I’m still here! Part two

When Rex and I returned home in Austin last July (thank you all for your sweet comments on the photos posted on my Facebook wall and Instagram!). I felt much better as a whole person. I could just drop the entire project and move on with my life, focus on Rex and go back to school and find a job, etc., but there’s something deep inside me that just flat out refuses let me give up.

I spent the entire month doing serious soul searching to find the answers to my questions about my film project. Why am I doing it? Will doing it and reliving those memories be good for me emotionally and mentally? Do I want to just shut him out and banish him from my memory forever? Does Renny deserve to have a movie about him? Indeed, he is center of the story, but it’s my story. It’s also the story of many other women and men who experienced or are experiencing the life with substance abuse and domestic violence. It’s easy to look down at drug addicts and dismiss them, but ask anybody who knows, addiction is a disease. It is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde disease. I survived it, I may as well as use my film as the method of telling my story.

I know there are many more people out there who went through similar experiences, but sometimes I feel like I am the only one because I’m a full-time mother and I have to stay home most of time. I have to admit that I haven’t been to Al-Anon meetings. Renny encouraged me to attend one when he was attending NA meetings back then. I thought I could handle it. Man, I was wrong. I know I should have went to the meetings. I should also see a counselor, but I’m not comfortable with sharing my experiences through an interpreter. It doesn’t matter how good he or she is, I don’t like the fact that a third party is involved. I can’t always be sure all my information is conveyed 100% accurately to the counselor. It is already hard enough just talking about this on my blog post; I still have a harder time talking about this in person. I have to swallow my pride before I explain to somebody who asked. The shame is still inside me and I am trying to let it go. I saw this quote somewhere and it can’t be any truer. “There is no shame in making mistakes. All we must do is get over our pride and admit we were wrong.”

To many of you who wrote to me about your experiences: Thank you for sharing with me. I’d like to reach out to other people like you. Your letters help me building my confidence to make my film project happen. I also want to get in touch with the advocates too. If you know of any good support groups in the Austin area, please share in the comment space below. Catherine, my awesome producer and friend, and I are planning something really cool. We’ll make the announcement in a week or two. Last, but not least, please Like on our Facebook page and follow our blog! Thanks so much!

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I’m still here! Part one

The storm is over. The ocean’s merciless waves gave away to the smooth horizon of still water. The sky is clear of dark massive clouds that hovered over like shadows. Everything is quiet. Perhaps too quiet, but definitely peaceful, a complete opposite of what happened last autumn.

It’s funny how I used this metaphor to describe my life right now because fishing is one of Renny’s favorite things to do. Last October was the last time we did something together with our son as a whole family. We went fishing at Matagorda, a small and quaint fishing town just off the Gulf of Mexico. It was Rex’s first time playing on the beach and Renny caught a flounder.

Last March I visited Renny at the Travis County Jail after four months of silence. It was painful seeing him behind the thick glass window. He seemed fragile; he broke down crying and apologizing, but there was nothing I could do for him anymore. There was a little left inside me that missed him, but I had to leave him there. Last April, I wasn’t home when the judge sentenced him to the state prison in Huntsville, around seventy miles north of Houston. I wasn’t even in Texas when he rode in the inmates’s bus to his home for next several years or so.

Renny and I still write to each other. It was hard reading his letters. His words frustrated and angered me and I replied with ugly words. The letters became more civilized as time went on and we understood each other better. Of course, too much damage had been done and we will never go back to the way it was in the beginning of our relationship.

I got many opportunities to travel this year, hence the reason why I haven’t been keeping up with my blog. I know a lot of you who read my blog in the beginning are curious about what’s been happening to me in the last six months. I had to put a hold on my film project because my wounds were still fresh, but my desire to see it on the big movie theater screen is still strong.

In my travels, I met a lot of awesome people and when they asked, it was hard for me, but I told them my stories. They were impressed by how positive I sounded when I recounted the dark and frightening moments, but they didn’t know that these moments still sometimes sneak up on me unexpectedly and I become scared for a few seconds. I became resentful toward Renny for that reason. But I learned on my journey that letting go is the best thing to do.

Goodbye, Chuck

The memorial service yesterday for famous Deaf artist Chuck Baird was touching and special. It seems that there are three kinds of people that connected with him: those who are closest to him and have personal relationship with him, those who are art lovers, and those who are Jesus Christ followers like him. It is obvious he was a very well-liked and well-renowned man. Not only was he a great artist, he was also a great storyteller. He touched thousands of lives, including mine, in one way or another, and for that reason, he will be forever remembered.

He died a simple man, yet he showed the abundance in everything- especially in his paintings. He was profusely creative and his love for art was endless. He showed his love and his beliefs in all of his artworks.

He stopped by my home twice, the first time in October and a second time in December. The first time, Renny was living with me. That time I didn’t think Renny would relapse again a week later. Chuck talked to us about his faith in Jesus Christ and how he found love through Him during his long battle against cancer which was ravaging his body and eating away at his bones.

Sitting in a recliner, Chuck told us about the power of praying. I’ve read and heard about how powerful group prayers could be. I am not a church-goer, nor is Renny, but Chuck told us that his church was praying for Renny’s recovery. We were very grateful for that. After a hour or so of talking, we thanked him and he left. We pondered about him for the rest of that evening but eventually his visit moved to the back of our minds and we moved on.

After Renny’s relapse, Chuck stopped by my home again. I was surprised, but, of course, always pleased to see him. I noticed he had lost a lot of weight as I led him to the recliner. His appearance changed drastically in a short time since the last four years he’s been fighting his cancer. We chatted a bit and then he paused. He said, “I was in the area when I thought I’d stop by to see how Renny’s doing. But the real reason I came is that I want to tell you how much I admire Renny.” To him, Renny was an unique man with a great vision. Chuck saw the glow in Renny’s eyes as he talked about the things that excited him and noticed how Renny had the charismatic ability to attract people. I was in the midst of grieving and feeling angry that it took Chuck’s observations to remind me of the good things I’ve forgotten about Renny. Despite the few times we met, his description of Renny was spot-on.

We spoke of forgiveness; that we can only move on in our life if we forgive others for their wrongdoings. The concept is universal, found in every religious book out there. I learned, “Forgive the person, not the action.” While I agreed with Chuck, the wound was still so fresh that at the time, forgiving Renny wasn’t in the picture.

After I left for my parents’ house in Ohio for the holidays, Chuck’s health deteriorated rapidly and when I got back, he was always in and out of the hospital. Last Friday, my friend broke the news of his passing and I was heart-stricken. The fact that his physical being is gone forever finally sank in. He was thoughtful for paying us visits and I wish I could say the same about visiting him. That’s why I felt the urge to write this blog post as a way of remembering our conversations. It’s been almost three months since Renny went away and I still have mixed feelings about forgiving him, but I know that deep inside me I will forgive him one day. After seeing Chuck near his final days, I can imagine that his soul is out there right now, cancer-free and among the angels, celebrating the amazing life he had on this earth. With this thought I can’t help but smile.

It’s on

This is it. My biggest fear and challenge is standing right in front of me, staring me straight in the eyes like a bull staring at the matador’s red waving cape. As the bull charges, I’m officially entering the blogosphere as a blogger about something very personal to me. I believe what I am going to do will be the hardest thing for me to do in my entire life, but I believe it will accelerate my personal and spiritual growth. With that said, I can’t wait to see how the whole thing unfolds and what kind of impact it will have on me, people who are close to me, those who know me, and everyone else who decide to follow me.

I’m a generally reserved and private person, so for me to reveal to you my heavy and personal stuff is a HUGE deal to me. I mean, I’m face to face with my biggest fear and challenge in the combat right now, but my need to tell this story is way greater than all fears I have put together. So that fact, along with Catherine and Beatrice- my producer and my sister respectively, who also are wonderful supporters and champion confidantes- encourage me to build the courage to share my story with you the rest of world.

The story is long and most of it will be told in the documentary. To sum up, as I’m typing these words, Renny, my husband, is currently at the Travis County Correctional Complex for various drug-related charges. When I first met him at our friends’ wedding in Temecula, California in July 2009, he was in his fifth year of sobriety and a man with great intentions and even greater dreams. His biggest dream was to create a documentary that exposes the truth about the severity of drug addictions among the Deaf people and the lack of available resources and services that serve the Deaf and American Sign Language user population.

We worked together day and night on the documentary. We even had a production team. Then, one night Renny relapsed and everything changed. My life as I knew it ended. During the entire course of his relapses which lasted one year, I tightly grasped my faith that everything will work out in the end. Well, we can’t predict the future, can we?

Last Thanksgiving, I had an epiphany. We worked so many hours and had so much good footage and it was left to waste because it was supposed to be Renny’s story and now, he’s in jail. I realized I experienced everything just as much as he did. Pretty much the only thing that I didn’t do was smoke the crack. This story could still be told, but through my own eyes. I iChatted with Cat, my producer, about my idea and she completely supported it.

I just returned to Austin, Texas, from a month-long stay at my parents’ in Ohio. When I was there, I went to Cat’s house in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (wow that’s a fingerful as I’m typing this blog on my iPhone). It was a very productive week. We looked over the footage and worked on the storyline and strategized different ways to raise fund in order to shoot more interviews and scenes and, especially, for the postproduction aspect.

My wish for 2012 is to embrace this journey in which I believe will heal me.