Bridget McElhone Hesperia, CA


Picture of winner's bracelet.
The Abusive Charm Bracelet That Healed October 4, 2011 (charm #3340) my long predicted rock bottom day. This was the day the world as I knew it fell apart and nearly ruined my life while at the same time it actually ended up saving my life. I am a successful, highly educated, married, soon to be 48-year-old mother of two spending my 48th birthday in rehab. I am thankful it is not going to be in jail as it easily could have been. Hitting rock bottom from escalating alcohol use for 20 years caused me to build a charm bracelet. As I prepare to go to rehab and leave my family for 21 days straight, I wondered how I could leave an "every minute of the day reminder" with all 3 of the people I am leaving behind. I have a very loving support system behind me consisting of two wonderful boys and my rock, husband of 25 years. All 3 have known I will be embarking on this journey in December. Our family has never been apart from one another for more than a week at a time, and I will be leaving their life for 21 days in December (December 3 - 23rd and my 48th birthday is December 16th (charm #3342). A photo wasn't going to do it, I wanted something more between me and each of them individually that let them know that although I would be gone, I was with them, close to their heart every minute of every day. One day when I was out grocery shopping, I stumbled into a jeweler's that I had never been in before. I started to look around and suddenly this Rembrandt Charm collection display jumped out at me. I had never even heard of them before, and had never looked for charms. At first I thought about getting the charms Love (charm #8441) for my husband - who throughout this terrible mess has said that "he has never stopped loving me" (charm #2749), Faith (charm #8448) for my oldest son - who out of my two boys appears to have the most faith in my recovery and Hope (charm #8444) for my second son - who I know truly has real hope for me. So, I was satisfied that I had found a way to be with them at home, school and work while I was gone through my "Faith", "Hope" and "I will never stop loving you" charms, but still I had nothing to remember them by as I was going through this journey and would be away from them. I wanted something that represented me and my journey that also reminded me of how I got there and how my future will be different. As part of the healing and research I began doing to prepare for my rehab it became very clear that the real root of my drinking had stemmed from my abusive childhood. Much of the research said to take back something from your childhood and re-live it as part of the healing. All of a sudden one day, I found my old charm bracelet from when I was a kid, all tarnished and tacky, but I thought, "I loved that thing as it was one of the only things I had control over." I could choose the charms I wanted, put them where I wanted and take them off when I didn't want them. I would love to build a new one of these with my happy memories of my own family but where do I start? To make use of these charms afterwards, I thought my family could wear them on their chains while I was away, and I would buy a bracelet and put a few charms on that to remind me of them while I am gone and I will put their charms on my bracelet when I return "all healed" so to speak. So, I started to look online at all the charms you had and decide which ones I would wear on the bracelet while I was away to give me inspiration and motivation. While looking, I came across all the cute food and beverage ones, and I just loved all the wine glass (charm #3700) and I thought to myself "no, you can't put that on your healing bracelet" as I knew what it referred to. Upon doing more research about children from an abusive home, I found it very healing looking up all your charms for almost every occasion. This was one of the most healing processes I have ever done, and I ended up calling my jeweler 2 more times to hold off ordering my original order as I kept finding more and more charms to add and I didn't want to have to make multiple orders and pay shipping as I found more and more charms that I felt needed to go on this bracelet. As I looked for one charm, I would find 3 more that would remind me of hurt, healing, and explanations as to why I choose to drink at certain times, with certain people, feelings it caused, why I overcompensated. I had a total awakening into holidays that I hated as an only child because my abusive mother would never put any effort into them because either "nobody would see the decorations, you're an only child so you don't need holiday decorations, holiday parties, wrapped presents (I never got a wrapped birthday present because my birthday was so close to Christmas - every gift was always wrapped in Christmas paper and given to me then as everyone was always too busy in December to bother with my birthday, later in life - everyone was always still too busy with Christmas parties at work/family etc - to still be bothered with my birthday. I also never had anyone to open Christmas presents with as I said because I was an only child - there was no point my parents thought as "it was just us". My parents used to lie in bed on Christmas morning while I opened the few gifts I had alone. When they would finally get up, my dad would feel sorry for me, and let me open any gifts he had so he could watch me. All I wanted every Christmas was to have my parents watch me open gifts so Gift Box (charm #3681) reminded me of that sad memory and why when I had my own children everyone used to say I went too over the top with gifts. Going through your charms also reminded me about my annual begging for once to carve a real pumpkin at Halloween (charm #3485), instead of our cheesy plastic light up one. Easter Egg (charm #8135) also reminded me that I never had an Easter egg hunt in my life growing up and didn't really know how to do one for my kids only Tim had experienced them. When it came to Valentines (charm #4510) this charm did represent the one holiday she did celebrate. This arrow through the heart is the only symbol I had around the house that was supposed to mean "love" in February only (her birthday month). From this quick look, it explained why I hated these holidays and why I overcompensated for every one of them with my kids. So looking at these charms turned bad memories into an understanding for my constant quest to ensure "over the top" happy memories for my kids. I could have picked many more than the 10 you are asking for the bracelet. Through my searching and healing through picking your charms, I came up much closer to 20 charms. Here are my top 10 and their order of preference, based on my story and further information. Since it was the alcohol that got me into this total mess, causing me to go to rehab, lose my job, lose all of my friends, our social life, embarrassing my kids and finally almost losing my family. It was also alcohol that finally awakened me to my childhood. After much consideration, I decided to put a Wine Glass (charm #3700) charm on the bracelet to represent why I have used alcohol to cope all these years. It had become obvious that I was never shown Love (charm #8441). This was the first time I had ever heard of this connected to abuse. I put this right next to the Wine Glass as I thought it was an appropriate position as like the Wine Glass, it was also a reason that I was needing to heal and why I ended up here and at this time. This charm, like many as I searched had a double meaning when I really thought about it. Most times, I could turn a bad memory into a cherished one with my family and finally understand why. Love in this case, represents a happy, positive place in my life as it was what I needed and I wasn't eve aware of it. Funny enough our wedding song (that was a last minute replacement as the DJ forgot ours) was called "I Want To Know What Love Is". I never could understand why we ended up with that song, when ours was not there, but it must have been fate all those years ago. Today, neither my husband nor I can even remember the original song we chose, even though we practiced dancing to it a number of times before the wedding. It seems once we danced to "I Want To Know What Love Is" we totally forgot the other song forever. The next charm in my life story would be the birth of my first son Brett - June 26, 1995. I would put (charm #2734) June birthstone. This was an important milestone in my life as my father passed away 6 weeks before my son's birth. My father had become terminal during my pregnancy. I had to completely plan and host a funeral at the same time I was planning my baby's room and attending my baby showers. It broke my heart that my dad never saw his grandsons. It is funny that I had boys that played hockey as it was my dad's favorite sport to play and watch and he never saw any of it. One day I hope my boys will add two different hockey player charms of their choice to represent each one of them and their playing style. I would follow this charm with Cancer (charm #4656). I choose this one because it was engrave able and I would put my dad's death date (May 11, 1995) on this one. I also choose this, as my first-born son was born under this sign the following June. Later I would have to add another death date, as my mother also died with cancer March 20, 2007. Out of the my little family of 3 suddenly both of my parents had died from cancer and I was now an orphan at 44 years of age. My next milestone was the birth of my second son Colin - February 18, 1997. I would place charm #4 as (charm #2734) February birthstone. He was a true miracle in my life as after Brett was born there were some medical complications and I was told that another pregnancy might be dangerous. I was terrified that Brett was going to be resorted to an "only child doom" like I had lived and prayed another one would come along to keep him company as I was so lonely as an only child I would have loved to have a brother or sister. I