Madelyn Bennett Edwards
LOOKING FOR A CLIFF
When I look back on the 65 years of my life, one thread runs true throughout—an inner voice that said, “I will never be trapped.” That voice came from feeling trapped in my childhood and watching my mother feel trapped in her marriage. I swore to myself, at twelve years old, that when I turned eighteen, I’d get out of the trap and find my own way. Then I fell into a new trap—marriage to a man like my dad who controlled and manipulated me, abused and used me and, in the end, insulted my intelligence and my fortitude. That was his mistake.
I developed a plan and with two young children I got out of the marriage, out of the town, out of the career I didn’t like. I was never trapped again—not in a job, not in a relationship, not in a particular city or career or educational level—that is, until I became trapped in prescription drug addiction in the form of an intrathecal Dilaudid pain pump. My fight to get out of that trap, the binds of alcohol, and a litany of other medications such as high blood pressure and sleeping pills, is part of my story.
My mother used to say that I went to the school of hard knocks and that’s what made me so strong. When my second husband died I became as weak as I was at twelve, and had to find my strength in God and in a belief that I could be better because of, and in spite, of the tragedy. Then I lost my beloved brother eight months later and I questioned whether I’d ever be whole again. My fall into depression and emotional pain caused my physical pain to grow and I was given larger and larger doses of Dilaudid. Fourteen years later, when I decided to try to get off the Dilaudid I learned that no other patient had done it, and there was no way to plug the catheter from which my spinal fluid would leak.
Nothing ever came easy for me and this journey was no different. I had to work hard at everything—school, marriage, career, friendships, life. While I was in the midst of withdrawals I entered graduate school and began to write my stories, my truths. While this timing seemed, at first, a dumb idea, it turned out to be fortuitous. I call it, “Writing to Heal,” and it worked. I wrote through my emotional pain, which made my physical pain slowly dissipate—nothing short of miraculous for someone with a degenerative spine disease.
I hope you’ll join me as I look for a cliff to jump from, and find, instead, a new life of hope, redemption and joy in sober living and a God who never left me alone.