Benzo Withdrawal Life Doesn't Fit in a File Folder

Signs From The Universe

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Many years ago, I inherited one of my grandmother’s plants: a heavy pot of thick roots and tens of long, robust green leaves with rounded tips. At first, I thought it was an orchid, but after showing it several florists who could not identify it, I decided to love my weird, unknown plant, no matter what it was.

I’ve had this plant for over thirty years now, and I remember how – just a few days after I moved into my first house – eight gorgeous orange blossoms appeared clustered atop one tall, flat stem. I hadn’t seen the stem growing or noticed any buds, so it was a complete surprise when it arrived on the scene.

Before that day, I had no idea the plant ever bore flowers, and I remember feeling a strong connection with my grandmother, a complicated woman, to whom I was always very close.

Despite the fact that my husband fed and watered it dutifully, decades passed and my plant never flowered again.

In fact, I kind of forgot that the plant flowered at all…

…until last June…

…when my plant burst into color for the first time since 1997.

At the time, I posted a photo of it on Facebook, asking if anyone could identify what it was.

Almost immediately, my friend Regina sent me a link about a rare African lily, Clivia Amaryllidceae, which – according to the article – stated that the plant normally blooms once every 20-25 years.

And as you can imagine, I was beside myself and I spent way too much time telling everyone about my amazing rare lily.

I loved seeing my plant bloom again, and I made peace with the idea that its beauty would be impermanent.

A week later, as each petal shriveled and fell off the stem and onto the floor, I thought about how grateful I was to have been able to enjoy such a simple pleasure so fully.

I resumed regular care of my lily, which meant ignoring it watering it on Saturdays, and I figured I’d have to wait another 20 years or so before I’d see it bloom again.

But guess what?

This morning I walked in to my living room and there it was, in full-bloom again, one year later, to the day.


My yoga practice teaches me to expand and deepen my appreciation of delightful moments, so I sat down on the floor next to my plant and took the time to really appreciate each flower. This time, I noticed how each orange petal is actually also yellow and green, too. I counted 7 stamens in each open blossom, and I wondered how nature knows how to do that.

And I took time to reflect.

So much has happened in the last few years.

I’ve experienced the most intense physical and psychological pain that I could have ever imagined while coming off the powerful anti-anxiety drug, clonazepam. The terror that I experienced daily for nearly 2 years is almost indescribable. I cannot believe I survived it.

There was a period where my brain was so damaged that the concept of love was just a memory of an idea. I could feel nothing at all. If a friend tied to touch me, her hand was too rough. If the sun was shining, it was too bright. If children were laughing, it was too loud. I was certain people were trying to hurt me. I was certain my food had been poisoned.

Trapped in a pain cycle, all the highly paid “experts” told me I was crazy, that it was “absolutely impossible” for me to still be experiencing withdrawal symptoms after 24 months.

And while the best conventional minds told me I was mad, there were others who knew better. People reached out to me and told me that I would be okay. That I just needed to hold on for another moment.

And another moment.

They reassured me that all the tiny moments would add up.

They said the moments would grow into minutes.

Which would grow into hours.

Which would grow into days.

They told me there would be days where I would go backwards, where my symptoms would intensify. They told me it was all part of the healing.

They told me to trust the nature of things.

Nature knows what to do, they told me.

I’ve always believed in angels, and I believe — more than ever – that we are all surrounded by a powerful, invisible magic. I’ve tried to speak of this many times while I was growing up, of my intense connection to something beyond the visible, a cosmic force that I have experienced directly many times, but I was teased and laughed at.

Today, I realize I’m in touch with something that other people don’t have.

(Or don’t want to have.)

I have an incredible power.

A sixth sense.

I have it and I listen to it.

I know that to “normal people” that sounds crazy.

Guess what? I don’t give a fuck.

My life is not going to be normal.

My path is going to be crazy.

Today, I am certain that my grandmother is communicating with me via this plant that we share, this tender life that we have spent over 60 years nurturing, separately, yet together. Today, she is telling me that I’m on the right path, reminding me that beautiful things happen when we aren’t looking, or waiting, or expecting or trying to control everything.

I don’t have much to offer these days.

No fancy home.

No fancy clothes.

But I can promise you this.

Whenever you are in the midst of something dark, whenever you find yourself in the midst of so much uncomfortable change, underneath all the fear and the dread, I can tell you with absolute certainty that you’re going to be okay.

Trust the helpers.

Trust the flowers.


