My [redacted] Journey

A teacher's search for inner peace.



July 28, 2015

Dear Readers,

My name is [redacted] and I am an alcoholic/addict.  It has taken me 32 years to write that statement with any amount of sincerity.  Of course, it has taken me that long to be able to work the program with any amount of sincerity, as well.  I was reluctant to even write this post.  And I was certainly never going to publicly admit that I am a, well, you know.  So what’s changed?

Alcoholism is an insidious disease.  Lest you get the idea that alcoholism and addiction do not qualify as a disease, here is Merriam Webster’s definition of the word disease:  a condition of the living animal or plant body or one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms.  Whew, that’s a mouthful!  Let me break it down for you, dear Readers.

a condition of the living animal or plant body or one of its parts Well, I am a living animal.  And that plant body thing, well, the definition is stating that both animals and plants can have a disease.

that impairs normal functioning I suppose the word ‘normal’ is open to interpretation.  However, this is really the part that gave me the most difficulty because by and large, I functioned pretty normally for the past 32 years, at least on the outside, but I’ll get to that later.

and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms.  How are these for signs and symptoms:  shaking, jittery, clouded mind, physical craving, irritability, and headache.

Looking at the definition and breaking it down like that, certainly gives one pause.  Yeah, I guess I really am and alcoholic/addict.  However, what I have just described, dear Readers, could easily be an addiction to caffeine.  Gosh knows I experience these symptoms if I don’t have my coffee first thing in the morning.  But it is also a description of addiction to numerous medications and illicit drugs, and, of course, alcohol.  So why the stigma?  Why, as a people, do we give aid and comfort to those who have the disease of cancer, but shame those of us who have an addiction?  Why do we have telethons to raise money for muscular dystrophy, but insist that we alcoholics ‘just get over it’?

Interesting questions, and I don’t have the answers, at least not all the answers.  But I do know this, as long as we see alcoholism and addiction  as an imperfection, a slight on our character, we will continue to treat the alcoholic/addict as a pariah, an outcast.  Me?  I’m not willing to accept that.        

I recently spoke to an aunt I hadn’t spoken to in quite a while.  She told me she loved reading what I write.  She also told me how courageous she thought I was for writing my own experiences so that others could know they are not alone.  I’m pretty sure she was talking about the fact that I have written about my bouts with mental illness.   But, I’m sure she’d be proud that I wrote about my alcoholism and my addiction, as well. 

I’m in remission now…oops!  My bad, I mean recovery, I’m in recovery now.  But make no mistake, my name is [redacted] and I’m an alcoholic/addict.  Peace, ~v.                     


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Through the Eyes of a Child

mimimuffinJune 6, 2015

Dear Readers,

If you want to know the truth, ask a child.  Not only will you get the truth, you will get it in such a way as to make you laugh.  Because kids are honest to a fault, and they have no filter, they say the darnedest things.  Do not ever ask a child a question unless you are prepared to hear the absolute truth.  Well, leave it to me to walk right into that trap.

A few days ago I mentioned to my therapist (of course I have one!) that I saw the cutest question and answer session between mother and child on my Facebook feed.  Now, stick with me dear Readers, Facebook is not the focus here.  I mentioned that a friend of mine had asked her two daughters a series of questions and posted both the questions and the answers as her status one day.  There were 23 questions and answers.  The questions were ordinary, mundane even:  How do you know your mom loves you?  What does your mom always say to you?  What makes your mom happy? sad?, etc.  The answers are anything but.

Of course, dear Readers, you can well imagine what a small child of 5 or 6 would come up with for answers.  And true, they make us laugh.  But check it out, what if an old broad, such as myself, were to ask her grown, adult children to answer these same questions?  My therapist thought it would be a good idea.

At first, I didn’t quite understand what purpose it could serve.  My children know what I do for a living and they know how old I am (mostly, lol).  So what would be the point?  That is why my therapist is the therapist, dear Readers, and I am the patient.  “Send your children the questions and ask them to answer them and send them back to you.  Once you read their answers, you will see yourself through their eyes.  It might surprise you.”  She was right.

I must admit that only my daughters completed the answers and sent them back (are you listening, my sons?).  But, what an eye-opener.  Here is who I am:

I am kind and funny.  I am thoughtful and outgoing.  I am loving and inspiring.  I am a good mother.

