Clematis in Our Garden of Eden

by Gene Groner


Unsung Heroes

by Ronald Nash


Sgt. Reckless

by kimberly green


Four Buddies - Art - 2021

by Daniel Strange



by Diane Wasden


A Warrior in Me

by David Marchant


Broken Spirit

By Sheryl Opeka, Army

Writing Type: Prose

I first started smoking crack cocaine for the instant high, good euphoric feeling. It took close to a year to admit I was indeed powerless over this substance that was leading me to what seemed like complete insanity. Now, was admitting my powerlessness finally a good enough excuse for me to keep using, and quit my never ending struggle of “just one more rock?” Was admitting I was at the mercy of this dreadful disease enough for me to finally do something about it?

Insanity is doing something over and over again, expecting different results. Completely insane. And I didn’t think there was a darn thing I could really do about it. I was tired. Tired of fighting an uphill, defeatless battle. I gave in to the devil, because by then, my soul was gone. I felt empty inside. My life and everything in it that had any meaning was now dead. I was a half-living, half-breathing zombie.

Time stopped and so did I, while the rest of the world went on without me. I lived to get high enough to continue feeling dead, feeling nothing. I simply couldn’t live with knowing and acknowledging the pain I was causing those around me. That pain kept on piling up, more and more. I wasn’t put here on earth to cause so much pain. I’m a helper; a child of God.

So I tried to rationalize that the pain I caused, or had a part causing, was on them. It was their issue. I warned people not to get too close to me, or I thought I did. Overall, I knew I was a good person with a big heart, full of compassion. Yes, I admit I fell into the trap of drug abuse, but that didn’t make me a bad person, did it? Well, regardless, my life turned into complete chaos. I went from being a retired Master Sergeant in the Air Force to a street hooker living with a pimp, six months later. My self-esteem was low to begin with, but by then, I felt I deserved to be down as deep as one could possibly get. I let people take advantage of me; I allowed people to degrade me; I let people walk all over me. I allowed people to do with me as they wanted.

As they did. Because of my spiritual “death,” not much mattered anymore. I felt everyone was better off without me in their lives, except for my regulars who swore they couldn’t live without me, as they drove off to meet their wives.

To preserve any sanity I ever had left, I honored and treated people, well, the way I had always wanted people to treat me. I stood by and watched how the street people around me abused others and each other, and actually felt okay about it. I never understood that. Of course the popular excuse they used was: “Get them, before they get you.” How sad.

Most of the time those street people treated me like one of the family. I clung to them, since my own family had disowned me. People out there stick together for survival in rough times. I miss them, but know that I can’t be a part of that family anymore. They say that a family that plays together, stays together. Well, I don’t want to play the game anymore. I want to live, not die. I’ll never forget where I once was in their midst, the lengths I had to lower myself down to. But I can honestly close the book and always remember that the last chapter sure was a doozy! The book will remain closed at least for today, this manageable segment of time in my life.

My parents and sister have tried for four years to use “tough love” to “punish” me. Wouldn’t one think that after four years of not working, another alternative method might be in order? My parents have provided a stable environment for my three precious children, and I thank God my children had them at this dark time in all of our lives. But meanwhile, I drove myself further down into my depression and addiction. I felt I didn’t deserve to be loved.

My husband and soulmate, the father of my children, died two years before my addiction began. He was taken from them, from us, by an instant heart attack at 36 years old. Now, through my selfishness, I allowed me to be taken, too. They lost their dad and two years later, they lost me, too. I’m sure they thought that I loved crack more than I loved them. Actions do speak louder than words. I wallowed in my own self-pity. How could I treat my pride and joy like that? Insanity. Pure insanity. This 28-day program here in Big Spring, Texas, is doing wonders for me. I’m feeling changes come over me every single day. Thanks be to God and the instructors here in the VA Substance Abuse Treatment Program. My legal issues are also being resolved, and I’m proud of myself because I didn’t wait for justice to breathe down my neck before making sobriety a reality and a commitment for life.

My emotions are haywire, but I’m hoping they’ll stabilize more down the road. It’s happening already. I used to grab that crack pipe whenever I was nervous and feeling like I was going to fall apart at the seams. Well, I haven’t tripped yet and I know my mind will continually get strong enough to handle any future struggles that come my way. Sober. One day at a time. I want to learn to cope with life without needing to self-medicate with poisons. I shouldn’t get to the point of losing control, because I’ll strive to continuously stay aware of warning indicators and focus on my thinking patterns. I need to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. I’m working on some goals that today are realistic, because I know that if I don’t do anything constructive to work toward any of my goals, I won’t feel successful inside. Attitude, for me is half the battle. But being the newly vulnerable recovering addict that I am, I realize I’m fallible. Spiritually, I’m just a child inside with a clear vision of rebuilding my foundation.

But today I’m not alone. I have my Higher Power to guide me through my battles with life. Each problem is an opportunity for me to grow and learn. Problems I resolve are battles won. I praise my Higher Power for giving me strength to overcome life’s challenges without the use of crack cocaine or any other mind-altering substances.

They say that happiness is not having what you want: it’s wanting what you have. Today I’m extremely grateful that my Higher Power is giving me another chance to live. I have my sobriety, my spirituality, and God willing, one day, hopefully, I’ll have my precious kids back where they belong. I’m on the road to happiness. I want what I have, and I won’t take my dear life for granted ever again. I’m a survivor. May the Almighty God bless us all.

Notes: Writing Aide: Rosa M. Buschlen

Clematis in Our Garden of Eden

by Gene Groner


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by Brant Parker III


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by Ted Jensen


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by William Shepherd


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by Shon Pernice


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by Melvin Brinkley