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domestic-violance

The Abuse within Addiction

domestic-violance

erinkberndt

SFYB Author

I’ve seen some articles written lately on a topic that seems to have been left out of the backlash of living with addiction. My ex husband & I both came from abusive homes with fathers who were alcoholics & held women in a very low regard.

Looking back, of course, 29 yrs later, I can so plainly see what I didn’t then. That we were poison before we even met & our childhoods contributed heavily to us following what was for us, normal. The relationship just should never have happened, there were enough signs, but all that dysfunction had me thinking I had found

The One. oh, Dear Lord, how I wished I had followed those signs. The first time he kissed me was awful, honestly, it was the worst kiss ever, no chemistry. Yet I continued on to sex and that’s where he had me.He left me alone to sleep alone after he got me pregnant. Lived w me after she was born, claiming he was not my boyfriend, even though we were living & sleeping together. He said he loved me a lot in the very beginning and even though he told me he didn’t love me, I convinced myself differently.

The Abuse within Addiction Click to Tweet

We got married 3 yrs later & what had always been a rocky relationship became my hellish reality. He wasn’t really around much too much drinking & cheating, some nightd he never came home. When he was around there were violent fights, things always got broken, the most common was the phone cord to call for help.
By this time, he had me convinced I was fat, stupid, ugly & lazy. I knew I wasn’t any of those things, yet when you’re told your whole life screwed up things, your mind becomes screwed up.

Codependence. We will not leave, we can not leave. We are terrified & truly convinced we are unlovable. In my case it was his love for our daughter that held me prisoner, I had never had my father’s love & she had both of her parents. Then Anthony came along he had no interest in his son, only our daughter. He wasn’t abusive to the kids he only abused me, while they watched as he twisted my daughter’s mind into believing that I was jealous of her because he loved her more. I tried explaining to her that the love he had for us was supposed to be different & that I stayed for that reason, to no avail.

At one time we lost our kids to Dept of Social Services. My aunts had been reporting us for years. This was when I had joined into the heavy drinking. We were having nightly parties, my ex was doing coke and I just wanted out. I just had no way to go. There were restraining orders, I had left once and he followed right behind, always promising to change.

Things were bad, really bad. By now with my drinking I had begun to fight back. He would pull the wires out of car so I couldn’t leave, & always the phone lines were cut. He was a very tough guy. Strong & mean. Infamous in the tiny shitty town we lived in. He was always in a fight, no one ever dared to press charges, except a couple but nothing happened.

He did terrible things that he would only confess too when completely drunk, one time a couple small kittens disappeared, at first he claimed to know nothing, until one night when he wanted to hit me as low as he could, he told me he had taken the kittens up the mountain to the farm & threw them out & the vultures had grabbed them. was horrified. The next day the story changed to “he had driven way out of his way to drop them off in an elderly project. I am not a stupid person by any means, but I was so fucking stupid.

This was me nightmare for 22 yrs, along with many health issues and no help after major surgeries, I really believed he was hoping I would just die. Just like I wished he would too.
When the state took the kids we got therapy & stopped drinking for 4 yrs. They were the only 4 yrs that weren’t terror filled, yet we still fought.

He became obsessed with traveling and had become a closet drunk on pain pills & completely crazy, so lost there were most nights he didn’t remember, I, of course, did. He was forced to take anger management classes twice from restraining orders I had gotten trying to escape. Yes, I tried. But, inside I was still his property, inside I rationalized it a million different ways, I made a million and one excuses for him.
Until that final straw, that one thing that changes everything, for me, it came with restraining order #6.

Now 22 yrs into the relationship in 2009, our daughter is 21 and working a job making $40 a week, no motivation to do anything, our son was 18 & had gotten his 15 yr old girlfriend pregnant, and I had been disabled in 4 car accidents in an 8 week span that left me needing neck surgery. after the 2nd surgery I was disabled. My daughter harbored so much hatred toward me that she had pushed me backwards down a flight of stairs from a full run, luckily my ex caught me. He had begun taking our sons adderall and convinced our son to stop taking it. This is when my ex began drinking & smoking with our son at 15, so at 18, he was in and out of the house, selling pot for his uncle and slowly sinking away.

One day in early June Anthony, our son was at the house with his girlfriend & my ex caught them having sex, a fist fight ensued and I called the police I put a restraining order on him & had every intention to end it. I didn’t renew the restraining order when it expired after a month. That night stayed up way late, had the house barricaded as best as I could, finally when I had to go to bed I shut off the lights and went to bed. Five minutes later and he was back in, a wake of smashed doors behind him. He pointed out it was his house too & there was nothing I could do. I was stuck again.

On June 10th 2009, he came home out of his mind, he was screaming at me, but not at me, he thought I was some guy from work, this was not the first time this had happened.There were many of those nights, one night he almost killed me by choking me on our kitchen floor, thinking i was some scumbag drug dealer. He went upstairs & completely tore up our bedroom door, when he came back downstairs and continued his drunken tirade. I called the police…….again.

When the cop was talking to me, he made this statement “Erin, this is the 6th restraining order, you’ve had. when you gonna let one stick”. That was my moment. I kept that order on him for 2 yrs. I met my soul mate, one month after I got rid of the dead weight.