Honestly, those conclusions were not surprising.  I know, without conceit, that those adjectives do describe me.  However, here are the two most surprising conclusions:

My children paid attention to our discussions and they believed what I told them!

I’m joking, of course.  However, here are some heartfelt questions and answers that warmed my heart:

What is something that Mom always says to you?    you will do great things, you will change the world, I want you to be better than me  This is something I stressed to my children as they were growing up; I believed it and I hope they did, too.

What makes mom sad? Dishonesty, abandonment Wow!  This one blew me away because not only is it true, but this is something I never told my children.

What makes you proud of your mom? Her honesty and strength  I’m sure some would beg to differ on that first one, but there is no mistaking that second one 😉

Finally, my favorite one was the same from each of my daughters.  And although the answers were completely different, opposites even, they both go a long way in describing who I am..

If your mom were a character, who would she be? Betty Rizzo, Grease  For those who are unfamiliar, Rizzo is tough and sarcastic and she doesn’t give a care what people think of her.  She is definitely one tough broad.  I love that description of me.  It’s true.  The other answer is also true. 

If your mom were a character, who would she be?
I might be biased.. but I would say pooh bear.. he’s loving, accepting of all, a little anxious, and loves food

No explanation needed.  Peace, ~v.

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Begin Again

June 4, 2015

“Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you’ve been through, it’s never too late to begin again.”
Joyce Meyer, You Can Begin Again: No Matter What, It’s Never Too Late

Dear Readers,

I cannot count the times I have had to begin again.  I won’t belabor the point, but, yeah, I’m beginning again.  And although that is the title of today’s post, I have a much bigger issue to discuss with you.

Few people I know will ever know the pain of being homeless.  Fewer still will know the pain of an empty belly.  No, I’m not going to tell you I was homeless, starving on the street.  However, there are too many people in my community who are.  I can help do something about it.

As I sit in my air conditioned home in a city that reaches triple digit temperatures throughout the summer, I am moved to action.  I cannot imagine not having a place to cool off throughout these hot days.  And I can’t imagine not helping where ever I can.

Volunteering is nothing new.  In fact, it’s universal.  I write this tongue in cheek, dear Readers.  However, if you are looking for similarities, and not differences between you and the rest of the world, volunteering qualifies.

I wish I had been more diligent in teaching my own children how important it is to give back to one’s community through volunteering.  I guess it’s never too late.  Hey you guys…Volunteer, it’s good for the soul.  And if you live in the area, hit this place up:

Praise Chapel Food for Families
590 Hancock Rd.
Bullhead City, AZ, 86442
Peace, ~v.




“Where’s your happiness now?”

May 26, 2015

Dear Readers,

Recently, I had a falling out with a friend.  Sunshine (not her real name) had been a lifelong friend.  She was the person I turned to for help every time I fell.  And believe you me, I fell more than a dozen times in as many years.  She was my rock, my steady friend, my sunshine.  However, I have since come to realize that she was my friend only when I was down and out; once I was able to stand on my own two feet, Sunshine’s friendship would disappear.

Over the years, I have told Sunshine my deepest, darkest fears, my most outlandish aspirations, and every little thing that makes me tick.  I was under the misguided assumption that she would hold my secrets close to her heart, just as I did to hers.  Sadly, I was mistaken.  I will never make that mistake again.

Over the past three years, and with Sunshine’s help, I have found my happiness.  It is through no small feat that I am able to look at myself in the mirror and smile.  I am proud of who I am and what I have accomplished.  I have come a long way.  Conversely, I am deeply ashamed and embarrassed at how low I sank in recent years.  I had just come to a point in my life where I had forgiven myself my past mistakes.  In other words, I was happy.

On the outside, I appear really put together.  I’m independent, smart, tough, and sometimes even funny.  Very few people know that on the inside I am more than a little unsteady.  In fact, I am a scared little girl on the inside.  Sunshine was one of the few people who knew of my insecurities.  She was also the last person I thought would exploit those insecurities.  But not only did she exploit those insecurities, she chewed them up and spit them back into my face like so many before her, that I was this close to believing all of the vile things she said to me and about me.  Little did she know that I would take a piece of advice she recently gave me, and use it to keep my wits about me, whereas usually, I would crumple.

