Addicts still don’t have a choice but you might

Sorry about the headline,  I couldn’t help myself, I like a little shock factor to kick off a conversation.

I haven’t been able to read all of the comments (1475 and counting) that have been posted about my blog on Philip Seymour Hoffman and neurological disorders.  I do intend to get through them all….eventually.  Meanwhile, there is a consistent request among them that I re-blog the essay with citations from research to back up the assertions I made.  

I am flattered to be asked to write again, who wouldn’t be? And, I decided that it had been too long since I last checked the research in the area of neuroscience and addiction.  Oh, and yes, some of the comments had me wondering if I had screwed it all up, only this time, in front of a global audience.  

My research is complete and I will be re-blogging the piece with citations in the next 4-5 days.  And I did make mistakes in my original piece (humble pie is baking in the oven as I write this), all of which I will point out, and none of which detracts from the points I was originally trying to make.  (Whew!)  

The best part of what I learned is that I believe I understand how and why the discussion of addiction gets so convoluted. Which means I’ll have a separate blog where I sort it all out and you can let me know if it helps in your understanding.  Or not. 

And all of you who took the time to post comments, thank you for your interest and your passion in the subject of addiction and other neurological disorders. This conversation is reason enough to be optimistic about positive changes in public awareness, education and the treatment for those who suffer and the people who love them.

May we all be free from pain and suffering.






Fierce Grace for Grieving

There have been many grieving parents and loved ones who have commented on my post about Philip Seymour Hoffman. My heart aches for them.

While watching a documentary the other day about the spiritual teacher Ram Dass, approximately 13 minutes in, parents from Ashland, Oregon tell of the loss of their 11 yr. old daughter. The mother then reads a letter they received from their friend Ram Dass.  I was so moved by the letter that I stopped the film and copied the it word for word (errors in punctuation are mine).Image.  I share it here in hopes that his words also touch the hearts of those who are grieving and have shared their experiences with us all.

Here is the letter in its entirety:

From the 2001 documentary, FIERCE GRACE, about the western Hindu teacher Ram Dass (formerly Harvard professor Richard Alpert, PhD).

Steve and Anita,

Rachel finished her brief work on earth and left the stage in a manner that leaves those of us left behind with a cry of agony in our hearts as the fragile threads of faith are dealt with so violently.

Is anyone strong enough to stay conscious through such teachings as you are receiving? Probably very few, and even they would only have a whisper of equanimity and spacious peace midst the screaming trumpets of their rage, grief, horror, and desolation.

I cannot assuage your pain with any words, nor should I, for your pain is Rachel’s legacy to you.  Not that she or I would inflict such pain by choice, but there it is.  And it must burn its purifying way to completion.

You may emerge from this ordeal more dead than alive, for something within you dies when you bear the unbearable. And it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees, and to love as God loves.

Now is the time to let your grief find expression. No false strength. Now is the time to sit quietly and speak to Rachel and thank her for being with you these few years and to encourage her to go on with her work, knowing that you will grow in compassion and wisdom from this experience.

In my heart I know that you and she will meet again and again and recognize the many ways in which you have known each other.  And when you meet, you will in a flash know what now it is not given to you to know, why this had to be the way it was.  Your rational minds cannot understand what has happened.  But your hearts, if you can keep them open to God, with find their own intuitive way.

Rachel came through you to do her work on earth, which included her manner of death. Now her soul is free and the love that you can share with her is invulnerable to the winds of changing time and space. In that deep love include me too.

So much love,

Ram Dass

Begin Again Now

This is the start of my second blog. The first blog began on Tumblr when I thought I was starting from scratch by moving across the U.S. with my husband to a place where I had no family, friends, or job.

The blog was going along, albeit slowly. It wasn’t easy trying to blog and unpack given the stress of moving.  Little did I know what was waiting for me around the next corner.

While I had let go of all that was familiar to make the move to Buffalo, New York, I had not lost it all. I still had a husband I adored and his emotional and financial support. And then, with no warning at all, that was gone too.

I’ll save the details for another time. 82 days ago I had my heart eviscerated  and anything resembling financial security taken away.  I am 56 years old and I have no home and no income. My belongings are all in Buffalo. I am in California. It was a new marriage so the laws pertaining to divorce will not make me whole financially. I am soooooo screwed.

I thought I had made a conscious decision when I agreed to marry again. It turns out that I was wrong about that.  And in opening my heart and my life and giving it all to my new husband I took the risk of losing it all. And lose it all, I did.

Somewhere along the way, way before I met my soon-to-be-ex, I fell asleep to myself.  I stopped being able to feel and hear my own longings and responses to my life.  And I was looking to something or someone on the outside to move my life along to it’s next chapter.  I started dating again, after a very long break.  I started dating when, in hindsight, I would have been better served by taking a long hard look at my life and letting go of what was no longer working.

Had I done that instead, I would have been interested in the man I married, but I wouldn’t have married him.  We wouldn’t have been a match, and I would have known it back then if I had been able to be a more authentic me.

But I didn’t do that.  And Life gets It’s way 100% of the time.  Instead of getting rid of what wasn’t working in my life the easy way, Life got rid of it for me the hard way.

The grief, the shock, the sorrow, the stress, the health problems of the last 82 days have all been so overwhelming and sad that blogging was not only inappropriate, but also out of the question.

So I begin again now.  And that will be a recurring theme here. Because the way to move forward (when it is time to move forward) from any failure, disappointment, shock, tragedy, or loss is to begin again now.

Here I am. Here I am, G-d. And G-d responds and the sadness and anger abate for a bit and I can breathe a deep breath and really feel, ‘I am here.’  I am here now, not that horrible there, but here.

I am here. I can work with that.  Breathe. Feel. Breathe again. I am here.

I can begin again now.