I understand his addiction more today & realize he will never get help & be the same person. The point is you do not need to be a slave to addiction or domestic violence. Help is always a phone call away. If you’re waiting for a man to save you, you will only find a man exactly like you have. Letting go of the past is hard but absolutely necessary. You need to value yourself, love yourself enough to change your expectations in life. There is a whole world you miss in a violent life & also locked in addiction. We are WORTH it, just as worth it as every other person on the planet.

Don’t stay in a bad marriage for all the wrong reasons. I did. I worried life would’ve been worse on my children f I had left. My son is now dead and my daughter isn’t speaking to me. Now I would also like to point out this is just as true for men caught in violent relationships, with abusive women. Abuse is NOT love.

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Let The Hate Flow Through You

erinkberndt

SFYB Author

Today’s musings are something I hate to even need to address. We are full swing into attacking addiction and gaining enough momentum to actually make an impact and begin dropping the numbers of death attributed to this much misunderstood Disease. Yes, DISEASE, the Surgeon General has made it official. That puts so much of the stigma added to addiction into a whole new light.

Now that we KNOW addiction is a disease, there are still those people who can just not grasp it as fact. I have seen people say “well. I just don’t understand it”. Yet, do you understand, Cancer, Diabetes, Lupus, or any of the other thousands of diseases? Not without extensive education, you don’t.

This is what our movement is all about; raising awareness & helping to educate those interested in learning, as well as those who steadfastly push us away. Our main goal is to save the unnecessary deaths that are raging out of control. Having addiction finally recognized for what it is, should start opening doors for easier ways to get treatment. Hopefully it will also, give us the power to now effectively educate the younger generations before they ever decide to experiment.

Let The Hate Flow Through You Click to Tweet

It is a sad fact that there are far too many of us that have had addiction touch us personally, whether we were raised in it, had a close family member or friend, or even ourselves. Addiction is prevalent in this world right now.

I think that we are very lucky to have social media to help spread the message, to reach out to those who are feeling hopeless and prove to them that recovery is 100% possible and achievable. The recovery community is strong and very widespread, thanks to facebook, instagram, the world wide web. We can reach so many people with very little effort.

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This all should be a good thing. There should be dancing in the streets, those who have been ashamed of their addiction should be able to confidently state “ I am an addict & I need help’. PERIOD!!! We know what it is, we understand why it happens & we know it is NOT a choice. I pray I never hear the words “they chose to do it, they deserved to die”, ever again in my life.

In my case the words spoken were “why is everyone crying, when they knew this was coming”, as at the hospital the Dr’s were fervently trying to pound life back into my 25 yr old son. The attempt was unsuccessful and the knife in my heart spoken by my daughters boyfriend as she hovered over her dead brother’s body, uttered to my husband who had been there through it all. I feel disgust for this person, I forgive his ignorance but also worry for his own sister is a Heroin addict also. He himself an alcoholic. His behavior and dress for the wake and funeral and lack of support to my daughter was almost inhumane.

She was raised amidst my own bouts w alcohol, depression, anxiety, pot, coke & being mentally, physically and emotionally abused. Her father is an alcoholic and very bad addict. She has not broken the cycle yet.
To help get our messages out easier, the invention of going Live on Facebook Has provided a platform for us to share our stories, along with our real emotions. It is far more impactful than trying to read a very long story. So much technology, fewer & fewer have the time to dedicate to a book, but social media has changed everything.

Hand holding a pen over paper.

I had been writing my story, very slowly, letting out a chapter a week. I started out this way and was fine continuing on this way, because I had so many confessions to make that it did not feel like I was throwing myself out there bare, to face the criticism I was expecting. It was during this time that everyone began telling their stories live. I have been embroiling myself very deeply in the addiction/recovery community, and was finding support and understanding where I wasn’t finding it from the people I would’ve expected it from.

I was found by William Marotta of Choose Freedom, he had started airing a person’s story each night. He convinced me to do it. So, on January 2nd at 7pm I went Live, I spent 2 hours talking and still have plenty more to talk about ( if you would like to watch it, check Choose Freedom or my own facebook page).

My problems began last night with a post to my page stating that I had no right to tell MY life story on the “www.” At first I was furious and I would usually have closed in and cut the person to pieces. I began to respond when I reconsidered and pulled myself back & asked God to handle it for me. The message I ended up sending stated that she needed to educate herself, that it seemed she was harboring some anger & hate, and that she needed to find God. As it is my page & my life, it was of no concern to her. She is a 66 yr old woman that knew me when I was a small girl whose father hated her & beat the crap out of her simply because she existed. Other than that I do not know her.

I was happy with my response & expected it to end with that. She wasn’t done, she then told me I was helping no one, that I did not know God & that she had helped far more people in her life than I would ever touch, (one life touched is enough for me). I went on to other things when my notifications started lighting up, my family & friends had come to the rescue & tore her up. I tried to calm the fray, but chose not to be mean and avoided pulling out the me, that can drop someone to their knees with my choice of wording (it’s a gift)…….I thought it was over.

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A few minutes later more notifications and another attack, this time telling me how disgusting I was sharing my story to make people feel sorry for me. I am a warrior of God, I don’t need pity. I let the family & friends have at it & just tried to remain aloof. It was then God pointed out to me that I had already answered why she was reacting this way. She blocked me & then sent another request so I accepted it, maybe this was over????

Nope, this morning the comment. “Proud of your friends? mine are better” was on my page & she was already being eaten alive by my protectors. I went on her page. What I learned there turned my feelings of anger into pity……For HER. Her marriage was abusive, I don’t know how long she endured it, but there were no posts from friends, only lonely posts & game achievements. The post that caught my eye was about how a few of her friends from her old job had reached out to her, so her husband had been wrong in telling her that she had no friends.

