Tears For All The Years That Passed

im crying, sonni quick. karma, liver transplant
photo source: crazy4images.com

I’m crying
Why can’t the world hear my crying?
Tears for all the years that passed
seeing dreams that never last.
beyond the time you can see
and when you open up your eyes
the dream has passed
It’s now too late
to dream that dream again
my heart is torn it can not mend.
My dreams are dying
and I’m crying
for all I have that’s left is pain
I lost it all with none to gain
I look in the mirror, I see myself
hoping to see where the years have gone
I made the cause, I was so young
Sharp turns to the left
that way was wrong.
tears fall, say please
as they stream down your face.
a longing look at the piano keys
I wrap my arms around my knees,
Crying tears of loss
Crying tears of pain
No one takes a step across
No one ever takes the time
No one ever looks to find
No one feels the pain inside
And no one cares about the tears I cried.

This poem was written in 2012 around the time of my liver transplant when no one took the time to hear me. I didn’t want to die, and I didn’t want to fully realize I  was walking a very fine line. I still had things to. I wasn’t yet done living. I had been in a state of denial for many years. I still am. I was determined to live – to learn everything my body needed to live. I succeeded for a long time until the year I turned 54. It all came crashing down like a delicate house of cards made from one card too many.

I found the poem today when I was cleaning my desk, looking for one last book of blank checks. Some wounds are deep and they are almost impossible to heal.  They go round and round in your head until you want to scream to drown out the noise. That is when I often choose to write. All through my life I have put my words on paper or music. I have also written many journals through multiple decades. I think it was a way to not lose myself; to not disappear- a need to keep me solid to prove I was here. A hundred years from now my descendants can still know who I was today.

I had know for years that the number 54 was going to mean something to me.  I know this is going to sound strange, but I thought of it again when I recently wrote to someone who said she was 54.  I was born in 1954.  My father died when he was 54.  He died from liver failure from alcohol.  His body swelled with fluid until he looked 9 months pregnant.  His father died, too, when he was 54.  His body filled with fluid and it went over his heart and he drowned.

When I was 54 my body swelled with fluid and I had my first attack of ascites.  I was in end stage liver disease and my body was shutting down. The week before I felt fine, but my legs were swelling and I was getting very think around the middle.  The women who ran my doctor’s front office wouldn’t let me make an appointment with him because I had just been in, but after getting very angry they scheduled me with a part time doctor in the office who told me I was constipated and go do an enema.  It got worse. I crashed my doctors office and demanded to see him. His jaw dropped.  After he got done yelling at his office staff he gave me meds to take the water out.  It worked but he told me later he was scared for me.  Next thing to do? Pack up, leave key West and go get on the liver transplant list.

At the age of 54 I should have died.  Without the advance of medicine I would have been gone.  Many times, on this blog I have talked about karma – cause and effect.  We carry karma with us.  It is passed down through the generations.  From the time I was in my 20’s I always thought that any year I lived after 54 would be a gift. I don’t even know why I thought that.  My father was still alive.  I just knew.  The doctors at the hospital worked hard to keep me alive as long as they could, because I also had to battle liver cancer. Finally, 2 years past the age of 54 a liver came available that matched what I needed.  Not all livers work for all people and more people die waiting for a liver for that reason. The doctors said I came as close as possible to death without dying.  That is an eye opener.

But still, even now, I have to push through the damage it had done, and every day I tell myself I can do it.  I can dream.  I can still do things.  I can start new chapters in my life.  I’m off and running. I still have a few sharp turns to the left in me.  I beat the karma.  I’m 61 now and next July 2nd I will have my fourth birthday.  Date of transplant.  I’m a kid again. It will take a lot more than this to keep me down!