could never understand why other kids would fight with their siblings when I would have done anything to have a sibling to keep me company and comfort me during the abuse I endured. On Brett's 1st birthday, we got the best present Gift Box (charm #3681) found out we were pregnant with our second son Colin. Blue Jay (charm #3849) would be my next charm in position. Tim, the love of my life and my other blue jay, has always told me when looking out to our beautiful backyard setting - "there's a Blue Jay - watch out for the other one, there are always two, they mate for life just like us". I never knew this. He mentioned it many times, and it's sort of become our saying. If I could make a bracelet with more than 10 charms on it, I would put two Blue Jays (charm #3849) to represent both Tim and our life together on my healing bracelet as he has said over and over again " will never stop loving you" (charm #2749). Speaking of my Blue Jay Tim, my next charm would be (charm #3340) - October birthstone (to later be engraved October/2011). I have chosen this charm again for two reasons both positive and negative. First, it is Tim's birth month - his birthday is October 26th, 1963. I did choose this one specifically to engrave, but not with Tim's birth date, but rather October 2011 the birth month/year to mark our marriage improving because he has really lost 20 of his 25 years in my opinion. I also choose this engraving as the month/year reminder that I had my rock-bottom point that started this healing bracelet and the reason I have not taken a drink since. I am not sure why this process all of a sudden stopped the drinking cold when I have been asked for years by many people to do just exactly that! I used to spend my days drinking and now I am doing abuse research and reviewing your over 2000 charms to see a healing fit. Funny enough, not planned - right beside my Blue Jay Tim's month again is my birth month/birthstone - December - also engrave able and planned to be December/2011 even though similar to Tim, my birth date is actually December 16, 1963. This charm will also serve its positive/negative dual purpose as my birth month/stone, as well as a reminder that I will have spent my 48th birthday (December 2011) in rehab - not exactly where I planned to be on that day I know in advance. However, it will also serve as the birthday where I feel I am going to take back my life. Charm number 9 would be my absolute favorite and the only "colorful" one so far - "Never Stop Loving You" (charm #2749). Finally with this 9th charm I feel oddly enough that I have finally got the message/karma from my "mixed up wedding song" - "I Want To Know What Love Is". I guess I am a slow learner; however, I did have 40 years of not knowing to catch up on. My last charm, #10 if I had to keep to only 10 charms would be (charm #8442) - Dream. Again as part of the recovery process, it is very therapeutic to keep a "dream diary". I have been keeping my dream diary since. It seemed childish at first, but now I find myself making so many entries I have started to use my phone to keep notes as I am out all day there are so many flooding in suddenly. I have a dream that one day my abusive childhood will pay off in someway. I feel my healing might lead me to a more hopeful future. One of my dreams is now to write a book on recognizing the signs of abuse in children and listening to them whether you want to hear the stories or not. Working through the story of my charm bracelet was very healing so I think I might be able to help others in some way through their own issues whether happy or sad. Through the process of building a bracelet, people might find multi-purposes for many of the charms. My latest dream diary entry is that I will be wearing my healing bracelet, explaining every one of the 10 or 20 charms that are on it at every one of my book signings and/or every one of my talk show interviews - Dr. Phil, here I come! I have always known I was severely abused as a child and one day there will be some sort of pay off whether financially or otherwise, at least I will finally be at peace (charm #8445) Charm #10 or charm #100 will always be this one, (charm #8442) - Dream and it will always be placed at the other end of the bracelet next to (charm #3700) - Wine Glass when the bracelet is in the closed position. I want it always remembered that when we have come full circle - as demonstrated by a closed bracelet that no matter how many charms are on my healing bracelet - it was the alcohol abuse (charm #3700) that really caused this new dream (charm #8442). Through this process if it is the Dr. Phil show or just wearing my healing bracelet with 10 charms - one day I dream of restoring Faith (charm #8448), Hope (charm #8444) and Peace (charm #8445) in my family's home as it will be high Time (charm #8190)! I look forward to adding the above-mentioned charms sometime in the year 2012 when the timing is right.

Bridget McElhone
Hesperia, CA

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