Sunday, December 25, 2016

Ironic Advent 2016 Meditation # 27b: Waiting in the Dark (Missy Ricke)

Ironic Advent 2016 Meditation #27: 
Waiting in the Dark

*A Guest Meditation for Christmas Eve by Missy Ricke.

Dear Ironic Advent Friends, I have often mentioned my sister Missy in my meditations, as well as other members of my family, especially this year with my theme of "roots" running through the pieces. This meditation by Missy provides a new perspective (hers) on our family, especially our mother and our father. 

It also tells the story, or suggests it, of Missy's own horror story of despair and soul sickness and addiction. I hope someday you will have a chance to read a longer version of her story, how she came out of a very great darkness into something like hope and something like light. She has been helping other people without much hope or light for almost thirty years since she got help through A. A. and N.A. And now, take it away Missy---

Okay, here we go Dear Reader (as Ben Camino would say). As you will soon find out, I am not a writer. Well, I am writing this, so I guess I am a writer. For right now. But not by trade or training.

I am writing this out of love for my exhausted brother, and well . . . not too sure about other reasons why. Fame and glory? Some need to expose myself in a public way? A healing catharsis? No, I guess it's mostly out of love for my exhausted brother. Who asked me to write one.

I am the sister of the handsome and dangerous Ben Camino [Editor may have inserted something in the previous clause]. I am the only one he has, the sister that was little with him, that cuddled with our dad with him, that envied the “boy toys” he got for Christmas and Birthdays. 

I am the sister who  used to boss him around. When the boys were younger, we used to play queen and slaves, a game I made up. I really liked that game. It was fun. I made the boys dig a ditch in the vacant lot next to our house which we named the Missy-sippi. 

I am the sister that had to be in the same class as him, because when Ben got bored with the fourth grade at Our Lady of Mercy school, they promoted him up a grade. My grade, my place. And now I had to share it with the “shiny Ben Camino.” The smart one.

I, on the other hand, was bored with school. I was made to sit in church after mass and they forgot about me. I walked all the way home just to be told that I had to walk all the way back to apologize to the nuns for leaving.

That’s when I decided that adults could not be trusted, especially Nita, our mother. It was her idea. Not my dad, not Charlie. I still trusted him and always did. 

So I became the rebel, the NOT shiny one. The one that got into lots of trouble, that told people off, that was hurt and didn’t know how to express that except in anger and resentment.

When I was twelve, standing by the back door in our house on 1549 South Ohio, young Master Ben Camino punched me in the stomach and completely knocked the air out of me. I thought I was going to die. He thought I was going to die. 

I can’t remember why he did it. Probably just because I was giving him shit about something. Or maybe he had just reach a point in his young sweet life that he had had enough of my reign of terror and torture. Thus ended my tyranny over him and "the little boys," although I think they always remained cautious of me. And mostly continued obeying me. 

However, dear Reader, I had bigger problems. I also was forced by default into the role of the little mother, a role that I was way too young to fill, for these above-mentioned boys. The problem was that our mother seemed to always have a terrible sinus headache and couldn’t get out of bed except in the afternoon, when I guess sinuses didn’t affect her so badly. 

Then she would get cleaned up and escape across the border (we only lived 2 miles from Mexico). Mom liked to hang out at Arturo’s a restraunt, bar, and honky tonk on the other side of the border. There, in Nuevo Progresso, she would drink, tell stories and fortunes, dance the soft shoe (whatever the heck that was), and occasionally get up on stage to play the bass guitar. All this before Charlie came home from work. She used to make me come with her, so that when Charlie came to find her, she wouldn’t get into so much trouble.

What does all this have to do with Advent? Good question. But since Ben Camino is usually able to figure something out, I will give it a try. 

Well Dear Reader, as my brother, whom I love more that words can express, has written, Advent is about the waiting. Yes, the waiting. Believe me, I know about the waiting.

Waiting for it to get better, waiting for someone to show up that could be in charge, waiting for her to love me, love us, love Charlie. Yes, I know about the waiting.

When I lost faith in adults, I also lost that innocent faith that children seem to possess. That faith in something like goodness. 

As an adult I got into some very dark places because of my choices, addictions and resentments, anger, and, I guess, loss of faith. Advent, Ben Camino says, is about waiting. But also about hope. I know for sure that I had lost hope. 