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Hepatitis C, Harvoni, Changing Karma and Me

hep c viris

The law of cause and effect is absolute. It doesn’t pick a cause we made at random and decide we will pay the price for this particular act and let others slide. It is not the Lord’s will, or his plan for me, that I should suffer for long decades out of my life for the stupid, lack of wisdom, choice I made when I was very young to do IV drugs. What “caused” me to want to do them in the first place? I never even hesitated. The first chance I had to try them, I did. But why? I didn’t come from a family who even kept alcohol in the house and no one in my family – even extended family even smoked cigarettes. Imagine that. What are the odds? But I was drawn to it and jumped in with both feet. It lasted for three years. I got pregnant with my son, now almost 39, and knew he was more important and it gave me the strength to stop. I thought I got away with it. I thought I was one of the lucky ones. Many people can’t stop. Boy, was I wrong. We don’t get away from the effects of our karma – ever.

The karma was there waiting for my family. After I left home for college my father started drinking. Why? Why then? It killed him fast. He was dead at age 54 after several bouts of ascities – the abdomen filling with fluid and long needles were inserted to drain out fluid to make it easier to breathe. He was so sick. He looked 90. At age 54 I had my first attack of ascities. My liver could no longer work. My father’s father also died at age 54 because his body filled with fluid. It went over his lungs and he literally drowned in his own fluid. All three of us at age 54. Same cause, different reason. That is karma. Who’s next?

This is karma. This was something I had to go through. This was one of the lessons I had to learn. Learn it or repeat it. We call into our lives the lessons we need to learn and if we don’t learn what we need to learn and use it in a way to help others and grow into a better person then we do it again.

Here’s an easy example to explain. We draw into our lives the same kind of people until we learn. A woman will draw the same kind of abuser. Or we get the same kind of boss. We acquire the same kind of friends who misuse us. We might even try to move to a different area thinking we can start all over but we end up with the same kind of people in our lives – because we have not changed. We haven’t learned. If we move we carry our karmic baggage with us.

So what does this have to do with the title of this post? It has everything to do with it. First of all I am not dead – and I should be. Many people in my position didn’t make it. Why? Am I more deserving? Would any of you have the foolish nerve to say that God decided to let me live, especially when I absolutely do not believe there is an emotional thinking entity in the universe that singled me out to live? You’d think he would keep alive a person who praised his name and gloried this entity who NEEDS to be praised. Actually, you’d think he’d strike me dead for being so blasphemous. Yet that won’t happen.

Staying alive has not been easy. It has taken much study to learn what my body needs. Undiagnosed pain began in the mid ’80’s when no one knew what Hep C was, so doctors did what they usually did to women -said it was all in my head and wanted to put me on heavy doses of mind numbing anti-depressants. I went through diagnoses of Epstein Barr, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, because of nerve damage. Hepatis damages far more than just the liver. The correct diagnoses came in ’98. I’ve been on narcotic pain relief for 23 years although I now keep the dosage at what I think is a minimal dose.

My karma was to do drugs whether I wanted to or not. That has not changed. When I stopped using, my life, my karma, made it very clear that if I wasn’t going to take drugs voluntary it would make me take them. Karma doesn’t have a personality. It doesn’t love us.It doesn’t care about us. It isn’t evil. It doesn’t try to influence us in any way. We don’t have to believe in it. It doesn’t need to be worshipped or prayed to. We don’t have to ask it to come into our heart and “save” us. What it needs us to do is to take responsibility for the things we do and for the effects in our life from these causes we made in this life we have. If you continue to look outside yourself for the reasons for your problems and ask some force “out there” to fix them for you, you’ll continue to wait for a long time. And when it fails you’ll say it must be the Lord’s will. If things do work out it is also the Lord’s will. God can’t lose. No matter what happens it is his responsibility

It is because I accept responsibility – completely – for my life that I am still here. I have survived every single illness and infection this disease has thrown at me from ascites, varicies, liver cancer, ongoing skin cancer, hemachromatosis, lung infections, severe osteoporosis, spinal fracture, 7 rib fractures, ovaries and tubes removed with cysts the size of a grapefruit, every gastrointestinal infection known to man, liver transplant, spinal surgery and a lot more I don’t even remember – ALL BECAUSE I CHOSE TO DO IV DRUGS WHEN I WAS 20. I am now 61.

