from the Gardener who thought enough of me to put me in the ground and water me until I became something of beauty; something to be admired; something that He made just to be enjoyed. It was for His pleasure I was created.

Stretching my hands towards Heaven in praise, I give thanks for this day.

As a child outstretches their hands towards a loving parent, I too, reach for you who love me.

You admire me daily and remind me that I am a beautiful sight to behold. That I am precious and worth the effort it took to plant andwater and wait.
Sometimes you prune me, and it hurts. You cut branches off of me that are killing me, and carefully watch to see that I am not tormented by pests. It pains, it stinks, and it is unpleasant. It is for your pleasure.

I long one day to feel at my base the strong cut that means you are bringing me into your house to be admired: I long to die so that you might be satisfied with my beauty and fullness and fragrance. To be taken up with you into your house forever where I can bring glory and honor to you forever and ever…Amen.

Melissa Fairchild (c) 2006
Excerpt from:

Daybreak In My Soul

Posted in Poetry

Vulnerable. Poetic.

I am a writer. More precisely, I am a poet.

I always have been.

11-year-old me would stay up well past lights-out hiding under a blanket with a flashlight, paper, and pen to write. My friends were all reading Tiger Beat Magazine, the Babysitter’s Club series and anything by Judy Blume. I was reading Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. I read Psalms and Proverbs. I loved Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge, and my favorite poem (still) – She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron.

I even have a whole poetry book I self-published in 2006. It is absolute smut, but the rhyme schemes, the dactyls, the couplets, the iambs, and the enjambments are spot on.

Every rhyme scheme I studied, I tried. Except Haiku. That’s just silly.

But the poetry you see me post nowadays is few and far between. It is far less in volume than what I actually write.

Today I asked myself – why is this?

Why don’t I share?

Here’s why: because writing (especially poetic writing) is me at my most vulnerable. It is raw and an exact picture of what is happening in my heart. I’m afraid if you really saw my heart you might reject me.

I wrote the pieces for my book at the end of a year of death, divorce, and losing everything except my kids. And I mean everything.

The reason the poetry in my book is mostly smut is that I wrote angry and afraid and embarrassed and ashamed and vulnerable.

There’s that word again – vulnerable.

I just got to thinking about this today and about how I hide myself away, but hiding a talent is like hiding my little light under a bushel – NO! I’m gonna let it shine – even if the 3 of you are the only ones who ever read it. I’m tired of pretending and hiding my great big heart.

Posted in Uncategorized

How Long are You Going to Mourn?

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long are you going to mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have selected a king from his sons.”
1 Samuel 16:1

Mourning is necessary for healing. But like anything else, too much is usually a bad thing.

I’ve started In Medias Res (in the middle of things).
Let me give a short backstory for the Old Testament story I posted above:
Saul is God’s pick for King over Israel and Samuel is a prophet.
The Lord told Saul (through Samuel) to have Saul destroy his enemies, even their livestock. Saul followed through with the first part, but saved some of the livestock to “sacrifice to the Lord.” (Those would be air-quotes if we were face-to-face.)
Samuel to Saul: Why didn’t you obey God?
Saul: I did.
Samuel: Is that sheep I hear bleating?

Because Saul disobeys, God rejects Saul as King, but Samuel is grief stricken that he has had to tell Saul – sorry – God won’t even listen to you since you disobeyed him – to obey is better than sacrifice (taken from 1 Samuel 15). In fact, the Word says they never saw each other again.

“The Lord said to Samuel,
“How long are you going to mourn for Saul, 
since I have rejected him…”

When I read these words my eyes were opened. How long will I mourn over (fill-in-the-blank).
Until Saturday when I read this – my answer would have been that I’ve been mourning the job I just lost. I loved what I was doing. I felt like I had purpose. I loved my co-workers.
Budgets get cut. Contracts end. I get it. But whatever the reason, I lost it. And when I read those words, time stood still for a moment. I thought back over my life and the things I have grieved for too long: divorce, being abused, people who left through death or stubbornness or disagreement.

What is it for you? Divorce? Being single? Losing a loved one in death? A job? People who have left?
How long are you going to mourn?

In most cases I can look back and see that the horrible things that have happened or the cases in which people left – that was God’s hand protecting me from something that either was bad for me or something that wasn’t in his plan for me.

But why grieve any longer? He has something for me to do.
Look at this next part:

Fill your horn with oil and go.
I am sending you to _________ because I have chosen to do ____________________ and I’ve chosen YOU to accomplish it .

Today we wouldn’t say fill your horn with oil and go.
The reference was to anointing oil. That was the tool of Samuel’s “trade.” Samuel was a priest; he used his anointing oil to literally pour out a blessing on someone. Today we’d say – get up, get your backpack, and let’s go. What’s in my backpack these days? What are my tools for blessing others? A laptop (for writing), a paper Bible (I don’t leave home without it), and many colorful pens (because I’m a writer).

In one verse I feel like God is speaking this to me through his word:

Melissa, how long are you going to mourn over your lost job, since I have tied up that end for you? Get your backpack and let’s go. I am sending you to the women in the community because I want to bless them with your story and with the Word I have stored up in you. Go bless them.

So I am choosing to obey.

How long are you going to mourn over that thing you’re mourning?
God has work for you.
Get up, get your backpack, and go.