When I asked God to answer for me, he as always showed me the truth. You see after my son died, I thought I was next, I couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Instead I was chosen by God. He healed me & gifted me in so many different ways. HE is the reason I am doing what I am doing, He has been gently(sometimes not so gently, if I’m not paying attention) guiding me to fulfill my destiny. To help others heal & find the truth in God Himself.

So, to all of you throwing negativity and hatred in our direction, know that it will be met, with answers from us……God’s Warriors!!!!

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alph-dogThe Movie Alpha Dog

What makes some give up & others the drive to change the world?
erinkberndt

SFYB Author

Has anyone seen the movie Alpha Dog? If not it’s a true story in which a young hard core addict owes his dealer $1200 . So the dealer kidnaps the guys little brother. He is seen by 39 people while being held. Actually developing what the 15yr old thought were friendships. They took him all over the place. The guy watching him keeps giving him the chance to escape.

The teen decides to stay so that his brother won’t get in any more trouble & he knows his brother will pay it. When the brother refuses to pay off his debt the dealer orders the child’s death. They make him hike up a hill to where his grave is already dug, they blindfold & bind him, slam him in the back of the head w a shovel & then shoot him. They close in the end of the movie w the Mom, who was beautiful, thin & young before this happened, now blown up, unkempt woman in a psych ward.

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She is a complete wreck, her son died for $1200,because his brother wouldn’t tell them what was really going on. I’ve seen this movie a million times, as sad as it is, I like the actors. I watched it a few weeks ago, now w a new perception of the ending.
As the mother gives her side of the story you realize she’s institutionalized, & she slips into madness. Watching this I realized as it hit me like a brick; that could’ve so easily been me. I could’ve made different choices.

That first night I had been awake since the previous morning so approximately 36 hrs w no sleep, while I was walking along the highway trying to burn energy. My gaze kept going from the skies to the huge trucks that kept passing, if my son had faced death, there was no reason why I couldn’t do the same. But I didn’t do it.

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On Monday, I was complaining to my husband that there’d been no response from God yet. Yes, I really thought I should’ve had my sign already. So he tells me to watch my bird feeders for a new bird because he knows Anthony & I used to watch the birds at our feeders in the mornings when he was young. I need to interject at this point, I had been awake for all but 2hrs of sleep since that Saturday morning til Monday night. I could not keep anything at all in my body. I was violently ill from everywhere. I was also sickly & so weak previous to this.

I got another 2hrs Monday night, actually early Tues morning & went to have my tea & *down swooped my very first wild bald eagle as it soared over the lake along the surface, I knew immediately that was my sign. When I talked to my daughter later that day, she said “omg, mom. We were out for a ride yesterday & there was an eagle over the car”…… 1200 miles away. On Wednesday my 6yr old grandson (Anthony’s son) saw it at his bus stop & on Wednesday Ant’s gf saw it 20 miles from where my daughter & grandson were.

That solidified my belief in God. I was still sick, I was getting calls from MA, forcing me to attend the wake & funeral. I had no money & my ex assured me his family was covering all expenses. I was so grateful for that. There was no way I could’ve paid, & definitely not my ex. But I was harassed by my ex’s sister, telling me how bad I looked to everyone & what a shitty person I was. I was so sick & dehydrated, but I had to go. On Tuesday & Wednesday. I repented all of my sins & forgave everyone I felt had ever wronged me. This great big weight was lifted from my shoulders that I no longer felt, it had been there so long. I made personal apologies to everyone, but most choose to not be in my life & that’s 100% OK w me. I needed to do that to move on.

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On Thursday I flew “home” to Mass, because I still could keep nothing down or in, I collapsed in the airport trying to get to my connecting flight. I had to be cleared by the EMT’s to fly on. I got into town w 3 hours to spare. Sick to be in my house 25’ from my backyard in MA is the cemetery. I coincidentally had met my son in the cemetery just before I moved. It was me, his sister, his son & his nephew. That’s the last time I saw him alive & when we parted ways it was w an I Love You from all of us to all of us. I was OK not attending these forced services I had no hand in arranging & so I just followed what had been set up. The first sight of my son’s body hit me like bricks dropped from a skyscraper & I dropped to my knees. I had a lot of family support, my aunt & cousins I hadn’t seen in yrs, my brother, my sister-in-law, close friends. It was a very large turnout.

My son lay there for all of those there to see, dead at 25.They cried the tears, they appeared to mourn. Yet the shit that took place, was so typical for that small dirty evil town. No one cared while he was alive, he was called names, ignored by the family & just never important to them.

Ant’s cousin is , who is also rumored to be on Heroin, did a deal at the wake. My ex was trying to score percocet for himself & Ant’s gf who was at that point 4 days into withdrawal. He was also trying to take her mother home w him, since his own girlfriend had to put her 3yr old to bed.

The “best” part of the night though for me was when I had gone outside looking for a friend & was told that this drunk “relative”, you know the type, mom’s friend ends up family. She didn’t know me or my ex & she most definitely did not know my son. She caused a scene in front of his casket, then progressed to driving by the funeral home & swearing & sticking up her middle finger. When I came out she had parked just a house up from us. I approached her & asked her to leave. She went crazy & tried to storm the funeral home. I had to have the police called.