In the past few months, I had begun to confide in Sunshine how very happy I was.  Sometimes, unable to contain how happy I was, a smile would break across my face and a giggle would escape from my lips.  I could be as giddy as a schoolgirl.  My happiness came from a place that I believe few people I know have ever experienced.  I had survived an almost certain death; not only survived, but walked away from.  After shaking my head in disbelief for a couple of months, I have accepted that I survived because I have so much more to give.  This realization was the catalyst for my happiness.  So, of course I was giddy!  I mean, who wouldn’t be, right?  And I almost let it all slip away because of a few well-placed barbs spewed from a would-be friend.

After a vile and disgusting exchange of words from both myself and Sunshine, she left me with these words, “Where’s your happiness now?”  It almost shook me to my core.  But now, I have an answer for her:

My happiness resides in a place no one can touch.  My happiness belongs to me and me alone, so that only I can make myself unhappy.  My happiness is with me when I wake up in the morning and with me when I close my eyes at night.  My happiness is knowing that not only am I a good person, but that I am a person worthy of being loved.  My happiness is knowing that I am highly blessed and Divinely favored.  My happiness is right here, right where it belongs.

Sunshine once told me that I needed to get rid of all of the people in my life who were toxic.  And although it will create a hole in my heart, I fear I must take her advice.  Goodbye Sunshine, I wish you well.  Peace, ~v.


She Talks to Angels

January 1, 2015

Dear Readers,

Her name was Jane and she was my childhood friend.  We would play school together with all of my stuffed animals.  Jane played the principal, my stuffed animals were the students, and I was always the teacher.  Jane played the principal because she didn’t like to have to stay in the classroom (my bedroom).  Jane would sit off to my left and mostly just observe.  Once in awhile she would admonish me that I was being too hard on this student or that student.  And she would never talk to me whenever one of my brothers or sisters would come into the bedroom where we were playing.

By the time I was about nine or ten years old, I had stopped talking to Jane because after all, she was imaginary.  However, I never forgot about her and I am convinced that she never forgot about me.  Certain things would happen in my life and I knew they were going to happen before they would actually happen.  This did seem somewhat weird to me, but I would just chalk it up to being a self-fulfilled prophecy.  Then came the car accident.

For years I believed I would be involved in a car accident but I knew I would survive.  I knew this because Jane had told me once a long time ago.  I would say to myself, “I know I’m going to be involved in a car accident one day, I just don’t know how I know.”  Shades of Jane would flash through my head and I would just as quickly wave them away.  I might have told a few people throughout my life about my sense of being in a car accident, but I hardly believed how I knew I certainly didn’t expect anyone else to believe me.  Then came the car accident.

After my accident, and while it was still fresh in my mind, I wrote down my thoughts here and here and here.  I have done quite a bit of soul-searching and quite a bit of praying.  Now, I may not know everything, but I do know two things:

First – It is  my life’s purpose to be of service to others.

Second – Jane was, is, and always will be my guardian angel.

Yes, I talk to angels.  Peace, ~v.


Never Let Them Push You Around

August 16, 2014

Dear Readers,

“I will do everything I can to protect you.  But, you’re gonna have to learn how to protect yourself.  And if it doesn’t stop, you will have to decide what you want to do.”

I heard this twice in the past two weeks.  The first time, my principal was talking to me, the second time, I was talking to a student.

A little over a week ago, I published what I was certain would be my last post on this blog.  I had encountered a breach in security, and I was convinced I would have to go into hiding as far as the world wide web was concerned.  It was so heartbreaking for me, as I have poured my soul into this blog.  However, at the time, I saw no other choice, so yes, I was ready to throw in the towel.  Good thing the voice in the back of my head wouldn’t leave me alone.

For the first seven days of my self-imposed exile, I toyed with the idea of created a new blog and writing under a pseudonym.  In fact, I had already created the web site and had finished writing my first blog post.  I just couldn’t bring myself to hit the “Publish” button.

The words of my principal kept ringing in my ears, “You’re gonna have to learn how to protect yourself.”  Yeah, yeah, I know, but wouldn’t it be easier if I just started over?  Of course it would be, and I was almost going to, until one of my students needed me to listen to her.