Have you ever had an experience where you have felt the Universe was sending you a message? Please share!


29 thoughts on “Signs From The Universe

  1. Reminds me a little of a plant my mother gave me nearly 30 years ago. No blossoms – just pretty green leaves. After all these years, it’s still going strong.

    And, Renee, don’t be afraid to say it’s God sending you the message. After all, He created the universe and nature and everything else.

    1. I guess it is G-d — or the thing that people think of as G-d. It’s crazy, how I’m channeling spirit these days, David. I’ve been thru the fire and there’s no doubt that I’ve been forever changed. Conventional minds say that people who see and hear voices are touched by madness. Guess what? I don’t care. I’m following the voice which guides me!

  2. “Whenever you are in the midst of something dark, whenever you find yourself in the midst of so much uncomfortable change, underneath all the fear and the dread, I can tell you with absolute certainty that you’re going to be okay.” I will remember your words the next time I find myself there, and I will trust you. Thank you for this beautiful, inspiring, life-affirming post! xx

    1. Hi hmonroe. Thank you for finding me. I can hardly believe that I’m tapping out those words. I’m not the way I used to be. I can no longer teach in the same capacity in which I did. I get fatigued, but I am here. And I am appreciating beauty again, and I’m feeling inspired again. Even writing this post is a little victory in and of itself. Nice to meet you.

      1. I AM SO GLAD YOU ARE HERE. And I’m so glad you’re finding beauty in the world again, and feeling inspired. I hope you will continue to grow stronger and more vital, Renée, and that you’ll be a beacon of hope for others who are struggling that — even if our lives may never return to “the way it used to be” — we *can* get better. All the best to you as you continue to heal.

  3. Renee,

    This was such a delightful (in the end) post to read and how you connected (reconnected?) with the Multiverse. I couldn’t agree with all your sentiments more! It is SO GOOD and inspiring to see you progressing so! <3

    About the 'science' of the engaging Universe you speak about… attached is a short video clip along the lines of what your post touches on! Whether it is the past, present, or near future, here in this life or the next, or the next and so on… we all remain connected and touching, especially with loved ones!

    Great post Renee! 🙂

  4. Monique passed on your message to me today. It could not have come at a better time. With Mercury in retrograde, I’ve been having a challenging week. Thank you for your beautiful message of love, hope and faith. And when the naysayers laugh, tease, make fun of over even declare your intuitive abilities is spiritual warfare…I’m with you…fuck em’. im on the right path.

    1. Hi Carolyn: I’m so sorry that you’re going thru a difficult time. Transition is horrible. We all just want to have peace of mind, so I’m wishing you some of that soon. We are all on our own path; glad you’ve crossed mine! It’s wonderful to meet you.

  5. I loved your piece.” Signs From The Universe”
    How lovely that Grandma Muriel is in touch with you.
    Nature is truly beautiful.
    You to are a precious flower.

  6. I’m happier in the unfancy house in the unfancy neighborhood but right within myself. And that was the message the universe tried to send me for years, that this would be true.

    1. Going through the transitional “unsettled” part is really hard. I know that eventually I’m going to need to move away from this area, the place I’ve called home for almost 20 years. I’m not sure where I’ll land, but you can be sure there will be sunshine and proximity to water. A small little place to call my own sounds really good to me right now. I’m so glad you’re still reading along. Geez, Jim. I’m grateful to you for commenting.

  7. I had a plant like that and it bloomed out of the blue just one time! Glad to see you’re on the mend and looking for the positive! I just reread The Secret last night!

    1. Hi Soooooz! It’s been forever. It’s hard for me to do a lot of writing. I’m just not able to do it the way that I used to…
      …but I’m still here when I can be.
      And I believe I’ll heal fully, eventually. Glad to see your smiling face. 🙂

  8. hello R, i met you a few weeks ago in Gastonia. today i start my “recovery”. we connected when we met & i have not stopped thinking about you since. i hope you enjoyed all your visits and let me know if you’d like to visit my area. so i said i start my new journey today, no more benzo, but I’m scared as hell to think it could take me years to feel normal. but hey whats two or three more years when ive struggled for most of my life with some form of depression & addiction. I’m ready for the next half of my life to be joyful! thank you for your blog, this story made me cry. i also believe we are all connected & i feel so many things are telling me that i am not alone & that i will be better if i just trust & believe in the signs. i hope we can connect soon by phone or in person.
    much love to you all!