This is the karma I created. Do I let it beat me? Should I feel sorry for myself? Please, do not ever say you are sorry that I have had to go through this. I am not. This is a benefit. This is an opportunity that presented itself in this lifetime that I am changing. When negative things happen to you, what matters is how you handle it – your attitude – the new causes you make that determines whether you change it or perpetuate it. Do you accept responsibility for everything that happens in your life or do you say some things are not your fault – you’re a victim – you didn’t do anything to cause it – it was just bad luck? Everything happens for a reason whether you want to believe it or not. To understand the law of life is worth all of it. It’s a whole lot easier to not accept responsibility for our lives – to say it’s God’s will because that is something someone taught you to believe and you’re afraid to question it or you might piss him off. So many people need something else to be responsible for their pain.

So now, the latest in my fight against this disease is the drug Harvoni, tried first with Ribavirin, but it lowered my red blood count where I wasn’t getting enough oxygen and can barely walk across the room and I’ve been nauseas 24/7 for 7 weeks. Some people breeze through on this drug, but for me everything I’ve done to stay alive has been a major fight and hard won. If there is a side effect, I will have it. This is a hard, deep karma. Once an addict always an addict and anyone who has ever fought an addiction that sets out to kill you knows that it always owns you, no matter how far you try to run from it. If I had won over it I wouldn’t be taking 20 mgs of methadone every day just to cut the edge of the chronic pain I have.

Harvoni is my best chance of living. Hep C will eventually kill my new liver. Then I’ll be too old for another transplant. I wouldn’t survive it anyway. Harvoni works for 95% of those who take it. That is great odds, but still, 5 out of 100 don’t get cured. What happened to them? No one talks about them.

I feel I’ve done everything I could and I stay optimistic about my future. I have much to do yet. I still have dreams and goals to meet. I will live every minute of my life and work to make a difference in people’s lives. My life matters. I am still a mother, a grandmother, and I am still wonderfully, appreciatively a daughter and a sister.

I have said in other posts, “The only legacy we really leave behind is the effect we had on other people”. That has been my goal in life – to be a positive effect on people. To give them hope, strength and encouragement to change their lives and become happy. Those things are found inside you, not “out there”.

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Sonni Quick piano music complete list

Stop Believing Family is Supposed to Love You, When They Don’t

Older sister on the left and me on the right, and younger sister in front.  I remember this day at Wildwood NJ
Older sister on the left and me on the right, and younger sister in front. I remember this day at Wildwood NJ

When I wake in the morning I always grab my Nook, swallow 10 mg of methadone and start my daily routine on the web, while waiting for some of the pain to subside, so I can get on with my day, which usually includes 12 hrs or more in front of my laptop on my other website http://mynameisjamie.net or writing my book “InsideOut” There are three of ten chapters written so far that can be found on the opening page of that site. The weather isn’t nice outside, so I have a reason to hole up inside. I absolutely hate cold weather and won’t go out in it if I don’t have it.

I’m beating about the bush. I happened on some posts at https://drkottaway.wordpress.com/ about how childhood trauma can affect you.  There are quite a few great posts here and is a worthwhile blog going to.   I have some deep issues dealing with my family and they came to a head recently and dealing with them has not been easy. I decided to just write and get it out.

I am inserting a piece of music I recorded. My music is all improvisational, never to be played again.  A wrong note here and there. Keep that in mind and listen while you read.

———————————————–Sonni Quick   copyright 2015 -Watching and Waiting

When we are children, we have no way to process the things that happen to us, so we end up thinking it is our fault and most of the time it affects who we are to this very day. It’s not so easy to just say, “I won’t think about it any more.  It won’t affect my life any more”, because the damage has already been done and all we can do is pick up the pieces and try to use what we have learned in a positive way somehow. Easier said than done.  I don’t think any child escapes trauma of some kind and even though it may even seem like such a small thing today, back then it affected everything – which then affects your existence today.