Thursday morning, Sara (not her real name), wanted to show me what she was writing in her journal.  Without breaking her confidence, I can tell you that she was suffering from something similar to what I had been experiencing.  My initial reaction was sadness.  How some people can get such joy from others’ pain is beyond me.  And then I got angry!

It was then that I heard the same words coming out of my mouth that I had heard a week earlier, “I will do everything I can to protect you.  But, you’re gonna have to learn how to protect yourself.  And if it doesn’t stop, you will have to decide what you want to do.”  I continued, “Don’t let the bullies win.  If you don’t stand up for yourself now, you will most certainly regret it later.  I should know, the same thing happened to me when I was about your age.”

Well, the same thing was happening to me at that very moment, I just hadn’t realized it yet.  When it did finally hit me how similar our situations were, I cringed.  Who was I to be giving someone the same advice I had all but ignored?  Two days earlier, I had wanted to roll over and play dead or at the very least, hide behind a fake name.  Yet, I was telling Sara to stand up for herself.  Where was my fighting spirit?  Had I really given in to a…a…a cyber-bully?!  Who was this person?  And what had she done with Victoria?

Suffice it to say dear Readers, Victoria is back, I am back.  And I am fighting to keep my private life private, well, as private as one can be in this day and age.  I am standing up to the bullies and I won’t let them win, or at the very least, I’m going down swinging.  I will keep a close eye on Sara and let you know how her situation develops.  The adults in her life are wonderful and they will protect and guide her.  As for me, I would like to tell you dear Readers, that I had an epiphany right there and then as I was talking to Sara.  However, that was not the case.  It took a bit of Divine intervention.

Friday morning, and the last thing I want to do is to sit through an assembly, plopped down in the middle of a gaggle of prepubescent boys and girls.  Especially now that I am at that certain age in a woman’s life where sweat and facial hair are no longer just for the men in my life.  But, sit I will, and sit I do.  And the hand of God reaches down and grabs my spirit and says, “Pay attention, Vickie.  You are about to be schooled.”

Yesterday’s assembly was all about how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe on social media sites and safe from cyber-bullies.  Really?  Really.  I paid close attention.

I’m reminded of a joke I heard years ago.  A man I’ll call Doc is caught in a thunderstorm that leads to flooding.  The flood waters rise so high that Doc seeks refuge o top of his roof.  He prays for God to help him survive.  About then, a man in a rowboat happens upon Doc and asks him if he needs any help.  Doc answers, “No thank you.  I prayed to the Lord and He will help me out of this mess.”

Two more times a boat happens by and two more times Doc refuses any help.  Unfortunately, Doc passes away and comes face to face with his Maker.  Doc is beside himself as he asks God, “Lord, why didn’t You save me?  Didn’t You hear my prayers?”

The Lord says, “Yes Doc, I heard your prayers.  But didn’t you see the three boats I sent?”

The Lord helps those that help themselves.  Peace, ~v.

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H.W.G.A. or Here We Go Again

August 7, 2014

Dear Readers,

Here we go again.  When we were growing up, my siblings and I used to say, “HWGA,” whenever our parents would argue with one another.  We would roll our eyes at one another and simply mutter, “HWGA,” and we all knew what that meant, “Here we go again!”  We would all scatter to various rooms in the house, or sneak outside so as to not have to listen and/or to give our parents their privacy.  Don’t know if we ever told Mom and Dad what HWGA meant, or if they even knew we had a little code.  Well, Mom knows now if she’s reading this (sorry MmR, GaZjr, AeZ, FaZ, MdZ, VlD and DrZ for giving away the secret).

Today’s post will be my last post for…well, I don’t know how long.  I will leave this post, and the rest of my blog up for three days, and then I am sorry to say, I will be shutting it down.  I am sure some of my dear Readers would like to know why.  Here is the condensed version:  a student.  That’s all I will say on the matter.  However, I will be back.  I don’t know where or when, but I will be back.

I do this to protect not me, but my loved ones.  It is my decision to write, so I am willing to suffer the repercussions.  however, I do not wish to harm anyone with what I do and who I am.  I know you dear Readers will understand.

Now, on to loose ends.  In my last post, The Ones You Never Forget, I wrote about a former student (CM) that seemed to be troubled.  I had several people tell me that they wouldn’t be surprised if I hear from the student again and that he would remember me.  Well dear Readers, God does have a way of making believers out of us cynics.  Yesterday, two days after my post, CM did indeed get in touch with me!  He has since graduated from high school (no small feat) and is gainfully employed and looking forward to being a father and getting married (in that order).  He said he sought counseling on and off through his high school years and although he is not quite over some trauma he suffered in his teen years, he is much better than when I saw him last.

Now this is why I teach, because of kids like CM.  When I met him, he did not believe he had a chance at a life, he couldn’t see past his pain.  I did not think he would ever remember that I taught him how to write a complete paragraph, nor did I think he would remember that I taught him how to write a proficient essay.  What I was hoping for, however, was that he would remember the seed of hope I was so desperately trying to plant within him.  He thanked me for always believing in him, for never giving up on him, and most importantly, never letting him give up on himself.  Wow!  You could have knocked me over with a feather  Now that is why I teach.

Two other posts that I have to close out are Out of Focus and Out of Focus, Again.  Although this school year has started off better than perhaps the past five or so years, I had one class that I was not really connecting to, yet.  I thought I had solved the problem, but after a second lesson went flat, I decided I needed to try a new tactic.  I thought, I prayed, I meditated, I slept, I asked fellow teachers, I thought I had tried everything.  Then, God sent me an angel in the form of a Badass Teacher, DS.

DS wrote to me and suggested that I try a team building exercise.  Some may know it by a different name, but the premise is the same.  When you are with a group, be it work, school or church, and you must function as a group, you must have trust and a sense of camaraderie.  Without those two things, your group will not function properly.

“But, of course!” I thought when I read DS’s message.  “I need to build a little trust and camaraderie among my students.”  Not only does it help the students gel as a class and as small groups within the class, it is a diagnostic tool for me.  Here is how my team building exercise went:

I had my students do an exercise called “The Human Knot,” (again, some may know it by a different name).  Eight students stand in a circle, for my classes it worked out well, since my classes are in groups of four.  The eight students put their right hands in the middle of the circle and grab the hand of someone within the circle that is not standing next to them.  Next, they put their left hands in the middle of the circle and they grab the hand of someone else not standing next to them.  In order for the exercise to work, each student must be holding hands with two different people, and they must not be holding hands with someone directly to their left, or directly to their right.

Next, the students must try and untangle themselves to form a circle without dropping each others’ hands.  It can be done.  It has been done.  And in my classes, it was done.

At first, the students were reluctant to hold each others’ hands.  Then, all it took was for one student to make a move, and they all dug in, teamwork at its finest.  It worked beautifully.  One group within each of the three classes that tried this,   were able to form a circle.  It was the neatest thing to watch.  And that is all I did, watch.  Here were the results:

Most of the students were able to successfully work together.  However, there were a few that started out extremely annoyed with me for even suggesting this exercise, but they quickly joined in and tried to help.  Even so, there were two or three who simply refused to help, they just stood there, not helping, but not hurting the team.  The students thought it was fun, but didn’t really know what it could possible tell me.

I was able to see who the leaders and the reluctant leaders of the groups were, who the loyal followers were, who the reluctant followers were, and who took on the role of comic relief.  After each class had finished the exercise, I gave each student my observation of how they functioned in a group.  For the most part, the way students behave in team building exercises is the way they will behave when working in small groups.  Both the students and I were surprised at the leadership qualities in some of their peers.  However, I explained to them, now I know who has the leadership qualities, and I fully expect them to live up to their roles.

I tried this, and similar team building exercises with many of my classes over the years.  And each student that has participated, has risen to the high expectations I have set for them…without exception.  It was, and has been an exceptional diagnostic tool.  Now that I can see the beginnings of my students strengths and weaknesses with a small group, I can begin to work with them to get their best efforts.  By the end of the first quarter (around the end of August) I should see students working up to the high expectations I maintain for all of my students.  Teaching…It’s a Beautiful Thing.

Well, dear Readers we have come to the end of  very fine friendship, at least I think so.  I will be back someday; someday soon, I hope.  I will continue to write, because writing soothes my soul.  As for publishing, well, I’m working on it.  I thank each and everyone of you, dear Readers around the world.  I have enjoyed every smile, every frown, every frustration, every thing that this blog has brought me.  I leave you with the hope that you will all go out and change the world for the better, even just a little, I know I will.

Please always remember, and don’t ever forget…Peace, ~v.