    1. Linda: I’m so glad to have met you, too. I’m meeting so many people who have been harmed by psychiatric medication. There are two types of people in the world – those ruled by body/heart and those ruled by intellect/mind. You are a heart person. You aren’t listening to something that your heart is trying to tell you. You’ve believed what doctors and “professionals” have told you. You’ve wanted to be safe. You’ve wanted to please others. It’s time to find out who Linda is and let her bloom. It’s scary, but it is about raising the cosmic energy in the universe. I know that sounds loopy, but so many of us continue to stay in places of suffering. It is not necessary. You are a divine being. The drugs make you forget that, but it’s true.

  9. Sometimes we, all of the we, defy all the known ‘facts’. It is the universe or G~d talking to us. The best thing we can do is draw a deep breath and listen.


    1. I feel like it is only the people who have been dragged thru the fire who understand this. It’s a profound spiritual awakening. I never understood the concept of Jesus’ death and resurrection before this experience. Truly, I’ve been born again. There is no going back.

  10. Great story about the (occasionally) flowering plant.

    Someone up there must have been listening to me one night. It was late. I’d gone to work very early that day, like way too many other days. I was driving home from a meeting or a rehearsal that had gone late into the evening. Earlier in the day, I’d heard that my sister-in-law received the news of cancer from a biopsy. In my worn and worried state, I was driving in silence with the radio off, sending out healing thought requests to whoever might be listening. As I turned a corner I looked up and there, illuminated by a full moon, were two airplane contrails crossed in the sky. Somehow I knew it was saying, “It’s okay. I’ve got this one”. That was over twenty years ago and my sister-in-law is doing fine.

    The link may not display here but when I wondered if anyone else on the web had seen a “moonlit contrail cross”, there it was and I’m sure you get the idea.

    1. Brian: I’m just seeing this now. That cross in the sky… is AMAZING. People are forever asking why G-d doesn’t make his presence known. Hellllooooo! It is happening all the time. One need only look up at the sky on a dark night, and He is there. Thank you for sharing this with me.

  11. I love reading your posts – even if it a little after the fact. I am glad to see you are blooming again. Nature does have a way of sorting everything out for us, we just have to be patient and let nature and God guide us. Peace. Enjoy your week, one step at a time.

    1. Clay! I’m glad to reply to your posts – even if it is a little after the fact. I am PROFOUNDLY aware that I am on a journey right now. Like Forest Gump who feels compelled to walk. Like Dorothy, on the yellow brick road. Like Moses in the desert. I am being pulled toward something. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m listening. Thank you so much for being with me on this journey! (Going to CA and AZ in July. I’m sure I’ll have much to report!) Enjoy your summer.

  12. Hi there! I love reading about your journey. I am almost 9 months off an 18 year low dose benzo journey that has left me shattered. Have you healed? I am trying to find people that have survived to give me hope. I taught high school for 15 years and now I am barely functioning. I live alone. I just want to hear that you made it. Or that hope isn’t lost. Feeling down tonight. Thanks for your interesting posts. Love the flower post. Blessings to you.

    1. Hi J.

      At 9 months, I was a basket case. I still couldn’t really leave the house; the anxiety was so out of control. I would say that I am 90% healed. I still have weird days where the symptoms run amok, but they are fewer and farther between, and I know that I’ll be back to feeling better in a few hours — as opposed to not knowing if I’ll ever feel better again. Ever. I taught high school for 20 years (as you know) and I also live alone now. I think there’s something about us “pleasers,” people who tend to put others first that led me to benzos. In fact, I’m sure of it. I worked so hard for everyone else, and I spent all my time trying to do more and be perferct-er than anyone else. I’m guessing you know what i mean. Point being, I’m doing less of that now. I’m working hard to take care of myself and worry just about myself, to put my dreams first and ask other people to help me make them come true. These are not skills I learned as a kid. I learned things like “take care of everyone else before yourself” and “pick yourself up by the bootstraps” and “no one will like you if you ask for too much assistance.” These are things that have not served me well,and now I’m meeting people with whom I have healthier relationships.

      I’m glad my writings are bringing you hope.

      I never would have made it this long if I didn’t have someone to bring me hope. Don Killian was my person – and Baylissa. The two of them have helped me more than I can explain. Even if I don’t heal any more and I’m stuck at this point, I have a basic level of competence and I know I’ll be okay. You will be too.

      I’d love to hear your story. Are you willing to share? I’ll send you my private email address. I’d love to hear from you.

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