We Walk Around the Ruin


As a child I was obsessed with NOT stepping on cracks

“Step on a crack, break your mother’s back”

rang in my ears.

Decades later I came to understand that my compulsion

was just that;

I had OCD born of trauma.

I needed something that I could control,


I had countless rituals that grew out of my need to feel in control.

Cracks were one that linger to this day.

Your past haunts

if you let it.


Alcohol kills.

It kills and it kills and it continues to kill

and we walk around the death and the ruin


tip toe.

I started the blog almost a year ago.

My mother was living with Wernicke – Korsakoff

Alcoholics dementia

and I was living it with her.

If you can call what that was


Caring for anyone with dementia is difficult at best;

caring for a woman who abused you as a child

who was a life long alcoholic living with dementia caused by all the booze;

is too much to ask of anyone.

I began this blog as a way to connect with others who are caretakers,

other who live with and have loved alcoholics.

I began this to let people know how Wernicke – Korsakoff presents

and how little can be done to stop it.

 My mother died on November 30th, 2012.

My mother’s death was not painless or pleasant

and neither was her life.

I was present for both: her life and her death

and I am walking with both every day of my life.

Alcohol Kills and I have borne witness to the waste.

I miss Daddy.

I miss that I do not miss Mommy.

I carry guilt and pain and regret and resentment

but not everyday or every moment.

In most moments I carry Love and Peace and Contentment.

In most moments I carry Compassion and Gratitude.

I am back. I will finish this story:

The story of my life with my mother

a life long alcoholic

a woman ravaged by alcoholism and the dementia that comes with it.

I have posted links to a few posts that are the framework

of the story.

My mother’s story



Alcohol Kills.

You can take that to the bank.

Peace, Jen


The Beginning….

Alcohol Kills

1% Forgiveness

Before I tell you how to build a coffin…

“Wood is so Warm and Alive as Though it has a Soul”

I Have Been Places I Pray You Never Go

Tribal Drums Sound and the Healing Begins

100 Fucking Percent Forgiveness

The Sky Said

Child as Asteroid

~ by Step On a Crack on September 1, 2012.

26 Responses to “We Walk Around the Ruin”

  1. I don’t miss my mom either, Jen.

    I lost a ring that my brother’s fiance made for my mom OODLES of years ago (in the, “i’m straight years” for Jeff) and it broke my heart: FOR JEFF, FOR SHERYL, not so much because mom left it in her jewelry box, and forgot to give it to someone she “really” loved. ;-), but because of my compassion for Jeff and for Sheryl … and for our desperate GRASP at “blood” connection. As for alcohol, i haven’t seen it killed first hand like you have, but i lived with the “pox upon yea” attitude from my mom who was very sick. I don’t hate my mom. What is stunning to me, my love, is that our mothers had SUCH similar despicable mothering qualities, and the element of ALCOHOL wasn’t involved. I am NOT condoning alcoholism! Jesus, NO! … it’s just that ADDICTIONS, food, alcohol, drugs, depression, have such similar familiar ramifications that I wish I had “harder” evidence for the masses to explain what I KNOW about family destruction, and “inner strength, believe, ability” … the lot. Thank you for your honesty my friend! LOVE, MEL


    • Mel!

      This is the crux of the whole darn thing:

      ” it’s just that ADDICTIONS, food, alcohol, drugs, depression, have such similar familiar ramifications that I wish I had “harder” evidence for the masses to explain what I KNOW about family destruction, and “inner strength, believe, ability”

      Thank you for summing it up in one tidy sentence…

      Yes. Amen Sister!

      XO Jen


  2. And, it’s probably time to go to sleep 😉 I just saw my million-th misspelling of the night. xo m


    • I wanted to respond to Troy. I’ve always looked at Jen’s blog as a cautionary blog … not about Jen, per se, living in the past. NO, that’s not it. So, while it’s nice that Troy is supportive, i think you’ve missed the point. Am i wrong Jen? You are a loving, lively, living in the present gal! Yea we have our shit to work through … but this blog is just a slice of life … that you (and I) hope we can PREVENT from happening to others. The blog is HERE to make people take a GOOD look at their situation and determine if you’ve been in denial, or if you and your family are a risk for some rough stuff. xo


  3. The past is past. I always recommend that we gather up the lessons and sweet memories and leave the rest to go. Let’s become beautiful examples to the generations after us and make a difference, especially where those ahead of us failed. My Sweet September wishes for you:


    • Hello there!