Me, my father, my older sister and younger sister. Happy family time.
Me, my father, my older sister and younger sister. Happy family time.

I went through a molestation with a visiting uncle who took his penis out and wanted me to touch it. I did. He did it one of my sisters, too. I didn’t find that out, though for 45 years. I never told anyone. Neither did she. He didn’t visit for long, so he had no other opportunities to do anything else. I don’t know why I never said anything, but I knew it was wrong.  What do you say, “Uncle took his thingy out” – when I don’t even think I knew then what it was called? I never told anyone until I was in my 50’s. 

Negative family relationships

I have a sister a year older than me who, when I was 5, when we were walking to school, wouldn’t let me walk with her, and this 6 year old told me, “I don’t want anyone to know you are my sister.” Until we graduated, if she saw me in the school hall she turned her face away. If my own sister didn’t want me around why would anyone? I hated to go to the lunch room in fear I’d have no one to sit with.  Gym class petrified me and I thought of every excuse I could to not have to play games where people picked other people for their team. Since I had no friends, of course I was usually picked last or close to it. Until I graduated I had very few friends. Until I was 34 I had very few friends. I scared people off by not being friendly first, so I didn’t have to worry if I was going to be rejected. I had such a fear of rejection I rejected them first. Why would someone want to be friends with me?

It wasn’t until I started practicing Buddhism and this woman I didn’t know called me and asked if I wanted to come to a discussion meeting.  I stood there with my hand on the phone in total amazement. A woman called me like she was my friend?  She wanted me around? I remember this so clearly.

Aside from this, I hustled pool, changed my name and reinvented myself several timees.  spent many years working as a professional musician, on stage many, many times. Confident, strong and an air of being so sure of myself and my goals.  I needed no one.   My wall was very high. My confidence alone pushed people away.  I could walk into a club and pick what man I wanted to spend time with and walk out with him.  I made myself believe I needed no one.

It’s easy to see why my family didn’t quite know how to deal with me, but did they need to be quite so hurtful? We’re in our 60’s.  Okay, I led a very diverse life. It sure wasn’t boring. This truth telling has only been the tip of the iceberg? Could I have led their lives doing the same thing over and over for decades?

I have a younger sister, but we were never “sisters”. She has recently made it clear that she doesn’t know ” how”.  A few weeks ago at the age of 61 my older sister had quadruple heart bypass surgery. I have a fairly large family. Mom, and also a variety of neices and nephews and their families.  Everyone was at the hospital to support her – except me, because I knew if I went it would cause a big problem. So I stayed home and kicked the walls for a few days. I sent her a card, said nice things in about wanting to see her, wrote her an email asking her to please call. She won’t answer her phone because she sees it’s me. No response.

Four years ago I had to move home to Pa from Key West. I lost my home and my business, a retail store of ten years at the Weston Hotel where the cruise ships docked.  I lost everything. My husband and I moved to my mothers into a 10×10 room.  My whole life was in storage or in that room.  I think my family expected me to be a whole person, but I wasn’t.  I was shattered into tiny pieces that were unable to process thought very well any more. I was very sick and was put on the liver transplant list, because 40 years ago, when I left home to go to college, I turned to drugs.

Drugs took the place of friends. people don’t do drugs because it makes them feel bad. It fills a hole. It puts good feelings in a place there is none. I had no self worth and when I was high I could come out of myself and play and dance and sing and be the person I wanted to be. It gave me fortitude the same way a drink gives fortitude to an alcoholic.

I was raped once when I was about 20. The only person I told was this man’s girlfriend. I ended that relationship. All I did was run away and spent 3 days shooting heroin, but stopped the first time I felt sick and knew it would make me feel better. I made a sign on a piece of cardboard and hitchhiked home, although home was not where I grew up.

Except occasionally,when I went to Pa every couple years to visit, I had no communication with my sisters. Why?