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His service the next afternoon was beautiful I had decided I did not want to see him lowered into the ground, but tongues immediately began wagging, horrible mother, mean, evil, crazy.

Call me what you want I had already had my good bye in that cemetery in March. That is how I choose to remember my son. My ex’s family had everything removed from his plot….. Granite edging, toys I had put there from Aiden, trinkets, the money. Gofundme was set up & money taken by an aunt, an education fund set up, that has never been mentioned again. Everything my son owned that should have gone to my grandson was whisked away & hidden by my daughter & ex.

I left MA w no regrets that I would be away from the hellish drama. Florida is home now. I lay down to try & get some sleep, on the night that marked a week, Sunday. I lay down exhausted & closed my eyes.
That was the moment God took over!!!

Now back to Alpha Dog & that poor mother, some of us get the shit beaten out of us & just stay down. Not me, I have prayed for mental breakdown, it would certainly explain my experiences a whole lot easier. But, that is not what I am made of & God knew this when he healed me & gave me the ideas, the motivation, the drive & passion, to put it all out there. To dedicate myself to helping others & trying to change addiction/recovery stigma. This girl is on fire!!!
Thank you
Erin Berndt

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cycle-of-abuseAbuse & Addiction

We all know that there is a huge connection between abuse & addiction. Then there is the cycle that spins through each subsequent generation, if that cycle is not broken.
erinkberndt

Loving Mom

I was raised in an abusive home by an alcoholic father. His first child (me) was a complete let down. He wanted a son & told my mother that as she was wheeled out of delivery. Eighteen mos later, my Mom gave him his son. Did this make him happy finally? No, my brother J had asthma, really bad & was in & out of the hospital his whole childhood.

My father beat us, he beat us w his fists, he beat us w the buckle on his belt, a huge buckle common in the 70’s w the state he was born in on it. I am so surprised that NEBRASKA is not branded into my back or backside. It is surely not for lack of trying & as I got too old for him to beat me w the belt he would just punch me in the face.

We all know that there is a huge connection between abuse & addiction. Click to Tweet

When I was 4 ½ my father’s dream child arrived, my younger brother Mat. We all loved him, he was a sweet little boy & I can remember him crawling into my bed & making up stories to cheer me up. He received every ounce of love my parents had.

My Mom had come from an alcoholic father too & the 3rd child had been the favored one. My Mom says her father married her mother only out of a promise he had made to his brother. So she was raised in a loveless home. except by her mother whose love knew no bounds.

I don’t know why my father turned into the monster he did. He says my grandfather beat him w “switches”, but I have only heard my grandfather raise his voice once in my life & that was at my son Anthony.
When I got pregnant at 17, it was by a young heavy drinker, heavy smoker, heavy pot user. The relationship was bad right from the beginning, 3 weeks in & he made me sleep on his floor….no pillow or blanket. So, my daughter was brought into an abusive addictive home. He married me when I got pregnant with our son, & was adamant he was only marrying me for the insurance we needed for the babies.

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I was so messed up from my childhood & then from the abuse my husband heaped on me daily, that I was too defensive to be 100% the mother I could have been. I was there physically but every day with him was a struggle, from him stealing the milk from our daughters bottles, to the constant name calling, terror tactics, threats & terrifying experiences. I tried to raise my kids the best I could. Being told over & over that my daughter would grow up to be just like me & my son would be just like his father.
I thought that by teaching my daughter that she was dependent upon no man & if I just loved my son. That would be enough.

My ex husband was raised in an abusive addictive home also & that was how I excused his behavior. The excuses I made for the way HE treated me. We were forced into therapy, when my aunts intervened by calling Child Services on us for years. Yet they did nothing to stop the abuse when it was done to us as children.

This ended up in me pulling myself & my children away from that side of my family, so I never got to know my niece or nephews from my brothers. Unfortunately, whatever was told to them they fully believed. Mat came around after very many years had passed, but J told me I was dead to him & not to ever contact him.
I learned finally to break the cycle when my son was expecting our first grandchild & my ex was fist fighting w him in front of my grandsons mother.

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But, I had learned years before in therapy that when we reach adulthood we have the power to change our lives, that we don’t have to continue to blame our parents for all of the wrongs in our life. that they too, did the best with what they were taught. That it is up to us, on how we choose to live our lives. There is therapy, parenting classes & now w the internet, the resources to change are always at your fingertips.
Here is the reason for today’s piece: when my niece Brittany (J’s daughter) was old enough to question things, because during her entire childhood, my kids & I were a taboo subject at family gatherings. I guess it was as if they all just chose to write us off as dead.

Brittany found me on FB. We connected & I told her the truth. I learned that my brother was abusive to her, & that nothing was ever said or complained about it by the family members who persecuted me, yet allowed my brother to beat on, verbally & psychologically abuse & not one of them stood up for her. He hasn’t been in a stable relationship in over 20 yrs, Britt’s Mom was the only actual one I know of. He did a LOT of internet dating & moving around. He would take Britt when she was little & leave her sitting in the car for hours while he was bouncer at a bar. apparently not a bit concerned for her safety. My situation was my ex abusing me in front of my children. Not the children being abused. Yet, the members who were telling on me allowed what was happening to my niece.

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My brother is now 45 yrs old. This morning my niece screenshot a conversation between she & her “father”. It started w “Do you know where I can get some good bud” Her reply was a simple “Nooo”. He then began his abuse, she was called useless, told that he wished her stepfather had adopted her. At 23 yrs old my courageous, beautiful intelligent, niece told him off & admitted to him, that she to wishes her stepfather had adopted her. She has broken that cycle so young, I wish I could’ve been more self confidant enough to eject my father from my life when he threw me out pregnant at 17 in the middle of the night w nowhere to go. Brittany Rae I am so proud of you. You are no door mat. You did not follow down that long dark hallway your father put you in.

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The point to all of this is breaking the cycle, if you are in an abusive relationship, LEAVE. If there is addiction, please get help. My children didn’t turn out like my niece, but then she did have a good Mom & stepfather to teach her what real love is supposed to be. I broke the cycle to late for my children. My daughter is now in a relationship w a very bad alcoholic, who treats my grandson terribly……….& my son who hid his pain in addiction is dead. Meanwhile his father & uncle who helped him to his grave are still living in full blown ignorant addiction.

There is HOPE & there is HELP. No judgement.

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suck-meter2016 was by far the worse/best year ever. How is that even possible?

erinkberndt

SFYB Author Editor/Admin

One name; God.Now I did not begin the year by finding Him, in fact, to a degree, I have always “believed”, but like SO many of us I had no actual proof. I have been gifted my whole life w the ability to see things before they happened, I’ve even saved my own life at 16, when I was overcome w the knowledge, that while we were speeding down a mountain road that something was in the road ahead. I yelled & the driver slowed, after a few more twists & turns………there in the middle of the road was a gigantic Cow. we didn’t do seat belts back then so i would’ve been propelled through the window.

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I saw the Challenger blow up the day before it happened. I saw an explosion in a bright blue sky. it was winter & very dark & dreary in MA, yet that vision was so real. I thought we were going to be blown up by Bin Laden. The next day I watched as the exact vision I had seen the day before take place in a bright blue sky. There have been so many of these that to write them down would take far too long.

I have always felt that greater power, but because of my strict catholic upbringing, it never felt like I wasn’t “good enough” for God. The catholic religion paints us as continuous sinners, who are going to hell. After having a child out of wedlock & living in sin, I gave up all hope of ever seeing heaven. I claimed my reservation in hell w a seat by the fire!!!

2016 was by far the worse/best year ever. How is that even possible? Click to Tweet

That belief led to all of the wrong decisions, that I was making because I was sure I was already doomed. When I met & then married by current husband, I was introduced to a whole new God, through his Episcopalian religion, and I loved this new outlook on God. So I changed myself to Episcopalian. But still held no real proof that he existed & was convinced I had done more than enough to earn my place in hell.

2016, was one disaster after another. my disability had deteriorated my life to 4-6 hrs of awake time. At the end of March, 2 days before my son’s 25th birthday, me, my grandson (my sons son), my daughter & youngest grandson were up in the cemetery just 25’ feet behind our house.

It’s peaceful & the boys love the woods behind the cemetery. We saw that Anthony was also, so fatefully coincidentally, in the cemetery too. My grandson was over the moon for the few minutes he got w his Dad. it ended w “I love you’s” all around.

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When I told my grandson’s other grandma who has custody that we had run into Anthony, she was Irate. I was lost because it had always been up to me, who in the family was allowed w him. I had never been told I was to turn my back on my son & not allow my grandson to see him. At that point it escalated into an awful war in which I lost the privilege of being in my grandsns life, when I had always had him at least once every week. Then there was the visit to my neurologist. I was a mess, I was just pretty much killing myself & she told me that if I didn’t make some serious changes then I wouldn’t be around for much longer. Knowing my son was dying, not being able to see my oldest grand son & my own impending death was too much for me in a 3 day period.

My husband & I were trying to start a delivery business & were leaving for FL the next day to deliver a boat motor. The man who we brought the motor to, asked my husband if he would be willing to move boats up & down the east coast for really good money.
I decided I wasn’t going back to that little poison filled town, so we decided to move to FL. My mom & dad live here so I stayed w them until I found a house. i searched hundreds of houses & only ended up where I am because of fate.

no-job

The job fell through & my stepson who had been headed down the same path of addiction as my own son, was unable to leave the state, so me & my youngest (step) daughter moved here waiting for the boys. I slept all the time, was lonely & miserable.

On Aug 9th I found my daughter’s bed empty & she was missing. I called the police & reported her missing. I was terrified, I thought she had been kidnapped, when in truth she had chosen to run away. It did nothing to allay the fears that I had lost my husbands & mine youngest child. I didn’t know if I’d ever see her again.

On Aug 28th at 12:13, the call I had run away from came, my son was dead. That meeting in the cemetery, was the last goodbye for all of us. I fell apart,the last shred of strength left in me was gone. I had to fly to MA for his wake & funeral & they were awful. I couldn’t go to the cemetery where I had seen him alive last. People judged & called me names. I don’t care, I said I loved him last there & I wasn’t going to take away from that as my last memory of him alive.

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I turned to God from the minute I heard, it was instinctual & during that first week, I repented, forgave & prayed. I started receiving signs on Tues, 2 days after he died, but my daughter had actually gotten the sign first on Monday, it wasn’t until I told her about my experience, that she exclaimed, “OMG Mom we were taking a ride yesterday & when I looked up, I saw an Eagle over my car”. Yes a bald eagle 1200 miles apart. neither of us having ever seen one before in the wild. On wednesday, my grandson saw it at his bus stop & on Thursday Anthony’s girlfriend & her Mom saw it in yet another town. Ant & I had always bird watched & loved the birds of prey. So that all made perfect sense to me. My husband had actually told me to watch my feeders for a new bird. Not my son, not just any bird, but the biggest, baddest!!!

The following Sunday when I lay down after a week of the worse pain you could imagine x a million, my weak body refusing to take any nourishment, & w only about 12 hrs of total sleep, I lay down to try & rest. That is when God took the wheel.

develop_your_mind

All of a sudden my mind was alive, knowledge poured into me at such a fast rate, I kept explaining it like being a computer being downloaded w infinite knowledge. the week progressed w more & more amazing miracles. Major weight loss in 2 hrs……..no longer needing glasses to see, but, most importantly, a purpose. Every day I tried to reach out & share my story, e-mails disappeared, phones would ring w no answering machine. God was not ready for me to share my experiences. For the next month he changed me & I grew spiritually. I realized that I didn’t need a church to worship. God was in my home. He has my son & he isn’t in pain, fighting his demons any longer. He is free.

Now I am fighting this war on addiction. I have trouble still accepting that God has chosen me & put so much power into my hands. I feel so guilty that it took my son’s death to prove there is a God. But, now when I look back on what I went through what my life has been, was all leading up to this, that this is where God needed me to be & only the death of my youngest would pull me from my own wishes of a merciful death.

freddie

So here I am sharing how in the most awful nightmare imaginable, I was given Miracles & strength. My son will never be forgotten. I will not stop fighting until I know that I have fulfilled the job I was given.

I am so thankful to those who have helped me w this very mighty task, for all of the love & support in the recovery community, to all of you who have been touched like I have, thank you for sharing w me & proving to me that I am not unique, that Miracles are happening everywhere.

God is an important player in our war. I see everyday that I am not the only one He has touched, we all feel him & have our stories. I’m ready to share mine, with the hopes that others come forward also.2017 is not just change in the addiction/recovery community, but in the world.

Happy New Year to you all!!!

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gift

The unexpected gift.

giftI didn’t celebrate Christmas this year. I felt terrible for my 17 yr old daughter (step,hate that word), for our family 2016 hands down was a really bad year for all of us, for me it was the year I will never forget. The year my son died.
erinkberndt

SFYB Author Editor/Admin

We had decided after several really hard events back to back that we were going to move to Florida, only that fell apart too. My husband & (step) son in MA & me & Kay in FL. I was in part running from my son’s death. I had convinced myself that if I wasn’t around that would somehow extend his life. So in no way was I prepared.

Anthony was a heroin addict. He died on Aug 28th. I got the call at 12:13 am. I was all alone with Kay & I woke her screaming.

 

The unexpected gift. Click to Tweet

I Called my husband & as I was telling him I had just received the news that he was unresponsive, I knew he was already gone, I knew from the minute my ex called. The police pulled up to the house & asked him to go to the hospital. He went to the hospital for me, he watched them banging on my son’s chest until finally, his body distorted from their attempts to revive him, they called his time.

He never blipped, he was gone before the ambulance arrived. I was told he had been taking a shower & no one checked on him for about 25 mins & had found him slumped in the shower. He was only 2 mins from the hospital & when the police came they couldn’t even find the needle he had just used. I was told that there was a young child in the house & they didn’t want to lose her so there was a clean up.

There were fights over his possessions, which should have gone to my grandson, that family members stole & hid. The nightmare just went on & on. drug deals at the wake & an arrest. Rumors swirling, as I’m 1200 miles away, trying to grieve, I’m being attacked from people that I had once cared for, ignored by those I loved & constantly fighting w my only biological child left, my daughter. My grandson was devastated from his dad’s loss & has been suffering terribly since.

My husband was still not here after 5 mos, so my healing was just me & Kay. Because I turned to God when my son died, some people were actually afraid I had lost, my mind…..Oh poor Erin, she’s so torn apart she’s crazy!

At one point with my questions & confusion, I went to my son’s girlfriend for answers, I wasnt really, really mean, but I wasn’t overly nice either. She blocked me right away which to me felt like an act of guilt.

Life has gone on, I am busy fighting this war on addiction, trying to make a difference to save lives with the help of God.

There just wasn’t any joy in me at all this Christmas, Kay got her few things, she had picked herself handed to her in a plastic bag, but I was so drained emotionally, strained from holding in the misery I was feeling. I feel terrible that she had an awful, lonely Christmas, I will make it up to her next year, She’s such a great girl. I’m blessed to have her.

Today I woke up & a friend had sent me a link to a page & the first article was from a mother who had written a letter to other addicts about what it feels like to those of us left behind & that sent me bawling. Then there was some really great news. Up & down all day.

This evening I was sent 4 video’s, from my son’s girlfriend. something so unexpected, something that felt a bit like air to a drowning person, while at the same time the fist clamping my lungs, my heart bleeding & raw again.

To be able to see some moments of my son alive & breathing, smiling, so handsome. I shook for hours after. Something so special I will be able to share with my grandson. His Dad was so proud of him, but so ashamed of his addiction, that he won’t have very many memories. Except for the ones that sent him spiraling out of control.

Thank you for sending something so dear & precious.

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angel-winds

The Mystery

angel-winds

A common thread that binds us,
made from Angels wings,
Only those of transcendence,
can see such wispy things.

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SFYB Author Editor/Admin

And as we falter & question,
looking for solid answers,
He gives us our direction,
connecting us with our mentors.

Kindred souls who see our gifts,
and hold plent of their own,
They lead us from our endless drifts
Validating how we’ve grown

United by a common cause,
we are all part of the same creator,
One man holds my applause.
Come out Common Denominator

Erin Berndt

Robert this is my 1st poem. Can you guess who I wrote it for???
I was gonna do…..

There was a man from Nantucket……..but that’s not original!!!!

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Chapter 4 – 1st abusive relationship in 8th grade

abuse

I ended up in my 1st abusive relationship in 8th grade as well as drinking my 1st beer.

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Loving Mom

The bf was a next door neighbors grandson, who had given me my 1st kiss then moved away. when he came back we started back up & we  sex. There was an attempt but nom success, so I would not try again. he went to one of the older girls down the street, when i found out, i was angry, but that was the 1st time i was ever hit by a boy.The 1st beer was before a football game & I was so sick. Swore That I would never drink again.

 

1st abusive relationship in 8th grade Click to Tweet

 54d243fae7bcf2ae153958ad_jennifer-lawrence-spotlight-patrick-demarchelier-vf__forum

High school came & I fit into a normal group of girls, but even the girls who I thought were sluts called me a Slut. So I did my best to ignore it. I dated guys who were way older or lived in another town. None of the boys in our class or high school for that matter, would come near me.

 I met Narya freshman year she was part of the top crowd, but we became very good friends. We also had begun going to my father’s friends houses in Vt. I lost my virginity up there in Vt w the hottest guy I’d ever seen in my life. We continued on every time I would visit for the first couple of yrs. But, that’s what kicked off my true inner sexuality.

Wasn’t hard to find guys after that, i was not ugly & had a great body because i walked everywhere I went.

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Sophomore year I completely seduced a 20 yr old, I was 15.  We were together for 9 mos, so that kept me out of trouble. He didn’t drink. so I wasn’t out partying w my friends. my friend Narya got pregnant right at the end of freshman yr. My father kept telling me “birds of a feather”. Yeah, compared me to a french whore too. I was babysitting always since I was 9, so I always had a job & my own $$. One night while driving me down the mountain my bf lived on, we were in his Nova & he was moving, he knew the roads & had lived there his whole life. I had a sudden vision, & yelled “slow down, there’s something in the road ahead”. He was startled cuz i had yelled 5 so he had slowed down.  After a couple of twists & turns there was a massive cow, dead center of the road. He screeched to a halt & was yelling at me “don’t ever do that again”. I was confused because in my opinion, I had just saved our lives!!!

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One of my really best friends from school was Rocky we’d been inseparable since 6th grade. She went on family vacations w us & my father even asked why I couldn’t be more “sunny like Rocky”. One afternoon she was over & I was testing my limits w him, I was finally pushing back, I don’t remember what I said but I remember him punching me in the face so hard, my head bounced off the cabinet. Rocky was shocked. But, she knew his temper as he was always the most unhappy person in the world.

 I learned that my father went to the prostitutes in Springfield, my Mom’s friend who i babysat for told me straight out. Mom didn’t want to believe it she said. I think she did believe it because after Nana died, Mom changed too.All of a sudden she was just one of the girls, w me & my friends, taking us shopping & to concerts. Everybody loved my Mom.

 Junior year, I rebelled & partied the whole year, sleeping around & drunk all weekend, smoking pot & lots of missing time. Still upheld my grades though. I was striking out hard, I couldn’t stay interested too long in the same boy, I became bored. And right now thinking back, I can’t even imagine how many times God saved me

summer

Summer between junior/senior year I was dating a really nice guy I’d met in Vt. My father actually liked him even though he met him the night I was having sex w him in my fathers friends house, Yup. I would stoop that low! Rocky was dating some guy in another town about 17 miles from us, Winchendon.  I had just gotten back from VT when Rocky & our friend Jane came & Rocky was telling me about her new bf & Jane was in LOVE w his brother. this is where I made the choice, that would eventually land me in the most  pain I’ve ever been in, the death of my son 29 yrs later. And 29 more yrs of abuse & addiction!

Chapter #1  My Nightmare Turned Miracle (The beginning)

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Chapter 3 Time of the sexual awakening….

time-sexual-awaking

 

Around the time of the sexual awakening, other things began to happen.

I had always had the same 3 dreams over & over again as a child. I didn’t know if they were true or not, I believed them to be real, but not from this life. They were too vivid & far too often. I experienced a lot of deja vu. I thought inside that that was just normal for me. I’d always had a great imagination.

erinkberndt

Loving Mom

 That changed in 7th grade, I was at my grandparents playing hide & seek w my brothers. From where I was hiding I could see the attic window (I had never been in that attic, it scared us) .  I looked up at the window, I still remember this so vividly, it was dusk. i looked up & there was a woman w long blond/white hair, a very pale face, wearing a white flowy dress. that freaked me out so I came out of hiding.  

Time of the sexual awakening Click to Tweet

60-full-lace-wigs-with-bangs-platinum-blonde-long-blonde-wigs-for-white-black-women

Later when we went home my parents left for a while. I could clearly hear a voice in my head, telling me to go in my closet, I was terrified. I called Barb & she came right over, after I told her what had happened, her eyes lit up & she ran home for a minute. She had a book in her hand when she returned. The woman on the cover was the same one from Gramma’s house! She had gone to the library while i was at my grandparents & I had never seen that book, nor that woman in my life.

2016-06-18_11-35-27

I remember just when i realized how much my father enjoyed beating me. I had gone to the Robert’s that afternoon w permission from my father, that he would yell for me when it was time to go to dinner at Lee’s Hotdog Stand. It was a Thursday night & Mom worked Thurs nights. Dad did Not cook, so we went out on thursdays. I guess he yelled to me, I was in the house & didn’t hear him. So, he sent J, who told him I was not there. He never even checked, just told him I wasn’t there. My father began Screaming, so I went running. I came flying in through the front door.

man-with-belt

I stopped in the middle of the living room, my father had hid himself behind the TV, so that when he stepped out, I could not run for the door. He beat the living shit out of me for nothing. he threw me in the back of his pick up & forced me out at the restaurant, telling me to stop crying & eat. That’s when i started begging my mother to tell me he wasn’t even my father, I didn’t look like I belonged to either side!

 My Nana would come occasionally to spend a night or 2, one night,while she was there, they had baked a pie. I was finishing up dishes when I sneezed, just as dad walked into the kitchen, a direct punch to the face & a “don’t ever sneeze on our food again’, was how he handled that. my nana came flying into the kitchen as she heard me scream, i can still hear her defending me. The only one  who ever had in my whole life. The thing was that I was raised w manners & had tucked my head way down & covered my mouth when I sneezed,

sandwell1

 After that happened Nana got very sick, I had heard them whispering the word “cancer” a lot, but, in those days you didn’t tell our kids the truth. I had learned that if I wanted to know what was going on then I needed to find out for myself, so, when i was supposed to be in my room, I hid at the top of the stairs & listened. That’s how I learned Uncle Chuck had Schizophrenia & all the harrowing times he put my grandparents through.  Cars driven off cliffs, not knowing at that point where he was, running naked through frozen streams, attacking gramma w a knife, there were a lot of holidays w out him.

He seemed to get better as i got into my teens. Nana was still getting sick,when in early 1984, one of my closest friends died, this was my 1st experience of death in any form. Her name was Dacia Graiko, she loved horses & had just finally gotten her own, we had lunch together that day. Later that evening I got a call from a friend telling me that Dacia had been riding & her horse slipped on the ice & she had landed under the horse, she had broken every bone in her body. Later I heard of how her tiny mother had lifted that horse by herself off her daughter. I believed in a hard unforgiving God at this point, but thought there must be a higher power for her to have picked up that horse.

graveyard

Later in Oct of the same year Nana died. Because she didn’t ever want me to see her suffering, I have no memories of her being ill, Then she was cremated & put in an urn, to be scattered on the ocean so some of her would stay w us & some would return to England. ( mom, when are you going to honor her wish, its been 32 yrs)  Because of our connection, I have always had contact w her in my dreams & have known she’s been w me all along.

  The first thing that Bastard said to me when he was alone w me after Nana died was”HaHa your precious Nana is gone, who’s going to protect you now”?

Chapter 4 – 1st abusive relationship in 8th grade
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mother-fighting

Chapter 2 Huge fight with my Mom……..

Huge fight with my Mom Click to Tweet
I can clearly remember finally asking someone for Help. I had had a huge fight w my Mom that morning, before school.

Mom told me I was so bad even santa was mad at me & I wouldn’t be getting any presents at all. I don’t know why I decided to break my silence that day. It didn’t matter, back then no one cared how your parents treated you. You were their property. I was so upset that i stayed crying in the coat room until the teacher came to get me. I told him everything, he calmed me & told me to stop crying over presents & later called my parents. They were pissed. So I was grounded when I got home.

erinkberndt

Loving Mom

I never saw affection between my parents & I only saw him get physical on some nights when he was drunk he would hug her, slurring “do you love me”? That is the only affection i can remember between them.

My father,being the “great outdoorsman” started hunting w a bow for longer seasons. He joined an archery club. By now Mom had begun working, so there were some days or nights we were his responsibility. He would take us to the archery club where i could hide in the woods. I like going there, the club members were always really nice to me.

My father would drive by me at night before he would ever pull over to pick me up, at night. So there wasn’t ever father/daughter days. There was ONE, when i was in the 6th grade & had the chickenpox. Friday i was clear & it was my 12th birthday & he took me to the club, where he did what he did & I did what I did.

black-eye

sixth grade & into Jr High he started accelerating the violence, when he was around, he was gone a lot & worked nights mostly. Sixth grade is where I decided being a good girl was getting me nowhere. My 1st experience w alcohol was from my cousin Lisa who was visiting my Nana from England, she had brought chocolates (filled w liquor) I had no idea & can vaguely remember being very sick .

2016-06-18_11-35-27

Barb across the street talked me into having our own “combat zone”. She said it was our territory, drew some lines in the st to indicate that we had to protect our turf. But, we must also be Sluts. i had no idea at the time what that meant so i just agreed. she told me i had to have sex w her brother & one of the boys in the neighborhood. It was a very awkward experience. There was no penetration. Apparently I didn’t need to actually have sex to be a Slut though. Barb smeared my name all over the school system…..everyone knew. After that the few boys who tried to date me were just looking for sex & I wasn’t going to do the actual thing & have more crap spread. But i grew deeply addicted to the hugging,kissing, touching. Someone touching me in kindness, I loved that feeling.

After you become addicted to anything you will do anything to get that feeling as often as possible. You will do anything.

Chapter 3 – Time of the sexual awakening
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