      I agree with you 100% and I am human. I have so many moments, weeks, months of Peace and Acceptance. The thing is, this blog is about the devastation that alcoholism can leave in its wake. I often speak to the issue of Forgiveness and Acceptance and I must also be 100% honest about how those two are hard won AT TIMES. This summer I took a BlogCation spending time with my teen son. I had little glimpses of the pain because I was surrounded by the Joy. It comes and It goes.

      Thank you so much for the blessings!

      Peace, Jen


      • YES JEN … see what i wrote to Troy.

        Thanks for your support Troy!!

        Thanks for clearing things up Jen! xo


  4. I know your name is Jen.
    But secretly I’ve always called you
    “Columbia” — the GEM.

    Through oceans of ruin,
    Through oceans of pain,
    Through oceans of alcohol, abuse, and death,
    You have flaired as light on facets
    You have shown.

    The Gem of the Oceans.

    ❤ K


  5. Sometimes…no, wait…so many times I am just blown away by our level of humanity…how we still go to lengths to look after those who’ve hurt and abused us…how we can’t stop loving them even when we hate what they’ve done to us. That doesn’t mean we have to miss them though…or the way they treated us. It is just a measure of our compassion and forgiveness. You are who you are because of how you grew up and you are a kind, generous, compassionate woman. Your OCD may be born of trauma but so are your other qualities. Never forget that you have goodness inside of you and you deserve happiness. xo.


    • Dear Nataly!

      I missed YOU while ‘away’!

      You are dead on: all of me is built on each and every experience AND more importantly, how I look at them. You are so right. I debated continuing this blog for 1000 reasons and the thing is: the story is not finished. Alcohol does kill and it leaves devastation in its wake IF we choose to leave it that way! I believe with every ounce of my being that talking all this out with therapists and with friends and, mostly, other surviviors, is what helped me make peace. Do I make peace in every moment? No. I AM aware of those moments though and without the dialog I would not be. I am planning on finishing what I started. My mothers alcoholics dementia was not diagnosed soon enough. Maybe MAYBE writing about it will help others see the symptoms early enough to get help. Wernicke – Korsakoff is the MOST under diagnosed form of dementia. That is because WE NEED TO HAVE HONEST DIALOG and that is really hard to do with Alcohol at play.

      YOU are a shining star here in BlogLand.I am glad to be back: I missed you guys!

      Peace, Jen


      • You are so right about honest dialog! Until I started reading your blog, I’d never even heard of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome/dementia. My mother is the Nursing Director at a nursing home that specialises in cases of dementia and whenever I’ve visited her there I’ve often caught glimpses of the patients and she’s told me stories about them and they are all so sad. However, now I wonder about the differences in the causes of their dementia. I always thought that dementia was synonymous with Alzheimer’s but here are many diseases that have dementia as a late stage symptom. I now wonder what treatments might have been available had their cases been identified earlier and whether or not the condition could have been, at the very least stalled, if not prevented and I wonder how many people are mis-diagnosed with Alzheimer’s rather than the true cause. Thank YOU for speaking out about something so personal and so emotional and helping other’s to find hope. Welcome back 😉 xo.


  6. Sadly, it kills, it ravages, and then it rubs what remains into the dirt.


  7. It was about a year ago our paths crossed, and my life is all the richer for having walked this ways with you.


    • Ditto.

      As Al’s wife, I remember him talking about a wonderful blogger who showed up at his blog’s doorstep.

      “I began this blog as a way to connect with others who are caretakers,

      other who live with and have loved alcoholics.”

      I am so glad you decided to start writing here.



      • Dear Celeste E Hall,

        (I LOVE that name by the way…)

        I think of this often:
        all the paths that have crossed that would not have if I had not taken the chance and lifted the Pen….

        You, All of YOU…. One of the most amazing things about this Blog thing has been the relationships built on honesty and shared experience and hope and gratitude and sobriety and…. on and on and on…..