I had a problem with drugs off and on until age 34.  Once and addict always an addict, just like someone never really recovers from alcohol.  One drink can set them back.  I never turned down any drug if it was put in front of my face. But at 34, I found Nichiren Buddhism, which I’ve written about many times. Even my mother changed from Christianity to Buddhism after she took an honest look at what it taught. But it was at age 34, when I realized my life really did have value and I didn’t need to be afraid any more. That was 27 years ago.

That day I stopped doing street drugs. But within months the ugly head of hep C reared with unexplained illnesses.  Since very few doctors knew abou Hepatitis C they gave an addict pain pills for the nerve pain or wanted to give me anti depressants because, since they couldn’t diagnose it, it was all in my head. It was another ten years before I got a diagnoses. I stayed on my feet for 12 more years until my liver was a complete mess and a transplant was necessary. It had turned to liver cancer. I was out of time. I had to move home where there was a good transplant hospital.

Shooting drugs from ages 19-22, hiding from myself and pretending to be someone else was a massive cause and effect.

My mother has always asked me why I did drugs. If I hadn’t left the state to go to college, which I screwed up doing drugs, and stayed home, maybe I wouldn’t have done them? Karma is karma. There are drugs everywhere.  Staying home wouldn’t have changed that, but being away my family also meant they couldn’t see what I was doing.

When I moved back to Pa I thought I would have a family who cared about me.  It was a very big shock, although I don’t know why, to find out that I didn’t.  They didn’t care a whit about what happened to me and proved it over and over and over.  I thought, “Stupid me”

I had that transplant 2 1/2 years ago.  Not one member of my family was there for me that day, except my husband. The rest of my  family went to the beach on vacation. Not one phone call to even see if I was dead. My mother did stop by the ICU on her way out of town. My Dr said my transplant was in the nick of time. My husband was scared to death and there was no one there to support him. My family didn’t like him, either, and they made no bones about saying so. The negative gossip was so thick you could cut it with a knife.  They didn’t know him, but being married to me was all that was needed. I was told I had maybe a couple weeks of life left at the most, if they hadn’t been able to find a liver in time. I’d been bed ridden for about a year by then. My husband had to do everything for me, even wipe my ass and help me on and off the toilet. I was on a massive amount of drugs to keep protein from building up in my brain and going into a coma.  My body swelled up so big with fluid it was leaking out through sores on my legs. Thinking was hard.  All I could was lay in bed and watch movies on my DVD player.  We don’t own a TV.  He would help me walk to the living room to sit or out to the garden and sit. Not one get well card. No one called.  Recently, when talking to my neice she told me how bad I looked before my surgery.  I bit my tongue and kept my mouth shut because I wanted to say, “How would you know?  I didn’t see you once the year before my surgery. . . .  They have no clue.  I was bedridden for a year after the surgery because I had to relearn how to walk and feed myself. After the surgery my back fractured along with 7 ribs, one at a time. The wall of solid pain didn’t even begin to diminish for six weeks. If anyone would have asked me if I wanted to die, I would have gladly gone. Hopefully I will be having spine surgery in the next couple months so they can place sensors in my spine to try and cut off the pain before it reaches my brain. I hate taking these goddamn painkillers. But when I stopped ‘using’ my life made me continue. what would my life be like with no pills, even though half of them are so I don’t reject my new liver.

Now, as I try to bring this sob story to an end, as I try to figure out what all of this means, I know, as we go through painful events in our lives, we want to see them as being separate . We want to see them as things that were done “to” us, and we carry these pains, stuff them down, and try to make ourselves think it doesn’t matter. Sometimes we let it ruin our lives.  I can honestly say that this hateful family of mine is not ruining my life. I seek to understand and change the karma I brought into my life of having a family such as this one.

It hurts me greatly when I think of it, but I have had my practice of Buddhism to help me understand that happiness comes from within.  I can’t ask anything else to change it for me.  That change has to come from within.  Without this practice of Buddhism I would have been dead a long time ago.  It was the direction I was going in.  But winter always turns to spring.  Every single year.  Every year is a new opportunity I have to live a life of value, and to pass that value on, because the only legacy we can every really leave behind is the effect we have had on other people, that has helped their life in turn.  If my family sees no value in me, then that is a cause they make for themselves. I let this consume me for the past four years out of my 60, but no more.  I try to think, what value would they bring into my life?  I have tried, though, because I see how much it pains my mother to see her daughters at such odds.  All 3 of us – none of us are friends.  She thinks she did something wrong.  She didn’t.  I so love and appreciate my mother and if this illness brought me home to live a block away from her, then that is a wonderful benefit. If anything changed with my sisters  it would take all three of us to want it to be better, and two out of three don’t.

I tried for so long to “make” my family see me as a real person – to want to include me in their lives. I’ve pleaded, wrote letters and even screamed and yelled in frustration, “Why? What have I done that is so terrible? Why are you being such a lousy sister?” I wanted to have even one person say they were sorry for letting me go through a traumatic illness, surgery alone, but my younger sister insists, “I have nothing to be sorry about”.  You have nothing to be sorry about??   She doesn’t get it.  Not at all. I wanted an apology for what she did to me. She’s says she didn’t do anything to me.  She’s right. It’s what she didn’t do. 

According to my family I am toxic. I am the scapegoat for all the problems in the family even though they haven’t been around me. This year, for Christmas, my mother and I cooked dinner and invited family to come.  They did, but there was also a Christmas party planned at my nephew’s house.  Everyone was invited but me so there wouldn’t be any problems. There will be no more Christmas dinners, or birthdays or fourth of July picnics.   I won’t be where I am truly not wanted.  What did they think I was going to do?  Christmas presents I had for one sister are still in my closet.  The birthday card I had for my other sister on March 15th was never sent. For awhile one sister did pretend to care – the one who just had heart surgery, but due to urgings from the family passing gossip, she, too, cut off communication. If I could think of what I did to cause this unforgivable animosity I could deal with it better, but I can’t.  I just don’t understand people who can be so hurtful andso selfish

So I ask myself, why do I want them in my life? What is the purpose of family? Do I judge myself by the way I am judged? Am I the person they judge me to be? No.

I know that what happened when I was five, when my sister made it clear she wanted no part of being my sister – she meant it, even though she didn’t think it at the time, and I’m sure doesn’t even remember saying it. I know the way I felt about myself helped lead me to drugs. I also know, through my study of life through Buddhism these past 27 years that this was karma I caused for myself, somewhere, somehow. It is what I do with this understanding that will either change it or perpetuate it.

For my own sanity I have to let my family go. Stop trying to make them love me, because they don’t. They really, really don’t. They are a group of people that kisses and hugs at holidays and talks about the weather and their jobs and kids, and then doesn’t speak to each other again until the next holiday. So shallow. That holds no value for me. I wanted a sister to be my friend. What is an adult sister but a friend. Someone you talk to about your life. Who you are. I wanted too much from my family. I see that now. I have no value to them. How could we possibly be friends? So how could their children or their children want me as their aunt. So here I am at age 60, finally realizing with utter completeness, I – Have – No – Family. I do still have my mother who loves me and shakes her head at the lack of compassion her family shows me. When she passes, I doubt I will ever be a reason to hear from any member of my family again.  I have my own children and grandchildren, but my immediate family no longer exists.

Now I’m going to go blow my nose and wash my face and take this pile of garbage out to the trash for the last time.

September 2015. Labor Day. I just went back re-read this and thought I’d write a catch up. My entire family and friends are at my older sisters camper at Raystown Lake, so nothing has changed there. Even if they decided I was worthwhile to be around I don’t think it would mean anything to me. Such is life. I also had the surgery on my spine a month ago but it caused complications I’m still healing from. AND 3 weeks ago I started on the new Hepatitis C drug so my fingers are crossed!! And lastly, I bought myself a present. A new keyboard I’m excited. I can record 6 tracks.