So I’m sitting here at 10:30pm on the Sunday of one of the longest, strangest weeks of my life. On Monday we came home to find the door to our garage kicked in and all my jewelry stolen, along with the laptop that housed a lot of writing (some unpublished) and a year’s worth of family photos.
I remember the feeling of looking at that open, emptied jewelry box, where my necklaces and rings and earrings used to be. I threw my hand to my mouth and sucked in air as if somebody had punched me in the gut.
They took almost every piece of jewelry I’ve ever received from Mac: thirteen years’ worth of anniversaries, birthdays, Christmases and Valentine’s.
Once, when we had only been together about 3 months (he was 19 and I was 21), we were driving along this country road on the way into town, and I started bitching and moaning about how he never bought me flowers. Yes, I know. Impressive. I kept on and on and he was silent, probably wondering how he got hooked up with such a nutjob. He let me really get pissed, elaborating for him all the ways he sucked as a boyfriend (well at this point we had been living with each other for 2 months and 29 days so I felt like we were an old married couple), until all the sudden he pulled the car over in the middle of the country. He was angry. He said “Really? I don’t buy you flowers? I never buy you flowers?!”
He got out of the car, went to the trunk and came back with a flat rectangular box, wrapped in flowered paper.
Inside was a beautiful pearl and white gold chain necklace.
We both cried when we recalled that story.
The bastards don’t know that story, but they have the necklace he handed me that day, when I felt my heart explode and realized I should never, ever accuse this man of lack of romance and generosity, lest I have my ass handed to me again.
And you know I’ll tell you the feeling of violation, to know these rat bastard fuckers stepped on my boy’s bed and pillow on our floor where he sleeps. To know they walked beside our kids’ rooms. And to realize after a bit of time passed that clearly the person knew our house…that it was not done by a stranger, and we have ideas but no way to prove it…and the fuckers wore gloves and we used to have an alarm system but never used it (so it was disconnected)…and I used to keep my jewelry in places other than the box but I didn’t that time…and I knew we lived in a shit neighborhood and should leave…God the regret and rage and hatred and terrifying sense of violation. We’re already broke. I’m already feeling lost and tired with little clue where to go with my life.
And then this? Damn I got wrapped around the axle, folks.
I got so desperate I texted a friend of mine who has an uncanny ability to tell me the most painful truth imaginable. His words pierce, because they’re true, and they hurt like you wouldn’t believe, but they never fail to help me see things in a new light, and be set free.
He said “Yeah, that’s happened to me a couple times. I figured they needed the stuff more than I did.”
Fuck you and your compassion, dude.
And then the killer: “Things happen as they happen, Janelle, the pain is from us fighting what is.”
And I knew then the way to freedom: Get in the moment. Fully accept what’s happening. Let go of the story, the story I’ve attached. Events have no inherent meaning. They are just EVENTS. They are just life happening. I place the value on them. I decide if they’re “good” or ”bad.”
The next day I read this post by the glorious Meg Worden and I almost puked it was so right on.
What’s the truth? They took stuff. They TOOK STUFF. In other words, nothing. They took nothing. That stuff has no meaning. I give it meaning. Someday I’m going to be dust in the earth. What the hell does jewelry matter?
The man who handed me that necklace is by my side. The family we built together is by my side. We’re all here, alive, to whine about shit that doesn’t matter.
The last time I checked, the brain that created that writing is still attached to my neck.
And then I told you people about it and an outpouring of love came my way. People offered me money and to send me laptops. My friends called and rallied and invented Mission Impossible style investigation crews.
And we realized we’ve been sitting on our asses not making changes we’ve needed to make for a LONG TIME. We hate this house. We hate this neighborhood. We need to get the hell out. This was the kick in the ass we needed.
I got to watch myself get ALL BENT OUTTA SHAPE about stuff, expensive stuff, and I saw the insanity of my attachment to those items. Who cares? No really. WHO CARES?
This is life. I am a living breathing being with a gorgeous healthy life. Take it all, motherfuckers! Take every last shred of what you want. You must need it more than I do.
We woke up Saturday morning and realized they had broken into my husband’s work truck. They stole his tools and a generator that was chained to the bed of the truck. Bolt cutters.
So we were burglarized twice in 7 days.
Take it all.
Take every last bit.
(Of course now you’ll have to get around a sick-ass alarm system my brother bought me, and sent my way, because I’ve got people that love me in a way that takes my breath away. And you’ll have to FIND something of value since literally I have $100 worth of jewelry left other than the rings on my fingers, and we have no television or electronics. We have no material items of value in this house. It’s actually rather freeing.)
But here’s the craziest shit you’ve ever heard: A few months (um, two?) after we met, Mac proposed to me with a very simple white gold band with 5 or 6 small diamonds spaced around the circle. I thought it was the most gorgeous thing I’d ever seen. On our one-year anniversary, Mac sat across from me at a restaurant and presented me with a big ass diamond ring (well, big to me). He had saved his money all year long to buy me that ring. When he gave it to me he said “I know you always say you don’t care about big rings, but I thought you might like a shiny diamond on your hand.”
I almost fell over.
For a long time I wore them together, but at some point I removed the small band and I never found it again. I haven’t seen that ring in at least 7 years. So often I’ve thought about that simple band and felt sadness that it was gone. I mean talk about sentimental. That’s as meaningful as jewelry gets. But I dismissed it as another casualty of my drinking. One more thing I lost. Or gave away, depending on how you look at it.
Well, last Monday as I walked up to the empty jewelry box, my heart pounding in fear and sadness, I saw something shiny in the space where the stolen drawer had been. Grabbing it, I knew immediately what it was. I gazed in awe at the simple diamond band my husband gave me thirteen years ago, the companion to the ring still on my finger. It must have been jammed in the jewelry box somewhere, and when the burglars yanked the drawer out it was dislodged, and it laid there untouched, waiting for me.
So they gave me back the most precious piece of jewelry I owned, and they lit a fire under my ass, and they showed me how much love I’ve got pouring my way from friends and family and people I’ve never met, and they reminded me of the insanity of attachment to things, of the idea that stuff matters at all.
I’ve got a life to live.
I’ve got everything I need.
And those bitch douchebag degenerate fuckers reminded me of that.
Maybe I should be thanking them. Or maybe, I should do as Meg says, and just stay neutral. Let life happen as it does.
No, I hope they burn in hell. Not really. But sort of.
Whatever. On Saturday, after we found out they stole from us again, we called Mac’s work and the police, and hit the fucking road. We were headed to Santa Cruz to celebrate Rocket’s 8th birthday, which is tomorrow.
I ain’t got time for that shit. You want it? You can have it. I’m neutral enough to realize that.
I’ll be busy living a real life.
You know one of the best parts about being a failure in a former life is a profound awareness of how infinitely good this life is, now, with all the shit that may come. Because I went to the beach to celebrate the boy who was out of my life for two years. AND NOW HE’S BACK and SO AM I.
Alcoholism stole from me more than some weak-ass burglar ever could.
And that will never be lost on me.
And it will never be stolen.
So bring it, bitches.
I’ve got nothin’ but love for ya.
On an eerily related note (sometimes timing is uncanny), I’ll be talking about my story of alcoholism on Tuesday night at 6pm PST in a live-streaming event (Google+ hangout) sponsored by LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER and The Partnership at Drugfree.org. This blog tour is a part of The Partnership’s work to #EndMedicineAbuse, Please join me on Google+ (you can RSVP here if you want) or view live on this YouTube channel. Hear new/original work by me and 11 other bloggers on the topic of personal connections to addiction, substance use, and/or what we want children to know about the medicine abuse epidemic. I really hope you check it out, and maybe invite your teenagers to listen. I’m speaking directly to them.