        I am so glad to have met you my Friend! Tea, m’dear???

        XO Jen


    • Dear Al,

      Ah, my Friend! It feels like we are sitting in a cafe in Yeaman, drinking tea and remembering….

      Al, very few days go by that I do not think of you

      and smile….

      Peace, Jen


  8. I’m not sure the “like” button quite described the rawness of your emotions here. I totally get why you miss that you don’t miss your mother.

    My husband grew up with child abuse. Several years ago at his father’s funeral, he made up with some of his siblings. That has now fallen apart again and he’s swung wildly between not caring and being really upset. As for my MIL, she still denies it ever happened or that she did anything wrong. My FIL’s issue was he didn’t stop her from doing it – he preferred avoiding conflict no matter who got hurt. I loved him dearly, but he was no more trustworthy than her. At least he wasn’t evil about it.

    I wish I could say to my husband and you to get over it, but it just isn’t that simple when you’ve lived with it for so long. You don’t just get over it – you get used to it and eventually it isn’t quite so central (at least for him). It still rears its ugly head more frequently than I wish.

    Good memories help a lot though – congratulations on the new grandchild! How wonderful for all of you.



    • Hey YOU!

      I am SO happy to be back BECAUSE of you guys!

      I am so sorry your husband had to live through any pain. We all do and what we do with it is what defines us. I have had a lot of time to think during my BlogCation. I debated never returning and I remembered why I started in the first place:
      hope, healing, forgiveness and acceptance. The stuff you can come by with a dialog, with prayer, with purging.

      Writing is a cure for me and what happened to my mother was so tragic and sad. Wernicke – Korasokoff is the most under diagnosed dementia. A Doctor and a social worker a long time ago encouraged me to write about this when I found NOTHING out there; nothing to help ME understand what was happening to my mother. My mom was not a good mother but no one deserves to live the end of the years the way she did. No one should have to suffer what she did. If we can begin to TALK about alcoholics dementia and SEE it in our loved ones early: we can help to stave it off.

      I can not change the past. I live with it just as your husband does. I can perhaps change the future of my family and of those I love. So many families of alcoholics live in denial and will not admit the truth of the pain that alcohol causes. We MUST talk about it. I do not LIVE here. I live in Joy and Peace. I do remember and I will never forget. What I write her is the memory and the pain. I am going to finish the story. I hope that even one dialog will begin because of it. I know the dialog is ongoing in my household.

      We can break cycles. We can make new choices. I have met so many amazing people, like you my friend, who are Here and are Grateful for that. Survivors have a language. We need to share that.

      It is SO GOOD to ‘see’ you again! thank you for being here…

      XO Jen


      • I am getting so much from reading all the comments here, Jen. I am struggling with iamnotshe as well. I am NOT bulimia. I find that, through no fault of anyone who reads my blog, that i get a lot of feedback that makes me think people worry that I’M on the brink of relapse, or headed for an asylum. While, in fact, bulimia is NOT who, and/or what i’m about. My life has changed so much. I simply have hit a point where i cannot “bridge” the two lives together, know what i mean? One life has left (while the fall-out remains, but is simply “life” not the life of “no more bulimia”) Does that make sense? I want to be helpful and say, “here is the wreckage … i know your pain” yet what happens is I get reactions that pull be BACKWARDS instead of moving me, and ALL OF US, forward. I feel like maybe i’m not helping because i’m “enabling” the behavior??? I could use your recommendations because i am either going to totally quit iamnotshe, if not completely change it. I’m in that process now. What are your thoughts and plans for step … and i’d appreciate your insights into i-amNOT 😉 XO Love, MEL


      • My Mel!

        I hear you Sister. I think that blogging, Writing, in such a personal format in such an open venue calls for some backbone. My BlogCation helped me sort that out. I want to chronicle my life with my mothers alcoholism and her alcoholics dementia. IF I am going to do that I need to find some balance in the relationship that readers have to my writing. Some will feel connected, some will be defensive, some will become mentors and friends. THAT is the blessing in this BlogWriting thing. The sharing of Words and Heart and Information. I think stepping back is important. What people think of what I write, of MY experience is varied. That is ok.