Over time I turned all of that inward. I could no longer blame, my mom, my sweet brother for getting away, my father for loving her so much, for choosing her over us. All that turned into hating myself.

In my favorite book, The Razor's Edge,  Sophie is back in the opium den with the low lifers. She tells our hero who tries to rescue her, "this is where I belong." I  related to that. I reached that place, a place so dark and loveless that I was waiting for death to release me.

I was deep down in that black hole of self-loathing. I was hopeless, tired of feeling anything, wanting the warm comfort of numbness, the black dark void.


Wow! Pretty heavy stuff. Sorry. But it's true. I was waiting in the dark without hope. And for some reason, stupid me asked the God I didn’t believe in to show me a sign. At the time, I was living on a boat in San Diego that, literally, was sinking. I was restoring it (another long story) but just got so too sick in addiction, depression, and self-loathing to work anymore. The boat was sinking, the sound of the bilge plump working to keep it afloat is what I would focus on. What I still remember. Waiting.

At some point, I heard or felt an inner voice, maybe it was only a thought. It was some sort of goodness, some sort of light. Looking back I believe it was my sign from the God I want to believe in.

In Twelve-step programs there is a saying that Hope without  action doesn’t achieve much. Hope can keep you breathing, but to change, really change, you need action. Somehow, I got off the boat, took responsibility for my life, for my care, and got off the resentment train. I had a bunch of people that didn’t give up on me, and it took a while for them to trust me again. But they waited.

And really good things came from all of this waiting, though it was painful. My experiences got me to a place where I know myself, know my heart. I love me-- bossy me, rebel me, loud mouth me, all of it. I can laugh at myself. I can try to help others who might be in dark places waiting. I can try to help them find the hope that can lead to action that can lead to purpose and self-worth. So that maybe they can once again see their lives as having value.

Eventually I got very involved in A.A., went to university, became a counselor, and for years was the program manager of a rehab center for Homeless Veterans in San Diego.

About ten years ago I moved back to Texas to get away from a troubled relationship and to help my brother Gordon care for our mom. With time, I grew to love her and understand that she did the best she could, that she didn’t “do” anything to me, she just wasn’t able to give me what I wanted or felt I needed from her. It wasn’t her fault, that was just the way she was made.

I only wish now that it didn’t take me so long to understand her. I really am a lot like her, only tougher. But even that is probably because of her.

So, today I choose to believe.

I owe it to the people that believed in me when I was unable to believe in myself. That is no small gift to bestow on another, dear readers. Believing in someone who is in the darkness? That's a miracle folks.

For years, I worked with adolescents who had mental health and drug problems. Really, they were kids like me who didn’t know how to tell folks they were hurting and who felt that nobody in the world cared about them.  But if you cared about them (I mean really cared, like I cared for them), they would want to “do good” to make you proud of them. They would try to believe, for you,that they really were worthy of being loved. Because you taught them that by doing it.  

I still sometimes feel sorry for myself, sit in the back of movie theaters and cry. Unless it’s a really good movie. But when you’ve been lucky enough to have been in A.A. for as long as I have with all of those silly sayings we have, you get conditioned to thinking that somehow it’s  going to work out and somehow you will be okay. IF you just add action to your hope. I’m getting sort of old now, so think I'll stick with hope.

My life is hard now, but it's better, much better than it was. And, man, was it ever dark for a long time. I won't get into all the crazy details tonight, Christmas Eve. Besides Ben Camino and I are running late for midnight mass. Maybe we will see you there.

It's more important just to say this, Dear Reader. All that waiting got me to a special place, a place where I can choose to believe and live in hope, and help others do that too. Even when the darkness comes, I don’t have to hang out there. And I'm not waiting anymore.

P.S.  My sobriety birthday is January 1, 1985. December 31st I blacked out. My last black out. I now know that that darkest time was actually Advent 1984.  

*Melissa Lynn (Missy) Ricke works as an advocate at the National Domestic Violence Hotline. She also takes care of her brother every chance he has to get to Texas, except when she drives him mad by giving him three separate drafts for her meditation, each with additional material, one of them on paper. She also has two dogs, two cats, eleven chickens, two cockatiels, two parakeets, and, temporarily, Ben Camino's dog Rorie. She knitted little scarves for them this Christmas. 

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