        Take it all with a grain of salt, no, not all, I do not take the relationships that have been built here with a grain of anything. I take those relationships and the friendships as a Blessing and Honor them.

        I am stunned by the community. I know you have been touched too. THAT is what I will choose to focus on.

        I adore you! GO BEARS!

        Peace, Jen


      • I wouldn’t say my backbone is missing, but if i’m writing about, essentially the past, and in so doing, categorize myself as “in recovery” CONSTANTLY, i am not free. I am not really living outside a framework of “sick person” trying to live a life within the framework of a list of faults.

        If i am writing something so personal, i cannot separate myself from that. I can’t. I’m not writing a novel. I am telling the all-out-truth … of my painful past.

        I’m struggling with a time warp.

        I’m not someone who can completely cut myself off from sharing my heart and sharing my art. These are big parts of me.

        Maybe it is a different reference point to include another person in your writing. You are writing mostly about the affect your mom had upon you. It is more about what your mom’s problems did to you. The devastation of other peoples’ problems upon a family unit.

        It is my fault i write about my pain if i don’t want to get feedback on that. People do care.

        This i know, i am not gutless … and i am doing really well in my life. I’m reconnecting with friends, my brother and father … i have a new family, and i have the blog family. I’m good. I’m ok. I just need to figure out what to do with the blog and my sensitive soul. I am Warrior Mel. xo


      • Hey my Warrior Woman Soul Sister!

        I totally get that. It was and is a decision everyday I think to be here or not. I may be writing about my mom BUT it is really only about my journey with my mom and that has not ever been pretty or enjoyable or even OK in the slightest bit. When I sit down to write about HER it is about ME and I have deep recovery under my belt and am proud of the distance I have traverssed. AND writing about my mom will probably always be rife with pain. We had little else between us. I know that people who do not know me personally can get the idea that I am walking wounded, and in many respects I am and always will be BUT you know and others who have walked this with me know the Warrior Woman who was born of this nightmare mess.

        This is Art and it is truth and often both are painful. I can not write this from some dispassionate self that does not exist. I am human and this shit is true. Am I Ok and healthy now? Hell yes! Am I still in pain from all of it? You bet.

        I think as writers or artists we need to step back, let the muse take over and let it be what it is. People will take what they want from it for good or ill. IF we are going to be honest and talk about our pasts (and lets face it: you and me babe? we ain’t gonna take cover and write from a distance. We are gonna write Full In) IF we are going to do this, it will be with some pain.

        If people jump in and want to ‘rescue’ us so be it. We do not need rescuing AND we have our safety net established (YOU are webbing in my net…) We have our go to people. I can not control how people read this stuff. I have to let go of that.

        It is cathartic and it is a strong community of support. It is an artistic release. And it is painful. Even the past can still be painful.

        I am not made or Iron: I tried that and it was no way to live. Sometimes the comments get to me and that is a risk I take.

        You are a Warrior Woman and you are Strong and Healthy. Me too. You and I know that; maybe that is all we need to keep doing this. As long as out Net is ready: so are we. maybe?

        I have deep respect for the path you have walked. I honor that. Your writing and paintings are fruit of that walk.

        XO Jen


      • Thanks for the well thought-out and honest reply. While i don’t live in the past, nor do you (literally) you and i cannot completely step away from the “walking wounded” part of our core upbringing and chaos. A lot of that chaos is who i am … but i am SO much more … so much more fun, such a cool chick, ready for my tattoo … ready to SMACK DOWN and SHOW OUT and SHARE my ART … my poetry.

        My biggest pet peeve perhaps is the rescuers … but not so much because of their heart(s) … the hearts are in the right place … however my walk through burning coals, and your walk through burning coals will leave indelible scares on the feet. It will forever be ON our soles, and IN our souls. So, my art, my bright colors, my ridiculous humor, my back bone, my guts are unmatched. That is what i think of myself. That is what i get from you.

        I don’t recall on a daily basis (and perhaps i should) the daily vomiting that could have choked me EVERY day for years. In college: The pills and booze and vomiting SHOULD have killed me … and NOW, i am strong, i am living a life outside the “frame”. DON’T arrest me officer, i WAS framed … and now i’m ME, NOT SHE. I am my warrior, and your warrior sister … fight on! XO mel


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: